Thursday, August 2, 2012

London Olympians 2012

Well, it has been awhile since I last wrote anything here, but recent Olympian events have inspired me to do so today.

The Olympics have always been an important athletic stage for me. I love them. Summer or winter, it really doesn't matter.
Records are broken, and incredible feats of athletic prowess are demonstrated each and every day, in each and every event.

Sadly, in our World today, that is not enough.
It's about GOLD, SILVER and BRONZE.
And, for the love of all that is holy, don't let an athlete who is EXPECTED to win, for whatever reason, come up short in the final endeavor.
It's all about the WIN...and those medals.

Well,  as a devoted fan of the Olympics,  and of ALL the athletes who compete in them with integrity, grace, strength, and raw ability, I feel that a little reminder is in order...


While we sit at home, on our couches and in our easy chairs...
While we watch from the excitement of a sports bar, sucking down a cold one and noshing on our favorite bar food...
While we discuss and criticize and downgrade from the comfort of a broadcast stage...


We count the MEDALS...
What countries WIN what...
Ours is better than yours...
And when our athletes DON'T win, or place, we lose interest and stop the cheers...


And Michael Phelps is the greatest Olympian of all time...because of HIS MEDALS...
And the NAMES of the WINNERS will go down in Olympic history, and they will be put to "print" over and over again...
We don't want to forget the WINNERS...


Every athlete, no matter the sport, from the able-bodied Olympics to the Paralympics...every ATHLETE is there, competing with determination, and the desire to do their very best, and to WIN.
But what we have failed to do, and always fail to do...whether it is in this Summer Olympics of 2012, or ANY Olympics...or World competition...or NCAA tournament...or a local meet or match...we, as the self-proclaimed lovers of SPORT, have failed repeatedly to acknowledge this simple fact...

EVERY ATHLETE who gets out in that field, or on that court, or into that pool, or onto those bars...every one of those ATHLETES has overcome unimaginable odds just to BE THERE.
And when they compete with integrity and grace...when they inspire US to be more...and when they give every ounce of who they are for their SPORT...

So, I believe that we, as lovers of the Game, should KNOW the names of EVERY ATHLETE who is competing in London this Summer of 2012.
Every ATHLETE taking part in the Summer Olympics 2012 in London, England show have their NAME in PRINT, and they should be lauded on a daily basis simply because...
I will be making every effort to find out those names, and will joyfully share them when
I do, because...


I, for one, love it when the Michael Phelps and Fab Five of the World give us their very, very best, winning the right to hear their national anthem played and see their flags raised in tribute. 
They add a fire and excitement to the Games.
But I also love to watch ALL of the athletes put their hearts and souls into the sport they love to be so much a part of...yes, ALL of them.

So, as I sit on my couch and cheer on the US in these Summer Olympics, except in Track and Field...the 400m...when I will be cheering for Oscar Pistorius, I will make sure that I do not get lost in the winning of the medals.
I will make sure that I acknowledge, even if only in the Spirit of the Games, the winning EFFORTS of every boy and and and physically challenged (the Summer 2012 Paralympics start soon)...ATHLETE who competes.
Don't get me wrong.
Medals are awesome !
But sometime, just being there and striving to do one's, ALL THE TIME, really...
THAT is the true VICTORY.


Thursday, May 10, 2012

Saying Good-Bye to a Friend

On April 24, 2012, I got an email with the news that my long-time friend, TQ, has passed away. He was 83 years old, and had been sick for a little while. But, from a previous email I had gotten a few weeks earlier, I was led to believe that he was "improving". Sadly, no one ever really explained to me just what "improving" meant.
He would have never left the nursing home he was convalescing in...never.
So, I think that he knew this, and with that knowledge, he decided, the day after making his 83rd birthday, that he was all done now. He passed away during the night, in his sleep...
Would that we could all be so blessed.

I have known TQ...Rev. Thomas J. Quinlan...for 44 years. 
He became the pastor of the parish we were a part of at that time...St. Vincent's Catholic Church in downtown Newport News, Virginia.
He was full of fire and controversy and a new Way of thinking about religion...and a new Way of living it.
My mother thought he was scandalous, and wonderful...her view was shared, for the first few months, by many people in the parish.
But TQ had a knack for either winning your heart, or sending you out the door of the church, screaming he was the Anti Christ.
We stayed at St. Vinnie's...he had won.
Over the years that he was there, all things Catholic and church and religion took on new and exciting meanings. That's what happens when you really begin to LIVE what your faith teaches, instead of just getting by with "believing it".
There were grand and glorious Easter Processionals around the city block, with flowers and palms and bright colors.
There was the Folk Mass, and the Folk Group, of which I was a part for several years.
There was the Summer Program at St. Alphonsus Church...the first Black Catholic parish in Virginia.
There was the generosity of TQ...he had the parish pay my school tuition from 8th grade through 12th and graduation, because, even though we lived right next door to my grand parents, we(me and my sister, Deidre) were a single-Mom household.
And there were fantastic Midnight Mass productions for Christmas...and splendid Easter services...and there were Sunday sermons that made us think...and there were even more sermons that made us DO...ACT...take our roles in the community and the World quite seriously.
These things...this man...helped me get through high school without falling to the "Dark Side".
He was always there when I needed him to talk to...always.

