Tag Archive | life

Peaks and Valleys


PeaksValleys A few days ago I came across the following post on Facebook:

The main reason why I wanted to repost her comment (with her permission, of course) is because of the message that it conveys — that although someone may be going through a difficult time, it doesn’t mean that it will forever be that way.

We all go through tough times, and during some of those times it may feel as if things will always remain the same. Sadly, some people choose to give up. In a future chapter of my autobiography, I will go in-depth about the worst year of my life – 1991.  However, more recently, I went through another “bad” time.

After losing my job and running out of unemployment in 2008, it was a very desperate time. No money for bills, no money for food and I actually lived for a month in my apartment with NO electricity. I prayed a lot and put my things in storage. After being unable to pay the storage bill, I lost EVERYTHING – all of my possessions – furniture, electronics, mementos, etc., many of which I had for thirty plus years. All I had was the clothes on my back and a few clothes I had in a carry-on bag. Before moving out of the state, I was even working a part-time telemarketing job, making approximately $75 a week. I couldn’t believe the position I was in, but I didn’t give up. After reminding myself of  “1991”, I knew that this wasn’t the worst and things weren’t going to remain the same. I slowly started crawling my way back towards the end of that year.

I briefly skimmed over that year, but, I just wanted to share the story, because that time in my life and many others was the impetus for starting this blog. I try to post uplifting quotes and stories from a place of having been where so many people have been – or still are. I’ve learned so much from my experiences and I just want to share as much as possible, so those who choose to read my blog, and can relate, will realize that they are going through what many before them have gone through. You are not alone. Thank you to Mia and God Bless anyone who may be going through a tough time. Hang in there and remember….

*** Coincidentally, I JUST read the following on Facebook. (It’s a few hours after I posted the above entry). I think it goes hand in hand with my blog entry above:  

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!

MORAL :
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 stepping stone. 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 happens.

3. Live simply and appreciate what you have.

4. Give more.

5. Expect less from people but more from yourself.

You have two choices… smile and close this page,

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Life Is…


I created this graphic for one of my favorite Mother Teresa quotes: 

I have received many responses to many of the posts on this blog, thus far. However, may I request that you please reply in the comment section of the blog  – as opposed to on Twitter, Facebook, emails, etc. – so that all responses will be together. Your comment may be helpful to others who come across something that they can relate to. You can comment anonymously.

 

Thank you and many blessings.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Life


I was touched deeply by the passing of a child today that I didn’t even know. Hearing of anyone’s passing would sadden a person, but, the passing of a child tugs at the heart as nothing else possibly could.  As she crossed my mind over and over throughout the day, it made me think of all of things she will never get to experience in life. I then began to think of how many people (myself included) waste so many precious moments, days, years. I think the following says it better than I ever could…

 

Life is an opportunity, benefit from it.

Life is beauty, admire it.

Life is bliss, taste it.

Life is a dream, realize it.

Life is a challenge, meet it.

Life is a duty, complete it.

Life is a game, play it.

Life is a promise, fulfill it.

Life is sorrow, overcome it.

Life is a song, sing it.

Life is a struggle, accept it.

Life is a tragedy, confront it.

Life is an adventure, dare it.

Life is luck, make it.

Life is too precious, do not destroy it.

Life is life, fight for it.  

Mother Teresa

  

 

The name of the little girl I was referring to is Shannon Tavares, and one of her dreams was to sing on Broadway. She fulfilled her dream when she won the role of  Nala in ‘The Lion King’, but it was cut short when her battle with Leukemia made it difficult for her to continue. Shannon passed away at the young age of 11, but not before she was able to share her gift with many. After hearing of her death, ironically, the only video I could find of her singing was one in which she sings the song, ‘Tomorrow’ from ‘Annie’ – a song that speaks of hope and looking forward to a brighter future.

 

The sun’ll come out
Tomorrow
Bet your bottom dollar
That tomorrow
There’ll be sun!

