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Conversations With My Mother

Conversations With My Mother

I remember one afternoon listening to my mother telling me how it was in the work world. I was still in college and although a management position was open at the grocery store where she worked that she was more than qualified for, she told me that she wasn’t permitted to apply for it. I was floored.

My mother had reached the hiring ceiling at the store. She was a department head, but any assistant manager or store manager positions were reserved for men. Their attitude was that men had familial responsibilities that women didn’t share. I pointed out that she was now a single mother with a daughter in college and a younger son who was deaf. But that fact, she was told, was her problem.

She would go on to remind me of the fear she had when attempting to get credit in her own name when newly divorced from my father. That was only two years earlier. The only credit she had was based on my father’s. That’s how it was in those days. But she persisted, established credit in her own name, and eventually bought a home.

She had divorced my father in 1974, requesting only $200 per month child support out of fear of his reprisal. Even the judge was shocked at her request, but my mother convinced him that $200 was enough. My father had threatened her with the warning, I’ll give you more if you let me live.

When I moved into the city to be closer to the college I attended, he increased the amount he sent to $300 per month. She sent me half for the final two years in college to help pay for some of my living expenses. Upon graduation, he stopped sending any child support at all for my brother, only thirteen at the time.

You see, it was possible to get ahead on the books back then. And by increasing the child support on his own without an order to do so, he in effect paid it forward. She could do nothing. My father knew exactly what he was doing when he did it. He manipulated the situation to his advantage like always. But then life was always about him and always by his design.

So it wasn’t surprising in the least to read about Senator Pat Roberts’s snarky mammogram tweet. In fact, I expect nothing else from Republicans. Their jihadist fervor surges while gleefully taking this benefit and that program away from the most vulnerable among us. But mammograms? Do Republican men not realize that men develop breast cancer? Now we can argue how many and how often we need such tests, but there should be no argument that insurance should cover them. Jenna Amatulli reports in an article from The Huffington Post:

Republican leaders are reportedly discussing whether their legislation should abandon Obamacare’s essential health benefits rule. The rule requires insurance plans to cover services that include emergency room visits, hospitalization, outpatient services, maternity care, mental health and substance abuse services, prescription drugs, rehabilitative services, lab tests, preventive care and pediatric care.

Another reason Roberts’ response is off-putting is that many men get breast cancer or need mammograms. This year, an estimated 2,600 men in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer, and an estimated 440 will die from it. If a man has certain gene mutations or a family history of breast cancer, screening may increase the chances of early detection and successful treatment, according to the Susan G. Komen foundation.²

And now I read that these pissy people want to give a new mother only sixty days at home with her infant, forcing her to find a job or lose her benefits. Let that sink in. From Christine Cauterucci in Slate:

The worst provision in the manager’s amendment is a Medicaid work requirement that would allow states to revoke Medicaid coverage from new mothers who haven’t found a job within two months after giving birth. Medicaid currently offers essential resources for low-income women and their children, including screenings for postpartum depression, in-home educational visits, and check-ups, all of which help babies survive and mothers thrive. Forcing women to job hunt in the weeks immediately following her baby’s delivery—a crucial period for infant care and physical recovery—would be both shockingly cruel and counterproductive as public health policy. Even if Republicans don’t believe that every person deserves basic health care, regardless of income, they should recognize that the government has an interest in keeping children healthy. Healthy children become good students, responsible citizens, and productive workers. Cutting off health benefits from a mother in the first several weeks of her infant’s life sets both the mother and the infant up for a cascading set of impediments to physical and financial health.¹

I have to believe even the so-called new guy’s supporters are watching this travesty unfold in as much shock and horror as the rest of us who knew better than to ever trust this guy in the first place. Everyone suffers under the Republican’s death care bill. Well, apparently not the wealthy among us who can afford a membership at Mar-a-Lago, but then that’s a given.

My mother died from COPD and congestive heart failure in 1996, one month before her sixty-sixth birthday. In fact, as I write this, the twenty-first anniversary of her passing is in a couple of days. She had plans for her retirement and her condition prevented any of that. Within four years of her forced retirement, she was gone.  Had she been alive now and experiencing what she did, she’d no doubt be in a panic over what coverage she was losing and need endless breathing treatments just to be able to, you know, breathe, talk, remain alive.

Even back then, representatives from Medicare told me that their only concern was that she could ambulate from her bed to the bathroom. All she wanted was a smaller liquid oxygen tank to take to the store with her. They had delivered a concentrator instead of liquid tank set-up and left her with a portable E-tank to take with her. The problem was, it was too heavy and awkward for her to use so she would go into the store without it and nearly die in the process. They didn’t care and refused to replace the concentrator with a liquid tank.

When we moved her from the Portland area over to Central Oregon for the final year of her life, her experience was better. For some reason, healthcare over here actually was patient-focused and not whatever that other nonsense was she experienced and she received everything she requested. Actually, I arranged it for her, insisting that she sit down before telling her what I had done. She was so thrilled to discover that she would no longer be confined to the house. They were leaving her not just one but two small liquid “backpack” tanks that would allow her to be away from her home for eight hours if she chose. It made all the difference for her in that last year.

At the heart of this is compassion for all. If we can send people to war, we can fund universal health care. To suggest this shouldn’t be a right for all who live in this country speaks to hearts hardened through a fundamental disregard for humanity itself. We’re viewed as less than, in the way of furthering their agenda.

