50/52 – Do Good for Others

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I’ve had a page this last year of where I send my support. I reached out to some friends for their most important charities, and wanted to share them here with you.

If you have spare money throughout the year or time for some of the local volunteer organizations, please use it to do good.

I have listed them alphabetically, and the religious organizations included have as their primary focus helping others. Check their status here

ACLU*

Catholic Charities

CNEWA

Committee to Protect Journalists*

Doctors Without Borders

Heifer International
The Hispanic Federation*

Lydia Place*

National Domestic Violence Hotline

National Stroke Association*

The Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation*

Planned Parenthood*

Random Acts*

Save a Warrior (SAW)

Southern Poverty Law Center

St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital*

The Trevor Project*

World Vision

Inclusion is not endorsement. However, the ones with an asterisk are where I have personally contributed over the years.

The Grouchy Historian

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​One of the things I loved about The Grouchy Historian, besides the grouchy historian was how timely it was. It made reference to things that had barely concluded in Washington. I hadn’t heard of this book before I found it in the online library I use, and it was very current.

Which was kind of ironic considering the entirety of the book is looking at and analyzing the intent of the framers, something that today’s Republicans and Conservative justices claim to honor and admire, worship even but don’t often put into practice.

Two disclaimers:

1. Ed Asner is an angry old-time lefty, who in this book, defends our Constitution against right-wing hypocrites and nutjobs, who seem to be crawling out of the woodwork multiple times daily, not even having the courage of their convictions anymore. (See Senate candidate, Roy Moore and who is openly supporting him.)

2. If you are a second amendment proponent I ask you to ignore the snark and facetiousness of the chapter on Guns. Look past his opinions and read what the framers wrote about guns and the second amendment. Please.

Conservative scion, Antonin Scalia even said that there are limits on the second amendment. I think that when you have lifelong conservatives like Scalia and Clarence Thomas talking about the framers’ intent and strict constructionism, but then not actually following what they claim are their own beliefs there comes the time to call out the hypocrisy.

You can’t really say the Constitution is to be literally taken and also call it a living document. Madison called it a living document, so we know how it was intended: to grow and change with the times.

At least as a Democrat I have my convictions, which are really quite simple: equality for all, all means all, medicare for all, and do good for everyone. We lift each other up.

In reading what the framers and founders had to say about the Constitution as it was being written and developed and amended, it is interesting to hear their arguments for and against certain things. What I found really amusing with this (and Ron Chernow’s Hamilton) is how similar their arguments are to today’s arguments in Washington politics.

I laugh when I hear that the founders wanted strong states when it’s clear (in this book and the original writings of the framers) that they wanted a strong central government. With a standing army. Collecting taxes. And forming a bank to put those taxes.

Now you have my opinion as well.

Read this book, and if you’re lucky you’ll hear it in your head with Ed Asner’s voice. Can’t beat that!

The Grouchy Historian: An Angry Old-Time Lefty Defends Our Constitution Against Right-Wing Hypocrites and Nutjobs by Ed Asner and Ed. Weinberger

An Advent Reflection

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​Last year I was all gung-ho about Advent. I think it may have been the first time I had a real understanding of what it was all about. Coming from secular Christmas to religious Christmas took me from the Santa countdown to the more solemn, restfulness of Advent. Or is it restlessness? Having the excitement build without the harriedness of worrying about presents or stockings or dinner was a true revelation. All of that will manage to happen regardless. The realization that Christmas could be had without the crazy or at least with a lot of the crazy at bey was eye-opening and very satisfying.

This year however is, I don’t know how to describe it. I’m not ambivalent and i’m looking forward to the next few weeks of anticipation. I have a wonderful devotional book written by an acquaintance, and three days in, she’s expressing what I’m feeling, but there’s something missing. Is it because my house is a mess? Is it the constant noise of the kids? The never ending “what’s for dinner”, the ‘are we there yet’ of the weekday.1

I wake up each day unsure of what i want from the day. If I don’t attend the 9am mass for whatever reason, I typically don’t do morning prayers. It feels odd to me. I don’t know why that is. It may have more to do with how I’m perceived in my house.l Could I just simply go downstairs each morning, light one of my scented candles, hold a talisman or my rosary and give myself over to G-d? It feels foreign. It sounds so simple and yet in my mind it feels impossible. 

