red rope of blood
She was just there to pick up the baby kit.  It all sounded easy enough.  She had the cash, and she knew which warehouse it was.  All she had to do was go around to the left side of the building and enter the only door that would be open.  But when Gloria pulled up in her van early that morning, she didn’t like the guards she saw at that door.  They were harassing another woman, and Gloria could tell right away this wasn’t going to work.  But just as she was backing up to leave, she saw out of her rear view mirror another door that was open and a woman just coming out. 
No one saw Gloria go in, so no one told her that where she was walking was off limits.  On any other day, this could never have happened.  But as Gloria found out much later, there had been a fight at the warehouse the night before and five of their security guards had been killed.  She remembered passing a cleaning crew when she first entered but walked further on looking for someone else to give her directions.
Almost immediately, she realized the building wasn’t what she thought it was.  Gloria had driven by it for years and had assumed it was a storage facility for the local furniture store, but the stacked boxes she was passing now looked like they belonged to a pharmaceutical company instead.  She recognized some of the names, but it was the locations where they came from that didn’t make any sense to her.  Stamped in big letters, she read:   “Sixth Pharmaceutical, Harbin, China”.  Others were marked:  “Bayer Pharma, Germany”. 
Rows and rows of nothing but stacked boxes from floor to ceiling.  Tablets, capsules, leaves and powder.  A smorgasboard of designer drugs that could be snorted, smoked or swallowed.  Mind-blowing sexual barbiturates that enhance, enlarge and excite.  Truth serums, zombie drugs and knock-out pills.  PCP, Chlorazine and Librium.  Some to just change your reality … and others to change your brain.  A cornucopia of all that one could desire.  Hallucinogenic and mind-controlling anti-psychotics that remove all control and all free will.  Extreme highs and extreme lows.  Flashbacks, memory loss and distorted imagery.  Hearing colors … and seeing sounds.
Further on, more boxes but of a different size.  Long, short, big, small.  An arsenal of ammo.  Rifles, pistols, cartridges and shells.  All designed to maim, kill or destroy.  Most originating from Iran and Harbin, China but some from Germany and others in the far back from Japan.  Four unlikely partners, but all in the same bed … and all tied together with a big RED ROPE OF BLOOD. 
On the far left of the building was the area that Gloria was looking for, and a man there to take her $650.  As he counted out the bills she gave him, he motioned for her to sit down and wait for the doctor to come out momentarily.  In less than 10 minutes, she had what she came for … along with the instructions she needed to make a baby.  It was even easier that she was told.  Her age, her weight and her height were the only questions she had to answer … and, of course, the desired race of the father.  African-American was Gloria’s choice, and she would tell others she met him on her vacation to Atlanta.
For more on Sixth Pharmaceutical in Harbin, China, please read:
Copyright © 2015 (Michelle Parsons, Getting Back on Your Path). All Rights Reserved.

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Like Mother, Like Daughter

It wasn’t as if she was unhappy or tired of life, she was just restless.  Anxious for something to happen … like she knew it was coming around the bend, but she didn’t know what it was exactly or where to find it.  She just knew someone or something was calling for her and somehow she needed to get ready for it.  A yearning that needed to be satisfied or fulfilled. 
Looking back, it probably began the year after her parents died.  About the time all the paperwork was done and all their affairs were settled, Carole went to a psychic who specialized in communicating with the dead.  She needed to find out for herself what really happens when one dies and whether her parents were still around her and still involved with the family.  She wasn’t expecting to hear anything about her own life.  She just wanted to know if they were ok and to get real proof (for herself and others) that they had survived.
Taking careful notes, Carole listened to the psychic describe how her mother looked in this life, her favorite dress and the open-toed sandals she used to wear.  He also spoke of a father figure who was playing poker and liked to fish just like her Dad did.  Names of friends and relatives were also relayed  … even the family dachshund that her Mom used to cook scrambled eggs for every morning.  All of this seemed like pretty good validation to Carole, but it wasn’t until her mother said she had Carole’s brother with her in heaven (the child that she aborted when Carole was only 2 1/2) that Carole was positive this was her mother talking.  As far as Carole knew, she was the only one who knew this family secret.  It was told to her many years later after her parents had divorced, when her mother explained that she had decided at the time not to keep the baby because she was planning to leave Carole’s father for another man.  But in the end, her parents stayed together for another 30 years, a chaotic marriage that had more downs than ups … where there was too much drama and not enough love.  A chemical explosion that was interesting to watch but painful to live with.  Each one stronger and better on their own … but bound together by a rope of responsibility and a fiscal fear of the unknown.
For years, Carole recognized that her parents were mismatched and wanted more for them.  So when they finally separated, she helped both of them make the adjustment.  But secretly inside, it hurt to see them move on with new relationships and to realize that the family dynamics were changing … and even worse, to see that none of them really belonged together anymore.  So when there was a pause in the reading and Carole had a chance to ask a question, what she most wanted to know was whether her parents had worked it out in the afterlife and were somehow together again.  Still thinking of them as her only family, she couldn’t imagine life in heaven without them and even had dreams of both of them standing together to greet her when she herself passed over.  But when her mother replied that she was no longer with her father and was back with a man she loved when she was younger, Carole was crushed …  but also confused.  Her mom had mentioned many boyfriends over the years.  Which one was she referring to, and was it anyone she might have met?  “He is showing his face to me now,” said the psychic, “…. and he looks just like Tony Curtis.”
It was then that Carole started to cry.  It had gone too far, and she did not want to hear any of this now.  What was she going to tell everyone when she got home?  They all knew she had this appointment.  She had been talking about nothing else for weeks, and Carole knew they would grill her about all of it when she returned.  She could just imagine their reaction when she told them:  “Guess what, gang?  Mom’s with Tony Curtis now.”  She could hear them laughing, and they would never let her forget this one. 
But suddenly, Carole stopped crying when the psychic continued on with the reading.  “Your mother is sorry you never had children.  She thinks you would have loved being a mom.  She is also saying you were supposed to have been a teacher and a writer …. but you married the wrong man too.”
Copyright © 2015 (Michelle Parsons, Getting Back on Your Path). All Rights Reserved.

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A Lesbian Love Affair

It was a scandalous love affair which the world had never seen before.  Highly publicized and of a nature that only those most gifted with marketing skills could pull off.  Two socialite women, both married to prominent men, eloping to France … followed soon thereafter by their devoted gay husbands who had teamed up together to drag their unfaithful wives back home.  A torrid lesbian love affair between a poet and a soon-to-be radio broadcaster that was romanticized by some but considered a publicity stunt by others, not only to get attention for their cause but to root out those who were morally and ethically opposed.
Divided within their own group, they made outward exaggerated gestures of loyalty and support.  Some meant for only public consumption but others to fool even their own kind.  While the husbands were arranging their get-togethers, the ladies were busy with their circles as well.  In the case of the poet and the radio broadcaster, they continued to meet clandestinely for years, but never exclusively, and were always a topic of conversation for those who knew both of them.  It was presumed to be true love for the poet, but those that were best acquainted with the radio broadcaster knew her to be of a different type:  a lesbian by day but a bisexual predatory pedophile by night.  Most satisfying was a black boy who had just reached puberty, but there were also rumors that the one she really loved was a black bisexual man.  Considered a flashy and flamboyant dresser, her pimp pranced around like a peacock to attract both men and women …  in his red hot pants and pink shirts, half-buttoned up.  Together, they were a class act that really got around. 
With the society women she targeted, the radio broadcaster was both a soul mate and a spy.  Playing a convincing role of a lesbian in love, she followed her pimp’s instructions to the tee.  Each lover was different, but when it came to the poet, she was there primarily to elicit information of a political nature.  Known to associate with a group of influential artists, the poet would gossip during their bedroom talk and reveal what all the members were up to.  While some of this was of interest to the pimp, what he was most curious about was who was funding the schools they were constructing.  Who was their backer, so to speak, because word on his street was that they were planning a takeover of the Middle East.  Disguising themselves as a fine arts institution, and hiding behind that shield, they were really a group of pro-communist terrorists organizing an attack on elite Islamists.  Once they were rid of those with the most power, and replaced them with their own, the artists would control the world’s largest supply of oil and heroin  …  and then be in a position to go after Britain and America, who were really their true enemies.    
When the pimp finally got the confirmation he was looking for, he strutted his stuff to the God he reported to.  A communist member of the Holy Trinity Church and planning a takeover of his own of Africa, this supreme monarch picked up the telephone when he heard the good news.  Calling the United States of America, he was overheard saying:  “It’s all going according to plan, Mr. President.”
For more on the lives of Vita Sackville-West and Violet Trefusis, see:
Copyright © 2015 (Michelle Parsons, Getting Back on Your Path). All Rights Reserved.

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the philospher

When the gavel went down, everyone thought it was the tall man in the back who had bought him.   After all, he was the one who came forward with the money, and he was the one who made all the arrangements for his transportation to the school.   Often attending these kind of auctions, no one ever questioned what his plans were with the boys he purchased.   Some had their suspicions, but many just kept their mouths shut and their heads down.  Only the privileged elite dared to challenge him, but at this auction, they were all in on it.  Their group, and the one lone man who had passed thru earlier and appraised all the boys quietly.  In less than five minutes, he chose the one he wanted for himself, and after a quick signal of his hand to the tall man in the back, The Philosopher was practically guaranteed to get his first choice.
In a world where connections were everything and the repayment of favors the custom, The Philosopher was protected.  Valuing the mind more than the body, he appeared in absolute control over his emotions and yet was known to have cataleptic attacks where his body went rigid and he would stare off into space for hours at a time.  Hearing an inner voice he called his daimon, he told others he was personally communicating with God.  Exhibiting a humble and poverty stricken image with his torn cloak and his bare feet, he was a man of the people.  Speaking from what they believed was his heart and for the benefit of their lower class, The Philosopher warned them about the wealthy aristocrats who couldn’t be trusted, the physically beautiful women who were selfish and vain, and the strong and the physically fit athletes who were mentally weak.  Considered intellectually superior and admired for his disciplined piety, the believers followed him in the beginning.  When he spoke out against the taxing of wine, they thought it was the common man he was looking after.  In reality, however, it was the tall man at the slave auction who benefitted the most.  A wine distributor by trade, he was most grateful to The Philosopher for his assistance in that regard.

Always rewarded for his loyalty and support, The Philosopher wined and dined with the ones he professed to distrust.  Great lovers of art, literature and the laws of morality, they would spend countless hours passing judgement on others and ridiculing society  … all the while wearing a democratic badge on the outside but possessing an autocratic heart on the inside.  A communistic mindset where all the true power is held by a select few and the real wealth within only their inner circle.  Similar to the Saudi Arabia of today, this was a male-dominated society where the women were locked inside (with a social status only slightly better than a slave), and education was offered to only the elite males.  Or the poor boys whose destiny changed when they were hand picked by a benefactor.  
United in their philosophy and their plans for society, many of these forefathers pretended to be attracted to women but secretly had a male lover on the side.  Some were attracted to those their own age, while others, like The Philosopher, preferred beautiful young boys.  Procuring them at slave auctions, they were sent to boarding schools and then visited on a regular basis.  A win-win for both.  Educational and cultural advantages for the young slave, companionship and sex for his benefactor.   With no family around to protect them, these boys were slowly transformed from males into females.  Allowed to keep their private parts intact, it was only their outside that changed.  With the help of men like The Philosopher, who molded and painted them, they joined the network of men who later posed as women and married influential homosexual men.
The Greek philosopher Socrates was convicted of treason and the corruption of youth in the year 399 B.C.  Condemned to death, he chose his own execution by drinking poison hemlock. For more information on his controversial life, see:
Copyright © 2015 (Michelle Parsons, Getting Back on Your Path). All Rights Reserved.

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the voyeur from texas

It was love at first sight.  Both of them single.  Both starting over.  Gun shy and tentative initially, they each took that first step. Choosing a safe setting to meet someone new without having to get too close too soon, they began to ride together on weekends. A cycling club for singles that met every Friday night and every Sunday morning.  Semi-retired professionals who were fit and loved the outdoors … this was a group that ticked all their boxes.  

Not wanting her heart broken again but afraid to miss a great opportunity, Liz let the relationship move quicker than she liked. Exchanging phone numbers after the first ride and then going for coffee after the second one, it wasn’t long before Doug invited her to his home for dinner. Checking him out online, and knowing other riders who worked with him, Liz trusted he was a good guy. A nice-looking divorced physicist working for a reputable lab, with one dog and no children, he was as close to perfect as she was ever going to find at this stage of the game. Quite a catch herself, they were admittedly a beautiful couple that looked right together.  

What he failed to tell her, however, until after she arrived was that the house where he was cooking the dinner belonged to his mother and not to him. Explaining that he was house sitting and doing odd jobs while she was away, Liz took him at his word and was impressed when Doug gave her a tour around. Growing more comfortable with him as the night wore on, it took little urging on his part to lead her to the bedroom. As she began to undress, Doug turned away for a second … and without her seeing … he switched the camera on. Then he gave a thumbs up and returned to her attentively, and with the greatest of passion, they began to make love. With the moves of a trained actor, he positioned their bodies just perfectly … for the Voyeur from Texas.  

In thirty minutes, it was all over with no sign that Liz had ever even been there. Strangling her with a rope he had hidden under the bed and then tying up her hands, he dragged her down the hallway and thru the backdoor to his mother’s garden. In a spot next to all the others, she was buried before sunrise.  

Putting his bicycle in her backseat, Doug drove Liz’ car home and then let himself into her apartment. Removing all paths that led to him, and knowing the Club will cover for him regardless, Doug rode away in the dark … stopping later at a Starbucks to email his boss. With his coffee in one hand and the newspaper in the other, Doug began studying the real estate section for the open houses scheduled later that day.  

It didn’t always play out like this, and it wasn’t only women he killed. Sometimes he went after a pretty boy type. Like the ones they bargain over in prison. This is what he was personally most attracted to, but overall, it made little difference to him. He went where he was sent and played the cards that he was dealt. Some he murdered quickly … while others suffered a long and lingering death from either the AIDS that he spread during intercourse or the arsenic laced Metamucil-like product that he often recommended.  

Created in a laboratory in 2008 by a fanatical religious cult, Doug was both a spy and a serial killer. Working by day as a physicist, he was operating on the side as a government informant. Supporting a regime that was anti-Western democracy, his goal was to take down certain industries and to murder those who were most influential with the greatest number of followers. With two artificial intelligences installed in him, he was Stephen Hawking and Joe Biden combined.  100% mind-controlled, he was a slave to his master, the Voyeur from Texas.

Copyright © 2015 (Michelle Parsons, Getting Back on Your Path). All Rights Reserved.


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His Buried Heart

It began with his mother. Before he could even walk, she controlled him. He was hers forever more, and he didn’t even know it. Women he met later realized this … when they couldn’t break thru the invisible leash and reach his buried heart. A veneer of playboy charm covering up layer after layer of secrets and shame. A relationship that he would take to his grave … and beyond. 

A bisexual from birth, she gradually changed him. A revenge on the child himself, it was all part of her master plot to keep the man he would become away from the women she would later have to compete with. A loving attentive mother to some, but a pedophile with a plan to others. All done behind closed doors when no one else was looking, she would squeeze and fondle him, and then taking him to her breast, she climaxed. Then with a style all her own, she squeezed him again in the front while she entered him with the other hand from behind.  

Telling him he was special and superior to girls, his mother slowly groomed him toward a world of misogynistic men. Placing him on a podium, she appeared to be at his beck and call catering to his every whim. But in reality, she was always a general in charge. Training him to help her from an early age and never attacking his weaknesses, the bond between mother and son strengthened while his secret contempt for other females increased. Raised by a different kind of mother, the girls he was most attracted to became the enemy … and their strength and independence the weapons they employed. 

A pedophile until he reached puberty, his mother’s real attraction was to other women. Marrying only to have a child, she had clandestine affairs on the side with other lesbian pedophiles. With their pearl necklaces and their trays of cookies, they lured the children in … all the while playing the role of the perfect mother and the model citizen. Church on Sunday, PTA on Tuesday and volunteer work on Thursday. Respected leaders of their community, no one ever suspected what was really going on.

When he was 16 and his mother was no longer attracted to him, the master plan took another direction … from her bed to that of her lesbian lover. Telling the boy it was time for him to learn how to please other women, this would be a safe environment for him. A woman he had known most of his life as a family friend, she was attracted to this child age the most. But what should have been enjoyable for him, turned out to be an experience with a woman impossible to please. No matter what position he tried, he could never get it quite right. Constant adjustment was recommended, and he always felt that he failed more than he succeeded.  

Declaring himself an unsatisfying lover for women, he began to look elsewhere. Before he met the woman he eventually married, he had numerous affairs with men… both married and single. Reminiscent of the pleasure he felt as a child with his mother, this was the kind of sex he enjoyed the most. But with it, came shame and fear that others would find out. So slowly over time, he formed relationships with other men who felt the same way he did. A secret alliance, some would say.  Preferring the lifestyle and societal benefits of a heterosexual couple, they all lived double lives. Some of the women knew, and some of them didn’t. But all were victims of this type of misogyny … in public and in private.  

In another part of the world, there exists a group of primates whose lifestyle is not that dissimilar. Living in the forested areas of the Congo basin in central Africa, the bonobo apes are a matriarchal society where the mother-son bond remains strong throughout their lifetime. A highly sexual and non-monogamous group, incest is common to build up the strength of the mother. Described by some scientists as a peaceful and loving group, others have found contrary evidence that supports they are cannibals who hunt down and eat other infant monkeys.   For more information, see:

Copyright © 2015 (Michelle Parsons, Getting Back on Your Path). All Rights Reserved.

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The Tin Soldiers

They came in all shapes and sizes.  Too many to separate out at first.  Like a bunch of mismatched socks or two puzzle pieces glued together.  Recognizable on the outside but imposters on the inside. Cold and controlled, they descended upon us from everywhere. Emerging from factories and institutions, and coming by truck, plane, boat and shuttle, no one was safe.  Each with their weapon of choice aimed at the target they were guided toward. Voice commanded by generals off-site, their life’s mission is to destroy Earth.  

Criminals from the get go, they fooled everyone in the beginning. Each playing the role they were assigned by the powers that be, they infiltrated our lives …. never missing a beat.  Bodies both human and robotic, coming from places both near and far, it was only their eyes that gave them away. Mismatched and soulless, they resembled humans possessed or animals on attack.  No heart and no conscience, they were created to destroy. Victims themselves by the God they prayed to, they were given just the right blend of artificial intelligence to achieve the unthinkable … and just the right blend of drugs to keep them hooked on the line.  Like puppets on a string.  An army of test tube babies and computer-controlled robots, they were born into a clinical world without love. 

Slaves from conception, they are loyal to their master.  Never challenging the orders given, they follow the path set out for them. Capable of free will but refusing to break free, they are tin soldiers hell bent on destruction.  Promised a reward in the end, they are fed a pack of lies and manipulated by ruthless and cunning commanders too diabolical to believe. Brainwashed, addicted and sacrificed time and again for a cause no one fully understands, the soldiers keep marching on….

Copyright © 2015 (Michelle Parsons, Getting Back on Your Path). All Rights Reserved.

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The Rat Catchers

For years, the police thought it was only one killer that was targeting the Church. That was what they said, at least.  No mention of a conspiracy and no reference to the fact that all the victims knew each other and all were from the same congregation.  Or that the police themselves were being paid off to stay quiet about it all.  None of the dirty scandalous secrets were revealed, and the guiltiest went free while the community itself suffered the most.  

Some were killed by gun, some by knife and some by rope. Yet they all kept insisting there was only one murderer. All ages were killed but only the youngest victims disclosed … and no one ever connected the dots to the Church. Protected by their crime organization, a cover went down immediately and those who knew something were either blackmailed, bribed or killed themselves. 

Guilty of crimes no one dares to speak of, a secret trail leads to a farm where pigs are their sexual partners and the rats nearby their dessert for later. With a brothel of services provided, the pig lover transforms into a rat catcher and sucks their blood like a Dracula. A sexual turn on combined with a sinister purpose and a diabolical plan. Taking the corpses home as a parting gift, the rat catcher makes two stops. One to donate his own diseased blood for all the sickly do-gooders and the other at a Christian homeless shelter where the rats themselves are served to the unsuspected. 

One church going after the other. Neither one clean and neither one godly. Both claiming to be Christian but committed to and aligned with Satan. Rivals for his affection … and for second in command. An unholy trinity when the going gets rough but back stabbers when his back is turned. Loyal on paper only, each one rallying for their own supporters and their own armies … some pro-destruction and some pro-annihilation. No love lost between them and each deceived, manipulated and sabotaged by the other. A Tower of Babel for the onlookers.

Copyright © 2015 (Michelle Parsons, Getting Back on Your Path). All Rights Reserved.

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He patrolled her yard as if it was his own. From out of nowhere, he would swoop down and scare off the other birds who tried to come in.  Just as they landed, the magpie would confront them and within seconds, they were gone.  One by one, they all vanished until there was no one else allowed in except a few pigeons and a couple of squirrels.  Every once in a while, a very small sparrow would arrive unnoticed and have a few minutes in her garden, but it could never stay long either. 

Kate watched all this from her kitchen window but couldn’t understand what was happening. She had lived there for years, and there were always a lot of birds around in the past. She didn’t know some of their names but could recognize them by their color and their patterns, especially in the winter when they stood out next to the snow. But now in the middle of spring when this should be their favorite garden, there was only one magpie and two pigeons. Where did the rest of them disappear to, and when did it happen? 

The more she watched the magpie, the more Kate began to suspect he was the culprit. At first, she was fairly amused by his antics because he seemed so human-like.  Brazen, bossy and cocky but clever and always interested in everything new in her garden. The day she planted a sunflower, Kate caught him going up to it soon after and examining it closely. She laughed watching him standing there for the longest time just cocking his head back and forth as he scanned it from top to bottom.  He looked as if he didn’t approve and seemed almost irritated or insulted that she planted it without consulting him first.  Why would he care about a sunflower, she wondered. 

Then one day she happened to glance out the bedroom window in the front of the house and noticed Mister Magpie with two other magpies that were much smaller. That’s when she realized how much larger Mister Magpie was, and maybe she was crazy, but it looked to her as if they were having a meeting. Standing in a circle facing each other, it appeared that Mister Magpie was the boss and the two smaller ones were his assistants. This went on for a few minutes until Mister Magpie suddenly flew to the top of Kate’s highest hedge at the same time his assistants flew toward the backyard. How extraordinary, Kate thought, and when she returned to the kitchen window soon after she saw the smaller magpies on each side of her backyard, walking up and down as if they were security police or border patrols. 

It was also in spring that Kate began observing Mister Magpie disappearing into the hedges for long periods of time. Sometimes he would take one of his assistants in with him and neither would emerge for at least an hour or more. So intrigued by this odd behavior, Kate decided to get closer and see what they were up to. The first time she peeked into the hedge, all she could hear was a lot of chirping sounds and the rustling of feathers.  It sounded like they were attacking something, but she couldn’t really see too much. But two days later, she watched them enter the same hedge again … and this time she decided to approach from behind. Maneuvering herself in such a way so she could see them from the front, she was disturbed by what she saw.   There was a nest in there, and they were attacking a baby bird that looked like a finch.  It was all alone, and both magpies were holding it down. The baby was making a beeping sound underneath, and Kate felt desperate to help it. She started yelling at the magpies, but they just kept ignoring her. Determined to stop them, she looked around the yard and finally found a long stick to attack them with.  It took several jabs, but she eventually got them to get off the baby and depart. Not knowing what else she could do to help the baby bird, she decided to leave it alone and prayed its mother would come back soon. Still shaking from what she witnessed, Kate headed straight back to call the local bird sanctuary and ask if they knew how to get rid of magpies.  But before she made the call, she decided to go online first and research whatever she could find on the topic of pedophile birds.

Copyright © 2015 (Michelle Parsons, Getting Back on Your Path). All Rights Reserved.

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Satan's Computer

Hidden behind a wall, in an old house in Berkeley, sits a computer that is more powerful than God.  For more than 30 years, it has separated families, divided nations and committed crimes too horrific to speak of.  What began as sadistic revenge by a few college students on a select few catapulted quickly into a monster out of control.  Capable now of shooting down planes and causing brush fires in California, it has become our worst enemy and the greatest threat to mankind and the planet Earth. 

When word first got out to those in the know, everyone who was anyone wanted their hands on its dial. Power and control was the name of the game with the biggest players plotting and scheming, making secret agreements and forming dotted line territories. Each one with their own agenda, their own targets and their own desire to wage war. A long list of “hates” emerged with no one … and no place …. safe from attack. We all got their wrath, their vengeance, their bitterness and their malevolence. Double dealing and double crossing with the worst of humanity knocking on our doors. 

Known to some as Satan’s favorite toy, its powers and its reach have become immeasurable. Owned and operated by crime bosses around the globe, this computer controls our air, our land and our water … with full dominion over our television, our radio and every sound wave, light wave, radio wave, microwave, water wave, earthquake wave, cosine wave and any other wave that exists on our planet. This means that if you are on their hit list (which I have been every day for the past 4+ years), they can control your water, electricity and cable with just a few strokes on a keyboard. If they so choose, they can slow down or cut off your internet, shut down your email or cell phone, empty out your bank account, flood your neighborhood, operate your car and even change the time on your watch if they have the proper battery code. 

What is perhaps even more frightening is that they can control our bodies as well as our environment. Not just with the drugs, toxins and bacteria that are in some of the foods we eat, the water we drink or the air we breathe …. but also with what they inject or employ into some of us. Through devices and tubes inserted into many of us during routine eye or dental procedures, they are now able to spread disease and cause cancer. 

What started off on a small scale has now turned into a computer war against humanity with one terrorist group on the computer attacking another. Drug cartels, prostitution rings and money launderers are now the ones in charge … and it’s the people, the wildlife and the environment that are its victims. 

What some of us have been afraid to talk about for fear of a causing a global panic is slowly now coming to the surface. This is not a local problem or even just a national problem. This is a global problem, and the solution is not to just turn off or get rid of the computer because this has been tried in the  past. When one goes down, there is always another one that takes over. Backups to backups to backups, with some specializing in fields that would far surpass the world’s imagination. Our only hope, therefore, is to unite the peacekeepers and build a strong coalition of those willing to fight these computer terrorists. We need to let go of all their threats, blackmail and the fear they have caused and stand up strong.  They are a very small minority that will be forced to back down if the rest of us are united.  When you cave into the demands of a terrorist, you put all the power into their hands. Do not concede on any item that gives them a seat at the table. If you give them an inch, they will take a mile.

Copyright © 2015 (Michelle Parsons, Getting Back on Your Path). All Rights Reserved.

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the queen's bathtub

She always met them in the remotest of locations, miles from civilization and not accessible by anything but camel. Riding long hours and enduring the harshest of conditions, she dressed like a man during the day but wore an evening gown and a fur coat at night. Trunks of luxury followed her wherever she went, with no amount of comfort too much to expect. Traveling in a style to which she was accustomed, the Queen packed everything from petticoats and parasols to pistols and leather boots. Her supporters always close behind … in a long procession of boxes, bundles and bags. Arriving in camp, they were the ones who unpacked all the gear, pitched up the tents, laid out her bed and started the fires. Unfolding the travel bathtub, they filled it with heated water for their mistress and then began to set the tables for dinner. Dining by candlelight with one of the visiting Sheiks, she always ate on linen tablecloths with Wedgewood china, silver and crystal glasses. Nothing was too good for their Queen. 

From an early age, she made it known to others that she was a person that mattered. Resenting discipline and demanding the attention of those around her, she ruled the roost and bossed and scolded the servants. Although quite devoted to the men in her life, she showed almost disdain for the women. “Dull and dismal” was how she described some of them. Suitable for procreation and child rearing but best left at home with the kiddies. Although an atheist in her heart, the Queen could be overheard telling others that God made women inferior and that the men were put in charge to maintain them. Preferring to be the only woman at the negotiation table, heaven help another strong and capable woman that wants to sit there too. 

Excelling in most sports and a lover of plants, poetry and ancient history, the Queen was admired by the men. More male than female and both a communication wizard and an organizational mastermind, she was placed at the top in their secret hierarchy.  Protected and shielded from inquiring eyes, it would be impossible to see that the orders came from her.  With the goal to protect and reward the loyalists, unite the ones that have nothing to lose, strangle hold the poorest and then attack the opposition, she always had a winning formula. 

While lying in her bathtub one night, she finally devised the perfect plan she needed.  If she could bring part of the transcontinental railway underground and connect it to the existing tunnel network … and then fill it with explosives … she could conquer the world.

Copyright © 2015 (Michelle Parsons, Getting Back on Your Path). All Rights Reserved.

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New World Order

It was as if the world changed overnight. One minute she belonged, and the next minute she didn’t. Everyone looked foreign to her, and no matter where she turned, nothing felt the same. Almost as if a black cloud had dropped down and was sucking the life out of everyone.  No heart and no feelings.  Eyes without a soul attached to bodies that looked sick and no longer sat, stood or walked as she remembered. 

There were so many of them that she began to question who was the real alien … her or them? Did she get plucked out of her sleep one night and dropped onto a different planet that looked like Earth? Or maybe she had been transported into the future somehow and the life she remembered was from an earlier time period? But when she checked her cellphone, the date was correct, and the phone itself looked the same. So did the streets and the buildings … and she could still find her way around everywhere. Even the food in her refrigerator looked normal, yet she still found herself walking through her garden later checking to see if the plants had changed. They looked ok, though, so why was she so frightened and why was every internal antennae she had telling her that something was terribly wrong? 

Maybe it was the hand gestures that got her attention first. Another news story about an Arab Spring protest in the Middle East, but this one was the largest group ever, and what alarmed her the most was when she noticed that hundreds of them were lifting up their fingers and exhibiting the Victory sign at the exact same moment. How could they possibly coordinate that so perfectly, and why would they be using the same hand signal that Winston Churchill used during WWII? Then more news coverage about other protests in Asia and South America where they were also making the same victory sign.   All huge demonstrations and every one of them violent and disturbing. 

It was about then that she began to notice other strange hand signals. Almost from out of the blue, it appeared as if everyone was doing a thumbs up to give approval or encouragement to something. When did this start and why did she never notice it used so much before? Was this a secret code or a sign of a secret fraternity, and if it was, why then did everyone but her seem to belong to it?  Athletes. Actors. Politicians. Teachers. Students.  Rich, poor, young and old.  When even her gardener gave her a thumbs up one morning, she began to cry. 

She cried even harder, though, the night she watched the David Letterman show and saw Donald Trump walk out from behind the stage and give the audience a thumbs up twice … plus a victory sign … before he even shook hands with Dave. Then when he sat down, she saw him make a third gesture she had never seen before that looked like a diamond or a pyramid of some kind. What had happened to him, and why was he of all people giving all these hand gestures? 

Then came the devil horns that she first saw at a concert one night. It confused her at first because she was standing too far back and thought the singer was just pointing to something. Then he kept doing it again and again with the same hand but later began doing it with the other hand as well. When she glanced around, others were doing it also in the same aggressive and defiant way. Trying to stay calm, she told herself that this was just a secret sign for this particular music group or perhaps an innocent protest against the establishment.  But when she noticed Pope Benedict giving the devils horn sign shortly after he announced his retirement, she became very worried. Had they invaded the churches also? 

No matter who she asked about it, she always got the same blank look. Like they didn’t understand her question, and when she pressed the issue further, they started looking at her suspiciously as if she was crazy or paranoid.   What was she getting at, and why was she asking them?   So she gradually stopped voicing her concerns and began writing in her journal instead, documenting all the odd behavior she was observing and trying to make sense of it the best she could. Writing about not only the way some of them were walking or talking but all the beards and tattoos that were suddenly sprouting up everywhere and all the women she met who looked more like men dressed up in drag. 

Even some of the animals seemed different to her so she went to the zoo one day and took notes on them also. Like a lot of the people that she was seeing, their eyes also looked controlled and their body movements abnormal. Their skin and fur seemed strange as well, and she just didn’t feel the same attachment to them as she did before. 

It was the night that she went on a hike with a group of friends and a stranger began talking to her about world politics that she began to connect the dots. She just knew he was right when he told her about the New World Order and a secret religion called the Illuminati. This was not mental illness or paranoia on her part.  This was a takeover.

Copyright © 2015 (Michelle Parsons, Getting Back on Your Path). All Rights Reserved.

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He never knew she was following him. Wherever he went, she was close behind, quickly ducking into shops, turning down side streets or hiding around bushes if he ever glanced back. She just knew he was up to something, but she couldn’t prove it yet.  

What Linda did know was that he was a liar, and he was probably gay.  Always talking about a fiancée who had died from a rare neurological disease that no one had ever heard of before, others felt really sorry for him.  So did Linda at first.  But when she happened to meet a mutual friend of theirs who told her that Jake hardly knew the woman who had died, Linda began to ask more questions. The more she asked, the more he buried himself in lies.  According to him, they were engaged to be married when she got the bad news.  He was devastated, of course, but faithfully stood by her until the sad end. Then something about how he is now caring for the cat she adored and that it’s the cat who is helping him the most with his grief.  This didn’t sound right to Linda either because from what she could see, Jake didn’t like animals at all. He hardly glanced at her own cat the one time he met her and never stopped to pet any of the dogs they would pass on the street.  So when she went back to the mutual friend to confirm, she found out he had lied about that as well. There was a cat, but it was poisoned to death soon after the woman herself had died.  That’s when Linda began to follow him and what she discovered could fill a book. 

The first night she watched from across the street when Jake approached a boy that looked no older than thirteen and was leaning against an apartment building clearly waiting for someone. He whispered something in the boy’s ear, and then the two disappeared down a side alley … returning about 5 minutes later.  At first, Linda suspected a drug deal until a few nights later when he visited the alley again (this time with a different boy) but was zipping his pants up when he was back in her line of vision.  It wasn’t until she followed him the next afternoon to a middle school that she put two and two together and realized that his volunteer work for an after-school program with the photography department was where he made all his connections. 

But it wasn’t just boys that Jake was interested in, and Linda soon figured this out when she watched his interaction with some of the fathers who would pick up the boys after school.  It was as if they all knew each other and were in some sort of secret club together.  Although Linda was too far away to actually hear what they were saying, they stood too close to each other and nothing looked natural about their conversations.  Where were the mothers, she wondered, and should she try to approach one of the boys herself to learn more?  Or go to the school principal and express her concern?  In the end, she decided to stay quiet and keep following him for a few more days.  She still didn’t have the proof she know she needed … or the rest of the story that she wanted. 

It didn’t take long, though, before she was able to piece together that this group was meeting each other at different venues throughout the week. She kept seeing the same ones over and over again, and there were even a few women that kept popping up with them.  Some of the events they attended were open to the public and held at the local library, town hall and art museum. But other times, they were going into homes, private clubs or meeting at different churches.  Once, she even followed him to a mosque in a nearby town and hid in her car for almost an hour until he came out again. Although she tried to find out what their connection was and what they all had in common, the only thing she observed was that they ALL wore a gold ring on their pinky finger. 

When she could no longer stand it any longer, Linda finally found a way to get into his home one night when she was certain he would be away for several hours. Taking her camera with her, she went from room to room (including the garage) documenting what she discovered but carefully putting it all back in its place later so he would never suspect.  Picture after picture of naked boys, bags of rat poison, bottles of chloroform, ropes and gloves. Then two passports, one from Ukraine and one from Saudi Arabia, each with his photo but with names and addresses that she didn’t recognize. What actually surprised her the most, however, were the books she discovered in one of his suitcases. Written in simple English with many photos, they were all about life in the United States and how to act American. That’s when it dawned on her that the man she had been dating was a spy.

Copyright © 2015 (Michelle Parsons, Getting Back on Your Path). All Rights Reserved.

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A Diabolical Scam

She should have known better. Nothing is for free, and there are always strings attached to everything. She was far too trusting, and she knows that now. But no one could have guessed what this group was up to, and if their niece hadn’t warned them when she did, they would probably not be around today to tell their tale. 

It began with a phone call the day Louise was heading out the door for her book club. She didn’t have time to talk to him then, but she liked his voice so she told him to call back the next day after 2 p.m. She would be home then and would answer all his questions. He said they were probably paying too much for their gas and electricity and that there were new companies now making the industry more competitive. Prices were finally coming down, and savings up to 20% were possible. 

