Bad Attitudes and Beliefs: Lessons from Small Foot

My daughter and I came across Small Foot at Red Box last year.  We rented it, fell in love with it, and purchased a copy to add to our home library.  I’m thrilled to see places like Lakemont Park show it this past summer and most recently Coral Reef Park in Palmetto Bay, Florida. Why?

Small foot

This story,  masterfully written by Mark Mason Robledo, provides fodder for so many issues that are impacting our society today.  Those topics include social media, news, leadership, friendship, and family with the overriding theme that bad attitudes and beliefs prevent us from growing, getting along, and finding satisfaction in our innate calling.

First, we meet a group of Yeti friends.  Some who are questioning their personal worth and others who are questioning what they have been taught to believe.

Then we are transported to the world of humans and meet another pair of friends. Percy and Brenda.  Percy feels so desperate in his attempts to make an impact through social media that he stoops to creating a sensational lie.  Ironically, he learns that yeti’s do exist.  In the process, Percy undergoes personal transformation from a fame seeking individual to a martyr to protect others.

Returning to the Yeti’s we encounter two fathers.  One, the leader,  the Stonekeeper,  who perpetuates cultural lies and the other who is a humble production of these lies.  The Stonekeeper does not maliciously enforce the wrong belief about the truth.  He believes it is the only way to protect his people. This revelation persuades Migo to join along in the propaganda.  But it doesn’t stop the Stonekeeper’s precious daughter, Meechee.  She is resolved to discover the truth and feels betrayed by Migo who chooses to align with her father’s deceitful leadership.

How often do leaders take advantage of  false beliefs to secure and maintain order?  I propose that is one reason why religion has such a bad reputation.  It it suppose to be the portal of truth when instead it often is the means to instill fear and maintain social order.   Do we also fall into this trap like Migo as parents, teachers, and friends?

Humans spook easily.  Our fears lead to many misconceptions.  One is  that we need to be in control of everything especially our children.   Isn’t that what Biblical passages like  I Timothy 3:4-5 are all about?  But a closer look at what Jesus taught might mean something entirely different.

First in John 8:32 Jesus affirms that knowing the truth brings about freedom not control.  Meechee’s drive for the truth is good.  But sometimes the truth hurts.  It can cut deeply.  In a culture that is committed to avoid pain and to amuse itself this creates quite a challenge.

The Stonekeeper persuaded Migo by revealing a horrendous reality in history.  The humans violently attacked the yetis years ago.  Reality is humans have been known to  mistreat, abuse, and kill others from different human groups all throughout various points of history.  Sometimes they behave in ignorance and lack of understanding of one another.  At other times they do it to defend themselves.  And unfortunately, there are a few who did it for selfish gain, power, and/or pleasure.  These are serious offenses that produces traumatic responses.

Dealing with trauma is not easy or pleasant.  It is wrought with agony, bed drenching tears, and grief.  Emotional experiences that no one wants to go through.  The longest book in the Bible, Job, illustrates this.  At first, Job’s friends served him well, but their capacity (seven days which greatly surpasses most) to sit quietly and mourn with their friend expired.  They broke out into reasoning and questioning as to who was to blame for such suffering for the next 35 chapters.  Blame is nothing new it started in the beginning.

In Genesis 3: 12-13 Adam blamed Eve who then blamed the serpent for their rebellion.  It’s continued throughout history.  Instead of confessing that we would rather be gods of our own lives, we constantly push the blame on others whether it be the opposite sex, parents, teachers, or leaders.  We complain and test God, “If only…then I will…” even though He already created perfection in the Garden of Eden.  Adam and Eve are the perfect literary symbols or representatives of all humankind.  Yet we keep blaming them instead of accepting our own responsibility represented by them.

This is why John the Baptist preached to repent and Jesus reinforced it.  Doctor’s cannot prescribe the right treatment until the right diagnosis is made.  The same is true for our spiritual and emotional condition.  The problem is no one wants to accept responsibility.  Entitlement thinking blinds, hinders, and masks. It prevents from making any necessary changes.   It feeds a false sense of “deserve” based on pity or victim mentality.  Think about it.  If we’re all victims of Adam and Eve’s poor choice then the faulty thinking is justified.

So back to Small Foot and the lessons we can learn.  Did the humans apologize for what their ancestors did to the Yeti and commit that they would not let it happen again?  How did the Yeti come to forgive them for treating them this way? How did they find the strength and motivation to forgive?   More importantly will we evaluate our own family and political history?  How does Small Foot encourage you to do so?

This is what I love about a good story.  They trigger thought to inspire reflection, learning, and change for the better.  Enjoy the hilarious humor of Small Foot and take time to think and discuss its deeper matters.  Let’s not embrace any more intentional lies to deceitfully lead and guide others.  Let’s face the truth through love which forgives as it seeks justice and reparations.

by Hope Mucklow, author of Rojo The Baby Red Panda at the Zoo


International Red Panda Day 2019

Saturday, September 21, 2019 is the 10th International Red Panda Day coordinated by the Red Panda Network.

International Red Panda Day


This particular model is growing up.  Based on her current age and needs I will be hosting our local annual event in Central Alabama at the  Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts located at The Wynton M. Blount Cultural Park in Montgomery, Alabama.  The table of education and art will be in the Children’s Museum located inside MMFA from 1:30-3:30 PM.

The Park


“No, it’s not Labrador Day.  You’re not endangered.  Red pandas are.  And they are the original panda!”

Come on over to learn more, to draw red pandas, and make red panda masks.  There’s no entry or participation fee.  If you can’t attend, click here to download a fantastic activity guide filled with fun facts and learning. RPN IRPD2019 Activity Booklet

Hope Mucklow is the author of  “Rojo, The Baby Red Panda at the Zoo.”