She would have turned eighty-seven on May 8th, had my mother lived. She would have voted for Hillary and called me daily to rail at what the Republicans are now doing. She despised men like the so-called new guy. She’d had her fill with men like him early on in life, and thought he was a fool back in the day, so voting for him would have been out of the question.

The photo above was taken at my wedding in 1979. I was twenty-one and still had brown hair. I miss you, Mom and I love you beyond measure. You would have been as bereft as I over the outcome of the election, and hearing your outrage would have been so welcome now!

 

References:

  1. Cauterucci, Christine. The AHCA Would Force New Moms on Medicaid to Find Work 60 Days After Labor. Slate. March 22, 2017.
  2. Amatulli, Jenna. GOP Senator Sorry For Joking About Mammograms, But Still Won’t Cover Them. Huffington Post. March 23, 2017.
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Healing With Cannabis Is Worth The Risk

Healing With Cannabis Is Worth The Risk

It felt as if my body wasn’t my own. I had retained so much fluid that it felt as if I was sloshing about in boiling hot water. My thirteen-year nightmare with rheumatoid arthritis was surreal. It exploded into my life preventing any further training in Kenpo. Although my husband and I had closed our school, as a Black Belt I still trained daily, but that was over when the debilitating fatigue and pain began. I still had no idea what was happening to me but it was clear that something was terribly wrong.

I began to walk slowly, experiencing excruciating pain in my feet. I had always been a high energy person so this was concerning. By the time I saw my primary care doctor, my hands were also painfully swollen but his response was less than supportive. I would discover much later that I was experiencing all of the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, but on that day, my doctor diagnosed nothing. By his estimation I was fine.

Eventually, I would be diagnosed with RA and prescribed drugs that only made my body even more toxic. Disease modifiers, anti-inflammatory drugs along with two different injectable biologics were my primary medications until I became insulin resistant and needed another prescription for that. I was on blood pressure medicine but it wasn’t enough to keep my blood pressure in check given how much fluid I was retaining. It wasn’t until my blood pressure skyrocketed after seven or so years after beginning treatment that a second medication was added, this one containing a diuretic. Along with my blood pressure normalizing, the diuretic caused so much fluid loss in the first two weeks that I woke up one morning engulfed in a flare that would go on to last slightly longer than one year. My C-Reactive Protein test was 46.5; normal, I was told, is 5 or less. The medications weren’t helping me. I was a mess and only getting worse.

My husband had been encouraging me to become a cannabis patient throughout my treatment. He had been researching the success others had using cannabis to treat all sorts of conditions and begged me to apply for my OMMP card. I resisted for some time but when the year-long flare began, I was so ill at that point that I really didn’t believe I would survive, so I decided to throw caution to the wind and apply for my card, receiving it in June 2010.

While my cannabis grew I used raw leaf in my daily smoothies. From my research, I learned that raw cannabis contains plant acids that transform into other compounds through the drying process. Plant acids are healing and patients were reporting success including raw leaf and bud in their self-treatment so I did that as well. When my harvest was done I began making concentrated medicine. I infused dried bud into coconut oil for capsules and made glycerin tincture to use in tea. At the end of December 2010 I began my own treatment plan using raw cannabis, tincture, capsules, as well as smoking for pain relief and by the middle of March of 2011, I had achieved clinical remission. Just like that.

I never told my rheumatologist at the time what I was doing. He wasn’t interested in signing off on the application so I decided it was none of his business. I began slowly discontinuing the medications I had been prescribed, waiting for symptoms to return. They didn’t. The last prescribed medication I discontinued was the biologic I was injecting twice monthly. I had reduced that to once a month with no return of symptoms. Since I’m also a herbalist, I was supporting my remission with herbal tinctures I formulated, so I felt comfortable discontinuing the biologic in September 2015. To date, I’ve had no return of symptoms and the only change I’ve made with my cannabis medicine along the way was adding actual cannabis oil to the mix. That’s the thick, sludgy oil that’s so helpful with cancer, Crohn’s and other issues. I use a small amount now to keep things in check.

I was expected to buy into their program and not think for myself. But if I had continued along that path, I believe I wouldn’t be writing this now. And now we have a president and an attorney general who seem to want to put my life and the lives of other patients at risk again by suggesting that cannabis is dangerous. The new attorney general apparently believes that it’s almost as bad as heroin addiction which is ludicrous.

The entire west coast has legalized recreational cannabis and over half the states have legalized medical. The tax revenue alone has opened the floodgates to legalization across the country. Seniors opting to medicate with cannabis are discovering that they can reduce the number of prescriptions they’re taking, a concern of Big Pharma I’m sure. But that’s too bad considering what this new regime plans to do to everyone’s healthcare. We must have options when they seek to give us none.

I know first hand how well cannabis replaces any number of prescribed medications. If the destructive health insurance changes the Republicans are insisting upon are voted into law, seniors will have even greater difficulty purchasing their medications. If cannabis can replace those medications then they need safe access to that without fear of arrest.

Veterans, my husband included, need safe access as well to help relieve the crippling effects of PTSD from which so many suffer. Because if the Republicans have their way and privatize veteran’s health care, safe access to cannabis will become more important than ever. These men and women served us honorably and with dignity. Their return home should reflect the same commitment and respect they gave our country. The last thing any of them needs is to face uncertainty over their healthcare concerns.

