Laura G Owens ~ Writer

Humanity. Health. Happiness.

Author: Laura G Owens Page 3 of 14

On Grown & Flown

walkingI’m delighted I found Grown & Flown, a website and blog about parenting older kids (ages 15 to 25).

Grown & Flown recently published my essay “Why I Stopped Worrying If My College Daughter Was Lonely”

Tina is a thousand times more self-loving and grounded than I was at her age. This is probably why I keep asking if she’s lonely; I’m projecting my 18-year-old unsettled feelings on to her. At 18 I was still emotionally damaged from childhood, anxious and terrified of every new situation. I didn’t enter college as my own best friend and I was always trying to fit into some group or some version of myself.

If you’re interested, you can find the full essay here.

 

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6 ways to cope with Hillary’s loss (or, how to avoid conflict with our Trump loved ones).

From The Huffington Post

Hillary Won. But Lost.

At about 3:30 am on election night, I moved out of denial and into the bargaining stage of grief. I sat on my bathroom floor and pleaded “Please, pleeease, God, no. Do you know what this means? My daughter just voted for the first time.”

About 4am, my husband came into the family room and saw me still watching the election returns and sobbing on the couch. Blurry after too much wine, shock and despair, I almost couldn’t get the words out, “This can’t be happening.”

The last stage of grappling with grief is acceptance. Acceptance is the place where you don’t agree with the outcome but you make peace so you stop feeling so shitty.

But I’ll never accept that *61,336,159 Americans decided racism, sexism and misogyny weren’t deal-breakers. I shouldn’t have to explain why in 2016.

Now all I can do is ask what’s next? What do we do? Where do we start? Full post

*running total

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God is also inside Planned Parenthood

Planned Parenthood

 

Excerpted from “God Is Also Inside Planned Parenthood”

They were last night as I walked in to a Planned Parenthood discussion on “A Celebration of Faith and Reproductive Health.”

They’re always there, the voices to protect the unborn.

A few protesters waved graphic images of bloody broken babies and held “Planned Parenthood = Murder” signs. A man on a megaphone shouted Scripture from the curb.

For a moment I wondered about all the good these protesters could do if they combined their passion and turned it into everyone’s cause. Because everyone wants to reduce unwanted pregnancies and abortions.

As I walked into the meeting room I was struck by the number of men who showed up, men who don’t own a womb but must understand why they must never own mine.

I grabbed a chair in the front row and listened to a panel of faith leaders and one secular humanist share why they support reproductive rights in the context of their beliefs.

Rev Davis, former Chair of Planned Parenthood’s Clergy Advisory Board, spoke frankly about his years as chaplain at Skidmore College during the late 60’s.

When he first started he told his wife, “How hard could it be to counsel 1400 girls?”

“‘You’re an idiot,’ she said, ‘It’ll be hard.’” Read full post

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Stop letting seniors off the hook for saying horrible stuff

We’re all guilty of this. We slip out a horrible or ignorant comment, cringe, then wish we could take our words back.

Before I was became a mom I once asked a very pregnant friend who mentioned she was going to the beach, “Do pregnant women go to the beach?” “I mean I know they can but do they want to? What kind of bathing suit do they wear?”

“The kind made for pregnant women. Maternity,” then she shot me exactly the you dumb ass look I deserved.

But for the most part unless you’re a horrible person, these verbal gaffs are just innocent ignoramus blunders.  Foot in mouth. Hopefully we apologize, eat crow and move on.

But what about senior citizens who regularly say outrageous stuff simply because they think they can.

They do it because we think “they’re too old to change.”

Nonsense.

I once had a beloved relative who I loved dearly for her warmth, charm, sense of humor, elegance and full on unapologetic moxie.

I remember the day she screamed “Asshead!” across a golf fairway to former Bears coach Mike Ditka because he accidentally hit his golf ball too close to her putt. I’m sure he didn’t hear but the fact that she waved her golf club in his direction surely got her point across. (Coach Ditka hobbled over on his painful hips and apologized). I had to keep myself from laughing in case my amusement pissed her off even more.

