Kinship – effects of radical immigration

One day during our weekly phone calls, Kin shared the detail that had escaped past conversations, there was a band that greeted him at JFK Airport in 1967, when he arrive as an unacommpanied immigrant teenager from Vietnam.

“Did you say there was a band, at the airport, like a marching band?” I asked incredibly surprised he never mentioned that detail throughout the years.  

“Yeah, there was a crowd of people and The Stony Brook Fire Department band. Hank Boerner was there to greet me.” He added.  

Kin with Hank (on right) watching the band at JFK airport upon his arrival – 1967

“Who is Hank Boerner?” I replied.  

“He was another Jaycee who helped me get into the country.” Kin said pulling pieces of details that had been imbedded deep inside him like a shard of glass buried into flesh, slowly inching its way to the surface over many years. “He called me once, but we lost touch.”  

After we got off the phone, I sensed I had uncovered a hidden gem that would lead me to another discovery. There must be some sort of newspaper article about his arrival if there was a marching band, I thought. I typed into my browser:  


 What I found was the keystone that connected Kin’s journey fifty years ago and my current journey. The keystone is the last stone at the top of an archway, set at the top allowing the two trailing arcs to lean into each other, forming a complete arch, a structure worthy of time. 

Hank Boerner wrote an Op-Ed piece in 1975, the Newsday paper called, “How LI Welcomed a Montagnard Child in ‘67” where he retells Kin’s story of coming through JFK airport in 1967 to start his education in America. I read the article online and quickly opened another browser and typed: 


 I located an old landing page with a Gmail address at the bottom. I stopped a said a little prayer, I hope you are still around Hank Boerner. I opened up my personal email account and started typing a letter to Hank. It simply said,  

“Hello – Are you the Hank Boerner who wrote an Op-Ed piece in Newsday in 1975?”  

The reply came immediately, “Yes, you found me. Now what?” as if he was waiting for this email from me… like we were meant to find each other. Something inside of me felt the same way. 

I replied to his email asking if I could call him on the phone to discuss a project I was working on, thinking it would be easier to explain through a conversation, Hank obliged and gave me his phone number. During our initial phone call, Hank share some truly insightful details to Kin’s journey, details Kin didn’t even recall himself. Hank’s jigsaw piece plopped into the open space of an almost completed puzzle, the keystone. He filled in interesting gaps, gave intricate details about personal conversations, the Robert Kennedy and Queen Noor connections, he even provided me with American Airline Public Relations photos documenting the day of Kin’s arrival to JFK Airport, photos Kin has never seen. (photos and white pages can be viewed at It was at this time I had read about the archetypal themes of The Hero’s journey and started seeing parallels between Joseph Campbell’s, seventeen stages of The Hero’s Journey and Kin’s journey starting to evolve. I thought, This is why Kin’s story resonates with people. It’s archetypal!  In Joseph Campbell’s work describing the Hero’s Journey, the character is called on an adventure, meets mentors or helpers, passes through a series of thresholds where the hero descends and raises with eventual resurrection, unification, master of two worlds, freedom to live.  

Hanks was one of the undiscovered mentors in Kin’s story. After only a few phone calls, I had felt a comfortable familiarity talking to him, sensing a quiet knowing – that we were destined to meet. I had been receiving validation with synchronicities that were both spiritual and unexplainable since the idea came to write this book. I believe they were messages, guideposts delivered from the universe. Delivery of these signs seemed to accelerate around the storyline of the book and Vietnam. Bolstered by Hank’s Buddha-like, “When the student is ready, the teacher appears” mentoring he expressed to me over the phone, I believed he would continue to be insightful and generous if I asked an off-topic faith-based question during our third phone call.  

“Hank, let me ask you something, does Padre Pio mean anything to you?” I had been seeing signs in my personal life that contained Padre Pio, an Italian saint. I’m not Italian, nor have I ever seen so many signs one after another of Padre Pio, it made me very curious with the connection to my life. I wondered if they had anything to do with Hank.  

“No, not really.” He replied, “However, I do have a connection with St. Francis of Assisi” as way of explaining his vernation of another Italian saint closely connected to Padre Pio. “When I had troubles in my life, even as a young man, I would pray to St. Francis and ask for help. Each time I prayed to St. Francis a project was handed to me that needed my help or assistance. Usually, the new project was something completely unrelated to the problem I was praying about, something I never considered before. But it would always help me in some way with the current problem.” 

 I nodded on the other end of the phone and said to myself, Yes, I understand. Thinking about my distressed marriage and the journey into writing, something I had never considered before.  

“You see, back in 1967, we hand just moved to the Three Village area from Hempstead when Dr. Turpin came to the Stony Brook School for the presentation, requesting an education for a Montagnard boy. It was my first Jaycees meeting since moving into town. At that time, I was distraught”, he took a deep breath, I sensed his hesitation to dive back into those difficult feelings, “My marriage was crumbling. I had two young children to care for and my first wife wasn’t well. She had mental issues… she was unstable. I had just started a new job with American Airlines. Like I always did since childhood, I prayed to St. Francis for an answer to my problem. You know the prayer.” He started reciting the prayer in his age-old melodic voice while I silently mouthed the verses into the phone. 

“Lord may me an instrument of your peace. 

Where there is hatred, let me sow love. 

Where there is injury, pardon. 

Where there is doubt, faith. 

Where there is despair, hope. 

Where there is darkness, light. 

Where there is sadness, joy.”  

Hank continued, “The answer to the prayer came during that presentation. Once again St. Francis gave me a project and that project was getting Kin into the country.” he went on, “So now I’m passing the torch to you. It’s time for you complete the story.” He concluded.  

