Monday, September 28, 2009

I get a kick out of my own surprises

Cypress Trees-Lake Ponchatrain ©09JHM

Who I am really keeps surprising me.~ Poet Nikki Giovanni

What we can learn from our path to the present

Often in moments of discouragement or depression, it's easy to feel that your life is going nowhere or that change is impossible. But it's simply not true! Take a minute to think back over your life. Chances are, you'll see a lot of growth in all of your formative areas. From childish playing, to youthful impulsiveness and adult reasoning, life sure has taken you on a rollercoaster hasn't it? When you were young, someone probably asked you what you wanted to be when you grew up. If someone posed that same question to you now, what would you say? Let this reflection be an indicator of your dreams.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

There are no shortcuts to any place worth going.~ Unknown

Taking the more difficult road to success


Cheating to get ahead might get you the grade or promotion, but in the long run it really sets you back. Intelligence, creativity, hard work, and solid character--the things that propel you forward--are not fostered by taking the easy way out. You don't earn anything by short-cutting your work. You're only cutting your potential short. Sure you might feel relieved that a stressful task has passed, but an undeserving sense of relief doesn't compare to the gratification of knowing that you completed your own work. If something in your life is difficult, meet it head on and earn the satisfaction of earning a job well done--with honesty and integrity.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

The End of a Road;Begin Anew...

In 6 days I will be boarding the train heading home to New Orleans & am I excited! I had to reflect to day that I am also coming to the end of another road with few regrets and with some appreciation.

In my "sabbatical" as I call it this last year I've learned a lot of things about myself. And despite some of the trials, it was indeed a good thing so I have few regrets.

In 6 days I will be boarding the train heading home to New Orleans & am I ready to rock & roll getting the creative juices to flow!

I've learn not to take myself or others so seriously and to be serious about what is necessary.

One thing I learned is to be still.

Another is the world will not fall apart if I am not rushing pell mell . I can indeed (and did) take some of the stress off myself.

I had lots and lots of time to think, renew & enjoy my own company.

I created a garden; took up photography...

I created a new paradigm.

I got to see my grandchild born, spend time, albeit very little, with my son & saw pine trees w daisies at the ocean.

And while unfortunately I watch my health deteriorate some, I also have gain some skills and tools to renew that too. We need health care so badly for all.

I relinquished a few friendships that were not quite as friendly & gain a few new allies.

I watch deer in my yard, had a yellow tabby & a grey Himalayan cats visit me on a regular basis.

I saw lovely butterflies, humming birds and wild turkeys.

I learn not to take myself or others so seriously and to be serious about what is necessary.
And I embrace two people who had faith in my ability to renew & fly!

So I say I have few regrets, many struggles but I made it. I might not have known all of this if I had not taken that leap of faith and moved across country.

As a friend said to me "One thing is for sure: when you leap off a cliff you will do one or two things; You will hit something solid or you will learn to fly"

Well guess what Karen, I managed to do both!

How cool is that!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Fight Heats up

This was sent to me by the newsletter "The New Orleans Agenda" published by Vicent Sylvain of New Orleans. Interesting story and there is irony in this...

Fight Heats up over Discriminatory
Housing Laws in New Orleans area
Alice Walker, Oprah Winfrey,
and President Obama are pulled into local battle

By Jordan Flaherty NEW ORLEANS (9/11/09)

Rebuilding efforts in St. Bernard Parish, a
small community just outside New Orleans, have recently gotten a major boost.
One nonprofit focused on rebuilding in the area has received the endorsement of
CNN, Alice Walker, the touring production of the play The Color Purple, and even
President Obama. But an alliance of Gulf Coast and national organizations are
now raising questions about the cause these high profile names are supporting.
The dispute focuses on the responsibility of relief organizations to speak out
against injustice in the communities in which they work. Since September of
2006, St. Bernard Parish has been aggressive in passing racially discriminatory
laws and ordinances. Although these laws have faced condemnation in Federal
court and in the media, rebuilding organizations active in the parish have so
far refused to take a public position.