To say the government lied about the safety of cannabis is an understatement. Lives have been ruined through incarceration and for what exactly? To preserve a lie told long ago? How many people would be alive and well today if they had cannabis as a treatment option? Ideally, raw cannabis should be considered as a dietary staple, available for purchase in any produce department. I’m convinced that had my mother had access to cannabis oil, she might still be alive instead of dying at sixty-five from COPD and congestive heart failure. Children who have survived cancer using cannabis oil go on to live healthy lives. A boy in Colorado with Crohn’s has become a vocal advocate for healing with cannabis and is living a happy and healthy life. Families move across the country to live in states with medical cannabis when it’s the only thing that will save their child.

Cannabis is safe to use medicinally or for recreation. Research from around the world supports this truth. CNN did a three-part investigative series where Sanjay Gupta discovered the truth about the efficacy of cannabis in treating so many conditions. But Congress, the DEA, and the new attorney general have other ideas. Truth matters not to these people, but the stakes are too high to give up now. Too many of us have had our lives saved by this blessed plant and we’re not going away anytime soon. We’ll stand up to the nonsense because as we all know, healing with cannabis is definitely worth the risk.

So give it your best shot, Mr. Sessions. A veritable cannabis army awaits, many of us silver-haired and not done living yet.

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What Does It Take To Hate?

What Does It Take To Hate?

What does it take for someone to hate another? I mean, really hate another. I’ve said on more than one occasion that I hated one thing or another but it was meant as hyperbole, not that I actually hated anything or anyone. Because to hate someone or a group of someones I believe it takes the ability to see them as less than otherwise how could it happen? Moreover, what does this level of hate cost them in the end?

It appears that the so-called new guy and his regime are hell-bent on turning our country into a rich white nation. It involves culling the herd made possible by removing significant portions of the social safety net that some in our country depend upon for their very survival. The guy from the OMB, who probably should have called in sick that day, was foolish enough to suggest that certain social programs which didn’t yield results such as higher grades in school, for example, should be eliminated. And for that, we should be grateful, that defunding these programs is the most compassionate thing we can do.

Apparently not dying from lack of food doesn’t count as results in his book.

The Speaker of the House reportedly said that destroying Medicaid was a goal from back in his college kegger days. I can just see him sitting around with his Ayn Rand support group, drunk on his ass, boasting how he would one day take Medicaid away from the most vulnerable among us, dancing on their graves as he does so. Except not all poor people can afford normal burial costs so who knows what will happen to them.

The middle class is gone, never to return if these people have their way. People finally have health insurance, and while I’m certain the real answer will be single-payer, the ACA is a welcome relief for those who couldn’t afford insurance. Removing the threat of pre-existing conditions as a disqualifier for coverage enabled families to survive intact instead of losing everything if a life-threatening illness occurred.

Republicans are positively salivating over destroying the lives of Americans. The election of the so-called new guy (no, I still can’t call him president) has given these people the cover they’ve needed. No longer are blatantly racist comments and policies off-limits. Instead, they’re to be embraced, disseminated, and signed into law while those who actually care about people watch in horror.

This is not the country I grew up in and while change is inevitable, how we got here is beyond me. We have been manipulated and divided by the machinations of others and are in the process of being conquered by people who have only their own financial interests at heart. The so-called new guy cares nothing for the plight of the American people and if his policies are allowed to proceed unchecked, in this almost sixty-year-old woman’s opinion, he will do irreparable harm to our country and quite possibly the world.

Republicans in Congress lack the self-control to impose any checks and balances on their arrogance and right now they’re the equivalent of a runaway freight train in their attempt to destroy as much as possible before the 2018 midterms. The only real control we have now is to keep the pressure on and convince them that they will lose their jobs if they continue down this destructive path.

I promise that the best feeling ever is when you care about another. No strings attached, just honest compassion for another human being. I would rather see my tax dollars go for programs that reflect compassion than to build a wall of hate that keeps people out. With all the wealth in our country, our focus could be on elevating everyone so that each one of us can pursue our dreams, a focus based on benevolence and community instead of oppression and hate.

We all matter. I’m sorry the current version of the Republican party doesn’t understand this simple truth.

We All Matter.

Blessings to all

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Respect Seniors: Increase Funding For Meals On Wheels

Respect Seniors: Increase Funding For Meals On Wheels

We don’t respect seniors in this country let alone make certain that they survive that portion of life. I used to work for an Area Agency on Aging where we were charged with administering various programs for senior and disabled persons in our local area. Meals on Wheels was one such program. We received both federal and state funding along with donations from wonderful supporters of this incredibly necessary program. But now that program is in jeopardy along with low-income heating assistance and other programs from the budgetary cuts the so-called new guy is recommending. Our agency was also assisted a sister agency with processing heating assistance requests for low-income applicants during the winter months. These people were our neighbors and friends, not people that should ever be thrown away like this. It gets cold on the High Desert in the winter and folks receiving this assistance couldn’t stay warm without it.

