An Open Letter To WordPress

valentinelogar:

Many others have already reblogged this, I am simply sharing the genius. Goldfish has said better than I what is frustrating so many about the changes being randomly applied to WordPress, these days without forewarning and certainly without our agreement. I don’t know about you, but I am in full agreement with everything here. If like me you are annoyed you can’t see notifications on a single page, they are still there just bookmark from your site: https://wordpress.com/notifications

Originally posted on Fish Of Gold:

Dear WordPress,

I am loath to write yet another letter to you, since I typically prefer to spend my time writing actual blog posts, but I’ve been bitching on Twitter and in your forums to no avail, so maybe you’ll pay attention to a blog post. It’s not likely, but hey, you never know.

Please, stop. Just put down whatever you’re working on and stop with the futzing. You have been tinkering under my hood long enough and you know what? None of the “improvements” you’ve made are actually improvements.

Below, you will find explanations as to why your improvements aren’t improvements sorted conveniently by feature.

Post Editor

Let’s talk about this “Beep beep boop” post editor nightmare with less than half the functionality of the old editor. Thankfully, you haven’t taken away the old editor yet. However, I fully expect that one day, I will go to write a…

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Stepping into Who I Am

Linda1My dear friend over at Single Working Mom inspired me to write about how we, as women, seem to lose ourselves in our effort to ‘fit’. Visit her post, which inspired this one here.

Stepping into who I am, I think that is what I have been trying to do for more than a year maybe even more than a decade. I simply didn’t know this is what I was doing. All the small acts of rebellion, the tiny bits and pieces I kept trying to reclaim, that was me saying to the world and those who wished me to be otherwise; really, just leave me be to find me in a world I never truly fit or that never fit me perfectly.

I fail to understand why it is so difficult for women especially to claim ourselves completely, to step into the space we occupy without apology. It seems though, there are very few of us who are not in some way apologizing for who or what we are on a daily basis. We bow to the whims of those who dictate to us the terms of beauty and desirability allowing our self-worth to be undermined by how others define it and thus what we see in the mirror is far too often unacceptable, unbeautiful and unworthy of love.

Far too many of us, reshape ourselves to be what others want of us and accept harsh judgment as truth when we fail to meet standards which are either impossible, not our choice, even sometimes ridiculous. We shrink to take up less space, we speak softly or not at all so as not offend, we apologize for our opinions and our needs and do so without thinking in doing so we are apologizing for ourselves, for our very being. We accept harsh words as truth and demands to change ourselves, make ourselves different so we might fit another person’s fantasy, simply so they will touch us in the night, with the light off.

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When I read For Me and For Her it got me thinking about all the things I had done over the course of my nearly 15 year marriage that I resented and how I have slowly begun to shed them. It also got me thinking about the shell I have slowly started to crack open around me, about as I said how I am beginning to step into myself into who I am, perhaps who I was meant to be. I am certain I have a very long way to go before I am fully in the moment with myself, nevertheless it is a starting point and one I believe I should own with pride. I think it is difficult when we are in the middle of hurting to realize how much we give up, so someone will love us. Sometimes how much we lose of ourselves so the person we promised to love will continue to love us.

I am finding I don’t want to be loved if it isn’t for the me that is real; hardheaded, opinionated, pragmatic, softhearted, introverted and creative; someone who has lived life fully and been down a few dark alleys. I don’t want to be touched if it isn’t touching me with the lights on, seeing all of me; scars, dimpled flesh, imperfections, tattoos all of me. I don’t want to be made over. I don’t want to be hidden.

These words hurt me, still hurt me on some level and I am still fighting to breathe through them and find me behind them.

“You are more beautiful as a blonde that as how I met you and that is how you should stay.”

“You are too pale, I think you are more beautiful with a tan. You look too White without one.”

“I hate when you let your hair grow. You look better when it is short and I am not as attracted to you when it is long.”

“If you get a tattoo I will divorce you.”

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Here is the thing about all of those, they all represented ‘things’ that were not me.

