Juneteenth: Keeping Faith with Our African American Brothers and Sisters

118E440D-0337-480B-8BC9-0F41A4101F87

On this Nineteenth of June 2019 African Americans around the United States commemorate the Abolition of slavery. It has been called Juneteenth since 1865, even though Lincoln proclaimed the end of slavery with the Emancipation Proclamation in 1963. African Americans in Texas still toiled in bondage until June 19, 1865 when news of the Proclamation finally reached Texas, and, in some cases grudgingly, slaves were notified they were free at last. Perhaps now, as never before, do we need to remember who we are as Americans in all our varieties and ancestral origins. As hatred is spoken around and about the highest offices in the land, we must celebrate all that is good, kind and right within one another. Hatred cannot stand, and in the longer scheme of things, it will not. But for now, as hearts are wounded and rage engendered, let there be balm in Gilead.

A few weeks ago while I was in a medical office making a return appointment the African American clerk offered me June 19. My calendar noted the date was Juneteenth, and I had a conflict anyhow, so we found another day. I mentioned that this date was Juneteenth, and she looked at me blankly. I was prompted to ask if she knew what it was. When she said no I gave a feeble explanation. I asked if she was familiar with “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” the Black National Anthem, and she said she was. I had heard it on a radio broadcast, entranced, two years ago and that evening blogged about this amazing music here. I told her the song and the day were related. Evidently it wasn’t until Ralph Abernathy and Coretta Scott King incorporated Juneteenth into the Poor People’s March to Washington DC in 1968 that the tradition was carried home to communities around the nation. The Juneteenth World Wide website gives its detailed history.

Yesterday in The Forward, a Jewish periodical that goes back to 1897, Tema Smith in its Opinion section called for Jews to celebrate Juneteenth with our African American brethren and sisters. She writes:

Let the Jewish community take cues from black leaders who ask them to reckon with hard truths — truths like the fact that the wealth of America was built on the back of African slaves from whom our black community is largely descended. Truths like the fact that many Jews in pre-Civil War America were silent on slavery, and some did, in fact, own slaves. Truths like, while many in our Jewish community have been able to access reparations for our communal tragedy of the Holocaust, black Americans continue to fight for theirs.

Smith ends her powerful piece with these immortal words of Emma Lazarus, “Until we are all free, we are none of us free.”

And today as a Congressional Reparations hearing begins in Congress, I end this post with one of the most haunting and evocative anthems I have ever heard. A capella group Committed sings “Lift Every Voice and Sing”:

Signature

A Day to Remember

Today is Memorial Day, or as it was called in my youth, Decoration Day. It’s a day to remember our veterans, those injured or killed in the service of our country, and our dear departed loved ones. All over the United States people visit cemeteries and place flags, flowers and even fancy “grave blankets” on the resting places of the dead. My father and my husband served in the US Army. I’m very proud of them and grateful for their service. Somewhere in the albums we shipped south I have photos of them in uniform. Here’s one of my maternal grandfather who was a Navy officer and served in both WWI and WWII. He died before I was born, and although the family lore is pretty negative about him, I thank him for his service as well. As I once wrote in a poem,

I thank thee fathers past for all thy pain, Thou vital links in my eternal chain.

We live in Florida, thousand of miles from my father’s grave in the Garden of Valor in a cemetery in California and my mother’s in Maine. My in-laws are buried about 1,500 miles north in New York and New Jersey. We haven’t figured out where we want our mortal residue to rest. It doesn’t seem to matter all that much.

I just published a post in my mother’s art blog, and here’s a link for all who wish to see her striking work that blesses our home and those of many others today. Many are on display at the Marietta Museum of Art and Whimsy in Sarasota. My cousin Mary owns and fills this amazing place with a fine collection of paintings, statuary and colorful crafts that must be seen to be appreciated.

Enjoy the day and remember that this is a great country that has weathered worse than what threatens us today. But climate change is real, and we all need to get serious about it or we won’t be leaving this land as good as we found it. Love to you all.

