heatherfromthegrove’s New Year’s Revelation No 7 of 7: The best is yet to come

“We spend January 1 walking through our lives, room by room, drawing up a list of work to be done, cracks to be patched.
Maybe this year, to balance the list, we ought to walk through the rooms of our lives…not looking for flaws, but for potential.”
Ellen Goodman, American Journalist

Much to the wry amusement of my friends and family members,  “The best is yet to come”  is a mantra of encouragement that I use quite frequently. Especially since the Great Recession of 2008. I believe the saying comes from Robert Browning‘s poem which begin’s with “Grow old with me! The best is yet to be… .”

The phrase is also the title of a 1959 song  written by Carolyn Leigh and composed by Cy Coleman. Although it was originally written for singer Tony Bennett, it was Frank Sinatra who made the song famous. He recorded it in his 1964 album, It Might As Well Be Swing, accompanied by Count Basie and directed by Quincy Jones.  On the 25th of February, 1995, The Best Is Yet To Come was the last song that Sinatra sang in public and the words were immortalized on his tombstone.

I am a “glass is half full” type of person and so it is not really surprising that this is one of my favorite sayings. I truly believe that there is always something to look forward to and that every problem has a solution. We navigate our lives through a series of peaks and valleys. The valleys are made bearable because we know that, eventually, there will be peaks. And oh how glorious are those peaks! Well worth the wait and hardship. Optimism and Hope. May we all continue to have them in abundance.

2017 is going to be a simply “Mahvelous” year. I feel it in my bones. Or is that my early onset arthritis…? Just kidding.  

And please remember to:

Take the time to read (a book),
Walk the walk,
Let it go,
Feed your brain,
Get some sleep,
Be the architect of your own destiny,
and, of course,  rest assured that
The best is yet to come.

10 Great Books to Read this Summer

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Summertime is that wonderful season when everything slows down just a tad. It’s when all the bookworms come out of the woodwork –– to grab that enticing novel, inspiring non-fiction or juicy biography that they finally have the time to read. Work attire is hurriedly replaced by t-shirts, shorts and flip-flops.  And with tall, ice-cold glasses of their favorite libation, they curl up comfortably and begin their summer reads.

These are my (heatherfromthegrove) top picks – all sitting on my bookshelf, waiting to be read. I just poured myself a glass of white wine and grabbed a book I’ve been dying to read: And the Weak Suffer What They Must? – by Yanis Varoufakis. Now, off to my comfy chair on the patio…

Enjoy!

– Heather

(PS – Hover your mouse over the book titles and authors’ names to get the link to the Amazon and Author’s Bio URLs)

FICTION

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 1. All the Birds in the Sky – by Charlie Jane Anders

“Patricia is a witch who can communicate with animals. Laurence is a mad scientist and inventor of the two-second time machine. As teenagers they gravitate towards one another, sharing in the horrors of growing up weird, but their lives take different paths…When they meet again as adults, Laurence is an engineering genius trying to save the world-and live up to his reputation-in near-future San Francisco. Meanwhile, Patricia is a graduate of Eltisley Maze, the hidden academy for the magically gifted, working hard to prove herself to her fellow magicians and secretly repair the earth’s ever growing ailments.As they attempt to save our future, Laurence and Patricia’s shared past pulls them back together. And though they come from different worlds, when they collide, the witch and the scientist will discover that maybe they understand each other better than anyone.”

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 2. The Man Without a Shadow – by Joyce Carol Oates

“In 1965, neuroscientist Margot Sharpe meets the attractive, charismatic Elihu Hoopes—the “man without a shadow”—whose devastated memory, unable to store new experiences or to retrieve the old, will make him the most famous and most studied amnesiac in history. Over the course of the next thirty years, Margot herself becomes famous for her experiments with E. H.—and inadvertently falls in love with him, despite the ethical ambiguity of their affair, and though he remains forever elusive and mysterious to her, haunted by mysteries of the past….”

