Monday, December 31, 2012

If you drink, don't drive,

... do yourself a favor. Tonight is a night when so many will be out celebrating the end of the 2012 and the beginning of 2013. Please, make a plan. If you drink, don't drive! If you drive, don't drink! Not complicated. But it does require some thinking ahead. It requires you to think about using an alternate form of transportation such as a taxi, or using a designated driver, or being a designated driver. It might mean that you provide a place for your guests to stay, or that you provide a driver. There are many ways to be responsible.

Now I have nothing against enjoying yourself. I have nothing against those who choose to enjoy alcohol. Personally, I will be celebrating 32 years of sobriety in a few weeks, but that is because I am an alcoholic. I do not begrudge you one sip. But I do want you to think ahead and plan accordingly.

If you drink, please do not drive. I don't care how much you drink, one drink or several. Drinking and driving do not mix.

Lives are changed, destroyed in the blink of an eye. When my husband was killed by a drunk driver not only was my family destroyed but the family of the young woman who killed him was changed forever.

I know, most people think this can't happen to me. The young woman who killed my husband did not think she was impaired when she got on the freeway going the wrong direction and hit him head on at 60 miles per hour.

So, celebrate.Enjoy the party! Have a great time, but have a plan in place. Please.

If you drink do not drive!!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

A Christmas thought

The quote for the day is...
There's nothing sadder in this world than to awake Christmas morning and not be a child.~~Erma Bombeck~~

Now, when you read that do not think, oh dear, that is so right. Think, I am a child. A child of the Creator, and I deserve to believe that I am a beautiful, wonderful, worthwhile individual with so much to offer myself and those I love. The most important things I have to offer have nothing to do with the house being spotless, or the decorations being Martha Stewart worthy, or the Christmas dinner being course after course of delicious. What I have to offer is the heart of a worthwhile person. A heart that knows that I am intelligent, and caring, and worthy of treating myself well. A heart that is able to be a better mother, wife, sister, daughter, friend because I know my value.

Take time today to rest, even though you have things to do. Take some time to get at least a few moments with yourself, and remind yourself that a confident, loving smile is worth more than anything you can possibly accomplish today. Remind yourself that when we wake up on Christmas morning we are all someone's child, and relax and enjoy the day, no matter the circumstances. CHOOSE to believe in yourself, CHOOSE to hear only the truth about yourself from yourself and others, CHOOSE to remember who you are and nothing else can take that wonder away from the day. Relax, refresh your spirit, and wake up Christmas morning with the eyes and heart of a child!
Peace and Blessings,

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Those are people, mijo

As our nation, and the world continues to mourn, we need to continue to have the hard conversations about so many different things.This morning, for the first time, I read a message board thread that was a balanced civil discussion. It was such a relief to know that people were able to move towards that.

We all bring our own views and experiences to any conversation. When I discuss my views on guns-it really is helpful that people know that I have my reasons for my views. My reasons come from my experiences. As a child I grew up with older brothers who hunted and carried handguns. I have hunted with one of my brothers and his son. As an adult I have been the survivor of random gun violence. I bring all of these experiences and more to any discussion involving guns.

When the topic is mental health I bring my life as a person with mental health issues to the discussion. I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder when I was 19-ok, I was diagnosed as manic depressive, they didn't call it bipolar disorder back then(yes, I am old). I was diagnosed with PTSD and panic and anxiety 10 years ago. Major depressive disorder is one of the labels that is in my medical records.I manage my mental health with medication and therapy. I bring all of these experiences with me to any discussion of mental health issues.

When the discussion is about parenting my experience growing up in a dysfunctional family comes with me along with my experience as a parent.A parent of a young man with autism.

So all, of these different parts of us come into any conversation, and this is a good thing. There are so many conversations that we need to be holding.It is my fervent hope that we start talking and keep talking until we can move forward.  I am honestly sorry to my friends who think it is not the time yet. I get where you are coming from, but if not now, when. For me, it is time to talk to each other, and to keep talking to each other. So, I will hopefully be writing on all of these issues in the near future.

 While we may never know what Adams problems really were, or what the dynamics  in the family were, etc., we have read that there were issues, and that people were aware of the issues. The words autism and aspergers keep being bandied about, and that is an issue for me.

My son is blessed with autism. We want you to know that autism/aspeger's did not kill anyone.We want you to know that persons on the autism spectrum are much more likely to be victims than perpetrators. Much more likely to be victims of violence and bullying and abuse than to be the We want you to see my son walking through the store and not be afraid of him.Yes, I know, that if you are in a public place with us you might look at me funny when you hear me say "Those are people, mijo" as my son starts from point A to point B. That is me reminding my son to be careful, to be aware that he is 6'7" and 350 pounds and that he needs to walk responsibly and make sure he remembers to be polite and respectful. He doesn't need to be reminded as often as he used to. In fact not long ago he turned and looked at me and said "I know that." As a mom, that was  good moment, a moment when I knew that the lessons are learned. Of course, I am also the mom who still automatically throws her right arm across the chest of anyone in the passenger seat if she has to hit the brakes when driving, so I am pretty sure "Those are people, mijo," will still come out of my mouth.

Today I am still attempting to process some of the things I have read about the choices Adam's mother made in her parenting.I have to admit that when I  read that Nancy Lanza told her friend that "she introduced guns to Adam as a way to teach him responsibility" I bring my experiences with me and I have trouble grasping and processing that information.

My son is a young man now, and I still work every day to instill respect and responsibility in him.He makes me quite proud, truth is, there are days he is more responsible than I am.We chose to teach responsibility by having a pet to care for. Having the expectations of behavioral goals that needed to be met.  My son has chores lists. He has had chores commensurate with his abilities all of his life. While he knew his dad was a softie, he knew that if mom got home from work at midnight and the chores weren't done, he would get up and do them. I actually only had to get him up 2 or 3 times to teach him that.

So, like everyone, the tragedy last Friday is on my mind. Like everyone, I think about how we are responding and as a nation. Like each of us, I will bring my experiences with me to the conversation. I will attempt to keep the conversation civil and respectful, but I will not stop attempting to keep the conversations going. I owe to my son,and the people I love.  I owe it to the friends and family members who are burying their loved ones this week, and I owe it to myself. And like my son, I will try to remember as we go through this, in private and in public to never forget...
Those are people, mijo.


Monday, December 17, 2012

The Little Things

Sometimes, in the midst of great sadness, or crisis we feel totally useless. As if we have nothing to offer. This is true at times like now when we are all mourning a great tragedy. It is also true at times when the only sadness or tragedy is personal. One of the things I struggle with when I am dealing with my depression is the feeling that I am not helping anyone else. Helping, teaching, sharing my stories with others is one of the things I know I am supposed to do with my life.

