Friday, August 30, 2013

One of Those Moments: Labor Day 2010

Another one of my flash fiction/memoir pieces, this one appropriate for the holiday. I hope you enjoy!

Labor Day 2010

          Reading the back of the kid’s baseball jersey, I can’t believe someone’s last name is really “Filet.” Oh, looking again, I see it’s “Filiet.” Yeah, like that’s better.
          There are scads of tiny 8-year-old boys looking like ants scattered about the green grass. Focused, intense these kids are. Just a minute ago Riley was whining quietly in the car about one thing or another and now he’s practicing his swing like he’s been in the pros for years. His eyes dart around the field memorizing who is doing what where.
          While moms dole out juice, water and snacks and move the umbrellas to keep the scorching late summer sun off their spectator families, dads are standing in groups, mostly watching, silently hoping their sons do the right thing.
          After a week of TV news showing death – accidental or intentional – drugs, dwindling earth resources and dejected employees acting out, all you’ve got to do is come out to a Little League game on this Sunday. It’s heartwarming to see youngsters try so hard. These future adults can be exhilarated one minute and flat out dejected the next, hanging their heads and skulking off the field if they fail to get on base when it’s their turn at bat.
          Then in a flash there’s mine. In the new inning he’s wearing catcher’s gear, looking serious, professional, older; no sign of any whining. He’s calling the shots. His dad is on the sidelines…wait, what…he’s texting? Yes, he’s keeping mom and brother who are at another game across town apprised of Riley’s performance.
          This all reassures me. On a Sunday during Labor Day weekend a different kind of news is being made. We won’t see it reported with the evening TV broadcasts, but we’ll soak it up, like the brilliant sun, in our hearts. It makes me feel a tad more hopeful for our future…regardless of who wins.  

You might also enjoy:
     Baseball 2012
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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Inspired By a King

          Tomorrow is the 50th anniversary of the civil rights March on Washington, and this morning I again listened to Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech. It made me cry; it makes me cry every time I listen to the dedication and purpose, the emotion and strength and the hope in his voice. Today I carry that hope forward as I think about where we were then compared to now and how much further hopefully all of us will go to continue to carry his dream forward.

 The Power of a King

           I feel so fortunate to have lived during King’s all too short lifetime. He and I share a birthday but when I came along he was already 19 years old, nearly halfway through his short life before he would be assassinated while doing what he loved best, peacefully championing the rights of black people in the U.S.

          King used his sparkling speaking abilities, which were developed as a Baptist minister, to emphasize the need for continued action and peaceful demonstration if we, as a nation, were truly going to represent the equality of all people. As he said in his speech, “Let us not wallow in the valley of despair…” but focus on how we can make changes to enhance the lives of those who are discriminated against.

          King equated the civil rights movement with the highest and noblest ideals of the American tradition, allowing many to see for the first time the importance and urgency of racial equality. Throughout his entire life I believe King knew we could change.

What Has Been Accomplished

          The civil rights movement has been a broad spectrum from no freedom, few choices, and a small collective voice for most African Americans over time to celebrating the first black man as the leader of the free world. While it may seem we’ve gotten to the end of the spectrum, there is still a long way to go in terms of equality for people of color in this country.

The Future and My Part In It

          My dream is that the celebration and embracing of ALL peoples continues to unfold exponentially around the world.

          I’m going to look to the future with hope and possibilities. We have the capacity to change. I am committed to living my life with an eye to discrimination in my attitude toward not only different races but in anything that stands to represent different choices and ways of being than I'm familiar with. I don’t have time to shut people out of my life because their beliefs or ideals are different from mine or because they look different than me.

           I will NOT be distracted by comic media that tries to bedazzle me with false issues as a sideshow, such as looking to place political blame for our inertia. This only promotes inaction which thwarts us from moving forward and making real progress toward equality. I am only one person, but I have a heart and I have the power to seek a truth that brings about the changes we need, the changes that will benefit all future generations.

          The anniversary of the March on Washington has given me hope and King continues to inspire me to do what I can to keep his dream alive.

I am only one, but still I am one.  I cannot do everything, but still I can
do something; I will not refuse to do something I can do.

                                                                                             - Helen Keller

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Friday, August 23, 2013

One of Those Moments: Global Vision or Open Your Eyes, Antonia!

          I hate to admit I haven’t completely bought into the whole global warming
issue over the years. Do I need to duck now while you throw tomatoes at me for
my lack of mindfulness?

          Having said that out loud, now I can begin to educate myself and change
my point of view. In my learning travels I found this video. I'd be interested in
knowing how you feel about it and the whole issue and your thoughts on slowing
the devastation.

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Tuesday, August 20, 2013

National Senior Citizen Day 2013

          You might be just as wooly-minded as I was to learn that tomorrow is National Senior Citizen Day. I’d never heard about this holiday until a week ago, which is particularly surprising since seniors are my personal and 'business' interest. Did you know this holiday existed?