I was awe struck. My head started to swirl in disbelief to the likelihood of finding myself talking to a practical stranger I found over the internet only a few weeks before, who was tied to Kin’s story in a significant way, sharing a common personal story of mental illness and a failing marriage. My body shook with soulful acknowledgment that I just received Grace from the universe. My whole body, even my tonged started to tingle as I managed to say, “I-I can’t believe you just told me that.” Chills ran over the top of my head, tear welled-up in my eyes. “I just can’t believe it.” I said again. There was silence over the line, I took a deep breath and began.  

“Hank, my marriage is ending. I haven’t really told anyone; my husband is bi-polar. I haven’t said those words out loud for fear of the next step, of what it will mean for our family. I keep praying for an answer, for help.” I confessed into the phone. “I’ve been pouring myself into this book. It has given me an avenue to direct my thoughts, a temporary release from worry, to be creative with my energy rather than let the fear boil inside my head, it has been my lifeline. I don’t know what to do about my marriage, but I know writing this book is what I am supposed to be doing right now. You just gave me proof of that. Thank you.”  

Hank, Kin and Eileen- Three strangers, now connected by one immigration story.

Kin’s story was acting as an instrument of peace for me, the same as it did for Hank fifty year ago. The mentors and the mentees, all swirling in different orbits, at different times brought together by a higher conscience for a purpose, to use our collective humanity to heal. The flash, buzzclick of universal consciences aligned, like an eternal timepiece calibrating ideas and energy for the greatest good. The hammer falls, the bell chimes, the story is shared. 

 I have to ask myself, what if the idea to write this book was a ripple floating around for fifty years just waiting for a willing conduit? Someone to say, “I’ll do it” and follow through with effort and energy to transmute it into something, an instrument.  

What other ripples are reaching out across the water this very moment? Who else is receiving and instrument of peace perhaps from an immigrant child? Who is ignoring the idea or project that was meant to heal them with Devine love because it wasn’t the answer to the specific prayer they were asking for – but something completely different or foreign?  

Kinship is a story of an immigrant boy, born on an ant hill in Vietnam. The stone was cast decades ago, the ripples continue to flow. 

You are going to be O.K.

– Eileen

Awaking of Herself

The wife of a bipolar husband builds sandcastle walls while the tide rushes in. A storm surge reminds her there is nothing left to do, or be.

A vision came to me. I was standing on a dock over a stormy inlet. There were white caps in the water and the wind was blowing from the north, rain was hitting me hard in the face. I was holding a prickly fisherman’s rope that held a small wooden skiff in the water. The boat bounced and rolled over the waves. I felt a tug with each crest, I screamed over the wind and rain, “GET INTO THE BOAT!”  

Bill was in the water. He was treading the black choppy water in panic within an arm’s length from the boat. All he had to do was scuddle his way into the boat and I would pull him to shore. He just looked at me as he swallowed water and waves crashed over his head. “GET INTO THE BOAT!!” I screamed again, while holding on with two hands. The rope slipping through my hands each moment he stayed in the water. I was pitched forward over the edge of the dock trying to hold on with all my strength. He saw me struggling, however he wouldn’t move towards the boat. I rejected the thought to dive into the water and try to save him. I knew If I did, he would drown me trying to save himself. He would hold me down, pushing his head above mine grasping for air. His panic, pain and ability to save himself would become my demise. I pleaded for him again, “Please, get in the boat”  

The children needed a parent back on land, they needed someone showing them how to hold tight and when to surrender to a higher power. I would soon have to let go of the rope. I couldn’t hold on any longer. My strength could not, would not be in vain to this cycle of pleading, holding, pleading, holding.

Bill continued to tread water in front of the boat. He looked at me from the water in desperation, perhaps thinking I would eventually take the dive into the water to save him, because that is what I had always done, I had sacrificed myself for the family time and time again. I had become the lifeguard for those around me, yet who would save me if I needed help? Who is holding the rope with me now? In the vision I became resigned, almost relaxed, void of anger, to this undeniable truth. I am no longer supposed to be his keeper, that isn’t my purpose any longer. I peeled my eyes away from his stare, we both knew what the eventual outcome was to be.

I summoned the last bit of strength, looked to the purple horizon in the distance, where the storm was starting to clear, opened my hands, letting the rope slip from them. My hands were curled, red and chapped against the thick grey braid that was passing through them, burning with release. Slowly, I turned away from him, steadily walked off the dock, back onto land where the ground was steady, where there is shelter in my own heart without the brackish weight of trying to save someone. I laid down my marriage as gently as I could. I laid it at my feet, and I surrendered. I let God hold the rope.

Bill would swim, he would figure it out without me there…Walking up the green lawn, I could see the pink dawn rising through the reflection from the window of the yellow house where my children watched. The place where my heart was beckoning with a steady rhythm, “Over-here” I was on a new path. The path was about rebuilding, discovering and delivering to myself. The path of unrealized potential that runs beneath each of us, the path of unmet life purpose our soul beckons for each and every day.   

You are going to be O.K.


Note: This reflection was four years ago. Bill and I have divorced and we are both doing O.K. and continue to talk. Mental illness and suicide is very serious. In no way am I making light of mental illness. I am expressing my thoughts at the time as a spouse of someone with Bipolar Disorder.

Two strangers visited me yesterday. Each gave me something.

I will start with the stranger who came at night. He was an angry man in a loud white pick-up truck. I first heard him screaming from the road around 10:00 pm. I live on busy Main Street in a quite historic hamlet. I heard yelling over the T.V. (I was watching an English drama about midwifery, babies were being born and women were in pain) I didn’t take much notice of the men screaming outside my front door, women giving birth is more compelling. I first thought, there must have been an accident at the busy intersection a few yards away, and two people were arguing over culpability. Then I heard a loud roar of a truck engine and it was gone.

