Popular Phrases That May Make Me Unpopular

I’m aware that this post may make me unpopular, and I’m okay with that. I didn’t start writing to earn brownie points; that was never my intent. All I ever wanted to do was to share my thoughts with the general public in hopes that you might begin to see things from a different perspective. I say this because what I want to discuss may be a sensitive subject for many of you, but I promise I will provide another take on this so you can understand why it was important to me to bring it up. I want to explain from my perspective why someone saying “Merry Christmas” to me bothers me so much.

This time of year, many people use this phrase quite often without really thinking about it…especially here in Texas. They’ll finish up their shopping, and, as they’re taking the receipt from the checker, will say, “Merry Christmas,” and head out the door. Maybe they’re chatting with a coworker as they’re leaving for the day and sign off with their festive salutation as they each head off in different directions to their parked cars. Happens all the time without a thought.

Now…here is where I’m hoping you’ll begin to see this from my perspective. Let’s take a little journey together into our imaginations.

Pretend you’re me and you were raised Jewish in a predominantly Christian area and are constantly on the receiving end of this everywhere you go your whole life during this time of year (which seems to have gotten longer and longer as the years have passed). You try listening to the radio, but it’s nothing but Christmas music. The same thing is piped into every store’s music system. You can’t walk into a single business anywhere that doesn’t have a Christmas tree and decorations or Christmas specials everywhere.

Then, imagine that your marching band contests were always scheduled on Rosh Hashanah or Yom Kippur, two of the holiest days of the Jewish year. You were expected to join in when there was prayer said in your school or at your sporting event and if you complained you were looked at as a horrible person despite the fact that school was supposed to be safe from that. This same band or orchestra that you were in always put on their Christmas concert and you were expected to play various tunes celebrating a messiah and holiday you did not believe in but couldn’t complain about because it makes the majority Christian happy, so you should be happy as well.

Imagine schools and businesses being closed on Christian holidays like Easter and Christmas and Good Friday, but you always had to take an excused absence or a vacation day or miss an important event when you needed your holiday off and then had to play catch up afterwards because everything didn’t shut down for your religion. Imagine people who claim to be “good Christians” telling you from a young age that you’re going to Hell or that they can’t date you because they don’t believe in inter-racial dating. (That seriously happened to me.)

Imagine all of this with the realization that you can’t simply tell what religion someone practices or doesn’t practice just by looking at them.

Now, imagine how you would feel when your existence was further ignored and someone said to you, “Merry Christmas,” and then had zero clue why that would bother you or then got upset with you when you politely explained to them that you weren’t Christian. “Merry Christmas” is not a greeting like “hi” or “howdy.” It is overtly Christian and there is no way to get around that. Full stop.

Not every person you encounter follows your religion. When you’re a minority religion, this is blatantly obvious because you feel invisible or are made to feel inferior quite often…or at least I was.

Now let’s look at this in a little different way because this kind of thing happens at other times of the year, too. A perfect example of this is Mother’s Day. After all, on that day and the days leading up to it, “Happy Mother’s Day” is used just as frequently as “Merry Christmas” is used during this time of year.

Most people don’t give it a second thought. This phrase is said as some ends a phone call or is said by a server at a restaurant and so on. It’s as if “it’s just what you say” that time of the year. This one can be a little easier to detect at times since quite often a mother may actually have her kids with her calling her “mommy,” so it’s fine. That’s not what happens though. I have lost count the number of times someone has said this to me. Seems harmless, right?

Now…let’s take a stroll down imagination lane again…

Let’s imagine that despite your appearance, you actually don’t have any kids, and not by choice. Imagine that others can’t see that you went through years and years of heartbreaking attempts to get pregnant without success. Let’s pretend that the only picture you have of what would have been your child consisted of only eight cells. Let’s imagine that despite doing everything within your power to get pregnant your body just wouldn’t work. You spent tens of thousands of dollars with no explanation as to why it didn’t work and your marriage ended as a result.

Try to imagine feeling like a failure and spending countless days crying because things didn’t work for you. Imagine the ache of motherhood that you’d never get to realize while you watch countless friends and family members get to experience, and take for granted, what you only dreamed of having. Picture yourself smiling through it all so no one sees the heartache that would always be there regardless of how many years pass.

Now, imagine how it would feel to run to the store on Mother’s Day just to pick up some milk only to be told “Happy Mother’s Day” by the checker who never went on this pretend journey with you.

Yeah…it stings. In fact, it can feel like a knife to the heart and can cause you to quickly leave a store before bursting into tears.

My point is this, my dear readers. There are things you can not tell about a person just by looking at them, and even the simplest phrase to some can be taken as insensitive or extremely hurtful by others. Some of these things run deep, as all that I’ve mentioned has happened to me personally. It is because of these experiences that I do my best to be considerate of others’ feelings because I just don’t know and choose not to assume everyone is like me. I’m not saying not to be polite, but occasionally, take a quick detour to imagination alley as we have, and you’ll soon understand a little better where Ms. Unpopular is coming from and why that simple phrase could cause such a strong reaction.

Posted in Divorce, Infertility, Life Lessons, Random Thoughts | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Recognizing What’s Holding Me Back

What is it that is preventing me from trying something new? I’ve been asking myself that very thing over and over for a while now. My first thought was that it was fear – fear of the unknown, fear of looking stupid, or fear of making a fool out of myself. What I recently discovered though, was that it wasn’t actually fear that was holding me back, but rather something that can be just as strong as fear and can impersonate fear sometimes as if it’s a villain in disguise. The culprit keeping me from expanding my horizons was vulnerability.

For those of you who don’t know, I used to teach Zumba for Gold’s Gym for almost six years. Sure, it was a lot of work, but, even to this day, the music and moves just makes my heart happy. Now, I didn’t just start off my Zumba experience by teaching my first class. I started by stepping my vulnerable ass into a class for the first time, stood at the back of the room, and just tried to keep up. At the end of the hour, my face was beet red and I was exhausted, but I was shocked how quickly that hour went by! I didn’t feel nearly as awkward as I thought I would, and after that first class, I was hooked.

I quickly became a regular, and as time went by, others in the class realized that I looked like I knew what I was doing. Turns out, routines just come easily to me, so I pick up on them fairly quickly. Others in the class started asking me to stand in front of them. They figured if they couldn’t see the instructor due to the large classes, they could at least watch me to know what to do. It didn’t take long for me to move from the back of the class to the front. Then, after taking a class from a disappointing substitute one day, I realized I could do a better job, so I got certified, auditioned, and was hired on the spot. Later on, I would become the instructor of the very class I used to take.

Now, the first thing I did before teaching each class was to ask if anyone was new to Zumba or just new to me. It always gave me a thrill to get be someone’s first experience with Zumba or even a more positive experience if they’d taken classes previously. I did my best to make the choreography challenging for the veterans but easy enough to follow for the newbies. After all, if someone didn’t feel successful or that they at least knew what they were doing, they wouldn’t want to come back. It’s hard enough to get people to come to the gym. I didn’t want to be the reason they stopped coming altogether.

I’ve been thinking about this quite a lot lately, as I’ve been thinking of finding a Zumba class again. I’m nowhere in as good of shape as I was when I was teaching, but I just miss it – the moves, the music, the people. I think about how the newbies felt in my class each time and realized that I’d sort of be the newbie now. That idea makes me feel very vulnerable, and so I kept putting it off. I mean, hey…I can’t be vulnerable if I don’t step foot in a class. But…but then I realized I’m missing out on the music, and the moves, and, most importantly, the people.

Oh, the people!! They were the absolute best part of it!! Just two weekends ago, one of my very best friends came up for a visit with her two kids. How did we meet? In Zumba! She happened to recognize my college alma mater shirt, ASU (Angelo State University), which most people confuse with Arizona State University. Turns out, she’s from San Angelo! We were instant friends. During her visit, I remembered how easy it was to meet new people that way, which I seem to have trouble doing now, and I really needed to figure out how to re-incorporate that into my life.

After a bit of research, I found a gym nearby that offers Zumba classes, along with many other class formats I’ve previously taken. Sure, my office building and my apartment complex both have gyms that I can use, but they don’t have those classes. In the end, I want to meet others who have similar interests, so, despite there being a small membership cost, I signed up.

Even then, the vulnerability monster popped up. I mean, how could I go to a class, let alone a gym, when I feel like others will be judging me and I might not stack up to their standards? I quickly internally slapped myself across the face because I KNEW that was stupid and it was just the vulnerability talking, and I needed to shut it up…HARD!

I walked into the bathroom to get my “game hair” ready. For me, that means hair in pigtails. Now, I know what you must be thinking, but there really is something to this. The ladies can back me up on it. When you put your hair up in a ponytail and have to lay on the floor, a bench, or up against a high seat back at the gym, it’s not very comfortable. That doesn’t happen with pigtails. Because of this, anytime I worked out, and, yes, every time I taught Zumba, I wore my hair in pigtails. My class came to expect that, and many wouldn’t recognize me in public most times when my hair was down. There are some funny stories about that, including an inebriated class member at a karaoke bar who said I looked just like her Zumba instructor…when, in fact, I was her Zumba instructor.

Just the act of putting my hair in pigtails was almost like flipping a switch for me. If you’ve ever seen the Sylvester Stallone movie, Over The Top, it’s sort of like what happened to him when he put his cap on backwards. It was like hair muscle memory, if that’s a thing. I hog tied the vulnerability monster and drove to the gym for my first workout.

Unfortunately, there wasn’t a Zumba class today, but, as I remembered, most people at gyms couldn’t care less about you. They’re focused on themselves. I had a good laugh with a lady in the locker room because I couldn’t get one of the lockers to work. She has had the same issue, so it was no biggie. (See vulnerability monster…you’re powerless!!) I spent an hour, did some cardio, free weights, and even a bit of rowing. It was fun to people watch, especially one of the group classes that was going on, as I know what they’re like.

I finished my workout, gathered my things from my successfully locked locker, and headed out to run errands before going home. During my workout and again while I was making my stops, I thought about what else the feeling of being vulnerable has prevented me from doing. One very big thing it stopped me from doing and that I really need to do is find a way to make new friends. Being single requires me to always put myself in situations that test my immunity to being vulnerable. That can be daunting to think about. The thing is though, if I don’t overcome that feeling, nothing will ever improve or change.

So, my readers, this is my commitment to embracing my vulnerability. I will not let that stop me from doing the things I want to do. Now that I recognize it, I will consciously look beyond it to view the things I really want and that I wouldn’t achieve otherwise. I challenge you to do the same. What are you missing out on that you’ve always wanted or needed? How will you make that happen?

