Be true to yourself

I don’t need you to worry for me ’cause I’m alright
I don’t want you to tell me it’s time to come home
I don’t care what you say anymore this is my life
Go ahead with your own life leave me alone
.~Billy Joel, My Life

Today’s social media is being dominated by the confirmation of Dr. Rachel Levine as Assistant Secretary of Health. The comments have been most cruel. Dr. Levine is highly qualified for the position. But that’s not what people are talking about. Dr. Levine is transgender. Apparently, genitalia determines if a person is qualified.

It was hard reading the comments where people said Dr. Levine is confused. That she supports pre-puberty gender decisions. People imply Dr. Levine is mentally ill and should not be in a position of trust. The improper use pronouns by people is disgusting. I find the use of “it” to describe a person particularly wrong. Dr. Levine is female. She is highly qualified for the job. The ignorance in the comments shows how fully soaked in discrimination toward non-binary individuals our society is.

As more people realize their identities, we “straight” people need to rethink how we treat others. In 1992, I was teaching in Virginia. I had an 8-year-old child tell me to call him “Roach” because his father said he was a cockroach. Words hurt. Words matter. We can do so much better.

Respect is a start. Follow that with educating yourself about non-binary identities. Respect other’s choices to live their truth. If you truly cannot bring yourself to use the correct pronouns, addressing someone by their name is a solution to your dilemma.

Think about what you want to say. Is it harmful? Would you want to be called by the pronoun on your lips? Change is hard for many. Imagine undergoing a major life change when people refuse to even try and respect someone who isn’t exactly like you.

Dr. Levine has the opportunity to show “straight” people that it’s your brain and how you use it that qualify you for a job. I think she’s going to do a fantastic job. Stop peeking under bathroom stalls and let everyone live their truth.

The Wait

Looks like nothing’s gonna change
Everything still remains the same
I can’t do what ten people tell me to do
So I guess I’ll remain the same, liste
n ~ Otis Redding

I’m officially in the next group. Not holding my breathe. I’ve been up since 4AM trying to locate a vaccine. Which, in itself, is funny. I’m a blue in a surrounded by red. But by golly, there’s not a single appointment within 50 miles. I guess self-preservation beats conviction.

I’m on 3 lists. Maybe I’ll get call today. Or not. It’s like the Hunger Games. May the odds be ever in your favor. I had an opportunity, but my doctor blew it by not writing the approval letter even though we spoke about it on Monday.

In the meantime, I’ll just mentally put myself with Otis and enjoy the brilliant blue skies.


In case you were wondering…

I learned a lot yesterday. I got my rear end kicked to the stars and in the next breath I was told how important life lessons were. I’m so incredible sick and tired of being told how important life lessons are. I’m also sick and tired of people who feel the need to force me into those positions.

I’m actually a rather introverted person. A “you do you” kind of person. I ask permission before I speak or act on someone’s behalf. I step over the line of ants faithfully marching on the sidewalk. I take in strays, physical and virtual. My heart hurts for things I have no control over. .

But, I do advocate loudly. I will always advocate for my children. They had a hard time getting through public schools. Yes, they had “life lesson” days like the one time my youngest wanted to wear a rather complicated outfit that didn’t come anywhere close to “matching,” but it didn’t violate the dress code, so off she went. She survived. Natural consequences is probably a better term.

But, I had a medical provider draw glee from forcing me into a “life lesson.” Even better, his supervisor seemed to draw glee as well. These are supposed to be the helpers. Yesterday did not help.

The lesson they felt I needed was that I advocate for myself too much and too loudly. I have 22 known drug allergies. 9 known medical conditions. If I don’t speak up for me, what will happen? I don’t know, but I do know that asking for a chart review is “too much” to ask. To ask for information about a situation just gave me a great view of Earth as I flew to the stars when they were done.

Yes, I’m down again. My heart and soul are hurting again. I’m grieving yet again. But, I’m told that is my choice. That I need a thicker skin. Come a step closer…I grieve every loss real and virtual. I guess whoever reads this now knows my Achille’s heel.

Ashes to ashes

Will you stand above me?
Look my way? Never love me?
Rain keeps falling, rain keeps falling
Down, down, down ~Simple Minds

It’s been a rough week. Today is only Tuesday. I’ve been trying to have a discussion with a local medical provider, aka hospital. for 2 months. Brief backstory is that I had a procedure done in January that was supposed to make things easier. The surgery failed in a spectacular way. It had to be redone. I followed the plan of care I was given, but apparently that’s not enough.