“Asshead” was also this relative’s favorite expletive when people cut her off on the road.

But as full of charming moxie as this wonderful lady was, there was a line she crossed for me. Not often, rarely in fact. But once was too often.

She casually referred to black people as “coloreds.”

One time as “that darkie.” She never said it to black people but about black people. She also collectively and with ever so slight disdain, sometimes referred to “those Jews.”

Again this was rare, but it only takes once to shudder.

Out of respect for her age and our relationship, when she said “that darkie” I politely interrupted and asked how she managed to raise six kids who weren’t racist.

“Oh I’m not racist,” she said calmly. “I know plenty of black people I like.”

That she thought “darkie,” a word abandoned by even the overt modern day racists, was okay because if you “like plenty of them,” you like enough, is a level of convenient ignorance I can’t ignore.

This relative was a warm sophisticated smart lady. She lived among well-aware class suburbanites. She read books and newspapers. She religiously watched the nightly news. She and her husband, (equally privately racist) visited historical monuments near and far, sites stained with our nation’s enslavement.

Of course she knew “colored” and “darkie” were racial slurs.

But to keep the peace, most of us (myself included) usually shrug off senior citizen’s racist words because we’ve given up.”That’s the way some of the older generation is. They’re too old to change.”

No one is too old to change. Old dogs can learn new tricks.

Listen, I get as we age we want to put less energy into filtering our words. At 80, 90+ years old we’ve earned the right to not give a crap what people think.

Not exactly. The free-to-finally-be-yourself movement, you know, the “When I’m Old I’ll Where Purple”movement, isn’t about letting down your racist hair.

It’s about the freedom to be who you want to be in your mind, body, spirit and flashy gold lame shoes. It’s about dancing like no one is looking, but they are looking.

What seniors rightfully earn is respect for their impressive years, fortitude, and their contribution to our nation, families and collective wisdom. Every generation should bow to their elders for what they endured and sacrificed.

Seniors have earned a level of mild crankiness, should they feel cranky with pain. We’ve earned our eccentricity for oddly matched clothes we believe expresses seasoned or tired confidence. We shorthand politeness in favor of blunt talk to get to the point. Maybe we’re a beloved pain the ass.

But basic decency doesn’t have an expiration date. None.

I don’t think seniors should be allowed to pull the “Well I’m old so I’ll damn well say what I want. Not in front of you or God forbid in public.  No, “colored, nigger, darky, “faggot, A-rabs, Kikes, Spics or Orientals or hey you girlie”

I don’t care if grandma or grandpa are pushing 107. If they’re of sound mind, they need to join us in this century. If they can’t change their views (too old to change, frankly, that’s a load of crap). Then they need to keep their mouths shut.

People are fighting their asses off for civil rights and unfortunately more often these days, for their literal lives.

The Sort of Sad 

I’ve been seriously depressed. Very sad people generally just hole up quietly and don’t bother anyone because they don’t have the energy.

But low simmering sad people who aren’t clinically depressed but who hate their life and really hate that you love yours regularly get a pity card (“Oh that’s just Fran. Ignore her comment about how you always look tired. She’s always miserable. I feel bad for her”).

Sure, if someone lost her job or has a child hooked on drugs or was just diagnosed or is in chronic pain or God forbid lost a loved one, clearly the right thing to do is to let her spout off for a while.

But I told my stepmom years back, even a paralyzed guy in a wheelchair is an asshole if he always acts like one.

“But maybe that’s why he’s an asshole,” she said, “because he’s in a wheelchair.”

But there has to be a statute of limitations on using sad to say whatever we want because at some point sad is no longer an excuse, it’s just a bad personality.

So here’s the thing, being politically correct can be filled with land mines. Not giving a crap is less work.

So sometimes I think we let the non-pc mouthy types off the hook because maybe like us, they’re nervous about what’s okay to say.

Transgender. Gender non-identifying. Bi-curious. Able-bodied. People of Color. African American. Native American.

It’s hard to keep up.

