Peace on Earth

Christmas

Christmas time is one of my favorite times of year. My heart rejoices remembering that once a year a Man was born who influenced millions with His acts of kindness, His teachings of love and peace, the sacrifice He made of His life so that people would believe that His Words were true and that He worshiped God in every way. His birthday allows me, among many others to give gifts and to have hope that peace will spread by remembering this Man’s wondrous life.

It is also a time for joy and laughter.  Family and friends who gather together to express their love for one another and to share in the happiness that this season brings.  How can one not be joyful?  One of my favorite activities is to decorate my home and try to make it welcoming and warm.  Of course, I never have enough time or money to make it the way I would truly like it to be, but like so many others, I do the best I can with what I have.

Recently, the news has been filled with acts of violence and hatred, war and strife.  It breaks my heart.  I believe we have come so far along in our attitudes toward each other and our hope for peace and harmony, yet what I read in the paper or on the Internet or TV, frightens me.  It dashes the hope that I had, especially in the year 2014, that people would end their historical biases and replace them with understanding, acceptance and goodwill. Extremists in every walk of life seem to be on the rise and their warped and hateful ideas are influencing people to harm one another. Those of us who believe as I do that the world is not such a bad place need to step up and overtake these extremists by acting with the example that the Man, Jesus Christ left us with.  To truly honor His birth we need to spread peace, hope and charity.  We need to believe in the goodness of all mankind and accept that people are different only on the outside.  Inside we are all human beings who experience the same emotions, the same health issues, and the same inquisitiveness. Only we can change the course of the future.  Only we can have the faith in humanity it takes to make that difference.  One person at a time, one idea at a time, one act of kindness at a time is all it will take to begin the spread of peace.  My remaining hope is that people wake up and realize the power they possess to change the way things are currently.  Help yourselves and help the world by remembering that Christmas is a Merry time.  Chanukah and Kwanza as well are Merry times.  Let’s rejoice in the fact that we are all human beings and celebrate that very miracle.  For it truly is a miracle that creates human beings and it bonds us together as nothing else could or would.

It truly doesn’t matter what color your skin is, or what job you hold, or how poor or rich you are those outside appearances are only superficial.  What truly matters is how open your heart is, how curious your mind is and how willing you are to have peace and harmony rule your life. Christmas is the perfect time to set these ideas in motion.  Spread this joy, this peace, this merriment.  Keep the positive side of this humanity alive and I am certain you will find that you have squelched the extremists because of it.  Believing in the power of humanity is the only “weapon” any of us will ever need to right the wrongs, gain the strength, and become joyous in every thing we say and do.  There is always going to be suffering.  People will get sick, people will be poor, people will have violence around them.  It is all part of the human condition.  There is always hope that a cure will be found, money will be earned, and the violence will end.  There is hope because the birth of a Man on Christmas Day gave us that.  Remembering the possibility of hope because we are all human is most times all we need. So have a Merry Christmas, a Happy Chanukah, a Happy Kwanza and a wonderful, hopeful, peaceful New Year!

And that’s the Way I See It here in Brooklyn

K

Where’s My Muse?

 

People always say you should write about what you know.  Maybe so.  Lately, however my muse has been missing.  For me a muse can be a person, an idea, a feeling.  I’ve been stuck in a rut and fighting my way out has been a complete uphill battle.  My gut tells me to write everyday, but my physical condition says, “haha” don’t even think about it”.  There has been lots of things in the news of late that I could have expressed my opinion about such as the discrimination issues happening in New York lately and then there is the NFL spousal and child abuse issues, and yet again, there is the ISIS/ISIL situation.  However, each one of those issues would take pages and pages of this blog and frankly, I believe my followers, though few and far, would be bored to tears.  So, Muse,  where are you when I need you?

