‘Tis the Season

It is a season of giving and sharing.  A wonderful time that begins with a large, loving family holding hands and expressing our thanks for the many blessings each of us has received.

It is also a time of rest, relaxation and reflection.

A Perfect Day for Sailing
A Perfect Day for Sailing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was scenes like these that my eyes drank in while my soul was being recharged.  I am so lucky to be able to witness such peace and beauty.

At the end of our stay, we bid adieu as Mother Nature gave us the nod with an awe-inspiring sunset:

Sunset at Pacific Beach Nov 2015
Sunset at Pacific Beach Nov 2015

 

We now enter the season of sharing.

Let’s remember our friends in Israel and across the world, that will take their shamash and light the first of eight candles on their Hanukia this evening.  It is the beginning of the Festival of Lights, a rededication of their Temple.

I’d like to leave you with one of the three blessings that are recited:

Blessed are You, our God, Creator of time and space, who performs miracles for our ancestors, in the days of long ago and in this time.

Happy Chanukah, my friends!

Peace … across the world …

 

 

Let’s Talk About The Elephant

I said I wouldn’t do it.  I said I’d find another topic.  I said I wouldn’t give ISIS/ISIL one more moment of air time — especially not my air time.  They’ve received far too much as it is.  But as I sat down to blog today, I found the tragedy of the events in France has overshadowed — and eclipsed — all other things.  I cannot seem to shake the feelings of sadness and horror and my eyes drift back and forth from story to story.

To ignore this event would be likened to ignoring the elephant in the room.  We must not turn away from it.  We must talk about it.

Expressions and symbols of solidarity have come from everywhere and, indeed, from everyone.  Each expression seems to contain as much resolve as it does compassion.  People are finally focusing all of their attention on ISIS/ISIL and the assassins they set forth to do their bidding.

This isn’t the time to do the “politically-right” thing.  This is the time for all countries to set their differences aside.  Now is the time for us to collectively cooperate with international efforts to eradicate the cancerous swell that knows no borders.

Now is the time for strength, unity and solidarity.

A Message of Hope, Inspiration and Perserverance

From the beginning of his election and his presence to us on the world stage, Pope Francis proved that he was not anything remotely similar to his predecessors. He walked the streets, washed homeless people’s feet, mingled freely with the crowds who came to see him and, above all, he spoke his mind.

As he addressed our Congress this week, I was fascinated by the scope of his comments.  So much to address, and yet, he was most succinct at driving home his messages.

One can only hope our Congress put their politics aside long enough to grasp his message to them that they are those who have been “invited, called and  convened by those who elected you … to … preserve the dignity of your fellow citizens,” in “pursuit of the common good,” which he identified as the very genesis of politics.  He called upon them to put their differences aside and instead, move forward as one in the spirit of fraternity and solidarity.

Perhaps it was these words that so resonated with Speaker Boehner (a former alter boy who was so moved by the Pope’s presence that he continually dabbed his eyes during his speech), that he finally decided to announce his resignation as Speaker of the House, which, for some, was a long-overdue announcement.

Has politics taken on such a life of its own that those who participate must be reminded of who they are, why they are there, and to what objective do they work towards?  It appears so and one can only admire Pope Francis for standing before them and reminding them of their obligations.

I was grateful, too, to hear in his remarks that it is people — just like you and me who have worked for decades — that do “an honest day’s work, to bring home the daily bread, to save money and … build a better life for [our] families.”  “These are men and women who … in their own quiet way sustain the life of society.”  How many of us would say amen to that?  Yet, we are the ones that our legislative members seem to have long ago forgotten.

Turning to world  events, Pope Francis acknowledged how deeply disturbed we all are at political tensions and violent hostilities and which seem to be escalating in various hot spots around the world as the shackles of oppression finally fall to the wayside.  He cautioned us not to be two-dimensional thinkers — those that only have two buckets — one for “the righteous” and one for “the sinners.”  The world is far too complicated to be seen in such simplistic terms.  His suggestion, instead, was to give what we wish to receive.  “If we want opportunities, let us provide opportunities.”  There is only one measurement and it is used for all of us without regard to age, race, religion or professed beliefs.  “We need a conversation which includes everyone … because it affects all of us.”