Red Panda Wisdom from a Cub called “Rojo”

#theOriginalPanda #IRPD2019

Understanding Complex Stories

Who doesn’t love a good story?  The best offer more than just entertainment.  They serve as conduits for life lessons, morals, healing, and a greater understanding of what it means to be human.  But many miss these opportunities because they get lost in the complexity of the form in which it is told.  Ballet is one of them.

Appreciation often comes with teaching and exposure.  Sometimes it takes hundreds of hours. This has been the case for me.  I had been taught that dance was dirty and unworthy.  Little did I understand until my daughter started to take ballet classes at The Alabama Dance Theater otherwise known as ADT.  I wrote  about  our experiences with their ballet productions of  Dracula and Beauty and the Beast in early blogs.  Today I am focused on the ballet La Bayadere.

ADT’s Summer Intensive finale will include some scenes from LaBayadere at their performance of Stars on the Riverfront in Montgomery, Alabama early next week.

Stars RR photo

My daughter was selected to participate in this shortened version of La Bayadare in a supportive role.  So she has been coming back from rehearsals with bits and pieces of her understanding of the story line.  I’m so grateful as without the time to research this ballet,  I would most likely misunderstand the story and opportunities to talk with my daughter regarding valuable lessons from the story.

First, let’s revisit how personal experience affects one’s understanding.  I wrote about this in another blog How the context of TV affects children’s understanding.  TV, Movies, and books as well as personal experiences are the very context in which many interpret new learning.  This is definitely what my daughter did with La Bayadare, which means “Temple dancer.”

She had first learned about temple dancers through The missionary, Amy Carmichael.  Amy spent much of her work rescuing children who’s poor desperate parents sold them to the Temple to live and work.  My daughter loves to dance, but not as a child slave in a Temple in India.  For my dancer this story surmounts incredible sympathy for the young girls that she learned about trapped in this lifestyle.  It also awakens her awareness that not all religions bow down to the same deity, much less the one that she chooses to.  She does not want to bow down to other gods and I applaud her for this.

What I had to point out to her is that participating in this ballet does not mean that ADT or any of the dancers are promoting the culture and religion featured in this ballet.  What they are doing is offering exposure to it.  And they are also delving into the depths of ballet history as this particular one connects the time periods of the the Classical and Romantic Eras of ballet.

In addition, Sara Sanford and the staff at ADT are bringing to Montgomery this history with local choreography and dancers in addition guest faculty: Shawn Black, Jonathan Chapman, Meghan Chapman, and Wendy White Sasser.

So go back and rightclick on  the colored words pertaining to La Bayadere to learn more about this particular story and then come on out with a lawn chair or blanket to the Montgomery, Alabama River front on Sunday, July 28, 2019 at 7:30 PM or Monday, July 29, 2019 to enjoy the show.  It’s free and the gates open at 6:00 pm.  Vendors will be on site selling refreshments.

by Hope Mucklow  #MontgomeryAlabama #ADT #Ballet #LaBayadere

Hope Mucklow, Author, Song Writer, Teacher, Tutor, & Coach


Old verses New, Silver or Gold

*Green links are designed by the author for you to see original sources or learn more.  Unfortunately some companies have attacked my page and have put links to their advertisements in blue.  Do not give them any business.  They are stealing advertising from my writing.  I do NOT endorse any of them.  I have intentionally changed words and misspelled others in order to eliminate their access.

I heard growing up at Brownies, Girl Scouts, and my mom (who wasn’t involved in scouting), “Make new friends and keep the old.  One is silver and the other gold.”

The best answer I could find to give proper credit to this poetic phrase is Sue Lynch wrote it and its the first line of longer more beautiful poem that is posted as a Scout Song.

I hear the song in my head as I mother my pre-teen daughter through the social ills of this stage of life just like other songs came to me when she was younger.

Motivational Children’s Songs

Music soothes and poetry has a wonderful way to concisely convey something that we need to hear.   Marketng experts call these sound bites.  Jay Wolf,  Pastor at First Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama is known by his congregation for “Jay-isms,” short pithy statements that discourage bad attitudes and stimulate positive God honoring thinking instead.

Popular Culture in 2019 has become very polarized from opposing political spectrum’s.  The neck breaking pace of society, bombarding messages of discard and consume, and then emotional trauma that prevents humans from maturing into adulthood has created a culture of “un-friending” people rather than seeing their value and maintaining the relationship.   This is nothing new in the big picture of the past.

The apostle Paul wrote in II Timothy 2:14-26 that followers of Christ should be seeking mature living of value and warned that many make  poor choices instead.   This passage speaks spot on to the whole point of my take on the first verse of this poem. But, I want to extend our thinking beyond friendships with these lines.

Marketing geniuses love to bully you with technology, the latest fashion, etc…  in with the new out with the old.  And the first to do it wins and he/she who is last is deserving to be mocked.  But let’s think for a minute, while some advances in technology are great and worth keeping many have been steeping stones that quickly fade away and then others have been returned to.  How about the whole vinyl movement?  Who would have ever thought the old way of serving as a DJ would re-emerge?

Not all practices of old that resurface are good though.  I’ve enjoyed learning about essential oils and frequently use to stay well, but they were not the answer to restore my hearing in my left ear three weeks ago.  The essential oil books were just hocus pocus in this situation.  I needed help from Dr. Griffith and his assistant, Heather,  from to dig out wax that just flat out obstructed my ear’s ability to function properly.

