When Love and Life Matter

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The need for love lies at the very foundation of human existence. … However capable and skillful an individual may be, left alone, he or she will not survive. … and the healthy development of its self-confidence all depends directly upon love. Dalai Lama

Faces of Miami

She is an angel of mercy. Formerly a traveling RN from Ohio she came here after working several years in Dubai, fell in love with Miami and stayed making permanent roots under the beautiful palms and banyan-lined streets.

“I work in the ICU for new born babies at a hospital in Miami. It’s a good feeling when the babies survive and eventually go home with their parents, but it doesn’t always turn out that way, unfortunately. Sometimes I rock and cradle them in my arms in their last moments of life. I want them to at least have that comfort. It’s difficult. It never gets easier. We lost three babies last week within hours. A lot of these babies are from poor, or single mother situations. I felt they deserved a better ending, so, my mother and her friends started making baby layettes out of donated wedding dresses. We dress the babies who have passed in these beautiful outfits to give them a final meaning that their lives counted. Even if just hours. To their parents and to us, their lives mattered.”

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Copyright Sandra Hart 2015. All rights reserved.

FROM HURRICANE TO BEST FRIENDS

When my daughters were teenagers and shared the same room they fought so much that I had to move my young son out of his room and give it to one of the girls to keep them from killing one another. The problem? One was extremely neat and the other lived in chaos.

One daughter loved John Denver, Glen Campbell, Mac Davis and horses. The other Billy Idol, the Eagles, Buffalo Springfield and fashion. Two peas of mine living together but definitely not in the same pod. And as a young widowed mother, the last thing I needed was refereeing two teenagers drawing lines in the sand.
 

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Thankfully, we survived those hormonal years…..well….kind of. They got more beautiful and tolerant of their differences, my son moved to Los Angeles and became a rock star and my hair turned white.

My Chaos Aquarian daughter is the same today as she was way back then. She has so many things going on in her life with the children, her job, horse farm and charitable social causes. Her big heart and life is always like a whirling dervish. She thrives with energy and a schedule that would drive me into a straight jacket. When I visit her I am always folding and cleaning and straightening up. Just hearing about her day makes me want to take a nap. Okay. It’s my mishigas, not hers.

The other half of the dueling teenage duo is my creative and very Neat Virgo child. A hard-working flight attendant, she moved from New Jersey to Chicago two years ago and lives in a lovely apartment in the suburbs, not far from the airport.

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She also has remained the same with an astute eye for fashion and decorating. She always has her apartment fixed up beautifully. She is, like her mother, a ‘Rearranger’. What on earth is a ‘Rearranger’ you ask?

(Wikipedia: Rearranger. Inconvenient habit certain females acquire. i.e, constantly moving furniture around.)

More than once my daughters have reminded me, "Mother, when we were kids, don't you remember? We'd walk into the house after school and the furniture would be completely rearranged."

Laughing on the outside, but crying on the inside, because, you know what, they are right. I don't know why, but somehow when I had a lot on my mind, I rearranged the furniture. In the worst of times* I was rearranging the furniture probably about every two months or so, as though that task was going to help me clear out the mishigas in my head. But, it did. It really made me feel good…therapy, at least for awhile.

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Whenever I am starting to write, I rarely begin my day at my desk to write without the beds made, the laundry going, or the dishwasher running. I have to have all those tasks at least started and working before I can actually sit down and concentrate on my real day job.

Watching my daughters grow up into accomplished and compassionate mothers and career women has been well worth those fractious teen years. And it is so true that we all have our own ‘craziness’ going on. All three of us have grown up to become more accepting women. My son has benefited by a successful career trying to explain it all!

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*BEHIND THE MAGIC MIRROR by Sandra Hart

Copyright Sandra Hart 2014. All rights reserved.

Faces Of Miami

I love the series Humans of New York where the photographer takes a candid photo and then interviews the person behind the image. Their stores are absolutely fascinating. How many of our own stories with humans have we missed on a daily basis by having our faces stuck in our iPhones.)

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My Humans Of Miami Story

I was alone except for the tired restaurant worker still dressed in his work clothes sitting at the end of the bench with his head in his hands.