The last few weeks, (I admit) have been topsy-turvy for my family.  My brother, Tommy developed some major health issues and was hospitalized for two weeks.  The worry about him took its toll on me and I have been filled with stress, which is only now subsiding.   He is out of the woods at the moment, but will need further surgery within the next two months.  Maybe for most people my attachment to my brother would seem strange (to say the least), but he is the one person who has been there with me my entire life.  He is not only a terrific brother, but also a “surrogate” dad to me, and an overall wonderful person.  The thought of him suffering or worse is not a thought I can allow to penetrate my mind or my heart.  I am very grateful that he has come through as he has from this last episode and I am also grateful that I have the wisdom to know things could be much worse.  So yes, the optimistic side of me stays positive and thankful for the little things. Unfortunately, I also have another side, that mostly stays hidden; and every once and while it rears its ugly head trying its’ damnedest to overtake me. That is why I have an inward constant uphill battle these days.

1-05 Let It Go

Maybe writing this today will break the ice for me and I will be able to do what my blog song says very soon, but until then, I am still here grasping at the straws being offered by the Universe. I am hoping that soon my very opinionated expressions about life will come about and my Muse will allow my fingers to fly upon the keyboard to talk about life as I see it.  If not for any other reason, than to keep me sane!

And that is the The Way I See It, here in Brooklyn.

K

Lessons in Life

You cannot run from your past. No matter how deeply your mind’s self-preservation hides those experiences. Doesn’t matter if they are good or bad, happy or sad. Those memories of the past are still there. Every once in a while they get triggered.

A recent family issue has brought one of those memories to the very forefront of my mind. All of the feelings I had arose right along side those memories and they hurt no less today than they did back then.  Doris’ birthday is July 7th and there is not a day that goes by that something or other makes me think about her, but none are more conscious than on her birthday.  She left this world on February 27, 1982.  Five months shy of her 47th birthday.  Her death was not an easy one.  Her life was not an easy one.  Yet, her kindness, her intelligence, her beauty never diminished until the very end.

My sister Barbara and I flew to California that week in February of 1982, trying to prepare for the worst.  We received a call from her significant other and her son telling us that she was dying from liver disease and if we wanted to see her we should fly out immediately.  It wasn’t until we arrived that I found the real reason for the calls.  They needed me to sign off on her death.  She was on a ventilator. Her body deteriorating to skin and bones.  Her once vivid red auburn hair now a dull grey.  Her eyes so full of life and promise now gazing far away as if she could see something none of us could.  My heart was so heavy seeing her lying so helplessly in that hospital bed and Barbara, I am sure felt the same.

Here is where my past comes back to haunt me.  Since the age of 13 I knew Doris gave birth to me, but I didn’t know her as a mother, only as a sister, but that is another story for another time.  It seems that the doctors in California needed consent to turn off the ventilator.  They were telling us that her brain was dead and that the machine was breathing for her.  I couldn’t bring myself to admit that.  She just looked at me.  She gestured for me to come down to her mouth so she could say something in my ear.  I couldn’t really make out what she was trying to tell me, but I had a deep feeling inside that I knew without the use of comprehensible words.  She thought I didn’t know how much she loved me and how she loved her two children just as much.  I could see it in her eyes that she didn’t want to go, but had no choice now.  Same as most of her life she had no choice but to make the decisions circumstances presented to her.  How could I, knowing this turn off a machine that kept her with us?  I just couldn’t do it.  I had to consult with the rest of the family.  We had just lost “our” mother in December of 1979, how could we now be expected to lose Doris as well?  It couldn’t be this way.  There had to be another answer.

For five brutality hard days we stayed in California.  Everyday calling home to Brooklyn to report on any progress she had made, but there wasn’t any. She remained the same and seemed to be melting away before my eyes.  She never opened her eyes after that first time when we arrived.   She was sleeping I kept telling myself.  Just in a deep sleep and soon she would wake up and we would remove that machine then and she would breathe all by herself.  The doctors kept bursting that idea everyday.  Her significant other and her two children were also of the same consensus.  They kept telling me I had to let her go.  She was not there, her brain was dead.  I had to sign off on papers that would shut off that machine and agree to DNR orders.  She had no will so I didn’t know her wishes.  All I knew about her was the things she would tell me during our phone calls.  She was a drinker so she would call me in the middle of the night and talk to me for hours about her life and dreams and her hopes.  She would tell me her concerns about her young daughter and her pride in her son.  She would beg me during those calls to watch out for them, to protect them.  I could never really make that promise because our lives were so separate, although I have tried in the past to mend those fences, it just was too torn down to salvage.  So her wishes for herself never arose in those conversations.  She was very unselfish by nature and would never think of herself first in any instance.  So those thoughts were with me as my sister and I walked through Doris’ life in those five days.

