The Great American Tragedy

I’ve had a few “traditional” occupations in my lifetime, as well as being a lifelong artist and craftsperson. At my last “day job,” I was the Supervisor of Medical Billing and Reimbursement at a large, non-profit organization. During yesterday’s press briefing spotlighting healthcare, Sean Spicer lied repeatedly and displayed his ignorance in regards to the policies of Medicare, Tricare (for members of the armed services and their dependents) and other federally-funded and private health insurance companies. I was enraged as I watched!

Thankfully, I did get a moment’s relief; I couldn’t help but chuckle at the visual aid. Two piles of paper were on display next to Spicer, representing the former ACA (a tall stack) and the replacement (a short stack). Remember the press conference featuring Trump’s accountant? I guess #45 thought the avalanche of folders representing his financial paperwork was effective. Perhaps he thought it would help drive the point home to the “uneducated Americas” Trump professed his love for during his campaign. Whatever the case, the majority of responses I saw or read categorized the display as downright comical.

I’ll say this about Spicer, his press briefings are certainly entertaining! He’s become a verbal Houdini, squirming out of the tight spots and challenging questions that result from the antics of his boss. You’ve got to hand it to the press; they don’t easily drop their attempts to get at the truth. Yesterday was no acception, especially since in was the first briefing in days, during which time the “Tweeter-in-Chief” had outdone himself, accusing his predecessor of wire-tapping Trump Tower. (At this point, SNL skits are writing themselves!) Spicer did so much rapid fire bobbing, weaving and spinning as the questions flew at him, I couldn’t help but wonder if a staffer holding a stiff drink was in the wings waiting for him!

Despite the Republicans’ attempt at cheerleading, this is a deeply distressing time to be an American. It’s also exhausting, if you’re committed to being well-informed about the daily news from D.C. It’s often necessary to consult a variety of news sources and to fact check each story. Lying, deflecting and insulting the intelligence of the American people is the new normal in the White House. I’ve said it before and I’ll be saying it perpetually, this administration is the embodiment of the great American tragedy.





This article from the New York Times is thought-provoking, indeed. I agree that powerful women pose a threat to certain people and I’m sure they always will. (During her campaign for President, it was revealed that Hillary Clinton’s approval numbers were high, except when she was running for office.) I’m also aware that American women make 80 cents for each dollar an American man is paid. And despite initiatives and organizations that are educating Americans about rape culture, the statistics associated with assaults on women are still staggering. However, I don’t view the criticism aimed at Kellyanne Conway as strictly sexist or mysoginistic. She’s a public figure who inspires the same type of satire her male counterparts do. What I do find troubling is her comment:

“In a recent interview at the Conservative Political Action Conference, Ms. Conway said she supported many feminist principles but said she would not call herself one because feminism is anti-male, pro-abortion and identified with the left.”

Conway is ill-informed in regard to what the term “feminist” means. She’s not the only one; I’ve been aware of this definition for years. It’s been expressed in the conservative media and is supported by a relative of mine, who once took me to task on Facebook and suggested I channel my “feminist anger” into a more important cause.* Two years ago, The New Yorker magazine published its annual list of words that should be eliminated from the English language and “feminist” was included. (Days later, the editor removed the word from the list and printed an apology.) Apparently, disdain for the term is far-reaching.

I sincerely wish the word “feminist” was no longer relevant. It would be a wonderful world, indeed, if all women felt safe, respected, fairly-compensated for their work, were given the right to control their own bodies and had access to affordable healthcare. Unfortunately, here in America state legislatures and the Trump administration are working hard to curtail women’s rights and to take us back several decades, to a time before American women claimed their power and the right to choose  their own destinies. Until that day comes, feminists like me will speak up, loud and proud!

*My relative was reacting to an article I’d posted on Facebook about funding for Planned Parenthood. This subject is in the news again today; it’s part of the Trump administration’s newly-minted Affordable Care Act replacement. The President tried to make a deal with the healthcare provider; if they would agree to stop providing abortions, he would continue their funding. Planned Parenthood said “No” and The Donald pulled the plug on all funding. (This is Day One for the new healthcare bill. To no one’s surprise, it favors the young, the wealthy and the insurance companies. Let the games begin…)

Do Your Job!

