Tina Frisco is an author, singer-songwriter, RN, activist, and student of shamanism. Born in Pennsylvania USA, she attended nursing school in New York and lives in California. She began writing as a young child and received her first guitar at age 14, which launched her passion for music and songwriting. She has performed publicly in many different venues. Her publishing history includes book reviews; essays; articles in the field of medicine; her début novel, PLATEAU; her children's book, GABBY AND THE QUADS; and her latest novel, VAMPYRIE. She enjoys writing, reading, music, dancing, arts and crafts, exploring nature, and frequently getting lost in working crossword puzzles.
My spiritual teacher of nearly 40 years crossed over a few days ago, and once again I find myself dealing with grief. My mother left this earthly life last August, and my best friend left this past March.
Over the years I’ve learned that grief coexists with attachment – attachment to the physical, to an idea, to a belief, to loss, to fear of the unknown. As gravity keeps us grounded on Mother Earth, attachment keeps us grounded on the physical plane. Attachment is a function of ego, and ego’s only purpose is to keep us in form. So I ask myself:
How does one transcend grief and stay in form?
In my younger days, grief would overwhelm and paralyze me. Sleep, the only escape that offered any relief, consumed all my daily functions. Since then I’ve learned that escape, other than in small periodic doses, doesn’t ameliorate or extinguish grief – it merely anesthetizes it, during which time grief covertly wreaks havoc with our bodies, minds, emotions, and spirits. Grief seizes our hearts and holds us in suspended animation until we acknowledge it. Grief demands recognition. It holds us hostage until we feel it, intensely and profoundly, before s-l-o-w-l-y letting go.
The grief I feel today over the loss of my dear teacher is a thin water-colored image compared with the dense oil-based images of years ago. This doesn’t minimize the love and respect I have for her. I deeply feel the loss of her physical presence. I also sense her spirit, playfulness, and joy with heightened awareness. I’ve been clairsentient all my life, so the only thing that’s changed is my perception of grief. While exploring every fiber of its texture, I dove deep and surfaced so many times that I now know grief intimately. It no longer frightens me. It no longer controls me. I can explore its depth and breadth with tears and longing, all without succumbing to the weight of its being. Although my heart aches and reaches out for what has moved on, I can dive deep and surface at will.
So, I suppose the answer to my question is:
Transcendence is transformation, not transmutation.
Meeting grief’s challenge can ignite eagle vision without defying gravity. It can allow us to hover above base emotions without losing integrity.
One of the first lessons my teacher shared with me was:
It’s what we choose not to look at that controls our life. Energy follows thought.
She taught me well. Thank you, Lynn. Travel lightly, dear sister. I will see you again. My heart to your heart 💕
The belief that life begins at conception is not based in science. It’s based in religion. Democracy ceases to exist when religion becomes a controlling part of its structure.
Contrary to what some proclaim, the United States was not founded on Christianity. The framers of the Constitution held the separation of church and state inviolable.
Although the phrase separation of church and state doesn’t appear in the Constitution, it’s a valid concept that’s been used legally and judicially. Right to privacy and right to a fair trial are also absent but are upheld by law and embraced by all Americans. Separation of church and state is implicit in the First Amendment:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
We’ve seen a steady erosion of the Constitution since its inception.
Indigenous peoples were forced to send their children to Christian schools. Under God was inserted into the Pledge of Allegiance and In God We Trust inscribed on all U.S. currency, both of which are faith-based mottoes.
Francis Bellamy created the original Pledge of Allegiance in 1891:
I pledge allegiance to my flag and the Republic for which it stands — one Nation indivisible — with liberty and justice for all.
In 1951 The Knights of Columbus, a Catholic men’s organization, urged Congress to add under God to the pledge. Congress did so on 14 June 1954 under President Dwight D. Eisenhower, despite bipartisan concerns regarding separation of church and state.
The Coinage Act, signed into law on 12 February 1873, mandated In God We Trust be inscribed on all coins. On 11 July 1955 Eisenhower signed into law a bill requiring that inscription appear on all paper and coin currency. On 30 July 1956 Congress and Eisenhower approved In God We Trust as America’s motto, disregarding beliefs of atheists and agnostics among the citizenry.
Historically both Congress and the Supreme Court have upheld the phrases under God and In God We Trust, touting them as benign mottoes while ignoring they had become the law of the land.
A monotheistic ideal inserted into our Pledge of Allegiance, inscribed on our currency, and displayed in our government buildings violates the First Amendment.
Nonreligious and non-Christian children are forced to recite the religious-laced pledge in school. We’re compelled to use currency inscribed with a religious belief. We’re struck by religious mottoes when visiting government establishments.
The United States is a multi-racial, multi-cultural, multi-religious country. On average 40-50% of Americans poll as nonreligious, and 10-15% as atheist and agnostic. How would people feel if the words In Allah We Trust were on our currency? My preference is Great Spirit rather than God, but I’d never vote to force my spiritual belief on another.
Which brings me to the subject of abortion . . .