I went back to watching the show about the power of women and their ability to create and nurture.

Moments later, the truck and the screaming men were back – the dog started barking. “What is going on?” I jumped up from the couch and looked out my window, through an old pane that made the world appear squiggly. My daughter was upstairs and said with alarm, “Mom? – do you hear that?” She came down stairs. “I heard yelling, but I didn’t hear what was said.” I replied – watching the white truck quickly pull back into Main Street, almost hitting another car in it’s escape. My stomach dropped… were they yelling at us.. was that anger meant for us? Because the message fell on deaf ears. I only sensed their anger and fear.

“They were yelling some things about Biden” my daughter said as she was checking the Ring footage. “Do you think they took our sign?” I put a Biden sign out on my front lawn at the end of the summer, sandwiched between two Adirondack chairs, American flags and a West Point banner flag. Months had gone by without incident, in fact I’ve had strangers knock on my door and ask to take pictures. Quite a few people have approached my vignette with positive, heartfelt expression that gave me hope. I’ve heard cheerful honks, thumbs-up signs and instant dance parties on the way to my mailbox. I truly believed the idea of a Biden and military supporter gave people a reason to feel safe. I felt safe, until last night. The men were so angry, the Biden sign was gone.

Earlier in the day, about 3:00 pm when I was mopping my floors, I heard the dog barking- there was a knock at the door. An elderly gentleman in his late sixty with a kind Italian smile was at the door. He said, “Do you remember me?”

“Yes, I remember you! Enzo, you’ve come back” I said while stepping outside. “Excuse me, I forgot your name” said Enzo… “It’s Eileen, we won and you came back!” I said smiling. He handed me a plain white envelope. “Here, this is for you, you can open it later.” Enzo said sheepishly. I didn’t have to open the envelope to sense what was inside. “It is about Padre Pio?” I asked. His face was astonished, “How did you know that?” he continued, “We had talked about Padre Pio the first time we met.” he said. “I remember our conversation well.” I replied.

I was just passing my Padre Pio decal that hangs in the hall window while I was mopping my floors and asked for some hope – I asked the padre to assuage the fear gripping the country. I prayed for the Trumpers who believe the election was stolen from them…. for the thousands who traffic in conspiracy theories, believing that other liberties will soon be stolen from them. I asked Padre Pio to eliminate the fear running through the orange veins of our America.

Months before Enzo and his wife had visited me shortly after I installed the Biden sign. It was the first political sign I ever planted. The couple was walking in town and had come to the end of the sidewalk to turn around on Main Street when I was unloading groceries from my trunk. Enzo waved me down and started crossing the street with his wife in tow. He called out to me, “Can we take a picture of your Biden sign?” He was the first person to ask to take a picture. “Of course you can.” I was delighted to give someone some hope and spread community love. The three of us talked for a half hour or so. We got to talking about all different topics… politics of course, but also faith, religion, immigration, racial justice and humanity. In the middle of the conversation, Enzo took a short jump to the grim side of the election, expressing his doubts about the ability of our nation to rise about the negative trumpets.

I stopped him in mid sentence and held up my hand. I dissuaded people from speaking negative thoughts to me about the election. I believe in the power of attraction -I didn’t want to hear any thoughts about Biden losing. “Have you heard of Padre Pio?” I asked – his motto is “Pray, hope and don’t worry.” “I know Padre Pio!” Enzo exclaimed void of an Italian accent, “I was born in Italy, not too far away from his birthplace. I’m an Italian immigrant. I came to this country as a teenager. I’m an American and also a veteran.” Enzo was pointing to his chest and looked at me with surprise. Not only did we share many ideologies, I was quoting an Italian saint while standing on Main Street.

At the end of the conversation, I said, “Please come back when Biden is elected. We can celebrate together!” As they were crossing the street back to the sidewalk, I yelled once again, “Hope, Pray And Don’t Worry!” carrying the rest of groceries into the house.

When Enzo and his wife came back yesterday afternoon we had another twenty-minute conversation. Enzo told me he reiterated parts of our conversation to his Trumper friends. He shared with them my thoughts on African American West Point cadets who are currently sleeping in barracks named after Confederate Generals, like Lee Barracks; imagining how is must feel to be that solider. When our country continues to honor those who fought to enslave the solider’s ancestors.

Enzo, his wife and I said our goodbyes. I stepped back inside the house and opened the white envelope. It was a prayer card written in Italian – San Pio de Pietrelcina.

I am glad Enzo visited me first. He even commented, “You still have his Biden banner up.” I replied, “I’m waiting for Biden’s inauguration.” – also, I didn’t have the stomach to put the sign in the trash. The sign stood for something special, it was a beacon of hope and love to myself and to others. I didn’t know what to do with the beacon now that Biden won. I wasn’t going to keep the lawn sign forever, but what to do with it? I think the angry trucker did me a favor, he got rid of the sign for me. Now, I don’t have to see my beacon in the garbage can. I will gladly accept the memory of Enzo handing me the envelope containing a Padre Pio prayer card in exchange for a lawn sign. I will keep the prayer card and remember when two strangers came to my door yesterday. Today I may shop for a new lawn sign for when the strangers pass by. I know Enzo gets it, my hope is that the trucker will see it as he passes this way down Main Street again.

Two strangers visited me yesterday. I will choose to remember the one who gave me hope.

You are going to be O.K.,



ALLZGOOD was the vanity licenses plate on the Hummer that struck me and knocked me out of my sneakers. I can laugh about the irony of that now. Just like I saw the irony in last nights debate.

