Unleashing Horror

tsar-bomba1I am a child of the Cold War. I grew up hearing an air raid siren every Friday at noon. I practiced crouching under my desk along with my classmates in readiness for a possible nuclear attack. I watched movies that featured apocalyptic scenarios and creatures that had grown out of proportion from exposure to radiation. I saw reports of individuals building bomb shelters and observed adults worrying about the Cuban Missile Crisis. The threat of attack from Russia seemed to be a fixture of my childhood and teen years. Somehow the danger was so insistent that I and most of my peers actually began to ignore it. Of greater importance to us were the young men being drafted to fight and sometimes die or be injured in Vietnam. Violence was featured on the nightly news programs that entered our living rooms each evening, but we never became immune to the horrific images that we saw. Instead we grew weary of the constant hints that one day our world might explode. More than a few of us became peaceniks ready to do whatever it took to keep our country and our young men and women out of harm’s way.

For a time things settled down into an illusory peace. It felt as though the whole world agreed that we all loved our children too much to keep fighting. Unfortunately the lull in the militarism was brief and once again we have a generation of young people who have literally spent their entire lives hearing of wars, terrorism and the threat of nuclear annihilation. It is a horrible place for them to be. It takes great mastery to shelter our kids from the worry of horrors. Even with our best efforts they will no doubt hear of the realities of the world just as I did, and it will worry them.

There is great saber rattling taking place between the United States and North Korea that is frankly far too reminiscent of the fear mongering that forced me and my classmates to endure those drills underneath our desks. The power of nuclear warfare that was unleashed at the end of World War II has been a specter that won’t quite go away. The arms race has placed dangerous weapons in the hands of tyrants capable of doing very unexpected things. This makes for great tension and requires great diplomacy and skill in reading the minds of those who would harm us. We are presently engaged in a nuclear chess game with potential consequences that are almost unbearable to consider.

It would have been impossible for my generation to spend all of our time concerned that one day our civilization as we know it might be wiped out with the push of a button. We had to believe that our leaders and the leaders of other nations would take their responsibilities for the safety of their people seriously. John Kennedy and the men and women that he had assembled in his cabinet proved to be more than worthy of the task. They averted what might have been a disaster of Biblical proportions. The true story of the thirteen days in October in which they stared down the Russians is one of courage and rationality. I think that after that particular occasion most of us continued to live our lives confident that we would never have to actually witness another nuclear attack like the one that was rained down on Japan. We grew more and more aware that with great power comes even more responsibility. Our leaders seemed up to the task.

I hate to admit this but many of my old childhood fears have come back to haunt me since President Trump has decided to take such a belligerent stance in reaction to learning that North Korea has the capability of attacking the United States. The game that he and Kim Jong Un are playing is high stakes, and we can only hope that it will remain in the realm of schoolyard taunting. The leader of North Korea is young and notoriously unstable. He may have little real appreciation for the consequences of launching a nuclear attack, but President Trump is of my generation and he should know full well that even thinking about such a thing is worrisome. His words may be designed to scare Kim Jong Un, but I wonder if they also might push the dictator to demonstrate that he is not afraid. Dealing with someone known for being unpredictable takes great finesse and I am not convinced that remarks about destroying a country are the best way to prevent the ultimate tragedy.

I find myself holding my breath just a bit but also trying to grasp why we humans would ever have put ourselves into such a precarious position. Surely we have evolved enough to realize that the horror of war never ends well for anyone, and yet here we are again dealing with evil in its worst forms, all so that a few may keep or seize power.

I would feel far more comfortable if the men and women that we have elected to lead us would show signs of coming together in such dangerous times. Now is not the moment to argue with one another, but rather a moment for uniting to find ways to keep the world safe. The idea that one individual is allowed to voice his opinions without counsel or a filter is appalling to me. Where are the profiles in courage that we so desperately need?

Innocents of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were killed and injured because their leaders boasted that they would never surrender if it meant losing every man, woman and child. Even when it was apparent that the war had been lost the Japanese kept fighting, and so the decision was made to put an end to the conflict in the most terrible possible way. I shudder each time I think of what happened. A door was opened to unspeakable horrors that have threatened mankind ever since. Our goal should be to insure by hook or crook that nobody ever again has to endure such terror. Instead we seem intent on building our own arsenals even as we dare others to invest in their own. We appear to be at a standoff which is good, but what happens if someone finally decides to test the fates?

