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White supremacy’s legacy

I use the term “legacy” in the title because of an experience I had with a sweet girl who was my best friend in 8th grade whose parents left her with an ugly, ugly legacy of belief.

My best friend from 7th grade had moved away the summer before 8th grade; I admit I was sad and lonely. My favorite class of the new school year was art where we created works using various media. It was an oasis in the midst of inanity (seriously).

In this class, sitting at my table, was a petite, pretty girl with long wavy hair. We hit it off immediately. We were both quiet and reserved, shy even.

After months hanging out together at school, she invited me over to her house. But before I walked to her house (which was in the opposite direction from my house making it about 3.5 miles away from my house), she said she had to tell me something.

I gave her my full attention, expecting her to complain about her house or her mother.

In a low, secretive voice she said she was concerned about me because I seemed ignorant. She whispered something to me that blew me away: “Black people have smaller brains, so they are inferior to whites.”

Her words seemed to be couched in concern. In 7th grade I had had a run-in with some black girls, a group of three who bullied me every day for weeks. One day, I turned around and punched the ring-leader in the face. We all ended up in the vice principal’s office, but I got off with a warning because my mom was dating one of the P.E. teachers. Yeah, privilege. I knew it even then.

From that day on, those girls greeted me happily every time they saw me and I greeted them back. All was well.

Now, I could have decided that all black girls were bullies and nurtured resentment, but I didn’t. I had been bullied in elementary school by a white girl that lived down the street. I knew bullying had nothing to do with race.

Add in the fact that neither of my parents had ever said anything racist in my presence and I think we have a child who has not been taught racist ideology. It just never occurred to me to dislike someone because they were different than me.

So back to my best friend. I stared at her. Then I told her she was wrong. That was ridiculous.

She looked at me with pity. Yep. She was sad that I had not been enlightened.

I never spoke to that friend again. We awkwardly made our way through the rest of the school year, I made other friends, and I tucked that experience away in my memory.

Looking back, I am positive that this girl was being raised by white supremacists. She was completely brainwashed and felt the need to proselytize. She was a disciple. She was determined to spread the ugly news of racism.

What saddened me then and just as much now is that she seemed like such a lovely person, aside from the fact that she was a bigot, racist, and white supremacist. I can only hope that she grew up and found Jesus (literally or figuratively, whichever works) or something that taught her to love instead of hate.

Even now, what she said didn’t sound like it was motivated by hate, but just true belief, which I think is much more dangerous. We have all seen believers do some awful things to others because of religious beliefs or cultural differences. I write about this quite a lot: the relationship between Christian beliefs and domestic abuse.

There is no place in an enlightened society for white supremacy. It is a belief system that is filled with lies. There is no truth in it.

Since moving to Houston, Texas, I read daily about this statue being removed, this plaque being challenged, the many monuments to the Confederacy being vandalized. Since I was taught in Miami schools, I was taught history in the south. I was taught that the “War between the States” was fought over states’ rights, and that slavery was secondary.

A couple of weeks ago I found some original sources and read them for myself. What were they? Secession declarations for five of the Confederate States of America. Eye opening, to say the least. Each stated slavery as a primary reason for seceding.

For the last ten years we have had numerous and serious causes of complaint against our non-slave-holding confederate States with reference to the subject of African slavery. – Georgia

History books can be rewritten depending on the prevailing political ideology in the country. If you want to study true history, you must find original sources, read them, and then using critical thinking skills, consider what might have truly happened.

Should the South be judged as racist because of its history? Yes and no. Yes because monuments to the Confederacy are everywhere. They are constant reminders that one group of people felt that they were superior, masters over another group of people. No because I don’t see this arrogant attitude of supremacy in my everyday life.

This is the basic tenet of white supremacy: belief that white people are inherently superior and should rule over non-whites.

Anyone with half a brain knows that this is hooey. It is utter nonsense.

So, in the past, when the KKK would get a permit to march down some street wearing hoods like cowards — show your faces if you are superior — they were mostly ignored. I laughed at them from afar, looking at them as though each one was a man-child playing dress-up and pretending like they had any power at all. They had none, in my opinion.

Now I worry that the lies I heard in junior high by a misguided, wrongly-taught young teenager have become a legacy of hate that might be spreading. Of course it is a legacy of hate. I am 57 years old. Most of the men who guarded a Confederate statue in Charlottesville were young enough to be my sons (I have a 39-year-old son). Some were my age, but the majority were younger.

