When We Are Dying We Will Embrace The Love Of Those Around Us

It’s a brisk September morning. The chill in the air is minimal, but after a 90 degree day it feels freezing. A few yellow leaves drop to the ground as I walk with my daughter. The kids are back in school so there is much activity. Many dogs accompany their families on the walk, and we see many bike riders pass on the Washington and Old Dominion Trail outside of DC.

It’s mornings like these that I treasure. Walking my children to school, talking and laughing along the way, saying hello to passing friends and neighbors. Life is fleeting, my children are growing so fast, time is so precious.

I come home to a quiet house, the silence is both welcoming and unsettling. I pet our bunny Peanut and hamster Zaychu to remind myself that I am not all alone.

I think for a few moments about death because September 25th will be the one year anniversary of the day I almost died from multiple bilateral pulmonary embolisms. I am so grateful to be alive, but am still haunted by that day. I am still trying to recover both physically and mentally.

I look at the devastation that is going on in Houston, Florida, the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, and once again I am reminded of my blessings. I sip my chamomile tea as thousands of people are struggling to find drink, food, shelter and clothing.

We never know when tragedy will strike. We never know when we will require assistance. We never know when our last day will come.

That is something that we all have in common. That is what makes us human.

I remember the tough year I just had, and see the tough times many people in the world are facing, and I feel saddened.

Then I look up from my keyboard and witness the humanity, courage and love that always follow each and every tragedy. Each and every personal loss.

It is like a tide that ebbs and flows throughout our lives. Sometimes we’re up. Sometimes we’re down. But, hopefully we will have loving friends, family and community members around us as we tread carefully through this life.

There are constant reminders of the fragility of life. There are constant reminders of the heroes and helpers who help us pick up the pieces.

They are there without a moment’s notice. They are not there to seek accolades. They are just there to help.

If we all try to be like them, then our world will be a much better place.

When we are dying we will embrace the love of those around us. When we are dying we will think about whether or not we made a difference in other people’s lives. When we are dying we will think could we have done more? Could we have loved more?

The answer is always yes.

We can always do more to make ourselves and others happy. We can always do more to make others smile. We can always do more to help our neighbors who are without food, shelter or healthcare. We can always do more by standing up for those who cannot stand up for themselves.

One year ago I almost died.

This anniversary means so much to me. I will raise a glass to old friends and new. I will hug my family and celebrate that I’m still here. I will try my best to appreciate each new day that I’m given. I will try my best to help others however and whenever I can.

I will think about what will happen when I die a little more often now after surviving my blood clots.

When I die, I know it will be with a clear conscience and a full heart. But that time is not now.

Now, it’s time to live.

 

 

 

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My Game of Thrones Playlist to Get Me Through the Tough Days

I have just been through a year that had me shouting “seven hells” many times. My seven hells this year were PMDD, multiple pulmonary embolisms, anxiety, panic attacks, menopause, lyme disease and interstitial cystitis.

Game of Thrones, and other shows like it have helped keep me occupied and distracted through the pain and heartache that often accompanies chronic illness. I wrote an article about it last year. 

I am incredibly grateful to have made it through this year. I am still struggling and fighting, but am much better than last year. Tonight is the premiere of Game of Thrones and I can’t wait to watch it. Partly because I have been waiting a year and a half for the new season, and partly because it is a reminder that I made it through, I survived.

This morning while making pancakes for my family, it seemed like every song was reminding me of Game of Thrones. Some songs made me laugh, some made me think of certain GOT characters, and others made me feel excited and happy. So happy that I danced in my kitchen for the first time in over a year. I hope you enjoy my playlist, and I hope you dance too.

