Our Girls Return to their Families


Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari applauds as he welcomes a group of Chibok girls, who were held captive for three years by the millitant group Boko Haram, in Abuja, Nigeria, May 7, 2017. Bayo Omoboriowo/Presidential Office/Handout via Reuters TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY ATTENTION EDITORS – FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES. THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. – RTS15KIL

Freed Nigerian Schoolgirls Reunite With Their Families After 3 Years

4:53 PM ET

(ABUJA, Nigeria) — The 82 Nigerian schoolgirls recently released after more than three years in Boko Haram captivity reunited with their families Saturday as anxious parents looked for signs of how deeply the extremists had changed their daughters’ lives.

Brightly dressed families rushed through the crowd in the capital, Abuja, and embraced. One small group sank to their knees, with a woman raising her hands as if praising in church. Some danced. Others were in tears.

“I am really happy today, I am Christmas and new year, I am very happy and I thank God,” said mother Godiya Joshua, whose daughter Esther was among those freed.

This month’s release was the largest liberation of hostages since 276 Chibok schoolgirls were abducted from their boarding school in 2014. Five commanders from the extremist group were exchanged for the girls’ freedom, and Nigeria’s government has said it would make further exchanges to bring the 113 remaining schoolgirls home.

“Our joy is never complete until we see the complete 113, because one Chibok girl matters to all Chibok people,” said a parent of one of the freed schoolgirls, Yahi Bwata.

Many of the girls, most of them Christians, were forced to marry extremists and have had children. Some have been radicalized and have refused to return. It is feared that some have been used in suicide bombings.

The mass abduction in April 2014 brought international attention to Boko Haram’s deadly insurgency in northern Nigeria, and it launched a global Bring Back Our Girls campaign that drew the backing of some celebrities, including former U.S. first lady Michelle Obama. Thousands have been kidnapped during the extremists’ eight-year insurgency, and more than 20,000 have been killed.

The release of the 82 schoolgirls this month came after an initial group of 21 girls was released in October. Nigeria’s government has acknowledged negotiating with Boko Haram for their release, with mediation help from the Swiss government and the International Committee of the Red Cross.

The two groups of freed schoolgirls reunited earlier Saturday, Nigeria’s Channels TV reported, showing the young women laughing and embracing.

Since the latest release, many families in the remote Chibok community had been waiting for word on whether their daughters were among them. A government list of names circulated, and parents were asked to confirm the freed girls’ identities through photos.

Both groups of freed girls have been in government care in the capital as part of a nine-month reintegration program that President Muhammadu Buhari has said he will oversee personally. But human rights groups have criticized the government for keeping the young women so long in the capital, far from their homes.

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Associated Press writer Bashir Adigun in Abuja, Nigeria contributed.

I thought we could all use some good news.

There are still girls missing, and this isn’t over yet.  For some of these girls, in many ways, it may never be totally over — any one who has survived abuse, or knows someone who did, will understand that — but they are home, and back where they belong.

My prayers got to them, their families and, especially, to the girls who are still missing, even the ones who have been brainwashed and have chosen to stay.  I pray for them perhaps most of all.

Please help me in keeping a spotlight shined on Boko Haram’s crimes, until all Our Girls are home.

Namaste,

Barbara

Goodbye, Downton Abbey


 

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The final episode of Downton Abbey airs on PBS this coming Sunday.  THe entire series is (or will shortly be) available on DVD or Blu-Ray.  It may be a good present for an anglophile you know!

 

NPR had an interesting discussion about it (see link below).

http://www.npr.org/sections/monkeysee/2016/03/04/468973612/pop-culture-happy-hour-a-fond-farewell-to-downton-abbey#

 

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Farmwife


Farmwife

The woman who has nodded to me from her porch

for weeks, still nodes now, bobs her head

leading me inside to see

21 grandchildren posed on a shelf,

sills full of colored glass.

 

Twice, I heard, she left her husband

and then returned

 

He stays outside with the dogs,

hollering them away from the barn.

