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 the president’s name on my site. His name will remain unspoken here.

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

Goosebumps and Tears

 

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Dear Reader:

I was riveted by CNN’s coverage of the March For Our Lives in Washington. My reaction was both physical and emotional. With goosebumps on my arms and tears rolling down my cheeks, I watched survivors speak with eloquence and passion.

Their anger and pain seemed to burst from the screen and fill the room. And yet, the intensity of feeling was tempered by resolve, strength and determination. These “kids” who were thrust into the spotlight, in a way they wouldn’t wish for and couldn’t foresee, are leading a revolution. They are not going to be cowered by the NRA or politicians or POTUS or anyone who might disagree with them.

As I watched, I remembered how powerful I felt as a teenager.  I was idealistic and opinionated and I wanted to affect change with my words. I was optimistic solely because I was young and strong, just as the Parkland students are. They are not plagued by doubt. Their youth allows them to believe that if the cause is just and the effort great, they will succeed.

After the news switched from the march to politics, I turned off the t.v. and felt surprised that my overwhelming feeling was one of hope.

Here’s to the kids!

Michele

One foot (ouch!) in Front of the Other (ouch!)

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Dear Reader:

This is the third day in a row that I’ve spent on the couch! Despite my recent Lazy Post, this is not like me.

Last week on November 8, I tried to forget what happened last year on the same day. But, it was time to acknowledge that I’d coped with a difficult year by agreeing to a second glass of wine and a decadent dessert a few too many times! And, I have 5 pounds to show for it. I am somewhat comforted by the fact that I am in good company as both Stephen Colbert and Barbara Streisand have both blamed their weight gain on the POTUS.

Anniversaries can bring about reflection, and it came to me that we’ve (most likely) got another three years of this administration to suffer through. I may be able to accept a five-pound weight gain, but I’m not about to accept a twenty pound gain. So, I decided it was time to re-commit myself to my exercise routine …and to stop buying ice cream.

Next day,  I hit the gym. I hit the stair-climber; that was a mistake. I overdid it and spent Tuesday on the couch icing my overworked, arthritic left knee.

During my down-time, I took the opportunity to finally call the personal trainer my friend recommended many months ago. My goal is to improve myself, after all, not incapacitate myself!

“Don’t worry,” he assured me, “there are many things we can do without further straining your knee. I’ll meet you at the gym tomorrow.”

Next day, I woke feeling exhilarated with the Rocky theme song playing in my mind.  My knee was better after my day of rest and ice and elevation. I felt lighter and healthier, as a result, of simply making the right decision. I’d see the trainer in the afternoon and resolve to do better.

I began the day with a few errands and it was in the parking lot at the grocery store that I tripped and came crashing down. Hard. I had twisted my right ankle and scraped my left knee. I was lucky my husband was there to pick me up and get me home.  We applied an ice pack and I called the personal trainer to reschedule. And so I spent another day on the couch.

When I woke this morning, there were no theme songs playing in my mind. I knew I’d be spending the day on the couch…again. The dogs were happy enough, though. They spent the day draped all over me.

As they say though…one day at a time! And, one foot (ouch!) in front of the other (ouch)! I’ll let you know how it goes at the gym next week.

Michele 

One Veteran’s Story

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Mike enjoying the view from the porch

Dear Reader:

My husband and I had just finished watching Ken Burns’ The Vietnam War the week before I visited the Avila Valley Barn with my daughter and her college friends. I passed a man in a baseball cap that read: Vietnam Veteran as I entered the property.

I looked at him and said, “Nice cap,” and gave him a thumbs up. It was, I suppose, a rather awkward way of acknowledging his service, but he responded with an open smile.

After I shopped for fresh produce, sampled apple pie and selected pumpkins for my seasonal table, I felt compelled to join the veteran on the porch. I sat down in the rocking chair next to him and said hello. Mike and I began an easy conversation about the fine weather and pleasures of Avila Beach.

Then I began the conversation that I really wanted to have with him by asking if he’d seen the Burns’ documentary. He had not, but he readily shared his story with me. He had just entered high school when the war began, but he said he somehow knew that he would end up in Vietnam.

After graduation, he received a scholarship and attended The Boston Conservatory of Music. Mike was an opera singer for two years… until he was drafted. He was discharged a year later after he witnessed the death of two others standing very near to him. His injuries, both physical and emotional, remain with him. It seems the after effects of Agent Orange have been the most troublesome to his well-being.