Just thinkin’ about
Tomorrow
Clears away the cobwebs,
And the sorrow
‘Til there’s none!

When I’m stuck a day
That’s gray,
And lonely,
I just stick out my chin
And Grin,
And Say,
Oh!

The sun’ll come out
Tomorrow
So ya gotta hang on
‘Til tomorrow
Come what may
Tomorrow! Tomorrow!
I love ya Tomorrow!
You’re always
A day
A way!

 

LIFE is precious. How will you spend your TOMORROWs?

 

UPDATE: Here is a link to Shannon’s website to get some background information on her. You can also listen to her sing ‘Circle of Life’ http://matchshannon.com/

It’s too late to save Shannon’s life, but you can still save the life of another. If you are interested in being a donor, you can register online here: http://www.marrow.org/JOIN/index.html?src=tabjoin

There is a very brief questionnaire to fill out and if you meet the initial qualifications, you will be sent a kit to do a ‘swab’ test. Send the test back and you will have taken the first steps in possibly saving someone’s life.

 

NOTE: What are the present percentages of minority donors? Hispanic or Latino, 9% of the total population. African-Americans or Black, 8% of the total population, Asian, 7% of the total population, Multiple Race, 3% of the total population, Native American or Alaskan Native, 1% of total population, while Caucasian donors represent more than 80% of the total population. per perserveourlegacy.org

 

 

If You Could Choose…


IF YOU COULD CHOOSE one year of your life to relive, what year (or age) would you choose? Why?  …in other words – what was your best year ever?

[Please answer below]

Chapter 3: Uncle Jerry, Is That You?


I don’t want to give the impression that I had an unhappy childhood. On the contrary, I had a very happy childhood – in my room. My room was the happiest place in the world to me because a little box with moving images made it so. It was as if my television was a sibling. I was always searching the dial for something to make me laugh to escape the craziness of what was outside of my bedroom door.

Television was so much of a major influence in my life, that many of my thoughts and actions over the years, came from watching family sitcoms such as Father Knows Best, The Donna Reed Show and Ozzie and Harriet. I do realize that the problem resolution in these shows is very unrealistic; but, in my young mind, all that mattered was that everyone was happy at the end of the program. I really didn’t have much interaction with my parents so, I conducted myself according to advice the sitcom parents gave to their offspring. I can just imagine how I would have turned out if my influences were shows that are on television these days. My favorite shows as a child were ‘I Love Lucy’, ‘The Carol Burnett Show’ and anything with Jerry Lewis – which accounts for the silly part of my personality. I could always count on them to bring a smile to my face. Once, when I was approximately ten years old, a few neighborhood kids stopped me on the way to the mailbox. After pushing me around for a bit and pulling my hair (it was the norm back then, most of the time, when I was around other females my age), one of them snatched two envelopes out of my hand. She asked me why I was sending letters to Lucille Ball and Jerry Lewis. Without skipping a beat, I said that Lucy was my mother and Jerry was my Uncle. I don’t remember if they believed me or not – but, since they had previously given me nicknames such as “white girl” and “light bulb” , they probably didn’t think that it was out of the realm of possibility. I always froze when I saw these group of girls approaching me because I knew that I was going to have a headache before long due to the inevitable hair pulling.

My mother enjoyed some of the shows that I liked, as well; practically, the only time that we did spend together was watching them. This time was special to me because it was rare when we would laugh together –however, only if my step-father wasn’t home. If he was home, all her time was spent with him. I guess that is how and why I started doing impressions. These people made my mom laugh – so, I would re-enact parts of the shows for her. I assumed that my mother enjoyed them because sometimes when she had company over, she would call me from my room to do impressions for her guests. Even if I was asleep, I would enjoy being called into the living room to entertain. However, after my ‘act’ was over – it was back to my room. But, for a brief moment, I was having so much fun seeing the smiles that I put on everyone’s face. I loved the feeling of making people smile.