And although we went our very separate ways over the years, he never stopped being there.

When I learned that he had crossed over, I knew I had to go to his funeral...his final Send Off...his Going Away Party.
So, off to Virginia Beach I went.
I believe that funerals...Send Offs...Good Bye Parties...are for the living, for closure...and they tend to bring out the best, and the worst, in those that are there.
Enough on that...

I saw several "old friends"...and yes, I went up and saw TQ, in his simple, beautiful plain wooden coffin.
He was ready for his upcoming Journey...Driver's License in one hand, and a Statement of Sanity in the other.
(I leaned over and told him that the Statement of Sanity was going to fool anybody.)
But, contrary to what I was assured by far too many attending that Party, he did NOT look "excellent"...he looked DEAD.
And THAT was the part that I couldn't wrap my Heart around.
THANK YOU, Michael, for being there...

So, there I am,  standing in reception area, at the door to the interior of the church, watching the show that was taking place.
I felt him there, times laughing, and at other times, not so happy about it all.
I went to Communion and the church rafters did NOT shake !
Then, during the Meditation time in the Mass, a woman from the choir gets up and sings MEMORIES, from the musical CATS.
And that was all it took.
I spent the next few minutes in the ladies' room...

After the Mass was over, and everyone began to mingle, I overheard someone say that TQ personally chose MEMORIES, and that it was "something that Patrice would like...".

And with that knowledge, the whole Send Off took on a new meaning, a new LIGHT.

I got back to my hotel, and I allowed myself to cry...really, really, cry...for the first time since I had learned of TQ's passing.
And when I was done, I knew it was enough...that while he was no longer in this "Material World", he would always be with me.
Maybe not in spirit form, but within MY SPIRIT.
For, through the decades of our friendship and sharings, he gave me something that will never go away...the knowledge that QUESTIONING and CHALLENGING and THINKING are not only OK, but are mandatory !! Those very values are the core of who I AM.
And while I no longer ascribe to any organized religion...sorry, Old Man, but I gotta be ME...I know that The Universe is ever-present, listening and knowing.
And maybe It doesn't do the things WE mere Humans ask of It when WE want It to, but I know that The Universe is very much a part of my life...and I am very much a part of IT'S LIFE, as well.

So, THANK YOU, Thomas J. Quinlan, for having been a part of this World...and for being a part of my Life.
You and your glorious friendship will always be part of my greatest treasures.


Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The End of a Mad Man

On May 1, 2011, an elite group of Navy the command of President Obama... killed Usama bin Laden at a heavily guarded mansion compound in Pakistan.
The Mad Man behind Al Qaeda and the September 11, 2001 attacks is dead.
Justice has been served.
And the folks who lost friends and relatives to that terrible day may now begin to find the closure that has been eluding them for a decade.

But should we Americans celebrate the death of another human being?
Certainly, bin Laden needed to pay for his evil...and death was a fair end.
I believe that we should take this time to start the HEALING let the pain and loss and horror finally breath a sigh of relief and start living with just a little less fear...
Having expressed this notion on my Facebook Wall, I have encountered far too many people who feel the need to hold on to that sad and terrible the details of the destruction and keep it close like some kind of  cancerous tumor that slowly eats away at LIFE.
To those who say we must never forget 9-11, I say...
At some point we MUST let go of 9-11. If we don't, we are doomed to become like the WWII vets, Korea vets, and Nam vets...and some of their friends and family...who fight their wars every day of their lives, infiltrating every aspect of their existence, ultimately destroying them. When THAT happens, the ENEMY has finally won.
Sadly, I think it DOES destroy lives to keep such events fresh in our minds. That is why the VA hospitals and the STREETS...ah, yes the STREETS... are filled with veterans who can't stop fighting a war...or wars...that ended decades ago. Our heroic service people are the greatest victims of all...of this "never forgetting". When a LIFE comes to a creative and vital END, even if the person is breathing and going through the motions of their days, THAT ending...that loss of quality...that being trapped in the past and fighting a war that is endless...THAT is simply another victory for the ENEMY.
If ultimately forgetting the tragedies...not the HEROISM, but the tragedies...of wars and such can help to SAVE those lives, and further vanquish our foes, then FORGET WE MUST.
At some point, our Country MUST begin to HEAL. 