  1. I am a natural brunette. My natural color is damned near black, though now days it has a great deal of grey.
  2. I have pale olive toned skin. I love my complexion, though I tan easily for years I have protected my skin. Further, tanning is dangerous this didn’t seem to matter so long as I wasn’t too White. What the hell did this mean anyway?
  3. The first time I cut my hair it was down to the middle of my back. I cut it because I couldn’t brush it, I cut it because I was recovering from gunshots and I needed to make life easier for myself. I never intended to keep it short and certainly not that short. Yes, it was funky and fun, especially the pale blonde, but it was hard to maintain. I never felt like me.
  4. When we met I had Tattoo’s, it wasn’t a secret I didn’t hide them. I also made no secret I want more. Why did I ever allow myself to be bullied into a corner?

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Worse, yes even worse than being bullied into a corner. Why did I allow myself to feel unlovable, undesirable and without value simply because of cruel words and the lack of touch. Now, a year later I am beginning to figure some of it out, some of the hurt is falling away and letting me see what is beneath. I don’t love what I see, but I do love that I am able to reach into the hurt and find me.

It is these slow and careful steps we take, these questions we ask that allow us to walk into the world fully owning the space we inhabit, not asking for forgiveness or how we can mold ourselves to fit another person’s desires. I want to be desired, loved and wanted for me, just me. I want to be chased around the room and thrown on the bed, because I am me not someone else but me. I want my words to enflame passion, my heart to sooth, my body to excite and my soul to provide a resting place. I want all of that to be just me, without a demand for change.

So I will continue to step into who I am and tell those who think I should be otherwise to take a flying leap.

On this Day, Dream

bvwcku1icaapeh“Well, you know, you can’t change what’s in the hearts and minds of the white folks in the South. You can’t legislate what’s in their hearts.” He says, “Well, you can’t legislate what’s in their hearts, but I tell you what: If you can just stop them from lynching me, that’s progress. That’s a pretty good thing.” And over time, hearts and minds catch up with laws. That’s been the history of progress in this country.

Dr. Martin Luther King


 

Honestly, I have been trying all week to find the heart and the voice to write. It has felt as if my heart has been stopped in my chest and my voice has been silenced. Today is the day we honor Martin Luther King, many say we should treat this day as a day of service in honor of those who marched and served the cause of Civil Rights, worked to eliminate the egregious Jim Crow Laws and broaden Voting Rights Laws for all citizens. Imagine, there are those who do not know this history do not remember a time when our fellow citizens could not vote, could not sit at the counter or share a table in a restaurant simply because of the color of their skin. Despite how recent this history, there are those who wish to erase it from our school books and our memories.

Many today say it is better then when the brave men and women stood upon the Edmund Pettus Bridge on Sunday, 7 March 1965 and faced down State Troopers and civilian posse’ armed with tear gas and clubs wrapped in barbed wire on Bloody Sunday. There are those, including some who were there that say 2015 is better than 1965, we have made progress. I am hard pressed to find this much discussed much vaunted progress in light of the tragic and terrible across this nation. Is it me?

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Someone asked me yesterday if I thought it was getting better or worse. I had to consider the differences and the changes since 1965, what the meant. Have things really improved, as some would have us believe? Are some of us simply overreacting to the news cycles, which is what some say to those of us who follow and write about the issues of Race in America. Or are things regressing, going backwards having never truly changed only gone into hiding until the all clear signal was sounded the election of Barack Obama bringing out all the fears and fury of the dwindling White majority.

I had to think about it, consider my answer carefully. Ultimately, my answer was option three (3). Maybe it got better for a little while, things moved forward and improved on the surface. As a nation, we took seriously ending segregation, ending Jim Crow, ending lynching, ending the disparities in education and access to jobs for fifteen years before the disaster of Ronald Reagan and his War on Everything. Yes, I said it, the nation began a slow decline with his election, he was in my humble opinion the worst thing that could have happened to anything slightly resembling progress. We need only look at what he ushered in or who he attacked on his road to the White House, with his ‘Welfare Queen’ meme. Then his War on Drugs and the disparity in sentencing laws, started during his time in office, which have only begun to be addressed by this administration. Finally, we need look no further than the the slow disintegration of our infrastructure, education systems and the rise in poverty to understand what he started has finally come to fruition. If there is an afterlife, Saint Ronnie must be gleeful.