Thus Have I Read

2FDB23CC-3C80-4E62-B4C3-2B30DFEF2508.jpeg

An American flag and photograph of the Buddha are prominently displayed in the barracks of the Portland Livestock Exposition Building, where Japanese Americans were interned. May 31, 1942 | Photograph courtesy The Oregonian / Barcroft Media

This morning I read an article in the Tricycle magazine and found it so forceful, I wanted to assure more people read it. That’s where you come in, and hopefully you’ll direct your friends and followers to check it out as well. For immediate, present moment relevance, just notice the crib in the above photograph.

At this time in our nation’s history when children as young as infants are being separated from parents at our southern border and held in tent encampments and other dreary facilities, we need to remember where this country has been. We may have thought we had moved beyond the paranoid ideation leading to the ensiling of the different, or alien, other. Au contraire. Here we are. We are being led by an individual who hawks lies and hatred purchased wholesale by the incurious and the uninformed. That there are so many of them appalls and frightens me. So, as Duncan Ryuken Williams quotes Nyogen Senzaki in this Tricycle piece,

The Buddha taught that identity is neither permanent nor disconnected from the realities of other identities. From this vantage point, America is a nation that is always dynamically evolving—a nation of becoming, its composition and character constantly transformed by migrations from many corners of the world, its promise made manifest not by an assertion of a singular or supremacist racial and religious identity, but by the recognition of the interconnected realities of a complex of peoples, cultures, and religions that enrich everyone.

Namasté,

Signature

No One is Above the Law

78C97FE8-BED8-4034-9A6E-E86D1CC9C1B1

It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything.

Life has been busy here as we continue to unpack, put away, and sometimes even donate or discard the contents of the many boxes of original art and many other things we shipped to our new full-time residence. As I’ve said before, we once were snowbirds and now are flamingos. Every week we’re cutting up cardboard to put out with the recycling. Medical appointments, regular exercise with walks, gym and pool, and endlessly shopping for fresh and healthy food as we eat to improve our wellbeing, all have taken up much of our time of late. It is what it is.

We voted here in Florida on the first day of early voting and watched the coverage late into Tuesday night. We’re thrilled about the blue wave of progressive women and men, veterans, many of them very young and some LGBT, some Native Americans, and all patriots. As an aging lefty, I am so glad the new guard has stepped up so energetically for our collective good. But that wave didn’t make it down here, unless recounts change the senate and gubernatorial races. And yesterday’s unhinged WH press conference, subsequent AG firing, and later the pulling of a journalist’s hard WH press pass after he stood his ground, should leave no doubt in our minds that an autocrat is swinging a cudgel wildly and is very, very dangerous.

If the firing of Jeff Sessions and elevation of a staffer who has called the Mueller investigation a “witch-hunt” to the position of acting attorney general has caused you to fear for our republic, take heart from the protests being held today at 5 pm local time nationwide. Check here to locate the gathering nearest to you. Even in very red SW FL, we have one right near us. It’s never too late to suit up and show up.

Namasté

Signature

 

Your Weekly Diversion, Week 51: Happy New Year!

 

 

E7DEF3D1-625E-4FB2-915A-A3BD4FFF981E

We have arrived at Week 51 of Your Weekly Diversion. I began writing these posts in January of 2017. It started as a forum for distraction and diversion from current events and became much more. I guess we’ll both find out next week if the name stays the same or morphs into something new.

D2FCE882-01F5-464F-A0DF-756BE76CC8F9

While alluding to the political circus of the past year, we’ve been reminded that it is OUR circus. My fellow Americans, we must live our values and especially at the ballot box. This year has demonstrated what happens when too many of us let charlatans sway us from the truth. And yet, this year has also shown us that when we get woke, we do act in our best interest.

