Sunday, February 11, 2018


"This world of ours with lush offerings abound.
Where astounding ways to soothe the soul can be found.
What a wonder to behold!
On it's beauty I am sold.
Caught up in this lure, I let my spirit soar.

As my heart beats for more
Thoughts of love and sweet music fill my mind.
With eyes wide open, I jump for joy
Grateful that we live in a world where blessings flow."
Marvelous World - psw

"Where next?" The travel genie asked and I responded.  There I was landing in Ben Guenon Airport, Israel with sixty-nine travel companions from two church parishes in Nassau County, USA, ready to start a spiritual journey to the Holy Land.
We began our exploration of this tiny nation and experienced Israel's diverse religious heritage, visiting sites steeped in Judaism, Christianity and Islam.  I must ask you to bear with me  as I trace our voyage through multicultural traditions and the ruins of ancient civilizations.  The tales are too detailed to recount here but you will get a taste that is enough to push your curiosity button to make you want to take a visit or do more research on the places and incidents mentioned.

We began our tour from the town of Netayana where we stayed overnight.  A walk to the shores of the Mediterranean sea brought out a WOW from my lips, a majestical view indeed. Our venture took us to Caesarea, an ancient landscape, where if you listen carefully, you can hear the victorious shouts of the gladiators.  Along the way we stopped in the Roman amphitheater to watch a film on the Roman period. It showed the heyday, when the gladiator games and chariot racing were held.

Off to Tiberius we went, where we cruise on the Sea of Galilee and Capernaum.  This is the place believed to be the site of Jesus' sermon on the mount. Our visit to Tabgha, believed to be the site of the miracles of the loaves and fishes,one of my favorite scripture story. The mount of the beatitudes where Jesus preached the famous sermon and chose the twelve apostles was one of our stop.  At Cana, the site of Jesus first miracle of turning water into wine. Here Twenty-two couples from our group renewed their vows.  At Mt. Tabor, we visited the traditional site of the transfiguration.  We made our way to Nazareth the boyhood home of Jesus and visited the Church of Annunciation.

Our tour continued to the archaeological ruins of Megiddo, which is labeled a UNESCO world heritage site.  Our tour spoke about the Druze culture, which was new to me and pointed out women on the street who by their dressing could be identified as a Druze.  He described them as people who preferred living in the mountains.  The many wonders and sites continued and we headed to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, Jerusalem.  We visited the western wall and asked for blessings for many by poking our pieces of paper with their names in any space available on the wall.

The Dead Sea is described as the deepest hyper saline lake in the world and is fed by the River Jordan, which flows from the Sea of Galilee.  Many of our travelers came prepared with their swimsuits and floated on their back in the Dead Sea. I had already experienced this phenomenon on a previous visit and this time only placed my feet in to enjoy the mud slide.

What is a pilgrimage without shopping for the religious artifacts, crosses, rosaries, images of Mary, mother of Jesus, Jesus himself; you name it, numerous biblical figures lined the shelves of the local market, made out of authentic olive wood, they touted.

I ate a lot of crisp falafel and as a vegetarian, the cuisine was enticing.  Thanks to the guides whose regional expertise shone in their commentary. This journey is indeed memorable, Israel's captivating and unique culture, bargaining with the street vendors, strolling the cobbled alleyways, descending below sea level, renewing our baptism at the River Jordan, strolling into the Palestinian section, lingering in Jericho, celebrating masses in these significant churches, a delight even from the sighting of the sycamore trees, walking in beautiful gardens with varied plants and age old olive trees,plus all the other things we participated in gave me a deep insight into this region.
What a privilege to have been immersed in the enactment of biblical passages.

Chop, chop! Sholom! Yalla! are words that keep ringing in my ears, learned from the pleasant yelling of our tour guides. I will be ready to say "yalla"(let's go) to experience another region in this marvelous world of ours.