Has it gotten better?

What could possibly lead any of us to believe it is better? Truly, the scales over our eyes must be iron plated that we believe it is better. But let’s examine so maybe I and others can be convinced of this ‘better’.

Voters Rights, the act was originally authorized in 1965 and until 2006 was reauthorized as required with bipartisan support in both houses of Congress and signed by the President, no matter the party. In 2006, thirty-three members of the GOP House voted not to reauthorize the Voters Rights Act, they went on record as being against protecting the rights of all citizens to exercise their fundamental right to vote. In 2013 the Supreme Court gutted, in a vote of 5-4 the most critical portion of the Voters Rights Act Section 5, freeing states to change their voter laws without oversight by the Justice Department; in essence paving the way for a return to pre-1965. For a good synopsis of the Voters Rights Act and Voting in America, go here.  Since the gutting of the VRA, multiple states mostly in the South, have enacted new voting laws including Voter ID, changes to hours, changes in the availability of voting equipment primarily in minority districts, reductions in early voting, changes to mail in voting and a host of other ‘conveniences’ that predominately impact minority voters.

Extrajudicial killings, we even have a name for it now this murder by cop, sounds all official and everything, like somehow these murders are somehow acceptable within a civil society. Well based on outcomes apparently they are, no police officer is being prosecuted for murdering an unarmed man or woman, in fact they are being protected by the public servants we pay to protect us, from cops to district attorneys all the way up to Governors. There was a time in this nation when at least people had the courtesy to murder in the dark of night, with white sheets covering their shame. Now? Not so much. Now police, in their uniforms murder unarmed men, women and young boys in broad daylight and the middle of the street knowing they will get away with it. Hell, the media will help them by digging up every minor flaw in their history, painting their victim as the aggressor despite the truth, using language to convince an ignorant and unthinking public to be afraid of the ‘other’, language like ‘criminal’, ‘thug’, ‘gang member’, ‘hulk like’, ‘monster’ and ‘demon’. We heard terms like these about every single unarmed person the police murdered, every single person some citizen murdered, every single unarmed Black child, man or woman; they were other and somehow deserving of their death.

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We have the highest prison population in the free world. Now there is something to be proud of. This country has divided families, created horrific poverty, destroyed communities and developed a de facto slave economy with their for profit prison solution. We have men in prison for decades, men who did not commit the crimes but who were railroaded by dishonest cops and DA’s into prison. We have Black and Brown men and women in disproportionate numbers filling our systems up with far longer sentences than their White counterparts for the same crimes, oh wait we have the Affluenza Defense for White Folks, kill people, rape children your own or others, but don’t go to jail if you are White.

These are just some of my observations. I wish I could say I thought it was getting better. I don’t think it is getting better at all. I think perhaps, there are some of us out here who have shed our bigotry and bias, but we are not doing enough, we are not speaking up, we are not lending our support and standing up with those who need us to stand up with them. What we are doing is allowing those who would like nothing better than a return to Jim Crow and the day’s pre Civil Rights, pre Loving-v-Virginia, pre VRA and pre Integration to be voted into Congress at a state and national level, to remain seated on the highest courts of the land and what they are doing is dismantling every single protection and piece of progress ever made.

Do I think it is better? No, I don’t think it is better. I think in many ways it is far worse. I think it is worse because I know it could be better but we are sitting back and allowing our nation to falter through our apathy. I weep for all of us, for the loss of life and the loss of our promise, for the loss of a great dream.

I Don’t Believe You, I Do

OpEdSince the beginning of the Bill Cosby fiasco, I have remained silent; I have chosen not to speak. I did this for a reason, not because I had nothing to say or because I believed one side or the other; no that wasn’t it. It also wasn’t out of respect for Bill Cosby or the women who were coming forward, this wasn’t in my mind, as I watched all the media, social and regular rip both sides of this story to shreds.