When my life struggles get in the way of that, it compounds the issues for me. There are very few things in life that I use the word hate for, but one of the things I do use it for is this. I HATE feeling useless. I HATE feeling that I am not encouraging and supporting others in my life as I should.

But this is simply not true. This is one of those things that I need to remember to take my own advice. I need to remember when I start feeling unneeded and useless to ask myself the same questions I have counseled others to ask.To ask yourself if the things you are saying to yourself are the truth, or if they are just negative untruths you have learned over the years. Most likely they are untruths, because the truth is each one of us is a beautiful, worthwhile individual, deserving of the very best thoughts. So the next time you here yourself say something untrue about yourself, STOP, and replace it with a true statement. How will I know it is untrue, you ask? Here is the best test, would you say it to me, or any one of your friends? If not, then it is untrue, replace with something true!!

So, in a conversation this morning I said to a friend that I feel guilty for the times when I am mired in my depression and I am not helping someone else. She said to me, "You help us all by just being yourself, and though you might not feel strong, we know you are strong." Now, if you asked her she might think that statement was just a little thing, but to me it was huge.

After this conversation, I got dressed to go out and take care of some errands. It's been cloudy and dreary here for days, and of course, it's just a few days before the shortest day of the year, so sunshine has been at a premium. I am one of those people who NEEDS the sun. Dark and gloomy really gets to me. So, while getting ready this morning, I felt the need for some color. I pulled out a summer skirt and top that are splashed in bright blues, greens and orange shades. One of my favorite summer outfits-bright and filled with sunshine! This choice was a small, insignificant act on my part. I just felt the need for a bit of color in a sad dreary time. But, this small insignificant act in my life reminded me in the next 2 hours that small things, the little things, have great value.

In the 2 hours I spent running errands, at each of the 3 places I stopped, the first thing I heard were compliments on my outfit. The lady coming out of the convenience store as I was going in smiled at me.

"What a lovely skirt." she said.
"Thank you, I just felt the need for some color this morning"
"I'm so glad you did. Maybe we all do, thank you."

A perfect stranger thanked me for wearing a bright sunshiny skirt. Now I was smiling. My small, insignificant choice made her smile, and her compliment made me smile. I am not useless, she is not useless. We were both used to bring a bit of light to an otherwise gloomy day. Yes, it truly is the little things in life!!
In this life we cannot do great things.
We can only do small things with great love. ~Mother Teresa~

Sunday, December 16, 2012

More thoughts on our loss

When you write a blog, you put your thoughts out there for all to see. I am often astonished to look at the stats for my blog. I have followers around the world(bless each and every one of you). I have friends in other countries, so I assume I will see those countries, but I know no one in Russia, Malaysia, Indonesia, and many other countries. Yet, they read my thoughts. So, yesterday, in the midst of our nations grieving, I chose to blog some of my thoughts.

Now, my thoughts are mine. I received many messages of support for what I wrote, but I also received more than one message telling me I was wrong. Which is fine, because we all bring our own experiences to any issue. But, at some point, we have to be willing to discuss.

My experiences and beliefs lead me to weep for all who died. Yes, as I said yesterday, I include the young man and his mother in my prayers. Someone told me that they just couldn't understand praying for someone who was pure evil. They couldn't understand that I could differentiate between the tragedy being monstrous and the young man being a monster. Let me tell you why I weep for Adam.

I read the descriptions in the papers this morning of his behaviors in school. Those who know me can guess who I immediately thought of. I could have been reading about my son. I immediately had the thought that I could have been Adam's mother.Yes, I pray for Adam. I can not think of him as monster, or evil. I will not, as someone said I should, call him IT. When I pray for Adam and his mother I will call him Adam. Just as I will call all of the children and adults who died by their names when I pray for them and for those who mourn them. Just as I call the 22 year old who killed my husband Jessica in my daily prayers.I will continue to pray for Adam, and for each and every one of our children who were lost in this tragic, horrendous act. I will not call anyone IT, I will not think of anyone as pure evil or a monster, because there is a part of me that thinks that is perhaps part of the problem. We demean and dehumanize when we stop thinking of human beings as human beings.

There are so many issues that need to be discussed, so many. We will not all agree on how to change things, but I honestly think we can all agree that some things need changed. It is possible to have friends that you are diametrically opposed to what they support and still remain friends. I know this because it is true in my life. I have friends from all political and religious parts of the spectrum and we love each other. I think it maybe because while we can think the person is wrong or misguided we can respect that they have the right to feel and believe what they do. We understand that people can honestly look at things and understand them differently. Different doesn't mean someone is right and someone is wrong, it simply means different.And, honestly, differences can be discussed without demonizing or marginalizing the other persons opinion. In fact, as members of society we should each make it our project to bring the civic conversations in this country back to this.Because, the truth is, words have power, and you have no way of knowing who you are hurting with your words.

So many issues that need to be discussed. We owe it to all of the ones we lost to make sure these things get discussed. I refuse to believe that now is not the time. It is past time, and we all need to make sure that we don't get through the next few days in our grief and then return to business as usual. We all need to make sure that all of the issues can be discussed, and addressed. Because,I can not stop feeling that I could have been Adam's mother.

I'll be writing a lot about my thoughts and experiences in this our time of loss. I will inspire some, I will offend some, but I will continue to share-because all of the children were our children and we all mourn, and writing is one of the ways I mourn.

All human beings are limbs of each other,
having been created of one essence.

When time affects a limb with pain,
The other limbs cannot at rest remain.

If thou feel not other's misery,
A human being is no name for thee.

great iranian poet - sa'adi - c. 1210-1290


Saturday, December 15, 2012

Once again

Once again, our nation reels in the aftermath of the unthinkable. We see our friends on fb and message boards trying to come to terms with the horrors of a mass shooting. It's been a difficult week for our national psyche.

It's been a hard week for our personal psyche.

I wrestle with this as someone whose body and psyche bear the scars of gunshot wounds from random gun violence; as the widow of a man killed by a drunk driver;as the parent of a young adult male blessed with autism; as someone who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at 19-and has managed to have a good life;as someone who who has friends who own guns, and friends who don't. There are no easy answers, but it is past time for the conversations to take place

There are many levels of conversation that need to take place.I cringed when I heard the words autism and aspergers in the news yesterday. It is difficult enough for my gentle giant man-child to walk through a public place without hearing hateful words being directed at him. We don;t need the additional stigma. There are those thinks meds should be banned-we have no knowledge of any meds yet. I take meds for mental health issues, and they make my life better.There are those of us who think reasonable gun control laws will help.There are those who think we all need more guns (have to admit that one eludes me)There are just so many different issues here. I admit that when I heard that the guns belonged to his mother I had difficulty wrapping my head around a mother with a child with some issues having a Bushmaster .223 semi-automatic rifle and body armor in her home. But, saying that gets me lambasted by my friends who own guns. There has to be a way for us to discuss ALL of the issues in a reasonable way.I don't know that there are any easy answers, I do know that we have to discuss these things.

