Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Please Stand for Our National Anthem, or don't. It's totally up to you.

Please Stand for Our National Anthem, or don't.  #TakeAKnee, it's totally up to you.  And honestly, isn't that grand?  No one forces anything on us.  Be as Patriotic as you like. When the National Anthem is played in your living room, stand with your hand over your heart.  You have the right to do that. In my living room, I can get on a knee when the anthem is played.  I have that right.  Or I can do what most of us do, and stay seated on the couch with my drink closeby.  I think it's the most awesome thing--to have those rights.

When I started this blog, I told you it might wander a bit from pain, to politics, to whatever.  Today, it's about politics.  Because I am really happy that because of the actions of people who have the right to express dissent, a healthcare bill was killed that would've taken healthcare away from many Americans.  I am happy that I had the right to call, visit, march, and express dissent to my Members of Congress.  You have the right to do the same. 

I had a conversation with my Dad yesterday about what is happening in the NFL right now, and how they are coming together in solidarity because the NFL itself has been attacked by our President, and because the #TakeAKnee thing started because the flag doesn't represent the same thing to ALL of us, as it should.  My dad, being the soft-hearted, America loving guy that he is, got almost tearful when he said he wished this controversy didn't involve the flag, because of what this country and the flag means to HIM.  Being the ever rambunctious daughter and devil's advocate that I am, I explained that the flag doesn't mean the same thing to a black man or woman who is being systematically oppressed, sometimes even killed in the streets, and that THAT is what the protest is about, it really doesn't have much to do with the piece of fabric that has been sewn into our flag at all.  I also shocked him when I told him that I had just found out that the guy who may be my husband's best friend, and who is a big, happy black guy that my parent's love, was harrassed by a cop, I assume a cop from my town, who better hope I never find out who he is, when this happy black guy was coming to my house to help us move. 

Yes, this cop pulled the guy over, driving a nice car, legally, and used his gun to tap on the friend's car window.  I call that harassment and WAY OVER THE LINE!  This is systemic. It affects all areas of life and all classes of people. This happy black guy has two precious kids that he has to explain to about why people are mean to each other, why cops shoot some people and not others, why it's OK for our President to use language they get in trouble for, etc.  It breaks my soul to think of those two kids, whom I love, growing up not knowing whether they can trust the police or not, and knowing that they don't get to be regular kids in a large sense, because of the color of their skin.  They have to be above reproach, not wear hoodies, not get into the regular trouble a white kid could get into, because they don't know if the cop who deals with them, or teacher, or superintendent, will be racist.  And make no mistake about it, RACISM is what this is. 

So, whether you want to boycott the NFL or #TakeAKnee, it's up to you. But if you want to take away someone else's rights because the color of their skin, or some other reason that you deem them to be an "other", that's not OK.  I hope you will stand with me and say not just NO, but HELL NO, to racism in any form.  I don't care if it comes from family or loved ones. You can say, "That talk is not allowed in my house or around me." Period.  You have the ability and the right, and I would say the obligation to say that.  I will be saying that from now on.  I am compelled to say it.  I am compelled to love all people, for I was taught we were all created in the image of God. That's an image that is worth protecting, loving, preserving, and giving every right that I, as a white person in this country, have.

I have to find a way to respect my Dad's experiences that bring him almost to tears because he loves this country and the flag that represents it, and also respect my dear friends of colors experiences that tell them that they are not yet equal.  That's what #TakeAKnee is.  It's a peaceful, non-disruptive form of protest.  Yes, it IS protest and protest by it's nature is designed to make people uncomfortable.  It's designed to wake us up from our protective shells, the environments we build for ourselves and make us recognize that we don't all have the same experiences in this country.  But we can.  We can work together, to respect each other's experiences regardless of skin color, class, zip code, country of origin, etc.  We can respect each other as humans, as God's creations.  Will we disagree from time to time?  Absolutely.  Thank heavens under our Constitution we are allowed to disagree and express our disagreement, not only with each other but with our government.  We can strive to make this a more perfect nation by dissenting when needed.  By an obligation to love all God's creation, if not because they are God's creation then do it because we share this planet, and common goals, to see our children raised safely, to be respected, to feel love, etc. with them. 

Stand for the National Anthem if you choose.  #TakeAKnee if you choose.  But either way, know that racism is a problem in this country, rights aren't handed out the same for all colors right now, and we are not a perfect nation.  Perfection may not be attained on this earth.  But we still can strive for it.  We still can make each other uncomfortable at times because in that uncomfortable-ness we grow.  We can strive to see each other's points-of-view.  WE CAN STAMP OUT RACISM IN OUR HEART'S, and we can let others know we won't tolerate racist views.  WE CAN DO THIS.  I know we can.  Will you?  Will you join me?

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.


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?