Everyone taking sides, everyone with an opinion, everyone prepared to judge, everyone no matter their knowledge or qualifications prepared to render a decision.

I watched and I listened. I read the comments on the various stories. Some of the comments caused my heart to shrivel, others made me want to jump into cyberspace and hunt down the anonymous person without a soul who felt a need to spew their bile. Mostly though, I watched and I listened; to friends, family and complete strangers as they dissected the story of Bill Cosby the public persona and Bill Cosby the man and his legacy. On the other hand and from the other side of the debate I watched friends, family and strangers discount, disregard and disparage the twenty-four women who have come forward to accuse Bill Cosby, not Cliff Huxtable but Bill Cosby the man of drugging, assaulting and raping them.

hero to zero

I do not know the truth. The only ones in this entire tragedy who know 100% of the truth are Bill Cosby and the twenty-four women who have accused him of horrific acts of violation.

As I listened and I read, I struggled with my feelings. When Phylicia Rashād said, ‘forget those women’, I became enraged, I could only think to myself, ‘how could any woman say this about victims of sexual assault?’ Is it possible for anyone to be this free of empathy, this lacking in compassion?

Forget those women.

Then my friend and hero, Deborah at The Monster in Your Closet wrote this, encapsulating so much of what I wanted to say but didn’t have the words.

Victims of sexual assault do not report, all too often we do not report. There are many reasons for this, but the sad truth is the number one reason is how a victim of sexual assault is treated by the system that is supposed to protect them. Every single person, with rare exception, from first responders, to hospital personnel, police, DA’s and yes sadly, family members and loved ones tend to blame the victim, fall into the trap of wondering what the victim did to create, invite or otherwise cause herself to be raped.

I do not believe you.

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When society plays the blame game, protecting the rapist no matter what the reason; high school football star, politician or beloved television star every excuse is trotted out for why they could not have possibly done what they are accused of doing. The ultimate result of this cover-up is, their bad acts were caused by the victim, it was the fault of the victim for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, wearing the wrong clothing, accepting a drink from them and tempting them to bad behavior. We don’t report because we already know the outcome, there are names for women (girls) like us and none of them are kind.

I could not understand, truly my heart and mind simply stuttered. How can any of us sit back and cast aspersions on victims brave enough to step forward into the light of day, allow their names and faces to be seen knowing what they would they would face; Golddigger was the kindest appellation I heard applied.

Then as if reading my heart and mind, again Deborah at Monster in Your Closet wrote another stunning analysis, this time her words brought me to my knees.

I believe you.

What all of us, every victim of sexual assault needs to hear.

I believe you. I trust you. I love you. I will protect you.

That is what most of us never hear. Never, not from our parents, not from our friends or loved ones, not from first responders or doctors, not from the police or DA’s; we just want to be heard and believed, protected.

Why don’t we report? Can you imagine having to tell the story of your sexual assault to one stranger? How about ten strangers? How about a room full of strangers? How about a room full of strangers who don’t believe you, who don’t want to believe while your rapist sits staring at you with a smirk on his face knowing he will be free soon while your heart and soul is being destroyed, your reputation shredded.

Why does our story change? We don’t remember. It is nearly impossible for us to remember ever detail in what for most of us was the most traumatic event in our lives. We don’t want to remember, for most of us we spend a lifetime trying to forget.

Effects of Rape

Am I taking sides? No, but I have a tendency to believe the victim especially where there are twenty-four. What people fail to realize, Bill Cosby isn’t going to be arrested and thrown in jail most of these accusations are over a decade old. Might there be some Civil Suits, sure but even they may get thrown out or settled so we never hear about them. In the meantime, Bill Cosby is still doing his stand-up act and making jokes to women about not drinking around him. He doesn’t appear to care to much about the gravity of the situation or his legacy, why should we?

South Carolina Legislature Floats Bill To Require All Public School Students To Take NRA-Approved Gun Rights Course.

valentinelogar:

I had something else I was going to write today, this though it took the wind from my sails. I wobble between heartbreak and fury. There is a piece of me that simply shakes my head, wondering how these idiots ever got elected, then I realize apathy and ignorance sent them to their state house to wreak havoc on the next generation.