Many Americans want reasonable controls on who can purchase firearms, when, how, and what kind. They don't want to interfere with hunting or keep non-violent law abiding people from having a registered handgun at home for protection, but required safety classes, no semi-automatic weapons, waiting periods, registration, and no criminal records seem reasonable enough. But,I get that there is disagreement, I just think we have to stop lining up against people with differing opinions and seek a reasonable compromise. Come let us reason together.

I see my fb feed filling up with people who are asking their friends to post 20 stars for the children and 6 stars for the adults who were killed yesterday. I get that. But for me there were 8 adults killed yesterday and my prayers have to include the young man and his mother. I have to pray for them all.

I see comments everywhere referring to the young man as a monster, a psychopath, sociopath, evil, etc. I get that, but I cringe when I read that, because we have no idea exactly what happened in this young man's brain. I can agree that what happened was monstrous, horrific, and has changed us all. I have to include him in my prayers, because in my faith traditions, he is being held and healed by a loving Creator.More than one person has commented that they looked at his picture and could tell he was evil. I looked at his picture and wept for the sweet child I saw. I  have to pray for the father and brother who are left to mourn in the midst of unthinkable pain.

So many conversations need to happen, and while we are numb with shock and grief,we can still begin to have those conversations. Conversations about gun controls, conversations aobut mental health issues, conversations about a society that seems to glorify violence. All of these things need to be discussed. Not with finger pointing and rancor. Not with defensive posture towards those whose ideas are different than ours. But with compassion, and caring, and civility. We seem to have lost that, and perhaps that is also one of the things we need to discuss.

We're all reeling over the news. Believe me, I get it. In addition to the sense of helplessness, disbelief,and shock we all feel when these things happen, it brought lots of memories up for me. I am a gun violence survivor. Random, senseless violence. It leaves us all reeling. But, it is time to move forward after the shock wears off. It is time to come together, to reason together over the multiple issues at work here. It's past time.

As I pray for each family of the 28 people who were killed I will go back to the poem that has brought me solace in the violent death of my husband...may each one who mourns be comforted...

Love is stronger than death.
So I must be content to know that
love is not affected by death--
it doesn't end, it doesn't diminish,
it doesn't change.
Instead, love is immortalized
and eternalized through death.
And the possibility of that love ever
being damaged or broken
is eliminated forever.
I'll put my trust in love.


Sunday, September 9, 2012

For My Friends

So, I have asked for prayers and healing energies a couple of times this week, and I Have some amazing friends who do just that. Thank You. I am in need of some miracles right now, but the one thing I know I have is the love and support of many friends across the country.

So, this morning as I attempt to keep myself sane for one more day, I thought I probably owe some explanation to those loving caring friends.More than that, I owe a deep debt of gratitude to those who have been praying and sending love and energies.Believe me the gratitude is much easier to convey.

I am depressed, more deeply depressed than I have ever been, or than I ever thought I would be. I have dealt with depression all of my life, and like many, when I am managing it I think I will never get here again. But here I am.

This is a good news bad news situation for me right now.

 The bad news, I have lost 9 months of my life to depression, I have let my life slip away, not taking care of the things I need to, and not realizing how deep into the pit I had sunk. When you are in the deep dark place you don't always realize that is where you are. Your thinking is so screwed up, your head filled with the fears, and guilt and shame and hopelessness.

The good news, I only lost 9 months. I have been nearly this depressed before, and it took me nearly 3 years to figure out that depression was the issue and that I wasn't going to be able to manage it on my own.  But that was a very long time ago, and I honestly thought I would never allow it to happen again. That seems like such an arrogant line of thought this morning.

The bad news, asking for help is the single most difficult thing for me to do, ever.I have known I was depressed for months now, but did not have the strength to do anything about it. I would get up in the morning thinking I could take care of the things I needed to and end the day thinking abut how I failed but that  I will be stronger tomorrow. The good news, I had enough strength to ask for my friends to send me love and energies,and I was able to make the phone call and get an appointment with the county mental health organization.More good news, I was able to call a friend and admit to her how bad I have screwed things up and say the 3 most difficult words in the  world, I need help.The very best good news is my friend knows how hard that is for me and immediately loved me through that conversation.Allowing someone to-help me has always been the most difficult thing for me to do, so once again I have the opportunity to overcome that particular obstacle in my life.

The bad news is I am afraid. The good news is I am stepping into that fear. I have often quoted a line from one of my favorite books...Fear is the mindkiller.It truly is.It has taken me over and robbed me of my ability to participate in life. When Mr. Bill was alive, he helped me cope with the fears and so I rarely had to let anyone else see how deeply controlled me. One time in the midst of a panic attack he made the remark that I was so strong most of the time that no one but him had any idea that instead of a competent woman I was just a scared little girl. Well, this scared little girl doesn't have her knight in shining armour to help her cope, so she has had to step into the fear and ask her friends. You have no idea how hard that is.

I know I have always been open about the fact that I deal with depression. What I haven't been aware of is that I haven't been able to deal with it this year. But that's the bad news, the good news is I have taken some baby steps. I have made the appointment, I have reached out. Two things so difficult for me right now that they are making me physically ill. But, I did it.

So many care about me,which at this time in my fear doesn't really make sense to me.So many wanted to know what was wrong that I thought this was the easiest way to tell you all. Several have asked how can they help, and right now I honestly don't know how to answer that other than to say keep praying and sending me loving energies. The physical, mental, and financial hole is deep, but with the love of my friends I think I can find a way to start to climb out. A few months ago a friend of mine told me she missed me, and my answer is  I miss me too, and I want to find me again.

So keep praying, keep the love and energies coming, you have no idea how much they mean to me. It's the only way I'll have the strength to start to find me.


Thursday, August 23, 2012

Always Say I Love You

Today is a hard day for me. Just a couple of short years ago I went to bed on August 22 married to  a great husband and father, and woke up on August 23 his widow. The grieving process seems to be taking me a very long time-but as my therapist says it takes as long as it takes. Part of the problem is that so much else has gone wrong in my life since my husband was killed, but that is a subject for other days.

Today, I will grieve, but I will also know that I am surrounded by the love and caring and support of family and friends and even a few strangers. Today, in the midst of my grief I will temper the sadness with remembering the good, sharing the blessings.One of the most difficult parts of being a widow, is that there is no one to talk to in the middle of the night. Mr. Bill and used to talk to each other for hours at a time. We were very much blessed by being very much in love, but we also genuinely liked each other.