We met her friends, we saw where she lived.  We did things that she would have done on a normal day in her life in California.  After a few days, we were able to get a clearer picture of her and how she lived.  Her life wasn’t perfect, but then no one’s life is perfect.  She was, however, surrounded by love and as far as we could tell she was happy for the most part.  I found comfort in knowing that.  Finally, the fifth day in California had come and I could no longer delay the decision I knew I had to make.  The family back here in Brooklyn didn’t want to give her up, but they couldn’t see her.  Back then we didn’t have the same technology we have today.  It was my word and Barbara’s word that they had to rely upon.  After confirming with doctors one last time, I signed the order to remove the machine and a DNR order.  Within an hour she was gone.  It was just the machine keeping her alive.  It didn’t matter how I felt or anyone felt, her body and mind were finished on this earth.  The disease decided for her.  I still have no doubt that if she had the choice to live on she would have, even though most of her past was painful.  Somehow I know she never really forgot those painful past memories and experiences, but for a short while she found a way to live with them instead of resisting their constant power over her will, hence her drinking problem.  I could say “if only” forever, but it won’t change what was or what is.  People would say she brought it upon herself.  I will tell them they are wrong.  Her past brought it on her.  Things that she lived through from a very young age haunted her short life and even though she was smarter than most women I know, she just never put herself first and that in the end destroyed any chance she ever had of a full life.

The decision I had to make that day changed my life forever.  It placed a crack in my heart that has never healed.  She was my invisible support system.  Her words of advice no matter how seldom she had a chance to give them to me were chosen wisely and I listened.  Her love of life, her passion for new things, her love of people are my legacies from her.  How could anyone think the decision that was placed upon my shoulders to shut off the machine that kept her breathing was an easy one for me?  Something that profound is never easy on anyone who has the responsibility.  The most important part to remember though isn’t what we need or want, it is what the person would want. If Doris would have been a vegetable with the machine, she would have wanted to turn it off and I know that.   Her quality of life was gone a while before she wound up in the hospital because the disease was eating her alive.  Trying to save her would have been easy, letting her go was the hardest thing I ever had to do.

Today I sit and I watch as another family member is going through a similar heartache.  My heart aches for them.  I know, I really know that they can’t see beyond the need they have for the person to remain alive and I hope that it will be okay for everyone involved.  I hope that the person isn’t suffering as I believe they are and that the person’s family will find the courage and love to let the person go one day soon.  It won’t be easy to do and it will hurt beyond recognition.  It will, however, also be the most unselfish act they could ever perform. It will also be that memory that stays hidden in the mind, where it resides so that your life can continue and where along with all the other memories it only gets triggered on occasion just so you never really forget or escape from the lesson in life that it taught you.  So happy birthday Doris.  You are not forgotten.  You are forever imbedded in our hearts.  Your life was worthwhile and your soul lives on.

And that is the Way I See It here in Brooklyn.

K

doriscopy

Fourth of July

 

It’s amazing how quickly the time flies. A half a year has already gone by and the Fourth of July is upon us once again. Funny, it never seemed to go as quickly when I was younger. I can recall waiting for the holidays and it seemed to take forever before they materialized. I suppose the first holiday of the year that I enjoyed the most was the fourth of July. Not because there were firecrackers and noise, I still can’t stand that part, but I always liked getting to hold the sparklers in the evening outside our tenement. It was the one time I remember my parents being “outside” with me. There we would be standing outside the tenement on seventh avenue in Park Slope, all our neighbors joining in. Some would light the firecrackers in the “gutter” while most of us got to twirl those sparklers as our parents lit them. I can recall making sure to get the “punks” earlier in the day at the neighborhood candy store. The punks (something along the line of incense) would keep the light from one match and light up our sparklers best of all. The only part I didn’t enjoy was when the sparks from the sparklers would throw out the sparks that would land on my hands and arms and cause me to feel a tiny little burning sensation.  It was really nothing and never left a mark, but I would fuss because secretly they scared me somewhat.  My favorite part was the fourth of July food.  We always managed to have hot dogs and corn on the cob and watermelon and italian ices from our local pizza place.  All among my favorites as a child.

