#RRBC #RWISA #RWISARiseUp

Today is the Day 8 of our 2020

RWISA “RISE-UP” Blog Tour! 

Featuring

Yvette Calleiro

Yvette Calleiro

Here’s her author’s RWISA PROFILE PAGE – https://ravewriters.wordpress.com/meet-the-authors/author-yvette-calleiro/

SIGHTS

by Yvette M. Calleiro

What if,

In our hustle and bustle,

In our go go go,

We made it a point

To slow down and meditate –

Tune in to the now,

The beauty of each moment?

If only we had slowed our lives down

To enjoy the present moment,

We’d have less people living with anxiety,

Fewer suicides and more survivors,

More productivity in our workplace

With fewer hours at the job.

What if we chose

To care about the foods we eat,

To focus on nutrients from our earth

Without pesticides or genetic modifications?

 

If only we had stayed away

From GMO-products and processed foods,

We’d have fewer loved ones suffering

From obesity and digestive issues

And autoimmune disorders.

 

What if we cared

About our fellow man and woman and child

Enough to help them find shelter

And food

And employment?

If only we had cared more about

The community as one

Instead of individualism,

We would have risen up

To find solutions for homelessness,

To help rehabilitate the hopelessness

And leave no human hungry.

 

What if mothers and fathers

Could spend quality time with their children,

Laughing and playing,

Nurturing and comforting,

Molding them into loving human beings?

 

If only we had valued the family unit,

There would be fewer broken families,

Children would grow into

Caring and confident adults,

Valuing love and laughter.

What if we chose

To heal the mind, body, and spirit

As one,

With natural remedies,

Focused on healing and curing

Instead of masking and prolonging?

If only we had focused on healing

Instead of profiting on illness,

Our immune systems would be strong,

Able to fight harder against viruses and diseases,

Our minds would be calm and serene,

Our spirit would be at peace and

In harmony with the world.

What if we cared about our planet,

Sharing the earth with

Its other living inhabitants,

Making small sacrifices

So our planet can grow and prosper

Alongside us?

If only we had not been so selfish in our ways

And had made the necessary changes

To allow our planet to heal,

Our forests would flourish

And shelter our animals,

Our oceans would provide life and enjoyment,

And our air would be clear and breathable.

 

What if we changed our ways?

If only we could do something

To stop this downward spiral of catastrophes

That we have created.

 

We can.

We should.

We must.

When RWISA asked its members to consider the new world we are now living in, they wanted us to consider what we would have done differently to better the situation we are currently in. This led me to think about foresight and hindsight. We all have the ability to pause and wonder what the world could be if we choose to make the hard choices and work toward a better world. Similarly, once the catastrophe has happened, we can look back and realize what we did wrong.

So, I created this poem. Choose to read it line by line or read the left side in its entirety and then go back and read the right side. Either way works! 😊

So often, our leaders look back and say, “Oops!” and then just keep trudging along without righting their wrongs. We, as citizens, do the same. We have become quite comfortable in our spoiled lives. We, as a society, focus on individualism instead of community. We live in a bubble that is only concerned with how enjoyable our own little world is, forgetting that we do not live in isolation. We ignore the pleas of others to help the planet/hungry/homeless/poor because that would mean putting effort or perhaps making sacrifices, and who wants to give up the luxuries that they have become accustomed to?

And so it goes. Our current path is not sustainable. If we are to survive and thrive, we must put the planet and all who encompass it as our priority. We need to make changes/sacrifices to flourish. Just look at what the past month or two of stay-at-home orders has done for our planet. Endangered turtles are being born and surviving. The peaks of the Himalayan mountains can be seen in India for the first time in decades. Pollution levels have shown a decrease in nitrogen dioxide over China. The waterways in Venice are crystal-clear and fish can be seen swimming in the canals.The signs are everywhere.

Can anyone still doubt that humans and our ways have hurt our environment and will continue to hurt our planet unless we make serious changes to our ways of life? How many businesses are realizing that their workers can actually do their jobs from home? That one change can cut back on car emissions, stress, and other pollutions. I don’t have all the solutions, but maybe it’s time that we, as a society, start to use our foresight to change our world for the better.

 

Thank you for supporting today’s RWISA author along the RWISA “RISE-UP” Blog Tour!  To follow along with the rest of the tour, please visit the main RWISA “RISE-UP” Blog Tour page on the RWISA site.  For a chance to win a bundle of 15 e-books along with a $5 Amazon gift card, please leave a comment on the main RWISA “RISE-UP” Blog Tour page!  Once you’re there, it would be nice to also leave the author a personal note on their dedicated tour page, as well.  Thank you, and good luck!

 

#RRBC #RWISA #RWISARiseUp

Today is Day 7 of the 2020 RWISA

“RISE-UP” Blog Tour!

Featuring

Wendy Scott

 

Wendy Scott

Here’s her author’s RWISA

PROFILE PAGE – 

https://ravewriters.wordpress.com/meet-the-authors/author-wendy-j-scott/

 

FOLLOW THE LEADER

by Wendy Scott

Darkness swallowed dormitory B49. The lights had been extinguished an hour before at 8 pm. Stevie listened for the rhythmic breathing from the cots, aligned with military precision, one metre apart. Twenty beds, divided into two rows, sat on opposite sides of a red painted aisle. Identical grey bedding topped each hard mattress. The sheets were starched so stiff they were difficult to tuck under the corners, and the pillow was as unyielding as set concrete, but its worst feature was the coarseness of the blanket’s weave that threatened splinters.

Controlling his breathing into an even flow, he opened his thoughts to the ones forbidden by the masters. Silently, he recited his litany of self, as he had every night for the past five years.

“I am more than the number B49-17.

My name is Stevie Robinson, my birthday is the 11th March, and I’m 12 years old.

My father’s name is Mark.

My mother’s name is Katie.

My sister’s name is Jenny.

My family existed.

I vow to always remember our life together before the invasion.”

Tears gathered, but he was careful not to snuffle aloud. The cameras and microphones embedded in the walls monitored any transgressions every minute of every day.

Further, up the row, bedsprings creaked as B49-3 tossed in his sleep, deep in the throes of another recurring nightmare. The silence shattered. His roommate screeched into the blackness, “Mama!”

Heart palpitating, Stevie squeezed his eyes closed, stilled his body, and faked sleep. Moments later, boots thundered into the dormitory, followed by scuffling sounds as the offending boy was dragged out his bed and marched away. The doors crashed shut, muffling the boy’s protests. Stevie had witnessed numerous night raids, so he knew to remain frozen.

A torch button snapped on, then measured boot steps resonated on the wooden floorboards. Three paces. A pause. Stevie imagined the torchlight scanning over the statue-like faces. A few paces at a time the master inspected the dormitory until he halted by Stevie’s cot. The smell of leather polish ripened the air. Stevie focused on breathing. In and out. In and out. No twitches. Feigning sleep. Early into his captivity, he’d learned the harsh consequences of non-conformity.