Sunday, January 9, 2011

Why ?

Yesterday, near Tucson, Arizona, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was shot in the head while holding a neighborhood political meeting at her local Safeway Grocery Store.
She wasn't the only victim...19 others were shot...6 killed, one of whom was a 9-year old little girl.

Jared Loughner was the one...the one who pulled the trigger, and kept pulling it.

So WHY are Americans so surprised by this violence?
Have they not been listening to the venom that courses through the nation's most recent political rhetoric? Rhetoric that started right after President Obama was elected? Rhetoric brought to volatile levels during the campaigns leading to the last election? Political venom promoted by far too many...

Freedom of Speech...
Choices made...

Maybe so...but, maybe no...

We are going through very tough economic and social times now. People being people, they must blame someone/something else for their lot in Life...something/someone else besides themselves and their own actions.
Democrats...a Black President...a State Representative targeted in the crosshairs on a former governor's web site...Abortion Rights...Illegal Immigrants...the list of "reason" is truly endless.

So, then, when all is said and done, WHO is at fault?
Blame replaces ACCOUNTABILITY...Blame shifts the focus from CHOICE to MOTIVATION/INSPIRATION. It also makes it much easier to use words like "mental issue"..."deranged"..."crazy"...when speaking about the one, or ones, who commit the violence.

And yet, we MUST ask...
If it were not for the speeches and web sites pushing and prodding people towards violent behavior...violence as a necessary solution for our problems...would it still happen in the form it has taken?
If the answer is unanimously YES, then so be it...
But, if the answer is a resounding NO, then those promoting the madness MUST BE, by the very nature of their message, be held ACCOUNTABLE.

I was born in 1956, and grew up during the Civil Rights and Viet Nam War Eras.
As a teenager, I was active in movements to give equal rights to all folks and to end a war that no one wanted.
Throughout my activist years, the greatest ACTION...the most productive ACTION...was that which was inspired by WORDS and NON-VIOLENCE.
PEACE was a lifestyle, not just a notion.
Political change was ignited by editorials and sit-ins and rallies and meetings... all calling for a new Way of LIVING and treating our fellow Human Beings.

In the end, true political change
took place through a paradigm shift in THINKING and ACTING, and, ultimately, through the VOTE.

And yet, Human History is filled with examples of VIOLENCE being used to force CHANGE...for better, or for worse...

Was Loughner simply listening to the voice of his HUMAN NATURE ?

I would like to believe that WE are better than that...that WE have evolved beyond the NEED for violence as the answer...that we have replaced our baser "demons" with our gentler "angels".
Yet every far too many communities...there is a news story that points to our "demons" winning the race.

Something to ponder...


Tuesday, January 4, 2011

A New Year

Well, 2011 is here, and it is most definitely Time for some restructuring of LIFE...mine, in particular.

I have had several "projects" on the fire for some time, now, and have been constantly find excuses for NOT getting into them and getting them rocking and rolling...

As of yesterday, I have begun my BLOG and FACEBOOK PAGE for ALONG THE ASPHALT TRAIL.
Those avenues for information and exposure are the best Ways for me to go at this Time...
As things progress, a web site will be developed.
But, first things first...;)

Also, I have decided to purposely LIMIT the NEGATIVE influences in my Life.
No, not fall into the "Ostrich Complex" and hiding the head in the sand...
More like developing a real "filter" for keeping stuff that is important/necessary/can be fixed/cool in my Life and letting go of the stuff that simply adds weight to my Spirit.

This new going to be a Time for incredible PERSONAL GROWTH...on ALL LEVELS !!

More later...gotta do some more stuff, then take The Kids for their "nooner walks".


Thursday, October 21, 2010

Galen...the BEST CAT in the WORLD

Well, today, at about 1:30PM, my Boo Kitty passed away, in my it should be.
Galen was 21 years old, and lived a very full and eventful that most cats would envy.
He was the oldest of our Tribe, and all of the Others respected him as the Alpha Man...
But, he was, and always will be, Mommy's Boo Kitty.

When it doesn't hurt quite so much, I will write more about him...
Good bye, Old Man...I love you, always...;)Mommy

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Long time, no write..."sigh"...

Well, it has been quite a while since I last wrote.
Why, you may ask...well, I have been mentally preoccupied, or distracted, or lazy.
But, this coming weekend, I will begin this BLOG once again...

So, if you are following me, come back on, say, Sunday to see what I feel like chomping on for a bit !