I am an author, a CPA, a Court Appointed Special Advocate, a Foundation President, a website editor and an entrepreneur. I would like to think I am making the world a better place.
November 20, 2016
I haven’t been on Facebook for about six months now and, amazingly, I have discovered that I am not really missing anything of importance. And so, I did not know that my daughter, Angela, had posted a tribute to me on her Page. She has become an activist in her own way, and is a strong supporter of women’s rights – a topic she knows is near and dear to my heart, and the reason she posted this article. I am so proud of the young idealist she has become.
I want to share her kind words with you.
And please enjoy the picture she included of me from the 1970s, in my Gloria Steinem look-alike outfit!
Angela Scaletta Facebook Page – November 8, 2016
In 1969 my mom graduated college first in her class, completing her education in 3 years and becoming one of the youngest CPA’s in the U.S.
She served as president of the National Association of Accountants and the American Society of Women Accountants. She is an honoree of Who’s Who in American Business Women and is recognized as an expert witness by the Federal court system.
After leaving an international public accounting firm, she served as the Executive Vice President for one of the largest tour operators in the upper Midwest. Since I’ve known her, she’s formed a computer consulting business, a real estate development company, a CPA firm, and a publishing company.
She is a published author, public speaker, president of a child advocacy foundation and a Court Appointed Special Advocate.
And she is currently battling through her second bout of breast cancer.
Every day, I am proud to be her daughter.
She’s taught me there’s nothing I can’t do if I want it badly enough. She’s taught me to always be myself and to always surround myself with others who support me. I am thankful for women like her who get up every day and power through adversity and negativity because they see a brighter future ahead.
I. Am. With. Her.
April 11, 2016
There’s another angel in heaven right now, as my friend Cheryl Dawson Castillo makes her way to the next stop on her spiritual journey. She lived 59 years on this earth, yet she had a much older soul.
Cheryl lived in my guest house for two years in the mid-1990s, and it was due to her guidance, and sometime her firm hand, that I learned many lessons. She taught me to listen more to my heart, and she helped me to open up to my intuitive capabilities. And mostly she taught me how to play. Cheryl could predict future events (or so she said), a talent I was very skeptical about when I first encountered her. When my daughter was 12, Cheryl told me Angela would be leaving our house to start a new life on her own in a couple of years. I thought she was downright crazy, and I remember getting very upset with her at the time for telling me such a ridiculous story.
In spite of our different approaches to life, we had grand adventures together. One road trip had us visiting various sites in Arizona and New Mexico. As we left the Desert, we stopped to see my friends at Chiriaco Summit, and they gave us each a souvenir 50-gallon hat to wear on our adventure. I wasn’t sure where we would use them, although I knew they would come in handy at some point. They were so big, it was impossible to wear them in the car, so most of the time they were stowed away in the back end of the Jeep, where they took up most of the storage area.
One of our stops was at the quaint little mining town of Jerome, Arizona, where the streets, and some of the floors in the buildings, slant downhill. This town had a real cowboy vibe to it, so we put on our 50-gallon hats and entered one of the local bars to get something to eat. We had to go in the swinging doors sideways to keep our hats on. At that time, I was a smaller white woman and Cheryl was an abundant, sassy black woman. To say that we got stares, as we navigated the downward slanting floor in our obscenely large hats, would be a gross understatement. It was a blast, since both of us actually liked making people a little uncomfortable and getting them out of their comfort zone.
We stayed at The Enchantment Hotel in Sedona, an area of Arizona that Cheryl loved, and where her life would ultimately end. Visiting the Painted Desert in the Petrified Forest, being tourists in Santa Fe and meeting the people at the Taos Pueblo were highlights of that adventure.