Originally posted on The Militant Negro™:

gunsafetyChild-GUN

From THINK PROGRESS & BY IAN MILLHISER

Three Republican legislators in the South Carolina House have introduced theSecond Amendment Education Act of 2015.

South Carolina Bill Requires All Public School Students To Take NRA-Approved Gun Rights Course

By THINK PROGRESS & BY IAN MILLHISER

Legislation proposed last month by three members of the South Carolina legislature would require public school teachers in that state to spend three weeks each year extolling the virtues of the Second Amendment — as that amendment is understood by the National Rifle Association. The bill requires all South Carolina public schools to “provide instruction in the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution for at least three consecutive weeks during one grading period in each academic year.” Moreover, “the State Superintendent of Education shall adopt a curriculum developed or recommended by the National Rifle Association or its successor organization.”

Three weeks is an absolutely extraordinary…

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You Lived

OpEdWhat do we gain if we hang on to anger? That is a question I am asked frequently when I speak in Victim Impact and other venues. Why do I withhold ‘forgiveness’ rather than offer it freely, without limitations or a requirement for acts / signs of true remorse. Why do I believe forgiveness is a gift to the repentant, rather than a gift to ourselves. These are questions I have been pondering lately with a different frame of mind than in the past.

Last year was a year of turmoil and upheaval, not just for me personally but for the nation. Oddly, though what happened in the nation is very different from my own experiences, I can’t help but draw parallels and then my heart cracks. Even while I feel paralyzed and unqualified to speak, I am and have been drawn, sometimes simply as a witness to the terrible and other times to lend my voice, to demand change and justice. Even when my voice is unwelcome in the cacophony that has greater right, greater knowledge, greater principle still I felt the need to try to make sense and add my voice.

No, it isn’t about me or about me being heard, it is simply to raise a voice to demand change in what is so horribly wrong, what is intolerably unjust. It is a voice raised not because it has weight, but instead because silence is no longer an option. What does any one of us bring as our voices are raised, our pens put to paper, our feet to concrete but the entirety of our life experiences, no it isn’t about me. It is simply one more voice demanding change.

My worldview is based solely upon my personal experiences, what has formed me as a human being and a woman, this is all I have, it is all any of us have from which we can view the world around us and form opinions. Our experiences, they are what each of us carry into the world to form judgment, to balance compassion, to create empathy, to allow love to flow freely or to dam it behind walls of fear and mistrust. What we learn at the knee of our parents, in our homes, our schools and sometimes more importantly through our adult experience; this is all we have to form us as complete adults. My life experience is the only thing I have from which I am able to measure ‘right vs. wrong’ and ‘good vs. evil’, my perspective may be from a different place but it is all I have, the only prism I can see through.

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It is impossible for any one of us to compare our individual experiences to another person and say with certainly, ‘I understand, I know how you feel’. We don’t, we never will. We might have compassion for what they are feeling, empathy for what they are experiencing; we do not know what or how they are feeling. We cannot know, we are not them and thus it is impossible for us to know. When you layer on all the differences including personal experiences, culture, education, generation and yes, even religion and race it becomes nearly impossible for us to put ourselves in the place of another. At best we can be compassionate in the face of terrible loss and to show solidarity in the face of gross injustice.

Why is it so important, that any of us speak out, that we evaluate our premise and speak from our hearts whether we have the ability to walk in the shoes of those wronged, we nonetheless must have empathy and compassion, if we don’t have these, we are not fully human. What has brought me to this brooding walk through a philosophical position on forgiveness (I will get back there), compassion and empathy? December was a month of heated discussions, unfocused wretchedness and soul searching.

Demonstrator, Boston Commons Reuters/Brian Snyder

Demonstrator, Boston Commons
Reuters/Brian Snyder

“Not about you”, “You lived”, and “You are still White” were all said, they are also all true.