I would work on my impressions and put together skits in my room. I also loved to sing and dance. I had natural rhythm as far back as I can remember and I could pick up any dance routine easily. The Jackie Gleason variety show was another favorite of my mom,  and I remember telling her that when I grew up I wanted to be a ‘June Taylor’ dancer. I looked forward to the segment of the program when they would come out and do their routine. In fact, any dancing I saw on TV gave me a thrill. VCRs were not in existence back then – so, I just had to catch what I could and recreate the moves from memory. I even invented some dance moves and routines on my own. I was a singing and dancing fool in my room. I had such a great time with me! *smile*

Mommy’s dream

Although my mother would call me out in front of her friends to entertain them, things were quite different when we were home alone. She would call me from my room – but, only to get her a beer from the fridge or to point out someone on TV, tell me how pretty and talented they were, and say that I would never be like them because I wasn’t pretty.  She would also make fun of my lips. Over and over, she would tell me that my mouth looked like a ‘bell-clapper’ or a ‘toilet seat’ and she would smack me across the mouth. Whenever a beauty pageant would come on television, she would call me from my room and make me watch it,  pointing out how attractive the women were and saying that she wished I could become Miss America one day, but because of my big lips that would never happen. I would sit there quietly and later cry myself to sleep because my mom thought I was ugly. The lip thing would bother me until I was a senior in high school. I would always try to hold my bottom lip in when taking pictures, so that it wouldn’t look so big.

My high school pic which shows me trying to tuck in my bottom lip

Yes, television with its loving families (however, unrealistic the situations were to what was actually going on in real families), crazy comedians, dancers and singers was what I was drawn to and made my childhood world tolerable. Anything positive made me smile. I tried to steer clear of anything dark. I had enough of that at home. I wanted desperately to be a part of those families. I wanted to be ‘Kitten’ from ‘Father Knows Best’. I wanted to be Lucy, Jerry and Carol and make others laugh and smile. I wanted everyone to hear me singing the songs that I wrote so that they could sing along with me. However, every time my mom told me that it would never happen – I would believe her for a short while, tear up my songs and poems and throw them away. I would then get a little sad when I saw the singers and dancers on TV and know that I COULD do that – but, probably never would.

One of my favorite entertainers of all time!

I remember once, while watching a television show, I saw Sammy Davis Jr. for the first time.  He was introduced as a ‘singer, actor, dancer and impressionist. I turned to my mom and said, “That guy is just like me”. She laughed in my face and burst my bubble, yet again. I yearned to meet this man who I felt such a strong connection with. Sammy passed before I had the chance to tell him how much joy he brought to my little world, and when he did pass – it honestly felt like a very small part of me was gone. I did however get the chance to meet two of my childhood influences – Lucille Ball and Jerry Lewis.

In the 80s, I was a member of the Museum of Television and Broadcasting. I received an invite – as did other members – to attend an exclusive meeting with Lucille Ball. After watching this woman for so many years, there was no way I was going to miss it. Prior to meeting Lucy, I had heard how she was absolutely nothing like the comedic character she played on television. So, when she entered the room of 150-200 people who were in attendance, I was prepared for less ‘Lucy Ricardo’ and more’ Lucille Ball’ – well, at least I thought I was prepared. She started right from the beginning telling everyone that she was nothing like her character. Then she said, “I heard that someone here spent all night outside on the street waiting for me. Who did that?” An excited young man, in one of the back rows rose to his feet with a wide grin on his face. Lucille said, “You spent the night on the street waiting for me?” The young man, shook his head, grinned even wider and replied, “Yes!” I sat there waiting for Lucille to thank the man for being such a great fan, however, she shot back at him with, “All I can say to that is…you need to get a life!” The smile faded from the mans face. He stood there for a moment and then slowly lowered himself into his seat as Lucille went on to say how it made no sense and more which I don’t recall. I believe she did ask him if he had other interests. I felt so, so sorry for the guy. Miss Ball proved just how much of a tough cookie she was.