It took me many years to trust a medical professional again.  I had experienced a disrespectful job departure from the profession, lost good income and therefore insuranc, and found incompetent care in the Affordable Act  that I was forced into in South Florida.  But it wasn’t just this, when I worked in the medical community in the Northeast,  I saw from the inside how flawed it can be.  I witnessed how human or full of ignorance, arrogance, politically motivated, religiously biased and greedy it’s leaders can sometimes behave. So, in my pain and immaturity, the temptation to throw it out presented for me.  But my essential oils don’t work for everything and I can’t give myself a full physical exam much less accurate diagnosis.  So, I had to step out, seek help, and trust again.

What I’m after is, any experience, belief, and training can fall from gold to silver or even lesser status, but it still holds purpose.  It’s like my first coaching job.  I thought equally about a great coach I had and one not so encouraging.  The first I choose to emulate. The other I kept as a warning to me not to show favoritism to the more talented swimmers and to take time to care for the not so fast.   Building personal discipline, character, and collaboration had to be more important than winning.

Finally, let’s consider the Apostle Paul’s writing seriously.  What kind of friend are you?  What kind of experiences are you extending to others?  Are you humble enough to see that perhaps you have hurt others too?  Or that you might have more learning and maturing to do?  Let’s invest in life long learning that exceeds the intellect by including emotional and spiritual growth.  Be open to the loving observations of others (not those out to belittle you).  The book of Proverbs quotes in several places that the wise heed correcting but fools spurn it.   And for those who have contributed to not so shining and valuable metal experiences give them healthy boundaries, prayer, and time.  Perhaps the blacksmith is still working on them too.

Then in conclusion the 4th and 5th paragraphs of this poem may hold true:

Silver is precious, Gold is too. I am precious, and so are you. You help me, and I’ll help you and together we will see it through.

#Healing #Maturing #Traumarecovery





Why I Use Essential Oils

Health fads come and go.  But the use of essential oils is one I’ve been buying into for over 2 years and will continue on.  First, allow me to shed some extensive light on my background as to why I believe what I do now.  But if you don’t have time and you are only interested in the essential oil part scroll through to the second half of this blog.

I grew up in a home where Dad brought in a very reliable and steady income as a pharmacist who worked for a big American Pharmaceutical Company.  I remember at 4 years of age helping him tape bubble gum to antibiotic samples that he dropped of in pediatricians offices.  I advanced into answering the phone and taking messages for him as that was the means to contact him in the days before cell phones.  I loved to play in his office and flip through his medical books.

The time came for me to choose a major in college.  To Dad it was obvious: pharmacy.   But there were deep insecurities in my learning at this time.  I had performed poorly three times on the SAT’s,  struggled in high school chemistry, and never advanced to Calculus.  This was just the kind of student they administrators planned to weed out in freshman Biology, Chemistry, sophomore Organic Chemistry, and Physics at WVU.  Thankfully, I did land that small cello scholarship.  Mr. Skidmore, my cello professor, made my private lessons therapy and the means to survive the college madness of survival of the fittest.   But, one needs to make a living and the art world can be a scary one for someone who grew up with Dad bringing in a steady income.

So, I made a compromise.  Science teachers seemed to usually be in demand.  I really preferred my first job, teaching swimming lessons at the YMCA, to standing on my feet counting pills and charging people a lot of money.  I negotiated with my that I could change my major to Secondary Education with certifications in Biology and General Science and if I earned good grades I could still do what he did, work in the pharmaceutical industry.

I upheld my end of the commitment.  I graduated Cum Laude.  It would have been Magna, but I hadn’t overcome my insecurities as a student until I completed on of my educational classes the second semester of my sophomore year.   But I also liked my student teaching experience and sought work in public education first.

The high school I graduated from had a half day-long-term-substitute teaching position opened when I completed my undergraduate studies and secured my provisional state teacher’s certificate.  They also needed both a head and assistant Varsity Boys and Girls Swim Team coach.

During the interview I think they were more interested in my possible ability to coach than teach.  Their team had fallen into undisciplined shambles and needed help right away.  I certainly didn’t think I was that individual.  But I did agree provided they sent me for coaching training.  Off I went to Philadelphia for a weekend to earn 50 units level 2- HS from The American Swimming Coaches Association.

I managed to apply this training and discipline at practice to earn the respect of the parents, competing teams, and took the Girl’s Team to win the District division.  I was well positioned for the next full-time permanent teaching position in the school district.  However, a conversation was reported against me that had political ramification against me.

A student who wasn’t in any of my classes or on my swim team approached me in my off teaching hours while I worked in the library.  She asked, “Ms. Mucklow, I heard you’re a Christian.  Is that true?”  I replied, “Yes.”  She proceeded, “Then how can you be a science teacher?  You believe in evolution don’t you?”  I replied, “Evolution is a theory just like Creationism is.  There’s data to support both theories.”  Excitedly she said, “Really?  Where can I learn the data that supports Creation?  I want to write a report for English class.”  I offered her some of my books by Dr. Duane Gish, PhD and asked that she return them when she was done.  A reading teacher over heard the conversation and reported it to my science chair person.  I was reprimanded even though I sited all the statistics that I ran in “Evolution and Ecology” my junior year at WVU that should how major species adaptations that could lead to a jump in species turned out to be  99.999% fatal.

So, the district did offer me a full time teaching position the next year, but cut that 9th grade science position back to half-day.  This was going to be tricky.  In 1990 the Pennsylvania’s process for achieving a professional teaching certificate required that one teaches 4/6 years consecutively in the same district.  Hmm do the math.  I already lost one year with only half day credit.  Meanwhile, I took it in hopes that a full-time position would open soon.  A position did open up and it did before Christmas.  Funny, during the interview, that conversation I had with the student was brought up.  I didn’t get the job and I knew why.

