formerly Diane's Addled Ramblings... the ramblings are still addled, just like before, and the URL is still the same...
it's just the title at the top of the page that's new

Friday, September 15, 2017

I Ain't Askeerd a Nuthin'

Yesterday I had a "conversation" on Facebook with someone I don't know, via the comments section of a friend's post. I can't even remember what the original post was about (something political). This guy (someone I came to realize is much younger than I am) said something like, "Ignorance can't survive in today's world."

Lord, how I wish that was true!

I commented (after several others), that ignorance can and does survive; it has always; it will always, forever and ever amen. His subsequent comments were sweet, really, and full of optimism and idealism. He felt that I was being a Negative Nelly. I said I'm simply a realist. I've lived in a world full of ignorance and intolerance my whole life, it was that way before I was born, and I believe it will be that way long after I die. I went on to say that I believe humans will destroy the planet long before we ever become a truly enlightened race.

And I believe that completely.

I also explained that I believe there are many, many intelligent, good-hearted people doing good work around the world. I try to be one of those people. I raised my daughter to be one of those people. My realistic view of the world doesn't mean I don't try to change my part of it, to make it a better place.

His last comment, again sweet and full of optimism, told me to be brave... he told me not to let fear win.

Be brave. Don't let fear win.

I let that sink in for a moment. I thought of all the things I've dealt with in the last 20 years. I thought about all the times I've had to will myself to be brave, in order to just get out of bed in the morning, just to do what had to be done. And you know what I realized?

I ain't askeerd a nuthin' no mo.  

I've dealt with death and depression and illness and divorce. I'm living with cancer. I've raised an amazing kid all by myself, with woefully inadequate funds. I've been out of work and underemployed. I've had relationships I thought were rock-solid, relationships I thought I couldn't live without, simply evaporate without explanation. I've felt alone and stranded and completely stuck in some dark places, both literally and figuratively.

But here I am - upright - looking forward to the next phase of my life. 

In looking at that list of difficulties, I realized that while I have certainly been afraid - so very afraid - I'm not anymore. Because I made it through, that's why. Oh, I bear the battle scars for sure, and there are still some open wounds, but they will heal. They are healing. I am healing.

And for the first time in a very long time, I can honestly say there's no fear. My heart feels open, my head feels focused, and my whole being feels ready for the big things coming my way. Good things... good things I'll let you in on over time.

And if some of the stuff heading toward me isn't so good? Well, I'll handle it... just like I've handled everything up 'til now.

Because I ain't askeerd a nuthin'. 







Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Dog Days

It's been nearly a year since we lost our beautiful boy - Sundance. That's nearly impossible for me to comprehend. I still miss him every day. But not long after he was gone, the sharp edges of grief were dulled, ever so slightly, by another dog.


This is Finn, the day I brought him home from his third shelter in his short life - just 8 months old (though the shelter mislead me a bit, assuring me he was older), scary-skinny, and bright as a button. It was all good for the first couple of days. And then, I guess, he started to feel more at home.

After his second night, and my third pair of shoes, he had to be crated. He's still crated. He'll chew anything not nailed down. Including Pip and Rue, the cats.

There was definitely a period of adjustment for those two.


There have been rocky moments. Rue, who crazy-loved Sunny, wants to love Finn. Desperately. And Pip wants to be his buddy. But it's really hard to take kindly to someone who spends most of his time making sure your head fits in his mouth. I completely believe Finn thinks the cats are simply odd-looking little dogs and he just wants to play with them the way he plays with his peeps at the dog park. After nearly a year, however, there has been no blood let and, as far as I can tell, the cats still haven't used their claws on him. So, although I spend a lot of time picking up stuff they knock over and yelling, "What in the fresh hell is wrong with you people?!," we're all good.

At the dog park, Finn is a bit of a celebrity. When we arrive, we hear choruses of "Finn!" It's sort of like when Norm entered the bar on Cheers. Then Finn makes his rounds... to every single human in the park. He's well-loved, is my boy. He does have himself a good time - every time - and comes home, more often than not, sporting a Pigpen-like cloud of dust, dirt, and just plain muck. And if it's rained recently?


I once had someone ask if he was a chocolate lab. I looked at her like she was nuts and replied, "Um, he's black." She looked at him again and exclaimed, "Oh my god, that's mud!" 

Yeah. We frequent the dog wash regularly.

He's been a handful since Day One. Truly. And because I was still grieving for Sunny and probably shouldn't have gotten another dog right away, it's taken me a little while to fall in love with him. Though I think he's quite smart sometimes, he's a colossal idiot at others (most others). But he's also the friendliest, happiest dog I've ever had. He hasn't yet met a person or mutt he doesn't love with his whole heart, and that makes it easier to love him, even when he's chewed your new pair of running shoes. 

And he's a handsome fellow, too... 


Who has had some very cute moments... 


Even if he's a little dumb... 