In the past when we still remembered how truly terrible a nuclear strike can be we asked ourselves who we wanted as our protector in the event of a possible nuclear holocaust. We have tended to neglect such thoughts of late. Perhaps it is time that we assert ourselves once again and be certain that there will be a steady hand at the helm. If that person is indeed President Trump, then more power to him, but if it is not then I urge the members of Congress to speak up now. We are all depending on cool heads to prevail. Let us pray that this crisis too will pass. God help us all if anyone makes a mistake. God help us to find the kind of men and women who have brought us safely through danger in the past. I want to believe that we will rise to the challenge. Our children are depending on it.

Escape from the Rat Race

ratrace1The trouble with the rat race is that even if you win, you’re still a rat. – Lily Tomlin

I was a full fledged member of the rat race for most of my life. I’d leave home before sunrise and often did not return until after dark. I would hurriedly throw together dinner or maybe even bring home burgers or fried chicken if I was really tired. Most evenings I graded papers and did lesson planning until nine or ten while running loads of wash and getting my daughters settled with their homework. My husband Mike was engaged in a similar whirlwind of work activity during the week. On weekends we cleaned, mowed and repaired and somehow managed to find a bit of time for visiting with friends and family. So it went year after year until we one day ended our labors and retired.

We were not unlike most of the people that we knew. Everyone was seemingly rushing somewhere, part of that great rat race that consumes so much of our lives. Little wonder that at the end of our toil we had grown fat and out of shape. Being healthy takes time and attention and we were barely able to fit all of our responsibilities into our calendars. The prospect of spending time that we didn’t have to shop for healthy foods and then prepare them was overwhelming, and so we often opted for frozen items that allowed us to just pop our dinner into the oven without additional effort. The weight came on us in such small increments that we hardly noticed the real expansion of our girths.

Now and again we resolved to do better. We joined Weight Watchers online or paid for membership in an exercise program or a gym. We’d do well for a time and then a rush of activities would overtake our best intentions. Those night time meetings at school or the big project at work stole away yet a bit more of our time. We were exhausted from juggling so many balls and running so constantly. It was easier to set our personal goals aside and just go with the flow that always felt so hectic but was at least familiar.

I’d get a routine of weekend meal preparation going and my mother would become ill. I’d have to tend to her needs rather than spending time in my kitchen being a nutritionist. I’d try again and again but there always seemed to be something that was more demanding of my attention. I’d just keep running on that little hamster wheel telling myself that one day I would finally find the time to do the kinds of things that would make me a stronger, healthier person. Of course that day never really came, at least not until I was face to face with a life and death situation. At that point I understood the folly of my ways.

I’ve spoken of my new found efforts to concentrate more on the well being of my body and that of my husband. His stroke has shown us that a lifetime of running at full tilt and ignoring the warning signs that we were abusing our health has lead to conditions that need not have occurred. We may be a day late and a dollar short, but now we are changing our ways in earnest. Still I have to wonder why we ignored this incredibly important facet of living for so long. In the name of being good employees, faithful family members and loyal friends we time and again put our own needs behind everyone and everything else. In retrospect it was a foolish choice.

I am reminded of the instructions for flying in which the adult passengers are always told to put the oxygen on themselves before helping their children. The reason is quite simple. If the adult passes out, he/she is of little use to the youngster. In other words it is up to each of us to prioritize the healthful habits that we need so that we will then be able to take care of everything else. If only our society emphasized this important idea regarding our health as well as the airlines do with respect to oxygen perhaps we would all be better. Sadly we openly encourage participation in the rat race as the ultimate goal of life.

I have worked for many different organizations and bosses. Some of them understood the importance of maintaining a healthy balance between work and personal needs. They were compassionate with employees who required time to heal themselves and even encouraged everyone to take care of home life first. On the other hand I have been employed by people who seemed to believe that the best workers were the ones who were willing to sacrifice home, hearth and family for the good of the firm. They voraciously ate up most of the hours in the day and chastised anyone who dared to suggest that the work was not their main priority. I watched the employees in such places fall apart both physically and mentally. Unfortunately it is not all that uncommon for people to find themselves in situations that slowly but surely begin to beat them down.

