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clean air moms, RAA, REINS Act

This post was produced with support from Clean Air Moms Action. All opinions are, of course, my own.

It’s clear that the world has gone crazy. With the advancements in technology, you’d think it would give us more access to information to help make more informed and factual based decisions but it seems that is not the case. Technology means a penchant for instant gratification and as a side effect, rash decisions and willful denial of science for some. Case in point, global warming. It’s real and it exists.

My parents raised us in a place of high pollution with one basic concept in mind, be kind to the earth and the people of it and it will be kind to you or, at the very least, better. I do the same with my girls.

Since growing up in the Chicagoland area, a place where emission testing had to become a requirement when I was a small child because of all the pollution from local foundries and high traffic pollution it made me a more aware person. I have known for a long time that the harm we do to the planet is not without ramifications. We are expending our resources at an alarming rate. We are contributing to the massacre of our own race by refusing to contain our carbon footprint.

clean air moms, RAA, REINS Act

Since having children, I have become an active and vocal advocate for a better world for my children. I want a place where they can live long, healthy and happy lives. Therefore, I am 100% against government throwing up roadblocks at every turn that make it easier for our children to live in an unhealthy world. As a mom, it is my job to keep my kids healthy and if that means fighting for better laws or against bad laws to protect our children, I will.

But it goes beyond just teaching my kids to behave responsibly with their own carbon footprint. While that’s definitely a start in the right direction. I don’t have the luxury of just teaching my children to conserve electricity and water or to recycle, though we do all of those things and more.

The damage is so far gone that I have to be aggressive in my plight to protect my children from the willfully ignorant, who refuse to believe that such things as global warming even exist even though the signs are all there; even when glaciers are melting faster than ever in history, coral is bleaching and natural weather disasters are at an all-time record high.

Maybe you’re thinking, I’m a mom. I’m super busy chasing babies and driving ungrateful little people all over God’s green earth. Yes, we all are. But, I know you want to do something. You don’t want to just sit around and wait for the planet to disappear before your very eyes. I can’t live with the thought that maybe my great grandkids don’t get to live on this earth. I have a responsibility to do something while I’m here. I want to leave a positive legacy for my children.

clean air moms, RAA, REINS Act

We rely on our government to ensure so much is safe: The food we eat. The air we breathe. The toys our children play with—and so much more. But right now, legislation is moving through Congress that guts the crucial federal safety protections we rely on to ensure that what surrounds us isn’t putting us in danger or making us sick leaving us and our children vulnerable.

Two pieces of legislation, in particular, the Regulatory Accountability Act and the REINS Act—are direct and radical threats to public health that have broad, overreaching consequences. They will render agencies incapable of implementing and enforcing commonsense safety laws that have broad public support taking away the little safety net we have in place.

The REINS Act would require Congressional approval of rules, effectively giving either branch of Congress or powerful lobbying groups, a “pocket veto” on safeguards. Meaning the person with the most power makes all the rules. It may not necessarily have anything to do with what’s right, fair or best for our planet or our children.

The Regulatory Accountability Act (RAA) would create hurdles to rulemaking similar to the one that kept America from banning asbestos. These dangerous bills have either already passed the House (RAA) or were placed on Senate Legislative Calendar in just recent weeks (REINS).

clean air moms, RAA, REINS Act

Why You Should Care

It’s not political, it’s a matter of safety – these “reforms” will have a broad impact in hampering regulations in a number of areas, all of which pose a danger to our families. For example:

Halloween: Do you know what kind of toxins and chemicals are lurking in Halloween makeup and costumes? Do you know what’s in your kid’s candy?  Is it scary to think that any safety regulations that currently exist may be gone?

Food safety: The RAA would make it difficult or impossible to enforce standards and keep the food in our kids’ lunch boxes safe. Efforts that have been put into place to label for allergens, reduce sodium, eliminate trans fats, remove arsenic and lead from baby food/juice, label GMOs, etc. are all on the chopping block.

Product safety: These bills would undermine product safety for nearly every item our children interact with by stalling or killing future protections

School safety: From asbestos in classrooms to lead in drinking water and even the safety of the school buses, the RAA and REINs Act would make it harder to keep our kids safe in school. Protections to safeguard our children from toxic chemicals would be difficult if impossible to implement under these bills.

Asbestos: “Asbestos, an issue that many of us thought to be resolved, continues to plague schools and pose a health threat in classrooms throughout the country.” If the school was built before 1980, it likely contains some. Do you know if your school has it? https://www.momscleanairforce.org/asbestos-schools/ 

Dirty air and water: The rise of asthma and other respiratory diseases are drastically increased by air pollution. These bills would make it harder to keep our air and water clean.

Asthma: One in 10 US children has asthma, the most common chronic disease of childhood. Have air pollutants triggered an asthma attack for you or your child?

In fact, everyone in my family has seasonal allergies so it made me start to wonder if maybe something inside the house is off. Maybe they’re not seasonal, maybe there is something in our home making us all sick too.

Did you know that indoor allergens like dust mites, pet dander and molds are actually a cause for concern because not only do they affect allergy and asthma symptoms, they are present all year long in your own home and they only get worse when we are stuck indoors during the winter months?

With this in mind, anyone that’s allergy prone should be monitoring their indoor air quality year-round to make sure they can breathe easier. We’ve started using the Awair Air Quality Monitor. It’s the perfect solution, it allows us to keep track of dust, VOC levels and other toxins and chemicals in the air via the companion app, enabling us to make changes to our air quality and reduce indoor allergens. Think of it as a Fitbit for your air quality. It’s a small thing but it helps me to help my family in our own home.

Car safety: Would you know what to do if locked in the trunk of a car? Thanks to one survivor there is a glow in the dark safety pull inside trunks now, but this lifesaving consumer protection is now in jeopardy.

Toy/product safety: What would it mean if there were no protections in place making the toys, products like pacifiers and sippy cups, or furniture you buy for your family safe?

All of these things and more could be at risk of no longer being required and that would put our children in serious danger.

How We Can Stop It

Here’s how you and me and you (and you too, over there acting all shy in the corner) can make a difference. Mobilize to take action against the RAA & REINS Act by emailing your members of Congress via the click-to-email tool on cleanairmomsaction.org . That’s it. It takes a few minutes, even a busy mom can spare that for something so important.

For more information on how you can help protect your children, you can visit the Clean Air Moms website, Facebook page, Twitter page,  Instagram and YouTube page.

*The Awair Air Quality Monitor is not being recommended by CAMA it’s just a product I love.

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The True Story behind my Ghost Photo

Ever wonder how to catch a ghost in a photo? I know some people do. People want proof of the supernatural. I’ve seen some really cool ones of shadowy figures,  legless confederate soldiers floating in a field and orbs but never anything like the one I caught in my photo of my toddler.

It seems like everyone these days have been touched by the supernatural. We live in a world where people enjoy having the piss scared out of them but ghost stories have never much scared me. Zombies are laughable, Vampires are a sexy fetish and werewolves are just big hairy dogs with bad attitudes.

