Higher Education CAN take you Higher!

I read an editorial in the NY Daily News today, May 28, 2013,  by Richard Cohen of the Washington Post. (http://www.nydn.com) The editorial struck home with me because I have worked in Higher Education for more than twenty years and what Mr. Cohen portrays is a sentiment that I have held for quite a long time.  Aside from being an administrator in higher ed, I am also a parent and aunt of many who have received a college degree.  The position I held allowed me the very fortunate circumstance to meet with thousands of students from every walk of life.  Being associated with them afforded me the luxury of learning something new each day.  The things that they taught me are still meaningful and have remained with me throughout my career.  It seems to be the appropriate time to write about the things mentioned in the Daily News editorial since in New York it is just about commencement time for most of the Universities.  The editorial was written to portray the value of a college degree in today’s world and whether or not it was worth it.  I have to agree with Mr. Cohen’s belief that it is.  I have heard many students proclaim that they didn’t understand why they needed their degrees and there were some regrets as they were graduating.  However, over time they realize what they didn’t realize right away.  All those classes, the ones that may have had nothing to do with their chosen careers or jobs, are the classes that taught them to broaden their horizons, think outside the box and better themselves in the future.  They come to realize that the information that was given to them as college students was vital to the world around them.  Those wondrous tidbits of facts gave them the tools they needed to make this world of ours a better place.  What they may have learned about physics or classics or aesthetics will serve them well as they travel far and wide to apply their degree in television or radio or teaching or architecture.  Some realize this immediately, while the majority take years to fully appreciate the value of a well-rounded Associate or Bachelor or Graduate degree. There are those who go directly to a job and many may not be designed to attend college, but that is fine as well, because not everyone has to go to college.  However, those that do can come to appreciate the value of the degrees they have earned.  They would serve themselves well to have pride in their accomplishment and to search for their place in this world with the wisdom they have gained through the knowledge they have earned.

I would be remiss, if I didn’t congratulate all these wonderful college graduates.  They are a large part of the future of my world and the world of all those living today.  These graduates will go on to be the next generation of parents, doctors, lawyers, teachers, marketers, financial wizards, creative geniuses, and oh so many more glorious paths in life.   They will be or are parents who will have the insight to raise their children with a thirst for knowledge as well.  This amazing circle of life will continue because thousands of people will have graduated from higher education during the next month or so.  It won’t matter if they need to take jobs at lower pay scales, the knowledge they have attained and the opportunity given to them is something that everyone should have as an opportunity. A chance to broaden one’s mind and expand their own worlds should be everyone’s chance in life.   A higher education has given many people the power to become higher in life because their minds were overloaded and empowered from all those classes that had nothing to do with their chosen fields.  I truly hope they are as proud of themselves as a I am for them, past, present and future.  They are my hope for a better world in the very near future.  CONGRATULATIONS GRADUATES!

That is the Way I See It here in Brooklyn,K

graduationstudents

universitygradmfasmiguel

My May Memorial

In Flanders Fields
John McCrae, 1915.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Being a product of the Catholic School System the month of May meant many things to me, but most of all I have always associated it with peace, joy, and beauty. My father passed away on May 4th and one of my sisters passed away on May 8th. So along with my wonderful memories of May comes a bit of heartache. Among the most vivid memories I have is one of the Blessed Mother. Not meaning to give anyone the idea that I am still affiliated with any organized religion, because I chose a long time ago not to associate, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t believe in some of the things that I was taught as a child. Naturally, I don’t believe them as blindly as I did back then, however there was always something to the idea of my beliefs, especially when it came to the Blessed Mother. I belief that the man Jesus may very well have had a mom named Mary and that she suffered greatly when he was crucified as any mother would. She has always been a part of my life and I have turned to her many a time to console me and to help me deal with the most painful moments of my life. Perhaps it is just an idea that I turn to, but for me she was a very real person and her spirit lingers within me. She represents all that is peaceful and beautiful to me. She encompasses the makeup of my heart. I strive to be as loving as I believe she had to have been for she sacrificed greatly for the good of all. The other side of my persona is very much rooted in patriotism. This from both my father and John Wayne, two men who convinced me, whether acting or not, that America was a great country and worth defending to the death. Listening to my father and watching John Wayne with him in the old movies was a great adventure for me. I got to spend time with my father, which wasn’t always possible in our lifestyle. My father loved Fred Astaire, John Wayne, James Cagney, and many more movie stars long gone to graves. My father instilled in me that same passion. I am not so naive as to think that this could possibly be conceived as “brainwashing”, but whether it was brainwashing or it wasn’t doesn’t matter anymore. That feeling of  patriotism is still very much a part of who I am and what matters in life to me. Wouldn’t you say I have that right?

I recall those days in May when we would wear our communion dresses for the crowning of Mary. It was an exciting time in my young life and I always loved the songs we would sing as we processed down the aisle of the Church to where Mary’s statue sat and one of the girls would be chosen to “crown” Mary with a bouquet of flowers. I felt such inner joy and peace during those simple ceremonies. I can still recall some of the songs we sang and how their lyrics and tunes would be forever imbedded in my mind. Perhaps they might ring a bell to some of the readers, so I have inserted a couple below.  You still might be asking yourself, “What has this got to do with Memorial Day?”

