Random Thoughts

Ok, I know I’ve become very sporadic in writing.  I’m working on getting better about it, while I juggle motherhood, taking my preemie baby to extra physical therapy appointments to help her catch up, taking a class on jewelry making, working like crazy on my artwork and photography and keeping up on social media (as best as I can), keeping the house clean, organized and running, and trying to lose weight and get back into shape.  Whew.  I’ve also been writing thoughts on the current state of events in the U.S. that is more of a rant than anything.  Originally, I was going to publish some of these thoughts, along with references… – just a few nights ago I hammered out 4 single-spaced pages in a matter of 30 minutes – but, I have restrained myself from doing so.  The reason I have chosen instead to sit on these writings and think before publishing is this:  My original intent of this blog was to reach out to help others, to create awareness for various problems, to provide inspiration through quotes, music, and words, and to share some of the knowledge I have gained over the years pertaining to art, science, and sobriety.  I really want to keep this as non-political as possible, but with the state of things today, that becomes increasingly difficult because what is going on in the White House directly impacts so many things I am passionate about, and as someone who works hard to fight for civil rights for many, it is hard to sit back and say nothing.  However, in my ranting to myself, I realize that the only people I would likely reach by posting those thoughts are those who basically feel the same way, and those on the other side of the fence will only dig in their heels more; and by doing this, it only adds to the divisiveness we are currently experiencing in the states.  My goal is to bring both sides together, to demonstrate that we are all people and no one person is better than the next, and that if we can put these differences aside, we can accomplish great things.  One example is how many people along the Gulf are reaching out to each other regardless of race, sexuality, creed, etc., and helping one another.

So, rather than railing against Trump and the current administration in the White House, I would like to simply mention a few things and provide a couple of solid references that can be referred to if one so pleases.  To start, let’s clear up a few things – I do not support hate groups in any way, shape or form.  By stating I would like to bring both sides together, I am referring to the ‘left/liberal’ and the ‘right/conservative;’ knowing that hate is learned and taught, I do hope that those who are members of these groups or supporters of the ideas pushed by these groups, can one day unlearn this hate and embrace their fellow human.  Sadly, I grew up around hate and intolerance, but I was able to look beyond the rhetoric, as can others.  There are many hate groups all over the world; one highly reputable source on hate groups currently operating in the U.S. is the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).  The SPLC has been widely recognized and highly regarded for over 45 years by law enforcement, academia, and others in the U.S. for unbiased accuracy for reporting hate and hate crimes, teaching awareness and tolerance, and what you can do to help.  I am well aware that this is a free country, however, there should be no tolerance for these groups publicly gathering with the sole purpose of infusing their horrible message into the masses, bringing attention to their cause, and ‘riling up the other side,’ as some have stated; this goes against everything this country represents and what many have died for in wars and on the streets.  Also, I by no means believe that everyone who voted for and/or supports the current administration falls within these groups.  Sure, there are those who most certainly do – all you have to do is turn on the news to see this, but not all of Trump’s supporters agree with these ideas.  And subsequently – not everyone who is left-leaning thinks this, and those on the left do not all fall under the ideology that Antifa supports.  As for Antifa, for those who are not aware, this is a group whose name is short for Anti-fascists, they typically represent those who are anti-government/anarchists, and rather than supporting liberal ideas or promoting working together, they instead fight against right-wing ideals, largely via destruction of property and violence.  This group has roots that trace back to Nazi Germany (as early as the 1930’s).  They also do not associate with the Democratic party, as they rather be anti-government, and the vast majority of those on the left do not agree with their methods.  The big take away here is, no matter which side you are on (left or right), remember that if you don’t like being lumped into these categories – whether it be Antifa or a known hate group – please don’t turn around and do that to the side you oppose, for that only increases judgement and divide.

