Adventures in Snowcalypse 2017

Let me set the stage by explaining that although I was born in New York, I celebrated my PR2first birthday in Puerto Rico and the following 28 as well. If you don’t know this, Puerto Rico is an island in the Caribbean, where snow is only seen on television. I did see snow before I moved to Atlanta. I think my most vivid memory of snow was when I was eight or nine. My brother lived in Maine by a lake. My mother and I went to ring the New Year with his family and there was snow, oh there was snow!

Anyway, fast forward to the present time, snow is a treat for me. In Georgia snows for a couple of hours and it quickly melts, but I get to see snow and even walk in it for a few minutes. Back in 2014, Atlanta had a “big” snowstorm. Now, you north snowbirds can stop laughing right now. It was big for us, so stop it! The city had a real meltdown. Cars were in the highways for days, people were stranded for hours, it was a total mess!

I’ve been fortunate that I’ve always been home when snow comes. I haven’t had to deal with traffic or other kinds of issues. I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t know how to drive in the snow, therefore I leave the deed to the professionals.

snow1Meteorology in Atlanta is a game of Russian roulette. They will tell you that it will rain, and you find yourself with a pretty sunny day. They tell you that it will be beautiful outside, and you get soaked. So, when I saw that the forecast was announcing snow mixed with rain, I figured I would see a few paper towel dust flurries, rain and move on. To my surprise it started snowing. I ran outside to take a video of it to make sure that I captured the few flurries that were to come.

An hour went by and it started snowing; really snowing. That’s when I realized this one was for real. (Again folks, stop laughing). I was working from home, so I opened all my windows wide and enjoyed the scenery while working.snow2

The first thing that should have clued me that this was not like other times, was that when my dog tried to go out for her morning bathroom break, she seemed to be ice skating on the deck. I told a friend that I was going to take my lunch break to go to the store and get a few things. He asked me if I was planning to walk to the store. (He’s a comedian) When I stopped laughing, he asked me if my car was a four-wheel drive, that was a no as well. He recommended that I stay home unless it was an emergency; and it wasn’t.  After work, because I’m a big girl, I got bundled up and decided that if I drove very slow I could make it to the store, get my wants (because there were no needs) and come back. I opened the garage door and proceeded to try to get the car out.

I must clarify that even my realtor and his lovely wife described my driveway as a launching pad because it’s a steep hill. I finally got the car out of the garage and it started sliding in the ice, not something I’m used to. I have very good news, the breaks on my car are perfectly fine. I, still stubborn, tried to get the car a little lower on the driveway. The car was still dancing in the snow3ice. This is where a little bit of anxiety kicked in, forget the store, will I be able to get the car back up? I opened the garage door that was now closed. Between the gas pedal and my very good breaks, I was able to get the car back up the hill. I closed the garage door and said to myself, “You know what? I really didn’t want hot cocoa after all, what I really want is some tea and I have plenty inside”

A few hours later, looking out my kitchen window, the neighbor’s kids were building a snowman. I smiled and contemplated the idea of making a snowman until I remembered that required getting dressed and being out in the cold. I decided that watching the kids do it was more enjoyable at this point.

Finally, I woke up this morning with snow still falling hard. It is beautiful to see all the white fresh fallen snow on my yard and the streets. I’m writing this from my bed, my dog is curled up in her bed snoring. This is how snow days should be spent.

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I still pray for those who lost power and those who’ve had no choice but to be out on the streets.

Ok, laugh now as much as you want! 🙂

Stay safe and warm

Naty

 

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Ending of the new beginning

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Today is the last day for NaNoWriMo and I can count myself a winner. It’s a thrilling feeling, as I had paused my writing for longer than I expected. I’m also excited about feeling fulfilled like I do when I write a good story.

I have to admit that I’m not thrilled with “ Christmas in London”, my NaNo novel. I guess it will take a lot of rewrites. I know stories have lives of it’s own, but this one really went left from what I had planned.