Now, at 18 months old, he's still puppy. But he's a big puppy. No longer scary-skinny (and a frequent diner at the Cat Food Buffet), he's 80lbs of black fur that winds up on everything I own. He has absolutely NO concept of his own size and he thinks he's a lapdog... 


He's a big goofball, who makes me laugh (and shake my head... and holler)... 


He's definitely part of the family... 


And I really do think that he's going to be a good dog. Someday. 

Until that day? I'll just keep loving him. And pushing him off the couch. And extricating the cats' heads from his mouth...  

Monday, September 4, 2017

The Year of Me - Just Diane

When I started this blog, my daughter was 8-years-old, in the third grade.


I told lots of stories here (and on Facebook) of her growing up. The readers who came here regularly got to know her pretty well. I'm not sure if any of those old regulars are still coming 'round but if you are, I'm about to make you feel very old...

Three weeks ago, I drove her over to the University of Virginia and moved her into her dorm.

I'll just let that sink in for a moment.


My kid is in college. And I'm now living alone for the first time in my life. Well, as alone as I can be with a big dumb dog and two obnoxious cats.

It's been a bit of a transition, for both of us. Things were a bit rocky her first week at school but they settled down and she seems to be pretty happy. I get frequent texts and calls, but not because she needs things... just because she wants to tell me about a cool class or club or person. It makes me so happy. I'll admit, though, it was hard for me that first week (because if your baby is hurting, you're hurting, too), and leaving her at school was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do (I had to pull over at a rest stop because I couldn't see to drive), but things settled down for me, too. I'm kind of enjoying the empty house, even if I have to do all the dishes myself.


This empty nest has left me thinking, though... about how I move forward. I realized just how tangled up in Ryan my whole sense of self was. Is. And I've realized that I need to do some work - and some play - to reclaim me. Just me. Just Diane. Not Diane, Ryan's mom (though I will always be that person and glad of it!).

For the first time in 25 years, I'm on the front-burner. There is no one ahead of me on my immediate priority list. That's a strange feeling, peeps. I've been spending some time thinking about

What Do I Do With Myself Now...

And making some lists.

I've planned several trips this year, to see faraway friends, starting with The Brown-haired Bestie in Charlotte (during which we'll squeeze in a writer's workshop, like in the old days). I'll be seeing my friend Cari in NY over my birthday, I'll head to England with my girl over her spring break, then there's a visit planned to the Red-haired Bestie (some of you may remember Blognut) in Chicago, and then I'll head to Maine to camp for a week with my Close-by Bestie.

In between those visits, I've got a tai chi class planned, I've joined the gym, and I'm looking a few other things to get me reacquainted with my life.

In my last post, I rated the areas of my life and found every one lacking in some way (some pretty significantly). I went into a busy summer, plugging along, feeling tired and overwhelmed. We're starting fall with me feeling much the same way, but I also have a sense of optimism I haven't felt in a while.

Right now there's a big pot of chicken-vegetable soup simmering on the stove. It's lunch for the week... I'm starting back on the Whole 30 eating plan, as it's the only one that seems to right most of my physical wrongs. And tomorrow morning, I'm going to do my best to get up at 5am and get to the gym, to swim, something I love but don't do near enough of.

It's just the start.

It's a whole new year, peeps. The Year of Just Diane. Come on along if you want. I'm happy for the company! XO

Yeah, that's me, right there. Hiya! 


Tuesday, March 7, 2017

I'm Not Dying. Yet.

I just gave a few Facebook friends a fright. I posted this:

If you found out this afternoon that you have just a year to live:

1. Would you be happy with the life you're living?
2. If your answer is no, what would you do differently in your remaining 365 days?

Apparently, some people thought I might be dying (you know, given Myrtle and all).

Oops. And heh.

I felt bad that I scared them. So I followed up with my reason for the questions... 

I read a blog post yesterday about an interesting project taken on by Single Dad Laughing. He came to the realization that he wasn't enjoying his life as much as he should be, so he decided to live this year as if it was his last. It's his '365 Days to Live' Project.

Cool. 

He started right away, too. Obviously he still has to work and pay rent and get his kid to school on time, so he might not be able to do everything he'd do if he knew his/the world was ending, but he's working on some pretty fun stuff, like trips, and moving to a better space. Before he started, he evaluated his life in several areas. I wasn't really clear about his method, but I liked the idea, so I wrote down all of his areas and added a few of my own... 

Then I rated my life on a scale of 1-10, with 1 being Colossally Bad and 10 being Exceptionally Good

I was a little scared, truth be told. 

Rightly so, it turns out.

It wasn't pretty.  

My areas can be separated out into Mental Health, Physical Health, and Emotional Health (though a few naturally bleed into more than one category). Today wasn't a very good day so I tried hard to think of things in the larger view. I tried to be really honest with myself. I tried not to be overly-dramatic or whiny (though it was an overly-dramatic, whiny sort of day). I tried. I did. 

Still, when I finished, I was kind of appalled. But when I really thought about it, not really surprised.