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We Meat Again

Last November, after Thanksgiving, I decided to take a break from meat. I’m not really sure why to be honest. I guess I’d had my fill. I didn’t do it to prove a point or because I was protesting anything, and I have absolutely nothing against anyone who chooses a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle. Food is food, and if what you choose to eat makes you happy and you enjoy it, then have at it. I honestly didn’t really know for how long I’d do this, but hey…you gotta start somewhere.

I remember the first time I went to the store after making this decision. I had no idea what I was doing, but I was going to go up and down every aisle to see what was there that I hadn’t thought to try before. I enjoy grocery shopping, so it was as if I was on a culinary expedition…at Kroger. I was completely open to new possibilities, and, after an extended shopping trip, I left with a load of never-before-purchased items. I was excited about the notion of all these new options.

Now, to put things in perspective for you, several years ago, I followed a ketogenic diet, and I maintained it, fairly easily, for well over a year. To put it bluntly, I was very familiar with animal meat. Had someone told me that not too far in the future I’d choose to give up the meat I was eating for each meal, I’d have laughed my ass off at them…and then eaten a piece of bacon. This new meatless adventure was a change I wanted to make; I wasn’t forced or coerced.

At first, things were fine. It was a new discovery each day, and I was enjoying these new-to-me foods. I wondered to myself how long I’d continue this. Would it be something permanent or just something that would fade out like a New Year’s resolution? I honestly had no idea…no game plan. I was just flying by the meatless seat of my pants.

Turns out, I made a classic mistake when it comes to switching to a vegetarian diet. I didn’t do any real research. I then began replacing the animal protein with something my keto brain avoided like the plague – carbs! I didn’t really think about it though. I just ate the food that said vegetarian or vegan and went about my day.

Turns out, when my body takes in a carbohydrate, it holds on to it like a toddler holds on to a cherished toy or favorite blanket. Once it realizes it’s got a solid grip, it calls in its buddies and multiplies like Gremlins when exposed to water. Weight gain happens very easily for me, but losing it happens at a sloth’s pace.

One miserable, Gremlins-packed day, I thought, “This is stupid. I did so well on keto. Maybe I should just go back to that diet or at least eat a larger portion of actual meat rather than so many carbs. I’m going to go get some meat at the store.” I had a new purpose and a bounce in my step. Upon my arrival, I walked directly to the meat section of the store. I stood there looking around at all the options before me. I would honestly love to see the security footage from that day so I could see the look on my face. It could only be described as utter confusion. I could not bring myself to touch anything, let alone buy anything. I actually shocked myself. What was wrong with me? How had this shift happened? What? How? Ummm…

I walked away…emptyhanded.

For the rest of the shopping trip I remained dumbfounded as to what had happened. I even talked out loud to myself in utter disbelief. I even laughed out loud a few times as if to shake off the nervousness I felt due to my brain telling me that that “meat” stuff was icky. I picked up a few things and then headed home…not sure what I should do. That was when the craving for sushi hit me. That’s it! I’ll be a pescatarian! I picked up some lox and ordered some food from my favorite Japanese place down the road and I was set…or so I thought.

The addition of seafood gave me a false sense of “carb security.” That’s a thing, right? I enjoyed my new source of protein, and finally felt that I had things under better control when it came to my diet. The truth is, I really didn’t. It wasn’t until I had ordered some sushi one night, and I called the restaurant to make sure they didn’t include any ginger or wasabi since I think they’re both absolutely disgusting and didn’t want them anywhere in the vicinity of my delicious sushi rolls. When they picked up the phone, before I could say anything, I heard, “Hi, Robyn. No ginger or wasabi, right?”

I laughed as I answered in the affirmative and then politely hung up. It’s nice to be recognized, but this kind of recognition made me realize that maybe I should dial back the sushi a bit. After all, there’s a ton of rice and sodium that’s included there that I hadn’t taken into consideration. Plus, it was very obvious that maybe I’d been ordering it a little too often.

Shortly after that, I was at work getting ready to heat up my lunch – a plant-based beef burrito – when something made me look at the nutritional label. I’m not sure why I hadn’t before. My jaw immediately dropped while simultaneously my eyes opened as wide as they could possibly go. Carbohydrates – one burrito – 50 grams!!!

Good. Lord!

When I was following a ketogenic diet, which didn’t feel restrictive to me, I ate no more than 14 grams of carbs…in a whole day. Here I was, about to eat a plant-based, rather delicious meal, and I was going to consume more than 3 ½ times the amount of carbs I’d previously consumed in my daily total. Now, I’m not saying I’m planning on going back to that way of eating by any means, but that one glance had my brain spinning with calculation after calculation trying to figure out what was most likely the ginormous carb intake I had been consuming without even realizing. I was basically a walking carb!

It was then that I decided that I needed to try something different…something major…something I wasn’t really sure I could do or even wanted to do, but it was something I thought that I needed to do. I was going to swap out the carbs for…wait for it…you guessed it…chicken. I decided I was just gonna go buy a whole chicken and slow cook it like I used to and go from there.

So, on Monday, I walked to the meat section, tried not to overthink it, and I just bought a whole chicken. It has now been over seven months since last eating meat other than fish, but this Wednesday night in June, I would like to report that I ate some chicken. Something I used to do on a regular basis was so unbelievably foreign to me now. Was it tasty? Yeah…I guess. Am I craving more of it? Nah…not really. Do I need to figure this damn diet thing out at some point? For the love of all that’s holy, YES!

I know I’ll get there, but, for now, I’m going to educate myself. I’m not going to go to extremes or strictly track what I’m eating either. What I am going to do is to look for a nutritionist who can help me navigate these Gremlin-infested waters in hopes that when I do meat again, it will do so on friendlier and healthier terms.

Posted in Life Lessons, Weight Loss | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

We All Have Our Struggles

Just a wee Robyn enjoying some ice cream.

Several years ago over a summer, I dated a guy I met through a mutual friend. Even before we started dating, I found out that my friend met my soon-to-be beau through AA. In getting to know him, Beau, we’ll call him, revealed had been sober about 18 months. He was very open about his sobriety, which I found comforting. After all, I wouldn’t want to start a relationship with a lie, especially one as important to him as that was.

Turns out, because I rarely drink, it worked out well. It wasn’t that he minded if I drank, but I’ve always been the type to either take it or leave it when it comes to alcohol, and, most times I’d leave it. He found this fascinating, as it was so foreign to him that someone wouldn’t want to drink when they weren’t an alcoholic. “I mean,” he’d say, “…but…but you can HAVE it! Why wouldn’t you?” My response would usually include something like, “Eh. Don’t really care for it, to be honest.” Seeing the look on his face upon hearing my response was a sight to see and was usually followed by him shaking his head in disbelief.

We’d have many conversations about his struggles in the past and how he felt then compared to now. He introduced me to Topo Chico and sparkling water, which I still drink to this day. He said he liked the “burn” he’d get from the carbonation, and he felt it was a decent replacement. He attended AA meetings several nights a week and even led one. During our entire relationship, I never witnessed him drink a single drop of alcohol, although I’m sure it was a daily or moment-by-moment choice not to. We got along really well, and then one day he did something that flipped the tables on me, and I found myself making that same face I’d seen him make many times.

We went out to eat for dinner one night, and he ordered a small salad or something healthy along those lines. Now, keep in mind, he was about 5’8” and had a somewhat small frame, so what he ordered was just fine. I honestly don’t remember what I’d ordered, but it was on the verge of healthy with a large mix of naughty…not on the side. It was then that I looked at him and said, “Don’t you want a burger & fries or something?” He responded with something like, “Eh. Don’t really care for it to be honest.”

Insert disbelieving look here.

I mean, SERIOUSLY?! “But…but you can HAVE it!” I said. He just shrugged and took another Beau bite of his food. That’s when it hit me! I looked up at him and said, “I just realized that if you replace the word alcohol with food, that applies to me when it comes to addiction.” Now, I don’t want to underscore alcoholism by any means. I am forever grateful that that is a disease I’m not inflicted with. It really is the furthest thing from my mind all the time. I just don’t care for the stuff and never had. It’s a complete non-issue for me. Now…food…well, that’s another story.

To give you a better idea, I’m the type who doesn’t want to have just one cookie – I want them all! I eat when even when I’m not hungry, and, usually, if I have a choice of something healthy versus something naughty, well…naughty wins hands down. Plus, it’s not just a little naughty, it’s Red Room marathon, 50 Shades of Grey, naughty. It boggles my mind to see people leave food on their plate. Why would you leave a perfectly good bite? Seriously, why did you just put your fork down? Don’t you see what’s left on your plate?! I often wonder if they’re judging me for always needing to be a member of the “Clean Plate Club.”

This epiphany I had upon seeing him mirror my response to him in regards to alcohol has stayed with me even years later. I mean, it’s not like I can just never eat again. Well…I can…I just won’t like the outcome of that fasting experiment, and I’ve done the whole intermittent fasting thing. Programs work for me for a time, but so far nothing has stuck.

Think back to how many times you’ve started a new diet or “lifestyle change.” You start by learning something new about food that you didn’t know previously, such as why carbs are good or why carbs are bad. Maybe it’s why eating all your calories in one hour is the bee’s knees or how juicing truly flushes your system and rebalances your gut. It could be that vegan or vegetarian is the way to go or you’re immersing yourself into the world of a ketogenic way of eating. Every diet has a different set of “experts” that have every book that you need to buy and read telling you why their way is what made the difference for them and for so many others. You start talking to friends and family about your new “journey” and without you even realizing it, they start avoiding the possibility of a conversation with you because they KNOW it will be about the new “thing” you’re doing. You’re so wrapped up in your new life that you can’t see the forest for the trees. You’ve become that annoying person even you want to steer clear of.

You don’t realize that it’s not necessarily what kind of food or how much food you’re eating or even when you’re eating it but just the fact that you been fed, for lack of a better term, so much bullshit data over the years that you have no idea what to do anymore. Each expert has contradicted each prior diet or food group you’d consumed on a regular basis. One week eggs, or dairy, or lean meat, or *enter food here* are the miracle item and next week you’re told to avoid them because they’ll cause your bloodwork to skyrocket or they’re loaded with shit that’ll ruin your gut for the foreseeable future. It’s no wonder I’m so damn confused when it comes to food. This dietary ping pong match is never ending.

