Mourning & Marching

On Friday I mourned. 

On Saturday I marched! 


With my two sons by my side, in a crazy snowstorm. 

The boys & I talked about the election a lot that day. Why we were marching. Why we *needed* to march. 

We watched the news together Saturday evening and saw the new press secretary insist this inauguration was the largest in history (easily disproven) and watched the new president lie & awkwardly, unsuccessfully try to manipulate members of the CIA in front of their memorial wall. With nary a glance at it. Instinctively I feel like President Obama would have looked at it, referenced it, and felt the full gravity of it. Bygones. 

After the news my oldest said, “mom, turn it off! And don’t get on Facebook anymore! I don’t want to see you cry.” But I didn’t, then. I kept reading. Facebook, Twitter, CNN (because they all up in his bizness now!) and I saw the magnificent march, the largest protest in U.S. History! And I knew it had fallen on deaf ears. He doesn’t care WHY we marched. He only cares that we got a bigger turnout. 

And I saw the ridicule. The jokes, from lawmakers even, about how ridiculous it was, how useless. 

So then I wrote this note below, posted it on Facebook and then deleted the app from my phone. Poof!

* * *

My friends – I’ve heard a variation of this several times today: 

“Whiny libtards protesting because they didn’t win. We didn’t react like this when Obama won.”

Words matter. 

The Women’s March was to remind the new president that women’s rights, and minority rights, are all human rights. There should be no distinction by gender or skin color, or other distinguishing factor. Fundamental human rights for all humans. This was not a protest of hate but a show of solidarity and strength, to remind those who may harm our rights that we are here and won’t be silent. 

By the way, some of you did protest when Obama was elected – with fake lynchings, don’t you recall? And still to this day call the Obamas monkeys because of their skin color. Oh? You don’t like being lumped in and generalized with your neo-nazi, white supremacist brothers? Well neither do I like being lumped in with far-left violent protesters. I’m just a 41 year old single full-time working mom with two sons and I want the same rights and autonomy with my body, and the same pay rate, as the white males I work with everyday. Why is that so hard? 

Give the new president a chance, you say? How many? I heard more lies and hate spill from his very mouth today, his first full day in office. He has said nothing to unite; only further encourage the divide. At what point is it enough? 

Christians, Jesus lovers, is this the president that you wanted? He couldn’t be more unlike Jesus if he tried. Constitutionalists, if you allow him to disregard multiple amendments then how can you continue to argue that the 2nd should be followed without exception? Why are you holding on to this incredible double-standard, allowing a multitude of sins, conflicts of interests, & ethical dilemmas, from him that would never, ever normally be forgiven? 

I will not encourage hate or disrespectful rants about him (though it’s his favorite mode of communication, I will go high) but neither will I sit quietly while our rights are flagrantly dismantled in front of us. As U.S. citizens, and patriots, it’s our charter to hold our government accountable. My children’s futures are at stake and what kind of mother would I be if I didn’t advocate for them? 

Call me every derogatory name in the book if you like, but I’m just like you – I have a belief system I refuse to deny. I’m genuinely terrified for our country in a way I haven’t been since 9/11 – except this time we unbelievably did it to ourselves. 

My son asked me tonight to stop reading the comments on Facebook and to turn off the news. He doesn’t like to see me upset. We’ve had a lot of frank conversations lately and, honestly, the kid recognizes right from wrong before I even have to say a word. Thank goodness for his love & compassion. 

So for everyone here I respect & love, I wanted to just put my thoughts on this out there – because I do prefer civility over name-calling, and I don’t like being ridiculed for standing up for fundamental human rights as if that’s somehow a bad thing. 

-Stef

* * * 

This week has progressed into even more of a nightmare. I can’t even articulate it, it would take too long, too many pages – but it’s even worse than I think we imagined it would be. The thin-skinned narcissism is even more apparent. This dictatorial style is right on point. Executive orders right & left reversing hard fought, much needed legislation. Gag orders. Media shutout & vilified. I have logged onto Facebook (via a browser) once or twice a day but it’s overwhelming. 

I am bereft. Scared. In shock & disbelief. I have felt paralyzed. What do I do? There’s no point in shouting it on Facebook. Everyone has become either numb or desensitized. We cannot be silent though. Our silence normalizes the actions of a mentally unhinged tyrant. 

Today I wrote my representatives. My senators and congressmen. All middle-aged or old white men, of course, because I live in Idaho. (God forbid we have a woman helping make decisions on female reproductive rights!) 

