Category Archives: Uncategorized

Broken Toe and Lots of Snow!

(Generic snow pic, courtesy of Pixabay)

I think we got about a foot of snow here in Central PA since Tuesday.  Ugh.  Memphis got thunderstorms, and I think I prefer those – though, no doubt, my cats would disagree.

Still seriously planning on moving back south.  I want to be around my new granddaughter, and I really don’t like it here.  It’s boring.

The healthcare is ok, and it’s easier to access here than in Memphis.  Also, as much of a hassle as the buses are here, at least they have frequent ones that go where I need to go.  Memphis, unless it’s changed drastically, isn’t so great for mass transit.

On the other hand, Memphis is a bigger place and it has pockets of activism.  That gives it a huge advantage in my eyes, despite the obvious transportation issues involved (I would still have to find rides to demonstrations, etc).

Anyway, I am not going to post about anything important today, just health news.

I broke my toe about 2 weeks ago, and it still hurts, so my Planet Fitness plan is on hold until I can shove my foot into my Skechers.  Right now, I am hobbling around with a hard-soled sandal-type shoe that the orthopedist gave me.

I went to the endocrinologist also, and she is convinced that the hyperparathyroidism is due to the vitamin D deficiency.  As for the facial flushing, hypertension, diarrhea, and nausea, she says “we need to look elsewhere”.  She wants me to continue to track symptoms and see her in 6 months.

I am not as sick as I was 2 years ago, so ok.  I am tired of pursuing this.  As long as I don’t land in the hospital, I will just keep on keepin’ on.  For now.

I still have other (political) things I want to write about, but I will save them for the week after next – seeing as how next week is the last Wednesday of the month (“good news day”).

So, for those of you snowed in, I hope you dig out soon.  For those in the southern states, I hope you don’t get any more tornadoes.

Weird news of the week: What could possibly go wrong?  “Ax Throwing Gains in Popularity as Pastime, Sport”, Robert Bumsted, Associated Press via the SFGate website, 3/21/18.  Oh, those wacky New Yorkers!

Recommendation of the week:  LowIncomeRelief is a website that lists discounts you can get if you’re poor – of particular interest is ways you can use your EBT card (no, not for paying for non-food stuff, you use it to prove you’re low income so you can get discounts).  Discounts include $6.95/month for Amazon Prime, reduced admission to museums all across the USA, and cheap internet service.

Be good.  Be kind.  No more snow!!



Talking Stick vs Talking Box of Rocks

On Monday, Jan. 22, 2018, the government shutdown came to an end.  It lasted 3 whole days, 2 of which were weekend days.

The title for today’s blogpost is a reference, in part, to something Susan Collins (R-ME) showed off to newspeople – a “talking stick”.  She said it was a stick a friend gave her (and that it was originally from Africa), and that she used it to “control the conversation” she and 17 other politicians had as part of their discussion regarding how to end the government shutdown.

Presumably, one would hold the stick when one wanted to speak.  Here she is, holding it:

During the discussion, Lamar Alexander (R-TN) threw the stick to/at (depending on your p.o.v.) Mark Warner (D-VA) – because he interrupted Alexander – and the stick hit a glass elephant of Collins’, chipping it (“Area Adults Forced to Use Talking Stick”, Charles P. Pierce, Esquire website, 1/23/18).

Aside #1: This incident was made fun of by people on Twitter, and deservedly so.  Mostly regarding how it was a metaphor.  You get the idea, I’m sure.

This group apparently made the recommendation to end the shutdown by an agreement between Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Mitch McConnell (R-KY).

At the end of it all, it was Schumer who announced the Democrats had made a deal with McConnell to fund the government until February 8, with McConnell stating he “intended” to begin debating an immigration bill (“Shutdown Ends After Democrats Agree to Trust That McConnell Will Allow “Dreamer” Vote”, Sean Sullivan/Ed O’Keefe/Elise Vieback, Washington Post website, 1/22/18).

Odd.  McConnell promised Jeff Flake (R-AZ) the same thing, in December (“Flake: Senate Will Vote on DACA Bill to Protect Young Immigrants in January”, Daniel Gonzalez, The Republic, AZ Central website, 12/20/17).

Needless to say, this didn’t happen at all in January.

As far as I’m concerned, that – and a myriad of other reasons – causes me to believe that McConnell won’t honor his promise to Schumer and the Democrats.

Even if there is a debate or a vote on immigration, who knows what that will mean?  McConnell has stated he is tying immigration to the border wall and “U.S. security”, which is vague and also suggests that Republicans will back 45’s stupid, unnecessary, and expensive wall demand.

