Laura G Owens ~ Writer

Humanity. Health. Happiness.

Page 6 of 14

Robin Williams: Our brilliant masked man.

Robin_Williams

I couldn’t figure out why I woke up this morning still thinking about Robin Williams. My husband offhandedly asked me yesterday why he thinks he did it, and maybe he asked me because no one can grasp why this beautiful brilliant man who made us snort laugh took himself from his family and fans.

Or maybe he asked me because he knows when I battled post-partum depression 16 years ago that to explain the abyss as Anne Lamott calls it, is nothing short of impossible.

Your brain is hijacked by forces outside your highest self, that one thing bound to rescue you when you’re alone and yet surrounded by everyone. Your rational thoughts are cruelly re-arranged by random neurochemical screw-ups until what you know  to be true becomes a big confusing lie.

Worse, part of you still senses that good stuff exists, hope, family, laughing, all those energizing, life and hope sustaining feelings get buried under numbness and sludge until the you that is you suffocates.

So while everyone and every beautiful mundane moment tells you “Hello Sunshine, it’s all good,” you don’t believe it because you don’t have the operating instructions to believe it. It’s like describing the feel of bright yellow to someone who only feels in black.

By the outstretched arms of my needing child and desperate trying of my husband, by the angels and God forces and my own stubborn belief that I better claw back up for them AND for my own inherited joy, I climbed out of that hellish abyss and I now encourage women (and men) to do the same.

Women are more likely than men to suffer from depression and yet men are more likely to take their lives.  Is depression still “female,” and for men merely a momentary mental wobble to “suck it up” or “buckle down” or “just pray the sad away?”

Strength comes when we manage to poke a pinhole through our impenetrable fear until the light inches in, and by our bravery to ask for help.

And yet, I’m positive Mr. Williams was brave, long fighting demons and addictions; he asked and got help and asked and got help until one day he sat alone for one moment too long and forgot his sunshine and the sunshine he gave millions.

They’re not that different from you, are they? Same haircuts. Full of hormones, just like you. Invincible, just like you feel. The world is their oyster. They believe they’re destined for great things, just like many of you, their eyes are full of hope, just like you. Did they wait until it was too late to make from their lives even one iota of what they were capable? Because, you see gentlemen, these boys are now fertilizing daffodils. But if you listen real close, you can hear them whisper their legacy to you. Go on, lean in. Listen, you hear it? – – Carpe – – hear it? – – Carpe, carpe diem, seize the day boys, make your lives extraordinary ~ John Keating played by Robin Williams in Dead Poet’s Society.

Youtube: What will your verse be?

 

Image source: Wikipedia

 

Entitled? Of course veterans, and our hard-working willing.

Few issues on the American landscape are more sacred, more immune to partisan feuding than supporting our returning soldiers.

Most people, pro-war or against,  wouldn’t dare deny soldiers accessible, affordable quality healthcare, nor should we willing to let even one soldier suffer or die waiting months to see a doctor.

Who isn’t stopped in her tracks by the sight of a soldier at a gas station,  grocery store or on the street? We’re stirred by what the uniform means to us as Americans and what the uniform means to our soldiers, their physical and psychological lives often permanently re-arranged, their minds chronically on alert and out of sync with the non-combative world.

And so we thank our soldiers for their service, a quick respectful acknowledgement for work too profound and unfamiliar, yet directly responsible for our freedoms.

Yesterday our nation actualized gratitude to our soldiers when the President signed a $16.3 billion plan to help ease health care delays at Veterans Affairs facilities.

Soldiers we can all agree, are entitled.

And yet when we think of non-military citizens and entitlements, they are The Lazy, The System Parasites. And indeed, parasitic people exist.  Families who grow up in a cycle of poverty and payout or for the first time get a taste of free money and despite small avenues and alternatives that (might) peek through the cracks, they forever remain on the dole. 

Or, perhaps someone is the first in his/her family to get food stamps, disability, Medicaid or WICA due to a series of events that unraveled their once economic stability. Suddenly the taste of something for nothing addicts them to the payer system like Pavlov’s dog, forever enjoying jobless checks and alas, the disincentive to self-motivate and break free perpetuates.