If only she had asked him more questions, but she didn’t. Instead, she just answered all his questions about their energy use so he could calculate what category they fit into. As he explained, the larger the home, the more savings there would be, and when he heard that they also owned a very large home in the country that they seldom used, he practically guaranteed a substantial savings. So one by one, she carefully described in detail the exact size of both of the homes, the number of rooms, how many occupants there were, the various appliances they had and what time of day they used most of their energy. Were they home most days, or was their consumption primarily in the evenings only? What about weekends? And how often did they visit their second home? If that one was vacant most of the time, which it was, then he highly recommended switching to a vacation saver program which was offered by only two of the new companies. 

All of this made sense to Louise. How could they possibly give her a quote on possible savings if they didn’t know how large the homes were or how often they were there.  In the end, though, the time she invested on the phone seemed worth it all when she was told they qualified for a 17% reduction if they chose the third company on their list and if they were willing to pay monthly by direct debit. 

Her husband, Henry, on the other hand, was absolutely livid when he discovered much later that not only had Louise divulged all the personal information about their properties and their day-to-day lives, but she had also given a complete stranger their bank account information, both cell phone numbers and all three of their email addresses. “What were you thinking?” he yelled. “How could you have been so stupid??”   

Crying and nearly hysterical, Louise kept saying how sorry she was over and over again. She had only intended to save them some money because Henry was always complaining about how high their energy bills were and what a waste of good money it was. She could kick herself now, but he sounded so nice and polite and she trusted him immediately. 

Henry felt guilty later for taking it out on her. Besides, it was all water under the bridge now, and they should be grateful to just be alive with most of their money and both homes still in their names.  It was their niece who had saved the day when she happened to drive by the country home one night and noticed a strange car entering through the open gate. That’s when they discovered that someone had moved in and was living there part of the time, only leaving when Henry and Louise visited one weekend a month. Much later, after the police did a full investigation, were they able to piece it all together. A prostitution ring that serviced elite pedophiles who wanted a private and luxurious setting safe from public eyes. Working with computer hackers and legal forgers, they mostly went after only the big estates.  Step One:  identify the perfect home in the perfect setting. Location, location, location;  Step Two:  access all the owners’ personal and private information, monitor their whereabouts through their email and cell phones, and then begin the transfer of all their assets to a holding trust; and Step Three:  dispose of the original owners and replace them temporarily with imposters.

Copyright © 2015 (Michelle Parsons, Getting Back on Your Path). All Rights Reserved.


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The Director1

No one could have foreseen the lengths he would go to try and destroy her. She became an obsession of his, and while he pretended to be a fan, he secretly plotted acts of sabotage… all meticulously and deviously planned out to the minutest detail. While the camera was on her, he was backstage with all the props that he needed. She never saw it coming, and she never knew it was him. 

He began by giving her a part in his upcoming film, a coveted role that caused envy amongst even the most sought after of actresses. They couldn’t understand why he chose her, a newcomer to the stage who he claimed to have been besotted with when he saw her in a laundry commercial. Beautiful, yes, blonde and sophisticated, but an unknown who they said could never carry a lead role. Girl next door type and perfect to take home to mother but too nice to make it in Hollywood  … where the throat cutters and back stabbers were sure to make mincemeat of her before she would ever even have the chance to prove herself. 

At first, everyone thought it was just nerves or she was just plain clumsy. A trained dancer, though, it was surprising that she was always slipping or tripping over something … but by the time she had picked herself up and looked back to see what it was, he had it removed by then and was running up to her with great concern. Production would be halted while he carried on and fussed over her injury, barking out orders for ice and pillows and immediate bed rest for his star.  Then calls to her husband and a personal visit to her home to see how she was, along with two dozen of her favorite roses, chocolates and a handwritten note. The director’s pet, is what they called her in the beginning, and they began to resent her even more. Who was she to get all his attention? 

Then it happened again … and again. One strange injury after another. Some were from falls she had, but others were from accidents that never made any sense. A dress that seemed to catch fire on its own and burns to her lower legs and feet. A near drowning after a rope snapped and she fell 100 feet into a freezing cold river in the dead of winter. A severe facial allergy from a new makeup and a humiliating rash, along with puffy eyes half closed and a swollen face. Then a bizarre attack by what they later figured out where robotic birds that attacked her head and clawed at her hair while they filmed the picnic scene. 

After a while, some actually began to feel sorry for her while others started taking bets as to when the next catastrophe would occur. These were the ones that laughed the night he slipped something into her drink during a party on the set, and she did a strip tease in front of the producer right before she threw up in front of everyone else a few minutes later. Once again, another call to her husband who had to come pick her up.  Half dressed and smelling of vomit, she was propped up in a chair and left there until he arrived to clean her up. 

It wasn’t until the last scene of the film when the brakes failed on the car she was driving that the police were finally called in and a full investigation was ordered. One by one, they were all questioned and eventually cleared. No one would point the finger at the Director, even though many had figured out he was behind it all. Too afraid they would never work again, they chose to stay loyal … and to stay quiet. 

Years later, after the Director was dead and buried and they were no longer afraid of what he could do to them, the truth began to come out. What they mistakenly thought was favoritism turned out to be just the opposite. He didn’t admire and adore her as they had all assumed. He hated her. Not just because she was beautiful, talented and nice but because the one the Director loved the most loved her.  When he couldn’t have him for himself, he went after her instead.

Copyright © 2015 (Michelle Parsons, Getting Back on Your Path). All Rights Reserved.


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The Rabbi

He always got a laugh. A natural comedian and a gifted storyteller who, like a magician, could cast a spell on his audience. Drawn in by his charm and quick wit, he owned the stage he walked out on. It was his for as long as he chose to remain, and while other acts would come and go, he was the one who stayed on long after the lights went out. A master of ceremonies and an award winning performance … but no one saw the whip he unleashed. 

From an early age, he was always the class clown and the one who made as much fun of himself as he did of others. Born in New York City in 1906 to Russian Jewish immigrants, he was given the birth name of Calev Ze’ev Iscariot. That was the first joke on him, and the second was a nickname given to him many years later, when they began calling him ‘The Rabbi’ because he was always making fun of the Jewish religion. The black sheep of the family, he ran away from home at the age of 15, lied about his age and began working in vaudeville as a stage hand. A new identity, and a new name, were created. 

Willing to work long hours for little pay, The Rabbi was a quick study playing any part they gave him. Always dreaming of the day when he would make it big and everyone back home would hear about his success, he kept looking for the niche that would separate him from all the other want-to-be’s. It wasn’t until he tried stand-up comedy that he knew he had arrived. This was it. This was what he was meant to do. Now he had them. 

And so it began …. another legend was born. Witty and entertaining one-liners mixed with stories from his childhood and the neighborhood he grew up in. The audience always laughed when he described himself as a nerdy but nice Jewish boy born with curly hair, glasses and a large hook nose. Then they laughed even harder when he described his mother as one who never wanted to burden anyone else but was a nit-picking nag who was always interfering in his life or scheming to marry off his sister, the Jewish princess, to the banker’s son next door. One by one, the laughs just kept coming, as they all got labeled … from the grandmother right down to the paper boy. Guilt-ridden and anxious, yet greedy and dishonest. Shifty misers who counted their coins and collected their diamonds. Overprotective and overbearing, loud and obnoxious, clever and cunning. A cast of characters who all played their part in The Rabbi’s tale of the Jewish American. 

When it was over and The Rabbi took a bow, the crowd stood up as they applauded. No one could remember the last time they had laughed so hard.   Priceless but memorable stories that seeped into one’s blood, told by a Jew about his own family and his own people. A genocide from words.

Copyright © 2015 (Michelle Parsons, Getting Back on Your Path). All Rights Reserved.

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the ties that bind

They finally admitted it. They were afraid of their son. Their first born, and the one who was Thomas’ namesake. Head strong and competitive from an early age, TJ began to walk before other children his age. A year later, he had disassembled his crib in the middle of the night and was found in the back yard the next morning trying to catch a tadpole in the pond. More amused than angry, and more amazed than concerned, his parents believed they had given birth to a mechanical prodigy whose gifts should be enhanced and not discouraged. 

He had always had temper tantrums and meltdowns when he didn’t win or couldn’t get his way, but the older TJ got the more determined he became that no one was going to tell him where to go or what to do. By the age of five, his parents had to install alarms on the front and back doors so they knew where he was at all times, and then six months later an outside latch was put on his bedroom door.   They would lock him in when they couldn’t calm him down, and eventually things would return to normal again   … until the next outburst would occur. But it wasn’t until the day that he was locked in for kicking his sister that his parents really began to worry. Less than an hour later, his mother had the shock of her life when she sensed someone behind her in the kitchen. Turning quickly around, she found TJ standing there staring at her with a satisfied but defiant look on his face. Screaming for her husband to come right away, the two of them finally pieced together how he escaped from his locked bedroom. Climbing out of his second story bedroom window and shinnying down their oak tree, he walked the short distance to the corner hardware store and convinced the store clerk to let him charge some tools on his parents’ account. Returning home with them, he then climbed back up the tree and back into the bedroom, and five minutes later, he had the door off its hinges. He was only 8 years old. 

Then there was the incident where they caught him dissecting the neighbor’s pet rabbit and were even more horrified to discover that he had burned it to death first. He had always been fascinated with animals and marine life, but this was the first evidence they had that he ever tortured anything. When word got out about the rabbit, the neighbors started keeping their distance. Who could do something like that to an innocent animal?  But the final straw was the knife episode when he chased after his younger brother and the babysitter one night until they finally sought refuge in the upstairs bathroom, both refusing to come out until his parents had returned home. It was at that very moment they decided they couldn’t live with him anymore. There were two other children whose safety they had to think of, as well as their own, and the counseling and drug treatments were clearly not helping. They had talked to other families who had been through this, and everyone recommended a military school for troubled children who had behavioral and emotional issues and a problem with authority. They agreed that sounded like TJ.

For the first month, there was to be no contact with him as he adjusted to his new environment. Then one call was allowed once a week. Finally a weekend visit nearly three months after they checked him in. But before they would pick him up at his dorm room, his parents had an appointment with the school psychologist to get an update on TJ’s progress. Holding a fairly thick folder of test reports, Mrs. Baldwin hesitated at first at how to begin. She could tell by their anxious faces they were worried about the results. They knew their son, and they knew he was not normal, but could they ever fully comprehend what she was about to tell them? She would start off slowly and ease them into this. An extreme case that needed to be handled delicately. 

So she began by telling them what his strengths and interests were, some of which they knew and some of which they were surprised by. His mechanical aptitude was off the charts. A computer genius as well.  A strong interest in botany, biology, pharmacology and the human brain.  He would make an excellent neurosurgeon or medical researcher. Then she paused for a moment before she began going over his personality traits. How do you tell a parent that, if he was her child, she would have him euthanized or locked up for life? Then she began listing them one by one:  Lacks compassion or empathy. No regard for society or its rules. Loves to watch pain and suffering. Wants to dominate and control. Destructive. Cruel. Sadistic. Morbid fascination with death and dying.  Incapable of love.  Has no feelings. 

Then the diagnosis she was dreading to tell them:   a malignant narcissistic sociopath.

Copyright © 2015 (Michelle Parsons, Getting Back on Your Path). All Rights Reserved.

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The Snake Whisperer

When she finally got the strength to leave him, and her bags were packed, the voice that had encouraged her before began to taunt her. It was her mother’s voice, she was certain. It had been years since she had heard it, but she recognized it immediately. Kind and loving, a smoker’s voice that kept getting deeper as she grew older.  Also, it was only her mother who called her Peggy while everyone else called her Margaret.  

The first time she heard the voice, she was standing in the kitchen scrubbing a stubborn pan that she could not get clean enough no matter how hard she tried. The more she scrubbed, the more irritated she became over another dinner eaten in silence. Sometimes she would make the effort to ask how his day was, no longer really interested in his answer but just testing to see if he would inquire about hers. Occasionally he would, but more often than not he wouldn’t, and the rage inside her began to build. So when her mother’s voice said: “He doesn’t love you anymore, Peggy”, she suddenly let go of the pan, dropped to her knees and began to sob. Rocking back and forth, it was like a storm erupting inside of her. A storm that was a long time coming but finally here. 

It wasn’t like Margaret hadn’t thought of leaving him before  … but whenever she had considered it, she worried about what would happen to him and then changed her mind. She knew they had grown apart, and it was obvious the passion wasn’t there anymore, but he was always a good provider, responsible and hard working. He didn’t deserve a wife who after all these years would just up and walk away just because she was bored and wanted more. Better to choose comfort and stability as one grows older than passion, which comes one day and is gone the next. Besides, he was so dependent on her, and she couldn’t imagine him surviving on his own. The shock alone might kill him.  

So she stayed. Until the silence became deafening and a voice she trusted told her the truth.   This wasn’t love they shared. They were just roommates really. Financial partners at best. Then the voice told her that whatever they had in the beginning was gone now, and they were just stuck for old time’s sake. Or because they were just too afraid to leave. Too fearful that what was around the corner was worse than what they were dealing with today. “It’s the best thing for him also, Peggy. He will be grateful to you later.” That was all Margaret needed to hear to finally make up her mind. 

But then the voice began to change. Just as she was starting to get strong, Margaret heard the voice say: “If you go, you will be poor the rest of your life.” Then a few days later: “Everyone will turn against you. They will hate you for leaving him. You will regret this.” No matter where she went or what she did, the voice followed her, stalking her and nagging her with incessant negativity. Always managing to shake it off, Margaret carried on with her plans until the day the voice became even meaner and more controlling, telling her she was a paranoid schizophrenic who needed help. Breaking down and sobbing again, Margaret kept pleading with the voice to identify itself. This couldn’t be her mother, who had always told Margaret she could do anything she wanted. Maybe it was her own fears and insecurities coming to the surface … but if it was her own voice, why did a sudden feeling of peace and relief wash over her when she finally made her decision and asked for a divorce?

When the voice wouldn’t stop, Margaret began to pray. Every night, she asked for God’s help … but it wasn’t until the middle of the night two weeks later when she heard the haunting voice say: “Your mother always hated you” that she realized whose voice this was. This was not her mother. This was her mother’s twin.

Copyright © 2015 (Michelle Parsons, Getting Back on Your Path). All Rights Reserved.


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The Cellar Door

It had been a long time since she had climbed down those steps as a child, but as soon as she opened the door, she recognized the smell. A musty combination of coffee and jam, and tears came to her eyes when she remembered the last time she saw her grandmother. A proud, hard-working woman who had held the family together during the toughest of times. Stern and no-nonsense until the chores were done … but the first one to suggest a taffy pull and the last one to stomp on your childhood dreams. Pork chops and applesauce and sliced white bread. Those were Harriet’s memories of her grandmother who died the year she graduated from high school. 

As Harriet grew older, the family began to separate with everyone going their own way. A few attempts at a family reunion in the beginning but finally no excuse to go back there. The home had been sold the year her grandmother passed away, then repainted a different shade of blue, and the one-car garage converted later to another bedroom. In all these years, this was the only news Harriet ever heard about the house and no one Harriet knew had any contact with the family who bought it 25 years ago. So when Harriet returned for her first high school reunion, she hesitated about driving by the old neighborhood. The house she had grown up in was torn down the year her son Billie was born, but it was her grandmother’s home that kept calling to her now. How wonderful it would be to see it again, but what if it looked too run down or too many changes had been made? Then she would be sorry later if seeing the house again took away any of her happy memories. Best to leave well enough alone and keep the past behind you was what she finally concluded.

Or so Harriet thought until the morning after the reunion when she saw her grandmother’s old house for sale in the local newspaper. Listed as an “Estate Sale” with furniture included, the owner must have passed away suddenly. The ad went on to state there would be an open house and auction of the personal belongings at 2 p.m. today, and the public was cordially invited and encouraged to attend. Convinced that fate had intervened and the Universe wanted her to see the home again, Harriet was there promptly when the doors opened.  When she walked in, she was immediately handed a list of the personal items that were to be auctioned off that day as well as a description of the house itself that would be sold at a later date after requisite inspections were made by any interested parties. Harriet scanned the page quickly and then began to look around, searching for any reminders of her grandmother. Other than the garage conversion, a new roof and new paint, the home surprisingly looked exactly as she remembered. Original kitchen and original bathrooms … even sections of the carpet looked the same to Harriet. It clearly needed a lot of work, but the bones were good and if she could get it for the minimum bid, it would be a real bargain. 

She tossed and turned that night, going over every detail of the house in Wyoming. It could be a second home for her family and a chance to reunite everyone she cared about from her past. Perfect for summer vacations and a great winter destination at Christmas. So as soon as she woke up, and before she even had her first cup of coffee, Harriet was on the phone with the realtor expressing her interest and getting details of what was needed to make her bid. Although the woman remembered her and seemed happy to hear her voice, Harriet was disappointed to learn there were two other interested parties and even more surprised to hear that what they both desired the most was the storm cellar. Now marketed with today’s jargon as a panic room/bomb shelter, the realtor said both buyers had been looking for quite a while for a special room like this and warned that the bid may go considerably higher than she would want to pay. But fearing that she would kick herself later if she didn’t proceed, Harriet went ahead and authorized inspections of the property which would take place at the end of the week. 

When Harriet returned home from work on Friday, there was a call from the Wyoming realtor asking her to call her back as soon as possible. A problem had come up during the inspections, and a further examination was recommended. Something about water leaking from the back wall of the storm cellar, behind the canned goods, and the inspector needed permission to remove a few shelves. Agreeing to the additional charge and worrying that she was now in over her head with maintenance issues, Harriet spent two more sleepless nights waiting for the details. But it wasn’t what she expected at all, and the inspector who called her with the results said that in all the years he had been in the business he had never seen anything quite like it. The leak was minor, a broken pipe of some kind, but it was what was behind the leaking wall that was most exciting … and he had found the switch himself. A narrow but fairly deep passageway that connected to two wider tunnels with openings to several buildings on the main street. The largest hotel and bar in town where they celebrated many family birthdays, the bank where Harriet opened her first savings account, the railroad depot and the mayor’s home. The FBI was now being called in, but if one officer was right, there was also a third tunnel that connected the depot to the next town over.  Also, the realtor would be calling her soon, but clearly the sale would be delayed for the time being until a further investigation was conducted. 

Too stunned to comment at first and then almost afraid to ask any details, there was an awkward pause until Harriet finally responded: “Any idea how long these tunnels have been there?” “Quite old, I imagine. Perhaps 50 years or more” was the answer she received.

Copyright © 2015 (Michelle Parsons, Getting Back on Your Path). All Rights Reserved.

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Everytown USA

The building had been abandoned for years.  Neglected and lifeless, it now sits out in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by weeds and cracked cement.  A depressing eyesore to be sure, and no one in town bothers to check on it any more.  Only grumblings every once in a while that the owner is too greedy to lower the rent and too cheap to renovate. 

With no sign of activity in front and nothing of interest to focus on, a typical passerby would just keep on driving. But if that same traveler would return after sunset and follow the driveway to the back of the property, he might just find something worth writing home about. A few trucks parked close to the building, some lights on downstairs, and a security guard next to the back entrance. Noises coming from inside the warehouse. Sounds of carts moving, boxes being loaded and four men in adjoining cubicles talking on the telephone. Trained by the best in the business, they are patient, polite and eager to please ….wearing different hats for different calls.  Talented with accents, they can sell anything. One minute, a Scottish bloke selling insurance and the next, a computer geek from Mumbai. Different names, different packaging and different prices for the same exact product, but a path too long and twisted to ever uncover the real Wizard at the top … who won’t stop until he controls it ALL. 

A car pulls up with its lights off, and while the driver waits with the engine running, the passenger gets out quickly. An exchange is made with the security guard, and in less than a minute, the car is back on the road again. Then a noise is heard from up above, in the darkened second story of the building. A weak and desperate cry is uttered when the car is heard pulling away. Tied up and too drugged to ever escape, the Wizard’s victims lie in the dark struggling to keep their sanity while they wait for help to come.

Copyright © 2015 (Michelle Parsons, Getting Back on Your Path). All Rights Reserved.

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Boys will be Boys

They were newlyweds, but he always left her every Tuesday night. She would kiss him goodbye and then stand at the window and watch until his car disappeared from view, knowing he would not return until long after she had gone to sleep. It was the night of the week she always dreaded, and although he explained it all to her while they were dating, it didn’t bother her then. They had lived in different towns and never saw each other mid-week anyways. But now, whenever Margaret asked any questions, he would get defensive and clam up as if he had something to hide. She would look into his eyes and see a different person, a fugitive on the run or a game player who has just been caught with his hands in the cookie jar. Then a flicker of meanness would appear in what were normally the kindest eyes she had ever seen. It was only a flash, but the first time she picked up on it, she had to grab the door handle to steady herself. This was not the man she thought she had married.  

She just wanted to know what it was they did at their meetings. She wasn’t being nosy. She just couldn’t understand why they had to meet every week, why it went on all night and why it all had to be such a secret. The little bit she was told sounded innocent enough and admirable actually. Acts of charity and fellowship where family and civic duty came first, along with the pursuit of truth and a demonstration of brotherly love. But when Peter laughingly described to Margaret what his initiation into the lodge had been like, she wasn’t too impressed. Typical frat boy behavior was what she concluded. More immature and silly than worrisome, and “boys will be boys” is how her mother-in-law responded when Margaret explained what had been going on.   Her own mother had died when Margaret was only thirteen and Peter’s mother had welcomed her with open arms, introducing her proudly to everyone as the daughter she had always wanted. In only six months, she had become a trusted confidant and advisor and Margaret felt blessed to have her living so close by. So when her mother-in-law didn’t show any concern about the meetings, Margaret felt relieved at first and tried to ignore the nagging feelings of distrust. She would just concentrate on all the positives instead. No marriage was perfect, and she knew when she met Peter that he was the one. She was just being a clingy newlywed because she was new to town, no longer working and hadn’t made any friends yet.

But when another month passed and she asked if she could meet some of the other lodge wives and Peter kept coming up with excuses, Margaret began to get suspicious again. If family comes first, why are they not allowed to even meet each other? The more she asked about this, the more stubborn and evasive he became, and the Peter that had charmed her so much while they were dating now punished her with his cold hostility. If she crossed the line and went too far, he always made her pay for it. So gradually, she learned what was permissible to talk about and what wasn’t. 

Once, when she actually caught him in a lie and thought he would have to confess now, he somehow managed to turn it all around and make it look as if she was the one with the problem. He said she was alone too much, had become paranoid and needed help. Before she knew what was happening, Peter had made an appointment with his mother’s personal physician and was taking a day off from work to accompany her himself. It was Peter and not Margaret who did all the talking, and in less than 30 minutes, they were exiting the doctor’s office with a prescription for a sedative to calm her anxiety along with a promise on her part to meet with a therapist that the lodge recommended. 

At first, Margaret actually thought Peter may have been right and the problem was with her. The drug they had given her seemed to work wonders. She was sleeping much better and felt more relaxed. When lodge night rolled around, she just kissed Peter sweetly on the lips and wished him a good evening. He held her close and stroked her back like he always used to and promised to be home as early as he could. But as the weeks went by, it was as if the drug was wearing off because the anxiety started building up again and the fights began to escalate. The dosage was increased a few times, and then a new prescription was substituted. Therapy sessions went from once a week to 10 times per month, and while Peter’s life remained calm and stable, hers was spiraling out of control. 

If she hadn’t seen that ad and met those other ladies, she would probably be locked up in a mental asylum now. Or at least that’s what she was told they do ….  to the troublemakers they were not able to program or convert.

Copyright © 2015 (Michelle Parsons, Getting Back on Your Path). All Rights Reserved.

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The Thirteenth Disciple

When the curtain was pulled open at just the right angle, O’Connell could see all of it.  He sometimes had to adjust his chair and move the easel a bit, but the result was spectacular.  Exactly the image he needed to create his masterpiece, and the best part of it, was that no one but the cat could see him.  He would work from sunrise to sunset producing his version, more prolific than any artist that has ever lived.  But as daylight began to disappear and he could no longer see the reflection he needed, he would start cleaning his brushes and storing away the finished canvases in the back of the studio.  When his work was finally complete and his evening meal consumed, O’Connell would return to his chair and the artist he had been during the day became a peeping tom at night. 

He was an astute observer of what often went unnoticed by others, both the organic and the inorganic, the dark and the light, the real and the imagined.  Fantasy became his lifeline.  Having stripped himself of a personal identity, he lived his life through others, copying what made them unique and special, altering it slightly and then claiming it as his own.  A non-conformist who could never give back or play on anyone else’s team, he couldn’t compete when he was just being himself … but with a slightly modified mask that could fool others, O’Connell became the master of ceremonies. 

He never did it just for the money or just for the fame.  It was more complicated than that.  If asked, and if answered honestly, O’Connell would say he did it mainly for a seat at the table.  A thirteenth disciple so to speak.  One that was surrounded by the best and the brightest and revered and admired by the rest.  A title that would impress, a certificate to hang on the wall and a badge to wear at all times.  He could see the final product in his mind’s eye. 

When his work began to be noticed and he had established his own following, it all took off for him then.  O’Connell not only had a seat at the table, he had a podium as well.  He went from artist to teacher and showed others of the same persuasion his exact technique for mass reproduction.  As time went on and others made their contributions, it became easier and easier to duplicate the great masters.  In some parts of the world, even robots were assisting, and although the quality of the work kept going down, it happened so gradually that O’Connell was sure no one else noticed. 

After enough surplus had been built up, the replacement program began.  First to leave were the curators and docents who could tell the difference.  Then the original works themselves, some disappearing in the middle of the night and others during a designated remodel.  No one was the wiser when the O’Connell copy was put in its place in an expensive looking frame and a fancy light hanging above it.  Crowds still gathered around, listening with close attention to the new docents telling their fascinating tales. 

When the first release didn’t alert the authorities and life went on as usual, O’Connell stepped it up a notch.  At the same time they expanded the program from local shops and art centers to regional galleries and museums, he began copying ceramics.  Like a diving board that keeps getting raised a bit higher with each jump, the copycats became more and more daring.  Rugs, furniture, jewelry and sculptures.  They tried it all.   Nothing was too challenging for them, and no venue was off limits. 

It was a genius plan, and O’Connell had it all worked out.  Exoneration and a seat at the table in exchange for the most valuable art collection in the world.  Everyone would have to pay attention to him then.

Copyright © 2015 (Michelle Parsons, Getting Back on Your Path). All Rights Reserved.

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a ticket out

There were vans and taxi cabs to meet them when they got off the bus from Kansas.  It was late, the parking lot was dark, and everyone was confused at first.  But within a few minutes, it was all sorted out and everyone knew where they were heading next.  Most were going by van and were being dropped at warehouses or churches while a select few were lucky enough to be taken by taxi to private homes that had recently been vacated.  Before they all left, each was given a packet of materials to read as soon as they arrived at their destination and were told to check in with their bosses before 9 a.m. the next morning.  Once again, the transfer went off without a hitch.  They had done this so many times, it was a regular routine now. 

It was still dark when Ted woke up the next morning.  His body clock was two hours ahead and having slept a lot on the bus, he was ready to get up.  Besides, he wanted plenty of time to re-read the information he was given and to scope out his surroundings.  It was too dark last night to see much of anything, but he knew the ocean was close by and there was nothing he wanted more than to walk on a beach barefooted and to hear the waves crashing on the shore.  Just like in the movies.  This was his chance, and he wasn’t going to blow it this time.  So he quickly gulped down the coffee the church provided, ate a stale pastry and then took to the streets to find that ocean before sunrise.  His schedule was light today.  Only a protest demonstration on campus that he had to participate in and a meeting with his new boss after that. 

Alice’s first morning didn’t go as smoothly.  The bed in the warehouse that was designated for her had apparently been given to someone else, and she was left high and dry with nothing but a fold out cot that had sprung coils and smelled funny.  Having tossed and turned all night, she woke up to a stiff neck and back, a headache and a stuffed up nose.  She was allergic to something in this hell hole, and she was now wondering why she ever agreed to this cockamamie scheme.  At the time they approached her, she had just narrowly escaped from another fight and was desperate to get out of there.  Anything would have sounded good to her then.  But this was not what she had imagined and so far no better than where she had come from. 

It was Bob and Carol who really hit the jackpot.  They exchanged glances when their taxi driver stopped at the gate and entered a code, both recognizing immediately this was no ordinary home.  Then when they spotted a water fountain with one of those giant mermaid statues in it, a nervous giggle erupted from Carol.  At just that moment, Bob also spied the 4-car garage and was beside himself with joy.  This was too much to take in all at once, and they just couldn’t believe it was all theirs.  This was not a home.  This was more like a museum with furniture too nice to sit in and expensive looking art on every  wall.  The master bedroom was larger than the entire house that Carol grew up in, and there was a swimming pool in the backyard and a tennis court off to the side. 

When Alice called her boss and complained about the bed, she was promised a better location and a better job even.  She had originally been guaranteed a position in the food service industry but was elated when she was asked this morning about how fast she can run and if she had ever had any acting experience.  She had always been good at sports and the only A she had ever gotten in school was in drama class, so this job was going to be right up her alley.  She would get all the details later but she was to pose as a helpless old woman in a park and would need to pick up a body suit, a wig and a cane at the back of the hospice shop behind Denny’s before noon. 

Neither Bob nor Carol slept much, both too excited about their new home.  As if it was the night before Christmas, Carol kept waking up and going out to the living room to look at the swimming pool all lit up.  She had never seen anything so beautiful in her entire life, and on the last trip out before the alarm finally went off at 7 a.m., she stopped in the hallway to glance at a photo she had missed the night before.  Picking it up, she looked at the smiling couple and then concentrated on the pretty woman in particular.  She then walked over to the mirror and stood there for a minute carefully examining her own looks.  Would she be able to pull it off?  She was a few years older and a few pounds heavier, but the reconstruction surgery in Leavenworth had clearly been a success.

Copyright © 2015 (Michelle Parsons, Getting Back on Your Path). All Rights Reserved.

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No Expectations

They lived just like their parents had and their parents before them, in the same house in the same village doing the same work.  Forgotten people in a forgotten land.  They rose each morning with the rooster and worked the land around them, each family member doing their part.  They knew what was expected of them, and they knew what to expect from their day.  Little changed in this part of the world. 

No matter what they did, they could not get ahead.  No one could in this godforsaken place.  There was never enough of what they needed, and they needed so much.  Always hungry and always tired, year after year, the same struggle and the same fears.  When would the rains come?  They always asked, and when the answer didn’t come, they began to pray.  Would God hear them?  Surely, he knew of their struggles and knew that without water they could not move forward.  Everything would stop, and everyone would just wait.  Day after day.  Maybe they will come tomorrow, they always said, and then everything will be alright again. 

When they weren’t praying for water, they were praying for all the dying to stop.  Some died from no food, some died from sickness, and some just plain died from no hope.  But someone in their small village was always dying, and it wasn’t right that they had this to deal with also. 

Every once in a while, a stranger would come through with a box or a cart of something and a whole stack of promises and guarantees.  He knew what they needed and what would help.  A preacher and a teacher.  He would bring news of surrounding areas and would sell them the latest remedy and talk the good talk.  A flim-flam man to some, but the most exciting thing that had happened to them in a long time.  Maybe he was their saviour, the one sent by God to help.  When no one else comes and there is nowhere else to turn, they listen to the only voice they can hear.

It was a stranger who told them of a place where they could go to stop the sickness from spreading.   A place that would help with one of their biggest fears.  So they walked for miles on a dusty path following the directions they were given, taking with them only those that were strong enough to make the journey.  They had such high hope this time and such faith that finally their prayers had been answered. 

A long line of those from other villages awaited them when they arrived.   They stood patiently like the others for hours in the hot sun, without food or water, just waiting for their turn.  As they got closer to the front, they could finally peer inside the building and see who would be greeting them.   White faces and white jackets.  No color anywhere except the red bands put on their arms when they sat down, and no one telling them what was happening or what to expect.  Nothing in writing either for they could not read.  So they just followed what the others did and extended their left arm when approached.  After all, the stranger said it was a good thing, and when it was all over, they made the journey back home again, relieved that the trip was behind them and full of faith that a new life was taking shape. 

When the first child died two weeks later, they thought the family was just unlucky.  He had a high fever and a strange rash in the beginning and then later could not keep any food down no matter what they fed him.  He went so fast there was no time to even get help.  Then two other children got sick, one the exact same age and the other three years older, followed by an old man and a mother of four.  All complained of severe headaches, and all died except the oldest child.  It wasn’t until a few more villagers became sick that they made the connection.  It was only those that had made the journey that were sick and dying now.

Copyright © 2015 (Michelle Parsons, Getting Back on Your Path). All Rights Reserved.

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The Day the Music Stopped

There were five of them, and wherever they went, they walked together.  One single line, arm- in-arm.  Everyone else had to step aside and let them by as it was obvious from one quick glance that they were impenetrable.  They were not going to break apart and let someone else in, though many tried over the years.  If you were not one of the five, you were out.  You were a nobody with almost no hope and no chance. 

They were what everyone wanted.  A winning combination that could not be beat.  An athlete, quick on his feet and highly competitive, a musician that was part actor/part poet, an intellectual that was part expert/part snob, a businessman who excelled in takeovers and mergers, and a “humanitarian” who raised money for fake charities.  

All were beautiful, sensual and desirable.  Five glorious male bodies, two with female identities and one that was androgynous.  A heterosexual, two bisexuals and two homosexuals.  A liberal, two conservatives, an independent and an undecided.  Three Christians, a Jew and an atheist that supported both the prophets Muhammed and Brigham Young.  Three artists, a military leader and a mechanic.  Two child advocates, two dog lovers and a cat enthusiast.  All the bases were covered.

Together it worked, and together they controlled everyone and everything.  Charming fast talkers with the gift of gab.  Natural born salesmen who could see a door opening when the rest of the world saw it as slammed shut.  Confident and calm, even in the worst of times.  No one would see it coming, and no one would suspect a thing. They would begin with America.

Hollywood was their first target.  When the best and the brightest were gone, they went after the oil executives, Wall Street and then Congress, followed closely by the auto industry, the airlines, the banks, every retail giant both east and west of the Mississippi, and finally, Nashville.  Then they went global.

They knew the drugs to give everyone.  The ones that would sedate and the ones that would agitate.  The brainwashing and white washing hallucinogens combined with voice command, sex and subliminal messaging.  Mind, body and spirit control.  No one would object because no one knew it was happening. 

It all worked until the day when the musician left … and the music stopped.

Copyright © 2015 (Michelle Parsons, Getting Back on Your Path). All Rights Reserved.

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Swimming the Witch

When the two little girls died suddenly and without any sign of illness, the town knew who did it.  They had seen this happen before, and it was not natural.  Two healthy and sweet girls who were playing happily together one minute and then dead the next.  It was almost that quick, and no explanation made any sense. 

It wasn’t long before they took it upon themselves to look for her.  It had been a few weeks since anyone had seen her.  She would surface every now and then when she needed something, and everyone watched her closely whenever she was spotted.  They knew she was different from them, and they watched from a distance with distrust and fear.  Always dressed in black with her hair tied back in a bun, she walked a bit stooped over carrying her ferret on her shoulder.  She spoke only when necessary and when she would make eye contact, which was seldom, it felt as if she was looking directly into their soul.  So most just stepped aside when she came near and almost no one ever challenged her, too afraid at what she might do to them.   

But this time was different.  These two girls were the favorites of the town, best friends whose parents were good people.  They would not just look away this time, and as soon as the girls were laid to rest, they gathered together in the town hall and made a pact to hunt down their killer.  They would take her in the middle of the night while she was sleeping and not able to defend herself.  They knew she had secret powers so it had to be done quickly.  Also, there was that ferret and some cats to contend with. 

When it was over and they finally had her, the town was told there would be a trial.  Standing room only, everyone came to hear the facts of the case.  Most had already decided she was guilty, but they still wanted to see all the drama play out.  They just knew they would talk about this trial for years to come and didn’t want to miss any of it.  

