I am always happy when I find a new place to write! After dropping Renee off at her new job, substitute teaching, I looked for a library and found this cafe and garden. More people should know of this oasis. For $5 you can walk through the botanical garden. They schedule a lot of great musical events and have art on exhibit. I enjoyed spending a beautiful day eith Renee and her special friend.
I had a lovely day for my big 6-0!
There is a building in downtown Miami that is lit up. I always said they turned it blue just for my birthday. Or some times green or purple. Glad to see it still shining. Although the skyscape has changed so much it doesnt stand out as much; it use to be one of the tallest buildings.
I had a lovely day. First Renee gave me a pancake picnic breakfast and sang a sleepy happy birthday. Then I enjoyed worshipping with her church family (IHOP, not the pancake place)
The rest of the day was at Winwood with a high school friend. Always great to connect and catch up.
Interesting to find someone is making a killing turning 45's failed business into pop art
My daughter posted this picture this morning as I enjoyed the morning, warching the hawks and herons fly and the manatees swim in the lake. She commented, "A soul who is at rest in God can rest even in the midst of storms." My second day in Miami was srarting all wrong, and was only going to get worse. Welcome to Miami!
With a brain that already works slower because of age, and living a chilled lifestyle, it comes to a headache brings it to a completr stop. So it eas very sweet for my daughter to say i had a soul at rest because it sure didnt seem so later in the day.
This is the thing about being at rest "in God". Whatever unrests the waters comes and goes, God is the only constant. That grounding will always bring your soul back to calm, even if temporarily ruffled.
I enjoyed my night in China Town before going to Miami. I was able to celebrate my son and meet his special friend. Today is his birthday. He is now half my age. I am so blessed to have him as my son! I always trusted that he would be a strong community builder, and be a light shining in the dark places, based on these promises:
I will pour out my Spirit on all humanity; then your sons and your daughters will prophesy Joel 2:28
They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor isaiah 61:3
Let our sons in their youth be like plants full grown, Psalm 144:12
To learn more about what he is doing
O the happiness of a man who hath found wisdom, And of a man who bringeth forth understanding Proverbs 3:13
Happy Birthday, son.
Even though all the snow has melted, and we have had a little tease of spring, I am ready to head down to Miami again to relax and rejuvinate. I struggle with Seasonal Affect Disorder SAD, but I think in general I survived the winter pretty well. I am not in need of a godd thaw. The dampness, just like the puddles lying around ourside, are felt in my bones, so I am in need of a good warming up.
March is my birthday month. I will be turning the big 6-0. So I decided to give myself time in South Florida as a presenyt.
For now I am busy getting read
I invite you to join me on this vacation as I travel blog.
I'm back home after three wonderful weeks in Miami. I ended up not blogging as much as I had anticipated. I spent the time working (writing) just as I always do, only in a new setting. The rest of time I mostly enjoyed hanging out with my kids and seeing Miami.
There are many beautiful places that I love. It really is a beautiful city. I was thinking that I would explore all the different neighborhoods and write about them. But instead I was interested in seeing beautiful spots. I hadn't fully appreciated these places when I had lived here, so it was nice to spend time at Caulley Square, Fairchild Gardens, Bill Baggs Beach on Key Biscayne, Matheson Hammock Park, and FIU campus and driving around tree laden streets in Coral Gables, Coconut Grove, and Brickell. I stayed with friends far west, so I even saw the edge of the Everglades.
The whole time was very relaxing but there was a lot of tension for those last few hours getting to Fort Lauderdale Airport on time. Okay, so maybe I tried to pack too much into my last day. Or maybe it was just because I had to stop and get some fruit! Where I stopped is a very popular place (Palaceo de los Jugos) and you have to be pushy to get served quickly...I was pushy, but still it was something that set us back.
