A Simply Lovely Evening

My pup, Winnie

Dear Reader:

What could be better than spending the evening watching t.v. with your husband while your pup rests on your leg? I suppose it depends on who you ask!

Hope you’re doing what makes you happy tonight.

Michele

 

 

I Really DO Care: Five Ways to Help Immigrant Children

 

Dear Reader:

The First Lady chose the green Zara jacket pictured above to travel to visit immigrant children at the border in McAllen, Texas today. Yes, she was visiting the very children orphaned from their parents by her husband’s zero tolerance immigration policy. Her sartorial choice is completely baffling and frankly upsetting*. But, of course, clothing is beside the point.

Despite the president’s show boat event yesterday, thousands of children are still separated from their parents, with no plans yet announced to reunite them. The latest policy will keep families together….indefinitely in detention centers.

Only a day ago, POTUS used the word “infest” to refer to migrants crossing the border, many of them seeking asylum. I think the “infestation” that should concern every American is the one that took place in the White House on January 20, 2017.

I am heartened by polls that show that two-thirds of Americans find it unacceptable to separate children from their parents at the border. If you really DO care, dear reader, you have the power to do something.

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Michele

*If I were, Samantha Bee, I might choose a much stronger word. I am so angry!

Imagine This Woman as the Next President of the United States!

 

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Dear Reader:

Close your eyes and just imagine: POTUS is pregnant, unmarried and will take a six-week maternity leave. One could scarcely fathom this reality even before we elected the current resident of the White House.* But, now this sounds like a fairy tale even to the most optimistic, progressive, hopeful, or one might say, fanciful American.

But, here’s a news flash: just in case you don’t know her, the woman pictured above happens to be the Prime Minister of New Zealand. Jacinda Ardern is due to give birth to her first child today. She will be the first leader to have a child while in power since Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto in 1990. She was photographed yesterday at an agricultural show near the North Island city of Hamilton where some in the crowd couldn’t resist reaching out to touch her baby bump. (In that way she is just like any other pregnant woman!)

Ms. Ardern said recently that, “New Zealanders see this as a life event and not something that’s particularly going to affect my job.”

I’m not sure I believe that, nor am I inclined to want to believe it. Unfortunately, I think that comment falls into the category of something that women say because they hope to persuade the doubters and because they believe it’s politically correct. The good people of NZ did elect a woman, but I feel sure that she doesn’t represent the entire country any more than POTUS represents our entire country. Unfortunately, there are too many people in every part of the world who diminish the abilities of women.

I’d like to live to see the day when women in power are not the exception AND I’d like them to be able to strongly, publicly and confidently state that being a woman and a mother does inform their decisions. It’s hard for me to imagine a mother implementing a plan at the border to separate children from their parents as our president has. I can imagine a better world where women have the power to help other women and children.

I’m sending my very best wishes to you Jacinda.  And, I’m hoping that someday you’ll tell the world how motherhood changed you as a person and a leader. As a mother, I have  no doubt that you will be transformed in a way that only another mother can understand.

Michele

*My field of study in college was journalism and I detest wordiness but, as I’ve said before, I will NEVER spell out the president’s name on my site. His name will remain unspoken here.

On-board The Coast Starlight Train

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I am so impressed with this picture taken from my train window!

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I know it’s blurry, but I was on a train taking a photo of the railroad crossing sign…fun!

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Love the rows of green…love California!

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It was nice to leave the driving to someone else this time!

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Madonna and Bishop Peaks…I’m almost there!

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Time to toast the Cal Poly 2018 Graduates!

 

Dear Reader:

Amtrak’s Coast Starlight runs daily from Seattle, Washington to Los Angeles, California, via the San Francisco Bay Area. It’s a convenient option for me as it makes a stop in Salinas, which is less than 20 miles from my home.

I just need a ride to the station and I’m off! The kid in me seems to come out as I stand on the platform waiting for my train. I can’t help it. First, I see it, and then as it gets closer, I hear the great rumbling sound of the beast that will deliver me to San Luis Obispo.

For an additional twenty dollars, I’ve upgraded to a business class ticket so I’ve got a large seat with plenty of space to stretch out. Upon boarding, I settle in and unpack my brown bag lunch and prepare to just sit…and do nothing more than marvel at the beauty of my beloved state.

As the train leaves the station, it makes a steadily increasing chugging sound and the whistle sounds. I’m on my way to celebrate the graduation of one of my daughter’s friends from Cal Poly.

As a business class traveler, I’m entitled to free WiFi, but I know that perk is really no perk at all because most of the area between Salinas and Paso Robles is so remote that it’s without service. I find it oddly comforting to know that there are vast stretches of my state that remain undeveloped or sparsely populated and agricultural. So for three and a half hours, I sat back, relaxed and snapped photos on my iPhone to share with you.