 

Chickens flutter and squall,

leaving patches of brown feathers.

 

She says she’s been nodding 26 years.

The doctor calls it ‘the trembles’

but she knows something sharper

is pecking her brain.

 

Twice his fists have hit,

knocked her against the wall.

Twice she’s returned

 

to faces of grandchildren

perfectly still in the tilt

of their frames, glass

shining on every sill,

 

to hens squawking themselves into trees

whenever a dog comes near.

She sweeps up the puddles

of brown and white feathers

that fear send flying,

 

pours them into ticking

to cushion her relentless,

affirming head.

–Betsy Sholl

 

 

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Arden, North Carolina. Photograph and copyright by Barbara Mattio 2015

Arden, North Carolina. Photograph and copyright by Barbara Mattio 2015

How do Creative People Repair Themselves?


 

People are harmed by certain experiences like being abused, discounted, lied to, shamed, beaten, ignored, tyrannized and hated. People are harmed by encountering too many disappointments, rejections, criticisms, unfulfilled dreams, and unsuccessful outcomes.

 

Creative people often feel the pain of these experiences more deeply than the accountants and the business moguls. Many creative people are born with depression, anxiety or family love. Every human being is hurt in some way by the people of the world. We can find it harder to live, care, try and be calm. Most of us, in some time of our lives realized, we need repair. But how do we make that happen?

 

This question is dangerous because it indicates that there is only one way for you or I to repair or heal ourselves. There is just one answer to the question.

 

Often, it is difficult to begin to do the self repair work. The damage is everywhere. It is in the brain. It is in the way we breathe, in the way we see, and what we are attracted to. Often, when we know that we are emotionally injured, we try to repress it or to pretend there is nothing wrong. What humans become during war shows the power of emotional damage on the human psyche.

 

Support, from friends, a psychotherapist and loved ones, uses our creative gifts to heal the self and are often successful. Talking to your subconscious and reassuring it that you are safe and in no danger can help. Talking to a therapist can help. reveling in your successes can help. Creating the beautiful art to fill the world can help. Artists, all kinds of artists, are very important in the world. No matter what your media is, you add to the beauty, kindness, compassion and love in the world. Even if you have no one close to you who gives you unconditional support, be your own support. Believe in yourself.

 

Friends are very important to “listen and support” during the down days. And don’t forget your family, your “WordPress family” who will be honest with you. I have found that readers are honest and forthcoming with good advice.

 

Musicians, writers, photographers and painters, print makers, sketchers all have the fullness of creative ability. Some of the most highly respected artists felt some days that they had no talent.

Gauguin, Van Gogh, Rembrandt, for instance all went through periods when they felt they had no talent. Some of their “friends” encouraged this thinking. But over a hundred years in the future we consider them some of arts’ masters. Follow your heart and the needs of your soul. If your hands want to write, then do so. If your eyes want to see a mountain through a lens, then allow it.

 

There is discussion about making sure that students who are majoring in math and science all be given art classes. This is to help them be able to deal with people better, to develop ideas better, and to enrich their lives.

 

” I cannot help it that my pictures do not sell. The time will come when people will see that my paintings are worth more than the price of the paint and my own living.”

—Vincent Van Gogh

 

“Let us keep courage and try to be patient and gentle. And not mind being eccentric, and make distinction between good and evil.”

—Vincent Van Gogh

 

“Do you know what frees one from this captivity? It is every deep serious affection. Being friends, being brothers, love, these open the prison by supreme power, by some magic force. Where sympathy is renewed, life is restored.”

—Vincent Van Gogh

 
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Lake Michigan

Lake Michigan

 

Inner Peace

Inner Peace

Family TIme Under the Sea


This weekend, my Sister, Son, Daughter-in-law and Grandson went the Cleveland Aquarium.

 

We had a wonderful time, watching the sea creatures (and a couple of land creatures) and remembering the importance of other species in our world.