Be poor, get more.

But the facts are, the number of working poor, working homeless, of homeless who want to work and get off the dole, staggers the number of people who can, but won’t.

While veteran entitlements are earned sacred cows, yet we also have men and women who while they don’t fight to protect our nation, they fight to protect their families. Touched by catastrophic illness, job loss, mental health issues, children with special needs, a series of unforeseen unfortunate events leaves thousands of our hardworking willing at the mercy of a hand up.

And so I I argue that if our hard-working and willing veterans deserve a hand up so do our hard-working willing non-veterans who want nothing more than to cut ties to government support and feed back into the payer system that helped them recover and stand proud.

National Alliance to End Homelessness

homeless

Pregnancy ‘warm and fuzzy,’ birth control ‘immoral?’ Mr. Potter, snap out of it.

bcClick here to sign petition against Eden Foods

I’m curious if Eden Food’s CEO Mr. Michael Potter ever had the “immoral and unnatural practices” he says birth control promotes, before he got married?

“Michael Potter, Eden’s CEO, claims, among other things, that contraception ‘almost always involve[s] immoral and unnatural practices.’ That’s one of the reasons why he filed suit in 2013 against the mandate of the Affordable Care Act that classifies birth control as preventative healthcare for women.” “Shocking: Eden Foods vs. Birth Control.”

Or is it just women who have immoral and unnatural pre-marital practices? The unmarried men of superior morality aren’t anywhere near the bedroom of such women. It is a person of undetermined gender who lays with and impregnates the hussy.

I’m a bit confused, but I’m a little slow.

“After filing the suit, he went even further, saying that the government has ‘no right’ to extend coverage for birth control, comparing birth control to Jack Daniels, and saying that pregnancy should be covered but birth control should not because pregnancy has ‘more warmth and fuzziness.’ When the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision was announced, Potter said he was “grateful” for the court’s decision while calling President Obama a “dictator” who wants to take away Americans’ rights.”  “Shocking: Eden Foods vs. Birth Control.”

Gosh golly, had we known birth control leads to the uncontrollable loosening of the chaste just as drops of whiskey inevitably part the lips of the committed teetotaler and transforms them into guzzling alcoholics, I would have banned this Devil’s lure called birth control myself.

“Pregnancy has more warmth and fuzziness?” than birth control?

Mr. Potter I’d suggest until you experience the warm and fuzzy of pregnancy and childbirth firsthand (the latter anything but and the former (while not in my case) 40 weeks of misery for some women) you might want to keep your Hallmark fantasy adjectives to yourself.

I’d appreciate it if people (those in the know and the clueless) would stop romanticizing baby-making.

A child when wanted and loved and cared for by responsible loving parents is still hell-hard but yes, all-out storybook romantic in parts, and worth every hair-pull.  Insuring birth control coverage gives babies and women (and men) a civil society, one that promotes reproductive choice and timing.

Babies are not merely the Will of God, they are a real life living breathing responsibility.

Also Mr. Potter, have you ever heard of a 17-year-old impoverished uneducated girl determined to keep her crack baby? Say for instance, she lives with her verbally and physically abusive drug-dealer boyfriend who when mom isn’t home has his way with her little one?

Yes, maybe mom knew better about birth control, about abstinence, about her adoption options, about the dirt bag she had sex with unprotected, but she said okay anyway and hell no, I’m keeping my baby. Maybe she was ignorant and knew none of the above, which is why we shouldn’t be focusing on banning company-provided birth control coverage, but on teaching our kids abstinence, self respect and  protected sex.   

Morality wish list crossed with reality. 

While I’m all for teaching abstinence as a desirable and viable option, it’s naive to insist everyone keep their legs closed until marriage. And like it or not, people in love (and people in pure unfettered lust) like to test the sexual compatibility waters before a lifetime of monogamy.  