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 3. They May Not Mean To, But They Do – by Cathleen Schine

A “hilarious new novel about aging, family, loneliness, and love.”

“The Bergman clan has always stuck together, growing as it incorporated in-laws, ex-in-laws, and same-sex spouses. But families don’t just grow, they grow old, and the clan’s matriarch, Joy, is not slipping into old age with the quiet grace her children, Molly and Daniel, would have wished. When Joy’s beloved husband dies, Molly and Daniel have no shortage of solutions for their mother’s loneliness and despair, but there is one challenge they did not count on: the reappearance of an ardent suitor from Joy’s college days. And they didn’t count on Joy herself, a mother suddenly as willful and rebellious as their own kids…”

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 4. Unspeakable Things – by Kathleen Spivack

“A wild, erotic novel—a daring debut—from the much-admired, award-winning poet, author of Flying Inland, A History of Yearning, and With Robert Lowell and His Circle: Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton, Elizabeth Bishop, Stanley Kunitz, and Others. A strange, haunting novel about survival and love in all its forms; about sexual awakenings and dark secrets; about European refugee intellectuals who have fled Hitler’s armies with their dreams intact and who have come to an elusive new (American) “can do, will do” world they cannot seem to find. A novel steeped in surreal storytelling and beautiful music that transports its half-broken souls—and us—to another realm of the senses.”

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 5. Shelter – by Jung Yum

“You can never know what goes on behind closed doors.

Kyung Cho is a young father burdened by a house he can t afford. For years, he and his wife, Gillian, have lived beyond their means. Now their debts and bad decisions are catching up with them, and Kyung is anxious for his family s future….

… As “Shelter” veers swiftly toward its startling conclusion, Jung Yun leads us through dark and violent territory, where, unexpectedly, the Chos discover hope. “Shelter” is a masterfully crafted debut novel that asks what it means to provide for one’s family and, in answer, delivers a story as riveting as it is profound.”

NON-FICTION

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6. Evicted (Poverty and Profit in the American City) – by Matthew Desmond

“From Harvard sociologist and MacArthur “Genius” Matthew Desmond, a landmark work of scholarship and reportage that will forever change the way we look at poverty in America.”
 
“In this brilliant, heartbreaking book, Matthew Desmond takes us into the poorest neighborhoods of Milwaukee to tell the story of eight families on the edge. Arleen is a single mother trying to raise her two sons on the $20 a month she has left after paying for their rundown apartment. Scott is a gentle nurse consumed by a heroin addiction. Lamar, a man with no legs and a neighborhood full of boys to look after, tries to work his way out of debt. Vanetta participates in a botched stickup after her hours are cut. All are spending almost everything they have on rent, and all have fallen behind…”

TheBook 7. The Book – by Keith Houston

“We may love books, but do we know what lies behind them? In The Book, Keith Houston reveals that the paper, ink, thread, glue, and board from which a book is made tell as rich a story as the words on its pages―of civilizations, empires, human ingenuity, and madness. In an invitingly tactile history of this 2,000-year-old medium, Houston follows the development of writing, printing, the art of illustrations, and binding to show how we have moved from cuneiform tablets and papyrus scrolls to the hardcovers and paperbacks of today. Sure to delight book lovers of all stripes with its lush, full-color illustrations, The Book gives us the momentous and surprising history behind humanity’s most important―and universal―information technology.”

WhenBreath8. When Breath Becomes Air – by Paul Kalanithi

“At the age of thirty-six, on the verge of completing a decade’s worth of training as a neurosurgeon, Paul Kalanithi was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. One day he was a doctor treating the dying, and the next he was a patient struggling to live. And just like that, the future he and his wife had imagined evaporated. 

When Breath Becomes Air chronicles Kalanithi’s transformation from a naïve medical student “possessed,” as he wrote, “by the question of what, given that all organisms die, makes a virtuous and meaningful life” into a neurosurgeon at Stanford working in the brain, the most critical place for human identity, and finally into a patient and new father confronting his own mortality.”