Shortly after arriving, I continued to enjoy my day with a glass of local wine made from the grapes I saw from my train window.

Cheers,

Michele

 

Who Am I to Be Fit, Strong and Confident?

 

 

Girl, Woman, Goddess
Who am I NOT to be fit, strong and confident?!

Dear Reader:

I had a moment today when suddenly, all at once, I could hear every negative (or at least not positive) comment that has been made about My Journey to Strong.

  1. “Why would anyone want to spend 50 minutes burning 700 calories in the gym?”
  2. “Aren’t you getting a bit carried away with this fitness thing?”
  3. “Are you going to start wearing those ridiculously tiny bra tops and shorts?
  4. “Aren’t you afraid you’re going to pack on too much muscle?”
  5. “It’s hard to imagine you’re going to want to do this forever!”

When people make major, positive changes, it seems a natural consequence for some of those in their world to question the transformation. I do understand that simple psychology. The response, I think, is a mix of curiosity and envy. I’ve been there.

We ask ourselves how? How did she do it…get fit, write a book, learn to paint, start a business? But, we know the answer. She just made up her mind to do it and then she showed up….over and over and over again! How wonderful! That means that we all have the potential to do anything we set our minds to!

I am reminded of the brilliance of Marianne Williamson in her best-selling book, A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of “A Course in Miracles”:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

My trainer, pictured with me above, encourages me and challenges me, in addition to educating me about all things related to health and fitness. My daughter, who refers to me as a “beast,” reminds me regularly that she is very proud of me. And, my husband is very supportive of me. But, in the end, it is just as it was in the beginning; my desire, my commitment and my continued hard work are the key to my success.

Should you be curious, here are my answers to the five queries above:

  1. Why not?
  2. My trainer ensures that I’m not doing too much or too little. I have the time and I love it!
  3. Maybe…and, when I do, I’ll send you a photo!
  4. No. Once again there’s my trainer. Plus, let me just say, Michelle Obama’s arms are a thing of beauty. I can’t wait to be that muscular.
  5. It’s okay; I can imagine it!

So, when all I can hear are the voices of skeptics, I remind myself that I am fit, strong and confident. One might even suggest that I am a goddess and I would fight my natural impulse to demure and just own it! I am a goddess.

Are you letting your light shine, dear reader? I’d love to hear about your success in the gym, studio, kitchen, office, garden….

Michele

 

Like Mother…Not Like Daughter!

My daughter
My lovely daughter

Dear Reader:

When a woman gives birth to a daughter, I believe she consciously, or subconsciously, believes her daughter will resemble her in many ways. But why? It is an odd assumption upon thoughtful consideration. Why should she be more like her mother than her father? I’ve asked myself that question now for 21 years.

My daughter is her own person, but she is more like her father than she is like me. I can accept this…despite the fact that it took 28 hours of hard labor followed by an emergency c-section to bring her into this world!

I wonder at the differences!

She is:

  • ambitious but not competitive; I am competitive but not ambitious
  • reserved, i burst
  • quietly thoughtful, I am obviously opinionated
  • forgiving and patient; I try

She loves:

  • lace and florals; I like stripes and animal print
  • teal; I love pink
  • Thunder Mountain; I love It’s a Small World
  • Harry Potter and Jane Austen; I love Tinker Bell and Danielle Steel

But, we do share some common opinions and interests. We are both feminists, but she does not like to wear it on her t-shirt. We love donuts, doxies, Disneyland and Maui. We are happy when we are shopping at Lululemon or Target, walking the streets of London in rain or shine and sipping from English china while perusing beautiful books.

And, most importantly, we still love spending time in each other’s company. I hope that never changes.

Is your daughter very much like you, dear reader? Or is she more like her father?!

Michele

What the Feck?! U.S. Has 11,200 Immigrant Children in Custody!

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Dear Reader:

I’m a Samantha Bee fan, but I wasn’t watching the night she called Senior Advisor to the President, Ivanka Trump, a “feckless cunt.” I wish I had been, because I’m interested in what my initial reaction would have been. I’ve had a few days to form an opinion and I’d like to share it with you.

First, I’m a lover of words, so let’s start with the word “feckless” as it isn’t common in everyday usage. The Dictionary.com definition is:

lacking initiative or strength of character; irresponsible

So first off, Ms. Bee was opining that the Senior Advisor to the President is not effective in her role. She was speaking in reference to Ivanka’s obvious inability to influence her father’s view on the issue of immigration. Bee was most likely considering the first daughter’s past statements that showed a certain understanding and even admiration for immigrants. Reference material includes:

A tweet from Ivanka in March 2015…

“We love this story about an undocumented immigrant who worked her way up on Wall Street,“she wrote. She even provided a link to the full story of the inspiring young woman; the link no longer exists.

