Thankful Journal Entry of a Florida Evacuee

September 2017

Hurricane Watch and Warning

I’m a native Floridian. It’s never occurred to me to evacuate from Florida for a hurricane. Being a Palm Beach County resident for most of my life it seemed that any time we had storm heading our way, it would inevitably turn away from us just in time. A direct hit from a tropical monster was always someone else’s problem. That was until early last week when Hurricane Irma became a category 5 at 185 mph out in the Atlantic Ocean southeast of us.

Suddenly it seems that living with 90-year-old grandparents and having three children under the age of 10 can change one’s perspective when it comes to the idea of evacuating due to a dangerous storm heading in your direction. From early last week my head began to buzz with the possibilities of major structural damage to an unknown amount of time spent in the sub-tropical heat and humidity without electricity—south Florida is uninhabitable in the summer months without air-conditioning in most homes today. That coupled with the mass hysteria that ensued locally with water and gasoline shortages helped me make a joint decision with my husband to leave Florida destined for the Chattanooga area of Tennessee.

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Pack? Bags Thrown Together

 The full moon had just come into view on Wednesday, September 6th and most of the gas stations along our major road had bags on the nozzles or a limitation on how many gallons you could pump. I went out to Costco to gather some more water for family and realized as I was driving around that my heart was not into “hunkering down” for the storm.

Our weather had been stifling on a daily basis and the idea of going without electricity for even only a couple of days was not appealing. Hurricane Matthew just over a year ago had skirted our area and yet I can still remember the way the older windows shook in the house.

I called my husband and asked him to pack a bag for our three children and myself. Funny enough, important papers were an afterthought as I had them in a small fireproof safe. What became paramount was getting out of the area as soon as possible. Upon returning home that evening I threw together a toiletries bag and a box full of school books and my address book.

My only regret is I wish I had left immediately as I had made the choice to do so that very evening.

Longest Peninsula Drive EVER

 My recollection is obviously a repeat of the countless media reports during late last week. As I heard and later read, ours was a Florida evacuation to go down in the record books for the largest amount of people leaving the state because of Hurricane Irma’s determined approach.

After reaching Orlando in 6 hours (normally a trip that took just under 2 hours from my area) I knew that we were in for a horrendous time to get out of the state. I glanced at my phone for a moment to see a friend texting me that we were welcome to evacuate at her sister’s house in Brooksville, Florida “if the drive gets to be too much”. Understatement, “too much”. Still, thanks to #Florida Governor Rick Scott for waiving Florida Turnpike fees and #Florida Highway Patrol for helping us along the way.

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Emotions? Tons of them. Most of Facebook, Instagram and other social media platforms reverberated with similar thought streams. Some were paralyzed to leave, others grabbed flights out ASAP, still others like myself risked being stranded on the roads rather than wait in the forecasted path of a storm—Floridians and adopted Floridians alike had the same fears and were all reacting in our respective ways. Family and friends we may have not heard from in years were reaching out to ask what our plan of action was. Pretend Hurricane Irma is not happening? American or European model? Which doomsday track was worse for our area? In the end, the storm’s sheer physical size demanded our attention.

The scene along the Florida turnpike was surreal at times. Folks randomly pulled off the side of the highway to relieve themselves or their pets. Some people camped out in the back of their vehicle with their cigarettes after a particularly bad congestion area. I saw vans loaded with gas cans on top. We saw lines for a couple of miles leading up to rest areas. My eyes burned with tears as I looked at the forests we passed by, imagining downed trees or worse, flattened areas should the hurricane hit at a full category 5 strength. Sometimes the slower we went on the highway, the more restless I was to get out of the state.

The children and I had left home around 7am and it was now just after 7pm and I realized that a diet of pretzels and applesauce was not going to end well so I better just stop at Lake City, Florida as much as I wanted to exit Florida first. At the very least I was now north of my Alma Mater’s town of Gainesville.

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#Chick-fil-A, Lake City, Florida

 As I pulled off of Interstate 75, probably going faster in the exit ramp than I had for the past 90 minutes in our 25+ mph crawl, I noticed Chick-fil-A on the right hand side of the road. It was slammed.

Somehow, there was an open parking spot right in front of the entrance that was NOT reserved for the handicapped. As any anxious parent traveling alone knows, this was a golden moment not to be taken for granted.

As I unloaded the kids, my two oldest went in together immediately to go to the bathroom. It suddenly occurred to me what rock stars these sons had been to not have asked to use the restroom until literally the last hour of our 12-hour trip thus far. My youngest had a diaper to assist but this would create a rash of a problem for the next couple of days—literally.

The scene inside of the Chick-fil-A was hectic at best and claustrophobic at worst. Yet I was pleasantly struck with one consistent characteristic of this particular restaurant with its iconic red emblem and fried chicken aroma. Their staff was incredibly attentive, concise and a few were moving quickly in and out of the dining area serving its customers food/drinks and attending to any requests.

My body was stiff and still shaking from the drive. Hunger was an after-effect that was swiftly depleting my body and fueling a very painful migraine. The Chick-fil-A staff here in Lake City impressed me so much in that moment of recognition that I had to call one of the young ladies by her nametag and asked to give her a hug to thank her for taking care of all of us.

I met other parents near the play area who like me let our kids in there and didn’t care that they were moving about like pinballs in all sorts of directions—we all had similar stories of leaving Florida to get out of the way of a possibility that was not worth us staying for to see its conclusion. For us that had the means to leave we knew it was a blessing to do so and our prayers were with others who were staying either by choice or by inability.

Thank you #Chick-fil-A in Lake City, Florida. You made our evacuation easier with your kindness and sustaining food!