They first listened to the testimony of how the girls died, what their last minutes were like.  Then came two witnesses, one of them their school teacher and the other a neighbor, who both testified they watched the girls take a different path home that day.  Neither thought anything of it, though, because they often saw the girls playing near the woods.  Then followed the general  store owner who produced a list of suspicious goods that had been sold to the defendant over the past 6 months.  Finally, the written declaration of a townsperson who lived near the woods and saw the accused talking to the girls three weeks before they died. 

It took less than 15 minutes for the jury to make their decision.  Everyone was still in the courtroom talking excitedly to one another when they returned with their verdict.  When she was pronounced guilty of murder by poison and black magic, all eyes turned to the defendant for her reaction.   But to their surprise and disappointment, she remained calm with no expression.   Since she knew it was coming, she had decided in advance not to give them the satisfaction of seeing her anguish and pain.  She just stared straight ahead, not focusing on anything in particular, and then stood up when they came to take her away. 

She knew there was no escaping death and fully expected to be hung in the town square for the entertainment of all the onlookers.  But when they showed up the next morning and dragged her down to the river, she could feel the dread and terror rise in her.  It started in her toes and filled up every inch of her.  When they tied up her hands and feet, she looked around at the crowd that had gathered pleading with her eyes for someone to stop this …. but there was not a sympathetic or compassionate face to be seen.   Only morbid curiosity mixed with a sick desire to watch another one’s suffering.  Just when she thought she might pass out, she could hear off in the distance a young boy running toward them, yelling excitedly:     “Hurry!  Hurry!  Come Now. They are swimming the witch.” 

After they dropped her in the water, it didn’t take long until she rose back up to the surface.  If she had sunk, she was like them —  but if she came back up, she was deemed to be a witch with a different gas inside and a different God she prayed to. 

On the following morning, at dawn, she was burned at the stake.

Copyright © 2015 (Michelle Parsons, Getting Back on Your Path). All Rights Reserved.


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She died on a Wednesday morning before dawn.  She had been gasping for air most of the night with no relief and was too weak to get up or even cry out for help.  It was only her sister Charlotte who knew she had passed away, and funeral arrangements were made quickly and efficiently.  She was the last member of the family to die, and by now, it was almost routine.  Charlotte notified the mortuary when they opened at 9:00 a.m., and her sister’s body was picked up within the hour.  A call was also placed to the pastor’s wife who coordinated the standard church service when a death occurred in their small community.   No condolences were given or offers to help with anything else.  Just questions regarding her sister’s full name, when and where she was born, and a few pertinent facts about her life.  She was then put on a hold for a few minutes until it was determined there was a slot available on Saturday at 12:00 pm.  Would that be enough time?  Charlotte got out her appointment calendar and saw that Saturday morning was busy but by noon she would be free. 

Almost no one attended the funeral, but Charlotte did not expect a large crowd.  They had lived in Middleton for less than a year, arriving soon after their last brother had died.  The family had moved a lot in the past ten years, and roots had never grown deep in any of these towns.  For some reason, they were always starting over again and nothing was conventional or ordinary about their lives.  Just when they would begin to get to know the area and make one or two friends, something would always happen. 

Charlotte’s father was the first to die.  His body was found in the garage when Charlotte, the eldest, was only 13.  Hit from behind with a blunt object and no sign of a struggle, the police had little to work with.  Given her father’s position in the community, his family’s wealth and all his good works, they kept the case open for a while and questioned many, but no one was ever arrested.  

Soon, it became apparent to everyone that the family was beginning to unravel.  Charlotte’s mother tried to carry on as best she could, a good and caring woman who always put her children first.  But when she died a year after her husband, it was assumed that it was the grief that got to her and that she had never fully recovered from the shock of his death.  Whenever she was seen around town, it was obvious how thin she had become and that the circles around her eyes were darker and more pronounced.  She complained often of stomach pain and difficulty in breathing, but the local doctor attributed most of this to stress and anxiety.   When she passed away, it was her sister Claire that rescued the children, moved them to her home in Indiana, and raised them as her own.  For three years, their life was more or less stable until the night she just up and walked out on them.  Charlotte called the police the next morning and a missing person report was filed, but when it was discovered that Claire’s boyfriend was also gone, it was assumed they had run off together somewhere.  Those closest to the couple knew that didn’t sound right and refused to believe this because Claire was just too responsible and Bill would never have left his dog alone to fend for himself. 

Having just turned 17, it was felt that Charlotte was old enough to care for the younger ones.  That was what they all wanted and money was not an issue, their father having left them a sizeable estate.  But when the social worker showed up for a court visit only 3 months after Claire disappeared, she was shocked to discover that they too had vanished.  Immaculate and completely devoid of any sign that a family of five had been living there, there was also no forwarding address given to the landlord or to the neighbors.  No one had seen or heard anything. 

When her sister’s funeral was over and all the paperwork was in order, Charlotte made one last phone call to her father’s financial advisor.  She had been following his instructions carefully for years, and she was now the age when she could finally receive her trust fund.  If she had done her calculations correctly, she could live quite comfortably for many years on her share plus the income from the work they promised her in the future.  Originally, the estate would have been divided up between her and her 4 siblings, but this way, she only had to share with two others:  the advisor and Boko Haram.

Copyright © 2015 (Michelle Parsons, Getting Back on Your Path). All Rights Reserved.

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It is January, and I wake up to see my garden covered in snow.  Icicles have formed overnight, and several are hanging from the potting shed.  All different lengths, and when the sun hits them at just the right angle, they shimmer like crystal.  One in particular gets my attention and has almost a magnetic pull to it.  Fascinated, I begin to look inside, penetrating the walls with deep focus and concentration.  When the picture opens up for me, I can see what clearly looks like a central command station or lab of some kind.  I am no longer in my garden but in a location that feels more like Antarctica or Patagonia. 

There are three men inside the station, two facing a computer screen and one with his back turned to me so I cannot see what he is doing.  The two that I can see are examining a street map of some kind.  They are both zooming in very closely on a house in a neighborhood that looks similar to mine, and I am soon horrified to discover that the property they are looking at is my own.  Also, they are using technology I have never seen before, and although they look human from a distance, their movements are not natural and their eyes too controlled.  When I begin to study them, my attention goes first to the eyes of the man on the left and I realize almost immediately that his left eye is quite different from his right.  One is large and round while the other is half closed and partially slanted.  Each looks like they belong to a different person entirely and neither look right on him.    

I then examine the other man and see that he also has non-matching eyes.  As I pull back and look at him from further away, I see his body is almost divided in half.  Part Howard Hughes, part Charlie Chaplin.  A very intense look on his face, and he is leaning in toward the screen staring at something he has spotted.   I cannot tell what it is at first but suddenly I notice what looks like the robe I was wearing earlier and had left on my bed.  As soon as I recognize it, I realize he is watching my bedroom on his screen.   Mortified, I quickly look over at the screen of the one to his left and am even more disturbed.  It is a split screen open to both my kitchen and my bathroom.  But I am not in either room.  I am standing in my living room still staring at the icicle. 

Not able to see what the third man is doing, I grow sick inside and begin to panic because now I have the dreaded proof I have suspected for a long time.  I am being watched.  But where are the cameras, and do I let them see what I am figuring out?   For a second I hesitate, unsure of what I should do next. Then I slowly walk over to the couch, sit down and turn on the television.  As I pretend to be engrossed in the program, I occasionally glance around the room trying to find the cameras.  After a few minutes of finding nothing but a few cobwebs, I get up and head to the kitchen to get a cup of tea.  While waiting for it to brew, I casually look around this room also inspecting high corners and any other suspect places.  Frustration again when nothing is detected to validate or confirm my worst fears.                            

I return to the living room with my cup of tea and glance out the window once more.  There are still several icicles to look at so I pick one again and concentrate very hard.  Within seconds I am back in the same command station … but now I can only see the man whose back was turned to me earlier.  He is also a strange mis-match with two distinct profiles.  One that looks like Napoleon Bonaparte, and one that looks like King Richard III.  When I divert my attention to his screen, all I can see is my own image staring back at me.

Copyright © 2015 (Michelle Parsons, Getting Back on Your Path). All Rights Reserved.

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They always counted on him to show up every Thursday afternoon.  For the past five years, ever since his early retirement from a desk job that sucked the life out of him, Bob Montgomery volunteered at a nursing home just around the corner.  He would put on his Sunday best, polish his shoes, comb his hair back and then leave his apartment at approximately 1:53 p.m.  He would sign in at the front desk, always noting the time as exactly 2:00 p.m.  He would then walk down the hallway to the nurses’ main station and get the list of the patients they wanted him to visit that day.  Some of them were names Bob recognized from a prior Thursday and some were new patients that had just arrived.  But all of them had indicated they would like a visitor that day if he could fit them in.

Many would be dead before the month was over, and he never knew if he would ever see them again.  He seldom visited anyone more than 3 or 4 times.  As time went on, and the dying process more advanced, they would lose interest in conversation and the outside world in general.  They would sometimes nod off in the middle of a sentence and then sleep through half his visit.  He never took it personally.  He told everyone he just wanted to be there for them if they wanted company and it was enough for him if all he got back was a smile when they would wake up and recognize him.

Bob always made a point of spending the most time with the patients who had no family or few visitors, if any.  The nursing home would check a box on the patient list if this were the case so Bob would go to these people first.  He would pull up a chair right next to them and then hold their hand while they talked.  He was taught to never force or direct the conversation too much and just let them speak about whatever they wanted.  It was comforting for them to have a good looking and kind man like Bob with such a gentle nature listening to them.  In time, their story would come out, and Bob would learn all about their family, friends and the work they used to do.  He also knew where their home was, how much money they had, where their cars were parked and whether they had ever gotten around to writing a will. 

Before he signed out at 5:00 p.m., Bob always filled out a visitor form that the nursing home required for their files.  Sometimes the visits were not very productive, and he only wrote down one or two items that would be of interest to them.  But on other Thursdays, he earned a decent commission.  The longer the list of items he reported, the greater the chance that Bob would never see that patient again.

Copyright © 2015 (Michelle Parsons, Getting Back on Your Path). All Rights Reserved.

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a solitary man2

Harris was a solitary man.  He spoke to almost no one and trusted very few.  He was born without a silver spoon and, like Moses, was left by a riverbank …not as a baby but as a child.  A father that was a drifter and a mother who was too sick herself to care for a three year old.  He was passed throughout the village, each one taking their turn with him, but a family was never formed.  Well into his tenth year, he would still cry himself to sleep over thoughts of his parents, where they were and whether they would ever return for him one day. 

He especially thought of his mother and remembered how her soft hair felt when he would tug at it.  He used to lay his head on her warm chest, and she would pull his blanket up around him.  But all he remembered of his father was his booming voice and the sound of the front door shutting when he would come home at night.  Harris was just too young when they left to have any more memories but every once in a while he would hear a story about them from one of the villagers.  Some would be kind to the boy and paint them as heroes almost.  A dashing prince and a beautiful princess who fell in love and then went off one day to conquer the world.  But others told him what he already suspected and never wanted to hear.  His father was a “good for nothing gambler” and his mother was a “boozer and a pill popper” and neither one should have ever had children.  They were too young, too selfish, too immature, not educated enough, etc. etc. etc. was what Harris heard the most. 

Even though many years had passed since they had left him with no word from either one, Harris would still look for them on almost a daily basis.  He would glance into cars as they drove by and walk into shops and cafes if he thought he recognized his mother’s blonde hair from behind.  He had one picture of them that he had cut out of an old newspaper years later that he found in the library.  It was of his parents’ wedding day in 1953, and they were the most handsome couple he had ever seen.  Harris was proud of them then but seeing their smiles and their happiness only made him ache inside even more.  He knew he belonged with them. 

It was almost as if he blamed the ones who stayed and tried to help.  He never saw any of them as special or worth getting to know.  He just wanted out of this dead end place, and all the anger that had built up in him over the years would sometimes spill out.  He was quiet and sullen most of the time until he was pushed.  Then either something would snap inside or a switch would go off.  His eyes would change dramatically and anyone who knew him for very long knew to get away fast.  It was like someone else took over his body, someone too strong and too violent to hold down easily.  He would take it out on anyone who got in his way.  Animals and children were most often his victims, or anyone that came from a happy home, were loved or considered special. 

He especially took it out on pretty women.  He would watch them from a distance and study everything about them.  Their habits, their routine, who their friends and family were, what they liked and disliked.  Sometimes he got to know them, and sometimes he didn’t.  It didn’t matter really.  They were all the same. 

As he grew older, Harris began to take photos of them.  He would develop the pictures immediately and then pin them around the one room in his house he always kept locked.  He examined them closely, taking in every detail.  Then in his spare time, he would draw one of their features like their eyes over and over again making slight alterations each time to give them a different look.  After a while, he began drawing snakes around their necks or lizards crawling out of their head.  Their hair was always blonde, though, and their eyes always blue. 

When Emily Hunt went missing last winter, the entire community got involved.  Even Harris.  They hung posters everywhere and contacted the media.  They went door- to- door asking if anyone knew her whereabouts and questioned all her friends and associates.  They investigated her work place, her church and the studio where she danced every Friday night.  They even looked in abandoned buildings and explored the river basin and the woods nearby.  They searched everywhere but Harris’ backyard.

Copyright © 2015 (Michelle Parsons, Getting Back on Your Path). All Rights Reserved.

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The Case of the White Powder

I see a pile of powdered sugar stacked up like a mountain.  It is on top of a very clean kitchen table.  As I come closer and inspect it more carefully, I see a thin ribbon of black toward the top.  It disappears inside the powder, and is not at all visible from the other side.  I keep walking around the table because something doesn’t look right to me.  It is almost as if there are two different types of white powder mixed together, and I know now this is not powdered sugar.  

l pull out a piece of paper from my wallet where I had written down the name and number of a man I met recently on the train.  His name was Joel, and he mentioned that he worked ase a technician at a scientific lab nearby.  I dial his number, and when he answers, I explain what I am looking at.  He suggests a few possibilities but volunteers to analyze it if I bring him a sample.  

When Joel calls me back a few days later, I can tell by his voice that he is surprised by what I have discovered.  I can also tell he is being careful with his words as if he is being coached by someone.  He will also not reveal the results until I explain again exactly where I found the powder, when I found it and who I think it belongs to.  I almost interrupt him to ask if our conversation is being taped but decide instead just to cooperate and answer all his questions.  I know I have nothing to hide so I go over all the details with him again.  

It was last Tuesday night when I was at the Unity Church watching a film that interested me on the afterlife.  I had gotten up in the middle of it to use the bathroom but, having never been in the building before, I took a wrong turn and ended up in the church kitchen.  That was when I noticed the pile of what looked like powdered sugar at first glance.  I would have ignored it completely if it hadn’t been for that thin black ribbon at the top which piqued my curiosity.  

By the time I finish my explanation, I am positive there are several listening to our conversation.  Someone has put their hand over the phone receiver and is whispering to another.  Then I hear Joel speak again, and his voice sounds a bit nervous as if he is worried about something I said.  He thanks me for my cooperation and then tells me there is someone else in the room that would like to talk to me.  Shortly, another man comes on the line and introduces himself as Detective Parker from the Federal Bureau of Investigation.  He explains that if I am willing he and two others will need to meet with me personally and take down my testimony.  After I agree to do so, he continues the conversation by asking if I have mentioned my discovery to anyone else.  When I reply “No”, he sounds relieved and then requests that given the nature of this powder and the location it was found, it would be best for all concerned if I keep this to myself until my testimony has been officially recorded.  He also tells me that he will send an officer to me shortly who will drive me to his office.  

Just as I am about to hang up, it occurs to me that they never told me the results of the powder analysis.  “Do you mind telling me what it was that I discovered?” I ask the detective.  He hesitates for a second and then replies: “Heroin laced with strychnine and black tar.”

Copyright © 2015 (Michelle Parsons, Getting Back on Your Path). All Rights Reserved.

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the scottish bonnet

As I look out the window and study a crow’s orange beak, I am shown a vision of a snowman created by a child.  The nose is the tip of a carrot, the eyes are made of buttons and the lips are radish sticks.  He has a Scottish bonnet on the top of his head, a woollen plaid scarf around his neck, and he is being pulled away on a sled by a young boy. 

When I step back from the image, it looks like a Norman Rockwell or Currier and Ives print.  A typical winter scene in a typical American town.  The boy looks like many boys his age, and the snowman is not that different from many others that have been created before him.  What is extraordinary,  however, is that this one is being taken away somewhere.  As I watch them leave the driveway of the boy’s home, I expect to see the boy turn onto the sidewalk, but instead, I see him pull the sled out into the middle of the street itself and head in the direction of town.  For a few seconds, it’s just the boy and the snowman, but very soon cars start coming up from behind.  They are also heading to town but can’t pass him because he is walking right down the middle and refuses to move over for them.  They begin to honk loudly and are soon rolling down windows and yelling at him.  But the young boy doesn’t appear to be bothered by all the commotion behind him.  He just keeps walking at the same pace, looking straight ahead with a fierce determination.  He has a goal in mind and a destination planned, and he will not go off course just to accommodate others. 

In no time at all, it looks as if half the town is behind him, irate and up in arms over his inconsideration.  Word has somehow gotten out by now, and people are coming out of their houses and watching the boy parade through the neighborhood.  Some recognize him as the Johnson boy who left school early last year and is now being home schooled by his mother.  “A creative genius” is what one teacher said about him while others described him as a strange one who didn’t play well with the other kids. 

Eventually, the boy turns off the main street and onto an alleyway, finally freeing all the cars that were backed up behind him.  After passing a few houses, he quickly turns left onto a dirt path and heads toward an abandoned barn out in the middle of a corn field.  He disappears from sight for a few minutes as he maneuvers the sled around the cornstalks and then suddenly emerges right in front of the barn door.  He looks down on the ground at a small rock next to him, then bends down and pulls out a key hidden underneath.  When he opens the padlock and slides the door back, the most amazing scene is revealed.  Row after row of snowmen identical to the one he has been hauling on his sled, the only differences between them are the hats on their heads and the scarves around their necks.  

One row has American baseball caps on, some with black scarves, some with red, some with green, some with yellow and some with metallic gold.  Another row has Russian Cossack fur hats on with a similar assortment of different colored scarves.  There is also a row of Chinese peasant paddy hats, a row of Muslim prayer caps, and a row of Bavarian style mountain hats with a feather on the side.  Each row of snowmen seems to represent a different nationality or religion, and each scarf a different personality or ideology.  As one looks closer, it is then apparent that the button eyes on each row are also different.  Some are large and fully round, while others are much smaller, some partially closed and some squinting.  The noses all look the same, though, and the mouths more or less, only some of the lips look fuller.  But despite their festive hats and colorful scarves, these are not joyful looking snowmen.  They are too lifeless and robotic looking to represent a magical winter wonderland or to entertain and amuse children.  Row after row of these snowmen that stand too stiff and too close together, like the Terracotta soldiers who guarded their Emperor.

Off to the side, in a dark corner, sits the Johnson boy in front of a computer.  There is one small light aimed at his desk drawer, and he is searching wildly for something hidden in the back.  He keeps reaching all over with his hands but can’t find what he is looking for.  After an extensive search, he eventually gives up and begins to type on the keyboard again, trying yet another password.  When an error message comes up and he is permanently locked out, he puts his head down on the counter, pounds his fists, and begins to cry.

Copyright © 2015 (Michelle Parsons, Getting Back on Your Path). All Rights Reserved.

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her name was mary

Her name was Mary.  She was not who others thought she was.  She was much more than that but no one really saw her.  She got lost in the crowd and left behind while others moved on and away.  She tried to catch up and be more like them, but as the years went by, she slowly faded away while the ones she admired the most began to shine brighter.  They were the ones everyone talked about and wondered about.  It was their names that came up over and over again.  Never her name.  Never any interest or curiosity as to what had happened to her or whom she had become. 

They were the special ones.  The chosen ones.  The ones for whom the sun rose for each day.  All the world revolved around them while the rest just walked in circles never getting anywhere.  There was no path and no plan for Mary or the others.  No light that guided them, and no God watching over them.  They were on their own as they had always been, and there were few choices … if any at all. 

She had always wanted more for herself and expected to be “someone”.  She would look in the mirror and sometimes think she looked just like them and wonder why then nothing worked for her.  Why didn’t she matter and why was she still standing at the starting line while the others had already run half the race.  What did they have that she didn’t?  What gifts were they given that she never received? 

When they were young, Mary was part of the in-crowd.  She played with all of them and knew their families and all their secrets.  She would pretend to be their friend so that she could spend time with them and watch them more closely.  Slowly, without even realizing it, she began to be them.  She would talk like them and dress like them.  Whatever they did or wherever they went, she would follow … always taking notes and always thinking they were more special.  But while they became more popular and more successful, her life never changed. 

One day, Mary got the idea to go to a fortune teller and get advice about her future.  She was told that if she changed her name and dyed her hair, she would meet the man of her dreams.  He would “rescue” her from this ho-hum life she was living and give her an exciting adventure that she wanted for herself.  So she did exactly that and chose a name that no one could pronounce (or even spell) and began to re-invent herself.  She was no longer just a Mary.  She was now someone more exotic and more interesting, someone who could attract the attention of someone special. 

Almost immediately, and just like the fortune teller predicted, she met the man she thought she always wanted.  The type that caught everyone’s eye as he passed by.  Both men and women noticed him, and soon they began to notice her as well.  She looked good on his arm, and it wasn’t long before she felt that she had finally made it.  This was the life she was meant to live, and this was the man she was going to live it with.  He had the whole package:  looks, charm and money. 

At first, they were a super couple and everything was going their way.  They were better together than apart, and everything they touched turned to gold.  Others watched them with envy, and even though Mary knew her marriage wasn’t perfect, she believed it was better than anyone else’s and the most one could ever hope to have. 

She never knew exactly when it happened, but one day Mary woke up and saw a stranger in her bed.  She began to watch him with curiosity because she knew he wasn’t the same man she married.  She couldn’t deny that he looked the same.  A little less hair and a few extra pounds … but overall, he looked like the man of her dreams.  But when they would hold hands, it felt awkward.  They just didn’t fit together anymore, and even his hand looked different to her.  Weren’t his fingers longer before, and the wedding ring he used to wear was no longer there.  He kept saying it was too tight and that he needed to get it resized, but for some reason, he never got around to it … and for some reason, she didn’t mind. 

Then she began to realize that she was alone most of the time.  He was always away, either at work or with his family or friends.  They saw each other only at dinner, and even that wasn’t every night.  They went to bed at different hours, and woke up at different times.  Then they began to leave each other notes because it was quicker and easier to communicate that way. 

Before she asked for a divorce, Mary thought long and hard about her choices.  They had spent so many years together, and he was the only family she had left.  She was scared to be completely alone, and she didn’t want to start over again.  She didn’t know who she was without him, yet a nagging voice kept telling her that if she stayed any longer, she would fade away completely.  When she finally saw that it was not him that had changed but her, she walked out the door and never looked back.

Copyright © 2014 (Michelle Parsons, Getting Back on Your Path). All Rights Reserved.

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storm of manna

We are tested every day.  Every single one of us.  Sometimes we are aware of it and pay attention, but more often than not, “the test” goes unnoticed.

I personally can’t remember the last time I went more than 24 hours without having my faith and trust drop to zero at one point.  It’s almost becoming a pattern now that I can’t seem to get away from.  When I examine why this keeps happening, I get the words “patience”, “time” and “guidance”.  Then I am shown yet another picture of me walking on a path, but this time the path is covered in something.  As I bend down to look at it, my attention is immediately diverted upwards and I see what appears to be bread crumbs falling from the sky.  They all land on the path in such a way that I begin to follow them.  But after a few minutes, I stop and put one in my mouth and taste it  …  it has no flavor.  It tastes like nothing at all.  So I continue walking, still curious about what this is.   Then I have another idea and stop again and get out a magnifying glass.  But no matter how much I examine it, I can’t see anything special.  It looks just like a piece of grain and nothing more.  Then all of a sudden I have the wild thought that this might be the manna I read about in the Bible, the food that fed the Israelites who were exiting from Egypt.  However, that story seemed too incredulous to believe.  How could a grain that seemed to have no nutritional value at all feed so many people for so long?

I start to walk again, but with every step I become more and more frustrated and angry about this “manna” that keeps falling.  It’s not helping me or anyone, and after a few minutes, I stop, sit down and start to cry.  I begin to curse the manna and curse the heavens where it is dropping from.  Then I look up to the sky and see a man up there with a stubborn face.  Without hesitation, I immediately ask him for help … but no matter how much I plead with him, he just shakes his head.  This only makes me feel more sorry for myself, and I make a decision right then and there to not help anyone ever again until someone comes and helps me for a change. 

After about five minutes of just twiddling my thumbs and playing with the manna, I realize I am too bored to continue with this plan.  So I stand up very slowly, shake the manna off my back and look around.  I can’t see a damn thing in either direction.  It’s become a snow storm of manna, and I begin to walk forward just because I don’t want to risk getting buried in it.  As I continue down the path, I start kicking some of it and am surprised when it begins to pile up and stick together.  So I stop again, lean down and form a small ball out of it.  Why does this hold together when there is nothing but these individual dry pieces of grain?  I can’t understand or make any sense of this, but I roll a slightly bigger one, which also holds together perfectly.  Then I roll another and another and another, each one bigger than the one before….. until I have a very long line of manna balls going off into the distance. 

I am still frustrated, however, because I still don’t understand what the point of this manna is or why so much of it was dropped from heaven on my path.  So I decide to walk back to the beginning, to the first small ball I rolled.  As I look at it, I shake my head again, still puzzled by all of this.  But at just that moment, I see a small twig on the ground and get the idea somehow to connect the first two manna balls with it.  This looks right, and I become excited with this new project.  Finally, I have a plan  …. and soon I have connected every manna ball together with every twig I find along the way.

As I connect the very last manna ball and look back down the long line of them, I get the feeling that there is something very big right behind me.  When I turn around, I am astounded to see several gold steps in front of me and a beautiful palace just above the steps.  As I begin to climb them, I start to smile because I know this is the Emerald City I have been heading toward all along.  I have finally reached it, and I have never seen anything so bright or so beautiful in my entire life.

By now, the manna has finally stopped dropping, and the path I have been following has ended.  As I take a step inside the walls of the palace, it suddenly becomes the tropical paradise I have seen in my dreams.  I sit down on a log near a waterfall and watch the sun begin to set down, finally confident that I am home where I belong.

Copyright © 2014 (Michelle Parsons, Getting Back on Your Path). All Rights Reserved.

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In a Kingdom by the Sea

Far away in a kingdom by the sea, there lived a princess who would walk the fields around her castle every day.  She loved nature, and she loved animals.  She would look at all of it closely and then return home to write in her journal about what she had observed. 

For years, the princess wrote about what she saw without anyone knowing she was doing this.  They knew she liked to go on long walks, but no one paid attention to her after she left the castle.  Almost no one asked how her walk was when she got back, or if they did, she replied with just “Good” or “Fine”.  She kept it all secret inside her because she didn’t think they would really care about what she did or that they would think she was odd.  They had other things on their mind, and she knew it wouldn’t be interesting for them if she described the beautiful caterpillar she saw that day or the bird with the strange whistle.

One day, the princess met someone on her walk who had seen her writing in her journal.  He asked to look at it, and after he scanned it for a few minutes, he said that she ought to publish it.  He said there would be an audience for it, a group that felt like she did about nature.  This man also thought she could help a lot of people with their own research because many of them probably didn’t look at animals the way she did.  She could give them a whole different perspective, broaden their minds and expand the ideas they had touched on themselves.

It took a long time for the princess to believe this man.  She looked over all her journals several times and just didn’t see what he did.  She thought it was all just ramblings with no beginning, middle or end.  How could anyone learn from this?  But he kept encouraging her whenever they would run into each other, and each time he asked when she was going to publish it.  Each time they spoke, it seemed to become more and more possible.  Finally, one day she was ready.

Copyright © 2014 (Michelle Parsons, Getting Back on Your Path). All Rights Reserved.

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There is thunder off in the distance, and what was once a sunny day is now turning dark.  A woman emerges from a carriage wearing a ball gown, and she is escorted up the stairs by two footmen.  As she waits politely to be introduced to the hostess, she begins to scan the other guests to see if she recognizes anyone.  Seeing no one in particular, she is disappointed but hides it well.  As she is directed toward the ballroom, she begins to smile at everyone she sees but moves quickly from one person to another.  Not wanting to be rude, she pretends to be relaxed and attentive to each person she talks to while all the time looking for someone else.  

Feeling uncomfortable inside, she decides to go to the patio to get some fresh air.  As she stops to admire the view of the gardens, she is aware of a man sitting alone in the dark.  She stands there awkwardly for a moment, hoping he’ll get up and introduce himself or at least say something to her from a distance. But too much time has passed with no response from him, so she turns her back to the view and leans against the patio wall.  As she nervously pulls at her dress and straightens it a bit, she turns to face the man in the dark.  She knows she would like to talk to him, but she just can’t move forward.  She feels excited yet paralyzed at the same time.  Even though she is standing straight with her head up, she’s just not ready yet.  She feels sick inside and wishes she never came to this party.  She just wants to be home, and this was not a good idea at all. But when an inner voice finally tells her there is nothing to lose, she takes a deep breath, steps forward and extends her hand to introduce herself. 

He is a tall and thin man that looks like Abraham Lincoln.  His movements are stiff and closed up in an odd way.  They shake hands and begin to talk.  Although she is carrying most of the conversation, he holds her hand longer than most while she chats about how nice the party is and how pretty the view.  He is smiling, nodding in agreement and seems amused but doesn’t say too much.  She can tell he is distracted by something, and she starts to get the impression he is just being polite.  Not wanting to bother him anymore, she lets go of his hand and apologizes for intruding.  When he continues to just smile at her, she backs away nervously and he returns to the dark, sits down again and crosses his legs. 

As she heads back to the party, she is a little embarrassed at having been rejected but not necessarily sorry she talked to him. He does not watch her leave and is busy in his own thoughts.  He seems to be brooding about something as he lights a cigarette and begins to smoke.  She lifts up her skirt as she climbs the steps and returns to the party.  She smiles again at everyone she sees and soon becomes part of the group that is having the most fun that evening.  She is dancing every dance now and is glad she came.  Occasionally, she glances over at the window to see if that man is still there sitting in the dark.  As the night goes on, he seems to get more withdrawn and more self-absorbed in his thoughts.  He wasn’t interested in her and never gave her another thought after she left.  She knows she didn’t miss anything with that one. 

Copyright © 2014 (Michelle Parsons, Getting Back on Your Path). All Rights Reserved.


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mark of cain

Most of us know the story of Cain and Abel.  Cain was the first human born, and Abel was the first human to die.  We also know Cain was a crop farmer and the oldest son, and Abel was a shepherd who pleased the Lord with his gift.  In a jealous rage, Cain kills his brother and lies about the murder …. and the rest is history. 

Whether you believe the story or not, we all know who Cain is.  He was not a man who spent the rest of his life trying to make up for his sins.  He never sought redemption or begged for forgiveness.  Forced to leave the farm he loved and the family he once belonged to, Cain became a fugitive and a wanderer who took a tragic situation and made it worse.  From that moment on, he made a conscious and deliberate choice to not follow the others to the Kingdom of Glory and was cast into the darkness instead. 

This is one version of Cain and Abel.  There is another one, however, that tells a different story.  The second one begins the same, but when God would not accept the fruit from the ground that he offered, Cain sought revenge and a made a secret pact with Satan.  Together, he and the snake conspired and plotted both the murder of Abel and the rejection of God.  Walking arm-in-arm into the Valley of Darkness, their mission was to destroy the souls of men and to kill for personal gain. 

Known as the son of the Devil by some or a “fallen angel” by others, Cain and his followers chose a different path from the one God intended for them.   Believed to also be the father of secret societies and the God of organized crime, Cain let his anger, pride and jealousy prevail and opted for vengeance, destruction and devastation.  Rebelling against God, he chose Satan instead, and Cain and his descendants have been cursed ever since. 

The Mark of Cain is more than just a moral fable. It’s not just a story to help conform the masses into law abiding citizens, and it’s not just a story about Cain and Abel or Cain and Satan.  It’s a story passed down through the ages to illustrate what happens to one’s soul when they let hatred guide them.  It’s a train wreck in slow motion.  Everyone knows the crash is coming, and most get out of the way in time.  But there are always a few that refuse to jump off to save even themselves …. and will ride that train until the bitter end.

Copyright © 2014 (Michelle Parsons, Getting Back on Your Path). All Rights Reserved.

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Devil I Know

There is a blade of wheat growing in a field.  The sun is in the background, but all I can see are the kernels of grain at the top of its head.   A few are black around the edges, but their centers look full and bright.  They are all working together and part of a project going on in a field in Russia. 

I hear a tractor approaching from the right side.  It’s one of those combine harvesters with a glassed-in cab for the driver, and I watch as it gets closer.  I can make out the driver now, and he is wearing overalls, a short-sleeved white shirt and a red cap on his head.  He looks a bit like Gerard Depardieu when I look at his face close-up.  He is concentrating very hard now, and his eyes look angry and determined.  He is looking at his watch and knows it’s getting late, but he wants to get as much wheat as he can before his day is over. 

As he drives in front of me, he gives me the finger and then sticks his tongue out as if to dare me to try and stop him.  I don’t react at first because I don’t understand what his problem is.  I’m not doing anything to him, and I don’t even know who this is.  But I continue to watch for a while as I know something is seriously wrong with him.  He must be mentally ill yet he is driving the tractor expertly and making very straight lines that look normal to me.  As he passes me a second time going in the opposite direction, he stops the tractor, gets out of his seat and begins to pound on the window facing me.  He is further away from me this time, but I can still see him well enough to make out the hatred and fury in his eyes.  Although I can’t hear him, I can tell he is swearing at me as he keeps pounding the glass with his fists. 

I continue to just stand there in confusion over this spectacle I am witnessing.  But just as I make the decision that I need to do something about this guy, I feel a tap on my shoulder.  I almost jump out of my skin from fright when I see that it’s the Devil who is trying to get my attention.  He is offering to help me and says that he knows who this driver is and why he is so angry with me.  If I am willing to give him some of my time, he would be happy to explain the history of this man but warns it’s not a pretty story.  It is one filled with child abuse, rape, drugs and sordid criminal activity.  This man has done everything under the sun and requires immediate medical attention. 

I am very interested at first, so I sit down for a moment with the Devil and begin to listen to what sounds like an outrageous but fascinating tale.  I keep shaking my head in astonishment as I learn more about the driver’s life and what he has done.  How could one man have deceived so many people and destroyed so many lives and have never been stopped?   Anyone can see he is mentally deranged, but as I begin to question the Devil, he silences me with his pointed finger and says:  “It’s a long story, and you wouldn’t believe it if I told you.  But you need to listen to me now and trust me.  I am your friend, and I have always been your friend.  Many years ago, I did something terrible to you, and I have never forgiven myself.  So I watch you closely now and am around you all the time trying to protect you.  I am your guide now, and I need to warn you about certain people who are trying to hurt you.  They are jealous and are trying to get rid of you.  But if you follow me, I promise you will be safe.”   I begin to stand up when I hear this as I don’t trust the look in his eyes, but he motions me to sit back down again and then continues:  “I know you can hear my voice at night.  We talk together often, and I always tell you the truth.  But you don’t believe me because you think I am Satan and that I am trying to destroy you and everyone else.”  As I pull away from him again, I begin to inch backwards while still in a sitting position.  The further I get, though, the better I feel, and my head begins to clear and my breathing returns to normal. 

The Devil never takes his eyes off me, however, and I become self-conscious from his fixed gaze.  For a short time, I put my head down trying to avoid his stare, not confident yet in my own strength or ability to survive.  But slowly, something inside me begins to grow.  It starts as a small seed that isn’t large enough to sustain itself and for a while I am not able to tell whether it’s actually growing or still stagnant.  When I examine it closely, however, I see a tiny kernel of light.  It’s bright but too small to identify at first.  Yet every time I take another step away from the Devil, this light begins to grow bigger and brighter.  It feels like a soft, warm blanket at first, the kind you wrap a baby in.  I am so grateful for the comfort it gives me, but after some time, it no longer looks like a blanket to me and becomes something bigger than that.  Something more personal and unique to only me.  I then see that its part of my journey, and it’s a light that follows me everywhere now.  Some days I don’t trust that it’s still there, but when I look for it again, I always find it close by. 