Ivanka might “love” a good success story, but her father was obviously unmoved when he decided to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival Program (DACA) last September.

The following month, Ivanka attended Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Summit and was asked to comment on immigration policy. “I personally am of the opinion, and the President has stated, that we have to figure out a good solution that protects these innocent people, many of whom were brought into this country as children,” she said.

Ivanka is marketing herself as an advocate for women and children and she is fond of reminding us that she is a mother. She frequently posts beautifully lit photos of herself and her children and Samantha used her most current post as her t.v. screen background.  I think it’s a bit naive of Ivanka to expect people to separate the stark differences represented on her twitter feed to the pictures we’ve seen in the last couple of weeks of tearful parents telling horror stories of how they were forcibly separated from their children at our border.

On April 6th, Jeff Sessions and Kirstjen Nielsen, the head of Homeland Security (DHS), announced a zero-tolerance policy for immigrants at the border. Anyone who didn’t cross the U.S. border at an official port of entry would be criminally prosecuted, even  asylum seekers. Those travelling with their children would be separated from them.

READ PLEASE: THE OFFICIAL POLICY OF THIS COUNTRY IS TO SEPARATE ALL CHILDREN FROM THEIR PARENTS AT OUR BORDER. AS A RESULT OF THIS POLICY, THERE ARE CURRENTLY 11,200 UNACCOMPANIED IMMIGRANT CHILDREN IN U.S. CUSTODY. 

Asked to comment on the morality of the policy, Nielsen answered simply: “What we’ll be doing is prosecuting parents who have broken the law, just as we do every day in the United States of America,” she said during a recent Senate hearing. “The child, under law, goes to H.H.S.”—the Department of Health and Human Services—“for care and custody.”

Yet the network of child shelters overseen by H.H.S. is already operating at more than ninety-per-cent capacity. There’s been talk of sending children to military bases, where there’s more space. Beyond that, there’s no plan or policy.

There’s the context for Bee’s slur. Ivanka Trump is no longer simply the daughter of D.T. She is the Senior Advisor to the President and it’s fair game to criticize her. She has publicly communicated, more than once, her desire to help immigrants, women and children. And, yet those are the people suffering most under this administration. She’s either part of the problem or part of the solution. She gave up her position as a private citizen when she moved into the White House and began representing our country.

Samantha Bee was/is angry. (Samantha is also a mother, I might add.) I am angry. I sincerely hope you are angry too.  We are literally snatching children from their parents arms and discussing housing them at military bases! Read that again, please. Let that sink in.

Unfortunately, I am also a bit angry with Samantha. She’s a smart woman; she knew the use of the c-word would ignite outrage. I’m disappointed that she didn’t recognize that her language would push the important topic she was discussing into the background. I’d like her to keep doing what’s she’s been doing. (Truth to power!) But she should recognize that sometimes even a late night comedian shouldn’t say exactly, precisely what she thinks…neither should a blogger, or for that matter, anyone.

I’d say that the Senior Advisor to the President, Ivanka Trump, is feckless, but I’d leave it at that. POTUS says what he pleases without regard for taste, decorum, honesty or humility, but every American should hold themselves to a higher ideal.

Michele

Another Anniversary; Another Cup of Java!

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I wonder how many cups of coffee we have shared?!

Dear Reader:

It’s been thirty-four years since I said “I do” under a massive oak tree in my in-laws backyard in Fresno, California. On the Monday and Tuesday before the ceremony, high temperature records were set that still hold today… 107°. I knew we were off to a good start when Mother Nature blessed us with a pleasant 90° for our big day.

In the years since then we’ve shared domestic bliss and turmoil. We’ve lost grandparents, parents and a sibling; created an amazing daughter; owned six dogs and lost three; purchased four homes and sold three and endured one high-powered high-tech career. Who knows how many bookstores we’ve visited or San Francisco Giants games we’ve watched?

We’ve nearly called it quits, too. But, it seems, our decision to marry at twenty-four years young wasn’t as crazy as it seemed to our parents.

The poet e.e. cummings captured what I feel for my husband and put the words on paper:

this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart) 

We’ve outlasted the oak tree and I’m hoping we’ve got another thirty-four years of togetherness.

Michele

P.S. As there is never any photo-shopping on my site, I chose not to retouch my husband’s thumb. He suffered his injury building the fence to keep Winnie IN!