Racial discrimination has a long history in St.
Bernard politics. Judge Leander Perez, a fiery leader who dominated the parish
for almost 50 years, was known nationally as a spokesman for racial segregation.
The main road through the Parish was named after Perez, and his legacy still has
a hold on the political scene there. Lynn Dean, a member of the St Bernard
parish council told reporter Lizzy Ratner, "They don't want the blacks back . .
. What they'd like to do now with Katrina is say, we'll wipe out all of them.
They're not gonna say that out in the open, but how do you say? Actions speak
louder than words. There's their action."

The action Lynn was referencing is a "blood
relative" ordinance the council passed in 2006. The law made it illegal for
Parish homeowners to rent to anyone not directly related to the renter. In St
Bernard, which was 85% white before Katrina hit, this effectively kept African
Americans, many of whom were still displaced from New Orleans and looking for
nearby housing, from moving in. The Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action
Center sued the Parish, saying the ordinance violated the 1968 Fair Housing Act.
A judge agreed, saying it was racially discriminatory in intent and impact. The
story doesn't end there. St. Bernard's government agreed to a settlement, but
the illegal ordinance was followed by another, blocking multi-family
construction in the Parish.

month, U.S. District Judge Ginger Berrigan found
the Parish to be in contempt of court, saying, "The Parish Council's intent . .
. is and was racially discriminatory." An editorial in the New Orleans
Times-Picayune agreed, saying, "This ruling strips off the camouflage and
reveals St. Bernard's actions for what they really are: an effort to keep lower-
income people and African-Americans from moving into the mostly white parish."
Relief Work Questioned St. Bernard Parish was heavily damaged by flooding in the
aftermath of Katrina. Thirteen percent of households lived below the federal
poverty line, and every home took in water.

Many organizations and volunteers have come
through to volunteer time and donate money, including United Way, Salvation
Army, and the Greater New Orleans Foundation. An organization called the St.
Bernard Project, which was founded in 2006 by two transplants from Washington,
DC, has become one of the most high profile organizations active in the region,
with millions of dollars in corporate and individual donations and thousands of
volunteers. This has been a big couple of weeks for the St. Bernard Project.

On August 29, President Obama mentioned them in
his weekly address, saying, "The St. Bernard Project has drawn together
volunteers to rebuild hundreds of homes, where people can live with dignity and
security." Last week, the touring production of the Broadway show The Color
Purple, produced by Oprah Winfrey, announced that they will be raising money for
the organization, and that author Alice Walker will be personally participating
in the fundraising.

Last year, CNN named co-founder Liz McCartney its
Hero of the Year. But this national acclamation has only increased criticisms of
the work happening in the Parish. Lance Hill, the executive director of the
Southern Institute for Education and Research at Tulane University, first raised
his voice on the issue in 2006, after the ordinance was passed. Hill is quick to
point out that he is not against rebuilding work in the Parish. However, he
adds, "If they chose to rebuild homes that Blacks and Jews would be barred from,
at a minimum they have a moral obligation to inform volunteers of the policies
of the Parish. To not do so is to mislead volunteers and donors and to become
complicit with racism."

Hill is also one of the signatories of an open
letter, released this week, which expresses deep concerns over rebuilding
efforts in the parish. "Regrettably, many relief and volunteer organizations
chose not to respond to the 'blood relative' law, remaining silent on this
issue," the letter states. "With the benefit of hindsight, we now know that St.
Bernard Parish officials interpreted silence as consent, which has now
emboldened this rogue government to pursue other means to defy the Fair Housing

Organizers say that the letter is intended to
pressure organizations to think about larger issues of injustice as they work in
the region. "It is time that we take a stand against housing discrimination in
St. Bernard and throughout the Gulf Coast," the letter states. "And make clear
what the moral imperatives are for all organizations that seek to rebuild the
Gulf Coast as a fair and just society."

Among the signers of the letter are human rights
organizations like the National Economic and Social Rights Initiative, regional
groups like Moving Forward Gulf Coast, and local initiatives like MayDay Nola,
which works on housing in New Orleans. Zack Rosenburg, the cofounder of St.
Bernard Project, is angered by the complaints of Hill and others. "We are not an
advocacy group and we're not commenting on that," he told me, referring to the
laws of the Parish. "We're helping people get home." Rosenburg added that at
least 30% of the families they have worked with have been African American, and
he asked me to "think about the Black families who are living in FEMA trailers
and want to move home, before writing this piece . . . try to build things up
instead of pulling things down."

