Sunday, August 13, 2017

Beware, political rant on the way.....

There are men and women in riot gear and carrying guns with freaking tiki torches marching and giving the Nazi salute in Charlottesville, VA, today. A state of emergency has been declared.

And our President?  He's saying there are extremists and problems "on many sides". 

He said it twice. "On many sides." (http://www.cnn.com/2017/08/12/politics/trump-charlottesville-statement/index.html)  I guess he needed to make sure his supporters heard that. 

The more I think about DT's "on many sides" comment the angrier I get. There are times when both sides are at fault for things, and equivocating might be prudent, but THIS is absolutely not one of them. Normalizing white nationalists and Nazi wannabes is not ok.

Being a white nationalist or Nazi wannabe is not ok. This is nothing but a treasonous display of hatred, and it's wrong. It's domestic terrorism with injuries and death, and it's designed to terrify and violate the safety of any "other". I can't imagine how my non-white, non-straight, non-Christian friends feel. It's America in 2017, and the people with torches didn't even care to wear hoods.  Think on that a second. They are comfortable enough that in 2017 in the US, their views are so accepted they don't even bother to hide their faces. 

Trump can make off the cuff remarks that might lead us into a nuclear war, but he's extremely aware of his words today, and made sure his supporters heard that "many sides" were wronged or whatever. No. White people are fine with nothing to fear but each other and accidentally shooting themselves with the guns they are allowed to openly carry. 

This President got elected by the "dog whistle" call to these groups. And it makes me ill that people I know and love couldn't, or wouldn't, see it.

All humanity matters. But some people make themselves almost subhuman by their actions and the hate they spew. This is what we saw today.

I hope to see all people, but especially my white friends and family, unified around support of those in Charlottesville who've been terrorized tomorrow. There are multiple vigils in Central Arkansas to attend.  There are many anti-hate groups to support, nationally and in Charlottesville and the state of Virginia. 

This moment requires action. Get involved to save our country from it's worst demons. If you don't know how or what to do, ask.  I'll gladly help you figure out what you can do.  Start with denouncing the hate we are seeing and denounce the President who won't denounce the hate outright for himself.  That's the least we can ALL do.

I believe in free speech and the right to peacefully assemble. But I also believe that no one has the right to terrorize another. And the fact that this is done in our US President's name, and he won't call them out on it, is sickening. 

Welcome to Trump's America, folks.  Are we great yet? Sure doesn't feel like it. It feels pretty awful, sickening, and disheartening.  But hey, there's always the specter of nuclear war to look forward to, right?

Where did my country go?

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

A Day in the Life....

I had a doctor appointment a few days ago. I knew at the appointment a migraine was coming, because I could not think of words to save my life. I made it home, only to sleep through dinner, which I also ended up doing last night. Since I don't eat a lot during the day, skipping dinner 2 days in a row isn't good.

I woke up this morning so weak and sick I could barely make it to the bathroom and knew there was NO way I could get to the kitchen for food or meds. Luckily, my husband's job affords him flexibility to come home with food in hand at 10 am-ish. And luckily my phone was charged and handy so I could reach him.

I woke up again, still weak and headachy, everything hurting with fibro pain, at 3pm-ish. Since then, after asking the same question multiple times, my husband has asked "Are you sure you're ok?"  I don't even know how to answer that. I'm as ok as I can be right now with my brain full of fog, hurting all over, and feeling like nothing will ever work as it should again.

But it will. I'll pick myself up and go about life as if all is ok again soon. But days like today and the past few, just kick my tail. I'm just a pile of flesh and bone right now. I'm here, but not. I've missed multiple meetings, had to cancel a trip out and about with my nephew, and just basically stopped life for a few days to wait this feeling out. I hate the missing out part of illness.

But I'm here. So that's something.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

It could be worse, right?

I had to see a doctor today for one of many chronic illness issues. While there, I got the "at least it's just migraines, it could be a lot worse" line from a health professional in the lab. If fibro allowed me to get my foot that high, I might have kicked her in the head and said, oh, I know that hurts but it could be a lot worse! 

I get her point. There are things worse than #migraine. Though, according to the World Health Organization, and in terms of disabilty, not many.  But so many other "worse" illnesses have an end point. You get better, are cured, or in remission, etc.  Worst case is death, which, while not a good or hoped for outcome, IS an endpoint.  Many chronic illnesses, like migraine, mostly just serve to cause extreme pain and other symptoms, and could do so for the rest of my life. I'm (almost) 41. Officially middle aged. Sometimes I'm not completely sure I have another 40 years of the pain from chronic illnesses in me.