Finally, the boots trod away. Before he exited the master intoned, “The Leader watches over you all.”

***

Clad in identical uniforms, the boys from B49 trooped into the instruction room, their orderly line pausing as each boy bowed before saluting the oversized portrait of the Leader. A shadow of crew-cut hair, a creased forehead, lips thinned into a disapproving line, and demon eyes bored out of the frame as if tracking each boy’s movements. The identical image dominated the boys’ access zones: the dormitory, the canteen, the corridors, and the ablution’s block. The Leader’s face had become more familiar than Stevie’s own. It had been five years since he’d seen his reflection in a mirror.

Without a murmur, the boys filed to their designated desk and stood beside their seats. Stevie glanced at the empty space allotted to B49-3. A sickly sensation puckered in his stomach but it wasn’t due to the beige mash the servers had dished up for breakfast. Years ago, his taste buds had withered away as he learned to chew the gluey texture for its sustenance value. Refusal to eat resulted in ejection, and reassignment to the intensive reprogramming wing. For boys who cried out in the night, the punishment was the same. None ever returned, and within days a different boy would be slotted into their place, and assigned their numerical identification. The Leader’s message clearly delivered. They were expendable cogs in the Leader’s war machine, merely insignificant numbers. Individuals didn’t exist.

Head straight, eyes forward, Stevie snapped to attention as the master strode into the room. “Be seated.”

Chairs scraped across the floorboards in synchronised motion. The master’s laser gaze scanned above the boys’ heads. “It seems a reminder is necessary. Our lesson will focus on our basic principles until the Leader is satisfied that B49 understands their function.”

Lies. Propaganda. Brain-washing. A turmoil of thoughts swirled through Stevie’s brain, but he kept his expression bland and his body language submissive.

Do. Not. Attract. Attention.

The master picked up a cane and whacked it against a board, directing the group’s focus to the three sentences printed in regulation white chalk.

“Recite together.” He traced the written words with the tip of his cane.

Obedience—Leader knows best.

Conformity—Leader made everyone equal.

Conception—Leader created each of us for his divine purpose.

The taps acted as a metronome commanding repetition until their voices sounded like they’d gargled gravel.

“Halt.” The master consulted the clock on the back wall. “Proceed outside for drill instruction. Convene back here in one hour. The Leader watches over you all.”

***

Under the direction of another master, the boys marched around the quadrangle in orderly lines under an overcast sky. Beneath his cap, Stevie swept his gaze around his surroundings. Windowless concrete high-risers towered around the compound, each one housing identical dormitories. Electrified barbed wire fences and fortified watchtowers incarcerated the thousands of boys within the indoctrination camp. Overhead, a drone buzzed, surveying the sea of uniforms for any sign of non-conformity.

A minefield separated a squat building from the rest of the compound. It accommodated the reprogramming centre. The only entrance was via a rusty metal door. Stevie’s nostrils twitched, the air tainted by the black smoke belching out of the stack of soot-stained chimneys on its roof. The air stunk like burnt barbecued ribs. The boys’ route included parading past the centre’s outside gallows platform. Relief flooded Stevie when he spied the empty nooses. A brief respite as today, they wouldn’t be forced to stop and stand to attention, witnessing the distorted faces of those who broke the Leader’s rules.

For years, he’d shared a room with B49-3. They’d eaten, washed, and marched to the same regimented routine day-in and day-out. He shuddered to think of what the other boy was suffering inside the bowels of the centre. Trained sadists, the masters displayed no capacity for compassion.

Behind him, a voice whispered, “His name is Tom.”

Heart thumping, Stevie’s foot fumbled the next step. He didn’t dare turn his head and acknowledge B49-18’s forbidden comment.

From the front of the line, the master roared. “Keep in time.” The cane whacked on the concrete. “Left, right, left.”

The path turned sharply by the outer fence. A flash of purple and yellow caught Stevie’s attention. A lone pansy grew between the cracks in the pavement. He risked peeking at the master before stooping down and plucking up the flower. Careful not to crush its petals he tucked his stolen prize up his jacket sleeve. A tidal wave of adrenaline coursed through his veins; he hardly believed he had dared to jeopardize his life for a pansy.

No outcry ensued and he concentrated on keeping the rhythm. Sometimes the authorities planted informants among the dormitories. Boys who traded secrets for extra rations. He could not afford to slacken his guard.

***

The clock hand ticked over to 8 pm, and the dormitory plunged into darkness. Stevie waited ages before rolling onto his stomach. He extracted the flower from his pillowcase and brushed the petals across his nose. The floral bouquet reminded him of the tubs of pansies his mom had grown on their porch. After gardening, the pansy fragrance lingered on her skin.

Memories cascaded like a broken dam. Blowing candles out on a chocolate frosted banana cake. Giggling with his younger sister as their dad spun them around in circles on the back lawn. Wet kisses from his puppy, Sparky. Rainbow lights flashing on the Christmas tree. His mom reading him a bedtime story before pressing a goodnight kiss on his forehead. “Sweat dreams, son.”

He smothered a sigh with the pillow. Silently, he recited the words that kept him sane.

“I am more than the number B49-17.

My name is Stevie Robinson, my birthday is the 11th March, and I’m 12 years old.

My father’s name is Mark.

My mother’s name is Katie.

My sister’s name is Jenny.

My family existed.

I vow to always remember our life together before the invasion.”

Stevie swallowed the flower, destroying the incriminating evidence. He added to his mantra.”The Leader watches us, but I’m watching back. In my heart, I will never follow the Leader.”

 

Thank you for supporting today’s RWISA author along the RWISA “RISE-UP” Blog Tour!  To follow along with the rest of the tour, please visit the main RWISA “RISE-UP” Blog Tour page on the RWISA site.  For a chance to win a bundle of 15 e-books along with a $5 Amazon gift card, please leave a comment on the main RWISA “RISE-UP” Blog Tour page!  Once you’re there, it would be nice to also leave the author a personal note on their dedicated tour page, as well.  Thank you, and good luck!

#RRBC #RWISA #RWISARiseUp

Today is Day 6 of the 2020 RWISA

“RISE-UP” Blog Tour! Featuring

Joy Nwosu Lo-Bamijoko

Joy Nwosu Lo-Bamijoko author’s

RWISA PROFILE PAGE – 

https://ravewriters.wordpress.

com/meet-the-authors/author-joy-

nwosu-lo-bamijoko/

 

WATCH AND PRAY

Indeed, these are difficult times. A time for soul-searching. A time to take notice of just how fragile we humans are, and, a time to look to God for solutions.

There is a plague ravaging the whole world, and what are we doing? We are running helter-skelter, trying one remedy after another by trial and error. Each day we are thrown deeper into a pile of confusion with all the false and misleading information we are being given. And still, there is no solution in sight.