I am reminded of a quote that I read which resonated with me recently:

“I am grateful that I live in a country whose people have learned how to go on living in a sea of hatred without hating those who want to destroy them and without abandoning their own vision of peace.”  [Golda Meir]

There is so much we can do better, starting with just us, and moving upward through our legislative branches and, finally, when we reach out to the world and help share the enlightenment.  But it starts with us — the ones that have been privileged enough to live in the land of the free and the home of the brave.

 

Bravery

Bravery —  at its finest!

In today’s world, where you are sometimes left shaking your head as you observe people’s indifferences towards each other — it is the dramatic story of two U.S. servicemen, traveling with an American student, that fills your heart with hope, inspiration, admiration and gratitude.

As we speak, there are an undisclosed amount of people that were on board the express Thalys train yesterday as it sped through the Belgium countryside between Amsterdam and Paris that owe these men their lives.

Also aboard that train was an alleged 26-year-old Moroccan with Islamic ties, armed with a Kalishnikev assault rifle, nine magazines, a Luger semi-automatic pistol, and a box cutter who, according to his own admission, had the intent to rob the passengers.  Quite the arsenal for a train robbery.

It began when an unnamed French national walked toward the men’s toilet and came face-to-face with the Moroccan who had the assault rifle slung over his shoulder.  The Frenchman reacted quickly, trying to take the gunman down and, in the struggle, a shot was fired.

The two U.S. servicemen — young Spencer Stone, a member of the U.S. Air Force — and Alex Skarlatos, a member of the Oregon National Guard — quickly ducked down upon hearing the shot.  Then, adrenalin and military training immediately kicked in.  Alex, just returning from Afghanistan, looked towards his friend Spencer and simply said, “Let’s go.”  Spencer jumped to his feet first, and ran 30 feet directly towards the still-armed gunman, before tackling him.  In the struggle that followed, the gunman used the box cutter to cut Spencer’s neck and thumb severely while trying to thwart the attack.

Alex, several seconds behind Spencer, joined the fray and pulled a Luger from the gunman’s hand, throwing it aside.  The assault rifle now was on the floor at the feet of the gunman.  Alex lunged for it, retrieved it, and began to “muzzle-thump” the gunman about the head while Spencer’s strong arm squeezed the gunman’s neck until he lost consciousness.  With the help of other passengers and their American student friend, they tied the gunman’s hands and feet to further restrain him.

The shot that was fired had hit another passenger and, with the gunman now subdued, Spencer went to aid the passenger — in spite of the fact that he was bleeding badly from his own wounds.  Some say he saved that passenger’s life.

In an odd twist, Alex found that the gunman had either failed to load the Luger, or lost its magazine.  As to the assault rifle, only one shot was fired because the primer on the second round was defective, which caused it to misfire.  An extraordinary stroke of luck.

The train pulled into the City of Arras where the young men were awarded an honor by that city.

Since that time, President Obama and the U.S. European Command Commander, General Philip M. Breedlove, have sung high praises for these brave young men, as well they should.

Interestingly, the motto of the U.S. Air Force is “Aim high … Fly/Fight/Win.”

And the motto of the Oregon National Guard is “When we are needed, we are there.”

Mission accomplished, gentlemen …..

 

Just Another Day At The Office

With the election cycle slowly cranking up again, it takes my thoughts and concerns to the American economy.

The world needs a little economic stability in the coming years as other countries who have been oppressed ache to be free of the economic shackles of the Old Guard who, unjustly and for a very long time, lived off the backs of many of their countrymen.  The world needs to welcome them to a better place.

China is struggling as an economy and, as a result, so is their stock market.  Greece has been all over the European map begging for assistance.  The Saudis are borrowing money (who would have thought?) because of the low oil prices.  Turkey is struggling to stand up in an extremely volatile area.  And then there are the emerging markets like those in Asia, Latin America and even some in Africa.  Last year, investors pumped $50 billion (with a “B”) in mutual funds that are investing in developing countries.  We should welcome them, too!

The tides of the world economy are changing and for that reason, America needs to tread lightly and, at the same time, stay strong.  Teddy Roosevelt used to say, “Speak softly and carry a big stick.”  He was actually quoting a West African proverb: “Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far.”  Good advice then — good advice now.