At least I did something. I contributed. It probably won’t help but I was as articulate as I could be, as patriotic as I could be, and appealed to their sense of duty & pride in our American culture, the tenets our country was founded on and the humanitarian and compassionate societal mores we have nurtured since we claimed our independence. 

Then I googled the best countries for Americans to easily move to – Canada, Mexico, the UAE, Sweden, and an island that is part of Norway call Svalbard, in case you were wondering. 

Heavenly creator, please unshackle our new president’s angel on his shoulder. Encourage just & right actions in our new leadership. Guide their decisions with our population as a whole in mind. Please help us to heal this rift and do better by all our people, all Americans, but also the global community who rely on America for strength and a steady heart. We can’t turn our backs on refugees. We can’t turn our backs on social justice, humanitarian causes, and compassion. Help our new president to learn humility, faith, how to employ the power of good. Amen. 

Good night, dear friends. We shall slog through this horror movie together and, hopefully, come out even stronger and more fierce on the other side. 

Love & light,

Stef

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I just can’t talk to you right now 

I’ve been dodging texts. I’ve been scrolling through Facebook quickly. I’ve been avoiding certain friends and even some family. Because I can’t take one more thing.
I’m struggling to explain it. It feels like a form of PTSD. And not just because I’m a whiny bleeding heart liberal. It’s because my hope is broken, and it feels like a gaping open wound.

Smug, mocking words from gloating friends who don’t understand this pain is like salt in the wound. They aren’t trying to hurt me, I understand that, but what hurts is that they don’t see it. They don’t feel it. That they aren’t empathetic to what seems so obvious a problem to me.

I’m going to try to make this connection. I don’t know how to articulate it very well though so please bear with me.

Over the last 2 years I’ve been treated pretty roughly, pretty indelicately, and disrespectfully, by men.

I’ve dated. I’ve been on dating sites. There was even a very short period where I was a little self-destructive or just less cautious, I let down my guard, and some bad things happened. I learned my lesson, but at what cost?

I have met some very lovely, friendly men – but I have also met many, many who don’t care two shits about me, my life, my sons, or my story.

“Show me your tits, babe!”

“We’ll go out sometime – why don’t I just come over tonight so we can get to know each other?”

“What’s your favorite position?”

“Wanna see my big cock? I can’t wait to see your pretty little mouth on it.”

“Don’t worry, I like big girls.”

That last one from the worst of them. A predator who doesn’t see himself that way.

I even had one guy, who provides Christian-based therapy to families by the way, yell at me, try to manipulate me by telling me I was throwing my life away, losing a fantastic opportunity, making a horrible life-altering decision (and thus I’m a stupid, terrible person) because I wouldn’t let him come to my house at 9 pm at night, with my sons at home, on a school night, during the very first conversation I had with him ever. He was personally affronted that I wouldn’t bend to his will. Men feeling like they can bully women, whether subtly or less so, is pervasive & it’s utter bullshit. I said no. I SAID NO. Why do you think that doesn’t apply to you?

I have been used & abused. I have been insulted. I have been made to feel that there are no good, loving men out there – or at least none who could possibly care for me.

So here I stand at the beginning of 2017. We are inaugurating a new President in less than 2 weeks. A man who, from my point of view, hates women except for what they can do for him visually or sexually. A man who has condoned reprehensible behavior and disrespect towards women. A man who, when I see him, I see the face of every man who has ever said, “hey baby, want to come sit on this? I got something for you and it’s really good. You’ll love it. You’ll be screaming for more.”

He’s a host of other things too, of course. He’s not *just* a sexual predator.

He’s not a real conservative; I’m sorry to all you hardcore conservatives who got saddled with this guy. I wish more of you had the balls to vote differently. He’s only in it for himself. He’s not a real patriot. He condones racism, xenophobia, and, this is the kicker for all you real conservatives, he’s dismissive of cultural & ethical mores that are inherent to our American history – including our reverence for the constitution. All you 2nd amendment diehards can’t fly that flag anymore when the president you elected is planning legislation that blatantly violates other amendments.

He’s going to ban Muslims – well, I work with a bunch of Muslims and they are the kindest, most loving souls. Some were born in America. Muslim is their religion. This is their home.

Every gay friend I have feels like their lives are a little more in jeopardy.

The farmers from my hometown who voted for him so heartily because he’ll bring more water to the valley, they think – but should we calculate what the new tax burden will be for middle-class farmers? And building that Great Wall on the border to Mexico & deporting the illegals will be a double whammy to those farmers. Higher taxes to build the wall & they’ll lose a lot of their field workers. Poof! But maybe you’ll have water. I hope you have people there to harvest that crop.