One of the things that made our marriage good was that we talked to each other. If I were giving advice to those getting married it would be to set aside time every day-no matter how busy or hectic your life can get-to talk to each other.Talk about your life, talk about your dreams, talk about the weather-but talk to each other.The other advice I would give is never end a conversation without saying I love you.

Now, I know that sounds a bit contrived, but Mr. Bill and I never regretted making it a rule for our life. Believe me, many,many minor disagreements were settled with just those 3 words. Major disagreements brought into focus, routine conversations made sweeter.It was such a habit for us, that if a phone conversation ended without it being said, we immediately called back.It was a habit that we extended to our conversations with our son-much to his chagrin sometimes. But, hey, isn't it a parents job to make their teenage son squirm?

But doesn't constantly saying I love you trivialize the sentiment? Doesn't it change the 3 most important words in the language into something less meaningful when it simply becomes a habit? My answer is HOW? How can you ever make love not meaningful. I grew up in a home where the words I love you didn't exist, and when I finally found love I knew never to take it for granted. Never. I remember the first I knew what love truly was, and the overwhelming sensation that enveloped me. Not something I would ever be able to take for granted. That was one of the reasons Mr. Bill and I made it a habit to always say I love you, we knew that love was so important that we must never take it for granted.

On that August 22nd, Mr. Bill had started a new job, and we worked different schedules that day. He called me from his new job on every break. That was another one of our habits, we called each other on our breaks. That night, I was at home,and he called me on his breaks and lunch. The last time we spoke was about 11:00 pm. He told me he would be working until about 2:00am, and for me to not wait up. "Take your medicine and go to bed," he said, "you'll  wake up when I get home.I love you." My answer was "OK, wake me up so I can hear about your new job. I love you." I took my medicine and went to bed.

My husband coming home from work wasn't what woke me in the early hours of August 23rd. A Highway Patrolman knocking on  our door to inform me that my husband had been killed by a drunk driver on his way home from that new job is what woke me.While I will never forget that moment when I opened the door and what that highway Patrolman said to me, the more important thing is I will never, NEVER forget that the very last words my husband heard from me,and that I heard from my husband were I LOVE YOU.

Always tell those you love that you love them. Never let a conversation end without reinforcing that.Life can change in the blink of an eye, and if you didn't say it you may not have another opportunity. Make it a habit, make it meaningful, never ever take love for granted.

Always say I love you.


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Words have Power

So, here I am again this morning upset by something on the news. Now, I have mentioned before that I have a major depression disorder. I have mentioned that I am struggling right now to bring myself out of one of the deepest depression episodes I have ever had. It isn't easy, and I am not talking about it to garner sympathy. I talk about it because I know I am not the only person who struggles, and if my being open and transparent about it helps even one person know they are not alone, then it is good for me to talk about it. It's not easy to share about something as misunderstood as depression, especially when you are someone who is often the one your friends count on for encouragement and inspiration.But it seems important to share.

Some days I think must have fallen asleep and awakened in a different universe. Or maybe I am just getting old,but honestly, I don't remember civil discourse being so polarized and divided when I was younger. People have always disagreed, not seen eye to eye on things from religion to politics to current events to sports. I think, back before we communicated through a keyboard we remembered that those we disagreed with were fellow human beings because we were looking them in the eye.It was possible to engage in spirited debate and still remain civil.

It is possible to have friends that you are diametrically opposed to what they support and still remain friends. I know this because it is true in my life. I have friends from all political and religious parts of the spectrum and we love each other. I think it maybe because while we can think the  person is wrong or misguided we can respect that they have the right to feel and believe what they do. We understand that people can honestly look at things and understand them differently. Different doesn't mean someone is right and someone is wrong, it simply means different.And, honestly, differences can be discussed without demonizing or marginalizing the other persons opinion. In fact, as members of society we should each make it our project to bring the civic conversations in this country back to this.Because, the truth is, words have power, and you have no way of knowing who you are hurting with your words.

So, this morning, I actually woke up felling a bit stronger. I do have some great friends,and like my last post talked about, even in the midst of my struggles there are Everyday Miracles and good medicine. Now when I reminisce about the fact that people were nicer to each other back in the days when we could see each other I am in no way disparaging the community that can be created in cyberspace. I have made some amazing friends on message boards and facebook. In fact, for someone like me who is disabled and doesn't get out much anymore, social media can be a lifeline. but it can also be a minefield.

So, what has me so upset? Well, summer isn't good for me anymore anyway. My late husband's birthday, our wedding anniversary, and in 2 days the anniversary of his being killed by a drunk driver tend to not help me deal with my depression. But, I hang in there the best I can, and struggle through. This summer has been even more of a minefield, with the shootings in Colorado and Wisconsin. I am a survivor of random gun violence, and so the news tended to trigger my panic/anxiety issues. This week, it's the war of words over rape. Honestly, my PTSD kicked in the minute I read the first article.

I am a rape survivor, and really, I thought we had come so much farther in our thinking. I am not addressing the political aspects of this weeks brouhaha. I am just reacting to the insensitive words used by so many. In 1983, I was attacked and raped. I ended up in the emergency room with lumps and bruises and a broken collarbone. I dealt with the misogynistic treatment at the hands of the police and prosecutor's office. Apparently, since I wasn't a virgin, they felt it would be hard to prosecute. Crazy? Yeah, it was. The treatment I received from the authorities was, even in 1983, backwards and anachronistic. The man that attacked me went to jail, but ONLY because after he attacked me he went on a rampage and took an axe to a pay phone at a gas station. I guess I should have just considered myself lucky he didn't get the axe out of his car trunk until after he left me broken and bruised  in the alley behind my house.

I honestly thought we had come farther than that kind of thinking, but as I read comments on facebok and news pages, I see that we haven't. I feel like women my age should apologize to younger women. We thought we fought the battles for fair treatment and won them. Maybe we just thought once we achieved better it would stay that way, and apparently we have dropped the ball.

In can honestly accept that people have different political or even religious beliefs. What I can't accept is stone age language devaluing and trivializing rape. Words have power. No matter which side you are on in any debate, please, stand up for civility. Choose your words carefully, and ask others to do the same. The people those words hurt may be someone you love.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Everyday Miracles and The Best Medicine

I've had a really stressed out crappy day. Seems like they are like that lately. Life has been really hard,and quite frankly has worn me out. The months of triple digit weather have left me feeling depleted, physically, spiritually, and financially. After catching up the electric and gas bills,buying some groceries, getting my sons prescriptions filled, I am left with 86 cents in the bank and the low fuel light is on in my car. It is the 15th of the month, how is that supposed to work?