Just like Beau, I struggle daily and, many times, on a moment-by-moment basis, with food. Even willpower seems to be a myth, yet I’ve had long stretches where it never waned. Why is that? I’ve often told my friends that I know exactly what I need to do to lose weight, but looking back on all the data I’ve tried to decipher over the years, I honestly don’t think I do anymore. Maybe I never really did now that I think about it. I just kept finding new ways not be bored with the weight loss process, which, let’s be honest, is a pain in the ass! I’ll tell ya…I can gain weight in record time, but losing it…well…that goes about as fast as a turtle running through peanut butter.

Oooh! Peanut butter!!!

So, where does my dietary dilemma take me next? I honestly don’t know, but I know for a fact that the status quo is not ideal and is leading in the absolute wrong direction. I recently asked several people if exercise was the catalyst to eating better or if eating better was the catalyst to exercising. Of course, I got mixed responses. I guess maybe I’m now in search of that elusive, permanent, long-term fix, but truthfully, thanks to my life experience, I’m really just scared I’m going to end up finding “the next new thing”…yet again.

Posted in Dating, Life Lessons, Weight Loss | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

What I Want You To Learn From 8 Cells

There are two “clubs” that I am a part of that I never EVER wanted to join. The members of these groups typically didn’t want to have this in common with anyone else, but it gives us comfort that we are not alone. The first is the group of people who have been divorced. I would think that most people who get married don’t ever plan or expect to become a member of this “club,” and, for me, having made it to my 16th anniversary, I never expected to find myself there either. The second, which I was indoctrinated to before the other, and which was the main cause of my second membership, was that of those who have had to undergo infertility treatments. Both can be extremely devastating and life altering, and they will typically shape the rest of your lift in one way or another. I didn’t choose these clubs and wouldn’t wish them on anyone, but I bring these up because the word “choice” is of utmost importance right now.

I’m a big believer in education. I actually have a Secondary Teaching Certificate in the state of Texas with a lifetime expiration date. No, I’m not a teacher in a school setting, but I truly believe it is through education that we can find the answers to help us make the best decisions as we navigate life. Learning from others is vital as well, as we each have differing experiences that give us an alternative perspective that someone else may not have. It is not until those experiences are shared that we find the missing piece we are looking for to aid us in our decision making. So, how better to educate my fellow Americans than to talk about what I know first-hand. My goal in writing this is that I hope my experiences will open your eyes as to why allowing the right to an abortion to remain the law of the land is so very obvious.

I want you to look at these photos.

The photo on the left is of one of the first embryos that was ever transferred in to my uterus via In Vitro Fertilization (IVF). It was only eight cells and less than 5 days old. The two on the right were what are considered blastocysts, as they were too many cells to count at that point and were further developed than the first one. Both of these were transferred directly into my uterus as well. All three were fertilized in a process called ICSI – intracytoplasmic sperm injection. Normally during conception, the sperm breaks through the cell wall to fertilize the egg, but I wasn’t so fortunate, so the moment of conception happened outside my body. Did I ever expect to have to have this done? No. Not in a million years. I thought people just got pregnant. Was I grateful there was a process like this available that would overcome one of the infertility issues I had? Absolutely!

These are two of three photos I have saved, and I can guarantee that the vast majority of the population doesn’t have anything like this. I can guarantee, however, that those of us in the “infertility club” have seen these before…some, many times. These images represent much of what is at the heart of the anti-abortion argument because they believe that life begins at conception.

Go through something like this, and you’ll most likely believe that too. Here is where my first-hand experience comes in, as the process of pregnancy is not simple. Even getting to the point that my spouse and I could attempt IVF was a very long road.

Immediately prior to the IVF round that resulted in the left image, we went through two rounds of an injectable medication called Pergonal in hopes that we wouldn’t have to graduate to the more expensive and invasive IVF process. This medication, like many others used in IVF, stimulates the ovaries to produce multiple follicles that you hope contain viable eggs that you hope can be fertilized, in our case, using an insemination. We even made two trips to Mexico because the cost of the number of vials we needed here in the U.S. was astronomical.

My body responded to the Pergonal very well and my ovaries showed a large number of follicles each time. This is what we were hoping for, as it’s a numbers game at that point. The problem was it was too many follicles.

My doctor stopped each of the Pergonal rounds. She informed us that a normal pregnancy has a very low percentage of multiples. Even with oral medication, like Clomid, which I’d already done countless rounds of, it could be as high as 5-12%. Because of how my body responded to this injectable medication, my doctor told us that we were now looking at more like a 50% chance of multiples, and she was talking like eight or 10 or more. You then get into the notion of selective reduction (reduction=abortion) so that some of the embryos would have a better chance of developing. This was devastating news, as abortion was not something I wanted to have to contemplate at the time. After all, I was trying to GET pregnant, not the opposite.

This decision, unfortunately, is one that many women/couples undergoing infertility treatments have to make, as it can mean the difference between having a family or not and the mother living or dying. This decision is one that we made together, with the help of our doctor, for our situation. Knowing we had that right to make the decision to move forward or not gave us possibly the only comfort we had in an absolutely devastating situation.

Jump forward to our first round of IVF. Using a different medication this time, my body still had an amazing response, and I produced 32 follicles. To compare that to a regular menstrual cycle, a woman will usually produce one follicle on one ovary and it either gets fertilized or not. I had 32 between both ovaries. I ended up with 26 eggs, all which underwent ICSI. A total of 16 of them fertilized. Two of those, including the first picture above, were transferred into me, and the rest were watched to see if they would develop into blastocysts, as that is what is required if you are going to freeze your embryos for later use.

So…here we are…16 fertilized eggs. No biggie, right? After all, this was in the early 2000s and our right to choose was our right and our doctors weren’t at risk of being fined, losing their medical licenses, or risking jail time if anything happened to the embryos and they didn’t develop. To put it simply, we just wanted a chance at having a family.

Now, did all of them survive to the blastocyst stage? No. Only four of them did. Remember, I said it was a numbers game. That means that of the 16 that were fertilized with ICSI, there were 10 that didn’t make it. Was this heartbreaking? Absolutely! Were we hopeful that at least one would work? Of course! Did we have to worry that someone would report this to the authorities and we’d go to jail or be fined as much or more than we were already spending to even go through this process? No! This was painful enough to go through without that weighing over our heads. Don’t even get me started on the emotional rollercoaster just from being pumped full of fertility drugs!

Two failed frozen cycles later, and did we worry that someone would hold us responsible because my stupid body wouldn’t maintain a pregnancy? No! Remember though, the moment the embryos are transferred into my body, and my uterus takes over being the incubator for them, I have zero control over how my body will respond. Even despite taking painful intramuscular progesterone shots (in oil), every day to help maintain the pregnancy until the placenta can take over progesterone production, I have absolutely no control over the further development of the fetuses.

Our last fresh cycle, which took place in 2008, was incredibly hard on my body both physically and emotionally. The doctor almost called it off because I just wasn’t responding like he and we had hoped. Three perfect embryos were transferred in and the wait began. My first blood test was “positive,” but, with infertility, you get used to disappointment, so we didn’t get our hopes up. Amazingly though, the second blood test showed the levels going up. HOLY SHITBALLS! This was the furthest we’d ever gotten!! The third blood test showed the levels even higher!! IT WAS HAPPENING! We were both ecstatic!!!

Three days later, my blood test was zero. I’d failed our family.

Now, for those of you who are blessed to have gotten pregnant easily, and, from the bottom of my heart, I am so glad you did, you will never understand the depths of the grief and frustration that goes along with this. You feel it in your soul. It destroys you again and again, as infertility is like having your dreams taken away from you over and over and over until you just give up.


Imagine going through this, losing the pregnancy, which, for some women, can happen much later than mine did, and then being fined or going to jail because your body aborted a pregnancy yet you couldn’t prove it. Imagine fertility doctors fearing using ICSI because they could be fined or jailed because they created life without being able to bring it to full term. Imagine finally getting pregnant after years of trying only to learn it’s an ectopic pregnancy, which risks your life and that will never be viable despite a heartbeat detected, but not being able to have surgery to remove it and knowing you’ll most likely die when your fallopian tube ruptures. Imagine finally getting pregnant only to lose the child several months in and, while dealing with insurmountable grief, not having access to a medication that would induce labor or being able to have a safe procedure or to remove the fetus because it’s illegal and knowing it could lead to sepsis and your death.

Imagine being a woman who wants more than anything to be a mom but who has a husband, such as I did, who would finally reveal after 16 years of marriage and a very long infertility journey that changed you both forever that he would never be open to adoption despite there being countless children awaiting a loving home. Do I blame him for his beliefs? Of course not. He’s a good man. I’ll defend that to my last breath. Did the fact that he refused to adopt contribute to my most recent “divorced club” membership? 100% yes.

All this is what I want to open your eyes to should Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey be overturned. The decisions women make when pregnancy is unwanted is not black and white. The decisions women/couples make when pregnancy is wanted is not black and white. It’s not fertilized and unfertilized. It’s not heartbeat and no heartbeat.

Please, I implore you to learn how these restrictive laws affect a much larger group than previously identified. For many, the decision to end a pregnancy is the hardest thing they have ever done and ends the dream they’ve had for as long as they can remember. In many cases, it can end the marriage itself. For others, it could mean closure to a very traumatic experience. Don’t make it even more difficult because you refuse to see past your own beliefs and experiences and pass judgement when you know nothing about the actual consequences or emotional toll surrounding the bigger picture. We are all more than eight cells. It’s time we act like it.

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What Ranks Higher?

Life is a culmination of choices…one after another. We appreciate the simple ones, especially when the tougher ones weigh heavily on our minds. Sometimes it’s hard to know what to do…what is right. With many of these more difficult choices, we find ourselves weighing the pros and cons in order to help us make up our minds. Quite a lot goes in to some decisions, as it may not be simply black or white; the greyness surrounds us. So what do you do when tallying up the pluses and minuses only to find that no matter what choice you make, you can’t have it all?

Let’s look at our careers for example. There are some people who feel called towards a particular field or profession. They just know that’s what they’re meant to do. For many, however, that’s not the case. The decision to stay or move on may come down to some or all of the following questions:

  1. Do I like what I’m currently doing?
  2. Am I getting paid what I’m worth?
  3. Do I enjoy the people I work with?
  4. Is there a clear career path at this company?
  5. Do I have a good work/life balance?

What if I told you that your decision on your next career move would only provide yes answers to three of the above questions? Which answers are most important to you? What are you willing to risk to get to the yes answers? Maybe you’d begin by ranking each of these question based on your current situation. Maybe the culmination of your career to that point would be the timeline you’d use to make this decision. How do you decide?