It’s like a never-ending series of blows. All of these things hurt. Grab them by the pussy. The media are idiots. Sore losers, he says. It’s not just because he won, you see, it’s not losing the battle itself, but it’s the fear of what he will do! He’s a bully on a big playground with thin skin and a penchant for beautiful women, and in his life he’s publicly enjoyed nearly all of the 7 deadly sins. Literally in public. He flaunted his skeletons and you judgemental, sanctimonious sheep all blindly normalized every one! Or passively turned a blind eye.

And he hates women, and don’t we have it hard enough? Haven’t I experienced enough without all these imbeciles feeling like they are validated in their creepy, predatory behavior now?

So though I mourn for all my minority friends who feel imperiled right now, I have to say this fear everyday is for myself as much as them. Will rapes go up? Maybe but how will we know since most aren’t reported and even fewer prosecuted? Our society doesn’t trust women.

I am in fear that I will hear someone I like or love, praise him. That someone I trust will think he will do good in our world. I don’t want to lose respect for my family & friends any more than I already have. This election is tied to my heart, my physical well-being, in a way I can’t explain or even fully understand. I am scared. All the normalization of him as our next president is bothering me so much I can’t stand to think of it.

My hope is broken. So I avoid certain friends who maybe want to good-naturedly tease me, but they don’t know what they are doing. They don’t know the pain they have caused simply allowing such a man to be elected. I feel personally offended, outraged, and resentful of every single person who voted for him. I feel abused, again. I feel like every vote for him was a vote against protecting women from sexual assault, from independence, from equality.

So when I say to you, “please, not one word about the election, please!” It’s because I want to still like you. I want to still trust you. I want to still think that you have my back. There’s a reason I’m making this request. Please respect it.

Xoxo,

Stef

A Haiku for You

I have a cold. A stupid, mind-numbing, frustratingly incapacitating cold. I had some fun things planned this weekend. But in lieu of on-the-go, I stayed in and probably worked a little too hard Saturday, but convalesced like a champ most of today (Sunday), by watching White Christmas and football. My team lost, but Bing Crosby still got the girl. Thank heaven.

I need love & light on the regular these days. I’m not going to talk about the f!&ing election, but suffice to say that,for the next four years, love & light, hope & prayers, and warriors for all that is good and righteous, will be working overtime to keep our asses, our sanity, our morality & our constitution intact! Dammit! I feel a rant coming on so I’m preemptively going to veer back into the left lane & floor it ……

I’ve been doing that a lot in the last 12 days. Come to the edge of the pain, skirt the side and then veer off before it’s able to suck me in. The grief is real, but it’s not my grief. I’m so scared of all the fear; fear does terrible things.

…… veering left again, hitting the gas ……

I took the boys their dad’s tonight. I felt too sick to drive but my ex is not kind to me. (Side note: he hasn’t been in a very, very long time; will he ever recognize his culpability, do you think?) So I knew I’d have to suck it up and drive the 20 minutes to his house & back, regardless of my health. A friend called, concerned, said I needed a hug, and please don’t drive. A friend who has never loved me but who feels more compassion for me and his dogs and other soldiers and his mom than he feels for most anybody else in the world.

Side thought: Why is it, do you think, that I collect wounded men? My mother hen complex pushing out invisible tractor beams? Look HERE! A sucker for heartsick, hurt men HERE! I try to do what I can, because I try to love big, and sometimes I fall hard and I am then discarded, but sometimes, and more often, I’m able to recognize what is not for me and walk away. I don’t search for it. Honestly. I want kindness, compassion & understanding, and they usually have those things, but equally I want independence, responsibility, & ambition. I want it altogether, in one package, and then I want that person to also think I’m the f!&king bee’s knees.

Because sometimes I don’t know how to accept flattery, or help, or friendship without embarrassment, distrust and various protestations. I am learning. Keep trying.

Where was I?

Oh yeah, I took the boys to their dad’s with a mix of relief & regret. Always both. Tonight more relief because I’m sick and it’s hard to be mom & patient concurrently. (Mom, I’m sorry you don’t feel well! Please get better! What’s for dinner?) I came home to my quiet home and watched a little of my comfort tv – shows so predictable they are soothing in their routine – and then I soaked in a bath with so many thoughts swirling around my head I got cold and pruny.