Aside #2: McConnell stated “Let me be clear: This immigration debate will have a level playing field at the outset and an amendment process that’s fair to all sides.” (“Trump Signs Funding Bill to End Shutdown; Immigration Debate Continues”, Mary Bruce/Miriam Khan/Adam Kelsey/Trish Turner, ABC News website, 1/23/18).

Maybe the vote will be to end DACA (“Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals”) once and for all, which expires in March because 45 signed one of his zillions of executive orders to phase out the program.

Maybe it will be ignored, and the Democrats will again attempt to shut down the government on February 8.

Maybe there will be a proposal by a bipatisan committee to rework immigration law, including DACA, but 45 will reject it because he’s a racist who doesn’t want to do anything but deport every undocumented person in this country, even if this country is the only home they’ve ever known.

I’m betting on that last scenario.

Why?  Because 45 already did that, which resulted in the shutdown we just recently had (“Trump Might Finally Get His Shutdown”, Russell Berman, The Atlantic website, 1/16/18).

Republicans reframed this as “Democrats shut down the government because they didn’t get their way on illegal immigration”.  From the thumbs of their master, via Twitter:

“Democrats are holding our Military hostage over their desire to have unchecked illegal immigration. Can’t let that happen!” (“Trump: Democrats Want Unchecked ‘Illegal Immigration’ “, Mallory Shelbourne, The Hill website, 1/20/18).

Aside #3: You see where the “box of rocks” part of the title fits, right?

Why did 45 reject a deal that he had previously said he would sign?  He did, you know, and it’s even on videotape (“Trump Says He’ll Sign DACA Deal, Pursue Comprehensive Immigration Reform”, Christina Wilkie, CNBC website, 1/9/18).

After 45 met with the bipartisan group and promised to agree with whatever they came up with, a few hours later Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) came up with an agreement and presented it to 45.

He rejected it.

Graham later commented that he thought Stephen Miller had talked 45 out of it (“Graham: Stephen Miller Makes Immigration Deal Impossible”, Jordain Carney, The Hill website, 1/21/18).

Stephen Miller is very far to the right (“How Stephen Miller Rode White Rage From Duke’s Campus to Trump’s West Wing”, William D. Cohan, Vanity Fair website, summer of 2017).  He especially doesn’t like Latinos (“How White House Advisor Stephen Miller Went From Pestering Hispanic Students to Designing Trump’s Immigration Policy”, Fernando Peinado, Univision website, 2/8/17).

I can’t really be too mad at Schumer for making this deal, because the Republicans were also framing the shutdown as Democrats not caring about the CHIP program, which provides medical care to low-income children (“The Best Reason For Democrats Ending the Shutdown Now: CHIP Funding”, Amy Davidson Sorkin, The New Yorker website, 1/22/18).

Schumer, pressured by the optics and also by the reality that 9 million kids would be out of healthcare, did the only thing he could do – he gave in.

Aside #4: Republicans let time run out on CHIP in September of 2017, and actually that makes them responsible for the CHIP debacle, but when did facts ever matter to them, especially when it’s their fault?  

But I am a little angry because I don’t think it’s ever a good idea to take a stand and then back down soon after.   When dealing with bullies like the current administration/GOP, this is seen as a sign of weakness and it encourages them to continue their dishonest, bullying ways.

And, predictably, the Bully-in-Chief tweeted:

“Cryin’ Chuck Schumer fully understands, especially after his humiliating defeat, that if there is no Wall, there is no DACA.  We must have safety and security, together with a strong Military, for our great people!” (“Trump to Schumer: If There is No Wall, There is No DACA’ “, Louis Nelson, Politico website, 1/24/18)

Aside #5: What’s with this random capitalization of words, anyway?  So ignorant.

There you have it.  Democrats fell for the taunting and spin, and also projected their principled ideals (like honoring one’s word) on Republicans – who have no such ideals and have proven that over and over again.

It’s impossible to trust – or it should be impossible to trust – a party that uses every dirty trick, and Russian help, to win elections.  A party that has consistently broken its word (see link on Flake and McConnell, above).  Yet it seems that the Democratic leadership hasn’t learned this.

