WHAT NOW?

WHAT NOW?

As Dorothy was on her way to the Emerald City to seek help from the great and magnificent Oz, she came upon a fork in the yellow brick road. She pondered aloud, “Which way should I go?” A scarecrow was perched on a pole behind her. His arms crossed in front of him as he pointed in opposite directions, and he uttered these words, “You can go this way, or you can go that way.”

In the 1939 movie, the scarecrow laments his lack of a brain in a song. One verse goes like this:

I would not be just a Nuthin’,

My head all full of stuffin’,

My heart all full of pain,

And perhaps I’d deserve you and be

Even worthy of you

If I only had a brain.

I’m an “Oz” girl, and I either read the books or my brother read them to me as a child. What I never knew until recently, and as a child would not have understood, was L. Frank Baum (the author of The Wizard of Oz) was a political activist in the 1890s, and it is thought by many that the story is allegorical for the political, social, and economic happenings of that period.

Let’s skip forward to the present and the happenings of the last few weeks.   As of June 6, the 157th day of the year, there have been 246 mass shootings (defined as 4 or more killed or injured). Today’s political, social, and economic happenings are fraught with prejudice, hatred, and anger.

In Uvalde, 19 children and two adults were not just killed — they were slaughtered.  Some bodies were unidentifiable due to the damage done by an AR-15 and could only be identified using DNA.  One child covered herself with the blood of a fallen classmate and played dead to save her life.  Now, imagine your child in that situation.  

Countless families are grieving the loss of sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, moms and dads.  As a people, we ask, “Why?” As a nation, we ask, “How many people have to die?” When will Congress get a collective brain and DO SOMETHING!

As I traveled the yellow brick road, I would come across not a scarecrow but an octopus in my serendipitous world. Because, in answer to my question, “why is this happening?” the octopus tells me while pointing, “It’s white nationalism; no, it’s the internet and social media; no, it’s military-grade automatic weapons; no, it’s mental illness; no, it’s gun show loopholes; no, it’s the lack of universal background checks; no, it’s violent internet games.” The octopus is pointing in so many different directions; he gets tangled in his arms and can’t go with me to get a brain.  Talk about allegorical.   Are we being played?

According to polls, the tide is turning, and Americans believe universal background checks are necessary when purchasing guns. Why not start there?

I live in Florida. According to everytownresearch.org, Florida is rated 19th in the nation (1 being the best) based on the strength of its gun laws and the rate of violence.   As a state, we are still missing key laws — like background checks, assault weapons are not prohibited, ghost guns are not regulated, high capacity magazines are not prohibited – and the list goes on.  The other day, Rick Scott indicated he believed this was a “state” issue, not federal.  Well, since we instituted some stronger gun laws after Parkland,  progress has stalled, and Florida legislators appear to be actively working to weaken gun laws.  Who represents you in Tallahassee?

The events of the last couple of weeks have been, for me, exhausting.  As I hear about the thoughts and prayers for those lost, I think, “that’s nice, but what about those who will be under fire tomorrow, next week, or next month.  WHAT NOW?

Everytown.org is a community of activists:  Mom’s Demand Action, Students Demand Action, and a Survivor’s Network.  While the student community and the survivor network are limited to people of a certain age or who have survived gun violence, Mom’s Demand Action includes husbands, families, and women who may not have children.  If you go to the website, you can see what they are doing, what events are coming up in your state, and how you can help.

In politics, there are constituents and representatives. As constituents, we elect representatives to office.  Let’s make something clear here.  They work for us. Think back to the scarecrow.  Are they worthy of our votes?  Do they deserve their jobs?  

Google your senators and representatives in both the legislature and Congress. Go to their websites. You will find local, Tallahassee, and Washington phone numbers and addresses. They want your vote.  Make it clear they understand what you expect if they are to get it.  This is your “WHAT NOW” moment.  Use it wisely.

 

 

 

 

 

A WHOLE NEW MEANING TO THE TERM HINDSIGHT IS 2020

A WHOLE NEW MEANING TO THE TERM HINDSIGHT IS 2020

In January of last year, my WomenHeart Group had a fun Vision Board Party.

