My Polish Grandmother ~

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At age 18, my grandmother left her family, her friends and her country to come to America. Land of the free and home of the brave. She left the family farm in northern Poland, in a region that depending on the time in history was ruled by the Polish or the Russians, to find opportunity. To build a new life. To be free. It was 1908 and she left her home town in Poland and boarded a train to travel across Germany where she would then board a ship with so many others looking for the same freedom. Ultimately, she reached the shores of America and I can only imagine both her excitement and fear when she first saw Ellis Island in the distance as the ship sailed closer.

These photos were taken by me in the early 1980’s, when Ray and I visited NYC for a weekend while still living in the Boston area. At that time Ellis Island was closed to processing immigrants and in a terrible state of disrepair. However, the Park Dept. did offer boat trips from Battery Park to visit the structure. I feel so fortunate to have visited when I did. It was closed a few years later and a major restoration took place turning it into a museum, but I got to see it before the restoration when it still had the “feel” of so many….those tired, poor, struggling people yearning to breathe free.

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The Door of Tears ~ Those who didn’t pass the physicals/questions were turned back and left through these doors

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I still remember the excitement I felt to retrace a small part of the journey that my grandmother took 74 years earlier. As the boat drew closer and I saw Ellis Island, this beacon of hope to so many, I felt a lump in my throat. Because once again I recalled the story of my grandmother when she left Poland. I had grown up hearing this story and even as a young child, it broke my heart. As an adult, and in light of the events of this past weekend, my heart breaks all over again.

My grandmother’s older brother had left Poland a couple of years before. He had been sponsored by a Polish attorney, now living in Salem, Massachusetts. The brother rented a room in the attorney’s home, found a job and then sponsored his sister, Julia, to come. As much as she also wanted this opportunity, she was reluctant to leave her parents and younger siblings. But her mother kept encouraging her. She actually showed a lack of emotion about her daughter immigrating to a new country. She never cried. Ever. She only supported her daughter with the hope for a better life. The morning of departure arrived and Julia’s parents and siblings stood on the train platform saying their goodbyes. Julia boarded the train, found a window seat and saw her parents still on the platform waving their farewells of encouragement. The train began to move with Julia still looking back out the window. And for some reason, the train stopped momentarily. And in that moment Julia saw and felt the absolute devastation her mother was experiencing. Sobbing, she had collapsed onto the platform, screaming and crying. Julia’s father was attempting to console her. And that, that emotional scene, was to be the last time Julia ever saw her mother again. And that scene has been burned into my mind all of my life. And quite possibly, formed the compassion and empathy I have always felt for immigrants and refugees….people only wanting what I was so fortunate to be born to. My grandmother also settled in Salem, married a few years later, had five sons and one daughter, six grandchildren, and twelve great-grandchildren. She was a devout Catholic and attended daily mass at the Polish church in Salem, led a good and productive life and lived to be age 95. And despite exchanging letters, over many years, through two world wars, she never saw her parents or younger siblings again. So being an immigrant does have a price to pay. Yet, I would bet that every single one would still prefer the choice they made.

Of course we want our country to be safe! That goes without saying. However, keeping it safe cannot be accomplished in the ill-equipped way that it was last Friday. Creating chaos at airports around the world. Detaining people who had been properly vetted and held green cards. People who risked THEIR lives helping our military. And it certainly cannot be accomplished by putting our military in terrible danger. Or by inflicting more risk to this country based on the possibly unconstitutional and inexperienced manner in which this was carried out in the blink of an eye.

See you here next time……..

Where to begin . . .

So much is going on in the news, I almost don’t know where to begin! But the immigration fiasco going on has me both sad and shaking my head. What on earth was “he” thinking? People who have been vetted for at least two years, board a flight and are en route when he signs his executive orders. Only to arrive at JFK, put in handcuffs and detained.  It’s becoming more and more obvious that he has no clue how to govern! Something I’ve said from the time he descended that escalator. It’s also obvious there’s no communication and a total lack of experience in that White House. Yeah, not sure about you, but I don’t find any of this very assuring.

OF course we should not allow people who have not been vetted into our country! Seems to me President Obama and his policies were on top of this. Except for 911, the incidents here were done by home-grown terrorists. And now what is going on at JFK and airports across our country is exploding. Again I say…..experience IS everything and I’m afraid we’re all going to reap the results of a complete lack of it. And he’s so delusional, he says “it’s working out very nicely.” Referring to what’s going on at the airports. Nicely? Nicely for whom?