    

When Memorial Day was approaching, at the end of May (May 30th to be exact), our school would collect donations from the students and once we donated we would receive an artificial poppy flower to wear for Memorial Day. I was always lucky in the fact that I was always able to “purchase” that poppy. I recall walking along the street, proud as a peacock with my poppy pinned to my chest for all the world to see. I knew it had something to do with our military dying for our country, but as a child, I never connected it to the horror of losing someone you love in a war. Nowadays, I would never deny that this is truly horrific, however it is also an honor for those who chose to fight for this country and for the families who sacrifice because of that choice. No one wants to be at war.  No one wants to have men and women dying because they chose to join the military.  The ugly facts are though, that it is a reality and since the Civil War onward, our military have given of themselves to protect what they believe to be freedoms.  They fight in wars so that those freedoms can be protected.  So that their country can continue to be a “land of the free and a home of the Brave”.  Perhaps the reasons aren’t always crystal clear to many.  Perhaps those people are right in saying that America should mind her own and stay out of other country’s troubles, but I personally wonder how long we would be able to be the country that gives all the people those rights, if we don’t defend her ideals?  How long could we maintain our independence if we don’t help defend the independence of those who need it or ask for it?  Not long I assure you.

poppy.jpg

This weekend is Memorial Day weekend.  Somehow, along the way, the very reason that Memorial Day was declared a holiday became lost in a new idea that Memorial Day was the beginning of summer. While I personally believe barbecuing and celebrating is a great way to commemorate Memorial Day, it should never be without remembering how it came to be.

http://www.usmemorialday.org/backgrnd.html

People have  forgotten or have set aside the notion that it is truly a day set aside to remember all those who have fallen in the service of their country since the beginning of our time.  It is a solemn day, yet joyful day when we can get together to celebrate the sacrifice of life that our military has made in order to ensure that we keep that right to celebrate.  We can best honor them by doing what we do best, going to parks, beaches, backyards and enjoying the freedoms that are ours because the military who have died, and the military who still serve, have given us those freedoms for a while longer.  And when we are at our events, we need to stop and remember those military personnel and their families and be grateful to all of them for their sacrifices. That is how I can connect  Mary, Blessed Mother to Memorial Day.  As a mother, she sacrificed when her son gave his life up for the things he believed, just as our military men and women give up their lives for what they believed.  As do their mothers and families.  All who have sacrificed and suffered should be remembered on Memorial Day.  This day should remain so that the memories and the lives of all these people will be forever immortalized in the hearts and the minds of each of us.  We should never forget.

poppyfield

For me May will always be a month of memories, memorials, joys, and beauty.  It will forever hold for me the wish that all who seek peace in this world will work toward it.  Merry is the month of May and hopefully, we will continue to keep it that way.

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

K

Poetry II- Love

Today my thoughts turn to love and something my mom always said to me. She would often tell me, as I would speak about loving someone, that there was no such thing as love. I realized a long while ago that she said that because of all the hurt that she had been through in her life. To her love meant getting hurt physically, emotionally and intellectually. I do believe that regardless of what she said, she did love and knew she was loved, she just couldn’t bring herself to express it for the fear of feeling that (oh so awful pain) one feels when love hurts, and love, my friends can be excruciatingly wonderful and even more excruciatingly painful. I have always been fascinated by the emotions of love and how one can completely change their own vision of themselves or their ideals once love enters their emotional make up. I have always wanted to study what constitutes love as love, but never had the opportunity. So instead I have written over the years a series of poems and/or essays, which I will share with you today. Some may seem complicated or perhaps way to deep to comprehend, but if you can read them more than once, perhaps the message I am attempting to convey will dawn on at least a few and my efforts in creating them will at least not have been for naught. Of course, I know that my mother’s reasons for not wanting to believe in love were very valid, but her words did spark the notion within myself to wonder, is there really such a thing as love? Or is love just an illusion that people create so that they can give more freely of themselves? I know that I love my children and my siblings and my friends, but I don’t believe that form of love is the love I am curious about. It is the love between two people that ignites my interest in the subject. How can we really be sure that the chemistry or the caring or both is truly selfless love and not just an expression of need within our own self? What if, my mother was right without knowing she was right? What if there is truly no such thing as love?

Hope you enjoy my thoughts on love.

What is Love? 

Love is a moment, and too often it passes without a second thought.  It’s the one moment in your life in which everything is right.  Your faults and failures don’t matter.   Love is the moment you know why you’re here; it’s the answer you’ve sought. Love is the absence of emptiness.  Love is the sole reason you feel emptiness.  Love is a changeling.

It is different feelings in different people.  Love is a defined human emotion tugging for comprehension within the center of reason.  Love is the confidence to be. Love is essence of beauty.  Love is felt.  Love is neither intelligence nor a theory-provoking process.  Love is the core of humanity’s beliefs.  Love can be paradise.  Love can be excruciating pain.    Love is a personal expression of inner self.  Love is a mystery waiting to be revealed.  Love is the driving force in the pursuit of happiness.  Love is self-deprivation in a quest toward selfishness of the highest form by creating happiness in another.  Love is what you feel it is and not what you think it is.  Love is unforgettably embedded in your being once it is truly experienced. 

