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Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Maya Angelou, The Voice of Strength

Today I share the sadness of a great loss but I'm certain there is a red carpet celebration in the heavens. Maya Angelou left us many great gifts but the one I cherish the most is that of inner strength and intimate peace.  If in doubt, whether one person can make a difference in this world...just look around at all of the amazing people that have stepped up and demonstrated that yes, it CAN be done.

For years I've read her work and have been greatly inspired by it.  Her quote reaffirmed the great joy and relief I felt when I published my memoir, Shattered Paradise. Indeed, "There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you."--Maya Angelou

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The Malediction of War

On a day like today, May 20th, ill-omened clouds whirled in the sky; the thick air made it hard to breathe as changes were brought upon our small town in Nicaragua. It had been decided, the last Somoza dictator, Anastasio Somoza Debayle, would soon be overthrown by the FSLN (Frente Sandinista de LiberaciĆ³n Nacional.) It was early in the morning, cannot recall the exact time, for all I can remember is the feeling of disorientation as we awoke to the resonating blast of bombs that crushed the cobblestone roads and the heavy machinery that annihilated whatever came across its path.  And after the thunders of weaponry had ceased and there was no one else to kill, the tenebrous siren that had first led us to the refuge, once again instructed us to resume our journey back home—as if nothing had ever happened. The frighten crowd gathered their belongings and cautiously stepped out of the building like deer into an open meadow. Slowly, people resumed their walk into town, but this time silence transpired through the multitude and no one shoved or hurried to get ahead, casting an eerie feeling amongst us. The clean smell of the air we were used to became replaced by gunpowder and the nauseating smell of blood.

The heart pounding reverberation of people’s fear now serenaded our innocent lives. My own heartbeat increased to levels I was unused to. People murmured and cried... and others stood silent like me, blinded by the sight of red hues from mutilated corpses that tainted the streets. After encountering the malediction of war, nothing could ever be the same.  

                                            ---Excepts from Shattered Paradise: Memoirs of a Nicaraguan War Child

The cost of war is too high.  War only leads to despair and incurable loss.  We can all make a difference in this world...lead a positive life and minimize the many wars we might cause each day.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

A Mother for all Times

It was said once that merely giving birth to a child does not necessarily make a woman into a good mother.  Rather, it is both the act of physically giving birth and raising a child through good and bad times.  My mother did both and went beyond sacrifice to ensure my happiness...and for that I'm ever so grateful.

The following is an excerpt from my memoir: Shattered Paradise: Memoirs of a Nicaraguan War Child.  Ever since I've known my mother, she has been abnegated and dedicated to the family.  Her resiliency has saved many lives and has brought much needed hope.

Chapter 1

According to my beloved grandfather, my parents’ marriage began with a promise of love, which made my young Mama agree to all ideas Papa proposed. She followed like a child follows a parent—right behind, no questions asked. Until one day, deep into the cloud forest of Nicaragua, fear thickened the air, and the warm soil’s vapors permeated through the wild grass. The torrential storm unleashed its fury, over-flooding riverbanks, and creating new paths along the way. Lightning parted the skies covered by an ominous curtain of clouds, which in turn brought unusually cold air upon my parents’ isolated farmhouse. To their denial, the reason for such wrath remains unclear. Papa had blamed it on natural disasters, possibly a hurricane or the exploitation of the land’s resources: the chained monkeys, deforestation and the extracting of scarlet macaws from their nests. Mama had blamed the Lord for washing away our sins, and I only blamed the unremitting tears escaping Mama’s soul at the recollection of an event, one that had happened so long ago.

For many years, I remained uncertain of what made Mama passionate for Papa. Out of respect to my parents, I never asked. Perhaps it was his deep clef chin, his light brown hair, his right cheek dimple or his incurable obstinacy. His height could not have attracted her, for Mama always stood taller than Papa. This disproportion, often exaggerated by her high-heeled shoes, did not trouble Papa as long as her arm went under his, and he was close to her brunette hair and to her slim silhouette wrapped in porcelain skin.

“Follow me to the farm. I have built us a new home. I will hire helpers to help us plow the land. There, you will have everything, from organic foods to my unconditional love,” Papa persuaded Mama.

“Wait until our first child is born,” Mama responded. Eager Papa could hardly wait to have her by his side, and solely for him. Therefore, just a month after the birth of their first child Amanda, he swayed her to follow him to their remote farm amid the forest. He wished to reproduce his family with only the symphony of the surrounding wildlife and solemn company of the broadleaf trees.

“No! Wait at least one year before taking the child to the forest,” Mama’s unfailing priest, Father Odorico advised.

“But father, the Holy Scripture commands that a good wife must accompany her husband wherever he might go! Please father, offer me your blessing.”

“In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit...” the humble priest blessed, exposing a re- sewn cassock beneath his armpit.

Mama packed an old leather luggage that had belonged to Abuela and hurried to La EstaciĆ³n with little Amanda in her arms, wrapped snuggly in a pink blanket. Once there, she would ride the bus to meet her young husband by the roadside. The noise of the busy transit made little Amanda cry but Mama cradled her onto her warm chest. 

“It’s all right my angel, we are going with Papa,” she whispered to the child as her eyes glistened with emotions, typical of a woman in love.

The old yellow bus quickly overfilled its capacity with passengers who smelled like days-old fermentation. They were mostly campesinos, humble peasants traveling with live chickens tied up by their feet with a nylon string, upside down and hung onto wooden poles, which they carried over their shoulders nearly poking Mama on the head. But holding her breath behind her polite smile, she managed to shove herself to the very back of the bus where a gentleman would offer his own seat. The heavily pot-holed dirt road made her body ache, but she knew the pain was worth enduring, for beyond the dust clouds raised by the old diesel bus, awaited a completely new world.

“Soon, our lungs will breathe fresh air; our eyes will see beautiful wild flowers, moss and exotic animals,” she whispered again into the infant’s ear. Throughout the journey, Mama drifted into a world of spectacular dreams. She imagined herself galloping along with little Amanda and her husband through the mystical cloud forests, bathing under cool waterfalls and dancing in a garden filled with scented wild orchids and melodious Toucanets. Until the bus came to a sudden stop and Mama had to shove herself once more through the overly crowded bus, evading the flutter of the restless upside-down chickens on the campesinos’ wooden poles. 

Upon arrival, wearing black high-water boots and a large cowboy hat, awaited Papa, acknow- ledging Mama with anticipation. When Mama first saw him, her heart nearly exited off her chest and feeling butterflies inside her stomach nearly forgot she was carrying little Amanda. Papa waved by the roadside, exposing his deep cheek dimples and cleft chin as he held two horses firmly, a black Andalusia horse that was his and a red Clydesdale he had purchased for Mama. The young lovers hugged and without much hesitation, saddled onto their own horses and embarked on a journey that would soon transform their lives forever.

To be continued...... 

Saturday, May 10, 2014

#Mother's Day

Flower Fields, Carlsbad, CA 

Happy Mother's Day to all amazing and resilient mother's in the world!  You deserve the best, for without you there would be no world.

As we celebrate Mother's Day, I think and reflect about the sacrifices my mother made to ensure my happiness...and I'm ever so grateful.  I will be adding a story about her soon :-)