In other news…..have any of you knitters seen the news about the owner of the yarn shop in Franklin, TN, called The Joy of Knitting? Here’s the link. https://www.good.is/articles/knitting-store-marching

Yes, it’s her yarn shop and yes, it’s her choice to ban those who marched from purchasing pink yarn at her shop and to call the women “vile and evil.”  Although, due to the backlash she’s received, she might be rethinking her decision. Or not. Where I have a huge problem with this is when mixing business and politics. I feel it’s tacky and very unprofessional. Those of you who visit my personal page at Facebook know I had a similar encounter with a business woman. The owner of a local tour bus company that my Red Hat group used.

When I had my contracts with Kensington, I did book signings throughout the southeast. Some were obviously owned by “Christian” women. They make sure you know this. And trust me, I had to bite my tongue a number of times. Especially in Mississippi and Alabama. And even if you don’t know me personally, you can probably tell from my blog that I speak out and speak up. Always. EXCEPT when it was business related. And signing books was my business. Although I could have contributed a lot to the conversations by the women customers in those shops, I did not. It wasn’t the place or the time.

And speaking of the right place and right time…I have another issue in relation to this, but I’ll save it for another time.

I’m just so sad about the state of our country. But sadness doesn’t accomplish anything. So now that I’ve vented, I’ll take a deep breath and focus on the upcoming actions my organizations and groups will be taking.

See you here next time…….

 

 

 

Curiosity ~

Remember that old saying, “Curiosity killed the cat.” I always loved the rejoinder, “But satisfaction brought it back.”

As a child, my mother used to always say that my favorite word was, “why?” This is one of the many things I love about children . . . their curiosity. Because that is how they learn. If you don’t ask, you don’t know. So its always made me sad when someone says, “This might be a stupid question, but . . . ” I encountered this both in my nursing career and my writing career. There are NO stupid questions. None. Hopefully, if answered correctly, it will provide information, inspiration, imagination and stimulate more thought.

In my home, as a child and teen, I asked a multitude of questions. Constantly. And I read books. A lot of books. Both fiction and non-fiction. No, I wasn’t that child in grade school or the teen in high school who always had my hand up to either give an answer or ask a question. I’d have to say that in the school environment, I tended to fade into the background. However, by the time I was age 25 and attending college for the first time…..I came into my stride. I was like a sponge. I loved absorbing all the information available, but now rather than sitting quietly through a lecture, I questioned things I didn’t understand or didn’t make sense. I love details! Maybe its the writer in me, but I love hearing something and then pondering the information to process it. It might be a conversation in a social setting or something I’ve read or heard on the news. Not a day goes by that I don’t use Google at least a few times to find my answers. I’ll never forget my father always saying, “If I live to be a hundred, I’ll always have a thirst for knowledge.” And that’s what curiosity leads to…………knowledge.

So I find it worrisome and troubling that today curiosity seems to be on a downside. Children are absorbed with electronic devices to play games. I feel their imaginations have been stifled, rather than encouraged. Parents watch reality show television more than they view important documentaries about history, the environment, culture, etc.

And so, I guess we shouldn’t be surprised that in this society of Kardashians, Duck Dynasty, the Bachelor, etc. that our election went the way it did. After all, even our current President admitted he is not a reader. Why should he be? He has stated he knows more than the Generals and many others. He brags constantly that he’s smart. Personally, I find it very disturbing when someone, anyone, lacks curiosity because they truly feel there is nothing they could learn.  Quite simply…..he lacks intellectual curiosity! And that I find to be extremely disturbing!

Just my reflections…..and I’ll see you here next time.

Let’s Clarify . . .

I want to say that if you read my welcome page here, you saw that yes, I was going to write about a variety of topics. And I will.  However, my main reason for starting this blog was for me to write. To be able to write with freedom about issues and thoughts that were important to me. When I was under contract with Kensington for my fiction novels, never once did I mention politics either in my stories or on my author Facebook page. I felt it simply wasn’t right to mix politics and “business.”

However, now that I’m no longer under contract I feel justified to choose my subject matter for my blog. And during this vitally important week with so much going on politically, this is what I chose to write about.