Ghosts are snapshots of the past caught in a loop. Someone dies so suddenly that they don’t realize it and they get stuck but I don’t bother them and they don’t care about me. It’s the same way I think about aliens; maybe they’re out there but I don’t care. I’m not afraid. Life’s too short. I have real living breathing people problems to fixate on like Trump or crazed mass shooters. Who has time to look for ghosts?

I myself am a longtime lover of the horror genre. I watched my first horror movie in the theater when I was 7-years-old. My aunt and Uncle took my 5-year-old brother and I to see it with them. It was a baby swap. They swapped their newborn for the two of us. From then on, I got all my horror books and movies from my 16-year-old aunt. I loved it.

Not only did I watch the Exorcist when I was a kid, I even read the book. I devoured Stephen King. I watched every horror movie I could. They didn’t scare me so much as they intrigued me, with the exception of the Exorcist.

I’m Catholic, I was raised to believe in that shit so that one still scares me. The rest of it, it thrills me but no fear here. Hell, I may have even wished and tried to have telekinesis as a child, like Carrie. I’d totally endure pig blood prom to be able to move shit with my mind. But normally, I don’t believe in what’s not real. However, I may have been made into a believer at my last house.

Now, let me preface this by saying that our house was a new build. I’m leery about old houses because…hello, someone has definitely died in almost every old house. It’s inevitable. But this was a new build. Apparently, I clearly forgot about the Poltergeist loophole. Obviously, having children left me vulnerable and not on my haunted game.

When we lived in that house, the girls were really small. We bought the house when Bella was 5 months old; Gabi was born while we lived there. We live there until Bella was 6.

From the time we moved in, we had lights flicker and our ceiling fan light would come on by itself in the middle of the night. In our previous house (also a new build) stereos and lights would come on in the middle of the night too. The Big Guy always rational would make it all make sense to my superstitious mind.

I was exhausted from babies and the Big Guy would tell me that it was just probably some neighbor who had the same remote and it flipped our lights on. It never dawned on me to question why the hell the neighbor was waking up at 3 a.m. flipping on all the damn lights. I’d snuggle back into my co-sleeping baby and forget about it.

When the girls were about 2 and 4-years-old, the Big Guy had to go live in another state to work so that left me alone with the girls. No coincidence, this is also when I started my blog.

I’d stay up late at night writing and I’d always turn to the hallway where our bedrooms were because I kept catching glimpses of a little girl standing in the hall. I thought it was my girls. And every time, I would walk to the hallway and then enter the bedrooms and my girls were sleeping. They were never in the hallway. NEVER.

I remember having 2 am writing sessions where all the hair would stand up on my neck and I’d get the chills. I just assumed that my body was boycotting my insomniac self. You know how that happens sometimes. Your body gives you a big F you because it needs sleep.

Then there was the time my brothers and the Big Guy were in our media room in the basement late one-night playing video games. When it came time to shut it all down and all the lights were off, all 3 of them saw a red light moving around the room. There was no source. They checked. Again, the Big Guy reasoned it away. My little brother would never spend the night at my house after that.

When Gabs was old enough to stand, we’d catch her in her room sometimes standing in her crib jibber jabbing to the corner. Looking directly up into the corner like someone was there. It creeped me out, a lot but nothing really had happened. Maybe I was just being my usual superstitious Latina self. So, I crossed myself and pretended it wasn’t happening and it was all in my mind.

I’d bring it up to the Big Guy but every single time, his rational engineering mind would say it wasn’t so. In retrospect, I think he was just trying to stop me from becoming all out, balls to the wall drama queen hysterical.

Then after about a year of this happening, one day Gabs comes running into the living room and tells me, “Mommy, Bella just told me…..” and I looked at her and said, “Gabs, Bella’s not here. Remember, Bella is at Kindergarten?”

She looked at me dead serious and said, “No, mommy. I was just playing with her in my room.”

There.was.no.one.in.the.room. I don’t know who the hell she was playing with, but it wasn’t my 5-year-old who was not in the building.

That one freaked me out. Still, nothing tangible. Maybe a toddler with an overactive imagination. That’s good, right?

My husband was still living out of state 5-6 days a week. I was still alone. I had two little girls. I didn’t have time to be ghostbusting or looking for shit that wasn’t there. Plus, I believe that ghosts are snapshots. I’m not scared of some poor sucker that died so suddenly that they don’t realize that they’re gone and they can’t move on. I feel sorry for them. They don’t bother me. I don’t bother me. In case you were wondering about my policy on such things.

However, Exorcist scared the shit out of me. I still haven’t been able to watch The Conjuring again since the first time, when I couldn’t sleep for 2 weeks.

Then, one day my sweet toddler who was between 2-3 years old walked up to me while I was sitting in my kitchen chair. She was tiny, so I shot the photo at a down angle. No one else was in the room with us (that we could see).

When I saw the photo, a photo that she has still not seen and probably never will, I literally almost passed out. I legit freaked out like nothing before. My first instinct was that OMG, my husband was in an accident and died or something and this was his spirit…on a loop.

I frantically called my husband, in another state, but no answer which only intensified my belief that something terrible had happened to him. 5 hours later when I finally reached him ( he had been in meetings all day) I sent him the picture, to which he replied, “Gabs looks adorable!”

To which I responded, “Look next to her at.the.disembodied.head!!!!!!!”

Luckily, he was on his way home. I didn’t know what to do. You know that instinct you have set the house on fire and burn it down when you find a monster spider? Well, times that times a million and that’s how I felt. I felt invaded and vulnerable and scared. Was it trying to make contact? Had it already made contact with my baby? Was that who she was talking to?

And then, I learned to live with it. Many people have asked me why didn’t you leave the house. My answer is this, because I couldn’t. My husband lived in a tiny apartment in Iowa at a contracted job. The kids had school and commitments. I had commitments. We had friends and a life. I couldn’t let it all be toppled by a head that photobombed my baby. Right?

It was always in the back of my head. I got used to knowing that something that I couldn’t see but could feel was there. All those “probably nothing” moments became something but I had to choose to not live my life afraid. I had to put my money where my mouth was and not be afraid of ghosts.

I still don’t know who or what was in my house. I never tried to make contact. I’ve watched enough horror movies in my life to know better than to open a gateway of communication. It never bothered us, other than lights coming on and photobombing us this once.

I also stopped watching all of those paranormal investigation shows because, honestly, activity seemed to pick up around Halloween when we’d watch those shows. Maybe it was a coincidence but the first time the radio came on by itself blaring at 3 a.m., it was Halloween night.

We lived there for 2 more years, just me, the girls and our ghost. Yep, I was scared. Nope, I didn’t sleep but we survived. And hell yeah, capturing a ghost in a picture is a lot scarier and a lot less cool than one might think, especially when it is in your own house.

What would you have done if you snapped that photo in your house? Have you ever had a similar situation? What did you do? Please don’t share your opinion that spirits can attach to people, I’m trying to ignore the sound of someone walking around upstairs. I choose to believe it’s my old house settling.

 

P.S. If you know my Gabs, never speak of this photo to her. She doesn’t know it exists and it would probably freak her out.