The net result, and the subject of this post (yes, I’m finally getting to it) is that I’m more able to process the world and all her quirky machinations when I allow my brain to unabashedly skinny-dip into the pool of creativity. I so commonly stick to pragmatics: that which can be researched, substantiated & proven is logical …… but logic never moved hearts. Logic doesn’t allow for emotional influences that are so important to human functionality. Therefore in order to function optimally I must allow creativity to flourish.

I’ve held my poetry for ransom. I’ve shut down my craft table. I built a wall around the comfort of pragmatics and I’ve stayed there. But over that wall I could see glimpses of fireworks & rainbows, a glow of light that changes colors and is enchanting me nearer.

I soaked in the bath tonight and I rebuilt a bridge. A small one. A footbridge. I started with a few haikus, and they are for you – because my love language is acts of service:

********************
1

Troubles carried far

Pinballing across vast oceans

Of thought in my mind

2

And when shall thou be

Mine; tis but a slip to know

But through wretched time

3

Suffer not, want none

Though times are treacherous

Compassion speaks most

****************
I actually wrote six, but I went deep and intimate with the other three and I think this is brave enough tonight.

Let us sleep now. I pray for compassion, unfettered love, and creativity in abundance for you. Let it flow; we need it now more than ever.

Xoxo,

Stef

P.S. If my two readers actually get through this rambling journal entry of a post then please raise your hand for a gold star. 🙂

I have something to say and you may not like it

A couple years ago I went to the gynecologist for the first time in 5 years. There were two reasons (TMI alert!):

  1. My periods had become heavier, longer, and I sometimes had debilitating cramps that radiated throughout my mid-section and caused digestion distress as well;
  2. I wanted to get cancer screened.

My doctor recommended putting me on birth control pills (BCP). Hmmm. I hadn’t taken those in 10-11 years, but if it helped I figured I’d try it out.

Tangent: calling them birth control pills is a bit of a misnomer because they actually help with so many other medical issues. Maybe if we called them them something like “hormone therapy,” regardless of the reproductive side effect, then we wouldn’t be in the situation we are in today.

Can I just tell you what a Godsend those pills have been? No cramps. None. Lighter periods. No IBS-type of distress at the same time as having a heavy flow and awful mid-section pain. I can’t tell you how much those pills improved my quality of life one week a month. (That’s huge! 25% of my time?? Incredible!)

The added bonus was improving my skin significantly. I used to get a cystic pimple every month around my cycle. I haven’t had a single one since I started the pill. Lifesaver!!

From a pharmacy perspective, I pick up 5 prescriptions a month for my kiddos. My pharmacist’s assistant knows me, my name, my kids’ names and even has a nickname for me. Prescriptions are a budgeted expense at my house. Imagine my surprise when I picked up my first month of pills and the ‘script was FREE!! Free, free, free. The only ‘script I’ve ever gotten for free. Thank goodness for insurance.

(Of course, it’s not really free – a buttload of cashola comes out of my paycheck every month for my insurance premiums, and I’m fully cognizant of that offset).

But you know what’s weird? I felt guilty. Because I could pay for them. I could cover that co-pay … but I know there are a lot of women out there who can’t afford it – either because they don’t have insurance or their insurance doesn’t cover BCP. I felt guilty.

When Obamacare went through I was so pleased to know that other women will have the ability to get on the pill regardless of finances – whether for medical reasons or birth control. It felt like the right to control & fix our bodies was in our hands again, something to be discussed with our doctors rather than bureaucrats. Every woman should have access to the relief I felt from taking those pills. Every woman should also be able to prevent pregnancy through whichever type of birth control they and their doctor agree is best for their bodies.

Every person, man or woman, should be deeply disturbed by the SCOTUS ruling allowing employers to pick & choose their medical coverage due to their religious leanings. Everyone. If we opt-in for insurance – through private pay or working for an employer who offers health benefits – then we should be able to have the medical coverage we need. Period. Regardless of your opinion, or yours, or yours, or yours.

I need allergy medicine so I can breathe, I need prescription eyeglasses (and sunglasses) so I can see, I need prescription cream so my Herpes Simplex 1 sores go away more quickly (cold sores, if you didn’t know), and I need hormone therapy (BCP) for my menstruation. These are my medical needs. Why would medical insurance only cover 3 out of 4 of my medical needs?

I’m so sorry that we, as a country, cannot pull our heads out of our asses long enough to figure out when we do or do not want big government dictating our lives. It seems that both the left & right use big government to suit their needs – regulating guns, abortions, birth control, marriage, etc – but then other times we get on our lofty high-horse and eschew big government in favor of self-autonomy. At some point we need to agree when and where big government is relevant and where it’s not. Hint: it’s not welcome in my vagina!