Ninth Amendment: The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
Tenth Amendment: The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
Roe v Wade is the Supreme Court’s ruling that held the Constitution protects a woman’s right to an abortion prior to fetal viability.*
The majority of Americans support this ruling, but where is their voice in deciding passage of antiabortion laws?
A fetal heart begins to beat at 5-6 weeks. A heartbeat, however, does not confirm the presence of a soul. Nor does kicking or thumb-sucking. Resembling a human infant doesn’t make a fetus a sentient life form, nor does it confirm the presence of a soul. Some believe a soul enters a body at conception. Others believe it enters when the first breath is taken. Both are religious or spiritual beliefs. Neither is based in science. Therefore, since the First Amendment states that Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, outlawing abortion is unconstitutional.
Although Roe v Wade is still constitutional law, several States have passed laws banning abortion – at all stages of fetal development – and more are poised to do so if the precedent is overturned. Women have been imprisoned and charged with murder, regardless of their reason for having an abortion or if the abortion was spontaneous. Incest, rape, trafficking, and serious health concerns are either not addressed or deemed invalid.
The Supreme Court is poised to overturn Roe v Wade. This would once again objectify women, relegate us to second-class citizens, and deem us property of the state. We’d be charged with manslaughter or murder and sentenced to a lengthy prison term, if not execution, along with anyone who assists us. How is this not tyranny? How is this not the imposing of a religious belief? How is this not violating the Constitution? How is this not pandering to a minority electorate?
Right to Life and Antiabortion are not synonymous.
Right to Life opposes capital punishment. Right to Life includes all creatures and decries vivisection, factory farms, sport/trophy hunting. Right to Life is ensured by the Fourteenth Amendment. Antiabortion is an adverb qualifying an element of one’s religious beliefs.
Fourteenth Amendment, Section 1: All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
There’s one more factor that needs addressing . . . the puppeteers.
The power elite are those in the top brackets of wealth who wield political power and control everything across the globe. A pin in a map here and a bribe there maintain their control over the world’s economy, politics, military, businesses, and disposition. They shield themselves behind politicians and others of influence who fall prey to their rapacity and subornation. They leverage ultimatums, tug on the strings, and manipulate the corrupt and ignorant, respectively, into doing their bidding.
Much of this is evidenced by the rise of multinational corporations – which serve as umbrellas for the countless smaller corporations they absorb – and their dominance in the global marketplace. Their goal is a worldwide totalitarian government, one they’ve been methodically working toward for at least 200 years. Despite efforts at diversity – which elevated token women and minorities within their ranks – they remain white, male, and Christian.
Their tacit motto is divide and conquer. They’ve managed to spotlight that which divides us, invoke fear of the unknown, provoke anger as a means of conquering fear, keep us fighting with each other, and incite violence as a means of strong-arming us into maintaining the status quo – all of which ensures their power and dominance.
I have no doubt they’re a driving force behind overturning Roe v Wade. The power of womankind would diminish, become a lesser threat to their dominance, and eventually be silenced. It won’t stop here. All our rights and freedoms are at risk, including the right to vote.** They’ve targeted everyone they deem a threat to their supremacy, using the resolve of corrupt politicians, religious zealots, and white nationalists to achieve their goals – the latter of which wants to transmute the U.S. into a white Christian nation. Many Americans are unaware of the powerful cabal supporting, if not directing these campaigns and the obliteration of democracy that would result.
Personally, I wouldn’t choose to have an abortion. However current law, precedent, and the Constitution grant me the right to do so. Violating a woman’s right to control her own body would strike a death blow to democracy.
Imposition of religion by government upon its citizens is a weapon of autocracy.
It’s purported that upon leaving the Constitutional Convention in 1787, Benjamin Franklin was asked, “Doctor, what have we got? A republic or a monarchy?” to which he replied, “A republic, if you can keep it.”
So, which will we choose: democracy or tyranny?
Much of the turmoil we’re witnessing across the globe is the product of a dying patriarchy. It’s digging in its claws attempting to survive. It will not. How long this will continue is unknown. The amount of carnage the beast will inflict is inestimable. But it will die. Then love and compassion will make way for the light waiting to fill the world.
*The Court based its decision on the three trimesters of pregnancy. First trimester: termination is solely at the discretion of the woman. Second trimester: the state may regulate (but not outlaw) abortion in the interest of the mother’s health. Third trimester: the fetus is viable and the state may regulate or outlaw abortions in the interest of the potential life, except when necessary to preserve the life or health of the mother.
**The Fifteenth Amendment ensures the right to vote:
The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.
It’s been two years since I’ve posted to my blog. The political climate here in the U.S. has aggravated the chronic illness that interferes with life on a daily basis, but I make the best use of time wherever possible.
The wearing of masks during this COVID pandemic has become a contested issue and one I feel compelled to weigh in on. I wrote this article between flareups and would like to share it with you now.
I hope to be back in blogging mode in a few months, when the chaos here in the U.S. sorts itself out. I miss writing and posting, visiting friends’ blogs, and I’ve desperately missed all of you!
FREEDOM IS NOT FREE. It is earned. It is earned by being a responsible member of society.