Saturday, January 20, 2018


                                            "Help me to help them was the cry.
                                              And you all came running, banding
                                              together for a kinder world."

The small quarters worried me when I arrived for the fundraising brunch for the Choose To Care(CTC) organization.  I gave the butterflies a second to play havoc in my stomach and quickly flipped the "this is not going to work" button to "we have to make it work."  It was time to make lemonade out of lemon.

The dear folks came in and took their position and I no longer saw tight space.  I am of the belief that there is enough space for everyone on this amazing earth, if we just shift over a little.  This movement is about showing kindness, recognizing that someone could use a helping hand. This profound message was literally playing out before my eyes; the place seemed to have magically widened.  As old and new acquaintances began to arrive, the room was buzzing with excitement.  Each person had carved out their niche and I could feel my worry lines fading away, my face was relaxed as I scanned the room, feeling satisfied.  The revelers were settling in waiting for a bite.

I told the story of CTC and it's humble beginning and although it was delivered in a nutshell, I am sure they understood my passion and commitment to carry out the mission to provide the children in need with a brand new pair of shoes.  I am also revved up about establishing a healthy pathway for the kids and their families and at each and every gathering to continue to encourage the kids and their families to be caretakers of this wonderful world we live in; starting with the community where they call home. Later on while viewing some photos, I laughed at how the depth of my feelings was captured when I told my story; by my expressions my inhibitions of facing the crowd seemed to have disappeared as I poured out my soul. The onlookers were also at attention, listening to my simple words, that told my reasons for serving these precious kids.

                                               "How can a Title less creature be of help,
                                                I keep asking myself.
                                                This is the work of the famous
                                                 But I know better and I begin once again,
                                                 that unfinished job."

It was heartwarming to hear a representative from an organization that serves the children of Haiti spoke about what it meant to be able to distribute a brand new pair of shoes to children so they can walk to school without getting cuts on their feet. She told the story of a young woman who thanked her for a pair of shoes, she received over three years ago that allowed her to travel to college to become a teacher. This my dear friends is what we describe as "happy feet"  Oh, the power of a brand new pair of shoes.

How fitting it was that so many kind folks came out to honor the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther  King.  It is he who said:

                                                  "Life's most persistent and urgent question,
                                                    is what are you doing for others."
My hope is that you will go where your heart leads you to be of service to others.

Thanks to the hands that prepared such great tasting food, as many reached for more helpings, there were words of praises for this scrumptious meal.  As I began to reflect, the space that seemed so small at first ,widened to fit everyone;  there were drinks and food to satisfy thirst and hunger. I did not hear any grumbling and connections were made. If anything was out of sorts, it was promptly amended. Indeed, we made lemonade out of lemon.

And for me, a little extra came my way from a girl scout leader in California who shared with me via e-mail that her troop, in order to earn their "staying fit badges" have to learn how to be their best healthy self.  She said she had been helping them research all about healthy eating habits, exercising and managing stress.  They came across health information in a blog posted on CTC's website which really helped the girls and she wanted to say thanks.  She shared a link that she thought would help others also:  This is icing on the cake, never underestimate the impact you can make in this world, no matter how small.

"I am seeking, I am striving, I am in it with all my heart"
Vincent Van Gogh

Kindness begets kindness. Your presence and assistance were greatly appreciated.
Wishing you many more.


Monday, December 18, 2017


There was snow on the ground and chill in the air, but neither the Nutritionists And Friends In Action {NAFIA} members nor the children and their parents yielded to the less than favorable conditions.  We all came out for Choose To Care's {CTC} holiday celebration.  The theme was "Have A Snacking Good Time"  Indeed they did and left joyful after participating in nutrition and exercise activities; enjoying more than one serving of fruits and yogurt mixture, served in a cone and of course their brand new pair of shoes.

