Community outreach

Another Excerpt From My New Novel!

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Time to introduce single mother, Hannah Palmer and her young son, Sammy! Sammy’s father – Hannah’s ex-boyfriend from high school – is white. Hannah’s mother is Black and her father is White. This scene takes place after Hannah has discovered that her biracial son has been bullied at school because of his African American and Caucasian background.

Prior to discussing the issue with her son, Hannah met with the chaplain at Seattle Children’s Hospital where she worked to put together a plan that would assure Sammy of how good a person he was. Armed with the chaplain’s suggestions, she sat down with her son to discuss her own childhood experience, and his, with bullying.

“But Mom, I don’t understand why they called you an Oreo cookie. I like Oreo cookies so wouldn’t that be a good thing?”

Hannah didn’t consider the fact that her son might miss the message those kids from her childhood sent her that day; now she had to explain it.

“You know how an Oreo is white on the inside and black on the outside?

“Right, that’s what’s so fun about them, I always lick the cream inside and then eat the cookie part. It’s like having two desserts in one cookie.”

Sammy’s mom stood up from the dining table where the two of them were seated and put her mug of green tea in the microwave to reheat.

“Well, Sweetie, the point they were making is that I looked Black on the outside, but because I was with parents that were both White and Black, they said I was White on the inside, you know, because your Grandpa’s White.”

“Well that’s just stupid. You’re just you. You’ve always been that way, and I’ve always been the way I am.”

Hannah retrieved her mug and sat next to her son.

“It’s stupid, you’re right, but those kids hurt my feelings because the voices they used when making fun of me were really mean-sounding. They weren’t trying to be funny, they were trying to be cruel.”

Sammy looked down at his lap. “I get it now, that’s the kind of voices the kids at school used when they said I was a nothing. I knew they were wrong, I’m not a nothing, but they hurt my feelings.”

Hannah’s eyes watered but she was able to smile because she knew Sammy would weather this event and still be okay. “I’m glad you know who you are because you’re an amazing boy and you’re the best son a mother could ever hope to have.”

Sammy put his arms around Hannah. “Thanks, Mom, you’re the best too.”

He looked up at her. “I love you.”

Hannah kissed her son’s forehead. “I love you too.”

Words said with cruelty – or even disguised as being in jest – can hurt young and old alike. Words matter and they always will. That is why my self-publishing arm is called Words Matter Press.  I hope you’ll download my second novel, A Jagged Journey, which is now available for preorder for only $3.99 and available for your reading pleasure on April 15th.

A Jagged Journey

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Our lives never follow a straight path. We make turns, we leap or crawl over speed bumps and roadblocks, and when needed, we take breaks along the way while battling the insistent urge to just give up. More often than not, however, we keep going – we move forward, one step at a time, hoping for the best.

A Jagged Journeynow available for pre-order, is a novel that follows the pothole-filled lives of disparate characters between the ages of seven and seventy-seven who are far from perfect and for the most part, are not hesitant to admit it. Set in the Pacific Northwest of the United States, the diversity inherent within that region is front and center and will have readers laughing and crying in equal measure.

Laughing because the youngest character, Sammy, is a kick-in-the-butt delight when his honesty comes through loud and clear, challenging every adult with whom he comes in contact to sit up and pay attention.

And crying, because readers will see themselves in the imperfect childhoods that can find adults sinking or swimming in their grown-up years.

Ms. Olson’s new novel was written for anyone eighteen years and older as there are a few – and very far between – language elements within its’ covers. Readers won’t find any gratuitous sex or violence, however; just loving friendships and relationships that will challenge even the hardest of hearts to open up to the many joys that life has to offer.

Although her second novel does not have the same focus as Requiem for the Status Quo with its’ storyline filled with the caregiver and loved one’s journey with Alzheimer’s and other dementia, you will always find that element in every novel she writes, including this latest, A Jagged Journey.