Under the U.S. Constitution, we have certain inalienable rights. If we break the law – if we commit a willful act of violence – we could lose those rights temporarily or permanently and, thus, lose our freedom.
Not wearing a mask during this COVID pandemic is a willful act of violence, even if we tested negative a day ago or an hour ago. Why? 1. False negatives can and do occur; 2. We can contract the virus between the time we were tested and when we encounter others. If we do not wear a mask and then transmit the virus to another, this translates into criminally negligent homicide. Why? Because we have ignored the science and the health experts who repeatedly inform us that COVID is extremely virulent and masks should always be worn while we are in public. Thus, we willfully endanger the life of another.
If you say to me: “My freedom doesn’t end where your fear begins,” then I say to you: “My life doesn’t end where your denial begins.” If you say you have a right to freedom, then I say I have a right to life.
If you say I should remain isolated for fear of contracting COVID, then I say I’m not the anti-masker who could conceivably infect hundreds, if not thousands of others; and because I wear a mask, I’m not the potential living, breathing pathogen – you are. In our society, we quarantine those who are a danger to the lives of others.
I worked as an RN for decades and saw first-hand how quickly contagion spreads. I initiated isolation protocols more times than I can count. I sat with patients dying without the comfort of loved ones at their bedside. Thousands of COVID patients and their families have endured this. I do not want to be complicit in this tragedy.
Rights and freedoms coexist within a democratic society. They become mutually exclusive when one threatens the other.
Freedom is not free. Our right to freedom must be earned by respecting the rights of others and accepting responsibility for our actions.
Terror is defined as intense overpowering fear. Terrorism is defined as the systematic use of terror, especially as a means of coercion. A terrorist is defined as a person who employs terror, especially as a political weapon.
Millions in America and around the world are living in terror under the Trump administration. In the United States, seniors and the poor and disabled live under the threat of having our health care and housing ripped away. Congressional Republicans (GOP) regularly conspire, behind closed doors, to dismantle Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and many other programs on which the most vulnerable depend.
It’s infuriating to hear the GOP refer to these programs as entitlements. THEY ARE NOT. We paid in to them out of every pay check we’ve ever earned. Eliminating them is nothing short of grand theft.
When I became ill with fibromyalgia-chronic fatigue, I was unable to continue working and had to apply for disability and Medicare. This illness is debilitating, and I’ve written about it extensively in my Chronic Illness posts listed in the above menu. While waiting the nearly two years it took to be approved for permanent disability, I was forced to exhaust my retirement savings. As a result, Social Security is my only source of income, Medicare and Medicaid are my only options for health care, and the only housing I can afford is government-assisted.
Can you imagine what it’s like to wake up every morning wondering if you still have health care and a roof over your head? It’s terrifying. Many seniors, poor, and disabled will die without health care, and many more will die if forced into the streets. If living under this threat isn’t terrorism, then what is it?
Have our elected officials forgotten that they’re public servants and work for us, not the other way around? The Trump administration is imposing the will of the minority on the majority and making us fear its goal is ridding the country of all those it considers irrelevant. No wonder terror is a constant in our lives.
All of this has affected me by causing a flareup of the fibro-fatigue. I’ve been off line most of the week and don’t know when it will ease up. Flareups either lay me flat or leave me with a very short window within which to function every day. Since the treacherous political climate in my country is adversely affecting the entire world, I’ve chosen to use that short daily window to compose this post. It’s quite long, and I’m sure I haven’t touched on everything. But there’s just no way to abridge the duplicity of Donald Trump.
Anyone who traffics in fear is a terrorist.
Donald Trump’s form of terrorism is both blatant and insidious. He employs lies and innuendo to exacerbate fear and anger in the authoritarian personality who feels disenfranchised and/or is zealously religious. He lies bold-faced and often, feeding his base what they want to hear and hoping everyone will become immunized against the truth. The Republican-controlled Congress is complicit in his terrorism by either publicly supporting him or remaining silent and doing nothing.
Trump’s motto: Lie. Deny. Blame.
Trump should not be underestimated. He’s a clever bully who lies and cheats to get what he wants. He’s a narcissist whose only concern is himself and his survival. His message is one of bigotry, misogyny, and xenophobia. It attacks our psyches via a daily barrage of deceit and hatred that foments divisiveness and unrest. He never admits to lying and will say anything to make himself look good. He has advocated dehumanization by denigrating anyone who speaks truth to power or who is different – different from him, a white male plutocrat.
Trump has created an environment where bigotry is sanctioned, ruthlessness is applauded, and extremist values are encouraged. Some who have long felt ignored and disenfranchised take their cues from him. His incessant xenophobic comments arouse anger and hatred in some, disgust and fear in others.
I’m a negotiator like you folks. –Speaking to Republican Jewish Coalition, 3 December 2015
He’s a Mexican. –Reason given why Gonzalo Curiel, federal judge presiding over class action suit against for-profit Trump University, could not fairly hear the case
Who the f knows? I mean, really, who knows how much the Japs will pay for Manhattan property these days? –Response to Time Magazine when asked to give estimate of his total wealth
He has said Blacks are lazy, Mexicans are rapists, women are bimbos.