“The folks at the VA keep telling me I’m not long for this world,” he told me. “But, I don’t put a lot of stock into what the government says.”

His distrust seems justified.

“My wife and I just settled into the home of our dreams,” he continued. “It’s a small house with a huge garden that my wife loves. And, I’ve finally found some peace.”

I asked what had become of his musical career and he answered that it was another “casualty of war.” After many years of struggling with life on a daily basis, Mike discovered that he had the patience and skill needed to work with disabled children.

“I’d have never known I could help so many kids if I hadn’t served,” he concluded.

I left the barn that day with tears spilling from beneath my sunglasses. My thoughts turned to Mike again this weekend as we celebrated Veteran’s Day. I certainly hope the VA doctors are wrong; I hope Mike has many years to enjoy life in his new home and garden.

Michele

A Band-Aid for My Bleeding Heart

Dear Reader:

Never say never! How many times have we all heard that expression? At the ripe age of 57, I’ve learned just how true those words are. During the past week, my bleeding liberal heart has been assuaged by …Senators Jeff Flake and Bob Corker and John McCain. Surprising? Yes! But simply shocking:  I was also comforted by the thoughtful words of President George W. Bush!

I strongly disagree with the politics of all four of these men. But, they voiced what I have wanted to scream from the rooftop since POTUS entered the political arena. This is not normal! This is dangerous! This is sad! This is demoralizing! And, this is embarrassing!

Way back in the 1990’s, Mark Singer of The New Yorker wrote an in-depth profile of a real estate mogul . He concluded that the man had achieved something remarkable:  “an existence unmolested by the rumbling of a soul.” Alas, that man now resides in the White House. I do not sleep well.

Another truism…my least favorite:  life is not fair. I’ve always had trouble with this truth. I can not wrap my mind around the fact that a man with no honor has been rewarded with the highest office in the land.

Pundits are quick to point out that President Bill Clinton did not behave in an admirable way, at all times, in the Oval Office. History has chronicled the exploits of President John F. Kennedy. Ken Burns just brought a recording into our homes of President Lyndon Johnson acknowledging that the war in Vietnam could not be won many years before he sent more troops in to fight and die. We are still suffering the aftermath of President George W. Bush’s unjustifiable and unnecessary “crusade.” Politics is an ugly business and history is as imperfect as the worst of us.

And yet, we learned of the sins of past presidents after their actions. Our current president did not even attempt to hide who he is. He clearly, loudly and proudly told us all that he is a bigot, a misogynist, an ignoramus and an egotist. Then we elected him.

I like to imagine I have a crystal ball and I can see the future. It allows me to write history. In my book, the couragous women and men save us from the lies and hate and insanity. I’ll just keep telling you, dear readers, as a way of telling myself:  Truth will be told. Democracy will survive.

Michele

 

 

Hopelessness and Heroines

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I do not usually take photos at my polling place, but this was to be a historical election.

Dear Reader:

My day started pleasantly which is not surprising. I’m retired and healthy, happily married with a successful college-aged daughter. My friends and neighbors are wonderful. I have a lovely home filled with shelves and shelves of books and bursting with dachshunds. And, yet half-way into my first cup of coffee, my husband looked at me and asked “What’s wrong, Michele?”

“I don’t know; life is good,” I answered. “I just feel so anxious and I don’t know why.”

That wasn’t the truth though. I knew why; I know why. I’ve felt anxious on a regular basis since November 8, 2016. On that morning, I rose early full of energy and ready to cast my vote for the first female president. The refrigerator held an expensive bottle of champagne and I couldn’t wait to pop the cork and toast her victory (our feminine victory)! Instead, I went to bed early after dosing myself with a couple Tylenol PM tablets.

I woke up still in shock as I know so many others did. We’ve elected an egomaniacal real estate mogul* to the highest office in the land. I was never prepared to forgive the man his former sins, but I was prepared to hope for the best. Surely, now that he’s the leader of the free world, his approach to leadership will change, I thought. And, yet, it continues. The insults, the lies, the ignorance, the incompetency and the narcissism laid bare for the world to see.

Since January, I’ve coped with the craziness of the new administration in an alternating fashion…get the news, eat too much or drink too much with friends…get the news, eat too much or drink too much without friends…laugh out loud with husband while watching SNL and Colbert…swear off the news to preserve sanity and waistline…begin watching news again…repeat. I’ve also tried to make a difference in the lives of others in small ways…donating, volunteering, listening and writing.