I know all too well how difficult it is to be an exemplary employee, an outstanding parent, a good daughter, a devoted wife and also someone who cares for herself. I have been a bonafide member of the rat race and I know how debilitating it can be. In the midst of the daily run it is often difficult to even know where the pack is leading. We just follow out of habit and tell ourselves that it is the right thing to do because we have been taught from birth to follow that old ethic that we achieve success through hard work, discipline and sacrifice. The trouble is that we  misinterpreted the idea when we set aside the aspects of living that make our bodies and minds function more efficiently.

One thing that I appreciate about the younger generation is that more of them appear to understand the importance of good nutrition and regular exercise. They create blocks of time to take care of themselves and that is a very good routine to develop. I have a grandson for example who schedules his time in the gym just as he does his college classes. Exercising is a regular part of his day that is as important to him as eating, sleeping and studying. If he maintains those kind of habits for a lifetime I suspect that he will have fewer health problems later. He is quite wise to set his priorities now so that they become second nature.

I suppose that it is never too late to change and I am certainly in the process of doing so. I’ve learned from my own mistakes and I don’t plan to turn back. If I were to give a single bit of advice to those of you who still find yourselves being torn asunder by the stresses of daily living, it would be to jealously guard  the special times devoted to the sole purpose of making yourselves healthier in body and mind. You may have to learn how to say no to some of the multitude of requests that come your way, but stand tall and don’t let anyone intimidate you. Step away from the rat race and you will finally see the road ahead.   

Summers and Huckleberry Finn

1622398_origI have to admit that I have never much liked August for the same reason that I used to have an aversion to Sunday evenings. August meant that it was nearing the time when I would have to return to school, something I did both as a child and later as an adult. August seemed to be the dog days of the entire year, a month in which the heat had built to a climax and the fun and relaxation that I had enjoyed in the summer was in its waning days. When August came around I was generally filled with a sense of dread knowing that my vagabond adventures would soon be replaced by early rising each morning and working on school related projects until late in the evening. I seriously didn’t want to even think about all of the labors and restrictions on my time that lay ahead.

Don’t get me wrong. I was a devoted student as a child and once I became a working adult I threw myself wholeheartedly and enthusiastically into the teaching profession. I enjoyed being in school, but I had a love/hate relationship with the entire experience. On the one hand I felt a rush of excitement about the new challenges that I would most certainly encounter in each new year, but on the other hand I fully understood how much intensity I would surely throw into my labors. Thus each time August rolled around I longed to extend my freedom and relaxation just a bit longer.

When I was a child I had the luxury of enjoying all thirty one of the final days of my annual holiday. Not even once did we return to the classroom before Labor Day. The trend of beginning  the school year before the eighth month of the year had ended did not come about until I had been working for a time as a teacher, and so our family often planned a big vacation to cooler climes to take a break from the heat. Some of our best vacations to places like Montana and Wyoming happened during the first couple of weeks in August. I didn’t even think about school until the middle of the month, and even then the transition from vagabond days to almost total preoccupation with work were usually gradual enough to help me grow accustomed to a return to my labors.

All of that began to change over time. The old school year ended later and later and the new one began earlier and earlier. Expectations regarding professional development became more demanding, so much so that I often spent most of June attending classes designed to improve my teaching. By the first week in August I was already planning lessons and visiting the school to prepare my classroom. My summers became more and more constricted as did those of my daughters who had to attend practices and complete summer assignments.

When August rolled around we were no longer able to make family plans because everyone in the household was quite busy gearing up for the coming months. I adapted to the changes albeit a bit grudgingly. I knew that many of my friends had little sympathy for me because they worked all year long with only one or two weeks of vacation. It was difficult for them to understand just how much I needed the down time of a full three months when such an extended break was an unheard of luxury for them. What I knew is that very few of them would be grading papers and creating lessons at eleven in the evening and all weekend long just to stay afloat of the demands of their jobs. The extra work that I did at home every day of the school year was easily equivalent to the eight to ten hour days that they spent at their jobs all summer long. In other words our labors were equivalent, even though they were not performed in the same time frame.

Now I’m watching the demands of the school year begin as soon as August rolls around. A grandson who is in his middle school orchestra has already been practicing for several weeks for a performance that his group will give to returning teachers. Another grandson is working with his band from seven in the morning until five at night. Teacher friends are attending conferences and training sessions that will dovetail with requirements to be on duty beginning early in August. Many schools will open their doors to their students by the middle of the month, making the summer seem shorter and shorter. Soon the buses that stop at my corner will be rolling again and everyone will be in full swing.