The U.S Justice Department has sued his company twice for not renting to Black people.
And the list goes on.1
Trump’s lies have been well-documented by many sources.2 He calls them truthful hyperboles, but their effects are malignant. People who resonate with his lies adamantly refuse to accept them as anything but truth. If we become immune to Trump’s deceit, the moral framework of our country will erode. And he’s counting on this.
Sexual Abuse and Misogyny
A video3 of Donald Trump on the set of Days of Our Lives in 2005 records him describing how he likes to sexually assault women.
I moved on her like a bitch, but I couldn’t get there. And she was married.
I did try and fuck her. She was married.
Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.
Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.
You have to treat ’em like shit.
And during an interview with Esquire: You know, it doesn’t matter what the media writes as long as you’ve got a young and beautiful piece of ass.
Many women have accused Trump of sexual abuse,4 yet he avows no one loves women more than he does. I’d like to know how he defines love.
His primary interest is keeping his followers happy in order to maintain power. The bottom-line issue for many in his base is abortion, which they call murder while simultaneously condoning capital punishment. The cornerstone of the anti-choice position is the religious belief that a soul enters a body at conception. Science has yet to prove this. In the 1973 Roe v. Wade landmark decision issued by the U.S. Supreme Court, justices upheld the separation of church and state mandated by the Constitution. In a 7-2 vote they decided that criminalizing or restricting access to abortion is unconstitutional.
But Trump shows little regard for the Constitution. Legislating female bodies would serve his autocratic misogynist purposes by relegating women to second-class citizenship. Women who seek an abortion could be imprisoned until they give birth, and then indicted for attempted murder. Pregnant women who even mention considering an abortion could be thrown in jail.
From sexual-assault and marital-rape allegations to racial housing discrimination to antitrust violations, Trump’s scandal sheet is almost second to none.5
Condoning and Sanctioning Violence
On the eve of Montana Republican Greg Gianforte’s election to the House of Representatives, Ben Jacobs, a reporter for the Guardian newspaper, asked for his reaction to a report by the Congressional Budget Office, which showed that the House GOP substitute for the Affordable Care Act would result in 23 million Americans losing health insurance. Gianforte’s reaction was witnessed and reported by a Fox News team:
Gianforte grabbed Jacobs by the neck with both hands and slammed him into the ground behind him. … Gianforte then began punching the reporter. As Gianforte moved on top of Jacobs, he began yelling something to the effect of, ‘I’m sick and tired of this!’ Jacobs scrambled to his knees and said something about his glasses being broken… To be clear, at no point did any of us who witnessed this assault see Jacobs show any form of physical aggression toward Gianforte, who left the area after giving statements to local sheriff’s deputies.
Donald Trump’s reaction? He praised Greg Gianforte’s election as a great win in Montana.
Comments like this condone violence and incite his followers. They’re directly responsible for the numerous death threats sent to Congresswoman Maxine Waters, stating she should be lynched or shot. Waters’ response: If you shoot me, you better shoot straight. There’s nothing like a wounded animal.
In Brandenburg vs. Ohio, the Supreme Court ruled that the government can’t punish inflammatory speech unless that speech “is directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action.” This citing refers to a citizen’s behavior at a rally.
However, Donald Trump is no mere citizen – he is the President of the United States. Anyone holding this office is (has been?) considered the leader of the free world and must be held to a high moral standard. The following quotes by our current POTUS are nowhere near that caliber:
I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose any voters. –Sioux Center, Iowa during the 2016 primaries
I’ll beat the crap out of you.
Knock the crap out of them.
Maybe he should have been roughed up.
Part of the problem … is nobody wants to hurt each other anymore.
The audience hit back and that’s what we need a little bit more of.
They used to treat them very, very rough, and when they protested once, they would not do it again so easily. We’ve become weak.
I’d like to punch him in the face.
Again, the list goes on.6
Attacks on Journalists and Reporters
The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution ensures freedom of speech and press, hallmarks of democracy. When dictators come to power, these are the first freedoms annihilated.
Investigative journalists and reporters spend hours (at times, years) researching a story before bringing it to the public. They often expose matters deliberately or accidentally concealed.
The Press should hold accountable Donald Trump and his administration for all lies perpetrated against the American people. When Sarah Huckabee Sanders lies during press briefings, reporters should call her out or walk out in unison, sending the undeniable message that deceit will not be tolerated.
As a body, investigative journalists and reporters seek the truth and strive to report it. Yet Trump persists in labeling the media fake news. Could he be priming his base not to believe the outcome of the Mueller investigation? He admits to this in an interview with Diane Sawyer.7 And he’s not alone. Enter Russia and China.8
Obstructing the Mueller Investigation
Trump persists in denying that he and his campaign colluded with Russia to undermine the 2016 presidential election, despite several of his associates having been indicted. The GOP has facilitated his attempts to sabotage and obstruct by issuing a number of subpoenas for documents related to the investigation, disregarding Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd’s warning that the request risks potential loss of human lives.