Someone had to teach these men to be white supremacists. Babies are not born hating.

Was my friend’s son at that protest? Was he spewing hate at non-whites? What about her grandchildren? What will they grow up to believe and fight for?

I confess that I had a difficult time in high school with groups of girls who would only speak Spanish to one another, blocking non-Spanish speaking students from being included in their circle. I felt like I was on the outside. What they were doing was creating a school enclave, a place where they could be Cuban or Puerto Rican in a world of white. I know that now and understand it. Back then, I struggled to understand why they wouldn’t speak English and include me and other girls that weren’t like them.

We live in a country that is a melting pot. It has been this way since immigration began. White English people ruled for a long time. They were the landowners and masters of the rest. This is what is being challenged. No one has the right to be master of another.

There is no place for white supremacy or any kind of racial or ethnic bigotry in the United States.

In my son’s high school, he is a white minority. That is just the nature of Texas. It is an entry point for people from many different countries. It is the most diverse place I have ever lived. And it is beautiful. Precarious, but beautiful.

I personally believe all public school children should be bilingual by the time they finish elementary school. I wish I had learned Spanish when I was young. I am trying to learn it now, but my brain is hard-wired for the English language and it is difficult for me. I will not give up, though.

I have not witnessed any racism or bigotry since moving here. I saw it all the time in Connecticut, but less here. I am, however, living in a huge city and not rural Texas where the powerful landowners are mostly white.

And I think that is the entire issue here: power. Who rules over whom.

I have news for white people: you are masters over no one. No one left you a legacy of ownership over other peoples. If you feel power slipping out of your hands every time someone with brown skin crosses the border, then it is time to check your privilege and need for power.

In my most humble opinion, every monument and plaque that glorifies the Confederacy needs to come down. We do not celebrate oppression in this country. We fight it and celebrate freedom for all.

Thank you for tolerating my rant.

 

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Celebrating singleness

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Today is February 14th, the dreaded Valentine’s Day.

Not many people really enjoy this holiday (if they were being totally honest). And if you are trying to recover from an abusive relationship, it can be painful and depressing.

While many single women might be feeling lonely or forgotten, desiring some male attention, I am celebrating singleness.

Singleness to me means:

  1. Independence
  2. Self-determination
  3. Focus on self-care
  4. Healthy selfishness
  5. Choices
  6. Freedom

I grew up watching Hollywood’s version of the male/female relationship, one in which a female waits for a male to find her desirable so that he will choose her. Validation always came from a male, and was something which women needed in order to feel valuable. This is the perfect set-up for an abusive marriage.

Desirable women were portrayed as glamorous, sexy, and alluring. Marriageable women were portrayed as quiet, demur, and subject to the wishes of fathers and suitors. Women were presented as virginal, sluts, or eccentric.

But let no one misunderstand: the independent ones usually ended up alone.

Now 56 years old, I feel that I am much wiser, and, at the least, much more discriminating. I critically evaluate attitudes and cultural norms found in entertainment. I have worked to discard many of the values that I picked up from such influences.

On this Valentine’s Day I can declare that I am happily, almost giddily delighted to find myself single and alone (relationship-wise — I have a house filled with male offspring).

I am not mourning the loss of my marriage (anymore). I am not feeling sad and alone (anymore). I am not beating myself up because my marriage failed (anymore). And, most of all, I am not feeling abandoned, discarded, rejected or unloved (anymore).

I enjoy my own company and thinking my own thoughts.

On this Valentine’s Day 2017, I am celebrating my freedom to choose where I go and what I do. Instead of this being a holiday that focuses on romantic love, for me it is more of an independence day.

I think I’ll buy myself some flowers. Daisies, I think!

Just breathe

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Graphic I created in the early days of my separation.

This is not as easy as it sounds.

Breathing is an autonomic nervous system function. It is mostly involuntary. It is supposed to occur without thought or determination (unless you are a musician or athlete).

Most people don’t think about breathing at all.

And yet, I found myself at the beginning of my journey out of a really bad marriage not only breathing shallowly but not breathing at all.

I caught myself holding my breath, often.

