Monday, March 31, 2014

2 Songs

Two songs??? TWO?

That's not enough. Not even close. 


I guess I'm just going to pick the two songs that come into my mind the fastest since there is quite honestly no way for me to narrow my vast music library to two songs. I'm a music person, it's always going, it is the background noise of my story. I love, love, love it.

1. Somewhere Over the Rainbow, Iz Kamakawiwo'ole.

This song. Sigh. For as long as it has existed, I have loved it. There is just something about Iz's voice and tone and his interpretation of one of the most recognized songs ever. It was the song ER fans heard as the show said goodbye to Mark Greene. It was one of the songs on the dvd we had put together when my own father died. It was the song that made us all tear up the afternoon of his funeral when the rain stopped just long enough for a double rainbow to form before our eyes. It is the song that the cosmic radio gods send me at exactly the times that I need to hear it.


2. Just Breathe, Pearl Jam.

Iz always makes me think of my Dad. Thinking of my Dad always makes me think of this song, one that I heard for the first time as he was nearing the end of his fight. It's one that was never widely released and I only ever hear it on one local radio station. Which is probably good because this one is an asskicker. The song tells a story, one that applied in far too many ways. I'll just let you listen.

Friday, March 28, 2014

3 Movies

Why couldn't it be 10 movies and 3 secrets? That would be a whole lot easier. Hmmm.


1. Grosse Pointe Blank. So many things about this movie make it one of my all time favorites. It is one of the only movies that I will drop everything and watch whenever I come across it scanning channels, and I fully admit to seeking it out fairly regularly. It has some of the best one-liners in our generation, and once I was old enough to attend my 10 year reunion (which was 10 years ago now...shhhh), I appreciated it even more.

And the music. Good lord the music.


I don't want to get into a semantic argument, I just want the protein.

2. The Breakfast Club. Yes, I am a child of the 80s. Clearly. I have always loved this movie, though the last time I watched it I started to love it for an entirely different reason. Where, for years, I related to the kids in the film, as I get older, I start to think about things from the perspective of a parent. Terrifying, I know....because you begin to realize how much we fear totally screwing up our kids, what they really think of us, what their motivations are for the choices they make.


3. The Hangover. I thought about going intellectual with this day in the challenge, but clearly opted not to. Truth is, I have a wildly inappropriate sense of humor. When we first saw this in the theater, I cried and laughed so hard that I literally fell out of the chair. It doesn't matter how many times I see it, I still laugh my ass off. It's so wrong, and that is what makes it all so perfectly right. I still can't figure out how or why the chicken got into the room. WHY??? Does anyone know?


Thursday, March 27, 2014

4 Books

Just four, eh?

I'm a book person. I know that the world is shifting towards electronic formats, but nothing will ever be quite the same for me as holding an old book in my hands, running my finger along the letters on the page.


1. To Kill A Mockingbird. I'm reading this one with the kids right now, being reminded with every sentence why I adore this book so very much. Atticus is the epitome of integrity, honor and justice. He made me want to be a lawyer. He made me want to be a better person. He made me open my eyes to the injustices of the world and he made me want to find a way to remedy them. I found a copy of the book published in 1962, just a couple years after it was first written. The binding is shot. Pages are crinkled and ripped. Some are falling out and need to be tucked back inside every time I open it. I imagine that someone, perhaps many someones, read this very copy years before and left their mark on it to share with us now.



2. The Glass Castle. This book. This damn book. I don't even have it in my possession anymore, I had to get rid of it. It was the book that made me confront the fact that I had postpartum depression, the book that forced it all to the surface, the book that made me admit something was very wrong. When we were at Costco over the weekend scanning the book section, it was there still. This book. I picked it up, mused about how someday I would love to have a piece of me out there over ten years after it was written. This book changed my life.


3. The Social Transformation of American Medicine. I know, I know. My nerd is showing. I've read this book a few times, the first when it required for my bioethics minor in college. It's a fascinating historical record of how and why our system got to be as vastly dysfunctional as it is today, and I'd hinge a guess that if an updated version were ever to be released, the book would double in size just because of how much things have changed in the past 15-20 years. When you understand how we got into this mess, it is easier to see that there are indeed ways out of it, most of which require disrupting the entire medical economy built by bizarre incentives. I recommend this one to everyone I know pursuing a career in the medical field in any capacity, and to anyone who craves a deeper understanding of our bizarre system.


4. The Out of Sync Child. I struggled, oh how I struggled to understand my daughter when she was little. She was perpetually uncomfortable. Always fidgeting, always withdrawing and pulling away. There were so many things that were a source of constant frustration, and I just couldn't understand why any of it had to be this way. Then, one day, I came across this book at the suggestion of a friend. I felt like I was reading something written by someone walking in my shoes, by someone who understood what it was like to parent a child like her. I learned that she wasn't alone, hardly. I learned that there was a reason she was this way, that there were ways to help her cope with a world that was often too overwhelming for her. This book told me simultaneously that I knew my child better than anyone in the universe and that I'd only just barely scratched the surface. This book made me a better parent, without question.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Stuff Going on in the Hive...

I feel like I've been keeping something from you guys.

That's probably because I have been.

Actually, there is a lot about me that you don't know, but this one is a pretty big something and my ability to hide it shrinks more and more with each passing day.

For a person with a public persona, I'm actually a very private person. This is all new and strange for me, so bear with me if you will.

I have been holding onto the hope of this thing for years now, the hope that maybe someday it would happen. Hoping, for so many reasons.

Now that I'm here, now that it is all real, I'm taking each second in. I'm wrapping myself entirely in it. I'm immersed. Fully.

I'm also completely distracted.

I am because I know this is the last time for sure, this is the last time that I will ever be pregnant.


The last time that I will ever feel life inside me.

The last time that I will reconfigure everything to accommodate one more.

The last time that I will have news like this to share.

The last time.

And this time, so much is different.

So, so different. So much so that words alone could never suffice to describe all the differences.

You are here and social media necessitates that I tell the world my news somehow. That I make this completely intimate life change public information. That I tell people and that I do it in some amazing way.

I didn't have this platform the last time. My youngest son was six months old already when I started writing. Though I have been doing this for many years now, it all feels foreign and strange because of this new and unfamiliar journey we're taking.

The last time I was pregnant, I picked up the phone and told my parents.

This time, they are both gone, and there is nothing fair about that. It is strange to be navigating this world without them, stranger still to be bringing a child into the world that will never share a moment with two of their grandparents.

I have no parents to tell this time, though I suppose they already know anyhow.

It won't be easy, it hasn't been already. My pregnancies are complicated ones, for sure. There are times that I envy those who can go through this period in their lives blissfully, without all these concerns to contend with. And then I push that envy away because envy is an emotion wholly lacking in utility. It serves no productive purpose, only makes us aware of the void we seek to fill.

And then I remember that not so long ago, I was envious of anyone fortunate enough to be pregnant at all. I so desperately wanted it for myself that it hurt to see others in the place I longed to be.