My friend Jennifer recently opened up about having a chronic illness. She's brave and strong and I'm glad she opened up about it because it's an illness I would otherwise know nothing about. I think it's especially important for those of us with invisible illness to open up and share our struggles. That said, this same friend sent the post from The Mighty, below. So for all the preaching I do about honesty, awareness, advocacy, and defeating the stigma of illness, I still wear the mask. You know, the one that says "all is well" when there is a storm brewing in my body. The smile I plaster on so no one around me has to feel uncomfortable or like I need special care. The desire to live the fullest life I can, and not revealing the sad, hurting, empty days, which leads to the statement "you must be doing better." 

Sometimes I actually am doing better and am happy to report that. But many times, I've just excelled at disguising the illnesses and the question is like a gut punch. No, I'm not better. I wish I were brave enough to show you the bad days. And the question is always asked or statement made with such a hopeful tone, I hate to disappoint by saying, actually, no. I'm just hiding it better right now. I know those that know me (most of them, anyway) want the best for me. I appreciate that, even if I don't always know how to answer the question.

I'm rambling on, but really, this piece from the Mighty is written as well as I could write or say it. Please don't think that I don't appreciate your concern or the fact that you pay attention at all to how I feel. It's just that sometimes there is more to the story than I can or want to show.

Thanks for reading.

https://themighty.com/2016/04/social-media-and-invisible-chronic-illness-symptoms/

Saturday, April 22, 2017

The exhaustion of fighting with myself

Ok, I almost named this Dancing with Myself, after the Billy Idol song stuck in my head. But since that might sort of distort the type of things I usually write about, I chose the more innocent and truthful, Fighting with Myself.

Sorry if you sing Billy Idol in your head all day now.

So, an update....physically, life stinks. There's migraine pain, which is a given, fibro flares, endometriosis pain, some undiagnosed but not specific to fibro hand issues, and my husband has started a new job, and while I am SO pleased his stress level is back to "not gonna have a stroke any minute" levels, he's not working from home as often and I miss having him here. It's just comforting to know he's here, even if he's working and cursing his phone and computer and slow internet...

Thank goodness the dogs are my little cuddle bugs and keep me company when he's gone. 

And, all this stinkiness is occuring at a horrible time. Politically, after our current President's election, I grieved a little, but within a week was standing with friends at a visibility event for Planned Parenthood. I got a kick of energy after the election. It was like my fight or flight systems were activated and all I could do was fight. I co-started our local Indivisible chapter.  I began a PAC with some like-minded Progressives to change politics in Arkansas and especially my County, Faulkner Forward PAC.*  I have been involved with the Citizen's First Congress, an advocacy group that reads lots of legislation--OMG, theres SO much legislation.  Such a dance party was had by me (and I'm very certain tons of others) when this travesty of a session ended. We squeaked by with a few wins for public schools and kept healthcare as is at a state level, basically, until Congress may actually pass something someday that ruins it for all of us, but the losses were big, and likely to affect lots of lives.  Then of course I've tried to stay involved with the Democratic Party and Democratic Women. 

With rallies, Marches, almost daily direct citizen advocacy (talking to Members of Congress's offices about important policy things), leading new groups, wanting to see my husband as much as possible, and oh yeah, those seemingly weekly doc appointments, life got busy. Fast.  Like, too much for anything but illness, politics, and my husband for months. 

I learned a new skill!  I have learned to say no to leadership opportunities even if I really want them. But that gets old. I feel I should be able to do it all. I feel the healthy version of me is out there somewhere, doing it all. I wish I could meet her. Hell, I wish I could be her.  

During the election, my youngest nephew from a few hours away lived with us while attending school. I'm much more liberal than he was raised to be or has thus far decided to be. So it was interesting getting to have real, intense conversations with him, watching news and debates with him, and hearing each other's viewpoints. I'm not sure if I changed a vote or not with him, but I think it broadened the way he looks at issues, at least.

My brother's oldest child got to vote for the first time. He knew how important that was to me so he came home from school so I could be there for his first vote.  That meant a lot. We had some pretty intense conversations about things and became closer because of it I think.  I'd walk through fire for all my nephews and nieces. (Technically, I only have one niece. But I have cousins who are like nieces. They know who they are and they count!)