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the problem with little boys, misogynist, Harvey Weinstein, George Bush, little boys, rape culture

The problem with little boys is that society grooms them to grow up to be misogynistic men or rather we don’t do anything to prevent it from happening. We’re so busy teaching girls to protect themselves while living in a rape culture world that we totally (for the most part…not everybody…not you) take it for granted that boys will just know to respect girls, wait for consent and be decent. Not tell dirty jokes, grab women or use their power and leverage to, literally and figuratively, have their way with women.

Can you believe that I heard the radio DJ this morning saying, “He’s old. It was probably harmless. He comes from a different generation.”

WTF? NOPE! Sexual harassment is sexual harassment, no exceptions. Why do we always err on the side of men when they do something stupid? Why do we always choose to believe that they didn’t mean it?

The problems with little boys might just be us…wait, I did it again.#ViciousCycle

The thing is we’ve hit that strange period in parenting where boys are noticing my girls. Wait! What? Yes, apparently, my girl had her first boy “ask her out”. I know this because I heard it as she mentioned it matter a factly when she told me what she had for lunch that day.

Wait! I gotta get the baby book. Right? I mean, this is a milestone. It’s not a tooth or a first word but I think it’s a pretty important first. It was last Thursday (10/19/17)…that was for me, not you (baby book b*tches). Tawanda!

Suddenly, I find myself approaching the conversation like she is a puppy off its leash and if I speak too loudly she might run off into oncoming traffic and SQUISH! But I want to know more. I want to know everything but she can’t know I want to know everything or…you got it…SQUISH!

It takes me 3 random, nonchalant conversations to figure out what “asked me out” means to a 12-year-old these days. Turns out, it’s what we used to call flirting. Remember “Notes”? Basically, if a 12-year-old boy asks a 12-year-old girl “out” he’s letting her know officially that he likes her and maybe he wants to text her or communicate via a barrage of Music.ly messages. It’s a tween boy letting you know he’s interested and wants to get to know you better for one reason or another. But we are not quite there yet.

I ask my daughter what she said when he “asked her out”. Her exact response was, *Laugh in shock as if he just asked her if she still wore diapers (that’s my impression of what she showed me) and then she said, “Uh…NO!” Pretty much as if he asked her if she’d like to share a shit sandwich for lunch.

Now, I’ve always taught my girls to not be cruel to other children. I’ve even asked the girls to please not be mean to boys who like them. Let them down easy. Say things like, “Thank you but no” or, “I’m flattered but I’m not interested in you in that way.”

WAIT! What the fuck did I just say? Worst f*cking feminist ever*

Holy shit! I’m part of the problem with little boys!

Why do I give a flying flip about some boy’s feelings? Boys who don’t learn what consent is and think raping girls who are drunk or ruffie-ing co-eds is okay. I don’t.

I don’t care about their fragile egos. Not one bit. Because believe you me, if it’s between some strange boy’s feeling and my daughter’s safety…I don’t give a damn about your son.

See, I thought I was doing something good. I was thinking of all little boys and men as the Big Guy but they’re not. The thought of some mean girl laughing in the Big Guy’s face when he was going through his 12-inch growth spurts and looking like some kind of praying mantis creature in his tweens broke my heart. But I’m not his mama. I am my daughters’ mom in a world that treats women like they are disposable. There are a lot of creepers and misogynists out there and I don’t care about them or their imaginary right to every woman’s body.

I’ve spent the last few years consciously uncoupling with the word “SORRY”. My parents raised kind, thoughtful, well-mannered children. We were taught to say Please, Thank you, excuse me and I’m sorry.

F*ck “I’m sorry.” Sorry is appropriate when someone dies. Sorry is appropriate when you make a mistake and want forgiveness. Sorry is not for when you have to ask someone to pay you what they owe you (money and respect) or when you aren’t interested in someone in “that way.”  That causes confusion and leaves them with a glimmer of hope. Nope, sorry about your feelings boy I don’t know but I want my daughter to be strong, solid and uncompromising in her NO to you. I don’t want her to be unnecessarily cruel but NO is not cruel, it is honest and no is no! SQUISH!

I really thought that if I taught my girls to be kind with their rejections, it would save some other mom’s daughter from getting the guy who had his heart broken and his ego smashed. We’ve all dated the guy who dated some crazy broad before us and it’s not fun but it’s not my daughter’s responsibility to protect your son from ever feeling bad about himself. Make better choices. She’s not the world boy feelings police and neither am I.

So while boys are on the approaching horizon sooner than later, politeness needs to be thrown out the window. I want my girls to say, “NO” loud and proud like they mean it. I want it to ring out and register like a rape whistle. Maybe that way, these little boys will get the meaning that no means no, in no uncertain terms.

Polite, demureness will get you raped and killed in a world where boys are taught that consent is a moving target. If it’s not a hell yes, it’s a no, boys.

See the real problem is not little boys at all but the misogynistic men they are allowed to grow into in a world where men are king and women are expendable collateral damage.

Let’ start by teaching our little boys to respect our little girls and then go from there. The opportunity for change is now, as grown women we can fight back against the oppression that we have lived in. We can name our assailants and call them out for their crimes. I encourage it. Every damn transgression, if you can. If you want to.

But more importantly, let’s try to stop that from being our daughter’s reality. Maybe she won’t have to fight for her right to exist as a woman, a real live human being who deserves equality and respect and is more than the sum total of her female parts.

 

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Me Too, Women's Rights, Sexual Abuse, Sexual Harassment, Harvey Weinstein, #MeToo, Me too

As I raise my hand to claim “me too”,  I’m faced with a society asking who is to blame for the Weinstein situation? Obviously, Harvey Weinstein is a piece of shit and is to blame for his own actions but what about the society we live in that feels it’s okay to objectify little girls and rape women with no ramifications? How do we expect our girls to be safe when we let our boys get away with sexual harassment simply because someone in history said “boys will be boys” and that means girls need to live on the defensive while boys just get to live. When do women get to be people too?  Are you angry and done with this attitude?

Me too!

Last night, there was a call for women to set their statuses to #MeToo if they have ever been sexually assaulted or harassed. I don’t know a single woman who didn’t set her status to Me Too! It made me sad. It made me mad and it made me feel not alone but utterly shattered that I am not the minority because what does that mean for my girls? Who is protecting our girls?

Sexual harassment is a disease and we apparently all have it. It’s like the moment you were born with a vagina, you were assured that you were going to be assaulted. Thankfully, they don’t tell you that or many of us would have looked for a way out a long time ago or our mothers would have mercifully drowned us at birth.

We live in a society that grooms women to be victims. We don’t intentionally let these horrific things happen to us. Women live a society that has completely failed us. We are taught that creepy guys are just misunderstood but harmless. We give them the benefit of the doubt because it was only a dick pic, it wasn’t his actual dick in my face. But wasn’t it? Weren’t you just as violated? The only thing missing was the imminent fear that his dick would be in y our body.

We live in a world where we are taught from a very young age to live on the defensive. It’s our job not to get raped or be abused by a sexual predator. It’s our responsibility to make sure that we keep ourselves hidden away and safe from men and their “natural” urges. We are taught to walk a little faster, cover up, not enjoy sex and steer clear of any situation that might put us in danger which boils down to our sheer existence.

It’s not all men though. My husband was appalled when I talked to him about this situation. But he also has no understanding of what it is like to be a woman. How lucky he is. How nice it is to be able to live a life where you can walk down the streets and never worry about someone attacking you from behind, pulling you behind the bushes and raping you.