Just prior to the discussion that generated those statements I received a letter from the State of Texas Board of Parole, one of the three men who shot me, leaving me for dead because they, ‘Wanted to kill White People’, is again up for parole. He has been back in prison for just over two years having been paroled once before. That letter is sitting on my dining room table; it stares up at me every morning with my first cup of coffee, sometimes I run my fingers over the words. On 7-Feb -2015 it will be twenty-three (23) years since that near fatal night. The night three young men changed my life and their own forever, simply because they hated the color of my skin. They didn’t hate me, they didn’t know me; they simply hated what I stood for, what I represented.

For twenty-three years, I have lived with the consequences of their actions, so have they. Last month my seizures started escalating again; my epilepsy is one of the gifts that keep giving from the shooting, one of the consequences. Now that I live alone my seizures scare the hell out of me. Yet I stare at that letter and I wonder, do I really need to respond, do I truly need to demand my pound of flesh in the remorse that will never be forthcoming from someone who had all the reasons in the world to ‘hate white people’.

FCI Fort Worth, Enterance

FCI Fort Worth, Enterance

I got the first letter eighteen years ago, I responded with a demand they hold him to serve a greater part of his thirty-year sentence. I questioned how they could consider parole where there was not a shred of remorse for his actions against any of his victims. Then, I cried for days. For the next eighteen years, every single time I received one of these letters I responded the same way and I cried for days after, like clockwork every two years. I didn’t cry when he was paroled, I cried though when he was returned to prison.

I do not forgive him or his partners, I think I might have too many reminders. I watch the grace of those who have lost their loved ones to violence, I wonder is it that I do not have grace or that I am simply vindictive and mean spirited. I do not know the answer, I know I am not angry at them but I am angry at the system, the society that created them. I am angry at all of us, who let them fall through the cracks, who didn’t save them and all the other young men just like them who lost hope before they had a chance to live.

So yes, I lived and no it isn’t about me; I hope though I can find a way to lift my voice, put pen to paper and make it matter, make it count. I hope I have enough compassion to fill in the cracks, that I live long enough to see a change and that in some small way I can be part of that change.

Just Yes

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Silken flames follow your breath

Catching me unaware

Unprepared for you

Rising up from my slumber

Skin on skin

Tracing my curves

Dawn brightens the shadows

Desire engulfs us

Cries of please

Arms reaching up and out

Wrists held tightly

Muscles pulled taut

Expectancy raises hopes and trembles

Breath caught, held

Sighs released, breathless

Engulfed by endless waves of Yes

Yes and more

Yes and now

Yes Again

Valentine Logar

30 December 2014

Passing the Baton

Linda1Christmas this year was a two-day celebration of giggles, cries of surprise, gift-wrap flying and for me at least a bit of nostalgia, a sense of melancholy even. I am uncertain why it was so poignant this year, why I felt so off centered and incomplete, but this year was off for me. This year I felt slightly disconnected from those I love, from the celebrations, from well from all of it. For some reason this year, despite being in the middle of it all for two days I simply felt isolated.

I admit there have been things on my mind. There have been some additional stresses in my life lately that have been weighing heavily on me and causing me some anxiousness; usually this wouldn’t change the pleasure I take in my family, especially my children and grandchildren. I can’t say I didn’t enjoy them either, truly, I did, my grandchildren are a treat and though it is a bit overwhelming now and then, I am fortunate in the women my sons married and the extended families they brought with them. We are the true American family, extended and expanded through multiple marriages. What makes us a bit different I suspect, is we have managed to keep ex’s close and engaged, thus children continue to benefit. Yes, this sometimes makes it strange, but it works.

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But back to the strange sense of sitting above it all watching rather than participating this year. Maybe it was simply so many of the traditions I grew up with were absent and I finally noticed, finally really missed them. Perhaps, it was the rest of my family was missing; all of my siblings some of whom I haven’t seen since my father passed away five years ago, my wonderful heart mother having passed only ten months earlier. With their passing, something went out of us all I think and we set aside some of the traditions we had all made fun of but in truth had cherished. Certainly one thing we lost was our sense of family, our bond. Even while still mourning my beloved parents, I mourn that loss just as much I think.