It’s common practice not to release information in an ongoing investigation, because doing so would compromise its integrity. Information demanded by the GOP in the past was taken straight to the White House and shared with Trump, even though he’s a person of interest in the investigation.
It is against the law to disclose classified information to someone not authorized to receive it. –U.S. Department of Justice
Much of DOJ’s work involves non-public, sensitive matters. Disseminating non-public, sensitive information about DOJ matters could violate federal laws, employee non-disclosure agreements, and individual privacy rights; put a witness or law enforcement officer in danger; jeopardize an investigation or case; prejudice the rights of a defendant; or unfairly damage the reputation of a person. –U.S. Department of Justice
Trump and the GOP are laying groundwork to discredit the Mueller investigation and fire Assistant Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. If Trump is found to have colluded with Russia and if one of his ultra-conservative nominees is appointed to the Supreme Court, he could pardon himself and have that pardon upheld by the law of the land.9
Inhumane Immigration Policy
When cruelty becomes policy, democracy is in danger.
Everyone has the right to immigrate as well as protect their borders. How these two are balanced determines and exemplifies a nation’s moral integrity. The United States of America is a country of immigrants, signified by the Statue of Liberty representing freedom from tyranny and oppression. The only people who truly have a right to claim indigenous status are the Native Americans of this land.
Trump’s forced separation of migrant families is both illegal and immoral.
These findings underscore that families arriving at the border often have compelling and valid claims that merit full consideration by federal immigration judges. –California Law Review June 201810
Removing children from their parents is state-sanctioned child abuse. Children as young as three years old are brought to trial without a parent or attorney present and expected to answer questions in their own defense. Yet the U.S. entitles children to an attorney and doesn’t allow police to question them without a parent present. International law also allows for due process. So why are migrant children being treated differently? And why are immigrants seeking sanctuary being treated as criminals?
The U.S. Constitution ensures that rights established by the Declaration of Independence are protected, even from the federal government, and it grants state and local governments the right to refuse enforcing federal law. Congress is authorized to establish laws for naturalization and immigration. But the preamble to the Constitution defines with whom ultimate authority lies:
We the People of the United States.
The Supreme Court has consistently upheld that “We the People” refers to all who stand within U.S. borders. Food for thought, isn’t it?
Although the Constitution doesn’t explicitly protect immigrants, the Supreme Court has granted them Fourth, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendment protections, arguing that references to “any person” covers noncitizens. Courts have routinely held that the Constitution strictly forbids separating children from their parents, unless the parent is a threat to the child.
Trump alleges that immigration is at an all-time high. Statistics show otherwise. According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Southwest-border immigration peaked in 2000 and has since declined.11 He also alleges that most immigrants entering the U.S. are sex traffickers, rapists, criminals, or work for drug cartels. Again, statistics prove him wrong.12
Our government has abandoned its moral leadership.
Trump would have the Supreme Court overturn every ruling that doesn’t serve his interests. A narcissist is incapable of consideration beyond his own benefit. His bigoted and sectarian approach to governing is threatening the very core of U.S. democracy.
The three branches of U.S. government are expected to be strict constitutionalists, nonpartisan in upholding life, liberty, and the pursuit of justice for all. They’re expected to uphold the separation of church and state, one of the many principles upon which The United States was founded. These principles of democracy should be championed, regardless and in spite of influence leveraged by special interests or foreign powers.
Donald Trump either has no idea what constitutes a democracy, or he just doesn’t give a damn. As one pundit so eloquently stated, He thinks his job is to bark orders and crush dissent. Trump blames Democrats for policies solely created by himself as Chief Executive. Yet Democrats have no majority in the House, no majority in the Senate, and no one in an administrative position in the Trump White House. As another pundit stated, A real leader faces the music even when he doesn’t like the tune.
Trump has hijacked our democracy and is serving it up to the plutocrats.
Trump is advancing fascism: radical authoritarian ultranationalism, characterized by dictatorial power, forcible suppression of opposition, and control of industry and commerce. Although his 2017 tax bill lowers individual taxes, the cuts expire after 2025. Corporate tax cuts, however, are permanent and deep, and inheritances shielded from estate taxation double. This will drive up the federal debt considerably; hence, the GOP’s threat of cutting vital programs relied upon by seniors and the poor and disabled.
The reach of this bill extends far beyond taxes. It eliminates the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate, which ensured guaranteed coverage for pre-existing conditions. The Congressional Budget Office projects insurance premiums will rise about 10% annually as a result. This bill also opens the Alaskan Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas drilling.13
The Trump administration is on a mission to reverse myriad environmental protections. The Administrator of the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) is charged with enforcing our nation’s environmental statutes. Instead, Scott Pruitt is systematically undermining them, sacrificing our children’s future for short-term personal gain.14
Democracy isn’t merely the right to vote. If it were, Russia would not be autocratic. A true democracy is governed by the rule of law, where the minority is protected from the majority by adhering to the moral standards set forth in its constitution.
