Baltimore’s Passion and Pain

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Baltimore’s Passion and Pain

By Bernadette A. Moyer

Baltimore

Like people all across the country we watched in dismay and disgust and sadness as our beloved city Baltimore Maryland was destroyed by many of its own residents. Young black men that publicly displayed for the entire world their lack of hope and lack of respect and anger and frustrations in their very own hometown. Why? What could make a group of people believe that this was appropriate and acceptable behaviors?

They know better, we all know better, there isn’t a human being alive that thinks it is right and okay to hurl rocks and bricks and stones at other human beings. Regardless if the intended targets were police men and women.

We are living in a period of time when race relations are worse than what I ever witnessed in my lifetime. We have a black male President and Baltimore is run by a black female Mayor and yet race relations have not gotten any better. I believe that our President was elected because he is black! We want to believe that we are evolved and that the time was right just like many of us we want to see a woman president in our lifetime. But at what expense? Did we choose color over competence and will we choose gender over all, when that time arrives?

I want to see our evolution I want to believe that we had progressed as a country, but I also believe that Barack Obama was ill prepared and underqualified, there I said it! Under his leadership our country is more divided than ever?  He was and is in a position to build bridges and yet he continues to fan the flames that separate us.

My father was a retired two term Korean War veteran and in one of our last conversations before he died he quietly said to me, “I don’t think this President likes white people.”

When all the unrest started to openly show itself in Baltimore I heard Mayor Stephanie Rawlings Blake state that she views this situation “from the prism of a black woman” we can all see that she is black and that she is a woman, so now what?

How about this Mr. President and Madame Mayor, how about transcending your color to be the leadership for ALL the people and for the greater good not just for the people that look most like you? How about putting the people ahead of politics? How about working toward bridging the gap and being a force for unity? Instead of further division?

When I witness the protests across the country my sense is that this is so much more than Freddie Gray. I really believe that young people across this country have every right to be fuming mad, mad because the tax and spend enormous debt that they are inheriting and mad because our leaders want to fund the medical care in this country on their young and healthy backs. It used to be that we wanted to leave the country better for the next generation it used to be that we saved before we spent and we planned ahead.  We are handing our kids enormous debt and we have decided that our sick and elderly should be supported on the dime and the good health of today’s young person. We have done nothing to bring down health care costs. And much of it can be associated with insurance; malpractice insurance.

And before we judge the poverty and the inner city blacks and neighborhoods let’s look at what they have been asked to accept? We here in Baltimore have built back to back state of the art multi-million dollar stadiums in the same neighborhoods where schools have no libraries and no books and where kids don’t have enough food to eat? What message have we sent to them when we repeatedly show them by our actions that they don’t matter? I understand commerce as I am a successful businesswoman but I also am a mother who knows that these young people belong to all of us as they are the future of this country.

When a black man can make more money selling drugs than working at the corner store we can’t be surprised when he makes the choice to sell drugs. Truth is that many of these gangs are running successful businesses in drugs, using the very same skills that could be and should be used to run a legitimate successful business. They are smart and savvy businessmen, believe it.

When a neighborhood has been allowed to remain broken down and destroyed for the greater part of four decades and nothing has been done to fix it what messages are being portrayed by the people that live there and the young people that have never witnessed it any other way? The message is clear, the message is that no one cares. If we want people to have hope and to rise above poverty we must help them to attain the skills and give them that first hand up.

Years ago I worked in a special needs school that was major majority black and was both a day school with group homes. It came to the attention of the administration that supplies were missing and stolen. Supplies like tooth paste and toilet paper and soap. At first the staff was suspected but before long it was uncovered that some of the young boys that went home on the weekends to their families were actually the ones stealing. Why? Because they knew when they went home that mom couldn’t afford toilet paper, soap and tooth paste. So rather than have these kids steal, the leadership packed them bags that contained these items.  Most of us can’t image what it would be like not to have our basic needs met and not to have toilet paper or soap or tooth paste.

Baltimore City residents have a right to expect more and to expect better. It is no secret that Baltimore City has one of the highest homicide rates in the country. Baltimore has a history of corruption and one of the most upsetting news that was recently revealed was the staggeringly high salaries of many City School Administrators, most of whom are black. Salaries that exceeded $150,000 and $200,000 a year. In a school system also majority black where many young people are not getting their educational needs met.