I have suffered from anxiety since I was a child. Unidentified until well into adulthood, I eventually learned to manage the symptoms by thoughtfully controlling situations and my responses that caused the most stress for me. And while I would experience heart palpitations occasionally (usually not during a stressful situation, but when I was relaxing), I had never struggled with hyperventilation.

When I became ill in 2006 and did not recover as expected (or told by doctors that I should), I faced an entirely new level of anxiety. My anxiety toolbox failed me.

Part of the problem was that I had been successfully handling nearly all of my family’s details from paying bills to doing all the shopping to even educating our children for over a decade. I cooked, cleaned, shopped, provided 24-hour care and education for our children, and then companionship to my husband when he was home. None of these responsibilities was taken from me when I became ill. Being task oriented, this caused me a lot of stress.

My husband ignored my health struggles, merely waiting for me to get well so I could do everything again; most household tasks were not completed. I still had to do the grocery shopping even with extreme fatigue. I could no longer cook. I would fill the grocery cart with frozen, packaged and processed foods that my children and I could easily throw in the microwave and conventional oven (really bad choice). Even when I ordered take-out, my husband wasn’t available to stop by on his way home and pick it up. He worked later and later as the months and years passed.

While I knew what needed to be done, I was not able to rise to the challenge any longer. I suffered. Our children suffered. Life fell apart.

One day I had had enough.

I had spent over a year sleeping on the couch because of my husband’s loud snoring and constant movements during the night. My only hope of any sleep at all was on the couch. And yet, he would often come home between 11 p.m. and midnight, stomping up the stairs and burping (he always burped when he walked up the stairs onto the main floor of our house). It didn’t matter if I was trying to sleep; he always demanded attention when he came home. And no, he didn’t offer to let me have the bed so I could get one good night’s sleep. Not once.

One night he came home late as usual and found himself locked out of the house. Now, I fully admit that I handled that all wrong. It wasn’t even legal. Had he spoken with an attorney, he would have been fine, but he refused to hire an attorney for anything (or any other professional). Remember, I was sick and tired, literally. My mind didn’t work properly anymore, literally (neuroborreliosis).

And so began the final and permanent separation that marked the true end of my marriage.

One the one hand, my stress levels were reduced as I didn’t have to deal with the nightly disruptions to my sleep and constant demand for my attention. There was no more yelling and fighting.

At the time, I didn’t know that the separation was permanent. I kept hoping my husband would finally seek the help that I asked him to get for his control and anger issues. I wanted the marriage to work and for us to be reconciled. This is normal. Deluded, but normal.

While the separation removed some stressors from my life, it created an entirely different set.

My anxiety issues became worse.

And one of the symptoms that I experienced was changes to my breathing. It became shallow and rapid when I would think about my situation or what the kids needed (anxiety). Other times, it was shallow, almost tentative, and very slow. Most concerning of all were the times I caught myself holding my breath, not breathing at all. I would take a deep breath and then make myself breath slowly and deeply for a few minutes until I felt better.

I yoyoed between rapid, shallow breathing to slow, shallow breathing. Breathing should not be this much work, but it was.

The Importance of Breathing

Breathing does a lot of vitals things: oxygenates the blood, cells, brain and muscles, expels waste, and keeps the body’s CO2 and pH levels within the normal range.

Anxiety disorder can cause shallow, rapid breathing that actually reduces CO2 levels too much.

This type of breathing disorder can also be caused by infection. I got a double whammy, so to speak.

When Lyme spirochetes get in the brain, they can affect temperature control, mood, cognitive functioning and breathing. Autonomic dysfunction is common. Many people with chronic Lyme struggle with shallow, slow, and inadequate breathing.

On top of all this, I developed a heart arrythmia, eventually diagnosed as benign. It still scared me when my heart would feel like it was flopping around in my chest and I would nearly pass out.

My situation was more complex than most, but the bottom line is that living in an abusive marriage is stressful, and the separation process is even more stressful. Breathing can become an issue.

Just Breathe

If breathing has been an issue long enough, it may be necessary to retrain the brain and body how to do it properly.

Slow, deep breathing exercises may be the answer. On the other hand, slow, not-so-deep breathing exercises may be the answer. That is something that should be determined by your physician.

I actually set three alarms a day on my smartphone that said: Breathe.

I would stop whatever I was doing and spend one minute doing breathing exercises.

