The Leadership That Marks the World

The Leadership That Marks the World.

Interesting essay on how all of us may want to do great things, but few become leaders, and about what makes leaders distinctive.  I like that there were more than just religious leaders, but wish that some other religous leaders besides Vaticanite ones had been chosen.  Ghandi comes to mind as does Rev. Dr. Mel White

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For Better or Worse

Eventually, if you disappear long enough, people begin to think you are dead.  Especially when you disappear for the better part of a year.  And especially when you have been dragging yourself around in a body wracked with multiple sclerosis, osteoporosis, gastroenteritis, fibromyalgia, and a whole bunch of other stuff.

If you disappear immediately after what should have been the happiest day of your life, with miles and miles of Facebook posts, photos, and videos, well….

…..lots of people think you are dead.

Having recently begun to actually be healthy enough to go OUT of hospital and other such beds, I have to date manage to scare the bejeezus out of 10 people who honestly thought I was dead.

It’s a very long story, but parts of it will be showing up here:

Enjoy.  Glad to be back.

woman_victorian_webBrenda Ann Eckels, aMGC

Brenda The Writer

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The Radical Side Of “Motherhood”

free-vintage-mothers-day-cardImage(s) courtesy VintageHolidayCraftscomThe Radical Side Of “Motherhood”

by Brenda Ann Eckels, aMGC (c) 7/5/2015

This essay arose after reading “The Radical Side Of Mother’s Day” by David Concepcion, BS,MA

You can read it here:

and “Occasions of Sin” by Sandra Scofield (ISBN 0-393-05735-6) a Memoir of Sandra’s relationship with her mother, and the other “mothers” of her life.


OK, so Mother’s Day is long past…but in this essay by David and this book by Sandra I found to be relevant to the everyday way that Mothers struggle to do the right thing, even when the right things is not clear at all.

Along with the inherent battle to make the best possible choice in so many hundreds of situations, Mothers also have the responsibility to be willing to admit when they are wrong, and to apologize and seek to make amends to those they unwittingly hurt when they make a human mistake. After all, being willing to say “I am sorry about how that decision turned out. I understand I hurt you. I am open to making things right between us.” is as crucial to being a good mother as any home cooked meal or favorite family tradition. And yet, in Scofield’s book, one can see so many times the mothers of her life simply could not or would not say those words. The nature of parenting and social mores in the 1950’s certainly had a fair influence on this, which photolady007made the times Sandra’s mother did make the attempt to say “I am sorry.” so much more powerful.

It also, I think, highlights the important role mothers have in this world – far beyond the role they may play in an individual child’s life. How many of us have “mothered” a lost soul, incorporating them into our family and most importantly our hearts? How many of us have become “mothers” to community and church organizations, bringing them up to the best they can be in our own fallible human ways?

I also find that my definition of “mother” has grown over the years, as has the people who are “mothered”. Far more than a son or a daughter, more than a child, Mothers can, and often are, the linchpin of entire extended families, of groups of people working toward a common cause, or churches, and of communities. That role of mother to such groups is important, and is often the catalyst to just the kind of peace that the founder so sought to celebrate.

At the same time I thought of mentors in my various careers who went the extra step into the deep caring that marks “mothering”, David’s essay also reminded me of all the “mothers” in my life who, for whatever reason, have essentially vanished from my life, and how much that vanishing damaged and hurt the “child” I was to them. It reminded me of how much it still hurts, eating at the inner 6 year old in me who simply wants a hug and an “I love you” from Mommy.

It brought back that in some respects we never completely finish grieving for the mothers we lose – be they biological, unofficial, grandmas, or those older wiser friends who step in to the mothering role. Be it death, distance, willful abandonment, or illnesses like dementia, the loss of a mother is a profound loss not only for the “child” – whatever age they are -, but the entire extended family, and quite often for the communities they were active in – the fields they worked in, the churches they helped grow, and the civic organizations they ran.

While the intent was to create a holiday celebrating those mothers who worked unceasingly for peace and against war overseas, and the author is correct that it has been in some sense bastardized by commercialization, the original kernel is still there.

There is still so much need for mothers who will work for peace, and still so much that can seem like a war right in a family or community, that only true mothering love can really mitigate.

When a mother, however defined, leaves a family, a child, or a community, there is a loss far exceeding the simple semi-orphaning of one or two individuals. In that respect, I see everyday as Mother’s Day, and as a celebration of those “mothers” (including the author) who stay, who keep the ties that bind a family or a community together even when it would be easier to run away.

