Monday, November 30, 2015

Gratitude & Forgiveness Are The Keys To An Abundant Life~



Thanksgiving has always been my favorite American holiday. I love the concept of giving thanks for blessings and sharing good food and laughter with family.  While Christmas has morphed into a culture of commercialism, spending and creating the expectation of gifts, Thanksgiving is still reserved for celebrating what we already have.

Learning to live a life of abundance took a lot of work rebooting my mindset, recalibrating my expectations, letting go of negativity and resentments, accepting people as they are, surrounding myself with positivity, avoiding toxic people, and treating myself with kindness and love. Fortunately there are readily available tools to help all of us on the path to an abundant life.  I was helped along the way with finding recovery in Al Anon, the inspiration of Louise Hay, the guidance of Doreen Virtue, the peace & serenity from practicing yoga, permission from stylist Brenda Kinsel to celebrate who I am with clothes and accessories, and making the decision to accept that I deserve love, happiness, good fortune, excellent health, joy and abundance.

Interestingly, all of the tools that brought me a life of gratitude and abundance presented similar paths to enlightenment. The most important thing that I've learned it to let go of resentments and be willing to forgive those who have either harmed or just annoyed me. That includes letting myself off the hook for past actions, reactions or inactions. I've found it really is healing and cathartic to periodically let go and forgive each person, place or thing that I've allowed to cause me angst in a ritual way. I performed this exercise most recently over the holiday weekend and felt uplifted when I completed my emotional cleansing.

It really is true that holding a grudge or a resentment is toxic. Letting go frees us for living a lighter, happier, more joyful existence and gives us the space to see the abundance we already have in the people we love, in the ability to hear birds sing, see a sunset, smell the rain, feel the warmth of a beloved pet curled up next to us on a chair,  and to celebrate the small miracles of the everyday.

It isn't always easy. But when I remember to be grateful, to let go, and to accept abundance into my life - it flows.







Monday, November 16, 2015

My Idealogical Conundrum Regarding Syrian Refugees

The sonnet by Emma Lazarus, The New Colossus, is engraved on the pedestal of the  Statue of Liberty~

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

This sonnet has been the beacon of light to refugees and immigrants since France gifted the USA with Lady Liberty, a symbol of welcome to those who have fled tyranny. 

Many of my loved ones ardently believe that the USA should deny vetted Syrian refugees asylum in this land of ours that was formed by immigrants fleeing legal, economical, or religious persecution in their homelands. Others that came to this continent were adventures seeking fame or fortune and thought nothing of displacing or conquering the native population. History is replete with stories of conquerors and the conquered; despots and tyrants causing people to seek refuge in other places; of war, destitution, famine, injustice or genocide. We, the people of the USA, are all decedents of immigrants. Even those identified as Native Americans traveled here from other lands. 

I've made no secret about my opposition to amnesty for illegal immigrants. But I will argue vociferously for the right of those who are truly dispossessed to resettle here. I refuse to paint all Syrians will the brush of terrorism. I refuse to blame all Muslims for the actions of extremists who co-opt their religion for an excuse to commit atrocities any more than I blame all Christians for the extreme views of the religious right in our current political struggles that advocate denying equal rights to all citizens.

The very foundation of our modern society calls us to welcome those who are homeless. And for those who espouse Christianity, it is against the tenets of the faith to deny shelter to those who are homeless, clothes to those who are naked, food to those who are hungry, care to those who are sick, and compassion to those who are bereft. 

While I am filled with anger and sadness over any act of violence against innocent civilians, I cannot in good faith cast blame against the fleeing citizens of a war zone. Just as we may argue that the death penalty may be unjust if one innocent person is executed, perhaps we should consider that denying refugee status to truly innocent refugees would be wrong even if one evil doer  passed the stringent vetting process of the State Department. Perhaps, kindness and compassion would change the heart of that jihadi. 



Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Obsessed By Perfume ~



I am not one of those women with a signature perfume. My appreciation for scents changes from day to day, week to week, year to year, and decade to decade.  The only perfumes of my young adulthood that still appeal to me are Chanel No. 5 and Shalimar – despite the sad truth that the compositions of both have changed. 

Nearly every time I wander through the perfume counters at Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdales, Saks, Nordstrom or a charming boutique with niche fragrances I have to test a new scent.  It is critical for me to wear a new perfume for several hours to determine if I will like it on my skin after the top notes have faded.  At this point in my life I will only wear perfume. Lesser concentrations disappear too quickly. And I tend to buy smaller bottles or atomizers so I can indulge in expensive fragrances.



Fragrance is personal. What smells divine on one person may cause another to squirm. What prompted my article this evening – an insert in the latest Nordstrom catalog with the new delectable Narciso Rodriguez perfume. I feel a longing to try it.

The current lovely fragrances on my dresser include Bottega Veneta, Hermes Caleche, Dolce & Gabbana “The One” (although I still prefer the original Dolce & Gabbana fragrance), Lancôme “La Vie et Belle”, Rodin, Hermes “24 Faubourg”, Lalique, Hana Mori “Butterfly”, Chanel No. 5, Shalimar, Patou “Joy”. And Aqua di Parma “Gelsomino Nobile”.