I try to do the best I can to remember that, what it was like to be in that place when I was there, how it is for those there now. And my heart goes to all of them, for today and for always.

I've prepared myself for the inevitable questions, for the comments, for the shock and disbelief sure to be evident in the faces and voices of others.

Yes, we know how to avoid this.

Yes, we know what birth control is.

Yes, we know that we already have four children.

Yes, we know that I am older now.

Yes, we know that it will be hard. p.s. we already have four kids...

We are aware of all those things, more aware than those who will question us assume we are. This was not an impulsive decision.

Telling you all hasn't been impulsive either. We waited. We didn't even tell our other kids or my in laws or our brothers for over a month. Once you've been pregnant and lost the baby, you don't ever want to have to untell someone that news again. Even when everything seems fine. Even when it's been fine four times between. Even then.

So, we've kept it quiet. For a long time, only my husband and I knew and it was like a magnificent secret for just us to have for as long as we could. I'm over the moon happy, and I think he really is too.

It's time to let some of that joy out.

As I near the end of the first trimester, I really can't keep this quiet any longer, not physically anyway. I've looked pregnant for a few weeks already. I am due in October, but the baby will arrive sometime in mid-September. I'll keep you all posted about how things are going, and I promise I will try to do it in the least obnoxious way possible.

xo

Mother's Day Campaign

What follows was written by Alexa Bigwarfe, the fearless leader of our collaborative book project, Sunshine After The Storm. 
_____________________

I lost my infant daughter, and when that happened, a whole new world of grieving parents opened up to me. Faces of loss, stories of grief, but most importantly, stories of survival, which have encouraged me and propelled me forward.

One of the common themes we share, whether our loss was an early miscarriages, late pregnancy, infant loss, or an older child, is that desire to make known that we will always be that child's mother. Whether we are mothering them in our arms or in our hearts.

To the grieving moms out there: you are always their mother and you are not alone in this sentiment.

Last year, over thirty parents came together to try to deliver our message and survival tips to grieving parents through the book Sunshine After the Storm: A Survival Guide for the Grieving Mother. When we talked about our goals for the book, we wanted the overarching theme to be hope and encouragement. We want all grieving parents to know that they are not alone, and that it is okay to grieve, to miss that baby, and to let them know you are their mother.

After we published the book, we wanted to go one step further. We want to raise money to donate this book to as many hospitals, bereavement groups, and bereavement support groups as I possibly can.

So... we created a non profit organization: Sunshine After the Storm, Inc. Through this organization we have already donated more than 50 books.

But we want to go one step further.

Introducing the Mother's Day Campaign

This very special campaign is to raise enough money to donate 100 or more books to hospitals and bereavement groups for Mother's Day. You are always their mother.

In addition, 10% of all funds raised will be donated by Sunshine After the Storm, Inc. to Donna's Good Things, the March for Babies (March of Dimes), Mommy to Mommy outreach, Fetal Hope, the TTTS Foundation, Molly Bears, Teeny Tears, and Mikayla's Grace. (Yes, we need to raise a LOT of money!)

And we wanted to do one more thing.

In honor of International Bereaved Mother's Day, which is May 4th, the Sunday before Mother's Day, we will draw winners for some amazing prizes that have been graciously donated for this cause.

We invite everyone to participate in the Giveaway - you do not have to be a grieving parent, we just ask that you make a donation to the Campaign.


(If you have something you'd like to add to the donation list, it's not too late to join us! Just email me at katbiggie1@gmail.com and we will get your donation added!) There's only one thing you have to do to be entered into the drawing. 

Go and donate at least $5 to our fundraising campaign. (It costs us roughly $8 for each book donated)

That's it.

Because after all, this is our Mother's Day Campaign, but we can't do it without your help!

Enter the Giveaway HERE: a Rafflecopter giveaway

Please be sure to check out our amazing sponsors:
The Sassy Palmetto customized gifts

5 Foods

Ahhhh, food. Right now it is my friend and foe. My ally and my arch nemesis. Even more than normal.


1. Guacamole. For the love. I have an unnatural obsession with guacamole. Only freshly made will do, and the idea of packaged guac makes me cringe and twitch. I read this week that Chipotle may have to cut guacamole from their menu because climate change is affecting the avocado crop. This is a goddamn emergency, you guys.

2. Dark chocolate. There is a reason I don't buy the stuff. Some crazy lunatic who looks like she could be my evil twin would eat it all.

3. Tomatoes. The homegrown ugly ones are always the best. It is almost time to start growing for the year, and I can hardly wait. We had a constant supply of tomatoes last summer and I am so excited to have them in my own yard again.

4. Sharp cheddar cheese. The older I get, the more refined my taste gets. I want a cheese that tastes like cheese, that makes me say wow. I could totally be a cheese snob, but the fact that I live with four bottomless pits makes that a challenge. Tillamook is the brand my dairy delivers. To my house. To my house. You guys.

5. Siggi's Vanilla Firmjolk. This is my current favorite probiotic drinkable yogurt. I started drinking kefir and other incarnations of these dairy products a few years ago when I had pneumonia and needed to counter the effects of huge doses of antibiotics. I hated them for the longest time, and now they are just a part of me. I've fallen in love with this brand's vanilla flavor. Same calories and carb count as ordinary milk, but.so.much.more.good.stuff.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Things That Piss Me Off Tuesday - the dress codes, mourning on camera, prostitution and contraceptives edition

It's Tuesday again, you guys. Let's do this thing. I was going to talk about Common Core here, but that's turning into a monster post of its own.


Ridiculous Dress Codes
There have been a few stories in the news this week about kids in school being made to stay home or shamed because of their physical appearance. The first is a controversy over leggings. Well, to be more specific, the issue that is actually coming up is that some girls are being told that their leggings are inappropriate, namely the more shapely girls, the heavier girls, and the ones who are more developed. School officials claim that their appearance is distracting.

I don't actually have a problem with them banning leggings, if they so chose, though it would set up issues in the delineation of where leggings end and stretchy pants begins. My issue is that only certain girls are being targeted here, blamed for their appearance. Really, it has nothing to do with the pants. It has to do with fat shaming, puberty shaming, and is all based on some assumption that the boys simply won't be able to focus with tight pants nearby if the wearer has a body deemed distracting by school officials.

It's all wrong. All of it. Most middle school boys would be distracted by girls wearing a paper bag. Trust me. I know. I have one. Whether that distraction rises to the level of a problem is something that the BOYS will have to learn to suppress and manage, not the girls. Period. If the school wants to implement restriction on specific types of clothing, they have to apply to everyone equally and cannot be used as a weapon against the girls who happen to be curvier.

The other issue, one in the news here locally, is of a girl who was told she couldn't come to school after shaving her head as a sign of support for a friend undergoing cancer treatment. The school claims that her shaved head violates the dress code. No, I'm not kidding.

