Shame on you!

Now this? This is something to be proud of. Photo taken in 1917.

As if we didn’t have enough evidence that the world has gone completely mad, the big news is that…

The national organization of Girl Scouts of America is sponsoring the participation of Scouts in the inaugural parade on Friday.

Let that sink in for just a moment.

The organization that has long promised that its goal is to “Help Girls Grow Strong” is encouraging girls to participate in an event for a person who has repeatedly, over time, denigrated women. A person who has been captured ON VIDEO bragging about committing sexual assault. A person who is known to deliberately walk in on half-dressed teens in dressing rooms for his beauty pageants (vile concept, in itself).

In the interest of full disclosure, I have a long and extremely negative history with GSA. I’ve had very little respect for the organization for the last 20 years. But one thing I did always believe is that they believe in helping girls to become strong and assertive.

No more. I won’t even give them that much.

The official story of the GSA is as follows:


I call bullshit.

“Peaceful transition of power” is a phrase that’s getting bandied about quite a bit lately. And it’s absolutely a vital concept for democracy. But here’s what peaceful transition looks like: A sitting president cooperating fully with his successor, even when they have absolutely nothing in common. A political rival gracefully conceding defeat. Congress members who don’t create a pact on day one NEVER to cooperate with the incoming president. Peaceful protests, rather than riots.

You know what is NOT a part of peaceful transition? A celebratory parade. Especially a parade celebrating a person who is, objectively, completely devoid of morals.

And there are many ways young women can practice civic engagement and serving their country, without showing public support for someone who would gladly grab their pu%*ies.

Shame on you, Girl Scouts.

Fashion tip.

So I’ve made my first foray into the fashion world of jeggings.


For the record: A) mine do not look this good on me (Is it possible they’re not intended for middle-age moms?), B) I do like how they look with certain outfits, and C) I wouldn’t be caught dead in those heels. Actually, if I wore those heels I would end up dead. 

Things I learned about jeggings upon wearing them for the first time today:

  • Pro tip: After going to the bathroom, pull up the underwear and the jeggings SEPARATELY. Trying to do them together turns into a torture chamber nightmare and will keep you in the bathroom so long someone will send 9-1-1- in after you.
  • They serve the same **ahem** function as Spanx, but are way more comfortable, except…
  • Do not wear them on a super long day at the office. They’re fine when you’re standing up, but sitting in them for more than a couple of hours will cause your body to be painfully and ruthlessly sliced into two halves, right at the waist.
  • Peeling them off like a banana skin and then having to turn them back right-side-out is not exactly a fun activity when all you want to do is fall into bed at the end of a long day.

Hope you’ve found something useful in this little tutorial. Thank you, and good-night. 

Reichenbach Fall.

I think…maybe…hopefully…I turned a corner yesterday. 

Through the power of blogging and the power of supportive friends and family, I believe I’ve found the resolve to begin to change my career circumstances. It’s the first time I’ve felt hopeful for a long time. Nervous because I am SOOOOO not a risk-taker. But still hopeful. I actually put out some feelers already yesterday.

On the other hand, this is the last week.

The final few days of President Obama’s term. The end of pride in our nation. I’ve been holding my breath, trying to will some miraculous event to stave off the evil that looms large at the end of this week. 

It’s worse than a nightmare, because there’s no waking up. It’s worse than dystopian fiction because it doesn’t end when you turn the last page. In a few days our entire government will be in the power of cruel, greedy, power-hungry, Ayn Rand devotees. Rights for the poor, minorities, women, immigrants, and anyone who’s NOT a powerful, privileged, white male will disappear one by one.

I’ve stood in this spot a couple of times when visiting the Lincoln Memorial. It gives me chills to remember it.


But, like many, I’m doing what I can to make a stand against the coming tyrrany:

  • Celebrating MLK day with Middle, who has the day off from teaching, by going to see “Hidden Figures.” It’s the film about the long-ignored team of black female scientists and mathematicians who heavily influenced the space race.
  • Making plans to donate to a few meaningful causes on Friday – the two I’ve picked so far are the ACLU and the Southern Poverty Law Center.
  • Preparing for the Women’s March taking place in our state capital on Saturday. I’ll be attending with my mother and Middle, while Oldest will be marching in DC. Our sweatshirts and buttons will arrive in the mail in a few days, and we’ll be picking up a big load of sanitary supplies to donate on March day, for the drive sponsored by the local organizers.
  • I’ve signed up to make phone calls for Every Town for Gun Safety. It’s funny, that. One of my introvert tendencies is that I despise talking on the phone. But I discovered during our local elections last year that I totally rock at making calls for causes I’m passionate about. 

