One Moment in Time

Election of Pope Francis, S.J. March 13, 2013 Reflection by Mary E. Latela 4/22/18

Roman Catholic Cardinals were gathered at the Vatican. After the resignation of Benedict XVI, speculation was viral. I was watching the coverage from the U.S. and my cousin G was watching from his home in Southern Italy. We would watch the TV coverage for an hour or so, then check in by phone to compare notes.

On March 13th, 2013, finally, the chimney atop the place where the cardinals were voting, a plume of white smoke blew into the sky. “Habemus pacem!” (We have a Pope.)  Time passed so slowly as the new Pope was assisted with dressing in the celebratory liturgical vestments crafted for just this occasion. At last, the curtain was pulled aside and the man, the Pope, came out into the balcony.

He looked out at the crown and at us, we believe, and said, “Buona Sera!” Tears formed and spilled down my face …. he was speaking in Italian! This Pope, who chose the name Francis, is Italian. I could see reflections of my dear uncles, a face always close to smiling, in his face.

The Pope belongs to all the people, but for me – with grandparents who all immigrated to the U.S. between 1900 and 1920, what a special blessing! One moment in time brought joy and excitement and most of all, hope!

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The Fruitful Darkness by Joan Halifax, reflection by Mary Latela, 4/22/18.

Joan Halifax is the Founder and Abbott of Upaya Zen Center, a Zen Buddhist practice, service, and training center located in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The vision of this remarkable place integrates practice and social action, combining wisdom and compassion. My interest in her history led me to The Fruitful Darkness, an impressive weaving together of her experiences before and now, during her leadership.

Roshi Joan Halifax has walked across Nepal, has climbed mountains, has traveled though darkness, has touched the earth and made it more than home. She introduces the adventure: “this writing is an expression of gratitude to those men and women who helped me weave my way into the fabric of earth.”

Using story, song, poetry along with experiential discovery, she explores the World Wound which we live in these times. She offers healing points by suggesting ten ways, starting with the Way of Silence, and through to the Way of Compassion. Exquisite prose, coupled with a sparkling talent for telling her stories/all stories, openly, holding back nothing make this a treasure to read again and again.

Roshi Joan’s mother suddenly died during her journey. These passages contain deeply painful emotions, describe staying with the loss, trying to come back with some new learned insight. To those who have lost Mother, it is perhaps the most thorough, detailed, beautiful account of this primary loss.

I look forward to exploring further work by Joan Halifax, an incredible author and spiritual teacher.

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Stop Blaming the Victims

The First Step in Helping Victims of Natural Disasters and in particular Puerto Rico is to STOP BLAMING THE VICTIMS, Reflections, Mary E. Latela, September 30, 2017

An early tweet today from Pres. – plainly claims that PR citizens are not trying hard enough to recover  from the devastating Hurricane Maria.  Scholar  Ph.D. student modern religions observes:  US treating like a child who doesn’t know what it needs and must be scolded for speaking up is a 100 year old pattern.

In addition, “That Trump would call disgraceful for demanding help for is part of the logic: unruly kids need discipline”….” And she is a woman.”

 I wondered how long after Maria hit land would unapologetic racism, paternalism, sexism splash onto PR and awaken to “pushback” from D.C. It has arrived.

“They want everything to be done for them when it should be a community effort,” Trump wrote from his New Jersey golf club.

The tweets amounted to a biting response to San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz, who had accused the Trump administration of “killing us with the inefficiency” after Hurricane Maria. Desperate, and with her voice breaking with rage, she implored the president, who is set to visit the U.S. territory on Tuesday, to “make sure somebody is in charge that is up to the task of saving lives.”

“We are dying, and you are killing us with the inefficiency,” Cruz said at a news conference. “I am begging, begging anyone that can hear us, to save us from dying.”


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DACA: Remember Liberty and Justice

Reflection by Mary E. Latela, September 4, 2017`

The cancellation of DACA would be the President’s most evil act. So writes Jennifer Rubin in today’s Washington Post (09/04/2017). You see, DACA is a program which allowed children to enter the country in the case where they had no parents to accompany them… sounds nightmarish. What may happen soon, however, is even more chilling. If the President decides (and he can do so unilaterally). approximately 800,000 young adults will be deported.

