Common Ground

Realizing that we are more alike than different does not come easy, especially when everything around you is telling you the opposite – news, financial status, social media, protests, our own views of the same … Sometimes, one thing, one incident, something you heard or saw, reminds you that in the end we all want the same things. We want to be loved and love, we want to be safe, we want to prosper, we want joy and happiness, we want a happy home, we want to be fed properly, we want to have fun, we want to help others and be givers, we want to care … Sometimes, in the pursuit of those same things we become boulders in the path of others, and in the one to our own journey. Sometimes, it is so hard to understand one another, but what makes it a bit easier is realizing that we all want the same things. In illuminating our own road, we can also be a light for others.

Photo by M.A.D.

Things That Make Me Go ???

I am puzzled; I just don’t get it. In July 1st Virginia will become one of the states were recreational marijuana is allowed. Our democratic governor happily signed, and legislation passed by 48-43 vote, I think, if I did not misread. In his words, “We are giving Virginians what they want.” I personally doubt that. Our governor is a physician, a pediatrician. I know that should not influence anything he signs, but why rush this legalization? Don’t these things take some preparation and training (law enforcement training for example)? Virginia will join 12 states (11 plus Washington DC, and we are a Commonwealth by definition, not a state, but that is another ???) these being Alaska, California, Colorado, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey (joined in February 2021),Vermont, Washington, and Washington D.C. . There might be more I missed. All except Alaska, are democratic states. Virginians will be able to enjoy the pot, and grow up to four plants per household, prohibited from selling it, but you can offer it as a gift to someone (yup, I will gift you this lovely plant, but can you lend me some $$$?), must label their plants (really?), keep them out of public view (why, isn’t it legal now, and aren’t the plants labeled?), and keep them away from anyone under 21 years old (we know how that will work out). Virginians cannot smoke it in public, or in a vehicle (Ha!), and penalties will remain the same for minors, possession and use in schools (at least some sense). All this in the name of “social equity” because I guess minorities are criminalized more for possession (not my words). There’s another layer to this in relation with business licensing, and preference to minorities for grant licensing (???).

Ok so now that we have cover the basics here, this is what puzzles me. When I was a kid, it was hammered over and over in Health studies that marijuana was a very very very bad drug, and we had to memorize the horrible effects, physical, social, etc. and then pour the precious knowledge out into a test. So was I brainwashed as a kid? Well, I am not so sure. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (Advancing Addiction Science, yes Science) seems to have its pretty “old fashioned” view on this topic. You can read all about the dangerous side effects and implications here Marijuana DrugFacts | National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)

If this government agency still thinks this way, then WHY, WHY, WHY? Pollyanna asks. Seriously, take a quick look at all the effects, impairment and other stuff, in case you forgot Health studies. I am sure we all know someone who had smoke it, or still does, but honestly, the people who I have seen smoking it acted like clowns, impaired nimrods … Maybe I never saw a pot-smoking human who acts normal or posed? So why am I so concerned? Simply, I can see the effects on the street (now that it is legalized and easier to access here), people driving erratically after smoking while texting going to work, and messing up their work, which might require a high level of concentration and skill. Don’t want someone forgetting to tighten those brakes, or putting sugar in your cappuccino, or forgetting that bistoury inside you (after all, One of many physicians agrees). But most of all, I think of how soon my car insurance will go up again, and I say again, because it went up by an additional $500 a year during Covid season, yes and we were not driving much, and so the rest of the world, so I can’t wait to see how much our 20 year old cars will cost to drive next year, and by the way, driven by two old farts who have been accident free for decades, but are getting older now. When I moved from Jersey (city) to Virginia (rural VA) my insurance went up. When I asked why, I was told that more accidents happen here. I guess those long lone country roads are quite dangerous here.

Now that I aired my selfish motives, if you read the link, you will understand the rest, and I don’t have to mention it on this post. I am sure that most people who smoke it will be good responsible citizens who mean no harm and got it together, so maybe I am exaggerating here, and all is well. It is not my intention to judge people either; it is not my place. I will have to educate myself on the effects on those states, after legalization took place, and if there were any significant changes. Despite the risks of using this drug (labeled as such by the NIDA) the image being sold is one of minorities being treated fairly for smoking pot, not jailed, and that jailed people (for small possession) will be set free and gallop into the sunshine. And we will live happily ever after.

*Disclaimer – This post has been written by an American woman of Hispanic (Puerto Rican)/Spaniard/Basque/Canarian … and a whole much more descent. Any views presented here are hers only, and are not part of this network or its affiliates. (Could not help myself).