I pulled my straw hat down a little further to keep the hot noonday sun burning through the waving palm fronds off my face. I was waiting for the South Beach jitney to take me up to Lincoln Road where I planned to do some last minute Christmas shopping.

Suddenly this tiny little woman who had hurriedly crossed the street stood looking as though she wasn’t too sure where she wanted to sit, but then quickly plopped down beside me.

“Have you been waiting long?” she asked.

“No, but you know the jitney. It sometimes takes awhile for it to get here,” I replied.

She seemed very sweet, casually dressed, beyond middle-aged with her graying dark hair pulled back in a bun and small frizzy curls in front of her ears were let loose to fly a bit in the air. She looked like she could be someone’s sweet grandmother, I thought she probably was and was taking the bus back to Miami.

“Are you visiting?” I asked.

“No. I live here. My parents immigrated from Cuba when I was three years old. They were trying to escape the Castro regime. So I have lived in the states most of my life. Not always in Florida, because I went to New York to go to college. Then after college I moved to an apartment with some friends in the village and started working in the music business. Then after that we moved to Williamsburg and until I retired, I was involved with a large company that did a lot of the organizing for shows on Broadway. When I retired I moved back down here to Florida to be next to my son. Now I’m a chef for one of the private yachts in the marina here. The owner has a gluten sensitivity so it’s a challenge for me to try to create recipes without any ingredients that have gluten. But I’ve become pretty good at being able to do Cuban dishes and other dishes by substituting gluten-free products into those menus.”

We continued our conversation on the bus until she arrived at her stop. We exchanged business cards and she went on her way. She was such a fascinating woman. I was so wrong and have to claim stupidity in my initial narrow first judgement and impression of her. What I would have missed, not speaking with her! She was a well-educated, smart entrepreneurial woman.

The moral of my encounter is two pronged. Never judge a book by it’s cover and never miss a fascinating encounter by connecting with a fellow human, even if it is at the bus stop. What an interesting human story I would have missed had I not kept my iPhone in my purse.

Copyright Sandra Hart 2014. All rights reserved.

Nocturnal Wool Gathering

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Dear Children,

I had a dream about you last night. I could hear your little voices, symphonies of laughter over sounds of powerful splashing waves hitting the sand. The sounds. The smell of salt air. My nocturnal wool gathering was so real. Everything in my senses was taking me back to a time and place of youth and happiness.

I could see the glistening Atlantic that had come to create safe little pools for you to splash and laugh and build sand castles in, lasting only until the next wave filled the sandy pocket with new beginnings. Come and go, swish, swish. Come and go to the sea again. I was living it so clearly…..

Until the light of morning came and washed away the happiness of when little wet hands caressed my face, peanut butter smiles and little toes filled with sticky sand filled my days at the beach. Life beyond my slumber cracked open the door to let those sunshine moments of our past, those butterfly moments; let them fly away into the sunrise.

I know they say good mothering is letting go – teaching our birds to spread their wings and fly away from the nest, strong and independent enough to build nests of their own. But I miss life with you, I do.

I miss the clutter of clothes in all the wrong places, rock music at decibels that shook windows, Tonka cars turned into hammers and music makers creating new scars and dents on anything and everything that meant something to me, stepping over teen bodies with new faces and sleeping forms. Strangers in our house on Saturday mornings. I miss it all. I just want you to know that.

My journey began before you came.

I didn’t know part of the way you were to walk with me.

I traveled unknowingly seeking roads along the way looking for that perfect life an Eden where we could stay.

Sometimes the way was unclear.

We often journeyed in darkness misguided by my ignorance complicated by my innocence.

I have taken you places you may have never been had destiny not chosen you to travel along with me.

Your journey will take its own course, and as was meant to be

I will continue along my paths guided by my choices yet unknown to me.

Take my hand and bid farewell our paths to cross now and then.

Each journey’s day I feel blessed it was meant to be, part of the way you were to walk with me.

Love,

Mother



Copyright Sandra Hart 2014. All rights reserved.