#Go Fish Education Center, Perry, Georgia

 My stopover late Thursday night/early Friday morning was Warner Robbins, Georgia. As I cruised into town after a 30mph stint on the interstate, I made the choice that I would drive by night the next leg up to Chattanooga-Signal Mountain, Tennessee where my final destination awaited. I fueled up before I stopped at our family friend’s home and shivered in the 30-degree drop along with several other Floridians who like me were at the very least relieved to be finally north of the border.

Friday, September 8th. I was so grateful for the way the children had traveled the day before that it was important to me to take them out for a treat and to help tire them to sleep well during my night drive. Go Fish Education Center had been a memorable hit a couple years ago so we decided to try it out again.

Upon entering the parking lot at Go Fish I ran into a family from Tampa who was also evacuating and was taking a break from the highway. They reported that the place was fun for their three kids; we swapped stories and wished each other well on our respective evacuation routes.

Once we got inside to the reception area the lady at the desk asked if we were evacuees and once we confirmed were told that the entry fee was waived. I was at a loss for words but most grateful. We spent the next couple of hours meeting other small families traveling with young children and had fun catching fish both virtual and real outside in their catch and release pond.

While there we also got to witness the staff at Go Fish rehearsing a practice electricity loss in preparation for the possible effects from Hurricane Irma. A sobering reminder of one of the many reasons most of us present were leaving our homes in Florida.

#Go Fish Education Center in Perry, Georgia, thanks for helping so many of us Florida parents and guardians of children take a break from a tiresome evacuation by road. Your gracious act of waiving the entry fee meant so much to us.

Run for the Hills, Run for the Mountains

 It was about 2am Saturday, September 9th when I left Atlanta area proper, I had already been on the road for a couple hours averaging 20-40 mph and was so happy to be hitting 65-70 mph now nonstop. Very thankful to #GDOT for waiving the fees to the PeachPass express lanes so that Floridians could get through the area quicker.

I felt my Ford Expedition’s engine rev as I began to climb what seemed to be small hills and now were turning into small mountains. As I entered the Chattanooga area, my heart finally relaxed knowing that I was close to my goal of reaching family on Signal Mountain safely. It was just after 4 am as I drove up the mountain itself, parked our vehicle and took my sleeping children into a cozy and welcoming home. The evacuated grandparents were also securely asleep in the same house. I laid down to rest and felt that we were safely “home” again.

*It goes without saying how grateful I am to our family who sheltered us and others during this storm.

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#Creative Discovery Museum, Chattanooga, Tennessee

After a couple of days recuperating from the drive and enjoying some beautiful mountain trails, I ventured down with a good friend and her son with my children to Chattanooga. The Creative Discovery Museum has always been a hit with my children in past trips and since the rain was moving from the effects of Hurricane Irma, we figured this was a great way to spend the day.

Of course everyone in the area had a similar idea as we walked into a bustling museum full of adults gathered in groups along walls and benches while children of all ages darted in and out of the various areas. To describe the interior experience as a “swarm” would be too gentle of a word.

However, the tone was immediately set when we approached the registration desk and we were asked if we were evacuating from Hurricane Irma. After confirming this the lady checking us in let us know they were giving all evacuees a 50% off the admission rate for the day. As a mother of three children, any and every discount helps–including during a stressful, unplanned and unbudgeted trip!

Thank you #Creative Discovery Museum of Chattanooga, Tennessee for not only welcoming an enormous amount of people on a rainy Monday but also giving all Hurricane Irma evacuees a discount to give our children an educational and interactive experience after exhausting travel.

#Tennessee Aquarium One Broad Street

It’s been nearly a week since I evacuated with my children and slowly evacuees were starting to leave the area, including our fellow houseguests. Social media and texts were flooding in telling me about how difficult the roads were, gas shortages and overall troubles getting back into much of south Florida.

I decided that it was time to take a field trip for a day again and made the Tennessee Aquarium our destination—it’s iconic geometrical shape can easily be seen by the highway. Although we were tired from the trip, the kids were happy to take advantage of the open spaces and long ramps to take in some beautiful sights of salt and fresh water wildlife contained and in some cases protected within their walls.

Upon registering I was asked if we were in from Hurricane Irma. Again I confirmed this and was told discreetly that they were offering us all a 50% discount. They didn’t want it widely advertised but I must apologize for going ahead and sharing that they did this for us and other families that day. Once again, I cannot stress enough how appreciative we are for such kindnesses especially when on the road with children and during inclement weather conditions. Floridians are NOT used to 50 degree and rainy weather in early September, period.

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#Tennessee Aquarium Chattanooga, thanks for your hospitality, a taste of home in some of your exhibits and overall a fun experience and escape along with some extra cash so we could get some treats in your gift shop!

Epilogue: Power and Gas Dependents Are We?

 As I gather our belongings and prepare for the journey back to Florida, I’ve been reflecting on how dependent we all are on electricity and commodities such as gasoline fuel for our vehicles.

Although we joke that people apparently get really thirsty before a hurricane’s approach and start depleting local stores of water bottles, it is a true concern to lose electric power, cable, internet and phone services. That rectangular disk in your hand that you may be reading my writing with is something that you don’t like to lose use of in the end. Many would rather go without air conditioning than lose usage of their smart phones.

I will admit that this evacuation trip was a pleasant surprise in the amount of personal attention by people that renders any smartphone app irrelevant. It turns out we haven’t evolved to a place where human interaction is meaningless even if we seem to be impersonal at times with these devices constantly in our hands.

This experience for millions of Floridians may have reminded us that more than any federal funding or even a Red Cross campaign—it is the person-to-person relations that have helped us prepare and now recover in the wake of a natural disaster together.

Thank you all who have helped victims of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma this year. We pray and hope to be spared any other storms in this 2017 season.