What a utopia it must be to live in a world where no one will ever corner you in a room and threaten to have his way with you. No one will ever break into your apartment while you sleep and take what is not his.

The first time I can remember being assaulted, I was 4-years-old, a little boy in my kindergarten class wanted to steal a kiss under the parachute during gym class. It may sound innocent and sweet but I didn’t want it. He took what was mine without asking. I cried. I was mad. I told on him. The gym teacher laughed, “Awww, Debbie he likes you. Boys will be boys.” Nothing was said to him. The onus fell on me. That was it. It was my problem. Get over it. That began a lifetime of knowing that the responsibility fell on me to protect myself and if something bad happened to me, then I must not have done a good enough job.

A few of my Me Too Moments

When I was 7-years-old, a teenaged boy (a family friend) repeatedly groped me at a family party and told me if I ever told anyone they would blame me for being such a “slut”.

In 4th grade, Andre pushed himself against me and kissed me hard, just as everyone was walking into the classroom after recess. Everyone saw, so not only did he take what he wasn’t given permission to take, he embarrassed me in front of the entire class. The teacher and all the students laughed. What could I do?

In 6th school, my art teacher used to come over when I was working on a project and take his hand and massage my neck while telling me how “spectacular” my artwork was. He was a grown man and his hands always found their way to my breast buds. I pulled forward to escape his grip, he grabbed me harder. This was done almost every art class for 3 years.

In 7th grade, walking home through a field, a high school boy exposed himself to my friend and I. We were in shock. We were terrified. He thought it was hilarious. I never wanted to walk home again.

When I was 18, working at a retail chain and the security guys called me back into the security room. I thought they needed a female employee as a witness as they questioned a suspected female shoplifter because that was protocol. Instead, when I got back there at 9 at night, when we were working on a skeleton crew, the two grown men, locked the door and started making comments on how I looked in my uniform. They told me that they liked watching me on the cameras and told me to my face, as they laughed, “You know we could do anything we wanted to you in here and no one would even hear us.” I was trembling I was so terrified.

Once, I was visiting a friend and I’d met a guy who was visiting her boyfriend, after a night of drinking and hanging out, I woke up to feel him pressed up against me and kissing me. I pushed him off but by the time I had woken up, he’d already been touching my body. I don’t know for how long, I was passed out. But I didn’t do anything about it because I felt partially responsible because earlier that night I had smiled when he sang a song to me. Even though there was no consent and no making out before I passed out, I felt responsible for letting myself get into this vulnerable position because that is how this society has conditioned women to believe. If we are assaulted, we must have done something to encourage it.

Or the time I was at a frat party and a group of brothers from another university came to the party. I was a little sister at the fraternity, so I was comfortable and even felt safe at the house. A cute walkout started talking to me and one thing led to another, the flirting was in high gear and then in the middle of a room full of people, he pushed my head into his lap. I was drinking but that sobered me up immediately. I felt vulnerable, threatened (in a room full of guys) and angry. Luckily, the president of the frat (a friend of mine) saw the whole thing happen and literally, kicked the guy out of the house. Of course, then he spent the night “comforting” me. I let him because I felt like I owed him. I didn’t want his advances but it felt safer than some stranger shoving my face in his crotch and becoming an unwilling participant in a gang rape.

Then there was the time I was at a college bar with my friends and the star basketball player came up behind me and started grinding on me. I gently moved away. He followed in pursuit. Then he came in front of me, grabbed me by my ass and lifted me up around his waist and started trying to kiss me. No one did anything. I was terrified. I didn’t want his advances. I did not invite him to do any of this. I was minding my own business. No one helped me. I wiggled myself out of his grip and ran out of the bar. When a friend found me outside, she did not care if I was alright or if I was shaken. Her question was, “Don’t you know who that was?”

How about the time I was at a cop party with my friend and a married cop tried to make advances towards me and when I said no because he was married (and I wasn’t interested) he told me that I should think twice before driving alone in his city ever again because he could pull me over late at night on a dark road and it wouldn’t matter if I was interested or not.

Or the time I broke up with a boyfriend, I hadn’t had sex with because I was still a virgin. He had spent the entire time we were dating dry humping me, slowly trying to expose himself. I felt like he was a child that I had to keep telling no. He was much bigger than me. I always felt threatened. He saw me out after we broke up and said he wanted to talk to me in private and apologize for being a jerk when we broke up. I was naïve, I went to his car with him. He exposed himself to me and said, “Try it. You’ll like it.” If I wouldn’t have pulled my knee up and hit him in the groin, he would have raped me and he thought he was doing me a favor. As I got out of the car and ran, he screamed after me, “Slut! Cock tease!”

I am sad angry and even in recounting these events (and there are so many more and so many worse that I can’t bring myself to share with you yet) I feel helpless, ashamed and on the verge of having a full out sob fest, right here in fucking Starbucks and that makes me unbelievably mad.

I’m trying to use my words but the problem is that I’m angry and I’m sick of the world giving men hall passes for rape, attempted rape, pressing up against women on the train, grabbing their breasts in a club, forcing themselves in so many ways big and small and society acting like it’s a victimless crime. I could go on for pages listing all the different times I’ve been accosted to one degree or another but I can’t because I’d probably go on forever.

Sometimes were worse than others. Sometimes things went further than I wanted them to go but I never felt like I could do anything about it because the truth is that no matter how good, bad, drunk, sober, promiscuous or frigid you are, if you are a woman, you have been made to feel vulnerable and unsafe in your lifetime. It’s the reality of being born with a vagina.

We don’t have to do anything to precipitate an attack, they just happen and we just have to learn to live with it. But this is bullshit. I don’t want my daughters to feel this shame and vulnerability or fear of living in a world where women are treated like inanimate holes put on this earth solely for men’s pleasure. Why do we have to be cautious and careful before doing everything? Even a girl in a beige cardigan who did nothing to encourage her attacker’s advances still got raped, left like garbage on the side of a dumpster.

That’s what society does, it makes men feel like they are entitled to everything and makes women feel like they are of no more value than garbage. I stand with all other women, in saying ME TOO! Over and over again. I knew it was wrong. I said no. I told people but still, the assailant prevailed because he had a penis and I was only armed with a vagina. In society, that makes me the one at fault.

Well, now I’m saying NO MORE! Every woman should say no more. No more fucking excuses. No more touching without asking. No more boys will be boys. No more taking what’s not yours.  And no more looking the other way. If you see something, say something. We have to protect one another because if we don’t we all fall victim. It’s happened to all of us. Do we want it to happen to our daughters?

Whatever we wear, wherever we go, yes means yes and no means no. Let’s teach that instead of Boys will be boys.

What was your Me Too moment?

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Eminem, Marshall Mathers, BET Awards, Donald Trump

Marshall Mathers, rapper Eminem, tore into President Donald Trump during a ferocious acapella freestyle titled “The Storm” at the BET Hip Hop Awards on Tuesday. Eminem opened the four-minute tirade with a reference to Trump’s ridiculous “calm before the storm” wisecrack before tearing Trump apart over immigration, corruption, white supremacy, the NFL, gun control, environmental disasters and all the other BS he’s done since taking office.