Today I also started my writing course. It will take me about a year to complete. This is something that I’ve been wanting to do for a long time, but never thought I could. In a leap of faith and a friend who found the course, I’m really excited to be able to improve the talents that God gave me.

My first class is on short stories, which is ironically how I started my public writing career. I published the short story “The Janitor” as part of an anthology. The story of a troubled man seeking answers, stops at a local church. There he meets the church’s janitor who has some very wise words for him.

My favorite short story, which I’ve only publish within a writer’s website it’s “ Waffles and Coffee”. This is the story of a Christian family that loses perspective of life and each other because they’re lost in their routines and ministry commitments. They learn that the simple things in life can mean more than grand gestures. They also learned that those small gestures are what keep relationships healthy.

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As part of my course I’m reading “ Schaum’s Quick Guide to Writing Great Short Stories” by Margaret Lucke. The first few pages were things that I already knew, but as I keep reading I’m getting more intrigued about the content. It’s going to be a good ride.

Share with me what new journey  you are about to embark, even if you have not made any steps towards it. Remember, everything starts with an idea.  (Yes, I got that from the book !)

Before I go, Happy Anniversary to The Rising Muse. On and off we’ve been at this for 8 years and God willing many more ahead.

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Until next time,

Be blessed.

Naty

ME TOO: Sharing Our Stories

This has been a rough couple of weeks for me. When #MeToo movement started I was

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glad that things were coming to the light. It is time that the abuse of women gets the attention it deserves. Those who follow this blog know that in October I usually talk about abuse, because it’s a cause very dear to my heart.

The flip side, and probably the draining part, has been seeing people still wanting to victimize the victims. I’ve been engaging in conversations attempting to explain to detractors that these thing DO happen. Making people understand that the fact that a disclosure happens 20,30,40 years later, doesn’t mean that they are not true.

I-SAD-NO.sexual-abuseI’ve experience several instances of sexual abuse in my life. When I thought of the premise of asking victims of evidence, I just shook my head. The first instance of sexual abuse that I remember was, I  was very young, and an adult male known to me cornered me in a bathroom. He pulled down his pants and forced me to touch him. This was before I was of school age, but I remember it like if it was yesterday. This male is no longer alive. But if I needed to prove this. How could I? But I do know that it happened. I didn’t tell anyone at the time because I was too young to understand what was going on. I just knew that I felt uneasy and wanted out of that bathroom. I didn’t take a picture or kept his DNA.

I also remember being in my teens, my family visiting a family friend. I think there were only adults, so I got bored and I went outside. A neighbor to the person we were visiting,  came over and started a conversation with me. Just a few silly questions, nothing that took long. He groped my breast and walked away. I felt uncomfortable, but I didn’t say anything. I knew what he had done was not right, but he left immediately. I figured all I had to do was go back inside to be safe again. I can’t prove it today, but it happened.

I’ve heard that if an incident happened years ago, why speak now? Because there’s healing in speaking up. The other question that I hear frequently is, If this happened so long ago, why are victims not over it by now? Because when someone violates your body it leaves a mark that lasts forever. You may heal but the scar remains.

When I give my testimony in recovery meetings, I speak of my other instances of sexual abuse (molestation, attempted rape and domestic violence). Some days are better than others. Some days I can get through my testimony totally calm. But to this day, there are times where I still choke and cry. To this day, after recovery and treatment, there are nights that I wake up with nightmares. The more I share the less I feel shame. The more I share I feel like I take more of my power back. When I started the process, the most healing thing for me was to know that I was not alone. I was able to speak, because someone told me her story and it was so similar to mine.

I write to bring light to truth. I write because God had given me a voice to express some things. Today I want to be YOUR voice.

Luke 8:17 says “For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open.”

If you want to disclose your story, it’s time to be set free. It will help you and help others. Email me at therisingmuse@gmail.com I will NEVER publish your name. Just your current age and where you’re from (generally, like state or country) and your gender (yes, my brothers are welcome to share their stories too).

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Let’s start and continue this healing together. Let’s change this culture of abuse. We are better together. Let’s bring awareness that this happens way more than people think. It will be the only way to make change happen.