Here is my Game of Thrones playlist:

1. Another One Bites the Dust by Queen – who will bite the dust this season?
2. Every Rose Has Its Thorn by Poison – last season Margaery and Loris Tyrell were killed by Cersei. I’m sure that their grandmother Olenna will be all thorns this season.
3. Born to be Wild by Steppenwolf – The Wildlings are a huge part of GOT and will have a great role to play this season too as many battle will take place.
4. Back to Black by Amy Winehouse – Jon’s watch has ended and he won’t go back to black, but I’m sure the Night’s Watch will be by his side as they fight the Night King and his army of wights.
5. Pride by U2- this important song was of course written about MLK Jr., but it briefly made me think of the fictional character Ned Stark, who lived his life with honor and pride, and who many still fight for in the name of love.
6. The Rains of Castamere by The National- who could forget the Red Wedding or this amazing/haunting song. What will the Lannisters be up to this season? How many of us souls long to see/hear what they will do?
7. Burden In My Hand by Soundgarden – this song reminds me of Tyrion. He is now hand of the Queen, how will he handle this honor and burden? Will he rise to the occasion once they reach the sands of Dragonstone, or will he drown in alcohol and fall to pieces once again?
8. Dire Wolf by The Grateful Dead – Will Ghost return? Will Arya be reunited with Nymeria? Which sinners and bad guys will the Stark wolves attack? Many have it coming to them.
9. Hound Dog by Elvis Presley – He isn’t high class, but I’m so glad the Hound is back! He prefers chicken to rabbits and has been a secret friend of the Starks. F*ck the king, let’s see what he does this season!
10. Witchy Woman by The Eagles – Cersei was born with a silver spoon in her mouth, and now she has suffered the witches prophecy. Gold are now her children’s shrouds, will her little brother now choke her to death? We shall see.
11. Ain’t No Mountain High Enough by Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell – Nothing will stop The Mountain from protecting Cersei, not the Trident river or the Vale of Arryn, and nothing will stop me from watching the Cleganebowl if it happens this season!
12. Smoke On The Water by Deep Purple – this song reminds me of the Greyjoys since Pyke is always misty and smoky looking. It also reminds me of The Battle of Blackwater, and other battles to come. What will be Theon and Yara’s fate? What great battles on the sea lie ahead?
13. Something Wild by Lindsey Stirling – Dany has a big heart and has become wild and powerful, and she is being called home. While her dragons chase the sky, the lights are blinding and her quest is binding. Her maps and battle lines are drawn, will she prevail and ultimately sit on the throne?
14. Simple Man by Lynyrd Skynyrd – I’m on Team Stark and Jon Snow is my favorite. He may be a simple man but he has learned something, and does not live for rich mans gold. He follows his heart and knows what’s in his soul. I hope it leads him to great things and happiness.

This past year I said not today to the god of death many times. I hope you say not today too, and I hope he listens.

Winter is here. Let’s all hope it’s not a long one.

Kathy ❤

Poetologie

Thank You to the Friends Who Met Me After Chronic Illness

To the friends who have met me after chronic illness,

You may have met me through my kids. You may have met me in the neighborhood. But that doesn’t matter, what matters is that you met me after I became chronically ill- but you still chose to become my friend.

You weren’t put off by my disheveled looks, my wrinkled clothes, my messy house, my tired eyes, my seldom seen smiles. You didn’t judge me, look at me strangely or differently, or walk away.

You gave me a chance because you are a special person. One who can see beyond appearances and chaos, and focus on what is important.

People. Helping others. Being a good person and friend.

You met me after Lyme Disease and Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder took over part of my brain and made me more anxious, confused and irritable. You met me after I was recovering from surgery and going through surgical menopause. You still supported me after I learned that I had multiple pulmonary embolisms, and didn’t know whether or not I would survive. You met me when I could barely take care of my children, let alone myself.

But, you still stuck around. You still gave me a chance. You still cared no matter what.

You didn’t stop coming around when I could not even make it to the door because I was too anxious to answer it. You didn’t stop calling or texting me to see if I needed anything, even though I could never return the favor. You didn’t stop asking me to do things even though you knew that I couldn’t for quite awhile.

You helped get my young son to school each and every day so that he wouldn’t miss out on anything. You made sure he was safe and well cared for. You made sure he had fun whenever he was with you and your children. You made sure my eleven year old daughter was also okay and had what she needed to get through the many crises we faced these past 2 years.

You never complained, you were just there. Right where I needed you, right when I needed you. You never asked for anything in return.

THAT is the definition of a true friend. Helping and caring for someone and being there without any expectations or desire for a reward or returned favor. That is the definition of you.

You are selfless. You are a wonderful person. You are just what I needed, but never thought I’d find again due to my maladies.

I am very lucky that I have a great husband who helps me with everything. But it is also nice to have some good friends. Friends like you. To laugh with, to spend time with, to grow with, to become better people with.