RVSB+

 

 

 

 

Why Wonder Woman Works

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Why Wonder Woman Works: An Orthodox Christian Perspective Short

***Spoiler Alert: If you haven’t watched this film out in the theatres yet, I would caution you to bookmark this page and come back after you’ve had the opportunity to watch it.***

Self-Professed Skeptic 

I will readily admit that when I first heard about this film coming out that I initially balked at the idea of watching it.   Personally I’m not into DC or Marvel Comics in general when they’ve been put on the big screen. The idea of taking a fantasy story from 2-D paper and throwing it into a non-stop series of amped-up translations in the movie theatres for the masses to consume in order to escape the perceived monotony of their daily existence is not appealing.

Although I love the idea of strong women being portrayed in a physical manner, I prefer something that is more tangible than merely through digital special effects.

Introduction of the Audience

What finally intrigued me enough to watch this film was a result of reading a commentary article shortly after the film’s premiere by Meredith Woerner of the Los Angeles Times entitled “Why I Cried Through the Fight Scenes in ‘Wonder Woman’.” Woerner brought up the fact that there have been countless super hero films starring men and that “Wonder Woman” has captured that female power that has been missing to complement all the Batmans, Ironmans and Supermans of the past several decades. Her comments also caught my attention because personally the idea of a power chick kicking butt in a battle scene didn’t conjure visions of me weeping. Perhaps this film was worth a try after all.

I recommend reading Ms. Woerner’s piece if you haven’t already: http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/herocomplex/la-et-hc-wonder-woman-crying-20170605-htmlstory.html

Quick Background on Your Blogging Author

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I am a first-generation Greek-American woman that has experienced first-hand many times over what it is to be a strong woman that has run into certain “complications”. My mother herself became a mother as a young teenager with me as her first-born. I witnessed many years of abuse inflicted on her and my mother’s eventual escape from a destructive marriage to the transforming and victorious journey of raising her three children alone as a single mother.

For myself as a busy student-athlete and teenager, it was a routine interaction for me with guys when I let them know that I couldn’t give them what they wanted—whether it was holding hands or having a date solo with me (aka no chaperones present or nearby). In fact, by the time I married my husband in the year 2000, I was still a virgin—at least until we completed our vows at the wedding ceremony, all bets were off afterwards of course!

Wonder Woman: The Setting

 This movie opens right away showing the amazing strength and flexibility of women on the mythical and hidden island of the Amazonians. If I had a favorite scene in this film it would definitely be the one that shows all the different women in their training with the young Wonder Woman (Diana) watching and mimicking in the background with fervor. I emphasize here that it was also liberating to see all sorts of body types and every woman in her own right truly beautiful in appearance and countenance.

The queen of the Amazonians is the mother of Diana and has taken care to protect her daughter from the reality of her destiny (again, spoiler alert): She was in fact a daughter of the Greek god Zeus and was created to have the ability to destroy the “fallen” god Ares (God of War). She was actually the “god-killer”, not the sword, nor the shield and such that were hidden in a tower on the paradise-like island. The details of this prophecy will all fall into place as the film’s story unfolds.

Female Power: A Possible Women’s Manifesto Reflected in “Wonder Woman” Opening Romantic Scenes

 It turns out that little Diana was instilled with a strong belief system by her mother that involved her being part of being against Ares: god of war.  The fighting spirit was inherent in her and although her mother wanted to protect her from this she eventually admitted that it was appropriate for Diana to learn how to defend herself.

Also, she was raised with a fully classical education that included books that detailed the various positions for sexual pleasure that finally concluded that although men were required for procreation, they were not needed for ultimate satisfaction.

In the film, the above information that Diana shares with the Chris Pine character known as Steve Trevor flabbergasts him. He is visually disturbed at this notion and refuses to believe it, in turn Diana literally turns away from him in their sleeping nook on the boat and does not follow the stereotypical habit of a woman deferring to the man’s opinion because he can’t change his mind on a matter. (Note: What I would refer to as the poor peacemaker complex that many women can possess.)

Further, what would have typically been a romantic scene ending with the cliché sexual intercourse finale with the hero and heroine lying beside each other on the boat ride out of the vicinity of Diana’s mythical world turned out to be a muted and sobering anticlimax. Not lost, however, was the comedic innocence of Diana asking Steve why they couldn’t sleep side by side for the moment without being married—again, turning upside-down the notion that when a man and a woman sleep in the same space they must end up having sex together.

***NOTE: I must be quick to add that although I’ve noted the sexual life of women in regards to Wonder Woman and my own personal experience, it was NOT meant to say that being one way or another in relationships takes away from women’s strength. If anything, my focus would be to say that a woman’s strength remains in her ability to control how and with whom she shares her intimacies with (as goes with men). Again, reflecting at history with rape/war and even today with the atrocities of female genital mutilation, there remains work to be done.***

 Balance Appears: Why Women and Men Do Need Each Other

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 I firmly believe that this film had the potential to turn off many people had it been too pro-woman. Inherently we all crave balance and as liberating as it is to focus on women’s respective abilities to kick butt in life, there is a peaceful rhythm when we find the feminine and masculine in harmony with the challenges we can face in our society.

This subtle but poignant undercurrent in “Wonder Woman” also made it palatable for my taste. It is pro-woman but not exclusively pro-feminine excluding the role of the masculine. In fact, I would argue that Chris Pine’s character Steve actually assists in Diana’s progressive strengthening as the Wonder Woman who takes on No Man’s Land unapologetically and with full disregard as to whether or not the men intend to support her.

Diana is driven by passion for what is good and this includes the ancient desire and urge in all of us to see any good conquer evil in the end. But by the end of this film we become very aware that Diana has matured in her overall intentions and truly what fuels her strength to fight evil is her ability to exhibit unconditional love.

Understandably the Steve Trevor character has his own drive as an undercover spy for the Allies that are fighting the Enemies in the WWI setting. In his case he is driven to fight for the greater good even if that means sacrificing himself in the process. When he watches the Amazonian women fighting and essentially defeating the invading forces on their island he immediately gains respect for them if not a bit frightened by the fact that he is far inferior to their abilities and tools.