Let me suggest if you can’t keep up ask someone or Google. And if you make a mistake because someone defines herself in a way you didn’t know, it’s okay.

No one has this all figured out. Political correctness is a moving target.

But basic thought for what is clearly or likely offensive only takes a tiny bit of common sense and decency.

 

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The Pulse tragedy. What finally made me cry

#OrlandoStrong

#OrlandoStrong

After my city’s tragedy, the world’s tragedy, I didn’t cry.

Oh my eyes welled up a little, but I was too shocked, too devastated, too in despair to fully release my horror.

I could not cry because perhaps if I did, I might not stop.

For years and reasons that no longer matter, I’ve learned to place layers of protective emotional covering over my heart. And so throughout my city’s beautiful candlelit vigils, throughout the crowds of sobbing, the overwhelming grief, the tearful hugs, the piles of flowers and the carved crosses lined with victims’ names, I did not cry. 

I do not want to sob.

Still, we must honor our fallen and our hurting, even, especially, if the tragedy is close to home

But how I do this, or you do this or they do this, really doesn’t matter. How we sit inside each stage of grief is for the individual to decide.

I write.

I watch briefly, the stark gruesome news. I painfully swallow the Pulse reality in measured small doses. I cannot imagine the overwhelming sorrow the mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, friends, lovers, daughters and sons bear now and forever.

There’s no formula for how each of us heal. When I feel drowned in the details of that night, the night that happened 30 minutes from my home, I turn off the TV and radio.

A mother of 11 protected her son. She died. He did not.

A daughter, only 18 and the youngest victim in the shooting, escaped safely out of the nightclub until she ran back in to save her friend. In moments of gunfire she texted her parents and begged for help. As she huddled in a bathroom stall the gunman came in and she was shot in the arm.  She might have lived, were she not hit in that artery and waited and…

My daughter is 18.

I listen to the stories, to the surreal hell the survivors endured while their friends and others died in pools of blood inches away. Brain matter, one said, on her clothes.

I shudder and then I move away from the words, from the horror of that night. If I don’t I feel helpless and paralyzed.

And so I grieve by activating, by renewing hope through action. I give. I relentlessly support gun control, again and again and again.

I look for signs of recovery. I look for billowing strength.

And those signs are everywhere in Orlando.

You can’t step away from the wallpapering of sad reminders when it’s your town, and yet you don’t want to step away from the showering support from all over the world.  The world is blanketing our community in love.

It was finally this Keep Dancing Orlando video shared on Facebook the other morning, this, that made me weep.

The joy despite the sorrow, allowed my tears to flow.

Our City Beautiful is the world’s epicenter of fantastical fun, of imagination, of diversity and always, not just now, of support for our LGBT community.

And so we rise and once again — we dance.

#OrlandoStrong

#OrlandoUnited

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To Westboro Baptist: We win

Orlando Strong

Orlando Strong

I’ve long been horrified by Westboro Baptist.

On the continuum of LGBT haters, they spew the worst anti LGBT post tragedy bile imaginable with such Godly views as: they deserved it.

WB is apparently “Orlando Bound” to protest, as they often do, at local funerals of victims of the Pulse tragedy.

It goes without saying but it takes a special kind of broken, I’d suggest mental illness, to vomit hate on the grieving.

But here’s the thing, Westboro Baptist or any anti LGBT individual or hate group, you’re coming to my town. These are my people.

Your kind is not welcome here there or anywhere across our nation. You are the fringe, the true Left Behind, the outlier.

Our Orlando churches, many who stood in the way of same-sex marriage and who continue to pit God against gays, never set foot into your language. They grapple, they do not gouge out hearts.

Their version of God might tell them (sadly) that the LGBT community doesn’t deserve civil rights and protections. Still, their God, Muslim, Christian or otherwise, doesn’t command them to stomp on the mourning.

My Central Florida community is filled with bridge builders. This is who we are. This is what we do. Our local LGBT community has led the conversation for decades.

Cheers to Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs for her warning to funeral protesters: “If that happens we will not leave their presence unchallenged.”

Westboro, it’s best you turn that bus around because love and grief make for swift and determined justice.