Part of me feels quite sad about the abbreviated summer vacation for students and teachers even though it really doesn’t affect me anymore. In retrospect I think that as a youngster I learned as much during my time off as I did during the school year, maybe even more. By the age of fifteen I had a job as a receptionist for our family doctor from June through August. I learned how to work with the public and deal with emergencies. I became an expert at keeping books and running a small office. I developed people skills and found talents that I had no idea even existed. I also learned how to spend and save the money that I earned in a wise and reasonable manner. I would have been unable to go on my senior trip or purchase a class ring without the income that I generated during the three months that were mine to use in exploring the world.

Those three months also allowed me to read purely for pleasure. It was in my self selected forays into literature and nonfiction that I have the most wonderful memories and grew most fond of reading. I had time to learn how to dance and twirl a baton, how to paint and mold clay into sculptures. I enjoyed being creative with the other kids in the neighborhood and spent hours writing and performing in backyard plays or creating a neighborhood newspaper. I had bridge tournaments with friends and made my first attempts at cooking. I had time to do exciting things that I was too busy to tackle during the school year when my teachers filled my calendar with assignments of their choosing. Summers were glorious moments spent on my grandparents’ farm soaking in their folk wisdom. It was an opportunity for education of a different sort than the kind that is ruled by curriculum guidelines or a scope and sequence of learning. Summer was the frosting on the cake of my learning.

I suppose that today’s kids have little idea of what they are missing. They go with the flow and follow the new rules because it has always been that way for them. Everything in their lives is far more organized than my experiences were. I don’t see many children playing outside even on the hottest days. Summer jobs like the ones I had are hard to find. It’s a different world and I suppose that everyone takes the new ways for granted just like I did those glorious three months of freedom. Perhaps it is best to prepare students for the realities of a world that is far different from the one that existed when I was growing into an adult. With air conditioning there is little difference between August and November, so schools may as well be open for business. Still I find myself wondering which way really is the most effective. Somehow I think that I would not be nearly as interesting if I had not had those precious three months each year in which to develop myself just as I wished. Those were my Huckleberry Finn moments and I am all the richer for enjoying them.

  

The Playlist

hqdefaultWhat if you attempted to create a playlist for your life. What songs would be there? Would the collection describe you or would it be composed of music designed to motivate and inspire you? How would the selections actually apply to the person that you are? I decided to attempt such a project and it was a bit more difficult than I at first imagined. There is so much music that I love just for the pure fun of listening to it. Finding songs that really speak to who I am, who I have been and who I want to be is a bit more difficult.

While I am a big planner I have found that life is full of surprises, many of which seem intent upon challenging us in ways that sometimes seem insurmountable and even unfair. The kinds of traumatic things have have happened to me made my first choice of music to be You Can’t Always Get What You Want by the Rolling Stones. The most important idea in the lyrics has always been one of my mantras, namely that while I may not always get the things that I think I should, sometimes I get exactly what I need. As Garth Brooks so beautifully reminds us in Unanswered Prayers we sometimes fail to realize that a plan even better than the one that we have imagined is unfolding even as we struggle to free ourselves from pain. It is in our darkest hours that we often come to realize what that we are made of sterner stuff than we may have thought or as Kelly Clarkson notes in Stronger what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.

I wouldn’t wish some of the tragedies that have befallen me on anyone, not even myself, but they happened and I only had two choices when facing them. I might either have just given up and let them defeat me or I might have attempted to find a way to carry on. Each time I somehow embraced the will and the courage to keep going, usually With At Little Help From My Friends as the Beatles say. Like Learning to Fly by Tom Petty I took a leap of faith in myself and dared to do things that I never imagined, often because I was forced by fate to do so. I generally emerged from such experiences feeling pretty good about myself, even a bit proud. I was actually a better person for having to stare into the darkness and defeat it. I feel that I have become a warrior over the years and so another of my theme songs should be Roar by Katy Perry. “I got the eye of the tiger, a fighter dancing through the fire.” The Mother of Dragons has nothing on me!

