I’ve seen many posts on social media where a teacher or parent posts a picture asking you to share so people can see how far an image travels. It’s easy to forget that what we post on the Internet becomes public as soon as we hit “enter.”  There is no taking it back like in a conversation. Our words take on a life of their own.

Someone asked me why I don’t call my children by their given names when I post. Easy…they have an expectation of privacy. This little blog occasionally draws an audience and while I write mostly about myself, sometimes I do write about my kids.

I do think about what I write here. I read it several times before I hit “post.” I think through who I might offend. Whether  those offenses are worth speaking my mind. Nine times out of ten, I hit “post” because I’m writing what I feel at that moment. The tenth time, well, sometimes it is better to just let things go and hit “delete” instead.

Today, a social media friend posted about sex. I refrained from commenting, mainly because I feel the individual can post whatever they want on their page. As I read the comments, I was thinking about those pictures I mentioned above. Did this person really think through what that post meant?

It’s a public-setting post. Anyone who wants to see this person’s proclivities is welcome too. The person invited others into their living room and, um, their bedroom. One person commented about how some things should remain private. That person was quickly attacked by people who accused the commenter of “judging” and telling the page owner to shut up.

I guess I’m old. I agree that some things do not need to be publicized. This is very different from “stifling” people’s rights. If you want to put it out there, that’s your choice. But you also have to accept the consequences. That includes people stating they don’t agree with you. You gave up the right to clam indignation. You also expose yourself to countless ramifications, including future opportunities that could evaporate because people don’t agree with your posts.

So, your choice to post about anything you want. My choice to press that “unfriend” button when I no longer tolerate your posts. I’m allowed to make that choice. It’s not a judgment. It’s a choice the same as the one you made to post about your sex life. Don’t get yourself all up in arms. Accept that posting has consequences. Accept that when you post about adult topics, you open yourself to adult criticism.

And keep those pictures in mind before you hit “enter.” Your words will travel around the world several times before you blink. They may go places you never imagined. You are opening a window, or a door, into your life with each word you post. If you want privacy, don’t post unless that’s your plan. Then don’t complain when people make comments about your choices.



It’s been awhile. Crazy thing called life. Three graduations and a birthday later, I now find time to write again. And today’s topic….precipitate.

You see, some blockhead on a social media site is spouting that very tired line of if you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem.  It’s neat, tidy sayings like this that made Zig Zigler a billionaire. But, in everyday life, they are cop outs. Sound bites designed to make you feel good about buying into someone else’s philosophies. Literally, paying to let someone think for you.

People like that make me very happy to have a different perspective on life. I know I’m changing the things I can, usually for the better. I don’t need someone else to hand me my words or even justify my actions. Honestly, you should feel good about your decisions. I’m not talking about second guessing yourself, because, well, that’s what we all do. I’m talking about using your own words to express your own thoughts.

But wait, each statement is (in American English) is just a different combination of 26 letters. Therefore, it is not unique. Ohhhhh…another sound bite!

The blockhead continued to use sound bites to “argue” something. The part that um, upset me, is the assumption of stupidity on my behalf. Oh, and all the clichés. The prattling on about how someone who has experience with disabilities would know better. The assumption that all disabilities are equal. And, the coup d’état, that their voice speaks for all people with disabilities. Can you say “drink the Kool Aid?”

There are all these nifty sound bites out there that make people feel like they sound intelligent. There’s also a whole vocabulary that is politically correct, even if those being described don’t agree with the terminology. And the people who think they are being helpful for “supporting the agenda” when in fact, they only make things worse. Sometimes, no support is better than “holier than thou” support.

There you have it. I guess I’m a precipitate because I didn’t buy into the sound bites. If you have any doubt about my involvement in speaking up and out, feel free to read further into the blog. I’ve been writing for almost 2 years now. I believe you’ll find that while I’ve softened some of my stances, I’m still talking about the things that matter to me. I don’t need a sound bite to validate me.

Here’s your sound bite….if you’re not part of the solution, you are the precipitate..





This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.~ Harry Dixon Loes


Here we are again, in the midst of what many consider to be an important time of year. My social media feed is telling me how to wish everyone a wonderful season, in language meant to show respect for every single person’s beliefs. Honestly, I don’t know what the cashier at Walmart believes. Do I risk it by using one of the phrases or just nod my thanks? Social dilemma?

It isn’t just the holidays (oops, that implies Holy Days, which might offend someone). I struggle with all kinds of celebrations. I also struggle with social demands…requests to fit in with a group. I think through thousands of things before I speak. Before I accept or decline. Before I act. It can be quite exhausting.

Conforming is exhausting. Yes, I accept these expectations as part of getting along, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy for me. The best thing I can compare this feeling to is the need to have the latest brand of clothing or shoes or to be seen with the “in” crowd. At least you can purchase those things (yes, even the crowd; see celebrities) and blend in. But when you’re wired differently and no one really knows, it’s a huge challenge.

