Though I am gone, I urge you to answer the highest calling of your heart
and stand up for what you truly believe.
By John Lewis
While my time here has now come to an end, I want you to know that in the last days and hours of my life you inspired me. You filled me with hope about the next chapter of the great American story when you used your power to make a difference in our society. Millions of people motivated simply by human compassion laid down the burdens of division. Around the country and the world you set aside race, class, age, language and nationality to demand respect for human dignity.
That is why I had to visit Black Lives Matter Plaza in Washington, though I was admitted to the hospital the following day. I just had to see and feel it for myself that, after many years of silent witness, the truth is still marching on.
Emmett Till was my George Floyd. He was my Rayshard Brooks, Sandra Bland and Breonna Taylor. He was 14 when he was killed, and I was only 15 years old at the time. I will never ever forget the moment when it became so clear that he could easily have been me. In those days, fear constrained us like an imaginary prison, and troubling thoughts of potential brutality committed for no understandable reason were the bars.
Though I was surrounded by two loving parents, plenty of brothers, sisters and cousins, their love could not protect me from the unholy oppression waiting just outside that family circle. Unchecked, unrestrained violence and government-sanctioned terror had the power to turn a simple stroll to the store for some Skittles or an innocent morning jog down a lonesome country road into a nightmare. If we are to survive as one unified nation, we must discover what so readily takes root in our hearts that could rob Mother Emanuel Church in South Carolina of her brightest and best, shoot unwitting concertgoers in Las Vegas and choke to death the hopes and dreams of a gifted violinist like Elijah McClain.
Like so many young people today, I was searching for a way out, or some might say a way in, and then I heard the voice of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on an old radio. He was talking about the philosophy and discipline of nonviolence. He said we are all complicit when we tolerate injustice. He said it is not enough to say it will get better by and by. He said each of us has a moral obligation to stand up, speak up and speak out. When you see something that is not right, you must say something. You must do something. Democracy is not a state. It is an act, and each generation must do its part to help build what we called the Beloved Community, a nation and world society at peace with itself.
Ordinary people with extraordinary vision can redeem the soul of America by getting in what I call good trouble, necessary trouble. Voting and participating in the democratic process are key. The vote is the most powerful nonviolent change agent you have in a democratic society. You must use it because it is not guaranteed. You can lose it.
You must also study and learn the lessons of history because humanity has been involved in this soul-wrenching, existential struggle for a very long time. People on every continent have stood in your shoes, through decades and centuries before you. The truth does not change, and that is why the answers worked out long ago can help you find solutions to the challenges of our time. Continue to build union between movements stretching across the globe because we must put away our willingness to profit from the exploitation of others.
Though I may not be here with you, I urge you to answer the highest calling of your heart and stand up for what you truly believe. In my life I have done all I can to demonstrate that the way of peace, the way of love and nonviolence is the more excellent way. Now it is your turn to let freedom ring.
When historians pick up their pens to write the story of the 21st century, let them say that it was your generation who laid down the heavy burdens of hate at last and that peace finally triumphed over violence, aggression and war. So I say to you, walk with the wind, brothers and sisters, and let the spirit of peace and the power of everlasting love be your guide.
-Mr. Lewis, the civil rights leader who died on July 17, wrote this essay shortly before his death, to be published upon the day of his funeral.
If you would have told me two months ago how much my world, or actually the WHOLE world, has changed, I wouldn't have believed you. But we are under siege and there is no escaping it . . . the threat is global.
It's a new world and there is no going back. We have to find a new 'norm' and we will. It will take some adjusting but we will adapt, just like our ancestors did in times of turmoil.
I believe this is a reset for Mother Earth and all of humanity. News clips show animals thriving, running free while the human race is sheltering down. City smog has dissipated revealing blue skies and mountain ranges that were hidden for decades. Endangered sea turtles are thriving.
The COVID-19 pandemic will be a history-altering event in so many ways. What have we discovered about ourselves? What do we really need in life? What is important to us, to our being? Things we once took for granted are precious memories right now.