My cousin / siblings, don’t blink your eyes so quickly I am after all from Texas we do things strangely down here. Yes, my father married his sister-in-law and no it isn’t incest (my brother asked). 65.justloveyouIt was a match of the heart, a true love match after they had both been single for many years, her after being widowed and him after divorcing my mother. They had known each other for more years than they had been married and divorced combined. We all cheered their marriage and they brought us together as adults and created a large and loving family, though perhaps a bit on the odd side sometimes. We were a loud, loving and rambunctious clan. My heart mother welcomed all of us, along with spouses, children, step-children, partners and friends to Hearts Home with open arms. But Christmas time was the best time of all.

Christmas Eve, where we all dressed up in our finery. The women in satin, velvet and lace with make-up and hair done and high-heeled shoes. The men in suits and ties, if you had to wear jeans they had to be your Sunday-go-to-Meeting best. Children were even put in nice clothing for the evening. The Christmas Eve meal of so damned much food and so many types of cookies and candies, all of them homemade with love. The most important parts of the evening, the Eggnog toast, where each of us made a toast that we spent days thinking about and some man in the family always toasted the women in the family and all the other men groaned because that was going to be their toast. The reading of the Christ Story by my heart mother and the youngest grandchild and finally the singing of the carols which always ended with Jingle Bells, always and we all had bells on ribbons which we rattled at appropriate times.

I should add here, most of my family could not sing a lick. The singing of the carols was like fingernails on a chalkboard to even the most untrained ear, but it was tradition and it was fun. We all groaned, we all whined, but we all did it and we all had fun.

Gift giving was a managed affair, of course, we spoiled slightly any children but we did not exchange gifts between adults. There was an assigned name; you bought one gift outside of your spouse or significant other. Your gift could not exceed $50. Then we had the White Elephant gift market, all children under 18 left the room and the ruthlessness of the adults came out. This was a terrible and hysterical part of the night. Draw a number, pick a gift and open it. Better hope you got a high number, or your spouse got a high number. The higher your number the better your chances of getting something you want out of the pile of gifts in the middle of the floor. During each round, each gift can only be exchanged one time, so once you open your gift look around the room at the other gifts that have been opened, want something else? Take it and give them what you have, they then look around to see what else has been opened; if they want something else (other than what you just took from them) they do the same. It is a ruthless game! There were always some really good gifts and some really stupid gifts. We had such fun.

At the end of the night, we played games. Usually board games until we were tired. Though sometimes we played billiards and sometimes cards. Adults in one part of the house and young ones in another.

My eldest playing pretty princess with his youngest cousin

My eldest playing pretty princess with his youngest cousin

Christmas day was more relaxed though we had the morning presents for the children under the tree and the big family dinner in the afternoon. It was always Christmas Eve that was special for me. It was always that night that set the tone. I loved Christmas day because we were all together, comfortable and talking, playing games and spending time. But it was Christmas Eve that held so many traditions, even before Hearts Home, even as a child some of these traditions were already part of how I thought of Christmas.

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I suppose as new generations take over the celebrations they create their own traditions. This year I think I just missed the old ones.

Jingle This

Linda1We are coming onto Christmas 2014, only a day away before some of us begin to celebrate with family and friends. For others, this is a time of sadness, a time of loneliness and harsh emotional undoing. For some of us it is a time for introspection, of considerable thought about where we are, who we are and what we might want for ourselves and those we love.

For me, this past year has been a roller coaster. Don’t mistake me, I love roller coasters; hell, I miss roller coasters. The day my doctor said, ‘it is probably a bad idea for you to ride roller coasters anymore’, I wanted to weep. That was many years ago, I have ridden a few since that day and discovered much to my chagrin he was right; don’t you hate it when that happens? There are many things I could say about this year, some I believe I will keep to myself, forever and ever, amen; some, I will say because it needs to be said and some I will say only if and when the opportunity presents itself to say to the person who needs to hear it.

This though is about the holidays, specifically this is about Christmas and the changing of the year. It is also about what I have observed.

