Friday, January 4, 2013


Marion Pellicano Ambrose


The nightmare that was Hurricane Sandy is not over for many east coast residents. Can I even call them residents? Scores of people are still homeless and living in shelters and some are actually living on the streets. It’s January 2013 and there are fellow Americans still without power, living in what’s left of their home with mold and refuse all around them.  Many Americans and organizations have been kind and generous in their response to the disaster, but what about our own government? As Sandy struck, politicians got up and promised quick response, relief and assistance. And then there was the House of Representatives!

     Tuesday night, House Speaker John Boehner, allowed the house to adjourn after 'fiscal cliff' talks, but, before taking up a much broader $51 billion aid package for Sandy victims.  It was "disappointing and disgusting to watch," said New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, blaming "the toxic internal politics of the House majority."

"New Jersey deserves better than the duplicity we saw on display," he said, adding, "Shame on Congress."  Christie said he had tried to reach Boehner on Tuesday night after the latter canceled a vote on the aid bill, which had already been approved by the Senate. "He did not take my calls," said Christie.

     In a news conference, Christie said he joined people of his state in feeling "betrayed" and added that the move summarizes "why the American people hate Congress."

In a statement, Christie and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo wrote: "This failure to come to the aid of Americans following a severe and devastating natural disaster is unprecedented. The fact that days continue to go by while people suffer, families are out of their homes, and men and women remain jobless and struggling during these harsh winter months is a dereliction of duty. "

     The plan being considered by the House Friday would send $9 billion in immediate assistance for floor insurance for Sandy victims. The other, broader, $51 billion aid package will be tackled by lawmakers on January 15.  My question is, why does it have to wait? These people are suffering and in immediate need. Take a look at how conditions in some of the affected areas look NOW!




Many of us come from these east coast areas and have family and friends still living in deplorable conditions. Members of our own DRL staff have suffered great damage and hardship due to Sandy. My sister still lives in Brooklyn. Luckily, she lives in what was Zone 2 and sustained little damage. She drove to our childhood home in Sheepshead Bay and called me almost in tears. The home we grew up in was gutted and had a bright orange paper taped to the front. Most of the houses were destroyed or so damaged they were uninhabitable. Our childhood friends’ homes in what we called “the courts” were demolished. The beautiful, historic Emmons Avenue, the heart of Sheepshead Bay had boats up on the street. The footbridge was under destroyed and large deposits of sludge formed on the sides.
The story is even worse in Long Island, Breezy Point, the Jersey Shore, parts of Connecticut, and other northeaster areas. And now they deal with dirt, filth, rubble, and on top of that – snow and cold. How can members of the House go home to their comfortable air conditioned or heated homes with their electricity, food, and family intact when they know so many are going without all these things?
 And what about FEMA? Don’t even get me started! An untold number of storm victims have been rejected for aid by FEMA for a host of reasons that range from the ridiculous to the confounding. One engaged couple happens to have the same last name and date of birth, though not related at all. FEMA denied them saying they must be related, even though they had proof that it was not true. It seems that FEMA started just sending our form rejections without even finding out what insurance was covering or not.
WHAT CAN WE DO? We need to keep reminding Washington that we want quick action and no excuses. Haven’t they had enough practice with the major hurricanes in Florida and New Orleans to have legislation in place to allow for quick and decisive action to provide emergency relief as well as long term assistance?????
Here is a link to help you find your representative.
Send them a message saying you want immediate action taken. When a vote is taken on January 15th for a relief bill for the northeast,(as promised)  let’s tell them to make sure there is no red tape that will keep the money from being distributed immediately.
Also- keep all those affected by this storm in your thoughts and prayers, as well as these politicians that have the power to help them. Pray that our leaders will choose people over profit, Americans over avarice, and assistance over ambition.



Barbara Ward-Finneran
Dream big dreams, but relish all the small goals along the way.  Those small steps change things. You'll only catch flight on your dreams if your desires and actions push you to soar.

Keep the promises that you make to yourself!