Steve Trevor doesn’t put Diana down for her beliefs and although he challenges her by telling her about the “social norms” of the time including the fact that women are not seen in a war room discussion or cannot carry weapons, he ends up allowing her to be herself and has respect for her.

Diversity and Breaking Down of Historic Ignorance

 If I took a moment to reflect on our current society today I would have to say that the first problem I’m aware of immediately is the lack of understanding by everyone about how really diverse we really are as people here on Earth.

Namely, to attach mere colors of “black” or “white” is awful and downright backwards.   At the same time, our collective ability to avoid the gritty reality that the idea and the occurrence of slavery has been a terrible disease running through humans throughout history since the beginning of our time here and through to right now in 2017 (think underage sex trade, extremist cultures, cheap produce farm-picking or any combination) is akin to the apathy of many Americans when it comes to participating in politics and the way our government is run.

For myself the endearing and softening quality in this Wonder Woman film was the motley crew of characters that end up joining Wonder Woman and Steve Trevor to find Ares include a native American descendant (who evidently does random business transactions like shuttling people across dangerous battle lines) and a Turkish man with many amorous talents and wanderlust.

The End…and yet what’s always been and will be…in the end Love will conquer all

 This blog has given away enough of this film so I will leave my conclusion simple by declaring my approval of the standard story-closing that the “underdog” good wins out over the evil standard-bearer.

Wonder Woman is moved by at least three distinctive moments that reflect awesome sacrifice, unconditional love and a compelling sense of mercy.

One is watching the aforementioned motley crew coming together in an almost prayerful moment, as it seems imminent destruction is upon them.

The other of course is watching Steve Trevor take up the plane with the deadly gas up into the atmosphere so that the hydrogen component blows it up but away from any innocent collateral damage—sacrificing himself in the process. Intertwined in this is the personal realization that Diana has that Steve had told her when her ears were ringing that he would be happy to have her “save the world” but it was his time to “save the day” with this action. Funny enough, the pain of the realization doesn’t “break” her as would be the stereotypical thought process. Instead it fuels her, ignites her godliness to become stronger than before.

The third moment, albeit muted and a bit lame, was when Diana looked upon the Dr. Poison character as she thought Wonder Woman was about to destroy her. She had mercy on her, plain and simple. This didn’t disturb me in the least because again it reflected the power of unconditional Love and how although many could argue that Dr. Poison didn’t deserve this mercy or grace–it has often been the type of moment that truly transforms someone. Love really can change the Universe.

Applause

This film is worth it. Understandably if schedule and price are not compatible at this time, I’m happy to endorse watching this even on your tablet streaming or a red box DVD rental later.

Kudos to all involved in the script writing, directing, acting, supporting and et cetera with this Wonder Woman film, may it be an example for a future movies in this genre.

In the end, these are the type of films that our society may need more of these days with all the political, religious and racial unrest within countless people around the world –especially those connected via the internet world.

A hopeful and resolute story line that we do have the ability to break out of these contrived barriers against triumph of good over evil that we’ve enslaved ourselves with for centuries.

R.V.S.B.

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P.S. Afterthought for anyone who utilizes the Christian Bible scriptures in their life philosophies:
Taking a walk down Christian scriptures for a moment, I believe the most misquoted verse is in the New Testament of the Bible, Ephesians 5:22, where it reads “Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord…” As it goes on for a couple verses, we’ve also endured two millennia where that has given Christian men (and otherwise) license to step on and put down women of faith. What is often overlooked or forgotten is that it goes further in Ephesians to say “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her…husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies.”
In essence, there is no way that a man can harm a woman if he truly loves her as he loves his own body. How changed would our world today be if this was an attitude put into place immediately? +

Goodbye and Good Riddance Bill O’Reilly, Hello and About Time Tucker Carlson

Note: Haven’t posted anything new to my blog in recent months because like most generation X folks I’ve been too busy living life to take pause and reflect or react in this cyberspace format…until news yesterday hit that Bill O’Reilly lost his job at FOX News.

Breaking News

It was via text that I heard from my husband that “Bill O’Reilly out. Tucker to take his time slot.”  My first reaction was indifference and then I just sat back while waiting at a red light in traffic thinking about how long I’d been watching the O’Reilly Factor.

I got married in 2000 and had just left my Palm Beach County for a new life season in Chicagoland only to watch footage of my hometown plastered all over cable news because of the Presidential election results that were contested between George W. Bush and Al Gore, et cetera.  It would be the following year that the unthinkable would occur with the attacks of 9/11.  O’Reilly was not the end all for me but became staple of sorts in my political news diet through the years, especially as I came to work in the federal government for a number of years.

The Old and the Really New are Moot

I’ve always respected the older generations.  Perhaps it was my upbringing or how I was taught to do so by my teachers during my academic career.

Here’s what strikes me about this O’Reilly phase coming to a halt: the Baby Boomer generation is starting to hit a few walls and I’m afraid there’s not going to be a lot of pity generated by the generation X folks.  It turns out that most folks in their 30s and 40s have been working non-stop since the Enron company scandal and the 90s Dot.com tech bubble burst, followed by 9/11 and then the recession and housing bubble burst to boot.  By the way, this means working jobs that weren’t necessarily part of our plan–for example, after 9/11 there were hiring freeze policies set in place in many companies for a while.

Now we have the millennial generation and surrounding youth who are beginning to get their feet wet in the working world and can risk feeling slighted or entitled in their attitude which tests the patience of generation X people who have already had to serve the complaints and demands of many in the Baby Boom population above them that hardly noticed or valued Xers. Let me pause here to emphasize that these stereotypes that I’m describing do not reflect everyone in these age groups but there is tension that is real between many because of these overall inclinations.