I am no longer sitting now, and the dark shadow that followed me everywhere offering to help and be my friend is now off in the distance.  As I return to the wheat field where I first met the Devil, I find that blade of wheat I was examining so closely.  The kernels toward the top that were edged in black have now shed their husk and have blended in with all the others.  The tractor is no longer operating, and I see it parked behind a shed with mechanics underneath examining it.  I scan the field looking for the driver, but he is nowhere to be found. 

If the wind is blowing in a certain direction, I can sometimes hear the Devil still calling for me.  His voice is one I will never forget.  Like a drug that seeps into your blood and takes over your body, the Devil I know tries to lure you in with shallow compliments and false promises he never keeps.  He attaches his hook to the weakest part of your soul and then pulls with all his might.  The closer you stand, the more of you he gets, and the more of you that listens, the more of you is lost.

Copyright © 2014 (Michelle Parsons, Getting Back on Your Path). All Rights Reserved.


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Everyone in the park is watching the black swan in the pond.  It’s the only one of its kind, and it’s much larger than the white ducks that surround it.  It has stopped swimming and is just floating now while the white ducks swim circles around it.  Suddenly one of the white ducks veers off to the right and swims to the shore.  It waddles up toward the sand, shakes itself dry and then looks back at the rest of the gang wondering who will be next to come out of the water. 

One by one, the white ducks leave the inner circle that covets the black swan and they all begin to line up along the beach.  All that is left in the water now is the large black swan and three white ducklings.  When he realizes the others have left, the black swan then turns to the ducklings and asks “Will you help me now?  I would love to have you on my team.”  They look at each other for a moment until finally the largest of the baby ducks responds:   “We’d like to help, but we don’t know who you are. Tell us a little bit about yourself so we can decide what we want to do.”  The black swan sighs but then replies:  “Ok, if I must.  Here’s the scoop, and this is all you need to know.  I am the Devil.  It’s that simple.  I have tried to DESTROY everyone and everything.  No one understands why I would want to do this to the world, and I no longer even know myself.  I have been so bad for so long, and I have lost everyone I ever cared about … but I have no intention of stopping now.  My fate is set, and my destiny has been decided.  There is no turning back now.  I could really use your help, though, if you are interested in working with me.  I can assure you that you will be well compensated.” 

The baby ducks can’t believe what they just heard.   Could this really be the Devil?  Unsure of what their next move should be, they hesitate until the one who spoke before finally says:  “We may be interested, but please tell us just a bit more about what you want us to do.  It’s still too vague for us to decide.”  They then look very closely at the black swan and concentrate as he begins to explain what his plan is.  “The most important thing I will need you to do may sound complicated,” explains the swan, “but it’s really quite easy.  All you have to do right now is just pretend to be my friend.  Pretend we are all buddies and occasionally swim circles around me as if you honor and respect me.  I’ll take care of the rest.” 

The ducklings think on this for a moment.  They know they are young, inexperienced and not very worldly, but there is something about this black swan they like and trust.  He seems fun and down-to-earth to them, so they make a quick decision and sign on the dotted line.  As they begin to swim circles around him, the black swan begins talking to them:   “Forget what I said earlier.  That is what I always say to ALL the new fledglings.”  Then he goes on to say, “Now that you have already committed, what I really need you to do is to kill a couple of people for me.  Troublemakers who won’t follow my directions.  After you do this for me,” the Devil promises “you will be richly rewarded and that’s all you will ever have to do.  It’s a big job, but I think you are ready and I have faith in you.”  Then he gives them the details of who he wants killed and how they should go about it. 

When the ducklings return from their first assignment, they are covered in blood and their hearts are heavy.  They are filled with regret and remorse, and their eyes are glazed over.  Seeing them arrive, the black swan swims over, pats them on their heads and thanks them for a job well done.  He then proceeds to tell them they are special and the best assassins he has ever had the pleasure to work with.  They smile at his praise and begin to wash the blood off as they believe their work for the Devil is complete now.  But as they swim off with their small bag of gold, the black swan calls to them:  “Hey, not so fast.  There is just one more thing I will need you to do for me.  I should have mentioned it before, but it somehow slipped my mind.  This is a different kind of job I need done now, but I know you will be great at this one also.”  He then begins to explain this new assignment to them with great enthusiasm, and the ducklings perk up when they hear how much money they will be paid:  “This one involves a money laundering scheme, and I will need you to fly to Russia.  You are to pose as tourists in Volgograd for a few days and then fly to Austria.  But before your flight to Vienna takes off, someone from our group will take your suitcases from the conveyor belt and fill them up with Russian bribe money.  I guarantee you, however, that you won’t have to do anything but enjoy yourself.  We will even provide you with brand new suitcases.”    

At the mention of the word “suitcases”, the savviest of the ducklings begins to shake his head as if he doesn’t trust the Devil’s plan.  “Don’t worry,” assures the black swan, “we do this ALL the time, and everyone at BOTH airports is paid off.  When you arrive at your hotel in Vienna, the tour operator (who also works for me) will take your luggage from you as you wait for the keys to your room.  Then a member of guest services will transfer all the cash into bags of laundry and make sure they get to a van which is waiting in a back alley.  While you are enjoying a city tour of Vienna and eating black forest cake at a local café, the van will be on the road heading to Krakow, Poland.  I won’t bother you with details of where the money goes after that, but it’s a brilliant plan I devised myself that I am quite proud of.  I am definitely the best at what I do.” 

When the three baby ducks return from their European assignment, they look refreshed and energized as if they have just come from a spa vacation.  They are each wearing a Hawaiian shirt, carrying a cocktail and toting a designer purse.  They immediately swim up to the Devil and begin talking to him excitedly about how great their trip was, how easy the job was and how much money they made for very little time and very little effort.  So when the black swan tells them that they are now free to leave his organization if they want, they shake their heads.  “What’s next?”, they ask the Devil.  “We’re in like Flynn.” 

The big black swan then begins to tell them ALL about their next job.  This one involves children from Africa and the largest pedophile ring that has ever been formed in the history of mankind.  He explains that he wants them to begin in the countries of Cameroon and the Democratic Republic of Congo, but if they like this line of work, the sky’s the limit and there are many other jobs for them all over the world.  “There is even more money in this business, and you will get to meet a LOT of celebrities, politicians and heads of state who claim to love children,” explains the Devil.  As the ducklings begin to take notes, the black swan then adds the following:  “If you continue to do well and are loyal to me, I will make sure you have the opportunity to join my Mexican drug cartel one day.  Only the very best and brightest are chosen for these jobs, and that is where the real money is.”

Copyright © 2014 (Michelle Parsons, Getting Back on Your Path). All Rights Reserved.

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flying fish

The year is 1878, and the Civil War has been over for more than a decade.  I am walking along the banks of the Missouri river, deep in thought and looking down at the rocks along the water’s edge.  Out of the corner of my eye, I see what appears to be a fish flying in mid-air.  I shake my head in awe, blink and then look again.  This time I see multiple fish flying.  They hit the water for just a second and then fly some more, fast and straight like skipping stones.  I want to look at each one closely, but there are too many in the air at the same time so I concentrate on only the three largest ones who fly the highest and create the biggest splash. 

I am soon aware of a man further down the river who is fly fishing but using a net instead.   I watch as he swipes at the fish in the air, and I see him finally catch a small one.  He drops it in a large container next to him, writes something down on a notepad and then returns to his fishing.  In no time at all, he has caught another one, and this one is also added to the container and marked down in his book.   He resumes his fishing again, never taking his eyes off the fish and never noticing me watching with fascination. 

When his container is full of many small fish, the fisherman lifts it up and begins to carry it down a dirt path toward town.  Since the sun is beating down on me and there is no shade to be found, I decide to head that direction myself.   Although my first thought is to run up ahead and see if I can help the man, something tells me that he would not welcome a stranger.  So I keep my distance and walk slowly behind him.  As we approach Main Street, I see him stop Mrs. Appleby and ask her a question.  She looks down at his container and seems confused about something.  But then she points to the next block, and as he walks away, she watches him closely for a few seconds.  She and I then exchange greetings, but I don’t linger to chat as I normally would.  For some reason, I don’t want to lose the fisherman from my sight, so I keep following him.  Shortly, he veers off to the left and into the county jailhouse.  As I open the door he entered, I can hear the stranger inside saying to Sheriff Johnston:  “Do what you want with them.  They are the least of our concern.  They are also guilty … but of minor offenses only.  They were bamboozled just like the rest of us.” 

I am still standing there by the door, when the fisherman comes out.  As he passes me, he gives me a knowing nod and says  “I was happy to oblige”.  My eyes watch him until he disappears around the corner, and then I enter the jail myself and ask Sheriff Johnston if I can see the fish the stranger brought in.  Although Johnston’s curiosity is aroused by my request, he says nothing and just hands me a set of keys.  I walk behind him and then open the door which leads to the prison cells.  As I proceed down the corridor, I glance into each one until I finally come across a cell with a fish in it.  Then I find the appropriate key and let myself in.  When I look closely, I recognize him right away as the first fish the stranger caught.  He is lying on his side on the bottom bunk, and he is chewing on a piece of grass.  When he looks up and notices me enter, he says:  “Oh, it’s you.  I knew you were watching me.  You couldn’t take your eyes off me. What do you want?”  I respond by asking if I can sit next to him, that I would like to talk to him for just a few minutes if he wouldn’t mind.  He sits up and then moves over so I can join him.  Then I begin to tell him everything that I have observed.  I tell him that I saw many caught at the same time he was but noticed they were all small fish and that the fisherman said they were ALL guilty but of minor crimes only.  I then turn to the fish and ask if he agrees with the stranger’s assessment.  He looks puzzled at first and then looks down at the ground for a moment until he finally responds:  “I am actually worse than anyone thinks, but I have also been betrayed and sabotaged just like the rest of the gang.  I think I just need some time to get back on my feet.  It might actually be good for me to stay here for a while … but you don’t need to worry about me.  I will come out ok in the end.”  So then I stand up and shake hands with him, pat him on the shoulder and say:  “You seem ok to me now, but stay as long as you want.  Everyone here should stay as long as they think necessary until they are ready to start again.” 

As I head out of the fish’s jail cell, I look down the long hallway to my left and entertain the thought of visiting ALL the fish that had just been captured.  But then I shake my head, go back to the front desk and return the keys to the Sheriff.  I tell him that I have changed my mind and that these guilty fish don’t need me as much as I thought they did.  

When I emerge from the jail, I am immediately blinded by the bright sun outside.  I cover my eyes partially and look around.  If I go to the left, I will be walking directly into the sun the whole way home.  It’s a much quicker route, but I will most likely be uncomfortable the whole time with such a bright light in front of me.  But if I go to the right instead, I will be taking a path which will be shady and cool.  It will take much longer, though, and have many more challenges and choices along the way, some leading to dead ends, dark alleys and potholes that can’t be seen until it’s too late. 

I stand in the middle of the road and look again at my two choices.  Then I glance at my watch and realize it’s later than I thought.  So the clock has made the decision for me.  I open my purse, pull out my sunglasses and then head to the LEFT.

Copyright © 2014 (Michelle Parsons, Getting Back on Your Path). All Rights Reserved.

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Dennis the menance

George Wilson is smiling as he sits down on the couch.  He picks up the telephone and begins to dial.  The phone rings next door, and Dennis’ mother answers it.  They exchange greetings, and then George asks:  “Can Dennis come over for a short while?  I could really use his help with something.”  “Why certainly,” Alice Mitchell replies.  “I am sure he would be happy to help you. I will send him over right away.”  She then calls for Dennis and tells him he must go next door right away.  Dennis moans a bit but grudgingly agrees. 

When George comes to the door, he puts his hands on Dennis’ shoulders and then tells him that he is really a lifesaver.  He then leads Dennis down the hallway of his house to the back bedroom.  He shows Dennis a ladder and asks him to climb it and reach something that is stored high up on a shelf in the closet.  When Dennis comes down with the box, Mr. Wilson thanks him and asks if he wants some milk and chocolate cake.  This is Dennis’ favorite dessert, so he eagerly follows Wilson into the kitchen and sits down at the table.  As he is eating the cake, George begins to ask him questions about school, who his friends are and what games he likes to play.  Dennis tells him that “hopscotch” is the game he likes the most and then brags that he is the best player.  He then tells Mr. Wilson about his best friend Tommy and says he is the nicest boy in the school and they do everything together.   Dennis also mentions a girl named Margaret but says she is a real pain, bossy and a know-it-all.  “She will never leave Tommy and me alone, and she acts like she is our mother.  We just can’t stand her.”  Although Mr. Wilson tries to be sympathetic, he replies with:  “Dennis, she can’t be that bad.”  “Oh yes, she is.  Just watch her sometime.  She follows us everywhere and takes notes on everything we say and do.  She then runs home and calls my mother, and I always get in trouble when I get home.  We’re so tired of her, but we don’t how to get rid of her.” 

Mr. Wilson thinks about this for a minute and then tells Dennis he has an idea that might help.  “Why not try a different approach?  Why not try to be her friend instead of her enemy and take an interest in what she likes to do.  Ask her what her hobbies are and pretend you are interested in them also.  Then invite her to join you and Tommy one day to play a game.  When she comes over, include her as if she was also a best friend.  Then watch her closely and see if she begins to change.  I bet she leaves you alone after that, and then all you have to do is just include her every once in a while.  Always be nice and friendly but don’t invite her all the time.  Just occasionally when you feel like it.”  This sounded like a good idea to Dennis, and he replies:  “Thanks, Mr. Wilson.  I will try that.” 

Dennis quickly finishes his milk and then dashes out of Mr. Wilson’s house to see Tommy right away.  After he explains Wilson’s idea, Tommy agrees, and the two sit down and begin to plot out their strategy.  Dennis, who is typically more clever and cunning than Tommy, comes up with most of the plan.   Confident that they have everything all worked out, the two leave Tommy’s house arm-in-arm and walk over to Margaret’s house.  When she answers the door, they both smile broadly and tell her that they have changed their minds about her and have decided they no longer want to fight with her and would rather just be friends.  Although Margaret is skeptical at first, she decides to give them a chance and lets them in her living room.  Dennis and Tommy wait for her as she goes into the kitchen and asks her mother for something.  She returns shortly with a plate of chocolate chip cookies, another favorite of Dennis’, and then sits down and watches them eat.  She is eager to hear all about their offer to be friends but is also nervous and apprehensive.  Part of her doesn’t really believe them because they have always tried to avoid her in the past and have never been nice before. 

When the boys finally finish eating all the cookies, Dennis leans back in the high back chair and then crosses his arms and legs and begins to talk:  “Margaret, Tommy and I are really sorry that we have been so mean to you.  We actually like you a lot but sometimes we just want to be alone and not have any girls around.  That’s just the way boys are.  Please accept our deepest apologies, and let’s start over again.  Maybe you could come to my house one day this week and play with both of us. We have a new game we’d like to show you.”  Tommy then nods as if he’s in full agreement with everything Dennis is saying.  Margaret looks at both of them very closely, and although she is still a bit suspicious, she really wants to believe them and so agrees to their plan. 

A few days later, Margaret walks over to Dennis’ house after school.  She is wearing a brown and black plaid dress and has ribbons in her hair.   Dennis and Tommy are waiting for her on the front door step, and they run up and greet her as if they are long lost friends.  They both put an arm around her shoulders, and Dennis begins to tell her all about this new game they want her to play with them.  Margaret is trying to pay close attention to everything he says and suggests that maybe she should take notes.  But Dennis tells her that the game is really quite simple, and they will help her learn it quickly. 

Dennis then explains the rules to Margaret.  He tells her to stand in the middle of the grass and cover her eyes.  He and Tommy will hide in separate places.  After she counts to 20, she is supposed to uncover her eyes and begin to look for them.  But she is not to leave the grass area under any circumstances.  If she steps on the sidewalk at any point in the game, she has lost and will be eliminated.  This all sounds clear to Margaret, and she then does exactly what they tell her to.  When she finishes counting to 20, she uncovers her eyes and begins to look for them.  She first checks behind every bush, but there is no sign of them there.  She then walks behind the two trees in the lawn thinking that maybe they are hiding behind them.  But they are not there either.  So then she walks as close as she can to the porch and scans that entire area with her eyes.  Still nothing.  But remembering what they told her about the sidewalk, she is out of ideas as to where else she can look and decides to just stand on the grass and wait for them to reappear.  

Almost an hour goes by, and then Dennis’ mother is seen looking out the window.  When she spies Margaret, she goes out to the porch and asks her what is wrong.  After Margaret explains the whole story, Mrs. Mitchell gets a knowing look on her face and tells her to just forget this stupid game.   “I’m sure they are a playing a mean trick on you.  I know Dennis, and this sounds like something he would do.”  But when Margaret begins to cry, Alice goes over to her and suggests they talk more about what happened.  They sit down on the porch steps, and Margaret explains to Mrs. Mitchell why she wanted to be friends with them in the first place.  She describes Tommy as the nicest boy she knows and then says that Dennis is the smartest and the most fun.  Also, she is not really that interested in the other kids in school. 

Dennis’s mother feels so bad for Margaret that she comes up with an idea to help her.  She tells Margaret to just go home now but next time she sees either boy to just smile sweetly and then just walk away.  Then after that, if either one approaches her later, she needs to be nice and friendly but not act interested in them at all.  “This will drive them crazy, Margaret.  I promise you that this is the way to get back at these boys.” 

The next day at school, Margaret does exactly what Mrs. Mitchell told her to do.  Tommy, the one who has the guiltiest conscience, goes up to her first and apologizes with some lame excuse about what happened to them and why they never came back.  Margaret patiently listens to his explanation, smiles sweetly, then pats him on his back and says, “That’s ok.  I still had a good time.”  She then walks off, and leaves Tommy standing there with his mouth open.  He can’t believe she isn’t mad at them.  He then shakes his head in disbelief and runs off to look for Dennis.  When Dennis hears Margaret’s reaction, he is immediately suspicious and decides to check this out for himself.  In no time at all, he spots Margaret talking to some girls over in the courtyard and decides to interrupt them.  He taps on Margaret’s back, and says:  “Excuse me, Margaret, but I really need to talk to you about something important. Would you care to join me over there by that tree?”  Margaret glances over at the tree and is not too impressed.  But she smiles sweetly at Dennis and says that although she would love to spend some time with him later, she is busy now making plans with her girl friends.  Maybe she could take a rain check instead?  She then turns back to the girls and leaves Dennis looking quite miffed and irritated. 

Dennis is surprised by this but not defeated.  He thinks some more and then runs back to Tommy, and they scheme again.  But this time, the roles are reversed and Dennis really wants Margaret’s attention.  So he comes up with this elaborate plan to invite her to a tea party because he knows that’s her favorite thing to do.  He works out ALL the details, and then runs back to Margaret again and extends the invitation, absolutely positive that she will accept this time.  But once again, Margaret remembers what Mrs. Mitchell told her to do and very sweetly declines for a second time.   She then walks away confidently, but before she enters the classroom, she can’t resist looking back at him one last time.  She gets a satisfied look on her face when she sees him shaking and looking furious with his fists balled up.

 Copyright © 2014 (Michelle Parsons, Getting Back on Your Path). All Rights Reserved.

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Columbus conquered, Pizarro plundered, and Magellan lost his life battling a Filipino ruler he tried to convert.  Was it fame and fortune they were after, or simply the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven? 

There is no dispute these early explorers were brave, adventurous and endured hardships that most of us could not.  They were living proof of Darwin’s theory that only the strongest and the fittest will survive, and we owe them a debt of gratitude for all their geographic and scientific discoveries.  But while they opened the passages and brought nations and cultures together, I can’t help think they also tore some of us apart at the same time.  The stories they came back with, whether true or exaggerated, were the first seeds planted in our minds.  It was these first impressions and their descriptions of the natives they met that I believe impacted how the rest of Europe saw them then (and how some still see them today). 

Many of these New World natives, because of their strange customs and traditions, were depicted as dirty, naked “savages” who practiced voodoo or cannibalism.  They were thought of as backward or sub-human because they were not educated, lived off the land, dressed in animal skins and worshipped pagan gods.  Simply put, they were thought of as animals, not men.  

Anyone who has traveled has probably been guilty of “comparing” one culture to another, me included.  I believe it is also normal or typical to be uncomfortable with certain foreign customs and to see them as strange or odd.  Also, the inability to communicate compounds the frustration and lack of understanding between the two groups.  This I understand, and this I can relate to.  

But what I can’t understand (or condone) is the arrogant superiority and lack of respect some of these explorers showed when they first arrived in the Americas.  Some brought trinkets to share and some had translators, but the vast majority just hit the ground like conquerors with no concern or regard for the locals and the havoc they were causing.  Countless passages have been written of how frightening it was for the natives to see the vast size of the ships that were arriving and to hear gunfire for the first time.  Were these new gods to honor or the devil itself? 

There was one New World explorer that treated the natives differently, however, but little is known of his experience.  His name was Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca, and although he may have arrived like the rest of them with a profit driven mentality, he left as an advocate and supporter of Native American rights and wrote several books on the subject.  Like Christopher Columbus and Francisco Pizarro, Cabeza de Vaca was a Catholic sponsored by the same Spanish monarchy during the same general time period, departing Spain in the early months of 1527.  But unlike the other two explorers, his royal expedition consisted of a crew of over 600 men, a number that was unheard of at the time.  But by the following year, a series of weather related disasters, shortages of food and geographical miscalculations reduced the crew to only Cabeza de Vaca and three others. 

Shipwrecked near Galveston Island (aka the Island of Doom) on the Gulf Coast of Texas, the survivors were initially taken prisoner by some local Indians and held captive until they were able to escape two years later.  It was the following eight years, however, that really changed how these men viewed the Indians.  Traveling by foot across the southwest and down into Mexico, they met tribe after tribe of natives who they traded with and grew to care about and respect.  What began as a mutually beneficial but independent co-existence soon developed into a more spiritual and harmonious one after Cabeza de Vaca successfully removed an arrowhead that had struck an Indian above his heart.  From that moment on, he and his companions were viewed as “Children of the Sun” and word spread quickly to the other tribes.  Soon they had quite a following that walked along with them.  In exchange for food, skins and basic survival techniques, the four explorers reciprocated by treating the sick and injured Indians.  

While many other explorers were feared or viewed as only plunderers or Christian proselytizers, Cabeza de Vaca’s group was thought of as Gods.  Living as the locals did and learning their culture and customs, they saw the southwest Indians as kind, compassionate, generous and hospitable.  In a journal entry written by Cabeza de Vaca in 1528, he described the natives as resilient, versatile, useful and flexible.  He then added that they were “merry people” who danced and celebrated even through hardship. 

Over time, these explorers developed sympathy for the indigenous population and the poor treatment they received by some of the Spanish conquistadors.  After they returned to Europe in 1537, Cabeza de Vaca wrote the first European book devoted entirely to North America, a detailed account of the many Indians he met during his journey.  Not only was his book an anthropological account of the lives of the natives, it also described the flora, fauna and landscape of the area, including the first sighting of an American buffalo.  In Texas, he is viewed as the first explorer of the region and their first historian.  But sadly, in later years, he was arrested for his unpopular views and lived a modest life after that with little recognition for the work he had achieved.

Copyright © 2014 (Michelle Parsons, Getting Back on Your Path). All Rights Reserved.

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Almond Roca

I have never liked Valentine’s Day, and the older I get, the stronger I feel about it.  There are many holidays I wish we could abolish, but Valentine’s Day is top on my list. 

Even as a kid I recognized it was a cruel holiday.  Not only did it separate out the children who were artists from the ones like me who couldn’t even cut a decent shaped heart, it also made clear who was popular and who wasn’t.  As we all counted the Valentines we received in our hand-made mail boxes that hung from our desks, it was always painful to see that a few others got more than I did and heartbreaking to watch the ones who got even less.  I suppose I should have been grateful to have received as many as I did, but instead I just focused on the ones I didn’t receive that a few select had.  The one I wanted from the cutest boy or the most popular girl.  Or the ones that had a personal message or were bigger or prettier than the others. 

In later years, the holiday took on a deeper meaning.  What began as a test of your popularity soon turned into a sign of whether you were a success or a failure.  A winner or a loser.  By a certain age, if you didn’t have a significant other to celebrate the day with, something was wrong with you.  It was no longer just about counting the number of cards you received or measuring how large or how pretty the cards were.  It was now about one thing only.  Was there at least one person in the world that thought of only you on Valentine’s Day? 

Looking back on all the Valentine’s Days I “celebrated” while I was married, I realize now that they were ALL a disappointment in some way.  Even though I was pretty much guaranteed to receive a card and some sort of chocolate or candy, none of them ever lived up to my dreams or expectations.  As the years went on, less time, effort and money went into the holiday.  It actually became a running joke for us after the year my ex ran out at the last minute to buy something and came back with just a can of Almond Roca.  He seemed pleased that at least he had found something “pink”, and although I laughed along with him, it stabbed at my heart.  A symbol to me that not only was the holiday a farce in some way, it also represented a dying relationship.  A marriage that had lost its sizzle, and we were just two people going through the motions and conforming like everyone else to society’s expectations. 

Fast forward to today, and now that I am single and divorced, the holiday only means that the restaurants will be full and there will be long lines at See’s Candies.   I am no longer “guaranteed” to receive a Valentine’s card and probably won’t even bother checking the mail today.  It’s not that I hate celebrations of “love”.  It’s just all the phoniness I can’t stand.

Copyright © 2014 (Michelle Parsons, Getting Back on Your Path). All Rights Reserved.

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the old rugged cross

He is almost doubled over from the weight of the old rugged cross, and he is climbing a narrow path up a steep hill.  He is bare chested, and his arms are outstretched like bird wings.  With each bend in the road, he begins to stand straighter.  By the time he reaches the top, he is fully upright and vertical yet the cross stays affixed to his back as if glued on.  As I stare at the cross, I see it suddenly transform itself into wings, and when I look back at the man, he is no longer bare chested.  He is now wearing a white robe and looking more like an angel than a man.  Then I see the wings become a cross again, and I watch as he pounds it into the ground. 

Beyond the man is a crowd of spectators who are angry and shaking their fists at him.  They are calling him a traitor and a trouble maker.  Many are trying to push forward to reach him, but another man is holding the group back with his arms.  He is telling them to leave him alone, that he is being punished now and no one else needs to get involved at this point.  “It will only make matters worse” is what he is saying to everyone.  But some are still so upset at what he did to them that they can’t calm down, and a few have to be restrained and taken away.  

When I glance back at the man with the cross, I hear him say the words:  “I am sorry for what I have done.  No one believes me, but I am sorry.  If I could do it all over again, I would take a different path.  I would have forgiven my enemies and tried to make peace with them.  I would have let go of my bitterness and feelings of revenge and tried to love again.  But I have made so many mistakes, and it’s too late to change my ways.  I am ready for my punishment now.”  Then I watch as he backs up to the cross, and two others come over to tie up his arms and his legs. 

As they hammer the nails into his flesh,  I hear what sounds like a woman crying.  I find her in the middle of the crowd.  She is wearing a blue robe and is sitting on the ground holding herself and rocking back and forth, sobbing uncontrollably.  Others have stood back to give her space, but no one is offering to help or comfort her.  Some are asking who she is, and others are just telling everyone to leave her alone.  I hear one man say, “Trust me. She is not worth your time.” 

I glance again at the man on the cross, and he is losing consciousness.  I see him look up toward the heavens for a moment, and then his head drops down suddenly.  The crowd gasps and then grows silent. 

Suddenly, another man appears from behind.  He is pushing himself through the crowd, and I immediately do a double take.  I can’t believe my eyes, but what I see is an exact duplicate of the man who is on the cross.  But this one is very much alive, strong and healthy looking.  As he approaches, he begins to yell orders and demands that the man on the cross be taken down immediately.  He is outraged over what has happened and accuses those in charge of being cruel and barbaric.  He wants to know who authorized this and begins to look closely at all the men standing closest to the cross.  He then points to each one, and asks:  “Did you order this?”  But they all shake their heads and say “Not I”, and just as the man begins to grow angrier, another one emerges from the crowd and says:  “I am the one you are looking for.  Who are you, and who do you think you are questioning my orders?”  

They stare at each other for a moment until the first man finally responds authoritatively:  “I am God, and this man who just died on the cross was my son.  I demand an explanation of what he has done and why he was killed in such a cruel and merciless way.”

The spectators cover their mouths in shock, and all eyes turn toward the second man as he says the following:  “He deserved what he got.  He is guilty of every sin imaginable.  No one here will dispute this.  We all agree with the facts.  He had his day in court, and he was found guilty on ALL counts charged against him.  I only did what any other minister of justice would do.” 

Tears begin to well up in the eyes of the first man, and he says: “I lied to you a minute ago when I said the man on the cross was my son.  That was not my son.  That was me.  And I am not God.  I only pretended to be to fool others and to get my way.  You did the right thing to stop him.  He was out of control and half out of his mind.  I know a part of him actually wanted to get caught and wanted others to find out what he has done.” 

No one knows how to respond to this, and for a moment there is only silence.  Then I hear the voice of the woman who was crying earlier but has now stood up and is moving forward toward the man who claimed to be God.  “Why on earth are you doing this?  Why are you telling everyone who you are now and what you have done?  This is not what we planned, and you are not keeping the promise you made to me.” 

“I have changed my mind,” explained Pontius Pilate. “I can see our first plan is not working with these people, so I decided to try something else instead.  I decided to admit what I have done and hope for their mercy.  Maybe in time they will trust me again, and I can gain my power back later.  This has worked in the past, so I am going to give this a try again.  I believe it’s our only hope.”

 Copyright © 2014 (Michelle Parsons, Getting Back on Your Path). All Rights Reserved.

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Sun rays and open door

I am dribbling a basketball as I run with it to my side of the court.  Then I stop suddenly and shoot for the hoop.  But as the ball leaves my hands, I begin to rise up also.  We both go toward the basket, but while I frantically reach out and grab the outside rim, the ball just bounces off the edge and then hits the ground.  An opponent catches it and begins to run, and the crowd jumps up and cheers. 

As I hang for dear life, I watch the game for a few minutes, still devastated and in shock over my predicament.  But gradually, I begin to feel stronger and start to lift myself up on the rim of the basket like a gymnast would do.  As I continue to watch the other team rack up more and more points, I grow more and more frustrated (and angry) because EVERYONE has run over to the other side, and all eyes are now on the other players.  Everyone is cheering them along, and I have been cast aside and completely forgotten.  

Eventually I manage to pull myself up, however, and with the strength of my own knees, I am finally able to stand up on the rim of the basket.   Initially, I am proud of my courage in taking this first step.   But just as I am patting myself on the back, I make the mistake of looking straight down and am sickened by how far I might fall and how HARD the ground looks.  I begin to shake and am embarrassed when I have to grab the backboard for moral support.  As I regain my strength, I start to look around and become irritated when I see that no one has looked my way at all.  This bothers me at first, but then I decide to show them a thing or two and begin to walk the rim as if it’s a tight rope and I am a circus performer.  I am amazed when I get completely around it without falling, so I do it again and again.  As I gain more confidence, I begin to venture out and try even fancier moves like cartwheels and somersaults.  

While I am doing all these acrobatic stunts, I am constantly looking over at the others hoping they will notice me and hoping to impress them.  But not one looks my way even once.  I just can’t believe they don’t see me doing all these amazing things, but they don’t … and after a while, I finally stop caring.  It no longer matters to me whether they watch me or not, and I begin to have fun all by myself.  I am no longer scared and am now concentrating only on these new talents I have discovered.  I am so surprised that I can do this because I never thought my upper body was very strong or that my balance was that good.  I had never even tried to do a cartwheel before, and now I am doing them on the top of a basketball hoop of all places.  Who knew? 

I am so blown away by this new experience that I am no longer even following the game or even concerned that the other team is winning.  But just when I begin to focus on a new stunt to try, I hear someone yell “Look at her over there” and I see a man pointing at ME.  Several come running up then and watch as I continue to do more tricks.  In a very short time, this group around me begins to grow larger, and while some are still intent on watching the game, there are just as many on MY side now applauding me and what I am doing.  Not wanting to disappoint them, I continue on for a while until I grow too tired and then ask if someone could please help me down.  Several run for a ladder, and soon I have more than enough people helping me.  I don’t recognize any of them, but they seem friendly and nice.  They look different from the friends I had when I was playing basketball, but they are excited about what I am doing now and are asking me a lot of questions.  

As I leave the arena, I look back for just a moment to see the final score of the game.  As I suspected, the opposition has won by a landslide and there are reporters and fans surrounding the star players.  For just a second, I feel a stab at my heart because I know I lost that game and that my basketball career is OVER.  Also, I have a fleeting worry that some of my former teammates (and fans) are laughing at me now, remembering the image of me hanging from that basket like a fool.  But just as I start to feel sorry for myself, one of my new friends asks if I have any plans for dinner.  I hesitate at first because I would prefer to eat with my old team and go out like we always did after a game.  It would be so much more comfortable and relaxing to go to the same restaurant, order the same favorite food and have the same conversation about the same people like we always had.  That’s what feels like “home”, and those are the ones that feel like “family”.   I don’t know these new people at all, and what would we talk about?

But then I remembered that the ones I thought were my “family” had abandoned me an hour earlier.  When I was desperate and needed them the most, they ALL ran to the side that was winning and left me all alone to fend for myself.  I also started thinking of how GREAT I felt and how strong I became those moments when I was all alone and tried to do something I had never tried before.  So then I decide that the decision whether or not to join this new friend for dinner is easier than I thought.  As one door closes, another door opens.

Copyright © 2014 (Michelle Parsons, Getting Back on Your Path). All Rights Reserved.

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a field of horses

I climb over the fence and jump down onto the grass and begin walking.  I see a field full of horses, but there are only three that I focus on.  The first one is the largest, brown with a white patch, and the father figure.  A punctual and nervous perfectionist, tidy, organized and controlling.  Precise and detail oriented.  I am reminded of Mr. Banks from Mary Poppins whose cruel and critical words can cut you in half. 

The second is a pure white Arabian, and this is the mother.  She is by all accounts “special”, and there is no one else quite like her.  I see a ring of flowers around her neck and many blue ribbons.  But she is a neglectful mother who spends too much time in the limelight and not enough time at home taking care of her child.  There is lots of fanfare and praise for all her achievements, and she often wins “Citizen of the Year” or “Best Mother”.  She is humble and modest and over commits herself, often helping strangers more than her own family.  Always interested in money making ventures but seldom practical, typically concentrating on dollars spent rather than debts owed.  

The smallest of the three horses (the child) is in the foreground, a rogue spirit and non-conformist who is also not practical or realistic.  She sets the bar too high for herself and is devastated when it doesn’t pan out.  Too sensitive emotionally and often gets her feelings hurt.  Wants to be loved and included but not willing to work hard to achieve the relationships she desires.  She will put a LOT of effort (almost too much) in at times but then burns out, pulls back and retreats … until the loneliness begins to bother her.  She then slowly emerges and gets back into the swing of things for awhile, but she is never comfortable in her own skin and never proud of who she is.  She tires easily and wants to go home before anyone else.  Nothing appeals to her more than putting her pajamas on, reading a book and drinking hot milk.  Is often challenged for her belief system because she looks at life differently than most and refuses to live her life in a typical or accepted manner.  A fierce competitor, she can be stubborn and unrelenting at times and often promises more than she can deliver.  Not as confident on the inside as she pretends to be.

They are a family, of sorts.  Not really there for each other and no love lost between them.  Just a habit and a ritual.  All-American.  In name only.


Copyright © 2014 (Michelle Parsons, Getting Back on Your Path). All Rights Reserved.


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emerald city

For a long time, I have been trying to get home.  Every path I take gets me closer,  and I can now see it off in the horizon.  It looks just like the Emerald City in the Wizard of Oz, and I am Dorothy wearing the ruby slippers. I have met some good witches along the way who have helped guide me, and I have met some bad ones who have deceived me.  I also believe there is a phony magician behind a curtain that everyone else thinks is God.