But let’s look at folks you approve to copulate. Married couples. Take for example, the 50-year-old husband and wife who had their kids and now want to move on to their empty-nest phase. They want a hundred percent (okay 99.9%) guarantee that their baby-making days are over. 

Should they remain celibate? Okay Mr. Potter, you first. 

Oh yes. Condoms. While I’m not familiar with the growing list types and textures, my guess is condoms don’t rank high on every couple’s Top Ten Ways to Add Sexy Time Excitement. Add to the worry the chance the condom fails, which isn’t a high probability but is possible (and yes, the Pill isn’t 100% either). 

Next up, the self-control Pull Out Method where an “oops” might be to some merely “God’s will” to let a baby shine through. But perhaps the woman (and man) would like to invoke their own will for making a baby, seeing as they’re the one’s raising the baby, not God. 

Excerpted from: “Eden Foods CEO Doesn’t Know Why He’s Against Contraception, but He Is.”

“Ian Millhiser, a legal analyst for Think Progress, noted that Potter’s utter lack of religious conviction undermined his already-thin case. When Carmon called Potter back for comment, he seemed very confused by his lawyers’ claims about devout religious faith. Carmon asked him what particular religious belief led him to sue, and his answer is surely one beloved by his lawyers:

“Well, there isn’t any one particular religious belief, Irin,” he said, sounding irritated. “I find it hard to get my head around the question.”

He then went on to claim that his employees could get “free” contraception elsewhere, because of the HHS mandate. In reality, they cannot, because the HHS mandate doesn’t offer alternatives to employees whose employers have told them they can’t use their own insurance benefits.”

Mr. Potter, you find it hard to get your head around why you deny birth control coverage?

Is your free floating squeamishness that you feel sort of yukky, gross, dirty and wrong-ish about any tool that allows sex to occur without a baby the end result? I’m guessing that if you got pregnant every time you had sex you might feel less ambivalent about making sure you didn’t.   

You fell asleep Rip VanWinkle, woke up and forgot what era we live.  

Birth control doesn’t promote sex. Birth control gives reproductive choice and sexual freedom to half the populous who has it by default. This is not to suggest I promote willy-nilly free love. But men have always had sex without worry of getting pregnant. Women are entitled to the same freedoms.

I-thought-we-all-assumed-this, by now.

Mr. Potter, heavens to Betsy, women are having sex in and outside the marriage. Some of them (take a deep breathe) even like it.  Moreover, women who have sex (with men who are having sex with them) may not be ready (or ever) to have a baby.

Try to process that you’re not part of the immorality problem when you cover birth control.  You’re part of the problem of denial and judging women when you romanticize baby-making and insist “moral sex” is only between married couples. If a baby is conceived from a married couple who isn’t ready or wants to remain childless what do you say? Blessings abound?  

Babies deserve to be born to people who want them.

Women deserve the dignity and respect to decide if and when they get want to have a baby.

Image credit 

God, Guns but no gays? My Letter to this Kentucky business owner

Image: Wikimedia Commons

I just sent the following email to this Kentucky business owner. I’m HORRIFIED his family received death and rape threats for his store policy, but I’m also horrified at his policy.

Dear Herald Owner,

I am terribly sorry your wife and children received death and rape threats in response to your policy to “refuse to produce promotional products that promote homosexuality.” I’m glad the two men were charged with Terrorist Threats in the Third Degree. What your family went through was horrific, inexcusable and undoubtedly terrifying.

I am however, deeply saddened that in this day and age a company would deny service to a citizen based on sexual orientation under the protection of “religious beliefs.” What if my religious beliefs didn’t for example, support “promoting” people of color or bi-racial children or, or, or….

I understand you allow the LGBT community in your store, but by refusing to embroider anything that reflects sexual orientation, you are indeed, blatantly discriminating.

Please don’t invoke Scripture to validate your discriminatory stance. Instead, please pause and think for yourself. Does your policy even FEEL remotely God-like?

Your policy is anything BUT in line with the Jesus and God that I know. You mention that you “have been the victim of racism” and I’m terribly sorry. I hope your children will never feel the sting of racism, or any other “ism” in their lives. Yet somehow the pain you felt doesn’t resonate with the pain you cause someone under the protection of “religious beliefs?”