Do they really expect someone who has referred to African countries, El Salvador, and Haiti as “shithole countries”, and prefers immigrants come from white places like Norway, to support any bill that allows a pathway to citizenship for a predominantly Latino population? (“A New Low: The World is Furious at Trump for His Remark About ‘Shithole Countries’ “, Laignee Barron, Time website, 1/12/18)

A party and leader who run 45’s re-election campaign (!!!) ads that state that Democrats are complicit in murder because they support immigration reform and DACA? (“White House Defends Anti-Immigration Trump Campaign Ad, Calling Democrats ‘Complicit’ in Killings”, Associated Press, PBS News Hour website, 1/22/18)

I think it is the height of naiveté to expect any realistic or humane attitude on immigration from 45 or the GOP.  I think Schumer will find that out very soon, and I hope he has a better plan for it than the last time.

Weirdness of the week: “An Alabama Town Held a Candlelight Vigil for a Taco Bell After it Went Up In Flames”, Ryan Thaxton, Mashable website, 1/23/18.

(They weren’t serious.)

Recommendations?  An app called MyPlate.  You use it to count calories – it’s easy, trust me –  and to track any exercise you can think of (it even tells you how many calories you burn walking around a store pushing a shopping cart!).  It records dietary information on a ton of food, and if it doesn’t have what you eat you can easily add it.  Available at your app store.  Also available online, if you don’t want to put it on your phone.

Be good.  Be kind.   “Fool me once…” etc.










The Upcoming Struggle to Defend Social Security…

…and other entitlement programs.    

I want to start out by defining what the word “entitlement” means, in this context:

“A government program that provides benefits to any individual meeting certain eligibility requirements.” –  (emphasis mine)

Notice that nowhere does it use the word “deserve”.  Because, in this case, “entitlement” is simply a word to describe a social program – albeit an unfortunate choice of a word, in my opinion.

Nevertheless, people who support programs such as Social Security and Medicare, as well as people who oppose those programs, tend to use the word “entitlement” as meaning this:

“The belief that one is inherently deserving of privileges or special treatment.” –

(This does not usually apply to peoples’ attitudes about SNAP and TANF, however, as you have to be straight-up poor to get those.  The Social Security and Medicare people think of, especially these days when these programs are under attack, are the ones people “earned” by having money taken out of their paychecks.)

No one, except the poor and a few enlightened progressives, thinks that the poor are “entitled” to anything.

And, of course, that’s my beef with all this screaming about “hands off our Social Security” stuff I see on Facebook and elsewhere.  Because, well, you guys know me – always bringing it back to the poor folks, and how some of the not-poor progressives need to adjust their attitudes.

Side note #1: I think you already know this, but the “not-poor progressives” group I am referring to does not include my friends.  My friends already understand what I am writing about.

So…to continue…I see all kinds of memes on my FB page, posted by others, that encourage people to write their congresspeople and/or attend protests and meetings in order to express displeasure at the upcoming Paul Ryan-led decimation of Social Security (though he is going after Medicare, Medicaid, SNAP, and TANF also).

Comments about these posts range from “Leave my Social Security/Medicare alone, I PAID for those and I am ENTITLED to them!” to…ok, just kidding, there are no other comments on posts like that.  It’s all about how people paid into Social Security/Medicare so they deserve to get them when they retire.

I want to tell you, I don’t actually dispute that.  It’s ok by me if people get Social Security/Medicare when they retire.

What I object to is the idea that only they are “entitled” to social support payments when they can no longer work.

It’s something that makes us poor folks cringe, the idea that one should only get benefits if one has paid for them.  And with that cringing comes the knowledge that, if saving their “paid-for” benefits and leaving us with none is an option, the working and middle classes will have no problem with doing that.

Because they deserve it, and we don’t.  This attitude is what causes many poor folks to think they don’t have the right to fight for their benefits, and also causes many of us to avoid organizations that are mostly filled with the “I-paid-for-my-benefits” crowd.

That’s actually bad for the organizations – not only in terms of consciousness-raising, but it decreases their numbers significantly when they, say, want to conduct a mass action.  Or when voting is an issue.  Or when they need a lot of people to email their representatives.

“But why is this attitude so wrong?” you may ask.

Well, let me give you a personal example.

I worked on and off most of my adult life until my 40s.  I say “on and off” because I also had 3 kids before I was 30 (all planned), and I had them because I actually wanted to raise kids, so I attempted to work nights so my then-husband could watch them once he came home from his day job.

That would have worked brilliantly, except for the fact that my then-husband would be asleep when I got home from work, and the kids would be running around the house unsupervised.  This happened so often that I was not able to keep any job I had for very long.

After my kids were grown, I was in university getting my degree, then out of university I was working as a therapist for various organizations – and got fired from nearly all of them.

“Yeah, well, it’s your fault for getting fired.”

Unfortunately, in this for-profit healthcare system we have in this country, I always got fired for choosing the patients’ mental health over the hospitals’ profits.  I can explain all the ways in which I did that, but that’s another blog post (or you can search the blog for the times I have written about this already).

The point is, I never amassed enough work credits to be able to claim “conventional” Social Security – you know, the kind people state they worked for.  What I get is SSDI, Social Security Disability, and SSI (Supplemental Security Income). That’s for everyone who is unable to work, and who are poor.

And, by the way, FICA does not pay for SSI, so calm down.  It’s funded by general tax revenues – you know, the taxes paid for by richer folks than you, until recently (see the GOP’s tax bill they just passed).

Side note #2: Of course, having worked, I, too, paid into the system with FICA, just “not enough”.  They have some kind of formula they use.  I will never “get back what I paid”.

Ok, so what about mothers who did this?  I wasn’t the only one.  If we end up unable to work at all and on disability, are we just supposed to be homeless, without medical care, without food and so on?

Why would anyone with brains and a capacity for empathy think that?

I’ll give you another example.  Not a personal one this time.

What about kids who are born with problems?  Problems so severe that they cannot work when they come of age?  Are they just supposed to be on the streets, or in institutions?  I guess some people would prefer they just live in institutions, so they don’t have to see people like that.

Who is going to pay for these institutions?  And why do people with disabilities not have the right to live freely, not locked up?  We tried that years ago, just locking people up in institutions, and they were horribly mistreated plus no one deserves to be locked away just for who they are.

Because that’s what we as a society did – we locked people up in institutions just because of who they were.

Thankfully, until the Idiot-in-Chief and his cruel Republican friends (like the disgusting Mick Mulvaney) are successful in rolling back all the civil rights gains that people who are other-abled have won, we don’t live in a world like that presently.

Side note #3: There’s this, though (“Congress Wants to Change the Americans with Disabilities Act and Undermine the Rights of People with Disabilities”, Tyler Ray and Vania Leveille,ACLU website, 9/6/17).

“But people who don’t work don’t contribute to society,” some people argue.

Do people who get SSI and SSDI, SNAP and so on buy things?  We do!

We buy clothes and food and medicine and gas (those of us lucky enough to be part of the 85% of Americans who have a car, don’t be snooty), amongst other things.  Do people have jobs in order to provide goods and services?  They do!

Side note #4: The next time you turn up your nose at all the poor people you see in the stores you shop in, just think about how many people that business would lay off if it weren’t for customers.  Look at it for any business, even hospitals.

People do not exist in a vacuum.  Commerce continues whether the person participating in it is poor or not – no one asks for proof of income before you can buy a shirt, for example.  Money from SSI and SSDI is the same color as money from SSA.

So stop being such an “entitled” jerk about it all.  Go read some books on how capitalism works.  If you can’t be empathetic and compassionate, at least look at what “entitlement programs” actually do for you in terms of consumerism.

Maybe that will skew your beliefs a bit.

Weird news of the week: Yoga with Goats in Connecticut.  The idea is that you do yoga, and the goats do whatever they want, like climb on you and frolic around.  Better with cats, I think.

Recommendation of the week: Another tip for us poor folks – if you sign up for Red Robin rewards (free), you get a free burger during your birthday month.  You get anything free at Starbuck’s during your birthday month, and a free drink at Dunkin’ Donuts.  There are other programs, I’m sure, but if you know someone who is poor please tell them about these.

(My birthday is tomorrow but I am on a diet so no free goodies for me!)

Be good.  Be kind.  Everyone is entitled to respect and love (except Republicans heh).











A Brief Post for This Week.

I went to see Dr. Wonderful’s junior colleague on Tuesday, and it was disappointing.  He didn’t know anything about parathyroid tests – which, considering he is a family practice doctor, is understandable I guess – but he did refer me to another endocrinologist.

He told me to use an OTC cortisone cream on both my arms “for the blotchiness” – he didn’t know what that was, either, or why I was losing pigment.  I don’t plan on coating my arms with cortisone cream, as it thins skin and as far as I know cannot help with loss of pigmentation.

He doesn’t think this is environmental.  He told me to follow a “low fodmap” diet.  I guess I can give it a try, once I look it up to see what in hell it is.

Then he scheduled me for a mammogram, and sent me on my way.

“We may never know what’s wrong with you” he says.  Arrgghhhh!

The new endocrinologist’s office hasn’t called me for an appointment yet.

Meanwhile, I went shopping for basic household stuff (tp, I use a LOT of that, toothpaste, etc) at Target on Wednesday, taking the dreaded senior van.  After walking around the shop for 1/2 hour, I was nauseated, drenched in sweat from my head and neck, red in the face, and had to fast-walk over to the restroom with an attack of diarrhea (fortunately, I made it in time and with no drama).

This usually only happens when I have been out for about an hour or more, so it’s getting worse.  I grabbed an extra plastic bag on the way out just in case my nausea escalated on the way home.

I sat outside Target, waiting for the van, out of the way of most people because I was embarrassed that I was bright red and sweating profusely.  A couple of customers asked me if I was alright, as they passed me on their way in to the store.

“Please hurry up van gosh I wish I had a car,” I thought, not the first time, of course. I can add “embarrassment’ to the list of issues I have with lack of transportation.

I literally crawled up the stairs when I got home, hung out in the bathroom for awhile, and then went to bed.  At 2 PM. Took anti-nausea meds and an antihistamine so I could sleep.  My bp was 176/90.

None of this is normal.  Whatever it is, it is getting worse and now I am rethinking my errands situation.  Can I go to the grocery store next week?  Heck, I went downstairs to get the mail today and my bp spiked to 180/97.  I am angry that this is rapidly confining me to my apartment 24/7.

I have things I want to do!  I have my first granddaughter arriving in November, and I want to travel to see her for Christmas (my son and his wife live far away in another state).  I want to get better!  It’s frustrating because, if it’s a parathyroid problem, all they have to do is take one or more parathyroid glands out, and voila!  Cured!  How can I make it through airports and long flights when I can’t even last a half hour in a store?

But…no diagnosis yet.  If I end up in the ER again I will demand a PTH test, along with a colonoscopy (might as well, since no one seems to be able to treat the diarrhea I have had every day since January).  That’s if I feel well enough to advocate for myself, which is unknown at this point.

As I write this, I am still nauseated and exhausted.  This is the most frustrating situation I have ever been in, and it’s scary, too.  I feel very discouraged.

On the plus side, I hope…I received an exercise bike from Amazon yesterday.  I saved up Amazon cards over the past year to get it, so it didn’t cost me anything:

It is supposed to be “easy to assemble”.  I am very bad at assembling anything.  Hopefully there won’t be too much swearing and crying.  The only time I regret not being married is when I am forced to assemble things!

As my world continues to shrink due to illness, I am not about to go down without a fight.  I am thankful that my mind is pretty much intact, even as I try to get my body under control.  At least with an exercise bike, if I start to feel sick I am already at home, so that’s the logic behind this purchase.

I have already eliminated soda, caffeine, bad fats, white sugar, and anything else that causes symptoms that I can think of from my diet.  I tried eliminating dairy and gluten, months ago, and there was no change.  Vegetables and fruits are hit-and-miss, as too much fiber wreaks havoc with my digestion.

I stopped dying my hair and I cut it super-short to see if this helped with the heat intolerance (it didn’t).  I use only organic soaps and shampoos, all free of sulphates.

I take 50,000 IU of vitamin D3 for my vitamin D deficiency. I drink enough water – bottled water, as this place is not Memphis with its artisan wells.  This place is where you can set your faucet alight due to fracking.  Heck, I even give my cats bottled water, the water here is so bad.

I cut back on all meds and only take blood pressure medication (not working all that well at times), a med for palpitations, and Tylenol for pain.  The new medication my gastroenterologist’s PA prescribed has, as one of its few side effects, a tendency to prevent absorption of vitamin D3 – so that’s out, too.

Besides, I haven’t any money for new prescriptions this month anyway.  I’ll have to do more surveys just to pay my bills this month.  I don’t need the stress but it can’t be helped.

Which brings me to recommendations…surveys.  Yes, they take forever to qualify and complete, but if you have a ton of free time they are sort of worth it.  Best ones are:

Mint Vine – pays out in gift cards (way too many to list) or Paypal.  Lowest payout is $10, and you can earn that fairly quickly (2 weeks or so).  It’s how I earn Amazon cards, primarily, and how I get Christmas presents for others.  If you want to join this one, please use this link, because I get extra points if you sign up through it and then actually take surveys:

Vindale Research – This one takes longer to do, but if you don’t die of boredom you can earn $50 in Paypal within a month.  That’s the minimum amount you can earn.  Definitely worth it if you are in a panic and spend all your waking hours doing surveys so you can pay bills (like me).  This is another one that can help if you sign up and complete the “evaluation” (demographics info) through this link – I get $5 per referral:

OneOpinion – This, too, takes a bit longer but it also pays out in gift cards (Amazon, Target, Walmart, Home Depot, Starbuck’s, Visa) and Paypal.  Minimum earnings – $25.

Sorry to beg for referrals but I don’t think WordPress allows “donate” buttons, and I am really strapped this month from the extra OTC things I have had to buy in an attempt to control some of my symptoms (which I have now discarded because none of it seemed to help).

Terrible situation – health vs bills.  So I am desperate this month.

Weird news of the week: Binky the Cat bites would-be burglar!

Made me smile.

Be good.  Be kind.  Please excuse the pitch for referrals, I won’t do it again.





Stop, Drop…and Think.

We live in some really depressing times.  People are sad, angry, anxious, and worried.

I think I can help a bit with that.

Lots of us remember Watergate and Nixon’s resignation, and we were upset then, too.  But I don’t think I have seen the intensity of emotions that I am seeing today, when I compare that event to 45’s chaotic presidency.

Part of it is, I think, due to the outrageous flaunting of public opinion and the blatant disrespect for our Constitution.  I don’t think there is anything to compare to that, in terms of how much contempt the Republicans and the president have for the American people and our democracy.

Putting all that aside, I want to focus on what we can each do on an individual basis to keep our emotional equilibrium.

We live in an instant information era.  Breaking news hits us many times a day, and if it doesn’t get on the TV news it gets on social media and takes off.  News that we had days to digest in the past now has us scrambling to make sense of it within minutes.

That’s cognitively tiring.  Exhausting, even.

It’s easy to just say, “Oh get the hell off the internet and go do something else”, but for those who cannot get out of their homes (due to illness or poverty or whatever), it’s not that simple.

Of course, if you can get out and go camping or take a bike ride or do some kind of hobby, that’s great!  You probably have a lower level of stress than the rest of us.  I am all for that!

My suggestions – for the rest of us – are as follows:

When you read or see a news story that upsets or angers you, stop reacting.  Drop what you’re thinking about.  Think in a different way.

The first part, to stop reacting, is called “thought stopping” (yeah, I know, pretty obvious name). The trick is that you need to be aware when you are reacting, so you can stop it.

Here is an easy way to do that: put a rubber band on your wrist.  When you start to feel upset, snap it.  That is your (slightly painful) cue to tell yourself to redirect your attention.

With time, you won’t need to use a rubber band.  Or maybe you are aware and don’t need to use a rubber band, which is terrific!  You’re ahead of the game already!

You can also use any other attention-getting device, such as a small bell or something. Whatever interrupts your reaction is fine.

Next, drop whatever you’re doing that has upset you – reading news, looking at social media, watching TV, what-have-you.  Immediately go into the “think” part.

You can do this in several ways.  You can redirect your thoughts to something completely different.  Kitten and puppy videos are on YouTube for a reason, people!

You can read a completely unrelated book.  Or a book that’s on the same topic but that sees it from a different perspective – like any book written by your favorite comedian.

You can listen to your favorite music.  Or play your own music.

“That sounds like good old distraction,” you might be thinking.

Yeah, it does.  You can think of it as “mindful distraction”.  The difference between that and distraction alone is that this method is a conscious effort to change your thinking.

It is called “cognitive restructuring”.

Here’s an example:  Let’s say you see a news story about the presidential pardon of Joe Arpaio, or the story about the ban being lifted on giving the police military weapons, or the taunting of North Korea, or…well, you get the idea.

And you react with anger, and/or hopelessness, and think, “We’re so screwed! Why isn’t anyone doing anything about this!  Everyone in Congress is complicit!  My hair is on fire!”

Hence, the “on fire” association when I nicknamed this method.

So, here’s what you do – stop reacting.  Drop what you’re reading, and think about writing your congress person.  If you’re like me, just Googling your congress person’s website tends to turn your feelings down a notch.

Or you could say to yourself, “Self, remember all those crowds at demonstrations and town halls we see!  People are doing things!  And there are more of us than there are of them!”

Keep reminding yourself, Republicans may control all 3 branches of government now, but most Americans are pretty sick of the way things are being handled, as evidenced by polls.  And, Hillary won the popular vote.  There were always more of us than there were of them.

Write these reminders down, if it helps (and it might).

I don’t recommend that you immediately go post your outrage somewhere, like on FB or Twitter or comments sections of websites, because that just continues to make you upset (because you haven’t switched your thinking).

In fact, the more you dwell on something, the stronger the connections between the neurons in your brain get for that idea, and then you can get stuck, unable to stop thinking about it.

That’s called “laying down neural tracks”.   They can be switched/lessened, but it takes more work.   That’s the kind of thing for which I used to conduct therapy.   Therapy works, but it takes awhile.

It takes some effort to do stop, drop, and think, but it’s worth it.  It will lower your stress level, and possibly make it easier for you to sleep at night.

And judging by the way the world has been lately, you’ll have many opportunities to practice this technique – think how good you’ll get at it!   Your health might improve, too.

See? Sometimes I do more on this blog than just bitch.  Heh.

Today’s weirdness comes from Chambersburg, PA (which is about 80 miles SE of where I live):

“Spiritual Sonogram Offers Couple Relief. What Do You See?” (Ali Bradley, Fox43 website, 8/22/17)

The couple sees Jesus in their baby’s sonogram.  I see yet another reason why I need to move out of Pennsylvania.

Today’s recommendation is for Motorola smartphones.  I just got a new one the other day, and it was so easy to set up…ok, with minimal crying, I mean…and I love it.

My last smartphone was a Motorola, too (there is a post somewhere on this blog about it), and it was a klutz’s dream.  I dropped that sucker so many times, and it never broke or cracked or anything.  It was a Moto G.

This one is a Moto E4.  I imagine it will be dropped a lot, too.  It was very affordable (less than $40), it’s on the Verizon pre-paid plan, and it’s at Target or on target,com.  Has a great battery life and decent storage, with a slot for a memory card.  Best phone for the money, in my opinion.  And no, no one is paying me to write this, I just really like Motorola phones.

Be good.  Be kind.  And remember, the only thing that should be on fire is 45’s pants.








Just Make It Stop

Brief health note: I have an appointment with an endocrinologist on November 15.  Hopefully, we can get to the cause of the flushing and labile blood pressure.  And since I have changed my diet, I haven’t felt nauseated and have managed to stay out of the hospital for 3 weeks.

Today I was going to write about how silly/weird/dangerous Trump is making America look to the rest of the world, then I was going to write about the polls in various states regarding the presidential election.  Serious stuff.

But my heart just wasn’t in any of it.

I am sick of hearing and reading about politics.  I am ready for the election to

I mentioned possibly not watching the third and final debate when I last blogged – and I didn’t.  I did try to watch the Alfred E. Smith dinner, but I didn’t watch for long…it was painful.

This dinner, which is televised every time it is on, has always been a funny and light break from the political debates of the day.  I usually watch it and laugh.  It is a non-partisan dinner held by the Catholic Archdiocese of New York to raise money for their charities.

But this year, Donald Trump, ever the out-of-step doofus, either didn’t understand the point of the speeches, or just decided he was going to use the dinner as a platform for his vitriol against Hillary Clinton (I tend to think the latter), and he got booed for it.

Booed.  I think that’s a first for the event.

It wasn’t that his jokes were bad – though they were – it’s that he had so few of them.  He did throw his wife Melania under the bus, making a joke about how she copied the First Lady’s speech.  But self-deprecating humor?  Nowhere to be seen.

At one point he compared himself to Jesus, stating he (Trump) also worked for his dad as a carpenter.  For 3 weeks.  Charming.

I couldn’t watch any more of it.  I am just so sick of the sound of Trump’s voice, and of the poisonous lies that come out of his mouth.  He has no sense of humor unless you count his making fun of people who are other-abled and his insulting “pet names” he has for anyone he doesn’t like as “humor”.

Trump brings down every venue he’s in.  Unless, of course, you are a hate-filled misogynist who enjoys laughing at other peoples’ expense, and thinks name-calling is funny.

One person I do like listening to is Elizabeth Warren.  She has such high energy, and such an obvious affection for Hillary and women in this country in general, that it’s always a treat for me to watch her.

She took Trump’s remark about Hillary being a “nasty woman” and embraced it for all of us. Specifically, she stated

“Get this, Donald.  Nasty women are tough.  Nasty women are smart.  And nasty women vote.  And, on November 8, we nasty women are going to march our nasty feet to cast our nasty votes to get you out of our lives forever.”  (“Elizabeth Warren Rallies ‘Nasty Women’ to Vote for Clinton”, Asma Khalid, NPR website, 10/24/16)

Yeah!  And all over the country, women are referring to themselves as “nasty women”.  That did pick me up for awhile.

But I am ready for the election to be over, and clearly I think that Hillary is going to win.  The latest AP poll has her leading nationally by 14 points.  I wish I could say I am surprised her lead isn’t larger, but one thing this election period has taught me is that there are far more reactionaries in this country than I had previously thought.

It’s still quite astounding to me that the GOP is running a candidate like Trump, and I wonder if there isn’t a split coming after the election between traditional conservatives and the alt right, resulting in a 3rd party.

That would obviously be a big advantage to the progressives in this country.

But for now, I wish the right would just all shut up.  They don’t have anything interesting to say, they have been insulting women and minorities for years, and if they want to fracture into a hundred different political parties it would suit me just fine.

November 8 can’t come fast enough for me.

Recommendations for this week….the new season of Longmire is on Netflix.  Great series, and worth a look.

Be good.  Be kind.   Happy Samhain!



October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month

domesticviolence1…and also breast cancer awareness month.  I lost a sister to breast cancer, years ago, and I would encourage all my female readers to get regular mammograms.

My focus on domestic violence is mainly because my life was almost lost to it 6 1/2 years ago, so I have first-hand knowledge of the effects it can have on someone.

The night I left my abuser, he had fallen asleep holding a tire iron.  I had no doubt that, once he woke up, he would have beaten me to death with it.  And so I tip-toed out of the house and out to my car, where I had stashed a packed bag in the trunk.

If I had not had a car, I don’t know what I would have done.  I had actually asked 2 people for help leaving (in the form of “come get me”) but both of them let me down.  They ignored my pleas and I was on my own.  Now the car is gone, due to a catastrophic engine failure, and I find myself in a different kind of dire situation due to lack of one – being able to move closer to one of my kids so they can help me in an emergency.

Very soon after, I found the apartment I still live in today, and I was able to get the 2 kittens away from my abuser by “trading” them for the computer I had left behind (the kitties have been living with me happily ever since).

The nightmares have stopped.  I feel safe in my home.  I am ok.  Kitties are happy and healthy.

But I have always thought about other people who have gone – or are going through – the same kind of abuse I did, and how there are still not many services around for them.  I think about how I would run a shelter – one that included pets and also adult children with disabilities – that could really address this problem of domestic abuse.

To have someone endure abuse, and then have to decide if he/she can leave pets behind is an additional burden placed on an already stressed-out survivor.  As far as his or her adult children go, most survivors choose to stay and not leave their child behind.  Most shelters – and this includes the one I fled to – will not allow adult children to stay in the shelter with the survivor.

This is unacceptable.  This policy prevents people from getting the help they need.

In an ideal shelter – in a shelter I envision – there wouldn’t be one house with bunk beds in each room.  It would be more like a compound, with individual units (like motel rooms) where each family and their pet(s) could stay while transitioning to permanent housing.

Counselors would be assigned to the units (maybe 1 counselor to 4 units, for example), and they would help the survivor obtain whatever was needed to help him or her start a new life – whether it be permanent housing, a job, further education, medical assistance, or other resources.

That is my vision.  Unfortunately, I am unable to move on this due to my recurring transportation and illness issues, but maybe this will spark some action from someone who is able to help.

This vision is one of the things that motivates me to continue to push to get well.  Clearly, a shelter that operated as I think it should would cost more than how they are run today, but that’s where grant writing and fundraising come into play.  It also would help to have a paying job on the side.

That’s where the motivation is for me to go back to school and either get my PhD, or find some way to get a license (licensed professional counselor).

So much to do, so little time.  But I have to get well first.  And I may have to travel out of state (or at least to Pittsburgh or Hershey) to get the medical care I need.

On Friday I will see one of my primary care physicians and see how quickly I can get an appointment with an endocrinologist.  Medicare being what it is, I can’t even try for an appointment without a referral from my pcp.  Fingers crossed that I can get an appointment soon, and that it’s in Blair County where I live.

I am a dreamer.  I am a survivor.  And right now, I can use all the help I can get.

Today’s recommendation, if you can stomach it, would be the 3rd and final presidential debate tonight at 9 PM EST.  I watched the other 2 but am not sure how much of this final one I will watch – my blood pressure is high enough, thanks.

The Saturday Night Live parody this Saturday should be quite funny, however, and no doubt we will have every channel doing post-debate analysis anyway, so if you don’t watch it live I don’t think you will miss anything.

In the meantime, here is a short clip of our president that illustrates, for me, how much I will miss him when he leaves office:

I will miss First Lady Michelle Obama, too:

Be good.  Be kind.  Take care of one another.