Bye bye Hobby Lobby.  I have to do my small part to protest your hypocrisy. If you’re willing to let your employees suffer over your claimed beliefs then I’m willing to stop buying your made in China (a country who sanctions, nay, dictates, abortions) crafty, knick-knacky crap.

I am just livid.

-Stef

Here is what you do when you are grieving

Yesterday, as I was getting ready for bed, bone-tired, I absentmindedly scrolled through Facebook one last time before sleep (because, you know, what if a catastrophe happened and I didn’t know for 6 hours?) As I scrolled, the title of a Huffpost article caught my eye: Here Is What You Do When You Are Grieving.

I’ve read lots of grieving articles. They’re usually about death rather than heartbreak, however heartbreak is very much like something is dying.

In my sleepy haze I clicked, what the hell, and decided to read a few lines. Then a few more. This was not like the other articles. OMG. But … but … but that’s how I felt! That’s what I went through! It’s was my very actions, my very thoughts & feelings, my coping. It was as if the words came from my mind – however I’m not nearly as good of a writer to have stepped outside myself to portray my heartbroken grief so accurately.

I was in tears, bursting out, audible sobs. This, yes, this. Somebody else felt this too. They knew this pain. It was a humanizing experience. I was not alone in this grief.

I can’t just say all that and not share it with you, right? So this is shared without permission but I’ll take it down if requested. But these words should be shared. Everybody should understand the death that comes with heartbreak; the mind-numbing grief.

Read these words:

Here Is What You Do When You Are Grieving
by Katherine Fritz

You spend some time curled into tiny spaces. They are useful for this. Big, open rooms give you too much space for your wild thoughts to tangle and knot. If you curl yourself into a small place and sit there, you will ultimately feel cramped or foolish or angry enough to leave and make yourself a cup of tea.

You make yourself a cup of tea. Even if you don’t particularly like tea. Warm liquids are good when the back of your throat is burning like you’ve smoked a thousand rotten cigarettes and you can feel the weight of your mistakes trickling down into your fibers and your muscles and burrowing underneath your eyes, your breasts, your heart, your bones. You wrap your hands around the cup and you press your cheek and your eyelids to the side of the porcelain mug and you focus on what warm feels like, you remember the word ‘warm,’ you think it to yourself, quietly, because small thoughts are useful right now.

You learn to trust who you talk to. The best ones will comfort and pretend to understand even if they don’t. The best ones will understand if you want to be alone, and will understand if you change your mind about what you want. The best ones will not make you feel foolish for appearing vulnerable and weak.

Weakness and vulnerability are not the same. In case you’d forgotten. It is sometimes helpful to remember this.

You spend some time with distractions. I like drinking, and I like television, and I like sex, although that can be tricky because it is easy to mistake one particular kind of intimacy for another. Distractions are useful. Most people like distractions. Many people spend their entire lives with such beautiful, such glowing distractions. I can see why.

You think about soft things, like cotton sweatpants, and fleece blankets, and flannel sheets, and creamy pasta. You indulge. People who are grieving do not want to put on high-heeled shoes and mascara. They do not want to wear tummy-slimming pantyhose. They do not want to order salads.

You turn your brain into a film projector. You replay the movie you’ve unwittingly starred in, again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again until you think you might understand the sequence of events, if not the meaning. You replay it endlessly, at night, at breakfast, while reading, on the phone, while looking at the Internet, while picking at your nails, while shopping for toilet paper, again and again and again and again.

You remind yourself how breathing works, how sleeping works, how going to work works. You teach yourself basic lessons as if you were a child: It is time to clean up after yourself, time to take a shower, time to behave, time to leave the house today. You notice the circles under your eyes, and you buy some makeup in an inexpensive mirrored compact, and although you do not think anything of it at the time, it feels significant, when you reflect upon it later.

If you are phenomenally lucky, and I know that I am, you wake up one day to discover that you very much feel like moving your legs off the bed and placing them on the floor. You feel like lifting your head from the pillow and swiveling your torso and moving to an upright position and maybe even splashing some water on your face and brewing some coffee. You notice that you want to wear a brightly-colored sundress because it will look pretty on your skin; you discover on your commute that there are windows and doors and telephone wires and flowerpots and building placards and crumbling sidewalks that you’ve seen a thousand times but never really noticed. You watch a family in a park and you think you might start to cry, but not for any reason that can be explained, and then you are not crying, you are smiling, or maybe you are doing both, and then and then and then in a sudden release, you start to notice everything. You notice your fingertips. You notice your heartbeat. You notice your body and it all feels like your own. You notice other people. You notice everything. You wonder how you’ve never seemed to notice just how big everything is.