We are a people who have built huge cities, shuttled to the Moon, and created structures mightier than our imaginations.  We have accomplished so much greatness, that now we have begun to believe that we are gods – that we have all the answers and solutions to everything. The human looks around and sees the great things God has given him … the knowledge and skills to achieve, and now, he believes he can challenge God. Because of these reckless beliefs, man goes into laboratories to play God – looking for ways to surpass God’s greatness.

The result is what we are experiencing today. God created order; man creates dis-order. God sits and watches us, like He did with us during the time of the Tower of Babel, with man trying to prove that we are gods. With His little finger, He muddled the waters to show us that only He is God, and He is the only one in control. Now, we have gone ahead and messed up the order of things again, and He continues to watch us. What amusement it must be for Him to see us wreaking havoc in the world, and then trying to clean it up without much success.

I don’t believe that God will allow the whole human race to perish because of this. Those who believe in Him are praying, and those who do not, are still clueless. Eventually, God will relent, and again, with His little finger, redirect things in His own good time. He will inspire a human to come up with a solution to end the pandemic; a human who will probably take the credit for doing so. It will not matter at all. God knows His creatures more than we know ourselves. He will understand. Those who know the ways of God will thank Him for the end of the pandemic because they will be able to see the hand of God at work in it.

Will the end of this pandemic stop the non-believers from trying to one-up God?  Never! That is not the nature of the evil one. He never stops trying to prove to his followers that he is more powerful than God – that whatever God can do, he can do better.

All I know and pray for is that whoever inflicted this pandemic on the world is going to be in great trouble at the end of it all. They will pay! This will come back to haunt them, person per person, death per death, economy per economy, for all they have done. So, help me, God!

 

Thank you for supporting today’s RWISA author along the RWISA “RISE-UP” Blog Tour!  To follow along with the rest of the tour, please visit the main RWISA “RISE-UP” Blog Tour page on the RWISA site.  For a chance to win a bundle of 15 e-books along with a $5 Amazon gift card, please leave a comment on the main RWISA “RISE-UP” Blog Tour page!  Once you’re there, it would be nice to also leave the author a personal note on their dedicated tour page, as well.  Thank you, and good luck!

 

 

#RRBC #RWISA #RWISARiseUp

Today is Day 5 of our 2020 RWISA

“RISE-UP” Blog Tour! featuring

P. T. L. Perrin

 

P. T. L. Perrin

Here’s herRWISA

PROFILE PAGE – 

https://ravewriters.wordpress.com/meet-rwisa-author-p-t-l-perrin-ptlperrin-rrbc/

 

WHEN THE WORLD WAS FORCED TO A STOP

by P. T. L. Perrin

…it immediately created a toilet paper shortage. No restrictions had yet been put into place the day I went shopping at Walmart. As always, the items I needed were available. I loaded my cart and headed for the paper aisle. Wait! What the heck happened? A single pack of toilet paper sat on the otherwise empty shelves, left there, most likely, because of a tear in the packaging. I grabbed it. The paper wouldn’t spoil because the package was ripped.

Two women, one elderly and one a younger version of her, stopped in shock, just like I did. I couldn’t help myself. Tears filled the older woman’s eyes, and I had to do something. I handed her daughter the pack, fully expecting to find one somewhere else. Besides, we were okay for a while. How could Walmart, of all places, be out of TOILET PAPER? And why THAT item and no others?

In the coming weeks, when nary a roll was to be found anywhere, I fantasized about the hoarders having to eat it. Roasted TP. Grilled TP. TP Soup. TP pie. I hoped they choked; until I realized that some of them might be families with kids, and they’d be up the creek without a paddle if they hadn’t bought it all up that first week. I began to wish them well and decided to order some online. The next available delivery date was sometime in June, in two months, but it wasn’t guaranteed. A friend suggested I search Amazon for a bidet.

Having lived in Italy in the late ‘60s, early ‘70s, I was familiar with bidets, simple low basins separate from the toilet with shower nozzles that sprayed upward. Back then, they were a place to float toy boats, complete with a fountain in the middle. I did not know their true purpose until I was much older and no longer living there. We had plenty of toilet paper back then.

The bidets I found online ranged from a hand-held sprayer, which can double as a cloth diaper cleaner (for those with babies who still use cloth diapers), to a seat attachment that requires no aiming. It appears that the sprayer might take some practice in order to avoid a wet bathroom. But then, if you turn on the no-aiming-required spray without your rear end covering the inside opening of the toilet seat, you could give your ceiling a wash. At least you could with the Italian ones. Amazingly, the guaranteed delivery date was in three days. I clicked the button, quite satisfied with myself.

Neighbors drive to a local farm, where a box of fresh veggies is placed in their trunk, and they drop some off at our front porch. Other neighbors are busy sewing facemasks for a local nursing home. I gave them some colorful fabric and a treasure trove of elastic leftover from my long-ago sewing days. Kids ride their bikes in the quiet streets, six feet apart from each other most of the time. Couples walk holding hands (come on…they live together!) and greet other walkers, keeping their distance and using their ‘outside’ voices. Everyone asks everyone else, “How are you doing? Need anything?”

The air smells fresher, the office is gradually getting cleaned out, and my tennis-pro husband burns off energy doing yard work and cutting the hedge shorter and shorter. By the time this is over, it’ll be six inches tall. We’re finally using up the canned goods in the pantry, at least those whose expiration dates are newer than July 2015.

The worst part of this for most people is the loss of jobs and income, although we’re all hoping it’s temporary. We hope to scrounge enough to pay the mortgage for the next couple of months, until the tennis courts open and people take lessons again. Younger people with families at home are worried, including our children with their families. Some can work from home, others cannot.

The systems that should facilitate what the government has done to ease the burden are broken and scrambling to find fixes. When this happens again, hopefully in the far distant future, they should be prepared, and the process should run smoother. The same goes for medical supplies and personal protection equipment. There were no stockpiles when this virus shut us down. After this, there will be.

We pray for the sick, that they will recover, and for those who’ve lost loved ones. We pray for those who are feeling the pain of lost income, especially those with young children. We pray for the teachers who have poured themselves into making lessons their students can do from home, and we pray for the parents of those students. We pray for the homeless and the prisoners who have little choice in anything. We pray for Bill’s mom in a nursing home, and for all those who live and work there. We pray for doctors, nurses, hospital staff, first responders…everyone helping others through this.

We were both sick in January, and so were some of our kids and grandkids. Could it have been this virus, this invisible scourge, that made us miserable for a while and then left us to recover? Perhaps. Perhaps many people have had it unknowingly and are now immune, with antibodies that can help someone who is seriously ill to recover. In time, we may all be tested, and then we’ll know for sure.