But it's not all doom and gloom. It's a reset and we will all decide what is important. For most of us, I can bet it's not the material things, but instead spending time with friends and family. Hugs, kisses, holding dear ones close...those are the treasures I long for.
We must accept finite disappointment,
but never lose infinite hope.
-Martin Luther King, Jr.
I live in a vibrant town and on my daily walks, I normally encounter dozens of people jogging, walking, dining, going to the movies, etc. Since COVID-19, my walks have been eerily quiet and lonesome. A few times this surreal silence has brought me to tears but then I see signs of hope or a hint of light that inspires me not to give in to despair. I decided to record a few of these desolate walks even though I know they will forever be embedded in my memory. Sadly, my video below represents countless cities across America.
Are you one?
I love stories about heroes…everyday, unsuspecting heroes who do the right thing at the right time...especially women.
Look around you, they are all around us…but they may not know it…yet.
It may even be you…today or tomorrow.
When the time comes, will you step up?
Katherine Johnson died this week at the age of 101.
Did you know that:
Her story of accomplishment along with Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, and Christine Darden, have until recently been largely neglected in the history books. Their work not only helped humankind reach the moon, but also changed the history of black woman in science.
Read about her in Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly.
-The American Dream and Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race.
A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself.
Ingenuous: honest, trustful, undisguised, up front, unsophisticated, open.
I like this word!
I love stories about average, everyday women who, when put to the test, kick ass.
Tales of personal growth, whether it be physical, mental or emotional, are my passion.
Stay tuned for more true stories about women who have the courage to stand up
when it really counts.
Definition: accepting or allowing what happens or what others do, without active response or resistance; being the object of action rather than causing action.
Synonym: apathetic, lifeless, impassive, asleep, compliant, docile, flat, idle, indifferent, inert, inactive, motionless, nonresistant, resigned, static, submissive.
Not very appealing choices to describe oneself, are they?
Most of us don’t think of ourselves that way but take a close look…are you passive?
Guns, Immigration, Intolerance, Accountability, Honesty, Bullying, Democracy, Constitutional rights… these are just a sampling of serious issues in the news today. Things are happening, changes are coming…and not necessarily for the good.
“I always wondered why somebody doesn’t do something
about that. Then I realized I was somebody.”
Do you stand by and do nothing? Say nothing? Or do you take a stance? Will you march?
How will history look at you? What will you tell your kids of your involvement or lack of? So much of what we do and say today will affect their future.
There are two sides to every issue and surely you must have thoughts or feelings one way or another. Whatever your opinion, reach out, speak up! Have a lively debate. Listen to the opposing side. Involve your kids in a meaningful dialogue. The innocent often offer simplistic but common sense views. Compromise is not a dirty word.
If we don’t contribute our feelings or thoughts, then a compromise/solution can not be achieved. Choosing to be silent forgoes your right to speak out after a decision is made. Your right to complain was given up with your silence.
“There are risks and costs to action. But they are far less
than the long range risks of comfortable inaction.”
–John F. Kennedy
We are so concerned with being politically correct or offending someone with our point of view, that we avoid discussions. True friendship should be able to withstand an opposing opinion. There is so much more to discuss at dinner other than the hottest reality show or current celebrity status.
Get involved. Take a stance. Feel alive. It’s okay to disagree, just have the conversation. Listen. Voice your view. If you lived elsewhere, speaking openly may not be a safe option. But it is here. Don’t waste it. Be proud of your involvement…win or lose. You acted. You used your voice.
“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies,
but the silence of our friends.”
-Martin Luther King Jr.
Antonym of passive: active.
Now that’s a beautiful word!
'Twas the Night Before Christmas
By Clement Clarke Moore
'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;
The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;
And mamma in her 'kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled down for a long winter's nap,
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.
The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below,
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer,
With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;
"Now, DASHER! now, DANCER! now, PRANCER and VIXEN!
On, COMET! on CUPID! on, DONNER and BLITZEN!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!"
As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too.
And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my hand, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.
He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;
A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.
