9/11 & Grandparents Day: Choices to Make

It’s National Grandparents Day.

It’s also the 15th anniversary of 9/11.

And both these days resonate for me.

On Sept. 11, 2001, I was teaching 8th grade Language Arts  in South Orange, NJ when the principal made a vague announcement over the PA system. Rumors started and I tried calling my husband, who worked in New York City, using the classroom telephone. He told me what happened based on what he knew.

Eventually we found out more, and were asked to gather information from our students about where their parents worked and who might be home to collect them. The school emptied and staff who lived locally, including me, stayed with the students who couldn’t leave on their own. I focused on the tasks and the ambiguity of the news—we didn’t have televisions in the classrooms. I knew something terrible had occurred and worried about my husband getting home that night. (He worked mid-town and stayed in the city that night but his firm lost three employees.)

When I arrived home, I quickly learned that my neighbor didn’t return. He was in  one of the towers. Neighbors mobilized with search teams and food brigades and later offered housing for relatives who came for his funeral. He left a wife and three children, all under 8 years old. We wallowed in grief for a young life lost too soon, for all the other lives, and for our nation.

In 2001, I was a mother of three school-aged children.

Now, in 2016, I’m a grandmother of seven. (#8 on the way).

Now I’m connected to the future in the most profound way and I worry about the world these children will inherit.

Teachers in classrooms across the country are grappling with ways to inform a new generation about 9/11. I hope they’re putting it in context, exploring the roots of terrorism yet sharing the values that make this country great: freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and human rights. I want my grandchildren to know tolerance for all and understand peace is a process not a quick fix. I want them to have empathy for those that have little and want them to be stewards of the earth and  all its people.

That future lies in our hands.

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All Things Are Connected

Read, think and vote responsibly.

Writing Between the Lines

The chief of a certain village had many advisors.

If there was something he wanted done, he would order it done, and it would be done. “Is it a good thing?” the chief would ask. Whether it was a wise decision or no, his counselors always agreed.  Those who did not were beaten.  There was one counselor who never said ‘yes’ and never said ‘no.’  This counselor would consider the matter and reply, “All things are connected.”


The village was located at the edge of the marsh.  At night when the chief couldn’t sleep, he became aware of the noisy croaking of the frogs.  Once it came to his attention, he found himself listening for it each night.  The sound annoyed him so much he ordered all the frogs killed.


“Do you agree with my plan?” he asked.  His counselors all agreed, except for the one, who warned, “All things are connected.”…

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I really am speechless but I have to say something

Another wonderful post by my friend Dr. Judy Washington. Proud to say I’m doing yoga training with her and we’re planning a workshop for homeless families in our community. More to come.

A Family Doctor's Reflection

The events of the past few months have been mind-numbing. For me, this is what happens when I get overloaded with so much negativity.  I go numb and then I have to process all my feelings.  This helps me be logical and rational when all those around me seem to be falling apart.  I used this process all through college, medical school, residency training and now as a residency faculty.

I am starting Yoga Teacher Training.  I am going to use it to teach anyone who will let me all the techniques I have learned to have balance mentally, physically and emotionally. More about that journey in another post.

I went to HS in 1971 and graduated in 1975. A great deal had happened and was happening in Birmingham, Alabama.  We (Black students)  were integrating predominantly White schools and we  all had to adjust. I learned how volatile and fragile this coexistence would…

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Adult Coloring Books: Color Your Dreams

It’s hard to avoid the adult coloring book craze. They’re prominently displayed by the checkout counters of every grocery, drug and big box store I enter, though I haven’t personally seen anyone buy any as usually they’re too busy looking at their phones or unloading their carts.

Thanks to Scottish author, Johanna Basford, the industry has taken off. Her 2013 title, Secret Garden: An Inky Treasure Hunt and Colouring Book became an instant bestseller and spurred others to join the publishing bonanza. And the news industry hasn’t ignored the fad, writing about its success and giving advice on how to produce your best effort.   “An estimated 12 million adult coloring books sold in the U.S last year, up from 1 million in 2014.”

Adults are coloring to relieve stress, relive their childhoods, or to keep their hands busy when phones aren’t allowed, like doctors’ waiting rooms. (I knit).