Can the mainstream media please stop focusing on Trump’s outrageous and slanderous weekend tweets and the effect they’re having on our nation and its reputation? We GET it! He’s angry, he’s scared, he’s living within his own reality and Trump’s latest tantrum clarifies the fact that he’s unfit to be the President. Unfortunately, this comes as no surprise to the Americans who are plugged in and have been watching the madness unfold since Inauguration Day.

It’s a new week. At the moment, I’m concerned with #45’s lack of a strategic foreign policy, both diplomatic and militarily, given the fact that Korea is repeatedly flaunting it’s nuclear capabilities. His administration has no policy, at least not one they’ve shared with Congress or the American people. All we know is that Trump’s budget amendments include a drastic increase in defense spending with a major cut in funds for the State Department. Our Leader is focused on Steve Bannon’s playbook and is vigorously signing executive orders that deny civil liberties and destroy human rights. He’s profiling and punishing Muslims and Mexicans. He’s creating optics to sculpt a benevolent image, when the truth is he’s only concerned about himself and his agenda. He’s jeopardizing the available of affordable healthcare for not just women (Don’t get me started…), but for all American’s that depend on it. He’s slashing the budget and encouraging the destruction of the planet. And those are just the glaring highlights! The systematic deconstruction of the United States government is happening at a dizzying and distressing pace.

We, the people, have called and written our representatives and asked for an investigation into Trump and his team’s involvement with Russia, both during his campaign and currently. We’ve called and written our representatives and demanded Trump’s taxes be released. We’ve identified the issues that concern us and we’ve signed petitions, marched through the streets and held general strikes, like this week’s “Day Without Women.” We’re on it, as much as we can be, but the voices of private American citizens shouldn’t be the only ones heard.

Where are the elected Republicans who will place the United States above their agenda? Where are the elected Republicans who have heard Americans at town hall meetings and will represent their constituents via legislation? Where are the elected Republicans who are aware of the frightening reality we’re living through? Where are the elected Republicans who aren’t “afraid of” the bully President? Donald Trump is unfit to be the President and elected officials have the responsibility to act on our behalf. Democrats AND Republicans, DO YOUR JOB!

All the President’s Men

I have a decades-old affection for the “All the President’s Men.” A great script, stellar performances, a true story; these characteristics alone would place this film on my list of favorites. But my connection to this fact-based film runs deeper, for a few reasons.

While the movie was being made, I took a peek behind the scenes. My father’s job as a network programmer often sent him to California and whenever possible, I was invited to come along. On one such visit, we toured the set of “All the President’s Men,” specifically the recreation of the Washington Post newsroom. I was in awe of the attention to details, including time-worn office equipment, desks filled with pads, paper and gnawed pencils and overflowing waste baskets. My appreciation for set decorators and the magic they make soared, that day!

During the period of time the film chronicles, I was living in Italy. While the Watergate scandel unfolded, my only source of news was the International Herald Tribune. I learned about Nixon’s resignation after quickly snatching the latest edition from a newsstand, when friends and I were changing trains in Padua. “All the President’s Men” allowed me to experience that tainted period in American history. It also cemented my respect and gratitude for the press and the dogged dedication of the best of reporters, those committed to getting to the truth, no matter how elusive and infuriating the process is. This long-standing respect adds to my infuriation, now, whenever I hear our President scoff at the news media or when I read his most unsettling statement, “The press is the enemy of the American people.” Add my concern for our democracy and you’ll understand why there were tears in my eyes when I learned a group of reporters were recently barred from a White House press gaggle.

I was equally as outraged years ago, as I sat at a table discussing Watergate with some Italian acquaintances. As a baby boomer, I’d had a crash course in civics, American politics and foreign policy. I’d protested the war in Vietnam, worked on my chosen candidate’s campaigns and had a deep belief in social justice. My distress concerning Nixon’s administration was met that night by a statement I’ve never forgotten. As I took a sip of chianti, an elderly Italian man patted my hand and said, “But it’s the government; it’s corrupt by definition!” My naïveté was instantly shattered by reality.