There was one incident I remember as a very small child where I did something so horrific that when I think about it today, I cringe.  After the fourth of July ended, I had to be around seven years old at the time, I found a hidden stash of sparklers in our apartment.  So I decided to light one inside the house.  I snuck into my brother’s room which was the tiniest room in the apartment and lit a sparkler with my mother’s matchbook.  Well it was stinging my hand a lot so I got really frightened and decided to throw the sparkler out the window, thinking to myself that by the time it got to the ground it would die out.  You see we lived on the top floor of a tenement above a store on seventh avenue at the time, so it had a long way to fall and blow out.  The only problem was that the window in the bedroom was connected by an “airshaft” meaning it was the portion of the tenement where the row of tenements were connected and down below there were papers and other paraphernalia which had been blown there.  Well that sparkler did not burn out, instead it caught fire to the papers that were at the bottom of the air shaft. Luckily for me the janitor in the building saw the smoke right away and doused the fire from the sparkler.  My Guardian Angel or the Universe or something had to be watching out for me that day because a  tragedy was avoided.  I did however, get severely punished and rightfully so, when the janitor came banging on our door wanting to know who threw the lit sparkler from the window.  I tried to deny it, but I never could keep my face from showing the truth and was found out.  From that day till this I have never touched nor lit a sparkler or any firework.  As a matter of fact, I truly don’t enjoy any type of fireworks anymore.  It just reminds me of a war zone.

As a matter of fact, it does amuse me when I see how excited children and adults get when they see the lights in the sky.  I often wonder what the beauty is in them.  I have tried to keep an open mind and enjoy the sight, but deep down it just doesn’t appeal to me in the slightest.  Perhaps my distaste stems from my associated punishment or from those tiny burning sensations, but whatever the reason, I will just keep “oohing and aching” with the rest of the world at the Fourth of July fireworks and be grateful that I am alive to see another year and another holiday pass by so quickly.  Most of all, I will keep looking forward to the current day celebration where there will be hot dogs, watermelon, corn on the cob and maybe even Italian ices to enjoy!

Happy Fourth of July everyone!

 

fireworks-flag images

And that is the “Way I See It” here in Brooklyn.

K

Father’s Day 2014

First and foremost, A happy Father’s Day to all the Fathers in my life!

It has been said so many, many times almost any man can be a biological father, but it takes a “special man” to be a true father in every sense of the word. I happen to know a few in both categories. Today I will tell you about those fathers who are worth writing about, those men who show love to their children on a daily basis, those very “special men” who have touched a child’s life in such a profound way that the child grows into a productive, caring adult. These fathers are worth the time and effort every single day!

I never knew my biological father, only his name.  I was given an old blurry  picture of him once and I still look at it every now and again.  To be honest, I don’t even know why I care.  He didn’t seem to care about my biological mother nor me.  He just let her fend for herself.  However, I was one of the lucky ones.  I had a couple of  “fathers” in my life, so I always had a daddy.  One was my grandfather and the other my brother.  These very special men taught me values and gave of themselves to me every single day.  Their love for me still shines in my heart like a beacon that guides my every step.  Their advice resonates within my mind in every decision and/or choice I have to face.  It matters not to me what they did in life other than be my guiding lights.  I don’t know what would have become of me, if I did not know these special men, if they somehow were not thrown into my path, they took on the responsibility of taking care of me daily.  They taught me, they nurtured me, they advised me, they guided me and most of all, they loved me.