 

Watching my grandson, and all the other children (and grown-ups) learning new things, exploring a new world was both exhilarating and oddly peaceful, as was walking under sharks and other fish through a huge plexiglass tube running through the aquarium.  It was amazing to see sharks and barracuda going right over your head.  It was also dizzying and little weird, but one of the most incredible experiences.

 

Here’s a small view of what we experienced.

 

Enjoy!

 

 

Sandtiger Shark - Cleveland Aquarium - Copyright Barbara Mattio 2015

Sandtiger Shark – Cleveland Aquarium – Copyright Barbara Mattio 2015

 

Sea Anemone - Cleveland Aquarium - Copyright Barbara Mattio 2015

Sea Anemone – Cleveland Aquarium – Copyright Barbara Mattio 2015

 

Sunburst Starfish - Cleveland Aquarium - Copyright Barbara Mattio 2015

Sunburst Starfish – Cleveland Aquarium – Copyright Barbara Mattio 2015

 

Starfish - Cleveland Aquarium - Copyright Barbara Mattio 2015

Starfish – Cleveland Aquarium – Copyright Barbara Mattio 2015

 

Cleveland Aquarium - Copyright Barbara Mattio 2015

Cleveland Aquarium – Copyright Barbara Mattio 2015

 

Snowflake Eel with Coral - Cleveland Aquarium - Copyright Barbara Mattio 2015

Snowflake Eel with Coral – Cleveland Aquarium – Copyright Barbara Mattio 2015

 

Tortoises - Cleveland Aquarium - Copyright Barbara Mattio 2015

Tortoises – Cleveland Aquarium – Copyright Barbara Mattio 2015

The Holiday of Passover Part 2


Gratitude is a big part of Judaism and many other spiritual paths. The greatest story is the story of Moses. To save his life his mother and sister who had named this Jewish baby, put him into a tightly woven basket and floated it in the river. They prayed to G-d to keep him safe. The Pharaoh’s daughter found the basket and looked inside. She looked inside an found an infant, she knew is was a Jewish baby. She took him home to the palace and raised his as her son, naming him Moses. From the water I drew him. The Jews to this day have never changed his name back to his given name. For eternity the Jewish people show Adonai their gratitude for the life of Moses.

 

The evil of those who sought to destroy the Jews and made slaves of them must be remembered as well as recalling the kindness of those who intervened to deliver the Jewish people from slavery. Gratitude is so important, it’s meant to be eternal.

 

“Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.”   —Cicero

 

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.”   —Melody Beattie

 

 

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The Jewish people believe in family and  gratitude and education. Every Jewish child grows up knowing he/she must get a good education.

 

“I dreamt I stood in a studio

And watched two sculptors there.

 

The clay they used was a young child’s mind

And they fashioned it with care.

 

One was a teacher–the tools he used

Were books, music, and art.

 

The other, a parent, worked with a guiding hand

And a gentle loving heart.

 

Day after day, the teacher toiled

With touch that was deft and sure.

 

While the parent labored by his side

And polished and smoothed it o’er.

 

And when at last, their task was done

They were proud of what they’d wrought.

 

For the things they had molded into the child

Could neither be sold nor boutht.

 

And each agreed they would have failed

If each had worked alome.

For behind the teacher stood the school

And behind the parent stood the home.”   —Author unknown

 

 

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A Passover blessing

 

 

“I doubt anyone will ever see-anywhere—a memorial to a pessimist.”   —Unknown

 

“Pessimism is a luxury that a Jew can never allow himself.”   —Golda Meir

 

The Jewish people have a tradition in many families to light not just two candles but an additional candle for every child in the family as well.  Parents explain to their children that every one of them brought extra light to their home when they came into their lives. The light of a candle, the sages teach, is a symbol of the soul.

