Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Available for FREE, while they last! E-mail if interested mahwww@me.com or call

These cabinets are available for FREE. They must be picked up in Evanston at my condo. There is a 24/7 door person available so after confirming with me, you can pick it up at your convenience. Pull up in front of building (will give you address with confirmation,) leave your flashers on, run in to get cabinet. Easy Peasy!

 

 
13w 6d 20h

100w top 3.5d bottom 5d 12h

11w 5.5d 18h
No glass in door

25w base 6d shelves 4d 20h
Glass sliding doors on front, glass back

26w 6d 26h

11w 5d 11h

12w 4.5d 15h
Some damage to back but easy to replace


Thursday, March 18, 2021

Advice to an Alzheimer’s Caregiver Newbie


 This essay was published a while ago for Teepa Snow's Positive Approach to Dementia Care (www.teppasnow.com) Free Online Monthly Dementia Journal.

Having re-read it, I feel it is worth publishing again here as a helpful list of how to be a good caregiver for someone you love who is living with Dementia / Alzheimer's Disease.

Advice to an Alzheimer’s Caregiver Newbie 

I am often asked, "What would you tell someone who just found out that their spouse or parent or sibling or friend was diagnosed with Dementia/Alzheimer's?" This is what I learned over the forty-one years my life partner Gregory and I were together in a committed relationship and over the twelve years that I walked the Dementia/ Alzheimer’s Path with him. 

I will not go into the different kinds of thinking necessary for different kinds of advice to give in different kinds of relationships, but rather tailor my comments to anyone being part of the caregiving team. I will also say, that just as there is no one way in which Dementia expresses itself, there is no one way in which to offer care! 

Be gentle with yourself. Forgive yourself. To be a successful caregiver partner, you must know that you will not always be successful. First, you are the one who can, must, and will change and adapt; they cannot. Sometimes you will fall short of being your best possible self! Every morning (or as often as you need to) in front of a mirror, repeat to yourself, “I am not perfect but at least I try!” Or the often-touted mantra, “Each day in each way, I am getting better and better!” If you don’t want to face the mirror, write it down in a place you can see it at the start of each day. 

Try, try again. Next, you are the one who must be “above it all,” knowing it is all about the disease and the person you love; but sometimes you will let frustration, anger, fear, exhaustion, etc. get the best of you. Remind yourself that you are only human. 

Know that each day will be a new one. Each day you will get a new chance to “make it right.” Try not to feel guilty or carry yesterday’s difficulties into today. Chances are your loved one will more easily be able to be forgiving and to start each day anew. Take advantage of beginning fresh each day. 

Interpreting behavior can be difficult. Know that sometimes you will not know how to interpret the behavior you are witnessing let alone how to deal with it or support the person you love. Try to put yourself in their place and think about how you would feel. Ask them for clarification or at least let them know you care and wish you could help. 

Respect the person living with Dementia. No matter what changes they go through, find a way to help them continue to keep their personhood even as their abilities fail. Help them to find alternative abilities to replace those slowly leaving. 

Respect the decisions of the person diagnosed. As much as possible, respect their right to be who they are, to make decisions for themselves, or at least to participate in making those decisions, to live their lives in the ways they choose. 

Be aware that decisions are not always able to be made by the person living with Dementia/Alzheimer’s. Sometimes and/or eventually, these decisions must be made on their behalf but always must be done ethically, with love and respect, and only in their interests (not your own) for safety and health reasons. 

Validate as you seek to understand. If your spouse expresses worries about financial matters, repeat their words to validate their concerns, and then tell them what your plan is. “Oh, so you’re worried about finances? I am pretty sure we are okay, but I’ll check in with our accountant to make sure.” If your mom is upset, but is unable to use language to explain what is upsetting her, validate her frustration. “Mom, I can see that this is hard for you, and I’m sorry.” This can also be where you need to put on your detective hat and get curious about what is upsetting her. Using visual cues and “Is it this or something else” questions, you may be able to figure out what her unmet need is. 

Try to maintain a team approach. In your relationship with the person living with Dementia (PLWD), make sure to include them in most decisions that affect them. If their ability to participate in the decision-making process is diminished or does not exist, offer the alternatives in bite-size pieces which continue to respect that they are or once were part of the team! If you are purchasing a new item, show them two similar items and ask which they prefer. Load the questions a little by offering, “I really like this one best, what do you think?” 