As for racism, at no point in American history has racism ceased to exist.  I have seen much commentary in social media that ‘racism was gone until Obama…’  This is simply not true.  Again, you can go the the SPLC’s site and read up on this for yourself.  And while some argue that what is currently going on today is not Trump’s fault, it’s the fault of the media, keep this in mind – sure, the media plays a role, they tend to focus more on the negative than the positive, it has always been this way, this is nothing new.  I am not defending the media or condoning their behavior, I am simply pointing out that this is not a new occurrence.  That said, words spoken as well as actions, especially by people in power, are extremely powerful; one only needs to open a world history book to see the evidence.  All throughout history, leaders have been able to either bring people together, or divide; they have been able to mobilize people to work towards the common good, or commit atrocities.  The vast majority of historical events caused by these leaders took place long before there was ‘media’ as we understand it today.  Sure, there were means to get the word out, to push propaganda, to push agendas, and the evening news has been around for a little while, but remember the internet and social media are all still fairly new when you look at the big picture.  Also worth noting here – Black Lives Matter is not a hate group and certainly not a terrorist organization like so many seem to think.  Are there black hate groups?  Yes, again, refer to SPLC active hate groups 2016.  I deeply wish racism would end, but I realize it’s complicated.  Those making simplistic statements regarding slavery, such as ‘no one alive today…slavery,’ ‘the reason for violence amongst particular groups of people is…,’ and so on, trivializes the real problem we as a people need to address.  Professing that if people would stop bringing it up, there wouldn’t be such a problem is incorrect too – not having open dialogue, awareness, and discussion of these issues only allows the problems to fester and continue.

When it comes to the LGBTQ community, everyone has the right to love and be loved, and to live their lives the way they were meant to be.  I honestly scratch my head at why some people are so obsessed with what someone does in the privacy of their bedroom.  As long as the people there are consenting and of sound mind and age, and no one is getting hurt, then what is the problem?  If you don’t like seeing someone holding hands or kissing someone of the same sex in public, then politely look away.  People who are transgender do not choose to be – they are born in the wrong body and are brave enough to take the necessary steps to live a full, meaningful life.  Please keep in mind, that for those in the LGBTQ community, life is not easy; they are constantly met with hate, stares, violence, and so on.  If their lifestyle is against your religious belief, no one is asking you to change your belief, but to only accept that they are human too and deserve the same rights and freedoms you enjoy.  Shutting out an entire group of people is the same thing hate groups do.  I do not wish to discuss my religious beliefs here, but I will mention I was raised in a Christian household, and I took Biblical Study in college.  For someone to state they are a Christian, and then turn around and make disparaging remarks about any group of people completely goes against everything Christianity represents.  After all, according to the Bible, Jesus says to ‘love thy neighbor,’ and to not ‘cast the first stone.’  When people come together under the guise of Christianity and publish articles of hate, such as the recent Nashville Statement, it perpetuates ignorance and fear.  Many of the articles in the above mentioned statement include ideas that are absolutely false.  In fact, two of the groups represented are recognized hate groups (the Alliance Defending Freedom and the Family Research Council).  One of the original signatories, Tony Perkins, has also made claims regarding those in the LGBTQ community that are nothing but conspiracy theory and falsehoods.  Before thinking ‘well, this is just your opinion,’ read up on it in medical, scientific, and psychological journals.  Last I checked, this is not how we love one another.  My suggestion?  Let it go.  Homosexuality has been around since the beginning of time, and it is frequently found throughout the animal kingdom.  Transgenderism has also been around; try to remember those who are transgender already have turmoil in their lives as they often feel trapped in a body that is not theirs.  Rather than admonishing those in the LGBTQ community, why not take time to just talk to someone who identifies with this community?  Get to know them, and remember no one knows the struggles another is experiencing.  You might be surprised to find how beautiful someone can be.

Immigrants are the backbone of the U.S.  We are a nation of immigrants.  Every single person in this country, with the exception of Native Americans, is either currently an immigrant or a descendant of immigrants.  Throughout U.S. history, immigrants were responsible for the building of much of our infrastructure, tending farms, and often doing menial jobs that others did not want to do.  I want to ask those who love stating ‘we’re taking our country back,’ who exactly are you taking it back from?  White men (this includes, the English, French, and Spanish amongst others) stole the vast majority this country from the Native Americans, and a large portion of it from Mexico.  Many people were brought over from other nations against their will and forced into slavery (Some whites came over as indentured servants; and although not slavery, it was still a form of bondage, nonetheless.)  To this day, many large corporations and some of the wealthy employ illegal immigrants for ridiculously tiny wages and horrible working conditions and get away with abuses with the threat that they will call ICE and turn them in.  To be fair, the government and some of the population has wanted, and tried, to clamp down on immigration in the past.  This is not the first time this country has seen this.  However, that does not make it excusable.  Also, for those who get angry and annoyed that immigrants bring their heritage and ways of life with them – this is also not new.  All immigrants throughout history have done this.  Some of us retain that part of our culture and past, and some don’t, it’s just how it is.  (Consider it this way: do you like pizza?  Does your grandmother make the best fish and chips on this side of the Atlantic?  Have you tried Sushi?  Do you like BBQ?  As in real barbecue with smoked meat and not grilling?  All of these and so many, many more owe to the transplantation of people from one part of the world to here.  And that is one small, yet, tasty, cultural benefit of immigration.)  Please, rather than shunning the person seeking a better life for themselves and their family, find out what you can do to help the transition.  Think about how difficult and scary it would be for you to uproot and leave for another country with next to nothing in your pocket in the hopes for a better life.