I can certainly say my life changed the day my daughter and I were hit by a Hummer. In my recovery, I woke-up to the idea that things weren’t as good as they seemed. I was ignoring feelings and limiting myself in many areas of my life. That day became a springboard of growth. I started the journey back to my soul. I can look back on that day in 2012 and say, “Yes – all is good – There is beauty in breaking.”

I believe that we can take any negative situation and create a positive thought. I believe we can change from our current circumstances when we learn our lesson or grow from an experience. So this is what I’m saying today.




You set a perfect stage for me at this moment. You created a climate of divisiveness, anger, resentment and fear for which the majority of the country is hungry for peace, love and understanding.

If you weren’t such a loser, I would not have the perfect environment for the publication of my book about immigration, racism, education, war, white privilege and faith during the Vietnam War.

You brought all the ugliness that America has been sitting on like a white porch constructed over a steaming hot swamp. Instead of draining the swamp, you reached up and grabbed America by the throat and pulled her down into it. You turned up the heat which created a shit-load of stuff to churn to the surface. Our heads were so close to this smelly disgusting dark mess that our noses were almost touching…. then a lesson and the beauty appeared.

Continue reading “ALLZGOOD”

America, Something is Wrong.

Tearing down statues of the Confederacy, abolishing the rebel flag, changing the names of schools will not change our history (we must own that) but it will lay waste to the symbols of horror that has been hanging over our country for hundreds of years. Germany doesn’t have Nazi Swat-skiers on their buildings or Hilter statues in their country for a reason, they represent horror. It doesn’t erase their history or the Holocaust, you can read and remember the horror in books and in museums.

I recently painted a picture for a friend who didn’t understand the tearing down of statues.

Image you are a black man who is serving in the military. You have taken an oath to defend this country with your life and you have to walk past a statue everyday while on post. It’s a Confederate General who fought against emancipation, he wanted to keep your black ancestors as his property. His flag was the rebel confederate flag you see at Trump rallies. He was willing to die to keep slaves in the south.

That general died a traitor to his country to which you are now serving. His symbol of oppression and slavery lives on in a statue. Why? Timothy Berry, a West Point graduate wrote about the Confederate statues back in 2017.

Symbols, statues, ideal all have to be re-evaluated as we grow together as a country with shared values that we pledge to live by. That is why there were 27 amendments ratified to the constitution, so we could re-evaluate. America, something is wrong with remembering our values.

America has been brought face to face, time and time again with circumstances where we needed to re-evaluate, re-discover and remind ourselves of the values we stand for.

The statues are of cement and steel, not flesh and bone. When you care more about a statue than you care for health of this country, America something is wrong.

When your symbol of freedom is owning an automatic weapon like the one that kills babies at Sandy Hook, buy yet you say “every life matters” (it really doesn’t), America something is wrong.

When the President of the United States is colluding, extorting, giving favors or hosting foreign countries at his private resort in order to aid in his reelection and increase his profits, American something is wrong.

When the symbol for a national crisis is a graph that spikes above all other countries in the world, with 127,368 dead Americans, a fact some want to ignore in order to attend a rally, go to a restaurant or office with no national plan in place to address the pandemic, America something is wrong.

When your symbol of greatness is MAGA, you must own racist remarks like “Kung-Flu”. A giant American flag on your truck doesn’t make you more of a patriot than the Black, Asian, Hispanic Muslin solider, police officer or essential worker that is pumping air into your mother’s lungs or cleaning the floor under her ICU bed, America something is wrong.

When your symbol for immigration reform is a wall and detention centers with children separated from their parents sleeping and dying on the floor, America something is wrong.

When your symbol for justice is a corrupt Attorney General Barr who tried to remove a U.S. New York prosecutor with a false resignation letters because the office is currently prosecuting people in Trump’s camp, America something is wrong.

America, it’s time to channel our energy, talents and speak the truth. It’s time to get to work. We will tear down symbols of horror and we will erect new symbols that stand for our values and renewed understanding. We will vote in new people who stand for truth, honor and justice on both sides of the isle that have proven themselves with actions that support the office to which they serve – at our pleasure – with our values.

We will be better because we know better.

Now is the time for love.

Yesterday I started to walk toward the ebb tide. An ebb tide is the slack moment before the tides turn. I walk down everyday to Porpous Channel in Stony Brook, NY. The channel is a narrow spot where the water races into Smithtown Harbor and Stony Brook Creek from the Long Island Sound. The water is usually racing, very fast with lost of brown foam and beds of reeds going in or out, always running. Sometimes the water is very high where it meets your feet a the pier or very low and you can see the clammers collecting a haul with the seagulls on the sandbar.

The ebb tide, nothing was coming in, nothing was going out. I noticed it because of the geometric patterns that were bouncing around on the top of the water. It seemed like the energy of the water had nowhere to go and was freely bouncing off the pier and the island on the opposite side of the channel. The patterns were beautiful and unfamiliar to me, as was the slack tide. I stood, took and picture and watched. I was reminded of a line from the song Landslide by Fleetwood Mac, “Mirror in the sky what is love?” When I stood still in the moment and reflected on the energy of the ebb tide. I then saw some bits of foam come from my peripheral right vision to slowly usher the geometric patters into the harbor, the tide had started to come in gently, quitely, like it does every twelve hours. I am witnessing the peaceful tides turning.

March 12, 2020 will be the day everything seemed to change, we all felt it. The tide of the conorna virus had hit our shores in an undeniable way. I was filled with worry, disappointment lack of concentration and an all consuming anxiety for my children, my extended family… the world. I started to feel physically sick and thoughts began to spiral. I’m not usually prone to experiencing so much fear. Then I cooked dinner, I meditated, I wached a good movie, I meditated again. I woke-up in a differnt mood and with inspiration to write. Here’s what I’m thinking…..