Several years ago, a boyfriend and I decided to take the Love Languages quiz at the advice of a friend of his. For those not familiar with this, here is a quick rundown. There are five love languages: Physical touch, Quality Time, Words of Affirmation, Gifts, and Service. Individually, both you and your partner answer a list of questions. At the end, it ranks the five Love Languages in order of importance for each of you. The ranking is how you prefer to receive affection.

For example, you may have gifts at the top of your list and your partner may have it at the bottom of theirs while Quality Time ranks #1 for them. What many people do by mistake is to show affection towards their partners how they themselves prefer to receive affection rather than how their partner wishes to receive it. Your partner may just want to spend time together doing anything, yet, because you like to receive gifts, you shower them with what you most desire. Giving your partner what they want is the key to mastering the Love Languages. Of course first you have to know how yours are ranked.

At the time I did this, two of my Love Languages were tied for 2nd place. The #1 ranked item for me was due to struggles we had in our relationship. Given that I’ve changed a lot since then, I’d guess that my ranking would be much different now. This shift in thinking is an example of how a decision such as your career can change as you, your priorities, and your situation changes.

My question to the above career dilemma is why can’t you have it all? Why does it seem you always have to give up something to get something else higher on your list? Maybe some people do get it all, but I honestly think that for most of us it is a choice, and in some cases could be a life-altering one. So how do you choose? What tells you whether to stay or go?

Sure, it would be nice to lay down some roots, but many people nowadays stay at one job for a couple of years before moving on to the next adventure. How much does longevity really matter if you’re making a change for a high-ranked reason?

While I would absolutely love to hear your opinion on this, my answer is that it’s a gamble either way. My very smart brother, who definitely enjoys gambling, once told me that there are not right or wrong decisions when it comes to things like this; there are just decisions. Maybe it was a good one. Maybe it wasn’t. That’s how life goes. You are continuously learning and moving forward. Sure, sometimes the right answer is to stay where you are, but it means you have to be satisfied with the “yes” answers you get to your ranked questions.

So tell me…what qualities do you rank in regards to your career? What are your deal breakers?

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Stop The Blame Game

When my sister, brother, and I were little and we got into a fight, we’d start complaining to my mom whose fault it was that we were fighting. As most moms do, she’d tell us that she didn’t care who started it – she was ending it! I can’t stop thinking about this. It has become blatantly obvious that this childhood argument justification process is being played out on a national level, and I wish I could figure out a way to end it.

It seems to me that politicians, the media, and leaders all across this country seem to pull down off the shelf their favorite form of entertainment when a crisis occurs – The Blame Game! Here are the typical strategies: the Left blames the Right and Vice versa, the states blame the federal government and vice versa, other countries are blamed, the police force or civilians are blamed, and it goes on and on and on. The way this always goes, you’d think that the object in the end is to spend as much time as possible blaming others so that those suffering are completely and thoroughly ignored.

Here’s the deal…when something like COVID or the current situation here in Texas or “enter next tragedy/emergency” happens, why not make your focus on fixing the problem and helping those who are suffering FIRST?! You’ll have all the time in the world for endless rounds of The Blame Game when things are on the mend, but your INITIAL action should be to shut your mouth, open your ears, and listen to the needs of the many.

Once that’s done, your next action should be finding ways to prevent or reduce the likelihood of the tragedy/emergency from happening again and/or getting worse. After THAT, and things are stabilized, feel free to knock yourself out and invite an unlimited number of players to your game night. I only ask that you somehow find a way to play this “game” like ADULTS! Stop the name calling, learn to admit mistakes, and hold people accountable. Like all games played, good sportsmanship should be the rule and not the exception.

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My Treasured Table

Drop Leaf Table

This photo represents my most treasured piece of furniture. It’s a drop-leaf table that was given to me by my parents. I love the rich color of the stain, as it matches well with the rest of my décor. The detail on the legs, the scalloped top, and the dove-tailing in the single drawer are all a part of what makes this table so unique. To many, this may seem like just another antique table, but it is much more than that. This table represents survival. It represents strength and perseverance and love. You see, this table once belonged to a Holocaust survivor.

Back in the 1940’s, my Bubbie (my grandmother) set up her cousin Jake Green on a blind date with a woman named Sylvia Farber. Jake was late arriving because he got lost, but Sylvia forgave him, and that night was the beginning of a wonderful relationship that lasted decades. What Jake didn’t know for many years, because Sylvia didn’t want to talk about it, was that she had survived a nightmare prior to coming to America. After being separated from her brother, finding out her father was killed, and never knowing what actually happened to her mother, Sylvia and her aunt Mina, her mother’s sister, found themselves prisoners in concentration camps including Bergen-Belsen and Auschwitz.

I knew some of Sylvia’s & Mina’s story, however, today, I took the time to listen to Sylvia’s story in her own words. The recording was done on January 11, 1996 by Arwen Donahue for the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and lasts several hours. I was captivated and horrified hearing how she described what so many Jews lived through in the 1930’s and 40’s.

Sylvia first talked of how, early on, her friends turned their backs on her because she was Jewish. These were friends who, the day before, were playing together as kids do. She said that she watched as Hitler drove by in a convertible through the streets, everyone hypnotized by him. Of course, she couldn’t watch this from her town, as everyone there knew she was Jewish. Instead, she had to walk quite a ways to the next town where no one knew her just to get a glimpse. At the time, she didn’t know the magnitude of what he would ultimately represent. (1)

As she got older, her brother, Bernard, was sent to live with family in England while Sylvia and her aunt Mina worked at the camps with the understanding that as long as they did, her parents would be safe. Her mother would comfort her by telling her, “It’s not going to get any worse.” For quite some time, she didn’t even know what she looked like because there were no mirrors. Later, her father, in an attempt to escape the round up, jumped out of a window and broke his leg. She found out that while he was in the hospital recovering, he was shot and killed, as were many others. She never found out what happened to her mother. (1)

While imprisoned, she saw babies killed. She was tasked with pulling gold teeth from the dead. She suffered from dysentery and typhus and was so sick that she has no memory of two weeks of her life. She and the other prisoners licked soup from the floor because she accidentally spilled it after tripping on her wooden shoes that no longer fit her. She described how both she and her aunt Mina took care of each other, as that gave them something to live for. She even stole bread from a kitchen so her aunt wouldn’t starve. (1)

After some time, Sylvia and Mina were told they were going to be sent to a place that had clean beds and plenty of food. They would work hard, but it would be nice. Mina told Sylvia that it sounded like paradise. That place, it turned out, was Auschwitz. Sylvia had heard about Auschwitz. Everyone had. The minute they arrived, they could see the smokestacks and smell human flesh. (1)

The orders for those they arrived with hadn’t been received yet, and the soldiers weren’t sure what to do with them, so they made them wait. They kept them outside for 48 hours between the gates and the barracks…in January. In the end, Sylvia and Mina were there for no longer than two weeks before going to Bergen-Belsen. They were glad to be leaving, as they knew that their new camp didn’t have gas chambers. There, they just starved people to death. Sylvia and Mina did what they could to survive. (1)

When she was told that they were finally being liberated by British troops, Sylvia began singing the British National Anthem. She eventually found out that her brother Bernard, who was now in the US military, was outside and waiting to see her. She ran out to greet him and stopped in her tracks, paralyzed at the sight before her. She could have sworn she was staring at her father. Her brother was the spitting image of him, right down to his mustache. I can only imagine that the reunion of Sylvia, Bernard, and Mina was a sight to behold. (1)

Eventually, Sylvia and her aunt Mina made their way to the United States. They both moved in with Bernard, and she eventually got a job of her own. They were finally able to go and do what they wanted. When she and Jake married, Bernard told her that he wasn’t losing a sister but gaining a bathroom. It’s funny to hear, but it turned out that Sylvia took lots of baths due to her memories in the camps where she just couldn’t get clean. (1)

Sylvia was devastated to learn that the world didn’t know what was happening in Europe and that they weren’t doing anything to help. She became angry – angry at the world, angry with G-d, and she turned away from her faith. She hated the German language because she felt it represented hate. After she married Jake and became pregnant, she would have nightmares and be heard screaming in her sleep, waking up her husband. She finally decided to open up to him and explain the source of her pain. They would talk for hours, sometimes not sleeping at all. She was grateful for him always lending an ear, whether he was actually listening or not. (1)

In April 1983, Sylvia attended a Holocaust Survivor reunion in Washington, D.C. She was grateful to be there and said that it was good to talk to other survivors. She noted that there were some who were still very bitter, and she felt sorry for them because she realized that the bitterness didn’t harm the people they hated. Sylvia remembered watching the movie “Schindler’s List” that came out 10 years after the reunion. She said it was amazing to her how real it all felt, so much so that she was looking for herself in each scene. She even learned about things that happened that she wasn’t aware of at the time. (1)

Sylvia, her brother Bernard, and her aunt Mina went on to live out the rest of their lives in the United States. Over the years, they acquired many things, one of which was my beloved table that Mina purchased. Many years ago it was given to my parents, and they eventually passed it on to me. This beautiful table is absolutely priceless, as it represents two women who survived despite unthinkable circumstances that were absolutely out of their control.

Mina passed away back in 1964, 10 years before I was born. I was blessed to know both Sylvia and my Bubbie’s cousin Jake, and I have such fond memories of them both. Jake died a few months after my Bubbie in 1996, and Sylvia died on January 20, 2017 at the age of 92. They are dearly missed.

I’ll be honest…I didn’t know what day Sylvia died before I decided to write this. However, when I saw the date, I got goosebumps because of what inspired me in the first place. We have now all probably seen the image from the assault on the Capitol on January 6th that included a man wearing a “Camp Auschwitz” hoodie. The fact that someone would sell an item like that, let alone that someone would wear it, was reprehensible! Upon seeing it paraded at our United States Capitol, I gasped in horror! We, as a nation, need to realize that Anti-Semitism is still a huge problem in our country and the world. How this can even happen in this day and age is terrifying, which is why it is so important that stories like Sylvia’s and Mina’s cannot be forgotten.