A few months later, a health care recruiter called my dad to see if he wanted to change companies.  He replied, “No, but you might be interested in talking to my daughter.”  Susan Green from Health Care Recruiters in Pittsburgh help me to land my first job as a pharmaceutical representative for an American company.

I really didn’t care for the job and missed teaching for the first three years.  However, it paid really well and had enough training of interest to keep me.  I performed well, won some awards, and earned a promotion to move to the big cities of the NE to figure out a new sales job for the company to consider.   I did well again, and earned a promotion to become a medial liaison for new drug development.  But this new product I was assigned to was having safety issues, so the company cut our positions back so that I had to cover 1/4 of the United States.

Travel was fun, but scary, and hard on me.  I gained weight, had no time to exercise, and started having asthma attacks in the hotel rooms late at night.  I just wasn’t suited for this in my late 20’s.  I wanted to get married and had no time to meet anyone.  I did well again, was compensated handsomely, but I was discontent.  A former colleague jumped ship to work for another company.  She gave me a call.  Would I go back into sales?  For a healthier lifestyle, yes!  So much to my former companies begging me to stay, I left.

Initially, I had a great time with this International Company.  They had establish products that were market leaders, well published studies to back their claims, and lots of money to do business with.  The later part was necessary because the only way we could convince HCPs to talk to us is if we brought lunch or took them out to dinner.    None of us liked it, but it’s what we had to do in order to complete our work.

What I valued most is the privilege to sit in to listen to the morning rounds, noontime conferences, journal clubs, and Medical Grand Rounds.  Gee, I was getting paid to listen to this while those medical students were paying exorbitant tuition fees to do so!  I valued this so much that a few professors of medicine took notice and encouraged me to go to medical school.  I seriously evaluated this, but realized that it was a bad business decision.  Why would I go into that kind of debt when I already was making almost as much money as some of them?  Plus, deep down I knew I didn’t have the health to work the hours that they did.

I was the company poster child.  I took most of the medications I sold.  So, I added personal testimony to the company lines cheerfully.   And they knew it because they were the doctors who diagnosed me, wrote the prescriptions, and saw my improvement.  But a few haunting questions would come up.  What about the long run? Will tachyphalaxis (the body adjust to the drug and no longer work) occur?  What about long-term side effects?  I got what I deserved.  Of course I assured them with the company line that all was well, but now as a middle aged woman, I suffer these long-term effects.

I bruise so easily.  My skin is so thin.  This is one of the long-term side effects of intranasal and inhaled corticosteriods.  I’m also resistant to almost every antibiotic on the pharmacy shelf.  I’ve gone under the knife (surgery) two times.  I wound up applying for and being approved for disability retirement the first round due to my chronic sinusitis condition.

But one of the realities I didn’t consider was that I would not be able to afford to pay my 40% responsibility towards health insurance offered to me through my former employer with my disability income.  Therefore, I gave up the insurance.  I tried the Affordable Health Care Act, but was so infuriated at how expensive and incompetent the care was.  Then I found out about Christian Health Share programs.  This solution was helpful, but puts the emphasis on me to get well.

My mother, sister, and other home school moms were starting to use essential oils.  I was highly skeptical.  I tried a sample here and there, but found no adequate relief.  Then at a conference, I was in so much discomfort I sought out the Young Living booth.

Cocco was offering a make and take bottle.  I shared with her my discomfort, needs, and interests.  She then suggested I try a mix she made on the spot for me.  I immediately went the the rest room to apply.  I was shocked at how quickly I felt relief.  I ran back to the booth and signed up to become a member.

However, my credit card company stopped the transaction for fear that my card had been stolen.  So I had to wait to go home and try again.

I had been going through a lot.  I was in the middle of my third separation from my then husband and father of my daughter.  I had an unpleasant departure from my 12 years in the pharmaceutical industry and teaching career.  I gave way to fear and ordered the basic starter kit instead that retails for only $45 instead of the Premium Starter kit illustrated here for $165 that includes a diffuser.  Do the math for yourself to see the value is much more than double.

Oh how silly I was.  I wound up paying the price for the Premium Starter kit two weeks later.  But, I’m glad I did.  Because I realized that Young Living really offers an amazing introductory kit.

It’s been almost two years since I’ve started using their essential oils.  I’m not thrilled with network marketing.  It’s not where I want to spend my time.  I’d rather write more blogs, publish another illustrated book like

Red Panda Wisdom from a Cub called “Rojo”

read a book, teach piano, violin, cello or tutor. But, I will account that two years later, I have sustain the best health I have had in over 20 years without any of those maintenance prescription drugs.  I also believe that facing all of my loss, heartache, and pain head on with a desire to work through it in order to grow and become stronger has contributed greatly as well.  These in addition to adequate rest, exercise, and healthy eating combined have enabled me to live a pretty healthy lifestyle considering my underlying diseases.  This is why I write this blog, to encourage you too.

If you’re ready to give essential oils a try, click here to become a member yourself.

If you need more encouragement on facing the demons of your past and present scroll through my blogs.

#YoungLiving #EssentialOils #Health #Wellness




Anger, Indifference, and Grief

Anger, indifference, and grief… great title huh?  This isn’t the warm and fuzzy blog of the day.  However, you might be surprised if you find the courage to read on that it could free you to feel better.

The New York Times chose Grief, Anger, and Recrimination as their title to describe the recent news and horrors of calculated suicide bombings in churches and hotels in Sri Lanka this past Easter Sunday.  This event definitely contributed to my inspiration to write this blog, but my take will be a bit more personal for those of us not directly affected by it.

Anger is neutral, natural, and often a healthy response to injustice, evil, and loss.  The problem lies in the power of this emotion and human propensity to respond inappropriately.  Recrimination is one example of this.