When I sat with my husband and watched the Baltimore City police being abused and the numerous felonies that took place while the police watched I was bewildered and angry and dismayed. We expect our police to “serve and to protect” and it was clear that their boss the Mayor of Baltimore had given the orders to “stand down” I don’t care if you are black, white, pink or purple burning a business a car and assaulting people and police is illegal. It is criminal behavior.

There is a whole lot of healing that needs to take place in this country and in Baltimore City and many other cities. I don’t think that the black leadership can continue to get away with the  mantra “I feel your pain, when I see you, I see myself” we expect more from our leaders, they need to be mature enough and evolved enough to transcend their color and the color of all people in this country and do what is best. We are all people! We all bleed red! This is a great country and yet we have shown the world our darkest and dirtiest and saddest side.

Baltimore has many beautiful neighborhoods and world renowned hospitals and universities. The majority of its people are hardworking and good and generous people. I believe that it is through the struggle that we find enlightenment and good can come from all this unrest but first we have to want it and work toward it and we have to choose leaders that unite us and not ones that continue to divide us.

Bernadette on Facebook at www.facebook.com/bernadetteamoyer

Bernadette has resided in Baltimore County since 1982 and is married to Brian Sahm who was born and raised in Baltimore City and who served Baltimore City as a Civil Servant for 35 years.

It’s Not Over … Until We Take Our Last Breath

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It’s Not Over … Until We Take Our Last Breath

By Bernadette A. Moyer

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There was a lot of lead up until the actual interview with Bruce Jenner that took place last night with Diane Sawyer. But what was the real take away for the average person?

I have never wanted to be anything but a woman and I can’t image it any other way. Most of us will never know what it feels like to be born of one sex and believing deep within that you should have been born another.

What struck me was the love and family support, this is a big deal; every single person involved is having their reality tested. What will it be like for them when Bruce presence himself as a woman after 65 years of living as a man? And yet there didn’t seem to be any harsh family judgement but rather love and acceptance. What family couldn’t learn from this example?

Where I can relate to Bruce Jenner is in the aging process where you get to the point in life where you have been someone’s child, someone’s friend, someone’s employee, someone’s partner, and spouse and more and at a certain stage in life you have been through the process, you have done the work you have life experience and you have lived and you know who you are and what is most important. At a certain age we just want peace, love and self- acceptance.

Clearly he has arrived at a place in his journey where giving in and giving up and NOT being true to himself is no longer working nor something that he wishes to pursue. I think we call that maturity. I don’t believe there is any greater act of self-love than to be true to oneself. Otherwise we are living a lie.

Our entire lives are full of choices, some greater than others. This is huge for Bruce Jenner and I have to believe that he alone knows what is best for himself. Most of us do. We know when we are on the right path, we know when we are making the right decisions and we know what is best for ourselves.

If you aren’t living happy or you aren’t living whole, then you aren’t living an authentic life. I don’t believe that joy, love and happiness can coexist in a life that is less than authentic. And the good news is that you alone can change that and there is still time. Our life is not over until we take our last breath.

People that are the happiest are the ones that are filled with love, peace and acceptance. Acceptance starts within us, when we can accept our own unique place in this life and accept our own unique life path and genuinely come to terms with who and what we are all about there is joy.

Be true to yourself! And if for whatever reason you have veered away from your own natural being, it is never too late to take a new path. It is not over until we take that very last breath …

Bernadette on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/bernadetteamoyer

Just For Fun

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Just For Fun

By Bernadette A. Moyer

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“Did you come just for fun?” She asked. I didn’t know her name as we shared pleasantries while we both waited for our husbands to bring the cars around. She was from Jackson Mississippi and we had been staying in the same hotel in Biloxi Mississippi. When I told her we came from Baltimore Maryland in her very southern Mississippi accent she wanted to know if we “came just for fun.” I had to chuckle because I guess we had made this trip for fun.

Her baby girl was in a stroller and lit up when I smiled at her, according to her mother she just turned one year old. I was reminded of how often babies just took to me. How I loved kids and was always enlightened and having fun while interacting with them.

As we drove off I couldn’t stop thinking about her question and her glee when she asked it. In our more than twenty year history together my husband and I both had a lot of responsibility in our lives. For decades we had the two big careers that demanded our attention 24/7 along with raising our three children and managing two homes. We were always busy and we were always working. Sure we had fun but fun was the last thing on our agenda. We always had a lengthy “to do” list and that meant work.

Since his recent retirement after 35 years of employ we have slowed down quite a bit and in that slowing down we have carved out much more time for having fun!