For now, we practice social distancing. We stay home and catch up on things we’d been meaning to do for the last twenty years, and thank the good Lord we have a home to shelter in. We follow the rules, not to protect ourselves, but to protect the people around us, known and not known, just in case. We are witnessing the spirit of the people who live here, who, when faced with calamity, reach out and help their neighbors. We have never been prouder to be Americans than we are right now.

The bidet arrived right on time. It looks nice in its box, which will remain closed until we run out of toilet paper, an unlikely issue with our kids and neighbors watching out for us. Neighbors, if you run out, we have some to share. I want to try that bidet.

Now about those toilet paper hoarders…

 

Thank you for supporting today’s RWISA author along the RWISA “RISE-UP” Blog Tour!  To follow along with the rest of the tour, please visit the main RWISA “RISE-UP” Blog Tour page on the RWISAsite.  For a chance to win a bundle of 15 e-books along with a $5 Amazon gift card, please leave a comment on the main RWISA “RISE-UP” Blog Tour page!  Once you’re there, it would be nice to also leave the author a personal note on their dedicated tour page, as well.  Thank you, and good luck!

#RRBC #RWISA #RWISARiseUp

Today is Day 4 of Our 2020 RWISA

“RISE-UP”

Blog Tour! Featuring

Robert Fear

Robert Fear

Here is his author’s RWISA

PROFILE PAGE – 

https://ravewriters.wordpress.com/meet-the-authors/author-robert-fear/

 

MOTIVATING OTHERS ON SOCIAL MEDIA

by Robert Fear

If anyone had told me at the start of the year what was going to happen in 2020, I would have thought they were crazy.

Over the past few weeks, I have learned to cope with this new reality. The initial feelings of anxiety and fear subsided, and my views changed as I became more sensitive to others and aware of how fragile our society is.

We are among the lucky ones. Although work from my day job has evaporated, my wife and I live in a comfortable house, our three cats keep us company, and we have enough money to last through this crisis. As a bonus, the weather has been warm and sunny for the daily exercise walks we are allowed to take.

When the lockdown was implemented, my thoughts turned to those less fortunate. Older people unable to leave home, those suffering from grief and depression, and residents of countries with even stricter lockdowns. I thought about how I might share my experiences on social media, to give motivation and bring a smile to the faces of those within my reach.

Living where we do in Eastbourne, on the south-east coast of England, we have many beautiful spots close to our home. There are several parks filled with trees, plants, grassland, and lakes. Not far away is a farm track that winds through fields where horses, sheep, and cattle graze. Birds sing as though nothing is wrong with the world. Then there is the seafront, along which runs a three-mile promenade, with views out across the English Channel.

Because of the lockdown and social distancing measures, there have been few people around on my daily walks. I gained a sense of tranquillity and tried to capture those precious moments on my smartphone, so I could share them with others.

With video clips, I recorded nature’s sights and sounds. These included gentle swaying trees with uplifting birdsong in the background, views across idyllic farmland to the hills of the South Downs, and waves crashing onto the shingle beach on a windy but sunny afternoon.

Amongst other subjects, my photos captured the beauty of spring flowers, rainbows drawn by children hung in windows, colourful beach huts, seafront carpet gardens, and the pier’s golden dome sparkling in the sunlight against a backdrop of clear blue skies.

I posted these to Facebook, both on my timeline and in two groups. In addition, I shared selected videos and photos on Instagram and Twitter. Three of those images are included here.

 

Cherry blossom

 

Social distancing seagulls

 

Children’s rainbow drawings

 

The responses to my posts have been encouraging and there has been positive feedback from around the world:

Ah, the sound of the sea. Just what I needed. Very clear skies.  Robyn – New Zealand.

Oh, happy memories of a childhood near Brighton! The shingle beach and big waves. Thanks for sharing.  Jackie – France.

I don’t know about you, but I’m appreciating spring more this year. It’s so lovely to watch the birds, butterflies, bees, and other creatures carrying on with their daily lives amid the blossoms and blooms.  Jay – Turkey.

Ebony was watching the birds outside from her perch and listening to the birds on your video thinking she was in real-time.  Laurie – USA.

One can’t be stressed watching the cows graze and listening to the bird song.  Carola – Canada.

Lovely sights and sounds! Thanks!  Susan – Uruguay.

How lucky to be able to go out for a walk. Thanks for sharing the pics.  Patricia – Spain.

If you are on Facebook and want to view the video clips and see more photos, please send me a friend request and visit my page by clicking here.

As I bring this piece to a close in late April, the weather here has changed, and there is some much-needed rain. Our first rose of spring has chosen this day to make an appearance. A sign of hope for the future?

 

 

Thank you for supporting today’s RWISA author along the RWISA “RISE-UP” Blog Tour!  To follow along with the rest of the tour, please visit the main RWISA “RISE-UP” Blog Tour page on the RWISAsite.  For a chance to win a bundle of 15 e-books along with a $5 Amazon gift card, please leave a comment on the main RWISA “RISE-UP” Blog Tour page!  Once you’re there, it would be nice to also leave the author a personal note on their dedicated tour page, as well.  Thank you, and good luck!

 

 

 

Today is Day 3 of Our RWISA “RISE-

UP” Blog Tour Featuring

Jan Sikes

Jan Sikes

Her author’s RWISA PROFILE PAGE – https://ravewriters.wordpress.com/meet-the-authors/author-jan-sikes/

DEPRESSION SOUP by Jan Sikes

She stood in a line her head bowed low

There was nowhere to run, no place to go

With clothes that were ragged

And shoes that were worn

There were millions just like her

She wasn’t alone

America’s Great Depression had stolen their homes

Took its toll on their bodies

Tried to squash their souls

But she squared her shoulders, raised her eyes

Fierce determination replaced her sighs

She’d fight to survive, that much was true

Although many times, she’d be sad and blue

Someday there would be plenty

But for now, she was caught in a loop

She held out her bowl

For another serving

Of Depression Soup

 

Born in Missouri in 1917, my mom, Marian Edith Clark, learned about hardships at a young age.

Her mother, my grandmother, Sarah Jane, was sickly. The household chores fell on my mom’s shoulders when she was still a child. She shared memories of having to stand on a box so she could reach the stove to cook their meals.

My mom blue eyes sparkled, and her smile could light up a midnight sky. She started school in Treece, Kansas. Her family was migrant workers. Anytime they found an abandoned house, even if it was spooky, they moved in. Eventually, they landed in Pitcher, Oklahoma, where her father found a job in the iron and ore mines. She was in the ninth grade when he had an accident in the mines, and she had to quit school to help make a living for the family.

Her father became a bootlegger in Oklahoma. He would often get caught and wind up in jail for six months at a time, leaving the family to fend for themselves.

They eventually moved to Arkansas, where they had kinfolk who were sharecroppers. They picked cotton, and in Mom’s words, “Nearly starved to death.”