“I guarantee that finishing this book and then forgetting about it is simply not an option. . . . Part of this book’s tremendous impact comes from the obvious fact that its author was such a brilliant polymath. And part comes from the way he conveys what happened to him—passionately working and striving, deferring gratification, waiting to live, learning to die—so well. None of it is maudlin. Nothing is exaggerated. As he wrote to a friend: ‘It’s just tragic enough and just imaginable enough.’ And just important enough to be unmissable.”— Janet MaslinThe New York Times

cityofthorns9. City of Thorns (Nine Lives in the World’s Largest Refugee Camp) – by Ben Rawlence

“To the charity workers, Dadaab refugee camp is a humanitarian crisis; to the Kenyan government, it is a ‘nursery for terrorists’; to the western media, it is a dangerous no-go area; but to its half a million residents, it is their last resort.”

“In City of Thorns, Rawlence interweaves the stories of nine individuals to show what life is like in the camp and to sketch the wider political forces that keep the refugees trapped there. Rawlence combines intimate storytelling with broad socio-political investigative journalism, doing for Dadaab what Katherinee Boo’s Behind the Beautiful Forevers did for the Mumbai slums. Lucid, vivid and illuminating, City of Thorns is an urgent human story with deep international repercussions, brought to life through the people who call Dadaab home.”

Varou10. And the Weak Suffer What They Must? (Europe’s Crisis and America’s Economic Future) – by Yanis Varoufakis

“A titanic battle is being waged for Europe’s integrity and soul, with the forces of reason and humanism losing out to growing irrationality, authoritarianism, and malice, promoting inequality and austerity. The whole world has a stake in a victory for rationality, liberty, democracy, and humanism.”

“Varoufakis delivers a fresh look at the history of Europe’s crisis and America’s central role in it. He presents the ultimate case against austerity, proposing concrete policies for Europe that are necessary to address its crisis and avert contagion to America, China, and the rest of the world. With passionate, informative, and at times humorous prose, he warns that the implosion of an admittedly crisis–ridden and deeply irrational European monetary union should, and can, be avoided at all cost.”

Happy reading! 

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Cat and Book photos via pixabay.com.

heatherfromthegrove’s New Year’s Revelation No 6 of 7: The power of Forgiveness

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“Forgiving does not erase the bitter past. A healed memory is not a deleted memory. Instead, forgiving what we cannot forget creates a new way to remember. We change the memory of our past into a hope for our future.”

Louis B. Smedes

One would think that three of the most difficult (and uncomfortable) words to utter would be: “I am sorry.”

Not so. It’s the responding declaration of “I forgive you” (and meaning it) that poses the real herculean challenge.

When English poet Alexander Pope wrote “To err is human, to forgive, Divine,” he was echoing what many of our religious faiths teach us.  As a Roman Catholic, I’ve recited the Our Father a million times, solemnly whispering: “God forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”

Easier said than done…. which is probably why we’re required to repeat the prayer at every Mass before Communion and also after Confession… lest we forget our promise.

Sometimes it’s harder to forgive yourself than to forgive another person.

Sometimes it’s hard and even impossible to forgive. Period.

“As long as you don’t forgive, who and whatever it is will occupy a rent-free space in your mind.”

Isabelle Holland

Over the span of my lifetime to the present day, I can truthfully say that I have forgiven almost every person who has “trespassed against me.” Almost.

If a person – be it family or friend – says or does something hurtful towards me and they do it out of fear, misinformation, ignorance or haste (we’ve all said things that we’ve wished, in the next instant, that we could take back)…. then I forgive them. Depending on the severity of the hurt, I may not forget.  But I forgive. And the lightness of being that comes with forgiveness is wonderful and freeing.

However, there are a very select few people for whom forgiveness is simply not in the cards… as hard though I try.

If a person – be it family or friend – commits a hateful act with the malicious intent to harm me and/or those I hold dear…. then I cannot forgive them.  And that darkness is always lurking in the shadows.

Maybe someday. One can only hope.