You start to think it is all so impossible. You start to think it’s all incredibly possible.

You start to think that maybe you’re okay.

Thank God for words. For wordsmiths. For poets. For lyricists. Thank you, Katherine Fritz.

ETA: I found the original blogger and blog! So, giving credit where due, here’s her blog and this posting: http://iambeggingmymothernottoreadthisblog.com/2014/06/25/here-is-what-you-do-when-you-are-grieving/.

Remember, you are not alone.

All my love,
Stef

On Doing My Best

Last week I was working from home for a couple days while my husband was with the little dude at Cub Scout day camp. (Which was a bit disastrous, but that’s another post). I hung out will my 10 year old for two days and it was so fun to have one on one time with him.

As I was “working” on my laptop in the living room, I turned on an episode of House Hunters. My buddy settled down to watch the episode with me and he was surprised when the couple on the show were gay. Specifically, he was confused by the term “partner” that they used to refer to each other and asked if that meant they were business partners. I explained, no, that meant they were life partners. He asked if that meant they were married. I said, well, maybe – but I’m not sure if marriage is legal in that state. So we looked it up online and found out which states allowed gay marriage, which didn’t, and which allowed some other version like a civil union. As you may expect, that segued us into a very interesting conversation on politics and morality. Um, teachable moment? Yes!

I essentially gave him a crash course in politics, Democrats & Republicans (with a passing nod to other parties), and a high-level overview of hot-button issues. I’m sure he only understood a fraction of what I said, but I hope what stuck with him was my emphasis on the need to learn the issues individually. As he gets older I want to him to think, research, and make decisions on the issues according to what seems right to him. He doesn’t have to follow what his dad and I think; he needs to form those ideals on his own, based on his fact-finding, perception and experience.

I want to provide the best moral guidance I possibly can for my boys so they aren’t caught up in simply what they are told they should believe – either by the media, their friends, or other influential adults. I want their world view to be as all-encompassing as possible. I want them to understand that life isn’t fair, but to also understand they can try to BE FAIR to others. That love, compassion, and kindness is so very necessary and though it’s so often lacking anymore they don’t have to follow that trend. I want my children to help make the world a better place and not contribute to the overall lessening of our moral compass, our collective intellect, and our soul as a country and as a collective world. I want them to understand that we are all responsible for each other.

(I realize “moral compass” can be seen as a bit of a priggish term (a bit stick-up-the-butt, so to speak). I don’t mean it that way; to me, moral compass is knowing right from wrong, good from bad, but also having the ability to understand nuances and extenuating circumstances and intentions behind the actions. To be able to see the big picture – how we all work and interact together, how one action can lead to another, and act accordingly in a way that best protects and nurtures the world and her people).

When I read an article online I typically will scroll down and read the comments. I don’t know why I even do this anymore; I am constantly appalled at the vitriol that come from people’s fingers on the interwebs when there’s no social consequence to their words. People spew hate and venom with little regard to the people their words may affect. I’m sure they think their words don’t make a difference. I can tell you, just scrolling down that list and seeing all the unadulterated bile in post after post certainly affects me.

It makes me wonder what happened. What happened to our collective heart? Are we so very polarized that we can’t imagine that public figures (politicians or otherwise) are people, like you and me, and that they are working and doing the best they can according to their beliefs? There has got to be a way for us to work together, regardless of our beliefs and how they dovetail, in order to protect our world. If people don’t start working together, being sensible to what needs to be done, then I have grave fears about where we will be in 10 years. Or even 5.

For my part, I will teach my kids that it’s not just tolerance that is needed. We need a deeper level of understanding. A deeper level of worldly consciousness. We need to be more selfless. Less motivated by the outcome and more motivated by the journey. I’ll try to teach them to look to the future and worry less about instant gratification. That’s a hard one, I’ll admit, even for me. We are so dialed into our here and now that it’s hard to think of 30, 40, 100 years down the road.

There’s no easy answer here. No quick fix, or easy way to undo all the pain out there. Making my kids *good* people won’t fix it all – I know that. All I know is I will do my best. Like my little Cub Scout. He doesn’t know, or care, what the Cub Scouts stand for, what they believe, or what their controversies have been. He only knows that he needs to do his best.