 

Be Blessed!

Naty

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One word at a time.

It’s October 31, 2017.  For some people this is a holiday filled with disguises and tons of sugar. For the longest time, it was for me, the day before I would prepare for what I usually call the Super Bowl of the writing world: NanoWrimo.

One of the things that sometimes I don’t realize, is that the days go by and then all of the sudden a long time has gone by. and I’ve lost time doing the things that I loved so much. Writing is something that has been a part of me since I was very young. Back in 2009 when I rediscovered the pleasure of writing, I felt alive again.  I did it consistently for a few years, but I allowed life to get in the way again.

NanoWrimo was the start of taking my writing career seriously. It was the birth of this blog I felt that it was fitting to restart writing again with in the same place that got me started.  Back in 2009 I had a plan, a book in my heart. Today I must honestly say that I have no idea what I’m going to write about. I’m rusty. I’m out of shape. So, I need this book camp. There are many stories inside of me that are in need to be told.

Ironically the last time I posted was exactly a year ago. It was promoting a book about terrorism from a fellow writer. Today in NYC, there was a horrible act of terrorism. Thoughts and prayers to those victims and their loved ones. More reason for me to return to talk about love, common sense and Jesus!

In other news, this time I’m taking my writing to another level. Aside from my former education in media relations that gave me a lot of writing tools, I’m joining a formal writing class in the next week or so.

I should have never left, but I don’t regret it. During that time, I had something to do for me and some for the work of The Kingdom. But like my friend Carrie says, “you know what your calling is”. It is time to be back home doing what I was created to do.

So here I am, smiling at the sight of my laptop and a blank page. I sure missed you my old friend.

 

Stay safe.

 

Naty

 

When ISIS turns your city into a living hell…

This is a new book by Jim Baton. This is a serious topic being discussed in America at this time. Read and let us know your opinion on the information provided.

Summary :

ISIS unleashes a reign of terror across Indonesia. As a former jihadist, Abdullah knows all too well the high cost and absolute ineffectiveness of fighting such violence with violence. He accepts the impossible challenge of finding the ISIS cell hidden in his city, and disbanding it non-violently. But time is running out, and there may not be any city left to save.

Meanwhile, he has to protect his adopted daughter Sari, a Christian university student, who is one of ISIS’s targets. Together they come face-to-face with the holy warriors of mass destruction and strive to overcome that evil with good.

In this riveting sequel to Someone Has to Die, Jim Baton introduces us to the real people caught in the web of terrorism, with their wide variety of backgrounds and motivations, and the possibility that they, too, can change.

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You can learn more about his work and novels at www.jimbaton.com, or find them on www.amazon.com.

Perspective: Dallas Shooting

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I was on the phone with my mother, with the news on the background, when they started talking about the Dallas shooting. It was a confusing situation. During a protest by Black Lives Matter and other organizations, a shooting broke out. 12 people were shot, 5 of them died the rest wounded. 11 of them were police officers and 1 civilian.

This was a significant incident given that the protest was against police brutality and the target of this shootings was the police. At the beginning it was thought that there were multiple shooters, but at the end it was found that it was just one well trained one.

You can find bad apples in every bucket, that doesn’t mean that all the apples in the bucket are rotten. I can remember every interaction with the police that I’ve had. I don’t have a particular bad experience to recount. But I know that’s not everyone’s experience. I have been stopped for no reason to ask for my identification, but it has never developed into a situation. They take the information, they verify and I go my merry way.  So I can’t relate to those who have had bad experiences, but I do know that they happen and they are real.

However, the majority of police officers go into this line of work for one reason, and one reason only: to serve. Every day and night they risk their lives to ensure a safe society. Do they need better training? Yes. Do they need better pay? Yes. Are there some that shouldn’t be on the force? Yes. But just like we don’t want racial, socieconomical and gender generalizations, we shouldn’t do it for the brothers in blue.