But, in the midst of all that, I am reminded that I am indeed blessed. I was able to catch up the electric bill, which was twice what I had budgeted the last few months because of those triple digit temps, because of a small miracle. I was sitting in my meditation spot, talking to Creator, wondering how to pay the bill.Nothing came to mind, I finished my meditations. Grabbed a cup of coffee and logged on the computer. There I was reading my facebook feed and I got a message from a friend. Check my paypal account. This friend had felt like I needed to be blessed. There was the money for to catch up the electric bill. Now I use the word friend, but this is someone who I have never met in person, someone I met in a community on the computer.Amazing. Even though we are not of the same religion, we both had our faith reinforced that day. I was reminded that in the midst of my stressed out crappy life Spirit still hears me and she was reminded that in the midst of some spiritual questioning she still hears Spirit.

A few days later, in another cyber community, I asked my friends to say extra prayers for me. That's all, I didn't share the need, I just asked for prayers, because being broke this summer because of the heat and everything costing too much is just not conducive to me climbing out of the depression I have been struggling with. But, one of the needs was the gas bill. Granted, I don't need the gas for heat, but hot water is a good thing.Later that day, I got a message from another friend-this one I have met personally, but we originally met online-again the message was to check my paypal account. There was the money to pay the gas bill and get some groceries.

So, I know that Spirit is aware of me, and that I have friends who hear Spirit. Those seem really rather miraculous to me these days.Depression is a terrible disease, one that take's a lot of my energy to deal with,and I just haven't had the extra energy lately. But, even though it feels like my steps forward can be measured in centimeters, I do think I am starting to move forward a bit,and as I am often heard to say...every step you take is a step away from where you used to be. Now it may only be a centimeter away, but it is away. So, here I am, struggling,and today just throws everything it can at me. That stupid low fuel light came on when we went to the library, and then we got home and on the hottest day of the week my electricity goes out. Now my first response was to panic. I opened the front door, and the stairwell light in our building was still on. Because while I had caught up, the next bill has arrived,and my anxious mind immediately thought they had turned my electricity off. Just then, the apartment door across the hall opened,and their electricity was off too. So, the neighbor heads down to the basement of the building and it turns out it was the circuit breakers for the ground floor apartments.  So, one more crisis averted.

Of course, my panic reflex had already kicked on, and so it has been a long afternoon. My pain level went up and I got a headache. Stress will do that, its the adrenaline I think. That's when the Best Medicine showed up. My son checked out a DVD at the library,and put it in the player. It is a DVD of all of the Tom and Jerry cartoons ever made, and so for the last hour my house has been filled with the most beautiful sound in the whole world, my son's laughter. Tom and Jerry cartoons are his type of humor, and his laughter seems to come from his toes,and fill his whole body-and he is 6' 7" tall, so that is a BIG laugh. A beautiful, musical laugh that makes me smile. It's been a while since I smiled,and today, after the stress, after the worries, I have been smiling for over an hour.

So, while I still have problems,and while I still have depression, I have managed to take a step away, a step filled with smiles, and that seems to me to be the very best thing in a long time. Just a few everyday miracles and laughter, the best of medicines. Spirit seems to be hearing me, don't you think?

Friday, August 3, 2012

Here's Your Mirror

When you are the parent of a child who is non typical, you learn very quickly to celebrate and revel in the simplest of things. As a Mom of a young man blessed with autism, I have often been known to cheer things other mothers might groan at.I know as the mother of a son I often was overjoyed/aghast at the same time during our teenage years. YAY!!! age appropriate behavior...Oh No! age appropriate behavior! It's a fine line with boys!!

 I was reminded that we who are lucky enough to parent amazing children never take anything for granted, and revel in what might to others look like mundane accomplishments. A young friend of mine is also fortunate enough to be the parent of a male child blessed with autism. I have felt honored the last few years to be able to share with her as we are much farther down the road in our travels than she is-and it is always nice to know someone who has been there, done that, bought the t-shirt.

Recently we were both excited to share 'milestones' with our young men. Susan's guy will be 7 years old in a few days, and she was so excited to share that he had used a fork to eat spaghetti for the first time. I was excited for her. Now most moms are probably not excited by something a simple as a child learning to use a fork, but for some of us that is worthy of celebration. When my son has achieved something like this I have often wondered, how did that switch get flipped?

My son is an adult male now, and he did something the same week that most moms wouldn't be celebrating, but at our house it was amazing. He was watching his favorite sport, a NASCAR race, and a driver did something that caused him to exclaim "What the hell was that?" My first response was to ask "What did you say?" not because I am offended by the occasional use of the word hell, but because my son has never before used any type of expletive and I wanted to be sure I heard him right.
So, I said "What did you say?" (I have hearing problems he is used to me asking that) and he said "What the hell did he just do?" Yup, I heard him right, I thought. Then I thought how cool, I heard him right. Now that doesn't mean I want my son to be in the habit of throwing around four-letter words, it means I am always excited when my son does something that is age appropriate, and I am certain that "what the hell..." is an appropriate response for a 27 year old male sometimes.

Never taking anything for granted is a gift that some of us moms are able to cherish. Celebrating our children no matter what. Celebrating a 7 year old using a fork to eat spaghetti, or a 27 year old just being a guy. It's the little things in life that are never little for some of us. Perhaps there is a lesson in there for all parents. Celebrate our children, revel in the mundane, the ordinary, and your children will bless you every single day!

Of course this all reminds me of my favorite Erma Bombeck column, the one I share every time a mom finds out she has been blessed with an amazing child. I am including it here, and Hey, Susan, here's your mirror!

Most women become mothers by accident, some by choice, a few by social pressures and a couple by habit.
This year nearly 100,000 women will become mothers of handicapped children. Did you ever wonder how mothers of handicapped children are chosen? Somehow I visualize God hovering over earth selecting his instruments for propagation with great care and deliberation. As He observes, He instructs His angels to make notes in a giant ledger.

"Armstrong, Beth; son. Patron saint...give her Gerard. He's used to profanity."

"Forrest, Marjorie; daughter. Patron saint, Cecelia."

"Rutledge, Carrie; twins. Patron saint, Matthew."

Finally He passes a name to an angel and smiles, "Give her a handicapped child."

The angel is curious. "Why this one God? She's so happy."

"Exactly," smiles God, "Could I give a handicapped child to a mother who does not know laughter? That would be cruel."

"But has she patience?" asks the angel.

"I don't want her to have too much patience or she will drown in a sea of self-pity and despair. Once the shock and resentment wears off, she'll handle it."
"I watched her today. She has that feeling of self and independence that is so rare and so necessary in a mother. You see, the child I'm going to give her has his own world. She has to make him live in her world and that's not going to be easy."