This week it feels like we’re all about to take the Reichenbach Fall. (Yes, I’m a huge “Sherlock” fan. Did you see last night’s episode?!)

Let’s hold hands and take the jump together. And then turn up quite alive and well, thank you, just like our friend Mr. Holmes.

Sunday celebration.


A rundown of today’s Ice Storm experience:

6:00 am: Wake up for the fifth time since midnight and notice no tinkling sound of ice falling outside. Look out the window with a sinking heart upon seeing very little ice shining from the glow of the streetlights.

6:10 am: Check phone compulsively for a text or a FB post saying church has been cancelled today. No dice. Try to gather the wherewithal to drag myself out of bed and begin getting ready to leave the house.

6:15 am: Nearly faint with joy when the text finally arrives: All services cancelled due to icy conditions. Send multiple group texts to alert volunteers I’m responsible for, so they know to stay home today.

6:17 am: Snuggle back under the covers and sleep until 10:00 am. TEN O’CLOCK! I haven’t slept that late since the time I had a 10-day bout of flu!

And now, here I sit in my jammies at 12:30, enjoying the best of all possible worlds (well, except for the fact that Oldest and Youngest are far, far away instead of sitting around with me enjoying a cup of coffee, silly conversation, and a round of Bananagrams).  Just enough ice to make the church parking lot too slippery for safety, but not nearly enough to create power outages. 

To top it all off, I’ve just read a very helpful, hopeful, and inspiring comment on my post from yesterday. When I started blogging over three years ago, I had no idea I would end up making friends all over the world who would actually make a difference in my life. But that’s what I’ve experienced, and I’m thankful.

I’m now able to look ahead to the coming week with some sense of positivity. One of the most difficult situations I’ve been dealing with at work will almost certainly come to an end this week. Not the end I would have preferred, but an end that will allow me to square my shoulders and move on. I think – just maybe – I might have the energy to look ahead and start making plans for something new. To paraphrase one of the goals of a community-wide team I love working with, “Something awesome will happen and I’ll know what it is when I see it.” 

Fingers crossed. 

How does an ice storm relate to issues of faith? It’s a long story.


So far our “ice storm of the century” is underwhelming. We have about 1/4 inch of ice, and the streets currently are passable. I wouldn’t care to take a walk down our slippery driveway, though. We don’t do salt or ice melt at our house. Not out of any grand environmental concerns; we’re just lazy bastards.

Anywhoo…the forecast, at least, is all I could ask for. Freezing rain and ice pellets beginning again late tonight (Saturday) and continuing into the day on Sunday.

And why is a Sunday morning ice storm a good thing, you might ask? Or you might not, depending on how bored you are so far with my tale.

Because I work for a fairly large church. And this forecast means a pretty good chance we’ll cancel worship tomorrow, to avoid broken bones in congregants making their way from the parking lot into the building. And that’s where the issues of faith come in. Now we get a little more serious. Because the idea of not having church tomorrow pleases me to no end.

I’ve been a full-time, paid lay minister in this congregation for 12 1/2 years, as Director of Children’s Ministry. My job description? Anything that has to do with families having children ages birth to 6th grade. And anything else I need to do to keep the congregation in good shape. Assisting with worship planning. Writing devotions for adults. Creating a system for keeping needed supplies in the building stocked. Creating and implementing a protection policy for children and the adults who work with them. Serving on teams that do work completely unrelated to children and families.

In other words, I know the workings of the congregation, its pastors, and its lay-leadership inside and out. I’ve seen behind the curtain. 

And I don’t like what I see. In fact, I’m fed up with what I see. It’s become so negative in the past year it’s a cause for constant stress and anxiety. I’ve had more confrontational conversations in the last year, trying to deal with some of the crap I’m seeing, than I’ve had in my entire lifetime. Confrontations, for this introvert, put my stress level way over 100%.