Diamonds in the Rain

Life is not always fair. Sometimes, we are presented with heavy blows and challenges so difficult or unfair that we may think we don’t have any strength left to deal with life. I know; I have been there myself a few times. It is on those tempestuous days when it is easier to go with the flow, walk with a clouded mind, because even thinking hurts (and forget about feeling, you can even go there), that we think less of ourselves. It is as we are punishing ourselves for life’s dealings and for not being the perfect hero we should be. We are fed a heroic image since our childhood, and when we cannot be even a third of that image, we think that we might be the biggest failures on the planet. Well, if anything, we are human, very human, and being human is not an excuse for stopping and letting people and situations use us as a punching bag, neither an excuse to be less. We must pause, yes, but to recharge, to ponder, to regain perspective, and to continue the journey, fair or unfair as it might seem. There is an adage that goes “Pick up the pieces and keep going,” or something along those lines. The “keep going” part is not the difficult part. The hard part is to “pick up the pieces.” When your life has been shattered in billion pieces, at one point, when you are bending as much and as long as you can to pick up those pieces, and each piece reflects back a part of you, you start counting them, and the task seems unsurmountable. That is why it might be easier to go at it one piece at a time, one step at a time, one day at a time, without counting, recounting, or even regretting what has already been recounted more than once. Life can present us with light showers, heavy storms, and even hurricanes, at any time. It is call living. So we are not the heroes we though we grew up to be? Then we must change suits, and suit up for the occasion, as best as we can under the circumstances. We cannot do it alone? Who said we had to do it alone? God is there at all times, whether we choose to see it or not, and Jesus is just waiting for us to call on him. We don’t have to go it alone if we don’t want to. We tend to be hard on ourselves, and less forgiving. We place so much pressure on ourselves, sometimes more than God puts on us. After all, He wants us to love Him, love one another, and welcome His son Jesus into our lives. That sounds less demanding to me than being Mr./Mrs. Perfect – Know it all – Super Performer Hero/Heroine that bleeds success when poked, and is unstoppable. Aspiring is beautiful, achieving is lovely and rewarding in its own way as well, but it is not the only important thing. Our soul is, and it is very easy to lose track of it in the storms of life.

We are all humans and life is not always fair; however, we can start seeing the diamonds in the rain, one by one. God put them there for a reason.

Diamonds in the rain. Photo by M.A.D.

After the Storm

Last week, we had tropical storm Zeta pass by our county. Our area received strong winds and lots of rain. At one point, I became a bit worried about the roof. Will it hold? Immediately, a favorite Bible verse came to mind. It is one I have written on a blackboard in the kitchen.

2 Timothy 1:7

Having experienced hurricanes Irene and Sandy when I lived in Jersey, both late fall big storms, I realized that my worries were valid, however, a bit out of proportion. Our minds play games when we feel vulnerable. We all experience many seasons in life, some more challenging than others, but through it all we survive, learn, and become stronger. Although fear is a normal human emotion, if we let it take root in our lives it will prevent growth and development.

As writers, we attempt to portray our characters as real and believable as we can. Even super heroes experience fear and face it. That is the moment when transition happens, followed by growth and development. Characters evolve through the progression of the story; they don’t remain the same. They grow and continue to evolve whether that evolution ends up being positive or negative. A character may experience fear and learn, grow from it as it conquers it, or become paralyzed and eventually, destroyed by it. The important issue here is that characters don’t remain the same, at the same level throughout the story unless the writer has a specific goal and determines so; however, with purpose.

Sometimes, fear comes from not understanding something or from denial, and many times, denial comes from fear, thus perpetuating a circle. Whatever the outcome, a character will advance the plot. Dinorah Sandbeck, the main character on The Dinorah Chronicles trilogy, resisted her birthright in part because of denial and fear of the unknown. Once she gave in to knowledge and acceptance, she was able to embrace her purpose and ultimately become. However, you can see this transition happening and evolving throughout the trilogy. At the end, she becomes what she was meant for, and fulfills her birthright. The Dinorah Chronicles is available in paperback and eBook formats via Amazon.

We face many storms during our lifetime, some stronger than others, but ultimately, the human spirit holds on and goes on with the help of God. When the winds stopped I expected to see a mess outside, and thought that the few flowers that were left in the garden would be gone for good. Yesterday, I spotted this through my window, and I thought, it is never too late neither hopeless.

After the storm roses. Their color is so rich and beautiful.

When Reality Mimics Fiction

I came across this open letter to President Donald J. Trump from Archbishop Vigano, and I was very intrigued as to why this has not been shared on the news more, and not at all on the news channels I watch regularly. It warns the president about a global reset, and a system that is created to erased our rights and freedoms, and that has been instituted in other countries, and is to be implemented by the end of this year in more countries. If you are familiar with Catholic hierarchy, then you understand why this was such a bold move from this Archbishop. I found it so interesting because of his use of words that I decided to share the letter here, and let you make up your mind about it. If anything, it makes you ponder. I also find many similarities with The Dinorah Chronicles trilogy, hence why I am sharing it.

A Sign of the Times

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Photo by M.A.D.

As of today, it is mandatory (yes, mandatory/law under state executive order) in Virginia to wear a mask when you are out and about in public. For a while, Virginia has had a law that it is illegal to wear a mask or face covering in public (unless needed for job, health, costumes, etc.). I find it interesting. At least for a while, it has and will continue to be part of my outfit. I never thought that the day would come when it would be a common item found near the door.

Reflection

The stay at home order here in Virginia extends until June 10, so far. There is no doubt that this time has been sad and challenging for so many people in so many ways. I don’t think that there is anyone on this planet that has not been touched in one way or another, whether health, grief, loss, financial issues, isolation … so many ways. It has also been a time to pause and reflect on many things. Also, a time for enlightenment in so many levels. For me, I have seen so many blessings in my life, and also on the outside world. My eyes have been keened; it is the only way I can describe it.