Eminem is my hero and The Storm is my anthem.

Like so many Americans, Eminem is tired of watching silently as our country is being torn down and ripped apart at the seams. Those of us who see the irreparable damage that is being done to our citizens, our country and our reputation have been trying to find a way to make our voices heard.

We protest. We take knees. We stand up. We yell though it feels like into the abyss. I have used my venue and my voice first to convince my fellow citizens to never allow this ill-equipped and unqualified man to run our country. When he became our president, I weeped and became despondent because how could those of us who knew, history and politics, allow those of you who don’t to make such a dire choice? I felt like I failed in educating you.

Eminem, Marshall Mathers, BET Awards, Donald Trump

Then, I was angry because we were strapped in and on this ride for the next four years. I no longer yelled because yelling fell on deaf ears. I tried to respectfully, point out the issues. I feel it’s my responsibility to myself to make sure that the world keeps its eyes open. I feel it is my responsibility as a mother to fight for a better world for my children.

I changed my plan for change, how I would go about it but every single one of us who is watching with a functional brain, a loving heart and the belief in human equality and true democracy feels the frustration and angst bubbling beneath the surface about to boil over.

Eminem, The Storm, Marshall Mathers, BET Awards, Donald Trump

Every word Eminem spoke was the truth.

I am not one to go about change by cracking jokes at the expense of our president. Even though I detest the man and his lack of experience, the way he is heading us straight for civil and nuclear war, I refuse to mock the office he holds because I do believe in democracy. I believe in America but the America we are living in today since Trump took office, is one of discord and hatred. We are hated from afar and we are hated from within.

 

I’ve felt for a long time that the president is playing a game of shells.He’s got us debating semantics when children are dying because we’d rather have our guns than our people. While we are busy looking over “there” he is doing something twice as horrid over “here.” The news covers his tweets but what about his lack of compassion for the people of Puerto Rico, the wall he’s building to keep Mexico out, a fight he picked with the NFL over men taking a knee for equality when he allowed KKK clansmen to run a woman over because they had a permit. He is saying and doing things that could very well lead to our demise as a people and as a country. Why is he inciting a nuclear war by playing chicken with a lunatic? Is his ego so big that he’d risk all of our lives?

Do you think Eminem went too far or are you balling up a fist?

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cancer, cervical biopsy, when cancer's on the table, waiting for biopsy results, FemiLift, vaginal lift, pap smear, cervix, xanax, miscarriage

I’ve been waiting. For months, I have been waiting. I had a health episode last February, one that scared me. I thought I had a heart attack. It happened shortly after the inauguration. There was an incident where they were detaining Mexicans coming back to the United States thru O’Hare. That’s our home airport. My father is retired and spends time in Mexico. I didn’t think it phased me but then boom.

I’m not sure what happened that day but I read the news on my phone and the next moment it felt like my heart burst (and not in a good way) and then I got all tingly.  I thought for sure, I was dying. Then I took my blood pressure and it was 187/107. I don’t know about you but that is really high for me.

Long story short, after an EKG, ECG and total blood panel work up my heart was fine but maybe my blood pressure was an issue, I found out that I was “prediabetic” or “diabetic untreated” as my paperwork said and I found out that I was severely anemic. So anemic, in fact, that I was almost to the point of needing a transfusion. I’ve been silently terrified for months. I always feel like if I talk about these things I’m tempting someone or something to intervene and not in a good way. Probably a byproduct of all those years in a childhood of “I can give you something to cry about.” No thank you.

Two weeks ago, I went back to see my doctor for some follow-up. Good news is I am no longer “prediabetic” or “diabetic untreated”. I’m also no longer anemic. And it turns out that I probably have white coat syndrome, even though my brother-in-law and one of my best friends are doctors. Blood pressure meds made my blood pressure bottom out. Basically, a couple Thursdays ago, I wanted to shout from the rooftops. I. AM.HEALTHY!

But if you know me… at all, you know, that’s not how I work. I am convinced the minute that I get happy, karma is going to come in and snatch it all away. It’s the way nature keeps me humble. I quietly told my family and every so often yelled, “I’m not diabetic” with a super cheesy smile at my daughters like I won the lottery. Yes, they think I am insane. But I never said it out loud to the universe for fear the other foot would drop.

Then last Wednesday, I went to see my Gynecologist. After all, it’s October. What better time to get my mammogram on, share my selfie and promote breast cancer awareness…plus, it fell perfectly into my monthly cycle.  Only, I get sort of terrified ever since that time in 2012 that I went to see my ob/gyn and she told me that my baby’s heart wasn’t beating.  Yeah, shit like that tends to give me PTSD. To be honest, every single time I go there, I’m afraid she’s going to give me bad news. It’s like, in my mind, she is the grim reaper. Though logically I know she’s not. In fact, I like her as a person that’s why I keep going back.

Anyways, around my birthday I get all, “get your ducks in a row bish” and I go see all my doctors. I got my mammogram, as I do every year. I always get freaked out that they’re going to tell me bad news. Remember they haven’t always worked so well. They tend to be more for looks than function, apparently but I found out Friday that my mammogram was good. No problems. Woohoo! Again I wanted to tell you, but…other foot.

While I was there and getting the usual pap, things went a little weird, thanks to 3 little fibroids (one for each pregnancy). Only they are not so little and they are causing some issues. Nothing big, just enough to be a nuisance. Enough to definitely give me an abnormal Pap. So, I got a surprise biopsy. Have I ever told you how much I hate the surprises I get at doctors’ offices? Surprise…no heartbeat. Surprise…biopsy of your cervix.

When cancer‘s on the table things get real.

It all happened so fast, I really don’t remember much of what she said. I do know that biopsies are usually done to diagnose cancer. I also can tell you that when you aren’t expecting them, they hurt. Don’t believe that “it’ll just be a little pinch bullshit.” It was more than a pinch but better to get a “pinch” than living with undiagnosed cancer. I want to live. Even saying the word feels like I should spit to avoid the evil eye.

I have a deep cervix and me and that damn super-sized speculum are well-acquainted. I’ve given birth to two big-headed babies. I’ve had gallbladder attacks, broke the shit out of my leg and had cells scraped from the roof of my mouth and I can tell you, while it was no gallbladder attack a cervical biopsy is no freaking pinch. If you ever have to get one, definitely get it but take some ibuprofen or ask for a local beforehand. It felt like she took a tiny melon baller to my cervix and it was not the surprise I wanted to have when I’m naked from the waist down. Why is it never, “Surprise you are my 1millionth Pap and you just won 1 million dollars and you are going to Disney World!”? Why ? I could get into that kind of surprise.

My doctor told me she was just doing it as a precaution since I was spotting during the Pap. Ladies, you know, bleeding of any kind during a pap can cause it to come back abnormal. She did the biopsy just to make sure that even if the pap came back abnormal she could rule out cancer. Then she said, “It’s the fibroids, Debi. I’m almost sure of it.”

Other foot.

Don’t’ get cocky lady. Last time I got cocky and thought it was “nothing”, I left your office with a baby with no heartbeat and I howled like a dying animal in the parking lot and I haven’t been the same since.