Supposedly she was allowed to return to school today, only after her parents went to the media with the story.

I would like to sit the school administrators down and explain a few things to them.

1. They are discouraging empathy, which is totally and completely screwed up.

2. If they think a shaved head is distracting, they should try being a kid with a sick friend.

3. It they think a shaved head is distracting, they should try being a kid with cancer.

4. If they think they are doing the right thing enforcing the rules here, they are so far beyond wrong that I don't even have words for it, and if they reversed their decision only because her parents went to the media, they should be ashamed of themselves. 

Media Coverage of Mourning Families
Flight 370 disappeared over two weeks ago, and after weeks of speculation and searching the world, the Malaysian Prime Minister announced that they have determined the plane crashed into the Indian Ocean far off the coast of Australia.

For the moment, I am going to assume that even though none of the wreckage has been located yet, that the news is indeed accurate. Satellite imagery was used to determine the approximate location of impact. (I'm so not doing that conspiracy thing here...if you want to do that, there are ample places online to feed that desire).

What is bothering me, aside from the 24 hour coverage of basically nothing - no new updates, tons of speculation, allegations of cover ups, alien abduction theories and even some who claim that the plane went straight to heaven (I'll let you all guess who said that...), is the heartbreaking coverage of the families once they were given this information. Gratuitous camera coverage, unrelenting questions, wailing and screaming. Leave these people alone. They have been waiting, clinging to hope for weeks, and they need time to process this information without a microphone in their faces.

Sometimes I really loathe the media. This is one of them.

Police Who Want to Keep Having Sex With Prostitutes
I'm going to admit something. It takes a lot to make me say wow these days, but this story did just that. This week a story broke about an exemption to laws against prostitution, an exemption that applies, to of all people, police officers. 

In Hawaii, state law allows undercover officers to sleep with prostitutes legally, claiming that such activities may be necessary in the course of the investigation. Some state legislators want to overturn the exemption, but some within the law enforcement community are arguing they should get to keep this loophole.

The discussion of the issue is made infinitely more complicated by the fact that there are people who feel that sex workers, if they choose to live their lives this way, should be permitted to do so. There is certainly an argument to be made that there are prostitutes that have chosen the lifestyle for their own reasons, and aren't victims in the same way that other women forced into the field are. For the purposes of this law, though, it is simpler to categorize them all as potential victims of a law that allows the very people who are supposed to be protecting them to perpetuate their victimization, particularly since the police involved are hiding both their identities and their motivations.

There are arguments far more compelling for why officers in undercover situations should be exempted from drug use laws, but the acts involved in prostitution aren't likely to be something witnessed or required for acceptance into the group being investigated.

The law goes before committee later this week.

Oral Argument Today Before SCOTUS
Today is the day that oral argument is being presented to the Supreme Court in the Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood contraceptives cases.

The cases are making me nervous because the potential consequences of these rulings might reach much further than the cases themselves.

You should care about what happens today. We all should.

6 Places

I like this one. :)


1. The beach. Any beach. Quite literally, any beach. I am a water person. I am an ocean person. It calls my name, it draws me in, it soothes my soul. I really have no business living over 1,000 miles from it.


2. The duck pond in the park in the city I grew up in. It has always been home for me, this place. Every time we go back, we take our children there. It was one of the first places I remembered spending time with my family as a child, full of happy memories, and it remains something that I want to share with my kids for as long as I can.

3. Estes Park/Rocky Mountain National Park. It took me a long time to consider this place where I live now home, but it finally happened. The outline of the mountain peaks is as familiar now to me as the horizon over the ocean once was. My favorite place in RMNP (so far anyway), is on the back side of Sprague Lake, just in the right spot, where this is the view. Amazing. The fact that it's only an hour from my house, even better.


4. My front porch. I may despise my neighbor, but I love my front porch anyway. My father in law built Adirondack chairs and during the warm days ahead, I will be out there with a book as often as I can swing it. It is my happy place.


5. Anywhere these people are.



6. Along the rivers and lakes around town. I told you I am a water person. The floods last year broke my heart because they caused so much damage and destruction to these places that I love. I have hope that someday soon, they might look this way again.



Monday, March 24, 2014

7 Wants

Oh, the wonder of these challenges. This one is simple enough, I suppose...just seven things that I want. 


1. I want good news at my next doctor's appointment. I'm a worrier by nature and even when every indication is that things will be just fine, I still worry. Because that's part of the wonder that is me. It is super fantastic.

2. I want to repaint everything in my house. Yep. All of it. At some point in the fairly near future, you can expect me to make myself exceeding scarce around here because I will be knee deep in brushes and swatches and drop cloths. But I will be happy. SO happy. I love painting, and it's time.

3. I want to throw things away, donate things, clean out and purge. I really, really, really detest clutter. I live with packrats. This is not a good combination. We have a very legitimate reason for getting rid of all that is unnecessary though, and I'm taking full advantage.

4. I want things to stay clean for more than 4.7 seconds. Pipe dream, I know. I have a house full of people. I'm not kidding myself.

5. I want, at some point this summer, to sit beside a pool somewhere alone for a few hours with a book. I don't want to have to worry about any kids for just a little while. Just a little while.

6. I want my appliances to stop conspiring against me. We've reached the point where everything in our house needs replaced and is beat to hell. Things are, quite literally, falling apart, as in the door to the oven comes apart every time I need to use it right now. I ask that they spread out a little, give us time to replace them one at a time. That'd be great.

7. I want Daryl to come to my house and save me in the case of the zombie apocalypse. No, really. I'm being totally serious.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

8 Fears

Eight, huh? Seems like a lot to me.


I used to be afraid of losing my parents. I used to be afraid of the day that I would have to put a pet down. I used to be afraid of a lot of things.

Then a lot of them happened. It sucked, for sure, but I survived. I'm not sure I'm going to be able to come up with eight things that I am currently afraid of.

1. Losing one of my kids. I'm going to lump all possible harms that could ever befall them into this one because I could make a list of the specific things that I fear for them, and we'd be here all day. I hope that their personal tragedies are small and manageable. I hope that their setbacks are large enough to teach the lessons they need to learn, but not so big that they swallow up their dreams. I hope for health and happiness for them all.

2. The past repeating. It's strange, this place. Not wanting to deal again with something you never thought you would confront, but then did. I don't think I will ever be forced back to that place, and I hope with everything in me that I'm right.

3. The nightmares coming back. PTSD is a real asshole, you guys. I honestly think the worst part of it all was the fact that I couldn't even escape it in my sleep.

4. Losing my eyesight. I have issues, a lot of them, and I have weird fears about losing my eyesight. It probably stems from the fact that my vision is terrible without correction. I don't know. I told you guys I have issues.

5. Breaking my hands or feet. Totally irrational again here. I shudder at the thought of hurting my hands or feet. I've broken a toe and it was pretty awful, you guys. I don't know why that freaks me out more than injuring other parts of my body, but it does.  Always has.