It became apparent and accepted that in the cable news world, most of the respected or “powerful” opinion megaphones were older than the generation X group.

Until now.  Tucker Carlson offers a no-nonsense and practical approach to interviewing guests while also retaining the dry humor that is reflective of a generation that has become skeptical of the political and journalism culture in this country–not to mention other big issues in our nation like the job culture and our economy.

Stay True Tucker: Bow Tie Optional

Personally I have enjoyed watching other cable news channel talking head personalities over the years even if I don’t agree with their views–if at least they give different opinions a chance to be aired and have respect for those they interview.

I’m grateful that Tucker already has demonstrated on FOX’s Tucker Carlson Tonight that he can bring on all sorts of people with different viewpoints (not just conservative) and also engage with them in a lively but disciplined exchange.

My hope is that he can retain his unique style of interviewing and moderate his personal reactions on political matters.  The growth of bipartisan cooperation in this nation will be able to grow if we can generate more open conversations on all the hot topics that fuel social discourse on social media platforms and elsewhere.

R.V.S.B.

#TuckerCarlson

 

 

United We Are Exhausted

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November 11, 2016

Equality for All

Everyone in our nation can agree on at least one thing as today closes this week of the 2016 Presidential election cycle, we are united in exhaustion.

Bill of Rights

 It seems that just because most of us have access to the internet doesn’t mean it’s the greatest idea for some of us to utilize to share our grievances, our joys or our opinions of any sort in relation to the POTUS election results (which I’m doing right now—if I offend you, please do stop reading).

Free speech is wonderful in its concept and I wouldn’t want us to ever try to regulate that—we’ve done enough damage with regulations over other private parts of our citizens’ lives like their land and such. This past week is an uncomfortable reminder, though, that sometimes we should just keep our mouths shut. Better yet, keep those tapping/swiping fingers off the touchscreens.

Disclaimer: I may have “replied” earlier this week and hurt some feelings, if you recognize me as doing such I would like it on the record that I’m sorry it occurred, ask forgiveness and will try to more restrained in the future. +

Civil War of the Social Media, Tweeting and Blogosphere

 We are all human. We are Americans or at least aspiring to be as immigration policy in this country is still very difficult to maneuver. The history books will have to have a whole unit devoted to the evolution of the information age especially as it relates to volatile debates between political opponents, their staff surrogates and your fellow citizens.

I’m probably not alone in the sentiment that my blood pressure spiked more than once when I heard/watched our read about Presidential candidates “tweeting” remarks in response to either each other’s actions, words or alleged thereof. Are we kidding ourselves? It was remarkably uncivil and unkind. This eroded all of our emotional consciousness somehow. Unfortunately, it also added up and contributed to the overall anxiety pre-election day.

The Crash of a Façade: O Say Does That Star-Spangled Banner Yet Wave?

 So the supposed impossible happened according to the word of the U.S. mass media outlets, so what? There were people who never thought it was possible after the attacks on September 11, 2001 that we could so soon conceive of electing a person with the full name Barack Hussein Obama II could be our president. This was a man who literally had no executive experience and he went on to be our rightly deserved first bi-racial President of the United States and gave hope for generations to come that anything is possible and “yes we can”.

Are we so shallow now to limit our American dreams that a businessman/heir, TV celebrity, politically bipartisan campaign contributor in the person of president-elect Donald J. Trump cannot now succeed as our 45th president? Are we that depressed and full of negative energy of a nation? Perhaps I don’t want a detailed answer to that: truly we have many of our folks suffering from opiate drug addictions, victims of abuse or human-trafficking and countless other miseries.

Or maybe I’m a silly athlete that has won and lost many a track and road race—I learned at an early age that you can work so hard and still lose really bad. And then, you know what? You first congratulate your competitor, then wallow privately for a moment, reassess and then go at it again in the next race. If there isn’t another race then there’s always another sport.

OFF: PRESS OR SWIPE OFF!

 “Change your thoughts and you change the world.” –Norman Vincent Peale

In the end, we can turn our devices off. We can turn to our loved ones and hug them. We can take a walk and wave to a neighbor. Or turn the device back on and call a friend or arrange to meet up with them in person.

Was blessed with being able to meet up with an old friend a couple of nights after the election this week. We are entirely opposite in our political views and how we felt about this POTUS result—yet how comforting to be able to share a meal together and still talk shop about how our nation can work on better discourse, less finger-pointing and name-calling, more acknowledgement that we really are a nation that is stronger when spending more energy on focusing what we can be working on together.

Personal Responsibility to Politics: A Lost Treasure

 Let’s not be collective victims of apathy again because we’re consumed in our lives and don’t even think about attending a city or town council. What if every American went to just one county school board meeting or county/city/town/village council meeting in a year? Perhaps I’m being overly optimistic but my theory is that even that minimum of participation by merely witnessing that in person would help our collective consciousness about our governments.

Again, let’s work toward making “them” affected by “us” instead of always griping the other way around when it comes to our American system of governing. We want this nation to succeed. We are the people.

R.V.S.Bean

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United We Vote and Slump: Clinton or Trump

United We Vote and Slump: Clinton or Trump

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November 1, 2016

We are a week away from the closing of this 2016 Presidential election cycle in America. If there is one thing that we can all agree on despite of our political party inclinations, age, perception of race, gender and sexual orientation—it’s that we are exhausted.

The Race

There are other contenders for the presidency but that’s not really a serious thought. Our choices are simple and ardently depressing as they can’t seem to cancel each other out effectively to help us avoid the inevitable. Either former First Lady and Secretary of State Hillary R. Clinton or Mr. Donald J. Trump must win this election.