If Trump does know what constitutes a democracy, then he’s on a persistent and diabolical mission to dismantle it. Testament to this are his admiration for dictators Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong-Un; alienating our most trusted allies; withdrawing from international bodies and agreements; relentless attacks on the media; incessant lying to the American people; denigrating anyone who disagrees with him or by whom he feels threatened; and (add your 2 cents here).
I urge all of us not to turn a deaf ear to Trump’s lies and throw up our hands in surrender. Trump traffics in fear and counts on us absorbing his propaganda. He preys on the fears of the ignorant, systematically calling to the fore everything they hold dear and convincing them only he can serve their interests and save them from all that threatens.
But therein lies the truth. He has created an imaginary world where he reigns as king, hoping most of us will ultimately waive our rights in exchange for security – security threatened only by his terrorism.
I’ve had many dialogues with Trump supporters, and few have responded with respect. Most either leave the discussion or resort to name-calling when asked to back up their statements with facts.
In a moment of tolerant pondering, I wondered what the difference was between their ideology and mine. A good friend kindly pointed out that the difference is one of belief versus rational thought.
One of the arguments I often hear is that all the negatives ascribed to Trump began under previous administrations. There’s some truth in this, but no other President has sanctioned them.
Of this I am certain: Trump is making America great again by awakening the masses and compelling us to safeguard our democracy against his would-be dictatorship.
Last year I reviewed Timothy Snyder’s book, On Tyranny. I recommend it as crucial reading while our democracy hangs in the balance.
The road to tyranny can be subtle, drawing people in with false or exaggerated claims of terrorism from homeland or abroad. Real news is purported to be fake and is consistently repeated as such, gradually moving people to mistake falsehoods for truth. Free thinkers become the enemy of the State, and the exercise of free speech becomes a criminal act.
The more I dedicate my time to two things, the more they fill my life with ever-increasing pleasure. The first is the sky above me, and the second is the moral law within me. –Immanuel Kent
It’s essential we keep abreast of this duplicitous political climate and take action every day to transmute it. It’s equally vital we not get sucked into its vortex. While calling out oppressors and naming their heinous deeds, we must not allow ourselves to become them. We must be that which we respect and emulate. With every ounce of our beings, we must focus our united intention on the change we wish to see and direct that energy into the world.
The only way to do this is by keeping our hearts open to all. To ALL. Hearts don’t have revolving doors. Open is open and closed is closed. Separate the person from the essence. Forgive the soul but hold the person responsible. We can throw someone out of our homes while keeping them in our hearts.
This can be difficult and extremely nauseating, but it’s not impossible. If we don’t come from a place of love in our hearts in all we do, we’ll eventually succumb to all that we abhor. Only love can eradicate fear. It is imperative we embody this. Our lives depend on it.
Colleen is the author of The Heart Stone Chronicles: The Swamp Fairy, the story of fourteen-year-old Abigale Forester, who discovers her true destiny is to protect the nymphs from evil in an ever-changing modern world.
Colleen is the founder of The Sisters of the Fey, the blogging collaboration of nine women whose “magic is inspired by a secret order of fairies that existed hundreds of years ago [and] which has been reborn in our spirits.” She offers weekly poetry and Tanka challenges on her blog, and is an avid reader who book reviews are outstanding.
Please join me in welcoming Colleen ❤️
HAPPY SUMMER SOLSTICE!
I’ve planned this day out in my mind for over a year… Today, as a tribute to the Summer Solstice, my first book of poetry and short stories has become a reality. Fairies, Myths, & Magic ~ A Summer Celebration is now available on Amazon.
From June 21st through June 27th, this book will be featured at the introductory price of $.99! Grab your copy today!
Step into a world where fairies, dragons, and other magical beings converge in a collection of poetry and short stories inspired by the celebration of Litha, the Summer Solstice.
Meet Drac, a dragon cursed by his own poisonous deeds, and two pixies who help an old man remember a lost love. You’ll meet a pair of fairies with a sense of humor, and a young girl who fulfills her destiny after being struck by lightning. Learn what happens when a modern witch’s spell goes terribly wrong. Meet the Sisters of the Fey, a group of Slavic Witches who sign a pact with the Rusalki Fey to preserve their magic for the good of all.
Atmospheric and haunting, the prose and poetry, will rewrite the mythologies of the past bringing them into the future.
What’s Litha ~ the Summer Solstice?
Litha is the celebration of the Summer Solstice—June in the Northern Hemisphere, and December in the Southern Hemisphere. Here in North America, the Litha Sabbat honors the longest day of the year with the most hours of sunlight.
Pagans celebrated Litha by observing and honoring the power of the sun. The sun’s influence reminded the people that the summer months represented fertility, ensuring the survival of the species.
During midsummer, magnificent fruit burst forth from the flowers, shrubs, and trees, providing ample food for all. Summer was also the most favorable time for the birthing and survival of animals, birds, and insects. This also included humans where the most births occurred during the months of July through October, which still continues today.
For the ancients, nothing represented the power of the sun more than fire. On the Solstice Eve, huge bonfires were erected on hilltops celebrating the link between the earth and heavens. Festivities lasted for days before and after the main event.