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WOMEN LIVING IN A TOXIC WASTELAND

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Photo by Rena Effendi/Institute

This morning, I read a powerful article from the London Tribune written by Holly Morris in 2012 about a group of women over fifty who took charge of their lives. It left me thinking about my life and the choices that I’ve made and how relatively easy those choices have been. None of them have involved life or death decisions.

In spite of the danger warnings by the government these women from Chernobyl in the Ukraine decided that living in government housing in the cities was depressing and more stressful than going back home to probably the most toxic place on earth to be surrounded by their friends and things that make them happy.

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They came home to the land they love and have banded together ever since in a community that shares food, fellowship, joys and sorrows.

Unlike these brave women, it has taken a lot of living for me to let go of the fear that used to control my life when I was younger.

Fear of failure, fear of change, and fear of making mistakes is quite paralyzing and inhibiting. The quicker we are able to drain the power from that word the better off we will be.

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Please take a minute to click on the following link and read the story of these very courageous women of Chernobyl

I hope you will be inspired, whether or not you agree with their decision. http://bit.ly/1wa9hT7

Copyright Sandra Hart 2014

MY TEN YEAR JOURNEY FOR CLOSURE

I will not mourn although my heart is torn, Oh love forever lost! I will not mourn. Heinrich Heine

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Places Within My Heart: My Journey Along The River Of Life

LUXOR, EGYPT 1984

In spite of the large fans circulating far above our heads on the ceiling, the lobby in our hotel at Luxor was only a few degrees cooler than the desert heat outside. As I looked around I would not have been surprised to see Humphrey Bogart sitting at the bar, with the polished mahogany piano and yellow ivories in the corner of the room twanging out soulful tunes. It was something right out of a movie set.

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I was brought back to reality by the the sound of a melodic English accent calling “Ma’am, please Ma’am.” I turned to see a tall Nubian porter dressed in a galabiyya. His long sinewy body moved gracefully toward us and his face was long, thin and etched with life.

“Bags, Ma’am. How many?”

Before I could reply, his strong arms scooped up our baggage.

“Follow me, nice room, end of hall, just right for you, Ma’am.”

His head turned back our way and he flashed a leathery grin as he darted away with us double-stepping to keep up with his long-legged strides. He led us down the long dark hallway and stopped just right off the corridor to a massive door marked with the brass number ‘8’.

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The unlocked door swung open to reveal a large open space with floor-to-ceiling windows on the far side. Tall green louvers opened on either side letting in the hot morning sun. A double bed and chair on the right, and to the left a doorway that led to a smaller room that was to serve as my son’s space while we were here.

The high ceiling had the familiar fans like those in the lobby and were slowly moving the stale air about the room. I tilted my face upwards to catch the slight swirling of air when my eyes caught something dark on the ceiling. I slid my sunglasses down to the edge of my nose to get a clearer view, “What are…..”

My son craned his neck upward.

“They’re moving up there alright! Wow! What are they?” Emerson said.

“Not to worry Ma’am.They are harmless-they will not bother you,” said the Nubian.

“Just little lizards up there,” he said as he motioned upward toward the ceiling. “They’re not looking to eat you,” he added with a slight chuckle. “Less bugs to eat on you, they have big appetite.”

I wasn’t too sure I believed him but his cool manner was somewhat convincing.

Emerson went to check out his quarters and I walked to the tall window near the bed. The view was rather surreal. Lush grass grew on the ground below and in the center I could see a small pool half filled with dirty water, algae clinging to the edges where the water met the cracked sides of the cement pond. Neglect and the desert heat had obviously taken it’s toll on this tiny oasis in the unkept gardens.

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I imagined that in it’s prime the gardens must have been meticulously manicured with every detail taken care of by a host of gardeners, I envisioned lovely ladies with umbrellas and big hats, fluttering fans and flowing white linens floating around the grounds on the arms of their distinguished English gentleman.

I can’t remember how long I had been standing there, but suddenly, a veil of sadness began to envelop me. My body shivered and an invisible hand lightly whisked across my shoulder. An overwhelming feeling of loneliness reached down into the deepest pocket of my soul. The years of un-cried tears welled, spilling past my lashes, streaming down my cheeks. A river coursing uncontrollably from my eyes.