Here are my areas and my ratings. There are a couple I feel the need to explain... 

Mental Health
Depression – 4
Anxiety – 3
Stress Level – 3
Loneliness – 5
Spirituality/Connection to Nature – 3
Self-worth – 4

This is pretty bad, I know. They're all related, certainly. I've felt the spiral toward depression for a while and I've been fighting it off. Hard. But anxiety and stress will take their toll eventually. Spirituality for me is about a connection to nature and the less tangible concepts of inner calm and clarity. I'm feeling none of those lately. And of course, when all areas of one's life are out of balance, including certain relationships (see below), self-worth (always tenuous at best) takes a nosedive.

Physical Health
Fitness Level – 3
Sleep Quality – 3
Diet – 2
Energy Level – 3
Self-Care – 3
General Physical Health – 4
Physical Environment – 5

These are all related, too... and related to the other broader categories. I know this. My physical health with regard to conditions is monitored. I have a pretty clear view of the big picture. With regard to the smaller picture (see above), some things are easily corrected... with desire and motivation (definitely not the easy part). Self-care has been a big issue for me. Always. I had a virus recently - a long, drawn-out bugger of a virus. I went to work sick and was chastised and sent home. Afterwards, during a conversation with my boss, she said, "Diane, you really have to take care of YOU." I'm not good at this. I know it. 

Emotional Health
Work Life – 7
Hobbies – 3
Family Relationships – 3
Friend Relationships – 6
Life Balance – 4

Fun Level – 3

General Contentment with Life – 3 

Work is really good overall but because of all the issues in the other areas, I doubt myself constantly, I struggle with keeping my thoughts organized, and I fight just being tired all the time. Hobbies... hmmm... what are they? Other than coaching and Facebook (which is making me a bit miserable of late), I don't seem to have any anymore. With regard to family relationships, my connections to and with my extended family are wonderful - they rate WAY up there. But my relationships with my immediate family are so poor that the rating takes a serious fall. Things with Ryan have even been strained this year, which is so upsetting, as we're heading into her last six months at home with me. With my friend relationships, again they're wonderful. I have the very, very best peeps. But I never SEE them. Even the ones close by are hard to connect with, due to life being so very busy for everyone. I want and need contact beyond Facebook and I was reminded of that during a recent trip to England. I spent two weeks with real live humans - people I adore and who love me - and it left me with a pretty clear understanding of what I've been missing. Bottom line, I'm unbalanced.

And I have little fun anymore. I'm not sure when I stopped having fun, but I did. I'm not even sure what would be fun. But I aim to find out. 

I do believe that life is good. I do. I always believe that things will get better. I believe that now. But I'm not in a good place at the moment. I'm drained, mentally, physically, and emotionally. Part of the reason for that is due to things beyond my immediate control... but I am starting to take control of the way I'm reacting to to those things. I'm starting to think about (and in some cases, doing it) putting myself first. I'm starting to make some plans for changes and for my future beyond this year. But I have a lot of work to do. Clearly. 


I'm not going to make goals for every single area. It would be overwhelming, I think. And I'm tired. Really tired. Instead, I'm going to focus on one thing from each of the three bigger categories. Since everything really is related, I expect each one thing will have a larger impact. For example, to reduce my stress levels, I'm going to get some exercise, which will improve my overall physical well-being. Improvements in my diet will likely affect my energy level. And making a real effort to connect - face-to-face - with people I love, will affect a whole bunch of areas.

Baby steps.

With regard to my Facebook post, I was so happy to see that several of my friends love their lives just as they are. Several were happy overall, but wanted to travel more or spend more time with family. I hope they do just that right now. One friend asked me what I would do if I only had 365 days left. I think I would spend it just hanging out with my people... in the sunshine... in the rain... by the sea... in a tent or by a fire. 

I would want to spend it feeling the way I felt during my trip to England in January. Loving my people and feeling loved in return. Up close and personal.

What about you? 



Monday, January 2, 2017

Just Do It. Damn It.

Happy New Year, peeps! Hope you made it through the holidays unscathed. They were OK 'round these parts... relatively quiet and unremarkable (which is not at all the worst way to spend them).

So. Here we are. It's finally 2017 and the Very Bad No Good Stinkin' Rotten Year is over. Now, for just a moment, let's pretend that flipping the calendar from December to January is not actually just an arbitrary sort of act, and that yesterday morning really DID begin a whole new period of time during which the Universe will take a chill pill and calm the hell down. Shall we?

Cool beans.

While I've sort of given up the whole 'new year, new me' way of looking at Life (given that I'm only ever the old me, regardless of what the calendar says), there is still a part of me that hangs onto the 'fresh start' shtick. It's appealing, no? I like the idea of a clean slate... a new year full of possibilities and none of the detritus left by the maelstrom of the previous year.

It's a nice idea, certainly, and works in theory if not in reality.