The showman in chief has tried to convince us he has our backs, but really the backs he has are not ours. He has the backs of the rich and powerful. So this year, don’t let anyone tell you he’s kept us safe, created long term and substantial jobs, defended the poor and vulnerable, or enhanced the name and stature of this country. The showman who told us he could grab the genitals of any woman he chose, and double digit women came forward to say he actually did just that, the showman who has taken a baseball bat to the hornets’ nest above the 38th Parallel, the showman who has undone much of the good his predecessors have done, this buffoon has effectively threatened the integrity of our great nation and made us the laughingstock of the world. So, let’s get out there and take action, support candidates who care about the needs of the least among us here and abroad and who uphold the Constitution, do what we can to help others, and VOTE! If not now, when? Get serious! Get real! It matters! And so does today’s post. 😎

C8369A7E-9DA4-4C42-9317-957937230159

Week 51 deserves some diversions, right?

Okay, so you have a smart gadget that listens for its name and answers you? Even your smart phone will do it, as mine did yesterday when I said, “Are you kidding?” to a friend and Siri answered, “I kid you not.” I kid you not! Hear what happens when Amazon Echo talks to Google.

 

Now, if that’s not enough, how about Animojis doing funny things?

05627218-DC2C-4FEB-B812-E400AFAE5435Check out what happens when a mom tried to text her daughter with the Unicorn Animoji. Enjoy those comments, too!

And so, just to tie this whole fun internet thing up in a fun New Years Eve bow:

 

Before we conclude our diversions, here is an amazing morsel of Food for Thought I stumbled on today. Let’s all Get Woke and Stay Woke:

1135A90E-E0BA-4FE4-87B1-9DFEB08A4F95

 

Happy New Year to you and yours from me and mine. May 2018 be a whole lot better and brighter than 2017 has been. Meanwhile here’s how 1946 rang in the new, with some cool pix of New York City:

Namasté

img_0154

Our Dozers of Love

This blog post from our own David Nelson speaks eloquently what my own heart has been saying. He reminds us that the “eternal law of impermanence” means that this too shall pass. And so shall we. If we don’t stand up for what is right and stand against what is wrong, who will? If not now, when? Many make resolutions at this time of year. Others simply vow to live their values more fully. Whatever we call it, let us make the most of this life, however much of it each of us may have left, because that we cannot know.

smilecalm

mighty dozer of love ~d nelson

When you plant lettuce, if it does not grow well, you don’t blame the lettuce. You look for reasons it is not doing well. It may need fertilizer, or more water, or less sun. You never blame the lettuce. Yet if we have problems with our friends or family, we blame the other person. But if we know how to take care of them, they will grow well, like the lettuce. Blaming has no positive effect at all, nor does trying to persuade using reason and argument. That is my experience. No blame, no reasoning, no argument, just understanding. If you understand, and you show that you understand, you can love, and the situation will change” ~ Thich Nhat Hanh

dozer vs mountain ~d nelson

If it was left up to me, and you,
everyone would have an equal opportunity
to live a simple…

View original post 470 more words

Your Weekly Diversion, Week 46

DD9EF9F7-8954-4773-AA2F-0FCEA32FC3EB

On Week 46 there’s so much going on in the world landscape that we all need plenty of diversions. Let’s see, the winter holidays are nigh upon us, with Hanukkah starting the night of December 12 this year, and Christmas and New Year’s not far behind. Managing the holiday cards, whether by snail mail or email, and shopping for gifts, whether you give them on 8 nights or on only 1 day, there’s a lot to do! And of course, we have the political circus with its many fronts. You just can’t make up some of these news stories! We need our diversions NOW,  right?

C2C76AC5-9CBF-4B9F-9D57-860CA73D14F9

Tony Leonard and the team of coworkers who worked together to make his prosthetics (photo courtesy of CBS News)

First, how about real good, feel good story? Like the sound of that? So do I! Honda workers built a coworker a new limb, and it works!

1636D3A3-7042-4C72-BA13-016212EAE176

Next, it’s been reported in Lancet Psychiatry that researchers have found a treatment that helped schizophrenics suffer significantly fewer auditory hallucinations than those not receiving the experimental treatment, even when both groups continued to receive standard doses of antipsychotic medication. It’s called avatar therapy. As a mental health clinician, I’m interested in learning more!