His eyes -- how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;
The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath;
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook, when he laughed like a bowlful of jelly.
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;
He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,
HAPPY CHRISTMAS TO ALL, AND TO ALL A GOOD-NIGHT!
“DAD, WHEN’S MAGGIE going to get here?” Chloe’s breath fogged up the picture window. Her gaze scanned the snowy Montana mountains. “I hope she makes it in time for Christmas.” Ruffling Chloe’s dishwater-blond mane, I prayed like hell Maggie and her mother, Glad, would get here soon. Traveling had come to a halt across the country thanks to the winter storm, but at least Maggie and Glad were safe at home and not sleeping on some airport floor like the many interviewed on the news.
Feeling anxious, I massaged my temples. Wrapping my arms around Maggie and kissing her lips were the only Christmas presents I needed.
“Not sure, Pumpkin. Depends on the flights.”
Crossing paths with Maggie the summer before last was like finding a rose bush on top of a mountain while searching for gold. As much as she resisted, her heart finally won. We all won. Acquiring Glad in the deal was a bonus. Without hesitation, she’d taken a special liking to Chloe. They’d bonded instantly through their love of mischief. Glad was like the grandmother Chloe never had, and her sense of humor cut to the quick. Glad wore her heart on her sleeve and was the only one capable of giving Maggie a run for her money when Maggie needed a challenge. Glad was Maggie’s mother first and foremost, but their relationship—built on sarcastic wit, middle-naming, and genuine love—was most unique.
“Maggie has to get here.” Chloe drew a heart in the moisture on the frosty glass pane. She wrote her initials above Maggie’s, then she added a plus sign. “The snow is so thick you can barely see through it.” Chloe hummed a holiday tune between thoughts. “Just think, Dad, next year at this time, I’ll be nine and Maggie will have been here a whole year.”
Nudging the hat back from my brow, I thought about the woman who’d stolen my heart. I never dreamed in a million years I’d fall head over heels for my Michigan neighbor lady, Maggie Abernathy. Living in Grosse Pointe hadn’t been on my agenda originally, but the picture was crystal clear why I’d established residency in the Great Lake State before coming back to Montana. If I didn’t believe in fate before, I did now, and I wanted Maggie to get here as much as Chloe. We had big plans of starting a life together and this was only the beginning.
“Why couldn’t Maggie and Glad come earlier?” When Chloe spoke, deep lines appeared along the bridge of her nose.
“I told you, Chloe, Maggie’s settling things with her house. Remember when we sold our house in Grosse Pointe? It takes time. Papers have to be signed, things need to be packed, and besides Maggie wanted to spend some extra time with her momma. You can understand that, right? When Christmas is over, Glad’ll fly home. I don’t think Maggie has ever really been apart from her momma.”
I lifted Chloe’s chin with my index finger. My daughter’s soul shimmered behind her green stare. Hope should’ve been Chloe’s middle name because my girl never gave up when the chips were down.
“Glad’s house is where Maggie grew up. Maggie’s saying her last goodbye.”
Chloe’s expression tugged at my heart like the snap of a lasso when wrangling a wild pony.
“I know what you mean. I don’t think I’ve ever gotten used to being apart from my momma, but maybe that’ll change someday. Hollywood sure is a far way away.”
Chloe’s momma was nothing like Maggie, and I wondered if I’d ever shed the guilt from our failed marriage that had left my daughter living with her old man. Chloe longed for a normal household, whatever that was in this day and age. Smiling at Chloe, I wished she’d see the well of hope I carried myself.
“I guess so, but I want Maggie to be here. It’s almost Christmas. We have so much to do.”
“I want Maggie here, too, Peanut, but it is what it is.” Resting my hands on Chloe’s thin shoulders, I prayed for the skies to clear so our Maggie’s arrival was sooner than later.
“Maggie promised she’d make cookies with me. Christmas will be here before you know it. This is our first Montana Christmas, and I want it to be perfect.” Chloe leaned her forehead against the window, closed her eyes then whispered in the sweetest of voices, “Please Lord, it’s me, Chloe. I know I can be kind of a pain, but can you please help Maggie and Glad get here, and fast?”
