Wait, it was Black History Month? It sure was. And aside from some civil rights-themed shows on cable, I didn't really notice. Oh, and there were the posters of the usual icons of Black History Month at the local mall (Thurgood Marshall, Harriet Tubman, etc.)
When the month started, I had a conversation with some people about what kids learn in school about Black History Month. Apparently, not much has changed since I was in school. Same people, same facts, same everything. That's sad because it doesn't put students in a position to identify with historical figures. As a former teacher and history major, that's a huge problem.
Take for example, the wonderful actresses Nichelle Nichols and Eartha Kitt. Ask non-comic and sci-fi fans or those under a certain age, and you may just get a blank stare as the kids wonder who they are and why they are important.
And just in case you, dear reader, don't know either, I'll be honored to tell you! Nichelle Nichols is best known for her role as Lt. Uhura on the original Star Trek series. She was the only African American in the cast and, with William Shatner, had TV's first interracial kiss.
When asked if she was ever "ordered" to remain on the show, Ms. Nichols tells about how she met Martin Luther King, Jr., and he insisted she remain on the show. I'm glad she did.
Eartha Kitt is best known for her portrayl of Catwoman during the original run of "Batman" - the first African American woman to play the part. In my world, those are pretty cool things. And since we're talking sci-fi and comics, we can add Freema Agyeman to the list. Haven't heard of her? She was the companion to David Tennant's 10th doctor during the third season of the British serial "Doctor Who." I believe she as the first of African descent to play the main companion role (she is a british actress).
Sure, there are other people in recent history we can all relate to in some way, especially when you add in Catholic notables such as Mother Mary Lange and St. Martin de Porres. Whereever we are in our lives, it is important to realize history doesn't happen in a vacuum. We are all apart of history and it is our responsibility to learn from the past. History can tell us wonderful and not so wonderful things about humanity and what we are willing to do to survive, further our beliefs, and ensure prosperity.
It's truly fascinating - more than simply memorizing names and dates. When we have a clearer picture of the past, the present becomes a little easier to understand and, maybe, this world doesn't seem too crazy after all. We can hope, right?!
March 04, 2014 09:28
By Wendy Stewart
I guess there really is no such thing as a reset after something terrible happens. Many of you read my previous post on the loss of my neighbor
, Ms. Rose. Not long after, on of my aunts, Hilarie, had a heart attack and was hospitalized. She also required surgery. Luckily, she knew the symptoms and she had her daughter by her side until it was time to go home.
I must admit, I did not realize the toll both of these events would have on my psyche. While I looked well on the outside, on the inside I was kind of empty. This was more than my clinical depression kicking in. This was facing mortality, again. Even as a veteran of the military, you never get used to that - ask a Vietnam vet and they'll tell you.
The real problem was that I didn't know how to get back to a productive state. Some people flourish in a routine and mourn and work out their issues that way. Some eat. Some don't eat. Some drink. Some come back to the Church. Some cling more to their faith and become stronger. Other than pray, I didn't know what else to do with myself. I didn't know how I felt and figured it was only a matter of time before I figured something out (and by that I mean I hoped for some prompting from the Holy Spirit).
I got that prompting. I got it in a way I've gotten it before: in that still small voice of God. He said, "Write." When I prayed about my finances, He said, "Write." When I prayed for consolation, He said, "Write." So that was my answer. He didn't say what to write about; that part was up to me. However, my directive was clear. After all, I cannot pretend to know the mind of the Lord, so I trust the direction in which he's leading me.
I have to say, it's nice to be back after such a long silence. I feel like me again. Thanks for sticking with me and this blog! Now, it's off to do more writing!
February 28, 2014 03:27
By Wendy Stewart
To the friends and family of Rosalee Hicks:
First, I am deeply sorry for the loss of Ms. Rose. As she was a friend and neighbor to me, she was also family. Which makes all of you my friends and family.
The thing is, I don't have the words to console you on such a loss, especially for you, Shawn. I was close to your age when I lost my father. Losing a parent isn't easy no matter how old you get.
For that matter, losing a dear friend is never easy either.
Ms. Rose was always there to help, to talk, and to just be her sometimes stubborn self. But no matter what, you always knew that she would do her best to help you when you needed it.