I’ve been waiting. To be such a damn amazing procrastinator, I am a horrible waiter. I’ve been imagining all of the awful scenarios. Cervical cancer. Uterine cancer. Endometrial cancer. Cancer. Cancer. Cancer. Have I mentioned everyone I’ve ever known that had a female reproductive part cancer died? I am terrified.

Missing my daughters grow up. Missing first confirmations. Missing the quinces. Missing graduations. Missing college. Missing first loves. Missing the big loves. Missing their weddings. Missing grandbabies. Missing being there just to hear them talk when they needed me to listen. Mentally messing them up forever because I wasn’t there when they needed me most.

Current status: I’m living in a Xanax induced fog praying the days go by quickly and willing myself not to cry like a giant baby. I’m calling every few hours and I’m trying not to live in that deep, dark howling hole. I’m being a real pain in my doctor’s ass because I need to know. I told y’all I’m a bootstrapper so if there’s an issue ( God, I hope there isn’t) then I want to start working to fix it and if there isn’t, I want to announce it to the world. Either way, when cancer is on the table, even just as a precaution and I know cancer is technically always on the table, but to have the biopsy makes it feel a little more tangible and I am freaked out. Like vomit, nauseous, cry for no reason panicky freaked out.

I’ve told y’all I’m a bootstrapper so if there’s an issue ( God, I hope there isn’t) then I want to start fighting it and if there isn’t, I want to announce it to the world. Either way, when cancer is on the table (even just as a precaution) and I know cancer is technically always on the table, but to have the biopsy makes it feel a little more tangible and I am freaked out. Like vomit, nauseous, cry for no reason panicky freaked out.

I called last night and they said that they had the results but my doctor wasn’t in and she needed to interpret them before they could give me the results which only made me more freaked out like there was something there and they wanted her to tell me. I’ve got my fingers, toes, and ovaries crossed that everything is good but I’m mentally preparing myself for whatever comes my way. I’ll be sure to update this post when I find out either way.

Have you ever had a biopsy or a health scare that terrified you? What did you do to get through the waiting?

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Marilou Danley, Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas, Route 91 country Music Festival, Stephen Paddock, Mass Shooting, Country Music Festival, Jason Aldean

At least 58 people were killed and more than 515 people were injured when a gunman, Stephen Paddock, opened fire on the Route 91 Harvest country music festival on the Las Vegas Strip Sunday night creating the largest mass shooting in U.S. history. He fired at the crowd from his room on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort. Country singer Jason Aldean was on stage when the shooting began and chaos ensued.

Trigger Warning: Some of the photos included in this post are very graphic.

How do we ever feel safe again with gun legislation that allows gunman like Stephen Paddock to just open his window at Las Vegas’ Mandalay Bay resort and open fire on a group of music festival goers like they were fish in a barrel? How is this the country we live in? This is the deadliest attack on U.S. soil since the attacks on New York and Washington, D.C. of September 11, 2001.

Marilou Danley, Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas, Route 91 country Music Festival, Stephen Paddock, Mass Shooting, Country Music Festival, Jason Aldean

64-year-old, Stephen Paddock fired shots from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel and killed at least 58 people (as of now) and injured more than 515 people. It is the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.

Police used an explosive breach to break down the door to his hotel room, and Paddock killed himself. Police said Paddock was found dead with as many as 10 firearms. I’m not sad to say he killed himself but at the same time, I am so sick of these monsters being killed before we get any answers. I know in the grand scheme of things it doesn’t really matter why they did what they did, having that question answered will not change the outcome but at least maybe we could understand. Maybe we could try to make sense of it all.

Marilou Danley, Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas, Route 91 country Music Festival, Stephen Paddock, Mass Shooting, Country Music Festival, Jason Aldean

Another morning, another news story about some crazed lunatic taking his semiautomatic weapon and senselessly killing innocent people. It happens so often that not only are we becoming accustomed to it, we expect it. We fear it but it’s our new reality and we live in a world where we know every single day might be our last.

I don’t accept this. I am angry. I am outraged. I am pissed off. Just last week, we took our daughters to a concert. This can happen anywhere. Do you understand, we.took.our.daughters???

Marilou Danley, Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas, Route 91 country Music Festival, Stephen Paddock, Mass Shooting, Country Music Festival, Jason Aldean

So to break it down for you in parenting today, you can keep your children in a bubble and be labeled a “helicopter mom” with all the negative connotations that come with it. Or you can be cool and just go about life like it’s normal that sometimes people get gunned down at movie theaters, concerts, and school for no good goddamn reason. I can’t take it.

It’s too heavy. This responsibility of raising kids and keeping them alive when so many random acts of violence just keep happening. How are we supposed to do it? How are we unarmed with nothing but our unconditional, never-ending love for our children supposed to protect them from the boogie man that lurks right beneath our noses…the neighbor next door, the kid who delivers your newspaper, the old guy who hands out hard candy for Halloween or the shy, quiet kid who stays to himself at school and even though your kid goes out of their way to be friendly and inclusive, because that’s what we’ve taught our kids to do ( though I’m not even sure anymore if it’s to be kind or just as a defense mechanism, last-ditch effort to stay off the shit list) so maybe when that freak comes to school with his semiautomatic weapon he’ll remember somewhere in his broken brain that YOUR KID didn’t laugh at him.

Marilou Danley, Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas, Route 91 country Music Festival, Stephen Paddock, Mass Shooting, Country Music Festival, Jason Aldean

I can’t take it. Politicians talk about gun control like it’s just another political discussion, like taxes or health care, but it’s life or death. You are deciding that in order to get the votes, it’s ok to let maniacs have semiautomatic weapons…or firearms at all. If you’ve got problems and you hate someone, why can’t we live in a world where you have to get up close and personal and use your hands, face-to-face, not like a coward shooting from atop your tower at unsuspecting people?

I am sick to death of the NRA and all the other groups arguing for their right to bear arms. Read the constitution you morons, it was written in a time when the American people had no strong army and had to be ready to organize into a militia to fight and protect against the British army. We have a full military in place now and the need for Stephen Paddock, Adam Lanza, James Holmes, Omar Mateen, Seung Hui Cho, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold and so many more to have ready access to weapons does not exist.

When I think of all the mothers and fathers who grew, raised and loved these children who have been killed (because yes, even adults are someone’s children) I can’t even swallow the lump in my throat is so big.

Marilou Danley,Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas, Route 91 country Music Festival, Stephen Paddock, Mass Shooting, Country Music Festival, Jason Aldean

I was talking to someone and they argued, “Well, the problem is that if you take away the right to bear arms the bad guys will still find a way to get them. The gang bangers and deviants will find a way to arm themselves.”

The thing is, while maybe this is true since there are so many guns already floating around the United States, do you really think this weirdo, average white men like Stephen Paddock, Adam Lanza, James Holmes, Eric Harris or Dylan Klebold would have the wherewithal to be able to find a gun runner? It’s not like that sort is hanging out with or even trusting these oddballs. Nope, these assholes are going to their local gun shows, Walmart or wherever the hell else it is that weird guys go to buy their guns…off the rack, like the rest of us go buy toothpaste.