I have this crazy idea that hospitals are places of compassion and understanding. Places people go for healing and holding the hands of people mourning loss. Unicorns and butterflies everywhere. Unfortunately, they’re not. I know the COVID pandemic is raging on and our health care workers are trying to keep up. But, the further away from a patient a staff member is, the bigger the plate of superiority is served.

The first email I sent, I said I wasn’t expecting much. And the gentleman didn’t disappoint. I had hope after the phone conversation with a patient advocacy supervisor, She seemed to understand. The second letter put everything squarely on my shoulders. Apparently, I am supposed to be grateful to receive care. This Chief Medical Officer stated clearly that I caused the problem because I require a specific, but common pain medication. Thus, I am now a seeker because I won’t take something that’s on my allergy list. I also have unmet behavioral health needs. I’m guessing because I left before that could commit me. I went in for an x-ray to show that I needed to be fixed and to see what I could do stop the bleeding. So, the equivalent of a broken arm. And it’s all my fault,

Today, I discovered there is basically a “do not treat” order that pops up at my visits. Stabilize and kick me out. The sick side of this is my doctor read it gleefully. Then the doctor brought on his supervisor so they could dump me as a patient. Honestly no big loss to me. I went at my PCM’s request. 4 years ago. Whatever.

Throughout all of this, these was no mention of the original issue. No responsibility. It’s all my fault. It’s incredible that people with knowledge of one specific area directs my care. That because I dared to ask a question, I’m now persona non grata. Behind me is a trail of smoke. That would be the bridges on fire.

So yes, they will stand above me. The rain will still fall. Eventually, a nice warm breeze will swirl this nastiness away. I can dream.

A Mother’s Love

“And he said, “Let me tell you a secret, about a father’s love
A secret that my daddy said was just between us
He said daddies don’t just love their children every now and then
It’s a love without end, amen, it’s a love without end, amen”- George Strait

I hadn’t heard this song in quite a long time. It popped up on the music service I use under the music list of “Time Capsule.” Tucked between “99 Luft Balloons” and “Pink Houses,” there was a song recorded in 1990 that knocked me down. Substitute “Mother’s love” in the lyrics and that sums it up.

Those tiny humans grew up. Sports, Band, Speech and Debate, Robotics, and Scouts consumed entire years of our lives. My life as a mother was all boxed up with my kids’ activities. I’ve asked adults I know from that time if I was what is now called a helicopter parent. Overwhelmingly, the answer was no. Many of them said I was just a big kid as I planned and participated in their activities.

Now, they are adults. One I see daily. One lives out of state and COVID-19 changed things, but we talk at least weekly. The last one, well, I don’t know much. Literally everyone says to give it time. It’s been over a year, with the exception of 24 hours in August, since I was cut from her life. There’s a puzzle piece she holds that fits right in my heart. I literally have no idea why she did what she did.

But, I want her to know that I will always be here. I wish she would contact me. And that she knows it’s a love without end, Amen.

Being Human

And I think it’s gonna be a long, long time
‘Til touchdown brings me ’round again to find
I’m not the man they think I am at home
Oh, no, no, no
I’m a rocket man
~ Sir Elton John

Feeling grief is probably one of the most human things we do. It’s a strange feeling that you may not recognize until the moment has passed. Grief may linger or shoot through your life like a rocket. Either way, grief leaves its mark.

People grieve over different things. Last week, some people were grieving over money lost on the GameStop run. There are television commercials, such as the one where a young woman is grieving her car “Brad” in an insurance commercial. A lot of people grieve material things, even briefly such as when the last cookie is eaten.

No one can tell another how to grieve or what to grieve. It’s an intensely personal process. I feel like 2020 was one big grieving moment for the world. People died. Livelihoods crumpled. In the United States, the whole political process gave us plenty to grieve. Around the globe, there is now a line dividing life before and after COVID. If you don’t feel some grief over 2020, I would be surprised because of all the activities of life that are still impacted by a virus.

Me, well, I have an odd way of compartmentalizing grief. It’s kind of like a ranking system. Sure, when my last coconut-caramel cookie is eaten I grieve. It’s different than other types of grief for me because I know I’ll be able to replace that cookie next year.