When she was around fourteen, her dad took the family to the Texas cotton fields. The whole family could pick, and they would make twenty-five cents for every hundred pounds of cotton.

We found this story written in a journal after Mom passed away.

“My last school was in Walnut Ridge, Arkansas, population around 2,000. We lived two miles out in the country. I went to a two-room school. A man and his wife were both teachers. He taught in one room and her in the other. The man teacher went crazy and tried to kill his wife. When she got away, she came to our house. I’ll never forget how bloody her head was. When the police found him, he had crawled up under their house. So, they put him in a mental hospital.”

The Great Depression hit America in 1929, wiping out any semblance of a prospering economy. It was during that catastrophic era that my mom and dad met in Sayre, Oklahoma. At the time, she was babysitting for one of Dad’s sisters, and living in a government migrant camp with her family.

She was only seventeen, but they fell head-over-heels in love and decided to marry.

Mom had no shoes to wear for the ceremony, and a woman next to them in the camp loaned her a pair of shoes.

On April 14, 1934, they said their wedding vows in a preacher’s living room and began life together.

There were no pictures, no fanfare, no parties, and no honeymoon.

They spent their first night as newlyweds, sharing a bed with some of my dad’s younger brothers and sisters.

Their first home was an old farmhouse with nothing in it but a wood stove, a bed, and a table. Mom had no broom to sweep the floors, and when snakes crawled across, they left trails in the dirt.

Through the years, she shared many harrowing stories of how they survived as transients. They stayed within their family group and moved from the strawberry fields in Missouri to potato fields in Kansas, to cotton fields in Texas. Often, they had no shelter from the elements, sleeping outdoors under a shade tree. Other times, they managed to have a tent or share a tent with other family members.

Mom and Dad’s life together began under this umbrella of hopeless poverty.

Hunger was a constant companion. My mom had an older brother who often would go out at night and steal a chicken or watermelon.

Enmeshed in daily survival, they could see no future.

Sometime around late 1934, they moved to Fort Smith, Arkansas not knowing it was in the middle of an epidemic. They were lucky enough to find housing in a WPA camp. My dad got a job digging graves for fifty cents a week, plus a small amount of food. A man working with him warned him to stay clear of the hospital; that no one came out alive.

However, the hospital laundry was the only place Mom found work. Automation wasn’t yet widespread, and especially not in Arkansas, so all of the washing had to be done by hand on rub boards.

A large scowling woman marched up and down behind the workers with a blackjack in hand. If she thought they weren’t working hard enough or fast enough, she’d whack them across the shoulders.

During this time, my mom fell ill with Scarlet Fever and they quarantined her. They kept her in a room under lock and key. My worried dad climbed to her window with food. It became apparent that they had to get out of there, or Mom would die. One night when all was quiet, she tied bedsheets together and lowered herself from the two-story window to the ground, where Dad waited.

They caught a ride to Oklahoma on the back of a flatbed truck, and Mom eventually recovered. They never went back to Fort Smith, Arkansas.

As the years passed, much of my dad’s family migrated to California, the land of milk and honey. But Mom and Dad didn’t go with them due to my grandmother’s failing health, and a younger sister who was inseparable from my mom. They all stuck together. My grandmother passed away in 1942 in Roswell, New Mexico. Pictures show a large goiter on her throat. She died long before I was born.

Mom gave birth to my siblings with help from family and friends. I was the only one to arrive in a hospital setting.

By 1951, the year I was born, Mom and Dad had settled in Hobbs, New Mexico, and purchased a lot on Avenue A. They stretched their tent and immediately started building a house. They put down roots and said goodbye to the transient life they’d known.

Like everything else in their lives, they built our house themselves. A place not too far from Hobbs, The Caprock, had an abundance of large flat rocks. Every day Dad wasn’t working, he’d head up and bring back a load of rocks to cover the sides of the house. That house withstood many storms and still stands today.

When I was around twelve, I distinctly remember watching Mom climb up and down a ladder with bundles of shingles to roof the house. And she did this alone.

I believe I can declare with all certainty that no two people worked harder than my mom and dad.

Mom was a fantastic cook, having learned from necessity at a young age. She had a sweet tooth and loved to bake. Her specialty was pies. She could make a peach cobbler that would melt in your mouth.

She never measured anything. She’d throw in a handful of this and a pinch of that, and it turned out perfectly every time.

Mom was not a worrier. Her philosophy was, “If I can’t fix it, there’s no need to waste time worrying about it.”

I’ve strived to adopt that same philosophy.

She lived by these seven wisdoms:

  1. Count your blessings every day.
  2. Don’t whine or throw a fit if things don’t go your way.
  3. Take whatever trials God sees fit to give you and make the best of it. Never sit down and give up.
  4. Believe in yourself and your dreams, and they’ll come true.
  5. Love life and live for God.
  6. Hard work never killed anyone. Try your best and don’t get discouraged if it doesn’t turn out the way you first thought.
  7. Treat everyone with dignity and respect.

I didn’t always see eye-to-eye with my mom, as you know if you’ve read my books. But I never forgot her teachings, her strength, and her determination. And for the last thirty years of her life, we were close.

She was the best grandmother my two little girls ever could have hoped for. She adored them as much as they loved her.

I watch my daughters now and see them practice some of Mom’s ways with their own children, and it makes me happy.

So, here’s to my mom – the strongest woman I ever knew.

 

Thank you for supporting today’s RWISA author along the RWISA “RISE-UP” Blog Tour!  To follow along with the rest of the tour, please visit the main RWISA “RISE-UP” Blog Tour page on the RWISAsite.  For a chance to win a bundle of 15 e-books along with a $5 Amazon gift card, please leave a comment on the main RWISA “RISE-UP” Blog Tour page!  Once you’re there, it would be nice to also leave the author a personal note on their dedicated tour page, as well.  Thank you, and good luck!

Today is Day 2 of our 2020 RWISA

“RISE-UP” Blog Tour!

Featuring

 

D.L. Finn

Her author’s RWISA PROFILE PAGE – https://ravewriters.wordpress.com/meet-the-authors/author-d-l-finn/

 

D.L. Finn’s Poetry 

MISTY MOUNTAIN MOMENT

It flows quietly on a breeze

Covering the landscape in its presence.

The world simplifies at that moment

While the mountain mist intensifies.

Its threatening chill keeps us indoors

Watching…

Waiting…

Worrying…

How long will it eliminate color from our world?

Yet, we’re securely tucked away inside.

We have a full stomach.

A place to sleep… others don’t.

Some live outside in this mountain mist

Trying to survive.

We offer what we can… from a safe distance.

As we head back to our protected lives

Suddenly, we get a glimpse past the monochrome.

Then we remember that a dreary gray mountain moment

Does not subdue the light that shines within all of us.