Worth the Price of Admission

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A year after the Covid spread became a verifiable pandemic, I received my 1st dose of the vaccine that will open up the possibility of arriving at herd immunity…depending on the percentage of people who agree to voluntarily submit themselves to the needle.

The global community has been immersed and drowning in a disaster that will become future school students’ history lessons on what can happen when a not-detectable-by-eye virus travels the world on the backs of unsuspecting travelers.

I’ve lived sixty-seven years and therefore have already lived through news events and disasters that are currently a part of history books everywhere. Trust me when I say, I would rather have a boring life experience than be able to recount the tragedies that have befallen my country and our world over the past six decades. The current pandemic is just one of many, but it’s currently front and center in my life, and in the lives of many.

On Thursday, February 25, 2021, after weeks and weeks of concerted effort, I submitted myself to the vaccine needle. I didn’t make finding a vaccine appointment a full-time job, but my dedication to doing so was sincere and robust. The day before I received my shot, my husband and I were preparing to go outside to enjoy the beautiful Pacific Northwest weather. “I’ll join you in a few minutes…I just want to check the vaccine websites one more time before I go out and play.” 

And lo’ and behold, when I checked the 4th of as many appointment sites, a 1 pm appointment the very next day just a few blocks from my house showed as being available and I signed up for it as fast as I could, not wanting it to slip out of my hands.

THE VACCINE EXPERIENCE – GLORIOUS!!!!!

Three other similarly aged people stood behind me in line as I checked in – early! – for the privilege of moving forward in a vaccinated world. For me, the price of admission into that world is a sore arm, and that is all. But even if more uncomfortable side effects were guaranteed as a result of acquiring the vaccine, my husband and I were committed to getting vaccinated because a couple days of discomfort beat any day of having Covid. (My husband will acquire the vaccine when his age makes him eligible.)

Before I left the neighborhood pharmacy where I acquired my 1st dose, the pharmacy tech scheduled me for my 2nd dose, which will occur a few weeks later. I walked out of that pharmacy floating on air – and not because I was experiencing delirious or detrimental vaccine side effects. Nope! I was merely feeling what it’s like to be moving toward the other side of Covid, and closer and closer to once again being able to spend time gathering with loved ones with a greatly reduced chance of acquiring or spreading the virus that could make us severely ill, or even usher us into the great beyond.

Many express their desire to get back to normal, but I don’t think normal will ever return, nor should it. Just as after 9/11 we all adjusted our normals to accommodate our present experience, so too will we adjust our normal as a result of this virus experience that as of today’s date has killed 508,000 US people, and 2.5 million people world-wide.

BUSINESS AS USUAL WON’T AGAIN BE OUR NORMAL, BUT OUR RESILIENT ABILITY TO RESPONSIBLY MOVE FORWARD WILL SERVE US WELL.

 

 

This Week’s Note of Truth!

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May I live such that my integrity will remain intact the length of my days.

This Week’s Note of Truth!

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May 2021 treat you well, as you treat the New Year with kindness.

Retail Frontline Heroes

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This past Saturday night, after giving two weeks’ notice, a close family member had his last shift at a local grocery store. A wonderful 72-year old man, he joined the grocery chain’s employment rolls in November 2019, looking for some extra income, but primarily to be a part of a community of people for 20 hours a week.

Then Covid hit. At the advice of his doctor, he masked up, shielded up, and exercised extraordinary precautions so he could continue his frontline retail experience and stay safe. He never got Covid from his retail experience but he – and his fellow employees – endured verbal and physical abuse during the course of their workday. Here are just a few examples:

  • People entering the store, ignoring the state-mandated mask requirement, and verbally attacking store employees when handed a mask to wear while shopping.
  • Others walking into the store to purchase late-night snacks, not wearing a mask, and berating the masked store employees and customers by shouting comments such as, “Enjoy this fake pandemic, you f*cking clowns!”
  • And on my family member’s last grocery store shift, witnessing a female grocery clerk being assaulted after she unlocked the liquor cabinet for the assailant because he said he wanted to buy a bottle of booze. She unlocked the cabinet, he pushed her aside and ripped the liquor bottle right out of the clerk’s hands, and ran away.

