The world seems to be crazy and a real mess theses days. Everyone is stressed and a whole lot of folks seem to be really angry all the time.
What has happened to us? What has happened to civility? What has happened to kindness? In every industry here on land in the skies, I have been hard pressed lately to meet many happy people. Oh, I know they are out there, but in very small numbers it seems.
Maybe it’s just a coastal thing – East and West. Hopefully in the middle somewhere there are grateful, kind and loving humans who haven’t forgotten how lucky we are to live in a free society.
This holiday I have taken it upon myself on my Youtube Channel to upload every day until Christmas my Kindness Calendar. If we could each day do one act of kindness for someone else, it will not only help them, but we will benefit emotionally, too.
We have to get some attitudes of gratitude going before it’s too late for reversal.
” She had a womanly instinct that clothes possess an influence more powerful over many than the worth of character or the magic of manners.” Louisa May Alcott
Our clothes and style are a mirror of who we really are, aren’t they? When we wake up in the morning what we wear indicates how we feel, where we are going and our attitude about the next twelve hours.
For men more than women, I think, sometimes dressing becomes routine as soon as their feet hit the floor. They throw on their favorite well-worn jeans, T shirt, slip on flip flops, loafers or old sneakers and are ready to face the world and what is out there waiting for them.
Most women are different animals all together. We plan, organize, accessorize and treat clothes as an extension of who we are. Our clothes don’t actually make us, but we make the clothes our own.
I had a dream that I awoke to a world of rationality, patriotism, non-partisan peace among men and charity to those who mean no harm. Love, hope for the future and for those willing to roll up their sleeves and work hard the opportunities were there. The churches and synagogues were an integral part of jointly helping their rebounding communities ….and I felt safe. Malice, greed and hatred were words unfamiliar to us. The year was 1947 and I was 8 years old.
This morning I opened my eyes and the forward flight of seventy years brought me back to reality that has no dream attached to it, but all the realities of our 2017 collective nightmares. How did this happen?
I have lived through 14 presidential elections, my family’s preferred candidate not always getting elected, but my parents were patriots who lived through the depression and respected our Constitution and the democratic process. With hate and malice toward none, they placed patriotism and love of country before politics. I am grateful for their strength that has allowed me to move forward in my life, sharing their same values.
My father always cautioned me that if I couldn’t say something nice, keep it to myself. “There are other ways to give positive reenfircement than hurting someone with negative speech or actions,” he would say. “Think before you speak. Always give someone the benefit of doubt and a chance,” he advised. “Do as your faith guides you, not as ‘they’ do.”
Well, it is evident everywhere I turn, all of this sage elder advice from my father years ago has evaporated in today’s divided political and hateful rethoric.
With fake news running rampant on the internet and passed around greedily like Krispy Kremes, everyone salivating to get their ‘two cents’ in to see who can be the most hatefully divisive, politicians holding up the democratic process because they angrily feel like it, Facebook ‘likes’ attached to vile negative posts, it seems we are doomed to perpetual division.
Where oh where has my country gone? Is everyone drinking denial Kool Aid? Hey folks, if you know civics, we have a new democratically elected president. The electoral college has spoken. I understand, reality bites for some, but acceptance and support of our Constitution is part of the privilege of living in this great country.
I am off Facebook and only sharing my blogs. I have turned off the television and instead I am reading more and working at my own craft and thank God everyday for the beautiful adoptive children in my extended family life who wouldn’t be here today if their birth mothers had had an abortion.
I am boycotting my once respected union peers out in Hollywood. I want to see them ply their craft and I care not a twit their stance on politics. Whether folks agree or not with you, fellow actors, award events are not the platforms to share your political rage. Just because you can, doesn’t make it right, or even interesting.
So, I don’t know how long my withdrawal from the political insanity will be, but with malice toward none I am giving the new president a chance to keep us safe, improve the economy, and move us forward. If he doesn’t, then, lucky me, democracy will allow a change.
In the meantime, for someone, do or say something kind today, will you? One small step for mankind may collectively save all of us in the end.
“In my opinion two of the most meaningful short sentences that create positive human emotional response in the English language are ‘I love you.’ and ‘Thank you.’ ” – Sandra Hart
Having coffee in the stillness of the morning today, I was thinking about my grandchildren and how the world and even traditions are changing. For them, they are experiencing great things through technology and yet, great emotional and social losses because of it.
My most cherished book at age thirteen was Emily Post’s Book of Etiquette. Almost every girl I knew had a copy. To be able to navigate all social settings it just was the required guide to have as a young woman. Emily Post’s book first published in 1922 and updated on a regular basis to keep up with the changing society, was the standard book of reference to have as a young woman on etiquette for all occasions.