Not for their sake, but for mine.

Some Book Recommendations:

Forgiveness is a Choice: A Step-by-Step Process for Resolving Anger and Restoring Hopeby Robert D. Enright

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The Wisdom of Forgiveness by the Dalai Lama and Victor Chan

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For Children: The Forgiveness Garden by Lauren Thompson

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Photo via pdpics.com

Life Is Precious

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“This is the beginning of a new day. You have been given this day to use as you will. You can waste it or use it for good. What you do today is important because you are exchanging a day of your life for it. When tomorrow comes, this day will be gone forever; in its place is something that you have left behind…let it be something good.”    ― Author Unknown

Life is precious.

Our journey in life is finite, which is why it’s so important to appreciate each day, to savor what we have and whom we surround ourselves with.  A sunny day, a fresh rainfall, the sound of trees swaying in a summer breeze… these are the things we sometimes take for granted.

Here today, gone tomorrow.

I have a handful of friends and family members who wake up each morning, prepared to fight the battle of their lives, just so they can live another day… be with the people they love, do the things they most enjoy.  Their enemy? Cancer.  These people have become warriors and their  spirits shine through their resolve.  They are acutely aware of  how truly precious life is.

Recently, a colleague was diagnosed with Stage II Parkinson’s Disease.  This diagnosis has rocked his world…  and not in a good way.  Suddenly, the time he thought he had ― to do the things he needed and wanted to do ― has been ripped away from him.  A man who is always in control now finds himself out of control.  He is scrambling to reprioritize and to figure out how to prolong the inevitable.  And he makes sure to tell his children, each day, how much he loves them.

Yesterday, we (my husband and I) received shocking news that a former colleague had died this past December ― of ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease).  He was a good, vibrant, intelligent man.  His wife and two children, family and loads of friends mourn his loss.

Yes, life is precious.

Don’t waste one singular moment.

“I would rather be ashes than dust! I would rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry rot. I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet. The proper function of man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them. I shall use my time.”     ― Jack London, American Author

 

And then there’s Hope

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“They thought that attending the baptism of their friend’s baby daughter would be a welcome and much-needed distraction. For one afternoon, they could put all their troubles aside and partake in a joyous and blessed occasion. In the last two years, life had been spiraling out of control. Food and money were scarce. They had lost their car.  They had nearly lost their home.  They needed something to grasp on to.  They needed a little hope.  And so, they thought that participating in a young child’s first Sacrament would remind them of all things good — purity, innocence, new beginnings, Faith.

They gathered up what little cash they had ($58) to pay for the train and taxi that they would have to take.  What would have taken them half an hour by car was going to be a three-hour transit ordeal (there was no public bus route in the area they were traveling to). They dressed up in their Sunday best and began their journey.  When they got off the train, there were no taxis in sight. The afternoon heat and humidity was making their clothes stick to their bodies. They realized that they may have to walk for at least an hour or so, if they didn’t find a taxi. They would miss the Baptism. They began to walk and then spotted a cab parked nearby, hidden by a big tree. The driver was standing by the car.  He was a small, wiry man with dark, wrinkled skin, grey hair and white teeth. But it was his hazel eyes that caught their attention. Or, rather, what his eyes conveyed.  Old eyes (although he didn’t look more than 50) — eyes that had seen much and learned much.  They had one of those déja-vu moments where they felt that they had met him before, that they knew him and he knew them. But, they hadn’t.  He asked them if he could drive them anywhere.  They nodded and asked how much it would cost to get to their destination.  The driver said “$48.”  They told him that they only had $38 left (not enough for either the taxi fare and tip). They had spent $20 on two return train tickets and were hoping to get a lift back (from friends)  to the train station, after the Baptism party.  The driver looked at them kindly and said, “$38 will be fine.”  They were elated and hopped into the air-conditioned cab

They exchanged pleasantries and names. The driver’s name was Mohammed. He was from Pakistan and had come to America to make a better life for his siblings, wife and children.  He hadn’t always been a taxi driver.  Like everyone else, he had been adversely affected by the economic downturn.  He worked long shifts to pay for his children’s’  tuition. He had put his sister through medical school. Education, according to Mohammed, was the key to freedom and empowerment. They agreed. He went on to say that “Faith is what helps us to put one foot in front of the other and carry on, day after day, despite the troubles looming all around us.”  And he looked into their eyes from the rear-view mirror. Everyone was silent for the rest of the ride.

