Confederate Flag Debate – American Pride


Marianna Riccio, fitness model

Independence Day, the Fourth of July is a time for celebration, barbecues, pool parties and fireworks! This month, it seems that the fireworks have not stopped when in comes to flying the Confederate flag. 

I’m proud to be an American and I’m honored to sing our National Anthem and God Bless America at community ceremonies while our flag waves freely. I believe in free expression but I don’t understand the display of the Confederate flag at public events amongst the southern states. I would also think that I was in a time warp if I saw the Yankee flag exhibited in the northern states. The Civil War is over, folks! OUR American flag of these UNITED States has survived many trials and tribulations of war, generation to generation. All ethnic backgrounds have shared the battle field to protect our freedom and our flag.

My friend, fellow author Augustin Stucker is an expert on the Civil War Presidents and posted the following argument that is based on historical facts:


Author, Augustin Stucker

“Even Jefferson Davis would oppose the Confederate battle flag in government/public forums. Surprised?

Not nearly as surprised as I was by the number of people checking my book, “Lincoln & Davis: A Dual Biography of America’s Civil War Presidents,” looking for support for their side of the argument. The argument, of course, is whether the Confederate battle flag is a symbol of racism or southern heritage. As is detailed in my book, if you accept the fact that the flag is a symbol of southern racist heritage, then you get to have it both ways. (I apologize in advance only for the length of this post.)

So how can I be so sure of my assertion that Jefferson Davis – President of the Confederacy and one of America’s greatest promoters of the southern slavery system – would adamantly oppose those who claim the flag merely represents their southern pride and heritage? I rely on those pesky details called historical facts.

Let’s start off with the term, “state’s rights.” Word use and meanings change over time. What we think of as state’s rights today is entirely different from what it meant until near the end of the 19th century: Slavery. Many of the founding fathers, including those from the south, were extremely ashamed of allowing slavery to remain part of the makeup of the United States. It was such an embarrassment that nobody wanted to use the term “slavery.” The word was not even mentioned in the Constitution. Slavery was considered so vulgar and distasteful that nobody dared used the word in public. Euphemisms were required, so in the South slavery was “our peculiar institution” and nationally it was known as “state’s rights.” In those times, when you spoke of state’s rights, you were discussing slavery, and everybody knew it. This brings us to the people who claim the Civil War had nothing to do with slavery and was fought for state’s rights. Those people are what I like to refer to as wrong. 100% wrong. When South Carolina, the first state to secede, declared their reason for its secession, they asserted in writing their one and only reason for doing so was to preserve slavery in their state. Nothing more, nothing less. Other seceding southern states made the same declaration. And when the Confederate Constitution was created, it was remarkably similar to the U.S. Constitution. Except for a leading clause proclaiming slavery was and forever would be the law of the would-be new nation. So, knowing at the time that state’s rights meant slavery (and nothing else), and with the blatant wording of each state’s secession acts, plus the declaration in the Confederate Constitution, anybody claiming the Civil War was fought for any reason other than slavery is not only denying the facts of history, they are also denying their own beloved southern heritage.

As for the flag itself, the “stars and bars” design causing such an uproar today was never the national flag of the Confederate States of America. Three official CSA flags were designed and used, but since they are not part of the problem, we can ignore them. The “stars and bars” was created as a battle flag for the Army of Northern Virginia. It was intended to, and did, distinguish the Confederate army and troops from those of the Union. After the war the design was so popular it was copyrighted as the emblem to be used by groups such as the United Confederate Veterans, the Sons of Confederate Veterans, and United Daughters of the Confederacy.

And here’s where it gets confusing for most people. As a design to distinguish Confederate soldiers, descendants of those soldiers argue the flag is their way of honoring their ancestors and southern heritage in general. Which is about as myopic an argument or excuse as I’ve ever heard. The troops it was designed for were fighting in a rebellion against the United States for the singular cause of preserving slavery. Any and all other arguments – “most the soldiers fighting didn’t own slaves,” or “my ancestors never owned slaves” – are irrelevant. They were fighting to preserve slavery, pure and simple.

On a personal note, one of my great-great grandfathers was a doctor who owned a small plantation outside of Macon, Georgia. He owned up to perhaps 10 slaves, and when the Civil War broke out he served as a doctor in the Army of Northern Virginia. What he saw and experienced in the war made him an alcoholic. He lost his small plantation after the war, but continued to practice medicine the rest of his life. He never flew any Confederate flags, displayed any “rebel” mementos in his home, nor pass anything of that nature down to his family. He is now remembered by my family as a loving family man who successfully passed on the practice of medicine to his two sons. I do not deny my ancestry (note to Ben Affleck – own your ancestry, don’t deny it – unless you are the same person they were). Nor do I wallow in it. Personally, I would tell other southern descendants who only “honor” their slave-holding ancestors by displaying the Confederate battle flag that they are either lazy, lacking in imagination, hypocritical, or all three.