Here is a great article from Harvard Medical School on breath focus and breathing exercises that are designed to reduce stress.

harvard-deep-breathingWhether you struggle with anxiety disorder, a chronic infection that causes autonomic dysfunction, or are dealing with a stressful situation, breathing properly and effectively is vital to feeling well.

A sense of wellbeing is not possible if you are not breathing properly.

If necessary, set an alarm, put sticky notes all around your home and work space, or ask the people around you to remind you to breathe should they notice you struggling.

Focused breathing exercises might just be the answer.

Don’t forget: Just breathe!

Financial Abuse – The Assistant of Domestic Violence by Yvonne Sam

In keeping with the International Day of Violence against Women. Financial Abuse – The Assistant of Domestic Violence By Yvonne Sam When the word domestic violence is used or thought about, the general public usually thinks of physical abuse that gives rise to visible injuries to the victim. Sadly, this is only one type of abuse. […]

via Financial Abuse – The Assistant of Domestic Violence – By Yvonne Sam — Guyanese Online

My favorite things: nature

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Sharing an heirloom variety nasturtium flower from my vegetable garden with my granddaughter brought me great joy!

As far back as I can remember I have been curious about nature, both flora and fauna.

Behind our little house in South Miami, when I was in junior high, I had a container garden. I had taken an old picnic table bench, a few pots, and soil from the area around our banana trees in the backyard.

I grew tropical plants, but also cultivated bonsai.

In our front yard, we had a huge ficus tree. One of my favorite things when I was between 8 and 13 was to climb among the tree’s dense foliage and hide. I loved looking down upon my family members knowing that they couldn’t find me.

But it was mostly the shade and cool leaves that refreshed my tired and stressed soul. This tree fed me in ways that food couldn’t.

 

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When I was in my 20s, we moved to the Texas Hill Country. I learned to enjoy day hikes and fishing. I loved to pitch my tent in one of Texas’ amazing state parks and sleep among the live oaks, cedar and hunting, scavenging amardillos.

When I was in my 30s I purchased my first digital camera. While I captured my children playing, climbing, jumping and celebrating holidays and birthdays, I as often pointed my camera at my garden plants, the plant life I encountered in my yard and on neighborhood walks, and the occasional egret, pelican and seagull (because we were living in St. Petersburg, Florida).

Many, many years later, I landed in Connecticut where I am still (but only until this summer where I will join my heart which I left in Texas in 1992).

Connecticut is beautiful.

I remember clearly the moment in October 1999 when we reached the state of Connecticut with a minivan full of kids, a cat, and our suitcases. I declared  that the whole state is like a park.

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My years here, though painful in many ways, have given me access to a level of nature I had never known before, especially when we moved to a small town to live on a few acres of land in the woods.

After becoming sick with Lyme disease and not recovering, I was reminded that nature could be cruel.

What I had once loved became frightening for me as I was reinfected with Lyme disease multiple times.

One day I just decided that I was going to go outside and walk in the grass again. I had hidden from nature for years  out of fear of reinfection.

I decided to grow a vegetable garden again. I planted some ornamental plants in the flower beds and began to spread wildflower seeds from plants that popped up around the property.

And I photographed it all.

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Yes, I found deer ticks on me, but I was sick already. So what?

My time in the garden fed my soul.

I took walks on many of the hike and bike trails in nearby towns.

My body ached, but my soul was nourished.

And I knew that no matter what happens in life, I must never again stay away from nature, because it is definitely one of my favorite things.

 

My favorite things: evening out with sons

On December 15th, I told my sons, 23, 20 and 16, that on Friday the 17th I would like to take them out to eat and then go Christmas shopping together.

On a normal day, I am lucky to get a grunt in response to questions and, if I am especially fortunate, eye contact.

Following my announcement, I got eye contact, verbal affirmation that it was a great idea, and a promise to be available.

It took a little bit of coordination to include my 20-year-old because he worked in Rocky Hill at the time, the opposite direction from where we typically shop and eat out.

Three of us headed to Waterford at 3 p.m. to get ahead of the Friday evening Christmas  horde. My 23-year-old was in contact, via text, with his younger brother letting him know where we were as we shopped.

We visited Books-a-Million first (great place to find interesting, unusual gifts) and Best Buy next, where my tall 20-year-old caught up with us. I saw him out of the corner of my eye and immediately smiled.

We were together.