6. Eels. I know. I live in the middle of the country. I wanted to be a marine biologist. I love everything about the ocean. Everything except eels. They freak me right out. I don't know why, but they are so creepy that I can't even look at them in the tanks at aquariums.

7. Every assorted health condition that could happen to me or the people I love. I don't fear much in this world, at least not when it comes from some outside source of possible harm. Cancer scares me. Other diseases that have taken people I love scare me.

8. Not being able to write anymore.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Don't Be Fred Phelps

Fred Phelps was not a nice man. He did some terrible, awful, horrible things during his lifetime. He single-handedly created a hate spewing machine and inserted it into the very personal grief of those left behind at the deaths of thousands of people. He perverted social functions, concerts, media events and any other incident he could think of, the twisted them until they became a platform for his special kind of hatred.

I am not now, nor will I ever, defend what this man said or did.

I am not not, nor will I ever, defend the actions taken by the group he called a church, but which resembles no church I've ever known.

He was not a good man. He was flawed and cruel.

And now he is dead.

He will have to face the music now, stand before the God he claimed to serve.


In the days leading up to his death and in the hours since, hypocrisy is so rampant that I wonder if those celebrating his death understand the significance of what they are doing. I wonder if they can see that they are using this event, the end of the life of a person they have never met, to state their opinions about him, his beliefs, his future in heaven or hell.

I wonder if they can see that in too many ways it makes them no different than he was.

It hurts my heart a bit every time I see another post float by.

I understand the anger, the frustration with this man and all he stood for. I know that he has inflicted pain upon so very many people for no reason other than his own agenda. I know that everything he did was unjustified and wrong.

When his death is used as a platform to condemn him, though, those doing so are just as he was, albeit without the insults and signs and protests.

I am not a religious person, I've admitted as such before, but I understand the healing power of forgiveness. I understand that we are not nearly as equipped to judge others as we so often believe that we are. I know that I will not sacrifice my morals or integrity to make a point. I know that I will not be drug down to someone else's level out of spite, out of anger, out of frustration.

Don't be what he was.

Be better than he was.

Let him die without comment. Let his family mourn without interruption. Allow them what they have denied others.

Not because he deserves it or because they deserve it, but because you deserve to allow it and because you are better than he was.

9 Loves

It is probably a good thing that I have this challenge to do right now. I'm all over the place emotionally and far more scatterbrained than my normal. 

Having said that, I'm still not sure how I am going to answer some of these questions....


Nine loves. This is actually one of the easier days on the list, I suppose. I'm totally going to use the unusually large size of my family as an advantage here.

1. Mr. Hive. It's been quite a ride, the years we have been together. Some good, some bad, some ugly....and when I say ugly, I really mean ugly. We've been through so much, some of which was designed to tear us apart, and we're still here today, making plans for the rest of our lives together. He is home to me.


He's also a bearded superhero who makes beer. That helps.

2. The Oldest. This kid. He makes me simultaneously crazy and proud. I'm certain that his head would float away if it wasn't actually attached to his body. He's goofy and strange, kind and gentle. He's a good kid. It doesn't seem possible that we'll be preparing to send him to high school next year. We just won't talk about that for a while, okay?


3. Freckles. She's getting taller every day right now, and she's trapped between being a child and being a teenager. Half the time she urges it forward, half the time she longs for the years past. She's grown up so much just in the past year. She makes me laugh, she makes me think, she makes me worry. She marches to her own drumbeat, and I wouldn't want her any other way.


4. Mini Me. She has enough energy for twelve people these days. She was born with a strong sense of fairness and equality, which often puts her at odds with the reality that she has older siblings. Life isn't always fair for her because of it, and explanations rarely suffice. She sings her way through life, when she isn't constantly doing handstands, that is. She's fiercely independent, but wants to know you're there...just in case.


5. Little Boy. The mouthbreather who came into my bed last night, then wedged his feet underneath me all night. At least one of us slept. He wants to be bigger than he is, but still somehow curl up in my lap. He is always happy, always moving, and still runs everywhere he goes. He makes me tired, he makes me cringe, he proves that he can do things he shouldn't be able to every single day and he always makes me laugh.


6. The Future. So, this is the part where I get to be vague a little. Things were so bad for so long that I wasn't sure at all what the future held. I am not any more sure now, because I know more than most that the future is impossible to predict, but for the first time in years, I'm looking forward to wherever it takes us.

7. This. Writing. It has saved my sanity more than once. It has helped me work through what has happened to me. It is the place I come to when the words need out of my head. It seems like anymore, I need to write before I can even say for sure what I am thinking, what I am feeling. This isn't just a word processor...this is my processor.

8. The rest of my family and my friends. I've learned a lot about myself, and more about other people these past few years. I've learned that those who will stick by you are worth keeping around, and all the ones who won't shouldn't have been there in the first place. I've learned that none of us can ever really understand what someone else's situation is, and that compassion and understanding is always a better course of action than assumptions and hurt feelings. In a lot of ways, I am closer to some of my family now than I have ever been. Irretrievably further from others, but I realize that none of that is within my control. With acceptance comes peace. 

9. You guys. Yep. You. There are times still that it seems strange to me that there are people out there, lots of people, who read the words that I write even though we have never met. It's a bit surreal. I'm so grateful that you are here. Reading. Listening. Sharing. Thank you. 

Thursday, March 20, 2014

It Just Isn't Supposed To Be Like This

My brother is back home for a visit, though I suppose that at some point, it stopped being "home".

It's more like the place that I grew up now.

To me, now, this is home. Here.

Maybe it's just because I have nowhere else to go anymore. Maybe it's because there is something about losing both parents that takes that sense of belonging somewhere else forever away. Maybe it's simply because I'm feeling the sting of that loss of permanence, knowing that something that used to be a part of me isn't anymore and never will be again.

The house, their house, is on the market again.


The house that my father and I went to look at one afternoon when he picked me up from school. The house that needed so much work, that had so much wrong with it, but the house that we both saw for the potential it had. The house that everyone said we were crazy for buying.

The house that they owned over 20 years.

It hasn't even been three years since Mom signed it over, dropped off the keys. It's barely just past three years since the day that my father took his last breath there. I walked out the front door a week and a half later, knowing in my heart that it was for the last time, but not really acknowledging that truth because it was too much. It was too real. It was another loss stacked on top of losing him.

It wasn't home once he was gone anyway. His passing stripped it of its soul, leaving a fragile, echoing shell instead.

My curiosity got the better of me.

I looked at the listing.

I know I shouldn't have done that. I knew that there would be no possible good that could come from scrolling through the pictures of this strange and unfamiliar place that only bore a faint resemblance to what it used to be.

I couldn't help it.

I wanted to see it just one more time.

It, though, wasn't the same.

Nothing was. Nothing ever could be or ever will be again.

It deserved better, this house. We all did.