My Myopic View

Personally I lead a very busy life that includes perhaps 5 hours to myself per week to ingest information through the reading of newspapers, magazines or just listening to other folks who get to make a living off of speaking their mind with make-up, sharp clothing and bright cable news cameras rolling.

What I see are two major party candidates that have started to sound very much alike and both have such a speckled past that if we wrote a sitcom on them there would be more seasons of material than Cheers, Friends and Seinfeld combined.

It’s belittling at this point to read columnists or listens to news pundits that claim that we the American people are at such odds with ourselves that we’re “hating” on our neighbors and strangers like. Of course I acknowledge that there will always be a subset of people who are unfortunately close-minded and try to strike out at others who won’t think the way they do.

Despite the incessant news cycle, the drunken-like tweet feeds and the stats-on-crack polls I believe that our nation is much more united in philosophy than we’ve been allowed to recognize.

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Embedded Florida Early-Voting  

As an unapologetic native Floridian I’ve enjoyed deep belly laughs listening to reporters over the years try to figure our state out especially during election season. We started voting last Monday and when I found out from a Facebook colleague I headed over to our local library that very afternoon.

Parents or guardians of young children can feel like an embedded journalist does when present in an active military theatre. I wanted to cut and run countless times, especially when my own 1-year-old started to fling her body onto the cement sidewalk and proceeded to roll for the curb. Visions of the hooded electoral college flooded my mind with doubts as to whether my vote mattered at all in the end.

Making it into the voting room itself finally felt like the sweet victory of your high school homecoming game until one of the volunteers looked at my driver’s liscense and then back at me as if I was an underaged kid trying to buy wine coolers—it struck me later that I judged the poor lady too harshly, I actually looked pretty war-torn and not a bit like the polished, pre-mother of three chick on that ID photo she was trying to compare with the stressed out bag and baby carrier mama in front of her.

The hour spent waiting for the chance to connect an incomplete arrow pointing to my respective voting choices gave me some time to work the public relations front with my fellow dutiful citizens around me. As I made the rounds of apologies, utterances of thanks and friendly exchanges with some of the sympathetic parents/grandparents around us I was able to get an idea of why there were so many people there on the very first day of early voting.

“I just want to be done with it.” “I don’t want to deal with this on THE day.” “ I want to get it out-of-the-way.” “I’m over this election already, just putting in my two cents and finish.” “It’s just the right thing to do.” And my personal favorite, “Stay in line that way you don’t have to try to do this another day.” (directed at me by the sweet soul waiting behind me and letting me know with another lady that my child lost her pacifier in a thicket of bushes next to us)

Character? Please. Next Issue.

Another united moment for us has to be this “character” analysis of Clinton and Trump respectively. Since this is my blog short I reserve the right to pose the idea that perhaps both of them have flaws and less than savory precedents for what Americans seem to have the appetite for in a president. We unanimously seem to dislike these choices before us and yet we’re still voting like it’s the rent or mortgage payment that we must abide by.

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Future: Our Children and Grandchildren Have Gotten a Whiff

We’re united in understanding that our social structure as a whole has changed in the light of the rapid/non-stop information digital age. The younger generations among us are united in not understanding how we operated in prior decades without Snapchat, emojis, Facebook public journaling, computers in the guise of a telephone and the list goes on about technologies and softwares that I admittedly have no idea about.

We must move forward no matter what the result of this presidential cycle. Is it possible for us to learn from our prior mistakes in the past couple decades of trashing the incoming POTUS and his/her administration? Can we try to look at our own lives in our own cities and towns and see how much or little we can be involved in the political process even if it’s just volunteering on a subcommittee for your local town council? When will the “They” become “Us” in regard to our governing process in our nation whether it’s at the local, state or national level? Can the wrongs that will inevitably occur become ours to collectively own up to and then pick up together and move forward with better ideas learned?

Vote, Pray and Love.

I encourage everyone that is alive and of legal age to go ahead and vote. Pray for our country, think good thoughts for our nation if you don’t know/believe that something or Someone put our little planet in motion in an ocean of organized chaos. In the end, please have a little love for whomever or whatever political party “wins”. We are all Americans and we will survive what 2016 has brought us and this presidential election cycle will be a historic one full of many lessons for years to come.

R.V.S.B.

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Mr. Donald J. Trump: Self-Made American Brand and Unintentional Manchurian Candidate

Post-CNN GOP Presidential debate before Super Tuesday Redux: 11:52 p.m.

Note: I’m a CEO of the Home (domestic goddess or the antiquated “homemaker”) here in South Florida at the Bean household with husband, children and grandparents asleep and am afforded some strength to write tonight.  

I can easily agree that earlier tonight we saw Senators Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz really come alive during the questions and getting into it with Mr. Donald J. Trump.  But for lack of a more original assessment, too little too late. The brand has been seared into the psyche of most tired Americans–regardless of political affiliations.

Here’s what you cannot disagree with when it comes to Mr. Donald J. Trump: he makes headlines, he has children loyal to him and vice versa, it may seem he stumbles but he doesn’t fall, he might even be quoted with foul language and harsh words but in the end he makes the deal happen and even if he technically didn’t make the deal happen he is able to put the verbal stamp of approval by Trump himself.  In essence, he is a smart man and though he may use simple words and repetitive phrases, most Americans are able to process this in a positive manner.

Simply put: The American political system, namely both Democrats and Republicans, have brought this opportunity to capture the GOP presidential nomination for Mr. Donald J. Trump by a collective ignorance of how most Americans are faring when it comes to their relationship with the government, especially the federal system (let alone their local municipalities).

John Kasich: He still has a place in the federal government, I believe he should be a Vice President nod or Secretary of State.

Ben Carson: Surgeon General? Please step down sir, it is time, but thank you for the gentleman fight.

For those family, friends and political colleagues of mine that are still not understanding how we are on this road now with Mr. Donald J. Trump: I am a native Floridian, I grew up in West Palm Beach and remember his name at an early age and both the ire and desire that it drew from folks irregardless their political or social background.