Lucille Ball on the day that I met her

Her daughter, Lucy was there and presented a montage of Lucy clips. They both talked about the ‘I Love Lucy’, ‘Here’s Lucy’ years. Lucille touched briefly on William Frawley’s (Fred) alcoholism (although she just referred to him as a little troubled) but, it became clear just how close she was to that man – especially when another fan presented her with a rare album that Mr. Frawley had recorded. Lucille almost broke down in tears and I was surprised to see her soft side surface. I only wished that she had shown the same love to the guy who had waited for her all night. After the clips, questions, etc. there was a brief time for everyone to talk to Lucille, up close and personal. After being in her presence for approximately two hours, I actually feared the woman, somewhat. Anything that I probably would have said to her prior to that day was lost. When I got up to her, I just said, “Nice to meet you,” and kept on moving. As I stated, I don’t like negativity and I didn’t want to say anything to her that would make her come back with something to make me dislike her. Lucy had been a childhood idol and I wanted my fond memories to stay intact. This was somewhat of an enlightening experience to me. It wasn’t lost on me that this was the woman who for years I had wished was my mom because she seemed like such a fun person to be around. Hmmm..the grass is always greener on the other….yeah, right. Those shows still make me laugh, though and I still love Lucy – the show.

I had another memorable experience when I met Jerry Lewis. In the early 80s, I worked for a major airline. Soon after being hired, I was promoted and one of my responsibilities was to greet the ‘VIPs’ when they were arriving or departing. I assisted many, many celebrities and most of them were very kind and down to earth. One afternoon, a woman called my office and stated that it was mandatory to get two first class seats for Jerry Lewis in the smoking section. He was flying to Los Angeles from New York and everyone was telling her that there were no available smoking seats left in first class. She said Jerry could not be on a plane for that many hours and not smoke. I told her I would try my best and would call her back if I came up with anything. When I called her back fifteen minutes later, she was shocked when I told her I had the seats. She said she had called all over and even Jerry’s own travel agent said nothing was available. I told her that I would leave the boarding passes at the VIP club and she thanked me. Another fifteen minutes passed and she called back. She said that Jerry wanted to meet me to thank me in person. I was totally floored. Jerry Lewis wanted to meet me? She told me what time they were arriving. I hung up the phone and couldn’t believe that a childhood idol of mine was looking forward to meeting me.

Since I worked in the international terminal, I had to lock the office to take the boarding passes to the domestic terminal. On the way, I told a senior employee where I was going, just in case someone was looking for me. His response was, “Jerry Lewis? Good luck. He’s a jerk. He always gives me a hassle when he comes through.” Now, this is not something I needed to hear on the way to meet the man. However, since this was the same employee that made the exact comment about Diana Ross, when I was on my way to see her concert in Central Park, I brushed it off and continued my stride.

Jerry and his wife, Sandee

When I arrived at the club, the wife of Jerry’s agent greeted me. She was very warm and said, “So YOU’RE Silawn. Let me take you to meet Jerry.” Seated in Jerry’s area was his fiancée, Sandee and his agent, Joe. His other companion was the cutest little white fluffy puppy that was circling the couch. Jerry stood up, gave me a hug and thanked me for what I did for him. I was still kind of amazed that everyone was treating me as if I just cured the common cold – but, I guess back then, smoking was a very serious thing with him. I love animals, so I immediately gravitated to the puppy. Jerry said that was “his heart”. I wanted so much to tell him how much happiness he brought to me as a child – but, since I was working, I had to keep things professional. We continued with the small talk and then Joe said he wanted to take a picture of us. I really wanted to take a goofy picture. After all, this was Jerry Lewis – the ‘King of Goofiness’. But again, I had to keep it professional.  Joe took my address and said he would mail me a copy of the picture – but, I never received it. It’s not such a bad thing, though, considering I was wearing a lot of bright blue eye shadow, at the time.:-)

