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Monday, April 13, 2015


One day in January 2014, I received a message in my e-mail inbox from Mashable alerting me to a video that had gone viral.  My usual procedure is to delete these messages immediately.  This one did catch my eye, though.  Its bold headlines announced "FIGURE SKATER JASON BROWN REALLY KNOWS HOW TO WORK A CROWD".   Years ago, I used to watch and enjoy figure skating; but that was a long time ago.  Nonetheless, I decided to hit play and give this video a try.  Boy am I glad I did!  This guy didn't just skate--how to describe it!?  I don't know, but I do think there is some kind of magic involved.  His rendition of "Riverdance" on ice skates could simply not be humanly possible!  From that moment, I was hooked and once again following the sport of figure skating, eagerly awaiting any performance by Jason Brown.

Watching Jason Brown skate, was for me a life changing experience.  Only one other time had a performance had such a profound effect on me--Susan Boyle's unforgettable Britain's Got Talent audition.  These two, Jason Brown and Susan Boyle, have enriched my life immensely.  Something in their performances speaks to me on a level that is more than just entertainment--there is an extraordinary quality in each.  Both of these amazingly talented individuals are extremely charitable and giving, as well; each involved in numerous campaigns to help children in need and other organizations of their choosing.  They even make me proud when they're not performing!

Now I pay it forward at every possible opportunity.  As I did with Susan for years, now whenever company comes by I have the media player conveniently preset with my favorite Jason performances.  The same is true for family gatherings.  During the course of the conversation I'll ask if they've seen Jason Brown skate, or seen his latest performance.  Barely waiting for a reply I hit play, and everyone sits back, enthralled.  The response is ALWAYS positive, and I've created so many more Jason fans and, therefore, figure skating fans in this manner!

Jason has been taking us on his journeys with his blogs and social media posts from his various competitions.  Thank you so much for sharing these times and your insight with us, Jason!  It's in keeping with your extremely generous and unselfish motivations.  I really enjoy following your adventure!  It was while reading your recent blog from the World Championships in Shanghai, that I decided to write this article on my Blogspot.

Jason, you mention having just come to terms with your Olympic experience, and even made mention of having had a feeling of letting down the team, the skating association, and etc.  Of course you don't need me to tell you something that I know your tens of thousands of fans have already told you many times over.  But I felt it was important, nonetheless,  to let you know how you have affected this fan.  I understand that everyone has to have growing experiences and handle them in their own unique way building a solid foundation which leads to the goals in mind.  Your path to the top of the ranks was nothing short of amazing!  To dominate the 2014 U.S. Nationals with your stunning free skate rendition of Riverdance taking everyone by surprise (including yourself as I understand!) and landing a berth in the Olympics!  I think you had not much international experience at this point, while many Olympic competitors had previous Olympic experience and multiple senior level national and World Championships under their belt.  I think you held your composure very well and performed well under the circumstances.  Many much more experienced athletes fell apart at those Games in a way you never did!  From there to becoming U.S. National Champion just one year later!  And now 4th place in the World Championships!  What an amazing journey, indeed, and what an amazing skater!

Your positive attitude, sportsmanship and constant cheerfulness has been a huge and much needed boost for U.S. men's figure skating.  You have gained many fans for the sport (including myself and quite a few I have brought aboard by making them into Jason Brown fans).  From what I can gather, the sport of men's figure skating has been waning in recent years in the U.S.  I think the boost you have given it with your unparalleled artistry and positive attitude is priceless and has brought many, many new fans to the sport.  The importance of this at this time cannot be emphasized enough.

On NBC's coverage of the World Championships, they quoted your coach, Kori Ade, as saying (and I must paraphrase here) "Jason's legacy will not be the quad.  Jason's legacy will be his outstanding artistry".  Amen to that!  I'm not even going to get into the artistry vs. technical debacle that has been going on for years.  For me it's all about the artistry.  Your artistry is absolutely mesmerizing.  It is gorgeous and sublime. What is special about watching a bunch of the world's top skaters fall or mess up during quads at every major competition?  But to watch you skate, Jason; that's special!  You are special!  Thank you so much for the joy you bring us with each and every performance!