Anger/tears/grumbling offer no relief, because the situation is like any other manufactured red-tape maze. These young people – many of them – do not remember living anywhere else.  They do not have families elsewhere. It seems a cruel trick to call them “dreamers” because this implies that they had hopes and dreams when they arrived. In fact, they arrived alone, scared, hopeless. They have done well because they worked hard in school, on the playground, and on the job.

Give children safety, warmth, a family; send them to school to meet and play with other kids; let them grow up here. And NOW, someone wants to take all that away.

It is wrong!

@LatelaMary …..

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Ann Wertz Garvin’s The Dog Year

by Mary E. Latela August 30, 2017.

Great writing is not always in busy, emotional scenes, but in the parts left out. Ann Garvin does this with perfection. Dr. Lucy Peterman has lost her husband and long yearned for baby-to-be in a terrible accident. Then the story begins.

The author does “messy life” beautifully. Lucy has to move on, keep it together, working in the delicate science of breast reconstruction, a hope for many women. She must not fail. Yet she finds herself picked up for stealing hospital supplies and tic tacs from the drug store. The judge decides she needs counseling and a period of AA meetings.

Working through the 12 steps has proven life-saving for many since Bill W. helped a pal who couldn’t hold his liquor. Going to AA is so not Dr. Peterman, so repugnant, that she skips, comes late, or becomes just plain annoyed with the other losers in the group – including a young, homeless adolescent, a former high school boyfriend, a quiet woman who appears to be anorexic, and one or two dog lovers. Lucy doesn’t want to get involved with anybody, but she finds herself swiping supplies, mountains of them, from the hospital where she works, along with some small items she can stick into her pocket, Supplies, mountains of them, bulky, white, pristine.

The therapist tries to direct the doctor to why she “takes things,” but the struggle to win and the struggle not to know are at war with each other.  Garvin excels in describing the woman who doesn’t believe she deserves to be happy, and that familiar lonely feeling seems to waft through the pages of a beautifully crafted novel which touches on so many contemporary concerns.

Fortunately, Lucy connects with “Little Dog,” or it might be the other way around. But this friend never fails, is always there whether the doctor is crying into her pillow or trying to think away her problems. The circle expands … into a dog park. And the opening up of each owner/participant weaves a beautiful tale of loss and healing. You must read this gem!


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Diplomatic Voice, Please

Reflection by Mary E. Latela, August 8, 2017

“They will be met with fire, fury and, frankly, power, the likes of which this world has never seen before,” said the President on this fine day.

Here’s a thought:  So here’s a suggestion: “think before you speak!” or “don’t threaten others!” or “before you unleash your inner fury, stop and edit your comments.”  This is a time for stability, for considered reflection. Sitting there, arms crossed like a boy who’s mad at the world, bespeaks belligerence. And that is the point.

You meet an angry animal, foaming at the mouth, coming your way. Why not go inside and compose a statement that indicates calm, courageous, sure leadership. Allowing the angry animal to come at you is path to disaster.



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Mothers & Others

Reflection by Mary E. Latela, August 6, 2017

I remember hearing, at one of those academic cocktail parties: There are two kinds of women, those who love children and those who do not love them. I think this is too simplistic.

Melanie Holmes, author of The Female Assumption: A Mother’s Story, Freeing Women from the View that Motherhood is a Mandate, “is a call to action. The power of our words affect the inner selves of females. Not all women want or are able to achieve motherhood, for various reasons. It is important to speak in ways that support the idea that there are many paths to a fulfilled female experience.”

No one should tell another person that the love in their life is less meaningful.  This book’s targeted audience is every woman. It’s time to amplify the conversation that females are whole beings no matter their path in life.

Many women love children enough to want to give birth to and raise a child, to protect and feed, to provide a home for her own baby, to make a long-term commitment to be a mother. Some other women use their heightened nurturing skills to take a job in the helping professions, as a teacher or a nurse, as a home companion or helper. Some stay at home to care for their own sick/ ailing parent(s).  Others have gifts that are hard to mesh with mothering, but these woman are good and generous. Still others combine childcare with professional work; they need to take to not neglect their own needs for rest and refreshment. Most people do what they can to mend the world, to make society stronger, to help others to identify and use their gifts.

It is not required that any woman have children in order to prove her “worth,” yet even now there is some steering of the role of “Mommy-hood” over and above other professions. And each woman can prayerfully, reflectively consider all the various ways to live a good and generous life. Perhaps we are becoming more realistic.

