A Random Meeting of Strangers: Worlds Apart

The photograph depicted below has become known as the  “Migrant Mother.” It is one of a series of photographs that Dorothea Lange recorded of Florence Owens Thompson and her children in February or March of 1936 in Nipomo, California.  Lange gave this account of the experience:

Captured by Dorothea Lange in 1936.

Captured by Dorothea Lange in 1936.

“I saw and approached the hungry and desperate mother, as if drawn by a magnet. I do not remember how I explained my presence or my camera to her, but I do remember she asked me no questions. I made five exposures, working closer and closer from the same direction. I did not ask her name or her history. She told me her age, that she was thirty-two. She said that they had been living on frozen vegetables from the surrounding fields, and birds that the children killed. She had just sold the tires from her car to buy food. There she sat in that lean- to tent with her children huddled around her, and seemed to know that my pictures might help her, and so she helped me. There was a sort of equality about it.”

(From: Popular Photography, Feb. 1960).

Now fast forward to December of 2011 to a small town just west of Santa Rosa, California known as Sebastopol. It’s name coming from a town in Russia that was under seige by the British in the Crimean War of the 1850’s.  The town was demolished during the 1906 earthquake that rocked San Francisco and rebuilt.

It was in this small town that a flashback to Lange’s famous “Migrant Mother” came to me.  That old photographed has always been imprinted into my mind..  While vacationing, and  driving thorough the streets of the town, my eyes gazed into the eyes of a modern day,  migrant mother.  She was standing on the corner begging for food with sign in one hand and her young child in the other hand.  He clothes were tattered and torn, while her child stood steadfastly, holding onto her hand and squeezing tightly, she appeared to be fearful  of an  unpleasant  verbal exchange with the next stranger.  A deja vu came over me, this woman was similar to the one depicted in Lange’s photograph of 1936.  After pulling over to the curb and stopping the automobile. her face came out of the shadows and into the sunlight. She stood proudly with her daughter, forcing herself to hold her head erect.   Her sun-dried complexion, wrinkled hands, and exhausted looking posture was proof enough that mercy and charity was needed.  She reached out to my extended hand; her eyes met mine, money was exchanged, and out of the depths of her soul came a smile of gratitude.  Her deliberateness and thankfulness was evidenced by a slow, glowing smile that warmed my heart. A few words of gratitude were shared.

In that moment; face to face, eye to eye, and hand in hand,  our  connection was deeply  moving and emotionally felt.   In this random encounter, two strangers became partners in a struggle for human  life.   This random experience will be remembered forever as an experience of  shared humanity between the  faces of two strangers living worlds apart.  My camera remained in check for the only image recorded that day was developed and imprinted as a part of my soul.

5 Things Graduates Can Do To Get a Job

Outside of law and medicine, your G.P.A. is less important than you might expect.  But if you do have  a good grade point average, managed to hold a job, take on internships, and participate in a variety of extracurricular activities be sure to make this known in your resume to potential employers.  Here’s some good news from the National Association of Colleges and Employers:  current unemployment rate for recent graduates will be 8.8% which is down from  2010’s rate of 10.4%.  

To gain an entry level job in today’s competitive market try to set yourself apart by trying the following tips:

1. Boost your resume by avoiding terms of self aggrandizement like “excellent” and “outstanding.”  For example, if you had a job, what things did you do to make the work flow better?  Use words like, completed and improved to describe your role at your job.   Include volunteer positions and work related experience to boost your resume.

2.Join, interact with and clean up social media by taking your profiles to the private setting to show a level of professionalism.  All public media accounts should be consistent with a responsible and knowledgeable theme, it is important to be  consistent throughout from your twitter account to your face book postings.

3. Highlight your internships by checking with your superior and asking what can be  blogged about projects and successes at your internship.  Just launching a blog in the first place will show initiative, if done well, your creativity and communications ability will give you an advantage over other job seekers.

4. Use your best judgment when touting your G.P.A.  List your academic accomplishments in the education section, especially if you graduated with honors. Your G.P.A. shows your willingness to learn and your chances of future success on the job, but is just one factor to be considered before being hired.  Modesty is the best policy.