As you can see, the date of Sylvia’s death and the significance of what this table represents is even more relevant today. Four years after her passing, we will finally inaugurate a new President and Vice President. This will, for the first time, include not only a female Vice President of color, but also a first Second Gentleman who is a Jew. I have no doubt that this administration will work very hard to heal this country, but we have so much work ahead of us – and it will take ALL of us. This will not be an easy task to accomplish, but it has to start somewhere. If someone like Sylvia Green can come through with an understanding that bitterness serves no purpose, than so can we. I will leave you with a quote from her that we all should remember, just as we should never forget the six million Jews who were killed during the Holocaust. “Hatred. It just doesn’t work.” (1)

(1)  Green, Sylvia (1996). “Oral history interview with Sylvia Green” Interviewed by Arwen Donahue for United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Oral History Branch, January 11. Available at: https://collections.ushmm.org/search/catalog/irn511184

Posted in Election 2020, Life Lessons, Random Thoughts, Starting Anew | Tagged , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

A Much-needed Snowy Break

I’ve always enjoyed watching snow fall. This is, in part, due to the fact that it doesn’t happen too often in Texas, so you are fascinated when it does. The main reason I enjoy it, though, is because of the silence it brings. There are no claps of thunder. There is no noise when it hits the roof. It’s almost as if time stands still and you can hear yourself think. There is a beauty in its simplicity. Today, as I write this, I am staring out my window at the first snowfall I’ve seen in quite a while. My neighbors seem to be enjoying this Lone Star anomaly as well. I’ve really needed something simple like this to bring an end to a tumultuous week.

I think back to when I’d watch TV as a kid and get up to change the channel (which is something we had to do way back then). Quite often, as you were turning the knob looking for something different to watch, you’d come across a channel with no broadcast, or “snow.” Now, as a kid, that channel scared me after watching Poltergeist, but now I see the similarities of what is happening outside my window. It was a break in programming…a break in receiving a signal.

For what seems like forever, I’ve turned on the TV or seen notifications on my phone of breaking news. My immediate thought is, “Oh crap! What NOW?!” That thought rose to new heights this week with what happened at the Capitol. I pray it was the last event of that magnitude, but only time will tell. I’ve shed a lot of tears over the last few days given what transpired and am sure to shed many more as the days pass. My heart breaks that Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick lost his life as a result of this violence. So many others were put in harm’s way. Sadly, I had zero doubts that something of this magnitude would happen given what this President has been saying and doing since announcing his run for the office in 2015. I just never wanted to be proven right.

As someone who loves this country, it is beyond me how so many in office and in places of authority have let the President go unpunished for his words and actions over the last few years. Many continued to sing his praises after his despicable behavior time and time again. I have lost track of how many letters and calls I have made to Congressmen and women voicing my opinion, which has appeared to go unheard. I took great pleasure in casting my vote in this last election, but living in a red state makes you feel even less powerful when so many still refused to see him and his supporters for who they are.

Many see them now though.

The blinders are off. The rose-colored glasses have been smashed. What hurts my heart so much though is why…WHY did it take the events of January 6th, 2021 for this to happen when many of us saw it all along?! Sadly, I don’t have the answer to this question.

So, here I sit, looking out my window seeing the beautiful snow falling, enjoying the silence it brings. I know that in a short time it will turn to rain and the quiet will subside. The noise will return, and, with it, so will the voices of so many who have been on the wrong side of history for quite some time.

My hope is that in this moment of clarity that has come about after recent events, we will finally find a way to come together as a country and begin to speak to each other and not AT each other. We MUST require this of those in power as well and call them out when they deny the truth, regardless of party affiliation. We absolutely have to hold those accountable for their actions, especially the President and not let this unpatriotic plague evolve any further. Finally, I pray we do not continue to repeat the mistakes of our recent past but rather learn from them and find common ground whose foundation isn’t formed on quicksand.

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Blue Skies After the Storm

When I started writing 10 years ago, a good friend of mine gave me some advice. He said when you’re feeling really down, try to write about something as far removed from those feelings as possible. Making yourself see the good in the world will help improve your mood. You know what? He was right! Many of what I’d consider my funniest blogs were written when I was at my lowest, yet you’d never know from reading them. To say this year has had low points is quite the understatement, but instead of having to force myself to write about the opposite, I’m finding that the goodness in this world is more easily highlighted in all this darkness.

I have an even more renewed appreciation of my family and friends. I will always believe that it is these connections that are the best invention ever! The random texts, messages, and calls when you least expect them seem that much sweeter and more meaningful. Given all the tragedy this year, the celebrations seem almost triumphant and even more grandiose than they were previously.

It seems that daily I hear of strangers coming to the aid of those in need…and there is so much need right now. So many are making their voices heard, and because of that positive change is on the horizon; I truly believe this. When I see stories like this on the news, it does wonders to restore my faith in humanity. I’ve cried countless times as I’ve watched good triumph over evil.

You see, I could very easily fall into an abyss of despair and let my anger overwhelm me. I could focus on the pain, the loss, the hurt, the unfairness of it all; and it has been all those things and more. Again, that would be easy thing to do. Here’s the deal though…life isn’t easy. As Tom Hanks said in A League Of Their Own, “The hard is what makes it great.” This is a daily and sometimes moment-by-moment decision for me. I’ll admit that, occasionally, I do fall into that abyss of negative emotions, but it allows me a much-needed release. I’m a firm believer that sometimes you just need a good cry. It’s not letting that side overwhelm me that has made all the difference.

So here we all are on the precipice of a new year. If you’re like me, you’ll be saying good riddance to 2020 when the clock strikes midnight on Friday. This year, we’ve all learned a plethora of lessons that I’m sure will stay with us for the rest of our lives. For me, I look at 2021 as if we’ll be stepping outside to blue skies after a terrible storm. Hell, it’s felt like we’ve been whirling around in the Great Red Spot on Jupiter, feeling the whiplash going from one extraordinary event to the next.

What I’ve realized though is that this year has reiterated how much more I appreciate the sunshine after the rain. So many of you have been the source of that sunshine for me, and for that, I’m forever grateful. I hope I’ve been a reason for a masked smile or two this year as well. Until we get to those sunny days I’m sure are ahead, we just need to make sure our umbrellas are at the ready. I know we will all be able to weather what is yet to come, but, in the meantime, let’s find ways to dance in the rain.

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The Power of Losing

Throughout our lives, we all go through many different rites of passage. We learn to walk, we graduate from high school, we move out on our own, etc. What’s interesting is that with each of these transitions, they do not come without struggles and challenges. How many toddlers do you see who don’t fall down time after time when trying to increase their steps? What young adult aces every test and avoids any sort of social awkwardness during their school years? What newly-independent person immediately knows how to “adult” automatically? This is the very point of these life transitions.

You’re not born knowing know to automatically do everything; you have to figure things out over time. You try and fail or try and learn over and over again. Failure is just a part of this process. If you haven’t failed, you haven’t tried. We all wish we could learn things the easy way, but it’s the failures that teach us the greatest lessons.

Think of all the board games, go-fish matches, or rounds of tag you played as a kid. Surely you didn’t win every one of those. What did you learn from losing? – Humility, perseverance, grace. What did you learn from winning? – Empathy, strategy, teamwork. These shape you into who you become, and you grow because of them.

So what happens then if you lose without learning? What kind of person does that create? How would this person interact with those around them? How would they react to future losses? I would imagine they would blame others rather than taking responsibility for their own shortcomings. I would imagine they would feel the system is rigged against them. I would also imagine they would lash out at anyone or anything to save face.

If they would just see the power they’d hold in being gracious, they would realize that losing is simply an opportunity for growth. It furthermore provides the chance to teach others what valuable lessons you learned in the process. Being a sore loser serves no purpose, nor does being a sore winner.

Watching this play out on a national scale, when lives are literally dependent on the very act of being a good loser, is shameful, infuriating, and embarrassing. What makes it even worse is watching those who know better do nothing to set things right. I could understand if these were children in a schoolyard, but these are grown adults who must be held accountable. If you’re not prepared to lose, you have no business throwing your hat in the ring.

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Stepping Forward Together

The world waited with baited breath about how the US election would end, and now a decision has been made. People took to the streets all over the world, in the middle of a pandemic, to celebrate the decision. Now, I am very aware that for many people, almost half of this country based on the election results, that this did not end the way you had hoped, and I am never the type to gloat about this, as I know this hurts deeply for many people I care about. I also know that it could very easily have gone the other way. So, how do we move forward as a country? How do we heal this great divide that has widened even further over the last few years? What steps do we take to begin our pursuit of becoming a more perfect union?

First and foremost, we need to learn once again how to talk with each other rather than at each other. We are all entitled to our feelings and opinions, and right now they are very raw. Being aware of this is of utmost importance. I truly believe that when you get right down to it, there is much more that unites us than divides us.

I feel that when we close our mouths and open our ears more often, we tend to invite in kindness, empathy, and truth. After all, we have two ears and only one mouth for a reason. To be clear though, this goes for all sides. It should not be me versus you or us versus them. It should be all of us together taking a deep breath and a step forward to find ways to make things better for everyone.

Given the magnitude of everything that has happened, I do want to take a moment though to explain what the outcome of this election has meant to me.

Upon hearing that Pennsylvania was called in favor of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, thus solidifying who would lead the next administration, I began crying…sobbing, actually. I could not compose myself for quite some time. It was as if five years of emotions plus all of what’s happened so far in 2020 had come out all at once, and I find it’s difficult to separate out each emotion individually.

I stood behind my sofa on Saturday morning, staring at the TV screen, with tears streaming down my face. Just as a wave of relief came over me that this election it was finally over, another wave of the tsunami of emotions hit me when I realized that for the very first time there would be a woman, moreover a woman of color, serving as the Vice President. To say this is historic is the understatement of my lifetime.

Even now, as I write this, I’m having trouble comprehending just how monumental this is for women. I thought of my Little Sister, who I’ve mentored since meeting her in 2011, and was in awe that this was her very first Presidential election to get to vote in, and this was the outcome. I thought of my dear friend who has a six year old daughter of mixed race who will never remember a time when a woman didn’t hold one of the highest jobs in this country, or the world for that matter. I imagined what it must be like for so many parents to get to explain to their children what the significance of this is and how it will affect their lives in such a positive way.

I watched the speeches given both by the President- and Vice President-elect on Saturday evening. Again, I wept tears of validation that I, a woman, was finally represented in this moment. I found myself questioning over and over why it took this long. What an amazing moment to witness! I feel like I’ve lived through so much history this year already, most of it tragic. This historic moment was different. I knew I would burn the memory into my brain of Kamala Harris standing there in that white suit, delivering the speech so many had hoped they’d witness as some point, thus tearing down another barrier that had eluded women for so long.

The challenge with elections is that there can only be one victor, which means so many are left unsatisfied with the results. For those of you who had hoped for a different outcome, please know that I can empathize, as I felt the same way four years ago. I truly believe that the moment has chosen the right people to lead us, so I implore you to given them a chance just as I did in 2016. We may be separated both physically and politically, but know that I am holding an outstretched hand and look forward to us all taking that deep breath and steps forward to a future that we can all be proud of as Americans.