A Little History

          In 1988 President Ronald Reagan issued Proclamation 5847 which established August 21st as National Senior Citizen Day. In his explanation about why he created this holiday, Reagan wrote, “Older citizens are reinforcing their historical roles as leaders and as links with our patrimony and sense of purpose as individuals and as a Nation.”

          He went on to say, “For all they have achieved throughout life and for all they continue to accomplish, we owe older citizens our thanks and a heartfelt salute. We can best demonstrate our gratitude and esteem by making sure that our communities are good places in which to mature and grow older.” That’s worth celebrating!

What to Do Now That You Know

          I can practically hear the younger generations groan as they learn of yet another 'holiday' to scrounge around for a gift to be foisted upon the fastest-growing segment of the population in the world -- a constituent that, for the most part, already has everything.

Friday, August 16, 2013

One of Those Moments: Giving

          There’s a HUGE holiday coming up next week and I want to get you geared up to give. What? You’ve looked at your calendars and can’t find any notation about a huge national holiday that arrives next week? Oh, well, I’ll not spoil the surprise before then. Instead lets think about what you might want to give.
          The best kind of gift for both the receiver and the giver is the act of giving itself. Obviously, the recipient gets what you give, whether it’s a yacht or a sincere and loving smile. What you may have forgotten is the joy the giver receives. C’mon, admit it. Remember that time you gave a little kid something that seemed beyond their reach – a bike, ice cream cone, a movie ticket? Remember the look of wonderment and joy in that child's face? It’s like what they experience bounces back into you tenfold.

          Everyone has something to give. It can be money or something that costs a little or a lot, or it can be that smile, or support, love, energy or just attention.  Whatever the gift, it carries with it a transformative power of love and connection that radiates throughout the universe. Giving encourages, empowers, nurtures and inspires all who come into contact with it.

          You don’t need to wait until next week and that big mystery holiday to begin giving. Start tomorrow. Look at what you might have to give and identify possible recipients. Check your attitude about giving AND receiving and let the practice carry you forward into your daily routine. This practice will enrich your life beyond imagination.

          Believe it.

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Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Are You Better Now Than Before? Five Ways to Find Out.

          There are a few things I could have done when I was younger that I don’t think I could do now, like drive across the country by myself or squat down to retrieve something from the bottom shelf at the grocery store without using my cart or the shelf to help pull myself back up. But there are things I can do now that I could not do when I was younger, like keep my mouth shut when I really felt like blurting, “You’re wrong!” or like getting the chores done before diving into something pleasurable. Wait, did you hear me say I can now delay gratification? You’re wrong! (oops) The way I eat proves that assumption incorrect.

          But I can now sit at a stoplight, a long stoplight, and not drum my fingers on the steering wheel or pick up my cell phone to check everyone’s status, which is not only stupid, but illegal in California. Now I can think of helping someone else before helping myself. I can even be the last one in the buffet line.

          The five ways to determine if you are better now than before, well, they really don’t exist. Everything that might be used to determine that question is SO subjective and cannot be determined quantitatively. I do, however, have some guidelines that I use in measuring my better-ness or my happiness today compared to my days as a younger person. They are:

Friday, August 2, 2013

A Later Moment: Older

I love writing flash fiction/memoir. Here's one of my very short pieces from a few years ago that you might enjoy:

          The short circular driveway of the Senior Center looks all damp and mossy; lots of trees and shrubbery, no sunlight and not a soul around. I’m convinced only the most decrepit and down and out sort of people come here. But I’m a senior citizen and I’m curious.
           I turn onto the street just west of the center and see an attached parking lot in the back of the building. The place is packed! The lot must hold a couple hundred parking spaces and it’s full! Big Oldsmobiles and Buicks and massive trucks for towing fifth wheelers, and I can’t find a place to park, so I park on the street.

          Because I’m not familiar with how to get inside the building from the back parking lot, I walk all the way up to the front through the moist grove-like entrance. The moment I open the door, however, all thoughts of stagnant life disappear. A rush of warm and vibrant activity envelopes me. I’m greeted cordially by Lori, an attractive woman of an age I can’t guess who is impeccably dressed in a green somewhat outdated but very presentable pantsuit. The minute I tell her this is my first visit to the center, she’s off and running with so much information my head spins.
           A senior in this place is defined as anyone 50 or over. Hell, at 50 I was only a kid and now, at 61, I’m just beginning to embrace the concept of being able to get discounted goods and services or of experiencing the idea that no one notices if I wear makeup when I'm out and about.
           It was only when Lori was giving me the bingo schedule that it dawned on me…I’d joined the ranks of people by who no longer define themselves by their occupations or the successes of their children but  people whose status might be based on the elegance of the troll doll at the end of their bingo card markers. Oh, my gosh, is it just a matter of time before I’m saving sugar packets from Denny's?           

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Senior Moments:  The Best is Yet to Come?
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