We talked with a salesperson for a bit about the differences between XBox One, Playstation 4, Playstation Pro and Nintendo’s new gaming console that will release in a few months, then spent a few minutes looking at PC gaming peripherals.

I bought a hard drive docking station so I can access my collection of old hard drives. We headed to Buffalo Wild Wings for an early dinner.

It was approximately 5 p.m. when we arrived at a very loud restaurant, from the music, not people talking; the place was practically empty. I asked the host if there were any quiet tables. Thankfully, there was a side room where music was not piped in where it was bearable. I was there to spend time with my sons, not listen to bad music.

Since it was the first time for two of us, it took us quite awhile to figure out how the menu worked. It is unnecessarily complicated. Seriously.

We ordered three appetizers and drinks. I had to hit the ladies’ room, so I asked my 23-year-old to order me something dark or amber from the menu. He knows what I like.

When I returned, it was only a few minutes before my delicious amber ale arrived.  Yum.

The best part of the evening was that I was sitting with my sons around a table with fun, tasty, high-calorie food at hand. I didn’t cook any of it, and we shared everything. Stuffed mushrooms, fried mozzarella, spinach artichoke dip–we were all reaching over one another to taste everything, sharing dips, passing baskets and chattering away about unimportant, nonserious topics. We were all happy.

We were together away from a chronically messy house, distracting technology, and work.

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My three sons with me at the mall.

After dinner, we hit Bed, Bath & Beyond. We spent at least 10 minutes in the coffee making appliance department where I was looking for a stainless steel carafe (they had one kind only — ONE). I bought some replacement stoppers for my wine keeper system, got a wonderful massage in one of their display chairs, and enjoyed time with my sons.

Next, we walked all the way to the other end of the mall to check out what fun stuff FYE had in stock.

At my 23-year-old’s recommendation, I picked up Kubo and the Two Strings. Wow, what a wonderful movie!

We looked at all of the licensed merchandise, discussing which TV shows, games and movies were successes and which were failures.

Blu-ray in hand, we left the store.

And suddenly, everyone was exhausted. We are a family of introverts. Four stores, two in the mall, and over an hour at a loud restaurant had worn us out. We headed home.

Several times during the evening, I thought to myself that this might be the last time I go Christmas shopping with these three sons. My two oldest sons and daughter weren’t there because they have very busy lives and two of them live 1,800 miles away.

I enjoyed that evening while it happened and will treasure the memory the rest of my life.

Spending time with my grown kids is definitely one of my favorite things.

My favorite things

I have been singing “My Favorite Things” from Sound of Music all morning.

 

When I became a mother I believed that my children had to come first, no matter the cost to myself. For awhile this devotion made me happy.

I bought into the motherhood = martyrdom myth.

I have since dismissed this particular concept and replaced it with one that is much healthier.

I believe in the importance of my own happiness and its pursuit. And the hard truth is that no one else is going to make me happy.

Although I don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions, I have decided to make the focus of 2017 my own happiness.

This is not the same as discovering what causes unhappiness.

This is a much more positive focus.

What makes me happy? Is it stuff, experiences, choices or money?

What do I need to do or not do to be happy? Is it an active pursuit or merely learning to appreciate what I have?

I will try to share something at least once a week as I make discoveries. I would love to hear what you do to make yourself happy, too.

Alienation: Ideology Fallout

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I have been processing the state of our country since the 2016 presidential election results through media, the press and Twitter.

I am a Twitter addict. I left Facebook over the self-aggrandizing of its users and the dangerous Groupthink that it perpetuates. I now spend a lot of time reading Tweets that send me researching, digging, and always learning.

I read stories and watched videos of people protesting (along with opportunistic rioting) in the streets after it became known that Donald J. Trump was elected president of the United States.

I didn’t vote for Trump; nor did I vote for Hillary Clinton.

Trump is just so offensive on so many levels that there was no way I could vote for him even through I am a registered Republican. I am pretty sure I would not have voted Republican even if the nominee had been a harmless, homogenized GOP insider.

Why? Because I have evolved politically.

I no longer trust the system that presented us with a corrupt, dishonest Democrat and a narcissitic, lying Republican as our two major party nomineees.

Even though I believe in the sanctity of life (yes, I am pro-life, but also pro-woman and believe a woman has the right to control her own body) and tend to be fiscally conservative, I strongly believe in LGBTQ rights, equal rights for all, that scores of oppressed people live in my state and country, segregation is worse than ever, we need affordable housing and and that access to education needs to be expanded.