You must understand it’s simply impossible to “promote” one’s born sexual orientation any more than one can “promote” being white, black, female etc. I don’t promote my “female lifestyle” I am female. I didn’t decide to be Caucasian. I am Caucasian.

How old were you exactly, may I ask, when you decided to be heterosexual?

Your refusal to create products that “promote homosexuality” is no different than if a business owner refused service that “promoted the interracial lifestyle.”

If God was against our gay citizens God would not have created people attracted to the same-sex. If you can’t use compassion to grasp these concepts, please use good old-fashioned common sense.

The God I know is shaking His or Her head and frowning. I truly hope one day you’ll sit down with yourself and realize that refusing service based on one’s sexual orientation is the same as refusing service based on race, ethnicity, gender etc. The Bible isn’t a book of conveniently held beliefs or a book to uphold discriminatory practices, the Bible is an interpretation through the prism of Man and I’d suggest, a reflection of what sits in one’s heart.

I hope your children will know true grace as they grow; I hope they will know, despite their parent’s views, that all God’s children, born who they are, deserve respect and equal service.

God, guns but no gays? Shame on your Kentucky lawmakers.

Sincerely,
Laura Owens

Donald Sterling. When words speak louder than actions.

Image credit: Blake Griffin

Interesting dialogue about Clippers owner Donald Sterling.

As much as I’d like to see every bass-ackwards racist moron ousted from their organizational protected throne, it’s a slippery slope around freedom of speech to use personal recordings and comments to legally oust someone.

If Sterling counter sues and wins to keep the Clippers then unfortunately he wins. I lay bet however, he won’t get a big welcome home party by the Clippers and the NBA. 

Thank God the NBA made a forceful statement and threw Sterling out and are (trying) to take the Clippers away from him. (Why bigots-in-charge are allowed to continue is another issue altogether. Priests protected, systemic sheltering of the sacred establishment for fear of losing jobs and image). 

The NBA has a right to fine, suspend or boot anyone they find in opposition to their organization’s brand and so, best interest. Sterling’s actions have been discriminatory and in some instances he’s spewed blatant hate speech. Hate speech isn’t protected.

In 2009, writes The Daily Beast, former longtime Clippers executive Elgin Baylor sued Sterling for discrimination on the basis of age and race, during which Baylor alleged that Sterling wanted a team composed of “poor black boys from the South … playing for a white coach.” 

Wikipedia – Hate speech is, outside the law, speech that attacks a person or group on the basis of e.g. race, religion, gender, disability, or sexual orientation.[1][2]

In law, hate speech is any speech, gesture or conduct, writing, or display which is forbidden because it may incite violence or prejudicial action against or by a protected individual or group, or because it disparages or intimidates a protected individual or group. The law may identify a protected individual or a protected group by certain characteristics.[3][4][5][6] In some countries, a victim of hate speech may seek redress under civil lawcriminal law, or both. A website that uses hate speech is called a hate site. Most of these sites contain Internet forumsand news briefs that emphasize a particular viewpoint. There has been debate over how freedom of speech applies to the Internet.

Critics have argued that the term “hate speech” is a contemporary example of Newspeak, used to silence critics of social policies that have been poorly implemented in a rush to appear politically correct.[7][8][9]

 

Among many of Sterling’s racist gems he allegedly told his girlfriend the following…. “It bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast that you are associating with black people. Do you have to…..You can sleep with (black people). You can bring them in. You can do whatever you want. The little I ask is not to promote it on that … and not to bring them to my games….. In your lousy … Instagrams you don’t have to have yourself walking with black people.”

So let me get this straight….

The black people who hang with the woman you’re cheating on your wife with make you a mint with their extraordinary hard work and talent but you don’t want your mistress to be seen with them at the games?  Go ahead and have sex with black people if you must but don’t get all “I’m with a black-man” and cozy up with them at my games. For Gods sake woman, use some common racist sense. What would the season ticket holders think?