I watched our president today in Puerto Rico tossing out rolls of paper towels to the crowd. Tomorrow he’ll be visiting Las Vegas to offer solace to a city rocked by gun violence. I do not feel encouraged or consoled. There are people and problems that need attention. I’m worried. I’m afraid.

My husband understood. Yet, his concerns were slightly different.

“He was elected. He still has the support of most Republicans,” he said. “That’s my worry.”

We concluded our conversation in the same way it began. We are living through a difficult time in the history of this country. Divisions are deep and nothing is being accomplished. Suddenly I remembered what Michelle Obama said to Oprah shortly after the election, “This is what it feels like to have no hope.”

I can not allow myself to sustain the feeling of hopelessness, though. It comes and it goes, because I’ve always been an optimist and I’ve always felt proud to be an American. I continue to look for heroes and heroines and I find them each and every day.

Tonight I raise my glass to four courageous women:

Carmen Yulin Cruz, the San Juan mayor, who will not be cowed by our president and continues to fight for the survival of the people of Puerto Rico.

Gabby Giffords, who called upon Congress (again) to “find the courage” to address gun control in the wake of the latest tragedy in Las Vegas.

Katy Tur, the MSNBC anchor and author of Unbelievable, who devoted a segment to fact-checking POTUS’s claims about his Puerto Rico response

Senator Elizabeth Warren, who said she was “heartsick” for the victims of gun violence and called for action NOW.

The sky is vibrant with the colors of another beautiful sunset as I finish this post. I could not wish for a better life here on the California Coast, and yet I know that I will continue to struggle with the fact that while my small world is so wonderful, my country is without a moral, admirable, competent leader. I’m holding on to my belief that America is the greatest country in the world. I will not give in to hopelessness. Will you?

Michele

*I will never use our president’s name on my site

#$@&%*!

Dear Reader:

I wonder if you were equally as appalled by Anthony Scaramucci’s language in his interview with The New Yorker. Probably not if I am to believe the general consensus of pundits from both sides of the political spectrum.

“The problem was not in the choice of words,” the talking heads all insisted. “After all, we all talk that way.”

No, we do not all talk that way! Perhaps, it would be accurate to say that most adults have heard this type of language, but it is not accurate to say that most adults use it. It is not even accurate to say that most of us are subjected to this language on a regular basis.  It would only be accurate to say that we have not heard it from a spokesperson for the President of the United States before yesterday.

Foul language may be the least of our concerns about the current state of the White House, but I wonder what that suggests for our country. Imagine if we (really) all spoke that way.

Mr. Scaramucci leaned on his Italian, New Yorker personality to suggest that he was just being authentic. I know nothing of New York, but I know Italian. I’d like to help his mother wash his mouth out with soap and remind him that he speaks for our country now.

Michele

 

Ladies, Let’s Buy Reebok!

In case you were wondering when it IS appropriate to say, “You’re in such good shape…beautiful,”…

Dear Reader:

When our president looked at Brigitte Macron, the first lady of France, and said, “You’re in such good shape,” women of a certain age knew exactly what he meant. At 64 years old, she is 24 years older than her husband. Our first lady is 46 years old; our president is 70. Interesting mathematical coincidence, huh?!

I’m a glass half-full kind of gal; always have been, so I haven’t stopped looking for something good to come out of the results of our presidential election. Perhaps having the most openly chauvinistic president ever inhabiting the White House will force a light on the fact that we’ve got work to do. I hope so.

Michele

I Believe in the Mayor of London, Sunscreen and Smiles

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Dear Reader:

I believe in pretty packages… generosity, feminism, friendship and flowers…art, whimsy, birdwatching, dogs and truth…long lunches and dinners on pretty dishes. I believe people don’t change but that the people we’ve loved and lost become part of us. I believe in Disneyland and Christmas and that my life has been blessed with a few angels in the guise of a teacher, counselor and grandmother. I believe in the power of personality, words, coffee, sunscreen and lipstick. I believe in smiling and asking for what I want because most people like to help and I like to get what I want. I believe in California and Californians. I believe in London and its mayor. I believe in creating a beautiful home and celebrating and entertaining frequently. I believe in the young and the old… modern and classic and that everyone has a story.  Most importantly, I believe in my own strength, the love of my husband and the beauty of my daughter.

And, of course, I believe in pink, as Audrey did!

What do you believe in?

Michele

P.S. And, I believe as Crash Davis does, that “there ought to be a Constitutional Amendment outlawing the designated hitter.”