Friday, April 22, 2011

In Search of...a way to change the world

Whenever I receive an Uma update, I feel a multitude of emotions. I feel gratitude for my own lot in life, inspired by the indomitable human spirit, and mostly, I feel an overwhelming desire to take action to help in some way. So even though most of you have no idea who Uma is, I am going to cut and paste the email I received so that maybe together we can change the world by impacting one life. Peace and Blessings to you all - Ilene

Dear friends and family,

It's been a really long time since I've sent out an Uma update. But this is an important one. She's about to start an intense neurological rehabilitation program and I'm hoping to help raise funds to help pay for the program. Many of you know Uma well, but for those of you who are new friends and don't know Uma's story of survival, here's a quick Reader's Digest version:

Back in 2007, while she was in New York visiting her fiancĂ© John, a musician who was in NYC on tour, Uma suffered a ruptured brain aneurysm. She was only 27-years-old. Uma was in a coma for several weeks, during which time she had a stroke. Her doctors told us she would probably die (they gave her a “20 percent chance of living” on two separate occasions). But Uma’s a fighter. She woke up from the coma with aphasia (she was unable to speak, read, or write) and with restricted movement on the right side of her body.

Thanks to the incredible generosity of friends and family and strangers, we were able to rent an air ambulance to fly Uma out to an in-patient therapy center in California, where she started learning how to walk and talk again, with the help of John, who’s always been by her side. They got married on July 14, 2008, in a beautiful ceremony in Eagle Rock, California.

For the last four years, Uma's full time job has been therapy. To get better. And the truth is: she a degree. I've watched her improve in slow increments, but there are still huge neurological deficits that prevent her from being able to read, and write, and most importantly and basically, to express herself. The Uma who I know and love is there, but sometimes it feels like important parts of her are trapped inside her brain, if that makes any sense at all.

I believe that this program could be a miraculous thing for her. She's gonna need help to make it happen. Back in 2007, when she needed an air ambulance to fly back to California, we miraculously raised over $20,000 in less than a week. This new neurological program will cost about $80,000 (for six months of intense therapy) and even though that sounds like an insane amount of money, I believe we can raise it. Since yesterday, John's already managed to raise $1,000, so we're already 1/80th of the way there.

Any help you might be able to offer would be incredibly appreciated. If we can find 4,000 people who'd be willing to donate 20 bucks, then boom: we've made our goal. (And I know that sounds crazy, but I also know that back in 2007, the doctors told us Uma had only a 20 percent chance of survival, so there's nothing crazy about hope. Anything and everything is truly possible.)

Dream big, live big, HOPE big.

If you can donate more than 20 bucks, that's awesome and amazing and much appreciated. If 20 bucks is way too much for you right now (and believe me, I know the feeling), even a five dollar donation would help. Thank you in advance. If you can't donate right now, peace and love and blessings to you still. Please forward this message to friends, repost it, retweet it, facebook it, print it out and tape it to the fridge in your office, any way you feel comfortable spreading the word would be awesome.
We are collecting donations via PayPal. If you don't already have a PayPal account, please follow the simple instructions (listed below) to open an account. It literally takes 1 minute. Then click on the SEND MONEY tab and send your donation via John's email (

NOTE: If you prefer to donate via check or some way other than paypal, email me at and I can give you an address to mail a check, etc.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

In Search of...a dangerous despot with his own TV show

The Donald is running for President of the United States...or maybe he's not...or he hasn't decided yet, but he might decide in time to announce it on the finale of Celebrity Apprentice. Whew, it just makes your head spin, doesn't it? I know I'm waiting with baited breath.

So in an interview that aired on Good Morning America today, George Stephanopoulos spoke with Donald Trump, our maybe yes/maybe no Republican candidate for President in 2012. On the list of things I do not like about Donald Trump, of which there are many, this interview spotlighted the most glaring. No, it was not his stunning lack of humility, his arrogance, his contempt for anyone who is not, say, him; it was his blatant nastiness and just plain rudeness.

Okay, so it will come as no big surprise that I will not be too pleased with anyone who is outright mean to George Stephanopoulos, but my own personal bias aside, what does it say about the man when he is that way on camera, when one would think he'd choose to be on his best behavior? And how on earth would he behave in a closed door meeting with foreign dignitaries? I can tell you that nothing will unite the rest of the world against us as quickly as Donald Trump being the spokesperson for the United States of America.

While trying to be open-minded, I have to say that he says some things that are not without merit - like questioning why we still have so many troops in South Korea when even the TV show about the war ended nearly thirty years ago. (Okay, so mine is the television reference, but still...), Lest you think I would actually give credence to even what seems like it might be Trump's temporary rational thinking, The Donald then says something so radical - like we should just take all the oil in Iraq for ourselves as the spoils of war - or we should threaten OPEC - and then I realize that he's just a crazy despot in the guise of someone who wants what's best for our country.

And what of his professed love of country? Every time he says "I love this country," there is just not an ounce of anything in me that believes him. I kind of feel bad about that and have asked myself why. Let's examine that for a moment, shall we?