I can hear the Sterling supporters but.. but… butting…. he gave a boat load of money to the NAACP so clearly he isn’t totally racist, just a tiny bit. We can forgive a little racist when big money is involved.

Sometimes words just speaker louder than actions. A big check isn’t restitution for racist comments. It’s like Sterling knows he can get away with “Listen to what I do, not to what I say.”

So, when does a point of view, even one you loathe, become unlawful hate speech?  It’s not cut and dry.

Say you’re against same-sex marriage (a view) but not against gay people. Or, maybe you hate gays and lesbians with every fiber (which then I just feel sorry for you) but you keep your views inside your private life and away from your company dealings. If you don’t use or incite hate speech in your organization (“fags, perverse people, an abomination”) then you’re not directly harming anyone (accept that your soul is dying a slow and inevitable death, but that’s just me).

Maybe you secretly think people of color are inferior.  But, you keep your mouth shut at corporate dealings until one day, you start slipping up. You get cocky because your plantation mentality gets a chuckle here and there over cigars and Manhattans at the club. Despite getting sued for say, housing discrimination, none of your fawning or fearful posse has the balls to tell you to keep your mouth shut or you’re out. You’re the owner, who tells off the owner?

Anyone who can afford to lose their job, in other words, a very small list.

Chick Fil-A’s owner Dan Cathy’s views against gay marriage aren’t mine but he has every right to say them. He’s not known for spewing hate speech against the gay and lesbian community.  If he discriminated hiring gays and lesbians (he doesn’t) then we have a legal issue. 

But say Mr. Cathy spewed hate speech about the LGBT community, “perverse, lazy workers, an abomination,” yada yada nonsense I’d EXPECT Mr. Cathy to be ousted by his Board even if he didn’t employ discriminatory practices because his views are hateful which I gather wouldn’t sit will well with the Chick Fil-A family brand (that is anti-gay marriage but not anti-gay, per se).  

But, if Mr. Sterling wins his lawsuit will he still want to belong to a club that for the most part doesn’t want him? Probably. Most larger than life egos don’t care about being liked, they care about being in charge.  

 

 

Catholics and Mormons Mass Exodus If Women Left Behind

Women still left out of priesthood Great article (linked below) on why the traditional branches of the Catholic and Mormon church can’t sustain themselves unless they reform to include women.

“The contradictions are non-sustainable.”

Some of my friends, from their polite silence, likely find my feminist, new-age, optimistic, this-too-shall-be-overcome attitude regarding social change non-sustainable.  

I’ll cop to being the annoying hippie optimist but I’m not as much Pollyanna in a peace shirt about equality and social change as I am just pragmatic.  Look back to see the future for women’s equality. The vote. The ERA. Reproductive rights. Glass ceilings. Co-ed college. Pay equity gaps closing. Facebook CEO Sheryl Sandberg. Women stand everywhere a man stands, except as priests.  

Our nation spins on an axis of the train-can’t-stop-now social progress. So, if conservative branches of the Catholic and Mormon church fight women in the priesthood they’ll be left behind in a pool of bitterness barking to a growing minority about the dangers of the heretics. 

The conservative grip on the male hierarchy in the church has become a paranoid rant to old ghosts because, writes Damon Linker in an article for The Week:

The churches are now largely populated by people who have no living memory of it ever having been otherwise. Living, studying, working, and voting in a world marked by ever-increasing recognition of the equal dignity of men and women, they go to church on Sunday and confront our culture’s last significant institutional vestige of inequality — when that very institution worships the God who is the ultimate source of our egalitarianism.……But in both Catholicism and Mormonism, there’s often nowhere else to go. It’s either love it or leave it.  Read more….    

If the states don’t know any better, the Supreme Court has to.

Image: Wikimedia Commons

Support for same-sex marriage is moving up in the courts and the people.

Princeton Survey Research Associates surveyed 1,003 adults and found:

“An unprecedented 55%-40%, Americans say marriages between same-sex couples should be recognized by law as valid, with the same rights of traditional marriage. That’s the highest level of support since Gallup began asking the question in 1996. Then, fewer than half that number, 27%, backed the idea.” (1).