Ephesians 4:26 commands readers to not sin while feeling angry.  It doesn’t forbid anger.  It forbids sinning.  But it also continues on in Ephesians 4:27 with motivating the importance of why.   How we respond to the wrongs committed against ourselves, loved ones, and others determines whether healthy healing will take place or the vicious vortex of evil hastens on.

Justice is an universal given.   Why else to children cry out all the time, “He/She took…xyz…!!!” and “It’s not fair!”?  The desire for it is innate.  The question is how were you taught to deal with injustice and evil when confronted with it?  Of course it is a given responsibility of any government.  This is why ruling bodies exist.  But I believe there are three generic philosophies that affect each of us very deeply in our psyche.

  1. Take matters into your own hands
  2. Be indifferent
  3. Mourn and entrust to a higher religious power

The irony is many who profess to be devout believers really take matters into their own hands.  They evoke the name of God as theirs to do as they see fit.  They may call on you to pray with them, but they’re really just thinking that if more people pray for the outcome they will get want they want.  The next problem, indifference is not much better of a response.

Indifference just like anger is neutral.  Some writers have pointed out to how it can be used for the wrong.  The late  Elie Wiesel, said, “The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference. Because of indifference, one dies before one actually dies. ”  But therapist, Dr. LaBier titled one of his articles teachers how to recharge a declining relationship through indifference.  And he isn’t just giving more manipulative means to get what you want.  He really discusses how it can bring better health to you and your struggling relationship.  So when one responds indifferently, is it always bad?

In some ways with the constant barrage of horrific worldwide news available 24/7 individuals need to distance themselves from the pain or do we?  Is it possible to allow each of these horrors to touch our souls? I am proposing in order to be more loving and humane, that we do by embracing the 3rd approach, mourning and entrusting justice to be served by the God of the Judeo/Christian Bible who says, vengeance is the Lord’s.  Yes, vengeance, not the wimpy forgiving God that has been poorly portrayed through a cheap gospel message.

I resent the misrepresentation of the whole message of the Bible by this quick fix “it’s ok” and excusing abominable behaviors by a magical wave of forgiveness to the unrepentant.  Helping me to arrive at a genuine sense of understanding, forgiveness, and compassion towards those who hurt me has never come through this poor understanding of what Jesus did on the cross.  I defer and encourage you to read Jeff Crippen’s article

Abuse and Anger: Is it a Sin to Be Angry Toward Our Abuser?

for further enlightenment.

I have experience that taking matters into my own hands and stuffing my emotion through indifference have given the devil of resentment a hold on my heart that almost destroyed me.

What I have needed during my distress is validation that something terribly unjust just happened.  Acknowledging that I should be feeling pain from xyz is what equips me to let go of it.  I have to take hold of it first in order to free it.  To deny is just to bump into and trip over the elephant blocking my ability to move on in my mind.

First, I need to soak my bed with tears and drain the grief like the psalmists does in Psalm 6.   Anytime the Bible says something, its valid.  There are fourteen imprecatory psalms.    The book of Psalms is one of the four books Jesus quoted in his teachings.

Which Old Testament Book Did Jesus Quote Most?

Even the Huff post discusses why mourning has value.  Why then is it that we keep telling boys and now girls too to man up and not cry?  Why is it that we don’t stop to listen to our friends lament a bad day?  Is it because we are afraid ourselves that we cannot handle the pain?

Pain also is  neutral.  Its what we do with it that matters.  Please let’s stop running from it and drugging it.  Work through it and learn from it.  It’s good to cry.   Then after the tears have flowed, consider responding like the psalmist does in hope and trust that the LORD will deliver justice perfectly in his perfect time.  Lastly, be a better friend.  Listen, validate, and encourage them in similar format to the content of the Imprecatory Psalms.  Thank you.

#Depression #Anger #Indifference #Grief # Recovery #Mourning



Beauty & the Beast Part 2

Last night’s Alabama Dance Theater’s production of Beauty and the Beast at Troy University’s Davis Theater in Montgomery, Alabama helped me to realize why it is my favorite fairy tale.  I relate to and value the numerous moral themes and life lessons to be gained from it.

2014 Barnes and Noble, Inc and Wetumpka City Public Library

As I highlighted this show in my last blog,  great stories have existed for centuries around the world.  Their venue or means of communicating them as well as the details can vary.

I’ve yet to ask Choreographer, Sara Sanford, which version she based her ballet on.  I know it varies from Lang’s and Disney’s, but it highlights so many key lessons and takes such wonderful artist privilege to create a fantastic show!

In the first scene, Raul Peinado, the prince turned beast, portrays too well the selfish and  indifference that some of privileged descent or in leadership position portray towards the sick, poor, and hurting in society.  What makes the story a “fairy tale” is that the Enchantress gives him a rightful sentence to teach him to rule himself and his kingdom better.  Too bad this doesn’t happen in real life, but that does not negate the importance of using this part of the story for instruction.

We parents and teachers ought to do better in identifying when our children act this way.  It’s part of our base human nature to bully others who are less fortunate than ourselves especially because they may mirror a selfish indulgence that we do not want to admit.  We push blame on the lowly as if they deserved their sad lot in life.  Some might have made poor choices, but many have not.  They were born into poverty and are struggling with no hope to get out of it.

The prince must face the ugliness of his heart and face daily in the mirror what he is like.  He is a beast.  He acts out in anger, but slowly accepts his due and learns to love through his relationship with Beauty.

The four flirts of The Huntsman, commonly known as Gaston, care only for the skin deep appearance.  Even after being dropped by “Gaston”, one still chases after him.  What foolish behavior!  Yet so many take back “their man”  or “their woman” or “their friend” time and time again after being treated poorly by them.  This scene is great fodder to discuss with tweens and teens what is good and bad in any personal relationship.