“Come here, Peanut.” Opening my arms, I scooped my little girl up. My cheek grazed hers. Nothing compared to her soft touch when pangs of disappointment bristled.
On the outside, my daughter was as tough as they come, but on the inside, she was soft and cuddly. Chloe rested her head against my shoulder, her warm breath like butterfly kisses upon my neck.
“Are you going to marry Maggie?”
“Without a doubt.” My heart pounded as I imagined sharing life with the woman I loved. “Don’t you worry.”
“Good,” Chloe whispered. “I can feel your heartbeat against mine. I think we both love her.”
“This is where Maggie needs to be, Peanut.” Holding my daughter tight, I breathed her in. She was a wee one, but something told me the years would pass in a blink of an eye if I wasn’t careful.
“I love you, Daddy.” “I love you, too, Munchkin.” Outside, heaping mounds of snow grew deeper
with each passing hour. If Maggie and Glad couldn’t get to the 617 Ranch before Christmas morning this was going to be some Montana-bound holiday.
I'm Linda Bradley, author of the Montana Bound Series.
This merry band of misfits is together once again in A Montana Bound Christmas. Like warm cocoa and your favorite pair of slippers, I hope ho, ho, home for the holidays! warms your heart, too.
A little about myself . . . When I'm not writing or plotting my next Women's Fiction book, you can find me teaching second grade, reading, dabbling with my art supplies, baking, walking my beautiful rescue dog, Maisey or traveling.
Seriously, is there anything better than summer?
I don't know where you live,
but here in Michigan, summer is short...
too damn short.
Don't get me wrong,
I love the four seasons
and wouldn't change that for anything but....
I sure wouldn't mind
extending summer two months.
May is still pretty chilly so we really can't keep our windows
open till June. That gives us
June, July and August.
Okay...part of September too, but then we have to start closing our windows again.
Fall is a warning that temperatures are dropping and winter is quickly approaching.
I don't mind winter. In fact, I like winter. The winter-wonderland with trees coated in newly fallen snow is beautiful. And I pray for a white Christmas every year.
But come January and February, I am done with you Old Man Winter.
You can have it. The cold and gray gets old pretty quick. I am ready for spring right after the winter holidays.
I have always wondered....for those of you in the south with warm weather year round...do you get sick of it? Do you long for heavy coats and mittens? Do you get tired of blue skies and warm sunshine? I thought not! LOL
What do you do with all that free time? No dragging your patio furniture inside to protect it from the ice and snow. No spring clean up of your flower beds, ripping out the dead soldiers of last summer and planting new seedlings.
Yep, I'm jealous.
But tell me, do you appreciate those warm summer days that are so fleetingly precious in the north or do you take them for granted?
Yep, I'm jealous...but not enough to give up the aroma of crisp autumn mornings or gathering around campfires for warmth. Or the excitement of the first snowflakes of the season or the crunch of fresh fallen snow underfoot.
And my memory bank is full of wonderful four season memories.
I guess I am not ready to give up autumn and winter....
Why do I do it? Every single year, I come up with New Year’s resolutions with the belief that this year will be different . . . this year I will follow through . . . yeah right.
The only consolation is that I know I am not alone.
Funny but when I make a promise to someone other than myself, I DO follow through, ALWAYS. I don’t make promises lightly or without thought as I know how important it is to that person and myself that I keep it.
But why don’t I keep promises to myself? I do like myself and I do have the best of intentions. My resolutions are not impossible to keep (i.e., eat less, exercise more, be kinder, etc.).
I envy those that keep their resolutions but I can’t honestly say that I know a lot of people who do. So I guess I am in good company and shouldn’t beat myself up.
But I will make my 2017 New Year resolutions and keep them . . . really I will… honest.
Here are the some of the most common New Year’s resolutions:
Care to share your New Year’s resolutions with me? Or even better, advice on keeping them?
My parting message to you . . . and myself . . . let’s not get down on ourselves if we fall short of meeting our goals. Life is short, be happy.