Now let’s bring Jefferson Davis into the mixture. Yes, he was a southern plantation owner who owned dozens of slaves. As a leading southern politician he was the major advocate for the continued expansion of slavery. He was, however, hardly alone in his attitudes. The vast majority of Americans then were extremely racist by today’s standards, including his political opposite, Abraham Lincoln. (Read my book for the irrefutable evidence that, for the majority of his life, Lincoln was a racist. He obviously overcame his upbringing and belief system, which I believe makes him even more exceptional a human being than most people believe him to be. Yes, it’s another controversial statement, but the facts support the truth.) Back to Davis, the facts were he never believed a war should be fought to keep slavery alive, even though he constantly used the threat of war as a political lever to maintain the South’s political power. He was drafted, much against his will, to be the President of the Confederacy, and only served because he felt it was his duty.


Book by Augustin Stucker

After the war Davis was the most prominent figure and representative of the failed Confederacy. He was imprisoned for almost a year before the federal government realized he could not be tried for treason. Secession was not then, nor is it now, against the law. It’s just not a very good or practical idea, as the Civil War proved. Davis became the living embodiment of “The Man Without A Country,” and while he encouraged all other former Confederates to swear allegiance back to the United States, he did not do so himself because that would have been admitting the effort to secede was wrong. Still, when he wrote his biography, he concluded it by acknowledging the war proved the effort at secession to be wrong, and that the United States should go on in perpetuity.

Davis was not ashamed of the Confederacy – he believed Confederate soldiers were the greatest and most honorable soldiers ever to have fought in battle. But Davis never wanted to revisit the war or its causes. Once it was over, it was over, and people should keep moving forward with their lives. He never collected any Confederate mementos. He never flew any flag other than that of the United States outside of his home. And, in spite of a lifetime of promoting slavery and inequality among men, Davis recognized the law of the land. Following passage of the 14th Amendment Davis treated all men equally, engaging in business transactions with both blacks and whites.

I am not claiming he deserves forgiveness and absolution for all the loathsome beliefs he expressed through most of his life. But at least he turned the corner for himself and was trying to do the right thing.

Before his death he expressed his love for the United States. He felt proud to be an American, and in fact did great service to the United States as a soldier and politician outside of his stances on slavery. He believed in the Bill of Rights, and certainly supported freedom of speech. Logically, however, he also recognized the difference between what a private citizen can express and what a government can express. If an individual wishes to fly the Confederate battle flag on their own private property, they are free to do so. If a state or governmental agency does the same thing on government or public property, however, it is much more problematic. The state or government has the obligation to represent all the people, not one select group or another. For that reason alone, the state should remove all questionable emblems from state properties and public places, and set those emblems aside in museums for proper historical context.

Jefferson Davis was a very complex man. He was absolutely on the wrong side of history when it came to slavery and racism. But on this particular issue today, I have every reason to believe he would be on the right side.

To those people who wish to wallow in their ignorance and blind (or maybe not so blind) bigotry and hatred, I say go ahead and knock yourself out. Exercise your freedom of speech and fly all the Confederate flags you want on your personal and private property. But don’t insist on infringing on my rights and the rights of millions of other Americans who find your symbols repugnant. Keep those symbols off the public property which belongs to all Americans. A little civility and common sense would go a long ways in keeping the United States truly united instead of continuing to divide us.” – Augustin Stucker


Thank you Augustin for your thoughtful and powerful argument. You have expanded my mind in the process.

The American flag represents equality for all. To touch on another issue, I accept the separation of religion and government as I don’t think anyone should be told what or how to believe. On the other hand, I must admit that it gives me a feeling of security to have the words, “In God We Trust” on our money and “one nation under God” in our Pledge of Allegiance but that’s me. I think our nation needs the blessing from above. Please know, if you sneeze, I instinctively say, ‘God bless you.’

It is unfortunate and deplorable that slavery still exists today. A fellow blogger that I am following tells a story of a woman who was unwittingly sold into slavery but was able to escape. The post is called, Psalm 12:15 (Rescue).