Love is a lifelong search.  

~Kathy Napoli

IMG_0863

The Passage

  by Kathy Napoli 

Two beings meet amidst the threshold of love and suddenly its a choice of life and death,

A kindred spirit arises in each with no thought, no strive just need and to need

Reality a fleeting whisper of wind.

As if inside a vacuum of space the depth of one another silently speaks.

A tumultuous, rapid commonality grows – the need is met

The whisper of what could be gushes through the vacuum pulsating its vibrations until it gains a voice.

Spirits connected through embedded memory emerge infiltrating the kindred’s peace.

Now the threshold  of love between life and death surrounds the passage splitting the heart, suffocating the spirit.

Struggling, transforming the internal emotions into a battle of the self.

Abandonment the strongest appeal; dependency the anchor.

A self expression surrounds the vacuum – yet longs to linger among the kindred and the memory.

Turmoil  of the soul continues -diversions emit magnetic power dulling the reality

Somewhere the whisper of wind filters through and once again the vacuum emerges –the threshold attached to the memory.

Within the spirit a solution evolves and hides itself as a sacrificial lamb

Fantasy guides the consciousness as need controls its direction

A sheltered thought of love shackles the spirit while feeling it emancipates the emotion.

For the spirit to pass through the threshold of love between life and death-happiness must saturate the passage

Seeking through the haze of disbelief, clinging desperately to the unfounded trust, the heart is bound 

Knowing full well the answer lies within and reality must win  

hearts

DOUBT

Flighty, wildly swirling about

Like butterfly cocoons split apart

Exploring, sensations vibrating; carried afloat

Surging onward touching each cell

Vanishing briefly; suddenly appearing

Fluttering, nagging, pulsating the nerves

Spirit pushing the soul

While logic disintegrates and explodes the brain

Wet as the rain, soaking and drowning

Sense evaporates; fear begins

Searching for answers; never sure of the questions

Looking, listening, hearing, seeing; still swirling about

Ah, it comes, like sunrise o’er the Balkans

So simple, so easy, always safe, secure

Hidden inside until the dawn springs its light

Dreams long forgotten in the flutter of wings

Sweet song of belief; singing through the heart

Words making music for faith to exhale

Always inside the shell; fate through circumstance prevail

Darkness came whilst the doubt sauntered in

Now the light of self has broken the spell

As once again we create what once was known

A short stay of doubt lingers awhile

~Kathy Napoli

“Reeling”

Hazy and Floating

No thoughts or ideas

Through stairwells of drifting

No focus to grasp

The heart rejects the pleading

And the mind continues reeling

Fate is still fleeting

No more standing the pain

Deep in the soul as if fleeing

Yet knowing full well it remains

And the mind continues reeling

Lost and Alone

The search never-ending

No promise of love

Hope lingers everlasting

While reality surrounds

And the mind continues reeling

~Kathy Napoli

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

K

 

 

Poetry

Image

Today I sat quietly thinking.  My mind filled with images and words about the condition of the world today.  Reading about them in papers; hearing about them on the News.  I had discussions with my closest friend and members of my family about them.  I listened to all the points of view about the war in the Middle East; the North Korean concerns; the conditions in Africa;  the crime in our American cities.  Each person of my generation seemed to be of the same opinions and all were at a loss for any solutions.  As for me, well I have always thought of myself as an individualist and yet, a staunch supporter of justice for all.  I’ve intense feelings of fairness and often cannot rest my mind when something occurs that I feel is unjust. At times these thoughts swirl inside my mind needing an escape.  The best way I have found to expel them is to write poetry or better said, what I believe to be poetry.  So for the rest of this week I will choose some of my poems and share them with you on this blog.  With my sanguine attitude I will begin by sharing my thoughts on humanity, since that at the moment seems to be the predominant force inside my cerebrum.

Through emotional intellect we sometimes see what we ordinarily overlook.  We all experience humanity in our everyday existence, only we think we are different. The language of words, in whatever form they possess, spoken, unspoken and written connect us all.  ~ Kathy Napoli

Come share my words that I hope will inspire you.

Image

Is Humanity a Myth?

To know one another through human familiarity or frailty 

Opens the path to peace 

Deliberating all differences as a form of communication

Paints the road with compassion

comprehension,  and patience

 

Asking questions and learning about one another

opens minds and ends all illusions

Existing together as one human race

Begins a euphoric condition

Resulting in peace throughout each one’s space

 

Illuminating humanity as life not myth

We merge as the same race – all sharing a similar body

Hoping all senses and intellect intact 

Will grant us the comfort to be able to be.