A few days after she died, I had a dream Ms. Rose was in a new body; one free of diabetes and disease and complete. She was happy and clothed in white. I'd like to remember her like that.
Just know God has taken away all of her suffering and she can now be at peace.
May God grant her soul peace and that same peace of comfort to her friends and family as well.
January 27, 2014 03:41
By Wendy Stewart
I don't like the word "resolution" when it comes to the new year. It's like we have waited all year to say something new is going to happen January 1st.
Well, to put it frankly, something new and wonderful can happen each second of every day!
When you decide to do something to make your life better - mind, body and soul - don't wait to make the change until Monday or the first of the month or the first of the year. Do it now! Every second is a new opportunity to excel and decide how you want to live your life.
I'm not going to teach you how to set goals or tell you about how many people don't completely follow through on resolutions. Instead, I want to leave you with the wise words of Doctor Who: Be magnificent!
I believe if you can do that, you'll have pretty good days to come!
January 02, 2014 02:44
By Wendy Stewart
The name of this post is also the name of a Disney Channel Original Movie released in 2000. In this particular movie, Disney does its best at tackling a clash of cultures and apartheid.
The story centers around two young girls: Mahree, a young white South African, and Piper, the black daughter of a U.S. Congressman. When Mahree arrives in D.C. as part of an exchange program, she is surprised to find her host family is black. Piper isn't too happy to have Mahree around either. And this all happens right after the arrest of activist Steven Biko (to put this in historical perspective).
("The Color of Friendship" starring Lindsay Haun and Shadia Simmons/Wikipedia Commons)
As with any movie that tackles such a sensitive subject, Piper and Mahree learn from each other and become friends. Apartheid still remained and events in the United States went on. But that's not the point of the story. The point is to show what can happen when children put aside the hate they have learned from adults and learn to love again.
While the world mourns the death of former South African President Nelson Mandela, I can only say that upon his release from prison and election as President, I was too young to truly grasp the world-changing importance. As I became a student of history and eventually earning my BS in History, I began to understand, with a global perspective, how these events, and the history which brought us to this point.
No culture, empire, or person in the history of the world, save Jesus Christ, is perfect. The world and I will miss Nelson Mandela. I can only hope and pray that we can all gleam something from his life that will help us make the world a better place for all people. Can we do that? Can we bring some social justice back in the world? Can we learn to work together?
I called this post "The Color of Friendship," because, sometimes, we have to be like children. Jesus said that, remember? We can take something like this Disney movie and use it as a jumping off point to teach ourselves and our children how to love again.
December 06, 2013 09:36
By Wendy Stewart
As I've heard about more and more stores opening early, especially on Thanksgiving, for shopping, I took a hard-nosed stance in opposition.
I said it was unfair to employees for cutting into their family time when their wages are already low. And I blasted the rampant consumerism wrapped up in the idea of shopping so early.
Then something interesting happened: I watched two specials where eight extreme couponers shopped last year on Black Friday and I saw something I didn't expect. I saw 13 friends brave the crowds to bring gifts to needy children. And I started to see good things can be achieved on such a hectic day.
I started to look at my Christmas gift list and budget and thought shopping the really good sales would be a terrific use of money. Isn't that what stewardship is about? Being responsible with what God has entrusted to us?
Target ad can be found here.
So, regardless of where you fall on the Black Friday shopping debate, I hope we can all find a way to be good stewards of God's resources! Leave a comment below to weigh in on Thanksgiving/Black Friday/Cyber Monday shopping! And for more money-saving tips, check out my other blog here.
November 26, 2013 03:37
By Wendy Stewart
While many reflect on the 50th anniversary of the assassination of JFK or the 50th anniversary release of the book, "Where The Wild Things Are," many of us have been enjoying a year long celebration of Whovian proportions.
What's this great celebration? The 50th anniversary of the popular British science fiction show, "Doctor Who!"
Yes, 50 years ago, the world got it's first taste of the Doctor, his TARDIS (which can travel through all of space and time) that is bigger on the inside than it is on the outside, and the first in a series of many adventures.