Wishing you freedom and blessings,

Maria Lauren, AKA: Maria Elena Alberici – Riccio

Your Powerful LIFE blog


marianna_riccio_flag_bikiniFitness model, Marianna Riccio is an entertainer and certified fitness instructor who is passionate about being healthy.

Watch Marianna and her mom, Maria Lauren, demonstrate exercises to get a bikini body!


Maria-Lauren-Alberici-Riccio-You-Got-The-PowerMaria Lauren is a Motivational Speaker, Author, Entertainer and Lifestyle Educator.

Your Powerful LIFE blog is about Living, Inspiration, Fitness, Entertainment… 

Statements on this site do not represent the views or policies of my employer, past or present, or any other organization with which I may be affiliated. All content is copyrighted.

Lighten-up June Gloom!


Inspirational Quote – Alberici Sisters: Linda Eichberg and Maria Lauren – Beach Yoga

Does June gloom get you down? If you live in Southern California, you know that June brings some gloomy weather but it also brings some record breaking hot weather too. This change in temperature affects your temperament. It gives me an unsettled feeling, to say the least!

Time to lighten-up the heaviness of a busy week. Time for sharing peaceful moments with God, family or friends. Time for a change of scenery.


Prayerful Meditation

Malibu beach is my favorite destination for an escape to Relax-n-Renew. This weekend, sunshine was predicted but the morning brought cloudy and cold weather. My daughter and I took off for the beach anyway.

Upon our arrival, we were met with a cool mist of drizzle and thick clouds covering the mountains as dolphins played in the unusually calm waves that were close to the shore line. It was a perfect beach day for being in a peaceful place of awakening the body and mind.

The damp weather was contributing to my body feeling achy and stretching always makes it feel better. So, I started doing some Yoga movements to deeply breathe away my discomfort. My daughter wanted to work up a sweat and did an energizing Circuit Training workout with her friends a few yards away.

As I practiced my Yoga postures, it seemed that a family of dolphins kept swimming by to say, “Hi.” After about an hour of stretching, I sat in stillness to do “Alternate Nostril Breathing,” a relaxing breathing meditation. I swear a dolphin looked over to me with a smile reminding me of my playful nature.

In this bubble of misty contentment, the Source of light, God was shining. It was still foggy at the beach when my daughter, Marianna and I headed back home to the Los Angeles valley where the sun greeted us and everything was coming up roses!


Marianna Riccio

A Happy Fathers Day to all the dads whose love and diligence protects their children. I’m especially thankful for the positive motivation from my dad!

Light, love and playfulness to all,

Maria Lauren, aka Maria Elena Alberici – Riccio

Your Powerful LIFE blog

My Website


Maria Lauren is a Motivational Speaker, Author, Entertainer and Lifestyle Educator.

This blog is about LIFE: Living, Inspiration, Fitness, Entertainment. Statements on this site do not represent the views or policies of my employer, past or present, or any other organization with which I may be affiliated. All content is copyrighted.

Dancing With The Stars 2015 Finalist – Questions


Dancing With The Stars on ABC-TV

A big thank you to Dancing With The Stars for another entertaining and beautiful television season of dance. The competition seems to get more fierce and spectacular as we are given the opportunity to vote for our favorite stars and their dancing ability. However, besides their celebrity status, we get caught up in their personality and their story. Does that mean that the dancing is not as important as what captures our heart or inspires us?

DANCING WITH THE STARS - NOAH GALLOWAY AND SHARNA BURGESS - The 10th anniversary celebrity cast of

Noah and Sharna (ABC/Craig Sjodin)

Among the three finalist, leading the pack in the inspirational department is Noah Galloway. A double amputee, his partner Sharna Burgess has had to think outside the box when creating choreography.



Rumer and Valentin (ABC/Craig Sjodin)

A lovely and alluring dancer that is inspiring to watch is finalist, Rumor Willis, the daughter of Bruce Willis and Demi Moore. We find out through her story that being born into a celebrity status is not always a plus. Rumer is paired with the Valentin Chemerkovskiy.



Riker and Allison (ABC/Craig Sjodin)

Finalist, Riker Lynch is dancing with Allison Holker. An upcoming pop star, Riker had a recurring role in the television hit, Glee. Of all the top 3, he is the most improved contender. His willingness to learn and his sense of fun is inspiring.


Powerful Questions:

What do you need, NOT what do you want?

This question is something that we may apply to our lives and the life choices that we make. What do we need?… better health, better relationships, peace of mind, security…?  This question may also be applied when we vote for our next DWTS winner as trivial as that sounds. Do we need a hero with an inspiring story to represents us or do we need a star that masters the dance to win? I’m sure each contestant wants that shiny mirror ball trophy but what is their individual need? I think their needs are met within the DWTS journey. The competition offers to them the opportunity to keep moving forward, no matter the difficulties, and shine through their performance.