I had almost given up hope that I would find good friends in my new home state. After my many ailments, I thought it would be impossible.

But there you were, walking slowly but surely by my side. Maybe you saw a glimmer in my eye of what I once was- active, funny and spontaneous. Maybe you got brief hints of what my personality truly is, when free from the constraints of pain and sickness.

In a world where many people are focused upon material things and influential people, you choose not to be. You can see past all of that, and get right to the heart of the matter. You were able to see what was in my heart.

I can’t begin to tell you how much you mean to me, and to my family. I can’t begin to thank you enough for how you have helped me, and for how you have accepted me and all of my limitations.

Having you around has brought some newfound joy to my life. Having you around has helped me recover. Having you around has helped me smile again.

A lot of people in their forties have to deal with at least one chronic illness. They are lucky if they have good friends around to help them adjust and get through it. But, making new friends when you have more than one debilitating condition is very difficult. It can be a very lonely time. Online support groups can be very helpful, but nothing takes the place of a nearby friend. One who is there to listen, commiserate with and to give you a hug when you need it the most.

Thank you for being my friend. I know that it can be hard sometimes because of all I am dealing with, but hopefully better health and good times are just around the corner. I look forward to sharing those times with you.

And as I struggle to fall asleep tonight, I will have a smile on my face because I know that kind people like you exist in this world.

You are just what the doctor ordered.

Poetologie ❤

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Father is…

A father is a cushion to lay my head,

when things seem dark and dreary;

A father carries me up to bed,

when I’ve grown very weary.

 

A father reads me a bedtime story,

and hugs me when I’m scared;

a father is one who is by my side,

and who always seems to care.

 

He is there to close my window,

and to sing an old Irish tune;

he is there to let me know,

that I am his stars and moon.

 

 

A father lives, a father gives,

me all the love he possibly can;

he is silly, he is my joy

he is my favorite man.

 

A father is there to life me up

each time I inevitably fall;

A father rushes into the room,

each time his name I call.

 

A father is the one I love,

a father is my best friend;

he will always be in my heart,

on that he can depend.

 

So thank you sweet darling Dad,

for all you’ve done for me;

my love for you is greater than,

all the stars in the sky you see.

 

Poetologie ❤

 

 

An Open Thank You Letter To Mick Jagger

Mr. Jagger,

I’ve just read the news of Gregg Allman’s death. He was 69 years old. I’m pretty sure you knew him, especially through your association with Chuck Leavell, so I’d like to say that I’m sorry for your loss.

His passing made me immediately think of you. Though you are my favorite musician/performer of all time, I have never written you a fan letter to let you know how much you and your music has meant to me.

I truly believe that if someone has affected your life in a positive way or has meant something to you, that you should always let them know. Life is too short to hold in our feelings or praise. Hearing of the passing of your good friend David Bowie, of Glenn Frey and of Chris Cornell has made this task more urgent. I wouldn’t want to ever regret not telling you how I feel, I would never want you to wonder if you ever truly made a difference in a fan’s life.

I’m here to tell you that you have.

I have no connection to you other than through your music. I am not your greatest fan. I have never met you. I have only seen The Rolling Stones tour twice, due to budget constraints and then illness. But for 47 years your music has been a constant in my life. It has been a warm blanket when my life was painted black. It has seen me through tough high school years, wild times at college, divorce, marriage, miscarriages, birth and chronic illness. It is the one thing I have always been able to count on, it is the soundtrack of my life.

Your soulful voice and lyrics, whether from The Stones or your solo work, is as real as it gets. It’s also as good as it gets. Life is not a top 40 dance-able track. It takes us to many dark places, and through many difficult winding paths. From Staten Island, New York to sweet Virginia, you have laid the foundation and follow me wherever I go.

I am lucky to not be waiting on a friend anymore, for I have found a great partner in my husband. His thick wispy longish brown hair, slender figure, and beautiful blue eyes are reminiscent of you, my first man crush.

I can always hear your voice echo in the distance, from the realization that wild horses couldn’t drag me away from my one true love, to the joy of my children’s birth, to sitting and watching life’s tragedies as tears go by. Your music has played through it all.