Posted in Election 2020, Friendship, Life Lessons, Pandemic, Starting Anew | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Principled Behavior

I am completely mentally and emotionally exhausted right now. This is not how I thought my day would end at all. Early this afternoon, while at work, I got called out of a team meeting because my six-year-old son’s principal was on the phone. She was concerned about some of my son’s recent behaviors and, due to the severity, asked that my husband and I both meet with her and his teacher immediately. I left instructions with my team on the next steps of the project we’d been working on, called my husband, and promptly left to meet him at the school so we could get to the bottom of what had happened.

My husband arrived shortly before I did, and we walked into the school’s office together. Our son, DJ, was sitting in one of the chairs with his arms crossed and a look of defiance on his face. When he saw us walk in, he remained where he was, only shifting slightly in his seat. Before I could say anything, the principal walked out of her office to invite us inside. DJ kept looking straight ahead as if he didn’t care whether we were there or not.

As we entered her office, I noticed one of DJ’s teachers was there as well with a very somber look on her face. She was normally very bubbly, so this caught me off guard. My husband and I sat down in the two empty seats as the principal shut the door and sat down at her desk. I felt my heart racing and had to take a deep breath because I had no idea what I was about to be told. I could tell my husband was nervous as well, so I gave him a slight smile as we braced for the news.

The principal thanked us for coming in on such short notice, but reiterated how important it was that we meet as soon as possible. She and DJ’s teacher proceeded to inform us they would describe momentarily some of the behaviors they’ve witnessed our son display over the last few months. Unfortunately, today’s events escalated things quite a bit and action had to be taken. Our son was being expelled from school.

I could feel the air leave my chest, and I wondered what on earth my son could have done that would have led to this situation. The teacher could see from our reactions that we were both a bit shocked. She started off by saying that when it comes to six year olds, it is understood that some things are to be expected. She’s been teaching for a while and has seen quite a bit over the years and knows this year has been difficult given they all have to wear masks to keep each other safe. At first she thought DJ was displaying typical behavior, but it soon began to intensify.

He started interrupting other kids when they were trying to answer a question after being called on. He was reminded each time to wait to be called on. When the kids would be asked to line up to go to the library or lunchroom or even recess, he kept pushing his way to the front of the line and even elbowed another child in the side. He would be asked to go to the back of the line, but pretty soon, he’d push his way to the front and the other kids would just get out of his way to avoid injury.

One of the major problems was his refusal to wear a mask. The principal explained that she knows it’s not fun to have to wear a mask, but she had directed all of the teachers to explain why they were needed. She even had them do a fun experiment when in-person school started back up using bubbles to explain how far droplets can travel. The kids all seemed to like it, and it seemed to get the point across. Despite all this, and the constant reminders, DJ quite often refused to put his mask on and would call the experiment or “bubble race,” as he put it, a “stupid waste of time.”

While on the playground, several of the teachers noticed DJ would occasionally call other kids names. They would quickly remind him that name calling is hurtful and that he should say he’s sorry. He usually did so, but it was getting to be a more common occurrence. The principal said that it wasn’t brought to her attention until several of the teachers had witnessed the same thing but were unaware that it had happened more than once or twice. It turned out that it was happening quite frequently.

The last two things that the principal mentioned to us had happened that day, and they were the last straw. After catching DJ cheating off another student’s numbers worksheets, his paper was taken up and he was asked to move his chair closer to the teacher’s desk. As his teacher had her back to him while writing something on the board, DJ got up and walked over to the teacher and pulled down her skirt in front of the class.

There was an audible gasp both by me and my husband!! I couldn’t bring myself to make eye contact with DJ’s teacher. I was mortified that my son had acted that way and that it wasn’t an isolated incident. The look of disappointment on my husband’s face was something I’d never seen during our entire marriage and it broke my heart to see it. I knew immediately that we had a long and serious road ahead of us. We were going to have to work together to figure out how to handle this. The principal is a very kind woman, and she knew this was hard to hear as parents regardless of how difficult it was to convey it as an administrator. She informed us that the expulsion was effective immediately and that we could reach out to her with any questions.

I thanked them both for the time, yet I still don’t know how I got the words out of my mouth. My husband didn’t say a word. Before we left the room, and since I know my husband so well, I told him that I’d take DJ with me and we could discuss this further once we all got home.


For those of you who know me or who have been following my blog, you are very aware that I am neither married (anymore) nor a mom, although not from a lack of trying (see Surviving Those Questions and Comments). My point here is that this behavior of a fictional six year old would make most people concerned. The idea that this would be tolerated by adults or overlooked by parents is inexcusable. Unfortunately, these actions are being brushed off by many people, but they aren’t coming from a child, childish as they are. These actions describe the very actions displayed by the President of the United States.

It was four years ago yesterday that the Hollywood Access tape was released, where Donald Trump was heard bragging about sexually assaulting women, yet still voters supported him and continue to do so. We’ve heard him, almost on a daily basis, call those who oppose him names. Even as recently as today, when he referred to Senator, and Vice Presidential candidate, Kamala Harris, the first woman of color to be on a major party’s ticket, as a “monster” and “communist.”

We all watched as he pushed Prime Minister Dusko Markovic out of the way at a NATO summit in 2017, some describing the move as showing confidence, while others described it as that of a bully. He has embraced dictators such as Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong Un while alienating us from our allies across the globe.

He’s either downplayed or refused to wear a mask from the beginning of this pandemic. Just this week, he promptly removed his own mask upon returning to the White House from Walter Reed Hospital after being treated for COVID-19. He entered the residence with no concern for the well-being of those around him, who he was putting at risk for a disease that has already killed over 212,000 people and infected over 7,000,000 people in our country in less than a year.  He has proclaimed himself an expert and very knowledgeable in the matters of science, yet he argues with climate scientists when they plead with him to listen to the science and he responds that he doesn’t think “science knows, actually.”

He spent the entire first, and maybe only, Presidential debate talking over Joe Biden and the moderator, refusing to follow the rules his campaign agreed to prior to that evening. This, of course, was only two days after a report in the New York Times revealed that the President had paid far less than his fair share of income tax not only during his presidency, but for at least a decade prior. There’s a reason he has refused to make them public.

My friends, the time is upon us to use what platforms we have to make our voices heard. It is clear that Donald Trump wants you to doubt that your ballot will count. It is clear that he will not go quietly when, yes when, he loses this election. It is clear that another term means the behaviors I have described above will grow exponentially worse, as it is clear those around him allow him to go unchecked.

Let’s show him that we will not tolerate his childish behavior. Let’s show him that we know our vote matters. If you live in the Dallas/Fort Worth area and need a ride to a polling station and I am available, I will gladly provide you with my personal masked transportation. Let’s show the WORLD that America is not Donald Trump’s vision of America, but rather a country that believes in loving one another because what makes us all different is something to be celebrated, not feared.

Please, vote!!!

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Time Better Spent

Below is a letter I wrote and sent to every Republican senator, as they are rushing to push a Supreme Court judicial nominee prior to the election…which has already begun in many states. Maybe this will fall on deaf ears, but I hope it might sway two or three people to rethink their decision. Many have already sent auto-responses that they prioritize their own state’s constituents. Either way, it’s out there. What they choose to do with my opinion is up to them.

Dear Senator,

I am sending this letter to you, as I am all other Republican senators currently debating whether or not to proceed with the process of confirming a new Supreme Court justice so close to an election after the death of Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. I feel, as a concerned American, it is important to remind each of you of a few things as you make your decision on whether or not to move forward.

First and foremost, as someone who was raised in a Jewish home, I felt it was extremely disrespectful that mere hours had passed since her death when an announcement was made that Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s seat would be filled as soon as possible. Furthermore, the fact that this happened on Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, which is the start of the Jewish High Holy Days, shows a great deal of disrespect. Even as I write this, she hasn’t been laid to rest, and yet the spectacle of how this is playing out is proof that in America your feelings don’t matter as much unless you’re a Christian. This never would have happened had it fallen on Christmas, but of course that would occur after the next President is elected, so it’s too late in your eyes.

As we reflect on where we were just four years ago, please note that our country seemed to survive from February 13, 2016 until more than a year later on April 7, 2017 when Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch was finally sworn in. During the time before his swearing in, the Supreme Court of the United States made decisions on 88 different cases. This is proof that they can still function with eight justices, just as they can again until after the January 2021 inauguration. Take away the absolutely hypocritical actions of Republicans who refused to both hold a hearing and vote for President Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland in March of 2016, and I would like to remind you that it was a Supreme Court of only eight justices who finalized the 2016 election. Are you so afraid that Donald Trump will lose the election or that your party will lose control of the Senate that you would go back on your word, one that seems to mean so very little these days?

From a voter’s standpoint, it appears that your entire party has forgotten one very important thing. You work for us, your constituents. We represent more than just your party. We represent more than just your gender, your religion, your race. We, with our tax money, are the ones paying your salary, one that some of us will never earn in our lifetime. We don’t get to vote for a pay raise for ourselves. We don’t get the gold standard insurance plan for our families that you do. Furthermore, had we been hired to do a job and intentionally defied our boss, do you think we would still have that job? Maybe it’s time you remember what your “bosses” are currently going through.

We have been suffering…badly. We have lost our jobs, our homes, our healthcare, our civil rights, and, more importantly, our lives. You have sought to encourage division within this country, whether actively or tacitly, by supporting this President. You have no idea what it is like to live paycheck to paycheck or to go without health insurance or food for your family during a pandemic because your “bosses” pay for all that. Did you really think that we should thank our lucky stars that we got a single stimulus check back in April to get us through this horribly managed crisis? How long did you actually think that money would last us? Maybe you listened too much to the President that this would all magically “go away.”

What about those of us who were laid off trying to find a job in a completely saturated market? Did you think that an extra $600 per week would be enough because we’d all find jobs by the end of July when that money ran out? Are you so detached from reality that you have no idea what a normal person’s monthly bills even total?

Why were you not working together with the rest of your colleagues to make sure we, your “bosses,” were taken care of after the first stimulus bill was passed? Did you think you did your job, you were done, and you deserved a pat on the back? Do you think we would take time off when the fate of the country was in our hands and so many were clearly suffering?

You hold so much power, yet you can’t see the forest for the trees. We don’t care right now if there is a seat filled on the Supreme Court. As the 88 decisions and a decided Presidential election showed, it will work just fine for the time being. We want you to focus your attention, your power, on getting us past this pandemic in every facet, starting with not taking away coverage for pre-existing conditions. Don’t you think the Supreme Court has better things to do than purposely hurt all Americans who would otherwise be without healthcare should this coverage be removed?