 

GONE

Gone is my freedom as I shelter at home.

Gone is abundant supplies; I must get in line to shop.

Gone are family gatherings, events, and appointments.

Gone is the income from those deemed non-essential.

Gone is the guarantee they will be helped.

This is all replaced by a new world.

Where procuring toilet paper is a reason to celebrate.

Where putting my wants over someone’s safety is a priority.

Where people risk their lives to save others.

Where people do without, perhaps for the first time.

Where learning how to make what used to be available.

Yes, so much has changed and is gone—for now.

My hope is this new insight and caring…

Stays long after everything that is gone, returns

And things go back to a new compassionate normal.

 

STORM

A storm tore through our world unseen

But we felt its presence as hospitals filled.

We tried to wash it off and hide from it

Yet, it kept coming.

Finally, we headed into the storm shelter

Only venturing out for food…

Unless we were needed to fight this storm.

So many heroes raced into the chaos

Sadly, some did not make it back home.

While the rest of us waited in our safety

Grateful for what we had

Worried for what we did not.

Here we wait for that sunny day

When the storm fades away,

And we return to normal again

Armed with a new understanding…

Of how fragile our existence is.

Something the wise won’t ever forget.

 

Thank you for supporting today’s RWISA author along the RWISA “RISE-UP” Blog Tour!  To follow along with the rest of the tour, please visit the main RWISA “RISE-UP” Blog Tour page on the RWISA site.  For a chance to win a bundle of 15 e-books along with a $5 Amazon gift card, please leave a comment on the main RWISA “RISE-UP” Blog Tour page!  Once you’re there, it would be nice to also leave the author a personal note on their dedicated tour page, as well.  Thank you, and good luck!

 

THE RISE-UP BLOG TOUR

STARTS TODAY WITH

Harriet Hodgson

PROFILE PAGE – https://ravewriters.wordpress.com/meet-the-authors/author-harriet-hodgson/

With Hands Clasped: Thoughts of the Pandemic

By Harriet Hodgson

As COVID-19 spread across the land, Americans were directed to stay home. This news led to all sorts of questions. What will we do for entertainment? How will we teach the kids? Will we run out of food? As weeks passed, many Americans felt confined, even imprisoned. Not me. A freelancer for 38+ years, I was used to working at home.

My husband and I have been married for 62 years. “I love you more today than yesterday,” I often say. Staying home with him was a blessing. Pulitzer Prize-winner Mary Oliver, in one of her poems, uses the phrase “with hands clasped.” I lived her words with hands clasped in memory, in caregiving, in creativeness, in gratefulness, and in hope.

In memory . . .

When World War II started, I was four years old. COVID-19 made me anxious and scared. These feelings caused war memories to become vivid again: food rationing, gas rationing, digging potatoes in our Victory Garden, Mom working in a wartime factory, and air raid blackouts. Odd that a pandemic would cause memories to resurface, yet a world war and world virus are similar. Many experts compared fighting the virus to a war, one we would win.

In caregiving . . .

I have cared for three generations of family members. This is my 23rd year in the caregiving trenches. In 2013 my husband’s aorta dissected and he had three emergency operations. When he woke up, he was paraplegic, unable to use his lower body or legs. The night I drove him to the hospital, I became his caregiver, and believe caregiving is love in action. Retired doctors and nurses rallied to fight COVID-19. I added virus protection to my caregiving To-Do list.

In creativeness . . .

I have always been a creative person. While I sheltered at home, I revised two workbooks I wrote for grieving kids, edited a children’s picture book, explored doodle art, baked up a storm, and emailed publishers. So far, I have written thousands of articles and 38 books. Two publishers accepted the children’s books. Because of the pandemic, however, the production of the grief books is on hold. The children’s picture book is still in production.

In gratefulness . . .

Americans are interdependent and need each other. COVID-19 showed that truckers, store clerks, housekeepers, home sewers, lab techs, and countless others are heroes too. Staying home made me realize, yet again, that little things, such as the first robin of spring, are big things. As usual, I was grateful for my wacky sense of humor. (Yes, I laugh at my own jokes.)

Since I could not be physically close to others, I reached out in different ways. I sent surprise gifts to some, was a guest on blog talk radio, signed up for another show, posted book videos on social media, increased email to family members, gave books to friends and strangers. Though I am a kind person, I tried to be kinder, a lesson many learned from the virus. I also vowed to slow down a bit.

In hope . . .

I have survived cancer surgery and open-heart surgery. Each morning, when I awaken, I ask myself, “How can I make the most of the miracle of my life?” At age 84 I am still discovering pieces of my unknown self. Thanks to experience, I know how to adapt to the changes of life. I also know some changes are easy, and others test the soul.

Poet John O’Donohue, in his book To Bless the Space Between Us, refers to changes as thresholds. Thresholds can make emotions like confusion, fear, excitement, sadness, and hope come alive. It is wise to recognize and acknowledge thresholds, O’Donohue continues, and I have tried to do this.

The pandemic pushed America to a threshold, one that will define our nation. Let us cross this threshold together with kindness, dignity, and mutual respect. Let us cross with hands clasped in love.

Thank you for supporting today’s RWISA author along the RWISA “RISE-UP” Blog Tour!  To follow along with the rest of the tour, please visit the main RWISA “RISE-UP” Blog Tour page on the RWISAsite.  For a chance to win a bundle of 15 e-books along with a $5 Amazon gift card, please leave a comment on the main RWISA “RISE-UP” Blog Tour page!  Thank you and good luck!

 

 

 

Welcome to Day 9 of the “EMPTY SEATS” Blog Tour! @EmptySeatsNovel @4WillsPub #RRBC #Baseball

I am honored today to host Author Wanda Fischer on my blog.

IF YOU ARE A BASEBALL LOVER YOU HAVE TO READ THIS

GIVEAWAYS:   During this tour, the author is giving away (1) $10 Amazon Gift Card, (2) $5 Amazon Gift Cards, (2) e-book copies of EMPTY SEATS & (1) copy of the author’s acclaimed “SINGING ALONG WITH THE RADIO” CD which features many prominent folk music singers (a $15 value)! For your chance to win, all you have to do is leave a comment below as well as leaving a comment on the author’s 4WillsPub tour page.  GOOD LUCK!

OVER TO YOU, WANDA!

 

Day Nine (Empty Seats)

When the book first came out at the end of 2017, the Houston Astros had just won the World Series. I’ve always been partial to the Astros (not as much as the Red Sox, of course), since the local minor-league baseball club, the Tri-City Valley Cats, is the low-A affiliate of the team, and I had the chance to watch some of the 2017 stars, such as Jose Altuve and George Springer begin their careers in a small ballpark about 20 miles from where I live.