In the past, I've chosen a 'word of the year' to focus on because I read a blog post once about how that helped the writer bring good things into her life. Lovely, right? Last year, my word was 'abundance.' And I got it, man. In spades. An abundance of utter shite, quite frankly. My year included chemo, the loss of people I loved deeply, my mother's long and serious decline in health (which has affected my life dramatically, as I have become one of her [reluctant] caregivers), my beloved Sunny's death, a terrible accident that nearly killed my ex (the recovery from which has been arduous and has seriously affected us both financially), the election of Donald Freaking Trumplethinskin (I can barely type that without seizing), and what feels like an entire world that's falling apart at the seams.

Not so nice.

Good stuff did happen as well (a great new position at work, the Brown-haired Bestie's wedding, a new pup [which, actually, may or may not be a good thing... we're still working through some things]). But by and large, I felt like every time I got back on my feet, Life hit me hard. Right in the face. With a kettlebell.

Anyway, I decided I wasn't going to do the 'word of the year' thing this year. It's a charming idea but it just doesn't work for me. If I'm being honest, not only do I not focus on it, I pretty much forget the damned thing until people start talking about their new 'word of the year' choices near the end of December.

No, this year I'm going to employ a mantra. It's one I'm going to write at the top of every stinkin' page in my planner (which I have to keep for work and which I use for personal things as well):

Just do it.

And some days, I'm sure it'll be necessary to add a bit to it. For example: 

Just do it. Damn it.

Just do it already, will ya?

Christ on a pogo stick, just do it!

What is taking you so farking long? Just. Do. It. 

Do you hear me?!

I spend a ridiculous amount of time thinking about doing things but not actually doing them. And I"m not just talking about the stuff I don't want to do. I'm talking about things that are really good for me... I'm talking about fun stuff I really like to do! What the hell? I spend a ridiculous amount of time analyzing the reasons I don't do the things. Then I spend even more ridiculous amounts of time being angry with myself for not doing the things, regardless of the reasons, and even more time still regretting the time I wasted not doing the things, analyzing why I don't do the things, and berating myself for not doing the things. 

I am ridiculous.

So my mantra for this year (or this random, arbitrary period of time) is: Just do it

It's a good one, I think, because it actually applies to every single area of my life. Because there is not one single area of my life in which I don't put things off, that's why. Not one. Not a single stinkin' one. 

And I'm tired of it. I'm tired of myself. I'm tired of not doing the things. 

All the things. 

Any of the things. 

Will my mantra make me do all the things? 

No. I'm sure it won't. But if it helps to get me moving, if it helps to make me stop looking for the reasons why I'm not doing the things (because holy hell, it doesn't even freaking matter anymore), if it helps to get me to do just some of the things? Well, then I'll be a bit further forward than I am right now. 

And that's something. 

Because where I am right now? Not the best place. Not the worst, certainly, but not the best. 

I've learned not to make resolutions because I break them and, once broken, they're off my radar altogether. I've learned that while goals are necessary in life (they are, aren't they?), I tend to make too many or I make them too complicated, then I get overwhelmed, and in the end, I accomplish little (and wind up hating myself just a little bit more). 

But this? This is just a request. A suggestion. An order. A demand. Just do it. Whatever it is, Diane, just do it. Just get up, just buckle down, just focus, just un-stick yourself, just spend a little time knocking a thing or two off your to-do list... just do it. 

Damn it. 

It'll work, right? I mean, something has to. 

Friday, November 11, 2016

Wonderful and Awful

I was accused the other day, by two family members, of being anti-American. I am not. I have never been. I don't have a strong sense of nationalism, it's true. I don't fully understand nationalism or allegiance to a flag or place. I believe there are other countries in the world that are as good as the US - countries I would love to live in. I recognize that there are other places in the world where the standard of living is better than it is here - places whose systems we would be wise to emulate. I do not always respect the processes or the decisions of the government. I do not always respect the people who run the government. I am sometimes ashamed and embarrassed of what happens in the name of America and of what looks like patriotism to some (as I have been throughout the presidential campaign and as I certainly was on Tuesday night).

And sometimes I say those things out loud.

As far as I know, I'm still allowed to do that. As far as I know, free speech does not extend (yet) only to those who wrap themselves in the American flag and can fart the tune to The Star Spangled Banner. And I'm allowed to feel what I feel.

But none of my feelings or words makes me anti-American. I can feel the way I feel and still be deeply appreciative of the freedoms and opportunities I have been afforded by growing up and living here. I can have a desire to travel the world and live in other places and still think fondly of the US or be happy to come back to it. I can disavow the actions of leaders who involve us in wars we have no business fighting and still respect the people who serve.

It seems to me as though nationalism requires one to see the world in black and white. In right and wrong. In us and them.

I don't see the world that way.

I can swear allegiance to the planet and its people without singling out one flag.