What we notice is that you seem to want to be part of the problem rather than the solution. You complain about the fact that you’re not getting what you want and have completely forgotten about us. You claim this will be a fraudulent election because of mail-in voting, yet you don’t feel the need to do anything to find a solution. You fail to see how all these issues are related to one another. Imagine what could happen if you put the FULL FORCE of the U.S. Government behind increasing testing, making schools and workplaces safer, making sure that mail-in voting, or voting in any manner, is free from tampering. Furthermore, you could redirect the time you’re spending acting like children in regards to this Supreme Court seat and get another stimulus bill passed so we are taken care of finally.

As with every person, so too do your actions have consequences. When you break your word by doing only what you want rather than what your constituents want and need, you shatter the very heart of this country. You’re so busy trying to figure out if you could do something that you never stop to ask yourself if you should do something. Morality seems to be something you look past rather than something to strive towards in politics.

I challenge you to reevaluate your priorities as a senator, as there are much more important, life-threatening issues that need to be addressed right now. I want to remind you that you were hired to do a job, and if you choose not to do that job, your “bosses” will replace you with someone who will. The time of underestimating us is over. We have that power, and that should have you running scared. Remember, you may be one, but we…we are many.

With love for this country,
Robyn Thorn

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Dear Mr. P

Dear Mr. President,

I would like to begin by introducing myself. I am a divorced, white woman in my mid-40’s who, in 2018, became a published author. I have always considered myself a suburbia girl, which is where I currently reside. Despite being born in Ohio, I have lived in Texas since I was six years old. I am a gun owner and believe that life begins at conception. I am the proud daughter of an Air Force veteran who I watch fly his flag on an American-made flag pole every day. It is something I’ve always admired about him. I love this country, and one of my favorite trips was to Washington, D.C. where, amongst other things, I toured both the Capitol and White House as well as Arlington National Cemetery. Based on much of this information, you’d probably feel that it’s safe to assume that I would fall directly into your base. This could not be further from the truth.

Let me explain…

I am the youngest daughter of a veteran, a Jewish veteran, living in the Bible Belt. I am the granddaughter of immigrants who fled their countries because of the persecution of Jews. I have been discriminated against simply because of my religion, which can be deceiving since you can’t tell someone’s religion simply by what they look like. In the south, most people assume you’re a Christian. We’ve already proven, based on my opening paragraph that one should never assume, like us assuming you go to church on a random Sunday. I have been preached to that I must pray to Jesus in school despite this going against the religion in which I was raised. Prayer in school sounds good to most Christians, but it is most likely because they believe putting it back in school means it will only be Christian prayer. The feelings of isolation and segregation are palpable to those who have another’s religion forced upon them. Of course, you wouldn’t know anything about forcing things upon people, especially woman. Anyone who believes that must be a pussy.

I am not only a gun owner, but I’m a really great shot with a rifle and shotgun. I’ve even gone deer hunting and killed two deer, which I cleaned, quartered, and ate. I do think shooting is a lot of fun, but unless I need to feed my family, I reserve any “fun” for clay or paper targets with proper ear protection. I also have my gun securely stored in a hard case, unloaded, with a trigger lock. I believe that people should have the right to protect themselves and know many other gun owners, including those with concealed carry licenses. What I do not agree with is the reason for automatic or military-grade weapons in the hands of civilians. The fact that we have been so desensitized to mass shootings in the country is unfathomable. How you can see nothing wrong with your supporters attending protests or storming state capitol buildings with automatic weapons is a blatant disregard for public safety. The fact that you encourage it is criminal. Of course, you must think that if the governors or protestors can’t handle seeing a few automatic weapons around, well…they must be a bunch of pussies.

I absolutely believe that life begins at conception. This is something very personal to me, as I spent years trying to have a family only to fail time and time again. The only thing I have to show for it are pictures of my beautiful embryos that my body sadly rejected. I do not believe that abortion should be used as a form of birth control for this very reason. I wonder though, as a man, how you seem to think you know though what is best for a woman and her body is beyond me. Unless you have a pussy, you can’t understand what it’s like to deal with all that goes along with having one. How you can brag about grabbing one without a woman’s permission is the absolute definition of a crime. How you can preach about the precious life of an unborn child while promoting the death penalty is the ultimate hypocrisy.

Here are a few things that I haven’t yet mentioned, which might further explain why your assumption I would be a supporter would be wrong…

I work in the hospitality industry, and my company and its leaders are pretty amazing. We are told weekly how appreciated we all are…at least those who are still lucky enough to have a job or remain furloughed. Sadly, I have seen so many amazing people lose their jobs because of this pandemic. April was the worst month in the HISTORY of the hotel industry, but surely you know that. Despite the trillions of dollars that have been handed out, your administration has done NOTHING to help this industry, which I believe is largely in part to the fact that you’d be afraid it would show favoritism to your own properties, and only a pussy would do that.

I am a college-educated woman with a double major in Psychology and Communications. I also have a teaching certificate, so I have seen the inside of a classroom as more than just a student. My heart aches for so many dear friends who are terrified and suffering from anxiety for the first time in their lives because their schools are not a safe place to be. There is an enormous lack of equipment, protective measures, and inadequate spacing because there simply isn’t enough funding. The person you appointed as the head of the Department of Education in YOUR administration is a complete and utter moron who should have been putting a plan in place the minute schools were shut down in the spring to ensure the safety of every student, teacher, administrator, and staff upon their return in the fall. They shouldn’t have to scramble to fend for themselves district by district. They tell me stories of their own kids being afraid to go to school. I hear them fighting back tears as they share their fears with me not only for the safety of their own children but for those amazing students for whom they’ve dedicated their lives to educate. Maybe all these people are just being unreasonable and acting like pussies. Yeah, that’s got to be the right explanation.

I understand that the English language can be confusing. I know that big words like Yosemite and Thailand can be a real bugger. I get that the fear of public speaking can turn a confident orator into a monotone pussy who can’t riff to save his life, especially if he has to look at a stupid bunch of mask-wearing fake media who seem to catch him on every single lie he’s told to the people of the United States…who, by the way, are who he answers to because it is his JOB as an elected official.

There is one huge difference between you and me, the likes of which you can’t comprehend. I actually love this country. I believe there is no better place in the world to live. It is my home. I take pride in my home and will be forever grateful to those who serve and have served this great country. I take great offense when someone tries to hurt what I love. In one fell swoop, with your Hollywood Access tape, you proved two of my favorite sayings – 1. When someone shows you who they really are, believe them the first time, and 2. Integrity is doing what is right even when no one is looking. Look at you, killing two pussies with one quote!

Here is your biggest problem…your fatal flaw, and it has me smiling inside. You have greatly underestimated me and many like me who will not allow you to stay in office after January 20, 2021. We will not allow you to continue to be a national home wrecker any longer. Here’s some free advice – start working on a plan now to get everything packed so you’re all set to go back to Florida or hell or wherever by Biden’s inauguration, as this country doesn’t take well to Oval Office squatters. As a property owner and slumlord, I’m sure you’re familiar with this type of situation.

Disrespectfully yours,
Robyn “Nasty Woman” Thorn

To my readers: If the blatant use of the “P” word has offended you, then I have proven my point. Remember, I’m just a writer. I’m not the President.

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My Eviction Conviction

I’m sitting here writing this, finally able to compose myself after watching something on TV that I know many people are going through during this economic crisis. I’m referring to eviction. I watched, sitting comfortably on my parents’ sofa, as a Harris County Constable in Texas had to serve eviction notices to multiple people on a daily basis who have been unable to pay their rent due to lack of income because of the Coronavirus. Now, with the CARES Act payments having expired and the eviction moratoriums doing the same, many find themselves in unfamiliar territory. Despite this being a somewhat short news story, my face was stained with tears watching person after person, family after family, having to leave their home, some with no place to go. Their pain was palpable.

Since the onset of this pandemic, I have been blessed enough to maintain my employment, despite suffering a pay decrease due to the fact that I work in the hospitality industry, which has been devastated by this crisis. I have been able to spend time with my family, staying with them during the latter part of the week since I’ve been fortunate to be able to partially work remotely. I have continued to not only pay my rent, but I’m also scheduled to move into a new apartment in late October that has given me something to look forward to this year. All of these blessings were going through my mind as I watched these distraught, terrified, and financially ruined families gather what little they have and walk away from the safety of their homes in hopes they are able to find a safe place to stay.

What have we become as a country? How did we get to a point where there is such a huge divide between those who enjoy a comfortable, or, in some cases, extravagant lifestyle, while others cannot afford even the basic necessities including a roof over their head? Why have so many in positions of power and influence become complacent, taking their roles for granted? Why do they continue to childishly fight over petty things rather than act like adults, set aside their differences, and work together towards much-needed change?

This economic downfall is like a house of cards. Remove just one wall and you see a collapse that affects so many – businesses, families, landlords, banks, etc. I am aware that there is much that goes into our socioeconomic status, but until we acknowledge and fix issues as basic as equal rights for all Americans, we will continue to see suffering on an unimaginable scale.

I know that so much of what we’re experiencing now could have been avoided. It has been avoided in other countries who had a national plan to fight this pandemic and the associated financial effects. What hurts me on a daily basis is that this country seems to be stumbling around in the dark, unable to find its way. I know so many who are suffering. As this news story showed, rent is more than many can afford right now, but, for everyone, compassion is free. I pray that it becomes the foundation of our national plan. I believe that out of compassion comes love, and love will always light up the darkness and hold us together when times are tough.

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One Out of Many

E pluribus unum. We’ve all seen and heard that Latin phrase. It’s on our currency. It’s a part of the Great Seal of the United States. The translation of it is, “out of many, one.” It was adopted to show that out of the union of the original Thirteen Colonies, a new nation emerged. One nation. A more perfect one. A united one. There are several variations of this actual translation, however. It can also mean “one from many” or “one out of many.” It is this last translation that I’ve been thinking about a lot this morning.

On April 3rd this year, I started tracking different stats about this pandemic from the COVID-19 Dashboard by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. Almost every day since then, I have added to my spreadsheet. At first, I was just tracking cases and the difference in cases each day both in the US and worldwide. It wasn’t collected at the same time every day, but it was almost every day. Soon thereafter, on April 19th, I added the number of deaths worldwide. Again, this was worldwide. At the time, we were at a total of 165,106. The next day, I added the difference in deaths per day. I watched, day after day, as the number of cases rose. By April 25th, we had already surpassed 200,000 deaths. By May 15th, we reached over 300,000 worldwide.