The world is experiencing World War III. It is a war on love and compassion and the enemy is fear, the vehicle is the corona virus and it’s captivated the world. A tiny virus has stopped the world, literaly stopped everyone from moving like no army or wall could!

People are going to be sick. But I have a suggestion for the vast majority who sit at home. While the healthcare workers are taking care of those in the hospital, we all have work to do as well. We will work to ignite in peace, hope and love. Don’t look for answers from others. Don’t look for saviours in our government or churches. Those institutions are not our saviours, nor our demons. They are our earthly mirrors. They know just as much as you do about this virus, which is almost nothing. I am asking you to look inside for your own answers, “What other choice do you have?”

The ebb tide, a time where our energy has nowhere else to go, but within. We can use this time to, “Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10). To find the beautiful pure love the resides in all of us, that part of God that resides within.

“…you believe you are sustained by everything but God. Your faith is placed in the most trivial and insane symbols; pills, money, “protective” clothing, influence, prestige, being liked, knowing the “right” people, and an endless list of forms of nothingness that you endow with magical powers. All these things are your replacement for the Love of God.” – A Course in Miracles.

In the weeks to come, we can choose to experience love while we hunker down in our homes with our family and quietly erradicate this disease by our collective thoughts of love. God gave us all free will, I believe we can use that now to freely choose love, to seek love and think love every chance we get in the next two weeks. I would suggest praying, meditating, playing music, watching inspirational movies, create art, cook, bake, read, relax and share only good news on social media instead of fear. Know you are God’s perfect creation and gift to the world . You don’t have to do anyting but keep your thoughts on love and we can destroy fear on earth while we wait for a new tide to come in. “Perfect love drives out fear” (John 4:18)

I’ve been saying the Lord’s Prayer my entire life. Recently, I’ve been curios about one line in particular. “Thy kingdom come, they will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”

I believe heaven is filled with love and joy, nothing else. The kingdom of heaven (love and joy) is on earth, now, today.. because that’s God’s will. The kingdom is claimed when we indivdually ackowledge and experience God’s love and joy. Let heaven be our mirror. The resserection is Christ coming to live again, this time, it comes from within each indivdiual. We were born with the ability to change the world as Christ did, now is the time for the world to resserecte. Now is the time for love.

You are going to be O.K.



Instead of pushing against Trump, I am trying, really trying to like him… but love him as myself? Boy, that is hard. At the very least, I am looking for reasons why this man, with such lack of moral character, was given so much power. I took to researching philosophies as a way to educating myself. A Google search for “isms” has shed a new light on things – one ism you may not have heard of gradualism – belief that things proceed by degrees. I kind of liked the idea of degrees of progress, baby steps more love, less hate. Which lead me to an idea; things will turn around once I accept this president for what disturbing ideas he has caused to bring to the surface and accept them as my reality. In that vain, I can choose to think differently about the Trump presidency.

There were times in American history when we fought among ourselves in order to elevate to a more perfect Union. When the norms and accepted practices were challenged based on morals and individual basic rights, equalitarianism – belief that humans ought to be equal in rights and privileges. This makes our country so unique in the world from which it was created in 1776. In creating America, our founding fathers were staking their lives on creating a healthy republic, they were practicing republicism – belief that a republic is the best form of government. This was long before there were party affiliations which started in 1787.

The American revolution, the civil war , the suffragist movement the civil rights movement, were all horrible societal disturbances that occurred in order for change to take place on a national scale, that is what is called liberalism – doctrine of social change and tolerance. Millions of Americans fought and died in order to make lasting changes to our democracy, others fought against these changes, as our country continued to develop. There comes a time when we need a course correction. There is no easy way to go about this change. Some people fight against change with anger and violence because they see their way of life being up-ended, they see change as the death of their identity. We have all recently witnessed all the bad isms; absolutism, absurdism, academicism, egoism, ignorantism and nihilism – denial of reality or extreme skepticism take place. A strict adherence to conservatism – belief in maintaining political and social traditions. Which isn’t the first time these things have happened, hence the ism that was created to describe those philosophies.

I have come to see the current political unrest and attachment to staunch positions of either side of the isle as a necessary course correction of our democracy. Through this difficulty time, we hold a candle to the leaders of our country and evaluate their moral compass, the laws they pass and ultimately, how we want to live as a people. We the people, have the power to makes changes where we see the need as our democracy demands of us at the voting booth. In this current climate, we are given the opportunity to experience the gross underbelly of sexism – a belief in systematic inequalities between the sexes, racism – belief that race is the primary determinant of human capacities. We witness hate and ignorance through Twitter on a daily basis. Something that has always been there, felt by many, but not by the majority of people. Now as the majority of people are able to witness, we as a nation are challenged to transform our republic once again this November. Bonism – the doctrine that the world is good but not perfect, to give each American the time to grow past old ideologies that no longer serve us. Because I truly believe that a majority of Americans believe in nomism – view of moral conduct consists in observance of laws and optimism – belief that we live in the best of all possible worlds.

What a better way to grow then to identify the philosophical emotions in ourselves first before projecting onto someone else the frustration and disappointment we see in our society. I cannot strike out with violence (either physically or emotionally) towards a group of people without having felt that same violence within myself first. I don’t need to change someone else, I only need to change myself. That is not to say, that we shouldn’t have discussions or rally for a particular political candidate, pass laws or compromise. Do those things for the love of the country. If you have a hard time loving Trump, love the country more than the presidency. If you love Trump, love the country more. That is called patriotism – the quality of being patriotic; devotion to and vigorous support for one’s country.