Frontline workers are there for us: medical workers, law enforcement officers, garbage handlers, postal workers, shipping company workers, restaurant workers, retail employees, and so many others who want or need to work so our day-to-day lives will be more palatable. 

2020 has been very difficult for all of us, but those difficulties do not warrant abusive and cruel behavior toward others. If ever there was a time for gifting others with kindness and respect – the same kindness and respect we all crave – this year sets itself up as a prime example. Fortunately, beautiful stories of kindness have made their way into the public’s eye, but hidden stories, such as those provided above, are far too prevalent.

Be well and stay well, everyone, and please spread love and compassion to those who are simply trying to make a living by serving you. Anything less is unsatisfactory.

This Week’s Note of Truth!

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One cannot be a good person if truth is not a part of their character.

This Week’s Note of Truth!

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And if you cannot practice self-compassion, you know not how to be compassionate towards others.

This Week’s Note of Truth!

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Thank you, Will, for keeping us in line!

This Week’s Note of Truth!

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When justice prevails – nourished by truth – one cannot go wrong.

This Week’s Note of Truth!

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Reality isn’t always kind, but unconditional love is one of the most generous gifts we can give someone.

This Week’s Note of Truth!

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Put on your big boy and big girl pants and let truth be your mantra.

I Am SO Angry Right Now!

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Those close to our household have taken great measures to be safe in this age of Covid-19. The household with which we have had most contact over the past several months is that of our youngest daughter and her husband, with their son, and as of September 9th, their daughter.

The plan was to add our granddaughter to our current care day schedule, once a week, but now that Covid stats in our state are so ridiculously high – as is the case in too many states in the “United” States – our two households have decided to curtail all further contact for the time being.

This decision was made, not because our personal households have faltered, but because too many households have failed all around us, making avoidance of the virus more problematic. No one enjoys the inconvenience, but because some have rebelled against the inconvenience, we are no closer to containing the virus.

Had civilization as a whole been less selfish, we wouldn’t be dealing with this upsurge in cases…we would be adjusting to a new normal that is FAR better than the ongoing abnormal we are currently experiencing.

I am so f*cking angry right now. As a result of the selfishness of far too many people, my household is currently being robbed of a healthy relationship with the newest addition to our family. Please understand me when I say, I know we are not the only individuals affected by a pandemic that hasn’t been handled correctly from the get-go. My husband and I are healthy and we want for nothing. Millions have been affected far worse than has my household with our seemingly minor personal issue.

But I beg of you, please, to allow me this mini-pity party while I mourn this inconvenient loss.

This Week’s Note of Truth!

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Our most valuable resource – spread the word!

This Week’s Note of Truth!

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There’s an old hymn about not hiding your light…This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine. Let us let the truth shine in all we do.

I Am Ignorant

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At twenty-one years of age, I was a newlywed living on the eastern side of Washington State.

In 1974 I had married my high-school sweetheart who was enrolled in the Masters of Business Administration (MBA) program at a local Washington university. I met my then-husband in high school while living in Honolulu, Hawaii where my family moved in 1965.

It was a beautiful, spring day when my husband and I walked hand-in-hand through the streets of the eastern Washington city looking for a restaurant where we could have a weekend lunch date. We approached a corner, my husband pushed the WALK button so we could cross the street, and when it flashed green we proceeded to walk across the street.

A woman approached us from the other direction on the crosswalk, pointed her finger at us, and yelled,

Thou shalt not mix with other races! You are an abomination!

I am white, my former husband, Chinese.

My happily married, joyful self was astounded at the hatred and intolerant attitude thrust our way. We had never encountered such vehemence when living in Hawaii as a young couple, so please understand how hurt and shocked I was. I was so taken aback, the first words that came out of my mouth were, “F*ck you!” My twenty-one-year-old self stood up for herself and her marriage partner in the quickest way she knew how.