I have been walking all by myself for a while, but now the Cowardly Lion (with his tail between his hands) has come to join me.  He locks his arm in mine, and we begin to dance down the yellow brick road.  We only go a short distance, though, before Toto catches up with us.  He is barking and nipping at our legs, trying to get us to stop.  When we look back, I see the Scarecrow in a field stuffing straw into his shirt.  With each bundle he adds, he begins to stand up straighter.  I see him check himself out in a mirror, and he is admiring how full his chest looks now.  Then he checks out his backside also, and he is pleased with what he sees and his face is smiling.  He is thinking about me and the Lion and wants to join us.  So he begins to walk down the path toward us, stopping every now and then to fill himself up with more straw.  No matter how much straw he adds, he needs MORE because of the Tin Man, who is always setting the Scarecrow on fire and making him start all over again. 

When I look for the Tin Man, I see him even further back on the path.  He is sitting under a tree with his head down and a tear falling down his face.  He sits there for a while, surrounded by burning ashes and feeling sorry for himself.  Then he stands up, and with his hands on his hips, he looks down the road toward us.  He begins to kick stones, but instead of looking forward, he looks first to the left and then to the right and considers his options.  If he takes the path to the left, he will go into a dark forest of trees with only white bark and become Vladimir Putin.  But if he takes the path to the right, he will enter a dark forest of trees with only black bark and become Robert Mugabe.  If he is able to take one step forward, however, I see his body become a checkerboard of black and white.  The more steps he takes, the more his skin color is erased and the larger his heart will grow.   As an eraser wipes out the last bit of color from his flesh, I see the sun come out and Jesus emerges.  He is now walking very briskly toward the Emerald City, but out of the corner of his eye, he sees a white rabbit caught in some brush.  He stops to let it free, and then I see them both walking side by side as they fade off into the distance.

Copyright © 2013 (Michelle Parsons, Getting Back on Your Path). All Rights Reserved.

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in the dark

When Pastor Rick Warren’s son committed suicide in April, I felt personally devastated by their loss.  Although I never followed the man’s history of depression or his struggles with mental illness, his death made me think of my own family and a sister who was mentally ill and a nephew who died of a drug overdose a few years ago.  Not every family experiences suicide, but every family has dealt with depression and mental illness.  

The Warren Family probably went through the same journey my family did, and some of them will feel responsible and guilty the rest of their life.  If only they had done something differently or tried harder, he might still be alive.  So they will place the deceased on a pedestal as if they were a saint, while at the same time beating themselves up for their own failings and mistakes. 

To this day, I have never understood why my sister, Heidi (who contracted a chronic kidney disease at age 10 and died when she was 35) would not even follow some of her doctor’s simple instructions.  She was a very bright girl, and yet she would not even take a multiple vitamin unless the whole family showed up to encourage her, or in many cases, force it down her.  Some called her a “free spirit” and admired that she lived her life HER way, but others (like me) grew very tired of the Frank Sinatra’s “My Way” approach.  Not because we begrudged her independent spirit, but because the rest of us got dragged into “the mess” that resulted when she didn’t follow the rules or the advice given.  Was she simply lazy and selfish, or did she really not want to get well?  Because if you get well and are 100% healthy, maybe others hold you to a different standard and expect more from you.  Or is that others simply stop worrying about you and go back to living their own lives?  It has been my experience that some people need attention 24/7 to feel love or to not feel abandoned. 

It is so frustrating (and so heart breaking) to watch someone you love NOT move forward.  Not only do you feel resentment and anger toward them, you are also mad at yourself for all the time you have personally wasted trying to help them.  After experiencing this a few times in my life with certain friends and family members, I have learned to just distance myself from their pain and suffering.  In the beginning, not only did I feel sorry for them, I also felt GUILTY that I was healthy and doing well.  So I offered to hold their hand and take the journey with them, going to doctor appointments, giving them “advice”, recommending books to read, giving them money on the side, etc.  But that never worked.  They never got better, and nothing ever changed.  It wasn’t until I realized that when you feel sorry for someone, you are not really helping them.  What you are doing instead is trying to “save” or “rescue” them, or “fix” their problems.  You are in essence climbing down in the hole with them and pitying them, which actually disempowers them.  You are not only making things worse for them, you have also just lowered your own energy.  So even though your intentions were honorable, the result is negative for both parties. 

What I have also learned is that no one will really change until they want to and are ready to.  Some need to actually hit rock bottom before they bounce back, but many will never make it.  For reasons that are incomprehensible to me, many will choose to stay IN THE DARK and at the bottom.  Although it is so painful and so tragic to see a loved one slip away, it is more tragic if both of you get sucked under.   When someone’s soul is that “lost”, you must walk away and save yourself.  This is their journey … and you have your own. 

Copyright © 2013 (Michelle Parsons, Getting Back on Your Path). All Rights Reserved.

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heading toward the sun

For the past two years, I have been fighting with someone.   It has now gone full circle, and I am back where I started …. still stuck with her, and still in a child’s sandbox refusing to budge.   I feel as if I have made every effort humanly possible.  I have tried helping her, reasoning with her, ignoring her and then shaming her.  I have tried swearing, name calling and shaking my fist.  I have  hated her and blamed her for absolutely everything that has gone wrong, and I have never felt so much negativity, bitterness or revenge in my entire life. 

I keep telling her (and everyone else) that she started this fight, that it’s all her fault, and that I was innocent.  So I keep insisting that she back down first, apologize and do the “right” thing for me and others.  I have been proud of my strength, courage, determination and will power.  I have seen myself as a sheriff or warrior who fights injustice and insists on fair play.  I will not back down in battle or turn the other cheek and be quiet when I am being persecuted.  No matter what she does to me, I will be the LAST one standing at the end of our boxing match.  

But this contest has gone on for more than two years, and it’s been a life filled with distrust, worry, fear and contempt.  I have hated who I have become almost as much as I have hated her.  Maybe I handled it the best I could at the time, but it’s not who I am at my core.  It’s not who I want to be or how I want to live any longer, and I am now at a crossroads trying to find a different path to take.  I have to stop seeing everything in terms of a winner or a loser, but I am not ready yet to extend an olive branch or welcome her in my home.  Too much has happened, and the distrust is still there and the wounds are too deep.   I also don’t want just a “time out” where we each retreat to our corners and re-think our approach.  

What I think I want instead is just a path which will lead me away from the “battle” and toward a place of peace.  This fight has taken so much out of me that there are days when I feel so lonely, empty and depleted of everything I must have in order to move on.  What I need more than anything is confidence in myself that I can overcome this, hope in the future, faith in the universe and unconditional love (and respect) for both friends and enemies alike.  I would also like the hand of God to scoop me up and carry me the rest of the way, but I know that’s not going to happen.  This is my life and my journey, and I have to at least be willing to start down the path on my own. 

Off in the distance, I see a white picket fence, a gate opening, and me crossing into a field where all my friends and family are waiting for me.  They come running up to greet me, with their arms outstretched.  I look like Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz, and I have finally returned to Kansas.  But instead of feeling joy, I have my head down in shame because it took me so long to get back home.  As I start walking with one who has his arms around my shoulders, I begin to lift my head and look around.  He is Huckleberry Finn with no shoes on, and he is blowing a dandelion in his other hand.  He is telling me all that has happened since I have been away, and I am slowly coming back to life.  I see the sun now, and we are heading toward the light.

Copyright © 2013  (Michelle Parsons, Getting Back on Your Path). All Rights Reserved.

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columbus-wanted-for-genocide1Not only did the infamous explorer Christopher Columbus never set foot on North America or prove the world was round, this man was quite possibly one of the worst human beings that ever lived in the 15th century.   If everyone knew about the barbaric atrocities that took place under his command, I believe his “hero” status would be stricken from every history book that was ever written… and the holiday we celebrate in his honor would be cancelled from our calendar. 

What many don’t realize is that Columbus and his men were responsible for one of the largest genocides that has ever occurred.  Their greed, cruelty, sexual exploits (and the diseases they introduced) led to the extermination of thousands of native Indians on what is now known as Haiti.  They dismembered, beheaded, burned alive and raped so many locals that hundreds opted for mass suicide rather than live through another day of torture.  

Of those that managed to survive this brutality, many were thrown onto ships (cramming as many in as possible) and sent to Spain.   Families were separated, conditions were utterly deplorable, and disease was rampant.  Many died during the journey, and their bodies were tossed overboard into the Atlantic.  When they finally set foot on Spanish soil, these poor souls were then paraded naked through the streets of Seville and sold as slaves.

It is estimated that within four years of Columbus’ arrival in 1492, a third of the local population were either slaughtered or sold.   GOLD was all that mattered to these barbarians.

Copyright © 2013  (Michelle Parsons, Getting Back on Your Path). All Rights Reserved.

Comments (3)

Andrea A JohnsonOctober 11th, 2012 at 1:34 am

These are impressive articles. Keep up the noble be successful.

AlJuly 22nd, 2013 at 11:42 pm

Great article Michelle,

BeckyOctober 14th, 2013 at 4:07 pm

WOW! I had no idea. History books left this part out.

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When a checked box is all it takes to define who you are and how others see you, there is something WRONG with the system.  A few months ago, I was fortunate enough to see One Drop of Love, an autobiographical play about several generations of an African-American family and how each member experienced racism differently.  Throughout the production, the audience was shown how the US Census Bureau changed its classification process from the late 1700’s to present day.  In the beginning, ALL people were divided into one of two groups:  a white person or a slave.  As time went on, the divisions expanded into (3) groups:   white, slave or free colored.  Soon after slavery was abolished in the mid-1800’s, the system was modified  but another classification appeared:  white, free colored or civilized Indians.  Slowly, these words changed while more emerged, and ethnic background was also taken into consideration.  Now there are even boxes to check if you belong to two or more races or if you aren’t any of the above.  Today, census data is complicated and confusing … but politically correct.  

I wish we could live in a world with NO boxes, where no one has to be classified according to their race or ethnicity and where there are no negative or positive connotations associated with what skin color you have, your last name or where your ancestors came from.  One that doesn’t care whether you are black or white, tall or short, male or female, rich or poor, old or young.   A world that judges you based on only your character, your integrity, and your contribution.   

Too many of us live our lives ashamed of where we come from, and we see ourselves as “damaged goods” carrying our scars like a badge of honor.   Some remain angry for life, taking it out on everyone else and giving up before they get started.  Others try for a complete makeover and pretend to be someone they aren’t.  If they can lighten or tighten their skin,  maybe they can have a fresh start and receive the love and respect they couldn’t achieve before.  

How many times have we heard that it’s what we have inside that matters the most?  Good looks and a flashy car may get you a lot of attention, but they won’t get you love or respect.  At best, they help you get your foot in the door … but it’s what you have inside that keeps that door open.  It’s not how many gifts you were given at birth but what you chose to do with the gifts that you were given that counts.  At the end of your life, you will not be remembered by the color of your skin, the amount of money in your bank account or where your family came from.  You will be remembered for the help you gave others and the kindness, compassion and LOVE you showed them.

Copyright © 2013 (Michelle Parsons, Getting Back on Your Path). All Rights Reserved.

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iran facebook

For a few hours in the middle of the night this week, some internet users in Iran were convinced a miracle had occurred.  For the first time in four years, they were able to access Facebook and other social networking sites.  They were so stunned at first and could not understand what was happening.  They kept trying different sites, and they got on each one without a problem and without special software.  But almost immediately, some of the users began looking over their shoulder, convinced they were being duped and that their government had only lifted the filters to spy on them to determine who the actual users were.  Others were less suspicious, however, and thought that perhaps the government was just testing the “internet water” to gauge what the public response would be, while the hopeless optimistics were jumping for joy and emailing everyone they knew declaring the good news:  “God had liberated Facebook”.  The celebration was short-lived, however, when it was announced that there had been a technical glitch of some kind….  and within a few hours, the problem was rectified and the filter blocks were back on again.  

Ever since anti-government protests in 2009, the Iranian government has banned social networking sites.  Fear that access will lead to more opposition and more organized revolts has resulted in only the very highest levels of government having official sites.  Ironically, however, although it is illegal for the citizens, both the Supreme Leader of Iran and the President have personal  Facebook and Twitter accounts.  They promote themselves and their ideology every day and actively encourage followers.  To date, the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has over 58,000 “likes” and has been accused of hiring people to clean up his site every day and remove ALL negative comments. 

This is what life is life is like in a country where censorship is allowed, the freedom to communicate with friends of your choice is banned, and the government controls your destiny.  It is just a roller coaster of ups and downs.  One minute you have hope, and the next minute it’s gone.  It starts with frustration, which then leads to anger.  The anger leads to protests.  Protests are followed by government crackdowns.  Bans are then put in place, and the people who are trying to make a change and are fighting for more freedom are then arrested and either jailed or killed.  We see this cycle over and over again.  Hope followed by dismay.  

The Iranians also had hope a few months ago when President Hassan Rouhani won a landslide election in June.  Considered politically moderate and popular with the youth and the middle class, Rouhani has declared himself a supporter of women’s rights, pledged to improve relations with the West, and promises to reduce censorship.  He was once quoted as saying:  “Gone are the days when a wall could be built around the country.  Today there are no more walls.”    

Yesterday, Iran released 11 of its most prominent political prisoners on the eve of Rouhani’s visit to the United States.  More hope for the country.  Maybe there is a God after all.

Copyright © 2013 (Michelle Parsons, Getting Back on Your Path). All Rights Reserved.

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AnonymousSeptember 26th, 2013 at 6:24 pm

Thanks for this article!

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food desert

America has its problems too.  We hear this over and over again from those who know our country well.  Why are we spending so many dollars overseas to help other nations when our own people are hungry and homeless or without a job?  We also need help, and for some, charity begins at home. 

Many of us have not wanted to look at some of the hard realities of what is going on in our own neighborhoods and in our own towns.  For whatever reason, it is easier (or less painful) to focus on global issues only.  We’ll spend countless number of hours and dollars supporting an important cause in Africa but walk past a desperate person on our own street and not even make eye contact.  This is what is so frustrating for those who are trying to make a difference here at home. 

If you are willing to spend less than 90 minutes and watch a documentary called A Place at the Table, you will be shown the “big picture” of what it is like to be hungry in America.  It’s not the image that first comes to mind of a starving skin and bones body; if anything, it’s the exact opposite because almost all Americans have access to some sort of food.  But it’s the type of food they can afford that makes some of the poorest people in America the most obese.  

Anyone who has gone to a supermarket in recent years knows that good food (like fresh fruits and vegetables) is more expensive than processed food (like chips and donuts).  But how many of us knew that since 1980, the price of good food has risen 40% while the price of processed food has gone down almost that same percentage?  This is not necessarily because fewer people want to eat the healthy foods. or a natural disaster has wiped out certain crops.  It’s because our government has chosen to subsidize the crops that are the most efficient to grow at the most affordable price.  It’s the farmers who are growing corn, wheat and soybeans (in that order) that receive the most assistance, and it’s the net products those crops are contributing to that are the most unhealthy for us to be eating.  

When you are poor, it only makes sense that you are going to buy the cheapest food you can find.  Even if you buy only processed foods, chances are you are still going to fall short each month… and many at that point have to then rely on the charity of others.  But most of these charities (who are always stretched to the limit and also struggling to make ends meet) also purchase processed foods.  Pre-packaged snacks and ready-to-eat meals are the norm… anything that can be bought in volume at a low price and transported and prepared easily.  Lots of sweeteners and preservatives are added, none of which have much nutritional value.  So slowly over time, the poor become not only overweight but also malnourished.  The heavier they get, the more inactive they become.   It’s a vicious cycle, and no one knows what to do or how to help them.  

Some of us blame the poor themselves.  We look at how they spend the little money they have and criticize their choices.  Or we say they don’t put their bodies first, or they don’t care for their children enough to make them a priority.  But when there is very little money and everything in their life is a struggle, they need help.  Giving them more food stamp assistance or welfare, however, isn’t necessarily the answer.  Until they are educated and actually see the difference that better food and more exercise can make, they will continue to live the same life and repeat the same mistakes.  A few hundred extra dollars in their pockets will not change anything. 

If we can make healthier food more AFFORDABLE for the poor (either by government changing the crops they subsidize and/or setting up discounted “good food” programs), that would be a beginning.  Then we need to start educating the children in the schools and implement programs for the adults showing them the importance of eating these foods and how and where to purchase them at the most affordable price.  In the documentary, school children were introduced to what honeydew melon tasted like and were told what the benefits were.  Most of these children had never tasted it before but raised their hand later and said they would try and get their parents to buy some for them.  

But regardless of how much education we provide or how cheap we make good food, there will always be a certain percentage that will need an even greater incentive to make a positive change in their life.  For those, we may have to actually PAY them to start eating properly, taking a multi-vitamin supplement and/or exercising.  It sounds like an outrageous idea, but this is not a new one, and it’s proven to be cheaper for society in the long run as a preventative health measure. 

America has its problems, but there are solutions out there.

Copyright © 2013 (Michelle Parsons, Getting Back on Your Path). All Rights Reserved.

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syrian crisis

Revolutions feed on CHAOS.  The objective is to stir everything up to such a degree that no one knows who the enemy is or who to support.  No one can tell who is winning or who is losing or who even started the war in the beginning.  Each side points to the other and refuses to back down or let go or move on.  Nothing makes any sense, and it’s impossible to sort out any of the facts.  There are no “good guys” around, and no good options. 

For two years, most of us have refused to get involved in Syria’s revolution.  Because we always seem to get “burned” whenever we intervene in civil wars, most of us are conditioned now to just look away from all their suffering and hope that either someone else does something or they resolve it themselves.  But no matter how much we hope the Syrian conflict will stop soon, it just keeps escalating.  Now we are dealing with chemical weapons of the worst kind.   What more has to happen, and how many more lives will be lost, until we finally do something?? 

This should not be a “political” decision, and countries should not be evaluating whether it is in their own best interests to intervene or not.  When two million people have fled the country, five million people are displaced within the country, and 110,000 people have been killed, this is a humanitarian issue.  The current regime has proven time and again that they do not care about the people, and the opposition is no better.   They are going to fight it out until the bloody end and will take everyone down with them.  There is no reasoning with them, and all diplomatic avenues have been exhausted.  

Whether we decide to intervene militarily or just step up humanitarian aid, it is imperative that the international community comes together now and does the right thing for the innocent people who are suffering.  We need to put aside our differences with each other and come up with a plan of how we are going to help those who can’t help themselves right now.  If this was happening in our own country, we would want someone outside to come in and do this for us.  

We need to do something, and we need to do it now.

Copyright © 2013 (Michelle Parsons, Getting Back on Your Path). All Rights Reserved.

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no go zone

No one likes change, and the residents of the small town of Alpnach, Switzerland are no exception.  Despite all their protests, the Swiss government recently opened a refugee center in this village of only 6,000 people.  It will house 100 asylum seekers, with the vast majority coming from Africa and the Middle East.  Although the locals don’t want them, the government was determined to move the refugees out of the former army bunkers where they have previously been housed.  Most of them were sleeping 12 to a room and living at altitudes of more than 6,000 feet, many miles from a local town with nowhere to go and nothing to do except manual labor.  Since it can take a while for their cases to be heard, the hope was that if they got the refugees down from the mountains and living amongst locals, they would assimilate better and learn more about the Swiss people and the country that may someday be their permanent home.  

But instead of being greeted with a welcoming party, these immigrants were presented with a list of all the places in the town where they were not allowed to go.  Schools, playgrounds, sports fields, swimming pools, and certain residential areas are off limits, and a private security firm has been hired to make sure they stay out.  Even though some of the refugees are families with young children, many of the locals still worry that crime in Alpnach will increase and their own children will be attacked  — some are even installing alarms in their homes and insist on living separately from the newcomers and never getting to know them.  

While the vast majority of the town is in an uproar and angry at their government, there are some townsfolk who feel differently.  They are more open to change and also recognize these refugees are desperate and coming from war-torn countries in complete crisis. They are looking beyond race, religion and a different language and see them as merely human beings who are trying for a chance at a new life.   

What is happening in Alpnach is no different than what is going on now in every other country.  The Swiss are no less welcoming than other people.  In fact, their government has traditionally been more generous and more open to refugees than any other country in Europe.  But the issue goes beyond quotas and money expended.  It’s not just allowing them to come in and giving them a bed.  What it really comes down to is whether or not a “foreigner” will be welcomed with open arms … and an open heart.

Copyright © 2013 (Michelle Parsons, Getting Back on Your Path). All Rights Reserved.

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two steps forward

I am still progressing at a two steps forward, one step back pace, but there are still some days when I go BACK two steps and forward only one.  I get so frustrated with myself on those days and so discouraged that I can’t seem to permanently cross that “barrier” that I see as freedom.  At times, I think I am over the horizon, and everything looks beautiful and feels good.  My energy is high, and I have so much faith and hope.  I am ALL spirit then.  But within minutes, I see something (or remember something), and that barrier is UP again … and I am back on the wrong side. 

So I have been there, but I just can’t seem to STAY there.  It’s as if I have all the tools I need but somehow either can’t do (or won’t do) the “work” I need to.  Yet internally, I feel as I am working all the time toward my healing….a 24/7 project that has been going on for several years.  So why am I not stronger by now, and why do I still have so many relapses?  Maybe I am just not ready yet, and I should relax and give myself a break.  But there is always some pressure pushing at me, something saying to “dig deeper”.  There is still more dirt to unearth and more buried bodies.  There is just simply more to my story, and I am not the type who can completely “let go” until I feel I have ALL of it. 

One part of me (the side I call my spirit) says to just keep moving forward, and that in time, the truth will slowly emerge.  It will all come when it is supposed to come and when I am best able to handle it or receive it.  It is this part of me that I listen to the most these days and who is in the driver seat majority of the time.  The one who believes that the Universe gives us exactly who and what we need to help us with whatever we are struggling with at any given time.  The one who trusts that I am being guided or “prepared” in some way for my next step.   It is my encourager and my cheerleader.  The one who is ready to jump off a cliff blindfolded and is positive there is a soft landing down below. 

But the other part of me (my fearful and stubborn body) still pulls at me sometimes and tries to apply the brakes.  It keeps telling me I am going way too fast, that I am naïve and too trusting, that I’m being taken advantage of and/or manipulated in some way.   That life only gives you lemons and that real happiness only happens in Hollywood.  I feel foolish and stupid then, and all I see are red flags everywhere. 

Every day, my spirit and body are at odds with each other over something.  On a BAD day, I almost feel as if I have a split personality.   I never know what is going to trigger a relapse, but suddenly my body becomes full of fear and doubt, not trusting anyone or anything.  I begin to look over my shoulder and stop looking ahead.  This is the part of me that has low self-esteem and no confidence.  The part that has been “abused” and still suffers from the trauma.  The one who wants everything to remain the same so it can be safe.  The one who is so afraid that what is around the corner will be worse than what I am dealing with now…. and the one who feels ALL ALONE and just wants my Mom.  These are the days that I take TWO steps back.

Copyright © 2013 (Michelle Parsons, Getting Back on Your Path). All Rights Reserved.

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jet set monk

When a monk is caught flying in a private jet, wearing designer sunglasses and toting a Louis Vuitton bag stuffed with hundred dollar bills, people begin to talk.  Almost overnight, a revered religious figure went from god-like to god-awful.  As the lurid details unfolded, it was revealed that Wirapol Sukphol, a 33 year-old Thai Buddhist monk who claimed he could walk on water and talk to deities, was in reality a con-artist who had duped his followers out of millions of dollars. This misbehaving monk was not only accused of fraud, money laundering, drug trafficking and statutory rape, he is also wanted for manslaughter in a hit-and-run accident.  Now a fugitive on the run, people are scratching their heads and wondering how this jet-setting monk rode under the radar for so long. 

With 41 bank accounts linked to him and assets over $32 million dollars (including 22 Mercedes cars and villas scattered around Thailand), Wirapol Sukphol has allegedly also had sex with dozens of women and even fathered a son with an underage female. Possessing a melodic voice that is soothing, appealing and believable and implementing a get-rich-fast scheme that even Bernie Madoff would admire, he managed to convince wealthy Buddhists to donate piles of money for good causes, such as building temples and hospitals.  But unbeknownst to the donors, he was keeping majority of the money for himself and the 36-foot Emerald Buddha that was supposed to be built of solid jade was in actuality concrete tinted green. 

Every religion has had its scandals and embarrassments, and Wirapol Sukphol is probably no worse than Jim Bakker or Ted Haggard or countless other religious leaders who have personally profited from their followers’ blind faith.  Despite their condemnation of others, their own morality is never questioned or challenged and their devotion to God is assumed.  They are the pillar of society, representing decency and honesty, and are presumed to give more than receive.  When they put on their collar and/or their robe and begin to speak, the crowd grows quiet … and all eyes are on this revered figure who is an expert at showing compassion and manipulating the masses.  He knows exactly what they want to hear, and for only a few dollars, their sins will be absolved and their place in heaven will be secured.

Copyright © 2013 (Michelle Parsons, Getting Back on Your Path). All Rights Reserved.

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Tough love “Tough Love” is defined as treating a person harshly or with discipline in order to help them in the long run, or in other words “being cruel to be kind”.  We hear this term most often associated with parents of drug addicts who have made the hard decision to stop financially supporting their children or be enablers.  But there is a woman in Baltimore who has also been practicing tough love since 2009; however, the target of her concern is not an individual she loves but rather the city of Baltimore itself. 

After being laid off from her job with more time on her hands than she liked, Carol Ott began attending community meetings.  She became increasingly more and more frustrated when the same issues kept popping up on every agenda.  Problem properties that were run down, abandoned or unsafe kept being discussed but nothing was ever being done.  After several years of listening to everyone’s complaints, she took to the street herself and visited some of these properties. She went into the neighborhoods that others would find too scary, and she sat down and talked to some of the tenants and nearby residents.  After hearing some of their stories and seeing the conditions they were living in, she began taking photos and looking up who the owners were.  In January 2009, she decided to make these property owners accountable and created a website called “Baltimore Slumlord Watch”.  Not only did she show photos of the property, but she listed the address of the building, the owner’s name and contact information, as well as the local and state representatives responsible for that district. 

Needless to say, Carol’s website stirred up a LOT of emotions and elicited many angry responses.  Some were from the owners themselves, who primarily came up with excuses as to WHY they had abandoned the property or had not fixed it up.  Many pleaded ignorance or cried poor, while others blamed the city for being too difficult to work with or said the tenants would only destroy the property again if they cleaned it up.  But what was most surprising were ALL the nasty comments she also received from local citizens who criticized her for publicly shaming or exposing these property owners, telling her she was offensive and castigating her for pointing out the “ugly” side of the city.

Despite all the threats and negative reaction she received, Carol never backed down and kept posting more and more properties.  The message she gave others was always clear.  In order to build something up, you must first expose the problem and then stand firm and not crumble when you meet resistance.  There are a lot of people who simply don’t like change or are threatened by anyone who comes in with strong opinions and ideas on how to improve something.  There are also too many people who want to blame someone else for the situation they are in.  But as Carol has pointed out herself, she thinks what happened to some of Baltimore’s neighborhoods was everyone’s fault.  In some way, we have ALL contributed to this problem, and generations of people have allowed it to keep happening.

Although Carol Ott’s mission was to help clean up some of Baltimore’s worst neighborhoods and restore a city with pride, her goal was not that different from a parent who wants the same for their child.  What was once a healthy, vibrant and active community was now “just a wasteland” in her opinion.  Any parent who has watched their child succumb to drugs or alcohol and be ravaged by the effects also knows only too well how devastating and destructive this is to the family and to the community in general.  We ALL suffer when one member goes down that path, but most of us just look away and hope the “situation” will correct itself on its own.  Most of us do NOT have the courage to do what Carol Ott has done.

Copyright © 2013 (Michelle Parsons, Getting Back on Your Path). All Rights Reserved.

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Khmer Rouge

Some countries never get a break.  We see this over and over again.  No matter how much the people try to evoke change and vote against corruption and injustice, all their efforts go unrewarded.  The same leaders are back in power pulling the same dirty tricks that got them elected the first time.  The election is rigged, the opposition is stamped out, and the voices of the people are no longer heard.  Cambodians know only too well what it is like to live in a country which claims to be a democracy on paper but in reality is a dictatorship based on corruption, violence and oppression. 

The doors to CHANGE were slammed shut again this week when Hun Sen, who has ruled Cambodia for 28 years, was re-elected for another term.  Despite claims of massive election fraud, including allegations that over a MILLION names were removed from the voting lists and fake “ghost” names were substituted in their place, there is little hope that an investigation into the matter will result in anything substantive.  The 60-year old leader has vowed to rule until he is 74, and if Cambodia’s history is any indication, chances are good that he will STAY in power. 

It is primarily the older generation that supports Hun Sen because they only see how their lives have improved in recent years.  They remember what life was like during the reign of the Khmer Rouge (1975-1979) and use that as a measuring stick to grade what type of leader Hun Sen has been.   Before he took power, it was four years of pure HELL when the country fell to communist forces and their world changed overnight.  Borders were sealed, Buddhist temples were destroyed, schools were closed down, and local currency was replaced by a barter system.  What had happened to China during the Cultural Revolution a decade earlier was now happening in Cambodia.  Anyone classified as an intellectual, an artist or a minority (or even anyone who spoke a foreign language or had connections outside the country) was considered a threat.  One by one, they just “disappeared”, and their bodies were dumped in massive grave sites now known as the “Killing Fields”. 

More than two million Cambodians were living in cities at the time and were forced from their homes and marched out to the country in a mass exodus.  No one knew where they were going, who was in charge, or what the plan was.  But within days, many of them were permanently separated from their families and found themselves working in manual labor camps in horrific conditions where there was never enough food, where disease was rampant, and you were beaten or killed if you questioned anyone or objected.  Even the young children were forced to work, and many lived in “orphan” camps where socializing was forbidden and talking could lead to execution.  A life was worth NOTHING, and people were so hungry they would turn against each other and rat on someone if it meant they would get an extra portion of rice with their meal.  

Those who were “lucky” enough to survive an experience like that probably have a different set of concerns or priorities when they go to the polling booth.  They aren’t voting for more liberty, equality or justice like the younger generation.  They are just voting to support the person who brought them out of that hell, made their lives better and who promises that another civil war won’t occur under his watch.  They don’t want to gamble with the “unknown” and are simply voting out of FEAR from a dark past rather than hope for a brighter future.

Copyright © 2013 (Michelle Parsons, Getting Back on Your Path). All Rights Reserved.

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robbie antonio

For several years, real estate mogul Robbie Antonio has been working on his DREAM project.  He has spent countless number of hours examining great works of art and studying architecture design to such a degree that his interest and enthusiasm borders on fanaticism.  Aptly named “Obsession”, one part of the project will be an art gallery filled with 35 portraits of Robbie himself.  At a cost as high as $250,000 per painting, the walls will be lined with works by internationally known contemporary artists such as David Salle, Kenny Scharf, and Julian Schnabel.  Now referred to as the “Museum of Me” by the public and media, this gallery will only be ONE room of a 25,000 square foot home that is currently under construction in the Philippines, being designed by world famous Dutch architect and urbanist Rem Koolhaas.  Built in an exclusive neighborhood of Manila and at an estimated cost of $15 Million, the home (called the “Stealth” by Robbie) will be a series of boxes stacked together in an irregular pattern with a rooftop pool and waterfall.  

When word of Antonio’s dream project got out, it would be an understatement to say social media lit up.  This is exactly the type of story the public loves to comment on, and almost everyone (but me) seems to have a strong opinion about.  Words such as egomaniac, narcissist, elitist, vain and selfish were used the most often.  Some went so far as to say he is not in touch with reality or part of society, and that he was born with a “silver spoon in his mouth”.  He was also attacked for his business partnerships and friendships with Paris Hilton, LaToya Jackson and Donald Trump.  Some even suggested that he probably avoids paying his taxes and compared him to Imelda Marcus, the former First Lady of the Philippines who allegedly owned 3,000 pairs of shoes.  A small minority, however, defended his right to spend his money anyway he wanted while an even smaller group just described him as simply a “patron of the arts”. 

What interested ME the most about the public’s reaction was that not one of the comments I read was written by anyone who actually knew Robbie.  Yet practically everyone wrote with such certainty, and most were ready to convict him based on the limited facts that were presented.  This made me think of ALL the times I have also jumped to such a  quick conclusion about another, how easy it was for me to “label” someone that I had never met or hardly knew.   I know we are all guilty of this, but what bothers me is that so many people these days are so steadfast in their opinions that it’s impossible for them to be neutral or objective…. and almost no one is capable of giving anyone else the “benefit of a doubt”.  

Although I know next to nothing about Robbie Antonio other than what I reported above, and have no desire to defend him personally, why do we assume that someone who pays $20M+ on his house and art work does not also CONTRIBUTE to society just as much as anyone else?   Why do we judge someone based on the home they live in, the clothes they wear, the cars they drive or the number of charities they support?  In a capitalistic society where there will always be inequities in wealth, what should matter most is NOT how people spend their money but how they treat others.  How many times have we heard of a wealthy person who writes a big check to some charity to impress others (or get rid of guilt) and then goes home and kicks their dog or beats their wife and children?  Whatever good energy was created by his donation has just been cancelled out by how he treated his family.  Is this the type of person we want to applaud and support?  The amount of money someone has (or how they choose to spend it) will never tell the whole story of who they really are behind closed doors.  

Very few of us are capable of being a Mother Teresa, and I personally don’t want to live in a world where everyone was.  We are all here in this world on SEPARATE paths working on different things.  I don’t know what Robbie Antonio is working on in this life, or what his joys or struggles are.  I don’t know if he is a good guy or not.  I just think he should have the freedom and choice to contribute to society in his own way.  If there is a Judgment Day when we are done with this life, I believe that acts of kindness will be given greater weight than dollars contributed.

Copyright © 2013 (Michelle Parsons, Getting Back on Your Path). All Rights Reserved.

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AlAugust 2nd, 2013 at 7:35 pm

Fantastic writing.

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Formed after the Civil War by an Act of Congress that created 4 regiments of “colored troops”, the Buffalo Soldiers were racially segregated members of the US Army from 1866 until 1951.  Led by white officers, these African-American soldiers served with distinction in every American war but were best known for the fierce battles they engaged in during the Indian Wars.  Receiving 23 Congressional Medals of Honor during these conflicts, these men earned the reputation for not only providing safety and security to the early western settlers but also for their perseverance and bravery during battles with the Native Americans.  It is believed they were given the nickname “buffalo soldiers” by the Cheyenne because their fighting style was similar to a buffalo that is backed into a corner and their dark, curly hair most resembled a buffalo coat. 

When the regiments were first formed in 1866, the men enlisted for five years and were paid $13 per month, plus room, board and clothing.  Most came from the Southern states and were stationed at military frontier posts from Texas to the Dakotas  … sometimes residing in empty cotton presses that had been converted to barracks and were poorly ventilated and rat infested.  Most bathed in local creeks, and diseases such as cholera, dysentery, bronchitis and tuberculosis were rampant.  Often assigned some of the worst jobs in the worst locations and issued old horses and faulty equipment, these men also endured discrimination and racism on a daily basis by local citizens and law enforcement.  

Representing 20% of the cavalry in the American frontier, the Buffalo Soldiers fought not only the Native Indians but also such bandits as Billy the Kid and Pancho Villa.  In addition, they helped build roads and forts, strung out telegraph lines for many miles, escorted wagon trains and stage coaches, and found drinkable water.  In later years, they fought in Cuba during the Spanish-American War in 1898 but never received any accolades even though they had done the HEAVIEST fighting during Theodore Roosevelt’s charge on San Juan Hill.  They also assisted in controlling the Filipino nationalists and served in both World Wars I, II and the Korean War. 

Serving briefly as National Park Rangers in California from 1899 to 1904, these men made improvements to the parks and patrolled for loggers and poachers.  They are also credited as the original designers of what we now refer to as the “Smokey the Bear Hat”.   Although it was not officially adopted by the US Army until 1911, it was first photographed being worn by a Buffalo Soldier in 1899.  Originally a Stetson hat, it is believed it was given its distinctive crease (called the “Montana pitch”) in order to shed water from the tropical rains the troops faced in the Spanish-American War. 