For most of my formative years it was my rescue to navigating thank you notes, large and complicated table settings, wedding gifts, invitations, resumes and even writing to the judiciary, government officials and titled persons. Anything and everything dealing with life and occasions, even proper death condolences was covered.
Throughout the years I tucked between Emily’s pages thank you notes from friends or important pieces of my emotional trivia. It became sort of a social cookbook of my life and it was the one book that I never wanted to part with.
I would love to share my traditions with my granddaughters with the more modern and updated versions by Elizabeth Post, but I don’t think they would be interested. An etiquette book probably would gather dust somewhere in their room. Times have changed.
If you are a grandparent, do you agree? We are witness to grandchildren and their generation who seem to be caught up with their heads in the vortex of the isolation of visual entertainment and keyboards, forgetting all about one-on-one social etiquette, or interest in sitting down to write a thank you note?
I love getting a thank you call, but my heart would sing to have the postman deliver an honest-to-goodness note in their handwriting that I could slip between the pages of my social cookbook. A thank you that indicates they have taken the time to let me know they love me.
What a great loss in human connectivity these techno kids will miss and sadly, may never be able to understand or recapture.
Join my YouTube chats at Life Over Sixty With Sandra. https://youtu.be/d0Ry2Oi-jns
I recently have started vlogging in conjunction with my weekly blog here on WordPress. Easy for you, you might think. With all of my television background and time spent in front of the camera it should be natural. Yes? No.
For me, it has been an extreme learning curve.
Previously, I have been in front of the camera as an interviewer or newscaster. On television and film, I have always assumed my character and perhaps only small parts within that make believe I have found myself. All of this technique and experience is so much different than being just old me. Even on Romper Room I was a teacher and not really myself.
Time and again I have heard famous actors reveal how shy they really are, or how difficult it is for them to expose themselves as ‘real persons’. I kind of understood them, but now I really know what they mean. It takes a lot of ‘unlearning’ to expose the ‘real me’ in my vlogging efforts.
All of this brings me to wondering if any of us even in our sixties and beyond know who we really are. Are we defined by our careers, our race or sex, beliefs, age, our talents or our roles as parents, breadwinners, or whatever face or hat we put on in front of the mirror? Is that a reflection of what others see in us as to who we are?
These past few election weeks have been a real eye opener to me. A few Facebook friends that I thought I knew have shown such an ugly side of who they really are that they have shattered the mirror. I have been quite taken back at times. Hiding within the darkness of social media has enabled the worst in some people. Do they honestly see themselves and realize what image they are projecting? Do they know who they really are?
Previously, I always had confidence in knowing who I am, but vlogging has made me aware that maybe, after all these years I’m not so sure yet.
I do hope that some of you are further along with that than I am and are willing to help me along my way. Or maybe it is as Shakespeare has said,
So I am off on this new adventure and learning vlog by vlog. One advantage of talking to myself in front of the camera in an empty room is that at least I know somebody’s listening.
This last week has been a hard one. With all of the anticipation of the election here in the United States and the result causing a frenzy the likes of which I have never seen before in my lifetime was hard on all of us.
I hate to admit it but I was born during Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Presidency. So you do the math. I have lived through many presidential races and elections. When I was old enough to vote, my choice was not always the people’s choice. but I excepted it. I supported whomever was in office and I moved on.
This past week was radically different-something that really was a revelation to me. I think to all of us. Social media has given rise to hate filled rhetoric.
Formerly our news came from television, newspapers and radio and we relied on those outlets for unbiased reporting. We could make up our own minds in the privacy of our immediate friends and families. Today with existing platforms, we can spew hate behind a post.
The infighting got so bad on my Facebook page that it was not fun to log on anymore. My daughters and some of their friends felt the same way. Their solution? Unfriend those who were going over the top with hate- filled speech. So two nights ago, with a click, I culled my friends and kept those who may have had other persuasions than I do, but were reasonable in their objections. Now I am free at last to return to Facebook.
In this democracy there are winners. The winning candidate and those who voted for him. But in a way, we all should feel we are winners, because if the President-Elect does a terrible job, we have the power of our vote to change the POTUS. The people do have the ballot box power and the privilege to decide who speaks and governs on our behalf.
I have never picked my friends by political persuasion, race or religion and I’m not going to ever go down that road. So, please, let us all move forward and enjoy life and the things that bring us together. Accentuate the positives in our lives and know we do have the power to rise above and accept our differences.
Who knew when I was raising my kids in a little one square mile town on the Jersey Shore that my family was destined to be a migratory one. My children eventually flew away one by one to find their dreams and new opportunities. I slowly closed the New Jersey chapter in my life and winged it snowbird style to Florida to experience my freedom years.