 

“Rather light candles than curse the darkness.”   —Adlai E. Stevenson

 

“if a drop if ink fell at the same time on your book and on your coat, clean first the book and then the garment.”   —Talmud

 

” If you drop gold and books, pick up first the books and then the gold.”   —Talmud

 

” Jews are the People of the Book.”   —Mohammed, the Koran

 

 

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Veteran’s Day


Thank you for all you have given and suffered

Thank you for all you have given and suffered

Happy Veteran’s Day to every woman and man who has served to protect our country. I have a story. It is a surprise to me. It is about my paternal grandfather. He brought his family here to America for freedom and for a better life. He was born in 1880. I had recently put Ancestory.com app on my IPad. I figured I would play with it and see if I could find anything or anyone for free. I have been working on my grandfather. He died before I was born. It was two years before I was born. I would stay at grandmother’s house and I would sleep in his twin bed and would think about him. My paternal grandmother died when I was nine. I remember no photos of my grandfather but I am sure they were there. Grandma and I would have tea in the afternoons I was there visiting.

I knew two facts about grandpa that he was born in 1880 and died in 1948. He had a window washing business and tried hard to support a wife and six children. Now this is not an ad for Ancestry but it is involved. I put my grandfather into his spot on the family tree. I immediately got a leaf. I felt excited like I was in a commercial. I clicked on it and there staring at me was a photograph of my paternal grandfather. I was speechless. He was handsome and I could see my father in his face. I was so excited I called friends to tell them. I figured this was just wonderful. There was also a photograph of my grandparents grave stone. Wow, I had struck gold. As time went by, I found out that the family had come into America via Nova Scotia. Again, excitement and happiness.

A day to reach out to a homeless, injured or hungry vet

A day to reach out to a homeless, injured or hungry vet

Then Ancestory found his mother, Jane. A pretty common name but the story I had always heard was that he had grown up in an orphanage. So now I knew his mother was living. Months went by and no information about his father. I had never thought of my great grandfather because he must have died since grandpa was in an  orphanage in London. Months went by and suddenly my great grandfather appeared. No picture, but now I knew that he had died rather young. Then they found his sibling. It is so cool. I feel like I was given a gift than can never be taken away. I got busy adding photos of my children and grandchildren, all nine of them. And I worked on in laws and cousins.

TAPS is played at military funerals

TAPS is played at military funerals

Yesterday, I decided to join for a month and see if they could find anything else. I noticed that the photograph of their gravestone had a holder for an American flag. I got a magnifying glass and was pretty sure he was in WWII. But if he was born in 1880, how could that be true. Then I discovered the Wall of Honor which contains photographs of servicemen. Again, excitement. I decided that he must have fought in the Great War. I did the math and it had to be the war he served in. So I plugged in the required information, no grandpa. So I figured they were wrong and maybe he never served.

Then my friend who was here suggested that I should look at the servicemen who served in WWII. So, with frustration, I changed wars and entered the information. And I found him. But how could that be? He would have had to be in his sixties. So it was time to do more reading and research. I found “the old men’s ” draft. I am a history buff but never heard of that. It was the fourth draft but people called it the “old men’s” draft. They drafted the older men to help on the home front. This draft called men forty five to sixty four years of age. So now I knew about my paternal grandfather but I couldn’t figure out the orphanage aspect. Then I found that my great grandfather’s date of death had been added. He died rather young and left my great grandmother with four children to raise alone.

Women were very limited in what they could do to earn money. Ancestry has not given me any hints about how she survived and fed her children. Rationally, I think they might have been in a debtors’ prison because of debts or she put one or more of the children into an orphanage because she couldn’t afford to feed and clothe them. Kind of a Dicken’s type of thing, but it was the late 1800’s. Women back then were really really not equal. They weren’t trained for a job and this financial dependence made them need a man. They also did not yet have the vote. There is human courage and bravery in every families story.

Marines in Iraq. No one is left behind

Marines in Iraq. No one is left behind

So today, I say thank you to all who served in any war or police action. Especially to the old men who served well past the time they should have been serving. I am still a Dove, but the two World Wars couldn’t have been avoided by the United States. So my grandfather served in the Army. This has been quite a journey and I am grateful that I have found out so much about my family. I think the quest is still continuing.