Friday, September 27, 2013




This week (September 27, 2013) an occurrence happened that profoundly disturbed me.  After lengthy contemplation, it dawned on me that a response of feelings of anger, or even sadness or disbelief would not help or change the situation in any way.  Perhaps by writing this essay, a difference could be made, however slight.  Just one small flicker in one person’s conscience might help and might in some small way nurture a change of attitude that might grow and be passed on. 


In recent weeks Birmingham, Alabama has once again come to the world’s attention after the revelation of an appalling continuation of blatant racial prejudice condoned, it would seem, at nearly all levels of society, including educational and government officials.  This embarrassing revelation and focus on The University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Alabama comes nearly fifty years to the day of the horrific church bombing that killed four innocent little black girls.  (Condoleeza Rice, herself a small girl at the time, heard the blast from her home in a nearby neighborhood.  Her father had once taught one of the victims in his Sunday School class).  Fifty years ago, Governor George Wallace stood on the steps of this same University in an attempt to block the first black students who tried to enter the college.  The National Guard had to be called in to escort these students to class and begin the long, and painful process of desegregation.  Throughout the Sixties and Seventies Jim Crow laws remained in effect in the Deep South.  Jim Crow laws were a way of life in Alabama and surrounding States.  They were followed without question, as to not do so was not an option for black people.  Force and worse were used as enforcement.  These “laws” kept black people firmly in check as lower than second class citizens.  Racism remained alive and well, only slowly being whittled away at in the coming decades.  Progress was slowly, but definitely being made by the 80’s.  Finally, it seems, Jim Crow laws were largely discarded.

We see the pictures of the local authorities and officials blasting blacks, young and old, with fire hoses fifty years ago.  The news clips people were seeing on their televisions  were a shock to most of the country as it was evident, that in Birmingham, Alabama, blacks were treated far worse than dogs.  It looked as if the whites there had declared open warfare on the blacks.  Finally, the country realized that something very, very bad was going on there.  That realization started the wheels of change in progress, excruciatingly slowly, but yet positive changes were made nonetheless.

And so we have plodded along for these past fifty years, moving forward, hoping to put that awful period and those horrifying images behind us for good.  There are certainly bumps in the road, such as the revelation that a high school in a town near Atlanta, Georgia still held separate proms for whites and blacks.  Students themselves came forward with social media such as Face Book and received donations from around the world.  With those funds, they were able to hold the first ever desegregated prom JUST THIS LAST YEAR.

Then, a few weeks ago, a University of Alabama publication, The Crimson White, (is this publication’s name itself not a racial statement?), broke a story on the campus’ sororities and the fact that they deny admittance of black applicants based SOLELY on their race.  The straw that broke the camel’s back and caused enough ripples to get this story out was when the niece of a prominent local man was rejected by a sorority based solely on her race.  The reason for her rejection was obvious.  Her credentials were impeccable and there could be no other basis for her rejection.  The fact of the matter is there are simply White Sororities and that is that.  This fact has been known and accepted by everyone on campus for all these years.  There is a strict policy within the sororities forbidding members to discuss the subject.  New students arriving from out of state are often shocked to discover the situation and appalled that there are no blacks in their sorority.  A white sorority member from Oregon recently moved out of the sorority house because she spoke to the media after this became a scandal  and the other members of the sorority made her life such a hell after that, that she felt it was in her best interest to move.  The realization that complete segregation was still in effect on the campus of the University of Alabama understandably raised an outcry by the outside world.  The response from the President of the University was weak and ineffective.  The State itself could swiftly correct the situation as they own the land the sorority houses are located on, but neither the Administration or any level of the Government chose to take matters in hand.  Across the country, sororities are punished and sometimes even disbanded for infractions such as abuse of alcohol and hazing.  To my way of thinking, the blatant racial discrimination being practiced by these sororities should bring about a punishment as severe as those incurred for drinking or hazing.


