Live Your Life

I wasn’t sure if I’d share this. But then a Martin Luther King Jr quote popped out at me. And even though his quote was pertaining to Civil Rights, it felt appropriate to place here.

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” ~ Martin Luther King Jr.

This matters to me. My cousin died. His wife is heartbroken. She spent the last year helping him battle a horrendous cancer. While she battled her own chronic illnesses.

I was disgusted with how little support was available to them. Our family did what they could. But it was not enough. This isn’t the first time I’ve been made aware of how little help people (who aren’t rich) receive when facing dire medical circumstances. Nearly 24 years ago, my mom had little medical help, outside of our family, when she cared for my stepdad through his long battle with cancer. I thought things would be so much better by now, but they aren’t. There was very little medical help for my sister when she cared for mom during her last weeks on earth. People say, “There are places to get help.” But jumping through the requirement hoops is near impossible. For instance, my cousin was a Military Veteran and had to follow their rules. Unfortunately, they didn’t give him ‘permission’ to go to a university/specialist that one of his cancer doctors recommended. Why? I can’t imagine saying ‘no’ to hope and healing.

Several times this past year I hoped to feel well enough to travel and see him. He lived in Florida and I live in Minnesota. But I struggled with my own pain and illness this last year. I’m healing but it’s taking time. Heavy lifting hurt my back, hip, abdomen, and perforated my colon. Yes, it was as painful as it sounds. I’m healing. I’m able to walk longer distances. I’m able to make plans, to go and do things in small doses, for short lengths of time.

My husband and I had plans to go to another state park this weekend, to continue slowly building up my strength. I wasn’t sure what to do. I hurt for the loss.

I dug out the memories. Back in 1982, we started writing letters to each other to encourage each other. He joined the Military and wrote me letters while in Basic Training. He wrote when he was sent to other states and countries. I got to see the world through his eyes. I was stuck at home, in the woods, and was told I wasn’t going to amount to much.

But I dreamed of so much more. He encouraged those dreams repeatedly. I dreamed of going to college, of making the world a better place, of fighting for equality and justice, of being a lawyer, of flying planes, of skydiving. I’ve known I had those types of dreams my entire life, but it was strange to see them quoted back to me from over 40 years ago.

I often hear, “You should go visit (so-and-so) it might be the last time you get to see them.” I find this odd advice. I see loved ones as often as I can. I tell them I love them all the time. I’ve had so much fun, had many open conversations because I don’t know how to not ask awkward questions, and have enjoyed so many heart-filling days with family and friends. Why would the last day on earth be any different than all the others? Maybe this is something I don’t understand? Maybe some people need this type of closure?

If you want to see someone – go see them. If you can’t go to them – call them and ask them to come visit. Make plans together. Why wait?

I think of this past year when I’ve been so ill. I didn’t want people to come see me just because I was ill. I wanted them to come see me if it was something they were going to do anyway. Don’t take time out of your own precious life to force yourself to visit me. Never feel guilted into seeing me. Live your life! I know who loves me. I am super fortunate to have so much love in my life! I carry everyone’s love with me all of my days.

Real love doesn’t die. It’s the physical body that dies. Genuine, authentic love has no expectations whatsoever; it doesn’t even need the physical presence of a person. … Even when he is dead and buried that part of you that loves the person will always live.” ~ Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

We decided to visit the next state park on our adventure list. I carried thoughts of my cousin with me. And I thought of all the people I’ve lost, like my mom, and all the other funerals I’ve gone to. I wished them all a fantastic time in Heaven.

And I went on living, hoping that’s what they’d want me to do.

There are dreams of love, life, and adventure in all of us. But we are also sadly filled with reasons why we shouldn’t try. These reasons seem to protect us, but in truth they imprison us. They hold life at a distance. Life will be over sooner than we think. If we have bikes to ride and people to love, now is the time.” ~ Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

Advertisement

Grief Day

I love being happy. Given a choice in choosing emotions Happiness and Joy are in my top ten favorites to go-to.

But there are rare instances where I’m not sure I have a choice. Occasionally grief seems to leak out of some unforeseen place on the inside.

Every emotion needs to be allowed time to safely express itself.