Still, the tide is slow to shift as with any civil right stuck in the mud by groups terrified equality-for-all will lead to the economic and moral destruction of our nation.

You saw what happened after women got the vote, after desegregation, the Civil Rights Act and the ERA?

It’s almost too horrible to think about but let’s be brave and try…

Please click here to read more…

 

How much vitamin D should you take? Depends on who want to listen to.

sun

The now world famous sunshine vitamin is more than merely a nice have, ultimately D converts to a hormone and hormones have the power to unlock a long list of processes in your body — I mean long. 

Made primarily from your skin’s exposure to sun or through supplementation, if you’re low in D you put yourself at risk for numerous health hazards. More than likely your doctor has tested you for vitamin D. More than likely he-she told you your levels are normal or close to normal, that is — greater than 20 ngl/ml. 

Sound the buzzer. Wrong answer.

So what level of D is ideal?

Depends on which advisory board you follow. I follow the Vitamin D Council because they back their recommendations with decades of research.  They’re specialists in one and only one substance,– D.  The Endocrine Society’s recommendations are higher, but not high enough.

Writes the D Council:

“Vitamin D is important for general good health, and researchers now are discovering that vitamin D may be important for many other reasons outside of good bone health. Some of the functions of the body that vitamin D helps with include:

  • Immune system, which helps you to fight infection
  • Muscle function
  • Cardiovascular function, for a healthy heart and circulation
  • Respiratory system –for healthy lungs and airways
  • Brain development
  • Anti-cancer effects

How high should my vitamin D level be?

Vitamin D Council Endocrine Society Food and Nutrition Board Testing Laboratories
Deficient 0-30 ng/ml 0-20 ng/ml 0-11 ng/ml 0-31 ng/ml
Insufficient 31-39 ng/ml 21-29 ng/ml 12-20 ng/ml
Sufficient 40-80 ng/ml 30-100 ng/ml >20 ng/ml 32-100 ng/ml
Toxic >150 ng/ml

 

How much vitamin D should I take daily?

Vitamin D Council Endocrine Society Food and Nutrition Board
Infants 1,000 IU/day 400-1,000 IU/day 400 IU/day
Children 1,000 IU/day per 25lbs of body weight 600-1,000 IU/day 600 IU/day
Adults 5,000 IU/day 1,500-2,000 IU/day 600 IU/day, 800 IU/day for seniors
Recommended daily intakes from various organizations

 

So who is this oh so bold Vitamin D Council?

The Vitamin D Council is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization in California, United States, working to educate the public on vitamin D, sun exposure and health.

” ‘Why,’ you might ask. Simply put, humans do not get enough sun exposure in the 21st century. Because of this, many — if not most — humans are deficient in vitamin D,” writes Dr. Cannell, the Council’s Executive Director.

…..”Research on vitamin D is pouring out and it’s hard to keep up with the latest information. Recommendations on vitamin D and sun exposure are confusing, conflicting and inconsistent. We’re here to help both the public and health professionals sort through everything. The Vitamin D Council serves as a center for evidence-based vitamin D research and is a reliable source for the general public.”

 

Image: By samuiblue, published on 31 May 2013

Gay marriage a serious ill of our nation? We’re sick alright, but that’s not the issue.

An Orlando Sentinel reader wrote the following opinion letter:

(Gov) Scott should stand steady

Comparing same-sex marriage and integration is like comparing apples and oranges (Letters, Wednesday, JoAnn Lee Frank).

There are many people in the state of Florida who find the subject of gay marriage to be one of the many serious ills that America faces, rather than a good thing. This is one of the issues that is tearing the fabric of this great country apart.

If Gov. Rick Scott has any morals and intestinal fortitude, he will maintain his stand against same-sex marriage and be known as a wise and prudent leader who stood by decency and left a legacy that can be admired.

~ K.B. 