This time of year, though, I always try to think of the upside of being a mother whose children have left me with an empty nest – it gives me lots of places to visit when I find myself in the unbearable summer heat of my tropical paradise and longing to see young faces again.
For a few days now I’ve been in Chicago visiting my daughter and enjoying as much as I can in this beautiful city of wind and water. Before attending a play at the Athenaeum last night we crossed the street to the Golden Apple restaurant for a little pre-theater dinner that gave me a déjà vu culinary journey.
The Golden Apple is the closest food experience in Chicago that reminded me of a New Jersey diner. Unforgettable. (One known fact about New Jersey, other than it being the birthplace of Frank Sinatra, it’s the New Jersey diner experience.)
If any of my readers are fans of PBS’s program ‘This American Life’ you should be familiar with the Golden Apple. Moderator Ira Glass encompassed an entire show interviewing patrons at the Golden Apple.
The restaurant in itself is a tiny community within a community. Local patrons go there and mix with unnoticed celebrities on a regular basis. You might say it’s a comfort zone with comfort food at comfortable prices. Something that is harder and harder to find these days.
I guess I could share with you that I had a nice talk with the owner, we exchanged selfie’s and promised to ‘like’ each other’s Facebook pages. And I could also share that as we were about to walk into the theater a man came running across the street, a handsome old silver fox, to tell me how beautiful my dress was and that he loved the color of my hair and maybe he could take me out to dinner sometime, but those are separate stories themselves.
I’m not quite too sure how to explain my meanderings today, but I guess it’s just that life is always an adventure and living each day to the fullest is the best reason to stay around a little longer. The unexpected moment just around the corner makes it all worth while.
If you do not allow yourself to open up, no one will ever see the beautiful flower inside of you.
When my children were growing up our house was home to a myriad cache of animals, four- legged and otherwise. I think the only creatures my salary was not feeding were those without legs and crawled on their bellies.
Dogs, cats, water fowl, rabbits, gerbils, turtles and birds, both wild and caged, were given TLC and a haven in our home. After a long day at work, I was never sure to whom or what I would be feeding and giving a forever home when I opened our front door, kicked off my high heels and threw the keys on the entry table.
I admit, my three children and I are all animal lovers. My daughters drooled ‘dog’ and ‘horse’ when letting their parents know they were getting the hang of expressing themselves as humans, but honestly, I point my now over-fifty finger at my middle child, Alison, for the menagerie on Ballinswood Road. Her first word relating to a four-legged creature (that should have been a red flag for sure) was an omen that her family then and now would have to accept her compassion for animals big and small.
Today, five decades later, Alison is still caring and giving shelter to rescue animals on her 75 acre thoroughbred farm, Tower Hill Farm, near Lexington in Paris, Kentucky. It’s a family affair – the three of them working as a team, she and her children giving a home to retired race horses, fostering dogs through the local humane programs and caring for and nurturing their own horses and pets.
A single parent of two active teens with a full-time job, I touch base with Alison daily on my iPhone, finding her most often in the barn late at night caring for the horses after a long day at work, followed by chauffeuring her children to and from their sporting activities. The phrase ‘a farmers work is never done, from sun to sun’ rings true for my daughter. Her passion for animals and caring for abandoned creatures sets her above and beyond most. Out of her own pocket she has been funding this humanitarian cause for years, because it is what she was called to do. Veterinarian, farrier fees, feed, hay and other related expenses for these rescues are all a part of Alison’s humanitarian efforts to save these beautiful animals from the reality of being sold off at auction for slaughter to meat/dog food industries, or sold to medical industries for experimentation.
With all of the chaos and hate around us in the world that is out of our control, I would like to see something positive happen that IS within our grasp right here. Right now. I have set up a
GoFundMe account to help these animals in need and to assist Alison in proving a safe haven for others as well as these horses and foster dogs in need of a deserved forever home.
If we can assist Alison by raising at least $2,500 for hay for the rescue horses it would be a great support for these beautiful animals who don’t deserve to be cast aside.
As we spend time on this planet we all have ties. Strings to people that have crossed our paths in various chapters of our lives who are extremely important to us. To our memories. Each one of those important strings to a life, to my life, to yours, that has been knit from birth until now. Unexpected feelings of camaraderie to perfect strangers has always been such a mystery to me. Why some people cross your path and you immediately feel a bond, a sisterhood with them. Deep friendships are a very rare and cherished thing, aren’t they. I probably, in my lifetime, can count on one hand the true deep girlfriend relationships I have had in my life.