70B628C7-B7D5-4A38-B948-9C83E31E8E63

Now, check out what happened when a GoPro camera was placed in the path of molten lava. Be sure the watch the whole video.

And to wrap up this week’s diversions, here’s a song in Spanish called “I Lava You” from the film “Lava” because, what else?

Namasté

img_0154

Your Weekly Diversion, Week 44

C6FE69C2-A91B-4F9B-A215-BB8477364960

Recent sunset we savored here in Naples, my iPhone photo

It’s Week 44, and another week gone where too much weirdness is happening, and it’s not worth the effort to even allude to much here. Let’s just hope that we and our kids, grandkids and elders don’t lose essential, potentially lifesaving medical coverage. And may the powers that be refrain from giving our hard earned money and benefits to those so wealthy they won’t notice it, yet alone need it. And then there are the women who’ve been abused by public figures, now courageously speaking up, something many of us never had the guts to do, only to be trashed by the so-called godly. I have no words.

We have all earned our diversions this week, for reals. So let’s get to it!

4BD99FF0-A9DB-46CA-8F2F-478DBA85F638

A fun image I made with Recolor last year for Thanksgiving

It’s almost Thanksgiving and it’s been a challenge finding what I needed for our feast. First we checked out restaurants here in Naples. The local paper did a great job listing all who’ll be open with links to their websites. The best places were charging a lot, especially when I only eat their sides, and the ones offering affordable meals weren’t appealing to us. So I decided to cook. Actually I do enjoy cooking. The main obstacle in the last 7 years or so has been the fact that I’m a vegetarian (and I was vegan for 5 years) and my husband is not. I wanted a vegetarian main dish, such as a Gardein, Field Roast or Tofurky roast. I visited each of their websites and couldn’t find any of these roasts being offered at the stores in Naples. The health food store near here closed. Not even Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s, at least as far as I could tell on their websites, appeared to have what I was searching for.

 

9FD04828-E964-4DF6-8E54-08850020E477

Photo courtesy of Restaurant Guru

We were having a good day. An authentic bagel store, Brooklyn Dough with a Hole, opened up recently and we made it over there for the first time that day. They were totally legit! Just how they looked in the case told me that. Fat and shiny, the holes very small. It was around 1pm so pickings were slim, but we bought 4 of them. They were wonderful, by the way! After that we were heading to the big Publix market near us, and they are great stores. I’d given up on a veggie feast and planned on sides and maybe a package of Gardein faux-turkey cutlets. But my husband suggested we go to Lucky’s, a wonderful combo of gourmet and natural foods, much smaller than Publix and easier to navigate when tired.  A local friend calls it “the poor man’s Whole Foods.” It’s all that and more!

I decided on making salad, rolls, mashed potatoes, stuffing, green beans and mushrooms, gravy and a rotisserie chicken for my guy plus whatever I could find for me. I have the lastest issue of VegNews and their recipe for seitan turkey Wellington looked great but labor intensive.

We started filling our basket in the produce section, and then I headed down the frozen foods aisle toward Meat Alternatives, hopeful for one of the cutlet packages. And then, lo and behold, cue the celestial choir, I saw it: a Tofurky Holiday Feast!

63BD2CA6-F59E-4C84-A133-B31F698B0A1D

“Lucky” we are indeed (or at least I am)! My cousin is joining us the day after Thanksgiving and we’ll have plenty of everything to have a second feast while she’s here.

DDF93425-A5F9-458A-B094-2602DBDF097D

As far as other diversions, do you need a new iPhone case? Here are some fun ones, especially some very cute cat designs.

And to bring us all into the gratitude of the season, here is a hymn I learned as a grade school girl and love even today. This hymn comes to us from the clear and touching voices of the a capella group Glad. It’s worth hearing with the speakers up!