Be patient with the person. Their processing and understanding of the day-to-day activities of life, both mental and physical, are changing. The cognitive abilities are slowing down and/or the connections are no longer as easily made. Abilities may come and go, may return in reduced form, and eventually no longer exist. When asking a question, give the person a chance to process what you said. Asking another question or clarifying too quickly only serves to create more confusion. 

Control your anger, as best as you can. Sometimes your frustration can cause anger. Sometimes the PLWD’s behavior can cause anger. Conversations gone awry can cause anger, especially when you have been used to successful conversations for such a long time. Imagine that the person diagnosed is slowly living life backwards, losing what they have learned. Count to ten, leave the room (don’t just walk out, say “I’ll be right back.,” and breathing deeply all can help. 

Remember, they are NOT children. What complicates the matter is that mentally, it appears they are becoming a child again, but the fact is, they are NOT children. They are adults, in an adult's body, with an adult's worth of experiences and knowledge that will be at a wide range of various and changing levels of availability to them. 

Accept repetition. Do this in conversations just as you would gently do for a very young child as he grows with wonder at the world around him, often with his asking the same question repeatedly with a string of Why? Why? Why’s? How you deal with your loved one should be similarly loving but with respect for the adult which they are even though they may slowly be losing their abilities and possibly their ability to wonder. 

Realize it is the disease. Differentiate between the person who you are continuing to love and trying to help and the disease. If they get angry with you, it is the disease. If they strike out, it is the disease. If they need you to repeat something for the hundredth time, it is the disease, not the person! 

Try to see beyond the behavior. Perhaps the person no longer can express themselves using language, perhaps they are no longer aware of what is troubling them. Maybe they are in pain but do not recognize it, let alone have the ability to let you know about the discomfort. At times thirst and hunger are no longer recognized let alone how to satisfy those basic needs.

Physical things are not always what they seem. At times a dark, reflective window can be a vast empty frightening place that is home to demons, and a dark area rug in front of a door can be a deep hole in which one might fall! If the memory fails, a loved one can erroneously become a stranger and a trusted friend can become a dangerous enemy. Close the shades at sunset, remove rugs, arrange furniture so it is not in the way of the route to the bathroom or bedroom. Assure them that you care and that you are there to help!

Put yourself in the person’s place. Work hard at imagining what might be troubling them. Then see what you can do creatively to correct, distract, and/or remove them from the situation. 

Create music and art activities. They can provide a person living with Dementia/Alzheimer’s with hours of productive fun as well as provide a sense of accomplishment and an opportunity for socialization with loved ones. Use headphones to listen to music from the PLWD’s era or that they used to be able to play. If artistic, but no longer able to practice their art, try to find a replacement. Reintroduce (careful if maybe insulting) coloring, crayons, pencil sketching, finger painting. 

Activities must be meaningful and foster success. Try to make the activity one where they can experience success and also one which will be meaningful to them. For example: household chores, help with meal preparation, cleaning up and setting the table, folding laundry, reading, watching TV, playing a DVD or video. 

Toys can help entertain. Many toys can provide sophisticated ways of spending time. Others, like dolls or Teddy Bears, if accepted, can provide something to do with the hands as well as emotional support and harken back to earlier memories. Crossword puzzles and jigsaw puzzles come with various levels of difficulty. 

Television, video, and DVDs can help. So what if the PLWD sits in front of the TV for a long time? Make sure what they are watching is calm as well as entertaining. Avoid news programs. Videos dealing with nature and animals are great. Musicals (usually older ones) that have an uplifting plot are good. Keep the volume loud enough to keep their attention but not so loud as to frighten them.

Tailor the environment. As a person’s needs change, so must the environment in which they live. Be careful about rugs that may cause a fall or furniture that may not support their weight. Keep sharp and dangerous items out of sight or under lock and key. Make it easier for them to find what they might need and try to keep everything in its place. 

Meals can become complicated. When eating at a restaurant, help guide the PLWD through the choices depending on their cognitive abilities which can range from “What do you feel like eating today?” to “Do you want chicken or fish?” to “Oh, this chicken dish looks good, shall we try it?” Meals at home, if causing difficulties, can be served one course at a time, be easy to pick up with fingers, be easy to chew and swallow. Sometimes the color of the table, table cloth, and/or dishes can soften dinner time difficulties. 

