Peace begins with our own hearts.
It can fill our homes…
and spread to our families…
and ultimately throughout the world.
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Peace begins with our own hearts.
It can fill our homes…
and spread to our families…
and ultimately throughout the world.
I started writing this while sitting at a nondescript desk, in a hotel room, processing all that 2016 has delivered. To so many of us, it has been a year of disappointments where youthful optimism, no matter what our age, has been shattered by the loss of so many who were so influential.
2016 has done many things: tested my faith; made me question my relationship with God; question my fellow man; fear there was no kindness left in the world; wonder what I am doing with my life; ask if I should continue writing; and those are just a few of the things I’ve been thinking about.
Nearly two weeks ago, we lost my husband’s closest friend and my son’s Godfather. I still haven’t stopped crying. Now as I sit here to think about what 2016 has meant to me after hearing about the shock felt ’round the universe with the passing of Carrie Fisher, followed by her mother. I dressed up as Princess Leia for Halloween in 1977 just two days after my 5th birthday, complete with blonde buns and white dress. She is still my favorite and I am so incredibly sad her star has gone out.
That’s the thing about this year. I’m pretty deep into the pop culture sphere and a recent article shared the 128 celeb deaths of this year. This isn’t a full count of literary and UK folks on my radar, but those numbers alone equal 1 death every 2.85 days. Throw it into the social media 48-120 hour lifecycle and we’re in a constant state of mourning.
Top things off with this year’s election and we’re all exhausted. No matter what your politics are, the fake news and horrible behavior of people on both sides makes me wish for kinder days when people still believed in the Golden Rule and applied it to daily life.
I’m exhausted and, my friends, I know you are too.
I think this poem by Ogden Nash is particularly poignant this year:
‘Tonight’s December thirty-first,
Something is about to burst.
The clock is crouching, dark and small,
Like a time bomb in the hall.
Hark, it’s midnight, children dear.
Duck! Here comes another year!’
– Ogden Nash, 1929
As for me, I’m looking forward to what the first minutes and hours of the new year brings. Hopeful optimism. It is my hope that we can take a deep cleansing breath and remember we have 365 days and with that 365 new chances. Let’s make each one of those days count.
I’ve met wonderful people, have worked with some amazing companies, and I have friends who love me for me (no easy feat) and support me in my every endeavor. My family is the greatest, and even though we might drive each other crazy, we still love each other to pieces.
I don’t know where I will be this time next year, none of us do. God willing, I’ll be here, as will you. Until then friends, I wish you the complements of the season and will see you in 2017.
With much love,
I love Christmas — the lights, the time spent with family and friends, the kinship. One of my favorite parts of the season is picking out a tree with my husband and son and decorating it. The ornaments we use on our tree remind of us shared experiences and represent what the holiday season means to us. This year, Macy’s sent me a beautiful white snowflake made by the artists who craft metalwork pieces for the Macy’s Heart of Haiti line.
My home has beautiful Haitian artwork in each room, and this ornament, just like my my other pieces, is more than just home decor. It gives hope thanks to a sustainable business model that has created economic empowerment for Haitian artists following the devastating 2010 earthquake and more recently, Hurricane Matthew that devastated parts of the island in October of this year.
With each piece I purchase to use in my home, I’m giving back and promoting trade-not-aid that helps support 550 artisans while benefitting an extended 4,500 family members! That not only makes me feel good about every purchase I have made, but also encourages me to give my friends and family gifts from the Macy’s Heart of Haiti line every year.
Haiti is a country rich in the arts. When the earthquake hit in 2010, Macy’s made the bold decision to carry a product line made by local artisans. Shortly after the earthquake, the infrastructure did not even exist to house or even ship goods. Today, seven years later, Macy’s continues to sell the products, with a full assortment of beautiful handcrafted items available at macys.com and select stores. It is a sustainable economic model that has proven successful time and time again.
In Haiti, the average daily income is around $1.00 a day. The handcrafted wares the artisans create and sell through the Macy’s Heart of Haiti directly benefits them financially. It enables them to repair their homes, pay school fees for their children, and feed and clothe their families. Steady income means better nutrition, improved education, and access to healthcare. The Macy’s Heart of Haiti program continues its goal of helping Haitian artisans achieve economic empowerment through the sale of their handcrafted goods. (Artisans receive a percentage of the retail price for each item in the collection.)
Artists have the opportunity to collaborate with US designers, strengthening artisan associations (like the Artisans Business Network), while inspiring and energizing their communities. Haitian men and women are working together, gaining confidence and hope for the future. Master artisans who planned to leave the country are now staying behind to train the next generation. Macy’s Heart of Haiti is one effort in bolstering the tradition of rich and unique Haitian art.
Every time you make a purchase, you have an opportunity to make a difference. Buying products like Macy’s Heart of Haiti that give hope and employment to artists is a way to make sure your hard-earned dollars are making a difference.
Disclosure: I was gifted a product from the Macy’s Heart of Haiti line however all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.
I love Halloween, but I don’t like to be scared, which is why horror movies are out and cute spooky things are in. I started decorating my house for autumn and Halloween and was thinking about what my Halloween playlist would sound like. I’m not into sound effects featuring creaky doors, screams, and eerie winds whooshing by, so I opted for a soundtrack that fits my mood, and would also work with a house full of guests. Some of the song are fun sing-a-longs, whereas others have a much heavier rock and roll vibe.