My greatest fragrance regret is that I did not stock up on the incomparable “Venezia” by Laura Biagiotti when it was readily available 20 years ago. This was such a sublime fragrance that it never occurred to me that it would be discontinued. And the new launch is just a shadow of the original, which to me is indescribably delicious.



But I’ve no doubt there will be other delightful scents that call to me. My taste us ever evolving. I mean really – in the 80’s I wore Giorgio!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

The Ridiculous Brouhaha by the Left Over Voter ID Laws ~



Vote early; Vote often; touted the Tammany Hall politicos! Election fraud is not a new concept. And the laws that several states have enacted that require a photo identification card are not unreasonable and should no more disenfranchise a citizen of this country than a lack of public transportation.


Why would these requirements keep legitimate voters from the polls? These are the everyday activities in which I engage that require a photo ID:

1)   Purchase wine, beer or alcohol in a liquor store, grocery store, restaurant, bar, or gas station;
2)   Purchase cigarettes;
3)   Drive a car;
4)   Rent a car;
5)   Write a check;

6)   Open a bank account;
7)   Buy a firearm;
8)   Apply for a credit card;
9)   Confirm eligibility for employment (I needed 2 forms of official ID);
10)                   Go through TSA at the airport;
11)                  Board an airplane;
12)                  Board an Amtrak train;
13)                   Adopt a cat or dog from the Humane Society;
14)                   Rent an apartment;
15)                   Check into a hotel;
16)                  Enter some court houses;
17)                  Apply for a mortgage;
18)                  Applying for my insurance licenses in various states;
19)                   Enter buildings with security;
20)                   Access a military base;

21)                   Access my office;
22)                  Public library to obtain a library card;
23)                   To purchase certain chemicals;
24)                   To pick up an unaccompanied minor at the airport;
25)                   Visit the White House!
26)                  Visiting EPA Headquarters;

These are just a few of the daily activities that require one or more forms of identification. When I lived overseas I was advised to have my passport with me always for identification.  Why is it considered an assault on the rights of minorities to require the same identification that is required to buy wine or cigarettes or to adopt a cat?  It shouldn’t be. Instead it is pandering and inflammatory for no legitimate reason. 



Tuesday, November 3, 2015

The Responsibility of Every Citizen to Vote! You Fought for it, Exercise the Right!



Disdain for our elected officials is at an all time high. There are significant divisions along party lines and within the two predominant political parties. But also, voter apathy is a contributing factor.

In particular women and people of color feel disenfranchised.  But voter apathy and the failure of all citizens to exercise their right – no responsibility as a citizen of this country – to vote is a cause of the polarization.  The apathy or anger that keeps women and people of color from the polls gives power to the far right or far left with agendas that have stymied Washington.

My parents taught me from an early age that if I do not cast my vote I have not right to complain about the state of affairs. It does not matter if the candidates in the primaries or general elections are running unopposed. I can write in a name in protest if I do not support the unopposed candidate. But I cannot rightly argue about the state of the precinct, county, city, state or nation if I do not participate in the process.
 
Many people think that a single vote doesn’t count. But it does. Many elections have been won or lost by just a few votes. My father at one time lost a city council election by less than 40 votes.

Apathy results in the status quo. Change is possible. But it begins with each one of us making the effort to vote, encouraging like-minded people to run for office, and starting with local elections. 


 Remember those who marched, fought, went to jail, suffered beatings and were victims of murder to achieve
the vote for women and people of color. Consider that women did not have the right to case a vote until 1920. That is less than 100 years! While the 15 Amendment gave Black men the right to vote in 1870, there was still harsh intimidation and violence preventing the exercise of that vote, which necessitated the Civil Rights movement that resulted in the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

 

We as citizen of the United States of America have rights and privileges that others throughout the world envy. We have the right to select those who govern us. Let us not abdicate our responsibilities and rights lest some of those extremists take away our rights to enjoy the rights to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness that our forefathers envisioned.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Halloween For Adults~ A Murder Mystery Party



My spousal unit and I stepped out of our comfort zone to participate in a murder mystery party for Halloween. We are no strangers to dressing in costume as Civil War living historians and I’ve always loved donning costume for any occasion, but this was different.

We were invited to portray characters in Murder at the Maverick Saloon. Each participant was provided with a name and outline of our character’s story. One person was the murderer.  When we arrived we were given additional background and tried to stay in character. After the untimely death of Ed Malone at the speakeasy, an investigation into the death proceeded.

Flappers, gangsters, politicians, female aviators, fashion designers, torch singers, down & out detectives, suffragettes and saucy woman club owner gathered to dance, smoke, and sip “bees knees’ cocktails!

Everybody was high spirited, good natured, enthusiastic and had great fun staying in character. What a delightful way to celebrate Halloween, life and friendship.


I had the pleasure of campaigning for women’s suffrage. Todd portrayed a bit of a shady character that relished facilitating things for the deceased.  Neither of us committed the heinous crime. But we had a grand time indulging in fantasy for a few hours.  Thanks to Chris, Gina& Jessica!