Photo Courtesy of Barbara Ward-Finneran and Drawn 2 Design, LLC
©  All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, January 2, 2013


Marion Pellicano Ambrose


The US House has voted on a bill to avoid the “fiscal cliff” that we’ve all been dreading. In a late night vote on Tuesday, the bill was approved with a  257-167 vote. Most Democrats approved while many Republicans did not, stating that there weren’t enough tax cuts in the bill. The bill will now go to President Obama’s desk for approval.

I’m no political analyst, but I do know that this would prevent middle-class taxes from going up but would raise rates on higher incomes. It would also block spending cuts for two months, extend unemployment benefits for the long-term jobless, prevent a 27 percent cut in fees for doctors who treat Medicare patients and prevent a spike in milk prices. I think all this is good for A START, but there is much more work to do.

 I think our lawmakers need to get themselves busy finding ways to cut spending starting with their own salaries, bonuses, insurance plans, “expense accounts” and other ways. I believe the salary of a president or any politician should not be for life, nor should we pay for traveling expenses unless they are directly related to the business of running this country. Vacations, campaigning, and personal events should have to be paid for out of pocket just like the rest of us. If we have to pay for our medical, dental and life insurance, so should all politicians. I would also like to see a nice, reasonable “cap” put on presidential libraries. In my opinion, there are SO many ways to make cuts that won’t hurt the American people and really isn’t unreasonable to ask of our politicians.

 As I said, I’m no expert, so here is some data from the Associated Press and Channel 13 News  explaining some of the details of the bill. (picture is from CSPAN)


- Income tax rates: Extends decade-old tax cuts on incomes up to $400,000 for individuals, $450,000 for couples. Earnings above those amounts would be taxed at a rate of 39.6 percent, up from the current 35 percent. Extends Clinton-era caps on itemized deductions and the phase-out of the personal exemption for individuals making more than $250,000 and couples earning more than $300,000.

- Estate tax: Estates would be taxed at a top rate of 40 percent, with the first $5 million in value exempted for individual estates and $10 million for family estates. In 2012, such estates were subject to a top rate of 35 percent.

- Capital gains, dividends: Taxes on capital gains and dividend income exceeding $400,000 for individuals and $450,000 for families would increase from 15 percent to 20 percent.

- Alternative minimum tax: Permanently addresses the alternative minimum tax and indexes it for inflation to prevent nearly 30 million middle- and upper-middle income taxpayers from being hit with higher tax bills averaging almost $3,000. The tax was originally designed to ensure that the wealthy did not avoid owing taxes by using loopholes.

- Other tax changes: Extends for five years Obama-sought expansions of the child tax credit, the earned income tax credit, and an up-to-$2,500 tax credit for college tuition. Also extends for one year accelerated "bonus" depreciation of business investments in new property and equipment, a tax credit for research and development costs and a tax credit for renewable energy such as wind-generated electricity.

- Unemployment benefits: Extends jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed for one year.

- Cuts in Medicare reimbursements to doctors: Blocks a 27 percent cut in Medicare payments to doctors for one year. The cut is the product of an obsolete 1997 budget formula.

- Social Security payroll tax cut: Allows a 2-percentage-point cut in the payroll tax first enacted two years ago to lapse, which restores the payroll tax to 6.2 percent.

- Across-the-board cuts: Delays for two months $109 billion worth of across-the-board spending cuts set to start striking the Pentagon and domestic agencies this week. Cost of $24 billion is divided between spending cuts and new revenues from rule changes on converting traditional individual retirement accounts into Roth IRAs.


Tuesday, January 1, 2013


"Write it on your heart that everyday is the best day in the year. " - Ralph Waldo Emerson
Many blessings to all of our family, friends and fans... Looking forward to good things together.  
The best is yet to come!

Monday, December 31, 2012


At the brink of another New Year there's the reoccurring theme from many of my friends that it's a big deal. I hear their resolutions and promises that they swear they'll keep. Their insistence that this year, it will be different. They are more committed. It's going to happen. 2013 is THE year. And New Year's is all about the promise of a new start. A clean slate.

But on January 1st, 2013, won't it just feel the same as always? You will wake up with a groan and feel those same aches. You will complain about the weather. You will tell your children not to wipe their hands on their clothes. You will get caught in the rain. Like the holidays that come at the end of the year, with all that preparation and effort, the New Year brings so much expectation building momentum as it draws closer. Midnight strikes! The year lies ahead. The fresh start. Then it's gone. All that excitement falling to the ground like a deflated balloon. Not with a bang. Soundlessly. Drifting off into a corner, found days later.