Be flexible. As the diagnosed person's needs change, so must their activities and environmental change. Every day might need a different approach to almost every possible activity: toileting, grooming, eating, dressing, spending time, sleeping, etc. 

Be aware of medical changes. Some of the changes may not be apparent so if you see a change in behavior that is not explained by anything obvious to you, and that seems to last for an inappropriate period of time, maybe it is time for a visit to the doctor for some tests. Infections, digestive problems, or physical injuries are just a few that might be happening but not visible to you. 

Be selfish. Most people will be taken back by this term, but I maintain that if you do not take care of yourself, you will not have the energy or health to give to another. Find ways to relax, refresh yourself, getaway for a short period of time, make sure you visit your own doctor as needed, and enjoy yourself when and as you can. This is important. Statistics show that often caregivers die before the PLWD because they are so busy taking care of the PLWD that they do not take care of themselves.

Ask for help. This is a difficult one. First of all, it does not mean that you are weak or not doing a good job. Second, finding ways to involve other people who love you and love the person diagnosed is not easy. Everyone has a life of their own and most are oversubscribed. But there are ways that others can help to lighten your day-to-day. Also, the PLWD will benefit from having “others” around them for whatever reason.

Look to your community for help. If not family or friends, check out the possibility of getting respite help from local high school or university students, from your church, from a neighbor, from your housekeeper, from your city’s Senior Citizen Center, from your local Alzheimer’s Association. Even an hour by yourself can help you keep your sanity. 

You can do this! What choice do you have, really? Hopefully, with support from family, friends, your religion if you embrace one, your therapist, your neighbors, a group of people in a support group or online chat room – you can find a support system that works for you. You will be strong and find resources to keep going. Love will help. Kindness will help. Being good to yourself, even though you are devastated, will help. 

You are not alone! In the United States, over five and a half million people are living with Dementia/Alzheimer's and this number is growing. 16 million people are helping to provide unpaid care for them. This includes over 18 billion hours of care at a value of over $232 billion dollars! 

Waxing philosophical: It will...get better ... but sometimes better is not on this side of life. We all will die. For some of us, it will be easy, quick, and/or unexpected. For others, dying will be anticipated, slow, and/or very painful. Doing our best to help others reach their end as comfortably as possible is the best we can do and to hope in turn that it will be offered to us! It is a blessing to be able to do this for one another. 

Usually, a parent wins the race to death. While one might say “they lived a long healthy life” or “they had a blessedly wonderful life,” often that does NOT lessen the grief and feelings of loss for the children; even if the parent is “in a better place” or “no longer in pain.” Sometimes these platitudes help, other times they do not! 

With a spouse, who wins the race? Either you or your partner will “win the race.” Interestingly, the person diagnosed with Dementia does not always win the race! Often the caregiver partner is the first to cross the finish line and to leave this life. 

With a sibling or friend who wins the race? The contest may have either one of you be the winner. 

Have conversations about death with the person dying. Do this while they are still able to express themselves, it helps them to die with dignity and helps you to serve them in a way that follows their wishes as closely as possible. 

One size does not fit all end-of-life conversations. Again, there is no one way for these types of conversations to take place. They may take place easily or they may be a very difficult topic to broach, for some or everyone involved. You must determine whether to continue these conversations depending on how your loved one reacts or if they let you know they do not wish to have these discussions! You might drop the subject and try to bring it up again at a later date. 

Grief always takes its toll. It is never easy when someone we love dies. Talking about death helps, in the long run, to ease the mystery of life and the mystery of death. Telling our stories to each other and listening to the stories of others, gives us a common ground that allows for grief to express itself. 

There is no one right way to grieve, no time period in which it should take place, and no right or wrong way to do so. People will try, good-naturedly, to tell you how to grieve. They will share their experiences with grief. They might say something like, “It’s time to move on.” Or “You need to get back to your life!” They might suggest all kinds of ways to make your grief easier. You might experience similar approaches in books you pick up or that others give you. In some ways, one never gets through or gets over grieving, it just becomes a little easier to carry the grief. The problem as well as the joy is that with great love, there is great grief! And each person grieves in their own way!

The greatest mystery in life is death. We think about it and fear it from the first time, as a child, we begin to have intelligent thoughts. We hold on to it our entire adult life and it can color how we face living each day. Hopefully, death’s mystery also allows us to live a meaningful, fulfilled life with respect, love, and understanding for others and for ourselves during the time we have available. 