Whenever I succeeded, or whenever I fell – you were always there. From eight-tracks, to albums, to CD’s, to Pandora, you help comfort and lift me up like no other performer. When I walk in Central Park, to when I seem like I’m 2000 Light Years from Home due to my persistent anxiety, you remain my companion. You help me drift away and get lost in a sea of melodies that soothe my often aching body and soul.

Though I know that you will probably never see this letter, it makes me feel good to write it. I think that we should all do good things and thank many people with no expectations. Some girls really know you, some girls really love you, this girl really appreciates you and the way your music makes me feel. Joyful, unburdened, free, passionate and alive. I will always be a wild teenager when I hear Start Me Up, tell no lies when I walk through a field of Dandelions, and when time is not on my side, I will sit and watch my children doing all the things I used to do with a smile.

Seeing you and The Stones was and always will be one of my favorite memories. I will never forget the anticipation I felt as we drove from Plattsburgh, NY to Shea Stadium back in 89′. I will never forget the butterflies I felt as you approached the stage. I will never forget the adrenaline I felt as your face was projected on the big stadium screens. I will never forget the happiness I felt hearing you sing live.

You will never be just a memory to me. You will always be a talented man who enhanced my life, and made me realize my love of music. Your voice and songs will always be a part of me, and I hope a part of my children.

I want you to know how much you have meant to me, how much you still mean to me. You have helped me get through many tough times, you helped me dance in the street.

I hope that you live many more happy years just like your father Joe. I hope that you are surrounded by the love of your beautiful children, and that you never run out of time to keep showing them how much you care.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart for all you have given to me and to the world.

Thank you for helping me realize that though God may not have given me everything I want, he gave me everything I need.

Sincerely,

Kathy, a girl with a mind and a blog of her own

The Messiness of Life

This morning while I was cooking bacon, I heard my son shout “Mama, I wiped my own hiney!” This immediately set off alarm bells, and sent me into panic mode, because I haven’t finished training my son how to do this task. Due to years of battling life-threatening illnesses, I am just now teaching him this skill that he should have mastered years ago.

I left the comfort of the kitchen, where the aroma of bacon, and the sounds of Stevie Nicks filled the air. I entered the bathroom where a landslide of shit was everywhere!

I didn’t know where to start. My son held up his poop ridden hands and proudly smiled and said “I did it all by myself.” The half of me that’s in surgical menopause wanted to yell “why didn’t you call me to help you?” The other half of me wanted to burst out laughing. I settled for somewhere in the middle.

As I was cleaning him and the bathroom, I thought life sure is messy.

When you have children you face years of cleaning up poop, puke and pee. It doesn’t end after the toddler years, for many stomach viruses and bouts of the flu await. There are many untidy rooms, dirty dishes, and piles of laundry to contend with.

When you are pregnant no one tells you this. No one tells you that you will spend countless hours scrubbing stains, tiles and tushes. You will perform many thankless tasks and sometimes feel really pissed off about it, and that’s okay. You have permission to be angry, and to commiserate with your friends.

I realized as I was sanitizing poop kingdom that I was truly blessed. I have two wonderful kids to clean up after. Kids who come to me when they need help and tender loving care. Kids whose eyes light up when they see me. Kids who look up to me, and who depend upon me to teach them the skills necessary to succeed in life. Kids whom I adore, poop and all.

When I was finished with the purging of the poop, I replayed ‘Landslide.’ I listened to Stevie sing ‘you climb a mountain, and you turn around.’

I think of how I will clean a mountain of my children’s filth and then turn around- and someday it will all be gone.

My kids will move out of my house and move on. They will take their messes, and my heart with them.

And I will be left reminiscing, and longing for the days of poop, puke and pee for the rest of my life.

Kathy ❤

Poetologie

Nothing’s Gonna Change Our World…Unless We Do

‘I read the news today…oh boy’ – Manchester looks like its been at war.  ‘A crowd of people stood and stared,’ they’d seen terrorism before. Beatles lyrics are currently racing around my head, music is my comfort today.

Twenty-two people killed, including children as young as eight years old. More than fifty injured. The distressing news just keeps coming. It’s getting so hard to hide my sadness and tears from my children.

How do I protect them from the news? How do I protect them from this increasingly dangerous world?