Listening to callous comments by someone named Mulvaney made me sick. My mother received daily meals when she returned home from a hospital stay one time until we could make them ourselves and bring them to her. We lived one hundred and fifty miles away and while I was at work at the Area Agency on Aging, my husband was home making individual meals for freezing along with cookies and other food for my mother until she could begin cooking for herself. But for the first few days that she was home, the local Meals on Wheels folks took care of her, taking that worry from us. We loved them for that.

She appreciated the meals she received when she arrived home from the hospital as well as the kind words and support from the Meals on Wheels volunteers who delivered them. These people fill a vital role and they are desperately needed. What we don’t need is a President who understands nothing about the lives of the frail elderly in this country while he vacations at his Florida golf course and his wife and son live in a golden tower. Respect for seniors shouldn’t be a bargaining chip in our budgetary process.

You see, we thought we would lose her on more than one occasion. She had COPD along with congestive heart failure and it was only a matter of time until she wouldn’t be able to breathe anymore. She lived long enough, however, to move to Central Oregon from the Portland area so that we could be closer to her when the final day arrived.

I saw a picture of our first lady twirling a strand of diamonds as you would spaghetti. It’s not just tone-deaf, but cruel given her husband’s shameful attitude. And she did herself no favors by suggesting that children can heal through nature when her husband wants to take health insurance away from the very people who need it the most. Not that I don’t support that line of thinking given that I’m a herbalist, but it demonstrates a disconnect from the realities we all face. All of us except for guys like him.

As more and more reductions in spending are brought forth, the tax burden is merely shifted over to the wall and war sections of the government. As if we need a wall between the US and Mexico or more war. There’s little cohesion within this new regime. It’s as if they’re grabbing this and that out of their collective asses to scale back our government to the point of no longer functioning. While some might argue that our government hasn’t been functioning well for some time, what’s happening now is unprecedented and will accomplish nothing but harm.

My local congressman, Greg Walden, has an ad running on television extolling the virtues of his boss’s new health insurance travesty. It’s sickening to listen to him as he lies about the destructive effects of this abusive bill. The east side of the state is more rural and local hospitals and clinics are worried about how they will not only serve their patients but whether or not they’ll be paid for doing so. If this bill passes, everyone is at risk because it appears clear now that it’s only the beginning. If the so-called new guy has his way, America will look nothing like it does now as he puts everyone at risk with his white nationalist policies.

Because that’s what all of this is about. Making our country white again. Not that it ever was, but that’s beside the point. Now those in power are about racial purity. It’s impossible to achieve, but they’ve deluded themselves anyway. Whatever drives this delusion will be their undoing but until that happens our very way of life is threatened.

The question then becomes: will we let them get away with it?

Blessed Be

 

 

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Power Over Respect ~ Tarot for 5 March 2017

Power Over Respect ~ Tarot for 5 March 2017

Power over respect seems to be the theme of the so-called new guy. We’ve always experienced that imbalance to some degree in our country, but what’s happening now is far more extreme than anything I’ve seen before. Not that I’ve seen everything, but what’s going on now seem so unnecessary, as if it’s a distraction from other more nefarious agendas at work. If he keeps us upset about one thing, then we might miss the really big stuff he’s pulling. It’s the bait and switch approach to governing. Or it’s the ignore the man behind the curtain approach. Either way, we can all agree that huge changes are quite possibly in store unless some truth is revealed that stops him in his tracks.

I confess that I rarely know what spread I’m going to use when I begin drawing cards. As I shuffled my Thoth deck I really didn’t have a question or focus so I decided to let the cards tell me what I needed to know. Right away I drew three cards from the Major Arcana, The Universe, The Emperor, and The Chariot. Their overall numerology is 32 reducing from there to 5 which can indicate change or an instinctual/material focus. Given their archetypal influence, powerful change is occurring.

From there I added two more cards, the Prince of Disks for hidden or underlying influences and the 2 of Cups as the final focus or outcome. Looking ahead, it’s nice to see that Love is the outcome. Adding the numerology of the 2 to the numerology of the Majors we arrive at an overall numerology of 7, or divinity and perfection. Seven is the number for magick and intuition and can also represent the shadow side of self.

Beginning with the final card in the Major Arcana, The Universe, we see the Triple Goddess in the center of a vortex assisting all in their return to the Unified Self. She has manifested the world around her drawing strength from the All Seeing Eye above. However, it’s not just the end of a cycle that this card signifies but also the beginning of something new. The head of the snake points downward as it emerges from the Eye’s golden rays, coiled in rebirth and regenesis providing support for the Goddess during the awakening and ascension process.

As the Goddess guides all toward ascension, she prepares as well for the new universe to come. Awakening and enlightenment give way to love and understanding transforming and raising the vibrational frequency of all.

The Emperor sits on his throne in all his fiery presence, two rams looking inquisitively over each shoulder. He holds a dark round globe in one hand and a ram’s head scepter in the other. Interestingly, he doesn’t look forward or to the right but to the left, suggesting a focus on past concerns.

One interpretation is that he’s gazing at his Empress but we don’t really know for sure. If so does that mean he finds his strength in another instead of within himself? His legs are crossed in the same manner as the Hanged Man suggesting a triple aspected focus which would align with The Empress as the third card of the Major Arcana. Perhaps his fiery nature is in need of balance that only the Empress can provide.

Although he is pragmatic and structured and capable of great compassion and reason, when ill-dignified The Emperor can be arrogant and out of control, his authority either protecting or oppressing others. The choice is his.

