“More Stars in the Sky Than Grains of Sand on Earth.”

I have read that there are more stars in the sky than grains of sand on the Earth, and it certainly seemed to be true the night Brad and I camped at Whiskeytown Shasta – Trinity National Recreation Area in northern California. The vastness of the Universe has held humanity’s attention for eons—and tonight was no exception for me. It was a rather spontaneous stop garnered by a quick internet search earlier that afternoon.  Yes, we were able to reserve a camp spot—and even pay the nominal fee over the phone with a credit card.  That was the easy part. As was our greeting by the National Park security who checked our name off the list and gave us verbal instructions and a cryptic map which designated our “C-16” spot that would be our “home” and rest spot for the night. However, by the time we reached the parking lot—complete darkness had set in—and in spite to producing two small flashlights—the layout—the paths—the markings and the darkness made the discovery of our campsite a bit of a challenge.  Was this a metaphor for us, for humanity as well?

Our persistence paid off and after about 45 minutes, our 3-4 minute walk downhill to the water and our camp site numerous times had us somewhat settled in—tent, sleeping bags and even two folding chairs—which provided the scenic views to the heavens.  We literally tailgated on the back of the pickup truck on the asphalt parking lot finishing cold chicken and fruit and by 11:00 P.M. found ourselves back down sitting in our observation chairs—sipping a glass of wine and relaxing in the fairly quiet wilderness.  (The “neighbors” kids finally began to get quiet and the dog was at last peaceful—lol—woof-woof.) So much as a break from suburbia!

As I stared out into the heavens, I wondered, what lay beyond the boundaries of our human existence?  Who were we really, behind the cloaked veil that our daily lives consumed?  And, where did we come from?  There are many who believe that we are seeded from the stars—that philosophy, when I thought about it, felt right.  Were we seeded from the Pleadians two hundred thousand years ago?  Were these light beings our divine parents from a lineage billions of years old?   Were we the “new kids” on the block? There were many indigenous and ancient peoples whose creation story linked us to the stars—and each story to each other, even though there was no means of communication between them.  These stories were etched and painted upon the caves and artifacts over the millennium.  There were sightings of lights where no electricity existed—Mt. Shasta was certainly one—Hawaii and Uluru were other places of magic. Our knowledge so limited, and our technology still primitive—gave us little understanding of the vastness and infinite makings of the multiverses and galaxies beyond our closest frontiers.

And, so it was, as I drifted off to sleep—thinking about my adventure to east Texas to reclaim my old MGB with my friend Brad and the stars that filled my imagination and my fascination.  It had been a long hot day and we had already crossed many miles when my tired body laid upon the air mattress. What did we really know?

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Battle Cruiser

I met the truck only the afternoon before.  My friend Brad had named it the Battle Cruiser with the plate to match: BTLCRSR.  I must admit, it was certainly not a pretty sight. The yellow paint faded—exposed rust in certain places and green moss covering parts of the exterior and hood. It’s four and a half decades were evident; it was a work horse.

After some coaxing, the loyal truck came to life.  I was happy to see the life return as the deep throaty motor sounded like a tired warrior awakening as daybreak arose too early: Brad pumped the gas pedal and cajoled the old Ford pickup into being.

I had a mission—and needed the Battle Cruiser’s help.  The instructions from Brad were simply that first gear was not necessary—to low a gear to start. “Use second” he said. Easy enough I thought and nodded, as I climbed in the next morning and sat in the driver’s seat, starting the engine.  After decades of smaller and smaller cars—and trucks—this old relic was immense.  As tall as I am—and as long a reach as I have—I could not, even leaning over and stretching, open and unlock the passenger door from the inside.   Were the vehicles really this big???  Wow.