I am not so naive as to think I can change minds or even the world by publishing a statement, a quote, or a song.  But the thing is, it all starts somewhere, even if it is just one person at a time.  I also do not profess to be perfect, I’m just as flawed as the next person.  Admittedly, I have gone on Twitter to speak out against this administration, and I have struggled greatly with how I now feel about members of my family who not only voted the president in, but continue to blindly support everything he does.  I find it difficult to discuss things with those whose beliefs are starkly opposite of mine; yet, this is exactly what we need to be doing (and in a civil manner).  These are things I need to work on within myself.  My hope is that this doesn’t fall on deaf ears and that it engages people, and they not only feel encouraged to share this message, but to act on it.  Remember, diversity is what makes the U.S. great!

Here are some reputable resources should you wish to do some of your own reading into U.S. history, science, medicine, or psychology.  Some of these require a paid subscription; if you are a student, check with your school, as some schools and universities already pay for these subscriptions.  Some employers also pay for some of these subscriptions, so depending on your line of work, you may be able to access some of it that way.  Otherwise, check with your local public library or university for assistance.

***This is not an inclusive list – there are many other great journals and resources out there, please check with a university librarian for further assistance on what you want to know more about.  They are experts on assisting with research and reputable sources.  This is simply a list to get you started.

U.S. National Archives

U.S. Library of Congress

Various U.S. Presidential Libraries

American Historical Association (AHA)

The Society for Military History

The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM)

The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA)

The American Medical Association (AMA)

American Psychological Association and Affiliated Journals (APA)

The Journal of Psychology

American Association for the Advancement of Science

Science

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The Past 48 Hours

So, we are in the process of selling our house and finding a new place to live, primarily for financial reasons.  Monday evening, after my husband got home from work, we drove roughly an hour away to look at places with a realtor we are working with.  After looking at three places and driving to the fourth, my husband started mentioning he wasn’t feeling well… I was not feeling 100% myself, but attributed it to several nights running of little sleep.  Well, we arrived at the fourth location and he started saying he thinks he needs to throw up.  Now, mind you, in 22 years of being together, I think he has thrown up all of three times.  This is not something he does.  So, he stopped in the bathroom and I stepped out back with our agent.  My husband finally joined us and said he only dry-heaved, and he sat down on the concrete porch.  The three of us were chatting away, and all of a sudden my husband projectile vomited then fell backwards.  As I walked closer to him to make sure he was ok, I noticed his eyes were wide open, but rolled back, and he was choking on vomit.  I squatted and while still holding our baby tried rolling him, and watched as he became completely unresponsive.  I was yelling at this point – yelling at my husband, and yelling at the agent to help me roll him and call 911.  His body was very stiff and he kept wretching and was struggling to breathe.  I literally thought I was watching him die right in front of me.  I have never been so scared.  When he finally came to, he had absolutely no recollection of what had just happened and asked what was wrong, why was I yelling.  The EMT’s finally showed up and after they worked on him for a bit, we were off to the local ER where they ended up running tons of tests and could not figure out what was wrong.  His blood pressure was low and kept plummeting when they tried to sit him up or have him stand.  There was also something wrong on the multitude of EKG’s they kept repeating.  They ended up admitting him to the hospital, and around 1:30am, I had no choice but to head home since the baby was still up with us and we have an elderly dog I had to tend to.  Finally getting to bed around 3:00am, I was up again a few hours later to get ready to head back to the hospital.  By this point, I was starting to really feel like crap myself and was getting dizzy.  Again, I figured lack of sleep plus the extreme stress was the culprit.  Long story short, I actually ended up sick myself, and my husband was discharged early yesterday evening with the doctors still not 100% sure what was the cause of the previous night’s events.  He was still tachycardic upon discharge which was concerning to them since he is a runner, so there will be follow up appointments with the cardiologist who saw him in the hospital.  This now makes two major health scares with him in less than six months… I am thankful for now that he is at least back home and starting to feel better.

Why March for Science?

Why science is not just important, but critical.

George Lakoff

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The enormous role played by science — especially government-sponsored science — in our everyday lives is barely appreciated.

Start with modern medicine. We, the public, paid for it through the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and research universities where the medical researchers, surgeons, doctors and nurses were trained, and where tools like magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) developed. Modern drugs were also developed through basic research sponsored by NIH. Modern medicine is the dividend of our investment over decades in medical science.