We’ve entered a new period of political crisis here in America, a mere 41 days since Donald Trump was inaugurated. There were red flags (pun intended) during the 2016 campaign season and disturbing conduct continues as the days go by. I firmly believe the truth and consequences will come; unfortunately we’ll have to suffer through the day-to-day aggravation and news whiplash as the puzzle pieces fit together. Last night I was dreaming about Trump’s tax returns being subpoenaed and an independent commission investigating Russia’s hacks. And – POW!- this morning I’ve learned about the trail of breadcrumbs Obama left in regard to Russia and the fact that Attorney General Sessions seems to have lied during his confirmation hearings. It’s exhausting being an informed and concerned American!

Here’s the bottom line. If you have nothing to hide, you don’t resist investigation. If you’re an innocent man, you turn over your books, give a DNA sample or allow a search without a warrant. If you’re guilty, you shred the paperwork, refuse to take a polygraph test or tell your mother the pot she found in your room belongs to somebody else. When Republican’s pass legislation that protects the President’s taxes from review, you’ve got to wonder, what are they hiding? It’s another distressing news day and I’m making my coffee strong. What I wouldn’t give to be in Italy, sipping espresso…







There has been no shortage of cringe-worthy moments on display since Donald Trump began his reign in January. It’s only natural, considering the current administration is big on optics and short on substance. It’s inevitable, when photo ops are used to paint a picture of a benevolent leader, a fairy tale that insults the intelligence of the American people. It’s embarrassing, every time #45 opens his mouth and destroys the image his people are trying to construct. And it’s infuriating, because this is the American president!

The brand-builder-in-chief is surrounded by people who indulge him, like the nannies of a spoiled child whose messes they’ll gladly clean up. Trump was their ticket into the White House, where they can plump up their resumes, feed their own egos and, in the case of Steve Bannon, carry out their own agendas simply by whispering compliments into their boss’s ear. While this dynamic isn’t new to the world of politics, the blatant lying that is commonplace within the Trump administration is. We’re now used to “alternative facts,” a phrase coined by Kellyanne Conway, who caused a stir recently when she gave a “free commercial” for Ivanka Trump’s clothing line. (All was swiftly forgiven, since conflict of interest is a cornerstone of the current administration.)

Kellyanne is back in the news, this time thanks to photos of her that are trending on social media. Maybe no one will scold Donald Trump, but after seeing these photos, I have a few words for Kellyanne. I’m usually quite tolerant of harmless behavior and am by no means a flaming United States patriot, but for some reason, these pictures set me off. Maybe it’s the straw that broke the camel’s back; like many Americans, I’m processing anger and disillusionment on a daily basis. I’ve added an evening session of meditation to my schedule, in order to safeguard my sanity! Obviously, there are many more important issues that deserve attention and they certainly have mine. So, please, give me a few minutes with Ms. Conway and I’ll move on.

You’re now a member of the Trump administration, Kellyanne, in a role that keeps you close to the President. Pictures will be snapped and your conduct will be on display. You have the privilege of working in the White House, the home to your President’s predecessors. This beautiful and historic building has stood proudly throughout history and it’s residents have hosted great leaders, thinkers, artists and heroes, from not only America, but from around the word. Within these walls, important legislation has been signed into law, critical decisions have been made and the integrity and intelligence of every president has been tested.

Perhaps the significance of the West Wing hasn’t eluded you, Kellyanne, but you need a reminder. The White House isn’t one of your boss’s hotels, where you can romp through the halls and play in the elevators to your heart’s content, like Eloise at the Plaza. The photos currently making the rounds capture an event that honored the distinguished men and women who preside over our country’s African American universities. During the proceedings, you’re casually hanging out on a sofa in a less than graceful position, snapping cell phone photos and looking like a teenager on “Take Your Daughter to Work” day.

To be fair, your boss hasn’t exactly been an stellar role model. The somber significance of the “Wall of Stars” completely eluded the President and cameras captured a man more focused on the size of the crowds he drew, instead of the sacred space where he stood. As I look at these images and the conduct they illustrate, one thing is clear. You and the Trump administration have disrespected the spaces you inhabit and, frankly, it disturbs me.


Saturday evening Springsteen
Is fueling memories and tender wishes
As I watch the snow melt on the frozen hill
Dreaming of sand between my toes,
Salty hair tangled up in my baby’s fingers
And my hands on the curve of his sunburnt neck
Tasting first love kisses under the summer moon
That last as long as the tide’s retreat.