And, so it was, I shifted the truck into gear, lifted the clutch and headed up the wooded driveway finding my way to the 101 and to the Kingston-Edmonds ferry off the Olympic Peninsula and toward Bellevue; my childhood home. I thought about my mission to save the trash burner—a request out of my Mother’s house—before it’s fate met the awaiting bulldozer; demolishing it to the ground.  Another era gone.  As I pulled out of the driveway and on to the Sequim neighborhood graveled road, I felt my Father sitting in the passenger’s seat.  Perhaps, he felt my bit of nervousness, apprehension, or trepidation with the old truck?  At any rate, I felt the reassurance as the memories of familiar childhood adventures surfaced.  This time however, I was driving—and he was riding.  I continued my drive south 42 miles to the Washington State Ferry terminal; my mind concentrating on the road as I roared along feeling like something out of Mad-Max Road Fury.

I thought about the laughter that ensued when I voiced my request for the trash burner; I had my reasons and I didn’t really care what anyone thought.  I pulled up to the toll booth to purchase my round-trip fare.   “Lane six”, said the woman in the toll booth as she handed me my change and receipt.  I smiled and thanked her, easing the truck back into gear and driving forward into my designated parking lane to await the Ferry’s arrival into Kingston terminal. Settled, I hopped out of the Battle Cruiser and headed up to grab a cup of coffee—standing in line—I heard someone shout—“Here comes the ferry.”  I abandoned the line and headed back to where the truck was parked.  The adventure had been so smooth thus far and all was going as planned.  Or so I thought.

Lane five moved beside me and I turned the key in the ignition to start the engine.  Nothing. I turned the key off and on once again.  Nothing. I pumped the gas pedal and tried several more times to start the engine . . . nothing.  Not even a peep from the mechanical beast from which I sat behind the steering wheel slightly panicked and watching the other vehicles and passengers drive past me and onto the loading dock—and onto the green and white vessel that crosses Puget Sound so regularly.

“Are you in trouble?” the WSF* system employee shouted, I nodded—“yes, I think I am,” I answered back.

“I’ll get someone to help you.” And, I climbed out of the Battle Cruiser wondering, what just happened?

Within minutes, another, employee named Sarah had wheeled over a portable battery charger to jump the truck.  She stopped—and pointed to the winch on the front bumper.  I turned my head and stared, “Oh, sh-t,” there was smoke coming from the winch. Whirling back towards the terminal—she said—“I’ll be right back—stand back.” I looked at the winch with disbelief, and within moments she was back with a large fire extinguisher ready to douse any flame should it appear and this situation become worse.   With the 11:55 am ferry loaded—I watched my ride sail away—wondering how long I would be sitting on the Kingston dock—somewhat helpless and wondering what was next?

Before I realized, there was more than five WSF employees who appeared from almost nowhere—pitching in to work on the truck. Now, I will tell you, that I feel I have many talents—but auto mechanic—is NOT one.  I was raised helping my Dad with horses, not automobiles and besides having the oil changed, stopping for gas or running the car through the car wash—my desire ended there.  So, the fact that this help had arrived with a positive attitude and generous giving spirit brought me tremendous gratitude to my uncertain circumstances. I explained, that I had just met the truck the previous afternoon . . . it was on loan from a friend.

And, so with an obvious quick assessment of a trauma medic, it was agreed that the winch wires needed to be cut; disconnect the source of the problem! In agreement and with a plan, we began, focused on the task at hand.  I choose to look under the front seat for something that might be able to help cut the wires to the bilious dying winch—and happily came up with a small pair of wire cutters.  Phoning Brad, I explained the dilemma and what had happened.   He offered to come save me—but I told him I thought I was in good hands; I would certainly let him know if I needed his help.

As I turned around to offer the red-handled tool to my new “pit crew” a man two rows over held a crescent wrench, another pair of cutters and gloves.  He began to disconnect the battery.  I turned back around and another lady asked for water.  I handed her mine—and she worked with precision filling the dehydrated battery cells.  I glanced over and noticed that another gentleman was leaning over the front fender and working in hyper speed skillfully cleaning contacts and then rerouting the wires that connected the solenoid, to the battery and to the ailing winch.  (Which apparently was the reason the truck wasn’t starting when jumped.)  This man, wearing a bright orange T-shirt with motorcycle designs, white hair and beard, and half smoked cigarette hanging from his mouth worked with such expertise we all sort of stepped back; everyone seemed to sense his mastery.  Before long, the “bull” arrived and another attempt at starting the disabled Battle Cruiser began.  We—the truck and I— had definitely developed a bond since I had first climbed aboard hours before.  This time when I turned the ignition—the resuscitation of the Battle Cruiser was successful and it issued it’s healthy roar.  I literally welled up as the “pit crew” and other waiting passengers in line clapped and cheered at our triumphal achievement.  I stepped out with a big smile and thanked everyone. The battery cable clips came off and the hood came down—just as the next ferry was pulling into the dock.  The lady in the car next to me handed me a wet wipe—she said, “they’re really for make-up but I think they will work great for the grease on your hands.”  I hadn’t even noticed.  Another woman came up to me—and said, “If they load and you aren’t signaled—please go ahead to me.” I thanked her too.   This was a reminder of humanity at its best.