Which leads me to the word “politics.” According to Webster, the definition of politics is: The principles, aims, or policies of a government or of the parties or groups within a government.

This pretty much covers most aspects of our lives. All of our lives. In one way or another. If you’re 65 or older, do you have Medicare or know someone who does? Do you have children or grandchildren in school? Do you want to breathe clean air and drink safe water? Do you want safety when you travel? Protections when you work? Are you getting my point?

Okay, you don’t have to be a political junkie (as I admit I am) but I would hope that you would exercise your right to vote. And if you do that, I would also hope that before you cast any vote you would have done even minimal research on how that candidate feels in relation to the above issues and so many more. Because civil rights, women’s rights, health care, any of the rights, protections, etc. do not happen by osmosis. We vote for them! And to coin the phrase that’s been flying around all week………..Elections have consequences! For good. And for bad.

So it makes me sad when someone buries their head in the sand. And while one doesn’t have to be addicted to politics, I would hope they are at least aware enough to make informed choices when it counts. On the ballot.

And with all of this said, yes, I will be writing about other things. I promise. But I feel the past few days were not the time to do that.

See you here next time…………

We’ve Only Just Begun 

Whew! It’s been a busy morning, but a very fulfilling one. Tuesdays have been designated as Action Tuesday by the Indivisible Group. So far, I’ve called Senator Rubio’s office, Senator Nelson’s office, sent an email to Diane Feinstein per her request. If you marched on Saturday, or know someone who did, please do the same. Feinstein wants 2-4 sentences explaining why you marched and what it meant. She will be incorporating messages AND most likely the sheer NUMBER of emails she gets, in her opening statement TOMORROW at the Sessions hearing for the Senate Judiciary Committee. Send emails to:  Sean_Elsbernd@feinstein.senate.gov and to Caitlin_Meyer@feinstein.senate.gov  Recommended subject line: WHY I MARCHED

One of our local Indivisible Groups will be going to Sen. Rubio’s office in Orlando today to bring letters from all of us and ask questions. So yesterday, I did my letter and got that to the group.

And so, I had to smile when I heard Chris Matthews last night on MSNBC talking about the March’s and saying, “Did they (the organizers) get their (us) numbers?” In other words, NOW what? Well, Chris, we’ve only just begun! While the marches were profound, meaningful and uplifting, that was only the beginning! We have all signed on for this. We know the road ahead won’t be easy. But we will NOT stop, we will not go backwards and we REFUSE to allow our rights to be taken away or trampled on.

I have heard stories from a few women telling me that during the election they were not allowed to discuss Hillary in their home. Their husband was voting for Trump and he did not want to hear about Hillary. Another one told me that on Nov. 8 her husband purposely stayed home from work in order to make sure she did NOT vote! Because he knew she’d cast a vote for Hillary. I find this heartbreaking! Absolutely heartbreaking! It’s surreal to think that this is actually happening in this day and age. But it IS.

And so……this is just one of the many reasons why I am involved. Why I will march. Why I will take the time to make phone calls, send emails, and do whatever I can to ensure that ALL women have a voice! Because not to do so would diminish me not only as a woman………..but also as a human being!

See you here next time…….

Women’s March

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Women’s Sister March Daytona Beach

I was thrilled to be able to join the Women’s Sister March in Daytona Beach yesterday. I had recently signed up for Indivisible national group online. (If you haven’t done so yet, and you want to be involved, you might want to google and check it out) And through the national group, I was very happy to learn there was a newly formed local group right here in Ormond Beach. When I got in touch with them, I learned they would be marching yesterday. So I hooked up with them and we marched together.

As I’ve said, even though I’m a product of the 60’s I never marched or protested before. I was a busy, young mom during the time of civil rights, women’s rights and Vietnam marches. But yesterday all the activism I’ve had all these years was ready to come out.

It was so energizing, exhilarating and uplifting! Just to be with SO many like-minded people was wonderful! We were a diverse group……mostly women, but some men, gays, blacks, moms with strollers, a couple of people walking their dogs on leashes. All of us American’s. All of us united. But most important……….all of us EQUAL!

As we began the march and walked over the bridge to A1A, I couldn’t help but think of John Lewis and his profound walk from Selma to Montgomery. And all these years later, we were still walking to protect those rights! Voting rights.

