Refuge


Today I post a poem. I haven’t shared any of my poetry to date, as it is usually on the more personal side of my life. But my friend’s sage advice, that to be a writer one must share her work, rings very loud in my head. Here goes! I would love to hear some feedback.

REFUGE

A November
moon above
My world
you enter

We exchange
our details
We share
common threads
Woven
between us

Feels as if I have
known you
before
my life
fell apart at her seams

I tell you I cry
you listen
I long to let go
you hear

You speak of your life
I open my heart
Your confusion
I see

We both know

Time has passed
March Ides upon us

Tis I
now confused
What to call
our coupling
Love?

Past ghosts
won’t allow me
such whim

If not love
what holds us

here and now

I wonder

I ask

You lay a warm hand
on my shoulder

You pull me in

Refuge
you say
My dear

I sleep soundly

under your arm

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“What is Love?” He asked


“What is love?” He asked. Laura thought a moment, then answered with an uncharacteristic short-winded reply.

” I don’t claim to be an expert. As you well know, I  haven’t had much success in matters of the heart. I think that love can be defined differently in each moment of each day. It changes constantly.”

They continued walking. Evening heat rose, First Friday in Old City Philadelphia; always a scene. Love-question lingered mid-air. In hindsight, she thought her answer quite ridiculous and wished to be in a quieter place where they could sip wine and pontificate, each on love’s soapbox of wows. What is love?

His arm went round her shoulder as he guided her up three steps into a gallery where cool air promised welcome relief. She was soon caught up and stopped to videotape the eclectic collection of paintings and patrons. Thirsty, he wandered further in search of an open bar . Lost in i pad 2 mode, ten minutes quickly  passed.  She slipped her newest toy back into her bag in time to feel  a familiar hand fall on her hip. They both smiled  as he handed her a drink. An impression remained where his hand had just been.

She felt a shift inside, glimmer of first-love, long past. What is love? Tonight?  Is it not a flutter of warmth that remains after a subtle caress? Gentle pressure on a girl’s hip that reminds her she is still alive? A smile of reassurance afterward? So simple a gesture, a touch wrought with meaning and remembrance of what can be.

NOTE: This is my first official attempt at a short story in many years. Short and sweet. I welcome any and all comments, opinions and feedback!

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The “Citizen Gap”


Ten days ago the Department of Education released  its 2010 NAEP (National Assessment of Educational Progresscivics test results. Commonly refered to as our nation’s report card, the data reveals that only 22% of  eighth graders in the US can name a first amendment right. Among  fourth graders,  only 27% can name the purpose of the Constitution. Things do not become rosier as students progress.  By twelfth grade,  just 24% can define melting pot and argue whether it applies to our country. It astounds me that such a vital part of a public school education  has virtually disappeared from the curriculum.  A democracy cannot survive without educated citizens and for it to thrive requires an informed, involved and active citizenry.  We can no longer ignore this issue. .

The Department of Education tested 27,000  students in fourth, eighth and twelfth grades. Topics covered included questions about the  three branches of government, the Bill of rights, the Constitution etc., very general knowledge I say.   When our children come of age and the country is in their hands they will be neither ready or able  to handle the responsibility.  This fact should make adults uneasy and demands swift action before it is too late.  Our country will certainly be a different place if we fail to instill how important it is for each citizen to take part on both a national and  community level.

Problems in our government system create gaps between groups of  citizens. In the sixties it was a  generation gap.  This poor quality of education creates an all new kind of gap in our country, the citizen gap. It marks the difference between the acceptably educated and informed electorate we have today and the potentially clueless children who will grow up and claim this position in society tomorrow. This is a frightening fact to fathom. Who will vote?

Adults, especially parents, are responsible for teaching the fundamentals of civic duty until kindergarten. When kids enter kindergarten our schools should take over to build upon this foundation. . If you look at these test scores we can see that this is not happening.  Reading, writing and math are certainly important, but civic knowledge is  a vital ingredient of a well-balanced education. No child left behind is a great idea in theory, but not so great if  important subjects such as civics  fall to the wayside. Time for all of us to, use our  voices and write our senators and congressman about this pressing and fundamental weakness in our education system.  Bring  back civics. The future of our country depends on it!

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Taos I Hear Her Calling


This is an essay I wrote today. I am vying to win a free spot at a writer‘s retreat in Taos New mexico this summer. Please read it and let me know what you think. I am excited, hopeful and  proud of the writing. If I do not win, it was a fantastic lesson in brevity, editing and verb usage.