I voted third party. I had to.

And so we try to process the outcome. I am still processing.

I am processing the fact that the mainstream media is still clueless regarding the part it played in Trump’s election.

I am processing the fact that the two major parties are so corrupt that there is no way the people will ever choose the best leader for our country as long as they are in power (yes, this is all about power).

I am processing the fact that many Democrats are focused outward at what the evil Trump will do to our country when they need to be focused on their own party and its corruption.

I am processing the fact that the GOP needs to be accountable to the entire country for not providing a viable candidate and allowing Trump to become the nominee in the first place.

We can all agree that this is serious stuff.

But is it the end of the world as we know it? I don’t think so.

“The sky is falling,” screamed the media about Brexit.

“The sky is falling,” screamed the media about Trump (before he was elected).

“The sky is falling,” screamed the media about Trump (since his election).

The level of division I am seeing between Democrats and Republicans is historical (since I have been old enough to understand — can’t speak to before my time).

I am seeing divisions between races, ethnicities, genders and religions that give me a feeling of unrest and insecurity as never before.

Anti-feminism is running rampant. Anti-Semitism, anti-gay, anti-white, anti-black, anti-immigrant, anti-refugee, anti-nationalist, anti-Christian, anti-______.

Everyone is against someone else. Battle lines drawn. Weapons at the ready.

Who are the good guys and who are the bad guys?

Is your side made up of the good people? The intelligent people.

Is the other side made up of evil, malevalent people? No, they’re just stupid. Right?

Maybe the idea of a benevolent leader is a myth. Maybe there is no such thing.

The very nature of the power necessary to get elected to public office, the need for wheeling and dealing, money and influence ensures that no one we elect will be honest and dependable, immune from the intoxicating character-changing influence of victory that proves Lord Acton correct: “power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

And then on a personal level, I can no longer speak to most of my friends and family about what happened (except the three sons who live with me and seem to be sane) without hurtful words being hurled.

Those who hate Trump are alienating those around them who do not think it is the end of the world.

Those who support Trump are alienating those around them who are afraid of what he can and will do with so much power.

[Anyone who thinks Hillary Clinton is in any way less dangerous or immoral than Trump is deluded. I am convinced that Clinton exploits the weak and oppressed to become rich and gain power. Or at least she did.]

The election of a U.S. president should not be treated as though we are electing the ruler of the universe. Trump will not rule the world.

Although presidential powers have been expanded to disturbing and unconstitutional levels starting with Bush and then with Obama, we still have checks and balances in our system of government.

What this election cycle should inspire in all of us is a desire to become informed, educated and involved. Too long have Americans been content to let corrupt politicians get rich and make their corporate friends even richer as long as there was minimal personal inconvenience and those politicians espoused the correct ideology.

Democrats frame their power grabs as social justice: protecting the poor, disenfranchised, and oppressed.

Republicans frame their power grabs as fiscal responsibility, individual freedom and, with righteous indignation, serving God (protecting religious freedom and the unborn).

Both present themselves as morally superior, self-righteous and dogmatic.

Those who believe evil incarnate was elected president on November 8, 2016 need to turn that focused anger on the government monster that IS destroying America and the world.

This is not about one man, but a people’s desire for a savior, a champion.

And this, in my opinion, is the most disturbing revelation of all: we Americans have abandoned our personal responsibilities as human beings, thinking that an ideology will save us.

Your ideology (and mine) won’t save America. But you might. I might.

How? By being open to talking to someone who appears to be on the other side. By being willing to admit that politics is about power, not helping people.

Helping people occurs on a local, personal level. It will never be accomplished by politicians. Deep down we all know this is true.

My advice: Be the solution to the problems you see around you.

Join the ACLU, volunteer at a local food bank, financially support a local cause that is actually accomplishing something in people’s lives (one person at a time).

Donate YOURSELF,  your time and your money in a way that directly affects others in a positive way.

Adopt an elderly person who has no family left. Be a grandparent to children in a military family whose extended family are far away. Start a program at a middle school that encourages kids to grow, mature, and learn something that the school system (or their families) cannot teach them.

Stop mourning, stop alienating others (and feeling alienated) and find some way to positively impact your own space, block, neighborhood, community, town, city, county and state.