Movement, mastery, and receptivity are signified by The Chariot. The seventh card of the Major Arcana, this card asks us to know when to take control of the reins and when to surrender that control to others. It can also indicate alignment in Source Presence. The Knight is well-prepared for whatever is coming, dressed in gold armor, a round piece of amethyst his shield, four sphinx protecting him on his journey.

The Chariot represents balance and control over the material aspects of Self. When it presents in a reading we’re to push past obstacles irrespective of our feelings knowing that we have the inner resolve to succeed.

Prince of Disks
        Prince of Disks

In the unknown or hidden influence position sits the Prince of Disks on his own chariot pulled by a bull. He holds the world in his left hand, a staff in the other, ready for new adventures and experiences. Integrity and trustworthiness are the qualities of this card along with a sense of responsibility to others. He is practical and realistic and when this card appears, things really are moving along well.

Our answer, of course, is found in the 2 of Cups, or Love as it’s titled. A beautiful card depicting Venus in Cancer, the waters of emotional fulfillment flow forth from a lotus blossom upon two entwined pinkish dolphins with golden fins. From there while a small amount of water flows into the lower lotus blossom from the dolphin’s mouths, the majority continues on, filling the two golden chalices below to overflowing. Love is the way. Love is the answer.

I’ve written the beginning of the interpretation section several times because it was feeling somewhat redundant. But then I let myself off the hook a bit and realized that the world is in chaos and it makes sense that the cards would reflect that. The reading gives us a glimpse of who we are and what the answer is to the ridiculous place we now find ourselves.

In The Universe, we see the cycle of birth, return, and renewal. It’s an example of the awakened Unified Self. And it’s not something we have to wait until we die to experience because it’s our true reality. During this time of ascension, many are experiencing this elevated resonance of awakening to their divine Self, experiencing their essential oneness with all.

The catalytic colors alone of The Emperor card tell us that something big is happening particularly with The Emperor’s refusal to look directly at us or to the right in anticipation of the future. His refusal to look us in the eye denotes deception. The placement of the card reinforces this giving the impression that he’s looking at a process he cannot control, preferring distraction over responsibility. A sort of look over there and not at me approach.

The Chariot reminds us that working with others typically brings a better outcome than going it alone produces, something that seems to elude The Emperor. His life as a Prince was too privileged resulting in a lack of compassion and responsibility for others. His lack of integrity and honor prevent him from seeing the bigger picture which is detrimental to the country he pretends to govern, all while spending every weekend on the golf course.

It’s easy for the rich and powerful to forget that most people don’t share their experience. Ours is a different one. One that now is a risk because of an ill-dignified Emperor with no clothes. However, we will not find our solution when we’re at odds with each other. It must be found by coming together in a unified presence, making ourselves heard whether he wants to hear us or not.

We ALL matter that much.

At some point, we’re going to all have to agree that the so-called new guy lied to his supporters. They put their faith in a guy who spoke to their concerns in a manner that resonated. It is what it is. Now we have to move forward in love and unity and stand firm in demanding the truth. We deserve at least that much and in truth, so much more.

Enlightenment is a funny thing. Sometimes it happens when we’re given the gift of struggle by someone so awful that we finally learn that the only way forward is together. Whatever all of this was will come out in the end and we’ll know how this lunatic won the election. But until then, we must keep the pressure on so that the truth comes out sooner than later because Goddess knows we can’t afford the golf course trips. And would you please tell that ridiculous blonde lady to get her fucking feet off of the furniture? It’s the fucking Oval Office. Have some respect.

Blessings!

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Finding Inner Strength When You Have Nothing Left

Oh my. Where do I begin? Donald Trump has an opinion about veterans who suffer from PTSD. They’re not strong¹ in his estimation. From Vice President Joe Biden on Trump’s comments:

“Where in the hell is he from?” Biden asked at a Florida rally for Hillary Clinton. “I don’t think he was trying to be mean. He is just so thoroughly, completely uninformed.”²

Vice President Biden may be correct that Trump wasn’t trying to be mean, but I believe he suffers from a disconnect so profound that it affects his ability to connect in a fundamentally respectful manner with anyone, the most obvious example his endless Twitter rampages against anyone who tells the truth about him. And it’s bad enough he went after Captain Humayun Saqib Muazzam Khan’s parents after they spoke at the Democratic National Convention, but now he’s taken to expressing opinions that aren’t just heartless, but in fact destructive concerning veterans who suffer from PTSD.

Is there no one this guy won’t disparage? He’s stated that men and women shouldn’t serve together in the military, citing that practice as a reason for sexual assault. He went off the rails on Twitter about Rosie O’Donnell and Alicia Marchado because he lacks even a modicum of self-control. But veterans?

My husband is a disabled Vietnam veteran and he knows a thing or two about PTSD. He’s watched friends suffer from it, and taught martial arts to PTSD survivors, including me. It’s not just veterans who suffer from PTSD. Those of us who have experienced rape, sexual abuse, and spousal/partner abuse, or who have grown up in violent homes experience PTSD daily.

Getting help isn’t easy when the words won’t come, finding the inner strength when it seems that you have nothing left. And the stigma attached prevents many from seeking the very help they so desperately need. I remember a counselor in high school who looked for anyway she could to keep me safe. But at that time, reporting abuse wasn’t required, and I convinced her that it would cause more trouble than I was worth. And yes, you read that right. Because when you suffer from PTSD you believe you have no worth at all.