As a science fiction show, it was not unusual to see aliens. But because the Doctor could also travel through time, there were quite a few historically set adventures as well. What "Doctor Who" fan can forget the time when the Doctor made the TARDIS invisible and landed in President Nixon's Oval Office? It was crazy, funny, and totally something the Doctor would do because he showed up to help.
That's the thing about "Doctor Who;" it isn't just a show and it isn't just mere entertainment. It does what a good show, lasting this long, should do, challenge the ethical and moral values of the characters as well as the viewers.
In order to keep the show going with different lead actors, we know the Doctor (an alien who looks human from the planet Gallifrey) is the last of a race known as Time Lords. And, although they can die, they usually regenerate into a different person but with the same memories. That regeneration and introduction of a new actor, gives the audience a new way to see how the Doctor handles invasions and not letting anyone die today.
His character is a fierce protector of the planet Earth, but of all life, really. When dealing with evil he must choose the path of violence and annihilation or finding a witty way to outsmart the enemy.
Though the world of the Doctor is fictional, it has always caused me to pause and think of real-world ramifications. That's the beauty of the show and one of the reasons it's lasted for 50 years.
While "Doctor Who" may not be for everyone, it is worth noting that there are still programs that can entertain and challenge the mind. That's why I keep watching and eagerly anticipate the 50th anniversary special airing tomorrow around the world.
So, while not a pivotal moment in American history, "Doctor Who" has a place in TV history and the hearts and minds of fans past, present, and future.
(Eleventh Doctor, actor Matt Smith, and Tenth Doctor, actor David Tennant, in "The Day of the Doctor" 50th Anniversary special
November 22, 2013 05:15
By Wendy Stewart
There are two times each year when the country is focused on thanking veterans: Memorial Day and Veterans Day.
And while there are 363 other days in the year, we choose these holidays to throw support behind veterans. What many would be surprised to know is that there are tons of organizations working year round to help active duty men and women as well as veterans thrive and make a successful transition to civilian life. You have heard of many such as the Disabled American Veterans (DAV), the American Legion, USAA, Navy Federal Credit Union, and the Wounded Warrior Project.
But two organizations, Semper Fidelis Health and Wellness
and Repay Vets
, help veterans in new ways. At Semper Fi, the focus is health and wellness. That’s good for everyone, but it has been such as huge part of our lives on active duty, that it only makes sense to offer a way to continue that in civilian life. Repay Vets capitalizes on the growing crowd-sourcing movement to get veteran campaigns funded.
Come Monday there will be discounts and free meals (I will definitely have my free Starbucks coffee and meal at Applebee’s), but Veterans Day, and every other day, isn’t really about that.
I would be remiss to say, as a veteran, I don’t appreciate the efforts businesses make at this time of year. I appreciate it and I’m sure my fellow vets do as well.
But what I appreciate the most, even more than a free meal, is a simple “thank you.” Really! That’s it! After four years at the Naval Academy and 3 years on active duty, a simple thanks means to me that the person thanking me may not know all of the sacrifices or difficulties, but they appreciate what I volunteered to do for the sake of something bigger than myself.
So, whether it’s today, Monday, or another day when you come across a veteran or someone still on active duty, give us a hearty hand shake and a “thank you.” Those actions are a bigger blessing than you know!
A war veteran waves a U.S. flag as he marches up Fifth Avenue during the Veterans Day Parade in New York Nov. 11, 2012. The holiday honors all veterans of the U .S. armed forces. (CNS photo/Carlo Allegri, Reuters)
ESPN’s Hannah Storm and Kenneth Negandhi broadcasting live from the Naval Academy Nov. 8, 2013
November 08, 2013 02:34
By Wendy Stewart
About a month ago I got my yearly flu shot. Never missed one since getting to the Naval Academy in 1997. That is, until 2004. Silly me didn’t know I could get my shot for free at the VA hospital as I was still new to the process. But I thought I would be fine.
Famous last words!
In January 2005, while substituting a middle school math class, I knew I was sick. A quick trip to the school nurse confirmed I was sick with the flu.
Yes, the one and only time I’ve had the flu and I was out for two weeks.
You might be asking, what happened this year to make me want to write about it?
I got the flu shot only a couple of weeks before I tend to experience my usual fall sinus infection.
