On Friday, we heard the words, “American carnage ends now”. I am not sure if that means that our new president has decided to pay the bill for the environmental cleanup for an abandoned 6 acre warehouse/factory in South Carolina that he owns but yesterday, all I saw everywhere I looked was truly what I think makes “America Great”! Around the world, from Antarctica to Greece, there were 673 Women’s Marches. As ABC news reported: “The marches spanned all 50 U.S. states, several U.S. territories and at least 60 countries across all seven continents”. One woman in Hawaii, being so upset after the election, decided to do something to make a positive difference and send another message to the world. Teresa Shook made mention of a hypothetical march on FB and by morning had some 10,000 responses. “When they go low, we go high!” The power of social media! In Washington alone, it was estimated that a half million people were in attendance. They just kept coming and coming!
The bus we took from Philadelphia had only 2 empty seats. We then went to the metro where a stop along the line had to be closed due to the great number of people, and this was only 8 in the morning. The energy of birthing something positive and unifying was palpable. There was a very calm, respectful excitement as people moved to their destination. When we left the Metro, we were greeted by an 90 year old woman in a wheel chair who was cheering us on! (I want what she is having!). Then as we walked into the march area, there was a teenage boy sitting up on a hill, silently holding a sign, letting us know he loved us. Some signs people held up were definitely negative, but I have to say that they were in the minority. Most signs were uplifting and inspirational…signs with the words: peace, dignity, respect, human rights. Ideas calling forth actions. “Keep building walls and we will keep building bridges.” Signs with quotes by Dr. Martin Luther King: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Women and men, children of every race and creed walking together in the strength of peace and unity. There were so many heartfelt moments I carried home with me…watching members of the National Guard high fiving everyone and thanking all who walked by them. At the end of the march, we began the two mile walk back to the bus, people came out of their homes to offer total strangers walking by water and food. A Christian church had just let out and the pastor was standing in the street inviting people in to use the bathroom and have something to drink. We started the day off being greeted with kindness and ended the day, embraced by generosity and caring.
Mean words, calling people names, disrespecting women’s bodies, putting up walls to separate from the world, these to me seem like the divisive paths to carnage. It is amazing the difference a day can make!
One would think there would be no common denominator to speak of with regards to a haunted house, a Hare Krishna Temple and a 100 year old princess but that is what makes sharing people’s stories so fascinating. Here is just the overview.
On Halloween in the year 1914, Ethel Marberger was born and her years have not been dull! Her life on 2nd and South was an advantaged one with her family controlling a large portion of real estate. She grew to be an accomplished artist creating beautiful Chinese watercolor paintings. Ethel met and married a man who was a leading Zionist and had just escaped capture by the Nazis in Europe before coming to the US. They raised four very accomplished children…Aladar was a major art dealer in New York City but unfortunately died of AIDS at a time when it carried a heavy stigma. Their daughter Elaine, now known as Davishakti, has lived over 40 years in India and is held in high esteem in Vrindavan at the Hare Krishna Temple. John became a doctor and Donna is a fashion designer living in California with her own line of yoga and travel wear called “b”.
So here we are, Halloween 2015, and all have come to celebrate 100 years of life with this feisty and loving artist, wife and mother. The nursing home transformed into a haunted house while Ethel was transformed with tiara and feathers into a princess. Her hand was tenderly held by her “boyfriend” Winnie as so many well wishes greeted her. A century of life definitely calls for more than one celebration so the next one was at the local Hare Krishna Temple where Davishakti was asked to teach the devotees. I have had the good fortune to photograph Ethel for the past several years for a piece regarding aging with grace and dignity. I have come to know her immediate family well and am now looking forward to the next celebration this weekend for many other family members and friends. One can never have too many parties for a woman reaching 100 and one can reach 100 by being surrounded by family, friends and love.
It is official…our first Philadelphia heat wave of the season. The air conditioning is running at maximum. Hoses are stretched out with water running freely. Showering becomes something done throughout the day with clothes then tossed right into the washing machine…but about 6 weeks ago, that wasn’t the case. The temperature was in the high 90’s and I was back in Honduras photographing at a truly wonderful orphanage there: Amigos De Jesus..
I came down one morning to find a mother and her daughter hand washing everyone’s clothes (there are almost 100 children here!). While this was going on, three boys were filling bucket after bucket and carrying them to an empty pool. It took hours for the water to reach an acceptable level. I was so amazed at how they never stopped or complained. They were on a mission and the mission was fun in the sun and they were going to make it happen. When all was said and done, I just loved watching them totally enjoying the water…they were children not walking the streets, but children jumping every which way and swimming away the hours. Moments like these are those true “grace notes”, putting so much in perspective. Water has taken on a whole new meaning for me.
Vietnam is definitely high on my “Places to See and Photograph” list but until then, I had a wonderful time photographing the Vietnamese Christmas celebration. It truly was a triumphant celebration of music, dance and prayer. Although I did not understand much of the language, it did not matter…we were all united in joy! This is my wish for you!
I believe there is a synchronicity to life. In an exquisitely unfolding universe, there is a plan and a purpose for all. Today was one of those days when a chance meeting turned into a truly inspirational day. I met Marilyn and her great friend Nancy, while just waiting for a salesperson. We got to talking and she related that she and Nancy play the harp for hospice patients and that she herself was going through her second bout with breast cancer. In order to make the best of this very challenging situation, Marilyn takes her harp for each session of chemo. Her great friends, Jerry and Nancy, accompany her to every Friday session. When Marilyn can’t play, Nancy takes over. I could not stop talking and thinking about this amazing woman and the strong bonds of friendship which surround her. I just knew I had to share her story, her courage and her uplifting spirit in the face of adversity. I am so very grateful to Marilyn for allowing me the priviledge to accompany and photograph/video her today while she received her chemo treatment. I have her music, video and photographs to gather together, but I just wanted to pass on the very beginnings of this day.
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