Veterans in particular have a difficult time seeking help because it’s never curried favor with their superiors to admit they needed any. They’re supposed to be unbreakable. Our lawmakers ask the moon of them, yet cannot understand how our military personnel are also human. And it never seems to occur to them that we shouldn’t be fighting wars in the first place.

But for this candidate for the highest office in our country to suggest that our veterans who suffer from PTSD are weak is completely beyond the pale. He knows nothing of the things they’ve seen. He knows nothing of what they’ve endured watching children die, mothers die, their buddies on the battlefield die.

When my husband and I taught martial arts, we had a student who, like my husband, was a disabled Vietnam veteran. He  barely slept at night, his nightmares waking him if he did. He would wake up, his hands violently brushing off imaginary brain matter off of his chest belonging to a fellow soldier who died in his arms. There was a look of desperation in his eyes, always. He trained with us to regain some measure of control in lieu of his typical way of coping which was to use alcohol. He had a teenage son when he trained with us and he wanted to be a better dad to him. Although his son was somewhat used to what his dad dealt with, it was still difficult to see his dad in this state.

This is not the story of a weak man. This is a man who stood up to what he was experiencing and decided there could be a better life for himself and his family. This is what strength of character looks like. Our uninformed candidate would do well to take a lesson from this man and all other veterans just like him who deal with the effects of war after their discharge.

It’s not weakness to feel something on the battlefield. It says you still have a heart, a moral compass, and integrity. After a point, it gets to anyone. And frankly, I’m more worried about the people it doesn’t affect. Because either they’re in denial or they’re missing something of their humanity. But to come back, experience PTSD and then seek help? That tells me that their humanity is intact after all they endured. That tells me that they know their worth, have the inner strength to cope, and that they haven’t given up.

And it’s more than I can say for the uninformed candidate in the race.

And it’s also why I’m With Her.

 

References:

  1. Benen, Steve. Donald Trump’s latest misstep on veterans: getting PTSD wrong. The Maddow Blog.

  2. Dillon, Nancy; Joseph, Cameron. Donald Trump sparks outrage by suggesting vets with PTSD aren’t ‘strong’ and ‘can’t handle it’. NY Daily News.

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The Absence of Integrity

empath and empathy

There’s little else that matters to me than my integrity. While not an uncommon trait for a witch, it’s something that I believe in above anything else. It matters that I’m taken seriously because I don’t lie. An empath as well, empaths cannot tolerate dishonesty in others any more than we can tolerate it in ourselves. So I get a double dose of it I guess.

Deception from others is exhausting. An empath will typically feel in to figure out what’s actually going on. A witch will try to do something about it. No one likes being sold a bill of goods. We want to know exactly what’s going on at any given moment and most of us don’t deal well with dishonesty. And when we figure out what’s happening, we may experience a variety of emotions including betrayal, embarrassment, and anger. No one likes to feel they were lied to or taken advantage of in any way.

Lies matter in the broader scheme of things. If someone lies to gain anything at all, they risk fraud charges. If it happens in relationships, then they risk irreparable damage to those relationships. Everyone else is charged with outing the liar and sometimes that’s not received well, because liars often have supporters who foolishly become part of their game.

The absence of integrity leads people in directions that might benefit them for a time, but eventually it all comes crashing in on them. Lies create more lies and pull others in when they have no idea what’s happening. Before long, the lies are so complicated that it can be difficult to see how they’ve progressed, but typically is has to do with gain of some kind.

The gain involved may be financial in nature, but power and control are at the root of all of it, whether money is involved or it’s not. This may seem obvious, but many people are so passive aggressive that their deception is on a visceral or foundational level for them, and even they might not understand the ramifications of their actions. It never occurs to them that what they want is more about them than what it is they’re focused on and they resist any attempt at course correction.

When you seek to bring truth to a situation, you must be prepared for push back because it will happen. But integrity matters and the fact that so many find that challenging these days accounts for much of the oppressive nonsense we see and experience. We see it in the political arena as well as in our own personal lives as more lies are told to protect the lies that came before. It’s a never ending struggle with people who can’t seem to tell the truth.

Trust matters. Without integrity, trust doesn’t even enter the equation for me. So if someone lies to me, there had better be an explanation that is both understandable and believable. In other words, there had better be some really good extenuating circumstances before I’ll ever consider trusting that person again. Few have those kinds of explanations. Mostly they don’t respond at all, laying low, waiting for someone to rescue them from the situations they create.

They’re cowards, those who act without integrity. They prefer their will above all others and their inability to work collectively with others is sadly impaired. The challenges for the rest of us in dealing with them are many. Keeping these folks from doing too much damage is the least of it. Viewing them as Source Presence and extending them compassion actually should be the easiest thing we can do, but often our wounding gets in the way of that.

The absence of integrity casts a pall over everything. At some point, each of us not only needs to be able to trust, but to be trustworthy. We all matter equally. And we’re all one. So let’s turn a page and begin anew in dignity, integrity, and honor.

Integrity matters that much.

Blessed Be.