I have added a link to the website here. Please click like there too. Every click counts towards my chance to win!

Thanks to all of you for reading. Wish me luck! I will keep you posted!

Taos I Hear Her Calling
“We’ll
take the house…It’s been pre-disastered.”

I will be divorced soon. My life is like this house in “The World According to
Garp”–pre-disastered. I am ready for reprieve, reinvention and rediscovery of
forgotten dreams.

Four lines have formed on my forehead and will  forever bear witness to my past, my
story, and to life’s ups and downs. I could explain them,  lament each one, or
fill them with botox. Instead, I embrace them. They are my badges; they are why
I write this plea.

I am a chef by trade, a mother by choice, and a writer from the moment I could
hold a pencil. I love food, I adore my children, and writing brings me peace. My
vision is to unite these three in a place I call Cookbook.
A virtual, multi-cultural table where people worldwide can come to read, write
about, and share food–a universal need. Food is life. Food is me. It is what I
savor, and what I will serve.

I long for a place at this table of writers.
I see food. I hear laughter. I taste salt of shed tears.

I feel her embrace, I release all my fears.

Taos, she calls me,  a soft voice in my ear.

I am whole, she has freed me, with vision so clear.

Whew! Finito! Muy bien, gracias and bon appetit!

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Writer’s Retreat Entry; PLEASE HELP this Writer Win


Today I finished an essay to win a spot at a women’s writing workshop. I was turned onto it in April by an author I met in NYC while I attended an Empowerment Seminar. I was unsure whether to sign up, but decided I have nothing to lose. My first draft was 671 words long. The limit was 250, so even if I don’t win it has been an excellent lesson in editing, succinct writing, and using verbs effectively. I am pleased with the result.

Here is where you, dear readers come in. I have attached a link at the bottom of this post. Please tap on it and go to Jennifer Louden’s website. Every click betters my chances of winning.

Here is the essay. wish me luck. Please leave your comments.

This is also posted on my facebook. If you could click on the link there too, Iwould be doubly grateful!! Thanks!!

Dear Jennifer,

“We’ll take the house…It’s been pre-disastered.”

I will be divorced soon. My life is like this house in “The World According to Garp”–pre-disastered. I am ready for reprieve, reinvention and rediscovery of forgotten dreams.

Four lines have formed on my forehead and will forever bear witness to my past, my story, and to life’s ups and downs. I could explain them, lament each one, or fill them with botox. Instead, I embrace them. They are my badges; they are why I write this plea.

I am a chef by trade, a mother by choice, and a writer from the moment I could hold a pencil. I love food, I adore my children, and writing brings me peace. My vision is to unite these three in a place I call Cookbook. A virtual, multi-cultural table where people worldwide can come to read, write about, and share food–a universal need. Food is life. Food is me. It is what I savor, and what I will serve.

I long for a place at this table of writers.

I see food. I hear laughter. I taste salt of shed tears.
I feel her embrace, I release all my fears.
Taos, she calls me, a soft voice in my ear.
I am whole, she has freed me, with vision so clear.

Whew! Finito! Muy bien, gracias and bon appetit!

Jennifer Louden’s Writer’s retreat in Taos NM

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Thursday Night Throwdown Philadelphia 4/21/11


Elixr Coffee Philadelphia

If you are into coffee, ELIXR is the place to be! Who knew Philly was an up and coming coffee city? The coffee is excellent, the crowd ecclectic and the staff superb.

Once a month they sponser Thursday Night Throwdown, a contest to choose the best barristas, from coffee shops all about town. A friend and I decided to document last Thursday’s happening event. Enjoy the video and frequent Elixr, ranks up there with my other favorite, La Calombe Rittenhouse.

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Washing Machine Talk


In my search for writing  inspiration I came across this TED talk today. It seemed very àpropos considering the fact that 15 loads of laundry awaited my attention. After listening, I finished my laundry and made a vow with myself. I am very fortunate to have a washer and dryer, and I will try my level best not to shirk my laundry duties as I have done the past 2 weeks. I look forward to climbing into my crisp, clean sheets tonight. 

Have a look at it. 

I have another post in the works, I hope to finish  tomorrow. Until then. Hope that you find as much inspiration in this talk as I did. I have rediscovered my laundry room floor. Happy washing to you! 