Grief is a process we go through because we’ve loved and lost someone or something.

I have questions about the ‘normal process’ of grief:

  • How often should we be grieving?
    • Some people tend to wear their grief on the outside, all the time. When this happens, it often comes with counselors’ labels and medications.
    • Some people never seem to grieve. When this happens, no one notices.
    • Deep down in my bones I’m a naturally happy person. I don’t grieve often. Sometimes it takes me a bit to process loss, like the loss of my mom. It’s been a year since she passed and still it doesn’t seem ‘real’. I think the isolation of Covid had something to do with that. We spent nearly 2 years juggling quarantines, trying not to spread it. During that time, I kept reminding myself that soon, we’d be gathering with loved ones. But then Covid killed my mom, and we couldn’t even be there on her last days. So, losing her is more of a ‘concept’ of isolation, than a ‘reality’ of death.
  • When we grieve, how long should it last?
    • Some people seem to grieve their entire lifetimes.
    • I tend not to grieve long. Sometimes, it’s as short as a cry in the early morning shower. Maybe that’s not enough? Maybe I’m not doing it right?

“Crying does not indicate that you are weak. Since birth, it has always been a sign that you are alive.” ~Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre

I’ve lost people, health, pets, money, time, things…

I worry about All the people I love – do they feel lost, lonely, or forgotten? Is there anything I can do to help them through their difficulties? I worry about the planet, equality, crime, politics, everything, all the time. I worry I’m not able to do enough to change the things I care most about. I wish I could say I was making a difference. (I know better than to spend time worrying – do something or leave it be) …

And while most often, I handle losses and worries reasonably well, occasionally they sneak up on me. They escape the little compartments I put them in. I didn’t want to face them because – I have too much to do, I like actively happily pursuing solutions and getting things done, I hate that vulnerable powerless feeling, I find crying annoying…

I do not like dealing with grief because it seems like a waste of my very precious and valuable time (again, I know better). Also, currently it’s the holiday season. Crying seems inappropriate (however, I don’t know when it’s a ‘good’ time to cry).

Unresolved grief can bubble away below the surface until it starts to manifest in a way that is physically and mentally harmful to us.

 “The worst type of crying wasn’t the kind everyone could see–the wailing on street corners, the tearing at clothes. No, the worst kind happened when your soul wept and no matter what you did, there was no way to comfort it. A section withered and became a scar on the part of your soul that survived. For people like me and Echo, our souls contained more scar tissue than life.” ~Katie McGarry, Pushing the Limits

The other day, tears fell in heaps, from the deepest depths of my soul. I was too tired to hold them back. I freely let all the hurt out. I don’t remember the last time I cried this much. I wasn’t sure if I’d stop. It seemed I’d never run out of pain or tears. Fortunately, I was home alone. I didn’t have to be concerned about anyone else’s feelings, or be strong, or listen to (non)comforting words, or create a new plan to overcome the latest setback…

  • Why is grief something many people do alone? Grief is a common emotion, yet like with the other ‘unpleasant emotions’, we hide our suffering. For me, being alone allows me to not worry about others’ feelings. Is this why other people suffer behind closed doors? Or do they have different reasons for choosing to be alone?

“Heaven knows we need never be ashamed of our tears, for they are rain upon the blinding dust of earth, overlying our hard hearts. I was better after I had cried, than before–more sorry, more aware of my own ingratitude, more gentle.” ~Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

After a few hours I did stop crying. And I felt – different. Some people say they feel relieved when they let out their heartache. I didn’t feel that way exactly. I felt more like some of the frayed edges were trimmed a bit. If that makes sense. I feel like I’ve been pushing so hard through the last few years, while enduring relentless setbacks, and making very little progress. My pleas for help seemed to disappear into the Universe, unanswered. Where is the Light, Love, and Healing when we need it most? The discouragement, disappointment, and frustration were ‘clawingly fraying the edges’.

I’ve made it through some difficulties. Now I can recover, rethink, recalculate, replan.

I’m ready to Turn the Corner.

I am so ready for life to start making sense, and to swiftly move forward in a positive direction.  