While I recognize that some mothers do abandon the God given role they have because they are simply too mentally ill themselves to manage even the smallest effort, I know too that there are a good many mothers who run away, who leave, out of lesser reasons that have more to do with no longer wanting to live up to the calling laid before them. I know that there are mothers who leave for the very selfish, often commercialized, pursuit of “me, mine, money”. In those situations, all one can do is grieve, put one foot in front of another, and attempt to forgive them.

While in many respects, her biological mother, like me, was unable to be a heroic constant saint because of the serious health issues she battled all her life, in the end the author made peace with the fact that her mother did, in fact, have some golden nurturing peace-making moments, and did the best she could before dying at a much too early age. She also moving wrote of the other “mothers” in her life – the Sisters at her convent based school, the Grandmother, the Aunts, even the peer friends who stepped in and provided the adolescent Sandra with a “mothering” care.

Reading the book, then David’s essay, I found myself questioning my deep seated fear that I was not a good mother because of the disabilities inflicted on me by years of violent physical, sexual, and emotional abuse. I realized that, much like Scofield’s mother, I had quite simply done the best I could do with the abilities I had. I was able to appreciate that there were a good many times I was more than just a mother. I was an exceedingly good mother. Not just to the kids who I had custody of, or gained as I married or partnered with people who had children already, but I “mothered” well to a Girl Scout Troop, to a gang of kids who were friends with my kids, to a small group of young adults in a small town who were homeless, hungry, and often lacking in any hope of things getting better. I “mothered” young welfare to work participants, and guided them at least a few steps towards independence. I “mothered” community organizations and 3 different Catholic denominations.

I am known for leaving the doors open, forever, to any of the 15 “kids” God has graced my life with, and I take great comfort, now in a sort of medically induced exile with MS complications, when I get the Facebook messages photos and chats from ex-foster kids and ex-stepkids who for many years were closer to me than my “forever’s”.

Does it lessen my pain and guilt that I let down one daughter so badly that for now she will not talk to me? No, it does not. It mother_daughter_victorianis a cross I carry everyday that the answers she sought from me, waited over a year for me to find, were discovered in a file box two months after she left my life. It is a suffering that I doubt will ever go away, and which would have overwhelmed me had it not been for that tiny silver thread…that down deep she knows I love her and she know that I will never close the door to her. Even if she never comes back, I know that once I am healthy enough a copy of what I did find, along with whatever my multiple sclerosis damaged brain can recall, will get put together, and I will reach out to anyone who might know where I can send it that she will eventually receive it. I know that she may never contact me again, that she may decide that the failures I had as a mother do not measure up to the good things I did. I cannot control anything she or any of the other kids feel or think, especially those who spent a lifetime being brainwashed by my abuser.

I know that her leaving me, and my having to come to grips with that fact means that I must someday at least consider if my repeated attempts over the years to reestablish even some minimum relationship with some of the mothers I have had to walk away from to save my sanity is worth it.

By my daughter’s actions, the possibility arose in my conscience that yes, I too could leave my “mother” or even leave more than one of the women who have been “mothers” to me. While in the past my then fiance and I had to put some boundaries up because the communications with some of the mothers in my life had become simply to damaging to my fragile hurt inner child, it wasn’t until the morning we were to be wed that I had to face the reality that in marrying, I was going to be putting Brian and his son first in everything, and that while it was hoped that those “mothers” and others who either passively or actively engaged in actions to damage our relationship would change, I had to make a stand befvictoriangirl_inframeore god to “forsake all others” for Brian. I did, and even though the marriage ceremony had to be called off due to both of us having health crises, I never wavered in that vow except for the when we separated. In large part, even then I did not waver. It was almost impossible for me to consider doing anything that would hurt Brian or his son. It was as if every part of being “the mother” in our family was still there. The commitment was quite simply the same as each time I held a newborn of mine, signed a foster agreement, or walked out of a courtroom of family court.

David’s essay brought home to me that there are vows that one takes as a mother or a wife that are so deeply spiritual, so integral to one’s soul, that to simply break them is just impossible to comprehend. In reading the book, I was able to find some measure of peace in the grief that bubbles up to the surface when I am most in need of the closest Mothers I had who are now, for all intensive purposes gone.

One is long dead from a battle with Alzheimer’s, another radically changed in personality by the cruel damage of depression and loneliness. One is separated by religious ideologies that simply can’t be set aside to keep the peace and the relationship, even if we could manage the distance between us. One of the dearest to me these past 4-5 years was forcibly pushed away from being the confidant I could talk to about anything by other family members deep in the throes of Female Relational Abuse, mental illness, and domestic violence, who actively worked to try and destroy me body and soul. One mother very simply became worn out, burned out, from decades of care-giving both at home and in careers, and no longer capable of maintaining a relationship with a crippled “daughter” who keeps refusing to die.