A good friend, who has also spent much of her life working in ministry, asked me recently if everything I’ve been dealing with at church is affecting my faith and my relationship with God.

Answer: No. Not at all. God and I are cool. God has absolutely nothing to do with the nasty bullshit going on behind the scenes in our congregation. (FYI, nothing prurient or illegal – just seriously wrong, as in deception, lack of communication, and extremely non-Christian behavior.) Everything that’s going on is purely due to human error. 

But the end result is that I have a very difficult time at this point engaging in my work, knowing what I know. I have to put on a good face for most people, be the cheerleader for an institution I believe in less and less every day. Individually, most of our program staff members do amazing, Christ-centered work. As a whole, it’s a sham.

If I could change careers I definitely would. And, to be honest, I would be unlikely to attend any church for a very long time. But I’m responsible for half our family’s income and all our health insurance. For now I’m stuck. Currently I don’t see a way out. 

Working in ministry, I’ve read plenty of pieces over the years about the damage done to so many people by churches. Generally those are stories about people being beaten over the head by some narrow definition of religion: gay people told they’re sinful; women told they’re value-less. This cold, hard truth about much of Christianity makes me ill. 

My situation is entirely different. One thing I can say with pride about our congregation is that we’re progressive and affirming. Nonetheless, I, too have been damaged by organized religion.

So…no church tomorrow? Time to celebrate!

And there you have it. How our ice storm and issues of faith are related. Thanks for listening. 

Ice day!

Image credit: David Stimac Photography


An ice storm is predicted to last the entire weekend in our part of the world. All school districts are closed and travel is restricted to “essential only.”

You might call it an introvert’s Perfect Storm.

So…the question is – what will this particular introvert do with potentially THREE ENTIRE DAYS without leaving the house? Save the world from nuclear disaster? Write the great American novel? Discover a cure for the common cold?

Nah. Here’s my Perfect Storm list:

  • Read.
  • Sit quietly under layers and layers of blankets.
  • Netflix and Acorn TV.
  • Knit.
  • Pilates and yoga videos to stave off complete lethargy (and actually doing the Pilates and yoga, rather than just watching from under aforementioned blankets).
  • Bake.
  • Feel smug because I figured out on Wednesday, by looking at the weather forecast, that I needed to order groceries ASAP for delivery on Friday morning, before all the delivery times were booked.
  • Text funny tidbits to my far away darlings so they don’t seem so far away.

Of course, there may also be the search for flashlights and the rush to get our refrigerated foods packed into ice, due to the likelihood of power outages. I can live with that, if it means three days of glorious solitude.

Thank you, weather gods.

Let’s tell the truth about health care in the U.S.

affordable-care-act-logo

“If I say it often enough everyone will believe it.”

It’s a strategy often used by children. Until they reach a certain stage of intellectual and moral maturity, they think they can get away with making up their own reality. In their minds, everyone else will just follow along, if they’re insistent enough.

It’s become the GOP’s strategy over the last years, as well. Certain members of the party are better at it than others. But as a whole, the GOP wins the gold medal for making up an alternate reality and shouting it until people who don’t know better believe it.

The most damaging example  (honestly, there’s so much of it, how can we rank the vile-ness of their lies?) One example is the horrendous untruths they’ve told about the Affordable Care Act. How many times have we heard a Republican demagogue tell the nation that the ACA is a “disaster?” That people are suffering more now than ever due to Obama Care?

Allow me to share some verifiable, objectives truths about health care and the ACA:

  1. According to the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Article 25 1. Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.

2. Since the passing of the Affordable Care Act, fewer Americans than ever in our nation’s history go without medical insurance.

3. No one may be denied health care due to pre-existing conditions – literally a life-saver for people with serious, long-term health issues.

4. Young people may now retain coverage under their parents’ health care policies until age 26 – vital in a day and age when students come out of college with crippling loan debt.

5. Though some individuals’ premiums have risen since the passage of the ACA, here are the truths associated with that fact: A) Many people received subsidies to ameliorate the rising cost. B) Health care costs are rising more slowly since the passage of the ACA than previously. C) Insurance companies are not our friends. Theses companies are more responsible for rising costs than is the ACA. D) A significant portion of rising costs is due to the millions who remain uninsured because individual states chose to reject increased federal Medicaid and Medicare funding, disingenuously claiming to abhor the thought of raising the national debt by helping their citizens remain healthy.