"But, Lord, I don't think she even believes in you."

God smiles, "No matter, I can fix that. This one is perfect -she has just enough selfishness."

The angel gasps - "Selfishness? Is that a virtue?"

God nods. "If she can't separate herself from the child occasionally, she'll never survive. Yes, here is a woman whom I will bless with a child less than perfect. She doesn't realize it yet, but she is to be envied. She will never take for granted a "spoken word". She will never consider a "step" ordinary. When her child says "Mummy" for the first time, she will be present at a miracle, and will know it!"
"I will permit her to see clearly the things I see...ignorance, cruelty, prejudice....and allow her to rise above them. She will never be alone. I will be at her side every minute of every day of her life, because she is doing My work as surely as if she is here by My side".

"And what about her Patron saint?" asks the angel, his pen poised in mid-air. God smiles, "A mirror will suffice."

Monday, July 23, 2012

Dang It People, watch what you say!

So, since I am going to rant about something that was said on one of those 24/7 TV channels this morning, I should first issue a bit of a disclaimer. I used to be a broadcast journalist. A radio News Director/reporter, in fact.Of course this was a long time ago,before we had 24/7 'coverage' of  everything. I should also say that I honestly believe the 24/7 channels aren't good for us.We used to get news after the reporters had time to find the facts, and verify those facts-triangulation was the way we went about our business.

But now, we have 24/7, and quite frankly a lot of what is said has no basis in fact. This morning on one of those channels one of the pundits in talking about the tragedy in Colorado, decided to weigh in with his conjecture that the shooter was on the autism spectrum. Now this personality has no way of knowing whether or not this is true, and what is worse, this personality has a son who is on the spectrum. So, you would think he would know that it is hard enough to be different in this society, to walk around as a person with autism or aspergers without people judging your behavior, or treating you as less than a person.

It makes no sense to have said this and put the thought out there. Honestly, sometimes we are meant to keep our thoughts to ourselves. I have had to listen to people comment on my son being different for the last 25 years.  It happens all too often. We can be at WalMart or the grocery store and someone will say something ugly about my son. Loud enough for me to hear them, loud enough for several people to hear them.It was rude, it was hurtful, and it is totally unnecessary.We've been asked to leave churches because they didn't think it was good for people to see "someone like him" in the congregation. It's hard enough to deal with without the added linking to the tragedy in Colorado.

We're all reeling over the news form Colorado. Believe me, I get it. In addition to the sense of helplessness, disbelief,and shock we all feel when these things happen, it brought lots of memories up for me. I am a gun violence survivor. Not once, not twice, but 3 times. Twice I was in the wrong place at the wrong time and was a random victim. The third time I admit, it was personal and may be the only time you will hear me say thank goodness he wasn't sober! I was riding in a car on  freeway nearly 40 years ago, and a sniper on an overpass was shooting people. Random, senseless violence. It leaves us all reeling.

But, nothing is served, by the 24/7 barrage of conjecture, opinions, misinformation and disinformation we are all bombarded with these days. When my husband was killed by a drunk driver I inadvertently caught the report on the local news the next day. I rocked me to my core. I can not imagine how the families and friends of the Colorado victims feel. I can imagine years from now how those who survived will feel.

I do know that words have power, and words can be used to heal or hurt. And the words this morning conjecturing whether the shooter might be on the autism spectrum or not were out of line,not based on any kind of known fact, and unnecessary. The only thing they can accomplish is make it even more difficult for those of us who live with the autism spectrum to be able to walk through the store or down a street without being looked at with fear and mistrust.This type of  irresponsible conjecture puts our children at risk. It is difficult enough to find acceptance in our society, but these comments give people reason to fear our children. Fear based in fallacy, promulgated by unwarranted conjecture.

Sometimes, we all need to keep our opinions to ourselves.

But then, that's just my opinion.

Saturday, July 21, 2012


There is so much talk these days about religion-who has it, who needs it, who lost it, who walked away from it, who religion walked away from. As a society there seems to be a huge divide, growing larger every day. I remember the first time I was ever 'challenged' because I supposedly lacked the proper belief system. I was a freshman in college. I chose to attend a small 'Christian' liberal arts college in rural Missouri for my undergraduate degree.

I was in a Freshman English class, and we were discussing a play by George Bernard Shaw. I gave my opinion to the professors question and the next thing I knew a guy a few seats away jumped in to say that my opinion was wrong because "She's from Los Angeles, she wasn't raised in the church like the other girls were." Now, it was the early 1970's, and rural Missouri did indeed feel like a different world than Los Angeles, and this west coast hippie chick looked, and maybe thought differently than most of the other young women in the class.He was right, according to his definition I wasn't 'raised in the church.' But, to say my opinion wasn't valid based on an assumption that I didn't have the proper religious upbringing because of where I was from seemed a bit presumptuous to me, and I of course said so.

So there I was, 18 years old, explaining to these 'Christian' young men and women that there are indeed churches in  Los Angeles. In fact, it can be argued that the Christian Fundementalism and Pentecostal movements began in Los Angeles at the beginning of the 1900's. Of course, Los Angeles has always been a cultural melting pot. When the pueblo was founded in 1781, two thirds of the original settler were of mixed heritage with Native American, African, and European ancestries.The towns were built around Catholic missions. With growth came many cultures and strong histories of religious  diversity. But, none of that mattered to the other members of that class. I didn't belong to their 'club', so rather than discuss with me why I had different opinion about the play than they did, they decided that I couldn't possibly understand correctly.

Now I often can't remember why I moved from one room to another in my apartment, but I remember that conversation in that Freshman English class 40 years ago because it was one of the many things that helped guide my journey.I set out to learn all I could about religions. In the decades since that class, I have earned 3 college degrees including  an M.A. in Comparative Religion.  I have attended many different 'churches', and experienced God in and out of those institutions. I consider myself a woman of strong faith. I have friends who totally disagree with my belief system, and probably pray for me daily because they are certain that I am doomed.  Many would term me an unbeliever-simply because my belief system doesn't line up with theirs.I am, in a particular type of religious vernacular, 'unchurched'. In that, I am not alone.

Now, I have nothing against churches.Spirit has sent me to church often. I have spent many hours sitting in many different churches over the years. Some of the best times and some of the worst times in my life have taken place inside a church, and even though I have been hurt, if Spirit were to send me to church again, I would go. But, at this time in my life, church is not where Spirit sends me. So, I have to believe that I am where I am supposed to be.

There are many others who have left the church these days. Not being in a church can be hard for some, and it can be daunting to be at peace with the situation. But, if we are open to Spirit, we can find that peace,and learn that sometimes we are called to a place we might not choose on our own.