Our trip to Biloxi was “just for fun!” We went to the pool and to the beach and we drove 45 minutes and enjoyed a day trip to New Orleans where we attended a Jazz Artists Festival. I had my cards read we ate at Café’ Du Monde and we shopped. We attended a live musical concert of one of our favorite country music artists at the Hard Rock Café. We had a blast! It was a trip that we both agreed upon was a lot of fun. One of our best ever.

In retrospect we often gave up “fun” for the seriousness of the numerous responsibilities we had taken on. Now I think more and more about living our lives and doing more and more things that are “just for fun!”

So … are you having fun? And if not what could/should you be doing differently to incorporate more fun into your life?

Here is to living a life that includes trips and experiences and events that are truly “just for fun!”

Bernadette on Facebook at www.facebook.com/bernadetteamoyer

Who Do You Voo Doo?

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Who Do You Voo Doo?

By Bernadette A. Moyer

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On a recent trip to New Orleans I picked up a small Voo Doo doll. I was surprised at how many different types they had there. There were soft sewn ones that looked just like pillows and hard wooden ones that came with nails instead of pins. I picked up a small one and I always assumed you were tasked with “pinning” the people that you decided to “Voo Doo.”  That somehow it was a hate magnet and used to pin out our anger and upsets with others.

It was only after reading the tag did I learn that the white pins are for good luck and wishing good fortune and the black pin is for evil and wanting to harm our enemies and victims.

Imagine that? Imagine that we could “pin” or bring harm to the people that we didn’t like or had any grievances toward? And imagine using the white pin for trying to do good for someone? The doll is used as the vehicle for our intentions.

I am amused that this concept exists, I mean for me anyway what a waste of time to conjure up our anger and our ill will toward another and pinning them, basically stabbing them in an attempt that hurting them and releasing our anger and displeasure.

So far it has been interesting to see how others react to my Voo Doo doll as I leave it in my office. A friend immediately picked it up and starting stabbing all the named people they could think of that they no longer held in high esteem. Another person picked it up and declared that their intended victim didn’t have a heart to begin with so the exercise wasn’t valid for them.

I don’t think we need a Voo Doo doll to have negative or positive thoughts about others, I am pretty sure it is human nature. Some people we automatically like and others maybe not so much. I am not a person that carries hatred in my heart. I get angry I express it and I get over it. It is what I do for myself.

Who would you “Voo Doo?” Are there people that you would want to use the white pin on and others that you would want to use the black one on? Do you wish good fortune for others or ill will?

One of the reasons that I don’t wish harm on others is because my belief is that what we put out into the universe is what comes back on us. Like a boomerang if we put out love and goodness more love and goodness comes back to us. And when we put out anger and evil thoughts that is also what comes back to us.

Voo Doo?

Bernadette on Facebook at www.facebook.com/bernadetteamoyer

You Are Only As Sick As Your Secrets

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You Are Only As Sick As Your Secrets

By Bernadette A. Moyer

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“You are only as sick as your secrets” by Rick Warren This quote has also been used in the 12-step program for addiction. The premise is that so often what we are hiding or unable to deal with is often the root of our problems.

It has been said “the cover up is worse than the crime” and what people will do to cover up for their crimes or feelings of inadequacy. Lance Armstrong is a classic example of a guy that spent 10 years smearing the very people that were closest to him to cover up for his use of illegal enhancement preforming drugs. He knew what he did and yet he had very little concern for the people that he harmed.

I grew up in a highly dysfunctional family with a father who was a raging alcoholic and a mother who was an enabler and overeater. They both chose a different vice to numb their pain. Pain that was never dealt with but rather swept under the table.

When you are a child in an alcoholic home you learn to pretend that your life is normal and you learn to keep the family secrets. My father and his drinking and drinking related behaviors showed itself in numerous unhealthy ways. He had mood swings and a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde personalities and under the influence of alcoholic he could be both charming and violent. My mother hid much of what she endured from him from her family. She knew it was wrong but she stayed in it until she could no longer deny his multiple infidelities. There was much sickness associated with their secrets.

Her second marriage would also be riddled with secrets and sickness. She married and stayed married to a man that was accused of sexual abuse. She lived in denial. To be a part of my mother’s life, you had to subscribe to her denial. When I was a child I had no choice but as an adult I would find myself calling out that which I knew was wrong. This would make me a scapegoat and a target. But it also made me well and happy, I got away and I moved past it and ultimately I saved myself.