When they arrived at the church, Mohammed got out and opened the door for them.  They shook his hand, thanked him, and once again apologized that they could only give him $38.  He brushed their apologies aside and said “Enjoy your blessed event and the company of your friends. Leave your worries at the door.”  With that, he went into his car and drove away. Feeling uplifted, they smiled at each other and walked, hand-in-hand, into the church.”

― from  the vignette “Faith, a Powerful Tonic” – pp. 88-90 of Casualties of the (Recession) Depression, by Heather Joan Marinos

(Copyright © 2013 by Heather Joan Marinos – All Rights Reserved)

This is not fiction.  This book is about real people and their stories – in vignette form.

Hope comes to us in many guises.   The important thing is that we recognize it when it does.

I’m not going to add much more, because I think that the story speaks for itself. Despite all of the domino negative effects that this Recession has had on millions of families – not only in America, but around the world  –  there is always Hope. 

This is not a cliché. I can personally vouch for the authenticity of what I am saying. 

HFH2

 

Image (at the very top) via thelifeweshared.com.

The Soul Kitchen: Bon Jovi Serves Up Some Hope

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The Soul Kitchen (Red Bank, New Jersey)

Jon Bon Jovi serves up a heaping plate of soul food and philanthropy, topped up with a whole lot of Hope.

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Livin’ On A Prayer

Once upon a time
Not so long ago

Tommy used to work on the docks
Unions been on strike
He’s down on his luck… it’s tough, so tough
Gina works the diner all day
Working for her man, she brings home her pay
For love – for love

She says we’ve got to hold on to what we’ve got
Cause it doesn’t make a difference
If we make it or not
We’ve got each other and that’s a lot
For love – well give it a shot

Chorus:
Whooah, we’re half way there
Livin’ on a prayer
Take my hand and we’ll make it – I swear
Livin’ on a prayer

Tommy’s got his six string in hock
Now he’s holding in what he used
To make it talk – so tough, it’s tough
Gina dreams of running away
When she cries in the night
Tommy whispers baby it’s okay, someday

We’ve got to hold on to what we’ve got
‘Cause it doesn’t make a difference
If we make it or not
We’ve got each other and that’s a lot
For love – well give it a shot

Chorus:
Whooah, we’re half way there
Livin’ on a prayer
Take my hand and we’ll make it – I swear
Livin’ on a prayer

We’ve got to hold on ready or not
You live for the fight when it’s all that you’ve got

Chorus:
Whooah, we’re half way there
Livin’ on a prayer
Take my hand and we’ll make it – I swear
Livin’ on a prayer

[Songwriters: BON JOVI, JON / CHILD, DESMOND / SAMBORA, RICHARD]

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The concept of “Paying it forward” is something that Jon Bon Jovi knows well.   Singer, musician, actor, businessman and philanthropist ― Bon Jovi  is a New Jersey native who never forgot where he came from.   In 2006, he formed the Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation, a non-profit organization whose mission is to help people (one soul at a time) who are experiencing economic hardship. 

Kindness is infectious.  And so, as part of this foundation,  several  JBJ Soul projects have come to fruition:

†♥ JBJ Soul Homes (a joint venture with Project H.O.M.E., in Philadelphia)  ― a four-story, mixed-use development building, scheduled for completion in November 2013.  With retail, offices and 55 apartments to house previously homeless and low-income adults and children, the  residents will have access to basic medical care, employment assistance, education and fitness facilities.

