Citizens of Planet Earth

The first time I visited our nation’s capital was in 1970, when I hopped on a plane (another first) to join with hundreds of thousands protesting the Vietnam War.  My college roommate and I had no idea where we would be staying. and as typical college students, we had very little money, but somehow it all worked out.  Like Blanche DuBois, we depended on the kindness of strangers, and we weren’t disappointed.

Fast forward 47 years. Sadly, so many of the issues we THOUGHT were being addressed are still problematic. Though we recite the pledge of allegiance, we still have to work to make  “liberty and justice for ALL”  more than just empty words.  Surprisingly some of the truths that Tom Jefferson thought were “self evident”, today are not.

Yesterday,  Mike and I arose at 4:30 AM to board a bus for D.C. with 50 like minded citizens to participate in the People’s Climate March.  Spirits were high. On the drive down, Stacey, our efficient and amazing leader, reminded us of the rules of engagement established by the March organizers: No violence, verbal or physical toward anyone, be respectful  toward all people and property, look out for each other, pick up after ourselves.  Essentially, reminding us to behave the way we should every day.  Got it.

It was not surprising that this year’s march had a bit of a political bent to it, given our current president’s assault on the environment.

Isn’t it hard to believe that it is necessary to demonstrate for clean air, clean water and the preservation of our planet for future generations?  Who could possibly be against that?

Perhaps companies and innovators will view the masses of demonstrators as potential customers for their energy efficient products.  Perhaps our legislators will recognize that they have a constituent or two (or a few thousand) that cares about our beautiful country.  One can only hope.

I marvel that suddenly politicians are glorifying working in a coal mine.  Is it worth defiling our nation’s waterways to allow miners the opportunity to get black lung disease?  Loretta Lynn isn’t singing “Proud to be a coal miner’s grandmother”.   Full disclosure.  My knowledge of mining is limited to watching Loretta Lynn’s movie “Coal Miner’s Daughter”and reading the news, but I believe that miners are like the rest of us, wanting a good job, healthcare and a better life for their children.   I also have a sneaking suspicion that Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell wouldn’t be thrilled to have THEIR offspring going down into the mines doing those jobs they are hell bent on preserving, but I digress.  Back to the march.

How wonderful to see all ages represented, from babies in strollers to seniors carrying pictures of their grandchildren and great grandchildren.  Despite there being marches throughout the country, many marchers traveled great distances to surround the white house.  We encountered travelers from Minnesota, Ohio and Iowa. Now that’s what I call commitment!

It was difficult to get a sense of the size of the crowd while we were in it.  Fortunately, photographers along the route were capturing images like this one ( grabbed from 350.org’s facebook page).  Despite a late start, and April temperatures that should have made believers out of any climate change deniers, the crowd was focused, disciplined, polite and spirited.   “This is what Democracy looks like” was a popular chant, as we made our way to the White House.

I offer photos from this inspiring day in the hope that you will join us, in whatever capacity you can, as we all continue to protect Pachamama (the name given to the earth, by the indigenous people of the Andes–a goddess indeed).  It isn’t a march, it’s a movement!  Remember–

THIS IS WHAT DEMOCRACY LOOKS LIKE!

   

IMG_4320

Confessions of a GrandAunt

We’ve all heard that being a grandmother is way more fun than being a mother.  Well, the good news, for those of us with uncooperative offspring, is that being a grandaunt is equally thrilling.  Luckily for me, two of my nieces chose to reproduce, so I now have 3 little girls and 1 little boy in my life.  Unfortunately, 2 live in Massachusetts and 2 live in Virginia, so I’ve had to figure out how to make those magic moments together really count.  And since I’m in a figuring mood, I figured, why not share what I’ve learned with any blog buddies who have important little people in their lives?   

My most recent discovery is  the Providence Children’s Museum.  Here’s what you need to know:  

  • It is open every day except Monday. 
  • The parking lot is small, and there is construction next door that limits parking further, so arrive with lots of quarters to feed to the on street meters.  
  •  The museum offers the use of umbrella strollers for free. 
  • There is no food service, so you need to bring your own snacks.  These can only be eaten in the lunch room or outside.
  • Storage cubbies are free, and are easy to access so you can store your snacks and drinks there
  •  The $9 per person admission was so very worth it, offering hours of entertainment.  What better way to spend a rainy day?