Each finalist brings their own fight on to the dance floor…

The press has not always been kind and even downright mean and bullying to Rumer as she developed into a young woman. Through this, she has had to find her own way and part of that was found through her elegance on the dance floor. Girl power!

Rumer and Val: A lovely Rumba dance of sensuality!


Riker brings a young heart-throb vibe to the show but he also represents family. I like how his  family supports each other and celebrates the arts together. This is apparent to us when Riker hits the dance floor.

Riker and Allison: A jazz dance for today!



Noah has overcome his obstacles in a powerful way after serving for us in Iraq. He got himself out of depression after a long rehabilitation and is now a motivational speaker and personal trainer. Watching Noah embrace the dance and life, represents hope to veterans and to all of us.

Noah and Sharna: Inspiration and strength!


I look forward to the Dancing With The Stars finale. Who do we need as a winner? As far as I’m concerned, all of them have already won the journey.

A Question for you…

What do you need to be a winner in the dance of life?

I applaud your journey as you strive for a positive lifestyle. You Got The Power!


Maria Lauren, aka Maria Elena Alberici – Riccio

Your Powerful LIFE blog

Maria’s Website

Alberici-Sisters-book--Beyond-Our-Wildest-DreamsBook preview: Beyond Our Wildest Dreams is the inside story into show business during the groovy 70’s told by two sisters, Alberici Sisters, Maria Lauren and Linda Eichberg.

Read exciting stories about touring with the Rat Pack and icons of the 20th Century!


Maria-Lauren-Alberici-Riccio-You-Got-The-PowerThis blog is about LIFE: Living, Inspiration, Fitness, Entertainment. Statements on this site do not represent the views or policies of my employer, past or present, or any other organization with which I may be affiliated. All content is copyrighted.

Hula Hoop – Exercise fun!


Exercising with a Hula Hoop is fun for everyone!

Want a slim waist? A weighted hoop can rev-up your cardiovascular system so you lose inches around your waist and tone your tummy, even your hips, buttock and thighs.

As a child, I had lots of fun playing with a hula hoop. It was a hip thing to do! My parents encouraged all my siblings (eight brothers and sisters) to master the technique as it was economical and got us to exercise. This is a little different than the constricted physical activity of using cell phones and computers. Don’t you think? 

Decades have passed since I first used a hula hoop but during the last decade, I have graduated to the fitness benefits of a weighted hoop. Aging usually brings with it a loss bone and muscle density but weight-bearing exercises increase muscle and bone strength. I find the best time to use my weighted “Sports Hoop” is in the morning before breakfast. It gets my body going, my heart and lungs working aerobically and my digestion ready for my first meal of the day.

The repetitive and rhythmic motion of the hoop along with deep breathing is meditative to me. Especially when I exercise outside in the fresh air in the midst of natures splendor. This is an inspirational setting  for me to hum or sing praise songs to the Lord. My sister Linda also enjoys using the “Sports Hoop” when she watches television, a good break from sitting. I am grateful to share my passion for being fit with my sister and my daughter, Marianna. Exercise is more fun when you share it with a special someone.

I do a variety of exercise movements using the “Sports Hoop” and I share some on my YouTube…  

Fitness can be fun!

When I first used the weighted Hula Hoop, I took cautionary measures. I wore heavy clothing around my mid-section, where the “Sports Hoop” moves in momentum, because I bruise easily. This protected me, so no bruising only fitness benefits!


In the past, health and fitness has been a big part of my life.

The world of entertainment has been a big part of my life too and I consider myself lucky to have been raised with healthy living habits.

Healthy values saw me through the rigors of showbiz as I performed with celebrities like Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin. I even co-authored a book about it called, Beyond Our Wildest Dreams.


In the present, health and fitness is a big part of my life.

thrive_kaiser_permanenteThese days, you may see me on-site at Kaiser Permanente teaching fitness classes to activate lifestyle changes for our members. I am delighted to be a part of the Health Education Team’s Mission to “Inspire People, Inform Choices and Improve Health.” Some of the classes that I instruct are Yoga, Pilates, Tai Chi or Dance Exercise at our Panorama City, Santa Clarita or Mission Hills locations. 

On occasion, my fellow employees and I have enjoyed exercising with hula hoops during our lunch break as a part of “Move It Monday!”