On another trip, I rented a suite in Newport Beach, where I was working on a book, and Cheryl came to inspire me. OK, that’s not really true. She came to play. The facility was a lovely refurbished older hotel located directly on the water. Cheryl complained every morning that there were a lot of male ghosts coming and going out of her room at night, and there was very high sexual energy. As usual, I rolled my eyes and thought “Yeah, right.” At the end of our stay, as we were checking out, the clerk asked how we liked our rooms. Cheryl relayed the story about the comings and goings in her room, as I looked on with chagrin. The clerk said, with an absolute straight face, “Well that makes sense. The room you were in was one of the old brothel suites in the hotel.” Cheryl looked over at me with that “I told you so” look. Nothing more needed to be said.
Cheryl moved from my home to Catalina Island to marry the love of her life, George. They held a beautiful ceremony on the bluff overlooking the Avalon Harbor, and Cheryl was radiant, both inside and out. Sadly, we all returned three years later for George’s memorial service, when he passed away from brain cancer. Cheryl wrote about her love affair with George in a story titled “Love Lost and Found,” which is published in one of my books, Courage of the Soul.
Cheryl in Sedona
Cheryl died in Sedona, Arizona. She let me know the last time we spoke that she was happier than she had been in a long time.
She was an avid traveler, and she loved to cook – mostly because she loved to eat! She adored her sister, Robin, and she loved her Mom and Dad. And she felt a special kinship with her nephew Brandon. She saw that inner spark in him (that perhaps others missed) and she had great hopes for the light that he would ultimately bring into the world.
I will miss you, my soul sister and my earthly angel. I know you are in Heaven’s hands.
And by the way, two years after Cheryl moved to Catalina, my daughter approached me, at age 13, with the request that she be allowed to move away and go to a boarding high school in Claremont, California.
Cheryl had obviously wanted to prepare me for that inevitable event, and I know that was a large part of why I was able to let Angela go.
Yeah, Cheryl was right again!
January 3, 2016
For many people, myself included, 2015 was a challenging year. Losses, heartbreaks, health issues, financial difficulties and various trials seem to have occurred with more frequency than they have in the past. In an effort to “find the pony in the pony shit,” I have been thinking about my personal challenges, and what I learned from them.
The Pony Shit – It was a first for me to have a neighbor call the authorities to file a police report against me. I thought I was actually part of an Ashton Kutcher “punk” when I opened the door to a man in dressed in a Ventura Police Department uniform. He was following up on a complaint from the elderly lady down the hall. It had been reported that I had taken her keys, and then broken into her condo at 3:00 in the morning, where I sprinkled itching powder on her and her dog. This was the latest in a series of bizarre behaviors on her part, including two months of her knocking on my door at all hours to get back the keys I took, and standing outside my door trying to peer in the peep hole. I had filed complaints with my landlord, the homeowners association and adult protective services – to no avail.
The Pony: Thank you Maggie, for giving me the final straw I needed to move. I found a safe, secure place to live, where my neighbors are kind and helpful – and not crazy. And by the way – where does one get itching powder, if that even exists???
My Beloved Car:
The Pony Shit – Towanda, my loyal 1999 Toyota Avalon, finally gave up the goods in May. She served me well for 16 years, until finally too many things were breaking down, and it wasn’t worth the cost of repairing them. Much like me. It was hard to say goodbye, for she had become my long-term travelling companion.
The Pony – I purchased a used Toyota Rav4 in a beautiful ocean blue color, with only 28,000 miles on it. It feels like new to me. And my loyal sidekick let me know that she didn’t have any hard feelings when I “put her down,” as she let me take the plates off with her name, and put them on the new car!
The Pony Shit – I completed my first year of service as a CASA (Court-Appointed Special Advocate), where we advocate for children in the foster care system. I had no idea how demanding and sometimes thankless this work could be. On many occasions we get little respect, and we are often discounted and ignored. People ask me how I like it, and I tell them it is the hardest, most demanding job I have every had – and to top it off you don’t get paid.
The Pony – Someone has to do this work, for these are some of the most vulnerable members of our society. What has become very clear to me is what happens to children when they don’t get the love they deserve at an early age. And more importantly, I have learned how giving them that love can change the direction of their life.