One of their most notable contributions, and what few historians ever mention, is the fact that they participated in a bicycle troop that carried out extensive cycling journeys in the last decade of the 19th century.  Although the UK and France had done some experiments using bicycles in the military as an alternative to horses, the most extensive tests were conducted by First Lieutenant Moss and his eight Buffalo Soldiers in 1896.  Stationed at Fort Missoula, Montana and coined the nickname “Iron Riders”, these men set out on a four-day trip to Lake Spalding (a 126-mile journey).   Riding one-speed Spaldings loaned to them by the manufacturer in Chicago, each bicycle weighed around 75 pounds, including frame and gear.  Although they faced very steep grades and muddy roads, and sometimes resorted to walking their bikes up the railroad tracks instead, it was considered a great success.  Soon after, they set out again on a longer trip to Yellowstone National Park, covering 790 miles in 16 days.  Once again, they faced many obstacles such as punctured tires, mud, headwinds, and stomach illness but were inspired to keep venturing out further.  The following year, in 1897, they more than doubled their troop size and cycled 1,900 miles from Missoula to St. Louis, Missouri in 34 days, averaging 56 miles per day and a speed of 6.3 mph.  In the end, they proved that bikes could be used for military purposes on roadless mountainous terrain and could travel faster and at one third the cost of horses.  

The last war the Buffalo Soldiers participated in before they were integrated with the white soldiers was the Korean War.  The last all-black Army regiment, the 24th Infantry, served on the front lines until they were disbanded on December 12, 1951.  Two of these men won the Medal of Honor that same year. By 1960, the US Army was totally integrated.

Copyright © 2013 (Michelle Parsons, Getting Back on Your Path). All Rights Reserved.

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AlJuly 22nd, 2013 at 11:36 pm

Great Article Michelle

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Afghanistan women health

Broadcast in a country where women have few rights and are seldom protected by the law, a revolutionary talk show in Afghanistan is helping women find a voice to tell others about the violence they have lived with.  It is called “Niqab” (which means a veil or mask in English) because the women are too afraid to speak out unless their faces are completely covered and their identities kept private.  One half of the mask is pale blue, which represents both the color of the burka and the symbol of female oppression, while the other half is white, which represents their innocence.  

Supported by an audience consisting of therapists, human rights activists, and experts on Islam and the legal codes, some of these women have never spoken before about the abuse and torture they have faced privately and quietly.   Although many are too nervous to say much or too overcome with emotion to do anything but cry, the ones who can speak tell tragic stories of isolation, beatings and rape.  Viewed more as a “possession” rather than as a human, many of these women were forced into marriage while they were still in puberty, or were “exchanged” or “sold” as a payment of debt.   In one case, a 12-year-old girl, whose brother had murdered a man, was given to the victim’s family to make amends.  Although the family’s debt was cleared, this girl’s life was ruined as she was verbally abused and beaten daily by her in-laws.  Another woman told how she was forced to marry a known rapist when she was 15 years old, and he was 58.  He used to bring women home and rape them in front of her and then threatened to kill her if she told anyone or tried to escape. 

Although much of this violence is against the law and against the beliefs of Islam, it still happens to many Afghan women every day.  Since more than half the girls are “forced” into a marriage or are engaged by the time they are 10 years old, very few are able to continue their education and most stay hidden at home living very traditional lives of cooking, cleaning and bearing five children, on average.   With a female literacy rate of only 12%, poor health care and a life expectancy of only 44 years, women in Afghanistan have few rights and even fewer options.  

While there have been many reports that women have much better lives since the Taliban was overthrown in 2001, Afghanistan is still a man’s world and there are few laws that protect a woman’s role in the family.  The recent proposed legislature (raising the minimum age of marriage from 9 to 16 and making bride barter and spousal abuse illegal) has caused such a furious debate, particularly amongst conservative male lawmakers who vehemently oppose it, that many doubt there is a chance of it passing anytime soon.  Also, if you are a Shi’a woman (one-fifth of the female population), you have even fewer rights.  In 2009, President Hamid Karzai signed a law which prohibits women from working or being educated without their husband’s permission, allows marital rape, and forbids them from leaving their house unless they have a “legitimate” purpose. There is also a growing fear that the Taliban’s influence will become stronger as NATO begins to withdraw their troops.

For more information on women in Afghanistan, please refer to:

Copyright © 2013 (Michelle Parsons, Getting Back on Your Path). All Rights Reserved.

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AlAugust 2nd, 2013 at 7:41 pm

Very Good!!!

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After all these years, there is still a part of me that is always conscious of whether my hair is combed or whether I need more lipstick.  I don’t know when this began, but as far back as I can remember, I have always been this way.  Too self-conscious and too critical of myself to be completely comfortable with what I look like or who I am.  Was this taught to me, or did I model myself after someone else…. or was this simply a natural result when a child doesn’t get enough attention unless she looks and acts PERFECT? 

I remember the day my mother died and how tired and distraught I felt.  I hadn’t slept or eaten much for many days.  But a few minutes after her body was taken away, I caught myself glancing in the hospital mirror, seeing my reflection and being upset over how bad I looked.  Even though my Mom had been dead for less than an hour, I was already applying lipstick.  For years, I was ashamed of this and thought of myself as a cold and vain person.  Her death was one of FIVE that I went through in an 18-month period, and after losing her, my sister, my Dad, my father-in-law and a girlfriend, I was an expert at “carrying on” like a good soldier.  I knew the drill and the routine.  I was so numb by the last death that a bomb could have gone off right in front of me, and I probably would have just walked around it never even glancing back. 

To this day, I still haven’t felt the trauma or horror that most Americans felt on 9/11 because it happened during this time period.  I was so focused then on my Dad, who was critically ill and withdrawing more and more every day.  He was no longer interested in eating or talking much, so I was almost grateful when he came back to a life for a few minutes when I explained what happened in New York.  We watched the news together, and I saw a spark of interest and concern in him when the 2nd tower was hit … but then he was gone again.  

For many months, all I did was “pull it together” every day just to get through all that needed to be done.  The obituaries that needed to be written, the number of death certificates that needed to be ordered, the ashes that had to be picked up, the memorial services that had to be planned, and the personal affairs that had to be settled.  Sometimes I appreciated the distraction, but other times I thought I would lose my mind if I had ONE MORE THING I had to deal with.  Ironically, that was also my busiest year in real estate so I was juggling that at the same time while making numerous and monotonous trips up to Yreka to handle the estates of my Mom and sister.  Most of the time, I turned down offers of help, preferring to do much of it myself.  It all just seemed too personal to assign to someone else, and part of me wanted to do it alone to honor them in some way.  But looking back, I think I was in some sort of hyper-alert mode just to survive.  I drank so much coffee that I ended up with a stomach ulcer, and I remember switching to water-resistant mascara because I was crying so much. 

I never knew when the tears would come, and I learned that grief comes in waves.  For me, however, the saddest moments were never the holidays or the anniversaries (which were the days I dreaded long in advance).  Instead, it would be the unexpected moments when I would smell something or hear a song on the radio.  Or someone would drive by and, at a quick glance, they looked just like my Mom.  I even remember one time when I followed an elderly man for about 3 blocks just because he looked like my Dad from behind. 

I must have appeared “crazy” to anyone watching me during that time, or anyone who saw me apply my lipstick moments after my Mom died.  But time has shown me that my actions were not cold, crazy or heartless.  They were simply the actions of a survivor.  I was going to get through that crisis the only way I knew how.  There are NO classes you can take or books that you can read that will ever tell you in advance how YOU will react when the time comes and you are faced with a crisis of this magnitude.  You are just crawling in the dark until you see the light. 

About a year after the last family member died and most of the busy work was done, I knew I needed help with my grief.  It was too big for me to handle on my own, and although the spiritual books I was reading at the time were comforting, I still felt all alone.  Then I heard about grief counseling that was offered by the local crisis center.  But instead of signing up for a class, I signed up to be trained as a counselor instead.  No one was more surprised than me when I decided to do this, particularly when it turned out to be such a natural fit.  It was EXACTLY the type of volunteer work I was looking for, and it was my grief clients that actually helped ME get over my own grief.  Many times, I cried more than they did, and a few times I even had to apologize for monopolizing the conversation.  It was embarrassing but healing, and the most valuable thing I learned from that experience is that everyone handles grief (and a crisis) in their own unique way.

Copyright © 2013 (Michelle Parsons, Getting Back on Your Path). All Rights Reserved.

Comments (2)

AnonymousJuly 30th, 2013 at 12:09 pm

This piece strikes a chord.

AlAugust 2nd, 2013 at 7:50 pm

Great Writing again. I get a little insight into you from this one.

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ghost army

Little is known about WWII’s “Ghost Army”, an American special unit stationed in Europe made up of a thousand artists, actors, designers, audio technicians and engineers.  They were hand-picked in the summer of 1944 and arrived in Normandy, France just a few weeks after D-Day.  Chosen for their creativity, ingenuity and acting ability, the sole mission of this group was to deceive and mislead the German troops into believing the Allied forces were in one location when in reality they were someplace else.  

Inspired by a British unit who used similar techniques in the Battle of El Alamein in Egypt in 1942, the Ghost Army (aka the 23rd Headquarters Special Troops) staged more than 20 battlefield deceptions.  Combining inflatable tanks, canons, jeeps, trucks and airplanes with sound trucks and giant speakers, they were able to create a “fake army”.  In a style somewhat reminiscent of an episode from the television program Hogan’s Heroes, they created so much chaos and confusion that many German troops were sent off course.  Using pre-recorded sound tracks and fake transmissions, this phantom division appeared to be a very large army that the Axis forces could not resist.  The ones who were not suckered in by the fake battlefields were sometimes misled by the “Spoof Radio” broadcasts where actors impersonated radio operators from real units.  They even staged fake diversion stories in local coffee shops for the benefit of eavesdropping spies.  

As the Allied troops moved east, these “Cecil B. DeMille warriors” and their traveling road show followed, crossing through France, Belgium, Luxembourg and eventually ending along the Rhine River in Germany in March 1945.  Their sonic and visual tricks and props saved the lives of thousands of soldiers, and helped catapult the careers of fashion designer Bill Blass, artist Ellsworth Kelly and music photographer Art Kane.  

Originally considered the brain child of actor Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., who was a US naval officer at the time and a student of British psychological warfare, the Ghost Army never employed tactics that were “violent”…  and their creativity and ingenuity were used instead of weapons.  Somehow, their actions seem more “fair” and easier to support, and I can see myself standing along the sidelines of one of their battles applauding their originality at deceiving the enemy.  What never seemed fair to me, however, were the demoralizing tactics employed by the Japanese at the same time in the South Pacific.  Under the general name of Tokyo Rose, a dozen English-speaking females were  hired by the Japanese military to broadcast anti-US propaganda to American soldiers listening every evening.  Using the very clear signal of Radio Tokyo, these women utilized psychological warfare to make the lonely and vulnerable soldiers more nostalgic and homesick.  They played popular music such as the song “My Resistance is Low” and then would devastate the soldiers by telling them that their girls back home were seeing other men.  They also verbally abused the men by calling them “boneheads”, “fighting orphans” or other derogatory terms to make them feel stupid and not loved or appreciated.  Although many soldiers recognized the propaganda for what it was, many were lured in by the sound of a female voice and the chance to hear some of their favorite songs.  

Although the Ghost Army’s mission was classified as Top Secret until 1996, there are still parts that remain classified today.  While many of us find their story fascinating, there will be some who don’t understand why we had to wait 50+ years to hear about them. There is also the issue of how much a nation should be told by their government when it comes to covert operations, which is similar to today’s debate over “surveillance”.  So many of us are shocked by how intrusive the US government has been, and we now fear the “Big Brother” depicted in George Orwell’s 1984.  Although I am a firm advocate of truth and full disclosure and believe in the constitutional right to privacy, I don’t believe it is in the best interests of national security for the public to know ALL the details behind every government action or program.  But today, our trust in government is at an all-time low, and we are struggling to find the right balance between a government that is too powerful (where the individual feels they have no say) versus a weak government (where laws are not enforced and common goals are not achieved).

Copyright © 2013 (Michelle Parsons, Getting Back on Your Path). All Rights Reserved.

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A Finger in Every Pie

During a time of personal or national crisis, many people seek out a place of worship not only for comfort and peace but also to be uplifted with inspiring messages of hope and trust.  Whether it’s a temple, a mosque or a church, many of us find inner strength from our faith and rely on our clergy for spiritual counsel and guidance.  We believe they are both a servant and a messenger of a divine power whose intentions and motivations are purely charitable. 

Our faith in clergy should be examined closely, however, when we find out that our church (or other place of worship) owns a lot of real estate and is a major stockholder in several corporations, including large financial institutions.   Such is the case for the majority of people residing in Cyprus, where 70% of the population belongs to the Greek Orthodox Church.   Since the days of the Ottoman Empire (going back to the late 1500’s), the Church of Cyprus has always been a powerful force in the country, exercising both political and economic influence.  In fact, when Cyprus gained its independence from British colonial rule in 1960, the first elected President was also the Head of the Church, Archbishop Makarios III.  Today, the Church owns MAJORITY of the property on the island, including hotels, valued in the billions.  They are also the largest shareholder of KEO, a beverage company that produces wine, beer and bottled water.  Most importantly, however, is the fact that they are a major shareholder of the two largest banks in Cyprus, The Bank of Cyprus and Hellenic Bank. 

When Cyprus went through their financial crisis earlier this year, the first one to raise their hand to offer bail-out assistance was the Church’s Archbishop Chrysostomos II.   Known as a skilled and shrewd businessman, he was willing to mortgage all of the Church’s land in order to support the country and its people and “help them stand on their own two feet”.  Although many locals saw him as a savior, others were very uneasy about this offer to help, particularly when the Archbishop began to criticize Belgium’s poor crisis management skills and started calling for Cyprus’ complete withdrawal from the European Union.   The uneasiness and concern grew even more when Chrysostomos announced his plans to travel to Moscow to visit many major Russian investors and “help” influence them to keep their money in Cypriot banks.  It is this very close relationship with Russia that has earned Chrysostomos the title of the “Second Russian Ambassador” and resulted in many critics fearing that Cyprus will one day fall into Russian hands. 

Although a bail-out agreement was worked out with assistance coming from the IMF and the EU instead, there is still a heated debate over whether the Church of Cyprus should have “a finger in every pie”.  What does it mean for the people when Church and State are NOT separate?  This is especially important to think about when not every citizen of the country is a member of the Church.  In the case of Cyprus, approximately 20% of the population is Turkish Sunni Muslim, while the remaining 10% have another affiliation or none at all.  So it’s probably reasonable to assume that at least a third of Cypriot citizens do not want the Church of Cyprus to be involved with their government and wield so much power and influence. 

Every country has struggled with the concept of separating church and state at one point in their history, and most have not been successful at keeping them as independent organizations.  No matter how benevolent or charitable a church may be, there will understandably always be a large percentage of society that will be alarmed and suspicious when it grows too powerful.  Just like many of us are concerned now that our own government has grown too strong and is too involved in our lives, it would be even more worrisome if our Church also had a say so.  But what is most dangerous about a country that is controlled by its major religion is the inevitable certainty that those who do not prescribe to that same faith (or any faith at all) will one day be discriminated against and face persecution of some kind.  It is so important today that we never forget that religion has been the root cause of many of our wars. 

Copyright © 2013 (Michelle Parsons, Getting Back on Your Path). All Rights Reserved.

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no voice in america

Like gun control and gay marriage, immigration reform is another “hot button” issue that is dividing Americans right now.  It’s another debate where those who are strongly in favor, or strongly opposed, pull out a stack of statistics that do nothing but confuse the issue more.  No matter how much I try to do the math, the numbers never add up.  Then there is the distinction between Hispanics versus Latinos, which make me feel that if I don’t get the term exactly right, I will be viewed as “insensitive” or a “racist”. 

For many months while I have been writing about the rest of the world, I have been wondering why Mexico and Latin America are seldom covered in the news.  When there is something of interest mentioned, it is usually pertaining to drugs or human trafficking, or the “mutually combative” relationships we have with certain countries like Cuba or Venezuela.  Yet news stories from other countries, like China, Russia, North Korea, and the U.K. are featured every day.  Although Hugo Chavez’ death was given extensive coverage, there is still the overall feeling that Americans do not care about and/or do not get along with our neighbors to the south.  Just like Israel and Palestine, our governments each have a long and dirty laundry list of who did what to whom with many “experts” who have all the facts and all the dates.  Whenever I have spent any time trying to understand the history, I am horrified at what I discover.  None are innocent, and ALL have blood on their hands.   ALL are guilty of racism, vengeance, and brainwashing.  And it’s always the PEOPLE that suffer … not the ones who are at the negotiation tables, but the ones who have No Voice and No Choice.

While the whole world is being held “hostage” by the threats of a 29 year-old dictator from North Korea, there is a silent American minority that keeps showing up every day, who are loyal, hardworking, and who want more than anything to be given the same rights that every other minority has been fighting for.  They also have their dreams, and they prove every day that they love America, and they want to be HERE.  Many will never think of any other country as home.  So why are they kept in the shadows with so many of them exploited and under-appreciated?  Why is their “contribution” so undervalued?  But most importantly, why are some politicians/lawmakers now proposing immigration reform so complicated and cumbersome that many applicants will never qualify?  The rumored list of possible provisions is not only based on requiring proof that they arrived before December 31, 2011 but also proof that they have never had a criminal record and that they have enough financial support to not file for welfare.  If the truth be known, how many American citizens could actually satisfy all of these requirements?  But it gets worse.  Green-card eligibility would be based on a merit-system where workers are “classified” according to their skill-set (high tech/science, white collar, and low-wage). Not only would the COST of determining eligibility of the applicants be exorbitant, the message they are sending is clear.  When you make something this complicated and this difficult, the message is that you hope the applicants will either be so discouraged or so frustrated that they will give up and not even try  … and just go back home where they belong.

I don’t care how many Hispanic/Latino voters there are in the US, or whether they voted for Obama or Romney.  I don’t care how many are currently unemployed, how many can speak English or how many have a criminal record.  I don’t care if the majority is classified as “unskilled laborers” or whether they send money back home to their family or even whether they want to stay here permanently or not.  All I care about is WHY these people that are so important to our society have NO VOICE in America.

Copyright © 2013 (Michelle Parsons, Getting Back on Your Path). All Rights Reserved.

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Large Box

In the beginning, I am just STANDING next to a giant box.  Gradually, I start to walk around it, examining it from all sides.  Then I attach a thick, sturdy rope to it, tie it around my waist, and begin to drag it forward.  This box is much bigger than I am, so my progress is extremely slow.  It is heavy and awkward and difficult to handle.  I fall to my knees quite often, while I am constantly looking back at my box.  I keep asking myself, why me?   And why this particular box?  

Although I meet a lot of people along the way (many who happily wave and give an encouraging smile), no one offers to help me.  Even more surprising is that not one person asks what is in the box or where I am going with it.  I find this so peculiar that you could watch someone like me who is on my knees more than I am upright, who is crying half the time and clearly frustrated, and no one is even curious enough to ask why.  Yet part of me is relieved they don’t because most of the time I just want to blend in with everyone else that is also dragging something they can’t identify and on some unfamiliar path to who knows where. 

There are still moments in every day when I feel sorry for myself.  Starting completely over and creating a brand new life has been the biggest challenge of my life.  During my lowest points, I dream about going back in time and freezing everyone and everything that was special to me.  I would choose a day when all of my family was still alive, and everyone was healthy and beautiful.  It would be a day when I felt safe and loved, and I was happy in my marriage … a day before I found out all the secrets about everyone, all the lies, jealousy and betrayal. 

It is so tempting to choose ignorant bliss over harsh reality.  Who wouldn’t choose fantasy if given a choice?  But if you always choose fantasy over reality, and safety and protection over the unknown, what chance do you have to ever grow as a human being?  Or if you are spiritual like me, how will your spirit ever evolve if you don’t grab the opportunities for change and growth when they come your way?  If you don’t STEP OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE, not only will you never advance, but you will never discover who you really are beneath all those layers of protection.

 I believe EVERYONE has a box they drag through life. We all have different sized boxes with different contents, but we all have something from our past that follows us and haunts us.  My box was huge two years ago when I started all of this, but it is slowly getting smaller.  I keep stopping on my journey and cutting away at it as I examine my life.  As my self-esteem and confidence grows, my box gets smaller.  With every painful memory I dispose of, the box gets lighter and easier to pull.  What first seemed like an impossible task is becoming easier and easier, although I often wonder if I will always be dragging some sort of box somewhere in this life.  I so want to LET GO of this box in my life and just start running.

Copyright © 2013 (Michelle Parsons, Getting Back on Your Path). All Rights Reserved.

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maruka project

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s recent visit to a military air base has brought back horrific memories to those who understand the symbolic meaning behind the numbers “731”.  During WWII, those numbers stood for a covert biological and chemical research unit of the Japanese Imperial Army, stationed in the district of Harbin in Northeast China.  Officially, and quite cleverly termed “The Epidemic Prevention and Water Purification Department”, this secret research group conducted biological and chemical experiments on humans beings, subjecting them to a style of gruesome torture not that dissimilar to what was being conducted at the same time in Germany by Nazi physician Josef Mengele (aka the “Angel of Death”). 

Insiders referred to this research unit as the Maruta Project.  Just to be clear, the English translation of the Japanese word means “log” or “wood”, which tells you right away how these scientists viewed their human subjects.  Using a wide cross-section of the population and sparing no one (i.e. elderly, children, babies, pregnant women, political prisoners, common criminals, etc.), the vast majority of these poor souls came from China and Russia.  Although it is estimated that close to 10,000 people died during the experiments, hundreds of thousands more lost their lives after researchers applied what they learned to the masses. 

In order to study the potential for germ warfare, some of the human subjects were deliberately infested with germ-carrying fleas or injected with diseases such as syphilis and gonorrhea.  Others underwent invasive surgery (some without anesthesia) and had parts of their brain, lungs, stomach and liver removed.  Or some had limbs amputated in order to study blood loss (with some later being reattached to the opposite side of the body) or limbs frozen and then thawed to study the effects of gangrene. Many others were just deprived of food and water to determine how long until the time of death. 

While some of these god-awful experiments were being conducted inside laboratories, many others were performed outside while the victims were tied up to stakes and used as “targets” to test grenades, chemical warfare and germ-releasing bombs.  Others were placed into centrifuges and spun until death, injected with animal blood, exposed to lethal doses of x-rays, or burned or buried alive.   

The result of all this “testing” and experimentation led to the death of more than 500,000 Chinese civilians from cholera, anthrax and the plague introduced via aerial spraying and bombs of flea infected clothing and supplies.  There were also biological attacks on agriculture and water reservoirs and wells, which also infected the population with typhoid, dysentery, cholera and anthrax.  Or some simply died from poisoned food or candies that were given out to unsuspecting children and adults. 

Although I will never understand how anyone could ever perform such torturous acts upon another human being, I am just as shocked by the US government’s reaction to these war crimes.  After the war ended and Japan had surrendered, Commander Douglas MacArthur secretly granted immunity to the 731 physicians in exchange for the research they had done on biological warfare.  The Soviet Union, however, pursued these atrocities and prosecuted 12 top military leaders and scientists during the Khabarovsk War Crime Trials, where they received between 2 and 25 years in a Siberian labor camp.  While these trials were going on, the US responded by referring to them as “communist propaganda”.  Sadly, soon after, the Soviet Union built their own biological weapons facility in Svendlovsk (referred to as “Compound 19”) and was accused of also benefitting from the 731 research.  Apparently, not a single journalist has been allowed in the compound since 1992. 

Although some Japanese people are in denial that their government could have been responsible for these horrific and unconscionable acts against humanity, there are others who just want to forget it or pretend it never happened.  But there are many others who are outraged and angry over Prime Minister Abe’s smiling face and thumbs up and view it as “proof” that his government is dangerous.

Copyright © 2013 (Michelle Parsons, Getting Back on Your Path). All Rights Reserved.

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Up ahead, I see a red wagon and a young child pulling it.  He has blond hair with a sweet face and is wearing shorts and a striped shirt.  He is walking his neighborhood looking for his dog that is lost, and when he finds him, he will put him in the wagon and carry him home.  His dog has been missing for several days, and everyone else in the family has given up hope.  They don’t believe he will ever come back.  They think he is dead or maybe some other family has taken him.  But the little boy knows the dog is out there somewhere and is scared and hungry and wants to be back home. 

So he walks up and down every street, pulling his wagon, and trying a new part of town every day.  He stops and talks to many people along the way and asks if anyone has seen his dog.  Almost everyone is nice and friendly to him, and many are also worried about the dog.  Some have lost a dog themselves before so they know how hard this is for the boy.  So they give him ideas of other places he could look, and they take down his name and number in case they see the dog.   A few people even start to cry when he describes how cute his dog was, and they say that once they had a dog exactly like that.  Some even had a dog with the exact same name.  

But a few people that the boy meets won’t even stop long enough for him to tell them what’s wrong.  They don’t try to listen at all, and they just keep walking.  Others just say “sorry”, but he can tell they don’t really care.  Maybe they like cats instead or maybe they never had a pet before and don’t know what it is like to lose someone you love.  They don’t know that a pet is part of the family and that NOTHING at home seems the same after the pet is gone. 

The little boy has tried telling his family how he feels, but they are all busy and don’t have time for him.  His Dad and Mom both work all day, and his brother and sister have their own friends.  But the dog was always so happy to see him when he came home from school and always wanted to play.  He would dress him up sometimes and take him all over in his wagon.  What will happen if the dog never comes home?  Who will be his best friend now, and who will love the little boy MORE than anyone else?

Copyright © 2013 (Michelle Parsons, Getting Back on Your Path). All Rights Reserved.

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christian without a home

For the past year, I have struggled with my faith.  Although I was never someone who went to Church on a regular basis, I never hesitated before to answer that I was a Christian and raised as an Episcopalian.  Most nights, I said the Lord’s Prayer before I went to sleep and often talked to God when I was at a low point or needed “a favor”.  I felt safe and protected and believed with complete certainty that I was God’s child, that he knew ME personally and was there to help me.  All I had to do was ask.  

Up until my divorce last year, I would have said that I had “sailed” through all the other personal crises of my life doing better than most with my share of failures, loss and rejection.  I always had faith that things would turn around and that tomorrow would be a better day.  I was a good person living a moral life and believed that God knew of my struggle and was nudging me along whenever I hit a bump in the road. 

So then where was God this past year when I needed him so much?  Why have I never felt so completely ALONE in my entire life?  I even doubled up on my prayers, repeating them over and over again.  But no matter how much I asked, I received NO ANSWERS and NO HELP.  There were many days when I felt like I was walking backwards, and I have never cried so much in my entire life.  Although much of it is a blur right now, I remember often wondering whether I had hit rock bottom yet.  When were things going to turn around, and where was God? 

As I have done before at different stages of my life, I tried going to Church again.  But after a few months of dedicated attendance, I felt like a hypocrite because I could not pray to God in that setting.  In fact, I had stopped praying to him altogether.  Because he wasn’t answering MY prayers or giving me the help I wanted at that moment, I felt abandoned and was more hurt by HIS  “rejection” than all the other losses I had ever experienced combined.  What followed then was a period where I blamed God for EVERYTHING that was wrong in my life and in the world in general.  All these horrific things were going on everywhere, and I just knew he could stop them if he chose to.  Why was he letting everyone suffer like this?  And why didn’t he care that he was losing me, his faithful child? 

At the same time I was trying to go the Church route, I was also studying the Bible for the first time in my life. But this didn’t go well either because most of the Old Testament stories described a wrathful and revengeful God, one that I couldn’t respect or relate to.  He not only sounded overly demanding and narcissistic, I couldn’t stand that he played favorites and chose the people of Israel over the Egyptians.  After a lifetime of believing my God was like Santa Claus, I just could not accept this other version. 

It wasn’t until I started reading the New Testament and Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount that I finally found what I have been looking for all these months.  It wasn’t the part where he blessed the poor, the persecuted or the hungry, or the sections where he spoke against anger, retaliation, and adultery.  It was Matthew 6:25-34, when Jesus said to his disciples “Do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body…”.  He told them to look around at the birds in the air who manage to find food every day and the lilies of the fields that continue to grow.  God takes care of all of them, and he will take care of us also.  In other words, live for today and do not worry about tomorrow.  If you have true faith and live a moral life, you will also be taken care of. 

Somehow over the past year, I had not only lost my faith in God but I had lost faith in ME as well.  I didn’t believe I could begin this new life of mine without HIS help.  When no one came forward to assist, not even God, I truly panicked and went through all the classic stages of grief and loss (e.g. denial, anger, bargaining, depression, etc.).  It took a full year for me, but I believe I am coming out of it now  … because I think I FINALLY understand the message that was being sent to me from up above.  It didn’t come as quickly as I wanted, or the way I wanted it to  …. and it still isn’t going like I thought it would.  But I am getting “help” now with what I am struggling over.  I am starting to get answers.  I am starting to see my path lit up.  Even more important than all this, however, is that I believe in MY own strength and my own powerful spirit.  I know I can make it now on my own, and I don’t need to feel God’s hand on my shoulder like I wanted before. 

Copyright © 2013 (Michelle Parsons, Getting Back on Your Path). All Rights Reserved.

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right to bear arms

Thomas Jefferson was once quoted as saying that the two greatest enemies of the American people were criminals and government.  He believed that a “wise” government was one that let its citizens be free to live without too much control or too many regulations.  He also wanted people to have the right to protect themselves, not just against another individual who assaulted them but also against a tyrannical government that had become too powerful. 

Jefferson had lived through the period leading up to the American Revolution and had firsthand experience of what life was like when government has too much authority.  I believe it’s important now for Americans to remember WHY our Forefathers fought against British rule.  Most of us today would probably just answer that the American Colonists wanted “independence” or that they wanted a more democratic nation.  But that is a very simplified answer to a very complicated situation that the Colonists were dealing with at the time.  In reality, they were being ruled by a very oppressive government.  Not only were they being forced to pay Britain’s HIGH taxes and tariffs for simple goods such as paper, sugar and tea, they were also being told by Britain that they could not buy goods from any other country.  Colonists were also subject to a government who permitted their officers, many of whom were corrupt and abusive, to search anyone’s home without warning and to confiscate whatever personal possessions they deemed necessary.   That same government also had the power to declare anyone guilty and imprison them without a trial by judge or jury. 

Jefferson also lived through the Boston Massacre of 1770 where British troops fired upon a crowd of Colonists who were protesting against government oppression, killing five citizens immediately and wounding six others.  Although there were many more events and many more reasons why the Colonists wanted their independence, what is important for us to remember is that they were fighting a government that had too much authority and too much power.   Our ancestors no longer trusted their government to protect them and to do the right thing.  They wanted to put the power BACK in the hands of the individual. 

Our Forefathers not only believed in Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness, they also believed in the Right to Bear Arms.  It was actually Jefferson who said that if you disarm the people, you actually “encourage” the criminal (i.e. an individual and/or the government) to be even more aggressive and to take more advantage of you because you will not be able to fight back.  Some went as far as to say you are “enslaving” an individual when you take away their weapon.  Others, like Patrick Henry, went a step further than that and wanted EVERYONE to be armed with guns and trained in how to properly use them.  This may seem like an outrageous thought to those who hate what guns stand for and are horrified by the damage they can do.  But when you take guns away from the people or “control” gun ownership too much, you are essentially giving MORE power to the government and saying that you trust the government to protect you more than you trust your neighbors.  

Like most countries in the world, America has been politically divided for decades, if not centuries.  There are MANY issues that we do not all agree upon… yet I am fairly certain that almost all of us today are frustrated with our current government and recognize corruption and abuse of power of some kind at some level.  As a result, can you honestly say that you completely trust your government to always do the right thing and to protect YOU in the event of an emergency?  Or even if you believe they will make every attempt to try and save you, which would result in a faster response if you are being assaulted:  a call to 911 or running next door to your neighbor for help? 

As much as I hate War and believe that every diplomatic attempt to avoid it should first be EXHAUSTED, I feel even more strongly that the majority of people would never take someone else’s life except in self-defense.  It is only a small percentage of society that lack a moral conscience, and I am part of the camp that believes these people are so sick that they will find a way to harm others regardless of how much you control gun access.  They will build a bomb instead or use poisonous chemicals.  Or they will slay people with knives, which happened in China on the same day as the Sandy Hook massacre.  Most of the world did not hear about this tragedy, but 22 children in a primary school in the Henan province were stabbed by a mentally deranged man … and although none died, many were seriously injured and most were likely TRAUMATIZED for life. 

Instead of concentrating so much on the issue of gun control, I wish we would focus on our COMMON ground.  We all agree that every mass shooting has been a tragedy and that a lot of innocent people have suffered as a result.  We all want to protect society from such a senseless death in the future … and I hope we all agree that only a severely mentally ill person would commit such a crime.  So instead of debating gun control, I wish we could spend our time and money trying to IDENTIFY those members of society who are the real threat.  It’s not the guns themselves we should be attacking.   We need to go to the root of the problem (not the weapon itself) and start educating ourselves more on how to identify mental illness.  I have written about this before (with articles regarding the personality characteristics of stalkers and psychopaths), and I believe that many of us know we have mentally ill colleagues, friends and family members.  But how many of us actually have the COURAGE to turn them in? 

Copyright © 2013 (Michelle Parsons, Getting Back on Your Path). All Rights Reserved.

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king richard

Ever since the bones of King Richard III were recently discovered beneath an English car park, there has been a renewed interest in the man and whether or not his skeleton could tell us more of his story.  Most historical accounts have described him as a ruthless, power greedy “villain” who combined clever wit with flattery in order to destroy his enemies and gain the throne.  Shakespeare agreed and portrayed him as a “child-killing” hunchback with a twisted mind and a twisted soul…. a tyrannical and jealous ruler who manipulated everyone around him to get his way. 

The DNA tests confirmed Richard III did have a severe case of curvature of the spine (scoliosis) and that he died from numerous wounds to his head inflicted in the Battle of Bosworth Field, also known as the War of the Roses.  But many are looking more closely at his facial reconstruction and are speculating what his personality might have been like.  He has been described as “handsome” with a prominent chin by some experts.  Others have even said he looks friendly and not like a tyrant at all.  

But can the outward appearance of someone really reveal what is going on inside?  If someone looks “friendly” and sounds “nice”, is that proof alone of who they really are?  Supporters of King Richard III have said that he was a gifted lawmaker who at worst was just a “control freak” suffering from an “intolerance to uncertainty”.   Many others throughout history, however, believe he was a morally depraved “psychopath” who was just extremely adept at concealing his “fierce and savage nature”. 

The term “psychopath” is used very loosely these days, like the words “maniac”, “lunatic”, “whacko” or “nutcase”.  But how many of us take the time to really think about how serious this personality disorder is?  I fear that our society has become so desensitized to all the violence we see on the news every day that we now view psychopaths with “fascination” rather than recognition of what a severe threat they are to society. Think Ted Bundy or Charles Manson or Dr. Hannibal Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs.  These are “unstoppable and untreatable” violent predators who feed off the misfortune of others. They are the most extreme example of what it means to be “emotionally detached”.  Not only do they lack the ability to really love anyone, they have no remorse or guilt for any of their actions. They literally have no moral conscience whatsoever.  So they never learn from their mistakes and don’t respond to punishment of any kind.  You can lecture them until you are blue in the face, citing every reason under the sun why they should be sorry for what they did… but you will get NOTHING back in return.  They will do it over and over again … and sometimes even respond with a smile.

Many psychopaths are very charming, which is what makes them so dangerous.  They are usually skilled “fast talkers” who have the “demonic ability to persuade others out of everything they own”.  A cult leader like Jim Jones talked almost a thousand people into leaving their homes, moving to Guyana and committing mass suicide.   In particular, they often go after a “kind and caring” woman by making her feel “special” … and before she knows it, he has moved in and refuses to leave.  They are pathological liars who can reinvent themselves on a moment’s notice and are skilled at forging, plagiarizing and extortion.  Although they are filled with greed and envy on the inside, they can appear to be humble and caring individuals on the outside.  

More often than not, psychopaths will have “powerful cravings” in the form of either drugs, sex, pedophilia or kleptomania.  Nothing satisfies their appetite, and because they are extreme risk takers, almost nothing stops them from their desires.  They will use violence, fear, threats and humiliation to get whatever they want.  They can go from 0 to 100 on the “rage” spectrum in just a second. Think of Jack Nicholson’s character in A Few Good Men.  One minute utterly charming, the next minute a complete monster.