Images of the Newtown tragedy flash through my brain, as I see a mother cry for her missing daughter. People/children were once again going about their day. People/children were once again murdered.

With no warning. With no reason. With no emotion.

They are now gone. Their families are still trying to find them or find out if they are among the victims. Their families all have our sympathy, our thoughts, and our hearts. We hug our own children safe in the knowledge that they are okay today.

But what about tomorrow?

What new tragedies await all of us?

Today a bridge of pain connects us to Manchester, just like many bridges before. This pain seems unending in recent years. This pain is heartbreaking.

I wish it would stop.

I tell my anxious daughter a few details of the bombing, because I know that she will find out about it at school. I want her to hear my words first. I want her to see my face when I say this is a horrible tragedy, but this is far away, it will not directly affect you.

I never spoke to her about how I was in New York City on 9/11. How I walked for miles among traumatized ashen people. I never told her that her Aunt lost her best friend in the bombing of Pan Am 103, and worked in Tower One of the World Trade Center. I never told her how close to home tragedy has struck. But I have said those words of comfort to her before, about Newtown and a few other tragedies, because I needed to calm her fears.

My words which usually speak passionate truths were carefully edited, carefully cooled down to help her deal with the news. To help her deal with the fact that the safe little world in which she currently exists is shrinking. With each bomb blast, shooting or death from cold hands she will be unwound. Her idea of safety is slowly being liquidated to pay off the debt of her survival. Her artistic brush is forced to paint a picture of a world in frequent mourning, over mornings such as these.

When I was younger I frequently watched the news with my mom. I am not able to do this with my daughter, for it is too often filled with tragic headlines and scary events.

So instead I shield her from as much devastation as I can, surround her with love and comfortable things, and pray she will gain the strength to get through such difficult times.

I let her see me write blogs and poetry often, I tell her that getting out our emotions in a positive way is a blessing and a necessity. She hears the tap tap of the keyboard and the click click of the mouse as I pour out my feelings. I hope she always remembers these sounds. The sounds of subsistence, the sounds that help me get through my toughest times.

I am glad that she has her art to ease her mind. I hope that it always does. I hope that the stroke of her paintbrush can help her survive, thrive and put some color into this often gloomy world.

I often tell her that we should always help others when we are able to. That so many people need assistance, and that there is nothing wrong with asking for it. I tell her that it’s okay to pause her world in order to help someone in need.

After tragedies I feel helpless, sorrowful and weak. I wonder what kind of world we are leaving our children. But watching the kindness of strangers, bystanders and everyday heroes always lifts me up. These people make it possible to see the light in the darkness, the way through the pain.

I want to be one of these people. I am trying to teach my children to be like these people. The light-bringers, the change-makers, the bastions of hope. People who see others as equals and worthy of compassion. People who feel it is our duty as citizens to help lift others up, because they know we will all fall down at some point in our lives.

Manchester needs us now. The world needs us now. We must take a long look in the mirror of truth, and put an end to our apathy. I have been looking in this mirror for years, I am ready to make a difference. I realize that it all starts with me.

And as the tears flow from the sights and sounds of a city that’s an hours train ride from Liverpool, I know that nothing’s gonna change our world – unless we do.

Kathy ❤

Poetologie

 

In This Time of Darkness, Send In the Snow

I am a snowflake, I stand tall and proud. I’ve fallen to the ground, from an ominous cloud. I’m cold on arrival, but I melt when I hear. The drums of injustice, pounding very near.

The world seems so much darker since Donald Trump was sworn in on January 20, 2017. His first 80 days in office have been a disaster, and have incited many people to protest often. He continues to harm and insult countless individuals and communities, just like he did on the campaign trail. Some were anticipating that he’d magically change once he took the oath of office, but I never had that hope. I saw what he was, because I listened to who he told us he was. Many didn’t listen close enough or believe it. They just chose a few things they liked about him, and dismissed all the rest. Some of these people are regretting their decision to vote for him, but not many of his core supporters who seem to stick by him no matter the cost. Even through the threat of nuclear war.

That makes me very sad. Sad that people support such a hateful man, who surrounds himself with cruel, divisive people. Sad that he was elected even though Hillary Clinton had almost three million more votes. Sad that the world’s opinion of the United States has now changed. Sad that I cannot let my own children listen to their President speak. I will not let them hear his hateful rhetoric. I will play back old speeches of Barack Obama so that they can hear the words of a wonderful, eloquent man. An intelligent, devoted family man whom I, and many citizens, loved and will always love. He will always be my President.