What I love is that Beauty sets firm limits with the Beast.  She does not tolerate his angry antics.  It is only when he treats her with compassion, care, and concern that her heart is converted to trust him.  More would do well if they followed this course.   But too many follow the foolish direction of the flirts.

Beauty even sets limits with her father and insists on going back to the Beast.  Emotional limit setting is something too few are taught.  In Proverbs 4:23 the pinnacle of wise advise is to guard one’s heart.

Your Most Important Leadership Tool

A sick elderly parent certainly pulls on one’s heart strings.  Beauty is forced to make a choice.  It’s not a simple decision.  Life rarely offers those.  It’s a challenging balancing act.  It’s not that she’s indifferent to her father,  but she must be true to a higher calling, the truth of her word and acting on behalf of a friend’s life who is at risk.

Gaston further incites terrible misunderstanding of who the Beast is through fear in the townspeople.  He seizes the opportunity to make himself look better by taking matters into his own hands.  Too often this is what individuals do.  They use ignorance and fear to manipulate others in order to boost a self-serving agenda.

Back to the Beast.  He demonstrated trust that Beauty would return.  He had finally learned to love.

If You Love Someone, Set Them Free. If They Come Back They’re Yours

So in closing, let us consider what lessons we will head.  And thanks Ms. Kitty, the Alabama Dance Theater, all the dancers, parents, and supporters for a wonderful performance.  Two more will occur today and tomorrow at 2:30 PM.  Click  Alabama Dance Theatre for tickets and enjoy the show!


March 2, 2019 by Hope Mucklow,  Blogger and Author of

Red Panda Wisdom from a Cub called “Rojo”

#Beauty&TheBeast #ADT #Montgomery #healthyrelationships #boundaries #Fairytales

Beauty and the Beast

Most conjure up Disney’s Movies when they hear Beauty and the Beast.

The Walt Disney Company has become synonymous with success world wide, but first kindly keep in perspective that  its marketing power in Modern Western Culture has almost obliterated the ability to learn otherwise.

Please understand, I love Walt Disney and most Disney products. I’ve yet to finish reading this 1966 Children’s Biography published by Grosset & Dunlap, In & Rutledge Books, Inc.  What I’ve read so far reinforce my admiration for Walt.  He inspires and encourages others to heal and grow through what all the great composers and artists did: the performing and visual arts.

What I don’t like is how some limit their views of the world through their first understanding and impression of something.  I suppose that’s why I wrote about it in my book Rojo The Baby Red Panda at the Zoo.

James Deutsh wrote in the Smithsonian in March of 2017 eloquently on the world history behind this classic tale of Beauty and the Beast.  This story has circulated the world orally throughout time the same as various versions of Cinderella, Snow White and others.  Montgomery, Alabama recently had the pleasure of hosting A Korean Cinderella through AKeep.

These stories are classics world wide because we as humans share a terrible condition of a propensity to serve self at the expense of others.  Much time and attention must be spent cultivating fine character in youngsters.   It is through these stories that one can learn what true love is and how to lead a family, tribe, or kingdom.

True Love Part 1

Books and movies didn’t always exist.  Many where masters at passing history, teaching, and morals through oral story telling.  I dare to say that in our narcissistic attention deficit culture of me centered thinking, fast food, and pushing of electronic buttons that we’ve become foolishly arrogant towards cultures and history of the past.  Perhaps we could stand to learn some lessons from the beast.  Well there’s a great opportunity  March 1-3, 2019 at the Davis Theater to do just that here in Montgomery, Alabama.  Even better is the venue.

First allow me to shed some back ground on this particular version of Beauty and the Beast.  Sara Sandford is a former student and now teacher at Alabama Dance Theater.  She choreographed all the dances to be performed by mostly local students at ADT.   More importantly is how she teaches and instructs.  “Beauty from within” is the slogan that was handed out to each dancer with a mirror illustrating a photo of their performance buddy rather than a reflection to self to preoccupy with.

Mirrors are funny.  They can serve as a means to overly dwell on one’s  appearances.  Or they can serve as a way to direct our attention to clean a milk mustache, see that the dress doesn’t look good, or tame a wild hair causing unnecessary distraction or attention to self.  They are very important in dance.  The instant feedback helps each dancer to discipline their body parts to conform to each move they’re trying to complete.

What I’ve come to love about ADT is this culture in which they teach the children.  Respect, manners, and discipline dictate in a way that fosters encouragement to the youngest and most unlikely student of dance.  This is what the performing and visual arts are supposed to be about: uplifting the downtrodden human spirit and encouraging it to grow beyond self-centered pity.

So, take an opportunity to reflect on the deep messages and lessons to be learned from ADT’s Beauty and the Beast.  And enjoy the fantastic costumes and dancing.

Hope Mucklow, author of Rojo the Baby Red Panda at the Zoo, song writer, and blogger at February 21, 2019 #ADT #Montgomery #Beautyandthebeast #Oraltradition #teachwell #dance #narcissism #Davistheater #truelove



Changing Times, Their Ensuing Struggles, & How to Press On

Some of us are recovering from job losses.  Art is a great way to work through grief.  Social media abounds with promises for book writing and entrepreneurial opportunities.  So, I’ve been slugging away at it for over six years.  Here is how it started.

I had a vision one day pushing my baby buggy up the hill at the National Zoo.  We were on the Asia trail on the upside of the hill that overlooks the red panda exhibit.  I was hearing similar complaints from the other visitors, “That’s not a panda!” ” Where are the pandas?”  “I want to see the pandas!”