See the below articles to read more about what a psychopath is and the differences between a psychopath and a sociopath:

Or, if you suspect your BOSS may be a psychopath, read the below article:


 Copyright © 2013 (Michelle Parsons, Getting Back on Your Path). All Rights Reserved.



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get your shine on

I still wake up many mornings humming a song.  This morning, it was “Get Your Shine On”.  Is this another message from the Universe?   I never know these days where “help” is going to come from.  Sometimes it’s from an old friend who warns me about something or someone … or sometimes it’s a suggestion from a complete stranger who happens to tell me about a book that she just read.  Or it may come from a song on the radio or a two minute story I happen to catch as I walk past the television.  Although I believe this has been happening my ENTIRE life, the difference now is that I am paying attention to it.  I am ordering the book that is mentioned to me over and over.  I am watching the movie that is recommended.  Or I am looking up the lyrics to a song I am thinking about as soon as I wake up. 

It’s these “messages” from the Universe that guide each of us forward toward the path we are supposed to be on, but seldom are.  Most of us have gotten so far OFF our path that we don’t even know where to begin.  We are either in the wrong relationships or the wrong careers or in the wrong location.  We somehow got off our path so many years ago (in my case, almost 30 years), and although many of us have had “happy” moments, how many of us are really fulfilled?  How many of us are living the life we were meant to, one that actually feeds our soul and makes us proud of who we are? 

If you often feel stressed or “burned out”, and your job, activities or certain people drain you of your energy, this is a big message that you need to move on.  Your “spirit” is already gone from this work or this relationship, but your body is still trying to hang in there.  The two (body and spirit) work together to let you know where you should be and what you should be doing at any given moment. But you have to listen.  You have to pay attention to the “signs”.   Some will come from the Universe, but many will come directly from YOUR body.  Not only will it tell you what to move away from, it will also tell you what to go toward.  If you are with someone or doing something that gives you energy or enthusiasm, that’s the message and the encouragement you need.  Once you get the hang of this, you will see that there are signs for you EVERYWHERE all the time.    

Sometimes the sign you receive will instantly resonate with you, and you will understand its meaning.  But other times, you will have to dig deeper.  I had to this morning, when I examined why “Get Your Shine On” were the first words in my head when I woke up.  When I looked up the lyrics, I realized that I was being reminded again (for the umpteenth time) that I am also a special person and to STOP seeing myself as the girl that never gets asked to dance.  I have been fighting this all my life, but until a psychic told me this last year, I didn’t connect the dots.  She saw a picture of me as a young child “hiding” under a dining room with a blanket over my head while the rest of the family were talking and laughing at dinner.  When I asked her what this meant, she said I always let others take center stage while I stood on the sidelines.  The only time I was ever “seen” (or received attention) was when I was a good girl and helped others or when I got straight A’s.  However, the opposite was true of my sister, who was also crying for attention, but was only seen when she was “bad”.  When she got pregnant at 15 and dropped out of school, everyone paid attention to that.  Or when she was sick and in the hospital, everyone rushed to her side.  For years, I always thought she was just “selfish” and dragged everyone else into her mess… but now I know she was also just desperate for attention. 

My sister died at the age of 35, so I will never be able to ask her exactly what type of “abuse” SHE experienced as a child.  Heidi was five years younger, which always seemed like a different generation to me.  We were never close, and we never confided in each other or had those heart-to-heart conversations that I wish we could have.  But after all the research I have done about “child abuse”, I have learned that two different personalities can emerge from it:  1) the one who lives a very disciplined life, trying to do everything “perfectly” and always choosing security, stability and certainty no matter what; or 2) the one who is “angry” and will rebel against everyone and everything and will never conform or follow the rules ….best described as the “my way or the highway” personality. 

 Copyright © 2013 (Michelle Parsons, Getting Back on Your Path). All Rights Reserved.

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military tank

In a “world of make believe”, rich men in Ukraine have discovered a new hobby.  While some continue to buy fast cars, others are buying used military tanks.  For the past three years, this “tank craze” has taken off and become a popular entertainment for the wealthy elite.  They believe that “playing war” is better than “real war” and is just for fun.  No one is hurt, and it gives them an adrenaline rush that makes them feel strong and invulnerable. 

Two Ukrainian brothers, Ruslan and Oleg Bojko, have purchased close to $500,000 worth of military equipment in the past two years. They are especially proud of a wheeled vehicle they own that the Soviets built AFTER the war to transport nuclear weapons.  It’s only one of eight in the world and considered “secret technology” in every country but Ukraine.   Also, Ruslan believes that driving a tank is the embodiment of masculinity:  “Every true man has it in his blood.  We love weapons, shooting and fighting.”  His brother Oleg agrees, even though he was wounded twice fighting in the Soviet War in Afghanistan and still has chronic pain from hand grenade fragments that have been in his body for more than 30 years. Both admit that driving a tank is a status symbol, and they like the attention and respect they get from friends and neighbors.  They point out that it’s no different from those people who buy a flashy, expensive car.    

Many of these old military tanks cost less than $10,000 and have been repaired, repainted and outfitted with leather seats.  Although there is no government control board that knows exactly how many of them have been purchased by the public (or exactly how they have been obtained), the wheeled tanks are seen out on country roads and even on expressways … and considered “legal” if the owner has a special driver’s license.  Even though he has limited visibility, Ruslan feels safe and protected inside his tank:  “The other guy needs to get out of MY way.”

Those opposed to this new tank cult point out that they burn over 40 gallons of fuel per hour and that what the Bojkos spend on munitions alone would pay a doctor’s salary for a month.  In a country where 80% of the population lives below the poverty level, the United Nations points out that the gap between the rich and poor is greater in Ukraine than almost every other country in Europe.  But when questioned about this disparity, Ruslan says he doesn’t believe there are really people who can’t afford bread.  If only they worked like he did, they would also have money.

One might expect that some of the neighbors would object to the loud engine noise and shooting sounds from the Bojko property.  But surprisingly, the three that were interviewed did not mind at all and said the military tanks were a “good thing” for the neighborhood.  One even laughed and commented:  “All the foreigners should realize that we drive tanks here, and we shoot.”

Copyright © 2013 (Michelle Parsons, Getting Back on Your Path). All Rights Reserved.

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Stolen Generations

It’s impossible for me to defend or ever understand a “child removal policy” so extreme that an entire culture suffered.  Known as Australia’s “dirty little secret”, thousands of half-caste children of aboriginal descent were forcibly removed from their families for a period of about 75 years, beginning in the late 1890’s.  It is estimated that almost every family lost at least one child, which could mean that as many as 100,000 children were taken.  No reason for removal needed to be given, no proof of neglect or abuse.  Government officials, under the Aborigines Protection Act, were given FULL power to “transfer” children of mixed descent from their families into institutions. The stories of “how” they were taken are all heart-wrenching and tragic.  Some were taken from the hospital directly after birth.  Others were brutally and forcibly removed from their parents.  Reports have also been given of police cars picking up a mother and child and then kicking the mother out after the car took off.  Or even sadder, the parents that were told their child “died” at a hospital. 

Most of these “stolen children” were taken under the age of 5, and most never saw their parents again.  Although some were adopted or fostered out to white families, most went into group homes where they were given new names and new birth dates so they could never be traced again.  Reports of the conditions at these facilities vary, but some have equated them with Nazi-like concentration camps where they were not adequately fed or properly clothed.  One man named Bill Simon testified that he was taken at the age of 10, and when he arrived was given a set of pajamas, a pair of shorts and a shirt. They were all marked with the number “33”, and that was how they referred to him thereafter.  There are also thousands of reports of the horrific abuse these children suffered, both physical and sexual, and that many tried to run away but few succeeded. 

Not only did these children suffer traumatizing experiences that will stay with them for a lifetime, many were taught that being black was “bad” and were punished severely if they tried to speak their indigenous language.  So in addition to losing their “family”, they also lost their culture, their personal identity and any sense of belonging.  They no longer wanted to be black… but they didn’t feel “white” either and often faced discrimination from Caucasians as well. Some were even light-skinned enough that their adopted families raised them as “white” but were devastated later when they were told the truth of their background.  Also, reverse discrimination occurred for some that tried to return to their aboriginal family but were never “welcomed back”. 

What is seldom mentioned about these generations of children, however, is that a large percentage of them were raised to be “slave” laborers.  They were poorly educated, and boys were trained to be agricultural laborers and girls were domestic servants.   One woman reported: “We was bought like a market. We was all lined up in white dresses and they would come round and pick you out like you was for sale”.  So it’s hard to believe the government’s position that they were trying to protect or “assimilate” these children into a white society.  There are just too many cases where they were treated as “less than human”.  In fact, up until 1967, Aborigines were classified under the “Flora and Fauna Act” and not even considered human enough to be counted in the population statistics.

Copyright © 2013 (Michelle Parsons, Getting Back on Your Path). All Rights Reserved.

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patty hearst

No one can fully explain what really happened to newspaper heiress Patty Hearst when she was kidnapped in 1974.  We know she was abducted by the Symbionese Liberation Army and held for ransom. We also know she soon started dressing like them, began calling herself “Tania”, and within a few months, was assisting them in a bank robbery.  But WHY Patty Hearst did this is where opinions differ.  The prosecution team (that eventually convicted her) referred to her as a “rebel in search of a cause” …  and the fact that she refused to testify against other SLA members was proof of her guilt.  But it’s the theory of the defense that haunts me now.  Their claims that Hearst was blindfolded, held in a closet, and physically and sexually abused led some experts to believe that not only was she a victim of “brainwashing”, she also suffered from “Stockholm Syndrome”. 

This psychological term was given its name after a bank robbery in Sweden where all four employees (after being held for six days by two ex-convicts) resisted rescue attempts and later defended the actions of their captors.  One victim even started a romantic relationship with one of them.   When psychologists later tried to make sense of this phenomenon, it was the fact that even though the kidnappers harassed, threatened, intimidated and physically abused their captors, they occasionally exhibited acts of “kindness”, humor or flattery.   Their victims saw this as a sign of “affection”, and a bond would develop.  Many would feel sympathy for their abductor or even believe they shared the same values.  Some would actually express deep admiration and respect for their captor and try to please them, as if they were God.  Many would even refuse to run away, as in the case of both Elizabeth Smart and Jaycee Lee Dugard, who were both out in public at times but never revealed themselves.  The Dugard case was so extreme, in fact, that she began to think of her 18-year captivity as a “marriage” and would assist Phillip Garrido with his home business despite the fact that he repeatedly raped her and had her living in a shed in his backyard. 

What is most interesting about this type of “bonding” is that it doesn’t require a hostage scenario.  The same thing has happened to cult members, prisoners of war, incest victims, sexually abused children, and battered spouses.  It’s the individual’s response to this type of extreme stress and trauma that determines how they relate to their aggressor.   It’s their coping mechanism, and although their actions may seem “crazy” to some, they did it to survive.  It’s the combination of how skillful the “controller” is with his threats and abuse (and intermittent “acts of kindness”) versus the victim’s own sense of self-worth and confidence.  Many of the abused believe they brought it on themselves, that they somehow deserve this.  Some are kept isolated from others or are too “ashamed” to tell friends or family what has happened.  But the saddest cases of all are the ones where the victim doesn’t even recognize the controller’s actions as “abuse” and has actually convinced themselves that this is “love” instead.  These are the ones that seldom get away. 

I am convinced that most of us have been VICTIMS of some type of abuse at one point in our lives.  For some, it only lasted a short while until they got help.  For others, like me, it lasted a lifetime.  Although I am no longer in denial of what happened to me, I am still feeling the effects and working through the trauma.  I was one of the ones that saw the abuse as “love” and sugar-coated all my relationships.  As a child, I experienced both sexual and physical abuse, but it was the verbal abuse I dealt with in my marriage that I believe devastated me the most.  Disguised as “humor”, it was the cruel taunting and teasing that slowly ate away at me combined with the “mind control” and “rejection” I didn’t even recognize at the time.  Before I knew it, my confidence and self-esteem were so eroded that I actually believed I was safe and loved … and that the moments of “abuse” I actually did recognize were not that bad. 

If you are only “abused” a few minutes a day or a few hours a week, do you tell yourself that it’s not enough to rock the boat?  That it’s just not severe enough to disrupt a family, to hurt others or to change your lifestyle.  But if you are like me, it won’t be long until you are just pretending to be satisfied with your life … and everything (and everyone) starts to sound and feel “fake”.  Then one day, you wake up and can’t even look at yourself in the mirror.  Not only can’t you stomach the one that has done this to you, but you can’t stand yourself either for letting them do this to you.  This is when you have to get help.  This is when you need to walk away.

Copyright © 2013 (Michelle Parsons, Getting Back on Your Path). All Rights Reserved.

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Weather the Storm

I have just run in from the storm.  I am safe now, and it’s dry and warm where I stand.  I look out my window, and everything (and everyone) I see is being tossed violently into the air as if a tornado and a hurricane were occurring simultaneously.   I want to help, but I know there is nothing I can do.  If I took one step out there, I would be lifted away like the rest.  All I can do is watch them through my window and hope that most will survive.  Every man for himself.

 I have seen enough of these types of “storms” to know that not everyone will survive.  A few will be killed or beaten down so severely that they will never recover.  Others will find a strength in themselves they never knew existed and will come away from the storm bigger and better from the experience.  But the vast majority will eventually stand up again….and be the EXACT same person they were before. 

It’s these kinds of storms that test your true spirit.  Not just your strength and perseverance, but who you really are inside and what really matters to you.  Some of us have no idea how we will weather the largest storm of our life until we are put through a test of this magnitude.  It shakes us up so much that we are almost forced to hit rock bottom no matter how hard we resist.  When you lose everything, or think you have lost everything, is when the test begins.  

When the rain and wind finally stop, do you sit on your bed and cry?  Do you take a drink or pop a pill?  Do you call a friend and lean on them?  Or do you pull yourself up on your own, with nothing but faith, hope and trust that you can do this without anyone (or anything) to assist? 

It’s at this point that you have a decision to make.  Do you return to your old life and your old ways?  Or will you choose to see this as a gift from the Universe, an opportunity to have the life you always wanted but never thought possible.  How much of a risk taker are you?  Do you see life as an exciting adventure or do you need everything set in stone before you step out?  Will you put your trust in the Universe and believe there is a special plan for YOU… or will you let fear and doubt guide you? 

How many chances are we really given in this life?  This may be your LAST one.  Are you going to waste it?  Will you return to that security blanket that covered you before?  Because once you have gotten this far and have actually visualized the dream, what are the chances you will be able to go back to your “old life” without frustration and regret?  You will be even less satisfied now than you were before.  Do you really want to spend the rest of your life, however long or short that may be, wishing you had just gone for it?

Copyright © 2013 (Michelle Parsons, Getting Back on Your Path). All Rights Reserved.

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lynching in egypt

A barbaric lynching of two men took place in Gharbeya, Egypt earlier this week and not a single person intervened to stop it.  It happened at a bus station in the middle of the morning in broad daylight in the center of town.  Hundreds of “spectators” watched as two men were beaten to death by a mob.  When questioned later, much of the crowd had no idea what these two men were even accused of.  Some thought they had stolen a rickshaw while others heard they tried to kidnap a woman.  But no one knew all the facts, and no one really cared if they knew all the facts.  All they cared about was that something was finally being done about all the horrific crime they were living with day after day.  Finally there would be some justice, and finally someone would pay. 

One of the men lynched was a 21 year-old man whose family got word that the lynching was going on.  When they arrived on the scene, the father said that it seemed like the whole town was there and that everyone was rooting for the attackers.  No matter how desperately he pleaded, he could not get anyone to help him stop the assault. After the lynching was over, many even tried to set fire to the ambulance that took the bodies away.  Worse than all of this, however, was the fact that not even the police would intervene … and so far, not a single person has been arrested or even questioned about the lynching. 

This type of vigilantism is not just occurring in Egypt or in the Middle East.  It is happening everywhere and is becoming more and more prevalent.  As the people become increasingly frustrated with government corruption and lack of security and protection, they no longer trust that anyone is looking after them.  No matter how much they protest, nothing ever changes. The natural result is that they will seek vengeance by taking the law in their own hands, and without even realizing it, we have just stepped back in time to the Wild West where “volunteers” were often the only ones who brought law and order to a community. 

What would often happen in the Wild West is that the accused never got his day in court, and this is exactly what occurred in Egypt this week.  No one even knows for sure what crimes were committed or whether these men were even guilty.  There was no due process, no judge or jury.  They were never even questioned.  They were brutally and severely beaten and then strung up on a pole.  And the people cheered. 

But even if these men were guilty, and even if the crimes they committed were severe, this type of brutal vigilantism does nothing but perpetuate more anger and more hatred.  Does anything positive really result from it?  Is there any satisfaction or peace?  If you disagree, then let me have you look at it another way.  Step in the shoes of the friends and loved ones of the men who were lynched and try to imagine how YOU would feel if this happened to a member of your family.  See yourself running to try and save him, see yourself begging and pleading for the beatings to stop, see yourself imploring the police to do something, anything.  See the ENTIRE community turn their back on you, and then tell me that you will not be so full of hatred and vengeance yourself that you will not retaliate in some way?  You will want to do the exact same thing to another neighbor’s child so that they will know exactly what it feels like, so they can hurt like you hurt.  And it goes on and on and on. 

Vengeance can play out on a small scale in your own neighborhood or it can go viral.  We see it every day on the news.  It could be one individual retaliating against another, or a sports team or other organization seeking revenge on its competition. Or on a more global scale, it could be one nation or one religion seeking retribution from another.  Regardless, the result is the same.  When you attack brutally (or militarily) without mercy and without due process of law, you have created an ENEMY FOR LIFE.  You may have gained control for the moment, but the minute your defenses are down and your back is turned, they will retaliate as soon as they can.  Not only will they never forget WHAT you did to them, they will never forget HOW you did it either. 

Copyright © 2013 (Michelle Parsons, Getting Back on Your Path). All Rights Reserved.



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Many Paths To Take

[I had a dream the other night, and this is what I wrote in my journal when I woke up in the morning]:

I see the trunk of an old oak tree.  It sits near a riverbank, and it is covered with moss.  I hear people singing in the background, and I follow the sound to a small one-room church.   There are colored people singing inside, and they are dressed in their Sunday best with colorful hats and matching gloves.  There is a preacher up front who is directing the entire congregation to sing.  I am peeking through one of the windows, and I am amazed at what I am seeing because this is a slave plantation, and I didn’t know there were any churches for slaves.  I am also surprised because they seem happy and hopeful despite their circumstances.  There is love amongst the people, and they give each other strength to keep going.  They have all been there a long time and were separated from their families so many years ago that many don’t remember when they were born or even what names they were given at birth.  When every day is the same and there is no sign of change, something in you dies and wants to just give up.  You try to find anything good to cling to that lifts you up out of the misery and the pain.  You look for lightness or kindness, something to give you hope that tomorrow will be a better day.  You look around and see so much cruelty in the world where no one thinks of anyone but themselves.  There is just greed and power, greed and power, greed and power. 

But even the ones with all the money don’t seem that happy.  They are also fighting the system in their own way.  They have different problems, but still they don’t sleep at night either.  They toss and turn with worry and fear of their own kind, and they also don’t like the world they are living in.  There is so much discontent everywhere that you can taste it in the air, you can smell it everywhere.  No one knows what their next step is, no one sees the path they need to take.  They are all running but not getting anywhere as if they are standing in place. 

There are many roads ahead, all leading in different directions … but which is the best one?  Which one will lead to the utopia that we are all striving for with that pot of gold and that beautiful rainbow?  Which path leads to heaven?  Which one will take you out of the darkness and into the light?  Which path will save you?

More importantly, which path is the right path for YOU?  It’s not the same path that anyone else would want to take if it’s truly the right one for you.  We each have one designed just for us.  But how much time do we have left to find it?  The clock is ticking, and there is someone looking over your shoulder and whispering in your ear that it’s time to choose.  You can’t keep running in place and getting nowhere.  Others are getting ahead of you.  They have already chosen their paths, and you can see them up ahead going down their own roads.  Some look back and wave at you, while others beckon you to join them.  Some never look back and just keep going.  Some look so happy and so confident they have found the perfect path that it looks as if they are running and getting further and further away and only seconds have gone by.  

But some are moving more slowly and yet walk with an arrogance or cockiness that tells everyone else they know exactly what they are doing.  Others are lugging lots of bags with them, and their progress is slowed down by all the belongings they refuse to leave behind.  They are the type that take two steps forward and then one step back as they return to get something else from their past.  Then there are the ones who are walking backwards always facing the direction they have just come from.  They don’t want to see what is up ahead, but they know they still have to make the journey regardless.  Some days they walk backwards more quickly and confidently, while other days they are quite slow and turn around often just to make sure they aren’t going to run into something.  But still they keep walking backwards even when what is up ahead looks safe to them.

Copyright © 2013 (Michelle Parsons, Getting Back on Your Path). All Rights Reserved.

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Rudé náměstí, plakát J.V. Stalin

Hundreds of thousands of Russians continue to queue up every year on Joseph Stalin’s birthday to pay their respects to a man they call their “Father.”  Singing patriotic ballads and laying red roses at his grave, he is still honored and revered ….  and even deemed a savior by some.  His name is synonymous with “strength”, and no matter how many lives were sacrificed during his rule, many believe it was worth it in the end.

Stalin commanded with an “iron fist”, and it was during his reign of terror (1924-1953) that millions died of starvation, execution or hard labor.  From peasants to doctors, no one was spared.  Death was so far reaching that there is still debate as to the exact numbers of those who perished, with some historians estimating as low as 10 million … or as high as 60 million.  Most agree that more than 5 million died from famine alone, while many million more were shot to death or imprisoned because of either their political or religious views, their ethnicity, their nationality, their profession or their socio-economic background.  Almost the entire orthodox clergy in the country were annihilated during the Great Purge, with over 100,000 monks, priests and nuns murdered.  Others were exiled to remote prison camps in god forsaken areas and suffered immeasurably through the interrogations, the transport in unheated cattle cars, the cruel separation of families, the harsh physical labor in below freezing temperatures, and the overcrowded living conditions with strict food rations and poor hygiene.  It is estimated that over 30,000 Gulag camps existed at one time … with some containing as many as 25,000 prisoners each.  On the day that Stalin died, over 5 million were still locked up in prison camps.

Although Stalin has been dead for more than 60 years, he is more popular than   ever … with some of his supporters rehabilitating him now as if he was a popular cult figure.  While Stalin’s death brought relief to millions, many still grieve for him today … and many have stood in long lines for upwards of 15 hours just to see his body.  They have lost the Father of their country, a man who was attributed with god-like qualities and a charming and vibrant personality.  Soviet children were actually taught to pray to him instead of to God … and although he was responsible for increasing the literacy rate of Russians, he has also been accused of doing this only to reach a larger audience with his propaganda.   Referred to as “Uncle Joe” by Franklin Roosevelt, he was supposedly an expert at double-dealing and skillful negotiating.  

What is not commonly known about Joseph Stalin is that he suffered severe abuse as a child from his alcoholic father and an overzealous religious mother who intended for him to be a priest instead.  After he was expelled from theological seminary in 1899 for missing his final exams, his life took a dramatic turn when he started reading the works of Lenin.  Deciding then to support the radical Bolsheviks, he became an expert at spreading propaganda and marketing his philosophy as if it was a religion.  He was also quite adept at raising money for the revolution and did so through numerous bank robberies and ransom kidnappings.   During this time, he was arrested and sent to Siberia seven times during the 14+ years leading up to the Russian Revolution of 1917.

Like the Revolution itself, Stalin’s personal life was both disastrous and controversial.  His son, Yakov, reportedly tried to commit suicide to escape his father’s abuse … but when he survived the gunshot wound, his father remarked with sarcasm:   “He can’t even shoot straight”.   Later, when Yakov was captured by the Germans and offered up to Stalin for ransom, his father refused to pay.  It was reported later that Yakov eventually killed himself by running into an electric fence.   

Stalin’s second marriage was also an abusive relationship.  Marrying Nadezhda when she was only 16 years old, he reportedly physically battered and insulted her in drunken rages, had numerous affairs and fathered several illegitimate children.  Seen many times flicking cigarette ashes at Nadezhda, it was rumored that Stalin (or one of his body doubles) murdered her. 

For the pro-Stalinists, he was both a revolutionary strategic thinker and a hero.  A man that won WWII for them, expanded the role of women and transformed the Soviet Union into one of the greatest industrial and military powers of that era.  But to the rest of the world, he is most often categorized as one of the most inhumane (and murderous) dictators that has ever lived … and even worse than Hitler.  A heartless executioner and hater of humanity who brainwashed his people … and that this “rehabilitation” of Stalin is simply to control and unite the current population and quash public outrage of any kind.   A makeover so effective that some of the younger generation have actually been quoted as saying they believe some of the people killed were not good people …  implying they may have actually deserved it. 

 In the Kurskaya Metro Station in Moscow, there is a tribute to Stalin inscribed in marble, which reads:  “Stalin raised us to be loyal to the fatherland and inspired us to labor and great works.”  No mention of the millions of people that died in the process.

Copyright © 2013 (Michelle Parsons, Getting Back on Your Path). All Rights Reserved.

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DSC00206 (1)

Tourists typically return with only a snapshot of the new place they just visited.  They speak of how fine the weather was, how friendly the locals were or how good the food was.  They may show you pictures of themselves in a front of a famous landmark or display something they bought as a souvenir.  But few will share with others anything more than superficial facts that have been passed on to every other tourist. 

Having just returned from a 9-day organized tour of Morocco, I found myself guilty of the same thing.  After a few inquiries about my vacation, I soon became bored by my standard response.  There must be something more interesting I can talk about other than the camel ride I took at sunrise or how hard I bartered for a necklace at a local bazaar.  There must be something about the country itself that others would find fascinating.  But after some reflection, all I could come up with was how diverse the topography was and that the women weren’t covered up as much as in other Muslim countries.  Then I started recalling snippets of what our tour guide told us, something about the King having modified the Family Code to give women more rights, that phosphorous was a big export and that it takes less than an hour to get from Spain to Morocco by hydrofoil.    

But surely I must have gleaned something more significant than this… and it was then that I recalled how many children (of all ages) I saw out on the streets during what should have been school hours.  Some were chasing after our bus or trying to sell us something when we got off, others were working in the fields or in local shops.  Then I remembered our guide telling us that when there is an election they have to draw a chalk board on buildings and assign numbers or symbols to a candidate so the illiterate know who to vote for.  This all made me wonder exactly how many Moroccans could not read or write, and when I looked up the statistics, I was astonished to discover they had one of the highest rates of illiteracy in the world and only about 50% of the population can read (note:  more can read in the cities than the rural areas and more males can read than females).   Also, more than 2.5 million children under the age of 15 drop out of school.  This research then led to an article about how many children in Morocco are homeless, and the stats are staggering with over 10,000 in just the city of Casablanca alone.   As in too many other parts of the world, many of them are working as prostitutes while others are sold and trafficked.  Last year, a network outside Marrakech was busted that sold 13-year old boys to brothels in Italy, and dealers reportedly paid parents $3000 per child.  Also, “boy dancers” (ages 8-16), which were commonplace up until the 1920’s, have re-emerged and are in practice again. 

Somehow these depressing facts about the children seem inconsistent with what we were told about the current King’s plan for the country.  Viewed as a humble and benevolent leader who cares about the people and actually referred to as “King of the Poor”, many thought Mohammed VI was a breath of fresh air compared to his tyrannical father who previously governed through fear and brutality.  Within 5 years of his new reign, he had modified the Family Code to give more rights to women and vowed to improve the lives of the poor and to improve Morocco’s human rights record.  But further research indicates that he is not unlike many other world leaders who can’t walk the talk.  Listed by Forbes Magazine as having a net worth of $2.5 billion, his personal portfolio has grown by a factor of 5 since his reign began in 1999.   While the country’s GDP per capita is about $5,000, his Palace’s daily operating budget is over $1M.  He and his advisors have also been accused of “influencing” every large housing project in Morocco, and reports from the US Embassy in Rabat have cited that corruption is prevalent in ALL levels of society from the top to the bottom. 

King Mohammed VI is also reported to be gay, although our guide denied this when I questioned him.  Even though there are many articles about this on the internet, he said it was the first time he heard this and it was just a cruel rumor.  But earlier he also told us that although freedom of speech was a right given to every Moroccan citizen, one is not allowed to criticize or speak openly against the King.  So if our guide believed that his King was gay, would admitting that be viewed as criticism?  Although I could care less whether the King of Morocco is gay or not, it’s the secrecy and the hypocrisy that disturb me … and the punishment that others face when they practice what he is allegedly practicing.  Not only is homosexuality illegal in Morocco and subject to a fine up of up to 3 years in prison, the government stated in 2009 that they were clamping down on homosexuality and would repress “any act contrary to moral or religious values”.    

Although Morocco is more progressive and more tolerant than many other parts of the Middle East, there is still much improvement needed and clearly more there than meets the tourists’ eyes. 

 Copyright © 2013 (Michelle Parsons, Getting Back on Your Path). All Rights Reserved.

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To many of us, Henry Ford represents what was good about small town America.  He believed in the common man and a simple life of hard work, discipline, and helping your neighbors.  Some thought of him as a “prophet of proper living” who practiced what he preached.  He rose at dawn every morning, exercised daily, did not smoke or drink and believed there was a direct correlation between hard work and success.  He was also restless and driven and described by some as more mechanical than emotional.  

From an early age, it was obvious Henry was a mechanical genius.  He also had a great entrepreneurial spirit and hung around with the likes of Thomas Edison and Harvey Firestone.   More than anything, he wanted to transform the lives of the ordinary citizen and give them the mobility he had longed for during the years he grew up on a farm.  It was his dream to create a car that every American could afford. 

A pioneer of welfare capitalism, Henry Ford wanted to improve the life of his workers but also wanted efficient and dedicated employees with little turnover.  He also believed that all his immigrant employees (from 50+ countries) should have a strong command of English and required them to attend daily lessons of a practical nature.  When they “graduated” from Ford’s English School, a ceremony took place where they had to dress in their native costume, climb into a huge “melting pot” and be subsequently stirred by their teachers.   They then emerged dressed in a suit, wearing a straw hat, and waving an American flag.  

Not only did Ford want his employees to embrace the American culture, he believed he could help them live a “better” life.  What soon became known as “social engineering”, inspectors from the company were sent out to check out the lifestyle of his employees.  Landlords, neighbors and friends were interviewed to find out about their private lives, including the status of their relationships, the cleanliness of their home, whether they drank or not, and whether they sent money home to their native country.  Those who “failed” the inspection were given one chance to change their ways.  If they failed a second time, they were fired. 

Always at odds with his investors, Ford made it clear that he represented the common man and had no respect for the social elite.  He referred to his investors as “parasites” because they put money in but didn’t do anything to make the company grow.   In 1920, he started writing articles for the Dearborn Independent where he linked the investment world to the Jewish population.  Entitled “The International Jew”, these writings accused Jews of being business profiteers who cheated, manipulated and controlled Wall Street and the entire banking industry.  A pacifist, Henry also believed that it was the international banking investors who had financed World War I.  He wrote that Jews were “the scavengers” of the world and a problem for everyone, not just Americans.   By 1926, circulation of these articles had reached 900,000, and the entire country was talking about his writings. 

Although he was condemned by The American Jewish Committee, the Federal Council of Churches, many influential leaders (including President Woodrow Wilson), Ford refused to back down.   It wasn’t until many defamation lawsuits later (and a drop in car sales) that Henry was finally persuaded to shut down the Dearborn Independent in 1928.  Unfortunately, by that time, the damage was done and the entire world had heard the viewpoint of this very influential and well-respected American industrialist.  Copies of the articles had reached Germany by 1924, and, in a letter written by Heinrich Himmler, Ford was described as “one of our most valuable, important, and witty fighters.”  Also, Adolf Hitler, who worshiped Henry Ford and kept a life size portrait of him next to his desk, declared in 1931 that he was inspired by him and wanted to model the Volkswagen (i.e. Germany’s version of the people’s car) after the Model T.  In 1938, Ford received the award of the Grand Cross of the German Eagle, the most prestigious medal Nazi Germany could bestow on a non-German.  He was also referred to in the Nuremberg trials as having influenced several Nazi leaders.  

While unimaginable atrocities were occurring in Europe in the 1930’s and 1940’s, a reign of terror, threats and violence was also going on inside Henry Ford’s plant.  By that time, the Ford River Rouge was one of the largest and most sophisticated plants in the world with the sole purpose of turning out as many cars as possible at the cheapest cost and in the shortest amount of time.  It became a heartless work environment with unrealistic expectations, no concern for the individual worker, no team work and no camaraderie.   Harry Bennett, a former ex-boxer and Navy sailor, was Head of the Service Department and also responsible for keeping the labor unions powerless.  He and his assistants, who consisted of street fighters and ex-convicts, patrolled the factory with their weapons displayed, controlling every aspect of the employee’s life.  No talking was allowed, and workers who associated with the union were severely beaten.  

Henry Ford was MANY things to different people.  To some, he represented everything that was good about America, like the Statue of Liberty, Norman Rockwell or apple pie.  He was a rags to riches story.  To others, he was one of the greatest inventors of the 20th century, an industrialist that revolutionized society and upgraded the lives of many.   To those who worked with him, including his son Edsel, Ford was a controlling, paranoid perfectionist who bullied and humiliated those who didn’t follow his ideas or prescribed way of life.  You were either a worshipper or a traitor, it was that simple.  But to many people, he will only be remembered as a man whose hatred for a race contributed to the largest genocide that has ever occurred.

Copyright © 2013 (Michelle Parsons, Getting Back on Your Path). All Rights Reserved.

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If you want to know what it feels like to be a minority person who is not only persecuted because of his nationality and religion but also targeted for his sexual orientation, then I recommend you see the Israeli foreign film “Out in the Dark”.  If you react like most audience members the day I viewed it, you will be shaken to your core and will walk out of the theatre like you are trying to avoid a land mine.  You also may have a lot more compassion for the daily struggle that so many people in that part of the world face, particularly if they also happen to be gay. 

Although this love story between an idealistic Israeli lawyer and a pragmatic Palestinian student could take place anywhere in the world, what makes it even more heartbreaking is the fact that homosexuality is so condemned in the Middle East.  Not only does it bring “shame” and “dishonor” to the family, your life could be at risk if you are caught.  There are actually extremists that hunt down gay people in order to rid society of anyone who engages in this forbidden love. 

Early on in the film, it’s obvious these two men are in love.  It is also obvious that their love (and their relationship) is not that dissimilar to one between a heterosexual couple.  The director did such an excellent job at portraying how “natural” their love was that the viewer only got caught up in the fact that it was a LOVE story.  At one point, Nimr, who is too ashamed to tell his family he is gay, turns to Roy and tells him that their relationship “doesn’t feel like a mistake”.  So by the time Roy presents Nimr with a watch that is engraved with the words “Love Finds Its Way”, the audience is rooting for this couple to make it. 

Everyone knows that no matter where you live, homophobia exists.  But in some countries, homophobia is carried to an unimaginable extreme.   Not only have some governments enacted criminal laws punishing gays, there is also President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran who claims that his country has no homosexuals at all.  I also suspect that many of the political killings that have occurred throughout history involved a victim who was targeted for his sexual orientation rather than because of his nationality or belief system.  

Even in the United States, the subject of homophobia comes up in the news on a daily basis.  Although we are more tolerant than many countries, we still have influential people like Paris Hilton stating that gays are “disgusting” and “horny” and many probably have AIDS.   What message does this give to the younger generation who look to her as their role model?   Also, what message do younger people get from government officials like Governors Rick Santorum and Rick Perry who openly promote the ban of gays in the Boy Scouts?  Although I believe in freedom of speech and the right to your own opinion, I don’t understand their explanation that being a boy scout is all about character building and “teaching life lessons” and not about sexuality.  Although I was never a boy scout, why would sexual orientation have anything to do with building a campfire or leading a trail hike? 

Copyright © 2013 (Michelle Parsons, Getting Back on Your Path). All Rights Reserved.