Finding that peace isn't easy. Soemtimes we have left a place that is totally disfunctional, often we are leaving a place where we have been hurt, where the things of Spirit are used to abuse and misguide and control. When we find the courage to say enough, I don't accept this, we are often on our own. It becomes so easy to doubt ourselves and peace is hard to come by. We thought we had a relationship with Spirit, but now that relatinship looks and feels different, broken somehow. We often find it difficult to trust again.

It is hard to put a relationship back together when the trust has been damaged. Been there, done that. It may never be "like it was before", but that doesn't mean that it can't be a good relationship, rebuilding the relationship is perhaps about putting together a new thing, a relationship that was better than it was before. It is so hard to let go, but I think that is what forgiveness is all about. Letting of the past, and the hurt, and moving towards a new thing.
The dictionary says forgive is to give up resentment of or claim to requital for... to cease to feel resentment against.

I think that to forgive is to let go of any claims we have against the one who offended us. I think it is human nature to want to be the one who is right. To forgive means we let go of the need to be right, to let go of the need to prove our claim. To forgive means that we no longer expect to be compensated for our hurt or loss. AS in the forgiving of a debt, when we forgive our claim to compensation no longer exists.We no longer need to be right.By forgiving we choose to no longer live with the feelings brought on by the offense.We choose to no longer be weighed down by anger,or shame, or embarrassment. No more guilt or denial. We choose to let these things go, so that it frees us to move on with our lives.To move on and make a new relationship, not merely going back to the way it was before, but building something stronger on a solid foundation of newly forged trust.

When it comes to matters of our belief system, often the one we first have to forgive and build a new trust with is ourself. Sometimes we can feel guilt and shame for buying into something we no longer believe. So we have to earn to extend that forgiveness to us. Maya Angelou says "When you know better, you do better." So we forgive ourself for the time when we didn't know better, and as we learn to do better we move forward.

Spirit didn't mislead us, sacred literature didn't abuse us. People who don't know, and probably don't want to know better used these things to control and misguide us.So, we forgive, we give up any claims against ourself or others and we seek that place of peace. To seek that peace that can only come from Spirit. Try to stay composed no matter how agitated the world around you becomes.Seek peace. The Hebrew word for peace is shalom. Shalom means that people are in a good relationship with God, with themselves and their bodies, with other people, and with the earth. For people to be in shalom means that their life is balanced and that they relate to the whole of what surrounds them with a peaceful spirit.We can find that peace no matter where Spirit has sent us or sent us away from.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

My Hero

I had an interesting conversation with my son today.My son is a person with autism. He is 26 years old. I started questioning his pediatrician when he was just a little more than a year old.We visited our first so-called expert when he was 18 months old. Much has changed since then, thankfully. Those first 'experts' were so wrong about so many things.

My son is my hero. He meets every day with optimism, and is truly the most content person I have ever known. Things most of us take for granted can be difficult for him,but perseveres and learns how to deal with any challenge.

Having a conversation is not easy for him. He talks to me the easiest when we are in the car. There is a reason for this, when we are in the car, Mom has to pay attention to driving, so I can't ask him for eye contact, or even to look at me. Because his brain works differently, he doesn't see things the way most do. He can't read body language or facial expression. He is challenged by tone of voice. Today, it dawned on me that that also describes those of us who communicate with others on the computer. When we read a post on facebook, or a message board, we can only read the words. We can't read body language, or facial expression. We can't hear the tone of voice.

So, back to the conversation I had with my son. We were discussing a commercial we had seen while watching some NASCAR programming. In the commercial, a driver mentions that the rate of autism in our children is now 1 in 110. When my son was diagnosed nearly 25 years ago it was thought the rate was 1 in 10,000. So our conversation was centered on not only the need for awareness campaigns, but on the increase in numbers of persons with autism.

I guess I need to point out that we have always considered my sons autism as a blessing. We accept that his brain works differently, and that that difference is not bad, it is just different. I am often astounded at the way he thinks. I was told I was "an unrealistic" parent by certain experts because I said that if we can figure out how the autistic brain works we would find the answers to most of the worlds problems. I thought that when my son was a toddler, I totally believe it now that he is a young man.

When we talked, my son said awareness is necessary so that more people can see that different is just different, not wrong, or bad. Just different.People need to see that there is nothing to be afraid of when someone is different,and that being different doesn't make you less of a person. We also talked about how awareness campaigns might help those who aren't blessed with autism to be more patient with some who are.

Then we talked about how many more people are being born blessed with autism. That is when I was reminded that the answers to our problems might just be in those autistic brains. "What if," he said, "there are more people with autism because the world needs the way we think. What if our brains are evolving to help."

What if, indeed! In a world where more and more communication takes place on the computer. More and more communication takes place where we are unable to read body language, facial expressions, and tone of voice. In a world where in my lifetime technology has evolved more than I can even comprehend some days, what if more people are being born with brains that function differently because we need them.  I was definitely given something to think about, and that is only one of the reasons he is my hero!

Monday, March 12, 2012

I need One

I am still not functioning very well due to the lingering effects of the shingles. When you have a chronic medical condition, especially a chronic pain medical condition, you have a finite amount of energy. You spend most of that energy dealing with the pain, and the rest of it dealing with everyday necessities of life. So, something as simple as a common cold, or as difficult as the shingles, can wreak havoc with your body, because there simply are no reserves of energy to deal with it.So things like writing a blog tend to not happen, even though you have the best of intentions. Then, the next thing you know you are feeling pretty damn sorry for yourself, and more things in your life get left by the wayside. It is all too easy to start thinking that no one else has things as bad as you-which you know is a crock-but it feels like it some days. Then you start withdrawing into yourself, because honestly who wants to be around someone as miserable as you.

Dang, we tell ourselves some stupid stuff!!! (maybe it's just me that does that)

Truth is we need people, and there are more than likely people in our lives that are missing us.People in our lives that think we are pretty cool.

Call it a clan, call it a network, call it a tribe, call it a family. Whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one.~~Jane Howard~~

We need others. We may at one time or other stick our noses in the air and sniff "That's OK, I don't need anyone else." But it's a lie, we know it's a lie when we say it, we only say it so that some other person is not allowed to see how badly they are hurting us by leaving us or rejecting us. But, the truth is we need others. We need some people just for a season, and that is OK. They may move into our lives and move out again. But we need others, because we have a need to be loved, but more importantly I think, we have a need to love. Hopefully, we will learn that we have to start by loving ourselves, taking care of ourselves, learning and living the truth about ourselves. This enables us to surround ourself with the right others. When we are operating under the untruths that get stuck in our head, we often surround ourself with the WRONG others, so instead of being strengthened, encouraged, loved, we end up depleted, despairing, and destroyed. When we choose to love ourselves we will create a tribe, a group of others who have our greater good at heart. But when we are choosing to operate outside of love for ourself, we can surround us with toxic, discouraging others.Sometimes, we are that toxic discouraging other,and we need our tribe, clan, friends to help us remember our truths and to love ourselves again.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

One More Day

Well, today snuck up on me. How can a year have passed since I posted this ?