The icon of the Smithsonian National Zoo on Connecticut Avenue in Washington, D.C.  is the Giant Panda.  In fact, I think it may have overturned the famous portrait of George Washington and may even be the icon for the entire Smithsonian as a whole if my memory serves me right.  So, one can some what empathize with the poorly informed visitors of their expectations.

But, I learned something new that caught my attention.  These adorable balls of fluff were the first to be named panda, not the giant pandas!  So, I parked my stroller closer to the viewing area and listened closely.  Then I questioned, what if these two critters could hear these comments?  Would they take offense like my 8th grade students do in public school?  That evening before bed, I asked my husband if it would bother him if I stay up huddle over my computer next to him to write out this story that came to me.

That night I scoured over the Internet researching to learn more about these animals because the gift shop only had books on giant pandas. As I learned more,  I typed away an allegory or parable for my daughter of many lessons I had learned the hard way through broken dreams, relationship and job losses, and bouts of depression.  I was also concerned that in less than 10 years she would be struggling like many of my students because her genes express mixed race.

I like most parents wanted to give my daughter a better future.  But the future I was thinking about was an healthier outlook resilient to anxiety and depression, not a bigger and more secure paycheck.  Even though I was a big believer in the asthma and allergy products that I represented for a major pharmaceutical company for 9 years previous to my return to teaching public school, as a patient, I had no relief from various classes of different anti-depressants I tried.  Each one seemed to exacerbate anxiety and suicidal thoughts except one of which numbed my pain and ability to think deeply which eventually caused a potentially life threatening rash.

I was absolutely clueless as to why I struggled with so much depression.  Overall, I loved life, had good opportunities, and enjoyed a wide variety of activities.  I read my Bible daily since I was in the 3rd grade.  It didn’t make sense.  The spiritual experience that strengthen me in middle school that I write about in my August 28, 2016 blog wasn’t giving me the joy that I once knew.  Honestly, I felt pretty happy during those middle school years unlike most.  However, what took a toll on me was hearing my mother go on for hours on the phone with dramatic prayer requests regarding my situation.

I need to clarify that I’m not trying to blame my mother right now.  From what I’ve been able to piece together,  she was doing all she knew and was taught to do.  Her parents were very religious individuals in a church that has a history of being pretty emotionally and religiously abusive.  This is really hard to unravel for those of us that love God at an early age and buy certain explanations of how to interpret, “Honor thy father and mother.” “Pray for your leaders.” “Respect those in authority.”  It can behave like the perfect combination to set one up to co-depend upon others.  It also ensures plenty of compliant individuals for bad leadership to dominate with their corrupt authority, otherwise known as narcissistic bullies.

The other problem that occurs is where the expression, “Do as I say, not as I do” comes into play.  My mother came to Jesus soon after I was born.  So I was the child who she nursed with Bible Stories, songs, and prayers.  However, her default behavior was to mirror her parents behaviors which were to live in complete fear of an angry God who will punish you if you don’t comply.   They faithfully attended all services at their church, ran a strict religious home, and lived in fear of poverty and concentration camps.  They didn’t live in freedom of the joy of the Lord.  Rather, they over worked to try to fit in a small town and persuade people they were on America’s side.

To complicate things further, my mother grew up loving many of the religious practices in her home.  They provided a sense of identity, some joy, and love that was shared in her family.  But they were culturally strange to my father and his parents.  To make matters worse, my father was taught to love others through an abusive form of humor: making fun of them.  Yes, my father truly believes that you make fun of those that you love.  And many others do too.  It wasn’t until the late Dr. Elda Arce, M.D. Assistant Professor of Adolescent Medicine at Children’t National Medical Center that I learned that it is teasing can be a form of emotional abuse.

Dr. Arce was born in Peru.  She had a special respect and concern for me.  I earned her respect as a peer in the area of asthma and allergies.  I was trained to be a medical liaison for an American pharmaceutical company that spent millions of dollars into research to find alternative therapies for asthma.  However, liver studies revealed safety concerns and reality that these drugs would not be recovering any of their investment in the market.  So I jumped ship and returned to medical center sales for an International pharmaceutical company who had products already on the market with more promising they would follow.  This is how I met and became friends with Elda.

What I loved about my friendship with Dr. Arce was that she could clearly see, identify, label, and deal with the flaws of American culture because it wasn’t her native one.  However, she embraced it, loved it, and was committed to improving it not just for her own sons and each and every patient she treated.  She cared about me.  At the time, I was a pharmaceutical representative, some one that frequently was disdained and blamed for high prescription drug costs at cocktail parties.

I’ve mentioned before there is a common trait that unites all humans that no one wants to embrace.  Naked we come into the world with a selfish propensity and desire to self-preserve at the cost of others.   How that impacts each culture varies.  For me, what I’ve learned and say as a motto is, “Everyone is getting something right and everyone is getting something wrong.”  Therefore, I seek opportunities for cross-cultural experiences to see what they might be doing that I’m not that I’d like to try.  One of the experiences I was looking for was a Black Christian Church service.  And Wanda made that easy.

I had just snapped this photo:


to post on my book, Rojo, The Baby Red Panda at the ZooFace Book page for the upcoming National Holiday.  Wanda came out of the church and invited us to the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s 90th Birthday Celebration while she hopped into her car to head out for the day.

Well, not only did she do that, but she opened the door yesterday morning and welcomed my daughter and I with the warmest hugs.  We arrived early to ensure we got parking and a seat.  But it was really early, so we followed Wanda back down the stairs where she introduced me to Docent Brenda.  Brenda proceeded to choose really well.  She focused on educating and encouraging me and let the other ladies put my daughter to work in setting up the tables to receive lots of visitors.