The Pony Shit – I had several issues with “friends,” some of the situations being very painful. I have learned that individuals who only come around when it suits them, or who demand that things should always be done their way, leave me feeling marginalized and unloved.
The Pony – It took going through these situations to realize that good relationships demonstrate a solid balance of compromise and mutual respect. I will be looking for more of these in 2016, and leaving the former type behind.
A Drummer’s Death:
The Pony Shit – And on the last day of the year, my friend Michael, a drummer in the band Iron Butterfly, decided to leave the planet. He died.
The Pony – He was a good guy, and a good musician, and I was lucky to be able to see his last performance this summer. I found a copy of In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida on ITunes, and I blast it out of my computer speakers. That’s the best farewell I could give him, as I also take the time to remember how short life truly is.
And so here’s to a productive, creative 2016, with less drama and trauma than the year before.
And may all your ponies be beautiful – and may the little piles they leave behind be sweet-smelling!
June 30, 2015
I love taking a long walk around the neighborhood. There are lots of different smells by the sidewalks, and even more in the park. Plenty of places to pee and kids to watch on the playground. And my favorite part is walking down to the shopping center – the smells from the restaurants are great, and sometimes there is a morsel or two of food on the ground. If I am really quick, I can get it in my mouth before my Mom sees me.
The other day we were walking by the Ralphs super market, past the area with the outdoor tables and chairs for the employees to eat their meals.
There were a bunch of men sitting at the tables, and one of them came over to pet me. His breathe smelled kind of funny – something I didn’t recognize. Mom said it was alcohol. (Note to self: Not my favorite odor).
I already knew these men were “homeless,” as my Mom and I had talked about this before. She told me I had been homeless at one time, so I think I kind of relate to them.
One of the men came up to my Mom and asked what my name was and if he could pet me. When someone asks about me, she always says the same thing – “His name is Jon Stewart, but I call him Stewie. He came off of the streets of West Los Angeles.” And she always lets the “homeless” people pet me. She told me once that sometimes that is the only act of kindness they get in a day.
This particular homeless man petted me, and then he stopped and looked at my Mom. He said to her “Please don’t ever make fun of your dog, or call him names, or treat him badly.” He went on to say “Cause I know what it is like to have people make fun of you and hurt your feelings.”
My Mom started to get tears in her eyes – like she does when she is watching a sad movie on television. She turned to the man and said “That’s good advice, and thank you for sharing it with me. It’s good to be reminded of these things.”
As we started to walk home, the same man yelled at us. “Mam, you seem like a nice lady. Would you like to be in a movie we are making?”
My mom stopped and asked what the name of the movie was going to be. He said “The Outsiders.” My Mom chuckled and said “You know, sometimes it’s good to be an outsider.”
As we were walking away, my Mom decided to stop and turn back to talk to the men one last time. She said “Let me know when you start shooting that film – I would fit right in!” We continued on walking, and I stopped to look back.
The man with the smelly breathe was smiling and crying at the same time. I think they were “happy” tears.
This encounter made me do some dog-thinking (yes, dogs do think).
I don’t understand a lot of things about humans.
It seems to me that people are not so different from dogs. It’s pretty simple – everyone wants to be loved and acknowledged. We need to know that our existence is important, no matter what our circumstances.
I feel like a lucky little guy, yet sometimes I do feel bad that dogs are sometimes treated better than people.
Maybe the world would be a better place if everyone had a taste of homelessness, so they would appreciate what they have, and know what it’s like not to have anything.
But then what do I know.
I’m just a dog!
As a Court-Appointed Special Advocate, I see a lot of G-rated and PG movies with my foster kids. Those adventures have become one of the unexpected rewards of this program.
Last week I had the pleasure of seeing “Inside Out” and I can truly say it is one of the most amazing movies I have seen in years. It is one of those special creations that only Disney/Pixar can produce. It is billed as appealing to children, and I can truly say, from my personal experience, that it spoke to that little girl still inside of me.