Knowing only what we have learned

Learn to love and you will love

Learn to hate and you will hate

Learn to conquer and you will conquer

 

Never giving peace its chance

Is killing the human race

Seeking peace is the salvation

Within the human race

~Kathy Napoli

I and others like me have tried to comprehend the political, religious and pragmatic sides of wars and abuse, crime and depravity, but aren’t things that a sane mind can grasp. These atrocities in life seem to repeat throughout history, no lessons being learned, no sensible reasoning for disrupting peace, and no regard for the human species in general. It is a sad world we exist in today, perhaps sadder than ever before since the emergence of formidable technology.  Everything is transparent for all eyes to see, so how can we not at least try to make a difference? Here in NY some people held an “Occupy Wall Street” protest against the corporate world, people from many walks of life and places around the world heard their cries.  I would love to see bloggers and others who use words to make a difference, perhaps begin an “Occupy Cyberspace” with messages of humanity.  That would be totally cool in this ever-changing speeding technological world where we exist.  Oh well, wishful thinking again on my part to right injustices.

It has dawned on me many times that perhaps to understand the ugliness in the world we need to look at it closer and identify it before we can begin to change it. Or perhaps we do see it and have no control over its spreading.  In either case, my thoughts are below.

Ugliness

    Today the media shows it everyday.  It is in print, it is on television and radio every hour on the hour.  It is in everyone’s home, on everyone’s lips and in everyone’s mind. It is impossible to hide and no one can completely turn away.  It is provocative and alluring. It is history in the making.  It is war.  It is inhumanity. 

  Human nature tries to turn from ugliness.  It masks itself with excuses.  No one wants to admit that ugliness has a right to live side by side with beauty because it is too hard to accept.  The reasons for it cannot be truthfully known for it is only the truth of those who must create it.  Blame has no place in ugliness just as it was born it will die.  Yet, to endure it is to be in the pit with the beast. 

    Beauty is simple.  There are no complications. It just exists as it was created and pleasured for– as it is accepted.  Ugliness does not share this epiphany.  It must reveal itself over and over again for it to be looked upon.  Its hideous, deplorable methods are drawn toward the center of each human being’s existence.  With the absence of ugliness – the world would not know the value and joy of beauty. 

   If we had the power to strike down all that was ugly, could we survive?  As a race of human beings we must embrace ugliness so that true beauty can surface. Realistically, all ugliness is not evil, yet evil is the ultimate ugliness we know.  Our existence is based on the powers of good and evil, we have not evolved to a level of wisdom wise enough to decipher the real difference.  So we must determine with limited ability the realism we exist by and that is acceptance of all things that are beautiful and ugly without truly knowing if it is good or evil.  

  War is ugly and war may be evil, yet without war those who embrace evil will create all that is ugly within the world.  Peace is the ultimate beauty, yet peace can only be fully achieved by eliminating all that is ugly and yet, all that is ugly is not evil.  To accept both beauty and ugliness and not equate it with good and evil is to reach a level that human beings have yet to achieve.  Peace must be seen as ugly and accepted as beauty for the human race to realize its destiny  

~ Kathy Napoli

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

K

 

 

Summer Dreaming

Summer is quickly approaching. I’ve always loved summer. The smell of the ocean as the breeze warmly caresses your skin on the beach. The view of a lake surrounded by mountain greenery emanating a blissful feeling of peace. I was always certain that God lives in Lake George because I have never felt such a contented, totally peaceful aura as I experienced during my visits to this beautiful lake. When I dream of summer it always includes children playing and laughing, picnics and an overall feeling of complete freedom. I long to take long drives in the summer. Eat lobster on a pier, enjoy Ralph’s ices or Spumoni Gardens’ Spumoni. Eat a fresh slice of New York pizza while strolling down an Avenue. Holding hands while walking along a tree lined path. There are so many visions of summer, too many to list here so I’ve decided try and capture my feelings about summer and share them here with my poetry and random pictures with the hope that my readers’ summer dreaming will bring them as much pleasure as it brings to me.

Happy Dreaming!

photo 3

Lake George
Lake George

BEAUTIFUL SUMMER

Tangerine hue glistening gold upon the subdued foam

Astounding beauty encapsulating the soul

An emotional upheaval entwines from within

Tossed between melancholy and a grin

Past memories and tomorrow

Unable to turn away

What seems a lifetime-reality-a few moments

As the summer sun lights the dawn

Promising laughter, freedom and joy

Its’ summer kiss a promise

Its’ caress enrapturing our mind

Yes, it’s summer once again!