Living a lie or a life of deceit and dishonesty puts us off center and unable to live an authentic life. Many families have family secrets the things that they desperately hide to keep from the outside world. I am in a place where I no longer take someone else’s lies personally nor am I hurt or offended by them. If anything I am sad for their sickness. To lie and to deceive causes distrust and when we cannot be trusted we are limited in our abilities for true love and any real intimacy.

People that are consumed with “what will the neighbors think?” are often the same ones that are living a lie. What they try and put out into the universe doesn’t match up with authenticity and integrity. When we can move past our secrets and when we can come from a place of trust and of love then we are most centered and well. Our well-being and our abilities to experience pure joy are associated with honesty and truth and integrity.

We have stages for those that want to perform and act, in the theater of life, we can hide and we can hold secrets but far too often we pay the price with a life that is devoid of any real love and intimacy. You can’t be close to someone who is dishonest, you can’t be close to someone who is living a lie and holding on to secrets. Love and happiness thrive and live in the light and … in darkness we find illness.

Our ability to trust ourselves and to love ourselves is a direct connection with our ability to be honest with ourselves and with the people we are closest.  When I was a child I lived with family secrets and with high anxiety and as an adult I made the choice to live in the open with love and acceptance and in doing so I have found good health and much peace.

Letting go of the burdens of secrets is letting go of the barriers that inhibit good health and an abundance of love. Let love win!

Bernadette on Facebook at www.facebook.com/bernadetteamoyer

Navigating Through My Estrangement

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Navigating Through My Estrangement

By Bernadette A. Moyer

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It used to be considered a “silent epidemic” when estrangement took place in the family. For the most part parents were just so hurt and humiliated that they often hid it or made excuses as to where their adult children ended up.

Today more and more parents have bonded together as a result of their adult children estranging from the family. Parents no longer feel the need to hide it and are actively seeking healing and coping skills and trying to come to peace and understanding.

Through the years I have written several articles about estrangement, the most popular ones are titled P.E.A.C. E. Parents of Estranged Adult Children Everywhere, Dear Parents of Estranged Adult Children and most recently Dear Estranged Adult Children. All can be found on my website at www.bernadetteamoyer.com and you may keep up with me on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/bernadetteamoyer.

This article is about sharing the many stages that go with an estrangement from an adult child. There are numerous stages and many resemble the same stages that we experience with death and the grieving process. The greatest challenge for many parents is that unlike a death, the adult child has made the choice to estrange themselves.

Let me share my experiences the last 17 years and also what I have learned and witnessed from the hundreds and hundreds of others that have communicated with me.

Stage 1 – The Battle Begins – Shock

The estrangement begins and sometimes it is a declaration of “I hate you” and “I want nothing to do with you.” And statements like “Don’t ever contact me again.” Other times it is the silent treatment with no communication at all. Messages are left, letters are written and calls are made and they all go unanswered.

At this time most parents are shocked. They can’t believe that little “Johnny” could react this way toward them. The parents begin to question themselves, their children and all the years they shared together. The overriding question “How did this happen, how did we end up here?”

Most mothers will express their grief through tears. They are so hurt. There is no deeper cut for any mother than to have the child that you loved and raised decide to reject you. All she wants is her “baby” back. Mothers and fathers begin to look at one another almost a silent look of “What did YOU do?”  Although they are looking to place blame is not communicated as such and at least not initially.

Fathers often react differently. They feel the loss but almost immediately decide to go into “survival” mode. They will look at it from every angle and decide that, “If that is the way it is, it may well be a blessing.”  My own husband immediately wanted to close ranks. He accepted it for what it was and made my health and well-being his priority. I don’t know that I could have ever survived without him and his love. It also caused him to look more closely at his own children and their actions. Things he may have chosen not to see in the past he acknowledged that he could no longer deny.

Stage 2 – Uncovering Some Ugly Truths

Few parents want to believe that their children are “liars” or “sneaky” or “sloppy” or have manipulated them. Few parents are willing to see their children through less than loving eyes until they are absolutely faced with the harsh truths.

Mothers just want the kids back; they want their family restored at all costs. Men see the danger in opening the door back up to what has already been disclosed to them.

Stage 3 – Denial This Can’t Be Happening … Not to me!