During this time, I don't know if it's medication or adrenalin, but something allowed me to function.  My doctors were shocked at what all I was able to do and manage, in between migraines. I told someone I felt like I was running with all my might to get things done in between migraines, crashing a few days, then going again. It wasn't ideal.  Life with migraine never is, but relatively, I was doing a lot of stuff and felt the sense of purpose and accomplishment I so need and desire to feel.

In reality, I probably just bit off more than I can chew and hid it really well until the exhaustion took over.  I am a master at the basic "Oh, I'm Ok. Same old, Same old. Now, tell me about XYZ?", said with a mustered smile.  

So, now, medication, adrenalin, fight or flight, whatever that energy was, is gone.  Not working. In its place is a constant migraine, and fibro pains, and an almost unbearable fatigue.  A dark fog of depression is settling in that makes me not want to move. I can get to a really dark and scary place when depression hits.  I'm not there, but the weight and darkness of it, it's there.

So, I guess I just really wanted to vent a little. I feel a constant internal struggle to be better, do more, and accomplish things, but that is countered with pain, exhaustion, and a basic desire to never leave my house again. It's a struggle within and that all by itself is exhausting.

Ambition and migraines, or any chronic illness, for that matter, just don't mix.

My doctor and I have discussed using steroids as a preventive.   Last time we discussed it, in late February, he wasn't ready to go there yet. I am.  So ready. Like cut something off or do some major surgery ready. Just SOMETHING with a reasonable expectation of decreasing my pain and giving me a quality of life.  

Depending on how much you know about long time steroid use, you may know that's a really big step. But, when I'm on steroids, I can tackle the world. So what if I'm losing eyesight in my 40s or having joints replaced at relatively early ages. Is it better to get the feeling of accomplishment I long for, or to languish in pain, fatigue, and depression instead?  

And, btw, do you see how those things called "essential healthcare services" the Republicans so want to do away with really are essential even to relatively young folks with conditions deemed minor (like migraines) by the majority of people?  I won't get into all of it, but if you want to know point by point, how me and millions like me could be affected by the proposed changes to our healthcare system, I don't mind the conversation. 

At any rate, I don't know what all is going to happen. I'm trying essential oils, which is interesting just learning about, trying a new acupuncturist this week, hoping to start a different preventive soon, probably going to do a few Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Treatments. I did one and had some relative success with it, so it's worth exploring, I think.  So yeah,  other sick people will recognize this as the throw everything at it and hope something sticks approach.

As bad as I feel things are getting, I know I only have one way out. And that's through it. Whatever that means.

Thanks to all of you who hang with me as friends, partners, family, "colleagues" (do you have colleagues when you don't work?  Well, I figure you know what I mean.)  From one angle, at times I feel like a demolished, worthless human being. But then I think of you all who put up with me and seem to even love me anyway, and I feel pretty amazingly lucky.

*Shameless PAC plug: if you are interested in politics and want to see some of Arkansas least Progressive legislators replaced and especially want to see more Progressive women in elected office, please visit our website and donate today.


Sunday, March 12, 2017

Political Ponderings

We attended a Democratic Party dinner last night honoring some friends. I so love my Democratic Party friends. I always know their hearts are in the right place even if policy goes awry, as it's bound to from time to time with either side. 

Something was said tonight that got me thinking. See, Republicans have recently attempted to unite the country by introducing a bill it seems everyone can hate--their Trumpcare health bill, or as I call it, the Trump-don't-care healthcare bill. So anyway, it was pointed out tonight that Republicans largely won NOT by being FOR anything, or not by telling us what it was they were for, at least, but by being against things and telling us all the things we should be scared of and against too.

Instead of spending the past almost 7 years since Obamacare, aka the Affordable Care Act, was passed working to improve it, they gambled you'd believe them if they were just against it and told you how bad off you were under it. You know what?  The gamble paid off. They were rewarded both Houses of Congress and the Presidency. Only now, many have realized how much protection Obamacare gave, and most people including Trump voters and Republican representatives are realizing how difficult it is to come up with anything better. And all I can think is, Wow, if they'd done their jobs the last 6 or so years to fix it instead of complain about it, we might have a workable solution by now.  But to have done that, they would've had to say what they were for, not just what we should all be scared of or be against.

We are Americans,  dammit.  There's nothing we should be scared of that we can't change by working together and using our brains.