20130519-210026.jpg

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

K

The good with the bad

Well Mother’s Day was lovely.  The weather was perfect and the children were wonderful.  We went to Prospect Park after brunch and I had an opportunity to see the beauty of the Park I grew up around.  It has changed somewhat, but remains lovely.  We went by the lake and I was able to sit on a bench and look at the calmness of the water which is home to some ducks, swans and other water fowl.  It was very crowded yet peaceful at the same time.  For the past four days I have been paying the price however.  My body is trying to regain some strength.  Somehow I caught something else to deal with…a sore eye.  I developed some type of sore on the lid and it is affecting the left side of my face. As much as I love and enjoy outings, they don’t return the favor any longer.  Whenever, I venture to go somewhere, the next three to four days I spend recuperating, but I am not complaining, more like venting.  I long for the days when I could walk faster, move faster, get five things done at the same time.  I wish a simple beautiful day such as Mother’s Day didn’t leave me feeling as if every drop of energy was drained from my body.  Now that the nicer weather is upon us, I would love to be outside enjoying nature and people, but I fear I face another summer stuck indoors or only as far outside as my porch.  The few times when I can get out and get a ride in the car is a gift to me these past fifteen months.  I wish I learned to drive all those years ago, but now it is too late for wishes and the reality of my present life looms before me.  I am grateful for so many things and frightened by others.  I suppose one must take the good with the bad.  I try to do that every single day.  Every once in awhile though I do become a bit despondent and long for those days when I didn’t have to think about the good or the bad, they were just there.  Those days when all that occupied my thoughts were the day to day operations of my employment and what was for dinner and if we would watch TV or finish a project for the house, or go out somewhere.  All those day to day things are gone now and one day folds into the other, passing in the same way.  I suppose my limitations are pronounced this week because I fell into the fantasy that perhaps I could be my old own self again.  I woke up though as soon as Monday arrived.  I look around my house and see so many projects that I wish I could do.  I have the itch to garden at this time of year, but I must wait for assistance for all I can do these days is supervise from a chair and even that doesn’t last very long before I tire out. When people see me they tell me “how good I look”, I think that has always been a sort of curse with me, from the outside, one would never know that anything at all was wrong with me.  It is all hidden beneath my skin, this debilitating, life stealing monster that consumes my physical being and zaps my abilities and energy on a daily basis.  I don’t mind most days because I dislike crying about woes in general.  So today seems to be a good day.  At least I can type today and write on my blog.  The weather is nice, the sun is shining and I am basking in its warm through my window.  I am grateful for everyday though one would not think so from today’s post.  I am glad that Mother’s Day and all holidays only come once a year for I fear that anymore than that would make me into a terrible crank who does nothing but vent….and that is not something I want to be.  So I hope you bare with me while I think of inspiration to post about things other than myself and I truly begin again with the cycle of taking the good with the bad.

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

K

The Issue of guns and the second amendment

I don’t really like guns personally. They represent violence and egoism to me. That doesn’t mean I don’t think that guns might be necessary in the world we live in today. I had never realized exactly what the second amendment said until very recently. Honestly I was quite surprised at the actual wording of this amendment. Everyone seems to be using it as a basis to argue for or against gun control, when logically, I don’t read those words as an argument for either case. Guns, sadly, cannot be controlled in this society. It is impossible to do as long as there is a black market for guns. Should gun control be enforced? Absolutely, because a citizen defending their home with a weapon doesn’t need an assault weapon to do so. A simple gun would provide a form of protection that that particular person is in need of and doing that would not infringe upon the interpretation that the person actually reads in the second amendment. Would I do it? No. I don’t want any guns in my home nor would I choose to collect them, use them, or have anything to do with them, but that is my right as well as the right of my fellow citizens to have one. Do I believe that a person who buys a gun legally needs to be screened for mental illness? Absolutely. Do I believe that it is possible to screen everyone who gets or buys a weapon? Absolutely, not! So as an average American I don’t think there is a better solution than the following when it falls under the category of assault weapons: manufacture those weapons for the military and police forces and no one else. Legally, it would be the only option that makes any sense to me. The gun manufacturers could contract with the military and the police forces to make those weapons for their use only, the other guns would still be manufactured for self-defense of the individuals who feel they need them, or hunting rifles for those who hunt to keep the balance in nature. The gun manufacturers should be able to make a decent profit doing that and therefore, the question of turning a profit is answered. The military and the police forces would then be liable and accountable should these assault weapons fall into the hands of the unsavory. It would be both a local and federal government responsibility to keep track of all assault weapons assigned through a consistent inventory database showing who was assigned which weapon and when you left the military or the police force, your weapon would be returned or that individual would be held accountable both monetarily as well as criminally. How else, I ask myself do these weapons get into the hands of criminals and mentally challenged people? Only through a criminal act would be my answer. The black-market! How does a society stop a black-market? I don’t think it is humanely possible to do that. I cannot see how that could be accomplished unless we were forced to become a military state throughout the entire country. I certainly wouldn’t want that, would you? I happen to like the privileges of freedom I experience in the United States of America. I, for one, don’t want to upset that balance at all.

The second amendment was written quite a long time ago. It’s idea I believe was enacted when Americans believed they could be attacked by an enemy while they were in their homes. It seems to me that the only way that happens nowadays is if a criminal broke into a home to do harm. So I can understand the theory in those cases, “of a right to bear arms”. I just don’t see the need for an assault weapon or any other weapon that needs more than six bullets in order to defend your home, from animals or humans. I, personally don’t see the need for any guns in my home at all. But that is just me. Just as I defend my right to say these things publicly, I would defend the people who believe they have the right to have a gun. I will continue to disagree with their belief that it is necessary to have one and at the same time believe it is not my place to force my beliefs on anyone else.

So in my most humblest opinion there is no simple answer to what people refer to as gun control. There is no simple answer to violence whether it be with a gun or some other type of weapon, violence is violence, and evil is evil. Hearing different opinions on television and on social networking can’t hurt because those of us who are not exactly up-to-date can at least be informed of what is being said and done.