I attend several games every summer at the stadium known locally as The Joe, named in honor of Joseph Bruno, the former New York State Senator who secured funding to have the facility built. It’s a great place to watch a baseball game, especially for people with children, because it’s affordable, it has a casual atmosphere, and the kids get to participate in some on-field activities during every game. The staff finds fun things for the kids to do, and they have creative “theme” nights, as well as frequent fireworks.

When the ballpark first opened, the Valley Cats invited me several times per season to sing The National Anthem before the game. I would go out on the field and see these young guys in the dugout—aged 18, 19, 20, maybe—and look into their faces, knowing that they had a dream to play professional baseball. They also looked, to me, anyway, as a mother and grandmother, as if they were a little lost, sitting in that dugout. So many were far away from home, some not even speaking English, and I just saw a longing in their faces that was part of the inspiration for my writing Empty Seats.

When they left the dugout and went onto the field, however, it was a different story. That lost feeling left their faces, replaced by a spark, ignited by a little white ball, a bat, and a leather glove. They came alive when they were playing the game they love, the game they dreamed would make them big stars, would allow them to soar to new heights that might even eclipse what they’d imagined in those dreams from when they were little kids, facing a ball on a tee for the first time.

That excitement is what I attempted to capture in my novel, while simultaneously incorporating what happens to these anxious, talented young men who’d been told all their lives that they were the best, that they’d make it all the way if they only put their minds to it and worked hard—but when life gets it the way, as it does for all of us—what happens? Is it a simple slap in the face when one of these players doesn’t make it to the next level or is told to go home for good? Do the choices these athletes make off the field interfere with the aspirations they’ve had for their entire young lives?

A large percentage of the young men I see every year at the Valley Cats games won’t go any further than that, whether they’ve been recruited by the Astros or they’re playing against the Valley Cats on a different team. That’s the reality of the situation. The players on Major League Baseball teams are the cream of the crop, the best of the best, and many have gone through incredible challenges to get achieve that goal. Once in MLB, they face constant injuries, criticism from fans and sportswriters, and life on the road that leaves them separated from their families for months at a time. The MLB season consists of 162 games per year, and, while players are paid well, they also face a grueling travel schedule that often includes personal appearances on the side.

Someone reading this may say, “Well, I’d do that if I were making that kind of money,” but it’s not that easy. Staying in shape year-round, facing the prospect of career-ending injuries, and the pressure the travel schedule puts on one’s family can take its toll. Pitchers, in particular, these days seem to be undergoing surgery on their elbow named after Tommy John, because he’s the first pitcher who had the surgery successfully. Two of the most successful pitchers—one in the American League, one in the National League—Chris Sale of the Red Sox and Noah Syndergaard of the Mets—recently underwent season-ending Tommy John surgery in 2020. So far, neither one has been missed, due to the lack of baseball-related to the Coronavirus. If there is a baseball season in 2020, these two won’t return until sometime in 2021.

What I Learned from Writing this Novel

After writing this novel, I have heard from people all over the United States and Canada. I’ve talked to Montreal Expos fans who are working hard to try to bring baseball back to their city. In fact, several ran a bowling fundraising event in Cooperstown two years ago, when former Expo Vladimir Guerrero was being inducted into the Hall of Fame. They invited me to bring a few of my friends to bowl with them as they raised money for Montreal’s Children’s Hospital cancer unit.

The event included several former Expos, including Bill Lee (who makes a cameo appearance in my novel, because he also was a member of the Red Sox), Claude Raymond, and Curtis Pride. My friends and I were on Curtis Pride’s team, and we had a great time trying to bowl. I hadn’t been bowling since I’d had my knee replaced in 2016, but it was a fun night.

I learned that Curtis was the first totally deaf baseball player to make it to MLB. He’s now the baseball coach at Gallaudet College in Washington, DC, which caters specifically to deaf students. He said his team includes several students who might be draft-able. Curtis is an amazing person who reads lips and converses with everyone.

Claude Raymond was once a pitcher for the Expos, but then he became one of their broadcasters. He and the other broadcasters had to come up with French words that would translate into terms such as “double play,” “home run,” and more. Claude is in his eighties, but no one would know it by meeting him in person.

My son and I were supposed to attend Expos Fest this year on March 21. This event was canceled due to the arrival of the Coronavirus, but perhaps it will be re-scheduled. Expos Fest is also a fundraiser for Montreal Children’s Hospital’s cancer unit.

I also learned, from making the rounds to bookstores and libraries, that people don’t expect a woman to know much about baseball. When they realize that I do, they view my book in a different light. I tell them about how I had wanted to become a sportswriter in the 1960s but that opportunities for women back then were limited. It took 40-plus years then retirement for me to have the time and energy to write this novel.

I was a public relations/marketing/media relations professional for 40 years. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d be publicizing my own work, writing my own blog posts and twitter feeds, telling people at any opportunity about my novel. It’s a delicate balance when it comes down to promoting oneself. Given my past experience, I believe I could promote someone else much better than I promote myself.

I have had a few promotional successes.  I sent a note to my alumni magazine (Northeastern University) and received several inquiries from there. I appeared on the national show, “Only a Game,” talking about my original career path that was sidelined (https://www.wbur.org/onlyagame/2018/08/10/wanda-fischer-red-sox-advice-sportswriting) and I did another radio interview on the radio station where I do my folk music show, WAMC. I did a segment focusing on women on a local TV station. Local newspapers were also quite kind in their coverage, and I was on the receiving end of what I’d set up for years for my employers.

The first one is my “broadcast” attempt with Red Sox Mascot Wally.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The second one shows my grandchildren in the “field” during practice at Winter Weekend.

Every day I look for ways to introduce people to my three characters—Jimmy, Bobby, and Bud. Now I’m working on a sequel to Empty Seats, mainly because people have asked for it. “What happens to these guys?” one emailer wanted to know. “I was just getting to know them when the novel ended.”

In my mind, I always knew what happened to them. I had planned to write a novel about the three of them when they were in their sixties and may still do that at some point. However, the sequel in the process is set in 1976, and, as one reader told me, I “have some ‘splaining to do.”

Book Blurb

What Little Leaguer doesn’t dream of walking from the dugout onto a Major League baseball field, facing his long-time idol and striking his out? Empty Seats follows three different minor-league baseball pitchers as they follow their dreams to climb the ladder from minor- to major-league ball while facing challenges along the way—not always on the baseball diamond. This coming-of-age novel takes on success and failure in unexpected ways. One reviewer calls this book “a tragic version of ‘The Sandlot.’”