Have faith my friends, don’t let fear tell you our republic is done; finalism – belief that the end has or can be reached. Instead believe in millenarianism – belief that an ideal society will be produced in the near future. All things change and transform, a transformation of American is happening and you are the witness. If Trump was the one who brought some nasty things to the surface, I can believe he came to this place of power for a reason, and I am grateful for that (still struggling with the love). If we learn our lesson, we can make it a one term lesson. You have until November, 2020 to transform yourself.

Praying for tutiorism this November – belief that one should take the safer moral course.

You are going to be O.K.


Stillness + Faith= Love

The act of being still and holding faith is not for the faint of heart.

What is the energy that keeps the bud closed tight, then one day, slowly opens to relieve itself to the world? It seems slow to the human eye but for its creator, the flower’s opening is outside the realm of time. It is happening as it was created.

I feel like a bud that is starting to open, from the inside. I don’t know what kind of flower I will be, but I know this awakening has started to happen.

I am officially divorced, I’ve sold my house and I’ve packing-up twenty five years of my life to fit into a 10′ x 15′ storage unit. I did this all without knowing where I would be living with the kids next month or where I will be running my business’ that will support the kids and me. Just writing these words would make most people itch with anxiety but I traveled on with faith.

The answers will come, there will be a home, the next phase is already set for me to step into…. I believe.

Preparing myself for this day has been years in the making. Years of knowing I was not meant to be with the person I was married to. I was not being authentic to who I was, to my truth. I have a choice, we all have a choice to lead an authentic life. When will be a right time to live that life? Most people wait until they are dying to share their truth and it has nothing to do with bank accounts, houses, cars or diplomas, it the love they shared with other humans, daily experiences, in the intangible.

If you are brave enough to live in that love, it will keep you.

If you are courageous enough to let everything material become secondary, love will keep you.

If you are grounded enough to stay still while you take that huge leap, God will keep you in the palm of it’s hand. I believe.

Through a series of friends, I found a house to rent that will be perfect for the kids, dog and me. It is down in Stony Brook village where we can walk to shops, restaurants, beaches and watch the sunset over the harbor, where I spent my childhood. I am thinking of it as a vacation home for a year. A vacation where we get to live a more authentic life, with a strong faith in God’s plan. Is that not what we should do? Do our best to follow our inner voice, that piece of God that resides in each one of us and feel freely guided by God’s plan.

The opposite of Fear is Love.

I was free falling a far distance, it would take a metamorphosis to become renewed. I would always be guided and gently land in the place of peace and wholeness, for that was my intention. That is where love resides.

Thank you for the lesson in stillness, faith and love.

You are going to be O.K. – Eileen

This too shall pass, but don’t forget this time.

I’ve been journaling since I was young. I remember writing down my thoughts and feeling in a notebook when I was feeling bad about something; a fight with my mother, an unrequited love. When I was feeling happy, I didn’t journal. Today, I would have loved to look into my teenage mind, to feel what it was like again.

The first journal notebook was lost when my parents moved into a new house while I was away at college. I was handed a red plastic crate filled with childhood mementos that were deemed important enough to save. The notebook was not in the crate.

I do remember writing in a journal again in college. I have no idea where that book ended-up… or who is reading about my secrete loves at the age of nineteen or stupid acts which centered around drinking, finding love and living with six girls in a small apartment with one bathroom.

I do have the notebook I started in 1998 after my first daughter was born. At some point, I started writing about the wonders of being a mother. At some point I realized that I would soon forget all the sweet and beautiful feelings, everyday feelings that rush over you while folding a pile of laundry of tiny pink socks and a sweet baby napping nearby.

I was writing about motherly bliss when six months into the journal I started writing about my marriage and the doubts I had about marrying my husband. We had struggles from the very beginning. I wrote about the relationship with my mother and the power struggles that were slowly abating with the birth of my daughter. Being a mother gave me a new perspective that I wanted to impart to my child someday.

I wrote, “As a teenager I felt 1. Lonely 2. Ugly 3. Powerless 4. Confused – remember this.”

A year later I wrote about taking another pregnancy test and finding out I was about to have another baby. A month before, I somehow knew, You are going to have a son and wrote that in my journal the day of conception.

2001 contained the death of my beloved grandmother, a few months later, the death of thousands of people during 9/11. Questions from my three year old daughter arose from the back-seat of the minivan. That night I wrote her innocent questions in my journal.

“Why did the men crash the plane into the building?” “Where there good people on the plane?” “Do the bad men go to heaven, because Nanny Mac is in heaven?”

Eight years pass without an entry.

I started to write again in 2010, our third child was five. I wrote a half of page about a concept for a children’s book about messy hair. After eight years, that’s all I could give to myself? Where was I?

The lack of journaling shows you how busy these years were and how hard it is to stop and contemplate your life when you don’t have time to pee by yourself, let alone pick up a pen and start writing about it. When a young working mother tells you she is busy with very little time to herself, believe her and tell her, “This too shall pass, but don’t forget this time.”

In 2013 I start journaling again six months after being hit by a Hummer, when my daughter and I were walking in our neighborhood. The practical reason to start journaling was to document all the ailments I was experiencing and when they occurred during my day to track my symptoms. I was having trouble remembering things due to the concussion.

Three years of journaling about physical and mental pain due to the injuries, doctor’s appointments, small strides, two steps forward, one step back. My life had changed forever after the accident. I could no longer do the things I was used to doing, both physically and mentally. I couldn’t run, I couldn’t drive long distances, I couldn’t remember the littlest things. Then in November 2016, I start writing about my marriage again with two entries about trying to keep things afloat and possibility of letting go.