This past week my husband was having a conversation with a good friend of ours from Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  This person was born and raised in the area, they are white and they attended the University of Alabama.  My husband mentioned the appalling news regarding the sorority racial discrimination and the fact that he was horrified that this was still going on, fifty years after the Civil Rights battles that took place in that exact spot.  Our friend’s response (which floored both my husband and myself) was, “But why would they (the black students) want to join the white sororities?  Or fraternities for that matter?  Why would they want to?  I never wanted to join a black fraternity, etc., etc.  The high school where I volunteer doesn’t have a single white student in it.  Why would they want to?”  My husband who has a Ph.D. and was a professor for a number of years tried to instill some realities and sense into the person on the other end of the line, but got nowhere.  The response was the same:  “But why would they want to?”  I cannot tell you how disheartened this response made me.  Not only did it show that we were back to exactly the same point we had started fifty years ago, it showed a complete ignorance of a MAJOR problem.  They didn’t even realize that the statement they were making was full of blatant prejudice!  They truly didn’t even see or understand this.  They honestly didn’t see a problem:  either with the situation or with their viewpoint and what that amounted to.  It literally made me sick at heart.

Today, as my husband and I were driving around town doing errands, it struck me.  The light went on, so to speak.
Rosa Parks became one of the symbols of the Civil Rights Movement.   On December 1, 1955 she refused to give up her seat to a white passenger on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama.  “BUT WHY WOULD SHE WANT TO?”  Why would she want to stay seated and allow a white passenger to have to stand on the bus instead of herself, a black person?  Why would she want to?

Nat King Cole could not get a room at the Hotel Utah in the 1960’s because he was black.  “BUT WHY WOULD HE WANT TO?”  For God’s sake, why would he want a nice place to stay after a performance?  Why would he want to?

Jackie Robinson, was born into a family of sharecroppers (this status was very little different from the prior form of slavery) in Cairo, Georgia in 1919.  On April 15, 1947 he became the first African American to play major league baseball, thereby breaking the color barrier in the sport.  “BUT WHY WOULD HE WANT TO?”  Why on Earth would he have wanted to play with whites when he was supposed to play in the black leagues?  Why would he want to?

In 1988, Barack Obama entered Harvard Law School.  (According to a good friend of ours who was in the same class as Obama, Obama ran circles around everyone in the class, including the instructors).   At any rate, after a series of successes and accomplishments, Barack Obama became our first African American president.  “BUT WHY WOULD HE WANT TO?”  Why would he have wanted to get in the overwhelmingly white Harvard Law School, and why on Earth would he have wanted to join the previously all white cast of the American Presidency?  Why would he want to?

Where would we be, if none of these heroes had wanted to break the color barrier?  What if their attitude had been that of our friend’s—“WHY WOULD I WANT TO?”  I am thankful that for many, there has been an obvious need and reason to want to.  I hope there will come a time when everyone can see “WHY WE WOULD WANT TO” .  That there will come a time when everyone can see that there is no place for racial discrimination or segregation.  That there will come a time when it is natural for everyone, no matter what part of the country you were born and raised in, to see that all schools, all groups, all organizations, all units of any kind are made up of all nationalities, all religions—that this is just right.  We cannot divide up each individual ethnic group or religion into their own separate unit!  There must come a time when not one person in the South will see things in black or white anymore, when they will see all as one!  Surely that is WHY THEY WANTED TO, those groundbreaking heroes who paved the way.