For more tips about exercise and nutrition, I invite you to view my other posts in the categories of “Fitness” and “Healthy Living.”

You Got The Power!

Maria Lauren, aka Maria Elena Alberici – Riccio

Your Powerful LIFE blog

My Website


Motivational Host – Maria Lauren

This blog is about LIFE: Living, Inspiration, Fitness, Entertainment.

Statements on this site do not represent the views or policies of my employer, past or present, or any other organization with which I may be affiliated. This information is not meant to take the place of a physician. I have not been paid or compensated in any way to endorse any products mentioned in this blog. All content is copyrighted.


Songs in the Key of Life and Love


Maria Lauren – Voice and Performing Coach

Music is a healer. Music sets a mood and brings on memories in our life that are associated to a song.

When I want to relax, I gravitate to inspiring works, entertainment and glam so I look forward to television shows that put the spotlight on these key elements. That includes TV specials, tributes to musical icons such as Stevie Wonder and award shows such as The Grammys.

Songs in the Key of Life


Stevie Wonder’s music is timeless!

The television special “Songs in the Key of Life” boasted a star-studded cast who gave stellar performances. The diversified talents ranged from Beyonce to Andrea Bocelli. A well-deserved tribute recipient, Stevie Wonder has written and sung an abundance of songs in his lifetime. Songs that have touched our lives. He was the first singer to do vocal riffs that became a  trend with vocalist.

During the late 70’s, I wore-out Stevie Wonder’s album, “Songs in the Key of Life.” It is a gem of music and songs that becomes more valuable as time goes on. Stevie Wonder has always been a gracious ambassador of music, the universal language. Even during this telecast, Stevie Wonder’s insightful words are profound:

“… I thank you…I love you, first of all because the God that I serve says that we should love everyone. I also love you because it feels better to love than to hate. And I believe that if we can just come together because we must come together because we are at a spiritual warfare… I encourage the song writers, all of us are song writers, to write songs about love, to inspire and encourage our family, encourage our family as people in the media and press, everywhere, to inspire, inspire this world, inspire this planet… Let’s make the impossible, so very possible by loving. Love is the key…”

Stevie Wonder Tribute – My YouTube Playlist – Celebrities, Awards, Tony Bennett, Inspired Words…

The Grammys

Everything that’s old is new again. Annie Lennox, Tony Bennett and Tom Jones perform with the pop stars of today at the Grammys. I was delighted to see Mr. Bennett and Ms. Lennox also perform at the Stevie Wonder tribute. Their voices are timeless.

The Grammy Highlights

Sam Smith ran away with most of the awards but I was happy (pun intended) when Pharrel Williams song, “Happy” was picked for Best Music Video and Best Pop Solo Performance. This song always puts a smile on my face. During his performance of “Happy,” I wondered why he was dressed like a Bell Hop, a uniform of service. Was it symbolic? At the end of the song, he gestured with his hands up to heaven as if to say, ‘Praise God for I am at your service.’ After all, entertainers are in the business of serving so why not serve a higher cause.


While I’m on the subject of Pharrel Williams, what about the “Blurred Lines” controversy? I am a firm believer that the melody and the lyrics make up a song. The musical arrangement is another copyright. The musical arranger could be compared to an interior decorator who accessorizes. Something to think about…

Another controversy has been Kanye West’s stunt again this year at the Grammys. Really?? The producers have a big show to put on and that is more important than any individual changing the show format to fit his needs. Kanye’s actions does not bring value to the music.


This month, the television series, “Glee,” aired its last shows. Although the story lines were mostly trivial but sometimes thought-provoking, I am going to miss the colorful array of music and the spontaneous bursting into songs that gave me glee. ;-)

Amazing Grace

Stevie Wonder does not see this world but he sees with an inner vision of grace. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to put on glasses where we can see the world in love and act accordingly? For that, we need amazing grace.

Amazing Grace, poem by John Newton

“Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, who saved a wretch like me.

I once was lost but now I’m found , was blind but now I see.”

Wishing you a song in your heart and the renewal of the season,

Maria Lauren, aka, Maria Elena Alberici – Riccio

Your Powerful LIFE blog

My Website – Info for coaching, entertainment and fitness services

Relaxing visualizations and soothing music for renewal

Remembering times with Tom Jones – Book excerpt

Maria-Lauren-Alberici-Riccio-You-Got-The-PowerThis blog is about LIFE: Living, Inspiration, Fitness, Entertainment.

Statements on this site do not represent the views or policies of my employer, past or present, or any other organization with which I may be affiliated. All content is copyrighted.