 

Namasté, and

Happy Thanksgiving from our home to yours,  

img_0154

 

Your Weekly Diversion, Week 43

58CF8ABE-1115-401C-BFD4-78120B600E08

On Week 43, I’m departing from my usual self-imposed prohibition of disseminating  specific political information. The week has been filled with newsy highs and lows, the lowest lows being when supporters of an accused pedophile cite the Bible to justify this skeevy, illegal and unethical behavior, and many use that, “If these allegations are true…” meme which discounts the words of the accuser. Blame the victim. Hadn’t we gotten better than this? I guess not. And the accused is blatantly trying to raise money off the story!

But then there’s another low that rips into the surface of decency and scars all who consume and buy into it: Minutes after the horrific mass shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas, Russian bots apparently promulgated the falsehood that the shooter was a member of the anti-fascist group “Antifa” on social media, and it was spread for hours before being taken down.

5172AB60-CDD6-45A0-8655-96D28802F76F

And now for our diversions. First, to cleanse the palate of the foregoing paragraphs, here are some words to live by.

 

84B7CD7D-198E-4B7C-B00E-656A651FC5DD

Another diversion that may have relevance in your life: It’s Open Enrollment season in the US for health insurance. This is the time individuals and families can shop for health insurance plans and switch to plans better than what they have now, or sign up for the first time. This includes Medicare recipients as well as those shopping for commercial plans. Several people I know have reported to me that, despite the dire predictions, they’ve gotten plans that are saving them money and still provide good coverage. Medicare recipients can elect to switch to Medicare Advantage plans that may save them money but vary greatly from state to state. It’s supposed to take a lot of the stress and cost out of medical costs not paid by Medicare, which includes the 20% and can include deductibles for a variety services and treatments. But the plans often dictate which healthcare providers their insureds can use, called “in network” providers and charge them more if they go out of network. As a psychologist I have had to turn down clients with some Medicare Advantage plans, while being paid by others. So listen and learn and ask around. Make some calls, go online and see what’s what. For all Medicare options, seniors and those on Social Security Disability can visit Medicare.gov, and most people under 65 should go to HealthCare.gov.

All is well with us, getting settled in our winter snowbird nest! Friends are visiting today and we look forward to showing them around. First stop will be Pinchers at Tin City, then a stroll down the ritzy 5th Avenue that leads right down to the beach. And then, who knows?

Yesterday we were eating lunch at our local Tropical Smoothie Café, and as usual they had great tunes playing. So I usually open my SoundHound app to see what we’re hearing. I have always loved this Duke Ellington song, “It Don’t Mean a Thing If It Ain’t Got That Swing” and Gabin does it up brown, as my dad would say. I hadn’t heard this version before, and I love it! Enjoy!

 

Namasté

img_0154

Your Weekly Diversion, Weekly 37



Now we find ourselves at Week 37. It’s been quite a challenge for the planet and for human kind. My mom’s 92 year old baby sister just fell and broke her pelvis. We are all praying for her healing and return to the active life she loves. Then my cousin finally got down to her home in Florida only to find leaks and other damage. Another cousin found that her Florida art gallery and museum and all the contents survived undamaged, although trees and plants on the grounds were devastated. Friends with property and family in Puerto Rico are anxious about their wellbeing. And then there’s the political circus with its twirling and gesticulating, gyrating and posturing, bellowing and sanctifying its innocence in the face of a blunt reality that begs to differ.

Painting  by Yukon artist Natalie Parenteau

Do you smudge? If not, here’s why you might want to start. Science backs up the belief many share that smudging is good for our health and can be good for the air we breathe. I do it in the office between clients sometimes, especially if the vibe has been especially intense or just to give me a lift. The wonderful work of Canadian artist Natalie Parenteau as seen above can be found here.

The colorful seaside neighborhood of La Perla in Puerto Rico inspired singer Luis Fonsi to write and perform his iconic “Despacito”. Before you get to enjoy the video make earlier this summer, here’s how La Perla looks after Hurricane Maria, in a sobering video clip.

Now, the joyous “before” to remind us all how much work will need to be done for the people of Puerto Rico and this pastel paradise to be restored to gain. “Despacito”:

                                                            Namasté