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Marguerite Orane
Grace under pressure
bolt dancing

bolt dancing5.30 a.m. and I was awake. Sleep eluded me this first morning of my return home from a week-long business trip. I crawled out of bed, made coffee, tried to meditate but nothing could settle me. The semi-finals of the Men’s 100m sprint finals at the World Athletics Championships in Beijing were due in 90 minutes, with the finals two hours later. My countryman, my hero, Usain Bolt was under pressure – or so it was said.

“He’s not fit”

“Ha has hardly run this year”

“His times are poor”

And worse:

“Justin Gatlin is on form. He has consistently run great times this year”.

The matchup was billed as “good” (drug-free Bolt) vs. evil (2 time suspension for drugs Gatlin). All Jamaicans, we who love track ,and sprinting in particular, more than anyone else in the world, were in suspense – hoping, praying, and believing that our hero would triumph.

And triumph he did! Mind over matter when mind matters – Gatlin panicked and faded, intimidated by the powerful “BIG MAN HIMSELF” (as we Jamaicans say) who remained focused, eyes never shifting from the finish line, his goal, not even twitching to the left or right. Straight for the bullseye!

I cannot say enough about Usain Bolt – talented beyond belief, charismatic, charming, loveable and very, very smart. Today I salute him for showing the world how to win when it matters – with ease, grace and joy – the true epitome of FREE AND LAUGHING!

Here are my blogs over the years that were inspired by him:

Usain Bolt – That’s Just Me

Usain Bolt for Time Person Of The Year

Hold Your Form

Crisis and the Olympics

Inspiration from World Class Athletes

Relax and Focus

elita clayman
To Publish Or Not To Or Wait Until It Is By Someone
pink typewriter

I was assisting our Rabbi on getting his sermons, thousands of them from his giving them for about 50 years, to be published in a book.

If this were going to be a book on sex, trashy movie or television stars, it would be real easy. Look what happened to 50 Shades Of Grey.
I was going to be his editor and I sat every night for at least one hour going over each and every word he had written over the years. Remember, there were no computers then back in 1978 and so I had to read from typewritten sheets with notes on the side etc. It was a very difficult endeavor on my part; but I was proud to have suggested the idea to him and that I was chosen to do it since I love writing, creating, and I adored his sermons. I had been listening to them for about a year on Saturday Sabbath services.

It never came about because when we went to a publisher that he made an appointment with; it turned out they were what is called a ‘vanity press.’ This means they accept your writings and they publish it for about approximately 2000 copies and you have to put them in book stores to sell the actual books and you have to pay them 10 thousand for them printing what you wrote. He said no and I agreed with him. So home we went and that was the end of my hundreds of hours of editing the writings.

I know of a friend who had her book published in a similar way, but she did not pay thousands. She received about 25 copies and she paid a small amount and she is happy to be ‘published.’ This is fine for her and her feelings of accomplishment and she is excited to be a writer, whose writings which are good are seen by 25 people she gave the copy to.

I just found out by surprise that I was a winner in 2012 of a Mobbies award, which is an award for blogs I have written in various online newspapers. I never heard from the organizers that I was one of probably 100 or so out of 1000 entries. I did not enter, nor neither knew of the award or knew that I was one of the esteemed winners. This is like being on the Price Is Right and bidding and the contestant does not realize she/he

is the winner. The look on her/his face is wonderful and they jump up and down and scream for joy.

I was scrolling the other night and up popped my name from 2012 and I was a winner. I did feel like screaming and jumping for joy; there was no big prize.I just had a nice feeling of exhilaration and happiness. I immediately printed the information out on my printer and slipped it into a frame where it sits on my desk.

Flower Bear
What if …?

I was talking with a friend recently about all of the changes that have occurred in my inner life as a result of my having moved back out to the country. Nothing has worked out exactly as I had planned, but, then, what does? Somewhere it is written that when man plans, God laughs. Sometimes we don’t get exactly what we want, we get what we need (I think the Rolling Stones sang about that). What I needed was to be physically and spiritually in the place that my heart could call home. All the other things, like discovering I actually like the “new” country music, that I can spend a Sunday afternoon sitting outside just listening to the silence and being okay with that, were unexpected gifts. What I also discovered along the way was that those things I am passionate about or committed to have nothing to do with where I live geographically, but where I live spiritually. So I began to wonder: “What if I had grown up in the country from the beginning? What if I had been raised as a good old country girl? Would I still be me?

I think the words, “What If,” are the two most powerful words in the English language. “What if” has been the prerequisite for some of the world’s most important discoveries and inventions. They have given birth to art, music, science, and humanity’s greatest potential realized. Every new idea or invention started out with “what if?” They have also been the lead-in to every fear and excuse not to pursue our dreams and make those discoveries: “What if I fail? What if I’m not good enough? What if people laugh at me? What if I’m wrong?”

I started thinking about all the things that are important to me. If I had been raised in the country, would I still be a vegan? Would I have gone through all of the heartache and longing that colored the majority of my adult life to be somewhere else, someone else? Would I have become a writer anyway and would it have happened sooner? Or did I require all of the experiences and color of the life I lived in order for me to recognize happiness and joy when I found it? What if I had not fallen last summer and fractured my leg, requiring me to find a home without stairs, and what if my friend did not just “happen” to have the perfect place available in the exact place where I wanted to live? What if I stopped asking what if and gave thanks instead for what is?

I think perhaps that it’s not so much the words “What If” as it is the words that follow. They are the modifiers that turn “What If” into an adventure that gives us a peek at our own greatness and all that we can be. If we can say “What If” and feel that twinge of excitement at the pit of our stomachs that tell us we’re on the right track, then it doesn’t matter what came before, only what is in front of us.