What a year it has been, my 30th year of sobriety. Today marks my 31st anniversary of the day I chose to get sober. I have to say the last few months have been the most difficult in those 31 years, and that is saying something as my life has very rarely been without difficulty. But, even as I have battled my demons- stress, addiction, depression, illness, etc.- the last few months, I have continued to work on my sobriety.

There have been many times lately when I said to myself out loud "Damn, I need a drink." Fortunately my next thought has been "Stop it, you don't drink."  I am not ashamed  to admit that that next thouhgt comes slowly some days. Sobriety really is one day at a time. For me it is one moment at a time most days.

Why 'One day at a time'?

The best thing about the future is that it comes only one day at a time.~~Abraham Lincoln~~

For me that means I need to concentrate on living in the moment. Being present and living in the moment helps to keep me focused on the task at hand. When we live in the moment, one day at a time, we don't have time to become mired in regrets and worries over what happened and how we SHOULD have done. No guilt, no condemnation.Which is not to say that if we hurt someone we should not make amends. It is to say that if we live in the present, the past can no longer hurt us. We can let it go, forgive ourselves and others, and choose to live  for today.Living in the present means that we no longer have to constantly review the past, trying to explain our actions or the actions of others. No more guilt or blaming. Living in the present means that we do not have to worry, assume, obsess about what may happen in the future. If we do that we sometimes project unwarranted negative outcomes to things, when all we really have to do is deal with the outcomes of our actions today, this day.

So, today, this day I will celebrate one more day of sobriety. One more day of hangin' in there, no matter how difficult life has become.

Easy? No, I don't think it is ever easy, but just because a thing is hard to do doesn't make it any less worthwhile.  

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Women and Obesity and a New Year

My dear friend Colin posted a photo on facebook this morning that he considered disturbing in its implications and got my mind going...

When I was growing up it was unusual for someone to be as overweight as me. I was an anomaly. As American society moved towards the obesity epidemic we had to go through the late sixties and early seventies, where thinness became the societal norm for beauty. Caucasian thinness, stick thin anorexic models such as Twiggy came to represent the ideal for beauty in our culture. We moved away from normal women, Marilyn Monroe, Rita Hayworth, Mamie Van Doren, women with curves, and in doing so we spawned eating disorders in our young women. In the middle part of the century only women of wealth could achieve the desired beauty, and they did so at the expense of their health. Anorexia became a disease for the masses instead of just for the F.Scott Fitzgerald neighborhood. As we moved through the late part of the century we were becoming obese because of changes in the agrarian nature of our society, HFCS and unhealthy convenience foods became more prevalent. Every one started eating like poor people, who had often been overweight because fresh fruit and vegetables were unavailable to urban poor. Cheap carbohydrates, hormone laced meat products, these became more widely available.  The culture started getting fat. A whole generation of women became what I had been all my life, obese. But they became obese in a culture that adored thinness, they hate themselves. So now we add self esteem issues to the obvious health issues of heart disease, diabetes, etc. We have a generation that is getting fatter while hating themselves for it.Such a difficult road to travel, our bodies resist starvation. But, hating our bodies while not able to attain the so called beauty standard brought a generation of women for whom Prozac and Zoloft became the norm, widely available to the masses, where before we had upper and upper middle class women abusing valium. Self esteem issues that helped turn normal women into morbidly obese women while they used the most widely available mood altering drug-food- to try to feel better about themselves. Vicious circle created.

So, now we have a diet industry, and a generation of women who hate themselves so much that they can not grasp the theory that they need to take care of themselves, physically, emotionally, spiritually, before they can take care of others. Generations of women grasping at every fad diet that comes by, when the truth is it is never about 'dieting', it is about learning to eat well, giving food its proper place in our lives.  Food became lover, friend, mother, father, giving us pleasure that should have been derived elsewhere. We learned to hate ourselves. Learned to not value our contributions because we looked different than the standards of beauty. White, upper middle class standards applied to the rest of us. Standards that we never should have aspired to reach. As the words of the song from the musical Oklahoma, 'round and pink and pretty', should have been what we strived for. Women are meant to be full bodied, for work, and childbirth, for the survival of the species. The estrogen that makes us feminine is created and stored in our fat cells. The cultural norm of thinness makes us less feminine, and as we strive for liberation as feminists we enslave our bodies in reaching for a mythical standard of beauty.So how do we stop the vicious circle? How do we keep from enslaving the next generation in the endless cycle of hating our bodies? I think we start by learning to love our selves right here, right now, and what better time than the beginning of a New Year!

Let this New Year be the beginning of a new life in each of us wherein"old things are passed away." Let all blessed old things stay, but let the clutter of our heads and hearts be removed, that new inspirations and new affections may come in to gladden our lives.~~Chester Burg Emerson~~

It's the New Year.Here we are. The entire culture is health obsessed for the next few weeks. All of the grocery store have 'healthy' foods on sale, the TV is plastered with ads for this and that crazy weight loss product. Everyone is motivated. As the weeks go by, and the quick fixes are just too hard to keep up, or the same old issues keep rearing their ugly heads, that motivation will slip away, and it will be back to business as usual. Except for those of us fortunate enough to have figured out that it is not about a quick fix, or the newest fad diet. It is never about not eating. It is about making the best choices we can make at any given moment, learning to find the old issues and deal with them, so that we can kick them to the curb and get on with the business of learning that we are indeed beautiful, wonderful, intelligent, articulate, deserving, worthy individuals.

We are deserving of the best that life has to offer. So in order to achieve that we will let those old negative thoughts and untruths hat clutter up our minds be the "old things that are passed away." They aren't worth keeping around, they are ugly non productive lies that were told to us by others our ourselves so often that we began to believe them and live them. Just as a child will live up to expectations or down to expectations, so will we. So we must get rid of that junk cluttering up our minds, and replace the old things with blessed new things. The TRUTH of who we are and what we can accomplish when we realize that it is our choice to accomplish it. New inspirations, new affections, affection for ourselves. Loving ourselves enough to know that when we take care of ourselves we take care of the others in our lives better. Loving ourselves enough to only let true things hang out in our memory, and to make the best choices we can in any circumstance. To know that the choice we make may not always be the best, and to forgive ourselves for those times and to make the best choice in the very next moment. So bring on the New Year, we are ready to meet it, ready to do the work we have to do to make it the best year ever. Choosing to let our choices be the things that gladden our hearts.