Am I proud to be American? That feels to me like asking if I'm proud to be white... or if I'm proud to be a woman, or blue-eyed, or ambidextrous. I simply am those things. I didn't choose any of them, so I'm not sure I understand why I should be proud of them. Granted, I have remained in the US when I could have moved away, but we get tangled up in our lives and our people and making big changes like that is not always feasible, even if desired. But had I left, as I wanted to do several years ago (to the UK, the place of my birth), I wouldn't have been running from something I disliked; I would have been running to something I wanted. It wasn't feasible, though. So I have lived here, worked here, paid my taxes, participated in the political process, and been an active member of my community. I volunteer, I am kind to strangers, I donate to charity shops, food banks, and libraries, and I pick up litter everywhere I see it.

I take care of my community - my community in America.

I am grateful for my community - my community in America.

I love my community – my community in America.

I am proud of the way the people of my community (local and national) pull together when necessary, as I am proud of the way communities all around the world pull together when necessary... but that's about people, not places. It's always about people for me. I don't see Americans as better than any others. We are - all of us in this whole wide world - wonderful and awful. We are all human.

I am not anti-American. I simply see the world in a myriad of colors, not just black and white... and not just red, white, and blue. I won't apologize for that. I won't apologize for how I feel about this place I live, whether those feelings are negative or positive. But I understand that many people will not understand (or respect) my point of view. I don't expect them to apologize for that either.

We are all of us - in this whole wide world - wonderful and awful. We are all human. And flags, imaginary lines on maps, and the people who purport to lead us can't change that.

And I, for one, am glad of it.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

The Sun Shines Less Brightly Today

Early yesterday morning, we had to say good-bye to our beautiful boy. 


If you've been coming 'round here for a while, you know what he meant to me. You know how much I loved him. You know that he rescued me at a dark time in my life... and rescued me a little more every day since. I have not been able to imagine my life without him... and so I haven't even tried.

But dogs age faster than humans. I've heard it said that we're here to become good - to become better, and because dogs are already good - they're already the best - they don't need to stay as long. That was certainly true of my boy. He was, very simply, the best. He left this life with a big piece of my heart. Indeed, it feels as though I've been kicked in the chest. Breathing is hard... it's painful. I'd forgotten how much this hurts physically.

I held him in my arms as he slipped away. I kissed the soft, warm, sweet spot on his forehead - the same one I've kissed a hundred-thousand times in the nearly-13 years he graced my world. I whispered in his ear that I would miss him. And I cried.

And I continue to cry.

My sweet, sweet Sunny-boy. I loved him so. 


Tuesday, July 26, 2016

I'm Going to Say It Once...

I’ve been trying to avoid political crap, especially on FB. It’s wearing me down just to look at it. Mostly I scroll past, with eyes unfocused... but sometimes I look. Often I cringe. Always I have opinions. I have stuff to say, but it really doesn’t matter to anyone but me, so I’ve been keeping quiet. But today, on this historic day, I decided I’m going to put up one post. Again, it won’t matter to anyone but me, but I’ll have said it all. And then I’ll be finished.

First, I’m not voting with my whole heart for anyone. I’m not sure I’m even voting half-heartedly. I've maybe got one ventricle in this election. But rest assured, I will be voting.

I’ve seen many posts about the fact that some 50% of voters in the US are “independent.” If that’s true (and that’s a big if), it means something significant, no doubt... but it certainly doesn’t mean they’re all on the same page. There are “independent” liberals, conservatives, libertarians (and everything in between) who would never vote the same way. I also keep hearing that there are other choices beyond Trump and Clinton; that we can show our displeasure with the system by voting for a third party, or by writing candidates in, etc. Yeah. Sure we can. But to what end? Again, what people don’t seem to be taking into consideration is the fact that all the voters who don’t like Trump or Clinton will never agree on any one candidate. So a vote for anyone else simply serves to take votes away from the party they would have supported had the nominee been a candidate they liked. ONE of those TWO candidates IS making to the White House. Period. It’s simple math. Anyone who thinks otherwise is delusional. I get it and I'm really not that smart. I simply don't understand why we're not all getting it.

I think we should work hard to change the system between election years. We need to place more focus on congressional elections. We need to make sure the people in Washington understand we don’t want many of them there. We need to do a better job at educating ourselves beyond believing pundits paid to lie, beyond taking FB memes as gospel, beyond allowing ourselves to be distracted by trivial matters while the big things go right over our heads. But right now? I think we have to work with the system we have. And, like it or not, that means voting for the established parties.