It deserved to be lived in and loved again long enough for memories to be made there. It deserved to become a part of the story of some other family that stretched over decades. It deserved to have years of triumphs and failures, to witness love and hate, to contain joy and frustration. It deserved more.

I know that houses aren't that way anymore, for most people anyway. They are just structures that we live in for however long until we move somewhere else anymore. They are buildings that serve a purpose. They are places to hold our stuff, but not always pieces of who we are, not always.

This house, though, it was more. It was more to me.

It was home.

And now it's gone. Again.


I heard this goddamn song for the first time just days after my Dad died, sitting in his chair, watching Miranda perform on the Grammy's.

I can't listen to it now. Maybe someone out there can listen for me.

xo

10 Secrets

I've sat here staring at a blank screen for a while now, and decided that I'd go back to something that I saw a long time ago. My dear friend over at The Insomiac's Dream writes at BUBBLEWS too, and she did the ten day challenge series. I've been meaning to do it too, but then I get distracted by the shiny things.

Here are the ten days.


Wow.

Okay, so maybe I don't really want to do this. Ha!

Ten secrets....I don't honestly know that I have that many secrets. Not the kind I would disclose here anyway. Let's see...

1. I started smoking at an Al-Anon family support meeting (this is totally the first time I've admitted this one here)

2. I stopped almost immediately because I knew I was getting addicted

3. I will literally stay in my pajamas as long as humanly possible

4. I sometimes avoid people, even the ones I like

5. I have typed and deleted five different posts today alone

6. I have outlined two books, but it is still too hard to write the chapters

7. I have crazy desires for spicy cheeseburgers right now

8. I intentionally don't pin some stuff on Pinterest because I don't want people to know I like it

9. I have dreams that indicate that my subconscious is a disaster

10. I actually have a really big secret that I will tell you all about soon enough

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Name Calling, Finger Pointing and Yelling at the Wall

Oh, the internet. I do so love it sometimes.

All the other times, though, I want to bang my head on the keyboard.

Sometimes, I actually do it.

Please, someone out there tell me that I am not the only one who feels this way.

I have been bothered lately by a lot of things (shocking, I know), but the one thing that I keep noticing over and over again is where someone online writes something espousing their views about one subject or another, while aggressively trying to get other people to be reasonable and open minded, but then goes on to insult anyone who doesn't agree with them.

Actually insult them.

Whether it is name calling or insinuations about the intelligence level of others or whatever, it's utterly hypocritical and ridiculous.

Sometimes I want to walk around with a gigantic mirror and hold it up to people who can't seem to understand just how much they are contradicting themselves. It would be a public service, really, calling these people on the carpet for what they are doing.

What bothers me more than the fact that this practice is rampant is the fact that site editors and publishers aren't seeing though it. They share these posts with taglines about how the writer is encouraging frank discussions and open mindedness, about how they are risking their necks by talking about the subject in the first place, how they are to be applauded for bringing the subject to the public consciousness.

Except they are wrong. Completely wrong.

Most of the time, these writers aren't saying anything that tons of other people haven't already been saying for days or weeks or years. They didn't invent the topic, they didn't stimulate any discussion, they just started more arguments with people online after insulting their opinions.

I saw this several times yesterday alone, just on the subject of vaccines.

I know, I know, I know. Vaccines. It's like the goddamn third rail of the internet. Everyone has an opinion, everyone must insist that they are right, everyone seems to think that doing the best thing for them and their children always has to outweigh the interests of public health at all times, everyone feels totally justified.

Here's the thing. Are you ready for this knowledge I'm about to drop on you???

Every side of the argument has valid points.

Even the people hanging out on the fringes. 

On both sides.

In response to a question asked on my Facebook page yesterday, I wrote this long winded answer:

The reality with vaccines is this: they don't always work, even when everyone is vaccinated. There are incidents of disease every year, though the severity and spread is generally lessened by vaccines, assuming enough people have received them. Actual immunity can only be obtained through having had a disease, vaccines try awful hard to do the same, but fall short. Most adults never get boosters, and eventually the effectiveness wanes for some of the shots. There is a batch of MMRs that never took from when I was a kid - I know because I was one of the ones who wasn't protected (which explains why I had a mysterious mumps like disease when I was five that they just couldn't figure out). The batch didn't work. The problem is that any time a cluster pops up (which is what has always happened with any infectious disease, whether a vaccine exists or not), is that the media jumps all over it now. Unlike the measles "epidemic", which isn't really supported by the facts, whooping cough is far more troublesome and way more dangerous. Most adults aren't vaccinated for it at all, and infants can and do die if they contract it. I could literally write entire books about this stuff, because there are truly valid points on all sides of the issue, though few people can be reasonable enough to entertain the idea that the opposition might have a point. Horrible diseases that can be eradicated should continue to be vaccinated for, but in my opinion, we way over-vaccinate kids unnecessarily for things that they'd be better off having natural immunity to. The other major problem I have with it is that the testing and development isn't actually as sound as many in the science community want everyone to believe (and you know I am a total science geek). I would love to see more objective third party safety and efficacy testing, I would love to see more truthfulness in what the vaccines can do and what the side effects may be. H1N1 and HPV vaccines have done some real harms to people, in my opinion, because they were rushed to the market. There are risks associated with vaccines, there are risks associated with diseases...it's part of life honestly. I think the pharmaceutical companies have pushed the envelope a little by creating so many vaccines and pushing for them to be included that parents are getting overwhelmed.

Did you read that whole thing? I apologize, but I'm not kidding when I say that I could write books about the subject. 

What would be helpful for parents, for public health workers, for everyone who has a dog in this vaccine fight, is if the things I suggested actually happened. If there was long term, objective, 3rd party study of both the efficacy and safety of each vaccine. If there was enough evidence to support the necessity of each vaccine added to the schedules. If there was a full disclosure of both the risk and severity of side effects. If there was more understanding about the reality that some people actually cannot and should not be vaccinated. If there was less manipulation of the data to push people into making choices out of fear. If there was any transparency about the financial motivations of the pharmaceutical companies producing the vaccines in the first place, and the role they play in marketing to physicians and lobbying for additions to the vaccine schedules. If the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) could come up with a convincing explanation as to why, if the MMR vaccine doesn't have any connection to autism spectrum conditions,  they recently paid out huge settlements to families alleging a connection, it would certainly help us all. 

If those things actually happened, maybe the average person would be better equipped to look at all the evidence. 

Listening to celebrities arguing on television isn't any more productive than reading posts online pointing fingers and calling anyone who disagrees a jerk. 

Take a step back everyone. Recognize that the opposition has a point...probably several valid points here, and it doesn't matter which side you are on. 

Not just with vaccines, but on the vast majority of topics that exist in the universe.

Or you know....just keep doing what you're doing. 

Name calling, finger pointing and yelling at the wall.  

....because that is totally worth the energy. 