So I don’t always fit in. I’m old enough to get that and live with the fact that I rub some people wrong. I worry about people younger than me who still struggle to conform. There is so much emphasis on fitting in at school, at the store even at church that it’s no wonder parents are getting burned out. There are so many expectations of quiet, well-behaved (yeah, perspective matters) children that just aren’t natural. I grew up with children should be seen and not heard. I learned as a parent that not hearing my kids meant they were up to something….

So, here we are. What to do?  My answer…let your light shine. Together we make up a beautiful portrait of humanity. Sure, we need to respect each other (hence the requirement for conformity), but we don’t need to be exactly alike. Our differences make us stronger as a whole. Let’s teach our kids that being different is okay. Let’s teach our kids that each light is valuable and part of the chain that keeps our paths illuminated.

And for those who wonder…the cashier wished me a blessed day. I wished her a Merry Christmas. I’m not totally clueless…..




It’s a People Thing

This week brought 12 unfriendings, 3 really awful comments to be deleted and a need to start censuring posts. I’m reminded that what I put on the Internet takes on a life of its own that I have zero control over. I guess we all need a reminder every once in a while.

The unfriendings happened for several reasons. The most common reason was a comment I made (as well as a blog entry) supporting police officers. Not dismissing recent events. Not shaming or blaming. Just stating that police officers are our thin blue line that keeps us safe. Suddenly, I’m a racist pig. I’m a 1% who could never understand struggle. I believe that the victims are completely at fault. Literally, my social media blew up in my face.

The second most common reason is a post about World AIDS day, which was December 1. About 6 people  informed me that I was going to hell. A few others took it upon themselves to point out that December is the month of Christmas and how dare I bring up such an un-Christian topic. And yet a few more condemned my efforts to raise awareness about a disease that affects a broad spectrum of society. I was told that AIDS doesn’t deserve research dollars because there are  other diseases that people didn’t “bring on themselves.”

Truth? Your attitude shows me your true colors. Anyone who has actually met me will tell you I get along with 99% of the people I meet. They’ll tell you my personal space is comfortable for them. It’s a no judgment zone. They can tell me anything because I listen and empathize. Yes, I have the things I feel passionate about. Yes, I have opinions about politics, religion and even justice. I’m human just like you.

However, I don’t believe my opinions are the end of discussions. I don’t believe my ideas are superior to anyone else’s. I don’t believe that we all have to be passionate about the same things. I certainly don’t believe that I must shove my beliefs in your face.

So, to those who can’t see the hurt they are causing, I hope one day you realize that causing pain doesn’t accomplish anything. To those who feel they must take sides and polarize communities, I wish for understanding. To those who carry deep passion, I hope your love can extend to those who may not see your vision.

This isn’t about politics, ethnicity, religion or equality. It’s about people. It’s about accepting that we all feel differently about events and we all respond differently to actions. It is about trying to understand each other better so we can close gaps and cross bridges. It’s about seeing past our own perspective to learn what other people see.

Your challenge: Step outside your zone. Not your comfort zone, but the one where the people around you all feel similarly about things. Look at where you live and try to understand your community from a different perspective. Take the time to think about what you’re going to say and how it could impact others. These few gestures won’t take much of your time and the insight you gain and then share makes a difference.

Temper, Temper

Social media fascinates me. Seriously. It’s like walking through the 1950s clothes lines and checking out each others laundry. Talking over the fence with neighbors. Chatting like there are no miles between you.

Then, you see the frilly pink bra. Or the tighty-whities. Or something in-between. And, the magic is gone. The bubble burst. The fence is suddenly 20 stories high. Banter stops. Suspicion erupts.

Unfriending happens. Do I unfriend all our mutual friends? Who gets custody of the group photos? And the memories. Who gets those? And who gets the bitter break up?

Honestly, if you can’t handle social media, then get off the computer. There’s a reason one company has a minimum age for joining. Theoretically, you’re old enough to know better.

Oh yes, former friend. Stomp around and trash me. Say whatever makes you feel better. Because, the one person you desire most to inflict pain upon can no longer see your posts. Of course, you wouldn’t understand that. Thinking through your actions requires maturity that prevents people from making dramatic exits. For someone who professes intense dislike of drama….well you get the picture.

Orphan Zebra

In the United States, the only place you’ll see a live zebra is in a zoo. I’m sure there are exceptions, but we don’t have roaming herds of zebras in the streets. Which means you have to go out of your daily routine to see one. Which, by definition, makes seeing one an unusual occurence.