The unfortunate twist and irony of it all is that sometimes we don’t realize how important these threads are in our past until the comfort begins to unravel. Today has been such a day for me.
I met Alice on my first day at the Barbizon Hotel for Women in New York where we both were staying while we went to school. She lived on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills and I was from an industrial town on the Ohio River. Our backgrounds couldn’t have been more dissimilar. Her brother was in Princeton and mine at Cincinnati University. Her father lunched at The Brown Derby and my father took his to work with him. In spite of our different beginnings, Alice and I quickly bonded. How could you not like her. She was pretty, sweet and always had a smile and a good word for everyone.
After we each graduated from school she went back to the West Coast and wound up in San Francisco and I stayed in New York for a while and eventually when I got married settled in Pittsburgh. But throughout the years we’ve always kept in touch talking about our boyfriends, then husbands, then our children.
Throughout the years on holidays we exchanged cards and wrote from time to time, but our relationship was forged even greater when we both found a renewed closeness on Facebook. It was like having coffee with Alice every morning when I logged onto Facebook and became a part of her life once again.
Well, this morning we lost Alice and I lost one of my forever-for-life friends. Alice always was the cheerful one-always the positive one. She told me a few months ago that she was not afraid of dying. She said she just felt sad for those that she was leaving behind. She would be going on to something better. That was Alice. Cheerful and positive to the end, or maybe as she believed to the beginning.
Alice was one of those last threads to my earlier chapters and I will miss her dearly. But one of the many things about knowing Alice has taught me is don’t be afraid to live every moment of your life while you’re here. Live it with kindness. Live it with compassion. Live it with faith.
We all will miss you dear Alice. Sweet dreams my good friend.
Copyright Sandra Hart 2016
( Recent events have reminded me how important family is. I am also reminded of how special extended family can be, cousins especially. One of my second cousins, Nyna Giles, is writing a memoir about her mother*, my first cousin Carolyn, and another second cousin, Kacy Ferrar, recently posted the picture above on Facebook. Both of these have taken me back to my own memories of my cousins and Grandma’s house. I dedicate this to all of them.)
My mother grew up with nine brothers and sisters. As a result of that reality my brother and I inherited 18 first cousins on the maternal side.
The best part of that is we were born with friends. Every holiday or special occasion we would pile into grandma’s dining room with us cousins sometimes overflowing into the kitchen. None of us jitterbugs ever minded being set up at the long table covered with oil cloth because it meant we were out from under our parents noses.
Pigtails could be pulled, unwanted food easily gotten rid of by a quick shove onto someone else’s plate and kicks under the table couldn’t be reprimanded.
All of us flying in and out around that farm house like wild honey bees during those gatherings, the joy we all felt as children, as cousins, of just being, escaped us. We thought it would last forever. Of course, it didn’t.
As I have written about so often, soon after the war prosperity was beginning to bloom and most of my aunts and uncles moved to various parts of the state and country where they could find work. Thus the fracturing of the close knit family began and my loving ties to my cousins unraveled.
My mother, though, remained very close to her four sisters and brother who lived nearby. They were the threads that kept us cousins connected as we grew up and went our own way as adults, leaving behind fading memories of Grandma’s kitchen and a life that would never again be. We were never to be together again in that utopian state. Nor were we to know then that the only gatherings later on where some of us could reacquaint ourselves would be when we were grieving the loss of one of our own.
Christmas cards would be exchanged by a few of us throughout the years, but basically I would say most of us lost touch for many years. Everyone seemed busy with their own lives, their own children in their own dining rooms and kitchens during the years. Looking back, I realize it was such a loss of time for all of us.
Perhaps the longest relationship as a young adult for me would’ve been with my older cousin Carolyn in New York. Carolyn was like me more than any of my other cousins. Most of them were just happy to get married, have children and work at what they liked. I was different. I had been born with big dreams. I couldn’t help it. It just was. Dreams of something beyond my existence in the small industrial town where I lived.
My cousin Carolyn, when I was still young, was able to fly away and realize her dreams. She was our family’s shining star. She was the one who had made it. It was Carolyn. She was the hand that was there to pull me out and inspire me to not be afraid of wanting more. Unfortunately, as the cruelty of life sometimes reveals itself, throughout the years, circumstantially, no one was there with an understanding hand for her.
I guess the point of all this retrospective and what inspired this blog is that through Facebook I have been able to connect with so many members of my extended family that throughout the years I have lost. My cousins, second cousins, maternal cousin’s, fraternal cousins are back. We’re not sitting in the kitchen at Grandma’s table in Ohio, but we are connected and we are back as an extended family. For that I am most grateful. Thank you Facebook.