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Things That Piss Me Off Tuesday - the bullying, cruel irony, adhd, vaccines, propaganda and rape edition (whew)

Hi. There is a lot to cover today, and I'm actually avoiding news sites this morning because I am already overloaded here. I think I am going to return to a legal analysis piece at least once a week, because although I cover a lot of the issues here in TTPMOT, some of them just need a more detailed analysis.

I also updated the logo for TTPMOT because there are a few people out there who have taken this idea (and others I've come up with) and for-lack-of-a-better-way-to-put-it borrowed the idea. I'm going to go with borrowed. Yeah. Uh huh.


The Way to Combat Bullying is To Remove Whatever The Kid Being Bullied is Being Bullied About....Right???
Good lord, there are times that I don't want to live on this planet anymore. A few people sent me a story yesterday, but it was already on my radar, mostly because I tend to be a little closer to the Brony community than your average person and have already had some super awesome experiences with bullying.

If you haven't heard, 9 year old Grayson Bruce was told by North Carolina school officials that he was no longer allowed to wear his Rainbow Dash backpack to school because it was a trigger for bullying.

As the mother of a boy who wants a Rainbow Dash hoodie for his birthday (only because he's 20% cooler), this chaps my ass.

Let's review, shall we?

So instead of teaching the kids who are picking on him that their actions aren't appropriate, we are going to tell the kids who are being picked on that they can't love what they love, they can't be who they are, they can't express themselves however they choose because the bullies just won't be able to resist the urge to pick on them?

I guess women shouldn't wear skirts, too. I mean, men can't resist the urge to rape them, right?

Following this logic, we should just tell all children who have some aspects of their lives or personalities that don't fit into our tiny little boxes that they need to not be that way because the adults in charge can't be trusted to teach all the other kids to respect them.

What about the kids who are a different race or ethnicity? What about the learning disabled and handicapped kids? What about the kid with glasses and the kid with a speech impediment? What about the gay children? What about the kids that practice a religion other than what the majority does? Should they all just stop that too, lest they trigger the bullies???

Give me a fucking break.

We live in a world where we empower bullies. YES I SAID IT. I haven't written much about this because it will ruffle feathers, but it is the honest truth. We talk and talk and talk about combating bullying, but don't actually do much to address it. The good kids who are the ones being picked on are often made to feel, by the adults in positions of authority, as though they are to blame for what is happening....just like what is happening here. The parents of the bullies "just can't see their sweet angel child doing so and so", and the bully gets off with a warning. The kids being picked on get hauled into the office and interrogated, then returned to the schoolyard with the bully who didn't get in trouble last time. Repeat this a few times and you develop the bullies to the point where they pretty much think they are invincible precisely because they've been made that way. The good kids who are being picked on realize pretty quickly that there is no point in seeking help.

Oh, but we put up posters all over the school and have assemblies about how bullying is bad. That'll fix it.

Grayson has a Facebook page now titled Support For Grayson. You know what to do.

The Cruel Irony of Manufactured Hate
Fred Phelps, the man who founded the Westboro Baptist Church, is on his death bed. His estranged children have come forward, stating that he was recently excommunicated from the church, though the reasons why aren't clear at this point and the Church is refusing to comment.

Many have speculated whether the WBC may protest his funeral, though they claim that would be impossible since WBC members don't believe in having funerals and they don't believe Phelps will have a funeral.

Others have speculated whether his funeral (assuming one happens at all) might become a spectacle for other reasons. Phelps and his movement have become infamous for protesting all types of funerals in a desperate grab for a platform for their anti-gay speeches. They have not respected the dead. They have not respected the families and friends of the dead.

Some are calling for gay pride marches and parades at the time of his death.

I, for one, don't think any of it will come to fruition. At least I hope not.

I hope not because doing that would require whoever protests to stoop to his level. It would require people to sacrifice their own reverence of the dead just to make a point, which is no different than everything WBC stands for. 

Phelps will have to answer for his actions soon enough. I hope, for his sake, that he has asked for forgiveness and seen the error of his ways, though that isn't something I believe any of us is privy to. That's between him and the God he serves.

The moral high road is difficult to walk, but it's a walk worth taking, every single time.

ADHD Isn't Real
This pissed me right off. Richard Saul, a neurologist, just released a book on the issue and has written several articles, including the one Time ran this week. He asserts that ADHD, as the public knows it today, just doesn't exist.

He asserts that what we believe is ADHD is almost always some other underlying condition that just hasn't been detected, diagnosed or addressed.

Naturally, this all has the parents of children with ADHD shaking their heads. Though he makes several terribly valid points about the rates of diagnosis, the dramatic increase in medication, the side effects of medication and the existence of other potential issues, to me, it all gets lost simply because of his dismissiveness that the condition exists in the lives of people every single day.

I joked, somewhat, that I'd like to invite him to spend a day in my house and then tell me ADHD doesn't exist.

Are there probably a lot of kids misdiagnosed? Absolutely. 

Are there probably a lot of kids who are the way they are for other reasons that have nothing to do with ADHD, but ADHD is the easy label to slap on it? Sure.

Are there probably a lot of kids with comorbid conditions, where ADHD exists in conjunction with something else? ABSOLUTELY. I know because I have one of them. Her other issues neither negate or cause the ADHD.

Are there parents and doctors who rush to medicate kids that might benefit from cognitive behavior changes instead? Almost certainly.

Are there very real concerns about the use of strong stimulants in children, particularly when you weigh the risks of addiction later in life? Without a doubt.

Just because there are concerns, very legitimate ones, with the way that ADHD is diagnosed and treated does not negate its existence in all cases. We deliberately sought out every single other possible alternative with my daughter. We tried medication and dealt with the side effects he warns of, something that parents need to be made more aware of. We elected to pull her off her meds and use other methods. For him to just proclaim that there is no way that she has what she has is irresponsible.

Would we tolerate a doctor telling a diabetic that the disease was in their head?

Would we tolerate a physician telling a cancer patient that there was probably something else wrong with them and it wasn't really cancer?

Why do we put up with it when the conditions are mental health ones???

There is an argument to be made here that this doctor is just trying to sell books, just trying to start controversy. The title he chose for the Time article certainly seems to indicate that. The problem is that no one will pay attention to all the legitimate concerns he brings up if he approaches it from a standpoint that the condition itself is fake. He is doing a great disservice to children (and adults) who live with this every day.

The Vaccine Debate is Baaaaaaack
Here we go again. Wheeee.

Kristin Cavallari is the latest celebrity to throw her hat into the ring of the vaccine wars. Awesome. If you click on this link, there is a cool (but scary) interactive map showing all the preventable diseases that have resurfaced because of the anti-vax movement.

I've written about vaccines before, and my opinions aren't terribly popular. Get our your flamethrowers and pitchforks.