I do however wish that people would just remember that we are all human beings and that respect for others opinions or believes goes a long way. Change obviously needs to be made when it comes to the subject of guns and if the NRA and other advocates with similar beliefs don’t see that then they are fooling only themselves. I respect their right to bear arms against their enemy, I just don’t respect their push to do this not because of their conviction, but because it makes them money. I, for one, will never believe that the NRA is in this for the sake of an amendment. It is for the money and power that comes along with this particular political stance. So why not have the best of both worlds by bringing compromise and compassion into the privilege of bearing arms? Extremists in all areas of life are the problem. They cause the problems, they create the problems, they are the problems! It isn’t guns, it isn’t people with guns. Not having guns will not solve all the problems and bring peace to the world. If extremists can’t get guns they will get clubs, rocks, knives, whatever it will take to harm others. People who claim to want peace and do away with guns and all forms of violence are idealists. In human nature there will always be peaceful intentions and violent intentions. It is, unfortunately, the way the world turns. I am so tired of hearing all the rhetoric about gun control. I am so tired of the legislature fighting over this when there are so many other things that the country should be concentrated on at the moment. That boy who killed those children, teachers and mother and then himself, was a very disturbed individual who needed help that he obviously didn’t get. The access to those guns he had came from his very own mother, who IN MY OPINION, had to be disturbed herself to think that she needed to have those weapons because it was her right to have them. She twisted the meaning of the second amendment to fit her own wants. That is exactly what the NRA is doing today and the legislature is doing. Keep the second amendment in perspective, but understand that its meaning is to protect the American individual in their own home and does not mean to accumulate or collect guns that have no place in everyday society. If I could talk directly to Congress and the Senate those are the things I would tell them and I would add: “Please stop arguing and fighting over this! Please just set the record straight once and for all about the privileges we have been given in the Constitution and stop your greed from Lobbyists!” “We, the American people, need our representatives to be the leaders we elected, we need your common sense, your judgement and decisions, your leadership.”

Let’s just get on with our American lives and that is the Way I See It here in Brooklyn.

K

Teachers Appreciation Week

A week to celebrate a worthy profession
A week to celebrate a worthy profession

I have dozens of friends and relatives who are teachers.  I have worked in higher education for over twenty years.  Because of those two facts, I feel qualified to speak about teachers in today’s blog.  So here is the way I see it!

In today’s society it seems so easy to pick out the teachers who are “bad” or who make the wrong choices or who shouldn’t have become teachers to begin with or were turned into monsters from their experiences.  There is always a media hoopla nowadays about the negative aspects in teaching and the education system itself.  I don’t want to talk about what is wrong in today’s education system or about those handful of people who shouldn’t be teachers, but I do want to talk about the changes I have seen through the years in the attitudes toward teachers and about the most unappreciated profession in America today.

Many years ago a teacher was respected, they were the educators of our children.  The people who had the knowledge that we as parents and our parents didn’t have.  It took me years of working within the education system to realize that teachers, as in all other walks of life, are ordinary people with all sorts of different personalities.  However, there is that one element that I recognize in teachers that not everyone possesses and that is a desire to help children and adults alike, to open their minds and experience the power of thinking independently in order to make a difference in both their individual lives and the world in general.  The look I have seen on a teacher’s face when they have reached a person who struggled to learn and then one day that very same child or adult was enlightened is priceless.

Only a person with the calling of a teacher can truly experience such a phenomenal feeling that reaching someone through teaching can give them.  These people, these teachers have earned our respect.  Through their chosen professions these individuals have created a path and an opportunity for our children to progress toward the future and to make a difference in some way, big or small, that will affect the entire world.  These people, these teachers deserve our respect.  Yes, it is harder to be a teacher today because there are so many misunderstandings and misconceptions about teachers in the general society.  Media helps to further that belief by focusing predominantly on the negative teachers and less on the overwhelming majority of positive teachers.  This false sense of knowledge is a portion of why people have lost respect for this great profession and have in many cases passed these negative attitudes along to their children.  Years ago, there was an education system that allowed its’ teachers to be severe disciplinarians, it took a lot of change and lot of maturing to realize that punishment of children in so severe a way is totally unacceptable, unwarranted and has no place in education.  All the teachers I know today agree with that finding and strive everyday to teach undisciplined children and adults alike.  Most of them teach their lessons while children talk out in class, throw things, start fights, or worse.  These teachers hunger for ways to reach these students, but unfortunately, how can they really accomplish that if the system itself strips the teachers of all authority?  In today’s educational environment, teachers have to literally possess the patience of a saint or some other extraordinary being.  They must be politically correct at all times.  They must tolerate being cursed at, verbally abused and sometimes even physically abused.  There is no course of action for teachers today, and yet, there they are everyday in their classrooms willing and ready to try to reach at least one mind if not all.