My grief was intense when my child left home in 1998. I couldn’t imagine living my life without her. I had already suffered the loss of my first husband who died and family that I was estranged from as a result of sexual abuse. I couldn’t imagine losing my daughter too. But I did. I ended up in therapy twice a week and for the first time ever I began taking antidepressant medication. She had been my reason for living and without her I felt I had no true purpose in life. Wrong, wrong and wrong but that was how I thought.

Each anniversary and each holiday and all birthdays were storms of tears and anger. How could she? How could I have meant so little to her when she meant so much to me?

Stage 4 – A Different Kind of Life

Everything changed. I changed. We moved our holidays to travel destinations and started making new traditions. Slowly but surely I began the letting go process. Her things were given to her and anything that crept up years later was given away or donated. Pictures of her began to be removed from public displays and all her photos, cards, letters and any pertinent papers were filed. She was being removed from my life bit by bit.

I would be fine years 4 and 5 and then have a complete breakdown in year 6. In the beginning I lost a lot of weight and I felt so deflated. I beat myself up pretty badly. I still had hope, I still thought she would grow up and find her heart.

Stage 5 – Coming to Acceptance  

It is over! It really is over! After 10 years in I stopped crying and I came to acceptance. This was my new normal, I was living my life without her and she was living her life without me. My husband and twins filled my life along with a career that I loved. We had many friends and beach vacations. We had peace. Life was good again.

Stage 6 – Here We Go Again!

She was in legal trouble and would strike out at me again. We had already been estranged for 13 years. I couldn’t believe she could still carry such deep seated hatred in her heart. How can you hate someone, anyone so much when you haven’t even seen them or talked to them in well over a decade? This would also be my biggest eye opener. It was also when my heart changed for good.  Now I was done. The things that she did and the things that she said were such outrageous lies but what was most telling was the degree that she could and would go to and still want to hurt me. It changed everything for me. I could finally wholeheartedly let her go. We were strangers. The daughter that I knew and the daughter that I loved and adored was long gone. I always saw her through rose-colored glasses but not anymore.

Stage 7 – I Am Whole Again!

There is no scenario on the face of this earth where I would ever welcome her back into my heart and into my life. I gave her back to God. When I could finally do this I was free. My life was mine again. I was back to enjoying everything. It was like the dark clouds lifted and peace came over me. My mother had died and my family would show themselves yet again. I could finally conclude that I was better off without them. That I had a really nice life and it wasn’t going to include them. I am softer more loving and more open but I am also so much wiser. I trusted when I should have questioned. I walked away when I should have confronted.

Today I share what I learned and I do my best to try and comfort others who are going through estrangement. I share my story I share my path so others will know that 1) you aren’t alone and 2) you can and you will survive too!

Bernadette on Facebook at www.facebook.com/bernadetteamoyer

You can share your story with me at bmoyer37@aol.com
NEW BOOKS! Along The Way and Another Way are available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble

Finding Joy in Each Day

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Finding Joy in Each Day

By Bernadette A. Moyer

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It was Easter 2013 …

This WASN’T the day I was expecting to have; I had a laundry list of things to accomplish today. This is Holy Week and we are headed to several places in a few different states before we settle down and relax to enjoy Easter Sunday. My new stainless steel kitchen appliances were due to be delivered and installed and they were cancelled due to “weather.”

So it appears that Mother Nature had others plans and of course I heard all the warnings and weather reports but in my mind spring is here. Snow should have ended for this year. But not so! Over the weekend I was tempted to transition to lighter clothing and I guess it’s a good thing that I didn’t.

Then I took a good hard look around outside and it was just stunningly beautiful. The trees look like they have been iced with pure white snow and crystal clear reflective ice. It is just beautiful outside!

So I decided to just enjoy it and find joy in doing things here at home. I spent extra time with my two furry friends, sipped my coffee a tad bit longer and decided to make food. Sunday’s leftover turkey is today’s turkey corn chowder soup and I tried a new flourless chocolate cake recipe with crushed cherry vanilla icing. Baked homemade bread is now baking as I listen to Adele playing on the CD player and looking out into this winter wonderland.

It is a joy filled peace filled lovely day and I guess Mother Nature decided we needed a weather holiday. I am reminded that we can find joy everywhere around us, that we just have to be receptive to it.

My Easter destination weather is anticipated at close to 60 degrees, but for now I am taking in the last of what I suspect may be winter snow for 2013 and I am finding much joy in doing so …

Find joy wherever and in whatever you are experiencing … because after all it is a great day to be alive!

Bernadette on Facebook at www.facebook.com/bernadetteamoyer