Why does it matter?  It matters because there are millions of folks that have worked and contributed greatly to the American economy for decades.

We believe in America and we are vested in America.

I, for one, have devoted most of my life to working hard and I guess I would just like to be assured that with the right leader, the view from the office which vibrates with such prosperity will stay the same.

The Corner Office
The Corner Office

 

 

 

 

Business at its Best
Business at its Best

 

 

 

 

 

 

… We have much to think about in the coming days …

Happy 4th of July!

A few weeks ago, I mentioned the USS Theodore Roosevelt and I wondered how they were celebrating the founding of our great nation.  I will share with you what I found as the last thing on this post.

But first, let me wave my flag and salute all of those brave men and women who have made sacrifices beyond what we will ever know — and who have stepped up and continued to serve our great country.  Thank you … such small words … for the great deeds you have done.  Thank you for keeping us safe.  Thank you for keeping us free!

From Rota, Spain:

ROTA, Spain (NNS) — Service members assigned to Commander, U.S. Naval Activities Spain gathered around the flagpole to raise the American flag during the annual flag-raising ceremony July 2.

More than 800 service members, civilians, families and guests joined together for the special occasion, traditionally held just once a year. Located on a Spanish naval base, the American flag can only be raised with special permission from the Spanish base commanding officer.

“It’s a rare moment like this where we can all come together and watch the raising of an iconic symbol that has united our fellow Americans for generations,” said Capt. Greg Pekari, commander, U.S. Naval Activities Spain. “Having our Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and Soldiers from our 35-plus tenant commands, from our family, having them gathered together in front Building 1 and seeing our American flag wave proudly overhead, makes this event very poignant and special.”

Pekari spoke of the “melting pot” that makes up America and has given us freedom for 239 years. “Two hundred thirty-nine years ago this Saturday, America was born on a unique notion that all men are created equal. When the rest of the world had long ago dismissed that idea, our forefathers, in crafting our Constitution, knew that the principal of diversity would be our advantage,” he said.

The flag will stay hoisted through Monday before it will be taken down until another approved event or Fourth of July.

“When we look upon our stars and stripes, we are reminded of what it means to be an American. We are reminded of our nation’s commitment to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” Pekari said.

USS Theodore Roosevelt, July 2015
USS Theodore Roosevelt, July 2015

Happy and Safe 4th, Everyone!!

About Honor In Life

As I scanned the headlines in Reuters today, I was drawn to slides posted from the USS Theodore Roosevelt, a U.S. aircraft carrier commissioned in October of 1986.  It now sits in the waters of the Gulf near Bahrain.  Officially, it is there to ensure that the shipping lanes remain open and free to travel.  Unofficially, of course, it is there to show a signal of strength to the inhabitants of a restless and chaotic region.

As many of you know, my/our first book, Esperance, was centered around a very real U.S. Naval ship christened as the USS Boise.  She was a light cruiser who, along with other ships in the area, fought a daring and dramatic battle in the darkness of one night in October of 1942, off the Cape of Esperance in Guadalcanal.  While the journey of this great ship was entirely accurate (and took 7 years of research to accomplish), the Captain and crew of that ship were entirely figments of my and my husband’s imaginations — except for one person — a Machinist Mate by the name of Bobby Blunt.  He had only a cameo role in Esperance, but he had a leading role in my life.

Tomorrow is Father’s Day and I’d like to take a moment to acknowledge all those great fathers out there that lived an honorary and exemplary life and became the largest hero a son or daughter would ever have.

Happy Father’s Day, Dad!Dad US NavyRobert H. Blunt – July 1921-January 2005, U.S. Navy

 

Information

So, this week is National Freedom of Information Week.  That gave me some pause.  Where would we be without this cause that was so important to James Madison?  As an author, may I say that the freedom to express ourselves — without recourse — should always be at the forefront of our journey.

Selma

Let’s none of us forget the sacrifices that many people made in this country 50 years ago.  Those that dreamed of equality, respect, and to be given what they had justly earned.  Obama said today that “they gave millions courage.”  To possess courage in the face of adversity is, indeed, the highest form of courage.