I'm finding progressive/ Democratic leaning folk don't like to just be against things. See, I'm helping organize what is supposed to be a Resistance group using the Indivisible Guide as a reference. The Indivisible Guide is meant to be about pure resistance and opposition.   However, this group of about 50 interested members don't want to just oppose. They want a positive message. It doesn't matter that Republicans did nothing but oppose for 8 years and were rewarded handsomely for it. I'm discovering if you have a progressive bent to your soul, positivity and optimism come with it. Pure opposition is not in your nature. Being FOR something is.

I recently read J.D. Vance's Book Hillbilly
Elegy, HarperCollins, copyright 2016.  (Forgive me, I haven't had to cite a book as a source in quite some time, so if that's incorrect I hope it's enough to keep me from plagiarism!)  As I was pondering all this about being for vs against things and right vs left, I remembered a passage in the book where the author tried to make sense of the white working class's relationship to the government and political Parties. This passage came to mind.

"What separates the successful from the unsuccessful are the expectations they had for their own lives.  Yet the message of the right is increasingly; it's not your fault your a loser; it's the government's fault."

The right wanted to have someone to blame, a boogeyman, the evil, overbearing government. If you've ever had a chronic illness or a random catastrophe,  you know somethings happen outside of our control with no one to blame.  The left understands this. It's not that the left feels there's never anyone to blame, or that government plans always work perfectly, but I get the sense my friends on the left would rather fix things than spend an entire two term Presidency complaining about it.

And my friends on the left understand that changing what a person expects of themselves makes all the difference in the world.  We must invest in changing expectations,  not simply finding a new boogeyman to blame. We must send kids to thriving schools with qualified educators who teach them they are capable. We must feed kids and make sure they have access to healthcare to provide a sense of wellness and self-esteem. 

Now, there I go telling you things I'm for instead of what to be against. You'd think I would've learned better by now, huh? 

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

New political activists:Glad you're here and we need you!

Just a word for my friends new to politics that now consider themselves political activists.

Congratulations!  You have taken on something bigger than yourself that can affect other's lives in both good and bad ways. (We hope for good always, though, right?)

Volunteers are ALWAYS needed in politics. So thank you for stepping up. You will fall in love, give your heart and soul to candidates, issues, and campaigns. It can be very rewarding. It can also be heartbreaking. Prepare for both love and loss. Victories are amazing; losses, devastating. Prepare for both, and prepare for the unexpected, because as great as our targeting and polling abilities are, humans are humans. We do expected and unexpected things. And we make mistakes.

Politicians are people too. They have flaws. If you are looking for perfection, or a savior, you might consider being an always informed voter, but maybe not an activist. If you can realize and accept that the politician's campaign you are pouring your heart and soul in is no more perfect than you, keep fighting.

Campaigns and political Parties need money. It's sad but true. Give of your time, your thoughts and ideas, and money if you can. If you can't help your candidate or Party financially find those who can and consider hosting a fundraiser.  But your time, and thoughts and ideas are priceless. Never think anything less of yourself just because you can't donate money. 

Politics is the art of compromise.   We should fight for our candidates and policies that represent our ideals fiercely. But once the election is done, give yourself time to rejoice or mourn, depending on the outcome, then focus on getting the best policy and outcomes you can, even if that means your candidate must compromise. Just know what your dealbreakers are.

Know that your work doesn't end when the campaign does. Our legislators, at all levels, need help and need constituent support.  Stay informed, and let them hear from you. Emails are good, phone calls are better, in person advocacy is best. Hold their feet, or their opposition's (in case your candidate lost) feet to the fire. They should listen to constituents whether you voted for them or not. You are still a constituent.  

Stay engaged. There are elections at least every two years for people in Congress and state level. But don't ignore smaller local elections. City council, quorum court, and the school board are all breeding grounds for talent to move up the political ladder.  And they usually need campaign help. Those smaller, local elections are a great place to learn about grassroots campaigning and organizing.  And, even though many don't realize it, your local government can affect your life in more ways than your president can. So don't disengage and wait another four years for a presidential election. Learn all you can about grassroots campaigning and issues you care about now. Don't wait.

We need a movement of people, of activists, at the local level prepared to work, donate time, energy, ideas, and money, or who might be willing to step up and run for office. Recruiting dedicated candidates isn't easy. The more informed you are and experience you have with helping others campaign, the better candidate you'll be.