(Nice to have South Florida Fruit to share with the family: Mango, Mamay, and Avacado)
First, it is vital that you have read you departure time incorrectly. This is when Dyslexia comes in handy. I read a 6:41 departure as 6:14. Of course it can back fire on you and be the other way around. Then, if you are cutting it close, you WILL be late for your flight.
Being late for a flight, missing a flight, causes me great anxiety. I think most people do not miss flights, but I have been around people who experience it often. I've managed to miss a flight a few times. Once was because I read the date wrong!
Second, if you are running late, stick with your GPS. It sounds crazy sometimes but it can see what lies ahead. Except for the fact that a train is coming through just when you get to the train tracks! I think I know Miami, but I no longer know the rhythm of the traffic. Oh, and if there is an Express Lane....use it.
You can do your damnedest and all the lights, and other motorists, thwart your every move. So at this point one just must manage anxiety levels. For those times when it seems the universe is against you, and for those who pray here are my tips. (For those who don't pray...try it sometime...)
1. Be Humble: It is at this point where I have to confess my role in the situation. Yes, I had to stop and get fruit. Please, don't say, you will never do this again. Because you most probably will.... Just acknowledge missing the mark. If you are traveling with others, confess to them in a calm voice. Please don't whine and self-depreciate yourself. Just calmly take responsibility for what action may have led to the current state of affairs.
2. Ask for Peace: As rational as I can be, anxiety can raise its ugly little head and is rarely helpful. It is not always some thing so easily dismissed, however. Do whatever practice you know to quiet your soul: sing, recite, declare, breath, move your limbs. I highly recommend breathing, especially exhaling, and moving your body so that your organs and limbs are given space and don't cramp up. Often we slouch or tense up when anxious and this sends a message to the whole body to clamp down the battle hatches. Straighten your back, broaden your shoulders, stretch legs and arms, wiggle fingers and toes. All while asking peace to fill the space.
3. Think Positive: make a positive list of what all might be going right. Maybe there is an accident that you are being protected from, maybe there is someone you will meet that you wouldn't, maybe the people in cars around you are also having a bad day, maybe it all is just about having more time with the others around you. Once you've exhausted all the possibilities, just state out loud: "Or it could just work out fine!"
4. Make a Bold Request: In this circumstance I said to God "I'm not asking you to move a mountain, I'm just asking you to move this traffic." It's important to just leave it at that. Like you hand over a broken toy to someone who loves you and just watch them fix it.
So the GPS finally sent me down the back street to get to the airport. When I got out of the car and hugged my daughter goodbye, I was at the gate in 10 minutes. I'm not sure how. I walked into the airport and a woman came up to me and asked, "Anybody going to Chicago?" Taken aback I said I was, so she took me right up to the counter to check in my bag. Then I went through TSA and when the guy checking my ID asked if I had pre-checked, I replied in the affirmative. I'm not sure what Pre-check is. I thought it meant checking my bag. So he sent me into a direction where there was no line and I didn't have to take out my computer or take off my shoes.
I was laughing at this point that I had been so tense. When I got to the gate, I was pleased to find that the flight was delayed to 6:41 pm. But taking a closer look at my reservation, I realized nothing had changed.
Remember that vacations are suppose to be refreshing and relaxing....don't let a little traffic ruin it! If you end up being late, something gets worked out, somehow.
I had been anxious, managed my anxiety, and in the end everything was all right!
As they say at the Exotic Marigold Hotel: “Everything will be alright in the end so if it is not alright it is not the end.”
I lived in a lot of different neighborhoods in Miami over 20 years. I lived in 13 different houses. My favorite home was in Coconut Grove. In a classic shotgun house. The neighborhood started by Bahamians and freed slaves, has residents who have lived here for generations. Bit by bit this part of the Grove is being gentrified and losing a lot of its character. What's most telling about the inevitability of this trend is the corner building at the main intersection of Douglas and Grand. The storefront was always some kind of community development office; now it is a real estate office. Most of the houses and building scattered around the traditionally African-American community are slapped with "for sale" signs. It is sad to see this transformation, and the displacement of the residents.