Here's the self-professed successful business genius who loves the United States so much he is thinking of running it. This is a man who was sent to a military academy and then never served in the military. He loves this country so much, are all the materials that his buildings are constructed with made in the USA? What about the fixtures and amenities that fill them? He's been married three times, so he can obviously commit - again and again and again, but what does that say about the veracity of his word? What does it say about his ability to see relationships through, even in tough times? Rest assured, if you're running this country, there will be tough times. And what of his discernment in his choices? We can talk about running this country as a business, but business is done with people, and how you relate to them matters.

What does Donald Trump understand of povety, of the fear that comes with not knowing how you will be able to put food on the table? What does he know of the soles of his shoes being worn and a failing public school system that he is not the product of? What experiences in his life have given him the compassion to run this country? And if he is willing to be rude and nasty to George Stephanopoulos, a respected journalist, on TV, then how do you think he will be toward you and me? Do you think he actually cares about you and me...or is being President just a new level of power that he has yet to achieve so the prospect is appealing to him?

I present this to you because I think that once we're all done snickering at the prospect of Donald Trump running for President, we should be very, very nervous that he actually will. I think that no matter what his motivation or purity of intentions are or are not, he poses a very serious threat to our well being and security as a nation. He can prance about with his birth certificate all he wants to; I prefer to see what he's done to benefit anyone other than himself. I say that, of course, with all the love in my heart.

Thanks for stopping by. Please tell your friends.

Monday, April 18, 2011

In Search of...something to restore your faith in humanity

In the time I've been blogging, I have never posted a link to a video. My friend Nicola was kind enough to share this one with me, and I, in turn, give you a little something to uplift your spirit, make you smile, and restore your faith in humanity if it's been lacking lately. Hugs to you all...

Saturday, April 16, 2011

In Search of...the well being of the majority

So I was watching Shirley MacLaine on Oprah the other day, (and let's face it, who wasn't), and Oprah said that Shirley's book Out on a Limb changed the way she thought about everything and that she viewed Shirley MacLaine as one of her great teachers. Well, who doesn't want to just rush out and read a book after that kind of endorsement?! So I marched myself to the local library the next day and checked out a copy. Boys and girls, Oprah was right, and this book does not disappoint.

I've resisted writing blogs for several weeks now, because frankly, all I've been feeling is a huge sense of disappointment and despair about our country and about our world. The majority of people, if you ask them, will tell you they are "believers" of some sort. And I want to say, "believers in what?" - greed, mean-spiritedness, war, poverty, stupidity? I look at the world and know that it represents the sum total of the individuals in it, and knowing that has left me at a loss for words.

So there I sat reading Out on a Limb, which came out in the 1980's, some thirty years ago. And my new best friend, Shirley MacLaine, talked about feeling similarly when traveling the globe. But the thing that hit me like a bolt of lightning was when she talked about how we have veered as a nation away from the basic philosophy on which we were founded, and that was "the well being of the majority." I don't remember hearing it ever put like that, and it sums up what should inform our choices on every level.

I don't know about you, but I have not heard ANYONE talking about that. I've heard talk of deficit reduction and spending cuts, but not about "the well being of the majority." So, dear readers, let's talk about that for a minute.

Is it the well being of the majority to cut Medicare?
Is it the well being of the majority to cut spending on education?
Is it the well being of the majority to be at war? (Is it the well being of anyone to be at war?)
Is it the well being of the majority to get rid of the EPA, the only safeguard we have to regulate our incessant destruction of the planet?
Is it the well being of the majority to stay dependent on oil when things like the sun and wind are free and don't destroy the planet and instigate wars?
Is it the well being of the majority to applaud fame over accomplishment, power over peace, hatred and closed mindedness over tolerance and love?
What is truly for the well being of the majority?

And who, if not all of us at this very moment, will have the courage to choose the well being of the majority?

If the majority doesn't speak for itself, rest assured the minority will. And let's be clear that the minority (big business, the uber wealthy, Wall Street, fundamentalist religious groups of all kinds, etc.) has their own interests and not yours as their priority. We (the little people) who frequently feel that our voices do not matter are the MAJORITY!

So I suggest to you that your one little phone call or email to your representatives and my little phone call and email to my representatives, and our neighbors' calls and votes make all the difference in the world.

I grant you that life is busy and our worries are many and well founded, but the people who are making up the rules of the game are put there by us, the majority. And so added to the list of our things we must do, like putting food on the table and gas in the car, is holding the people we put in charge accountable for "the well being of the majority."

We enjoy untold freedoms and outside of those that serve in the military, we somehow share no sense of responsibility for the protection of those freedoms we enjoy. But they come at a price that's not only paid with the blood of our service men and women. The price we must pay for the country we enjoy is the responsibility for seeing to it that it is run correctly, that the values on which it was predicated are not eroded by corruption and greed. This is the responsibility of the population. It is yours and mine - the majority.

So on this beautiful Saturday in April, let's not only take an interest in, but take responsibility for the well being of the majority. Thanks for stopping by. Please tell your friends.