Thursday, November 27, 2014

Celebrating Gratitude ~ Thanksgiving 2014

I feel blessed that for the past 10 years, after much self-discovery and soul searching, I’ve reached a place in life where I try to celebrate an attitude of gratitude every day. But Thanksgiving is, for me, celebrating gratitude on steroids. It has always been my favorite holiday, one that I’ve cherished for the gathering of loved ones and the focus on my blessings.

For the past several years we have invited family members to gather in our home so we can share food, drink, good cheer, and togetherness. This year, however, we found ourselves on our own thanks to the intervention of Mother Nature and my father-in-law’s knee replacement surgery. Initially I was devastated that our parents were unable to join us; but I also understood that I must accept what is and be thankful that my parents and in-laws are still relatively healthy and still in our lives.  So, we adjusted. And we give thanks for our blessings.

Through my personal growth and spiritual enlightenment I’ve learned to celebrate my good fortune and express gratitude everyday. But I’m still enchanted with a day set aside for giving thanks in our world controlled by commercial ventures.

On this Thanksgiving, November 27, 2014, I am particularly thankful for~
·      My marriage with my soul mate, Todd Harrington, who I met 2/7/2005; everyday is a joy!
·      my good fortune in having my delightful parental units, Richard and Eileen Copeland, still a vibrant and healthy part of our lives;
·      Jan and Norm Harrington, my in-laws, who welcomed me to their family and always made me feel a part of the family;
·      The chance to be a grandmother even though I have no children of my own;
·      Friends that I’ve maintained over decades; we may not see one another or talk often, but when we do it is like no time has passed;
·      A career that has provided me with a steady income, the flexibility to work from home, and the respect of peers and business associates;
·      The opportunities I’ve had to travel the world, experience life in different countries, understand what it means to be a minority in another world, the chance to see places of which I’d only dreamed. and meeting fascinating people;
·      Good food, excellent wine, 3 acres of solitude in rural Virginia, the silence of a holiday morning when the roads are snow covered, the joy of watching the birds at the feeder on a cold winter morning;
·      Excellent health, fitness and Dharma Studio where I practice yoga;
·      Girlfriends;
·      Rediscovering my love for the piano;
·      Learning new historic photographic processes with my husband and talented friends;
·      Virginia wineries;
·      Knowing some brilliant and amazing Civil War historians and living historians;
·      Online shopping!
·      Providing a haven for our refugee cats – from 9-12 depending on the day;
·      Getting to know the fine people I’ve met through Todd’s interests – the N-SSA Union Guards, the Hudson-Essex-Terra-plane collectors, relic hunters, and Civil War historians;
·      Home grown tomatoes from organic heritage plants;
·      The beauty of northern Virginia;
·      Memories of getting married on the veranda of the Villa Sirio in Santa Maria di Castellebate by the local mayor;
·      Cashmere;
·      Tieks ballet flats;
·      Living in the USA!
·      Our forefathers who created our great country and negotiated to form the document we now recognize as our Constitution;
·      The memories of my grandparents, great aunts and uncles, and all those who helped make my who I am today;
·      Lasik!
·      Our espresso machine;
·      Modern plumbing and electricity;
·      Air travel;
·      Cookies;
·      Apple!
·      Music;
·      Books;
·      My education;
·      Learning from my past;
·      Peace, serenity and the ability to recognize and appreciate joy!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Want Change? Try VOTING Instead of Rioting, Looting, Burning & Vandalism

The news images of the destruction wrought by angry protestors in Ferguson, Missouri are disturbing on so many levels. While one can understand that people of color continue to feel frustration that the “system” still has a long way to go before the rule of law is applied entirely fairly, destroying other peoples’ personal property, businesses and neighborhoods inexcusable.  The protestors committing crimes against people and property should all be arrested and prosecuted.

The Constitution gives us the right for peaceful gathering and protest, the right of free speech, the right to bear arms to hunt and protect ourselves, the rights to exercise religion or not according to one’s own beliefs, and the RIGHT TO VOTE. While it may have been a long, winding and bloody road American Citizens of every race, color, heritage, creed, sex and physical disability/ability over the age of 18 without felony convictions have the right to vote in every state.  Use it! People gave their lives for the right to vote. We all have a duty to exercise that right.