In the medical field, physicians are taught that when they hear hoofbeats, think horses not zebras. Meaning that most illnesses are common enough that physicians see them all the time, like horses in the United States. Every once in a while, a person shows up with something that isn’t a horse. These diseases are referred to as “zebras” because while uncommon, they have been identified. Zebra illnesses are absolutely no fun. Most don’t have enough research dollars attached to them to make studies viable. So, people with zebras tend to stumble along, treating symptoms as they appear and hoping for the best.

Then there are people like me. I’m coining the term “orphan zebra” here. Not only are some of my illnesses zebras, they are so rare that there are fewer that 300 confirmed cases worldwide. We’re orphans in the medical field because doctors only read about these illnesses. Our illnesses are often mistaken for horses because the doctor has never even read about the illness. And as far as treatment goes, unless some fabulously rich individual happens to take pity on us, we muddle through because no one wants to research something that isn’t funded.

I think the worst part about being an orphan zebra is that no one believes these illnesses exist. There is very little research and you have to dig through many medical journals to find it. Doctors are uncomfortable with the findings because they’re not “normal” and thus out of anyone’s area of expertise. You can treat the symptoms, but there is no guarantee the standard treatment will work, because the treatments were developed with horses in mind.

The second worst thing for me is knowing exactly what is wrong and not being able to do anything about it. I have the diagnosis. Now what? Well, nothing. I can’t travel to an exotic location where the one person who is researching these illnesses lives. There are no clinical trials. It’s all hit or miss, mostly miss unfortunately.

The third thing that bothers me is that people with similar symptoms suddenly believe they have the orphan zebra. I’m not naming things in this post because I’m tired of others assuming they have these orphan zebra illnesses. This is a personal pet peeve. In some social media groups that focus on chronic illnesses, it’s called “the dyingist game” and people post to one-up each other on who is the sickest. This kind of behavior detracts from the seriousness of the illness.

I will give one example. Our local news outlets have spread the word that this year’s flu is deadly. In my home state, 23 people have died from it while over 25,000 cases have been reported. I was in a local emergency room last Tuesday. There were people there who had been waiting over 4 hours to be seen. Many were school aged children who were running laps around the waiting area. As I watched them be called back and sent out 15 minutes later, bottle of acetaminophen in hand, I wondered why they didn’t just stay home and let the bug run it’s course. Then I realized the media had turned a horse, the flu, into a zebra.

In the meantime, my zebras were running rampant in my body to the point where I was about to pass out. After 2 hours, I was placed into an ER room. I swear those zebras trampled my innards, worked up a sweat that translated into a fever for me and burned up all my glucose causing a diabetic emergency. A bottle of pain reliever was not going to fix this.

My piece of wisdom for today…don’t go looking for zebras. As the United States moves towards universal healthcare, accept that you may contract some horses and take responsibility for recognizing that and caring for yourself. Going to the hospital is not “cool.” Resources are going to get scarcer and you’ll be more comfortable at home anyway. Should a zebra come knocking, make sure you do seek appropriate care and learn all you can about how to care for your zebra. And should your genetic fate include an orphan zebra, well, learn as much as you can and keep an open mind.

Love and Blood

“Blood is thicker than water, but Love is thicker than Blood.”~ Garth Brooks

Recently many of my friends have asked what defines a family. Yes, some of this is in light of the debates around marriage rights. Others are estranged from their “blood” and are searching for ways to connect with other people. This question piqued my interest and I began asking my own questions about who is “family” in my life.

I often joke about the 7 circles of friendship I created in order to manage my social media. One platform gives me the option of “friends” or “acquaintances” as well as creating custom lists. I started my quest for answers by looking at how I had assigned the people I know on this platform. Interestingly enough, only three of my “blood” appear in my “family” list. The remainders are people I have met and gotten to know well enough that I’m comfortable sharing things with them. How did that happen?

Searching deeper into my motives for assigning people, I found that my comfort level of sharing personal information seemed to guide me in how I created my lists. So does that mean I’m not comfortable with my “blood?” After further consideration, I decided that was not the case. Rather, I’m more comfortable sharing things with people I have strong, consistent relationships with, whether in real life or via social media.

As I reflected on this nugget of information the realization that relationships are what makes us family dawned on me. Regardless of how people came into my life, their willingness to accept me for who I am and to build relationships with me placed them closer to my “inner circle” than other people. Don’t get me wrong, I care about all the people in my life. It’s just that some people have expressed a desire to stay connected while others have allowed the relationship to become one-sided. Sometimes I’m the one who made that decision.

In the end, I believe that Love is what makes us family. That deep feeling of fullness that other people bring into our lives is the kind of Love that binds us. It is this Love that helps us stick together through all the bumpy patches of life. How we find that kind of Love is the stuff that stories are made of. Many people have touched my life and I’m proud to call them friends. Those who have stayed in my life, working with me to bind ourselves together, are my family. We may not share our upbringings, “blood” or traditional family roots, but we have each other now and that is what keeps us strong.