What if I get this blog posted and go outside to watch the starlings soar and play instead of doing the laundry?

And so it is.

Marguerite Orane
So what’s new about humans?
Graffiti in Pompeii

Graffiti in Pompeii - from the ROM exhibitIn 1748 a time capsule was discovered when the remains of the Roman city of Pompeii were unearthed. The city had been sealed in a moment of time for almost 2,000 years with the violent eruption of the Mount Vesuvius volcano in AD79. A pyroclastic flow engulfed it and its inhabitants in a matter of seconds, killing all living things and blanketing everything in tons of ash and pumice. Over the millennia, this compacted to preserve the moment perfectly. As the excavation continues, we are able to see what life was really like 2,000 years ago – not by archeologists piecing together bits of shards, but because time stopped, as in a photograph.

Surprisingly, as I found out when I visited the Pompeii exhibition at the ROM (Royal Ontario Museum) recently, life then was very similar to life now.

Pompeii was a bustling port city that linked the Roman agricultural hinterlands to far-off lands. There were influences from all around the Mediterranean, in particular Greece and Egypt. The city was prosperous, so support for the arts was magnanimous – sculpture and friezes adorned the beautiful homes of the wealthy, and there were amphitheaters for live performances. A reminder, whether we like it or not, of the importance of wealthy patrons to the arts.

The city was designed with Roman precision, down to the streets with grooves in the pedestrian crosswalks for the wheels of carriages to cross. There was piped running water even in private homes – yes, 2000 years ago!

Politics was alive and well! I smiled when I viewed the wall painting of a wealthy politician handing out bread in exchange for votes. Not much has changed in our politics!

The Roman passion for sport was thriving in Pompeii. There were the inevitable gladiatorial games, when sportsmen literally fought to the death. Depictions of brawls between fans labelled “Hooliganism is nothing new” brought to mind clashes of fans in English football.

Lest we think that “debauchery’ is something new, in Pompeii sex was alive and well. Friezes depicted the god Priapus and his huge phallus, threesomes in bathhouses and even bestiality. Good to remember the next time we bemoan the wild ways of the youth of today! And by the way – a large phallus was a sign of prosperity, so they were liberally depicted at the entrances to homes.

But the biggest reminder of how humans are still very much the same, was the graffiti discovered on tombstones in the cemetery. Turns out, graffiti is not some new art form of rebellious youth – it was alive and well in AD79.

As we ponder on the progress of humankind over the past 2000 years, this exhibit is a stark reminder of the advanced civilization that existed then and earlier. We think we have come a far way, but maybe we haven’t come that far after all. There is so much that we don’t know, so much yet to learn about our tiny planet and its brief history and the even briefer history of man. Good to keep an open, curious mind – to observe, question, learn.

elita clayman
Names And What They Can Mean To You And Me

Names are interesting and now days when one has a baby; I hear they look up the meaning of the name before naming the child.  We name our babies after a deceased person that we loved in life. My son is named after my deceased father who passed on while I was carrying my baby boy. My dad’s name was Joseph Bernard Sohmer and I named my baby Jeffrey for Joseph because way back then, we used more modern names. Now the young parents are naming the children Bible names and old fashioned names like Benjamin, Isaac, Jacob, Rachel and Sarah. I spoke to a person at Verizon and he told me his name was Isaiah. One movie star named her boy Israel.

I was named after my Mom’s deceased mom who passed on before I was born. Her name was Eta and my Mom Americanized it to Elita. I was always envious of the names my friends had, rather than unusual name like mine. Also, I could never buy a necklace or bracelet with my unusual name. When I was about twelve, the manner of engraving all names on a piece of costume jewelry appeared and I got a charm bracelet with my name engraved on it, along with mom and dad and brother and my two aunts who gave me a few dollars to have their names Sarah and Jenny on a charm hanging from this special sterling silver charm bracelet.

When I hit 18, I began to like it, because all the girls had regular names and I, as Elita could call anyone up and say my first name and I was known. I was now like Cher, Madonna, Ann Margaret, Tallulah ( a columnist),Marilyn (Monroe), Ava (Gardner-actress), Shirley (a brilliant child actress),Lucy (Lucille Ball, a comedian-actress), Marie (Osmond),Margaret (O’Brien child actress),  and a score of people with one name or they were known by their first name. So I loved it when I said this is Elita and voila it was great.

I went out with a guy named Merle, that was too feminine a name for me to go with, a guy named Kelly and that had been a girl’s name, a guy Wilfred which was too unusual for me. I was lucky when Jerry called me, his middle name was fine for a middle name, but I might have declined going out with him for Harris being a first name, I loved it for the mid name. My dad was  known as JB for his first two names which were  Joseph Bernard. Mom and the relatives called him Joe. My brother Herbert was called Sonny for many years by relatives, I do not know why and he rebelled when he was called Sonny by the relatives. I had a cousin Marjorie and everyone called her Midge and she finally expelled that from their vocabulary. My own first niece was called Barbie and now she is a psychiatrist, a grandmother and I am the only one allowed to call her Barbie, but I will have to stop the next time I speak with her.

So names mean a lot and meanings mean much to the beholder too. My name, first is Esther, second Elita and I was called Elita as my grandmother was called by her second name. It means in Spanish Estrelita (song named after it) little star.


So I will close as Little Star and be content at 81 just to be here and to be called any of the above.

Enjoy your name or names and be vigorous, vivacious, victorious, vim filled, vitality used ,vibrant ,and  like my Mom, a woman of valor (we put that on her gravestone.) Elita Sohmer Clayman