If you want to change your community, vote in municipal, county, borough, township, precinct, city and state elections.  While the majority of voters, which are by no means a majority of eligible citizens, will vote in a presidential election, the turnouts for off year elections are abysmal. People complain about government but don’t even exercise the right to select their elected officials to Congress. Gubernatorial elections in non-presidential years rarely cause a stir. While selecting the men and women who serve in this positions may influence federal and state laws, the real power over our daily lives lies with those elected to state legislatures and local positions of authority.

In most municipalities or counties the prosecutor is an elected official. Judges are elected officials. The sheriff is an elected official. County Commissioners and city counsel representatives are elected to office. The school board members are elected. In some jurisdictions the police chief is elected.  If you want to change the system, vote in your local elections.  If you believe the prosecutor or sheriff is biased, vote them out of office.  Run for a local office yourself or encourage people you respect in your community to run for local positions.  If you can incite somebody to riot, turn over police cars, and burn liquor stores, then surely you have the charisma to convince people to vote for you to try to affect change peacefully. 

Violence begets violence.  Many Americans of diverse backgrounds feel compassion for the parents of Michael Brown, who have lost their child. However, the criminal reaction of the angry mob has turned the public against those seeking change through more violence. 

Instead of looking up to star athletes as role models, consider instead these individuals who have achieved success by staying in school and working hard to change the system from within:

Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, Jr., Colin Powell, Barack Obama, Condoleezza Rice, Thurgood Marshall, Booker T. Washington, the Tuskegee Airmen, Anita Hill, Shirley Chisholm, Barbara Jordan, Robert Smalls, Coleman Young, Julian Bond, David Dinkins, Douglas Wilder, Carole Moseley Braun, Andrew Young, Michael Steele, Clarence Thomas, Joycelyn Elders, Willie Williams (former Chief of the LAPD) newly elected D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, President of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives Dr. Cedric Alexander who is the Public Safety Director of DeKalb County, Georgia. and Charles Ramsey, Police Commissioner of Philadelphia who is President of the Major Cities Police Chiefs Association and the incomparable Eleanor Holmes Norton who has represented the District of Columbia as a non-voting member of the House of Representatives since 1991.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Surviving a Weekend of Home & Yard Maintenance ~

The weekend before Thanksgiving means, for us, a top to bottom cleansing of our humble abode to eradicate as much kitty dander as we can to ensure minimal disruptions to the nasal passages of our allergic parental units.  Its not that our efforts actually work; the cats still live here and shed their allergens with every breath. But, the house actually needs cleaning twice a year anyway.

So, the hazards associated with my “brilliant” ideas this weekend:

·      While helping Todd install our new 8 foot sink in the dark room, one end
was dropped in the fleshy area between my right thumb and index finger, pinning my hand to the stand. Ouch!

·      Outdoor feline resident Molly Cakes surreptitiously entered the basement while General Sherman was burning crates and made her way upstairs. She did not want to go back outside and I have the scratch marks on my fingers and arm as evidence.

·      I learned that although Barkeepers Friend is a fabulous product for removing tarnish on silver, it also. …scratches the silver. I figured if it was okay for copper it was okay for silver. I was advised that I was wrong and essentially ruined a coffee pot. I thought it looked nice.  So, it I have to polish silver the old fashioned way, I don’t want silver.

·      Stepladders still have it in for me. I know, inanimate objects cannot be imbued with human characteristics. But really, the entire species of stepladders seem to entice me with the appearance of safety and stability only to flick me off when I’m on the top step. So, for fans of CLUE – Miss Scarlet in the kitchen with the stepladder while cleaning the top of the refrigerator!

·      Window washing is another dangerous activity. I should have listened to my mother! And there is no sun in the winter months so why oh why did I think it necessary to wash my office windows. Yep, the window came out of the frame – again.  Todd felt the need to show me the correct way to open the window for washing – which I already know! But it doesn’t work that way for me. Nope. I have a 20 -year history of adverse results trying to wash tilt out windows.

·      A rose bush attacked me while I was raking. Fortunately, my 9-year-old Irish fisherman’s sweater protected most of my flesh. But somehow, while trying to pull the leaves out from under a particularly vicious plant, my left ear got caught on thorns and my sweater became entangled as well. It was not a pretty site. I think I have a new piercing in my left ear!

·      I did discover where the cats enjoy their wild game – under the weigela
Yes, there were any number of colorful feathers mixed among the leaves and debris.  I’ve tried to explain they should only eat blackbirds. Leave the pretty birdies alone!