As of this writing, in all my sixty-seven years of life, that is the only me-directed racism I have ever experienced. But that is not the case for people of color.

  • I have never been pulled over for driving while being white.
  • I’ve never been asked to prove that I belong in the neighborhood in which I was walking or riding my bike.
  • To my knowledge, I have never been followed through a department store by a store employee or store security personnel while shopping as a white woman.
  • Again, to my knowledge, I have never been turned down for a job for which I was highly qualified because of the color of my skin.

My current husband of twenty years and I have three daughters between us. My daughter is a beautiful mixture of Caucasian and Chinese, my husband’s daughters are Caucasian. While our girls were growing up, we instructed them on how to be safe when out and about; we helped them recognize dangerous, every-day situations they should try to avoid but we’ve never had to have “the talk” that so many parents have had to have with their non-white children, especially their sons.

  • If asked, show law enforcement your hands and ask permission to get something from your vehicle’s glovebox.
  • Don’t wear your hood out on the street and don’t put your hands in your pockets.
  • If you get stopped, don’t run.
  • And by God, please, please, just get home alive.

I have an educated knowledge and keen awareness of the issue but I lack sufficient experience to truly understand the challenges faced by many people of color. I am ignorant in the sense that other than that one incident forty-six years ago, I have not been personally hurt – emotionally or physically – in the manner in which so many have been, and still are.

I understand the sentiment, All Lives Matter, but Brené Brown offers the following in her book, Braving the Wilderness – The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone:

I believe Black Lives Matter is a movement to rehumanize black citizens. All lives matter, but not all lives need to be pulled back into moral inclusion…the humanity wasn’t stripped from all lives the way it was stripped from the lives of black citizens.

It is my hope that one day soon, we will all get it right. The general public learns more each and every time an incident of racism makes it to the news, but shouldn’t we have learned something more by now, given the number of horrid headline incidents that have occurred nationwide?

We all can do better. 

I will do better. 

This Week’s Note of Truth!

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I have to believe that we all can handle the truth to get us through the toughest of times.

This Week’s Note of Truth!

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Truth is truth. It always has been, and it always will be.

We are all a part of something big

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A quote from the book Love is the Way: Holding on to Hope in Troubling Times by Bishop Michael Curry & Sara Grace

There was once a wave, bobbing along in the ocean, having a grand old time. All was well and the wave was enjoying himself. He was just enjoying the wind and the ride, until one day he noticed what was happening to the other waves in front of him. They were crashing against the shore.

“My God, this is terrible,” the wave said. “Look what’s going to happen to me!”

Then another wave came along who asked, “Why do you look sad?” The first wave says, “You don’t understand! We’re all going to crash! All of us waves are going to be nothing! Isn’t it terrible?”

The other wave’s response: “No, you don’t understand. You’re not a wave, you’re part of the ocean.”

Everything we do has an effect on the rest of the world. Never think what you have to offer is of no use to someone else. We are all in this together; our combined acts of kindness and community efforts are genuinely worthwhile.

We are all a part of something big.

 

This Week’s Note of Truth!

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Choose the whole truth and nothing but the truth!

This Week’s Good News!

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A mum in the UK devised an ingenious way for her toddlers to still be able to play with the next-door neighbors’ toddlers. Check out this story!

This Week’s Good News!

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The domesticated animals among us want to help out too! Check out this story to see how the Dog-tor took care of frontline workers!

The Surge of Knowing Everything About Everyone

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Many of us have too much time on our hands; some of us use it wisely; some of us, recklessly.