I always told my children, if it’s not illegal and you are not hurting anyone . . . go for it!
Oh . . . I almost forgot. In the New Year, don't forget to . . .
Why do I always voice surprise that the Holiday season is upon us once again? What a wonderful way to end the year…especially this year. 2016 was brutal.
Simple kindness and decorum is the exception now. Intolerance, speaking your mind with no censors is the ‘in’ thing. Heck, if our civic leaders do it, we certainly can’t punish our children for it, can we? I know I am old school, but civility, empathy and good will should never be outdated.
I am a sucker for those corny Christmas movies that make me cry and end with a message of love. We need to get back to basics.
Put down your smart phones and tablets, stop videoing everyone for everything they do, and talk . . . just talk. Even if we don’t agree, we can have a spirited discussion without ending in obscene language, gestures, or even violence. It’s ok to disagree and then get back to basics. Life would be pretty boring if we all thought the same.
There was many a politician in the past that disagreed on all types of topics. But at the end of the day, they could share a toast and laugh.
Let’s get back to basics. Do what we were taught in kindergarten. It is still true, no matter how old we are- when you go out into the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands and stick together.
So let’s end this year on a good note . . . have some fun this Holiday season.
Wear that Santa hat around town and enjoy the smiles it brings.
Sing Christmas carols OUT LOUD.
Eat Christmas cookies . . . LOTS of them.
Get together with family and friends, rekindle lost friendships.
Tomorrow isn’t promised to any of us so make this Christmas the best!
And speaking of fun holidays, help me come up with a caption for the photo above.
I took the picture of my husband and daughter while we were out cutting our Christmas tree. I didn’t realize that I didn't capture my daughter in the photo till I looked later. A photographer I am not . . . guess I won’t quit my day job.
I do think it would make a GREAT Christmas card! If I use your caption, I’ll throw in a $20 Amazon gift card to show my thanks. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Happy Holidays! Merry Christmas!
I have attended three reunions in the past 6 weeks. Please tell me I am not alone when I say there is always some pre-reunion anxiety, right? Who will come? What has changed since we were last together? Have we changed? Did we lose our closeness? Will we get along?
Two of the reunions were family which always brings drama. Should we avoid talking politics, religion, child raising, healthcare, the economy? Dare we revive old conflicts …. the possibilities are endless…and worrisome! But then again…what else is there to talk about? How do we relate if we walk on egg shells?
Some friends and coworkers I know avoid reunions at all costs. They just are not up for it. Whether imagined or real, they do not want to be judged. Nor do they want to answer the inevitable questions… not married? Don’t you want kids…you’re not getting any younger you know. Do you have a job? No grandkids? Why not? Have you gained weight? And it goes on and on.
Of course, there is an up side…memories of our younger days with grandparents, aunts, uncles, remembering stories of times past that make us laugh…and cry, holding on to the shared history that bonds us. Life changes us all and leads us down different paths but our roots ground us, unite us.
Henry Ford Hospital-School of Nursing - 40th year reunion
The third reunion was my 40 year nursing school class and it brought me the most anxiety. Except for a few, I hadn’t seen my classmates in 40 years! Would they even remember me? What would we talk about? Could I measure up to their success? Walking down the hall, I prepared myself for a quiet evening talking to only a few people.
Man…was I wrong! Like my family reunions, our shared past brought us together. We laughed (a lot!), we cried, but best of all our bonds were strengthened and rejuvenated. Our varied careers, though interesting, were minor details. The forty-year distance melted away and once again, we were human beings just trying to do our part in changing the world…at least for our patients. Especially in this age of such turmoil in the world, it does the heart good to be in a room filled with love…and pure joy at seeing old friends and comrades. The reunion reminded us that no matter where we go, those two intense years we spent together bonded us for life. Wherever we go, whatever we do, I have brothers and sisters out there and yes, corny as it sounds, it gives me that warm fuzzy feeling in my heart.
So my vote on reunions, family or other…a big fat YES! It’s one more way to . . .
kiss life in the face!