That’s all we can do.

Mucho love,

Stef

5 Things

Whenever I start feeling pressured by ALL THE THINGS going on in my life I think of The Bangles and the “Time, time, time, see what’s become of me” quote from Hazy Shade of Winter (an awesome song). (Now, my husband will surely correct me and tell me that particular quote comes from Paul Simon. That’s fine. Except in my head I also hear the music so it’s The Bangles reference I’m making here).

So, due to the time, time, time issue I just have snippets for you today. Snippets of ALL THE THINGS swirling around in my over-crowded head just begging to be released. Each of these are unique and vary wildly from mostly unrelated to drastically unrelated. Each of these have been taking up residence in my head and banging at me from the inside and I MUST LET THEM OUT:

1. All soccer, all the time. The boys have both started soccer. 4 days a week. Their soccer practices overlap by 30 minutes and are at two different schools a few miles apart. The hubby and I are tag-teaming big-time. Please tell me this push towards socialization, athleticism, and confidence-building will all be worthwhile. Please.

2. In relation to Soccer, my Autie boy is troubled. This is his first time playing an organized sport and if he’s not exceptional and perfect at all of it then his emotions are triggered and he wants none of it. His feet and hands aren’t as coordinated as he would like and he just can’t master that drop-kick and then he says, “No, I can’t do it! Can we go home now?” And he loudly and angrily throws a fit, in front of his teammates because he isn’t hampered by the need to conform like so many other kids. The coach doesn’t know how to deal with him. The teammates don’t know how to respond. I get embarrassed.  Then ashamed. I get down to his eye-level, I talk to him, I try to reason through it with him. I tell him he’s learning, like the other kids and continued practice is what will help him. He’s largely unresponsive. He says things like “I’m stupid! I hate you!” to himself and hits himself on the head. My poor boy. How do I build him up? How do I help him? What can I do?

3. How do you feel about your spirituality? Do you think about it much? Are you quiet and introverted about it? Or do you blast it out for all to share? I have always kept my spirituality to myself and, for the most part, my husband has as well. Now things are changing. My husband has embarked on a spiritual journey that is quite life-altering and he’s bringing the whole family along with him. After 26 years of not attending church he has had a change of heart; he has reconciled some of the bitterness from his past, and decided that being a follower of Christ does not necessarily mean that he has to be aligned with a bunch of judgmental hypocrites like the Crazy Christians. To that end, he has found a church he enjoys and the whole family attended with him for Easter. There are Lesbians! There is a female pastor that looks astonishingly like Kathy Bates! There is openness and acceptance of anybody, anywhere on their spiritual journey. I’m not used to being forced to contemplate my spirituality and beliefs as much as I have been lately. I’m not sure yet, but I think it could be a good thing. (I retain the right to change my opinion at any time.)

4. I think there comes a point in every person’s life when they have to come to terms with a hard truth or two. Their age, their health, their likeliness of ever becoming an astronaut, an Oscar winner, or a late-night TV show host. Whatever it is, the more personal, the more inextricably linked to self-esteem, self-confidence, and self-perception, the harder that truth is going to be to accept. I’m dealing with a few of those right now. It’s been a long time coming,  and it’s not like I didn’t know these things before – but facing them, head-on, is the hard part. For years it’s been a dance, a flirtation, jumping forward and facing the issue and then deftly twisting sideways, plugging my ears and sing-songing, “I can’t hear you!” Burying it deeply for as long as possible until, eventually, it’s triggered and raises up with a vengeance. It’s not going to flatten me this time. I’m not flinching. I’m going to walk straight up, smack the issue in the face and say, “NO.  YOU be MY bitch now!”

5. I’m straying outside of my normal comfort zone here, but stay with me. I’ve been on the periphery of these on-going discussions on abortion and Planned Parenthood and employer paid insurance coverage for birth control and, honestly, I’m sick to death of this subject. I am pro-life. I am also pro-choice. The two are not mutually exclusive. I am a mother. I love babies. I think they are a blessing and one of those things in life that is truly pure and angelic. I don’t want babies to die. I also don’t want mothers to die. Without mothers, we have no babies. Women bear the blessing and the burden of being the life-makers, but they can’t do it alone and it’s unconscionable for women to be attacked and demoralized for something that was, quite obviously, a joint endeavor. When a baby is conceived accidentally – whether by rape, stupidity or simply by accident – then a woman, and her partner for that matter, have the right to protect themselves and their futures. The woman, specifically, has a right to protect her health. In order to prevent unwanted pregnancies it is important that all women, rich and poor and in-between, have access to birth control. It’s important that organizations like Planned Parenthood are available to help women, ALL WOMEN, with their reproductive health via regular exams, cancer screenings, birth control and, yes, abortions when needed. It’s cheaper for insurances to cover birth control than it is for a woman to get an abortion or for a family to be on welfare. That’s how I see it. Now, if the rest of the U.S. would just get in line that would be great . . .