These are the teachers I write about today.  These are the people I know exist in my family and in my circle of friends.  These are the teachers who are in the majority and these are the people who should be respected more than any other profession.  These are the people who still possess knowledge that most of us will never touch upon.  These are the people with whom we leave our children in the care of day after day.  These are the people who will shape our future world by imparting to our children the knowledge they need to make a difference in this world.  From pre-kindergarten through graduate school, these people work endlessly with one purpose in mind and for that alone they have earned and deserve our respect.  I, for one would love to see the day dawn, when power is given back to the teachers of today.  The ones who know that severe disciplinary actions are unnecessary and are things of the past.  The ones who will use that small dose of authoritative power to have a classroom of people where mutual respect exists.  History has shown us that mutual respect is the key to accomplish many great things, it is up to us as parents and guardians to instill in our children this notion.  It is up to us to impart the truth about teachers and to watch over our children and to be aware of any abuse of such power.  It isn’t the role of our teachers to be the parents or guardians.  The teacher’s role is to teach.  The teachers I know (and there are a lot) want to do just that.  They want to spend their hours in classrooms teaching for it is their calling to do so.  We can help them to do that by doing our part and by teaching respect for those who have been called to this great profession.  We can stop feeding into the belief that we know better than them and dropping the attitudes that are picked up by our children that exude an aura of disrespect and superiority.  We can help teachers to do their jobs, their calling, by supporting our schools and by check-listing the administrators instead of the teachers.  Society today tends to blame the teachers for its failing education system, when in reality it is the think tanks within the administrative side of education that is to blame for our failure in educating our children, but that is a different blog, for a different day.

Today I want to say thank you to every teacher I have ever had and to every teacher I know.  Thank you for choosing to become a teacher.  Thank you for your patience, your fortitude and your understanding.  Thank you for doing the very thing I, and many like me, are incapable of doing–teaching on a professional and disciplined level! Thank you for wanting to do that in the first place!   I hope this week each of you has an opportunity to experience the gratitude you richly deserve and that in some way, big or small, you are celebrated and most of all respected.

That is the Way I See It here in Brooklyn.

K

 

BEING A NONNA

I’ve been an aunt ever since I can remember. Having thirty-three nieces and nephews and not counting the grands, my husband’s side and the people they married, one would think I’ve seen it all.  I am also a mother of two and a mother-in-law of one.  Everyone I ever knew who became a grandparent would tell me how it is such a different experience, indescribable.  I think I now understand what they meant because in October of 2011 I became the Nonna of the most amazing little girl ever.

She is the apple of my eye, the beat of my heart, my pride and joy.  I adore her and everything about her.  Her little mind is truly a sponge and she absorbs something new every single day.  Ever since she was an itty bitty newborn her alertness was apparent to everyone who spent time with her.

Everyday when I think of her my heart swells and a smile comes to my mouth.  It’s automatic! I can’t help it.  I just want to be around her all the time, but of course in today’s world that isn’t possible.  My children live far away from me…in another borough ….that ‘s far for me!  Stop laughing at me now.  It’s been years since I’ve been passed Jersey and Brooklyn is still my home, at least for the time being.  And besides where else could a better place be for a Nonna like me?

Being a Nonna is somewhat challenging, especially now that my body movements are extremely limited.  It means learning the modern methods, watching my p’s and q’s, resisting the urge to tell my granddaughter’s parents that it isn’t the way we did things!  It’s also exciting, wonderful, loving and exhilarating! I like being a Nonna.  At first, I thought it would make me feel old and past my prime.  I worried that I would be left in a corner to just watch and stay quiet, but that, thank goodness, is not the way it is at all.  Whenever I’m around her I feel young, and vibrant and happy.  When she first said Nonna, when her little arms hug me, when she throws me kisses, says I love you….I feel a bit of what paradise must be like. Of course, she has her moments and gets fresh or mischievous, it’s natural. It doesn’t seem to bother me though as it did with my own children, for some reason it just goes right over my head.

My one regret is that I’m unable to run after her now, or give her a pony ride on my back, or go on a slide with her, or dance with her the way I used to with her father and uncle. I wish those things were possible, but they aren’t, so I find other ways to bond with this truly amazing, smart little person.

I’ve always loved to shop for others and buy gifts.  I’ve been told it’s my biggest fault.  Now no one can stop me, I love getting little gifts for her and buying clothes for her and watching her as she figures out what to do with them. At times my jaw drops in amazement as I watch her beautiful face thinking and her curiosity as it rivals those of a genius. Her Nonno and I are in awe at her genuine process of thinking at such a young age.

Being a Nonna is the best thing that has ever happened to me besides becoming a mom.  I wouldn’t trade being a Nonna for all the riches in the world because I am the wealthiest woman in the world ….I am a Nonna!

That’s the way I see it, here in my Brooklyn homeland!

K

Nonna's Girl

Universe What Have You Done to Me Now?