Maybe new gun legislation wouldn’t stop all the gang violence and drive-bys but I bet it sure would slow down the frequency with which we see mass shootings by lone weirdos. Because yes, if you just hoard semi-automatic weapons and plan to go into a place of business, worship or anywhere people are congregating just to shoot and kill as many people as you can because you are sad or mad or whatever the hell else you are with the world because you’re pathetic, then yes, you are a lone weirdo. This is what you have chosen to be. There is no excuse for this behavior. We all have shit days; we don’t all go on mass shooting sprees.

Nevada has some of the loosest gun laws in the United States, and has no limitation on the number of guns that can be purchased at one time. It is legal to own, purchase, or sell machine guns there if the weapon was manufactured before 1986. The state has no law regulating large-capacity ammunition magazines, according to the Law Centre to Prevent Gun Violence.

You know, I keep asking myself when will it be enough? Who has to be killed that we collectively say, “Nope, that’s too far!” But I guess in the United States there is no such thing, after all, Adam Lanza killed a bunch of innocent kids and yet, Stephen Paddock was able to get his weapons, get them into the Mandalay Bay resort and go on a shooting spree from the comfort of his room like the coward he was. Once America decided killing children was bearable, the gun control debate was over. It’s like we allowed the most heinous thing in the world to happen and that still wasn’t enough to stop it. We got over it. There apparently is no rock bottom.

Maybe there needs to be a mandatory psych evaluation before anyone can buy a weapon beyond just a background check? I know for a fact that there are people who refuse mental health treatment for fear they will be labeled mentally ill and not be able to buy guns. So to recap, mentally ill people purposely forgo treatment so that they can still have access to weapons. Feel safer now?

How many moms have to bury their babies? How many dads have to get that news in the middle of the night? How many brothers, sisters, husbands, wives, sons, and daughters have to go on living with such a giant, senseless hole in their world?

My thoughts and prayers go out to all the people attending the Route 91 Harvest country music festival and their families, who have been irreparably damaged. I hope you can find some kind of peace again in this world. BUt we need a hell of a lot more than just thoughts and prayers to stop this sort of thing from happening again.

To those who fight so hard for the right to bear arms, your right to carry a weapon is systematically killing our children. Is the price worth the right?

 

Update: 4:07 p.m. More than 19 rifles were found in the hotel room of the gunman in the Las Vegas mass shooting, a law enforcement official confirmed, along with hundreds of rounds of ammunition.

Among the weapons authorities discovered were two rifles with scopes on tripods positioned in front of the two windows that had been broken out, a law enforcement official said.

 

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NLF,Donald Trump, Take a Knee, #TakeAKnee, Equality, lives matter

I’ve been trying to figure out what exactly I wanted to say about this NFL take a knee situation and Donald Trump’s condemnation of it. I can’t believe how divided the country has become over the NFL taking a knee.  Are we really so collectively ignorant that we don’t understand what it’s about? I mean what is so controversial about taking a knee in silent protest of the divisive racism that plagues our nation currently, always if we’re being honest, only more openly these days?

I say shut up and take a knee. In my world, it is the only thing to do. Unless you want to stand up and throat punch racists, bigots and misogynists all day long like some kind of throat punching righter of wrongs superhero. I suspect it would be a full-time job, especially in Trump’s America.

Let’s get some facts straight:

  • In the United States, we have the right to peaceful protest.
  • Nowhere in the constitution does it demand that we stand for the National Anthem and wouldn’t we be hypocrites if we did stand to respectfully salute a country that only protects and respects some of us. This is no reflection of our military, I am referring to the laws in this country that allows us to treat some people as less than.
  • We are “the people” of “we the people” and we have every right to demand that equality.
  • You can take a knee and 1000% support our military. The National Anthem is not a homage we pay to our service men before every national sporting event.
  • Donald Trump picked a fight because he is a bully and that’s what he does. Apparently, his social feeds were lacking in drama so he created some.

To me, this entire controversy is stupid because we should all be taking a knee to demand equality for all Americans. If you are standing, either you don’t understand why the knee is being taken or you are part of the problem. I honestly think every person in the United States who believes in equality should take a knee. We should do a national knee in and refuse to move until things change. I’ve got time. I can type in a kneeling position.

This morning I read a post in which the author said that the NFL is messing up. They are putting asunder what is already not divided, they are bucking up the system and in the process messing up what America is all about….football. She spoke of the one nation of football under God and I kind of wanted to puke.

According to her, its all kumbaya and rainbows in the stands but these damn, political football players with all their lofty dreams of equality and oneness are messing up her tailgating and football time. In her mind, the NFL players are part of the problem. They only need look into the stands to see that the country is united in football. Can’t we all just get along?

Firstly, this woman is part of the problem. Secondly, I was very recently in the stands and just like the United States, if you are sitting in the wrong section, it’s not so comfortable and united. It’s pretty fucking scary and intimidating. It’s like openly accepted prejudice. As a Latina woman, it felt the same as being the only minority in an all-white, male event.

Sure, it’s awesome if you’re part of the majority. For you, it’s all chicken wings and beer, extraneous high fives and lots of shouting. For the minority, the wrong person in the wrong place, wrong color at the wrong time, it is uncomfortable AF. There I stood, in the wrong section, rooting for the wrong team.

Aside from the expected normal rude, loud, obnoxious behavior that anyone tends to get being the minority anywhere, especially at an organized sporting event where alcohol is sold to fuel the fire, one particularly deranged fan took it even further and personally, tried to pick a fight with me by first accusing me of stealing his seat to then accusing me of stealing his water? I was pretty flabbergasted because a) I’m an adult b) I had the brains to buy 4 bottles of water in 100 degree temperature when I knew I was in row 1 and my out of shape, old-self wasn’t going to be making multiple trips up and down those stadium stairs and c) I.AM.GROWN !

Now, if I were a meeker woman this short, fat, balding loud man would have made me feel threatened and scared. As it were, he just really pissed me off and I was completely prepared to throw his ass over the railing and go to jail for it because I can no longer shut my mouth while some loud-mouthed white guy tries to intimidate me into shutting up and staying in line. That is the problem.

And this woman who says the NFL players only need to look to the stands, to their fans, to see the cohesiveness and unitedness of this great nation under God, well, that broad is delusional. She in particular needs to take a knee because she is the biggest part of the problem. She refuses to believe there is a problem because, for her, there is no problem. It must be nice to have the option to not see the problem because it does not affect you whatsoever but for those who it does, standing up for the National Anthem is not an option. We all need to take a collective knee to stand up for equality.

What is your opinion and why on the NFL players taking a knee?

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Netflix, Stefani Germanotta, Joanna, Lady Gaga, Gaga, Five Foot Two, Loss, Grief, miscarriage

Take my hand, stay Joanne
Heaven’s not ready for you
Every part of my aching heart
Needs you more than the angels do

 

Earlier this month, my Aunt died and suddenly, I was consumed with people and things that I had pushed down into the deepest recesses of my heart. I was stunned and shocked and it brought up all of these feelings of loss for me; from the life-changing loss of my own pregnancy to the close losses of my Uncle Ramon, my Uncle Narciso and then that took me down a rabbit hole of what ifs…what happens when my parents die. How will I survive? You survive by going on, putting one foot in front of the other and smiling when you feel like dying and wearing big sunglasses so no one sees the constant tears in your eyes.