I will teach them about compassion, and the difference between legislation that is created to hurt us, and legislation that is created to help us. I will show them how people’s actions speak louder than their words. I will show them all the progress that was made during Obama’s Presidency. I will show them how the Trump Administration is desperately trying to erase all of that progress, and target certain people/communities with a big smile on their face.

I will teach them the value of voting in every single election.

I will show them what love is, and that helping people is an essential part of being human. I will teach them not to judge people by the color of their skin, or by what religion they follow, or by the amount of money they have. I will teach them that we are all equal and should be treated that way.

I will teach them that snowflakes are beautiful, and to be called one is not an insult but a compliment. It means that you care about the world and all of those in it, not just yourself or people like you. It means that you will speak up when necessary, and won’t let your kindhearted ideals get trampled to the ground.

When I heard about the Muslim Ban and saw all the chaos and inhumanity at the airports months ago, I cried. I cried for all those affected, for their families, for our country, and for my children.

I was so happy that they were born while Obama was President. The world seemed so much better, safer and happier. I know that some terrible things still happened, but having Obama at the helm was very comforting. He strived for peace, equality and the greater good. He was a kind and decent man, and when he spoke I got chills down my spine. I knew that I was witnessing greatness. I feel sorry for those that didn’t.

I do believe some people are coming to that conclusion now, and are realizing that harmless emails were actually a diversion from a sinister plot to make America fascist not great. Many people made a mistake by not voting, or by voting for the wrong candidate. Now our country is in great peril. Now a traitorous egomaniac is at the helm.

I believe Michelle Obama said it best when she spoke to Oprah “we are feeling what not having hope feels like.”

I know exactly what she meant, and that is the feeling I have had since the election. I am left with a giant hole in my heart now, and a feeling of dread that I have never felt before. I am scared for my country. I do not support Trump as President and I never will. That is a hard thing to admit and have to deal with, for I consider myself a very patriotic person. I love this country. But, I love it so much that I will not support those who try to destroy it. Things are not normal right now. I have always watched every Inauguration, and wished every President well. Not this time. This administration is like no other. The hate, intolerance, discrimination, and fear it perpetuates is unacceptable.

That is why I am a snowflake.

I was born with a lot of compassion, even though I was not treated well for many years. I was always able to try to put myself in others shoes. I cried easily at the sight of pain or injustice. I always wanted to help, though I wasn’t always able to.

Some are not born with a lot of compassion, but it can be taught, it can be practiced, it can be developed. It can be learned by watching others who exhibit it. It will not be shown during this administration, that is why I hope it doesn’t last long. I hope it doesn’t have to time to destroy people’s lives, jobs, families, healthcare, and the environment.

I don’t want to watch the country I love burn. I want the beauty that Obama and those before him created to remain.

I was very sad on January 20th. I am still very sad about what is going on, and about how Trump is trying to move our country quickly toward fascism. But on January 21st, during The Women’s March on Washington, I found hope again. Hope came in the form of millions of snowflakes wearing pink hats. I could not get enough of the coverage, the speeches, the signs, the women and men who marched for a better, more fair and diverse world. A world I believe in. A world I want to live in.

Though I live close to Washington D.C. I could not march due to my health, but I felt like I was right there with them. I found the light I was looking for, I found my fellow snowflakes.

Many conservatives use the term snowflake in a derogatory manner. I don’t care though, I am proud to be one. I am proud that I, and so many others, care about our fellow citizens, and about our world. I am proud that we want to help others, and to make the world a better place for our children, and for everyone. We will march, protest, call our representatives until the cows come home, because we know that many things in life are worth fighting for, and our country is one of them.

I am so proud that so many people in our country, and around the world, are standing up to the injustice that surrounds us. It gives me hope, it helps me sleep at night. I am able to look in the mirror knowing that I did my best to try to be a good person, and to make a difference, no matter how small.