I knew something was wrong, but I kept pushing myself believing that it was just a fluke and would disappear as quickly as it came.   This numbness in my thighs and the constant ache in my back whenever I walked anywhere just kept getting worse. Like a sign from the Universe, one day, while at work, a bolt of lightning pain shot straight down my spine, from my neck to my tailbone and I could no longer deny it was time for my orthopedic doc to take a look! So with all the strength I could muster I phoned him, received an appointment and went to see him that very same day.  Dr. Licciardi is a wonderful man and a fantastic orthopedic surgeon.  He had taken care of me in the past and I felt safe and assured in his care. Rocco, my ever caring husband, picked me up early from work and we drove to the doctor.  By the time I was in the examining room, the pain was so severe that all Dr. Licciardi had to do was look at my face and he instantly knew something was terribly wrong.  He gave me a shot to try and ease the spasms and took some tests.  Finally after a few days and all the tests results came in, I had my answer I had progressive stenosis, degenerative disc disease and a collapsed thecal sac with severe nerve damage.  In other words, I was now disabled and the prognosis of this diagnoses was not very positive.  To say I was shocked would be an understatement!  I was actually devastated, but no one can ever tell when I feel that way, because I can mask that devastation brilliantly.

A series of “fixes” was started immediately, none of them, of course, came with any guarantees, but then neither did this body of mine.  For the next three months or so, I went through cortisone metropaks, injections from pain management physicians, bed rest, anti-inflammatory and pain medications.  Trying to stand, sit or walk for a few minutes at a time was becoming an olympian challenge for me.  My entire life had completely changed and I was not ready for it at all.  My inner makings had aged before my years and there was nothing I could do to stop it anymore.  Oh yes, surgery was mentioned to me, but the odds of either surviving them or of them lasting was so slim that it was impossible for me to consider them.  Worst of all was that Dr. Licciardi, himself, didn’t perform the type of surgery that was needed and I would have to be recommended to a different doctor.  I wasn’t ready for that. This Universe that we all live in was certainly having fun with me!  It wasn’t enough that I had Menopause, oh no, that wasn’t enough for my Universe, now I had this debilitating disease that would prove to change the entire way I had existed for the past twenty years!

I have often thought well it could be a lot worse.  I could be dying.  I could have cancer or some other life threatening illness.  I could be paralyzed or any other  number of horrible terrible things that braver people than I are going through every single day, so in a way I always tell myself how lucky I really am and I mean it for about 5 minutes and then I say, no freaking way!  This damn thing I have is as bad as some of those other diseases because my life is no longer my life!  I don’t feel sorry for me, I freaking can’t stand me or my insides or whatever that has taken away my opportunity to hold down my job, to walk for any length, to sit for any amount of time, to lie down without pain, to cook, to bowl, to dance!  I hate this freaking disease and I don’t want to have it.

I am so appreciative of everyone’s good thoughts and attempts at boosting my “blues” by telling me how “fortunate” I am, and at the same time, I want to scream!  No one seems to get it!  Everyone thinks, “aww you have a bad back” and everyone has either experienced a bad back or knows someone who has.  Everyone knows someone or themselves who have had slipped discs, etc. etc….No one and I mean no one, ever realizes that I have had a “bad back” for about thirty-eight years and now it has collapsed!  No one truly understands and I can live with that by  not talking about my disease, by “pretending” that I am just okay with this; going on about my everyday life as if everything is honky dory and normal as can be.  It’s all BS!  I am not honky dory, everyday life for me is no life at all!  Dr. Licciardi doesn’t know what to do for me anymore, except to keep checking me for any changes, giving me  meds and being the great man that he is.  He brings up one of the surgeries I would need, every now and then, but he never pushes me, knowing full well that it would last about six months, if I was one of the lucky ones, and then probably be worse than it is now!  No freaking way will I put myself through that!

By now, you might be saying to yourselves, wow what a selfish bitch this woman is!  She should be grateful,yadda yadda yadda!!! You are probably saying, stop feeling sorry for yourself!   Yet, none of you saying that has been living my life as of late! So hell no, no matter what anyone else thinks, I am doing the very best I can under these forced circumstances!  When I can find some joy in this current life of mine, I am going to take it!  I am not going to complain everyday (just once in this blog)!  I am lucky in one aspect, lucky that I am married to a Saint! and I mean a Saint!  I have the world’s best! Rocco does everything for me now, most of the cooking; all the cleaning; most of the shopping; and thank God he still has a job that supports us and helps us get health insurance.  Yes, I am bringing in some money by getting SS and some disability money so for now we can keep our heads just above the water, but sooner than later we are going to have to sell our home and try to start over somewhere, somehow. I often wonder if anyone can imagine the psychological changes that occur when an active, fun-loving woman like myself, gets hit with a life-changing event like this?  Believe me it takes will power not to punch walls, or throw yourself off the nearest bridge, (if you could get there)!  It takes an iron will not to scream at everyone who says, “it could be worse!” or “you are just feeling sorry for yourself!” Maybe both of those things are true, and if they are “so be it”.  All I know is that I feel like the Universe has played a cruel trick on me and I am neither happy about it or so willing to be a martyr for it!  I wish it didn’t happen, but the reality is that is has.  So now I am taking forever to learn to make the best of it, but I will continue to try to do that for as long as I can, until this Universe decides to try something new with my life.

Whew, thanks blog for letting me get that off my chest!  This is the first and last time I will speak on the subject and so that is The Way I See It.

Forever Brooklyn Bred and Raised,

K