Relating to all

Beautifully said…


File:Baby Crane with Breakfast - Flickr - Andrea Westmoreland.jpg

One of the most toxic new-age ideas is that we should “keep a positive attitude.” What a crazy, crazy idea that is. It is much healthier, much more healing, to allow yourself to feel whatever is coming up in you, and allow yourself to work with that anxiety, depression, grief. Because, underneath that, if you allow those feelings to come up and express themselves, then you can find the truly positive way of living in relationship to those feelings. That’s such an important thing…..It’s not  about some “spiritual experience” of being high all the time. Not at all. It is about living with the ongoing stresses and strains and difficulties – and joys –  of life, but doing so in a way that we feel whole. Living in relationship with the struggles of life is what makes us human.

Michael Lerner, The Difference between Healing and Curing

photo andrea westmorland

View original post


My Own Best Friend

I’m convinced that women taking care of everything but themselves is an epidemic in the US. I’ve heard and witnessed examples of this phenomenon on a regular basis and it’s been a real eye-opener! There’s a difference between “running on all cylinders” and running yourself into the ditch of burnout. I’ve been in both places and I’m sure I’m not alone.

Our culture encourages this unhealthy behavior. I grew up in the New York metropolitan area, where overwork is the norm; take a sick day and you’re treated like a slacker! Also, the necessity of two income families throughout the country was a game-changer, since women are usually expected to work at a full time job and then come home to run the household, doing their “women’s work.” Then there’s the double-edged sword of the rising divorce rate; it’s important to have the ability to leave an unhealthy marriage, but if there are children involved, the divorced woman is often the overwhelmed custodial parent.

No matter what the situation may be, added to the mix is the powerful “inner voice,” whose words and philosophies are as different as we are. Our self talk is deeply ingrained, since it’s formed during our impressionable young years and it’s often demeaning, self sabotaging and filled with hopelessness. Negative self talk is not a women-only phenomenon; there are hundreds of workshops, life coaches, books and articles to be found that address this subject.

I’m encouraged when I see women making the important commitment to self care. Why it’s often difficult for us to do so baffles me, but I’ve accepted this fact, beginning with myself. It’s easy to slip back into the old habit of care-taking without taking the time to check in and nourish myself. And when the events of my life overpower me with stress, it awakens the depression that sleeps inside me, often resulting in a state of frozen overload. The good news is I’m aware of these tendencies and I truly believe I deserve happiness, good health and all the loving kindness I’m able to give myself. Learning to love and care for myself is like recovery; there are peaks and valleys and those times when a cruel inner dialogue makes me say, “What? YOU again?!” But one day at a time, and with the help of inspiring voices and faith, I’m finally becoming my own best friend.

Family Matters

People talk about family trees and study their branches and their leaves. Lately I’ve been thinking about family roots, strong, sturdy and grounded deep within rich, nourishing soil. These roots supported each tree in my bloodline, those that lived long and strong with rings that counted more than 95 years and those that were felled in the greener days of their youth. I grew up with a landscape of trees surrounding me, thanks to my grandparents and their 14 children. At home were my mother, father and sister and nearby were aunts and uncles and their spouses and the many cousins born into my generation.

There were mighty oaks in my bloodline; I only needed to glance at them to feel safe. There were willows that showed me how to lean into change and accept life’s mysteries. There were other trees, one who coaxed out my talents and passions, one who made me feel special by simply calling me “Dolly,” one who made me proud when she called me the daughter she never had. We were all nurtured by the company of our family, whether at Sunday dinners or during the summers we shared down the Jersey shore. My family taught me about love in more ways than I can count and for this, I’m forever grateful.

In my mind’s eye, I’d often imagine sitting on a carpet of pine needles, surrounded by the landscape of my family trees. Now, so many years later, my mind sees a forest so barren that my eyes wander easily to the horizon, to the unknown that waits for me there. They say a family gives you wings, as well as roots, but these days my wings feel too heavy to lift me, damp as they are with my tears.

I’m sure spirits live forever and the love that I’ve shared with my family is eternal. My life has taught me that when I need strength most, it can come from the departed and the pieces of them that reside within me. I’ve experienced grief so often I know it’s twists and turns all too well. I know this weightless feeling will pass and I’ll become grounded again in my own life’s journey. But today, the endless horizon stretches so far before me that I’m not sure if I can take the first step.

Dedicated to my mother, Linda Ciccarelli Sanno.

Previous Older Entries