I will vote for Clinton because if I don’t - if I choose to vote for anyone else, or not vote at all - I will be throwing my vote to Trump. And that? Is INSANE. Because he is insane. He’s a reprehensible, hateful, immature bully. He has no platform or plans beyond ridiculous talking points that don’t even make sense most of the time, and some of his half-baked ideas are flat-out dangerous; he is an isolationist during a time when we need solid global connections; he can’t speak articulately on any issue and refuses to answer questions in any sort of straightforward manner (probably because he can’t); he has a documented history of shady business dealings and he still won’t release his tax returns (and I find it very interesting that his supporters don't seem to care about this at all, especially when tax rates have traditionally been far higher during Republican administrations); his speeches at his rallies have been disgusting, hate-filled rants targeted at a third-grade-level populace who is eating up his bigotry and anger. And that's not spin; that's not a blip or two taken out of context. They are his words, out of his mouth, and he's proud of them! Why anyone would want that man in the White House is beyond me. How anyone can say they would be proud to vote for him, especially if they have seen his rally speeches or his Twitter account, makes me question their sanity, their intelligence, and their compassion for the human race. And if they claim to be Christians and plan to vote for him? Well, the words I have for those people won't be found in the Bible, that's for sure (not in the New Testament, anyway). He is horrible. Horrible. Horrible.  He makes me long for Romney and Bush and McCain and I thought those guys were insane. He is an embarrassment and a shameful stain on this nation’s political process. And god knows, that’s really saying something.

So that leaves Clinton. As I say, she has my vote, but it’s a reluctant vote. It’s a ‘lesser of two evils’ vote. I’m not OK with that. But I’m far more OK with her as President than him. No one – and I mean no one on this green earth – will ever convince me she is worse than Trump, on any level. You can say she is dishonest; you can say she is unethical; you can say she has “blood on her hands.” But the fact remains, she has been investigated more than any other candidate/politician, by partisan and non-partisan groups, costing taxpayers untold amounts of money, and she has yet to be found culpable in any significant manner, in any situation. The Republicans themselves have exonerated her on numerous occasions. That makes them either (incredibly) stupid or corrupt (maybe a bit of both?), or it makes her (incredibly) smart or not guilty (probably a bit of both) – and which would you prefer in office? What really chaps my butt, though, is that absolutely everything the Republicans despise her for has been done and overlooked by their own people throughout various Republican administrations. Somehow everything is worse when she does it (or is purported to have done it). It’s been the same with President Obama, though, from the beginning of his administration, so why should we expect any less from them?

 I dread this election. I dread the months leading up to it. I dread the next four years, no matter who is in office. I dread and I worry. I worry that Trump could win. Period. I worry that Clinton could win and the obstructionist Republican congress we have currently would continue to act against the best interests of the entire country, including their own constituents. Or worse, they could maintain control under Trump and do so much damage to this country (and the world!) that we'll never recover. I worry that Democrats might gain control and not do near enough to move us forward into a healthier place. I worry that whichever candidate wins, they will continue to bow to the corporations that run our government and forget that they are there to serve us - the people.

Gah!

I still believe that we are better than this; that we are capable of so much more than this. I believe change - positive change - is coming, even if it's not going to be in the next four years. If this campaign has done nothing, it has shown each party that many, many Americans are tired of the way they've been doing things. But for now, I have to hope that enough people will simply put their grown-up pants on and do what is necessary to prove that America truly can be great; to put Trump back where he belongs - on "reality" television (ha!) and Twitter, mouthing off to anyone who insults his over-inflated, narcissistic ego; to keep us from completely and utterly self-destructing. 

And those are my two cents. Which matter to no one but me. And that's all I have to say. 

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

I Feel You, Little Homie...

I posted this on Facebook this morning:

This morning, on my way to work, I saw my neighbor dragging her small son to the bus stop, quite literally. He had thrown himself onto the ground, his expression one of resolute determination.

He. Was. Not. Going. To. School.

Mom had him by one arm, pulling his prone and remarkably Jell-o-y form, his heels scraping the asphalt the whole way. When I passed by, I nodded to him in solidarity and understanding. His eyes pleaded with me to help. Alas, I could not. All I could do was mouth, “I feel you, little homie. I feel you.”

I meant it as a funny post, and I think it was received it as such, but it prompted a comment from a friend: “What a little brat.” This friend doesn’t have children, generally doesn’t like them (about which he’s vocal), and resents having to share public places with them. A conversation about children’s behavior ensued.

I get frustrated, as do all parents, I think, when a childless person, who spends little time with/around kids, puts his two cents in regarding how children should be raised. My friend, an overall great guy (except for the whole ‘children are devil-spawn’ thing), feels quite justified in giving his opinion because 1) he was a child and, therefore, does have ‘experience’, and 2) he is forced to share the world with little humans. They’re fair points, I suppose, but having been a child is far different from parenting them. I admit that I was judge-y before I was a parent. It’s so easy to say, “If I had a kid…” but you don’t really know until you have that kid. Then a whole lot of what you ‘know’ flies out the window.

Here is what I do know, based on my own years parenting and many years of working directly with small children:

Good, happy, healthy kids misbehave. Period. Good, happy, healthy kids can be brats and have melt-downs, sometimes (gah!) in public. Good, happy, healthy kids will sometimes push their parents to the point of exasperation and exhaustion, making them want to kick their little butts so far into the future, their clothes will be out of style.

I’m betting that every single parent in the world knows this. I’m also betting that every parent in the world has been (or will be) embarrassed by one of these situations at least once (or 400 times).