It is still an uncomfortable concept, that perhaps I am being called by God to leave, to stop the frequent attempts to build even the most simple lines of communications with these mothers of mine. I often feel as if I am contemplating turning the midday sky orange instead of blue, of going profoundly against “the way things should be”. Scofield had the leaving of her mother be a permanent thing because of her death, but over time she had to settle within herself if the other “mothers” were people that she could continue to relate to, talk to, visit with, even if they were people who had hurt her, or left her and gone so far she literally had to hunt them down. In David’s essay, he in the role of “mother” to his child, continues to work and sacrifice to make the trips to her Grandmother not just because of the overblown commercial holiday, not just because he is this woman’s son, not just because it’s “the right thing to do”. He travels and sacrifices to bring Grandmother and granddaughter together so that the relationship can thrive, grow, and be a comfort to both of them. He is doing the work of mothering, of peace bringing, or maintaining the family ties.

In the end, it is the Mothers like David, like the one I met who is battling two state agencies to reunite her family, the one who along with her family has “adopted” the whole me – the writer and the cripple, the one who helps out and the one who can only lie in a bed wracked in pain – the ones who go to court against police brutality for the sake of the neighborhood they love, that are the heroes of Mother’s Day. Those mothers” are the ones who deserve our highest praise, admiration, and support.

But we should never forget that even the mother’s like me and Scofield’s – limited by disability, or overwork, or by today’s crushing American poverty – even we have our moments of greatness as Mother’s, and even we can keep the doors open, be willing to say “I’m sorry”, and be willing to do our best each day. And for us, everyday is Mother’s Day.

Some  Image(s) courtesy and

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Ungrateful Generation, And A New Evangelist

UnUngrateful Generation, And A New Evangelist

by Brenda Eckels Burrows, aMGC

(c) July 4, 2015

Daniel Amos, a young man from Australia, started a “public figure” page about himself in July 2013. A Christian who has not decided to name a particular path of Christianity He is following, somehow got involved in wanting to put out something different and more meaningful than his humor skits. At the time he was very interested in helping people who suffered with issues of self harm and suicide. He was quite frank that he “was not a Dr. Phil or a preacher”.

An evangelist was born, sending out a fairly consistent message that we have much in this life to notice, to live for, and to be grateful for – even as he laments how his generation seems to be so very far from such values.

May 14, 2015 he produced a 2minute video on that particular topic – How his generation seemed to be unusually ungrateful. It was a simple, powerful message that almost everyone has at least one thing to be grateful for, and that his generation in particular had in many cases become a group of “whining gimmie gimmie brats” (those are my words) instead of taking time to be more grateful for what they did have.

There was also an undercurrent that basing your personal happiness on that significant other, that motorcycle, that new job or new house – in short, that rampant consumerism, the turning climbing the corporate ladder into a religion, and the latching onto a single person as the only way to happiness were they most evil of the snares that could lead someone away from true happiness.

You can see this video at

Since it was posted on a Facebook group that is part of my online community TodaysCatholics.Com, my first thoughts were practical. I could see this as an excellent addition to a youth mass, CCD program, or other event directed at tweenies and teens, young adults.

However the lesson he is teaching is a valuable one for any age. Where, I asked in the group, in our Sunday (or other day) masses do we most have the opportunity to express how grateful we are to God, to those around us, to our environment, and to ourselves for being humble enough to realize that it isn’t all about us?

Personally, it hit me in a different sense.

I have been through, and in some respects am still going through one of the most challenging years to my body, mind, money, and soul since 2006. Between surviving the unexpected death of my cousin when she was 13 and I was 11, escaping a domestic violence filled marriage in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, the loss of a beloved spouse to addiction and infidelity just months after celebrating the new millennium, to the devastation of learning that my already disabled body and mind now had to battle for survival against multiple sclerosis in 2006, I had always been able to rebuild, to start over, and to find many things to be grateful for.

I had found a religious vocation, a deeper faith. I had made new friends, developed a new family, and for someone who doubted very much she would live long enough to see her “forever” children have kids of their own, I had the supremely joyful experience of a daughter I loved and was very good friends with who blessed me with the two most beautiful grandchildren one could ever ask for. I got to be a bridesmaid at her wedding, and got to enjoy all the little things a mother loves when one of their kids wed. I launched and ran a non profit that helped people for several years. I discovered a passion for growing, especially roses of all kinds. I met and fell in love with a man who is to this day my best friend, and in my late age got to be a step-mom to a great kid, rounding out the forever’s, the ex-steps and the ex-fosters to make a nice final number of 15 kids who had graced my life.