 

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The Intrinsic Value of the Crone

Crone

I grew up as a witchling and empath in a family that didn’t understand me but certainly defined themselves by my achievements. It wasn’t so much about my success, but how that success made them look. The expectations I learned to live with made it difficult to be who I was. I tried to be acceptable to people which never turned out as I expected. People pleasing typically backfires. When you give your power away to others, they know it on a visceral level, even if they don’t realize it intellectually at the time. They will repeat the expectation of you, and you’ll need to respond or risk rejection.

Empaths have a tough go of it when they’re young if they don’t grow up in an aware household. We know everything and it’s so difficult not to share what we know. But when it’s information that we have no real way of knowing, no one believes us. And if we’re calling someone out for their nonsense when we don’t have any direct knowledge of it, the individual typically uses that fact to dismiss what we say. We’re shamed as know-it-alls. It’s like standing on the outside of everything with people too afraid of what we know to let us in.

When you’re a witch as well, and you know that from age three as I did, you might as well give up on having any sort of a normal life. No matter how much normalcy you try to include in your life, it will never feel right, so you might as well live as you wish. If you can socialize easily with others, then that’s fabulous, but for most of us it’s not the easiest thing to do. We feel out of place as we pick up on the emotions and thoughts of others. It’s hard to stay aligned and centered in a group of people, so we tend to steer clear of parties and large gatherings.

Over the course of our lifetime a witch may choose to remain alone, but many marry and have children and not all of us are out as witches when we do. I wasn’t, although I didn’t exactly keep it a secret with respect to my behavior or beliefs. My husband wasn’t surprised when I finally confessed my truth and he has no problem being a consort to a witch. He’s a bit of a shaman as it is, and after thirty-seven years of marriage, we still click.

In witchcraft as well as pagan culture, the Triple Goddess is revered. Maiden, Mother and Crone are Her aspects which depict the three phases of life a woman experiences. Reverence is the key word here. Lately, I’ve been hearing negativity expressed by some about embracing their Crone aspect. The Crone has gotten a bad rap over the years, referring to her as a Hag, etc. But then in this country, we don’t exactly revere older people. We dismiss them, relegating them to someone we simply aren’t ready to be. Instead of a repository of wisdom, older people are treated with disdain and at times, contempt.

When I was so ill with rheumatoid arthritis, it was difficult to walk from point A to point B. I walked slowly and with great pain, using a cane most of the time. Shopping at large stores was a nightmare because everyone was in a hurry, I was always in the way, and no one seemed to care if they slammed their carts into me. I understood immediately what it must be like for older people who have similar trouble ambulating. It was terrifying. I remember one time going to the car after shopping a local big box store. I was trying to get across the parking lot and a horn blared. I jumped, nearly fell, and looked back to see an old man and his wife screaming at me to move out of their way. I burst into tears and continued on my way.

It speaks to how we view someone who is either old or sick. We’re in the way. We’re a bother. We have no value anymore.

To that I say, bullshit.

I was participating in a discussion online in a group I belong to about what age becoming a Crone begins. I was so disappointed to see some of the comments that essentially took the view that they would go down kicking and screaming before they’d ever be a Crone. Seriously? I was stunned.

My hair began turning silver at sixteen. I was born with medium to dark brown hair with lots of red highlights. When I turned 33 I stopped dying my hair. By that time, my witch streak was fully defined and the rest of my hair was filling in with silver. So I decided I was done with all of that and before I turned 40, my long hair was fully silver. Given that chronology, I’m fairly certain I’ve always been a Crone. The Maiden and Mother probably happened in another incarnation. My mother and her friends used say that if an older woman wore her hair long she was considered to be one of those kind of women. To this day, I have no idea who they are, but clearly I’m one of them.

Our society values youthfulness. Women bear the brunt of this attitude, relegated to withering on the vine while men in our patriarchal world, on the other hand, do as they please. So I understand a woman’s reluctance to embrace her Crone aspect.

A Crone is full of the wisdom that living life gives. She is not someone to be feared or to be rejected. I participated in an online group a while back where the individual controlling the group chose to prevent me from responding further to something she posted after my initial comment. It had to do with witches charging for what they do, which is something that many witches frown upon. It has to do with ethics. I said that I thought it was fine to charge for tarot readings and the like because it’s a skill that takes time to learn and it should be acceptable to charge for one’s time at least. She responded and then blocked me from commenting further. There was no drama, nothing. Just the suppression of a Crone’s voice in a group where all voices were supposed to be honored and cherished.

I left the group shortly thereafter. I don’t have time for such disrespect. No Crone does. We’ve learned over a lifetime where to put our energy and who not to give a rat’s ass about. It’s not that we ask, who do you think you are, but more like, oh, there you are. Because as the saying goes, a Crone doesn’t suffer fools gladly. At our age, we’ve seen and experienced far too much to spend any time all with people who are self-serving.

I turn fifty-nine in October. I fully embrace my Crone Aspect as the tagline at the top of my blog states. It’s the best time of my life. I can do what I want, think what I want, and say what I want. I can spend my days as I please, putting my energy into any creative endeavor I choose. In many respects, a woman’s life truly begins during her Crone years. So to dismiss that time or us as something to avoid at all costs seems sad and so unnecessary.