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What Tethered Lives We Lead


We lead  tethered lives, we do. In one way or another, we are all attached to, in love with, or virtually addicted to one form of technology or another. We run into each other on sidewalks, too busy texting. We ignore our children , while we wait for important e-mail. We sit at bistro tables, look up movie titles, we can’t seem to remember, meanwhile, a $20 Lyonnaise salad goes limp. Tragic tales, tragic times, on the social interaction front. Have we lost touch with reality?

As we go about our tech-drenched lives houses grow silent, books collect dust and feelings get ignored. Real emotion takes a side car as we cruise down techno-lane. Technology distracts us from the world at large. Have you ever tried to pry a sixteen year old boy away from his x box? Not an effortless task! Have you ever been so caught up in a page on your computer, that you ignored your phone ring, or your dog beg to go outside? I have. What is going on here? Is this really how I want to live? Will this techno-rage spell the end of real social interaction as we know it?

I am acutely aware of a techno- rift that has arisen in my home. I have two teenagers, each armed with a Macbook, courtesy of my daughter’s prep school and a generous friend of my son’s. For years, we had but one lowly desktop, for me to watch over. It served us well up to a point. Now I am a commanding officer in the tech- rental army, a.k.a. parental computer patrol. I check user history, Facebook content and cyber manners . I set limits, my children often overstep.

I did not allow video games in our home, until Nintendo released Wii fit. At last, I thought, a road to connect with my kids. My hopes were quickly dashed, as they lost interest soon after the end of their Christmas Break. Next came the onset of Guitar Hero. No go, my kids are not gentle souls, this hunk-o plastic junk could not withstand a daily beating. What is a mother to do? How shall I react to this onslaught of techno-fever?

Gone are the days of TV tag, go to my graveyard and neighborhood carnivals to raise money for muscular dystrophy. The world has changed drastically since then. How can I recreate some of that innocence I experienced as a kid for my own children? Is it even possible? I will now turn my laptop off, unplug for a while and give it more serious thought. In the meantime, where did I set that Wii remote, time for my virtual workout.

Oh, my, no! I think I feel a fever coming on.

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What A Tethered Life We Lead


We lead virtual tethered lives, we do. In one way or another, we are all attached to, in love with, or virtually addicted to one form of technology or another. We run into each other on sidewalks, too busy texting. We ignore our children , while we wait for important e-mail. We sit at bistro tables, look up movie titles, we can’t seem to remember, meanwhile, a $20 Lyonnaise salad goes limp. Tragic tales, tragic times, on the social interaction front. Have we lost touch with reality?

 As we go about our tech-drenched lives houses grow silent,  books collect dust and feelings get ignored. Real emotion takes a side car as we cruise down techno-lane.   Technology distracts us from the world at large. Have you ever tried to pry a sixteen year old boy away from his x box? Not an effortless task! Have you ever been so caught up in a page on your computer, that you ignored your phone ring, or your dog beg to go outside? I have.  What is  going on here? Is this really how I want to live? Will this techno-rage spell the end of real social interaction as we know it?

I am acutely aware of a techno- rift that has arisen in my home.  I have two teenagers, each armed with a Macbook, courtesy of  my daughter’s prep school and a generous friend of my son’s. For years, we had but one lowly desktop, for me  to watch over. It served us well up to a point. Now I am a commanding officer in the tech- rental  army, a.k.a. parental computer patrol.  I check user  history, Facebook  content and cyber manners . I set limits, my children often overstep.

I did not allow video games in our home, until Nintendo released Wii fit. At last, I thought, a  road to connect  with my kids. My  hopes were quickly dashed, as they lost interest soon after the end of their Christmas Break. Next came the onset of Guitar Hero. No go, my kids are not gentle souls, this  hunk-o plastic junk could not withstand  a daily beating. What is a mother to do? How shall I react to this onslaught of techno-fever?  

Gone are the days of   TV tag, go to my graveyard and neighborhood carnivals to raise money for muscular dystrophy. The world has changed drastically since then. How can I recreate some of that innocence I experienced as a kid for my own children? Is it even possible?  I will now turn my laptop off,  unplug for a while and give it more serious thought.   In the meantime, where did I set that  Wii remote, time for my virtual workout.

Oh, my, no! I think I feel a fever coming on.

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Following Through on Intent


Insomniac that I have become, I was up late at my computer last night and came across an article on the Huffington post, written by Deepak Chopra’s daughter Mallika. I was on a techno dig of sorts, for my blog fodder, when a title caught my eye, “Well-being in the Dawn of Social Media”. What I sought was data and what I came away with, a renewed sense of hope, left me pleasantly surprised.