Better than a resolution, a Vision Board is a reminder of what’s essential in your life.  We gathered stacks of old magazines, pictures, postcards, quotations, scissors, glue, and used our imaginations to create individual Vision Boards. We had an hour and a half to create a vision of how we wished our lives to be.  Here is what my board looks like.

 

The inspiration for my Vision Board started with two books.  Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy, by Sarah Ban Breathnach, is a book I read years ago and decided to revisit. The second book by Jennifer Ashton, M.D, is titled, “The Self-Care Solution.”  These books dived into how to better care for me physically, emotionally, and even spiritually.

A Wakeup Call:  Make Plans – Then Life Happens

I was speaking with a friend the other day.  He and his wife do an annual holiday letter each year (as do I).  So, I said,  “Bob, what are you going to write about?”

His response, “Not much.”

We’ve been self-isolating, or at least social distancing.  When Merriam Webster’s Word of the Year is PANDEMIC, you know we’ve done little to write home about.  We’ve been isolating or, at the very least, self-distancing.  We are exhausted.  It looks as if more than one vaccine is ready for distribution, and we hope the light we see at the end of the tunnel isn’t a bullet train.

My brother, Harlley, passed away on March 22.  Later that evening, as I headed for my bedroom Ted (my cat) decided to head me off.  His preferred direction was towards the kitchen where there is FOOD.  Weighing in at 20 pounds, Ted is a formidable force to be reckoned with.  I’m not sure how it happened, but I tripped and hit the wall.  The doctor explained later I had a skull fracture and I’d have to stay in the hospital for at least a day.

Most of the spring was a blur.  Covid was spiking in South Florida.  Miami-Dade was becoming the southern epicenter.  I concluded that listening to the news was depressing and decided one evening to watch The Lion King  (not the animated feature, but the one with what appeared to be live animals).  Ted has never been one to have an interest in TV.  I don’t know if it was the sound effects of wild animals running or lions growling.  Ted jumped up on the credenza and started watching the show.  He was absolutely mesmerized.

TED MEETS THE LION KING

Craving social interaction, many have moved on to Zoom Calls.  My Toastmaster Club meets weekly.  I set up my computer in the kitchen, where I have fairly good lighting.  Once all is set up, Gabrielle (my other cat) comes in and starts talking to me (kitchen equals FOOD). What she wants is what she refers to as a snackeroo (since the pandemic, this is another word that’s been added to my vocabulary).  She starts off subtly but builds up to what can only be described as caterwauling – VERY LOUD CATERWAULING.  While Gaby has not really participated in our meetings, she did opt to be in one of our weekly pictures (she’s behind me).

GABY POSING FOR TOASTMASTER’S PHOTO

The weather in Florida is splendid.  We’ve finally entered the winter season, which for us means less humidity and cooler temperatures.  I went for a walk yesterday around 4 pm.  It was delightful and necessary.  Unfortunately, I caught something called the Covid-fifteen — those unwanted pounds added because my refrigerator has been calling out to me.  It’s a hushed, haunting sound whispering, “come to me, see what I have for you, it’s wonderful, it’s delicious.  You’ll love it.”  Again, the kitchen equals FOOD.

It’s Time for a Do-Over

I think we can all agree that 2020 has been and continues to be horrendous.  However, putting together my little letter gave me pause (no, Ted and Gaby, not paws).  My Vision Board from last year is still on my wall, and I still have the books that gave me inspiration — so I’m setting my sites on building my best self, enjoying life, and moving forward.  On my Vision Board, if you look closely, the line after Enjoy Life is, “it has an expiration date.”  Take heed.

To All My Friends and Family:

Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah, and a Happier New Year!

 

ISOLATION SUCKS!

ISOLATION SUCKS!

Raise your hand if you’re in agreement.

Think about it. As social animals, we seek out each other. That interaction helps us maintain our well being. When isolated, we find it challenging to deal with stressful situations; we become depressed, anxiety rises, and making simple decisions can appear impossible.