I had been hanging out with Jerry and the others for about a half an hour, when I felt comfortable enough to tell him that when I was a child I used to tell people that he was my uncle. He laughed and said that was sweet. After some more idle chatter, I looked at my watch and realized that we should be heading to the gate. I told Jerry that it was time to go and he said that we had time. A few minutes passed and I told him again that we really should be making our way to the gate. Again, he said not to worry and that we would make it on time. I began to think that after getting the seats, spending time with him and having a great time, everything was going to turn sour if this man missed his flight. Before panic set in, Jerry started getting his things together and put his little furry friend in the carrier. As we all headed out the door of the club, Joe said to Jerry, “I still can’t believe that she was able to get the seats for you.” to which Jerry replied, “What did you expect? She’s my niece.” I smiled at him and he smiled back. He didn’t know it,  but he also put a smile on my heart.

When we got to the gate, the flight was still boarding and I breathed a sigh of relief that we made it on time. Tony Bennett passed right in front of me and was getting on the flight, too. He hadn’t been on my ‘VIP’ list – so, I was curious as to who had taken care of him. But, my attention turned back to Jerry and his group. We all exchanged hugs and said goodbye. My job was done. A week or so later I heard in the news that Jerry had a heart attack. I sent him a bouquet of flowers to the Palm Springs hospital that he was admitted to and signed them, “Get Well Soon, your ‘niece’, Silawn.”

https://myforkedroad.files.wordpress.com/2010/07/copyright1.jpg

I have received many responses to the chapters, thus far. However, may I request that you please reply in the comment section of the blog  – as opposed to on Twitter, Facebook or emails – so, that all responses will be together. Your comment may be helpful to others who come across this post. You can comment anonymously. Thank you and many blessings.

Who is the Person Who Influenced Your Life the Most?


WHO would you say was most influential to make you the person you are today? Why?

Is there something that they said or did that changed your life around? What was it?

[Please answer below]

Chapter 2: But Ma, I’m Only Two!


me and my daddy at my grandma’s place

mommy, daddy, me

I don’t know when my father came up with my name – before or after my birth. It has been an albatross for many years but, I’m sure the burden has been no heavier for me than for anyone else that has been given an unusual name. He told me that he wanted me to be unique and I have certainly lived up to it. My mother hated the name because she never knew how to spell it. During my school years, If she had to write a note to the teacher, I would have to stand next to her and spell difficult words for her – including my name. I still have several letters that my mom wrote me when I was in the military, and there are at least three different spellings of my name heading the pages. None of them correct.

Although my fancy name wasn’t to her liking, my mother was a lover of fancy things. Fancy clothes, fancy homes, fancy places.  You would never catch her settling for anything less than the best. She would strut her stuff up and down the street in her high heel pumps, with that infamous switch of hers, in the best clothes her money could buy. To my knowledge, my mother never owned or wore a pair of jeans or sneakers in her adult life. She would even ‘dress up’ around the house. She had a pair of pumps in every color for every occasion. Mom loved her pumps and I would often catch her gazing at them adoringly…aaah, to be a pump. She would wash them inside, outside and top to bottom every weekend with cleaning fluid and align them neatly in her closet. Every Sunday, I had a headache from the smell permeating throughout the house.

And, if the occasion called for casual, you better believe she had on the most expensive capris she could find on Fifth Avenue. I used to have a picture of the two of us that was taken at the zoo when I was about twelve years old. I was proudly wearing my top and shorts outfit that I had sewn on my own, and my mother was wearing a purple knit pantsuit with matching purple pumps. How on earth my stepfather ever got her to go to the zoo in the first place, I don’t know. My mother was deathly afraid of animals because of an incident that happened when she was child. She kept hitting a dog in his testicles with a stick,  until he eventually bit  her. My mother never went near a dog – or any other animal – again, in her life, after that. I also heard a story that her aunt was strangled to death by a snake but, I never bothered to verify the validity of that story.  However, if my mother was going to go to the zoo, she was going to look darn good while she was there.