I suppose that the key to my victories over difficulties has been my unswerving faith that somehow, some way I will always overcome my problems or at least learn how to make the changes needed to deal with them. I’ve always loved Don’t Stop Believin by Journey because my mantra has always been to keep on trucking regardless of how dire a situation seemed. The crazy thing is that I have seen and endured great suffering but because I truly believed that I was never alone I tended to Always Look On the Bright Side of Life just as the guys from Monty Python. That tune has always made me laugh even when things looked rather grim. In fact, I suppose that without humor, sometimes of a very dark nature, I doubt that I would have made it this far. A good chuckle can make a difference in even the dreariest of days and I so love being around beings who know how to help me to release my feelings with a good old fashioned joke, especially when that bit of comedy pokes fun at me and my worries.

I truly learned from each of the happenings that almost seemed unbearable at the time. I became wiser and more compassionate. I realized how much spunk I actually had and my confidence soared. I have always loved I Can See Clearly Now by Johnny Nash because it encapsulates my evolution from being a more self centered, silly and frightened child to becoming someone who manages to feel brave most of the time and to understand that everyone is burdened with struggles. I know now that I am not unique in my cares and woes. It is part of the uncertainty of living. One thing of which I am certain is that eventually things always get better which makes my next song one of great hope. Here Comes the Sun by the Beatles makes me smile and lifts the weight from my heart each time I hear its lilting optimism. Ironically another Beatle’s composition is also one that brings a smile to my face every single time that it is played, particularly as I grow older. Good Day Sunshine reminds me to be grateful for the blessings that I have and to see the good in the world rather than focusing on the many hardships that still plague all of us. I consciously choose to be Happy and so I dance away when I listen to Pharrell Williams’ tribute to feeling lighthearted. 

The world is still so imperfect and there are serious issues that are cause for concern, but I am still convinced that in the end we humans will choose good over evil. I tend to agree with Sting in his lovely creation Russians that people of all societies love their children just as we do. As such they will ultimately strive to build a future that will be better for all of us. We just have to Imagine as John Lennon says and continue to look for leaders and ideas that take us into a more perfect version of life. We might begin by reflecting on ourselves and asking what we may each do to help eliminate injustice and hatefulness. Man in the Mirror by Michael Jackson should be an anthem for everyone. We should start each morning by repeating, “I’m starting with the man in the mirror. I’m asking him to change his ways.” It is only in attempting to perfect ourselves that we will truly impact the rest of humanity.

Ultimately I see the beauty of life. Like the Beatles’ In My Life I have seen so much love that I truly feel that it will be the power that transforms us. I would like to think that the most optimistic song that I know becomes a reality for mankind. When Louis Armstrong sang What A Wonderful World I don’t think that he realized what hope it would give us. Listening to its strains and stanzas describe all that is lovely and wonderful reminds me to look for the beauty that is everywhere. My hope is that others will find that moment of contentment that I seem to encounter more and more often as I look back on a life of which I am proud. I Hope You Dance just as I now do. There is great joy in the most unexpected places if only we learn how to look for it. If we are lucky we find also the most Amazing Grace which is ultimately the greatest gift of all.

A Born Again Health Nut

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My mother-in-law was born with a serious heart defect. As a result she lived her life far differently than most of us. When she was in Junior High she was told that she would probably only live to her mid twenties, and then only if she was very lucky. When she married she was cautioned not to have children because the stress of being pregnant and giving birth would surely kill her. Always the independent woman she nonetheless risked her own life to bring my husband into this world. She often recounted the lengths to which she committed herself to having him. The story was quite harrowing and demonstrated both her courage and love.

She was put into a state of sleep shortly before her baby was due. The doctors then brought her son into the world by way of Caesarian section. She was kept in a slumber until it was deemed safe to bring her back into consciousness. Since she lived on the same street as her mother she was able to rest each afternoon while her mom did much of the heavy lifting with the baby. Slowly but surely she recuperated and surprised her doctors with her resilience.

All of this happened in 1947, so the advances that have been made in the treatment of the heart had not yet been discovered. She was still at high risk of dying if she overexerted herself. In many ways her life and that of my husband were miracles that had a great deal to do with my mother-in-law’s determination to employ whatever means necessary to extend her life.  As a result she became an expert at pursuing a healthy lifestyle even before such an idea was popular.