I offer some of my history to show that each of us has a story to tell that has purpose and value. Those witches who grow up solitary as I did bring a perspective to the conversation, a perspective that’s valid and necessary. Our craft, our magick, wasn’t dependent upon initiation into a tradition. We didn’t have the benefit of a Crone’s guidance along the way. We learned by doing, by allowing, and by knowing. We had only our awareness of what resonated as our guide.

What a Crone has to say matters. Our wisdom is gained over a lifetime lived, and we have so much to offer. We have value and purpose and a presence like no other.

~Blessed Be the Crone

 

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20 Minutes of Rape

Another rape on a college campus, this time Stanford. In an article in the Washington Post, his morally bankrupt father referred to it as a “steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action.” Action? Is that what we’re calling rape now? Action? Would it have been rape in his estimation had it lasted 30 minutes? What is the rape threshold for this idiot?

The only steep price that will be paid will be by his son’s victim. But this statement speaks to the problems created by patriarchy. Athletes are forgiven everything. They can beat their wives on camera, they can rape unconscious women at frat parties, and it’s all just a mistake.

Rape is rape. This guy is a criminal. That he is also an athlete at a major university like Stanford is irrelevant. He’s a rapist. He’s a criminal. And the words I have for the judge who let him off with what amounts to a slap on the wrist are far too vulgar to print.

Does he have a daughter? If so, what does he say to her? Does he have a wife? If so, what does he say to her? And if he has a son, I really don’t want to know what he says to him. A terrible man, this judge. A terrible human being. And someone who should have NEVER been privileged enough to sit on the bench.

Rape isn’t a mistake. It’s a violent choice to destroy another human being. What privilege does his victim enjoy? Nothing except a life filled with dread and pain. “20 minutes of action” according to the rapist’s father is pathetic. It was 20 minutes of rape. His son is a rapist who deserves far more than what he’s getting. Perhaps the judge can join him.

It doesn’t matter if a woman is intoxicated to the point of unconsciousness. Protect her. Keep her safe. But instead, asshole patriarchal fuckwads rape women and then make pathetic excuses for it.

Evidently these so-called athletes are so important that they have more rights than a woman does to be safe. But here’s some facts to not just consider, but believe:

  • You don’t have the right to hurt us.
  • You don’t have the right to do as you please to us.
  • You don’t have the right to make our lives a living hell.
  • You don’t have the right to destroy whatever happiness we find.
  • You don’t have the right to rape us. Not ever.
  • And when we’re unable to say no, you say no for us.

Blessings to this woman. She should have been safe and I stand with her as do countless other women. We are all her Sisters and we are legion. 

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Handling Election Trolls

Bee on Apricot blossoms

First of all, I really don’t like the misuse of the name, troll. But I’ll use it anyway so that everyone knows what I’m talking about. It’s getting to the point that social media has become a weapon for those individuals who can’t apparently state their opinion without denigrating another’s in the process. It’s so upsetting when people I’ve friended or followed do this. I realize politics can bring out the worst in people, but what’s going on is something else. It’s like we’re all in a drunken brawl, even when we don’t actually participate.

I guess I understand the conservative side of this, or at least, what it appears to be. I have no doubt that there are all sorts of conservative folks out there that would sooner die than behave in such a hostile and sometimes violent manner towards anyone, no matter who they are. But then there are the others who seem to be more about their rage than having a respectful conversation.

I’ve written about this before, but as time moves on, the nastiness has only increased. I take a progressive approach when someone is mean. I’m sure that some don’t realize how their passionate viewpoints may offend others. So I see no need to engage after it happens. If it’s a long time friend and they don’t continue whatever tirade they’re on, then I don’t do anything about it. If not, then if on Twitter, I mute them. If on Facebook, I delete their comment and say nothing further. If I have to, I’ll unfollow their posts. If they get really insulting and/or vulgar on any of the social media platforms I’m on, then I block. I rarely report, but it has happened.

I figure at that point, they’re too cowardly to be following or friending a witch anyway. So I’ll have nothing further to do with them at that point. It’s not a judgment, but simply my way of not engaging with anything or anyone that’s abusive in any manner. I don’t like how conversations that head in that direction feel. And as an empath, feeling is how I understand the world around me. And I really don’t care what anyone else thinks about that.

Progressives should be ashamed of themselves, however. We’re supposed to be above that sort of behavior. I thought progressives were respectful of individual differences. But now we have this nonsense that if Bernie isn’t the nominee, none of his supporters are going to support Hillary. How about growing up, why don’t you? Remember the last time this crap happened? Ralph Nader was running and we ended up with a president elected by the Supreme Court. Do you really want to risk a Trump or Cruz presidency?

Do you?

Let that sink in, my progressive family. Please don’t jeopardize our country by responding this way. No matter what you think of Hillary, she will never do to this country what Trump or Cruz will do. And if she’s smart, and Bernie is smarter, it will be a Clinton/Sanders ticket. He’ll keep her honest and his presence on the ticket and as Vice President when they win will foster and support her most progressive instincts.

That’s assuming she’s the nominee, which it looks like that’s what will happen. So can we dial it back a bit and remember that we’re all part of one diverse progressive family? I don’t care whether it’s Hillary or Bernie that will be residing in the White House. I’ll vote for whoever is the nominee, but for the love of all that is holy, can we please pull our heads our of our collective asses and come together in November to prevent the crazy guy from winning?

I mean, haven’t we all had enough of the GOP by now?