You are not alone! You can do this! Believe in yourself! It will not be easy but it can be done well! A diagnosis of Dementia/Alzheimer’s does not have to be a death sentence but rather can be an invitation, not necessarily an anticipated one, to live life to its fullest! 

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

The Museum of Michael's Mind: Memories, Memoirs, and Meanderings


Now available for purchase.
You can get it at www.lulu.com
 

The Museum of Michael’s Mind:

Memoirs, Memories, & Meanderings

Volume One - The Collected Writings - 2005 - 2015 


“With soft humor and gentle wonder, Michael generously shares his reflections on compassion and connection. What he has learned will resonate in your heart and mind.” 


Patricia Anderson May 2010 EWW Conference


• • •

Over 350 pages, containing 150+ short writings including creative non-fiction, fiction, dreams, thoughts, experiences, memories, and more. Michael’s writing is easy, engaging, and at times eloquent. Figurative, fanciful, and at times funny. Meaningful, meandering, and at times moving. Detailed, descriptive, and at times deep.


• • •

“…the audience for which he wrote this book includes: (unabashedly) himself, those who might have thought similar thoughts to his, those who have had similar experiences as he has had. It is for those who have wondered about things, those who have looked for answers, those who have supported a close one through living with Alzheimer’s, those who have grieved the death of a loved one and celebrated the birth of a new being. He hopes to let the reader know they are not alone in this frightening, overwhelming, impermanent, wonderful world.”


• • •

His author’s “voice” invited you to get a cup of coffee and join him in a conversation about life. Being his voice, you will probably not be able to get a word in edgewise but still, the experience should be an enjoyable one.

• • •

He made a baker’s dozen of his favorite chocolate chip cookies! Another cup of coffee? Sure. And have another cookie. 




The "I's" of Living in the Here and Now


Old age makes for an easier time of living in the here and now.

Except for my many projects, I do not have to work towards any major life goals (except maybe health.)

I am comfortable in my condo, do not need to buy any furniture, have everything in its place, and have a housekeeper to help me keep the place clean.

I live in downtown Evanston near many restaurants, Whole Foods, an 18 screen theater, the library, the post office, two transportation lines, ice cream stores, book stores, an immediate care office, and many other shops. What more could I need.

My car is parked in a protected garage, in a reserved space, on the tenth floor where the car has a better view of the lake than I do from my condo.

During cold weather, I just turn up my heat and do not have to worry about shoveling the sidewalk or cleaning the snow off my car.

During hot weather, I just turn up my air conditioning and sit out on the balcony with an ice tea and a good book.

I do not need to worry about my career path, work deadlines, pleasing my boss, or work towards future retirement.

I do not have to prove myself to anyone (except maybe Gigi and Emma :-)

I am OK financially and it seems like I will be for the rest of my life.

I have never “lived in the past,” am not fixated on any particular time and place in the past, and while I miss Gregory, even here I think I have done a fairly good job of moving on.

I think I do not need to retell my stories over and over, relive them, or get fixated with them (except documenting them currently in my publications.)

I know that I will never get there as to my future self, one never does, but after 75+ years, I am closer to my future self than I am needing to find or work on achieving that place on earth. 

Did I miss anything?

Monday, March 8, 2021

COMING SOON


The Museum of Michael’s Mind:

Memoirs, Memories, & Meanderings

VOLUME ONE




BACK COVER


“With soft humor and gentle wonder, Michael generously shares his reflections on compassion and connection. What he has learned will resonate in your heart and mind.” 


Patricia Anderson May 2010 EWW Conference.


• • •


Over 150 short writings including creative non-fiction, fiction, dreams, thoughts, experiences, memories, and more. Michael’s writing is easy, engaging, and at times eloquent. Figurative, fanciful, and at times funny. Meaningful, meandering, and at times moving. Detailed, descriptive, and at times deep.


• • •


“…the audience for which he wrote this book includes: (unabashedly) himself, those who might have thought similar thoughts to his, those who have had similar experiences as he has had. It is for those who have wondered about things, those who have looked for answers, those who have supported a close one through living with Alzheimer’s, those who have grieved the death of a loved one and celebrated the birth of a new being. He hopes to let the reader know they are not alone in this frightening, overwhelming, impermanent, wonderful world.”

• • •


His author’s “voice” suggests that you get a cup of coffee and join him in a conversation about life. Since it is his voice, you will probably not be able to get a word in but still, the experience should be an enjoyable one!