“Those who do not weep, do not see.” ~Victor Hugo, Les Misérables

  • What do you do when you find yourself having a grief day?

“I am the diamond glints on snow”… ~ Do Not Stand at My Grave

Reblog: Libraries = Freedom

I found this post by Laura Grace Weldon important to share. As a former librarian and a child who read books that saved my life, I find it absolutely necessary to resist book censorship.

While I agree that we have to consider age-appropriate books, and mental/emotional readiness of readers, and carefully understand our racist, sexist history, and that there are a few stories glorifying terror that should never reach the light of day. I firmly believe we should oppose suppressing valuable books simply because we disagree with one sentence, or one paragraph, or one chapter…

In elementary school, I was reading far above my grade level and placed in the highest reading group with one other person. At home, I had already lived through my parents divorce, lived in a car, and then a shack, and then a house without running water. And endured the foster care system. For me to find stories like the Boxcar Children, Laura Ingalls, Are You There God, The Catcher in the Rye, The Handmaid’s Tale, East of Eden, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings… stories that told of homelessness, poverty, hardship, breasts and periods and other personal traumas and tragedies… helped me to overcome, to think through, and to not feel alone. Life can be downright extremely horrible. And some of us need stories we can relate to, so that we know we can overcome any ugly tragedy thrown our way.

And that’s my opinion. What’s yours?

Please read Laura’s post for more information.


Libraries = Freedom: Resist Book Censorship” — Laura Grace Weldon

“A library in the middle of a community is a cross between an emergency exit, a life raft ,and a festival. They are cathedrals of the mind; hospitals of the soul; theme parks of the imagination. On a cold, rainy island, they are the only sheltered public spaces where you are not a consumer, but […]

Libraries = Freedom: Resist Book Censorship — Laura Grace Weldon

Bridgebuilding in Politics via One Small Step StoryCorps

I love these types of stories. And I especially love when people with opposing viewpoints can find common ground!

During this political season, it’s important to listen and to be heard.

Listen. Honor. Share.” This One Small Step motto would be helpful if adopted by all our politicians.

From the One Small Step conversation:

“Two years ago, Warren Koontz and Jerome Legions met when they were matched for a One Small Step conversation in Richmond, Virginia—one of three Anchor Communities where the initiative is currently focusing its work. Since then, they have developed a close friendship and of Warren, Jerome says simply, “I couldn’t imagine my life without [him].” We recently sat down with the pair to check in and hear how a One Small Step conversation changed their lives.

How did each of you initially decide to take part in One Small Step conversation?

Warren: I think it’s important to talk to people you don’t know, so I signed up. Once I got Jerome’s name, I’ll admit that I looked him up and I was glad to see his interest in education because I’m very interested in education too.

Jerome: I was a big fan of StoryCorps and I had no reservations about participating in a conversation. But given our political differences, I wasn’t expecting that Warren and I would find so many commonalities.

Like education?

Jerome: Yes, and race relations—we both had the same ideas about how to fix things and we bonded over that. It helped us start focusing on our similarities, rather than our differences.

For example, during our conversation, we realized that—although we grew up very differently—we both had strong mentors in our parents who taught us to give back. They were bridge builders and I think both of us feel like we’re standing on the shoulders of giants.

Warren: Jerome is a great example of someone giving back. He is currently leading the effort to renovate the Moore Street School in Richmond, which was built in 1887 by city Engineer Lieutenant Colonel W. E. Cutshaw for free African-American children, following the Reconstruction era.

Jerome: I’m president of the Moore Street School Foundation and Warren was the first contributor to the project. He also personally wrote to politicians on both sides of the aisle to get state funding for the effort. Our goal is to refurbish and repurpose the building into a Performing Arts Center and multi-purpose space for the community.

Why do you think people should participate in One Small Step?

Warren: Countries and groups may not always get along, but people do. We need to be open to hearing the other side.

Jerome: I don’t know if it’s a universal or spiritual connection, but I believe that Warren and I were meant to meet. We can talk about anything—gun violence, healthcare, life—and it only adds layers to our relationship. Often, I’ll be mulling over an issue and then I’ll say to myself, ‘What would Warren think?’ and I’ll give him a call.”