I went with a 10-year old foster girl, and we kept looking at each during the movie. I think we were trying to see what feelings it was bringing up in each of us. The movie centers on the issue that we all have a variety of emotions, and it is OK to acknowledge them. The main characters are Joy, Sadness, Fear, Anger and Disgust.
At the end of the movie, she asked me if I liked it, and I started to gush about it. I posed the same question to her, and she smiled and replied that she also loved the movie. I went on to ask which character she liked the best, and she responded “Sadness.” I felt my own Sadness come up when I heard her words, until she went on to explain why.
She informed me that “I also liked Joy, but how can you know what Joy is, unless you know what Sadness is.”
I became totally speechless, for there is nothing an adult can add to these words of wisdom.
Kudos to the everyone at Disney for creating this educational, inspiring and conscious work of art. See this movie and you will find out what I am talking about!
April 20, 2013
— Layer the following ingredients:
– A large dose of fear
– Anger fueled by misunderstanding
– Vitriolic dialogue spewed by the cable news networks
– A huge helping of bigotry
– Several pinches of prejudice
– A healthy portion of ignorance
– More anger and more fear, to taste
— Toss the above ingredients
–Sprinkle more fear on top layer
— Place the above mixture on a fire built from righteous indignation
— Allow the media to fuel the flames with inflammatory rhetoric
— Wait for explosion to happen
— Be shocked when it occurs!
Only known antidote to this poisonous concoction is equal portions of LOVE, COMPASSION and UNDERSTANDING
March 23, 2013
The great masters who walked this planet often delivered their messages well before the world was ready to receive them. I think one of them was Buckminster Fuller, also known as Bucky.
Thank you, Mr. Fuller, for the advice you gave us, which remains so relevant today.
“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete” — Buckminster Fuller
“There are three kinds of people in the world — those who are asleep, those who are stirring, and those who are awake. If you try to wake up the sleeping person, he will just mumble and go back to sleep. If you wake up the stirring person, he will wake up just long enough to curse you and then go back to sleep. Instead of trying to wake them up, if you come across someone who is asleep or stirring, what you should do is fluff their pillow, tuck them in, and kiss them on the forehead. The important joy for those who are awake is to seek each other out, connect with others who are awake, talk, sing and celebrate together. This will create a groundswell of awareness. As this groundswell increases and spreads out, it will awaken the stirring and will begin to stir those who are still sleeping.” — Buckminster Fuller
December 22, 2010
As this year draws to a close, many of us are beginning to establish our goals for the upcoming year (what we want to accomplish) and starting to set our intentions for the future (who we want to become). There are many good books available about the goal-setting process, although material about intention-setting is more difficult to find.
For sake of discussion, let’s assume that a person sets their intention for the upcoming year to live their life with a higher level of integrity. There are many definitions of that particular quality, and these are some I pulled out of the literature:
Having sound moral principles
Living life in a state of honesty, including interactions with others
Exhibiting wholeness of character
Correlating our actions with our spoken words
I would imagine that each of us would add our own criteria, and I did this with my personal list. I learned a lot about integrity and the lack thereof, because for years I did not live my life with integrity, although I so professed it to be one of my qualities. I have come to believe that lack of integrity, and especially dishonesty, may be a natural by-product of addiction and abuse. Now, many years later, because of what I learned as I examined my life, I can detect lack of integrity in myself, and oftentimes others, the same way I can detect bull-shit on a farm.
We can write our intentions down in our journal, tell them to a friend or a group of friends, post them as a status update on Facebook, or make them part of our mission statement. These are some excellent first steps.
But none of those actions matter unless we are willing to walk the walk, for words have no power to carry out our intentions unless they are backed up with intentional actions. What we say is worthless – how we act is priceless.
No justifying. No excuses. No enabling.
Here’s to your personal intentions in 2011 and beyond, and to all of getting closer to becoming that total person, inside each of us, that is waiting to blossom. The best of luck to all!