Yet, the primitive people recognized the need for balance between fire and water. Some celebrations included setting a wheel on fire, then rolling it downhill into a body of water, signaling the power of the sun at it’s mightiest, and also the day the sun’s power begins to diminish.
For me, a Summer Solstice celebration was the perfect day to share my collection of poetry and short stories inspired by the magic of the ancient pagans. I hope you’ll enjoy this collection. ❤️
Colleen M. Chesebro is an American Novelist writing YA fantasy and magical realism, cross-genre fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction. She loves all things magical which may mean that she could be experiencing her second childhood—or not. That part of her life hasn’t been fully decided yet.
A few years ago, a mystical experience led her to renew her passion for writing and storytelling. These days she resides in the fantasy realm of the Fairy Whisperer where she writes the magical poetry and stories that the fairy nymphs whisper to her in her dreams.
Colleen won the Little and Laugh Flash Fiction Contest sponsored by the CarrotRanch Literary Community.com in November 2017 for her piece, called “The Bus Stop.” Her debut novel, The Heart Stone Chronicles: The Swamp Fairy won gold in the 2017 AuthorsDB.com cover contest.
Colleen lives in Colorado with her husband, Ron. When she is not writing, Colleen enjoys spending time with her husband and friends. She also loves gardening, reading, and crocheting old-fashioned doilies into works of art. You can learn more about Colleen at www.colleenchesebro.com.
You can find Colleen in all the usual places. Drop by anytime.
It is with great pleasure that I’m hosting authors John Howell and Gwen Plano on the blog tour for their new book. Please join me in welcoming them ❤️
The CONTRACT between heaven and earth
By John W. Howell & Gwen M. Plano
Thank you, Tina, for inviting us to join you today. We are so grateful to be featured on your lovely blog and have this opportunity to share a bit about our new book. You are an inspiration to all who know you. All the best to you!
The CONTRACTis a different story for writers John W. Howell and Gwen M. Plano. For either of them, it is their first attempt at co-authorship. After a year of Hurricane Harvey and other challenges, they have created, what they have termed, an inspirational thriller that bridges heaven and earth.
The earth is threatened with a catastrophic political event which could result in international warfare and destroy all life on the planet. In heaven, a divine council decides that extraordinary measures are essential. They call for an intervention that involves two souls returning to earth. The chosen two sign a contract that they will work to avert the disaster.
Brad Channing, a Navy SEAL, and Sarah O’Brien, a teacher, become heaven’s representatives on earth. The story follows them as they individually and then together face overwhelming obstacles and eventually end up on a strategic Air Force base in California. It is there that they discover a conspiracy to assassinate the President of the United States. The terrorists have a plan for global dominance, and they are determined to complete their mission. Although military leadership appearsto have the President’s best interests at heart, it is not clear who can be trusted and who should be feared. The action is rough and tumbleas Brad and Sarah try to figure out the culprits for the plot that will turn into a worldwide conflagration unless stopped.
If you enjoy thrillers, this is one with enough twists and adventure to keep you riveted and guessing. If you like your thriller along with a good romance, Brad and Sarah’s initial attraction and eventual love will sustain you as they live out their heavenly and earthly desires.
“I’m leading a private group up Half Dome in a few minutes. I’m the poster boy for getting paid to do what I love to do, and along the way, help harried folks discover what’s important in life.” John flashed a broad smile.
“I wish I could join your group; I’d like to hear what you have to say.”
“I don’t say much; the mountain does the talkin’. When hikers stand on its crest and look out over the wilderness, most become speechless. That’s when they start to wonder about their lives and the choices they make. They see for themselves that everything is interconnected.”
“I get what you mean, but some things are beyond our control. Look at the earthquake that hit San Diego and collapsed the grammar school. So many little ones died in that tragedy.”
“And you don’t think human choices had anything to do with that calamity? Most folks live without a thought to our environment. But, on top of that, I believe collective anger manifests. I don’t even watch the news anymore; it’s too toxic for me.”
“Well, I agree with you on that point. And, it makes sense that strong emotions manifest. Now I really want to join your group, but I’ve got to get back on the road, and find a bicycle.” Sarah stood and extended her hand for a shake.
“Enjoy the experience, Sarah. No matter what hurdles lay ahead, pursue joy; she will guide you to the happiness you seek. Life’s too precious to lose even a moment.”
John began his writing as a full-time occupation after an extensive business career. His specialty is thriller fiction novels, but John also writes poetry and short stories. His first book, My GRL, introduces the exciting adventures of the book’s central character, John J. Cannon. The second Cannon novel, His Revenge, continues the adventure, while the final book in the trilogy, Our Justice, launched in September 2016. The last Circumstances of Childhood is a family life story and launched October 2017. All books are available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle editions.
John lives in Port Aransas, Texas with his wife and their spoiled rescue pets.
Gwen had a lengthy career in higher education, and it was there that she published her first book, Beyond Boundaries, for students interested in volunteer work in developing countries. After she retired, she wrote her award-winning memoir, Letting Go into Perfect Love.