July of 2017 is when everything changed. I wrote, “Image the sensation to swim in the sea of your manifested desires.” A shift had occurred within me and through journaling, I can track the exact time it happened.

Signs, coincideces and synchronicitys were coming to me. Dragonflies landed on me and laid at my feet. I started documenting the coincidences. I would see dragonflies everywhere, on jewelry, in store windows, in the trash, in songs, on a women riding a bike down the street in Florence. I felt strength in these signs and began to share the stories with friends and family. I was overwhelmed with joy each time I told of a miraculous coincidence in my life. It seemed the more I shared these stories, the more I received. At the same time I started to realize my inner strength and I possessed a deep spirituality and journaled about it. Through journaling, I could communicate with my soul. It was always there guiding me.

This is how it works for me. I usually feel inspired to write early in the morning after meditation. I started a meditation practice in early 2017 as a means to stress relief outside exercise. Meditation not only gave me a sense of well-being, it allowed other ideas to flow and grow. As a beginner, I started meditating in yoga class and enjoyed it immensely. I took some guided meditation classes at a local studio and listened to guided meditation on my phone. (I especially like I read books about meditation from all the modern masters. I then signed-up for a Transcendental Meditation class in the Spring of 2018. There are many ways to meditated. I believe the idea of a daily meditation practice is what’s most important.

My thought process and the way I viewed the world changed dramatically. I was able following my path for personal understanding and growth through journaling. I started to follow the breadcrumbs that I was leaving in my journal. Looking back at past entries showed me the progression of my development with honesty. I would meditate daily and write about my thoughts, feelings and ideas afterwards. I started speaking my truth both in my journal and in my daily life, and it felt right. I was not afraid to be the person who God intended me to be.

The loss, the struggle, the pain, the suffering has given me a gift. I can see that now.

journaling, mothers, children, working, pain, loss, understanding, spirituality, soul, God, dragonfly, coincidence, love

If my life we perfect, if I was happy with all aspects of it, would I have been shown a door to inner happiness? Would I have opened the door?

Probably not. The fear of disruption would have been too great.

I wrote on March 2017, “Fear is a portal – it wakes up the wholeness – it is the path. Embrace the fear, harness it and ride it like a wild horse. The very basic nature of fear is that we are about to grow but we don’t know how. Have faith that God will bring you into correct time and place filled with love.”

When I read my own words that come from a Devine place, I become overwhelmed with visceral emotions the come deep from within and rise to the surface, like bubbles realizing the surface of the water, exploding into gas. The energy is realized, released, reborn. I read my old forgotten words as the observer, detached, someone else has written these words however they speak to me anew, no matter how many times I read them. That someone is my Truth, the piece that is connected to everything. We all have that Truth within us. The trick is to be able to access the information more fully, within every moment.

Here is my advice. Be still. Write down your Truth, then review often.

You are going to be O.K. – Eileen

“My Son”

The day we left the village of Da Me in Vietnam was tearful and sad for a number of reasons. Kin was leaving again, for the seventh time in fifty years.

Kin (right) and his brother Ha’Lin the day of the wedding.

I had told Kin that he should go see his mother alone that morning. He needed to spend as much time as he could with her before we left for the airport later that afternoon. I would be fine reading by myself quietly in my room. Kin wasn’t looking forward to the goodbyes that were about to take place. He knew that this might be the last time he would see his mother. They were all getting older, who would know what the future as in store for any of them.

When Kin arrived to his sister’s house, around the block from where we were staying, his mother was in bed sleeping and he looked in on her. The sisters told Kin his mother had fallen again that morning and was resting. Kin’s mother started losing her balance and fainting more often over the last two days. She wasn’t eating or drinking very much. She had stopped eating regularly a few month earlier and was encouraged to keep up her strength by drinking Ensure, “Because Kin was coming home.” Now, people were staying close to her to brace for a fall, but she wasn’t one to settle down, or listen to anyone. She was used to doing her own thing like getting on the back of a motor bike and going to a wedding ceremony, the day we arrived.

Kin’s mother didn’t want to eat, so she sat behind him at the table so she could touch him and listen to the conversation.

Kin’s ninety-eight year old mother was restless. She jump up quickly to pour tea into small glasses, then yelled at you for not drinking, “her tea”. She slapped, pinched and pulled people with her strong hands. Her strength and ability to inflict quick pain brought tears to grown men’s eyes. I had seen her pull her legs up over the arm of the chair and tuck her long black skirt under her bottom in one swift motion while the knit baby blue hat sat on her small head. I have never witness an elderly person, with such a tiny frame move so fast and with such agility. She was like one of those birds you see at the beach, a Sandpiper I believe, quickly moving, always doing, never settling down. She paid attention to the conversation in the room and gave her approval or disapproval with forceful grunts of a gravelly, “Ahah!!” A truly engaged person with an opinion. I noticed she could hear things from across the room and respond when she wanted to. Although most of the time her adult children would grab her head forcefully and turn it to speak loudly in her ear so she could hear them. They believed she was hard of hearing. I believed it was selective hearing. I suspected she could hear most things and enjoyed the close interaction of communication, mouth to ear, skin to skin, her “deftness” required of her children.

Grandmother putting on her gifts (hat, jacket, scarf, socks) from America

Every person, be it the smallest grandchild or the oldest son would sit near to her. What struck me was the intimate way they touched each other, caressed each other, held hands. Where they always like this or did they sense something was coming?

When I got to Grandmother’s house, Kin was outside playing the guitar with his two brothers and brother-in-law. There was an empty box of beers at Ha’Lin’s feet and a few empty cans of beers sitting on the small table and plastic red chairs. They were melancholy and singing Beatles ballots about love and redemption.

Kin looked up at me as I came off the motor bike with glassy eyes and I knew they had been drinking for some time.