He made a baker’s dozen of his favorite chocolate chip cookies with walnuts. If you do to like the nuts, just pull them off and put them on the side! Another cup of coffee? Sure. And have another cookie. 


Thursday, February 25, 2021

On Aging

There seems to be a general, all-pervasive heaviness to my life nowadays. Is it the COVID? Is it being 75 about to become 76? Is it the continued grief at the loss of the physicality of my love Gregory? Is it the unexpected passing of my sister? Is it due to so much more past to contemplate than future available to anticipate?

The word morass comes to mind: an area of muddy or boggy ground. a complicated or confusing situation. It describes the Ying and Yang of my current life: being grateful, content, joyful, at peace vs grieving, and fearful of what my age, my health, and my future will bring. 

Gregory and I always used to talk about the "parting of the veil," that brief moment when the truth behind the daily passing of our life is shown with honesty and vigorous uncolored awareness. Those moments are the most difficult to get through but then the veil shifts back to covering those things that would prevent us from living our life today and not worrying too much about tomorrow.

Part of getting older, I believe, is that the veil seems to open itself more often and takes longer to return to protecting us from the difficult parts of living day-to-day.

I find I return to the reality for me, at 75 years of age, that there is more PAST to process than there is FUTURE to look forward to. 

The FUTURE to which we look forward becomes more uncertain and more frightening than previous FUTURES of the PAST! 

And the PRESENT with the isolation, fear, suffering, poverty, illness, deaths, and losses from COVID-19 and the STATE OF THE UNION with its divisions, hatred, lying, cheating, racism, homophobia, etc., as well as my own physical and mental changing due to the aging process; is not the most pleasant place to be right now.

With the longer history of the past, I believe we begin to forget that nothing is permanent. That the expression This Too Shall Pass applies to not only the bad, difficult times but also the wonderful, beautiful times. We become used to a certain way of living and become less flexible in our ability to bend and change. Obviously, we want to hold on to the good, but the bad will arrive whether we want it to or not, and bending and changing is really all we have available to us and they just become more painful!

So perhaps GRATITUDE for the good we do have, for our ability to be RESILIENT, for FAMILY and FRIENDS and LOVE and CARING and KINDNESS, for not so much LAMENTING the bad things but CELEBRATING the good, not wondering why things are as they are but rather working on how we think about those things is most important. 

So I learn to live with the all-pervasive heaviness to my life while at the same time appreciating the GRATITUDE, RESILIENCE, FAMILY, FRIENDS, LOVE, CARING, KINDNESS TOWARDS OTHERS AND focus on CELEBRATING THE GOOD .



Thursday, February 18, 2021

Building a Practice

Wrote this to a friend and wanted to share it with a larger audience.

Bill,

I have been thinking about this for several days. We had a great talk about your feelings of worthlessness especially working for such a huge company like xxx and your need to be “The Best Little Boy.” You had some great insights into why after so many successes in life you still feel that you are not pushing hard enough and/or that you are not good enough! I had some comments about your Grandfather and your dad.

So the question is: Have you been continuing to mindfully work on this issue? Or have you just tucked it away and gotten on with life? I understand the latter approach but to create a new feeling, a new attitude, a new practice; one must meditate on the answer. One must sit with these feelings, out in the open, and see what lessons they can teach you.

When the football is coming at you is no time to practice catching and running for the final touchdown in front of a stadium full of people. The time to practice is before the pressure of the game and the arrival of the audience who is watching.

Holding a self-confidence that does not depend on constant performance and that does not allow past, no longer viable triggers to trigger old feelings, attitudes, and behaviors ... depends on changing deep, long-held, most likely incorrect convictions. Practice, practice, practice.

As I said, sit with the emotions even if they are painful company. Develop new ways of thinking and often repeat them to yourself. Create new mantras to remind and support you. Then, once the Practice of New Thinking comes easily, and when old triggers no longer are needed, and if old triggers do arise no longer create havoc; then one can drop the issue because in essence, it really no longer exists!

Love you,
Michael

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Neglect and Derelict in My Duties

I really have been neglecting my blog. Am working in earnest on my upcoming book: The Museum of Michael's Mind: Memoirs, Memories, and Meanderings. The book will be approximately 650 pages and at least in my opinion, the writing is pretty decent, and the concepts discussed important. 