I’m not suggesting violence. I never suggest violence, which the rational know begets…

I’m saying funeral protesters will be legally banned. Westboro knows this is likely and yet emboldened by a perverse sense of religious righteousness, they dare to come anyway.

But Westboro protesters will be surrounded and outnumbered. Calmly. Swiftly. Love advocates will stare protesters directly in the eyes, into the windows of the soulless. Unflinching. Many will say nothing.

‘Angels’ block Westboro Baptist Church protest at Orlando memorial.

And so, we win.

It may not feel like much of a triumph in the wake of our community’s deepest tragedy made more painful by verbal assaults on the grieving.

But we are indeed winning.

More of Us, than You.

#OrlandoStrong #OrlandoUnited

 

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Remember. Advice to my daughter as she graduates high school.

throwing cap in the airRemember to stand tall.

Shoulders back. Head up. Carry yourself with the spectacular you are. The world will treat you as you expect to be treated. You are mighty and deserving.

Remember that humility is not the opposite of confidence. Humility is to ask, to listen, to learn and to grow.

Remember to apologize. Do this. You must.

Remember to forgive yourself and them. This is very hard. Be patient.

Remember that you’re no one’s fool or doormat or plaything. It is better to be disliked than to dislike yourself.

Remember that true friendship must begin with trust, the rest is gravy.

Remember to speak your truth. Some will hate you for this. Do it anyway.

Remember that beauty is by chance, that character is painstaking and earned. Do not compromise on character, ever.

Remember that your body is a gift to nurture and to share as you decide. Do not compromise your body, ever.

Remember to be safe and smart in your choices.  One mindless decision can alter your entire life.

Remember to create your image on your terms, not his, or hers, or theirs. The media must not define you. You must define you.

Remember that joy is the point of life, it really is. Let no one convince you this is selfish. Joy without harm, is the point.

Remember how much you are loved. It is big. It is wide. It is forever.

Remember that hostile mean hard people are sometimes in pain. I forget this, often.

Remember that kindness is the most important “thing” you can give another human being.

Remember to be open to the “other.” Celebrate diversity because doing this I promise, will make your life feel more compassionate, connected and alive.

Remember to travel to “strange lands,” to eat “strange” foods and to delight in other cultures.

Remember to ask life’s big questions and then to sit comfortably in the not knowing.

Remember that science and faith are never at war. One fills the gap where the other simply cannot. And when you think about it, isn’t that wonderful?

Remember to have faith in the unseen and in the possibilities.

Remember that all men and women are created equal. You are not special. But indeed, you are.

Remember that wonder is life’s greatest free entertainment. Wonder never needs a screen or to re-charge its battery.

Remember to forge your own path. It is yours, and it will be surprising and glorious.

Remember to live your life with unquenchable curiosity. Be giddy. Be ridiculous. Be a wise-ass around the ones you trust, around the ones who understand your family’s twisted humor.

Remember to be courageous and to pick-yourself-up again, and again, and again.

Remember when you fall, and you will fall, to ask for help. The strong ask.

Remember to ask God, anything.

Remember that your version of God is yours to decide.

Remember that the good in your life will return, because good always returns.

Remember that the Golden Rule is perfect. It is divine. It is the way.

Remember to be a voice for the voiceless, for there are millions in our world who need yours.

Remember to laugh and to laugh and to laugh and to laugh. And then to laugh again.

Remember that when you need to cry, do it. Do it unashamed. Do it big. Sometimes our weeping puddles become our only relief.

Remember to be grateful. Gratitude will give you strength and healing. Gratitude for merely the soft warm wind against your tears is sometimes your only, and I mean only, comfort.

Remember that although I don’t always say this, or feel this, or remember this:

That most people are good.

That life is good.

Default to that. Live that. Feel that. Convey that.

This will lift you. I promise it will. And then my sweet girl, you will soar.

Love always,

Mom

 

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Sometimes, we the people are just very wrong

Donald Trump

There was a time when if my well-intentioned friends apologized for aging racists who said atrocious stuff, just to be polite, I pretended to agree with their lovable excuses.