As soon as the last kid exited we began planning for our upcoming event, a fundraising brunch.  As important as this is, I knew that it was equally important for us to take a pause and reflect on the work we have done together.  The progress we have achieved is remarkable, we realized the impact of our work and noticed the gratitude on the face of the family members whose children benefit from our goal to provide a brand new pair of shoes for the child in need.We are glad that our additional platforms also aim to improve their lives:

  • Leading the children and family to a healthier lifestyle
  • Ways to care for the environment they live in and the world at large

Thanks NAFIA team for your enduring support, your commitment and compassion; you have given us all HOPE.   
But we  have paused long enough.  Meet you at the next shindig on 1/13/18, the Van Diemens Restaurant.  Mission accomplished we say with pride.

"If only I had a magic wand to fix the perils we face
But all I have is the belief that better will come."

Thursday, December 7, 2017


                                      For goodness sake
                                      What saddened face you make
                                       Let's meet your soul
                                       It is tapping away
                                       Listen, it says, fetch me
                                       Lest I get stifled
                                       Will you heed its plea?

                                       You have kept it in hiding
                                        Your soul is yearning
                                        Go deeper, let me show you where
                                         Be quiet, I hear a faint voice
                                         Now did you hear it?
                                         It is stronger! I am coming, it is saying
                                         Trapped so long, I am slowly making my way

                                          Surrender, your soul has been released
                                          And dullness turned to brightness
                                          Jubilant, Jovial, Joyful
                                          The tide has turned
                                          A true believer has been conquered

BRAWTA(from the bitter-sweet series)


  • It is as if a "fairy godmother" appeared, recognized the sadness and gave a helping hand.Can you tell of a moment when someone did the same for you?
  • There is reference to the soul as being buried - Explain
  • What lines indicate that it was not an easy passage to find the soul?
  • The command to surrender is the Poet's way of asking to remove the fear - when have you let fear hinder you?
  • Make Me A Believer is the title - Interpret


                                                COURAGEOUS  Jamie
                                                With calm spirit and warm heart
                                                 Triumphantly awakens at the break of dawn
                                                 To face another day
                                                  And no one knows the pain she bears

                                                 And as she makes her presence known
                                                 Her kind words melt your soul
                                                 With a smile that spreads wide
                                                 She lights up the skies
                                                 Grabbed by her invigorating mood
                                                 You are pulled to adjust your ways
                                                  So you too may see the goodness of the day

                                                  When darkness dares to seep in
                                                   She shines a light its way
                                                   As if to say "you can't linger here"
                                                   Her good deeds soar and catch you may
                                                   It's free for the world, you need not pay
                                                   HUMBLE Jamie filled with gratitude
                                                   Has figured it out
                                                   Spreading Joy has made her journey
                                                   A worthwhile ride

BRAWTA (from: The Jump For Joy Series)



  • It seems that the Poet intentionally inserted the line, "And no one knows the pain she bears" 
What does this tell you about Jamie?

  • What does darkness refer to?
  • Explain: "she shines a light its way"
  • Another word for journey as it is used here
  • What message(s) have you gathered from this poem?


Saturday, December 2, 2017


                                                 They summoned her
                                                 And the butterflies came too
                                                 Shaken, she nervously entered the unknown
                                                 Poised but trembling
                                                 She faced her judges
                                                 Still unsure of the reason
                                                 For this masquerade

                                                "Where is this leading?" she wondered
                                                As she rode out the small talks with fear
                                                And out of nowhere they dropped
                                                The the dreaded words
                                                "You are not needed anymore"

                                                Taken off guard she stuttered a little
                                                 But quickly recovered
                                                 "Is this it?" she muttered in dismay
                                                 As she looked on stunned
                                                 Lips were moving, words were spoken
                                                 But she knew not what was said

                                                  "Am I deserving of this?"
                                                  "Am I deserving of this?" she repeated
                                                   No one replied, they only stared in silence
                                                   And she moved away in disbelief
                                                   SURRENDERED      REMOVED    VOIDED
                                                                       And soon after
                                                   RECOVERED           RELIEVED  