I waved and honked in gratitude as “Sarah” waved me on . . . I was the first one on the ferry for that crossing and I felt very honored.

I reflected back on all the chaos in Washington D.C—the hatred and vitriol spewed by so many these days. There was certainly no fence sitting anymore; all was being revealed.  You could not be someone you weren’t.  I believe deeply we are all the same; okay—we may look a bit different—but we are all pieces of the divine.  I believed humanity was proving it’s chance for goodness and light; in fact we seemed to be at war with the darkness: greed and lack of integrity and hatefulness.

The event on the Kingston Dock certainly cemented my belief in humanity’s goodness—something I wished the evening news focused on more—not the inherent fear, fear and fear they sold to their vulnerable audiences daily. It is our power of intent—our desire of compassion—and our tolerances and acceptances of our differences which make us strong.  Our common goal must be one of LOVE—which if you haven’t heard, is the most powerful force in the Universe.  LOVE changes physical things and it will change our world too.  The time is now—and we are the Ones! The powerful  difference we each make based on our choices every day changes our world. And, that’s the world I choose to see and live in.

The rest of the trip was seamless and the trash burner is safely stored in Sequim—waiting for its return to service.  I on the other hand—look forward to the next adventure—whenever and however it presents itself. Namasté.

“Inspired Wellness from Within”

Cathrine Silver, HC, AADP

Cathrine Silver is a Board Certified holistic counselor with a practice in Lauderdale by the Sea, FL. She is the author of the book, Riding the Light Beam: How Any Woman Can Find the Hero Inside available at Amazon.com. She can be contacted via email at cathysilverhealth@gmail.com. For more information visit www.CathrineSilver.com.

As a post note:  I learned that the man in the orange T-shirt name was Richard.  He was a master mechanic and forensic scientist from the Tri-Cities who had been visiting his wife whose daughter was due to have surgery.  I had gone upstairs on the ferry to use the restroom and have a snack.  I purchased clam chowder and a water—and upon walking up to the cashier—made a last minute decision to add a beer.  LOL—it had been quite a morning.  I sat down—and Richard walked by.  I called his name, and asked him if he drank beer.  He replied—“On occasion.” 

“Can I buy you a beer”, I enquired? He nodded.  I got up and went back to the cashier and returned to the cafeteria where Richard sat.  “It’s the least I can do.”  “Thank you for everything” I said—“I have a feeling—I would still be sitting on the dock without you stopping by.”  He said, “I saw the hood of the truck raised.  I travel with my tools.” 

 I will always be grateful for all who gave me help that day.  On some level, we are always watched over—and he was one of my Earth Angels that day.  I was glad I could offer the simple gesture of thanks. 

*Washington State Ferry

Summer Adventures Past and Present

Sun Lakes, Washington, circa 1968, July 12th.  I am holding my birthday cake—and the picture is with my siblings. I was 11. My memory decades later is that the wind was so fierce I thought the candles would blow off the cake. Even today, as I look at the picture there are NO lit candles!  (smiling) The family vacation that year took us on to Yellowstone.  The National Park is such a unique place on earth and holds amazing memories for me; we stayed at the historical Old Faithful Inn and, of course, saw Old Faithful (Geyser) in action. In addition to the unpleasant sulfur smells coming from the hot spots which have made Yellowstone National Park so famous, we witnessed a woman positioning herself in a picture with a Mother bear and her two cubs.  Are you kidding? We saw moose strolling across the road and standing in the rivers, heard wolves or coyotes in the far distance and watched endearing critters in all forms; squirrels, crows, raccoons.