Whatever your passion, give of yourself. Be there for others. Be personal. Be real. Be supportive. Love others actively.

One person can save the world. That person is you. That person is me.

 

 

 

 

Conflicted Father’s Day

Father's day ecard from American Greetings

Source: Father’s Day ecard from American Geeetings

I remember one time sharing a moment with my sister. We both discussed how difficult it was to purchase a Father’s Day card for our dad.

All those cards about dad being there when we needed him, his sacrifices for the family, and all that love!

Don’t get me wrong, my dad was an amazing person. He rose from a childhood of extreme poverty to become a Naval officer and fighter pilot.

He flew thousands of people safely across the country and even across oceans as captain of a major airline.

He had cool toys like sailboats, houseboats and ski boats as well as motorcycles and convertibles.

Being with my dad was an adventure. But it was his adventure in which we occasionally were allowed to participate, always on his terms.

When he finally divorced my mom, he left us in Miami far away from extended family because that’s where he had wanted to live after he got out of the Navy.

He didn’t leave Miami immediately. He stayed for a few years because that is where he met his second wife (my first stepmother of three).

We were able to spend some weekends and holidays with him. He was a fun dad for the most part.

He had an apartment on Key Biscayne for awhile after he sold his sailboat. After he bought a turquoise-colored houseboat, he lived there. He went through a brief ski boat phase (I think that was between sailboat and houseboat).

Eventually, though, he decided he liked California better than Miami. I don’t know if he offered to move my mom and us kids to Texas where my mom’s family lived. I don’t think so. I had no grandparents, aunts, uncles or cousins close by. I met them a few times on rare family vacations to Corpus Christi (which is near where my parents had met and been married).

I grew up  in a single-parent home with a completely committed mother who worked very hard and gave us all that she could. We didn’t really want for anything, but my friends’ families moved to larger homes as they grew older while we stayed in the tiny starter home my dad has chosen for us in 1967.

My dad almost always paid child support. I know there were a couple of pilots’ strikes where he had no income, but he was not a deadbeat dad at all. He was just not a very involved dad.

He paid for my  braces and auto insurance. He even helped me out after my first husband and I got married, even though he disapproved of the whole thing.

He never went to any of the football games where I performed at half-time with my school’s dance team. He never helped me with my homework. He wasn’t there to teach me how to drive (though he let us steer while he was driving on occasion). I couldn’t call him up and ask for his advice about anything. He called us when he was ready to see us.

Bottom line is that I didn’t have a daddy. I had a dad with a full life that on occasion involved his children.

I have thanked my dad for what he gave to me and my siblings. He did more than a lot of fathers do these days. Dads get a lot of credit for being part-time dads (moms who are ambiguous about their roles are judged much more harshly).

I spent years wondering why my dad didn’t really like being around us much. I rationalized his nontraditional fatherhood by remembering that his dad abandoned his family; he didn’t have a good role model.

As an adult, I chose to accept a tenuous relationship that continued to be on his terms.

One time my father called the day before he was planning to be in the Connecticut area (he often visited friends on Long Island without contacting my sister or myself). He wanted to meet me someplace at 1 p.m. the next day. This one time, however, I was several years into my struggle with chronic Lyme disease, and was in the middle of a flare-up. I didn’t have the strength to drive anyplace and sit through a couple of hours in a restaurant. I said no. That was the last time I saw my dad. He never called to see me again.

So, while I wish Happy Father’s Day to all of the dads who have chosen to embrace their roles and be there for their kids, I continue to be conflicted about this holiday.

 

 

 

 

How Quiverfull Speech Can Crash Airplanes

Taylor Joy Recovers

planecrash

The Quiverfull/Patriarchy culture produces plenty of “how-to” books, such as Fascinating Womanhood, and Created to Be His Help Meet, to show women how to be the most “godly” wives and mothers they can be. Since I practically absorbed a ton of these types of books through my skin for the first eight years of our marriage, I noticed one thing they all had in common: they tell us how how to talk to our husbands with “respect,” “honor,” and “deference to his authority.” We learned how to use encouragement, childlike phrases, praise, focusing on the positives, and carefully worded requests to communicate within our marriages.

For example, in the book Fascinating Womanhood , a man is about to make a disastrous financial decision, where he could lose everything. The author encourages the wife to say, “It sounds like a good idea, and I can see why you’re excited…

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