We had one son and his family visiting us at our lake in PA these past 5 days. My brother and my niece joined us. Dasha,  an accomplished artist, shared some of her drawing techniques with the kids.  IMG_1511

They prefer to draw “outside the lines,”  and don’t seem that eager to color in books. I know my kids had coloring books at times but don’t think they ever loved them much. Free style doodling and painting led to many artistic works that were hung on refrigerators, sent to grandparents, and framed for posterity to hang on our walls.

Yet far be it from me to chastise a harmless hobby. So here’s a new adult coloring book created by illustrator Ryan Durney. He’s a master at fantastical drawings and produced

Color Your Dreams: Adult Coloring & Dream Journal Unknown-1 after spending months fulfilling orders for commercial adult coloring books. I met Ryan through the hireanllustrator.com and contracted with him to illustrate my soon-to-be announced picture book, Clara & Her Nutcracker.  9781522752509_p0_v1_s192x300

Please check out Color Your Dreams if you’re an adult into coloring.

And if you’re into anything Nutcracker, please check out Clara & Her Nutcracker!

In the meantime, I found this cartoon amusing:

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Cleaning Out: Goodbye Cello, Sax & Oboe

“Do you think you’ll want your cello?” I asked my son many months ago. Apartment living, graduate school, working and four small children didn’t allow much space or time for music.

The local high school happily accepted my donation. I added a saxophone and oboe my daughter had played, and bags of sheet music, boxes of reeds, and other accessories accumulated over the years of participation in school band and orchestra.

Culling through the stacks of music, glancing at tattered notebooks from various teachers, I remembered the many hours spent driving to lessons, bringing forgotten instruments to school, and the many concerts we proudly attended every winter and spring.

Our children took piano lessons  and each one selected a a band instrument in 4th grade. Our eldest played bass clarinet, which he still has and picks up for fun now and then.   Through the music programs, we joined a community at the high school and town. Our sons participated in marching band all four years of high school and we attended not only football games to cheer them on but also competitions in far-flung corners of the state, joining other parents clanging cowbells and other noisemakers when our team took the field.

Our cello- playing son moved to Israel last week. He and his wife brought his trumpet and her saxophone, but said no to the cello. Hopefully they’ll find some time to make music in their new home.

We unloaded the car and carried the instruments into the band room, leaving them against a wall with other instruments awaiting students when school opens. New fingers will play these instruments; other families will take pride in their children’s musical prowess.

I did however keep one of my daughter’s oboes. I’d called her former teacher and asked if she taught adults. I can read music, having taken piano, but have always wanted to be in a band. There are many community orchestras nearby and I’m hoping I can get good enough to join one day.

Stay tuned.

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Posted in aging, Education, Family, Music, parenting, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , | 15 Comments

…”a very, very, nice, long vacation.”…

Wise words from my friend, Millie, aka hugmamma.

hugmamma's MIND, BODY and SOUL

Image result for donald trump golfing images(photo…latimes.com)

…that’s what Donald Trump wants. That’s what he says he’ll do if he doesn’t win. In this case I, for one, would love to give the man what he wants.

Trump rightfully deserves to be put out to graze. No one has worked harder at distorting the truth than The Donald himself. God bless him. He didn’teven break a sweat in his Goliath undertaking, unlike Marco Rubio who was drenched in his own sweat according to Trump.

Trump is to be admired for driving his own brand of rhetoric that had him circling roundabouts of his own making that had the experts tied up in knots, stumbling over their own tongues.

The presidential candidate will go down in history as having done it “his way” all the way. Move over Sinatra, Trump can sing those lyrics better than you any day of the week…and some.

If I had…

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Acupunture at the Norman Bethune Hospital

Mom remembers watching surgeries in China.

bestofbarbara

In January, 1975, the National Guardian newspaper, a radical, independent weekly and the Chinese government sponsored a three week tour for American farmers. My husband Marty and I were excited to be invited.

We travelled through six major cities and their surrounding areas, tasting every aspect of Chinese life, as guests of the Chinese government. There were twenty-two in our party, including our coordinator from the United States. Two or three translator/guides accompanied us throughout our travels in China. In each of the regions we visited, local officials joined us to enlighten us about their work, and the history and culture of each site.

One of the most memorable events of the tour was the visit to the Norman Bethune Hospital in Shih Chia Chuang. Dr. Norman Bethune, a thoracic surgeon from Montreal, relinquished his privileges at state of the art hospitals in Canada in 1939 to establish the hospital in Shih…

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