Watch their video here!

October Proposal

It’s snowing here this morning! October has started out to be a very gray and cloudy month. The coloring-changing leaves have passed their peak far too fast. I am not ready for winter.

Fortunately, I have a great memory of an October from way-back to brighten my entire month.

It was in October years ago, when M’Love proposed.

I love these types of stories – how did you meet, first dates, proposals, weddings

Here’s a bit of our story… Forgive me if you’ve heard it before.

At that time, my life was super busy and difficult. I had big plans to change the world. I was pursuing my Bachelor’s degree while also studying early childhood, library media, and psychology.

One day my brother got married. I was a maid-of-honor in the wedding. Later that evening, one of the groomsman asked me to dance.

Eventually the groomsman and the maid-of-honor started dating. Long Distance. Because we were going to different colleges. And I was in no hurry to do anything, but make the world a better place. Besides, I really liked having control of everything in my own life. I planned to enjoy life as an old maid, as I was pretty sure I didn’t have the social skills or personality to thrive in a relationship (I’m an INTJ according to MBTI).

Oddly it turns out that groomsman was also an INTJ.

He got my attention by speaking my love of fact-based and personal responsibility language. He spoke of honor, equality, and fairness. He’s not the kind to shame people about the circumstances in which they have no control over. He was genuine and kind. He knew the acts of bravery it takes to chase dreams. He avoided mind/mood-altering substances and wasn’t embarrassed to say so.

I never felt uncomfortable sharing my life stories (the good, bad, and ugly). I felt free to talk about all my hopes and dreams, my fight for equality and good educations for all, wishes to travel the world, and live a fairy-tale life… He was the first person that didn’t make me feel embarrassed about who I was or where I came from. He didn’t chastise me for being a bookworm who loved to read, write, and learn. He didn’t call me wild because I was thrilled by nature, riding motorcycles, flying in airplanes, learning about outer space, and being happy. He liked those same types of things!?! It was exciting to find someone with so much in common. And even the areas where we disagreed, we could still respectfully discuss without devolving into raging lunatics. He made me want to be better, smarter, stronger, healthier, and just be the best me I could be. And I wanted the very same for him.

For two years, we sent hundreds of cards and letters in the mail (I still have all of these)! We talked on the phone about everything. We knew where each other came from, and where we were going.

Then one day, he drove a couple hours to visit me. Which was weird considering how far away his college was from mine. He was carrying a dozen roses. Was I so busy I didn’t know what holiday it was? Looking at the calendar, no it wasn’t a holiday.

I was having a Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. My last year of college was wearing me out. I was trying so hard to make sure my future was set so I could follow through on all my plans. I was focused on laying the groundwork to offer my child a future chance, and to give the world a make-over so all the kids could have a chance.

Then this young man who drove so far to see me, said some (extremely unexpected) Most Beautiful Words ever and Asked me to Marry him!

I paused, looked around, and whispered, “Are you sure?”

Because we might have a lot of Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Days. And my heart would never be able to take it if he changed his mind somewhere down the road.

He said, and I quote,

“I know my heart.”

And Suddenly here it is years and years later. I’m still deeply in love with this man! We’ve both fulfilled our college goals: his with computers, and mine in teaching, library, and other roles (I’m still hoping to make the world better.).

We’ve both been blessed to be the Bread-Winner and the Home-Maker in this relationship. Yay for True Love Teammates!

They loved their little boy with their whole hearts! Many years later, they’re lives became even more extra love-filled with brilliant grandbabies!

They all lived happily ever after!

The end.

The dry, shriveled blossom below was once upon a time the largest, most beautiful red rose from the October Proposal Rose Bouquet. It is still just as special as the day I received it.

Peace, Hope, and Coincidences

Today, September 21, is the International Day of Peace. The 2022 theme for the International Day of Peace is “End racism. Build peace.” internationaldayofpeace.org

WHAT IS THE INTERNATIONAL DAY OF PEACE?

The International Day of Peace (“Peace Day”) is observed around the world each year on 21 September. Established in 1981 by unanimous United Nations resolution, Peace Day provides a globally shared date for all humanity to commit to Peace above all differences and to contribute to building a Culture of Peace.”