The reason I write is partly for you to see my world, partly for you to recognize your world, and partly to help you imagine worlds you have never imagined! Hopefully, you will see some things with new eyes and new understandings. Expect to be amused, to be moved, and to shed a few tears along with issuing forth with a few laughs.

Here is one of the pages from the back of the book:

The Museum of Michael’s Mind:

Memoirs, Memories, & Meanderings


Here is another from the back cover:


“With soft humor and gentle wonder, Michael generously shares his reflections on compassion and connection. What he has learned will resonate in your heart and mind.” 


Patricia Anderson May 2010 EWW Conference.


• • •

Over 300 short writings including creative non-fiction, fiction, dreams, thoughts, experiences, memories, and more. Michael’s writing is easy, engaging, and at times eloquent. Figurative, fanciful, and at times funny. Meaningful, meandering, and at times moving. Detailed, descriptive, and at times deep.

• • •

“…the audience for which he wrote this book includes: (unabashedly) Michael himself, those who might have thought similar thoughts to his, those who have had similar experiences as he has had. It is for those who have wondered about things, those who have looked for answers, those who have supported a close one through living with Alzheimer’s, those who have grieved the death of a loved one and celebrated the birth of a new being. He hopes to let the reader know they are not alone in this frightening, overwhelming, impermanent, wonderful world.”

• • •


His author’s “voice” suggests that you get a cup of coffee and join him in a conversation about life. Since it is his voice, you will probably not be able to get much in but still, the experience should be an enjoyable one!

He made a baker’s dozen of my favorite chocolate chip cookies with walnuts. Another cup of coffee? Sure. And have another cookie. 


Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Checking In

 It has been quite a while since I have posted here and I wanted to say Hi!

I have been devotedly working on my new book: The Museum of Michael's Mind: Memoirs, Memories, and Meanderings

Here is my author's photo which will be on the last pages and also the "About the Book" which will be on the back cover.

Meanwhile, have you had a chance to read my recently published book: Counting Down The Yardstick: A Reincarnation Memoir? Available at www.lulu.com, www.amazon.com, and www.barnesandnoble.com.

The Museum of Michael’s Mind:

Memoirs, Memories, & Meanderings


BACK COVER


“With soft humor and gentle wonder, Michael generously shares his reflections on compassion and connection. What he has learned will resonate in your heart and mind.” 


Patricia Anderson May 2010 EWW Conference.


• • •

Over 300 short writings including creative non-fiction, fiction, dreams, thoughts, experiences, memories, and more. Michael’s writing is easy, engaging, and at times eloquent. Figurative, fanciful, and at times funny. Meaningful, meandering, and at times moving. Detailed, descriptive, and at times deep.

• • •

“…the audience for which he wrote this book includes: (unabashedly) himself, those who might have thought similar thoughts to his, those who have had similar experiences as he has had. It is for those who have wondered about things, those who have looked for answers, those who have supported a close one through living with Alzheimer’s, those who have grieved the death of a loved one and celebrated the birth of a new being. He hopes to let the reader know they are not alone in this frightening, overwhelming, impermanent, wonderful world.”

• • •

His author’s “voice” suggests that you get a cup of coffee and join him in a conversation about life. Since it is his voice, you will probably not be able to get much in but still the experience should be an enjoyable one!

He made a baker’s dozen of his favorite chocolate chip cookies. Another cup of coffee? Sure. And have another cookie. 







Wednesday, January 20, 2021

The Hill We Climb

The Hill We Climb
By Amanda Gorman
as recited at the inauguration of
President Joe Biden and
Vice President Kamala Harris
January 20, 2021

Mr. President, Dr. Biden, Madam Vice President, Mr. Emhoff, Americans and the world:

When day comes we ask ourselves, where can we find light in this never-ending shade? The loss we carry, a sea we must wade. We’ve braved the belly of the beast. We’ve learned that quiet isn’t always peace. In the norms and notions of what just is isn’t always justice.


And yet, the dawn is ours before we knew it. Somehow, we do it. Somehow, we’ve weathered and witnessed a nation that isn’t broken, but simply unfinished. We, the successors of a country and a time where a skinny Black girl descended from slaves and raised by a single mother can dream of becoming president, only to find herself reciting for one.


And yes, we are far from polished, far from pristine, but that doesn’t mean we are striving to form a union that is perfect. We are striving to forge our union with purpose, to compose a country committed to all cultures, colors, characters and conditions of man.