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The story that really encompassed what happened that night was told by one of the protesters. He recounts that he was running when he heard the shots. A police officer pushed him out of the way to safety. At that same moment that cop was shot and was one of the casualties. John 15:13 tells us “
Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” That’s exactly what this officer did and many do every day.

It’s ok to make callouts to justice. It’s not only proper, but a legal right. But we should hold accountable those bad apples instead of harming all the good apples that are working very hard for us.

Food for thought.

Perspective: Philando Castile

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I was listening to the news while watching my twitter feed. Someone posted the link to Diamond Reynolds live stream. She had ended the stream probably 30 minutes prior. This video is very raw and disturbing. Philando Castile, his girlfriend Diamond Reynolds and her 4-year-old were detained by police, and during that traffic stop Philando was shot by the police. Diamond starts live streaming the situation on Facebook. She’s asked to get out of the car, handcuffed and placed in the back of the police car. I watched this video holding my chest in disbelief until her daughter tells her “It’s OK mom, I’m here with you”. I totally lost it. I could not stop crying.

At that point I figured that Philando was on his way to the hospital, so I started praying for the Lord to be with him. I kept trying to find updates online to see if he had made it. It was a long night. At some point I fell asleep of exhaustion. A few hours later, I woke up looking for an update. Philando was dead. But there was a new concern, nobody knew where Diamond and her daughter were once taken into police custody.

The phone number for the Police Department was blasted all over social media. People from everywhere were calling inquiring about her. It was a moment of unity. I had several conversations with people on social media trying to create a line of communication updating each other on any new piece of information we could find. From the pictures on their twitter profiles, there were people from every background trying to make sure that Diamond and her daughter were OK. Total strangers for one moment united looking out for the well-being of one of us, another human being.  We need to extend those moments. At some point, in the morning, a friend of hers posted on Facebook that she had been found and we all breathed a little easier.

When I was a child, we used to place firecrackers on our neighbors fences. We would open the little string and take some of the powder off to act as a timer. The idea was that when the firecracker went off we would not be there, so we wouldn’t be found as the culprit. I think this firecracker had been lit for a while and this incident was the one that finally blew it.

I’ve tried to place myself in this woman’s shoes and I don’t know what my reaction would have been. I think that my reaction would have been to tender to him and that could have resulted in my own demise.  I don’t think I would have had the presence of mind to get my phone and start recording.

From everyone who knew Philando, that has spoken, he was a great guy. He worked at a Montessori school in the cafeteria. They say that he was a role model to the kids and well loved. It sounds like his passing was a true loss to the community.

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My biggest heartache is that child. That baby could have been shot in the crossfire. That baby can’t unsee what she saw. We don’t know how this will affect her in the future. If this was an intense experience for people watching the video, can you imagine what this does to the young mind of a 4-year-old?

Different things have been brought up. The ones that have been confirmed are that he didn’t have a criminal record, but tons of traffic related violations. He did have a gun and a permit for it. There has been the speculation that he didn’t have a permit because none were found in his county of residence. Apparently he obtained it in a different county. At the end of the day none of this matters, he didn’t deserve to die.

As I said yesterday, aside from the child, the eagerness to find something to say negative about him has been appalling. The attempt to justify that his life somehow was not important. I think as human beings we need to recognize that those feelings don’t come from godly places.

This one is a complicated one, there’s so many things that went wrong in the heat of emotions. Listing them is not important, but creating consciousness of what matters now.

We need to stop devaluing life. We are our brother’s keeper. We need to keep reminding ourselves that our brother and sister is Every. Single. Person around us. We all get hungry. We all get sad. We all get sick. Our blood is red for all. And it was with blood that we were bought. Blood was the prize that Jesus paid for our redemption. When things like this happen we need to embrace each other.

peaceRemember that regardless of the circumstances, there are immediately two families destroyed that had NOTHING to do with the incident; the shooter’s family and the family of the one who was shot. Let cool heads prevail. Let’s pray for the families that are going through the worst time of their lives. Let’s embrace each other instead of fighting each other over the smallest detail. It’s time to mourn together as the human race, because we have lost plenty in the last few days.

Be blessed.