Taking Franciscan values to heart, growing our own food, mending our clothing or shopping at thrift shops, and carefully budgeting, my love, my best friend and I enjoyed so many of the good things that came with living in a cabin with lake access, buying a used, relatively inexpensive Harley, and taking a once in a lifetime trip on it that will be a treasured memory for both of us the rest of our life. I had so much to be grateful for, and so often prayed and said so.

domesticviolence2While it started slowly, the past three years, and in particular the period from August 2013 to now made those other troubles seem like mere scratches on the fender of a car.

The attacks, the circumstantial bad luck things, the intentional abuse, harassment, stalking, threatening each hit with the ferocity of a tractor trailer smashing into our beloved Harley Davidson Roadking, Black Cherry.


The continuing stress from these events nearly destroyed so many of the relationships I held dear while it aggravated the physical problems I had.

I found out that it is more than a platitude: When disaster strikes, you find out who really is your family that will stand by you and support you, hold you up against the howling wind.

You really do find out which friends are true, and like the old Brownie Girl Scout song, they are more precious than gold or silver could ever be.

Even today, with a new career, the promise that two surgeries will once again allow me to get out of my wheelchair and sickbed more often, I battle so many different problems, grieve so many losses, and still have to hide much of my life for protection from those who, if they knew where I was, would stop at nothing to finish me off as permanently and finally as once was done by them to an innocent dog. Random bad luck things still happen, but now they happen to an older, sicker, and much more poor old lady who often needs propping up in the howling wind, only to turn around and find that no one is there.

It is very hard some days to feel any gratitude for what I have managed to hold on to – my faith, the true friends, my ability to write. It is easy to become consumed by the grief, the anger, the thirst for justice as a crime victim.

Daniel’s video was very much like having an IV bag of fluid that refilled my depleted body and helped heal my hurting heart. It was not a miracle cure that made everything ok. There are parts of the last 3 years that will never be ok. They will be survived, and like a soldier who saw too much battle, I will carry the scars forever. But the video did help to make me stop, and reflect that I am alive, and that is a sign God still has work for me to do. It made me think of the fact that God’s Amazing Grace would somehow allow me to do whatever it is he has planned for me, a subtle hint that perhaps yes, the surgeries will work. It refreshed my soul, and gave me the patience to deal with the little disasters, like the overdue phone call I woman_victorian_webwas supposed to receive today, and the worry that it was overdue again because the caller is simply too ill to call – again.

For video e-medicine to the soul, It worked quite well. Thank you Daniel. I will be watching to see how you grow up, and what else you have to say in the future.

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Lent of Prayer, Reflection, Success

Lots of Prayer

Lots of Reflection

Two big successes

Launched, after 3 years of working crazier hours than any disabled Grandma should…, an online community for ALL Catholics, regardless of denomination.

and, got this published…a news story

Seacoast Home & Garden Show planned for Saturday and Sunday

Happy, Happy Easter To All!


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Light Of Your Glory


beatuiful!!! Oh Happy Easter!

Originally posted on The Bottom of a Bottle:

Light Of Your Glory (Psalm 65:8)

Here we stand
The faithful children
In the light of You glory
In awe of Your wonders
As the sun rises
We sing to Your name
And when the sun sets
We call praise to our Father
With thanks for Your grace
And the hope You place within us

Psalm 65:8 Psalm 65:8

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Pardon The Use Of The N Word

This is a very provocative poblack_bullet_crossst, but I am discussing and linking to it based on two reasons:

One it is entirely correct that a discriminated population may, of it’s own accord, decide to take back the derogatory terms used as slurs and to transform those words into something else.  In other words, it is OK for ME to joke about being a Slovak because I AM a Slovak, but no it would not be ok for YOU to insult me by yelling out “Hey you Slovak!” on a busy street.

Reason two is that we are in a charged atmosphere where far too many people are fighting or threatening to fight or trying to get their government to fight over religion, while we have far too many young black people dying from police brutality, and in their deaths we lose all the words that they might have said that could have transformed our lives.  This is not just a black thing, it is a people thing.

Author: Rev. Osagyefo Sekou

My comment on the site where it appeared:

WOW. A powerful way of bringing to the forefront that Jesus was an outcast, and that the fact his story continues to resonate, that some of us continue to try and follow what he teaches, is a message that everyone needs to hear. He did come for all of us, and his birth, life, ministry, death, and resurrection birthed so many different groups of Jesus followers – some Jewish, some Samaritan, some Ethiopian (or other African), indeed counting his sending of the 70 apostles even before he was crucified, he touched people from a whole swath of the world at that time. Fantastic rendering of his story in short prose.

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