Despite the way people may feel about him, he is consistent in his manner and although he may seem like an unlikely choice for President of the United States, I ask you to look back at the last several cycles and ask yourself what is the “right” choice for this job? Our country is young and yet we’ve been blessed with incredible technological advances and also  weathered some terrible social regressions (think domestic terrorism, chronic racism debates, lack of personal responsibility).  Extreme islamic terrorism has come to our land and global neighbors abroad. Our domestic markets have taken hits and the generations following the “Baby Boomers” have names with letters at the end of our alphabet, just like the money that runs out for most of them each month.

Stay tuned America, especially you who like your brand names and your repetitive pop and R&B song refrains: will the 2016 winner of the presidential race bring us a spouse of a dynasty, an America brand businessman or a senator that has little support in general? Recall that our country is struggling with its own form of “bankruptcy” in its extreme debt.

Ramona V.S. Bean

P.S. To the question as to “where are the donors’ or Super PAC’s (sp) voices about Trump: They are not stupid. They are gauging where this is going and they don’t want to be on Trump’s bad side, he does not easily forget.

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Reflections, Projections and Reality: Memoir for a Moment

Note: Started writing this shortly after 2014 began and find that my birthday this week is a more appropriate time for a reflective and somewhat autobiographical piece.

Welcome 2014!

The beginning of a new year can produce the feeling of renewed hope for some as we’ve shed the tired coat of the waning year–at best no looking back, only forward.  Although I normally reserve the right to keep my resolutions to the safety of my personal correspondence and journals, I feel comfortable sharing the following reflections, projections and reality of what I expect of 2014 and beyond.

Last Year’s Ending On the Road 

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Just over a month ago I ran competitively in a local road race after training for nearly 6 months straight.  My goals for the race continued to change as the race start date came closer to pass.  First I kept focusing on placing in the top three females overall.  As I kept getting up around 4:50 am a few days every week to get the training done, my body and spirit awakened to the sacrifice I was purposely subjecting myself to–its effects were lacing my conversations with family and friends as a bitter brag.  The daily routine with my children and immediate family were labored because I had already taxed myself before the day had begun.

As the exhaustion compounded I realized that my heart wasn’t into it so when I came across the story of an eastern European woman who once was a competitive runner and now represented the Race to Respond program with the International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) I wanted to know more.  After I contacted the IOCC and found out that this program was open to any and all athletes who wanted to participate and raise funds while running in a race.  By chance that same week I got into a conversation with a colleague at my church and found out she was training for the same race–when I shared the info about this program she was very excited and we teamed up.

IOCC has been doing a lot of work in Syria with those displaced in the warfare ravaging the population there and most recently with relief efforts in the Philippines following that tragic super-typhoon in the fall.  Running for this cause breathed new life into my discipline for what I needed to accomplish each time I practiced.  The painfully early mornings were more manageable because the cause was much greater than my own ego or assumed goals.

At race start time, my colleague and I had raised over 1100K in just a few weeks and I felt part of a team again as I wore IOCC’s logo on my racing top.  However, while running the race I was overwhelmed by the unexpected: I felt completely drained and light-headed.  By mile 4 I had become dizzy and labored in my running form.  When I passed through mile 8 and saw my family cheering me on there was a part of me that just wanted to stop right there and walk with them back to the cars and speed home.  The other part of me was very frustrated and had resolved that I was finishing this race without collapsing because of the donations from others to IOCC on behalf our running in this race.

In short, I finished in the top 10 women, 2nd in my age-group and was simply devastated by one of my slowest times in the half-marathon.

New Year’s Fears and Frustrations

If you know me well personally, the last couple of paragraphs make sense to you–if you don’t know me, I don’t blame you for being impatient with my tone.

Of the many things I learned in 2013, it became clear to me that I really thrive on helping others and if I’m to push my body physically then I definitely need a cause to support beyond myself.  Within weeks of the switch I made to run for charity I had also received a call that I was nominated to be part of the induction class for the 2014 Palm Beach Sports Commission Hall of Fame banquet in March.  Cliche as it may seem, I felt like everything in my athletic life had come full circle.

There’s also my squirming emotion that revolts against the idea of being inducted into an athletic hall of fame:  My will screams that I’m not done yet with my competitive days, the Olympic torch continuously burns in my heart for a chance to make the Games and I still dream of races both past and future like a soldier might be haunted by battles on the field.

What is more important to learn?  Is it to rise up always and conquer?  Or is it more complicated; can success also be found in being content to accept and forgive one’s self for not accomplishing the stereotypical dream story of a child growing up from a poor and abused background to achieve star athlete status on the worldwide stage?

Peace and Gratitude

Running in that race last month also helped me truly dissect what my running career was for me in my younger years:  It was an escape from the daily burdens of personal life.  It provided opportunities to have wonderful father figures and mentors like my coaches Harry Howell and JJ Clark.  It was my prayer and my dance for my Creator.  I loved running and meeting others who were like me–connecting with them even if we were so different in other aspects of our respective personalities.  It provided me educational opportunities and the honor of wearing my University of Florida’s orange and blue colors in our uniforms in competition.

By accepting the honor to be included in the Hall of Fame for Palm Beach County’s Sports Commission I’m affirming that my running accolades are a testament to what discipline and dedication of others can yield.  Looking back I also realize that there are countless people I wish to thank for their inspiration, support, prayers, unconditional love and overall belief that I was capable of setting and achieving various goals in my sport.

Being Here, Looking Ahead But Present Still

I’m a runner and always will be but it’s not the only thing I am and associate with in this life.  For nearly 15 years in my childhood and early adulthood years it was second only to my academic career and so I suppressed other aspects of myself until I could expand in those areas later.  What I strive for the most now is to truly live in the here and now–to engage in whatever moment I’m living whether as a mother, a wife, a lover, a sibling, a friend, a teacher, an artist, a gardener, a writer, a dancer and the list goes on ad nauseam.