I’m delighted to help promote the relaunch of Billy Ray Chitwood‘s novel, Mama’s Madness, to be released June 21st. Billy Ray is the author of 14 books, in the genres of fiction and nonfiction memoir. Many of his novels were inspired by true events. He describes himself as a dreamer, a wanderlust, a stereotype of many in his generation, and a young man in an old man’s body who is trying to catch up with himself and find the pieces he left behind in a disconnected youth and early years of manhood.
A story inspired by a northern California news account a few years ago … Some of the details in this fictional penning are true. Some of the details are exaggerated and are simply the work of the author’s imagination. What is clearly evidenced in this novel is the coldness of a mother’s heart and the madness of her cruelty. The mind cannot comprehend lives the children depicted here were forced to endure: from black punishment closets of hell (for days, not hours!), kitchen tables used for crudely performed operations, to a high sierra execution by fire. The terror is real. The pain is vicariously felt. Unbelievable? Yes, it is unbelievable that such depravity, such MAMA’S MADNESS exists in our world. Accept the embellishments with the truth. Know your environment and be safe!
“Mama’s Madness” by Billy Ray Chitwood is an excellently written story about an abused protagonist (Tammie Jo), her sociopathic mama, and the senseless crimes that Mama and her accomplices commit and are eventually held accountable for. As unsettling as the characters and their behavior may be, Chitwood manages to almost balance their menace with the goodness and dedication of law enforcement and Tammie Jo’s struggle to reconcile her environment with her possible future (or her lack of a future if Mama is left unrestrained). Chitwood’s ability to interweave the profile of a monster, the coming of age and redemption of a girl, and a fascinating multiple-murder investigation is masterful. I highly recommend “Mama’s Madness” for lovers of gritty murder investigations that include the perpetrator’s, victim’s, and detectives’ point-of-views. I will certainly continue reading Mr. Chitwood’s body of work.
Please join me in welcoming Billy Ray to my blog.
Tell us a little about yourself. Born in Appalachia during the aftermath of the Great Depression, I somehow survived those tumultuous years of poverty, mobility and family disconnect. I’m a romantic, a wanderlust with too much ‘Past’ in my awareness…reconciled to the fact those parts of me will never change: those parts have been with me all the way and live with me now in ‘Twilight’ – always looking for the ‘White Buffalo’.
In what genre is Mama’s Madness and who published it? This novel is inspired by true events in the genres of Crime, Mystery, Suspense, Thriller, Child Abuse. Self-published through CreateSpace (Amazon).
The storyline? Meet a mother from hell! I ran across the California newspaper clippings from years ago about a Northern California mother who tortured her six kids – the three girls most specifically – with beatings, dark-closet punishments that could last for days, eating lard and their own retch, standing erect or on their knees for hours at a time. She kills two of the girls by fire, leaving one girl to fear for her life…an amazing story, fictionalized with lots of true elements!
What inspired you to write it? Thinking of my own kids, reading the clippings about these California crimes made me angry, made me cry, plus the ‘junk in my mind’s attic,’ conspired and inspired me to write a fictionalized account of this evil ‘woman from hell!’ It was a tough book to write and it’s a tough book to read! My hope is the book will serve as a silent siren for parents and children to be aware that evil exists in our world, to be aware of their environments, the stranger in the park, the offer of a ride home, et al.
What inspires you to write in general? Hope this is not too corny or trite, but something magical happens for me when my fingers touch the laptop keys…it’s like invisible fingers are tapping those keys, creating what I believe to be good, sometimes great writing! The ‘business’ (marketing, the internet) of writing stymies me, but the writing itself satisfies a need within me. I can say truthfully that Writing is my therapy!
In what sub-genres do you write? Cross-Genres…The whole spectrum actually: mystery, suspense, thriller, romance, memoir, time travel, history. My romance books get very little attention from the reading public, but that’s because, frankly, I don’t know what I’m doing in marketing them.
When and what did you first start writing? As a kid I wrote poetry – at least, my Mom called it poetry. I thought about becoming a singer but my shyness was a major factor in not following that course. I wrote off and on through the work years, and really got serious about it around the 1980s.
What authors have most influenced you? How and why? John D. MacDonald hooked me with his Travis McGee Novels. I read all twenty-one: each title contained a color: The Deep Blue Good-by; Nightmare in Pink; A Purple Place for Dying; The Quick Red Fox. These books were all written in 1964. Tall good-looking Travis lived aboard a boat in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and each book is action-packed as Travis helps a friend or someone get out of trouble. John D. sold over 70 million copies of his books over his 70-year life span. It broke my heart when I lost those 21 books in one of my moves… The English Romantic poets rang my bell in college, as did the Naturalist Writers: Stephen Crane, Frank Norris, Jack London, Theodore Dreiser (Sister Carrie), and others. Today, I like Nelson DeMille’s smooth-flowing style.
How do you write – outline or free flow? Most of my writing is free flow. I’ve also done outlines, but, for me, I like to let my characters take my laptop tapping wherever it is they go and whatever they do.
What genres do you like to read? Mystery, suspense, memoirs.
I’d like to thank Billy Ray for being my guest and wish him all the best with his relaunch.
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