2)  Extraordinary, Ordinary People:

Friday, September 13, 2013

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

SEPTEMBER 11, 2001

September 11, 2001 was a day after which nothing would ever be the same. I automatically think of things now as before September 11th or after September 11th. And me, personally, I don't like calling it 9/11. Just a silly thing about me, but sometimes I'm like that with nicknames. Everyone calls my brother Stan, but to me he was and is always Stanley. Well, anyway, on the morning of September 11, 2001, my husband and I were asleep in our motorhome in the driveway of our new home in South Jordan, Utah. We had not yet moved into the house, as we did not have our bed moved in and set up. We did have a mattress in our bedroom and our friend and associate, Ronda Whelchel, was sleeping on it. She was visiting from Erie, Kansas and was here to teach a software seminar for my husband's company. My husband's cell phone woke us from a sound sleep. It was my husband's secretary, hysterically telling us to turn on the tv, and telling us that the World Trade Center tower had been struck. As I recall, we turned it on just in time to see the second tower being struck. We watched in horror and disbelief. Ronda was on her way to teach the class and driving a rental car. She told us that although she never listens to the radio in a rental car, she felt a strong urge to turn it on. She did and caught what was going on. She went on to the seminar where she taught a very subdued class that day. It was very weird, since we live in the flight path of planes coming and going at all hours to and from the Salt Lake City airport; suddenly there were no planes and no plane noise in the sky. Since flights were grounded for the rest of that week, we ended up driving Ronda back home from Utah to Kansas.

Sunday, June 30, 2013


SUNDAY, JUNE 30, 2013:

I am proud to be hosting today’s stop, in the form of a book review, on Theresa Rizzo’s Blog Tour promoting her new novel, “He Belongs To Me”. 

“He Belongs To Me” is a refreshingly pleasant read packed full of emotion from cover to cover.  I was not sure what to expect when I started reading this book, but it quickly drew me in and held me riveted throughout.  I found it to be very well written, which is something I don’t find too often in today’s offerings.

Catherine Boyd has had her share of heartbreak and struggle in her young life.  Yet she is determined to create a successful and happy life for herself and her young son, Drew.  At times the odds have certainly seemed insurmountable, but Catherine has an indomitable spirit of determination.  Married while still nearly a child herself to escape manipulative and abusive parents; her marriage seems doomed from the start when they put themselves in care of those same parents.  Thomas, Catherine’s vibrant and caring husband; is the target of his in-law’s dislike and power plays.  After accusations made by Catherine’s mother concerning the sudden death of Thomas and Catherine’s fragile infant son; Thomas has very little choice but to break away from the poisonous atmosphere created by Catherine’s parents and try to get his life back on track.  While, in truth, he is abandoning Catherine and their remaining infant son; he must put a distance between himself and the tragic events that have just transpired.  He has been accepted in a prestigious university program and has determined to set a course to future security.

Catherine, in the meantime, succumbs yet again to her parents’ manipulations, and unknowingly signs away her parental rights to her son, Drew.  Believing they have she and her son’s best interests in mind, she lets her father talk her into completing her education thousands of miles away from their Chicago area home while her parents care for her son.    Her parents’ treachery and true intentions are discovered immediately upon Catherine’s graduation, just as she prepares to make a home for herself and her son and launch into her new career to support them.  Now Catherine finds herself facing a dark chasm, where she must face her deepest fears and confront them head on.  She must re-open wounds from the past causing a great deal of pain to herself and those she loves.  She must face her husband once again, as she cannot regain her son without his support and she cannot face life without her son.  With their turbulent past under scrutiny, will they be able to overcome the overwhelming odds and hurdles to regain custody of their son?  Is there any chance they can heal the deep hurts from the past and have a loving relationship again; is there any chance at all for them to renew their marriage and regain custody of Drew; to be the loving family that they had always wanted to be?
This story is bound to tug at your heart strings as you live through the turmoil and pain that Catherine must face in order to redeem herself and her family.  It won’t let you go until the final pages reveal the denouement to this touching and emotional saga.

I definitely recommend “He Belongs To Me” and look forward to reading other works by Theresa Rizzo.

Thank you for joining us on this stop of the Blog Tour for Theresa Rizzo’s “He Belongs To Me”.