And so, we lift our gazes not to what stands between us, but what stands before us. We close the divide because we know, to put our future first, we must first put our differences aside. We lay down our arms so we can reach out our arms to one another. We seek harm to none and harmony for all. Let the globe, if nothing else, say this is true. That even as we grieved, we grew. That even as we hurt, we hoped; that even as we tired, we tried; that we’ll forever be tied together, victorious. Not because we will never again know defeat, but because we will never again sow division.


Scripture tells us to envision that everyone shall sit under their own vine and fig tree, and no one shall make them afraid. If we’re to live up to our own time, then victory won’t lie in the blade, but in all the bridges we’ve made. That is the promise to glade, the hill we climb if only we dare it. 


Because being American is more than a pride we inherit; it’s the past we step into and how we repair it. We’ve seen a forest that would shatter our nation rather than share it, would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy. And this effort very nearly succeeded.


But while democracy can be periodically delayed, it can never be permanently defeated. In this truth, in this faith we trust, for while we have our eyes on the future, history has its eyes on us. This is the era of just redemption. 


We feared it at its inception. We did not feel prepared to be the heirs of such a terrifying hour, but within it, we found the power to author a new chapter, to offer hope and laughter to ourselves.


So, while once we asked: “How could we possibly prevail over catastrophe?” Now we assert, “How could catastrophe possibly prevail over us?”


We will not march back to what was, but move to what shall be: a country that is bruised, but whole; benevolent, but bold; fierce and free. We will not be turned around or interrupted by intimidation, because we know our inaction and inertia will be the inheritance of the next generation. Our blunders become their burdens. But one thing is certain, if we merge mercy with might, and might with right, then love becomes our legacy, and change our children’s birthright.


So, let us leave behind a country better than one we were left. With every breath from my bronze-pounded chest, we will raise this wounded world into a wondrous one. We will rise from the gold-limned hills of the West. We will rise from the wind-swept Northeast where our forefathers first realized revolution. 


We will rise from the lake-rimmed cities of the Midwestern states. We will rise from the sun-baked South. We will rebuild, reconcile and recover in every known nook of our nation, in every corner called our country our people diverse and beautiful will emerge battered and beautiful.


When day comes, we step out of the shade aflame and unafraid. The new dawn blooms as we free it. For there is always light. If only we’re brave enough to see it. If only we’re brave enough to be it.


Amanda Gorman’s “The Hill We Climb,” 



Saturday, December 26, 2020

TO ALL WHO NEED TO TELL THE TRUTH ABOUT SANTA 🎅

Child: "Dad, I think I'm old enough now. Is there a Santa Claus?

Adult: "Ok, I agree that you’re old enough. But before I tell you, I have a question for you. You see, the “truth” is a dangerous gift. Once you know something, you can't unknow it. Once you know the truth about Santa Claus, you will never again understand and relate to him as you do now. So my question is: Are you sure you want to know?

Brief pause...

Child: "Yes, I want to know."

Adult: "Ok, I'll tell you, Yes, there is a Santa Claus.

Child: "Really?

Adult: “Yes, really, but he's not an old man with a beard in a red suit. That's just what we tell kids. You see, kids are too young to understand the true nature of Santa Claus, so we explain it to them in a way that they can understand. The truth about Santa Claus is that he's not a person at all; he's an idea

Think of all those presents Santa gave you over the years. I actually bought those myself. I watched you open them. And did it bother me that you didn't thank me? Of course not! In fact, it gave me great pleasure.

You see, Santa Claus is THE IDEA OF GIVING FOR THE SAKE OF GIVING, without thought of thanks or acknowledgment.

When I saw that woman collapse on the subway last week and called for help, I knew that she'd never know that it was me that summoned the ambulance. I was being Santa Claus when I did that.

Child: "Oh."

Adult: "So now that you know, you're part of it. You have to be Santa Claus too now. That means you can never tell a young kid the secret, and you have to help us select Santa presents for them, and most importantly, you have to look for opportunities to help people. Got it?

Help each other this Christma and ... be kind

(Story by Anonymous. Photo by Son Chung) 



Condo Christmas 2020

Every year, it seems, Christmas decorating in the condo presents itself differently. In a different format that is. Each time Christmas seems to be a shrine with its own mind deciding exactly where its various pieces want to go. I just listen and follow and am never disappointed!  








































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