I have always been grateful to God for so many things in my life; however, I have discovered many more during this time. I have also seen another side of humanity, a better side, one that I thought had been lost. My faith in it has been renewed. We have learned to appreciate everyday little details, things that we have been taking for granted – touch, company, face to face conversations, gatherings, health, outings, the free outdoors, the freedom to walk around without reserve, and normalcy, whatever that was for you. Just think of the “joy” and/or relief you feel when you see that roll of toilet paper at your grocery store. It may sound as a joke, but doesn’t that feel different now? Our routine, our life has been halted and flipped upside down. Thanks to that, most of us have been able to see better. We appreciate more the work and dedication of so many people, the ones that out of the sudden we call “essential workers.” If we ever looked down on many of those jobs, now we see how meaningful these occupations were. These people were always there, but now we see them better. Now, we call them heroes. Now, we can see better.

Yes, we also have the people who are still thinking about “me, myself, and I” – their modus operandi. The ones who protest about having to spend time at home for over a month. The ones who say, “I’d rather die from Covid-19 than live like this” (yes, someone actually said that when interviewed on the local news). The ones who say, “I already got it; I don’t have to worry.” The ones who cannot stay just a few more weeks home, social distancing, because they are not having “fun.” I think that most people are on the same page, but for those who are not, it has never been about you, or your life, or your body/health, or your fun. It is about the other, your parents, your siblings, your kids, your grandparents, your neighbors … even your pets. You are staying home for them, not for you.

Our first responders, doctor, nurses, aides, grocery store employees, gas attendants … are as human as we are. They get tired, they get hungry, they get sad, they cry, their bodies hurt from those long hours, their hearts feel; they too, have human limits. Don’t take them for granted. They have made their calling a priority at this time. They don’t have to be there for you or me, but they have chosen to do so.

It is easy to yell and protest about “my rights,” but not so easy to see the thin line that exists between our rights and those of our neighbor. It has never been about you, or me.

Future Projects

I should call them intentional endeavors because I would like to work on these as soon as possible, however, experience has taught me different. There is a small backlog of stories that are begging to be written and I am planning on tackling those, one by one (I am no James Patterson, and my mind can only handle one story at a time) and maybe some will end up as part of a compilation of short stories I am planning to publish. A book of poems (poetry book sounds pretentious) is another project I would like to handle in the near future. Although I have made a considerable dent on my reading backlog, I have yet to clear my shelves. A few book reviews  will be included as posts. I find that I have neglected that side. This takes me to my art, which I have neglected as well, but intend to resume, and share a bit of it on this blog. I find it so difficult to separate my interests because I see them as a whole, each fueling one another. I had purposely made this blog a writing blog, and eliminated many posts about the farmhouse restoration and other interests, and I am not sure if that was the best thing to do. I miss that part of it. If you have been with me for a while, you probably saw these disappear, and I regret not saving or printing them before deleting them for good. Oh well, those are gone.

On the home front, there are countless projects, many of which need to be finished and date back to when  I moved to Virginia. We still have work to do on this old farmhouse and its surroundings. The small potager is almost completed, but needs some more planning. The hard part is done. The garden is in what I consider the early stages, according to what I imagine it will become. Knowing the morass and wilderness it was, I should pat myself in the back (and my husband too) because we really have worked hard on it. This is obviously a long term and ongoing project. I think a place grows with you through the years, and one grows with it as well, complementing each other. A house whispers what it wants. We intend to live here for a long time so there is no rush.

I have many personal goals I would like to see to fruition, and these are just that, personal. They range from personal development, education, wants, and other. My point is that all these things take a considerable amount of time, money, and effort. Some are implemented right away while others take years to materialize, and I must learn to recognize the difference. I used to make life maps from time to time. Months ago, I found an old map I had created many years ago (more than a decade). When I looked at it I was pleasantly surprised. Most of the things on that map had become reality, and according to it I was where I was supposed to be. I had forgotten about it. On this map things where scheduled to happen faster, but in reality they took much longer. However, the outcome was the same. This made me reflect on something very important. It is all about vision and faith, speed and time are relative, and these adjust accordingly. So many times we chastise ourselves (I am guilty of it) when life doesn’t go at the speed of our dreams and planning, and we end up feeling sad, frustrated, disappointed, disillusioned, and even as failures. Society tells us to achieve, multitask, perform like an octopus in fast wheels, and shapes our minds from an early age. When we fall short according to this timing and expectation, we blame ourselves, sometimes by being to harsh and even unkind. Many people keep going at that speed until the end, others crash along the way, while other souls learn to apply the brakes from time to time, and even take the scenic/panoramic way along with rest stops.

A day has 24 hours, one’s life has none defined. Longevity is a mystery and no one is guaranteed another day. If we happen to live it, it is a wonder in itself.

 

Have We Forgotten?

Fiction – A product of the imagination. The category of literature with imaginary characters and events, including novels, short stories, etc. (American Heritage Dictionary)