On May 20th, I began tracking the number of deaths in the US as well as the difference per day. At the time, over 91,000 people had died in our country, and before the end of the month, we hit the horrible milestone of 100,000 deaths. As of this morning, August 18th, I have tracked the following information:

* Worldwide Cases – 21,916,639 (201,591 new cases since yesterday)
* US Cases – 5,444,554 (40,054 cases since yesterday)
* Worldwide Deaths – 774,720 (731 since yesterday)
* US Deaths – 170,564 (499 since yesterday)

It is this last number that I can’t get out of my head. You see, the husband of a very dear friend is now included in the total added from yesterday. He is one out of many. So many. We see these numbers go up day after day, and it’s becoming just another thing to acknowledge and move on. We, as human beings, have to stop and really take this in. Why did it come to this?

I want you to ponder something that has boggled my mind. We all have seen or heard a memorial such as one from 9/11 or during a Black Lives Matter protest when the names of all the victims are read aloud in remembrance. Hearing each name read gives validity to their lives and helps to put what happened into perspective. With that in mind, I calculated how long it would take to read, at an average pace, the names of all those in the US who have died from this pandemic, knowing very well that every medical expert is sure the number is much, much higher. As it stands now, it would take over 43 hours to read the first and last name of each victim. Furthermore, it would take over 58 days to read the first and last name of all those in the US who have been infected. Is someone you know or love included in that time period?

Now is not the time to be selfish about the fact that wearing a mask or socially distancing is uncomfortable or is infringing upon your rights. There is nothing right about all those who have been infected, will be infected, have died, or will die. Wearing a mask does not impede your ability to speak or voice your opinion. Socially distancing won’t last forever, and, with all of us doing our part, we will be able to embrace our loved ones, high five a teammate, or comfort someone in person. As much as we’d like the world to revolve around ourselves, it doesn’t. Your actions have consequences, but out of many, you are one. You are a powerful individual who has the ability to keep those around you safe by doing something so very simple.

The numbers I listed above represent people. These are not numbers, they are lives affected, infected, possibly because even just one out of many was not being safe. Multiply those numbers by how many are in your immediate family, and the results are overwhelming. How many more lives will be touched by this before we realize that we have the power to help make things better? You may be one, but we…we are many.

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The Cleared Road Ahead

Sometimes when I’m driving, I’ll come across an accident on the opposite side of the highway. Quite often, the result is that traffic in that direction is then backed up for miles. When this happens, three thoughts come to mind. First, I hope and pray no one was hurt badly. Secondly, I’m usually very glad this occurred on the other side of the road. Finally, as I continue my drive, and I see the end of the line of traffic and the open road behind it, I often feel sorry for those approaching, just merrily driving along their way, as they have no idea what type of delay is in store for them just up ahead. Usually we rely on our navigation system to get us around something like this, but lately, I’ve been comparing this to my life. Wouldn’t it have been nice to know six months ago what we were all in store for given the current state of the world?

I wonder if some being or time traveler is, metaphorically, sitting up high enough to see the road ahead of and behind us. Would they have the same empathy knowing what is to come? Would they think it was best if we just didn’t know what awaits? Should they just let us take the “ignorance is bliss” defense and go about our way? On the flip side, what if up ahead, past the delay, they saw a beautifully cleared road and how happy we would be?

The pendulum has to eventually swing the other way. So, what if we are on the precipice of this time? What if things will soon be getting easier? Maybe we just have to make it past this traffic jam or this horrific tragedy to the point when the lanes open up. Being patient isn’t really my strong suit, especially while driving, but so be it. I have to keep asking myself what I can do within my power to get to that point – the point in the road where I can finally get back to my previously-planned drive. I have to believe that is where we are all headed despite this delay and the pain associated with it.  I will put my faith in knowing that despite the gridlock we’re currently experiencing, we will all be changed for the better because of it and the road we’re traveling will lead us where we’re supposed to go – to an amazing destination.

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Decisions, Decisions

When I was a kid, I remember seeing adults doing all their “adulting” things and thought how much I looked forward to the time when I would be a grown up because then I’d have all the answers. Fast forward to adulthood, and I quickly realized that there isn’t a single adult who has all the answers. Not a one! In fact, most are just making things up as they go along. That’s just what you do. What happens as an adult though, is you sometimes forget that everyone is in the same boat, yet it appears, from afar, that maybe one person has figured this whole thing out. They must know something I don’t. It is from those people that I try to seek advice in hopes that they would help me navigate the pitfalls of decision making.

Over the years, I’ve gotten some pretty good advice, especially from my family. When I was learning to drive, my mom told me never to assume someone is turning just because they have their blinker on. I’m sure that has saved me from a few accidents. Whenever I was trying to find something I lost, my dad would always tell me that it would be in the last place I looked. ***Stares directly at camera*** When I was trying out for colorguard in high school and my flag kept rolling up during a basic spin, my sister, who had been in colorguard and had already graduated years before, told me to just figure out what I’m doing and don’t do it anymore. You think? Finally, there’s my brother. He’s given me a lot of advice over the years too, but some recent advice of his has really given me a sense of peace, so I thought I’d share it in case it helps you as well.

Given the current state of the world, I have found that I have begun to second guess every life decision I’ve made at one point or another. I guess not being able to be as social as we’ve been in the past leaves you with too much time with your own thoughts. As I’m sure you already know, mine can be quite dizzying. When my brother and I were discussing things such as the future of my job/company, having to find another apartment to move into this fall when my lease is up, or even the idea of moving to a new town/state and going after a dream, I told him that I’m so afraid of making a wrong decision again. What he said has stuck with me since that day.

He told me that there are no right or wrong decisions; there are just decisions. You make one and maybe it works out. Maybe it doesn’t. Hopefully you learn from it. Sure, some of the decisions you might regret. Hell, they may be downright scary, but at least you made one. I’ve always been of the mindset that I’d rather regret something I’ve done rather than something I haven’t. Taking away the panic of making a wrong decision and just making a decision really struck a chord with me.

Our lives are basically a Choose Your Own Adventure book. The only difference is that when you’d read one of those books, for those of you who remember them, you’d make a decision and then hold the place (or places) in the book just in case you didn’t like the outcome. Sadly, you can’t do that in real life…well, except by “what if-ing” yourself to death. Yep! Guilty!

Oh to have discovered the road less traveled. What would it have been like to take a left instead of a right? What if you didn’t end that relationship? What if you finally chased that dream? What if you’d taken that job you turned down or never left a job in the first place? Like I said, the “what-if” game can be all-consuming at times.

So here you are. You make a new decision. Who knows, maybe you’ll be surprised when things turn out better than expected. Maybe you learn a lesson so HUGE that its effects change others’ lives, possibly in ways they couldn’t have imaged. It could be that this one choice, however insignificant it may seem, could send your life down a path that leads to the adventure of a lifetime. There is no way to know when making a decision how it will turn out. So, I implore you to stop worrying so much, and follow my brother’s advice. Good or bad, it’s a decision, and it’s a step forward. Let the adventure continue!

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Sorting Things Out When You’re Out Of Sorts

I am so confused. I seriously have no way to know what day it is. It wasn’t until I looked down at my phone this evening that I even realized that it was officially after midnight, making it Friday. When did that happen? I’m sure we’re all a bit out of sorts. After all, when you spend day after day at home working when you used to go into the office, the days sort of blend into one another. My friends keep asking how I’m doing, and I tell them, “Well, I’m working. My family is safe and healthy. I can’t really ask for more.” That’s the truth. This situation sure does put things in perspective. Sure, I’ve had my moments, but I will admit that I’ve gotten much better at one thing – managing my anger and frustration.

In the past, I’ve been in relationships where my partner wanted to spend a lot of time together. Sure, that’s great at first. The problem is too much time together can end up with your nerves spreading out over the floor like tree roots and you find your partner can’t help but walk, or even fall, on them. Used to, I would say, “If I promise to miss you, will you please GO AWAY?!” That’s been the challenge. When you’re socially distancing with others due to a pandemic, you can’t just leave your home to go do some therapeutic shopping…at least I won’t, as I’m not willing to risk my family’s health for something trivial. Long walks alone have definitely helped. Like I said, I’m very blessed to be safe while staying with family.

I wonder how my family and friends dealing with loss and tragedy are managing. I know many are, and it hurts my heart to think about it. I imagine some just want to pick up rock after rock and throw it at something until they feel better. As Forrest Gump says though, “Sometimes there just aren’t enough rocks.”

I find myself getting very angry and disgusted with our government. As if tensions weren’t high enough with an election, the universe decided to throw a pandemic in the middle of it. Things are getting ugly! This was my reason for logging off of social media for the foreseeable future. We are all too divided politically while we are all distanced socially. I think back to when I was a kid trying to do something and fail. I’d then call out, “DO OVER!” It’s too bad we can get one of those. Of course I wonder if we’d even learn from what we’ve done wrong so far so we don’t repeat it.

I really have been working on managing my anger and frustration, as I mentioned earlier. When it came to politics, I made “Press Conference Bingo” cards to see how many bingos I could get during whatever time was allotted for that day. I’ve found ways to be productive such as mowing the yard for my parents and their neighbor or completely reorganizing my dad’s office. I literally stop and smell the flowers on my walks and even take pictures of them.

I took time out of my day to watch the Navy’s Blue Angels fly directly over my parents’ house in honor of Coronavirus first responders. It brought back memories of going to air shows when I was little. I’ve hung out with my brother and laughed at stupid movies with him. I’ve called or texted with friends or family to see how they’re holding up. Why not?! I’ve got the time! I always find that even just lending an ear can definitely get me out of my head.

During my adult life, I’ve run a good number of 5K races. There’s something about being able to see that finish line or being able to hear the announcer call out the names of people as they’re approaching it to get you to kick it into high gear. I think we all just want a finish line with everything going on. Unfortunately, I think it’s more like we’re on mile one of an ultramarathon, and we have a long way to go before the end is in sight.

I look forward to the day that I don’t have to hear words or phrases like “virus,” “new normal,” or “social distancing” anymore. I can’t wait until I can see the 3-D versions of my co-workers and give them big hugs without worrying about catching a disease from them. I wonder how dating will even work moving forward. Will you be required to take a test before you can remove your mask for a first kiss?

At times, it feels as if we’re in a movie or something, as the reality of the world is just too bizarre. Really?!?! A pandemic?!?! In MY lifetime?!?! I normally love movies with a twist, but this virus is definitely the plot twist no one saw coming. How this all plays out is anyone’s guess. I want that happily ever after ending so badly, but I’ll setting for my family, friends, and readers to stay safe and healthy through all this. However far down the road the figurative finish line may be, I just hope things calm down enough by then to hear the cheering crowd up ahead.

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