I’d be interrupted. I’d be questioned. Not in a terrible, judgmental way, but starting something new is the impossibility. Seemingly.

Climbing Mt. Everest is impossible.

Running a four minute mile is impossible.

Eating one Lay’s potato chip is impossible.

Spending a few moments in G-d’s presence shouldn’t be.

I could try it out tomorrow, couldn’t I?

Instead of beginning my day with Facebook and Instagram, emails and Twitter as I usually do, instead of bemoaning the state of affairs of this country, perhaps I could pad downstairs, boil some water for a cup of tea, light a candle and read the two minute devotional. When that’s complete, I can read the day’s Scripture readings. Then just sit for a time. Finish up with the rosary.

I think that sounds like a plan. Maybe that’s all I needed – a plan.

I tend to be self-defeatist. It’s too late to start. I started late so what’s the point? Advent is only four days in (at this writing). There are still eighteen days to go. That’s more than four-fifths of the season.

As you read this, today’s Scriptures are:

Isaiah 35:1-10, Psalm 85, and Luke 5:17-26.

A few thoughts I had on them as they came upon me:

bloom, joyful song, strengthen, make firm. Be strong, fear not. no beast of prey. “They will meet with joy and gladness, sorrow and mourning will flee.”

– – –

kindness and truth shall meet, justice and peace shall kiss.

– – –

lowered the man on the stretcher – where there’s a will, there’s a way. “we have seen incredible things today.”

– – – 

Don’t we see incredible things every day? Or is just that we’re hyper-aware during Advent?

Is it possible that when we’re told to slow down, we have a knee-jerk reaction and start a new to-do list?

We are our own worst enemy.

We can be self-sacrificing, but we are also so easily self-sabotaging. My personal foible is the television and the clutter. The television can be my therapy, one of my coping tools, but it also keeps me from writing. I get stuck in a vortex of television as meditation. My son clutters my office, and when I see it, instead of simply moving it where he’ll see it and take care of it, I’ll leave it for him and then do nothing productive because I’m being bombarded with the clutter.

Perhaps, if I can be hyper-aware about the incredible things, i can be hyper-aware of these things, and ignore my base instinct of can’t, and just do.

Even just sitting in the presence, eyeing the flickering light of the candle, feeling the warmth of the tea on my palms through the porcelain, hearing yesterday’s choir during mass in my head, anticipating the coming of Jesus, and remembering what he has personally brought to my own life.

It is a short Advent, but it’s not too late to start something positive. It is never too late for that.

(c)2017

Nanowrimo – A Final Assessment

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​Nanowrimo is in the wind until next year. I do not have any solid plans for what i’ll do next year, but this year was, by my estimation a success. No, I did not meet the 50,000 word goal, but I did have more words written at the end of November than at the beginning, and for me, that is a worthy accomplishment.

I have been talking about writing a book about my journeys through Wales since I graduated from college, lo many years ago, and I’ve never been able to get it off the ground. Part of that is the vastness of this project. Another are that the questions of where do I begin and where do I focus have been nagging at me since, well, since the beginning.

As I have studied the English and literature fields, both as a teacher and a writer, there have been many evolutions since I first set foot in Wales and found a calling that has stuck with me, and affected much of my spiritual life. And whether religious or not, it is truly spiritual. Literature has gone from one genre per publication to multi-genres and mult-focuses. interconnectedness. Connecting the dots of the many facets of our lives.

Is it possible that I was waiting for something rather than procrastinating? Perhaps that is what I was waiting for whether I knew that’s what I was waiting for or not. For years, decades, it felt like self-loathing and procrastination, laziness and the feelings of not being good enough to complete a compelling book and story or perhaps to even begin one, and so I never have.

I’ve continued to take notes, to write blurbs, to write dozens of outlines that then became outdated, and I’ve been relatively okay with just keeping it in my head with a question mark.

Now, I have several blurbs and beyond, ranging from as little as 75 words to as many as 3,465 in a single piece.

I’ve accepted that this is more than a memoir, which I had only accepted it being a few short years ago thanks to my library writing group.

I’ve accepted that it is a memoir, tha people may actually want to hear my stories, but it’s also more than that. It’s a travel guide – where to go, what to see, what and how to pack. It is also a spiritual guide, more of a spiritual journey that is personal to me, but also an offering of advice to begin your own journey of the spirit; a walk of faith, whatever that path may lead you to as it led me to many different and unexpected places.