(Winner of the 2019 New Apple Award and 2019 Independent Publishing Award)

Author Bio

Following a successful 40-year career in public relations/marketing/media relations, Wanda Adams Fischer parlayed her love for baseball into her first novel, Empty Seats. She began writing poetry and short stories when she was in the second grade in her hometown of Weymouth, Massachusetts, and has continued to write for more than six decades. In addition to her “day” job, she has been a folk music DJ on public radio for more than 40 years, including more than 37 at WAMC-FM, the Albany, New York-based National Public Radio affiliate. In 2019, Folk Alliance International inducted her into their Folk D-J Hall of Fame. A singer/songwriter in her own right, she’s produced one CD, “Singing Along with the Radio.” She’s also a competitive tennis player and has captained several United States Tennis Association senior teams that have secured berths at sectional and national events. She earned a bachelor’s degree in English from Northeastern University in Boston. She lives in Schenectady, NY, with her husband of 47 years, Bill, a retired family physician, whom she met at a coffeehouse in Boston in 1966; they have two grown children and six grandchildren.

Social Media Links

@emptyseatsnovel

https://www.facebook.com/EmptySeatsNovel/

https://www.wandafischer.com

Amazon and Other Purchase Links

Book: http://amzn.to/2KzWPQf

Audio book: http://bit.ly/2TKo3UC

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/empty-seats-wanda-adams-fischer/1127282887?ean=9780999504901

http://wandafischer.com/buy-my-book/

 

Thank you for supporting this author and her tour.  To follow along with the rest of the tour, please drop in on the author’s 4WillsPub  tour page 
If you’d like to schedule your own 4WillsPub blog tour to promote your book(s), you may do so by clicking HERE.

NIGERIA NEEDS A LEADER

The plane arrived in Lagos at 5:30 AM on a rainy Saturday morning. My seat on the plane, though a window seat, was right on top of the plane’s right wing, blocking my view of the town. I considered that a blessing, as in the past when I had good views of the town flying in, the sight was very dismal. And, with the rain being a torrential rain, I feared what the town would look like when we finally landed.

Suddenly, I began to feel hot, as I noticed smoke filling the mid-section of the plane. Someone on my far left made a stifling noise and fainted. Passengers and crew members rushed over to help. I could not see much from where I was seated, but from the chatter, someone had suffered a heat stroke. After a while, the temperature in the plane started to cool down and everything returned to normal.

The extra leg-length seat, which I had paid for, turned out not to be what I had paid for. One large metal box and a smaller one blocked the space under the seat in front of me, preventing me from stretching. I complained to the airline after I arrived but received no response.

I was looking forward to this visit after two years of being away, but the horrible rain should have been a sign of what was in store for me. We landed and were advised to remain seated with our seat belts on until further notice. I wondered whether the pilot was waiting for the rain to abate before moving on to the hangar and letting us out. 

Thirty minutes after landing, the plane rocked gently as it taxied toward the hangar. The engines turned off, and we all quickly jumped out of our seats. When the overhead luggage compartments popped open, the entire plane became as rowdy as a tourist marketplace in summertime.

Arriving in Lagos on a Saturday, I knew that my connection to the outside world would be on hold until the following Monday, but I still sent my assistant ahead to see whether or not, by some strange stroke of luck, my phone could be reactivated over the weekend. But I would have no such luck – that business office was closed.

When I left Lagos two years ago, I had loaded my phone with enough credit to last the period of time I would be away, in hopes that the next time I returned, my phone would still be active. But, NO! Things don’t work that way in Nigeria. My phone had been disconnected and my number reissued to someone else, so, I needed a new number entirely. 

On Monday, the stressful journey to get me connected to the world began. Once again, I sent my assistant to the office of the phone company, but it seemed the phone company has something against assistants.  My presence was required instead. 

 My first visit to the phone company went well. I cruised the bad Lagos roads, with no traffic to and from the phone company’s office. The technicians reconnected my phone, I paid for the WIFI for my laptop, we tested everything, and everything worked, so I left for home. By the time I arrived back at home, my phone and WIFI were dead.  Using my assistant’s phone, I called the phone company again to complain, and was told to return with my laptop. By the time I had finished the call with them, it was too late to get there in time before they closed, so, I waited until the next day.

Four days had long past since I landed in Lagos, and still no phone service and no WIFI to operate my computer. I got up early the next morning to make the trek back to the phone company. Just as before, everything worked fine while I was in the phone company’s office, but when I got home, again nothing worked. At that point, I’d had enough!  I lost it! I called the phone company, shouting and threatening a lawsuit for putting me through such misery. If only people were made to suffer consequences for their incompetence, perhaps, things would work better in the world. 

After ranting and swearing for ten minutes, a gentleman came on the line and calmly asked me to explain the problem. 

“I can receive calls, but I can’t make calls,” I shouted back at him.

“Is this your number?” he continued calmly, unfazed by the anger in my voice.

“Is that a trick question?” I asked in exasperation.

“I mean, what’s your number?” The calm in his voice grated my nerves.  

I rummaged through my bag to find the new number I had been assigned. When I could not find it fast enough, I yelled out to my assistant.

“Charles, could you tell me my new phone number, please?” Charles obliged. Silence ensued and then the calm voice on the line began to speak again.  

“I’m going to give you another number and I’d like you to try calling me on that number from your phone.” 

I dialed the number and that time the call connected.

“And would you try your laptop, as well?”

“Give me a minute to power it up,” I replied.

“Ma’am, is your internet working?”

“I have connected the modem to the laptop, but the internet is still not working.”

“Are there two green lights on your modem?”

“No, there’s only one green light and one red light showing.”

“Remove the modem from your computer, shut it off, wait a few minutes and power it back on, then, connect it to your laptop again.” 

I followed his instructions and a few minutes later, my WIFI came to life.

“Thank you, Lord! I’m in now!” I exclaimed. 

“Good! Is there anything else I can help you with?”

“Nothing at all and thank you so much,” I replied, this time in a calmer tone that matched his.

After my trying experience, I started wondering why I had to go through so much stress to get something so simple done. Why couldn’t they have done this by phone in the first place? Why did I have to almost suffer a heart attack before these things were done correctly? Why do people who are in the position to make things easier for others, always seem to take delight in making things harder? 

For instance, on that rainy day that I landed in Lagos, with all of the broken roads and potholes in the streets that should have been fixed long ago, it took me six hours to get from the airport to my house – a journey that usually took only one hour. Six hours was the same amount of time it had taken me to fly from London to Lagos. 

There are so many ways in which we can make life easier for others – for those providing and those using services. We could use our phones and computers more productively, instead of everyone getting out on the roads all at the same time. If we let our fingers do the walking more online and we drove our cars less, I feel that things would be so much better in Lagos.  But these situations can only be improved with effective leadership, and right now, that is what Nigeria is missing … a leader! Someone who knows what to do and how to get it done.

In a town like Lagos where traffic congestion can last for many hours, life would be so much easier if there were as few people as possible on the roads at any given time. Do people really work in Lagos? When it takes hours to get to work, and then hours to get back home, I doubt it. This is the recipe for a dead country, and Nigeria is quickly spiraling down that path. 

May God help us!