I watched my uncle and his sons willing with everything inside of them to stay upright when all they wanted to do was collapse into that all too familiar, to me, fetal position on the floor. It’s been 5 years but I remember that feeling of utter hopelessness and unrecoverable loss that leaves you discombobulated and broken beyond repair like it was yesterday. All I could do was love them and try to be there to lean on.

Loss and grief are a bizarre thing. They can take any form they want at any time. I always refer to them as emotional time bombs but make no mistake, they can be absolutely nuclear on impact. One minute you are laughing at something funny you are remembering about the person you lost, then maybe you are smiling remembering their smile or the way they held your hand, then the next you are so angry that you want to punch the entire world in the throat and still in another you are overcome with sadness and emptiness realizing you will never hear them speak your name ever again and sometimes, that is too much to stay standing.

It’s bad enough when you are the one it’s happening to but it is so much worse, for me anyway, to helplessly watch as someone I love goes through it. All I want to do is make it better for them but I know from experience that the only way to truly get through it is to feel every single one of those feelings. It’s nature’s way of severing the tether in a slow, gradual way. Our minds can’t handle pure pain all at once. I remember feeling like I would surely break and yet, I survived. I am definitely scarred by each loss, some more than others, but they leave their mark.

 

If you could I know that you’d stay
We both know things don’t work that way
I promised I wouldn’t say goodbye
So I grin and my voice gets thin

Girl, where do you think you’re goin’?
Where do you think you’re goin’?
Goin’, girl?
Girl, where do you think you’re goin’?
Where do you think you’re goin’?
Goin’, girl?

 

I don’t normally find that any two losses are the same, not equal even to ourselves and they all manifest differently. Grieving is something so very personal. There is no right or wrong way to do it. We all just try to survive from one day to the next. The thing is it doesn’t just affect us. It has ripples and it changes everyone it touches.

Recently, I watched a documentary on Netflix, Gaga: Five foot Two and I felt a connection to her song, Joanne. I think by seeing the documentary and learning more about her life and the meaning behind the song, I could relate to her vulnerability in a way I never have before. I saw the woman, Stefani Germanotta, and not the icon Lady Gaga and honestly, I found her so endearing in her vulnerability.

Netflix, Stefani Germanotta, Joanna, Lady Gaga, Gaga, Five Foot Two, Loss, Grief, miscarriage

 

You know we tend to put up fences and build walls around ourselves to protect us from public scrutiny. I don’t just mean celebrities like Lady Gaga but each and every one of us. It’s human nature to preserve our most vulnerable parts. Mine’s always been more of a see-thru chain link that you can see what’s going on but still, I protect myself. That’s one of the reasons that I don’t do a lot of videos. You’ve read about my howling in pain and grief at the loss of my pregnancy but you never actually saw it because there’s a vulnerability even I can’t go to about some things.

Anyways, this documentary has me full of admiration for what Stefani Germanotta does and who she is in spite of however much pain she is suffering. She uses it to fuel her art. She is no one’s victim. She is honest, raw, funny and completely in love with her family and her fans. She’s a fierce and mighty woman and in her movie you see the sacrifices she makes for her art. She is a bootstrapper. This is something we share in common.

I have a theory that everybody in the world chooses to either be a victim and wallow in their circumstances or pull themselves up by their bootstraps and become stronger because of the hard parts. There is no such thing as try, we have to choose one or the other and do it. I refuse to lay down and give up; that’s not me. I don’t even know how to do that. I tried once. It didn’t take.

Netflix, Stefani Germanotta, Joanna, Lady Gaga, Gaga, Five Foot Two, Loss, Grief, miscarriage

 

I’ve been listening to Joanne almost constantly since seeing the documentary and it has become an anthem for strength for me. It’s about letting go, even when you don’t want to. It’s about the sadness and beauty in having had the chance to love someone, maybe even someone you never got the chance to properly meet, and the pain and vulnerability of maneuvering through those most painful moments in your life.

It’s about embracing that vulnerability, relinquishing control and giving yourself over to the acceptance of the pain of the loss. Swimming in the letting go, letting it wash over you like warm waves in the sunshine is the only way to become one with it. It’s the only way to survive it and it is beautiful and ugly and amazing and horrible all at the same time.

 

Honestly, I know where you’re goin’
And baby, you’re just movin’ on
And I after love you even if I can’t
See you anymore can’t wait to see you soar

Girl, where do you think you’re goin’?
Where do you think you’re goin’
Goin’, girl?
Girl, where do you think you’re goin’?
Where do you think you’re goin’
Goin’, girl?

 

Have you seen the Netflix documentary Gaga; Five Foot Two and if not, please do and tell me what you think in the comments.

Disclosure: I am a Netflix StreamTeam member but the above post about my new found admiration for Lady Gaga and my connection with the documentary Gaga: Five Feet Two and the album Joanne are all my own.

 

 

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Perfect Birthday Celebration Party Like it’s 1997

Yesterday was my birthday and it may have been the perfect birthday celebration. I know I’ve been MIA. I’ve been trying to live in the moments. Life’s been a little hectic, even more than usual if you can believe that.

Every year, I want to have a party and for 10 years, I’ve found some reason not to. Don’t get me wrong my family always does something to mark the occasion. The people I love, never let me forget that they are happy I’m alive and was born into this world. They give me a million reasons to be thankful and I am.

This year, to stick with my theme of overscheduling (which truly is one of my biggest problems), we planned on attending Purdue’s homecoming and the game on Saturday. You see, the Big Guy and I met our senior year at Purdue and this year (today, in fact)is the anniversary of our meeting one another so I thought we needed to go back and celebrate together as just Debi and The Big Guy, not Bella and Gabs’ mommy and daddy. It was like a trip back in time and it was absolutely wonderful despite the 100 degree unseasonably warm weather.

Sunday night, we headed to Indy to see Matchbox Twenty and Counting Crows in concert with our girls. It was nice because this is a tradition we started last year with our girls, an end of the summer outdoor concert. But it was also very special to the Big Guy and I because we saw Matchbox Twenty in concert at Purdue and there is a long, funny story about Counting Crows that I’ll save for another time. The thing is we spent a lot of those early years with Matchbox Twenty as part of the soundtrack to our life together. Again, the heat was nearly unbearable and we were exhausted from the day before (because we are not in our 20’s anymore) but it was magical to be in that moment together and with our girls.

Monday was my actual birthday but I was so freaking tired and the girls stayed home from school, so the annual day date the Big Guy and I usually have on my birthday got tossed out the window and traded instead for a day in our pajamas and watching horror movies on the couch with the Big Guy. I know it sounds boring and I’m probably showing my age but, I didn’t cook or clean or run anyone anywhere on Monday and that was just about as close to perfect as I could get on my birthday.

I needed a reset. I needed time to breathe and just be. This past weekend and week have given me just that. I needed to just be me for a day or two and just have a chance to regain my perspective and refocus on the positive. I think I’ve done that.

So, another year older and hopefully a year wiser. Thank you all so much for your support and love over the past 9 years and for all the amazing birthday wishes. They meant everything to me!

 

 

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