I won’t go on and on in this post, I merely want to point out that we can’t possibly know all we need to know about a person without spending time with them, listening to them, and learning the life story that brought them to this very moment in history. Yet in social media comments*, I see judgments and declarations being made about people whom the commenter can’t possibly know well enough – or at all – to make such statements. A formerly buff man suffering from Covid-19, posts before and after photos of his decimated body and commenters declare the reason he looks so different is that he hasn’t been able to take his steroids for weeks. JUDGMENT MADE WITHOUT KNOWLEDGE OF THE PERSON INVOLVED. A story about a frantic mother looking for her child who wandered away from home is castigated by a stranger on social media who declares the mother probably had something to do with the child’s disappearance. DECLARATION POSTED FOR ALL TO SEE WITHOUT INTIMATE KNOWLEDGE OF THE CIRCUMSTANCES OR THE PEOPLE INVOLVED. 

Bullying on the internet has been around for quite some time and it is always unfair and ugly. With so much time on our hands and with such uncertainty filling everyone’s days, why add to the stress and fear by publicly berating perfect strangers by entering unfounded and unfair statements? Can’t we instead treat others in the way we also want to be treated? Imagine you are one of the individuals in the above stories, already devastated and at the lowest time in his/her life, and being berated and demeaned by callous and hurtful comments?

We can’t possibly know all we need to know about strangers to make intelligent statements about them.

And even if we did know enough, why post such harmful ugliness for all to see?

 

*I make a point of not scrolling through comments on posts – but when coming across an article of interest, several comments are always visible.

This Week’s Good News!

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For this week’s story, you don’t even need to click on an attached story, such as I provide each week. Instead, my good news has to do with something that happened to me.

The other day, I went on what I call my Square Block Walk (SBW). When my husband isn’t feeling like taking a walk or has just come in from working in the yard, I take off on a very fast one-mile trek. When doing so this particular time, I passed by a neighbor (he purchased my husband’s Honda Civic for his daughter a couple years ago.) This neighbor was on his riding lawn mower in his front yard; we waved at each other and I continued on. He turned off his mower and asked me, “Is your husband okay?” I stopped in the street, “My husband?” To which he responded, “Yeah, I’ve seen you walking by yourself a few times, haven’t seen your husband with you, and I was worried.”

I almost started crying. “Thank you very much for asking. He’s fine, but sometimes I take walks by myself. But it’s so kind of you to ask – you noticed something different in my routine and you showed enough interest to ask. That means the world to me.”

I hope my neighbor’s act of kindness towards me improved your day as much as it did mine! 

This Week’s Good News!

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Good deeds abound around the world as proved in this story that focuses on ten such deeds. I know you will enjoy the good news that fills this post.

This Week’s Good News!

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This week’s story focuses on a 99-year-old gentleman who raised over $3 million for hospital workers by doing something all of us simply take for granted. Enjoy!

A community mindset

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The current worldwide crisis appears to have torn us apart instead of drawing us together. This pandemic is not a respecter of persons: people of all political leanings, beliefs, ethnicities, and locations are its victims. A virus that has taken many thousands of innocent lives is at fault and there is no way to spin that news in a positive way. It has been said that a house divided against itself cannot stand – certainly appearing in the Bible and quoted often in such a time as this. When we come across a person who falls down on the sidewalk and is bleeding, we don’t ask them what political party, religion, or belief structure they favor. If a vehicle accident occurs while we’re out on the road, we don’t poll the victims to determine whether they are of the same political leanings or beliefs as ourselves before we call 911. No, we let compassion rule our actions and we step in to meet the need.

My prayer is that we recognize our fellow-citizens’ needs and set aside our differences and judgments for the good of all. Let’s aim to lessen the massively wide and deep divisions that are threatening to permanently separate each other from each other.

Let’s be more we-minded instead of me-minded. Equal compassion in equal measure to one and all.

Please?

This Week’s Good News!

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Here’s another story about surplus food not going to waste. This Ohio stadium  treated their First Responders to a feast!

This Week’s Good News!

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Restaurants are closed; planned events are canceled…what is one to do with all that unused food? Give it away, of course. Check out this heartwarming story.

This Week’s Good News!

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One outcome of imposed social distancing is that many Livestream videos are available, including this one that gives us several delightful opportunities to watch animals be cute!