“Hello. What are you guys doing?” I said trying to sound chipper sensing something was going on or was this just the start of the “goodbyes”? I felt guilty because I was sitting back in my room in the pastor’s house waiting to leave. I was ready to go home and see my own children.

“Eileen, my mother fell again this morning. Her hip began to swell so they took her to the hospital in De Lat in a taxi. She may have broken her hip.” Kin said as tears started to well-up in his brown eyes. He didn’t stop playing the melody of the song as he told me this. He held on to the guitar and the song like a child with a security blanket as he looked up at me trying to soothe his soul.

“I’m so sorry Kin.” I said as I reached out to stroke his arm and matching his tears in my own eyes. I was remembering my own father’s passing a few months before at that moment. This was a goodbye, perhaps the last one. “Did you get to see her? When did this happen?”

“I thought she was just sleeping comfortably when I first arrived, so let her sleep. Then my sister came out of my mother’s room a while later and said she needed to go to the hospital because her hip was swollen. I got to see my mother as my nephew carried her to the taxi. She wasn’t in any pain. She said to me, ‘My son’ and touched my cheek as they put her into the taxi and drove away. She was very calm and wasn’t in any pain. It really was amazing.” explained Kin.

Our flight was at 5:00 p.m. that afternoon which would take us back to Ho Chi Minh city for the night. Our journey home would take us through Hong Kong and then to New York. I stayed and a drank beer with the brothers, sang songs and tearfully said our goodbyes to the sisters, nieces and extended family knowing Grandmother was in the hospital. I thought, Wow, we are having an Irish wake right here, in Vietnam. It wasn’t very different from past experiences I shared with my Irish family when we knew the last goodbye would happen in the near future. We shared stories, we laughed through tears, sang songs and reminisced about fun times, recalling a life that was about to make it’s transition.

We embrace family, I take his sister’s hand and bring it to my chest as I sob. The flood gates open and I can’t stop, nor do I want to. We comfort each other. Kin and I were given more beads, which were heavy and hung around our necks with red, black and yellow glass beads, reminders of the hugs that accompanied the gift. One after another asked if I will come back for a visit. I truly don’t think I ever will. I told them I had many more places to visit in the world. I was honest and didn’t want to seem ungrateful, but explained that I have my own family to visit in Ireland, Scotland, Dubi and Cairo. I wanted to see the world. It may have seemed cold in this situation, but I didn’t feel the need to lie either. I wanted them to know that I came to Vietnam for Kin, for the book, because he asked me, because he is my brother.

I tried to impart my sense of life and death with Ruth, who was very close to her grandmother and very distraught. I told her my grandmother had also lived until the age of ninety-eight. She was also spirited and had good life, and we had to learn to live without her.

I asked, “If you had a choice about they way you would want to die, would you raise your hand and choose this type of ending for yourself? Yes, you would. Your Grandmother has lived a full life right to the very end with good health and a wonderful loving family. Her body is no longer able to hold her powerful spirit. We should celebrate. She will rejoined with her husband and children who have gone before her. We should feel happy that she gets to meet Jesus, which she had devoted her life to. It’s kind of selfish of us to think we can hold them here forever, for our own sake.” With a wet round face full of tears, she nodded in agreement. I wonder if I said too much.

That night back in Ho Chi Minh city, Kin received a phone call from Ruth at the hotel. Ruth was at the hospital and visiting with Grandmother. She relayed the information that Grandmother was doing well, eating and was comfortable. Ruth said Grandmother didn’t like the I.V. in her hand, that her hip was in fact broken. I said a prayer for all the nurses who were taking care of Grandmother and to have patience with this strong matriarch, and her strong hands. I imagined the nurses having to strap her to the bed to keep her from pulling out the tubes. Kin was able to speak with her in Koho over the phone. I don’t know what was said. Kin explained it was hard for him to understand her. She must have been on some pain medication.

The next morning Kin’s two solemn nieces and nephew, young adults who live in the city met us at the hotel lobby for an early breakfast. They relayed the info about the plan to cast Grandmother’s hip and send her home. The news sounded good for her recovery, maybe not as bad as we thought. When we landed in New York twenty hours later, and became connected to our phone carriers again, we received a message that Grandmother was home in bed and resting comfortably. Both Kin and I gave a sigh of relief that everyone had fared well during our journey as we waiting for the Long Island Rail Road cars to approach filled with commuters leaving the city and heading east.

Three days later, I was snug in my warm bed back on Long Island with a chilled nose and the polar vortex pushing it’s way into the cracks of the windows with a whistle. I received a text from Kin…

Great, big sad news Eileen my mother passed away yesterday in her sleep I feel so sad, I am glad we got to see her.

I was startled and pulled back to all those family members on the front porch of Grandmother’s house in Vietnam saying our tearful goodbyes. I felt their sorrow. I recalled a fierce, devout women who raised eleven children and who still owned her power until the day she died. I remember the pink marble grave of Kin’s father we visited high on a hill overlooking the green valley and then thought of the hard ground, full of rocks they would need to dig-up in order to bury their mother. The story Ha’Lin retold at the grave that day about a villager seeing a bolt of lightening that came down from the sky and struck the metal gate and sent up a plume of smoke at the grave site just after they had buried his father three years before.

But most of all, I was filled with the belonging to a larger story, one that was orchestrated by a force larger other than our own. Kin and I were meant to travel back to Vietnam at that time. We did our part.

Was she just waiting for her son to return before she passed on? Was God putting the pieces in place for our return in order to call her home?

Either scenario is Love.

The relationship between parent and child is one of God’s best creations.  

Kin’s father’s grave

You are going to be O.K. – Eileen