I don’t know how our new President, or many of his followers look in the mirror at night. I don’t know how they post about how glad they are that the refugee children that have been turned away have nowhere safe to go now, then kiss their own children good night. I don’t know how they say “build the wall,” with such glee, and turn their heads while other’s are bullied and beaten because of such hateful rhetoric. I don’t know how they cried while Angels were shot down in Newtown, but cheer when Trump talks about removing gun-free zones at schools, and while he gave a Sandy Hook denier a seat in the White House Press Room. They looked away while the people of Flint had no drinking water, and voted for someone who will allow all of our water to be polluted. They believe all of the alternative facts and have no idea what the truth is anymore. What examples are they setting for their children?

I will follow the marchers, the scientists, the environmentalists, the civil rights activists, those who fight injustice, and those who dream of a brighter future for all of us. Those who realize that the swamp has not been drained, it has been filled with unscrupulous billionaires who are okay with following a tyrant who is beholden to Russian interests. Money is their God, and their savior Jesus, is just a poor immigrant.

I am glad that the world is watching. I am glad that those who were banned from our country know that the majority of Americans do not agree. I am glad that most of us do not agree with the deportations of Dreamers and non-violent immigrants. I am glad that they see that most of us care. That we will keep protesting and fighting for them, and for what is right. Fighting for the heart and soul of the nation we love.

They say a storm is coming. It is a storm of millions of voices starting to rise. Winter is here. A winter that could last many years.

We are the winter. We are the snowflakes. We will fight injustice. We will spread love. We are indivisible. We are stronger together.

We will try to replace all of the pain that will be created, and all of the woe that we feel, with a beautiful bright layer of fresh fallen snow.

And as we march, we will leave millions of footprints in the snow that will never melt.

snowflakepoem

I Am Not A Great Mom Right Now

As I sit here writing this, my two children are asleep next to me on our giant couch. They barely ever make it to their own beds in their messy rooms, in our messy little house. We are currently living a messy life, and I am not a great mom right now.

It has taken me awhile to admit this. I dreamed of being a perfect mom, with the sweetness of Caroline Ingalls, the brilliance of Claire Huxtable, and the cooking skills of Martha Stewart. But truth be told, I’m becoming more and more like a chronically ill Roseanne.

I always thought I’d be an awesome mom, and I was doing okay during the first few years of my daughter’s life until I was struck hard by illness and other circumstances. I had to suffer through a bad car accident and bruised ribs, five miscarriages, gall bladder surgery, Interstitial Cystitis, Endometriosis, severe PMDD, Fibromyalgia, frequent pneumonia due to asthma, Chronic Lyme Disease, multiple bilateral life-threatening blood clots on my lungs, panic attacks and anxiety.

I am so fortunate to have survived all of these things, but I can feel the dream of being an amazing mom slowly fading away. The stress of being in pain and chronically ill has taken its toll.

Like tiny grains of sand sliding down an hourglass, I am very aware of time slipping away. I realize that I can’t reverse the hourglass, I can only catch some grains of sand before it’s too late.

I can’t bring back the things my children have missed out on, I can only provide them with some new things to look forward to.

I may not be able to show them how to keep a perfect house, but I can show them how to be good people.

I may not be able to show them how to run a marathon, but I can show them how to leave beautiful footprints in the sand.

My family is everything to me. Though I am disappointed that I am not able to be a great mom right now, I will never stop trying to be one.

I will be the best mom that I can be at this moment, and share the best parts of me when I am able to.

When I glide around the ice skating rink with my daughter, I hope she remembers the glow in my eyes as I looked at her. My heart melts when she is near.

When I go bowling with my son, I hope he remembers how proud of him I was after he knocked down a few pins. How proud I will always be.

I hope they remember all of the good times we shared, and all of the magical memories we created like when we visited Disney World. Our trip there was the greatest trip of my life, and I will cherish it forever.

I hope they learn a valuable lesson from me about how when life drags you down, you must keep going and be the best that you can be.

I realize now that there is no such thing as a perfect mom. We all experience the ebb and flow of life and of parenthood. We must accept the fact that there are times that we will not be terrific moms. We must learn to accept life’s quirks, perks and failures. They will help shape who we are. They will make us stronger.

I remember holding both of my children for the first time. Those brief moments were the most powerful of my life. It is when I learned what true love was, it is when I became a mom. It is when I made a promise to my sweet little babes that I would love, protect and care for them for as long as I was alive.