First, we got chatting about the March books (depicted above) I had packed to keep my daughter busy while we waited.   Brenda had just seen a PBS special the evening prior discussing these books.  I had purchased volumes 1 & 3 at The Freedom Riders Museum last year when I learned about it after my daughter re-enacted as a Creek Indian at Alabama Frontier Days while we were still traveling in our RV from our evacuation from Hurricane Irma in South Florida.

Then we moved on to so many other topics.  What moved me most, is Brenda validated the racism I experienced at the hands of a former Chinese’s boyfriend’s parents who ended our relationship because I wasn’t Chinese.  This docent wasn’t indifferent like so many of my own kind have been to the troubles I’ve experienced in my life.  She cared.  We bonded.  And then before I knew it we had to scamper quickly up the stairs before no more seats were left because we talked too long.

In route, I noticed a beautifully painted mural on the wall that covers a significant time period in  Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s life.  I pulled out my cell phone and snapped a picture faster than I could read the sign that my daughter embarrassed had to inform me stated, “No pictures of the mural.”  What happen next amazed me.  Nothing.  No one yelled at me.  Do you know what happens to them when they break a rule???  Instead, they saw and continued to greet me with a smile.  Now, I’m going to mind my manners and not post that photo here.  Instead, I’m going to invite you to go visit Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama to see it for yourself because it took the artist over 2 years to complete it.  It’s not something a photo can do justice of.

After we found seat, I picked up the African American Heritage Hymnal 2001 by GIA Publications, Inc.  I am shocked but not surprised at what I read in the introduction, “The majority Protestant community in the United States has not paid much serious attention to the exercise of faith and practice in African American life.  The telling impact of gospel music in the religious life of the nation and of the world is a sign that America is probably poorer culturally and spiritually for ignoring the musical tradition of African American Christians.”

All the puzzle pieces in my head connected.  These statements are absolutely true.   Why else did Vivien Thomas experience what he did in his life especially when he moved his wife and young family to Baltimore Maryland to join Dr. Blalock at Johns Hopkins?  Why did I hear my dad and grandparent make certain derogatory comments when I grew up in the North who was supposed to fight in the Civil War against Black slavery in the South?  Why did I feel that I had better not come home with a black boyfriend even though one of the earliest songs my mom taught me was Jesus Loves the Little Children?  Why could I not locate There is a Balm in Gilead in the old Lutheran and Presbyterian Hymnals that I have?  Let me get back to waiting for the service to begin.

A family of several women, three young children, and a man asked if they could sit next to us.  After they squeezed in, I felt selfish that I had more leg room at the end of the pew than this big man.  His knees extended right into the pew in front.  I asked him if he wanted to switch for more comfort and he declined.  He was fine.  Wow,! That wasn’t how I got treated on a bus by a professional male in Philadelphia when he indignantly continued to read his newspaper comfortably in his seat while my 5 year old daughter and I stood dangerously in the aisle in the front of the bus a few years ago.

Since it was still early before the service began, I pulled out three copies of my coloring sheets (depicted above) and my colored pencils.  I offered them for his kids.  He thanked me and then returned the pencils when the kids were done.

The children were so well behaved and waited so patiently for 30+ minutes.  (How many other young children would be so quiet and patient?)  I began to realize that what my daughter said last week was true, “Mom, the blacks get it.  It’s the whites that don’t.”  Being very white and raised WASP myself I finally got it.  This family had more to teach me than I them.  So, I mustered up the courage to ask the guy if he recognized all pictured in the flyer.

He did.  I only recognized a few, but he knew them all.  Now I recognized most of the names, but I couldn’t match the names with the faces.  Why not?  I wasn’t taught that it was important.  But gee, go back to Vivien Thomas, where would modern surgery be today without him?  So as we approach Black History Month, February, reconsider its importance and take time to learn more.  For example did you know MLK Jr. was not named Martin at birth?  I didn’t know until yesterday’s service.  But first, back to the service.

Rev. Cromwell A. Handy, Pastor, Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church led this service so beautifully.  He accredited musicians to being the one who gave the strength before the historic march.  He permitted the congregation to break out in song to the pianist offertory How Great Is Our God.  The emphasis was on God and his greatness through a faithful servant.  It was not a praise service for MLK Jr.   There was also no disrespect for the current administration in Washington, slams, or innuendos.

Then Dr. Shannon stepped up to the pulpit and preached on Luke 8:23-28.  He emphasized that we need to stand strong.  God creates out of nothing.  Yet preparation is key.  That’s exactly what God did through MLK Jr.  he was preparing him through each phase of his childhood to do what he would do between 24 and 38 years of age.  We need to correct our hermaneutics before the homily can be delivered.  Too much of scripture has been misinterpreted. We need to listen to the calling of God on our lives not matter how uncomfortable it may make us.  We should take heart when experiencing rejection.  Because that must be experienced before a yes can be received.  Don’t always look for money.  You will never be comfortable until you do the will of God. You must calm down before you can be of any useful service.  High emotions regarding injustice must be worked through and settled if you’re going to be effective.  And in summary Galatians 3:28 we need to be one, not constantly bickering and casting stones at one another.

Thank you all who were involved in this special Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.s 90th Birthday Celebration.  It filled in many of the gaps and questions in my own life’s challenges and has inspired me to continue on in my art, calling, and mission which is to grow beyond beyond my childish selfish pity me and entitled ways to become emotionally healthy and spiritually mature so that I can encourage others to do likewise.

#racism #tourismMontgomery,AL #MLK Jr. Day #dexterkingmemorialbaptistchurch #Freedomridersmuseum #hymns #praisemusic #depression #healing #blackhistorymonth #overcome #civilrights #crossculturemarriage