And now allow me to share my own, subjective truth about health care.

I’ve been in a place in my adult life where I had to accept public assistance in order to ensure health care coverage for my family. The prospect of being uninsured is a terrifying specter in this nation. Even with insurance, we were driven into bankruptcy due to medical bills. The American health care system is a travesty. The ACA is not perfect, but it’s the best improvement we’ve had since the Children’s Health Insurance Program (thank you, Hillary Clinton). Repealing will mean severe illness and even death for many citizens.

The GOP rally cry of “Repeal and Replace!” is nothing more than chest-beating, anti-humanity rhetoric.

People need health care, even if the system isn’t quite perfect, it costs more, or creates some problems for the larger group – we call that the social contract.

No matter how many times or how loudly the members of the majority party of Congress – as if they were young children –  shout to us about the “failure” of the ACA, it will always be a lie.

Blame the assholes.

before-you-diagnose-yourself

I’ve been struggling with anxiety and depression for weeks, labeling it as situational and/or blaming it on my annual Seasonal Affective Disorder.

But now, thanks to the power of the meme, I have a whole new outlook! My emotional despair is due to all the assholes around me! Let’s list them, shall we?

  • The American voting public
  • The president elect
  • His band of xenophobic cabinet and advisers
  • The equally hateful majority in Congress
  • My direct supervisor, who has become a master of prevarication and of avoiding communication
  • Certain members of the governing body of our church, who are not particularly dedicated yet have created policies that completely screwed loyal, long-time employees
  •  Okay, this one’s not an asshole, but he’s definitely a very significant contributor to my emotional state: The member of my immediate family whose symptoms due to his diagnoses create constant stress.

All joking aside, I understand that blaming others for my own problems is a slippery slope. My addiction to navel-gazing intense introspective skills have helped me see my own part of the mess, and I’ve been deliberately engaging in shitloads of self-care as a defense.

But seriously, there’s only so much we can do when we’re drowning in assholes.

 

The worst possible deja vu.

On another Tuesday night, sixty-six days ago, almost to the minute, the world as I’d always known it came crashing down.

The Husband, our Middle, and I sat in front of the televion watching election returns. Hearts sinking. Minds numb. In true physical shock at what our fellow citizens had just done. Weeping and wailing uncontrollably.

The intial shock has reached stasis in the ensuing 66 days, to be replaced by a deep and haunting depression over the state of our beloved nation. 

Tonight we sat down together again, in the same room, on the same sofa, and watched the best president of my lifetime say his farewells. A man of honor, dignity, wisdom, and class. Moving aside peacefully, as our democracy requires, to hand over our nation to the person who was elected to take his place. 

I am sickened by the thought of what lies ahead. 

How to torture an introvert with SAD.

Actually, much of life is torture for us introverts. And winter is always a slog for those of us with Seasonal Affective Disorder.
But last night hit all the sore points: 

  • Had to go to a meeting with people I don’t know well.
  • At 7:00 at night.
  • Which is after dark.
  • The meeting was at work, where I’d already been all day. Where shitloads of stress is giving me serious anxiety symptoms. Led by the person who is causing pretty much all the stress. 
  • Was forced to interact appropriately at a time of day when all I’m fit for is p.j.’s and my cozy bedroom with only my family around. 

As you, dear reader, reach for a Kleenex to wipe away tears of sympathy, I’ll tell you how I managed this torture session:

  • Wore sweats yesterday. Even all day at work. I can get away with sweats almost any day I want, but this time it was a deliberate nose-thumbing to the prospect of the evening meeting.
  • Put supper in the Crock Pot before I left the house this morning, to decrease evening stress.
  • Toyed with the idea of coming up with a fake excuse for missing the meeting, then righteously decided to adult like a boss and actually go. 
  • Promised myself an enormous latte on the way to work this morning as a bribe. It’s DELICIOUS.
  • Arrived at the very last second I could possibly get there and still be reasonably on time. 
  • Was the first person to leave, rather than hanging about and “visiting.” (BARF)

So. I survived. Anyone else out there have coping strategies for this sort of indignity?

Image credit: Cram Crew Blog