Deep down my wish is that every female child born in this world could experience and feel the love that I felt from these special men and from that, love by choice, have a way out of an imperfect life.  By far my life has been anything but “perfect” but because of my “fathers”, my life has been worthwhile and basically a fairly happy one.  I married a man who is a biological father and he is as good and as solid as the men in my life were and are.  He loves his children unconditionally and he is there for them every single day of their lives.  He is a true example of the label father.  I feel blessed and lucky that the fathers who have been directly involved in my upbringing have been men to admire, love and look up to.  These men have surely earned the title of daddy and welcome it wholeheartedly.

I also know many men who are biological fathers, but are not truly fathers.  Those men should be ashamed for there is nothing more precious nor sacred in life than the birth of your own child.  Yet, those men have made a choice to do little or nothing for their children. They choose to neglect their children instead of nurturing them. I pray that they wake up and realize what a precious responsibility and blessing they have been given.  I know men, who by no choice of their own, cannot have children, yet they make a choice to have a child in other ways and those men that I know, who have made this choice, are among the best fathers on the face of this planet.  They are more loving, more concerned, and more caring than if the children they father were from their own bodies.  Those men are angels sent from above and of that I have no doubt. I know men who are  single fathers, who either by divorce, death or separation are the kind of father every child wishes he or she had.  These men never relinquish their responsibility.  They don’t stop loving the child because the mother is not with them. They don’t neglect their children.  I have witnessed all of these men throughout my life.  Those experiences have given me an insight into what a father should be and can be.  If a man is truly a father their children will know it, remember it and cherish it, even if that man is not their biological father.  No matter what mistakes a child makes in life, if they have had a father they will get past those mistakes and they will live a life that is full, a life that gives back, a life that realizes love can be unconditional.  To have a father is to have a precious blessing and I truly feel very blessed for all the fathers in my life.

So I wish a very Happy Father’s Day to all those dads who have made a difference.  May you all always have the best in life.  May you all always feel love, compassion and joy each and every day.

That’s The Way I See It here in Brooklyn.

“I’ll Remember”

Mmmm, mmmm
Say good-bye to not knowing when
The truth in my whole life began
Say good-bye to not knowing how to cry
You taught me that

And I’ll remember the strength that you gave me
Now that I’m standing on my own
I’ll remember the way that you saved me
I’ll remember

Inside I was a child
That could not mend a broken wing
Outside I looked for a way
To teach my heart to sing

And I’ll remember the love that you gave me
Now that I’m standing on my own
I’ll remember the way that you changed me
I’ll remember

I learned
To let go
Of the illusion that we can possess
I learned
To let go
I travel in stillness
And I’ll remember
Happiness
I’ll remember (I’ll remember)
Mmmmm… (I’ll remember)
Mmmmm…

And I’ll remember the love that you gave me
Now that I’m standing on my own
I’ll remember the way that you changed me
I’ll remember

No I’ve never been afraid to cry
Now I finally have a reason why
I’ll remember (I’ll remember)
No I’ve never been afraid to cry
Now I finally have a reason why
I’ll remember (I’ll remember)
No I’ve never been afraid to cry
And I finally have a reason why
I’ll remember (I’ll remember)
No I’ve never been afraid to cry
And I finally have a reason why
I’ll remember (I’ll remember)

 
Writer(s): Madonna
Copyright: Webo Girl Publishing Inc., WB Music Corp.

K

Assuming I Am Right

According to the Wikipedia Dictionary the following is the definition of the word assume.

assume |əˈso͞om|
verb [ with obj. ]
1 suppose to be the case, without proof: you’re afraid of what people are going to assume about me | [ with clause ] : it is reasonable to assume that such changes have significant social effects | [ with obj. and infinitive ] : they were assumed to be foreign.
2 take or begin to have (power or responsibility): he assumed full responsibility for all organizational work.
• seize (power or control): the rebels assumed control of the capital.
3 take on (a specified quality, appearance, or extent): militant activity had assumed epidemic proportions.
• take on or adopt (a manner or identity), sometimes falsely: Oliver assumed an expression of penitence | she puts on a disguise, assumes a different persona, and cruises the squalid bars on the bad side of town | (as adj.assumed) : a man living under an assumed name.
DERIVATIVES
assumedly |-midlē| adverb
ORIGIN late Middle English: from Latin assumere, from ad- ‘toward’ + sumere ‘take.’