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Sun Lakes, Wa- Happy 11th Birthday!

There were other camping memories I hold including catching fish in the Big Wood River in Idaho, getting stopped in a road search for an escaped felon near Billings Montana, when we visited the Grand Tetons, and getting to stay at the “Let ‘er Buck Motel one night in Pendleton, Oregon when my Dad was just too tired to drive the five plus hours home, are my distant past adventures.   The world is full of wonderful things and it gives our lives an expanded meaning, discovery and wonder of who we are when we explore beyond our familiar “village”.

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Yellowstone National Park

Decades later, circa 1996, Nacogdoches, Texas, I would take to the highways once again with my boys on adventures of our own.  I still remember today that Stalactites hold tight on the ceiling and stalagmites might reach the ceiling, learned on a stop in Carlsbad Caverns while heading west.  The Grand Canyon and Pacific Coast Highway were other places of wonder. We would see Sea Lions, roast hotdogs on the beach, explore the waterfront of San Francisco, ride a cable car and enjoy a harbor tour around Alcatraz Island.  We visited Wyoming, staying in Jackson Hole, Telluride, Ouray, Durango, Silver City, in Colorado, and “happen” upon the small historic Tea Pot Dome Service Station in Zillah, Washington built in 1922. I had seen it growing up and it was such a delight surprise that I came upon it along Hwy 82 on one of those road-trip summers. Mark Twain once penned, and I would add with great wisdom, “Travel is fatal to narrow-mindedness, prejudice and bigotry.”

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Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, circa today. As the 2017 summer begins, another adventure awaits me, and looks completely different than the others.  This time, it is to retrieve my old 1970 MG.  It was my first car and one I bought in college—and has been sitting in Texas which had been my home for many years.  A friend of mine is picking me up at Sea-Tac and we are heading down I-5 into California and then ultimately east towards Texas.  Our plan is to see parts of Arizona and explore New Mexico—a place he has never been; and ironically one of my favorite states.  What lies beyond these words as my journey unfolds, as I step out of the airport, I cannot say.  However, I embrace the words of physician, philosopher and poet Debasish Mridha, “Life is a magical journey, so travel endlessly to unfold its profound and heart touching beauty.”  Inspirational writer Lailah Gifty Akita notes, “Adventure begins with a thought, decision and action.”

And now I ask, “What is your heart’s desire?”  Where does your wanderlust pull you?  Is there a place you have read about or have seen in pictures that you want to visit? If you don’t do it today, then when?

Enjoy your summer adventures—whether it is a trip to your local state park, searching for Lighthouses, an ocean picnic to a different coast or drive across the state, just because.  Pick something that sounds fun and make it so!

“The world is full of wonderful things you haven’t seen yet. Don’t ever give up on the chance of seeing them.” — J.K. Rowling

Embrace the Light, We Need Love Not Hate . . . In the Position of Presidency Now.

Sitting in traffic today, I reflected again on the current state of affairs taking place at every level of our society, which has been highlighted by the White House and influences surrounding Trump including “conservative” big money donor billionaires who stand against what the majority want for our future, and fearful small minded individuals who chortle ideas of isolation and protectionism from “liberal ideals” screaming exclusion to anyone or anything which seems to disagree with their ideology or is “different”.

This small-minded non-astute fear and hate comes in many forms, names and disguises*.  It is very unbecoming to humanity—especially in our land that espouses so many opportunities and was built on the philosophy; freedom for all.  Why have we slapped labels on everyone we encounter?  It really seems a revelation of our ability and depth for compassion action towards others—or lack thereof—our inclusion—or lack of—or our love or our hate and fears now un-hide-able and on display for all to see no matter if you are red or blue—pink, purple, green or orange.  The era of fence sitting is over.  We cannot pretend to be one way and really act another behind closed doors.  The truth is upon us.  For some it will hurt—for others they will be seen as the compassionate human beings they have always been.  But why have we labeled this as conservative and liberal?  Can’t we just call it, “accountable”?  Isn’t it really a war between light and dark? Between choosing love or fear?