First, people are insane. For the most part, people are downright crazy mean. Why is it the season that should bring out the best in people brings out the nastiest and ugliest in people? I mean really, will little Tom or Sally just DIE if they don’t get that latest toy under the tree? Did you really just shove that woman to grab the last one off the shelf at Wal-Mart? Are you really in such a hurry you cut off that woman with three children so your azz could have a parking spot closer to the door? Did you truly just say to the elderly couple in line ahead of you, ‘can’t you move any faster?’

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Gawd, you people suck so badly it is difficult for me to even believe we are related somewhere back in time. Do you know what else is difficult for me comprehend?

download (1)Next on my list, the just downright mean and nasty across social media right now, really people give it a rest would you please. We all know what you think on any give subject, but must you spew your bile all over everything at this time of the year? Worse yet, must you do it all over everyone else’s timelines and pages? Honestly, if you disagree with someone is it impossible for you to do so with civility and common courtesy? Better yet, how difficult is it for you too simply move along? I will admit, I love a good debate as much as the next person but if the only thing you bring to the table is fictional talking points made up by some squirt mouth in the backroom of Faux, The Heritage Foundation or WorldNet Daily then please do us all a favor, keep it too yourself. I truly am all for diverse opinions and mixed government, fully in support of a true democratic solution (which we do not have today). Nevertheless, at this time of the year, you know ‘peace on earth and goodwill to men’, is it imperative you beat down those who think differently from you?

I have deleted and blocked more people on Facebook and other social media sites in the past five weeks than I have in the entire past year. Is it, is it me or them?download

Finally, let us for just one minute talk about your religion, it is after all one of the cornerstones of your life; right? After all, you have spent the better part of the past several centuries trying to enforce your morality, based on your religion on others. You have done this enforcing and force-feeding through wars, legislation and just plain simple making it miserable for everyone around you who doesn’t believe like you do.  Now frankly the insane part of this is, you are all nodding your heads right now and thinking to yourself, ‘Yeah, those f’ng (insert other religion here) sure are a bunch of Fundamentalist / Extremist / Terrorist / Nutjobs’. The fact is, all of you all are exactly all of those things if you can’t leave well enough alone, can’t leave other folks alone to believe what they choose to believe and can’t see for just one minute, you can’t be the only ‘right’ way if there are over four thousand (4,000) other ‘right’ ways out there right this very minute, all of which believe they are ‘right’. So give it a rest, would you please.

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By the way American’s in particular, no, no, no! America is not and never was intended to be a ‘Christian Nation’. It was intended to be a nation of laws. While the majority of you may be Christians, this does not change the Declaration of Independence and its intent, it does not change the Constitution and its intent. It also does not change all of the writings by those who wrote those two documents on their intent regarding the Nation and its relation to Religion, read up on this if you have any questions. Your desire to bend history, making it more palatable to your desires is both pitiful and frightening. Pitiful because it shows the shallowness of your intellect, frightening because it shows your willingness to sink our nation into ignorance to achieve your goals.

Those are my three peeves as we come into the holiday season and the New Year. Do I think it is getting better? No, in fact I think this nation is sinking fast, compassion and empathy seem to be in short supply and ignorance is on the rise, even celebrated. As a nation, we seem to have lost something, perhaps it is our soul. I am saddened by the great chasm dividing us as a people.10402430_10205015207440428_9211021343351180985_n

For me? I am going to try to do better this coming year. I am going to try to visit you more often. I am going to try to write more frequently, spread my wings to more subjects and see the world beyond my backyard. I am going to try to engage my community and do more than speak.

For the season? I will be with my family and I hope all of you will be with those you love. I am going to try to remind myself to tell those I love, whether family by blood or by choice that I love them and am grateful to have them in my life.

So with that off my chest and out of my system.

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valentinelogar:

This is what we need, recognition of a problem and steps to address it.

Originally posted on The Militant Negro™:

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The idea for NO MORE was sparked in 2009, in recognition that despite the significant progress made in the visibility of domestic violence and sexual assault, these problems affecting millions remain hidden and on the margins of public concern. Hundreds of representatives from the domestic violence and sexual assault prevention field came together around the idea that an overarching symbol, uniting all people working…

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