I had originally intended to do some outlining and editing in December, but keeping up on this site and getting ready for the December holidays, which include innumerable church and retreat times plus sharing a car with my husband who has to actually go into work a few times each week has made this month a little more stressful than it would have usually been. I’ve decided therefore to put off the focus on the editing process and plans for what I didn’t write in November for January, specifically beginning on the 4th.

My final Nano assessment is a rousing success as far as I’m concerned. My official total for the month of November is 35, 308 words. That is just the word count for the book of Wales. I also had twenty separate posts, some writing, some photography, some art. It made me happy to work on my book and not leave this page by the wayside. Sometimes multi-tasking can be a blessing.

In the early part of next week, I will have an Advent reflection, a book review, and a reflection on Mary, only a few days past her Feast Day of the immaculate Conception.

As this month and this year comes to a close, I hope to have some surprises in store and some positive changes here, but also at home and with my spirit.

Have a blessed Advent and Holiday Season.

From Autograph to Selfie Seekers

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​When I was younger, throughout high school and college I collected autographs. I couldn’t say who was my first. I’d write letters and receive replies. The objects of my fannish obsession ranged between television and movie actors to sports figures, both professional and Olympic when they were amateurs. I received a Christmas card and a post card from Bart Conner (Olympic gymnast) and a thank you card from Randy Gardner (Olympic ice skater). I have postcards from Jon-Erik Hexum, Robert Blake, Pierce Brosnan, and Linda Kelsey, one of my fictional journalist heroes. I met Telly Savalas in a Long Island diner once and waited outside the Nassau Coliseum to meet Don Maloney, Ron Duguay, and Mike Allison of the New York Rangers. I finally met Bart Conner in a shopping mall autograph event with his wife, Nadya Comeneci. My and and I both received separate lovely letters from Mr. Rogers, each one in tune for our individuality, his at five, mine as a bit older mom of a five year old.

I don’t know when I stopped.

Somewhere along the way, autograph collecting made space for selfies and social media likes. I was thinking about this earlier in the week. Ed Asner liked my tweet about his new book. It made my day. Sam Smith of Supernatural liked my post about  my Halloween cosplay as her character Mary Winchester. John Barrowman liked when I welcomed him to the 50 Club. Yvette Nicole Brown has actually comforted me when I was feeling lost.

These are all the ways we connect with the public people who help us through the day. They inspire us, they advise us, and they help us feel less invisible.

Our heroes have always been the ones who we can be, inspire us to do better, fill us with ideas of the things we could do with just a little positivity, a little encouragement, a little push in the right direction. I told Ed Asner that his Lou Grant was one of the reasons I began writing. Linda Kelsey was a female journalist on television at a time when there weren’t that many in real life. That show, and those actors were some of the reasons I took a journalism class in high school.

Yvette Nicole Brown, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Misha Collins, President Jimmy Carter.

And I will always get excited when  celebrity likes my tweet or instagram photo. It is ther same thrill as receiving the California postmarked envelope with who knows what inside. The biggest difference is the immediacy; the instant gratification of a response, although I suppose the anticipation of the autograph had equal value as the ping on the smartphone.

Our heroes are in the palm of our hands – their photos, their quotes, their memes, their ways of communication. We are much more in tune with each other, and much more available for one another.

49/52 – December

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​December used to be cold and miserable. Snow and wind, sleet and hail. And as the climate changed so did December. I never worked on my birthday. From college on, no classes, no work. One birthday I went on a job interview and for a drug test. I almost got into a head on collision. That should have been a sign.

I usually take the day to myself, have a Starbucks breakfast, go shopping, stop by into Target and get one or two Christmas ornaments, a Moose, a Mary, something for someone, maybe even write.

This year, it’s Sunday, so I’ll stay home with the family, quietly, although…

Supermoon?

Mercury in retrograde? Is that good or bad?

Chanukah, Christmas, and New Year’s approaching quickly; too quickly.

But it’s still early in December, still time to enjoy the quiet before the last minute rush, before school recesses, holiday parties, last minute wrapping.

The quiet of the house is a reminder that quiet can be found throughout December. Light a candle, read a book, say a prayer. Have a cup of tea. Every day is an opportunity to slow down and look past the noise and see what’s really important.

Day two of Advent calls. Editing Nano calls. The kids call.

But I think I’ll light a candle and drink this tea.

And…slow…down.