Find issues and causes that move you. They often need help and volunteers and it's a great way to learn about grassroots organizing and mobilizing people. It's also a great way to build up a community service background and network for if you ever decide to run for office. 

I keep up with issues like Migraine Awareness and Advocacy; Fibromyalgia Awareness; Mental Health Advocacy, etc because they affect me directly. I also keep up with Arkansas politics and political figures; education and healthcare issues; issues that affect minority and disadvantaged or disenfranchised populations.  I do that to stay informed and because I am passionate about those issues.

I am a member of groups that support those issues. It's a way to stay engaged and educated about the issues. I suggest you find groups to support too. 

I'm so glad you've discovered political activism. There will be hard days, and days of elation. It's not always pretty, but fighting for things that are important, well, it's an important thing to do!

Friday, October 21, 2016

How and why I am Pro-choice and Pro-life.

Because I have so many friends who are one issue voters, and that issue is abortion, I thought I would explain how I can be pro-choice and pro-life at the same time, and why really, you should be too.

I don't believe either political Party wants there to be abortions. No one likes it. So let's do away with that concept. I don't believe women want unintended pregnancies either, or really want abortion to be their form of birth control, so let's do away with that. 

What I believe is that both Parties want the same thing, to reduce abortions, but just have differing ways of accomplishing this goal.  One Party focuses on laws surrounding abortions, saying if it's illegal it won't happen, though we have evidence saying that's not true. If it's illegal, it might become rarer, but it will definitely become less safe for both mother and child.

The other Party says let's reduce abortion rates by focusing on policies that promote life. Let's make sure expectant mothers have prenatal care and make sure they know that their newborn child will have healthcare, food, and an education. Let's guarantee the same things for the mother, and help with childcare costs where we can. Let's also make sure there are fewer unwanted children by making scientific, evidence based sex education available at all appropriate ages and make sure contraception is available and easy for all to access.

And, the thing is, this promotion of life, as opposed to regulation of women, works.  I'm sure you can guess in the scenarios above which is the Republican Party and which is the Democratic Party.  Democratic Party policies promote life AND reduce abortion rates. Republican Party policies drive you to the polls to vote on this one issue, but they don't actually reduce abortion rates much.

The Republican Party focuses on laws that largely regulate women.  But, when they are in office, when they control the Presidency, both houses of Congress, 2/3rds of the Supreme Court and have high approval ratings (see Bush, George W.) they don't use that power to reverse laws about abortion.  I have "worked" in politics for almost 10 years. I've learned a lot, and a lot that isn't pretty. What I've figured out is that the actual Republican Party doesn't want to overturn Roe v. Wade. (They probably can't anyway.) But if they did, what would drive you to the polls to vote Republican like nothing else?  Please, listen to what I'm saying here. Regardless who holds the Presidency, we are a red nation. We have more Republican Governor's and more Republican State Assemblies than we do Democratic ones. And, the Supreme Court has let the States make some of their own policies, within certain frameworks, around abortion.  But still, it's the issue that drives you to the polls knowing you'll always vote Republican no matter what, because those red states rarely use that power to actually reduce abortions, for fear they'll lose that issue that gets you to the polls, every single time.

Another little tidbit I just learned, while there are other cases that affect abortion, Roe is the biggie. And when Roe was decided, it was a 7-2 opinion. Five of those seven pro-votes were Republican appointees. One of them was actually a Roman-Catholic. Of the two who were against, one was a Democratic appointee and the other was Republican. So much for the Supreme Court argument when it comes to voting and abortion.

Listen to me when I say this again, DEMOCRATIC Party policies reduce abortion rates.  Abortion laws aren't changing much, if at all, so if you care about life, abortion rates are the whole ball game.

I am pro-choice because when it comes to the most intimate decision I or any woman will ever make in my lifetime, I don't want you, or my Governor, or my President or any other lawmaker, really anyone besides my husband and health-care professional, to have a say in that decision.  I believe a woman's body is her own. And her choices about what to do with it should be hers too. 

I am pro-life because I know the Party of choice also saves lives. Lives of the born and unborn.

So instead of regulating women or having your vote manipulated over one issue, let's do things to reduce abortion rates. Let's promote life.

The following article just backs up what I'm saying about abortion rates. I suggest you don't just take my word for it. Read the article. 

To reduce abortion, stop voting GOP!

#abortion #pro-choice, #anti-choice, #pro-life