Being a Mother is a multifaceted 24/7 position which lasts forever. A child is a precious and perfect gift, who needs constant attention for quite a long time. For some, the rhythm of mothering feels just right. Yes, they are tired and sleepy, and they don’t have much energy left at the end of the day, but they fall in love with the children, and with help from family and friends, with sharing chores and babysitting, ability, they do everything that is required, and let the less important things get done later.

If we spoke with our own mothers, we might hear what this means. My family needs me. My children are – at first – very dependent on me. Their father loves them, too, but I do the “heavy daily care.” My partner, my other children, my own older parents – need me. The next-door neighbor whose children live away needs a phone call each day to be sure she is all right.

People do not keep a ledger of what they do for others. They just help a little here and there. They do for others and try to find time to keep a balance, to work and rest, to lean on others and to let them lean on her. That is their call. Louis Evely, who was an Abbot in a French monastery, liked to raise up women and men in their essential roles in the family. “Look at it this way:   God needed someone, where we are now, To guide this child, To comfort this man or woman To perform this job, To prove [God’s] love.”

Mothering is not easy, but if we avoid isolation, if we find a few friends with whom we share support, if we take care of our own needs, we will do a very good job. Some people talk about the “good enough mother.” You don’t have to (nor could you) become perfect, but you can do a good job, take care, take responsibility, take your role seriously and interconnect with all the other adults.

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How I Transformed Myself from a Scaredy Cat into a Lioness (Part I)
by Mary E. Latela, July 30, 2017

Trauma is the larger issue,
but I had to focus inwardly to deal with it.
I had a clear memory of an incident from my past,
in which he violated me in the night.
My mother asked me about this,
and I said, yes, it was true.
She did nothing.

Next came my inner struggles with betrayal, fear, PTSD.
Having an insightful therapist and an Anam Cara (spiritual friend)
I decided to tell this story with my name attached.
I also found a mindfulness teacher.
I read about research.
I wrote and wrote, free-wrote, that is.

I wrote about that incident hammering into my spirit.

The perfect venue came up when a publisher read my piece

and embedded it in a women’s e-magazine.

Seeing my vignette in print with my name attached
offered a powerful healing experience.

I lifted my depression by pouncing on it,
wrapping my scared self around it,
then replacing helplessness
with something new, namely courage.
I am so glad I told the story.
I had never discussed this except in therapy,
so I had never really told it before.


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Super Short Guide for Writers

Thank you, Grace Mattioli by Mary E. Latela

5.0 out of 5 starsSuper Short Guide for Writers is a winner!, September 5, 2016

By Mary E. Latela

This review is from: Tell the World Your Story: A Super Short Guide for Serious Indie Authors (Kindle Edition)
Thank you, Grace, for writing in good clear terms the complicated process of writing for publication. Ms. Mattioli, whose fiction is wonderfully filled with insignts, humor, and discoveries in ordinary people, reaches out in a conversational tone to those who write and write and write. She tells the reader what works for her, and she invites us to try to focus and write freely, saving all the micro-editing for after the work is formed. Superior resource which every writer and everyone looking for a stocking stuffer for a writer, ought to acquire.
Truly, Mary Ellen 


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On-line Dates & the People who Love Them

Online Dates and the People who Love Them
Review by Mary E. Latela, July 26, 2017
This review is from: 88 Guys for Coffee (Paperback) by Diane Solomon
     Imagine that the love of your life has “moved on.” Imagine spending five years trying
to find your soulmate – online! 88 Guys for Coffee is a funny, sad, all too real journey, and
Laura is the character who won’t give up. She never changes her profile, yet she meets all
kinds of guys,just for coffee.
         Her goal is to find a really good man to come into her life and heal the loss of Kurt.
She quickly analyzes the profile, deciding whether to send a wink or an email. The initial
phone call is essential. If all looks well, there will be coffee. Laura’s best friend is
Francesca, who appears from time to time, almost like a guardian angel. Then there’s
her friend, Hank. This is a book for people who seek love, who want to know what the
on-line dating scene is like, or who eagerly read to see whether Laura finds a soulmate.
Ms. Solomon knows Connecticut very well and it would be great to know more about her
character, Laura. Diane  Solomon tells a very good story, and I look forward to more
stories from this bright new author.
Posted in blind date, herstory, romance, women | Leave a comment