Yes, I’ve got those some times as well!
I decided to make this year different, so I pulled out all the stops I had in my bag of tricks. Hopefully, these tips will help you brave the season!
This should go without saying, but, we must keep drinking water. As the temperature drops and we turn up the heat, we also dry out the air, thus drying our bodies. You don’t have to drink cold water. Hot water is good for you as well (but an acquired taste). Room temperature is fine as well. Just drink the water!
2. Care for some tea?
My top two tea recommendations are ginger and peppermint. The ginger helps with upset stomachs and other digestive issues, while the peppermint can help soothe the stomach and clear stuffy noses. You can make your own tea with pieces of ginger root and dried mint leaves. Or you can buy pre-made tea bags. Try this before you reach for that next bottle of ginger ale!
3. Get some sleep!
I know, there’s work to be done, meals to cook, kids to care for and tons of other demands on our time and energy. But if you aren’t getting sufficient shut eye, you’re setting yourself up for a lower functioning immune system and illness is right around the corner. You’re no good to anyone if you’re sick, so please take care of yourself! I know it’s hard, and it may require saying “no” to some things, but it will be better for you and everyone else in the long run.
Using the above tips, and a few others, I have managed to stave off the October sinus infection and I am still flu-free.
But that brings me to one last reminder: if you’re sick, do your best to stay home, especially if you don’t know if what you have is contagious. You get excused from Mass for that!
Leave a comment below and tell me what you do to stay illness free!
For more tips, click here.
October 25, 2013 05:56
By Wendy Stewart
never been a very politically charged blog. However, it would be naive and
without basis to say I have no political feelings in the days since the federal
government has been shut down.
post isn't about pointing fingers at one party or another. It's about the very
real fallout facing military families and disabled veterans such as myself.
take a look at the active duty side first.
government shutdown, four U.S. servicemen and women have died in combat. Here
is what usually happens for the surviving family:
benefits include $100,000 to each family; a 12-month basic allowance for
housing, usually given in a lump sum to survivors commensurate with the rank of
the service member; and burial benefits. The benefits are also being withheld
from the family of Lance Cpl. Jeremiah Collins Jr., 19, a member of the Marines, whose
death on Saturday in Helmand
Province is being investigated by the Pentagon."
none of the benefits are going to happen while the government is shut down. If a family wants
to meet the plane in Delaware with the body of their loved one, they must pay
their own way.
Marine carry team carries the transfer case containing the remains of
19-year-old Marine Jeremiah M. Collins Jr. of Milwaukee, upon
arrival at Dover Air Force Base on Oct. 7, 2013. Because of the shutdown,
the family of Collins, who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom in
Afghanistan, did not receive the death benefits to which they are entitled,
according to NBC News. (Via huffpost.com)
tragedy, and one that no one on Capitol Hill thought would happen when they ensured
active duty military members would get paid. It's sad that something as
important as this has fallen through the cracks.
As for me
and my fellow disabled veterans, there is a lot on the line. Many services were
shut down as soon as the government shutdown. Others, such as the Vocational
Rehabilitation and Employment Program and claims processing, can only continue as
long as funds are available. Education services have already been disrupted.
means is those who are training for new occupations through school and other
programs may have to stop. It also means veterans with new and existing claims
will have to wait longer for benefits because no decisions will be made during
the shutdown. This is all according to the "Veterans Affairs Field guide to Government Shutdown," updated October 7, 2013.
longer the shutdown, the more services are interrupted - including the
possibility of no disability compensation paid out at the end of the month.
That essentially puts many of us in the same category as the furloughed workers
as we may have little to no money to pay bills.
How do I
feel about all of this? Admittedly, I'm a little stressed out. I know that
better saving and planning on my part would have been a good and prudent thing.
I also know that my God will supply all my needs.
and the short of it is I wanted to draw attention to a group of people of whom
I am a part and mean a lot to me. These people also fall under our call to help
the poor and marginalized. Hopefully, by adding my voice, I can encourage
prayer and action (not all of us can do both). Pray everyday for those in
authority and look for ways to help your neighbor, military or not.
October 09, 2013 02:36
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By Wendy Stewart