I was admittedly bemused when I first saw my-mother-in-law’s kitchen. She always kept a scale for weighing foods at the ready and her cookbooks had exotic titles with recipes from nutritionists and doctors. She was conscientious in recording her intake of salt, calories, cholesterol and such. She was a student of nutrition and an advocate of proper exercise. Sometimes I grew a bit weary of her lectures on how to live, but in retrospect I realize that she was way ahead of her time. She outwitted death and made her doctors’ predictions of her early demise appear to be akin to voodoo. She lived all the way into her late seventies, far past the age that most thought she would attain, and she did so with a sparkle in her eyes and a zest for life that was incredible. She had done everything possible to defy the odds that were so heavily stacked against her, enriching everyone that she encountered in the process. Never once do I remember even an ounce of negativity or lack of faith in her approach to each day. She was truly a warrior.

Now I am doing my best to recall the many lessons that my mother-in-law so patiently taught me. That son that she risked her very life to bring into this world is now facing his own health problems, and as with her there is no miracle cure, but there are ways to help the situation. My goal is to support him as he adopts the very life style that worked so incredibly well for his mother. To that end he and I are both changing our ways, perhaps a bit belatedly, but in the hopes that our efforts will provide us with more time to enjoy this beautiful world together with our children and grandchildren.

Our kitchen now sports a scale for weighing our foods along with an array of cookbooks touting heart healthy recipes. Our larders are filled with fresh fruits, vegetables and lean meats and fish. Our treadmill which had become dusty from disuse is churning away. We keep records of every morsel that goes into our mouths and have learned the joys of hydrating with water. We have become as serious about taking care of ourselves as my mother-in-law ever was, and I often feel her spirit guiding us on this new journey of ours.

I have to admit that I have at times been a bit irritated by people who spend so much of their time honoring their bodies with proper foods and exercise. I have rolled my eyes more than once at their focus on health just I as sometimes grew weary of hearing my mother-in-law describe the latest foods or techniques that she had discovered. Now in the moment of crisis I find myself wanting to walk around wearing a sandwich board that urges everyone to eschew their bad habits now. If I could, I would burn down every tobacco field on planet earth. Like Jesus with the money changers I would overturn the tables of candy and fatty foods that tempt shoppers in all of the grocery stores. I would insist that children do as well with physical activities as we ask them to do with mathematics and reading. I have become a fanatic overnight because I have seen what happens when we ignore the common sense notion that our bodies are as important as our minds.

My daughters are fearful that there may be a genetic tendency for stroke that they carry and may have passed on to their children. They worry about what they might do to prevent the kind of health emergency that we all recently endured when my husband had a stroke. I have told them that the solution is quite straightforward, and it was outlined magnificently by their Granny long ago. We must all do our very best to lead healthy lives from this day forward. That means that we are careful every single day of what we choose to eat or drink and how much activity we provide for our bodies.

There are so many wonderful resources in our world today that my mother-in-law never had. We now know much about how to best treat our bodies. I am finding that my husband and I are eating quite well and never feeling underfed or somehow beset upon. There are incredible recipes that use very little fat, salt, sugar or carbohydrates. Vegetables have become our staples and we prepare them in a variety of tasty ways. We are consistently losing the excess pounds that have been stressing our hearts. Our muscles and our stamina are growing stronger. Both of us are developing a kind of glow. It feels good to be on the right track and thankfully many of the people who once annoyed me with their crusades for health are helping me to launch my own odyssey. They are more than eager to help a fellow convert, no matter how late to the game I may be.

Perhaps I’ll do my part by sharing some of my favorite tasty recipes in the future. I’m trying different things and taking notes. The key appears to be in starting with a weekly menu plan, something that I used to laugh at my mother-in-law for doing. Now I understand that having good meals doesn’t just spontaneously happen. It takes a bit of effort that pays huge dividends in the end.

So here I am now, a born again health nut. Who knew that I would come to this? It’s a great feeling actually, and I’m not afraid to proclaim that we should all do ourselves a favor by mending our ways. There are no guarantees in this life, but it won’t hurt any of us to treat our bodies with the respect that proper care and feeding provides. My mother-in-law fought for her life. Now I will honor her by fighting for the lives of all of her descendants who are only here because of her courage and sacrifice. Mea culpa for the sins of gluttony and abuse that I have inflicted on myself and my family. From this day forward things will change.