5. Extracurricular activities are very important to employers hiring graduates, customize your resume by listing those activities that may be most relevant to the position for which you are applying. Avoiding the obscure interest or activity will help to avoid any controversy during your interview or selection process.  An interviewer may share a common interest, creating a commonality with you, this could push you to the head of the list, knowing that you would be able to bring that interest and dedication to your new job.

Congratulations! Today is your day. 
You’re off to Great Places! You’re off and away!
You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You’re on your own.
And you know what you know. You are the guy who’ll decide where to go.
—Dr. Seuss, “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!”




A Story: Non- Violence Up Close and Personal

The bulldozer driver was cleared, cries: “I didn’t see him.”   These words echoed over and over again to describe  the tragedy at a school construction site in April of 1964, when Reverend Bruce Klunder was killed under the treads of a bulldozer as he protested against school segregation. The Cleveland, Ohio minister of just 3 years lost his life through a nonviolent protest. The Cleveland Plain Dealer newspaper describe the episode as a lawless use of force initiated by civil rights groups attempting to stop construction of a school building, the location of which they opposed. The non-violent protest was characterized as being militant on both sides; the civil rights group versus the city administration of Cleveland, Ohio. In hind sight, this incident was a precursor to the race riots of 1966 and 1968 that erupted in the city and across America. Non-violence turned to violence.

What happened in the next years in Cleveland, Ohio and around the country could have been predicted by the words of Martin Luther King, ” The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy.  Instead of diminishing evil, it multiples it.” –M.L.K.

“We do not need guns and bombs to bring peace, we need love and compassion.”—Mother Teresa, The Joy of Living: A Guide to Daily Living

Why has man continued his struggled with the concept of non-violence?  At the root of man’s humanity are seven deadly sins: pride, envy, gluttony, lust, anger, greed, and sloth.  Pride is the worst of the sins, as man has an excessive belief in his own abilities, that interferes with the individual’s recognition of the grace of God.  It has been called the sin from which all others arise.

Personally, my pride has been between confidence and arrogance at times, especially in younger years when seeking control over my life was important. Since then, wisdom  learned has brought the Serenity Prayer and a better sense of peace of mind.  Having faith in your higher power will ease your  worry and your anxiety about your life.  Surrendering to my higher power and finding faith with my positive acts has created a new life and new perspective for me.

Are you ready?

Birmingham, Alabama Jail

Birmingham, Alabama Jail

Site of Non Violent Protest April 1964

Site of Non Violent Protest
April 1964


1966 Cleveland Hough Race RiotsHas your life become unmanageable?  Are you ready to make a decision to change?  Do you believe in your higher power?   Non violence can become a reality in our personal lives if we are willing to eliminate  pride by surrendering it to our higher power?  Testifying, it is and will continue to be a beautiful journey seeing and knowing that humility offers many gifts that defy any words to describe it.  We all have a beautiful inner self, may you grow and prosper in your life, as you are blessed with the gifts of peace and harmony.

P.S. My first teaching assignment in 1969 was at the very school mentioned above, Stephen E. Howe.

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A Checklist Begins the Journey


80% of the prescribed, pharmaceutical drugs are consumed by 5% of the world’s population, this is a stark statistic since the United States is 5% of the world’s population.

Approximately, 70% of all incarcerated males have had a father that suffered from alcoholism.

90% of all nurses learned codependency from family matters.

Alcohol or drug treatment programs result in relapses about 90% of the time.

Alcoholics have the highest rate of death during detox, it is imperative that they seek a professional’s help.

It is untrue, but most alcoholics and their families believe that they can simply stop drinking once things get out of hand.

Most people with alcohol abuse problems are in denial, believing the problem to be anything but themselves.

Addicts are almost always extremely stubborn, adopting a “my way or the highway” kind of attitude.

Alcohol “intervention” works through education,treatment, planning, and strict follow-up.

Intervention is a scary road for families and users.

Addicts have just three options; insanity, death, or sobriety through treatment.

Family and codependency will be discussed in future posts,  These facts will help to set the stage for my journey to recovery from alcoholics in my past.  Your not alone in Al Anon. Give your family and yourself hope, find a meeting tonight.

Al Anon: helping families with problem drinkers.

Al Anon: helping families with problem drinkers.