†♥ Rebuilding Together (a joint venture with Lowe’s Charitable and Educational Foundation and Rebuilding Together Philadelphia) ― to rehabilitate nearly 30 homes in the Overbrook neighborhood.

†♥ Northern Children’s Services Merrick Hall (a joint venture with Northern Children’s Services) ― to provide permanent housing for homeless teenage mothers and their babies.

and, a community restaurant that does not have any prices on the menu:

† JBJ Soul Kitchen ― where customers volunteer their services at the restaurant, in lieu of payment.  Soul Kitchen accepts donations from those who can pay.  In the words of Bon Jovi, “At a time when 1 in 5 households are living at or below the poverty level, and at a time when 1 out of 6 Americans are food insecure, this is a restaurant whose time has come. This is a place based on and built on community – by and for the community.” 

And yes, Mr. Bon Jovi, Hope is Delicious.  Your dedication, passion and sense of community is truly inspiring.

For more information, please go to:  http://www.jbjsoulkitchen.org/.

 

Image via nhne-pulse.org.

What is unique about the book, Casualties of the (Recession) Depression?

Originally, I intended to write a collection of short stories, based on the real life accounts of middle-class men and women who had been (and who continue to be) adversely affected by this prolonged economic downturn.

After learning about all their tribulations and triumphs, I decided that their stories would have more impact if portrayed in short vignettes or scenes.  These snapshots in words capture the essence (and the rawness) of their experiences.  As a reader, you get a feel for what it’s like to ― as Atticus Finch (in Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird) says ― “climb into his skin and walk around in it.”  In doing so, the reader may identify with/relate to or gain insight from their experiences, as they navigate through the spectrum of emotions ― shock, sorrow, despair, relief, joy, pride, and so on.  

The vignettes present the reader with a canvas of scenes ranging from sweet-to-bittersweet-to-bitter, from the manic uncertainty of not knowing what to do, to the tenacious pursuit of a “Plan B” … and, of course, emphasizing the point that humor, hope and faith often help to smooth out the kinks and put things in perspective.

Once the vignettes were written, I realized that it was necessary for me to clearly explain my thesis that this overextended economic downturn is a depression, and not a recession. In doing so, I categorized the vignettes by year – from 2006 to the first quarter of 2013. I then wrote an introduction to each of the years, thereby setting the historical, socio-economic and political scene (with economic and political commentary) ― to give the reader context.

I believe that the book is unique because it uses vignettes (rather than short stories) and these vignettes are reinforced by the commentary which presents the context, issues, and possible solutions.

In the second-to-last paragraph of my Conclusions, I write:

“It is not my intention to point fingers at any political leader or party. Nor am I interested in engaging in an ideological battle of red versus blue (or vice versa).  I am, however, raising an eyebrow at the seemingly dismissive attitude that our politicians and economists have towards the ongoing severity of this economic “trough” and, by association, the degenerative effects on the countries largest demographic – the middle class. The bottom line is:  if there are middle-class Americans who continue to experience economic hardship, then the problem still exists. If they are not in the process of recovering, then we are not “in a recovery.”

Casualties of the (Recession) Depression is not an economic treatise or a doctoral dissertation.  It is a very evocative, down-to-earth, mince-no-words commentary/editorial which simply seeks to highlight the human condition as relates to the economic crisis that, like a very bad cough, has proven difficult to shake off.

I welcome your feedback, with thanks.

― Heather Joan Marinos

(Visit:  http://heatherjoanmarinos.com )

Written Content Copyright © 2013 by Heather Joan Marinos. All Rights Reserved.

The other side of Bad…

… is, of course, Good. 

I’ve had to keep reminding myself of that lately.  As I mentioned in last Thursday’s post, Neighborly Love,  our  property was brutally pillaged by thieves.  They ripped through things that were sentimental and private.  They stole items and assets that we had worked hard to be able to afford. 

Although we are still struggling with a smorgasbord of emotions (anger, being the most constant), we know that on the other side of Bad, is Good.  We’ve experienced it firsthand: the kindness of complete strangers, our neighbors in the mountains who have banded together – as a matter of personal honor – to bring some order to all the mayhem and to secure the property once again.  To be on the receiving end of such a magnitude of unconditional kindness … it’s beyond words. 