Five snippets. All different. All so very separate yet a part of me. A part of the river of thoughts flowing  through my brain and linked by all my experiences and knowledge. Always  pushing and pulling, turning and tumbling. It’s always a journey, sometimes unattainable, to find peace in my thoughts and in my heart. Sometimes easier than others. Love, support and encouragement helps and I’ve been trying hard to GIVE that to other people because I want it in return too. I need it.

This is where my favorite quote comes in:

Be kinder than necessary, for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.

I hope your battle isn’t flattening you. I love you. I appreciate you. I think you are doing your best at ALL THE THINGS and that’s all that you can do.

Have a fabulous weekend, my friends. May your heart be at peace.

-Stef

Losing Faith: Politics & Madmen

It would be quite easy to chalk up the events in Norway this weekend to the work of a madman (comforting because no “normal” person would commit such an atrocity) but I fear that isn’t the case. Maybe he IS mad – who am I to judge – but his rampage wasn’t random. It has the appearance of being politically motivated and this sickens me to no end.

How is it possible that someone can feel so strongly about a political party that they would execute, SLAUGHTER, the children and young adults affiliated with that party? HOW? Tell me how because my brain can’t process it.

The U.S. government in Washington, D.C. has stalled in debt ceiling talks. Normally this is a routine piece of legislation, however this time some members of the political parties seem to think this is a win or lose situation for them rather than *simply* the financial fate of our country.

I don’t usually get political on my blog – because I’m not interested in debating my beliefs with anyone – but I have to say that I’m simply aghast that with a financial catastrophe absolutely breathing down our necks our representatives are not doing more to work together. Compromise, people. Work towards the greater good.

Have they forgotten that they work for the citizens of the U.S.? Their decisions impact our collective futures.

Silent Majority. I saw that term in a headline over the weekend and immediately reacted to it. The headline was something like, “The U.S. Moderate Silent Majority is Fed-Up with Washington.”

To which I say: YOU ARE DAMN WELL RIGHT, I AM.

I lean left most of the time. Sometimes I swerve right. Sometimes I can be undecided. Other times I’m steadfast. I listen. I observe. I listen to their words and I watch their actions. Then, at the polls, I vote my conscience – on the issue AND on the person.

I AM the Silent Majority.

As I watched my Twitter feed this weekend I saw a lot of Norway tweets mingled with newsy tweets about the failed debt ceiling talks. President Obama is angry. House Speaker Boehner is apparently trying to appease the fringe Tea Partiers. He left the meetings. They held dueling press conferences. They don’t agree on anything. Blah, blah, blah.

All I can think is MY GAWD, have you NOT seen the news about Norway? About what happens when a (likely) political extremist takes his views too far? Is your damn hubris so all important that you can’t bridge the gap and come to a resolution for the GREATER GOOD of our country? Please, for the love of Maude, stop the polarizing rhetoric and political posturing. You are making me mad. And sad. And just plain scared for our future.

The constant hate-filled political rhetoric and the negative-loving media beast is perpetuating the creation of extremist viewpoints. No good can come of this.

We are on a path of political, financial and cultural destruction. We are slowly committing suicide as a country. Our patriotism, or belief in our political system and our leaders, are all dying a slow death that we are bringing upon ourselves. We are killing everything that we love about our country.

I just want something to believe in. I want to believe my leaders are representing the best interests of my family. Even if I disagree with specific pieces of legislation I want to have that trust, that assurance, that they are looking ahead to the future and protecting the interests of all Americans. That they are listening when smart people tell them what the impacts of their decisions will be and that they are then taking the BEST (non-biased, non-partisan) option for our collective futures.

Our similarities are greater than our differences.

Mend those fences, compromise, please, before my children’s financial futures, not to mention their hope and faith in their country’s leaders, are decimated.

We have the judicial, legislative and executive branches of our government for a reason. Checks and balances. Oversight. The prevention of anarchy, chaos & tyranny.

Memo to Congress: please see beyond your own self-interest. This is my country too.