2013 will be like every year we’ve ever known. It is the year of:

Getting too much sun even though you know you shouldn't.
A squeeze of your hand that makes everything better.
Drifting away from a long-time friend.
A great haircut.
Losing those few pounds.
A hug when you need it.
Watching a sunset.
Gaining back the weight.
A crayon drawing from your child that you tuck away.
Forgetting your umbrella.
Coming across the right pair of shoes.
Wasting too much time online.
Laughing with your children.
Crying in the shower.
Sleepless nights.
A book that you'll treasure.
The right words when you need to hear them.
A final good-bye.
The same old.
Last year was so good...and so bad. For me, 2012 was the year I watched my dad struggle with cancer. The year my boyfriend put so much at stake with a new business. The year of too many financial worries and too few professional gains. The year of my friends going through the loss of a parent. Finally acknowledging the anger I have towards my ex's family. Having my purse stolen. Visiting family. Having two summers. Spending time with dear friends and having our children play together. A sunset cruise to the Statue of Liberty. Riding every roller coaster. Another birthday. Another Valentine's Day. Another first day of school. Another Christmas.

This coming year is just like every year, isn't it? With it's struggles and it's triumphs. The joy. The heartbreak.

So I raise a toast to this New Year because it’s the same as it always has been— One where anything could happen. 

See you in 2013,

The Good Girl

Sunday, December 30, 2012


Barbara Ward-Finneran
Two days ago I lost myself in a few glasses of wine.  Not something I often do.  Just three. Three small glasses. Way more then enough for me. It was enough to push the tears.  To allow my guard to go down and the tears to silently slide shinny paths across my cheeks.  Sometimes you cry for nothing.  Sometimes you cry for everything.  Sometimes you don't even know exactly why.  Sometimes your heart aches for everything that is and everything that isn't.  Sometimes you are just plain overwhelmed by every little thing.  Keeping yourself together can be exhausting at times and it's only when you pause, that the inertia breaks and the dam busts.  When you keep going, going, going and it's all "good".  Stop and you might melt in a puddle.  Might stall.  Might not be able to start again. It takes more effort to keep it all together then to fall apart. Yet, so rarely do we allow ourselves to fall... the pieces scatter where they may... and sometimes amazingly, if you actually allow them to fall... then the pieces fit back together again. Then you feel lighter, freer, better.

Doesn't matter what your tears are for and where they come from; anger, sadness, loss, despair, missing an old friend, or even when they are joyfully happy - you deserve to take the time to feel them. Slow down. Breathe, just breathe. Sometimes before you can move forward you have to stop and catch you balance.  Take care of the moment, take care of  yourself.  Be authentic and true to yourself and your feelings.  Sometimes you have to let go to once again be in control.  If you allow your tears to cleanse your heart and free your soul... wash away the worries and the what ifs...  Then you can look with fresh eyes and once again find your wine glass half full.  Find the beauty in every situation. Focusing on those things that rejuvenate you and give you hope amid all the other "stuff" that life deals you.  Remind yourself to never stop believing that you can always have a new beginning.  A few tears, a new moment, a new day, a new week, or new year --- All bring a fresh start and infinite possibilities.  Choose between turning the page or closing the book.  You are the author of what comes next.  Let go, to hold on. Find your footing on this amazing journey before you called life.  The best is yet unwritten... Feel it, live it, love it!  


Barbara Ward-Finneran

Hugs from your kids.

Sleeping in during christmas break.

Leftovers that you like to nibble on.

Remembering it's never to late to dreaming BIG.

Sharing a smile with a stranger. 

The ache in your heart because you love someone enough to miss them.

When you fall down, get up laughing.

Hearing your son's voice crack and change and bursting with pride at the young man he is becoming.

Memories that warm your heart.

A glass a wine with time for you and it to breathe.

Family. Especially the family that you choose. 

Giving tears their time.

Friends, the once that will forever be there - ALWAYS BE THERE!

Keeping the promises that you make to yourself!