My first service dog passed two years ago. I’m still very much in the grieving process. One of my friends had to euthanize her first service dog last week. She is grieving by posting pictures on her social media. Every time I see one, I grieve for both of us.

I also grieve relationships. I once thought that family was forever and we’d always have each others’ backs. For almost a year I have been grieving the realization that that is a line from a television show. Reality is much harsher.

I am already grieving some changes that I know are coming. I’ve started to fill the sandbags I’ll need to hold back the flood of tears to come. At first, I thought this was fear. Then I realized that it was a slow creeping up of grief. This is profound grief. Life-changing grief.

So, what can we do? That depends on your world view. The Greeks used the word agape to describe unconditional love. Perhaps if we share more agape, we can heal some of the grief. Think how much relief we could feel if we lived with agape as our guide. I’m not a philosopher, but I think I’d feel pretty good receiving love right now.

New Year

It’s January 10. I made it a whopping 10 days. Like many, I’m still doing one step at a time. Some people can do a day at a time. Others can do a week at a time. I’m sure there are others who do more. Each person moves at their own pace. I’ve always told people that as long as you are moving forward, you’re successful.

Sometimes I’ve felt like a fraud. I’ve pasted on the smile (you know the one). I’ve talked the talk and walked the walk, even though it’s not real. Why do we teach our kids about “white lies?” Because life has taught us that we will get kicked around. We will be lied about. We will tell those “white lies.”

I lived most of my adult life trying to be what is now called authentic. I’ve also lived it trying to be “real.” Since I decided 2021 would be a year of reflection, here’s today’s reflection: I am enough.

Five Years

I abandoned my blog five years ago. I got a job working with incarcerated youth. I was able to teach again. Teaching really is my first passion. Some of the residents wanted their GED and worked their tails off to earn the degree. Some did it so they could parole. Some told me it beat sitting in school. The last group did it because they were told to by the powers in charge of their lives.

I loved that job. Sure, it was challenging. I had to figure out how to reach each student individually. These kids came from such diverse backgrounds that a lot of flexibility was required. I also had to put aside preconceived notions and my feelings about crimes. I worked with students charged with drug dealing, students on weapons charges, students on sex offense charges, and occasionally students with murder charges, I’m sure there was a myriad of other charges I was not aware of, Yet, these were young adults who were being given a chance to change.

So, I taught, It’s what I do. Slow, fast, patiently, or firmly, I taught. Because that’s what teachers do. We teach. Teaching is a calling. If you think it’s just a profession, you don’t understand. I’ve been a licensed teacher since 2007. I’ve actually been teaching since 1986. I taught afterschool enrichment. I taught Deaf community members how to get the help they needed. I shared knowledge with my Girl and Boy Scout Troops. I taught others how to do certification procedures. I taught.

Recently I received a text from a former Girl Scout. She told me that the time she spent with me showed her how to spread the seeds of knowledge, She thanked me for not giving up. She thanked me for giving of myself. I really needed to hear her words that day. I occasionally hear bits and pieces about other youth I have spent time with. Each moment is tucked away safely.

The greatest gifts I have ever received were thank yous. If you have the opportunity to say thank you to a teacher, please do. That is the fuel that keeps us going.


Yeah, 22

Middle turns 22 today. It’s the second year he hasn’t been home for me to do the traditional birthday celebration. Sending a cake would be very messy. Convincing his roommate to string up balloons and banners would be hard. So a box of goodies went in the mail.

I want to say how proud I am of Middle. He is working in a small field of study. No easy routes to success. Hard work followed by more hard work. It’s funny when we try to talk about what he’s doing since the topic is so far outside of my understanding. He still laughs at my attempts to understand. A good thing, I guess.

Today I hope he looks back and sees how far he’s come. I hope he hears all of us cheering him on. It’s not been an easy or perfect path, but it is his path. And I’m really proud of him.

Social Cues

I think we all struggle with this. The situations are never cut and dried, so a template is useless. But we can learn from each other. We can learn through experience. It may not be fun, but it is possible.

I find that reading body language gives me mixed results. Is someone mad at me or restless when they have their arms crossed? Are they laughing with me or at me? Did it suddenly go quiet? Was it something I said or did?

Here’s what I have learned. Stop thinking YOU did something. It sets off a negative cycle that can end up in a really awkward place. Instead, move the conversation forward or excuse yourself (oh, hey, I see Frank over there!). Don’t dwell on it. There’s plenty of time while you are trying to fall asleep.