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Who would’ve thought my life would be this. As a child I had such innocent and positive dreams for what I thought was my true destiny. Who would’ve guessed it wouldn’t be like in the movies I yearned to be in long ago. And in that room in Luxor, Egypt, a place far away from my home, far away from my roots, my life and memories I had repressed for too many painful years came flooding to the surface.

I had my plan and God had His. My plan for my life had been cast aside. It didn’t matter. For the first time in years, I knew I would be okay. I could heal. Finally, I understood and accepted. Finally, I could forgive God. And I could cry.

Author’s Note: The preceding is an excerpt from my memoir/journal I kept during a trip I made to Cairo, Egypt and then down the Nile. This journey had the unexpected result in my healing from the trauma of my husband’s illness and murder years prior.

Available: Print, Kindle, Nook Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
Copyright Sandra Hart 2002-2014

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Making Sense Of Your Life.

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The other day I was standing in the kitchen waiting for my Keurig to spit out that first morning cup of coffee, mulling over why I write a blog when I have so many other projects on my plate. I have been taking several online courses about social media and blogging, so I guess that’s why it’s kind of in the forefront of my thoughts right now.

I woke up with a panic knot in my stomach thinking, wow, time is flying too fast, I still have so many things I want to do. The reality of my mortal clock ticking kind of scared me. Inside my head I’ve never felt my age and I’ve always continued to work in some creative form. But I never ever thought of an expiration deadline before. I’ve never ever thought of myself as getting older by the minute. In reality, physically, I guess I am, but mentally I still have the same kind of whirling dervish ideas I had when I was first building my life and career. The fact that I do have a ‘Sell By’ date that is getting closer and closer, I never gave more than a passing thought about it. Until yesterday.

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It seems that the older I get the stronger the fire within me grows to do something more with my life, when it should be the reverse. It’s kind of an ironic joke on some of us to still have a raging furnace inside; to want to live life to the fullest and not just sit around as a woman over 50 trying to make sense of her life. Are any of you feeling that way, or am I just out of step with the rest of my readers?

I want to ride the wave. This new Internet social networking evolution and ways that we can reach out to one another is so exciting to me. When I see all of these young entrepreneurs, especially young women with families, who are able to build wonderful careers while sitting at home without leaving their nest. How super that would’ve been for those of us who were raising our children in the 60s and 70s. To be able to do something fulfilling like that and still be at home with our children. In that respect, this is a wonderful age for women entrepreneurs. For them, if they know how to use social marketing and tools that are available to them with a click of a mouse or iPhone finger, there is nothing to stop them from being successful.

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Oh, I know you say, look, there were artists Grandma Moses, Georgia O’Keefe and presently actresses Maggie Smith, Helen Mirren, Joan Plowright. They are well over fifty and still going strong. You can probably think of others. And now look at Betty White who is still going in her 90’s. True. But what is the percentage of those who are still given the opportunity to be creative and working at that age. Not very high. But they are there, doing what they love to do. Why not us?

Well, I guess it all comes down to the fact that as a writer, by putting my thoughts out into the universe, I have been able to get this off my chest. Maybe I will be, along with you, some of the lucky ones who can keep going on doing whatever it is they love to do for a long, long time.

It’s good to be young and fearless, sure, but I honestly don’t want to go backwards in time. I’m more comfortable in my skin and am loving where I am right now. So as long as I can remember what I did yesterday, I promise to be grateful. I think I’ll continue to give it a go for as long as I can.

I wrote something in my memoir, Behind The Magic Mirror, that I would like to share with you and that I think is quite appropriate for this post:

In 1972 I interviewed the great violinist Rubenoff. Will Rogers had been a good friend of his and as a token of their friendship Will gave Rubenoff a watch engraved with thoughts he shared with me. The core thinking of what was engraved on the watch is that we go around but once in this life and we had better enjoy every minute of it while we can, because we don’t have the knowledge to know when our time here is over.

A memo to me to keep my fire burning until the last ember.

Copyright Sandra Hart 2014. All rights reserved.

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