I lived in Texas.  I lived in Iowa.  I grew up in Seattle.  And I have made south Florida my home for the last dozen years.  I have a college degree which exposed me to many individuals—all students together on the large campus in Washington and the small one in Nacogdoches, Texas.  My ex-husband spent eight years in the army as part of the medical corps—and the exposure was enlightening. Early in my marriage we drove through many countries in Western Europe. I have traveled to Hawaii, California, and many other states exploring, and traversing the United States with my kids and ex-Mother-in-law in tow.  I lived in England for a short stint—and I took in foreign exchange students from around the globe.  I am proud to say that in my experience, and underneath it all, most everyone just wants to be happy—they seek love.  They want to care for their children.  They want to provide for their families.  They talk of their childhoods. They talk of their parents; their courtships. They want nourishing healthy food to eat.  They love to laugh. They want to help the underprivileged. They want to be well, and have clean water to drink.  They want good education themselves and for society–their children.  Most everyone likes a good story and enjoys sharing theirs—to be heard.  Goodness rules most of the time and is normally quiet—fear and hate are loud, obnoxious and need to have the attention to control; force and broadcast as fear is their motto and mechanism.  This is old paradigm—old energy survival still clinging for “life.”   Haven’t we outgrown this old paradigm, Donald?  Or are you just the one elected to shake the fence of comfort?

We are all here as souls to make a contribution to the evolution of humanity.  Because, “they”, like “I” are all part of the divine creator. Whatever the face of God looks like to you, I ask, how can we spew such vitriol at each other when we all come from the same place?  Different names and different rituals, and different traditions, we are all part of the vast and unknowable living soul of the cosmos.  And, I wonder out loud, how anyone can be so arrogant as to feel they are better than and know more than others?  To push their beliefs as the law of the land which simply doesn’t fit into my box is wrong—so why do they insist I live in theirs? Who made that rule?  Can’t we figure out how to live in peace where the one with the most testosterone doesn’t have to dominate and control others? Where is the tolerance and empathy? Why do they hold us small? Don’t we need and want a country where we can all honor our differences and respect one another?

I am proud of the judge in Seattle.  I believe he ruled correctly. (And the court in San Francisco also.) And now Hawaii. This was a ban of prejudice and exclusion that could only be based on fear. Ironically, Trump seems to want to isolate us, like he has isolated himself in his ivory tower—exploiting many for his gain.  (I have no proof, but suits against him for not paying people for work they have done in good faith are well documented, and I am sure there are many unscrupulous actions and intentions that certainly have crossed the line of decency. Which is oddly deemed as “successful” and even admired in our culture.  What happen to words like, wisdom, courage, love, temperance, or integrity—or kindness, fairness, gratitude, humility, beauty of our earth or excellence?  And we all know, how you do anything, is how you do everything.)

Miami is a multi-cultural melting pot—and a microcosm of our country; there are many more “Miamis” outside Florida.  The faces and heritage have continued to change over the decades and will change into the future. We have all come from somewhere else, no matter who we are when you go back far enough.  Even bigger, we are all a melting pot. It is most obvious for anyone to see.  Perhaps a bigger question to ask, is their hatred of others, really a deep self-loathing mirror about how they feel about themselves?  Is it a revealing portrait of how this lack and never-ending abyss of not-enough is camouflage for self-abomination, and hatred of self, whose actions are bullying, lying, narcissism, control and the perpetuation of fear?  It shows in every other way as well:  Lack of respect for women and the choice for caring and making decisions for ourselves on what is right for us or the total disrespect for the LBGTQ community is disgraceful.  The budget presented recently is certainly another reflection of Trump and the White House’s lack of compassion and concern for others; Military guns, aircraft fighters and destruction, his choice over peace, negotiation and compromise?  Really, are you serious?  Has anyone told him and his merry band that the old prophecies have passed?  That is not the plan for Earth.  It is time to look forward to something new, positive and elevating; we passed that marker—that potential gone.  Why do you keep revisiting this doom and gloom?  Are you trying to be right?

