Monday, June 5, 2017

Enjoy Life

Our Earth is a planet of infinite beauty. Visualize the serenity of a starlit night, the brilliant colors of a maple leaf, the crystals of snow glistening like diamonds in the sun. Think of the expressive eyes of a faithful dog or the inviting smell of dinner.

Do we take the wonders of life for granted? Do we get too engrossed in the paltry concerns of the day?  Are we oblivious to the joys of this world?

It might be a sign of aging, a trend that can be reversed. Why miss the joys of living? Life can be tough enough; we need the lift that Joy can give us.

         To reverse this trend, pretend to be an artist. Look for an intriguing detail worth depicting on the canvas of your mind. Beauty abounds all around us. Being aware of the ever-changing world will keep us young and smiling. For nothing remains the same.  We and the world around us are ever changing.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Deja Vu

Power, Party, Politics! 

Do we ever learn from history?

It seems as if it were yesterday that my father watched distraughtly as the sun disappeared behind an ominous weather front. Was it an omen of Germany’s political future? In 1939, politics was on everyone’s mind, but to discuss it, even in the privacy of one’s home, was impossible. Amidst political uproar and turbulence Hitler had risen to power. In the process, Germany had become a police state.

Father turned to Edith, his wife—his pillar of joy and strength. She was smiling, her eyes focused on her children in the garden below.

“Faster,” my brother shouted, “faster!” He was sitting next to me as we clutched the side-rail of our new rickshaw. H Peter, our older brother, was pulling us, galloping in wild exuberance up the gravel walk, across the lawn, around the rhododendron bush – and over we went! Maxi, our beloved shepherd dog was wagging his tail. We scrambled to our feet ready to continue the wild ride. But Maria, our faithful housekeeper, intervened. It was time to come in.

Moments later we joined our parents on the balcony for strawberries and cream. We were still beaming from our adventures with the rickshaw.

“Did you ride by the Forbidden City? Did you bow low to the Chinese elders?” Mother bowed in Chinese fashion and we laughed in delight.

Maria reappeared at the door, “Telephone from Berlin, Sir.”

Father’s smile vanished as he followed Maria into the house. When he returned ten minutes later, he was in uniform, wearing a long, military coat with a saber at his side. He looked handsome, but deeply somber. Even Maxi looked grave. Did they perceive the darkness that would soon engulf us? Father patted us goodbye and left- Thunder began to rumble in the distance and the first raindrops drove us inside. Why goodbye, we wondered? We were five, seven, and nine.


Three days later, World War II was declared. The curtain on our happy childhood had fallen.

Part of this piece has been taken from my best-selling book about Hitler, “The Madman & His Mistress," available on amazon.com.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Signs of Progress


Progress in science and technology has been extraordinary. The human mind has created miracles that boggle the imagination.

Can we make the same claim for the human heart? Have men and women become more considerate, kinder and more tolerant? Let us glance at some random events that happened 300 years apart — in 1717 and in 2017.

Anno Domini 1717: on the American continent, the first black slaves arrive. Also large numbers of Scots-Irish immigrants due to the famine at home. Horse racing, the major sport in the Southern colonies, calls attention to America’s prime values — individualism, competitiveness and materialism. Travel is cumbersome and slow. It takes weeks to get from Boston to Atlanta, while the New Horizons probe takes just 8 hours and 35 minutes to zip past the moon.

In Europe the thirteen-year War of the Spanish Succession has finally ended. After a reign of 72 years, Louis XIV, the Sun King, is dead, leaving his people destitute. The glory of the French court rapidly fades. In the Tuileries, King Louis XV, Louis’ grandson, a seven-year old boy with pink cheeks and curly long hair, receives the Tsar of Russia, Peter the Great.

Peter the Great, 6’ 7” tall, has lifted his backward and ignorant Russia to extraordinary prominence. He instituted education, brought in European craftsmen, scientists, builders and teachers. He created an extraordinary fleet, an invincible army, and subdued Charles XII of Sweden, the greatest warrior of his era.

On his trip to Paris, the always curious and eager-to-learn Tsar explores the pre-Napoleonic, narrow passageways of the city jammed with people, vendors, beggars, singers, pickpockets, quack doctors and carriages. Human excrements are freely dumped from the windows above and mingle with the odors of horse manure. For a neater appearance, the streets are covered daily with fresh straw, which at night is swept off into the river Seine. During the day, Parisian women use the river to wash their clothes. The streets swarm with prostitutes; but visitors, who don’t want to risk their health or their lives, stay away from them.

Paris is the best-lit city in Europe thanks to some 6,500 candle-lamps that are refilled each day. Around midnight, however, one by one they flicker and die, plunging the city into darkness. Anyone who values his or her life is behind locked doors.

We fast-forward to the year 2017: In the USA a highly controversial president is inaugurated. In Bangladesh a law to end child marriage and to force underage girls to marry their rapists is about to be passed. Our pets are mercifully granted death if severely injured or sick. But in most states of the US no such mercy is granted to people no matter how much they suffer. Scientists keep warning us about overpopulation and the depletion of our resources; nonetheless, our lawmakers oppose a woman’s right to have an abortion. A hate-motivated arsonist burns down a mosque in Bellevue, WA, leaving its Muslim community without a place to pray. But not for long. A close-by church offers them a large space free of charge.

There is no doubt, science and technology have progressed enormously. Can we say the same about the human heart — has it expanded in wisdom and understanding? Searching for evidence among my friends, I’d say yes, and yes again!

But other evidence belies my findings — little girls forced to marry their rapists; women denied the right over their body; arsonists motivated by hate; thieves waiting for darkness and killers for opportunity. And who knows the motives of lawmakers — power, wisdom, goodness, or celebrity?

Now as then, the world has harbored people of every description — some heroic, some wise and co-operative, some talented, generous, and good. And yet, there are plenty of others who are not. For in the last analysis, yesterday, as well as today and tomorrow, it is always up to the individual to strive for a better self.



Sunday, January 1, 2017

New Year's Resolution


It’s the day to make our New Year’s Resolutions, a plan to improve ourselves, to set laudable goals. I’ve done it many times.

And yet, it seems to me that all of my resolutions have tended to evaporate into thin air by the end of January.

I finally gave it up.

Why is it so hard to keep New Year’s resolutions well and alive until December? Could it be that 365 days is just too long a time?

It might be easier to set a short time frame and tackle small tasks. To test my theory I made an unorthodox New Year’s resolution today:

In 2017, every Sunday I shall make a resolution for the coming week. It will be a small task that I can easily accomplish. After all, it’s more fun to succeed. And I want to keep doing it all year, maybe again the following year. Just to make sure I won’t forget I've marked my calendar with a reminder, “make resolution.”

I’m already anticipating the satisfaction of each weekly accomplishment: to clean out a drawer, discard ten garments for the Goodwill, walk a mile five times that week, read a Spanish book, plan and invite guests for a dinner, or do some project I’ve put off.

True, they are easy tasks, but imagine the joy to get each one accomplished — effortlessly — but one every week.

Happy New Year,


Rosi