Lance Hill and other advocates claim that working
on relief without challenging systemic injustices actually exacerbates the
problem. They point out that the number of houses rebuilt for African Americans
in the community - perhaps two hundred at the most, if you include all
nonprofits working in the area - pales in comparison to the thousands that have
potentially been excluded by the laws of the parish.

"The main reason that these relief groups have
had to disproportionately rebuild Black rentals," explains Hill, "is because the
Parish is tearing down or blocking construction of affordable housing faster
than the relief groups can rebuild." "This is why this issue in St. Bernard has
troubled me so much," adds Hill. "Exclusion is at the core of the injustices of
Katrina. The deliberate efforts to prevent people from returning and the denial
that these policies and practices were in place has been the central issue. The
exclusionary ideology that was widespread in the white community in New Orleans
became law in St. Bernard."

Organizers hope that the multiple levels of
pressure will ultimately challenge elected officials in St. Bernard Parish to
make the area an example of rebuilding with justice for all. "Our silence
doesn't help anybody," says Hill. "It destroys more than the relief groups can
ever dream of building."

Jordan Flaherty is a journalist, an editor of
Left Turn Magazine, and a staffer with the Louisiana Justice Institute. He was
the first writer to bring the story of the Jena Six to a national audience and
his reporting on post-Katrina New Orleans shared a journalism award from New
America Media. Audiences around the world have seen the television reports he's
produced for Al- Jazeera, TeleSur, GritTV, and Democracy Now.

He can be reached at

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Once Upon a Walk on By~A Donkey story

Donkey story

One day a farmer's donkey fell down into a well. The animal cried piteously for hours as the farmer tried to figure out what to do.

Finally, he decided the animal was old, and the well needed to be covered up anyway; it just wasn't worth it to retrieve the donkey. He invited all his neighbors to come over and help him.. They all grabbed a shovel and began to shovel dirt into the well.

At first, the donkey realized what was happening and cried horribly. Then, to everyone's amazement he quieted down. A few shovel loads later, the farmer finally looked down the well. He was astonished at what he saw.

With each shovel of dirt that hit his back, the donkey was doing something amazing. He would shake it off and take a step up. As the farmer's neighbors continued to shovel dirt on top of the animal, he would shake it off and take a step up. Pretty soon, everyone was amazed as the donkey stepped up over the edge of the well and happily trotted off!

Life is going to shovel dirt on you, all kinds of dirt. The trick to getting out of the well is to shake it off and take a step up. Each of our troubles is a steppingstone. We can get out of the deepest wells just by not stopping, never giving up!

Shake it off and take a step up.

Remember the five simple rules to be happy?

1.Free your heart from hatred - Forgive.

2.Free your mind from worries - Most never happen.

3.Live simply and appreciate what you have.

4.Give more.

5.Expect less

Nowback to the donkey...

The donkey later came back, and bit the farmer who had tried to bury him. The gash from the bite got infected and the farmer eventually died in agony from septic shock.


When you do something wrong, and try to cover your ass, it always comes back to bite you.Now don't get upset folks, that word is in the Bible. At least some versions....

Think twice, speak once

If you think twice before speaking once, you will speak twice the better for it.
- William Penn

Think twice, speak once

The idea of choosing your words carefully sounds easy enough, but how many times do you end up with your foot in your mouth? Everyone can probably recall a situation where someone offended them by saying something rude or out of line.

These comments are not only embarrassing, but they can also damage relationships. Even the way you talk to yourself can be hurtful. Instead of saying "I can't," replace it with "I wish." Swap "I'm a failure" with "I didn't succeed this time." If you say the wrong thing in front of others, chances are that people will remember it. Wouldn't you prefer to be remembered for something more positive? Once you have said something out loud it cannot be taken back, and rarely can it be undone even with a tremendous amount of work.