And now, we must move on from this and begin a new day.

In the Andes of South America, the hummingbird is a symbol of resurrection.  On cold nights, it appears to die but comes back to life at the first light of dawn.

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“Legends say that hummingbirds float free of time, carrying our hopes for love, joy and celebration. Hummingbirds open our eyes to the wonder of the world and inspire us to open our hearts to loved ones and friends. Like a hummingbird, we aspire to hover and to savor each moment as it passes, embrace all that life has to offer and to celebrate the joy of everyday. The hummingbird’s delicate grace reminds us that life is rich, beauty is everywhere, every personal connection has meaning and that laughter is life’s sweetest creation.” 

~ from Papyrus

Just Published: Casualties of the (Recession) Depression

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I am pleased to announce the release of my new book,

Casualties of the (Recession) Depression.

Once again, from the back cover:

“Has economic activity returned to close to normal levels?”

Did the “Great Recession” really end in June 2009?

Is the American economy in a recession, a depression, or on the road to recovery?

Do our political leaders and economists truly believe what they’re saying, or are they deluging us with “feel-good” marketing rhetoric?

In her own evocative and  mince-no-words style,  Heather Joan Marinos argues that American economic activity has not returned to close to normal levels.

Through a writer’s lens, we catch a glimpse of some of the poignant moments in the lives of the people most affected by this economic downturn ― the middle class.  Marinos takes the reader on an American odyssey from 2006 to the present day, through a collection of vignettes and scenes, and some passionate commentary along the way.

It is, after all, the people who tell the real story of our economy.  Their challenges and triumphs are not rhetoric. Their resilience and humanity is what gives us hope for a prosperous and triumphant future.

Now Available

from

Amazon.com

I am also in the process of completing DEMOKRATIA IN ACTION, due out in 2014.

Cheers!

hftg

Honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

(January 15, 1929 – April 4, 1968)

Today, our nation honors the memory of a man who inspired generations of men and women ― young and old, black and white, and across every creed.  Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  ― clergyman, activist and leader in the American civil rights movement  ― received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964, at the age of 35 (the youngest man to ever have received a Nobel Peace Prize).  When notified that he was selected for this honor, he stated that he would donate the prize money ($54,123) to further the cause of the civil rights movement.

He was assassinated by a sniper’s  bullet on April 4, 1968, in Memphis (Tennessee), as he addressed crowds of people from  his hotel balcony.

He was not only a man of  wise and thought-provoking words, but a man of action.  He acted on his beliefs and the words he spoke came from his soul. His name is on my own personal roster of people who have truly inspired me. Aside from his famous I Have A Dream speech (quoted in its entirety, at the end of this post), I wanted to share some of his thoughts on what, in my view, are four of the most powerful words to live by: Compassion. Forgiveness. Freedom. Hope.  

On Compassion:

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, What are you doing for others?”

On Forgiveness:

“We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies.”

On Freedom:

“Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.

“Letter from Birmingham Jail,” April 16, 1963

On Hope:

“The hope of a secure and livable world lies with disciplined nonconformists who are dedicated to justice, peace and brotherhood.š

 

“If you lose hope, somehow you lose the vitality that keeps life moving, you lose that courage to be, that quality that helps you go on in spite of it all. And so today I still have a dream.

I Have A Dream:

(August 28, 1963)

“I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.

But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. So we have come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.

In a sense we have come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked “insufficient funds.” But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check — a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice. We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quick sands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.

We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. They have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.

As we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, “When will you be satisfied?” We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied, as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro’s basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their selfhood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating “For Whites Only”. We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.

Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.

I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.”

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.

This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

This will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with a new meaning, “My country, ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim’s pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring.”

And if America is to be a great nation this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!

Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado!

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California!

But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia!

Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee!

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, ‘Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!'”