Imagine how this mom felt... (heh)

Kids – all kids, but especially little ones – are learning. They’re learning everything. They have no real control over their lives – and sometimes they want it so very desperately. They have little control over their emotions.  They don’t understand that being tired can make them act like the Anti-Christ, that being hungry brings out the demons in them, that when they’re angry or scared, they can’t just lash out at whoever is near. They are learning. We, as parents and as adults, are teaching. Or we should be.

Condemning a child – labeling him negatively, especially based on just a snapshot of behavior – is wrong. Assuming he always behaves badly is most likely inaccurate. Not understanding that there is a reason for the behavior is doing that child a disservice. There is always a reason. The reason might not be readily apparent, it’s true, and it might not be a good one (according to adult standards) but it’s always there. Trying to understand the reason tells the child that what is happening in his head and his heart is important. It’s validating. It teaches empathy and tolerance. It creates healthy, empathetic, caring adults.

And I think we need more of those sorts of adults in this world.

None of this means that bad behavior should be condoned.

It doesn’t mean that kids shouldn’t be held appropriately accountable for their behavior.

My little neighbor obviously didn’t want to go to school this morning. I don’t know why. I don’t know his reason. I do know he’s a lovely little guy with a normally sunny disposition and his resistance (I can’t even call it a tantrum) to heading to the bus stop was unusual. I also know that his mother deemed his resistance futile. He went to school, like it or not (not).

And I went to work this morning, like it or not (not).

That’s Life.

Parenting is a hard job. It’s a really hard job. Some of us are good at it. Some of us are not. Most of us are just trying to get through the day. Most of us are also well aware that our kids are the results of our efforts – the good, the bad, the ugly, and the utterly exhausted. And it scares the shit out of us.

I don’t believe in wrapping kids in bubble wrap. I don’t believe in protecting them from loss, from losing, and from the pain and frustration that comes from not getting what they want. I believe they need freedom to explore, to make mistakes, and to learn to think for themselves. I believe we have to prepare them for living in the real world, which means working hard, paying dues, losing (hopefully less than winning), helping others, being grateful, and giving back. I believe that competition can be good but not at the expense of learning to play fairly. I believe that teaching our kids that there are consequences for every action, as well as how to deal with being hurt, with pain, with anger, frustration, and loss are some of the most important lessons we can teach. And I believe that making sure kids understand that they are not their mistakes and shortcomings – and that they are worthy of great love in spite of their mistakes and shortcomings – is key to bringing them up in the healthiest possible way.

When kids are loved and taught well, their behavior generally follows. Make no mistake, every child will misbehave. Every child will have bratty moments. But the child who chronically misbehaves is missing something (or may have a condition or disability which makes managing his behavior difficult). And that is not his fault. So attempting to understand his reasons for misbehaving can only help him.

We have become a society so willing to judge and condemn people for behavior/ideas/words we don’t like. We demand tolerance of our views but we’re not willing to extend it. This world needs change on a grand scale.

And I think it needs to start with the youngest among us.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Four Years

When I was diagnosed with cancer three years ago, before I knew its name or prognosis or treatment, my world went entirely grey and I was gripped by an overwhelming fear. It wasn't for myself (not at first, anyway. That came later). It was for my girl.

Ryan was just finishing up middle school. She was at a vulnerable age. She still had high school ahead of her - four years of high school. After that, she'd be off to college, off on her own, making her way in the world without me.

But until then? She needed me.

So I needed time. I needed four years. Just four years. Anything after that would be icing on the cake.

It's an interesting thing when an Atheist is faced with an existential crisis. There is no asking God for a favor, no bargaining with him, no prayers that will help. Oh, one can "send thoughts/needs/desires out into the Universe," but when it comes right down to it?

One must deal on one's own.

So I sat myself down, shaking with fear, sick to my stomach, and I crawled into my own head. I reminded the sad, sick, tired mama staring back at me that she was not alone; that there was a little girl (for she will always be a little girl in my head) who needed her, no matter the diagnosis, prognosis, or treatment.

Period.

That little girl - that best-by-far thing I have ever had a hand in creating, that brilliant, funny, self-sufficient, utterly fabulous, completely colorful person - wasn't finished growing up yet. And though she had people who loved her, who could help her to stumble through Life, she only had one mother.

Me.

So I resolved that no matter what the oncologist said, I would get four more years. No matter what the cancer was called, no matter how much of me it wanted or needed, the wants and needs of the girl who calls me 'Mom' would take precedence because she - she - would always be more important.

We are now three years gone.

It hasn't been an easy time. I've spent a lot of time sick and tired and frustrated and angry. And though the prognosis is not devastating (for which I am ever so grateful), the cancer has still taken from us - from both of us - in measures of time and well-being and peace of mind.