I may not be a great mom right now, but I hope that when my children look back on their childhood, they will see that I kept my promise, and that I loved them with all of my heart.

And hopefully they will remember that love for the rest of their lives.

 

 

 

 

 

I Will No Longer Be Silent

Last week I read a story about a local Virginia waitress who was given a receipt back from a customer that said “we don’t tip black people.” I couldn’t believe what I was reading. I couldn’t believe how close I lived to this restaurant, to this horrible racist act. I felt really sad when I read it. Sad for the waitress, and sad for our country.

Sometimes it is hard to believe that it is the year 2017. I knew that Trump’s rhetoric was unacceptable the moment he declared his run for the Presidency. I knew right then that I would never vote for him, nor anyone like him. I did however, expect him to tone it down at some point and at least act like had some humanity. But, as we all know now, he did not. He just keeps getting worse, and he has empowered and given voice to the followers of his that are racist and/or sexist.

I never expected him to win, though technically he didn’t. I had more faith in my country. I never expected so many people to vote for him. I never expected Russia to interfere in the elections, making them void in my opinion. But this is the reality we face now. The question is what do we do about it?

I am a chronically ill person and a mom. I don’t have a big following on social media, and I don’t really care. What I do care about is having a voice and sharing it. I also care about making a difference no matter how small, and helping others when I can.

I grew up in a suburb of New York City. I was shy, neglected, and allowed people to walk all over me. That continued for many years until I finally found my truth. I finally found my voice. I realized that telling the truth does indeed set you free. I found that having a voice and sharing it is very cathartic. It is also necessary, especially now.

There were not many African American children in the area I grew up in. I went to a high school that wasn’t very diverse. It was mostly Irish and Italian Americans. I remember one incident where some of the boys were bullying one of the only African American students for no apparent reason. They were being very cruel and calling him offensive names. I just sat there and watched and didn’t say anything. I was shy and too nervous to speak up, or to stick up for him when it mattered most. After a few teachers came and broke up the altercation, I went over to one of them and gave my account of the situation. I told them that the boy did nothing wrong and was treated very badly. To this day I feel guilty about it. He had no one to stick up for him. I just sat there silent.

Another incident happened when I was looking for an apartment of my own. The landlord said to me “you can’t bring any black people here, the neighbors won’t approve.” I was so broke and desperate for an apartment that I just nodded and said that I was interested in the apartment. Blind acceptance once again.

There are probably more of these incidents from my youth, but these are the two that stick with me. I didn’t have my voice yet or any confidence. I didn’t do the right thing. I didn’t recognize my own white privilege.

Something changed in me after the shooting at Newtown. I completely broke down and had trouble getting over it. I began to heal by recognizing other people’s humanity despite all of the darkness. I struggled to find my own. Where had it been hiding? What had I actually done to help others? I took time to look within myself and I didn’t like what I saw. Though I was a wife and mother, and had a wonderful family, I wasn’t doing enough. I wasn’t using my voice. I hadn’t found it yet. I started writing a lot and it finally became clear who I was and what I wanted to do.

I didn’t want to sit in the shadows anymore. I wanted to continue to find my voice and use it to do some good in this world. My writing is one of the biggest ways I intend to do this. But, as a neighbor, citizen and friend I can do so much more. I no longer intend to be silent.

Silence can shut many doors. It can overcome you and blanket you with guilt. It can cause you to lose yourself and ignore your own truth. It can hurt others, it can cause much pain.

It can allow a harmful, intolerant person to gain much power. It can end relationships, it can end lives, it can ruin democracies.

I am tired of seeing and reading about other people being bullied or harassed just because of the color of their skin, or because of their religious or sexual identities. I am tired of the the rhetoric of our 45th President.

I am just one person. But one person can make a difference. Whether it’s in their own households by raising kind children, or in their communities by not staying silent while others are harassed or persecuted for no reason.

I promise to use my voice for good and to no longer remain silent. I will speak up when I hear others disparaging certain groups of people, or I will walk away when I have to. But I will not participate by remaining silent or nodding my head when I don’t actually agree.

I’ve done that for far too long and I am sorry.

Please join me and we will help to make our country more compassionate and tolerant. One voice at a time. One word at a time. One kind act at a time.

I will no longer be silent…