One of my favorite songs that was in heavy rotation growing up was the Purple People Eater by Sheb Wooley. If you’re of a certain age, you also remember this fondly from Dr. Demento’s radio show! Luckily, and old clip from 1958 has surfaced on YouTube and I can share it here.
Next up is Black Sabbath’s Paranoid. I love this song and when I used to run long distances, this was at the end of my mix-tape (the 80’s ruled that way) and helped power me through to the end. It’s a great Halloween song as well, especially if you watch the video which is steeped in the Psychedelic theme of that time.
What’s better than Stevie Wonder singing Superstition on Halloween? A video of Stevie and his band performing the same song on Sesame Street!
Who you gonna call? A Halloween playlist wouldn’t be complete without Ray Parker, Jr.’s Ghostbusters! I ain’t afraid of no ghost.
Horror movie master and rock start Rob Zombie’s Living Dead Girl video is the perfect take on 1920’s silent horror movies. The song is the perfect addition to my Halloween playlist.
The Misfits Halloween is another great tune that embodies the season with lyrics “bonfires burning bright pumpkin faces in the night.” This video from Riot Fest in Denver is much more high tech than any Misfits performance I saw when I was younger.
The Cranberries Dolores O’Riordan put her angelic voice through the paces to growl out Zombie on the song of the same name. Originally written as a protest song in memory of two boys killed in an IRA bombing, the grungy, guttural sounds make it perfect for my Halloween playlist.
Darkness falls across the land, The midnight hour is close at hand.. What Halloween playlist would be complete without the addition of Michael Jackson’s Thriller. This is one of the first albums I ever bought on my own (on vinyl!) and the addition of Vincent Price was perfect accompaniment, especially his spooky laugh at the end.
Rockwell’s Somebody’s Watching Me featured Michael Jackson on backing vocals and brings out the paranoia we all have at times. The video has haunted house-inspired imagery featuring floating heads, ravens, graveyards. The shower scenes references the Hitchcock suspense classic Psycho.
Lighten your playlist up with Bobby Pickett’s Monster Mash. This clip comes from the October 13, 1964, American Bandstand where Pickett does his best Frankenstein imitation. (It also proves that Dick Clarke never did age.)
The Talking Heads Psycho Killer makes me want to dance and sing.
Aaoooooo! Warren Zevon’s Werewolves of London is fun and creepy at the same time. He studied modern classical music under Igor Stravinsky, which shows itself in all of his music. When I listen to this song, I like to imagine a werewolf walking through London’s Mayfair and a tailored suit from a shop on Savile Row.
Savatage is one of the 80’s bands I love. Friends, you probably love them as their modern day incarnation of Trans Siberian Orchestra. Hall of the Mountain king is Tolkien-esque which makes it perfect for Halloween.
“It’s just a jump to the left. And then a step to the right. With your hand on your hips. You bring your knees in tight.” I’d be remiss to leave out Time Warp from the Rocky Horror Picture Show. Riff-Raff and Magenta would certainly approve.
Sympathy for the Devil by the Rolling Stones is a history lesson in horror. Enjoy a much younger Rolling Stones perform this live version.
A young Creedence Clearwater Revival sang about a Bad Moon Rising. With lyrics like”Don’t go around tonight, Well, it’s bound to take your life, There’s a bad moon on the rise” make it perfect for any Halloween playlist.
I’ll finish off this playlist with Blue Oyster Cult’s Don’t Fear the Reaper.” And yes, friends, Halloween playlists always need more cowbell. Always.
I hope this playlist brought some toe-tapping fun to your Halloween. If you want more spooky songs, check out my Spotify Halloween Party playlist.
I can’t think of Memorial Day without my family being up front and center. We were lucky, every single one of them (nearly two dozen) came home (at least in the most recent wars) — whether it was WWII, Korea, Vietnam, and any of the subsequent wars fought in the Gulf.
Great-Uncle Howard landed at Normandy — he was lucky and part of the second wave. His brother Builo came home and enrolled in high school to finish his senior year and graduate when he was 21. These stories are always close to me, as they are the stories I heard over and over growing up. They might not have liked what they had to do, but they went and did it. Never complaining. And yes, they knew how lucky they were to be able to come home when so many they served with were left behind.
My father-in-law is buried at Arlington National Cemetery. It’s a stark reminder every time we visit his grave, steps away from Section 60 where there are no admirals or generals, just the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country.
From the Tuskeegee Airmen graves we visit so my son knows their story and importance, to the extraordinary civilians who also gave their lives, including the 184 who died in the 9/11 attacks on the Pentagon and those onboard American Airlines Flight 77. Section 1 holds the Lockerbie Memorial Cairn dedicated to the victims of Pan Am Flight 103. We pay our respects at Section 46 where the comingled remains of the Space Shuttle Challenger is memorialized and I relive the shock and horror of my childhood, watching the explosion on the television in my classroom at Carver Middle School. I have wept at the grave of Medgar Evers and pray that one day, civil rights for everyone will exist and we will all be equals in the eyes of our beholders.
Instead of a cookout and celebration, I’ll dust the case holding the flag that sits on top of my bookcase. I’ll think about these people I loved so deeply and I will think about and pray for their comrades who didn’t come home. The debt we owe our fallen heroes is one we can never truly repay.
Notable People Buried at Arlington: