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Archive for the ‘Life’ Category

would we have seen more news coverage? In and among sports updates, weather reports and other usual news on any given day, was 15 seconds (or so it seemed) enough for what appeared to be a pretty sophisticated bomb found in a backpack along a Martin Luther King parade route in Spokane Washington? I almost didn’t catch it and waited for further information, but none appeared during that particular news hour.

Searching the internet, I found several stories including this brief on Reuters.  I wondered at the seemingly lack of news coverage. Was it because it was in Spokane and not New York city? Was it the fact it was found along a parade route honoring Martin Luther King and not, dare I say, Ronald Reagan or the allegedly soon to be sainted Pope?

This morning I found I wasn’t alone in my questioning. The Maddox Blog had a post, “The mystery of the Spokane bomb.” I was glad to see it, but honestly, it made me angrier that my unease of “lack of coverage” seemed to be validated.  As one of the commenters to a news story said (and quoted in the Maddox blog post), ” I personally think that to be just a LITTLE more newsworthy than Sarah Palin trying to paint herself as the true victim of Tucson.”

Could you find an act more of hatred and racism than placing a bomb along a Martin Luther King parade route on a day honoring his work and philosophy? Could you not have paid this domestic act of terrorism the same attention as you did the football games? Oh wait, maybe if the bomb had gone off…

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I have to admit, more often than not I am critical of our government system, of the political infighting, of the motive for power or money that seems to drive those within the Beltway, of the inflammatory rhetoric you often hear in politicians’ rants. Every so often something makes me stop and realize how proud I am to be a part of this nation and tonight was one of those moments.

President Obama has just finished his memorial speech in Tucson. I found myself applauding and rising to give him a standing ovation along with all of the others in the audience. I found tears in my eyes at his descriptions of those that died, of those that were injured, of those that rose above themselves to be heroes.

I wrote an earlier blog, “Reactions to Tucson” for AAUW covering my initial reactions to the events in Tucson that found Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords shot along with 19 others, six who died. Now I find myself compelled to write again — not about the violence of the action, of the issue of gun control or politicians finding themselves needing to blame whomever, but of our President whose speech I think I will print and post somewhere to keep me reminded that a positive attitude, an inspirational message is better than all the excuses or anger put together.

The New York Times has posted the entire text of the speech, take a moment to read it or see a YouTube version once it’s up. Think I’ll just list some of those comments that hit home with me.  Thank you, Mr.  President:

“Heroism is here, all around us, in the hearts of so many of our fellow citizens, just waiting to be summoned – as it was on Saturday morning.”

“But at a time when our discourse has become so sharply polarized – at a time when we are far too eager to lay the blame for all that ails the world at the feet of those who think differently than we do – it’s important for us to pause for a moment and make sure that we are talking with each other in a way that heals, not a way that wounds.”

“If this tragedy prompts reflection and debate, as it should, let’s make sure it’s worthy of those we have lost. Let’s make sure it’s not on the usual plane of politics and point scoring and pettiness that drifts away with the next news cycle.”That process of reflection, of making sure we align our values with our actions – that, I believe, is what a tragedy like this requires.”

“I want us to live up to her (Christina Green) expectations. I want our democracy to be as good as she imagined it. All of us – we should do everything we can to make sure this country lives up to our children’s expectations.”

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It’s not often that I go from cheers to jeers within minutes as I did this morning reading two separate news reports. The first was a post from Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz “Give women every chance 2 fight off a killer.” She pointed out that 1 in 8 women in America has a chance of developing invasive breast cancer during their lifetime. She goes on to describe her own story, telling of those seven surgeries as she fought her own cancer. She then describes her disappointment in the “FDA’s decision last month to pull the metastatic breast cancer indication from the Avastin (bevacizumab) label” and why.

My sister fought for eight years against breast cancer and tried every kind of treatment she felt would work for her, whether through advice of her doctors, other cancer survivors or those into natural remedies. She lived far longer than was originally expected and attributed that to her choices. That’s why when I read Wasserman-Schultz’s post, I felt hope — hope that a representative in Congress “got it” and that maybe women would be allowed the right to choose, in this case medications that have a proven track record for some. Guess that gives “pro-choice” a broader meaning!

A few minutes later, I ran across this headline, “Scalia: women Don’t Have Constitutional Protection Against Discrimination.” What the hell?! And I quote: “The equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution does not protect against discrimination on the basis of gender or sexual orientation, according to Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.” This, coming from a U.S. Supreme Court Justice whose work impacts everything we do in this country, more than, I would suggest, any other “job” in America.

Fortunately the article does refer to the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause, “any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws,”and commented,  “that would seem to include protection against exactly the kind of discrimination to which Scalia referred.”

Others will argue for or against the FDA ruling and for or against Scalia’s opinion. I, for one, am once again strongly reminded of the impact of those individuals we elect to represent us. Whether they take action themselves or appoint others to take action for us, the fact they make decisions that impact my life, my family, friends, all of us in this country should make each and every one realize the importance of voting. And then of holding our representatives accountable. I’d rather be cheering then jeering any day.

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I’m one of those who answers “dog person” whenever the question comes up as to favorite pets. I’ve grown up with them and my latest, Sadie, was a combo Basset Hound – Australian Sheppard mix. I would get lots of comments about her appearance especially after she lost one eye to glaucoma. Once we even passed a gentleman who had an eye-patch and when he saw Sadie, lifted said patch and popped out his fake eye.  Not only was I speechless, but so too was the young woman on his arm, who I forever wondered if she stayed with him or not.

My soon to be sister-in-law brought two Alaskan Malamutes to the marriage and thus began my introduction to the wolf side of the dog species. These two, Havoc and Elke, were definitely hunters, Elke in particular was the silent but deadly type. With Sadie in tow, I remember the occasional evening barbecue that somehow included howling to the moon, a most impressive sound with wolves (in essence) and one basset hound. I’m sure the neighbors loved us.

All of those particular family pets have since passed on, but their memory lives on. When I ran across this little story in the paper this morning, I couldn’t resist sending it to my brother and sister-in-law and suggested they change their summer vacation plans of France to the possibility presented here. No, I haven’t heard back yet as to whether they will take advantage of this wonderful opportunity… 🙂

Washington Post Express: Nature   Join the Pack

 
A project involving conservationists and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologists is looking for a few dozen people willing to howl like wolves in Maine’s North Woods. The Wolf Inquiry Project plans to conduct “howling surveys” in several areas this summer in hopes of discovering whether wolves are resettling in  Maine. The Bangor Daily News reported that coordinators are seeking individuals willing to spend a night howling in the woods and who won’t be scared off if they get a response from the wolves.

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Isn’t that a headline that makes us all look back into our own families and wonder if it happened to us or at the very least to one of our siblings? It was only after years of rumors and a DNA test that Kay Rene Reed Qualls and DeeAnn Angell Shafer of Heppner Oregon found out they had been switched at birth by accident, back in 1953.

I had to agree with what Shafer reportedly said, “”I’m trying to move forward at look at the positive. You can’t look back. It just drives you crazy.” Can you imagine? Everything you thought about your family history has now changed when you are no longer a blood relative – and yet, not changed since your history is also their family history now too.

Over my lifetime, I’ve had many numerous discussions of being “switched at birth” with friends as we diagnosed various members of our respective families and thought there was no way we could be related. This at times led to interesting insight from friends who were adopted, however, they considered themselves the “chosen” one rather than the outsider. To find out you were switched at birth for real?! I did read the hospital in question, Pioneer Memorial in Eastern Oregon, offered to pay for counseling. I have to wonder if either or both ladies in question (or their families) will look for other means of retribution, but somehow doubt it.

Is it a blood connection that makes a family really? Genetics do come into play for medical reasons, more so as science and technology continue to advance and we can become more proactive (if we can afford to, but that’s another blog post).  But I can think of non-blood “relatives” who I consider just as close as my real family. Not just spouses or partners but friends who act more like family than family. It’s the connectivity people have, the caring for each other, the sense of community they build, the support they provide that make up a “family”.  It sounds like once the shock of discovery wore off, the “switched at birth” ladies now consider themselves “sisters.” And that’s not a bad thing.

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My family still teases me for getting a tear in my eye at some commercials (yes, guilty), and my niece still remembers how I cried when I took her to see the dinosaur flick, Land Before Time, years ago. So it was no wonder that it was a Kleenex moment when I watched the Elizabeth Edwards interview on the Today Show this morning as Matt Lauer talked with her about the publication of her new book Resilience.  

The book focuses on her continuing experience as a cancer survivor and of course, being the wife of former N.C. Senator & VP Candidate, John Edwards, most recently known for his admitted affair.  Others will talk about the “affair”, it was her own story that caught my eye. It was the story of the loss of her father, of her 16 year old son, of her battle with cancer, of the joys of her other children, that made me bring out the Kleenex brigade.

And it was the story of how she wants to take her youngest daughter on a trip with her (her daughter’s one wish). Knowing she can’t “handle luggage and an 11 year old” on her own now, Elizabeth said she was thinking of taking a tour. Hearing that, off popped the memory lightbulb as I remember my own sister in the same cancer battle, trying to set up a tour so that she might take her young daughter on a trip as well. 

The final “big” trip didn’t happen, but my sister did create many loving memories that will carry through the years and listening to the interview this morning, I applaud Elizabeth Edwards and all like her who are making the effort to do the same for their child. It’s off to the bookstore at lunch today to get Resilience and to get inspired — inspired with tissues in hand admittedly.

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When I was in my twenty’s, I worked at a residential treatment center for juvenile delinquents. It was  one of the few programs at the time that housed both boys and girls, ages 12-18. Most just dealt with boys since “girls are just too much trouble.”  Having had counseling training and work experience with the Juvenile Court system during college,  I thought I knew what I would be facing. Wrong.

My years there taught me more about parenting than I ever would have realized. I went in thinking I would be helping a bunch of rebellious kids who had succumbed to peer pressure and gotten into trouble despite the best efforts of their parents. Naive? You bet!  The more parents I met, the more I realized that 95% of what later turned into delinquent behavior by the child, started with inappropriate, absentee or even abusive parenting. And it was not necessarily based on economic, cultural or other what was deemed “typical” demographics.

What started me on this train of thought today? I read Nicholas Kristof’s NYTimes Op-Ed column, “Girls on our Streets” of yesterday. I’m used to his descriptions of overseas prostitution, of trafficking in girls usually between the ages of 12-14, but this column discusses young girl prostitutes in the United States. Even social services call them “throw-aways”, young girls whose parents see “no good” in them or who can’t handle the behavior patterns developed as a result of the girl’s low-self esteem. Low-self esteem developed because of serious parenting issues. See a vicious cycle here?

My first instinct upon reading Kristof’s column was to jump, yet again, on the bandwagon for more resources, guidance, counseling, teaching, etc., etc., for those who are parents in trouble as well as for the child.  While I still believe in that, I decided instead I wanted to actually do a complete turn-about and celebrate parents who are great, who are taking wonderful care of their children, who are making a positive difference.

With Mother’s Day around the corner, when I learned of a delightful opportunity to create an easy online video award for the mother you want to honor as “Mother of the Year”, I couldn’t resist passing it along. From MomsRising’s Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner:

*See your name in lights on a prime time online newscast in this funny, inspirational and, yes, customizable video: http://news.cnnbcvideo.com/index2.html

You can also make this online video feature a friend, your mom, and anyone you know who could use a little lift for the hard work she does just being a mom every day.

TRY IT! It’s fun, and the mom who receives it will love it. And then maybe we can look at putting mom power behind those who could benefit from learning what it takes to be a loving parent. For their child.

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