(Brawta: From the Bitter&Sweet series)

Questions To Ponder
  • The butterflies came - what is the Poet referring to?
  • The word RECOVERED was used twice - what is the significance each time?
  • "Lips were moving, words were spoken"  - Imagine what these words were?
  • The poem ended with words describing: A sad finale and a joyful rebirth - use other words that would give the same effect
  • Throughout the Poet presented a moving story of someone going through troubling times -think about a time when you were faced with a similar circumstance and how did you ride out the storm?
  • Your interpretation of the title's message "Flipping The Storm"

Sunday, October 29, 2017


Before you even get a chance to properly pronounce their names, our tour guides on this incredible journey in South Africa were professing their love for their country. I share their sentiments, even as an outsider, I am drawn to this beautiful country.  We landed in Johannesburg, 50 of us had made this trip to the "Joy of Jazz festival" where we swayed and rocked to the sounds coming from the instruments of the skilled  musicians.  I did not see Hugh Masekahla, one of my all time favorites.  I later learned that because of illness he had to cancel. Those that I was fortunate to see put on a show.  I was dazzled by the energy of the performers, young and old, they were in a class of their own.

We spent two days in the wilderness with the majestic animals. On our first evening out, we began our search for the Big 5 and we were lucky to see the elephant, lion, leopard and rhino. We drove around in the dark, searching and none of my travel companions seemed to mind the fierce winds, the threatening rain; we all wanted that 5th animal, the elusive cape buffalo.  Two more outings out in the wild, searching and hoping but the cape buffalo never made an appearance.  The springbok, South Africa's national animal was plentiful.  This beautiful animal can live without drinking water for years, just by eating succulent vegetation.

Our tour of Soweto and learning of it's history, was an important part of this trip. Our visit to the Mandela Museum, viewing his life's journey left me in awe. We mingled with the bus loads of tourists who were just as curious to learn of this awesome man and the sacrifices he made.

We made our way to drop dead Cape Town.  The Victoria and Alfred Waterfront shopping center houses many shops and wonderful treasures.  Our cable ride to the famous table mountain was breathtaking.  As we trekked our way around the mountain, I am so at peace in the surroundings.

We spent an evening in the home of a South African jazz musician, who fed us and entertained us with a local band.  We sang, we danced and ate good tasting South African dishes, prepared and served by the hands of his family who showed joy in mingling with us.

Our shopping excursions were quick, bargaining with the vendors done at high speed.  Apart from the one you are negotiating with,out of the corner of your eyes are other vendors queuing up, waiting their turn to to grab you for a look at their merchandise.  I must admit I don't do well in this haste and bustle; mostly because there are too many choices and truthfully I cannot blame the merchants for going for the best price they can get.  My soft spot wants to pay them the best price, especially for their hard work.

This is not my first trip to South Africa and if I  have my way it will not be the last.  I am always in admiration of the beauty of Cape Town. Everything in its place, clean streets, modern looking buildings, even the aging ones show beauty. There is this willingness to share its beauty and eventually you will surrender.  The city beckons to you, to explore it, not to be afraid.
Johannesburg has its own share of beauty;it is vibrant, the residents seem happy go lucky.  They invite you to join them and will not wait for you to make up your mind, with outstretched hands, they take you along.

We covered a lot of grounds  in a short time.  From a trip to see the Penguins, a whole colony of them, the museum of apartheid, Pretoria, wine tour, eating at the Braai, (barbecue)that offered a spread of food and entertainment, all lasting memories.  I overdosed on my favorite Rooibos tea and came away with different ways to prepare this South African red bush tea.

Jo'Burg, as it is affectionately called and Cape Town offer different experiences, but for sure, they share the sense of community.  This is the spirit of the new South Africa.

UBUNTU!("I am what I am because of who we all are")