Forgive that generation for they know not what they say!

They know.

A few years ago my sixty-something neighbor, a nice but tiresome lady, showed up at my door to gently complain about something I needed to fix. A few minutes later she got weirdly quiet and sighed, which I’d learned was my cue to ask.

“My husband is really upset lately because our son has been dating a half-breed nigger.”

She said it casually and in cahoots, like she’d mentioned that interest rates were up and so of course we’d both see the obvious downside of what was coming next.

And when I looked horrified, she didn’t.

“Oh yes, I forgot your generation doesn’t talk that way,” she said.

“Actually my entire family doesn’t talk that way,” I said.

And when one of my brothers who wasn’t raised racist offhandedly used the N-word I told him no, not ever. Not in my house.

People need to hear that thinking racist or outrageous bile out loud isn’t okay simply because people hand them a few empathetic hall passes like:

  • They hail from a less politically correct era
  • They earned the senior privilege to no longer self-censor
  • They’re rightfully angry about lost or displaced jobs
  • They’re rightfully scared of growing terrorist threats
  • They’re rightfully sick and tired of the bought and paid political establishment

There’s no excuse weighty enough to justify hateful, racist, sexist verbal bile.

None (unless, you’re not of sound mind).

You don’t get to imply that a female journalist has PMS or that Carly Fiorina is ugly or that real war heroes don’t get captured. You don’t get to make fun of a disabled reporter or say racist things about Mexicans or that you’d ban all Muslims.

Okay you get to say almost whatever you want, but clearly you shouldn’t.

We the people decide if we raise or lower the bar for civil discourse. … FULL POST at the Huffington Post

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What I wish I’d had: maternal mental health screening

2016-03-17-1458234563-4147552-sadmom.jpg

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When I was pregnant nineteen years ago I wish my doctor had warned me I might be at risk for postpartum depression.

Her words wouldn’t have freaked me out, they would have helped me cope when the darkness did indeed hit.

I wish during my 6 week check-up (when I was at my private worst) my Ob-Gyn had handed me a mental health screening and even if I lied on every question, she still explained how the “baby blues” are different than depression.

In January for the first time the United States Preventive Services Task Force recommended screening pregnant and postpartum women for maternal mental illness.

Hopefully now more health care practitioners will talk to women so those who suffer know they’re not bad people or rotten mothers or God knows, alone.

The fact is worldwide 10% of pregnant women and 13% of postpartum women have a mental disorder and the numbers are even higher in developing countries.

While maternal mental illness is often lumped into the catchall “postpartum depression” it’s more complicated than a single kitchen sink diagnosis.

Read full article on Psych Central

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How I cured my shingles

Shingles burns like a .....

Shingles burns like a …..

A few summers ago my husband, daughter and I were swimming in the Gulf of Mexico at Indian Rocks Beach when my daughter said, “Mom, what is that red rash on your back?”

I reached my fingers around and felt a two by two sore bumpy patch in the left middle of my back.

“Oh my God. I hope it’s not shingles,” I said. My husband looked worried; then he pretended to back up a few waves (I can’t blame him for the mock horror. Most people think shingles is contagious. It depends).

“It probably isn’t shingles,” I said. “Celeste told me it’s awful, really, really painful. This doesn’t feel too bad. It’s probably just some contact rash from sunscreen or lotion” I said.

We laughed it off and my husband and daughter went about making fun of me in our family’s way of no-mercy bashing for the (not really) suffering.

I’m not sure why I sensed I had shingles except body instinct, that little nudge that tells you something before you know you know it. Lately my exercise endurance was off, like I needed an extra kick to keep going.

I also had a nagging “muscle” ache in my upper left shoulder region and left rib area (the pathway the virus traveled on me). Also, a close family member told me last year all about her horrible case of shingles.

“It felt like the worst sunburn ever” Celeste said, “crossed with a thousand bee stings and then someone taking a rake across my skin. I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t turn over. If I had to live with that pain I’d have killed myself.”

Full article….

 

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