Next, computers. Computer science didn’t just appear. It was developed through grants from National Science Foundation (NSF) and Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARP). The Internet was developed by the Defense Department. It was originally called the Arpanet. Satellites were developed through NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the Defense Department, with vast amount of new science: rocket fuels, physics, new materials for rocket shells, advances…

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Birth – Part III, the NICU

No matter what you’ve seen before or what you are told by the nurses walking you out of the hospital, nothing really prepares you for seeing your baby for the first time in the NICU.  After what felt like two days that would never end, I was finally discharged from the hospital; we quickly took care of a few things, then immediately embarked on the two-hour drive to Children’s.  Upon arrival, we had to fill out tons of forms with admissions, get armbands, then fill out more forms with the NICU itself.  Then we were shown the scrubbing station which everyone is required to utilize before entering the NICU which stood behind huge glass doors.  Once inside, the nurses showed us the way to our baby.  At only 4 lbs., 14 oz., she was so tiny.  She had IVs, a feeding tube, EKG and blood pressure leads, and although she had been extubated, she was still hooked up to a breathing machine.  Looking at her felt strange and foreign…for the longest time I did not want children, but I had a change of heart the previous fall.  Still, I struggled with feeling a connection; my first question to the nurse was can we hold her.  Of course!  They pulled up a couple of large recliner/rocking chairs for my husband and I, and helped place her in my arms.  Although I instantly loved her and thought she was absolutely beautiful, I still had a difficult time connecting.  The nurses said that was totally normal, and to remember my hormones were going to be all over the place for quite some time affecting how I feel, so not to worry.  Still, I couldn’t help it.  I felt like I was already a horrible mom.  I felt guilty that her first two days in this world were spent enduring painful procedures, not knowing either of her parents, and being kept in a loud, strange, sterile place.  I wrestled with the fact that I had no control over the situation, that I could not protect her from all of this.  Unfortunately, we could not stay at the hospital with her, for we have an elderly dog that we could not leave alone for too long and we had no one to watch.  I got on the wait list for the Ronald McDonald house that was located next to the hospital – that was the only option since I was not going to be released to drive for at least two weeks due to having a cesarean.  Although we had family willing to come out to help, we asked for space at that time while we tried to wrap our heads around everything.  As time went on, I never did get into the Ronald McDonald house.  We ended up driving back and forth to the hospital almost every day until she was finally discharged.  And about that – when we spoke with the attending physician we asked when she thought approximate discharge would be; we were informed that with preemies, they usually don’t discharge them until they are within a week of their original due date as long as everything else is ok.  My heart sunk.  Our baby was seven weeks early…I thought there is no way I can handle her being in the NICU for six weeks.

My Hopes for my Daughter

Though she is just an infant, like most parents, I have hopes and dreams for my daughter.  While I am trying my best to make a good life for her and to expose her to culture, diversity, and the arts, I hope to help her reach her full potential and revel in the simple things.  I want the best for her and for her life to be full and happy.  I want her childhood to be magical, not filled with constant fear.  I want her to feel free to express herself and most importantly, to be herself.  I want her to not be afraid letting the world know who she is in love with, no matter their gender, color, or ethnicity.  I want her to have choices when it comes to her health and well-being.  I want her to know it’s ok if she is unsure about her gender.  I want her to grow up respecting the planet and the plants, animals, and people living on it.  I want her to know we are all one in the same and to not let hate fester in her heart.  I want her to have the freedom to follow her personal spiritual journey and to not feel coerced into a specific belief.  I want her to be strong and independent, and to stand up for what she believes in.

As a side note – I know where I personally stand on political, social, and religious issues, and my intent is not to shove my beliefs down someone else’s throat.  The U.S. is a free country, and with that, we have the freedom to have our own thoughts and feelings, ideas and choices.  However, I do find it deeply disturbing what is going on all over the world today.  I can’t sit back and pretend I am not bothered by reports of animal abuse, hate crimes and hate speech, different groups of people living in fear, being marginalized, profiled, and shunned because of their color, ethnicity, or identity, and people passing judgement because someone goes against what they deem as ‘normal’ and/or ‘right.’  At the end of the day, we all share this planet.  At the beginning of every day, we have an opportunity – an opportunity to do good, to care about others and not just ourselves, to learn and become educated about topics that make us uncomfortable, to remember history and work to not allow it to repeat itself, to realize we don’t know the struggles someone else is facing, and to simply be nice to one another.

~LadyDom13