If he wants his fantasy Kingship to be one of greatness, this “Wildcard” in the White House, needs to bring us to unity, love, tolerance, compassionate action and peace both here and around the world: we must set the example.  Otherwise he will go down in flames with the other arrogant leaders of history that thought they were unreviewable and untouchable.  The energy does not support his actions and time will simply reveal his true intention of light or dark.  . . .

Yet the real catalyst may be the stirring within each one of us.  Somehow, when we think its another’s problem, we don’t have compassion for another’s plight or struggle—until it hits close to home.  I watched and read a number of emotional pleas from red state Trump voters who came very close to losing their health care—and their meals. Even PBS’s Big Bird’s head is on the chopping block.  One woman from Indiana was upset when she learned her husband was being deported—he apparently had never completed paperwork—and is now sitting with ICE to be sent back to Mexico in spite of living here for decades.  She was astounded because in her mind—only “bad” people would be deported.  Hitting home stirred her beliefs and her viewpoint.  When we live in a box that does not include others who are different from ourselves, we never change our view of life.  Human nature always seems to point to someone else’s plight and fault—but that’s old too.

We must all take part and perhaps that is what we are being called to do . . . stirrings of a civilization growing up. In the end, Love “trumps” hate which ironically seems to be lost on our leadership today.  And when the leadership understands this, we will be better able to move forward in a more astute way; it is not us against them.  No one ever wins this way, with this mentality.  Our goals of the future, must be goals for humanity, where peace, benevolence, and compassion is given to all including our home, we call Planet Earth.  When we embrace this vision, red, blue, pink, purple, green or orange can come together in unity. Perhaps, we are the army that is being called forth? Can you visualize this unity, peace, love and compassion for all? I believe it is up to us, not just our leadership.  And, if those in Washington, D.C. choose not to carry this vision for us—we can do it for ourselves because it’s our world and there are millions of us to stand together in Love!  This is the power we hold. See and embrace the light!

“Governments cannot exist in an old paradigm when those they rule are in a new one.”

*The Immigration Ban

The Great Power of Change

Have you ever felt like you have just landed in a Twilight Zone episode? Or perhaps have just disembarked in a land you hardly recognize, although things feel slightly familiar? That Déjà vu feeling that bleeds thorough your reality to the NOW? It was only a distance of 100+ miles, but on the other side of Alligator Alley I felt I had just landed in the middle of a Hollywood movie set on a recent trip to Naples, Florida.

A friend had arranged a meeting with an engaging, winsome woman who I had met through her podcast radio show several years before, and I jumped at the opportunity to connect once again. She was also a spiritual seeker and I wanted to share my newly published book with her; she excited to meet us as well.

The three of us enjoyed the peaceful and delicious lunch at a charming downtown eatery in Historic Naples. Outside on the patio the conversation was deep, meaningful and relevant to our lives as we shared stories about the twists and turns life offers up. After several hours, we parted and taking advantage of our Saturday adventure decided to walk around enjoying the quaintness and cheerful surroundings. After all it was a “swell” day to walk the old part of town—window shopping and people watching before grabbing dinner and heading home.

Strolling down the sidewalk, snapping a few pictures and watching visitors like ourselves, I felt out of place. It was bigger than that however. I turned to my friend Lynn and commented, that I felt I was living in the middle of the Illusion—that all of this had been constructed for our learning and earth school—in fact each of us playing our parts—all with academy award performances, in fact, as specialists that we are. And beginning to answer the big cosmic question, who are we? Humans here in physical form to affect the WHOLE, extending far out into the Universes and Galaxies beyond our wildest imagination in the name of love. What boundaries do we hold? Or it is only our own limits and perceptions that restrict us?

My concepts of reality had been shifting for some time, but today it was kinesthetic and palatable Was there a rift in dimensions occurring and was that the sense I felt? After all, this affluent, conservative Christian appearing group was so outside the world I recognized by its diversity, color and bi-lingual culture of Broward and Miami-Dade counties. Is this where our realities formed within the bubble we lived? Was this the place where inclusion and exclusion collided? Or where hate and love became judgment and bargaining chips of delusion and fears?