My definition of assume:  Don’t make an ass out of u and me!

Well I have been accused of “assuming” one too many times in my life and it has finally come to a head.  Most of my life I have had the uncanny ability to see things that most people don’t see.  Particularly when it comes to feelings and the like.  My error, however, has been in stating what I see and because I do that people assume that I am assuming!  It has happened to me more times than I can count!  My other error is that I care about people and their feelings.  I am extremely empathic which leads to a complicated string of events that for some reason always seem to turn around and bite me directly in my proverbial ass!

Most people I have observed don’t want to face their own fears nor do they want to face their own true feelings about any given subject.  I suppose it is a predominant trait of human nature to be that way.  However, I have never shared that particular human trait.  I am constantly facing my own inhibitions, fears, feelings, etc., etc.  Naturally I don’t like what I face any more than the next guy, but I do face them.  The problem comes in when I can see things that others cannot within themselves and trying to be Ms. Nice Guy, I try to help them out by opening a discussion about what I sense are worries and/or problems that they may be facing.  Instead of taking my words at face value though, most people see what  i say as projection of my own feelings when they are anything but my own feelings.  Ninety-nine percent of the time it results in the fact that I was right in what I stated, unfortunately, it does not present that way until much later on in the person’s life.  Once it does, they sometimes will admit to me that I was right, but most times they don’t.  What I do get when the incidence is happening is a statement that accuses me of being assuming.  It not easy being me.  Trust me.  I swallow this even though I know within myself that this statement about me is totally unjust and unfair.  It is rare that I come across a person who takes me at face value and realizes that what I have is insight.  That particular person or persons do not realize what a God send they are to me.  To acknowledge that I have an uncanny ability to foresee things that they have even yet to realize within themselves brings me total peace and comfort.  That is very rare though within my circle.

So I am peeved today.  Extremely and utterly peeved.  Perhaps I am a rare breed and perhaps most people don’t want to believe that I am any different from they are and I have never really argued the point with anyone.  I am however sure that I am not the only person on this earth with this ability nor do I think I will be the last.  I do know quite emphatically that it is a fact of life.  I sometimes wish I was daft and didn’t possess this insight as I call it.  I would be a lot less insulted. A lot less hurt.  A more peaceful human being within myself.  That just isn’t something I can control at will.  When I have this insight it is often spontaneous and I can no more stop it from coming than I could jump over the moon.  It’s in my face.  It’s in my every word.  It’s in my thoughts.  To not tell the person I care about that it exists would be like watching them drown and I would do nothing to save them.  I couldn’t nor wouldn’t do that.  That is why almost every time I swallow the hurt and the pain and the insults so that the person I have tried to help will actually have an opportunity to think about it and with any luck, act on it.

So all I want to say today is always  assume I am right because ninety-nine percent of the time I am and that my friends, is no assumption!

That is The Way I See It here in Brooklyn!

K

 

Memorial Day 2014

imageA memorial is a word used to denote remembering and honoring those who have gone before us. A memorial for a person is to recall his or her life. At the end of May there is a day designated through the years in modern times to recall the sacrifices made by our military. In remembering their ultimate sacrifice, their lives, we must also remember the sacrifices of the families who have lost their loved ones forever. “Lest We Never Forget” is something engraved forevermore in our minds our hearts. It is truly necessary and valuable for the rest of us to be grateful, it is just as valid and necessary for us to remember. Many of us will be celebrating the unofficial start of summer this weekend with outings and barbecues. It has just evolved into this type of “holiday”. However, we should also pause and recall the lives that were given so that those celebrations could freely take place. So let us honor and appreciate all of these sacrifices by displaying poppy flowers in plain view and casting our American Flag at half-staff as a sign throughout this great land that we do honor and remember. It is only through memorializing we will keep our pride and show our love for one another and for those who have died in our place. God Bless our military past, present and future. Forever will they remain in our hearts and minds.