But we are here. Together. I will get my fourth year. And I will get icing on the cake, too. Now I'm looking beyond next year; I'm looking forward to watching my girl graduate from college and going on to do big things in this world. And she will do big things, in part, because she was mothered. By me. I don't take credit for her accomplishments, mind you, but I do take credit for giving her the love and support she has needed to become the spectacular person she is.

So today, on my 17th Mother's Day, I'm looking back on the last three years, but only for a moment. Today I look forward to all the Mother's Days I will celebrate with my girl. The cancer will still be with me, always there, lurking in a dark grey corner of my head... but always - always - far less important than she.


Saturday, March 12, 2016

So Many Words, But Mostly Two

When Donald Trump, the man who wants to "lead" this country, stood in front of the world and implied that his penis is of better-than-adequate size, I cringed. I thought maybe, just maybe, we'd hit the bottom of the barrel. I thought that surely his vulgarity, his juvenile, narcissistic, pre-teen behavior, his foul language, and his extremely undignified and ignorant ways would finally do him in. I thought maybe his supporters would finally say, "Dude. Enough." 


I thought wrong. 

They laughed. They cheered him on. He speaks to them on a third grade level (the lowest of all the candidates), because he knows who the majority of his supporters are, and they ate it up, just like third graders hearing a dirty joke on the playground. 


I was ashamed. Embarrassed.

Again. 


But today? Well, today I crossed over into another plane of negative feelings.

I just watched clip after clip after clip of Donald Trump speaking at his rallies - clips in which he called for violence from his supporters, swearing to pay their legal fees if they injured protesters, clips in which he wished aloud that he could hurt protesters himself, and clips in which he spoke in other vile ways. They were not "liberal media" (HA!) spins. They were his words, coming from his mouth, at his rallies, to his supporters. They were and are words he is PROUD of. 

He is not even attempting to speak words that will bring us together as a nation or even to unite a party that's crumbling in on itself; he is doing his best to separate us, to segregate us; he is doing his best to open old wounds and create new ones.


And he is basking in the hatred the way the rest of us bask in sunshine.

I am sitting here shaking with shame and embarrassment, as well as disgust and anger. I am appalled. I am, like so many, utterly incredulous. 

I read a PBS poll yesterday which asked the question, "How has your view of America changed during this election?" There were nearly 600 replies. I read about 100 of them before moving on. The two most used words in the responses I saw? 


Ashamed and Embarrassed

Me, too.

I know many people who identify as Republican who also find Trump's rise shameful and embarrassing, as well as appalling, disconcerting, and surprising. They thought he was a joke. I believed he was a joke for a long time, too. I simply did not want to believe the Republican party could sink to this level - and that's saying something, given their utterly appalling behavior over the last several years; given how they've accomplished little of significance during their time in power, except finding every way imaginable to disrespect the man in the White House, except actively and knowingly widening the divide in the country, except fully admitted obstructionism (to the detriment of the entire country, their own constituents included). They have behaved like small children. Actually, no, they haven't. That's an insult to small children who can't always control their behavior. They have behaved like a group of petty, entitled, spoiled, disagreeable middle-schoolers, who, unlike real middle-schoolers, will never grow up.

The fact is, the Republican party created this whole Trump situation; they paved the way for this vile attitude spreading across America; they are 100% responsible for this shame - shame that more than half the country is reeling with today and that the rest of the world is simply shaking its head at in complete disbelief. I'm getting tired of my friends and family around the globe asking me, "Diane. What in the fresh hell is going on over there? Is this serious?" I hate that my teenager is ashamed to be American right now. I have no answers.

What I do know is that this is not what America should be. This is not what will make America great.


This is foul, disgusting, shameful, and embarrassing. It is wrong.

I'm sure I know a few people who support him - some wholeheartedly from Day One and some who will because they believe he will be the "lesser of two evils" (and frighteningly, when it comes to the battle between Trump and Cruz, I actually do believe Trump is the better of two, as I see real evil in Cruz, but when it comes to a battle between Trump and either of the Democratic candidates, I simply cannot see how he is better than either of them in any respect [and I will not vote for either of them without significant reservations]). I hope Trump's supporters really pay attention to the way he talks both to and about the people who disagree with him. 

I also hope they realize that if he ever makes it to office, there will be people who will disagree with him every single day and those third-grade-level supporters cheering at his bravado and schoolyard bully tactics right now will not mean a single thing then. Like it or not, we live in a global society and peace and prosperity for us has a whole lot to do with how we relate to others. And that requires maturity, diplomacy, and dignity, not childish name-calling and threats.

And if those supporters do pay attention, and the violent, vulgar rhetoric he spews is acceptable to them on any level, if this is the sort of speak they want coming from the White House, to their fellow countrymen and to the rest of the world, then the shame so many of us feel about Trump is duly and rightfully extended to them. 


Shame and embarrassment...

...two unpleasant words and feelings which will, hopefully, spur us on as a nation to become and behave better than we are right now. Because if we don't make things better, our shame and embarrassment are going to get so much bigger. 


And shame and embarrassment will be the least of our worries.