To inaugurate the day, the United Nations Peace Bell is rung at UN Headquarters (in New York City). The bell is cast from coins donated by children from all continents except Africa, and was a gift from the United Nations Association of Japan, as “a reminder of the human cost of war”; the inscription on its side reads, “Long live absolute world peace”. (Wikipedia)

Coincidentally, I’m reading “The Book of Hope: A Survival Guide for Trying Times” by Jane Goodall and Douglas Carlton Abrams, with Gail Hudson.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/56268863-the-book-of-hope

I’m about halfway through the book. Today I happened to read about Jane’s experience with the UN International Day of Peace in New York. I’ll let her tell the story:

“Last year, on the UN International Day of Peace, I took part in a very special ceremony in New York City, along with about 20 high school children from across America. We all gathered around the Survivor Tree—the tree who was rescued after she was crushed and wounded on 9/11. We looked up at the strong branches reaching toward the sky.

Only a short time before, they had been filled with beautiful white blossoms, and now the leaves were beginning to fall. We stood silently and prayed for peace on earth and for a new respect for animals and nature. I looked around at the young faces—the faces of those who would inherit the planet wounded by countless generations of humans.

And then I saw it. I saw the neat perfection of the nest of some small bird. I imagined the parents feeding the nestlings, the fledging, the final flight into the as-yet-unknown world. The children were also staring up at the nest. Some smiled, others had tears in their eyes. They, too, were ready to move out into the world. The Survivor Tree, brought back from the dead, had not only put out new leaves herself but also nurtured the lives of others.

Now do you understand how I dare hope?”

In the opening of this book, Jane says, “Jane is almost 90 years old,” you may be thinking, “if she is aware of what is going on in the world, how can she still be writing about hope? She is probably giving in to wishful thinking. She is not facing up to the facts.”

But Jane insists she is facing facts, and she writes an entire book giving us facts to base our hopes on.

I believe in Jane. I believe in Hope. Maybe some of us are genetically wired to see hope all around us. I believe Peace is possible. When I say this, some folks assume I’ve lived a charmed life of ease. As if I have no idea how difficult life can be: despite enduring severe poverty, times of hunger, being in foster care, filling out welfare forms since I was 9 years old because my parents couldn’t read, working 23 jobs just to get to the point where I didn’t feel like I was always drowning, etc…

Still, I believe in hope and peace.

My imagination can see a world filled with peace, goodness, and vibrant energy. It’s all right there in front of our faces, just waiting for us to open our hearts and brains enough to bring it forth.

It’s possible.

~Dream, Believe, Achieve~

Gentle Friday Encouragements

To everyone having a difficult day, week, month, year? – I’m holding you in my thoughts and in my heart.

You are incredible, you can face anything in your life, you have the strength within yourself.

You are not alone.

Please be easy on yourself.

You’re doing the best you can.

You’re still here, trying to live a better life, and make the world a better place.

Now is the time to recognize your worth. You’re a Precious human being, with a Beautiful soul.

Love yourself.

Send out hugs and love with your smiles, your eyes, and your words.

Keep the encouragement going.

Lift up every person around you in the way you need to be lifted.

May we fill our homes and neighborhoods with Love, Peace, and Health.

You and I can do this, together.

Health, Research, and Trust Yourself

The Lady’s Handbook for Her Mysterious Illness” by Sarah Ramey

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/33516728-the-lady-s-handbook-for-her-mysterious-illness

This book offers a long and wide-open look at the struggle one woman had (and often many women have) in trying to find the answers to her mysterious illnesses. I appreciated the author’s courage in sharing her story. In the end, Sarah found some very real reasons for her illness, and was able to take actions that helped her.