I was quite surprised at the support we received. Many, many cars drove past us, slowed down, blew horns, yelled encouragement, and cheered us on.

We marched for women’s rights, protecting the environment, health care, gay rights, immigrants, Muslims and every part of society our current President has not promised to protect. But WE will protect each other!

It was an emotional day for me. To be part of history and to DO something. However, this is only the beginning. I’m very excited to have joined my local Indivisible group…..and a great bonus was making four new wonderful female friends, Risa, Cam, Lindy and Wendy. Being with you all day yesterday was just the inspiration I needed. The inspiration that disappeared on the morning of November 9.

Thank you to all of the amazing people around the world who also supported us yesterday. The marches here in our country exceeded expectations. And now, we keep going forward. So tomorrow call your Rep and/or Senator. Let them know how YOU feel about the upcoming confirmations of DeVos, Tillerson, Sessions, etc. Here’s the Capitol switchboard number: 202-224-3121.

And I’ll see you here next time…………

Normal vs Aware

Yes, I’m taking deep breaths here. Because today is the day I knew would come. I’ve known it since the morning of November 9, but it still does not make it one bit easier. There’s been a lot that has bothered me since that morning, but one of the biggest things for me is to hear people say, “Get over it.” Get over it? Despite what they might think, this is NOT sour grapes! Oh, no! It’s so much more!

I wasn’t happy when Bush won either, due to a hanging chad here in Florida. But hey, we DID get over it that time. We might not have agreed with the policies, etc. but we were not dealing with a person like Trump. But this time? This time is surreal.

In 2008 the night of President Obama’s inauguration, the Republican’s met at a steak house in DC to put together a strategy to make his Admistration fail. And ultimately, they did a mighty fine job and became the party of NO. Nothing got done with their assistance. They fought him every step of the way. And factor into that Trump ranting that President Obama was not legitimate and thus, the birther movement was formed.  And Trump and the Republicans now feel offended because John Lewis said this Presidency isn’t legitimate? Russia was heavily involved. He did NOT win the popular vote. I am not saying here the electoral vote wasn’t legitimate. (Although I do not agree with it!) What I am saying is I fail to see why what Trump said was okay and what John Lewis said is not. Trump has the lowest approval rating in four decades!

I’m strong believer that if somebody says something, either right or wrong, long enough and often enough, people tend to believe it. I think this had a lot to do with the outcome of the election. So when I hear others say, “Get over it,” or to give him a chance, etc. etc. I can only shake my head. What part of the campaign and the time since the election did they not understand? Everything Trump said is what he meant. Look at who he’s installing in his cabinet. Normally, a President attempts to surround themself with the best and the brightest. Experienced people. People who know more than they do in certain areas. This is not happening! Ben Carson? A man who said himself he wasn’t qualified. Betsy DeVos? Who has zero experience with public education. Elaine Chao? Oh, but wait…..SHE is Mitch McConnell’s wife!

My point is that all of this greatly concerns me. And no matter who you voted for, it should concern you too. So don’t be lulled into a false sense of security. Don’t let the abnormal, the absurd, the comforting things you might hear lull you into a sense of well-being. Because any Administration who wants to dismantle Medicare, (Something I paid into since my first job at age 16) who wants to privatize Social Security, (Also paid into that all my working life) who wants to rip apart health care, not accept immigrants, Muslims, gays, the disabled, women’s rights……….this type of Administration? This is an Administration to watch closely. VERY closely! So no matter who you voted for, be AWARE! Pay attention. Read newspapers. Follow reputable news coverage. GET involved.

I’m concerned. I’m worried. But I am aware. And I can only wonder….If I’m feeling all of these emotions today, the day of the Inauguration, what are the marginalized people in our society feeling?

See you here next time…………

Hillbilly Elegy

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During the election cycle, I saw this author various times on MSNBC. Yes, he was promoting his novel released last summer but he was also making an attempt (as he did in the book) to explain how, exactly, the Rust Belt thought and felt in relation to the election and Trump and Clinton.

After the election, I was desperately looking everywhere for answers! I wanted someone to tell me HOW this could have happened! How a narcissistic, egomaniac, bully, with NO experience in public service or governing could possibly be elected to the highest job in our country. How a man who was so thin-skinned, wouldn’t stay off Twitter like a child, lashed out at everyone, could even consider representing this country. Suffice it to say, I still have no answers.