“sublimi feriom sidera vertice”

Horace

Or for those of you not familiar with Latin, an English translation…

“The road to hell is paved with good intentions.”

We all have intentions. I intend every day, as I lumber, to complete a to do list that has no end. All the while, I long to take a walk in the woods, with my dirty dog Jack, work on an art-project, long in the making, do homework with my youngest, when she comes home from school, and speak with two teens, who would rather play X Box, breathe, breathe, breathe, cook a fabulous dinner, in which we would each have a hand, do the dishes together,and finish the job, sit down side by side, share a book aloud, smile to myself in quiet admiration, wonder how I did it all in one day, breathe and then soundly slumber, content that our life is as it should be. Which planet do I come from?

It began in a flash as my cell phone alarm awakened me, fresh start, a new day. I arose slowly and pulled on a pair of socks from my floor in silent hope for a quiet morning. It has been difficult to do that for awhile now. Suffice it to say- and most parents of a teenager will agree- morning hours do not make for our proudest moments.

I tapped on my oldest son’s door, heard no reply, so I ventured into his lair. I called his name and tapped on his shoulder. I was greeted by a sounds that no mother should hear. He grimaced, rolled over and his tirade followed, “I do not need you to get me up! I know what time it is! Get out of my room! I don’t feel good anyway! Can I stay home from school?”

I broke the cardinal rule: “Morning is not a good time to engage a tired teenager!” What should have been a quiet exchange escalated into our predictable, morning battle to get him to the bus on time.

It was on to teen daughter’s room from there. It was such a disaster zone, I could hardly open her door. I stumbled my way around her piles and at her bedside I said, “Time to wake up.” No answer. ” Let’s get going sweetie.” Silence. “You will miss your bus. I can’t drive you today. I have an appointment this morning.” At last, I heard a response, “Then I’ll just walk! Go away!”

Strike two! Time to make coffee.

As I walked into the kitchen my dressed, brushed and ready to go youngest daughter, hugged me and said, “Morning Mama! How are you? I slept great last night. How bout you?”

My saving grace in the form of an eight year old girl.

I love them deeply, all three, but must admit I sometimes have a favorite. Today I would have to pick my baby girl.

Teenage years can be tumultuous times. Could I have possibly put my own mother through this? I do not remember. I will have to ask when I speak with her next time. I hardly recognize them at times, as they depart from childhood and move into an adult frame of mind, such deviation from the babies I knew so well. I long for butterfly kisses, skinned knees, and tiny toes. Laying in bed reading Good Night Moon fifteen times in a row, would offer sweet respite from the now and sure later. Time for me to loosen my grip, at least a bit.

Really what is my intent? I cannot hold them back from who they will become, what a fine line I must walk. As my teenagers move into adulthood, I must pause, wait for them to make the first move if need be. I reach out and take their silence, at times, as rejection. My own confusion, not their own, causes my heart to ache. Time for me to change too, ask rather than tell, and listen rather than speak as circumstances arise. I have already been over this well-trod terrain. My job here is to guide them, be their leader. I cannot play dictator, seize control of who they are becoming, no matter my discomfort or ocassional heartache. As I slowly ease up on parental reigns, a new door appears before me, with a plack that reads, “Open to change”.

Parenting is the oldest profession. As the world evolves, so must it; as my children develop, so must I.

I have always been a fan of self help books. Got a problem? I probably own a book to help solve it. I am not sure that they did their jobs, those books. After all is said and done, the best teacher is experience, and the ocassional hard knock at our doors. My intent is and always has been to be the best parent I can.

This point brings me back to where I started. Mallika created a website called “Intent”. It is a place on the net, where anyone is welcome to post a daily goal, a.k.a. intention. It was built on a simple premise, with the support of a strong social network, all things are possible. Intent.com seems a great way for a person to strengthen her resolve. Tell me? Who among us couldn’t use a bit of help now and again? Social media to the rescue! Why not? I ask you. Beats a bill from a therapist. A new way to lighten the proverbial baggage is more than welcome in my book.

I registered earlier today. This is what I posted.

I will be firm, but kind, listen when I would rather speak, keep calm and carry on.

On a last note. If indeed the road to hell is paved with good intentions, then surely a road to heaven must be paved with friends, wherever we may find them. Here’s to following through on my intent.

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