So, here I sit isolated amid a rising pandemic, during a critical election year. The news of increasing Covid cases, and OMG, hearing those omnipresent duplicitous political ads. Pandemic fatigue is settling in.

A week ago, a friend called and suggested that another girl pal and I come to her house (both of them had been out of Miami since March). We could wear our masks, socially distance, and sit out on her patio. A small gathering, but it felt as if I was being invited to a major event. I was absolutely giddy about the idea. I could see my friends — ACTUALLY, not virtually. It was Friday, and we set the meeting for Sunday.

Also, on Friday, Tara, her husband, and I all got our annual flu shots. Tara’s husband had no reaction, Tara had a sore arm, and I felt great — that is until Saturday morning. I awoke with a 100+ fever, every muscle and joint in my body ached, and someone disconnected my energy plug from the wall outlet. Walking from the bedroom to the bathroom left me feeling as if I’d run a marathon. Our small gala was canceled.

I’m happy to say my reaction lasted for only one day. If a dead virus could cause such results, I can only imagine how I would have reacted to getting this particular strain of the flu. In retrospect, I’m glad I got the shot.

We’ve rescheduled for Sunday (only a few days to go). Now, if our tropical “dry-season” finally kicks in, we can gather on Tara’s patio. Wish us luck!

ON BEING ENTOMBED.

ON BEING ENTOMBED.

Living in isolation, I find myself with time on my hands.  There are all kinds of projects — like clearing my closets, the pantry, my office.  While important, these tasks are what some may call “non-starters.”  I settled on going through my office credenza, which is filled with old photographs.

Among the pictures were photos of a holiday taken long-ago in Capri, the idyllic island off the southern coast of Italy.  As my mind traveled back in time, I recalled an incident that gave a whole new meaning to the term “isolation.”

I was sitting in the lounge of the hotel with my parents when I realized I’d left something in my room.  I rushed off to retrieve it.  Upon entering the elevator, I pushed the floor number and headed up.  Suddenly there was a jolt, and the elevator stopped.

I pushed the floor number again.  Nothing.  Once again.  Nothing.  I pushed every floor number.  Nothing.  There was a little button with a bell on it.  I pushed it.  In the distance, I heard ringing, then NOTHING.   Anxiety was building. I pushed the bell button again, determined to keep it ringing until I made contact with a human being.

From afar,  I heard, “Pronto, pronto, Qual e il problema?”

Oh hell, my Italian is not all that good, and, with panic just around the corner, it’s not good at all.  “Help!”

In very broken English (he was on the verge of hysteria, and his English was about as good as my Italian), he asked, “Where are you?”

Where did he think I was? “I’m in the elevator.”

“Si signorina, a che piano?”

“What?”

“On what floor?”

“I don’t know.  The elevator just stopped.”

“I need for you to open the door.”

There was more than one set of doors in the elevator.  I went to one and pressed my hands against the door and attempted to drag it to an open position.  This is not an easy thing to do when the lift isn’t functioning.  Finally, the door was open.  I faced a wall.

“What do you see?”

“A brick wall.”

“I need for you to open the other door.”

Again, drag and pull– another brick wall.

“What do you see?”

“Oh my God, I’m entombed!”

“Che cosa?

“It’s another wall!”

“Solo un momento.”  And then there was “the sound of silence.

I recalled a movie where an elevator crashed.  Someone remarked, if the people hadn’t been standing, they might have survived, but their spinal columns were shattered when the elevator jolted to the bottom of the shaft.

“Signorina? I am going to pull you up.”

With that, using what I guess was some kind of pulley system, he tugged, then tugged again.  After each tug, the lift would move upward then settle down with a jarring bump.   As I fell to the floor in an effort to save my spinal column, I prayed.  “Please, God, I don’t want to die in an elevator crash.”

Finally, I saw a bit of light, then more and then the head of the man pulling me up.  I have no idea what he thought when he saw me lying on the floor.  Perhaps he believed I fainted.  A few more pulls and I was free!

Yes, there are different types of isolation — some dramatic, others seemingly never-ending.  We all hope this time of seclusion draws to a close, sooner rather than later.