The 1998 movie Pleasantville serves as a great example. Suddenly, Toby McGuire and Reese Witherspoon are cast into a Black and White television series in the fictitious town of Pleasantville. The characters in Pleasantville cannot see color—they don’t know books, or apples or sex or rain. Life is a façade in this place far from reality, as we can imagine. Their world is limited to what they know, which is safe. “What lies outside Pleasantville?”, they ask. The question is a profound one. Is it one that we must ask ourselves as well? And, how many of us still live in the 1950’s world of colorless black and white? Where is our Universe, and does it need to be messed with? What begins to happen when we truly begin to connect with others—all others? Is it only then, that we too can step out of our bubble of illusion and live in the multidimensional world of color which can be a metaphor for Love, Peace, Compassion and our hearts. For as Ervin Laszlo states so eloquently “I am part of the world. The world is not outside of me, and I am not outside of the world. The world is in me, and I am in the world.” Gee whiz, the great power of change.

Bookmark

Bookmarks for me, mark more than just a placeholder for a page in a book—I guess they are more like a tiny time capsule, which seem to mark an event, adventure or period in my life.  Just recently, I had a friend make a remark about my bookmarks, “I am always fascinated what I will find in your books,” he remarked.  Actually, I had never given it much thought until his comment.  Yes, I had used something handy in the moment and then later found old airline ticket jackets, receipts from restaurants, post-it-notes with cryptic messages, raffle tickets, old napkins with handwritten notes and envelopes or simply little scraps and bits of paper that were repurposed into commission to hold a place of importance in the book I was reading at the time. But, it seemed to be “My normal” and usually I took no notice. How odd an observation, I noted to myself, with a sheepish shrug and smile.

Yesterday, however, I pulled down a newer version of The Joy of Cooking, that has found a home atop my refrigerator. (I say newer because the first copy I received was decades ago—upon graduation from high school—from friends of my Mother, as a gift.)  This newer reprint was purchased as my “Florida” version in 2001.  I liked it because of its tables of equivalents and conversions and I used it as an encyclopedia of sorts in the world of baking chemistry, recipes, and basic homemade standbys such as buttermilk biscuits which I could find at a glance; the old 1948 edition of the World Book Encyclopedia collection served the same function growing up regarding inventions and world facts.

But, yesterday, after a lengthy disappearance, I found in one of its pages, a reappearance of a Sainsbury’s label for cranberries. Sainsbury’s was a grocery store I frequented when I lived in England for about six months.  The Cranberries weight measured in grams and the “display” date and the “Best” before date labeled 27 NOV and 28 NOV respectively.

During my stay, the Thanksgiving holiday appeared on my calendar and I insisted on a small Thanksgiving dinner.   Before my trip, I never realized the imbedded importance of what this holiday meant for me.  In my core, it screamed American and for all our criticisms around the world, I realized in 2006 that in spite of living in another English-speaking country which very much represented our history and roots—there were some extremely notable and discernible differences in the way in which our entrenched thoughts and beliefs impacted our present day workings.

Yes, I navigated the right-hand drive—with extreme concentration; it was so easy to slip back into the autopilot of the more familiar American—left-hand drive.  Yes, there were a few words that were particularly “English” and that just made it more fun.  And, yes, there was the occasional derogatory comment about ‘the Americans’, but I was unfazed.

The single most important difference I noticed, was the mentality—that good old American—nothing can stop me now attitude, that I believe separates us and the freedom others seek when they arrive on our shores.  This is the same fortitude that has spurred protests, freedom of expression and the drive for something better—always better.  We may have our share of rotten apples—for no society is ever perfect, but we will sort and sift and find a better way to give everyone a chance to live in harmony with ourselves and our neighbors.

Surprised, that, it is this “time capsule,” a bookmark, the Sainsbury’s Cranberry label and buttermilk biscuits, that reminds me today, that I am proud to be an American.  I know we will get through all this chaos.  It will be sorted out and we will be stronger and more united for it in the end.  Because, that’s who we are!

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