Let me get a few negatives out of the way:

  1. The author tells us she is a privileged young lady whose parents are both doctors, therefore they have the ability to contact every professional they know to consult on Sarah’s case. They take care of Sarah in ways not possible for most of the rest of us. They move her back and forth across the United States whenever Sarah wants to try living on her own. They sit by her bedside for months/years when she’s too weak and sick to take care of herself. Most of us would’ve had the misfortune of dying because we do not have any healthy, wealthy people in our lives to help us.
  2. I believe in telling the truth, but I’m not a fan of criticizing doctors. Doctors are humans. They go to school for many years to try to help people get better. They’re often overworked with far too many patients. And sure, they suffer from the same imperfections as the rest of us – they can be racist, sexist, and many other -ists… They have bad days, can be jerks, and many can’t see beyond their typical textbook learnings. In the same way I don’t want them to see me as a difficult patient or gossip about my shortcomings, I don’t want to gossip about theirs. Just stick to the facts please.
  3. Rambling. I skimmed areas.

I read a few criticisms:

  • ‘she used the wrong terminology’
  • ‘she doesn’t look sick’
  • ‘if she’s so sick how did she…’

Many of those words seem to be spoken by people who don’t understand that:

Most of the world’s work is done by people who don’t feel very well.” ~Winston Churchill

What I loved about Sarah’s story – once she realized other women were suffering similar mistreatment, she made it her focus to help women everywhere! She put in a tremendous amount of research, trying to find answers to many of the mysterious illnesses that seem to plague (mostly) women. Thank-you!

One thing I truly valued from this story was the daring of Sarah to share her illnesses and all the conduct around it. She shares openly; doctor mistakes, her mistakes, all the efforts made to heal, and other random maybe-connected things.

I’m not always brave enough to share negative parts of my life despite encouraging myself to share both the good and bad as equally as possible. Illness seems an especially inappropriate thing to share, even though we’ve all been ill. Growing up with a very ill mother, led me to try to make my life about helping people get better. The best way to do this is through truth and education. I trust my pursuit to find answers.

Over the years I’ve suffered weird symptoms, doctors have yelled, “You work with kids, what do you expect!” and “That’s what happens in middle-age.”

I was given labels, which I thought meant cures. I was wrong.

I quit going to doctors, I quit taking the unhelpful medicine they prescribed. I decided the closest I’d ever get to ‘healthy’ was to eat healthy foods, drink lots of water, keep my body in motion, and get some sleep.

Through it all, I kept working hard in my careers. The place I felt the most value was at work. This is probably true for many of us. Often boosted by anger, I dragged my aching body to work. I was humiliated about being ill.

This year, I’ve been struggling to hold my value. In March, heavy lifting hurt my back and abdomen. Doctors order blood tests and scans and send me home with antibiotics. Each time telling me, this will fix it. After Multiple ER visits, I keep telling them something else is also wrong. I’ve lost a lot of weight. Antibiotics do not appear to be the answer.

It’s frustrating when the people who are supposed to help, are too busy to listen.

I could go in search of a second opinion, driving many hours away from home, costing more money than I have. And most likely put myself in the same position I’m in now, where the same tests will be ordered, ending in the same dismissive results.

It’s on me to figure this out. I have no medical training and I’m not a medical professional in any capacity. There’s a lot of things I do not know. But I do know my own body and I have to trust me to make the best decisions by learning all I can.

I asked for copies of all my scans. I’ve had time to study these files by myself to see if there’s anything I might notice. I’m not a radiologist, and these scans could just as well be Rorschach tests. I have no idea how radiologists make sense of these.

Next, I went to the library, looking for medical information as to why I might have hard lumps and swelling on my abdomen. (I suspect a slight hernia, and swollen lymph nodes caused by repeated infections, but I’m not a medical professional…).

In my limited research, I was surprised to discover that there isn’t a particular branch of medicine that deals with healing the lymphatic system. Sure, there’s endocrinology which deals with the endocrine glands, and immunology which deals with immune issues, and other ‘ologies, and other internal medical labels. There’s lymphedema, and lymph cancer, and lymph node removal. But the lymphatic system which spreads throughout the entire human body, and cleans out the debris and infections, transports white blood cells, and has over 500-800 lymph nodes, doesn’t have its own specialist category to heal it.

This has created tons more investigative questions for another time…

Unfortunately(?), the library was where I found – “The Lady’s Handbook for Her Mysterious Illness”. I read it in one day. It made me feel angry, vindicated, frustrated, and kept me wondering, if so many women have gone through this nightmare for this many years why hasn’t it changed?