I have a background in public health and studied epidemiology, unlike most of the celebrities out there spouting their opinions about vaccines. I fully understand the value of herd immunity and that it will only work when a certain percentage of the population is immunized. I wholly understand that there are people who cannot receive vaccines because of allergies or hyper sensitive immune systems (hell, I even have one of those kids myself - and because of that we spaced and delayed his shots, but he eventually got them all).

I think we vaccinate against waaaaaay too many diseases and should reserve them for illnesses that can cause death or severe disability. I think we are administering too many vaccines at a time, particularly in infants, whose immune systems can become overloaded. I think that certain vaccines (particularly the HPV and H1N1 shots) were rushed to the market without enough testing and consideration of side effects. I think that we are urged to believe that vaccines confer total lifelong immunity when the truth is not exactly that. I think there needs to be more objective research about vaccine safety and efficacy, not just industry research.

I think that parents are scared to death because they don't know who to believe and I think too many people are making decisions purely out of fear.

Blurring the Lines of News and Propaganda 
You guys know that I am not a fan of fracking, nor of the huge increase in well sites around Colorado in the past few years. A huge well was just installed beside a brand new neighborhood not too far from here, and I can't help but feel for those homeowners.

I was disgusted this weekend when a special advertising insert appeared in the Denver Post Sunday edition. The entire thing, the same size and shape as the rest of the newspaper, styled to look as though it was just another section of the paper, was actually an advertisement for oil and gas. Paid for by the seemingly innocuous Coloradoans for Responsible Energy Development (CRED), it was designed to look objective and well researched, just like the commercials they are running on television and radio almost constantly around here.

CRED isn't an objective group. It's funded by Anadarko Petroleum and Noble Energy, with an absolute agenda to get citizens to accept drilling and fracking around them as quickly as possible with as little resistance as possible.

Frankly, I'm disappointed in the Post for allowing what amounts to a propaganda piece to be run in such a misleading manner, masquerading as actual objective reporting.

Don't Get Raped in Michigan
Told you guys there was a lot this week. Michigan passed a law forbidding (yes, forbidding) insurance plans from covering abortion, even in cases of rape. The only way to obtain coverage for abortion in cases of rape is to purchase a rider to the policy (which none of the plans are actually offering) ahead of time.

So, you should totes predict when you or your wife or your daughter will be raped, and be able to predict with certainty whether or not they would become pregnant from that rape ahead of time.

What is wrong with this country???

Never mind. Don't answer that.

Monday, March 17, 2014

The 2014 Summer Reading Challenge List

I know, I know....it's not even technically Spring yet.

I'm just so excited about having the kids home for summer when I can spend time working with them on the subjects we love. Last summer, we did a summer reading challenge, and got through 10 of the 12 books. I chose mostly classics, all of which had been made into movies. The kids all got very good at analyzing what they read and picking out the differences in the film adaptations.


This year, we are doing the same thing, with a new list of books. We'll just go into summer with a goal of 10 this time. Again, all books chosen have been made into movies at least once. I let them give me input this time around as far as what they wanted to read and we put the list together last night.

Fortunately, we already own most of these books, but I wanted to give anyone who wants to also participate a chance to get them or find them before summer begins. Many of the classics are available as ebooks for free download or to borrow from electronic libraries. I also tend to stalk the used book stores for the ones still missing in our collection. Libraries carry them all, but the timing may be difficult if you are going to try to keep pace with us as we go through the summer.

What I do is give you the list (and the week each book is assigned to) ahead of time. At the beginning of the week, I will remind you (via my Facebook page), which book we are reading. I encourage reading aloud, taking turns, depending on the ages and fluency of your children.

After last summer, my oldest daughter took off like a rocket in her reading comprehension and level. This is an absolutely wonderful way to foster a love of reading.

At the end of the week, I will open up a discussion on the book on my page. We generally try to watch the films sometime during the weekend, prior to starting the next book.

Here is the 2014 list, dates are the Monday of the week we will begin each book.

May 26 -       20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
June 2 -        Little Women
June 9 -        Catching Fire
June 16 -      Huckleberry Finn
June 23 -      off/catch-up
June 30 -      Divergent
July 7 -         Frankenstein
July 14 -       Of Mice and Men
July 21 -       Shakespeare: Hamlet, Romeo & Juliet
July 28 -       Edgar Allen Poe: stories and poems TBD
August 4 -    Diary of Anne Frank

Friday, March 14, 2014

The Trouble With Anyone Giving Parenting Advice...

I've been a parent now for going on 13 years, though I suppose you could make the argument that it's actually been a few more years than that - if you were to tack on my pregnancy before my oldest was born, and perhaps even the ill-fated pregnancy that ended before that one.

I've seen things, you guys.

I've carried bleeding kids into the ER.

I've been on the phone with Children's at 3am while a child hemorrhaged from an allergic reaction (that one was NOT fun, by the way).

I've held three of them in an operating room as the anesthesia took them under, watching in horror as their faces went blank and their eyes rolled back (seriously, I don't recommend it unless you really think you need to be in there).

I've stayed up all night watching them breathe.

I've been raged at, attacked, hit and kicked. I've been screamed at. I've been the soft place to land and paid dearly for it more than once.

I've dealt with allegies, asthma, mental illness, adhd in multiple forms, and a whole laundry list of other things.

And even still, I wouldn't presume to tell another parent how to raise their child.

The problem is that we live in a society where new parents believe they must seek guidance about everything. From the moment of conception almost, they are surrounded by the experts who tell them what is best, what is wrong, what is safe, what is dangerous, what is the only way to properly raise a child.

There are as many ways to raise a child as there are children in the world.

There is no set of guidelines or criteria or rules that could possibly ever apply to siblings in the same household, let alone children from different families in different areas from different backgrounds. It's a fallacy to believe that there ever could be.

And yet, the experts want us to believe that there is, because it is what sells books. It is what feeds this incessant need of ours as parents to believe that we are doing the right thing. It is what fosters this bizarre societal insistence that one way is better than another and leads to parents judging one another rather than supporting one another.

One of those experts wrote a post last week about how electronic devices are ruining our children, in a top ten list format, supposedly backed up with all kinds of evidence of why she is right and why any parent who allows access to these things is wrong. She went so far as to say that handheld devices should be banned because of her assertions.



The trouble is that while excessive use of devices, or electronics of any variety, certainly comes with negative consequences...so does anything.

Literally.

Too much of anything is detrimental. You can even die of water intoxication. 

What is lacking in our society today is any level of awareness of moderation. The experts cling to the outliers as evidence that they are right about alleging these harms, and certainly there may be cases where they are right. The truth is though, that I am a skeptic.  I simply don't believe that the average child is consuming 8-10 hours a day of electronics as she alleges.

I don't.

Are there some? Perhaps there are, but they aren't any children that I know. Doing the math, on a weekday where school is in session, even if we assume that the child has access to a computer for an hour a day at school (which is on the high side), that would mean that they spent 7-9 additional hours outside of school watching television, on a phone, tablet or computer. My kids don't get home until 4pm and they go to bed by 9. The math simply makes the numbers she alleges impossible.