Now that we have all of the ‘good to know’ stuff out of the way, how about the museum itself?  
In a word, it is absolutely FANTASTIC!  That place is perfectly sized for young children, with tons of fascinating, hands on activities.

For example, one whole room is completely dedicated to water fun.  It’s even educational!   “Let’s see what happens when you move those gray rectangles.” 


The museum supplies aprons so kids can splash away.  The blue aprons were a little large for the younger girl, so we downsized to red. 

There is something to delight everyone, regardless of whether you want to paint with water, or scrape an ice like substance from a table.  (No, I have NO idea what it was).

Notice the red and yellow circles on the walls?  Those are notes to parents, in English and Spanish, explaining the educational purpose of the activities.


The museum is spacious, colorful and loaded with child sized spaces to explore.  


Soft sculptures provide great photo opportunities for cell phone paparazzi (we are EVERYWHERE)!

There is something to delight the future cowgirl, 

as well as the budding heavy equipment operator…

Her grandmother is going to put these gardening skills to good use! 

Stressed for the Holidays?

Back in the day, oh so many years ago, as a very young social worker, I remember being surprised that mental health problems shot sky high during the holidays.  I couldn’t understand why this would happen at what was supposed to be the happiest time of the year.  (Not only was I very young, I was also really, really clueless.)

It has taken me a few decades, but I finally figured it out.  The source of all my wisdom? Personal experience, heavily supplemented by newspaper advice columns, my internet forays, and especially Buddhist Boot Camp, Timber Hawkeye’s wonderful site. 

Here’s what I’ve learned:

We pile all these unrealistic expectations on to ONE day.  It has to be perfect,  perfect food, perfect gifts, perfect decorations.  We create this made-for-TV movie in our heads, and expect that others will be performing their roles exactly as expected.  Because, of course, everything is perfect at everyone else’s house.  Isn’t it?

rockwell_thanksgiving11

Except…

We are a mobile society.  Not only do we move geographically–we also “move” relationships.  Divorce and remarriage adds a level of complexity to family gatherings that didn’t exist when Norman Rockwell was painting his holiday scenes.  These days, how likely is it that ALL family members can be happily present at the same dinner table on the same day?  Coming from a fractured family that is geographically challenged, my answer is “halfway between impossible and improbable”.  Oh yeah.

So why not have MULTIPLE gatherings?  Why not just rejoice in the time you have with your various family members regardless of when they occur?

Why does Christmas have to be just on December 25th?  Stores start decorating around October 31st.  Rather than being upset by the crass materialism, why not look at those early decorations as a reminder of the SPIRIT of Christmas (or Chanukah or Kwanza or whatever floats your boat).  If Christmas to YOU means kindness, appreciation and love, why not just SHOW that kindness/appreciation/love in some way, to someone important to you.  It doesn’t have to be on December 25.  It works just as well on any of the remaining 364 days.  If Christmas means something else to you, then by all means, follow your own particular definition, which I hope doesn’t make you miserable, frantic and stressed out.

This year, my “Christmas” started on December 16 when we met my dad and his wife in New York City.  Our present to them was tickets to the show at Radio City Music Hall.  Their arrival was a comedy of errors, including, but not limited to, a forgotten cell phone, late bus and lost luggage.  What I’ll always remember, however, is my dad’s good humor throughout what could have been a stress filled fiasco.  His wonderful ability to roll with whatever may happen is one of the many reasons his kids are all crazy about him (or maybe we’re just all crazy–one or the other).

 IMG_0024

Thinking back on those two days, I’ll also remember my wonderful husband’s support and assistance during the entire visit.  THAT was the best Christmas present he could have given me. 

With a large family on both coasts it takes a while for us to connect with everyone.  And that’s okay.  To me, what matters most is not what is on the calendar, but what is in your heart.

So, take a deep breath, smile, tell yourself it will all be fine, fully enjoy whatever comes your way, and be kind to yourself and others.

Feliz navidad!