Sarah’s story inspired me to maintain trust in myself and continue my own research. No one else is magically going to run here and heal me up. I’ll either figure out my health stuff on my own, or I’ll find someone who can. Or I might not. Sometimes we die before answers arrive. And sometimes we heal as unexpectedly as we got ill. Either way, at least I’ll have some information on hand in case someone in the future would like access.

I’ve also joined a large research program from the National Institutes of Health. I’ve been ‘warned’ by well-meaning folks that ‘the government is collecting my DNA for ill-gotten gains’. But the fact is, if you were born in a hospital or have ever been in a hospital, they have your DNA. Joining a research study gives me the right to have access to anything they learn about me.

It is impossible to fully enjoy life if you’re not healthy. Our health is important. The healthier we are, the better we can function.

Then we can take on larger tasks to heal the rest of the world.  

Meaningful Intelligent Conversations

One of the reasons I like blogs is because they feature wonderfully heartfelt conversations. People openly share their experiences, thoughts, and opinions. Bloggers add depth to their conversations that isn’t found on other social media platforms.

I appreciate people who are brave enough to share, and kind enough to listen.

Meaningful intelligent conversations are one of the best ways to move society forward in a healthier direction. By ‘intelligent’, I don’t mean everyone should have a PHD or a 180 IQ to converse. What I mean is that everyone should use the best parts of their own brain to add their own perceptions to a discussion.

There are multiple types of intelligence, therefore multiple ways to have intelligent conversations.

I’m always curious to know what people really, truly, deeply think and feel. I want to hear about their creative, inventive, innovative, brand-new ideas. I have millions of questions I’m seeking answers to.

Here are a few examples:

  • What are people’s thoughts on how to end wars? Can we utilize similar tactics parents use to get their children to stop fighting? After all, we are one big human family…
  • With our wide variety of personality types, and competing interests, how do we produce a world that works for all of us?
  • How do we develop a more equal society, yet preserve everyone’s individuality?
  • How can we balance the spirit of competition with compassion?
  • What does the future of politics look like? Will we always have two warring factions who refuse to peacefully compromise? Or might we one day really have politicians who want to find solutions by fully understanding truthful consequences?
  • Will we save the planet and ourselves from climate change? Why isn’t everyone taking this topic seriously?
  • Why do we have so many people suffering poverty and starvation, and what should we be doing about it?
  • How do we keep from overpopulating the earth, and at the same time eradicate deadly diseases?
  • What is the best education we can offer future generations? How do we decide what they should learn?
  • Why aren’t we further along in exploring the infinity of Space? What are we afraid of? What if there are perfect solutions out there to our problems, but we let our fear of something worse keep us trapped on this planet in our ancient miseries?

Why do so many people answer these questions with oversimplifications and defeatist attitudes? Why aren’t our higher thought processes fully engaged, creating solutions that are different from the same old dismal answers we’ve always heard?

One way to find better solutions is to have better conversations. We need the kind of discussions that fully engage our brains, our hearts, and our creativity. Better answers should involve thoughtful logic, and deep caring, and a profound quest to find brand new ways of doing things.

If we don’t engage, bravely share, kindly listen, open our brains and hearts to their hugest capacity, how will we ever help this world, or the universe become a better place?

The Woman They Could Not Silence

I enjoy reading history. It’s interesting for me to see if I can figure out how one life affected the world. What impact did certain figures have on those around them, and on the future? How did humanity change because one person chose to do something a certain way?

I recently read “The Woman They Could Not Silence: One Woman, Her Incredible Fight for Freedom, and the Men Who Tried to Make Her Disappear” by Kate Moore

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/56132724-the-woman-they-could-not-silence

Reading the story of Elizabeth Packard, it’s easy to see how her bravery helped change the world for women, and the care of people with mental conditions.

What’s difficult for me, is trying to put my internal outrage into words. Why would any human in their right mind, think it would be appropriate to own other humans, or treat them in such a shockingly disgusting manner?

The story of Mrs. Packard takes place during the Civil War, when black people are trying to gain freedom. This was the way our country was, people owned slaves, and men owned their wives.