What I hope you can take from this personal babble is that my philosophy is shaping to understand that it’s possible to peacefully dissuade regret and the “what-ifs” from the psyche.  The truth is there is ‘what has been’ and may be ‘that which comes’ but the best we can all do is be here and thrive in the ‘now’.  Then there isn’t a question as to whether you did all you could because you did–for the better or the worse doesn’t even matter because you respected the present by exercising your will to live.

R.V.S.B.

“Let it Be” The Beatles: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y4zaofnVhps

Irony: The link between ‘flushable’ wipes and the possible 8.8 billion stars with just-right planets in our galaxy

Note: The following philosophical rant is inspired by the following pieces in news in the past couple of days http://www.foxnews.com/science/2013/11/05/at-least-88-billion-earth-size-just-right-planets-found-study-says/  and http://www.mypalmbeachpost.com/news/news/opinion/commentary-please-dont-flush-those-flushable-wipes/nbfgk/

IRONY:  How can ‘flushable’ wipes and the “Goldilocks zone” have anything in common?

To be fair, ‘flushable’ wipes has been a subject with little attention paid by the media markets but a costly issue that can hardly be ignored.  In short, stop flushing anything down the toilet besides personal waste and toilet paper designed to break down in the sewage!  However, even though we’ve had decades of talk about climate change and our human effect on our environment–there are still folks that don’t give a second thought to tossing their personal wipes into the toilet bowl and in turn causing clogging of pipes and pumps, causing serious blockages and repairs of systems that can reach into the millions of dollars.

Meanwhile there are scientists and astronomers that are absolutely giddy at the recent findings that suggest our planet Earth is not the only girl available to dance with at Life’s Universal Prom event.  “Astronomers using NASA data have calculated for the first time that in our galaxy alone there are at least 8.8 billion stars with Earth-size planets in the habitable temperature zone.”  The funny question follows by the study’s co-author Geoff Marcy who asks: “If we aren’t alone, why is ‘there a deafening silence in our Milky Way galaxy from advanced civilizations?'”

Wipe, Don’t Flush It

Having read both these random articles lead me to believe that there was a real connection between the two.

We may have i-Phones and devices galore that reflect our amazing technological advances in recent decades but we are having a global crisis of sorts as to what lines exist in privacy of government leaders (i.e. recent NSA leaks and the likes of German Merkel being quite upset with the U.S.A.).

We are aware that we should be striving to reduce and reuse our waste materials and yet we insist on indulging in products like the K-cup coffee and the like revolution: coffee your way in your size although I’m personally clueless on how we can go about reducing the waste onslaught into our landfills by these products.

We claim to have such instantaneous communication capabilities and a wealth of knowledge to anyone who can log onto the World Wide Web…and yet, we still cut each other off with the most vicious disdain when merging onto an interstate highway in the car.

The Good News in Short

The likelihood is we Earthlings are most probably not alone in the universe, if not the Milky Way itself.  However zealous we may be to escape the drudgery of this place in hopes of seeking out new friends in the cosmos, we must take a pause and look around us—better yet, look at ourselves.  How can I make this place a better space to live and thrive in?

It is a comfort to even sense that we are not alone in the unknown of our surroundings past our own atmosphere and humble solar system—but it is a reality check to recognize that there may be countless reasons why other possible civilizations have hesitated to engage with us.

Earth: the toddler planet who refuses to wipe properly and dispose of its waste accordingly.

In part jest and part seriousness,

“live long and prosper”,

R.V.S.Bean

Poetry After Pause: A reflection often precedes a restart

Note:  To friends and family who are gracious enough to follow my blog site here at http://www.ceoofthehome.net , I apologize for the long absence since my last post a couple of months ago.  After being involved in a car accident in late July that spared the lives of my children and I…I have found the business of living life to be more important and even critical at times than writing or creating art by visual or written means.  However, I’m ready once again to openly share reflections, lessons and philosophical rants with the world again.

“A Few Moments”

A breath sweet,

peak retreat.

Touch of snow,

silence no foe.

Craving a pause,

refine my cause.

So much to do,

Ah, to take a few.

R.V.S.Bean

Mother’s Day: A Day Open for Interpretation

Attention all women: Happy Mother’s Day! (belated as it was technically yesterday-wrote this just before midnight)

Several years ago I sat alone in a greek Orthodox church in Falls Church, Virginia listening to the priest deliver his homily message on a spring Mother’s Day.   Although I can’t recall his specific words, I do recall that he said they would be giving out a single stem flower afterwards to every girl and woman in the room after the church service–this interested me greatly as at the time I wasn’t a mother yet.  He explained that the purpose doing this wasn’t just to avoid any awkward questions as to who was a mother but to also honor the nurturing role that females play in our human society.

This morning I was crawling on my knees between pews and following a darting flash of golden hair and giggles as my youngest demonstrated his toddler skills in another greek Orthodox church here in south Florida.  The priest was delivering his Mother’s Day message by making fun statements that “without mothers nothing would get done” and also alluding that whether any woman was a mother via birth/adoption of children, this day was meant to honor us regardless of being a mother or not.  It was a pleasant deja-vu moment to have the priest announce that a single rose would be given to each female exiting the church in celebration of Mother’s Day.

It was my pleasure to reach out today and wish a “Happy Mother’s Day” greeting to my family and friends whom I know are called “mother” by their roles in their families and rank.  At the same time, it was equally natural to me to recognize and express gratitude to the other women in my life whom I know or have met in passing who have also fulfilled the role as a mother through their selfless giving of themselves to me or my own children.

Happy Mother’s Day!

R.V.S.Bean

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