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Czech President

Czech President Vaclav Klaus celebrated the New Year by pardoning over 7,000 prisoners (almost a third of the total inmate population), an act which has many outraged citizens demanding he be tried for treason. Many will not accept his explanation that the prisons were too crowded or that he just wanted to celebrate the country’s 20th anniversary by giving as many people as possible “a fresh start”.  Instead, they are thinking of ALL the victims of all these prisoners, many of which lost their entire life savings in asset stripping fraud cases.  They are also thinking of the cyclist who lost his life when he was negligently run over by singer Dara Rolins (a Shakira look-alike), who was released only a few months after her conviction.  Or the former football executive who committed massive credit card fraud.   

This controversial pardon also included the cancellation of certain trials that have gone on for more than 8 years, including a few high profile cases of embezzlement and fraud.  Although Klaus insists he gave a blanket pardon without cherry picking certain defendants (and did this at the end of his final term in office), many are suspicious that he has done this purely to help out his inner circle of friends and supporters.  They also think it swayed the outcome of the latest election.   

Much of the public is also frustrated and discouraged by the message that is given when white collar crimes go unpunished.  So many of these cases took years to prosecute and just when the victims finally got some satisfaction, the swindlers were released.  Also, to make matters worse, dozens of pardoned prisoners were back in prison within a week after committing another crime a few days after their release.  In a rare public statement of disrespect for Klaus, many school children and over 600 mayors tore his picture down from their walls.

Copyright © 2013 (Michelle Parsons, Getting Back on Your Path). All Rights Reserved.


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french muslims

If a recent poll in Europe is any indication, a majority of the population feel their civilization has taken a dramatic turn downward as the number of Muslims grows larger.  Not only do they feel the Islam religion has become too influential, they also worry that because of declining birth rates among Christian women, Muslims will one day be in the majority.  This concern has brought a heated debate to Vierzon, France, a small Catholic village that has too many churches for its declining population of Christians (e.g. only 300 out of 27,000 inhabitants attend services on a regular basis).  As a result, several churches have been abandoned.   

When one such church, Saint-Eloi, was put up for sale recently, many citizens were distressed to learn that the local Muslim community wanted to purchase it.  Unlike the Catholics, their numbers had been growing steadily and they were praying in cramped quarters in a single-family house.  When word got out that Saint-Eloi was to be converted to a mosque, some locals were happy that the vacant church was going to be used for prayer again while others were upset that Muslims would be praying in a Christian building. When the archdiocese for the church interceded, however, they decided to solve the disupte by selling the church to a local charity that was non-denominational.  This is when the trouble began. 

Besides the fact that the charity did not even have enough funds to purchase the building, they were also given more than six months to get the money.  Although it appears now as if they will raise the needed amount, it was the way they went about collecting donations that has caused such a rift in the community and hurt many Muslims everywhere.  Their slogan was “Stop the Mosque”, and in addition to gathering signatures as far away as Canada, the French conservative media also got involved.  Many articles were written with fear-invoking statistics, including how many churches were closing down throughout Europe, how many more children Muslim families were having and that the number one baby boy name in Brussels was Mohammed.  Not only did they go as far as to say that everyone would soon be praying to Allah and that the Koran would one day replace the Bible, they also implied that every local Muslim was a supporter of Hamas. 

This specific debate is not just unique to the town of Vierzon or to the country of France.  In fact, it is occurring all over Europe right now as the Muslim population continues to grow.  Although France is permitting new mosques to be built, the country of Greece has not allowed one to be constructed for over 100 years.   Because church and state are not separate in this orthodox Christian country, Muslims have been forced to pray illegally in underground basements without dignity for years. 

Although it is natural to fear change and to worry about an uncertain future, it is not natural to hate your neighbor.  We are not born with prejudice.  It is taught to us from an early age, and until we can learn to let go of our intolerance, we will never experience true peace.  We will always be uncomfortable with another person’s differences instead of finding comfort from what we have in common.  Why should it matter if your neighbor prays to the same God, a different God, many Gods or no God at all?  Can’t he still be your friend?  Isn’t it his moral character and how he treats those around him that matters most? 

Copyright © 2013 (Michelle Parsons, Getting Back on Your Path). All Rights Reserved.

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Barry ShulmanJanuary 31st, 2013 at 4:34 am

Enjoyed spending some time with you today. I also enjoyed your writings. We seem to be on a similar path in our lives. Would like to share some of our writing Keep in touch. Best Wishes, Barry

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Wrong Family On The Right Side of the Tracks

            By Michelle (Milan) Parsons
I come from the wrong family on the right side of the tracks
I come from the land of milk and honey and a life of good and plenty
I come from pretty houses, swimming pools and steak every night
     none of which we could afford
I come from tears at night when the abuse wouldn’t stop
     and no one would listen
I come from fear and nightmares and shame everlasting.
I come from a family of narcissists, gamblers, pranksters and jokesters
I come from a family where everyone has a nickname but no one feels loved
I come from a family where only the loudest is recognized
     and the quietest is never heard
I come from a family who sound sincere and look good on paper
    but the mother doesn’t protect and the father is never around
I come from pretty skin, good genes and vanity everlasting.
I come from kings and crusaders, warriors and nomads
I come from power and greed, treason and sedition
I come from doctors and lawyers, farmers and pilots, hunters with guns
     and a dog by their side
I come from Joan of Arc, Harriet Tubman and Amelia Earhart
    but my voice was never heard
I come from jealousy and hatred and revenge everlasting.
I come from ups and downs, chaos and confusion
I come from barroom brawls, drinkers, smokers and dancers
I come from a marriage of convenience and control
     where no one got the last laugh
I come from secrets and lies
     and truths that will never be told
I come from pain and humiliation and regret everlasting.
I come from intolerance and judgment, adultery and abuse
I come from a life of sabotage and subterfuge
I come from humor and laughter
      when all else fails
I come from a path that was never taken
     and a time I can never get back
I come from hope and faith and strength everlasting.
Copyright © 2013 (Michelle Parsons, Getting Back on Your Path). All Rights Reserved.

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Lawrence BadihJanuary 23rd, 2013 at 3:57 pm

Great reminder. We can all identify one of these places where we come from. I personally identify with “I come from a family who sound sincere and look good on paper
but the mother doesn’t protect and the father is never around” I never met my dad and I never even seen a photo of him and frankly not even sure if my mother herself really know who my father is. Today I say thanks to God for His grace and mercy.

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North Korea

Described by some as a totalitarian Oz, the capital city of North Korea is an attempt to prove to the outside world that a single party government run by a supreme leader can be successful.  Unlike the rest of the country which struggles daily to keep from starving, Pyongyang recently opened a $19M amusement park and has a showcase of modern western amenities, including a water slide and stadium complex, miniature golf, and a dolphin aquarium.  Unfortunately, however, only the residents of the city have access to these facilities as the capital is completely closed off to the rest of the North Koreans.  Unless given official permission, most citizens have never been within 10 miles of one of the dozens of checkpoints that surround Pyongyang.  

Outward appearance is what seems to matter most to this government.  Since 1994, beautiful young female traffic police have taken the place of stoplights. Dressed like models in fashionable uniforms that are changed out with every season, the selection criteria is very strict.  With most starting as young as 18 and retiring by 26, they also have to be taller than average and are not allowed to be married.   Although it is considered an honor to have this position, they are nevertheless viewed as “trophy” women in a city where waitresses in tourist restaurants have reportedly been forced to have cosmetic surgery to appear more western.  According to a United Nations report, this is also a city where disabled people have been put to death at birth or “rounded up” and sent away to uninhabited islands…. and it also where short people should fear for their life.  A former North Korean teacher once accused Kim Jong-Il’s government of persecution and entrapment when they touted the benefits of a wonder drug that would give you extra height.  When short people showed up to receive the benefits, they were reportedly kidnapped and never seen again because their supreme leader did not want that recessive gene in their creation pool.  

What is perhaps most noticeable about Pyongyang, and the rest of North Korea for that matter, are the countless number of massive gold statues honoring the authoritarian dynasty of Kim II Sung and Kim Jong-Il.   While the rest of the country suffers from chronic malnutrition, an annual salary of $2,000, and a bleak existence with almost no electricity, the public monuments in the capital city are illuminated all night long.  In addition, it is also home to what will soon be the largest hotel in the world, with 3,000 rooms and a height of 105 stories.  Referred to as the Hotel of Doom, it is reportedly the same shape and size as the Ministry of Truth in George Orwell’s 1984, a political satire which ironically addresses propaganda.  

While many are hopeful that the country’s new leader, Kim Jong-Un, will bring about positive changes to North Korea, others feel that he is just a younger and inexperienced version of his forefathers.  Not even 30 years old, he is the world’s youngest head of state.  Not only is he a diabetic and a heavy drinker like his father, Kim Jong-Il (who reportedly spent over $500,000 a year on liquor), he seems almost child-like in his hobbies and interests.  Reportedly obsessed with the NBA, he owns a huge collection of Nike sneakers …. and loves Japanese comic books, James Bond, Michael Jackson and Jackie Chan.  Even more strange are the rumors that he has had extensive cosmetic surgery because he looks very different from his teenage photos.  Educated in Switzerland with a degree in physics and a lover of sports, Kim Jong-Un was chosen over his older brother to succeed his father, primarily because of his superb physical gifts and his stubborn refusal to admit defeat.  

Despite his young age, many global leaders are also concerned that Kim Jong-Un is keeping his country virtually isolated from the internet (as evidenced by a recent visit by Google’s Eric Schmidt).  Oddly, of the three Twitter users North Korea follows, the only American is a man named Jimmy Dushku, a 25-year old wealthy investor from Austin, Texas, who lives a lavish globetrotting existence and is purportedly Coldplay’s biggest fan.  But even more worrisome is the fact that North Korea has a “Propaganda and Agitation Department” which controls all communication.   Not only are journalists banned from going to North Korea (unless they masquerade as a business person), the government jams all foreign broadcasts, and all radio and television stations are government supported. 

The further away you get from Pyongyang, the further away you get from any sign of western civilization.  Even a city such as Kaesong, which is only 80 miles away, has no modern housing, stores that are half empty and no electricity except for a few hours a day.  Keeping people this isolated and cut off from the rest of world probably explains why many North Koreans are not able to mobilize and can’t tell the difference between a benevolent leader and a Stalinist dictator.  Not only is their future determined by where they are born, but more importantly, whether they are one of the select few who are friends with someone in the inner circle.

Copyright © 2013 (Michelle Parsons, Getting Back on Your Path). All Rights Reserved.


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Little emperor china

After four decades of a one-child policy, China is now facing the consequences of what was once perceived as a great economic success.  To help get itself back on track economically by reducing the amount the country had to pay to feed and school children, China implemented rigid laws in the 1980’s limiting most couples to a family size of only one child.  Because of a strong cultural preference for sons and a traditional belief that only a male child could support his elders, this government edict changed the course of the entire country.  Not only were many first-born girls abandoned or killed in utero, many were hidden or sold by their family.  Some became victims of sex and labor traffickers while others were forcibly taken by government officials and put up for sale in the very corrupt black adoption market. Consequently, these actions resulted in a society of traumatized “broken” families where the number of men strongly outweigh the number of women (in some provinces, the ratio is as unbalanced as 138:100) and a culture where the men have all the power and respect and the women are second-class citizens.

This controversial policy has also led to what is coined the “4-2-1 phenomenon”, which basically refers to a society where there is only one family member working, and that individual feels obligated to also support his two (2)  parents and his four (4) grandparents.  Many families in China are now facing this situation because the retirement population is starting to outgrow the working population.  There are currently 180 million Chinese over age 60, and within 20 years, it is estimated that there will be more retirees in China than in the entire population of the US.  Not only is there growing concern that the government will not be able to support its aging population, there is also increased pressure on the working child who feels societal responsibility to take care of the elders.  Since few Chinese have saved for their retirement (i.e. “growing old before growing rich” ), most cannot afford the luxury of living in a senior residence and are forced to live with their children or their children’s children.  Although many see benefits in a living arrangement comprised of many generations, there may be just as many who resent the lack of choice.

Even more interesting is a recent study conducted by the Monash University that has concluded that this one-child policy has had a significant impact on the psychological well-being of this generation.  After comparing this current group to the prior generation, they have found that the children born AFTER 1979 are more pessimistic, less trusting and less conscientious.  They also tend to be more neurotic and less willing to take a risk (and therefore less likely to be self-employed).  Although some argue that this is a natural result when a child grows up without siblings, prior studies in the West have found little difference in personality and behavior between them and those who come from larger families.  Instead, these studies have concluded that the differences arise more in families where the parents were coerced into having no more than one child.

All of this is a result of a government policy that had seemingly good intentions in the onset but managed instead to not only disrupt the natural societal plan of one of the largest countries in the world but also to have a devastating life altering outcome.  Although the Chinese government has made some adjustments to their family planning policy, they are still experiencing perhaps the lowest fertility level in the world in some of the richest areas of their country.  Compared to the US fertility rate of 2.08, the city of Shanghai has a birth rate of only .6.  This is a shocking and depressing statistic which is certain to have profound social and economic consequences.  Like most other countries, China is already experiencing a huge fiscal deficit, soaring pension expenses, and increased medical costs.  With a rapid decline of the labor force fast approaching, many believe this is a ticking time bomb.

 Copyright © 2013 (Michelle Parsons, Getting Back on Your Path). All Rights Reserved.



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Ursula Huber ReaJanuary 16th, 2013 at 7:30 pm

Excellent article, Michelle – predictions will be far reaching and have downward effects on the economy – who’s going to produce our now inexpensive products, produced in China – but sold into the world and largely in the U.S.
I predict that many corporations could take a look today the future impact it would bring to their bottom lines!
So glad you are happy in your Southern California location!
Ursula Huber Rea

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I recently came across a box of “love letters”, some over 20 pages long, that I received during my college years in Berkeley.   They were written by a guy I had worked with but never actually dated.   If read in the order I received them,  his state of mind would best be described as evolving from a “first love” crush to an OBSESSION.  I was in over my head by the third letter, and they just kept coming, sometimes one every other day.  And they got longer and longer and became more and more delusional with every page.  What first struck me as compliments by a lonely, socially awkward guy (who just wanted to be my friend) soon transformed into a long litany of self-pity, paranoia, jealousy, depression and threats of suicide.  He and his vivid imagination became the center of everything, and his demands for my attention became insatiable.  The more I tried to talk to him about his feelings, the more he insisted I LISTEN to him.  Being polite and showing compassion didn’t work, but neither did ignoring him.  One minute he hated me, the next minute he loved me.   At one point, he even began comparing me to his mother. 

This “relationship” went on for almost 2 years with no chance of escape until I moved to San Francisco and gave no forwarding address.   Although I never heard from him again, I often wondered what happened to him and whether he ever turned his life around.  Despite all his demands of my attention, I always saw him as a tortured (but talented) individual who I felt sorry for.  But after re-reading some of these letters, I now see him in a very different light.  What I once viewed as merely deep anguish over an unrequited love, I now see as paranoid narcissism.  And although I always knew his attachment to me wasn’t healthy, I now see his behavior for what it really was:  he was STALKING me.

Although we often hear of a celebrity that has been stalked by an obsessed fan, how many of us consider that we also have “stalkers” in our own lives?   In addition to the “letter writer”, I had two other stalking experiences, all of them unique from each other…. but ALL of them disturbing.   Each one was time consuming, emotionally draining, frustrating and often times very frightening.   I remember calling the police on another guy and being told that there was nothing they could do unless they caught him in the act.

I have since learned from reading articles on the subject that there are several common denominators with every stalker.  Not only are they persistent angry bullies that love to harass and intimidate their victims, they are ALL narcissists.   Some are mild cases, while others are extreme, but they are all self-centered, controlling individuals who think they are superior to others, feel little compassion, have almost no remorse for their actions, are slow to forgive and often blame others  for everything that goes wrong in their lives.  In addition, many lead a secret life and are pathological liars that put on a good front for others and often use sex to control.  For a full list of characteristics, see:

I wish I could say from experience that there is one perfect technique to get rid of a stalker, but each one of my situations was handled differently.  All I know for certain, however, is that IGNORING them never worked for me. If anything, that enraged and provoked MY stalkers even more.   Some experts believe that narcissists are actually cowards who are easily intimidated if you fight back, and they recommend scare tactics.  Many are paranoid neurotics that frighten easily so strong language or actions may be enough for the mild cases.  Or you could try threatening them with a fact you know about them.  For instance, if you know they have fraudulently filed a tax return, threaten to turn them into the IRS.  Other experts, however, say to mirror their EXACT behavior.  If they follow you around, start following them.  If they send you letters or gifts, do the same to them.  Or use the exact same language with them that they use with you.  The theory behind this is that some stalkers do not want their victims to become emotionally attached to them as many have abandonment issues.  For the more serious and dangerous cases, however, you will probably have no other choice but to seek legal recourse.

While I believe every stalker is a narcissist, the question remains as to whether every narcissist is a stalker.  Based on my experience, I would argue that they all are, to some degree.  At a very minimum, they will try and hold you hostage and demand that you pay attention to them… and listen to their story.  They all feel entitled to your time, and any type of rejection, no matter how minor, will make many respond with anger and vindictiveness.   So take a moment and look through YOUR own list of family, friends, colleagues, neighbors, etc. and see whether you have any narcissists nearby.  I am willing to bet you do.



Copyright © 2013 (Michelle Parsons, Getting Back on Your Path). All Rights Reserved.

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turkish wedding

I was reminded recently of a comment I heard Jerry Lewis, the comedian, once say when he referred to a woman as merely “a producing machine that brings babies into the world”.   He also said there is no place for women in comedy and that not even Lucille Ball was funny.

How many other men feel the same way Jerry Lewis does?  And how many of these men are influencing our world now?  I know for a fact that the Prime Minister of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, echoes Jerry’s sentiments when he went public recently and told women they should stay home and have at least 3 children.  He is a conservative traditionalist and considers himself a moral guardian for his people.  He actually stated that men should be the breadwinner and women the baker of such bread.

Although Turkey is a Muslim country, the women in that country struggle with the same issues women in western societies do.  Although there are many that want more independence, there is still pressure from family, friends and society to marry and have children.  This is evidenced by the recent popularity of wedding reality shows, in particular one called “Marry Me”.   In conservative, rural parts of Turkey, this show gives women “hope” for a bright future.  One such bride was quoted as saying that “good looks, money and an EU passport would be nice…. but the main thing is to just get married”.

How many of us were raised believing that we would only be happy if we were married?  How many of us at an early age cut out photos of wedding dresses?  I remember my best friend in high school showing me her “hope” chest, and at age 16, it was already filled.

It’s hard to believe that in the year 2012, there is still a stigma attached to those who don’t marry…. or to those who are divorced, for that matter.  Why is our personal identity wrapped up in our marital status?  But more importantly, what message is government giving us when they tell women to just stay home and bake bread?   Sadly, this is not a belief system prevailing in only Muslim states.   Look to the US Republican platform right now, and ask yourself how different are we from Turkey?

Copyright © 2013 (Michelle Parsons, Getting Back on Your Path). All Rights Reserved.

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moncler manteauNovember 29th, 2012 at 7:53 pm

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solde doudoune monclerDecember 13th, 2012 at 4:55 am

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Corrupt Son

In a country where the people should be among the wealthiest in the world, the vast majority of Equatorial Guinea is surviving on only a $1 a day.   Although it is the third largest producer of oil and gas in Sub-Saharan Africa, with a volume of over 350,000 barrels a day, many of its inhabitants are living in poverty in tin-roofed shacks with no clean water, no sanitation and a life expectancy of barely 50 years.  Yet millions of dollars are being spent daily on the grandiose construction of a new capital city, which is described by critics as a “spectacular vanity projectrising up in the middle of nowhere” and fulfilling the dream of a president who is purportedly paranoid of its citizens and obsessed with security.   Located in a very remote jungle setting, streets are modeled after the Avenue des Champs Elysees in Paris, and a 5-star hotel with 450 rooms, convention center and an adjacent 18-hole golf course are all part of the plan.  

Listed as a country with one of the worst human rights records in the world, torture, beatings, unexplained deaths and illegal detentions can occur on a daily basis in Equatorial Guinea.  Media are also banned by law from criticizing public figures, and public dissent of any kind is dangerous.  There is little public transportation, few newspapers and only 1% of government spending goes to health care.  Described as a one-party dictator and the longest serving leader in the world, Teodoro Obiang and his 30+ year regime are accused of rampant corruption and the diversion of millions of state funds into personal accounts.  

In 2011, Teodoro’s son, Teodorin Nguema Obiang, who is also Vice President and Head of Defense and Security, was investigated by the US Department of Justice for a lavish lifestyle that far exceeded his official salary of $100,000 per year.   Accused of diverting millions of state revenue into a personal account and money laundering of government foreign aid, he had assets worth over $70 Million seized… which included a $31 Million compound in Malibu, a Gulfstream jet, luxury cars, yachts and Michael Jackson memorabilia worth $2,000,000, including one white crystal ‘Bad Tour’ glove.  A notorius PLAYBOY who once spent over $1 Million on a weekend in South Africa and described as a “a rap music entrepreneur and bon vivant, fond of Lamborghinis and long trips to Hollywood and Rio de Janeiro”, Teodorin is also under investigation by French authorities for embezzlement, extortion and misappropriation of state funds. 

Since Obiang’s regime took over in 1979, US oil companies have poured billions of dollars into Equatorial Guinea, a nation that is also known to be one of the worst violators of forced sex and labor trafficking.  When questioned once as to why so much of the oil revenue was deposited into his personal account at the Riggs Bank in Washington, DC, Obiang defended this action by stating that he keeps total control in order to ‘avoid corruption’.  Described by Condoleeza Rice in 2006 as a “good friend” to the US, President Obiang has also stated that there is no poverty in Guinea but rather that the people “are used to living in a different way”.   In July 2003, the state-run radio referred to Obiang as “the Country’s God” who had “ALL POWER over men and things.”  They also told the public that their President was “in permanent contact” with the Almighty and can decide to KILL without anyone calling him to account and without going to HELL.”

Copyright © 2012 (Michelle Parsons, Getting Back on Your Path). All Rights Reserved.


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Time seems to be standing still in the God fearing community of Staphorst, a town located in what is commonly referred to as the Dutch Bible Belt.  Unlike the rest of the Netherlands, which is considered one of the most liberal societies in the world, this section of the country is home to a half million orthodox Calvinists who live their lives in strict accordance to the Bible.  They are called “black stockings” by the liberal Dutch because of the many layers of dark traditional clothing they wear, including the thigh-high, hand-knitted black stockings worn by many of the women.

These devout conservative Protestants go to church TWICE on Sunday and must give an accounting to the congregation if they are absent.  Buses don’t run, shops are closed, and the community is forbidden from jogging, swimming, or attending a movie or restaurant on this day of worship.  At home, 80% of the population does not have television, swearing is banned and women wearing trousers are shunned.  Those opposing this strict lifestyle are viewed as “fallen people” who will never be forgiven for their sins… and will be at the complete and total mercy of a wrathful God. 

This is also a society where strangers are viewed with mistrust, men and women are not equal, abortion is illegal, and the birth rate is the highest in the country.   Medical treatment is also rejected by some, and many still oppose vaccination practices.  This is also where the Reformed Political Party (SGP) has its origins.  Not only do they oppose freedom of religion and bar women from holding public office, they also strive toward a government that is based primarily on the Bible. 

Although traditional Calvinists would describe themselves as hard working and righteous people of strong faith, they also teach that one must adhere to the Bible to be loved by God.  They also tell us how to worship God, how to live a Christian life and what sort of government that God would favor.  Although we are all entitled to our own religious beliefs, we should ask ourselves whether God would really reject those who lived a moral and ethical life but chose to do it in their own way and on their own terms

Copyright © 2012 (Michelle Parsons, Getting Back on Your Path). All Rights Reserved.


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Every day, asylum-seeking refugees in Nauru, an island in the South Pacific, are protesting, demonstrating and leaking information on Facebook trying to attract the attention of human rights activists.  Described as a “slaughterhouse” by one Iranian refugee, this detention center is currently housing over 400 boat people that have been trying to seek asylum in Australia since September.  Condemned by the UN Refugee Agency as a center seriously violating international protection standards, the harsh living conditions in Nauru and a build-up of frustration and despair have resulted in 10 people committing suicide and over 25 currently on one of the largest hunger strikes in detention history.  

Diverted by the Australian government to an island almost 3,000 miles away, these refugees are pleading to have the center closed, to be brought back to Australia and to have their cases processed in the same way as for all other asylum seekers.  Having already faced persecution and discrimination from their own country, many are asking why they have been sent to this god forsaken island.  One refugee was quoted as saying:  “What is the difference between us and them?  We all are the same.  We are humans … not criminals.”  

Many are also asking what connection Nauru, an independent country since 1968, has with Australia …and the obvious answer seems to be that this Micronesian island will work with anyone willing to pay to keep them afloat.   Not only does it have a history of illegal money laundering, its United Nations member status has also been a lucrative source of revenue from Taiwan, China and Russia.  Flipping back and forth in its allegiance with Taiwan and China regarding the One-China policy, the People’s Republic of China purportedly paid Nauru $130 million for its vote in July, 2002.  Three years later, ties with Taiwan were reestablished and allegiance with China was severed.  Additionally, in 2009 Nauru received “humanitarian” aid in the amount of $50 million from Russia soon after Nauru’s recognition of Abkhazia. 

Another source of revenue for Nauru may be from the University of the South Pacific, which has a campus there…. and advertises that a Bachelor of Education can be obtained from what outwardly appears to be merely an apartment building with no staff except for six (6) accounting and computer personnel. 

For a country that has only 10,000 residents, a small geographic size of 21 square kilometers and an unemployment rate of 90%, one might want to also question why it’s divided into 14 districts and 169 villages and how its able to support a football league with EIGHT teams.   Sadly, it also has the most overweight people in the world with 95% of the population considered obese, a life expectancy of only 65 years, and the world’s highest level of Type 2 diabetes.  What the Hell is going on in Nauru??

 Copyright © 2012-2013 (Michelle Parsons, Getting Back on Your Path). All Rights Reserved.


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Jimmy Savile

The phone is ringing off the hook at an Abuse Hotline in Britain now that the public finally believes their claims of sexual abuse will be taken seriously.  Cases over six decades old are being reopened, and shocking details are emerging regarding a ring of pedophiles that had private access to children in care homes, schools and hospitals across the UK. Even more surprising is the revelation that many of the accused were famous and well-respected members of the elite society…. known for their philanthropic good deeds and love of mankind.

The most prolific of the accused sex offenders was apparently Sir Jimmy Savile, a BBC TV and radio personality, who passed away in 2011.  To date, he has been named in over 450 cases ranging from indecent exposure to rape, and everything in between.  Boys at the Bryn Estyn care home in Wales are now coming forward claiming they were repeatedly molested to entertain Jimmy and his brother whenever they came to town.  Also, girls and young women have claimed to be fondled and groped while sitting on Jimmy’s lap.  Described by a radio psychiatrist in 1991 as “a man without feelings”, Savile bragged in his autobiography that many of his sexual conquests took place everywhere, including “bushes and fields, corridors, doorways, floors, chairs, slagheaps, desks and probably everything except the celebrated chandelier and ironing board.”

In honor of all his fundraising, Jimmy was given his own room at two hospitals and had ‘unlimited access’ day and night for over 20 years.  A former patient at Broadmoor Psychiatric Hospital, Steven George, told reporters that not only did Savile have gold access keys (while the staff had only silver), everyone “bowed and scraped to him as if he were some kind of God.”   He apparently also had unsupervised access to physically disabled patients as well based on the number of allegations coming from wheel-chair bound victims, including one helpless 15-year old girl who was molested while recovering from brain surgery.  When news of this leaked out to a local newspaper, Savile had the story squashed after threatening that charitable donations to the hospital would dry up.

It has also been revealed by a former BBC colleague, Paul Gambaccini, that Jimmy Savile was sexually attracted to corpses.  Volunteering as a hospital porter at Leed’s General Hospital, Jimmy commented one time that he took great pleasure in wheeling bodies to the morgue.  Also, he reportedly wrote in his autobiography that the few days he spent alone with his dead mother’s body was the time of his life.  Jimmy, the youngest of seven children, never married and confessed once that the real love of his life was his mother, who he called “The Duchess”. After she died in 1973, he spent five days with her corpse before its burial.  “The best five days of my life,” he said. “She looked marvellous. She belonged to me.”

Although Jimmy Savile was not the only sex offender that has ever lived, what is important about this story is how many of these allegations were suppressed until after his death.  For there to be a cover-up of this magnitude, he had to have used his social status and charitable works as a shield.  A close friend of Margaret Thatcher and a frequent visitor to the Royal Palace, he was also known to have a controlling and dominating personality and therefore must have intimidated and manipulated many of his victims.   It is also believed that he was protected by others who wanted “favors” from him.

Although it is encouraging that the victims are finally having their say, more thought should be given to how many other trusted public figures are given unsupervised access to children, patients, and sadly, even corpses.   Too many of us believe that fame, power and a reputation for good works also means one is an honorable member of society.  Think about all the other Jimmy Saviles in the world, and ask yourself if there is someone just like him in YOUR neighborhood, town or place of employment. They could also be your favorite actor, an elected government official or a famous athlete.

One blogger wrote an hour after Jimmy Savile died, “…that it was a good day as at least the children of Britain could sleep better in their beds.”

Copyright © 2012-2013 (Michelle Parsons, Getting Back on Your Path). All Rights Reserved.



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If American evangelicals in Uganda get their way, new Anti-Homosexuality legislature (also referred to as the “Kill the Gays” bill) will pass by Christmas strengthening already existing laws and imposing the death penalty upon certain “offenders”.  Not only will this proposed bill persecute gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgenders, it will also punish any citizen who “fails to report” within 24 hours the identity of a same-sex offender and subject THEM up to 3 years imprisonment.

Although most African nations criminalize homosexual acts, what many may not realize is that this proposed legislation in Uganda appears to be a direct result of a March 2009 conference in Kampala featuring three American evangelical Christians (Scott Lively, Don Schmierer and Caleb Lee Brundidge) instructing the public on “how to make gay people straight” and teaching them that homosexuality is an “evil” institution.  Thousands of influential Ugandans attended this conference, and less than a month later, a local newspaper published tips to the public on how to identify a gay person.  This was followed by another Ugandan newspaper article which listed on its front page the 100 Top Gays and Lesbians in Uganda, supplying photos and addresses, along with a bright yellow banner that read “Hang Them”.  Immediately after, four gay men were brutally attacked.

Currently, known same-sex individuals in Uganda face daily persecution in the form of physical abuse, death threats, blackmail, property vandalism and “correctional” rape with possible imprisonment up to 14 years.  There are already NO human or civil rights that protect them, but if this legislature passes, they are facing possible genocide.  In a country that is 85% Christian and purportedly Democratic, why are these individuals so targeted?  And why are certain American ministers so involved in a country that is 10,000 miles away and smaller than the size of Oregon?  As Rick Warren said in a December 2009 video on Uganda, the church should “protect the dignity of individuals” and we should ALL love our neighbors as God meant for us to do.

Copyright © 2012 (Michelle Parsons, Getting Back on Your Path). All Rights Reserved.


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Pig Sticking


The home of Don Quixote is in the news again now that an archaic sport that was  banned for years has suddenly made a comeback.  Wild boar hunting, commonly called “pig-sticking”, is hugely popular now in the Castilla La Mancha region of Spain, south of Madrid.   A traditional past time of the European nobility, this “sport” is best described as pigs being chased by hunters on horseback with 3 meter long spears…. in a fenced area with no chance to escape.   When cornered by dogs, the terror-stricken pig is stabbed over and over again by surrounding riders until it finally gives up and rolls over.

Animal rights activists are petitioning the local government to stop this “cruel and savage” sport while defenders say they are helping a country in crisis by bringing in more tourism to the region.  Hunters pay up to 5,000 Euros per team to take part in this medieval activity, while other guests pay to be spectators in luxury tents set up on the perimeter.  Alcohol is provided and a festive atmosphere is created while observers cheer on the hunters, impressed with this “brave and bloody” spectacle not that dissimilar to bullfighting.  One exuberant hunter was quoted as saying: “I feel like Michael Schumacher after 7 grand prix wins”.

In January of this year, Princes William and Harry, also took part in this very controversial sport.  Staying at an exclusive hunting estate owned by The Duke of Westminster, the royal brothers spent a “secret weekend” in the region, killing dozens of animals and being described by a local employee as “crack shots”.  Although they had been to the estate before, this particular trip was organized to “celebrate” Prince Harry’s graduation as an Apache helicopter pilot.

Although pig sticking has been primarily conducted on private hunting estates, animal activists are now particularly concerned because the Spanish Environment Ministry is also supporting it, with the hope to one day introduce it into the local National Parks and encourage tourism.  Apparently, this particular region  is “controlled” by the Conservative People’s Party, and award-winning newspaper columnist, Rosa Montero, has accused this government of “turning back the clock” to the Middle Ages.  “Next they will be bringing back serfdom,” she complained.

Copyright © 2012 (Michelle Parsons, Getting Back on Your Path). All Rights Reserved.






Comments (1)

Steven NickoleyDecember 12th, 2012 at 8:03 pm

I appreciate your work , thankyou for all the interesting posts .

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robin Hood

When I hear the name Robin Hood, I think of a man in green tights with a bow and arrow riding through Sherwood Forest stealing from the rich and giving to the poor.   Although many tales have been written about this popular folk hero, it has never been proven whether he and his group of Merry Men ever really existed or not.  But in the small German town of Braunschweig, the local people think they have their own Robin Hood … and their hero has made them all believe in miracles again.

Shortly after a local robbery occurred a few years ago, people in the town started receiving white envelopes filled with cash.  They were left in the middle of the night by an anonymous donor and stuffed in mailboxes or under doormats.  It was the most exciting thing the town had experienced in years, and people began affectionately referring to the Good Samaritan as “Robin Hood”.  What first seemed too good to be true soon became a real-life fairy tale, and everyone began speculating about who the wealthy well-wisher could be and whether it was a man or a woman.  Some think it might be a modern-day Robin Hood who had a plan to help out the poor and needy.  Others wonder if it’s someone who committed a crime but then felt guilty immediately afterwards.  Or perhaps it’s an older person who is about to die and has no heirs.  But ALL agree that it’s a RARE thing these days to see a complete stranger help someone else out, and even more rare that it has been done anonymously without the need of recognition or accolades.

All different amounts have been given, but most envelopes have been in the range of 10,000 Euros (or approximately $13,000 US).  The first to receive one was a Victim Support Center.  Soon thereafter, envelopes were also given to a day care center, a soup kitchen, a choir, a hospice center, and four local churches.  There have also been individuals who have received money, such as a 14-year-old boy who had been severely handicapped after a swimming accident and a local man who was beaten up when he came to the rescue of a group of women who had been sexually harassed.

So far, more than 250,000 Euros have been disbursed, and most are accompanied by a newspaper article or clipping of some kind that indicate how the benefactor would like the money used.  These mystery gifts have not only benefitted the recipients, but they have also been great publicity for the local newspaper which had been struggling to survive.  With much interest and anticipation, the public looks forward to the Braunschweiger Zeitung reporting on every envelope that is received, and they are also charmed by the letters of gratitude that the recipients write thanking their mystery donor.  Furthermore, this Robin Hood story has received worldwide-media interest, increasing the circulation and thrilling its editor whose “little paper” has suddenly been thrust into the limelight.

 Copyright © 2013 (Michelle Parsons, Getting Back on Your Path). All Rights Reserved.

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I Know Who You Are Now

      by Michelle (Milan) Parsons

I know who you are now
     you are not what you pretend to be
One face for the world
     and another face just for me
I know what you have done
     who you hurt and why
All a shiny façade
     of bitterness and lies
I hear the words you say
     but the feelings don’t come through
It all sounds a bit rehearsed
     and too contrite to be true
I wonder what your motive is
     why now and not before
There must be something for you
    a deal, a payout or more
Don’t ask us for forgiveness
     the cut is way too deep
You played us all like a fiddle
     while we bowed and scraped at your feet
Do you ever think of others
Will you reap what you have sown
Will Karma ever chase your back
     while others look with scorn
Or will the truth set you free
Will decency be your motto
Will you now live a virtuous life  
     with this new love you admire
 Copyright © 2013 (Michelle Parsons, Getting Back on Your Path). All Rights Reserved.

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