Mom made sure that we were always the first on our block with the new ‘this’ or ‘that’. She took pride in her ‘possessions’. One thing I can say for my mother is that she did keep a very clean home. It was as if she expected ‘Home and Garden’ to show up at our door for a photoshoot, at any given moment. Our home was always immaculate. Everything had its place and it absolutely had to stay where she placed it. No one entered without first removing their shoes. Coasters on the tables were a must. You would incur her wrath if you dared to set a glass on any piece of furniture without first placing it on a coaster. This wasn’t so unusual. However,  if any of these rules were broken, my mother would transform from the ‘Happy Hostess’ to something akin of ‘The Hulk’.

She always had a penchant for crushed velvet furniture. I remember the first set of furniture being white crushed velvet as well as her very last set. But, naturally, she had it covered in plastic. That wasn’t out of the norm back in those days but, mom was even protective of the plastic! She did not want fingerprints on it. So, she would carefully eye visitors to make sure their fingers didn’t press too deeply onto the surface. When I was about five or six years old,  one of my first household duties was to wipe down all of the furniture after guests left.

It’s amazing the things my mother could somehow seem to have the funds to purchase on a salesgirls’ salary. I think I must have been approximately two or three years old when mom bought her brand new console TV. She was very proud of it and neighbors would come by to gaze with amazement as they did with all of her new purchases. One day, I got my hands on a sticker and decided to affix it to the side of the TV. You would have thought I bashed the screen in with a sledgehammer. I can hear the screams ringing in my head to this day. My mother hit the side of my head and I, in turn,  went into the side of the TV. She then proceeded to give me the beating of my life. It wouldn’t be my last. It was a lesson I guess she felt she had to teach me to stay away from her things, and from that moment on, I was scared to touch any new item that was ever brought into the house. It may seem hard to believe that I remember that incident at such a young age. but, for years that day would come back to me as clear as if it had just occurred, anytime I went near anything that belonged to her.

When I saw the movie ‘Mommie Dearest’ if I didn’t know that was Faye Dunaway up on the screen I would have sworn it was my mother. There are so many scenes that could have been ripped straight from my childhood. I was never strapped to my bed (literally, anyway)  However, I was awakened in the middle of the night on many an occasion to clean rooms and household items that were already sparkling clean. This in itself was frightening considering I took particular care not to mar these items in any way for fear of an even worse fate.  Once, she did in fact, wake me up in the middle of the night, throw a can of Ajax at me and tell me to clean the bathroom. When I saw that scene in the movie, I started to cry. It was all too real. I don’t know what waking me up to clean accomplished – but, I think it always happened after an argument with my step-dad.

still from the movie, ‘Crooklyn’

The exact year my stepfather, Ronald entered my life is unclear. I believe I was about four years old. I don’t have much of a recollection of my biological father at this time because after my mothers new man moved in, I was forbidden to ever see my father again. He was not allowed in our home and I was not allowed to go visit him. (There was an exception one Christmas with disastrous results). I was not even allowed to mention his name around my mothers new man. In fact, he would get irate if he even saw my last name on any schoolwork, and years later, would have me legally change it. This was cause for a lot of my childhood angst because I had been daddy’s  little girl.

Although Ronald was the reason for me to lose contact with my father for many years, I did not resent him, because in the beginning, he was very, very good to me. He, too, was a hardworking man. But, unlike my father, the ‘street guy’, Ronald would come straight home from work to spend time with his new family – us. He was a blue-collar guy and family was very important to him. He was also ten years younger than my mother. The age difference meant nothing to him. However, from time to time,  my mother would tell him that she knew he would eventually leave for another woman. Little did any of us know at the time that many years later, the woman who would come between them would be my sister.

I have received many responses to the chapters, thus far. However, may I request that you please reply in the comment section of the blog  – as opposed to on Twitter, Facebook or emails – so, that all responses will be together. Your comment may be helpful to others who come across this post. You can comment anonymously. Thank you and many blessings.