But I thought perhaps this memoir might help. It wasn’t a bad book. But it wasn’t a great book either. Vance did say toward the end of the book that he felt Government and policies were not the answer. I’m not sure I entirely agree with that. Welfare, food stamps, health care……….these are all provided to the people in this rural area he talks about. These people wouldn’t be able to exist without a little boost. A little help with the basics of life. But with this said, I got the feeling that they resent the very help that is given to them. I also understand they’re angry. About jobs and everything in between. But why, oh why, would they vote for a man who has already proved with the Cabinet he’s installing, he certainly is not going to make their life better. And he just might make it worse.

So I really got no answers as to “why.”  The story was mostly about his own childhood, relatives, poverty, pulling himself up and out of there to pursue an education and different lifestyle. But his story is like many others, so there was nothing there for me to learn. He also struck me as a young man (age 32) who is still floundering as to his own place in society. 

So unfortunately, I did not get out of the book what I had hoped for. Maybe there truly are no answers. One thing he did mention though was role models. And I completely agree with that. I feel bad for our children today. Both the ones in very rich families and the ones living on the poverty level. Who are their role models? Hopefully, they have family members. (Which the author said he did) But there are way too few public role models anymore. I grew up with wonderful role models. Both family and public.

My final review of the book is that unfortunately, I didn’t learn anything I didn’t know before I read it. I didn’t get any concrete answers as to why the Rust Belt voted the way they did. But one thing I did realize……….maybe I was grasping for something, anything, that might make sense of what should be a normal election into a very surreal and uncertain experience.  What are your thoughts?

Taking Action

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First of all…welcome to my first blog entry! Thank you for joining me!

As I said on my welcome page, I was busy being a young mom in the 60’s when so many college students and young people were standing up and speaking out on Vietnam, civil rights, women’s rights, etc. But I did watch the news. And I read about the coverage. And a part of me wished I could be there to join them. I was an only child and often included in my parent’s conversations about politics over the dinner table. As a child, it didn’t really affect me. Or so I thought.  But now looking back, I think it had a lot of positive influence on me. Both of my parents were staunch Democrats. Because, according to my mother, “they were for the working people.” And in the early 60’s, along came John F. Kennedy. Not only was he a Democrat. He was from my home state of Massachusetts. Need I say more?

Back then, one had to be 21 to vote, which means I could cast my first Presidential vote in 1968. I was very disappointed not to be able to do that for either Kennedy. John had been assasinated in 1963 and Robert, only a few months before the November election. So the Democrat choice that year was Hubert Humphrey. And yes, he got my vote, but it was a very luke warm one. He just didn’t stir me. And as we know, Nixon won. Which I found disappointing, because our party lost. But the years went on and I found myself getting more and more involved in politics and social issues. So that by the time 2008 arrived, as President Obama encouraged, I WAS fired up! I campaigned and volunteered for him. And the rest is history. Literally. The past eight years.

And then, along came Hillary. The possibility of our first woman President. A woman who understood and empathized with ALL the social issues I believed it. Both as a woman and as a human being. I volunteered and campaigned for Hillary, like so many others across the country. And without dwelling on the heartbreaking results, we all know the outcome.

Which brings me to today….a few days before the next inauguration. As of the morning of November 9, not only was I shocked, dumbfounded, sad, terrified, uncertain and angry. I was energized! Because of my father being a union leader and fighting for what was right, I knew that change does not happen on its own. We MUST take action. So these past few months I’ve been searching for how, exactly, to do this.  And I’m finding more and more ways.

Right now, one of the most important is the Women’s March on Washington this coming Saturday. I’m not able to attend, but my friend, Sherry, is going. (And I have knit three of the pussy power hats for her and two other friends who are going) So this past Sunday I joined her for their meeting in St. Augustine to get info. (Photo above) I cannot begin to tell you the range of emotions I felt………inspired, energized, uplifted, proud and yes, even somewhat scared when I heard the safety info of what could happen and what to do if it does. These women are taking a risk. But they are to be applauded for doing the right thing! So while I’m boycotting watching the inauguration, I WILL be watching the March this Saturday.

I welcome YOUR thoughts and comments, so feel free to share your feelings. And I’ll see you here next time.

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