But bigger numbers seem more impressive, more daunting, more impacting. The higher the amount of time she can accuse us of parking our children in front of screens, the less attentive we are, the less involved we are, the more horrible parents we are, and the more we are inevitably failing our children.

Never mind that the math doesn't even work. She's probably not concerned about accuracy or averages, she just wants to scare us. 

You also might want to be made aware of the fact that the woman who wrote this article is selling a product to you to help you manage your children's time better. First though, she must convince you that you need it.

I told you I was a skeptic.

Should children spend all day in front of a screen? Of course not.

Should parents be trusted to moderate their usage? Yes.

Should so-called experts have to reveal their ulterior motives whilst shaming parents? Absolutely.

Look, I'm not out of touch. The world we live in now is a technology based one. There aren't even textbooks in many schools anymore because everything is online these days. Reality is that electronics are going to be a part of the lives of our children. We can choose to educate ourselves, embrace the advances, parent the children we have and make our own choices OR we can listen to experts with financial agendas who seem hellbent on scaring us into submission.

Your choice.

I should confess that one of my children learned to read because she wanted to sing on the Rockband game. That child is now reading four grades above grade level.

I should confess that one of my children is already writing code that I can't even comprehend.

I should confess that one of my children, who quite literally cannot focus on actual books, can read on a Kindle much better and easier.

I should confess that we purchased a Leapfrog device for my youngest to help him learn. He's a very tech saavy kid and will spend far more time with that than he ever would sitting and reading.

As parents, we have to do what works for us, what works for our kids. Sometimes that might mean embracing technology, and that is okay.

I promise, you aren't ruining your kids.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Why I won't #banbossy

Oh, this world we live in.

It's nothing new, this observation that assertive little girls are often referred to by adults as bossy. It's nothing new, the fact that this word is not usually used in reference to boys the same way. It's nothing new, the notion that it might make some girls less likely to speak their minds. It's nothing new, this idea that we need to treat children in a more gender neutral way to encourage all of them to reach their full potential.

It's nothing new.

Honest.

It's news though, right now, because women in positions of influence have decided to jump on the bandwagon to crusade against this word.

It's just a word.

For the love.

Here's the thing.

Just because Sheryl Sandberg says we're supposed to care, we're supposed to get all riled up about this now? Seriously?

No.

I'll tell you why.

There are a million other far more worthy causes that these women with actual power and influence could be channeling their energy into. They could be advocating for a plethora of causes. They could be using this platform to talk about industries and professions where women are underrepresented. They could be talking about how women still get paid a fraction of what men do for the same work. They could be talking about how cutting assistance programs and aid disproportionately affects women and children.

They could.

They could be doing something that would actually help people in real time.

Instead, they are talking about a word.

A word that, in all likelihood, they heard at some point. I word that I heard many times when I was a little girl. A word that I ignored. A word that didn't define me. A word that, quite literally just annoyed me then, just like it annoys me now.

One of my daughters came home upset not too long ago from school. She told me that her friends didn't want to play with her anymore. I asked her why. She said they all told her she was being bossy. I asked her if she was being bossy. She said yes. So, instead of ascribing any sort of value to the word or allowing her to believe that the way she was treating other people was justifiable, I asked her why she thought she was being bossy.

Turns out she was telling them all what to do. She was telling them what to play at recess, who to do it with and how to do it. She was being bossy.

There is a fundamental difference between being assertive and being bossy, something that is totally being missed in this new found social conflict. Being assertive means giving voice to your opinions. Sticking up for yourself. Using your words. It doesn't mean ordering other people around...that's what being bossy is.

No one wants to deal with someone who is bossy, regardless of their gender, regardless of their age, regardless of the position they hold. Period.

Instead of trying to get an entire society to stop using a word (which seems silly if I am being honest), why aren't they focusing their efforts on teaching girls (and all children for that matter) that other people shouldn't be allowed to define them?

I've taught my daughters from the time they were born that the things other people say are just that - words. Words only have the power that we allow them, so why would we choose to give so much power to one little word?

Women can do whatever men can do, though there is an argument to be made that little girls would never question that truth unless we kept giving them reasons to, which is exactly what this project is doing.

"Stop telling little girls they can be anything they want when
they grow up. Not because they can't, but because it never
would have occurred to them that they couldn't."
~Sarah Silverman

My girls are both smart and talented and passionate about science and math. Not because someone told them they could be, but because no one ever told them they couldn't be. 

Considering they are both in the STEM leadership group for school, I'm thinking it is working.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Always Through

I hit a milestone of sorts today, one that I didn't actually see coming.

I have been in therapy for...oh...about a year straight now. About this time last year, I finally realized that what was going on with me was bigger than anything I could handle myself. The panic attacks were multiplying. The insomnia and nightmares were getting worse. The triggers seemed to send me spiraling faster and deeper.

Whatever it was, it was too big for me.

As it turns out, I had developed PTSD on top of already having a long standing anxiety disorder. Not a good combination, trust me.

When too many bad things happen, when too much loss happens, when there are too many tragedies, when there is too much struggle, sometimes we can't deal with it all.

We think we can. We get by. We function, barely. All the while, though I was functioning, my brain was unable to process everything.

It got stuck.

I got stuck.

I needed help to find a way out, and I finally went and got it.

The things that happened were all terrible and awful. There really is no way for me to sugarcoat any of it. I know that sometimes when you are in the thick of an experience, it's possible to over exaggerate the degree of its significance in your life.

I couldn't have possibly over exaggerated this.

In a lot of ways, I probably tried to minimize it as much as I could purely as a survival mechanism.

The trouble was that even when life started to calm down, when the tragedies stopped coming, when the losses slowed down, nothing got better for me. I had to go back through it all, reliving it in therapy, allowing my brain to untangle the connections and process it properly.

PTSD has been explained to me as a giant tangled ball of holiday lights. There might be different strings, they each have a beginning and an end, but once they are all tied up together, it seems impossible to think you could ever get it all untangled. Each string represents a separate trauma.

EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprogramming) is targeted therapy for PTSD. It forces you to go back to the moment the harm occurred over and over and over again until those connections can be loosened. It eases the jumble apart, lets the ends find a way out. Over time, you find that the strands are all neatly separated, ready to be stored safely where they belong.

I couldn't even begin to try to explain why or how it works. I just know that it does.

I graduated today.

I completed EMDR. I untangled it all. Memories or things that would have been triggers before are just mildly uncomfortable occurrences now. I can shrug it off and go on now instead of slipping down the rabbit hole.

Without being drug down and held hostage by the past, I am free to live in the present. To look, with hope, to the future.


I wouldn't wish what happened to me on anyone. I wouldn't want another person to have to endure what I did. As hard as EMDR was, as terrifying as it was to relive it all, as reluctant as I was at times to keep it up, it saved me.

And now I am here.

On this side.

I have a few more scars...but hey, scars are sexy, right?

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