Elizabeth Packard was a woman who had no rights. She was owned by her husband. He was intimidated by her intelligence and independent thinking. He made claims that she was insane and had friends write letters to support his claims. Her husband had her committed to an asylum because she chose to have ideas of her own.

While at Illinois State Hospital, Elizabeth found many other sane women whose husbands had committed them to the asylum. Here Elizabeth was not allowed any contact with the outside world. Letters to and from her were intercepted by Dr. McFarland, who held her in the facility for 2-3 years, while waiting for her insanity to show itself.

Elizabeth witnessed atrocious abuse of patients in the facility. She spent her years inside the asylum overcoming many dastardly challenges. While there, she staunchly maintained the goal of getting out and telling her story and the story of other women.

When Elizabeth was released, she wrote books and helped create laws to protect women from such horrors.

Her story, and her bravery are powerful.

Some historical facts of the book startled me.

The time I grew up in was different from Elizabeth’s.

In my life, I only ever heard of female genital mutilation as something done in other countries. I didn’t know that it was practiced in mental health institutions in our country. I shudder that such a nightmare could be forced upon women simply because a man decided they were insane. Dr. Isaac Baker Brown published a book in the mid-1860’s, saying to cure a woman of insanity is easy, just cut off her clitoris.

All of my life, women have always had the right to vote. This was a right fought for by Elizabeth and many other courageous women. Sadly, too many women today refuse to use the right given them, they don’t bother voting. Unfortunately, I’ve seen arguments in families when the woman wanted to vote one way, but the husband wanted her to vote the other way. Often if a woman was voting, she voted the way her husband told her to. I’ve always thought this was backwards and outdated thinking. The right to vote is given to every American. Ballots are secret for a reason, so no one can pressure anyone else to vote a certain way. I believe we’re supposed to vote with our conscience, and choose the very best, most honorable person possible. I don’t think most of my country takes voting seriously. They vote party line, putting little to no effort into researching real issues.  

I grew up in a time when divorce was painful, yet normal, and it was normal for the children to be given to their mother, unless some irregular circumstances were involved. Under nineteenth-century law if a woman divorced her husband, she also gave up her children, her home, her money, and her reputation.  Father’s rights of that time took precedence. Whatever was the woman’s was the husband’s – her property was his, her earnings were his, her children were his, and she was his. It’s strange how divorce changed, from one extreme to the other. First, everything went to the men. Then, everything went to the women. I don’t understand why things aren’t fairly split as equally as possible.  

I just can’t believe these inequalities happened, and continue to happen today. I can’t believe anyone in their right mind would commit such acts. All I can think is that somehow narcissistic sociopaths have figured out how to get into powerful governmental positions and force their nightmares on the rest of us.

I struggle to understand why everyone isn’t shocked and offended by these behaviors. Even as a kid, it would eat at me that things weren’t fair. My mom and I had many arguments about fairness. She’d yell at me that life wasn’t fair, and that I should get used to it. I did not. Maybe these types of things don’t matter much to other people. Maybe there are only a few of us infuriated by these kinds of unfair injustices. Maybe I was the only one who had nightmares after watching the first few episodes of the “Handmaid’s Tale”. Maybe there aren’t enough people who’ve had their heart ripped out by real life horror stories of abuse of someone they loved…. I don’t know why all of us aren’t concerned more about equality and fairness.

As I said in the beginning, it’s difficult to put my outrage into words.

Around the world women are losing their rights. A great site to demonstrate this can be found here:

Jane has accumulated fabulous maps and guides showing how women are treated around the world. She describes how Afghanistan is returning to the Dark Ages. Women were able to go to school and become professionals, and now all those rights are gone.

In America there is no constitutional guarantee of gender equality, no parental leave, and more states are prohibiting abortion (women are forced to give birth no matter what terrifying circumstances, but not allowed time off to care for a child).

In our country, “lawmakers save their cruel treatment for others”, for the poor, for the uneducated, for minorities… There is little equality, justice, or fairness, when it comes to those who have money versus those who do not.

I can only hope that more of us have the bravery of Elizabeth Packard, and are able to make this world a better place for all.