One of the dearest places for me is the Holocaust Memorial on Miami Beach, where I worked for four years. Despite the fact that it is a grim reminder of unspeakable atrocities, the memorial is a beautiful and idyllic place. Ken Triester, the artist/architect who designed the sculpture of “Love and Anguish,” didn’t want a memorial that focused only on the death and suffering; he wanted a memorial that celebrated the lives of the six million murdered
The open space Memorial is surrounded by tropical trees and a reflection pond. Soaring into the sky and reflecting in the pool is a twenty-five-foot bronze sculptured hand coming out of flames of fire. People often ask what the hand represents. Sculptures of people trying to escape the flames cover the sculptured arm rising up into the vast sky. Most people believe it is the hand of the Jewish survivors. I believe it is the hand of G-d. Either way the statement this sculpture makes is that, despite the horrors, the people were not wiped out.
From every vantage point the memorial gently directs visitors into a pictorial portrait of that horrendous history that inflicted great humiliation and torment. The walkways, the stones from Israel, the blood red bougainvillea, the reflection pond, the water lilies all memorialise the souls of those who perished. whose names are now etched on the black granite walls.
I had the added privilege, during my time at the memorial, of being surrounded by elderly Holocaust survivors (all well into their 80s and 90s). It certainly prepared me to live with my aged parents. However, more importantly, they birthed in me the desire to write stories. In fact, several of the survivors asked me to write their story. Unfortunately, at the time I did not take that opportunity. I wish I had.
I would have told the story of my landlord, a Polish Jew who went to Cuba after WWII and then had to flee for America during the Cuban revolution. Then there was the delightful couple whose love story started before the War. They were separated and sent to two different camps, and barely survived. Over sheer determination of will and love they found each other after the war. There’s the quiet troubled man who as a teenager was expected to clean the ovens and remove the gold from teeth of those who perished.
There was the women who as a girl was captured in a classic photograph of the camps: a forlorn little girl looking out through barbed wire with her big brown innocent eyes. At the memorial we would talk for hours about this and that. One day as I was leaving early on a Thursday for the Easter holiday, she courageously asked me a question she had never ventured to ask of a “goyim” (Gentile) before. But she felt safe with me. “Can you tell me what Easter is all about? All I ever knew about it was that Christians would shout and spit at us (and this was in America after the war) cursing and calling us Christ Killers.” So I told her the story as best I could, about what it meant to me, and she had tears in her eyes at the end. “Why I didn’t know this before. It’s such a beautiful story.”
There had been so many stories I heard there. When they asked I learned how to tell my story as well. I will forever cherish the value of all our stories.
The Holocaust Memorial seems to be misplaced in the midst of one of America’s biggest tourist towns. But it's not just a place of remembrance for Jewish people. It speaks to the fact that so many people have ended up in Miami from around the world because of horrendous social, political and economic upheaval in their homelands. The memorial is a good reminder of what Miami has become, despite its efforts to make it into a millionaire’s playground with exotic villa’s and boats, youthful suntanned muscular bodies, and the rest of the glitz and glamor usually associated with Miami.
At the entrance of the memorial there is a statue of a mother and child with a quote from Anne Frank engraved in the stone: “Despite everything, I believe that people are really good at heart.” Few people take the time to go all around the memorial to find another statue showing the mother and children lying dead on the ground above their heads another of Anne Frank’s quotes: “Ideals, dreams and cherished hopes rise within us, only to meet the horrible truth and be shattered.” It takes some effort for a visitor of Miami to take the time to see beyond the sunshine and blue skies and see the gritty human stories that make up this unique American city.
Miami is one of my most favorite places. Unlike the average tourist, for me the attraction is not the usual hype of beaches, fancy hotels and night clubs. I invite you to travel with me through my blog as I revisit the diverse neighborhoods that I grew to love during the twenty years I lived in Miami.