My response:

I respectfully disagree with KB who wrote in her March 24th opinion “there are many people in the state of Florida who find the subject of gay marriage to be one of the many serious ills that America faces, rather than a good thing” and that this is “one of the many issues that is tearing the fabric of this great country apart.”

Sexual orientation, whether heterosexual or homosexual, is not a national illness in need of a cure. If it is, ask yourself when you first realized you were heterosexual. Next, ask yourself when you sought treatment.

The fabric of our nation weaves stronger when we’re not threatened by law abiding citizens who happen to be different than ourselves. Support of gay marriage in Florida continues to gain ground so to fight against a changing public tide is to flail against a strong and relentless undercurrent. Lawsuits against same-sex marriage bans are cropping up all over the nation’s court systems. In January 2014 Public Policy Polling found 47% of Floridians support gay marriage and 44% opposed. This the first time the company found a plurality supporting it

To ban citizens the same marital and adoption rights I’m afforded goes against the 14th Amendment for Equal Protection (states must apply the law equally and cannot discriminate against people or groups of people arbitrarily) and it throws energy into widening rather than narrowing, social divide. Gay men and women aren’t a special interest group screaming “me, me, me,” they’re citizens seeking equal protection. They deserve what I deserve. No more, no less.

What tears at the fabric of our nation is to deny gay adults the right to marry (and to adopt children who need homes) thereby denying the full legal spectrum of marriage, the joy of raising children and the dignity of sanctioned social acceptance. If a citizen can’t internalize support for gay marriage and gay couples adopting (I understand acceptance takes time and sometimes it never happens) then as a nation we must externalize our citizens’ inalienable rights through the law of the land.

To ban gay couples from marrying or adopting children is from my view ethically wrong and cruel. It’s also entirely impractical because thousands of children need loving homes. Loving a child transcends sexual orientation.

How does a gay couple who married and adopted a child in one state move to Florida on a job transfer and explain to their daughter that their life is now a legal no-no? “Your Dad and I love each other and we love you, but this isn’t quite okay enough in Florida?”

I hope through the beauty of a child’s pure mind she never understands any of this. I certainly never will.

Wake up Sunshine State. Time to see the light.

 

Footnote: Florida Public Policy Poll:  http://www.publicpolicypolling.com/pdf/2014/PPP_Release_FL_122.pdf

 

The right to have kids, shouldn’t be.

 Rachel Fryer

(Rachel Fryer, 32, made a court appearance from the jail Thursday to face the new charges: felony murder, aggravated child abuse, evidence tampering and mishandling human remains. (George Skene, Orlando Sentinel / February 27, 2014)

I once told my friend Carol no one has the right to have kids, we only have the right to want them.

She shot me an annoyed look that said I was missing the point; we all get to have kids, we just better not screw it up.

Evolution hasn’t caught up with my futuristic notion that the something outside the individual (and I’m not referring to God) should decide if we’re worthy to bear children. I haven’t thought this through, like who gets to pick and what’s the criteria, but in essence I think we need to earn the right to parent, not inherit the right.

“I think we should be born sterile,” I told my friend, “and have to prove to something to someone, somewhere that we have the basics in place to have kids. I’m not saying someone has to be rich or have a flawless life record, but parents should be at least 21, have a solid enough showing in the bank, in their current lifestyle and in their head.  This seems logical enough; for God sake not to be cliché, but it takes more paperwork to get a driver’s license than to have a kid. ”

“Fine, but what if this baby approval group rejected you?” Carol asked.

“Then they do. But here’s the thing, I wouldn’t be rejected. I know what good I had growing up. I also know what royal dysfunctional messes left their mark on me,” I told her.

When my daughter Tina was between 2 and 4 there were days I screamed all over her while she chased me down the hall. Doors slammed; I was bone tired, overwhelmed, had PMS and wasn’t giddy (although grateful) about being home full-time. I was convinced I was creating a sad kid forever but she kept smiling at me the next day, and then the next.  As Tina got older and I had more free time to myself, we both screamed less and she kept smiling, not more , but still.

She forgot the time I hid from her in the dark on my porch at 11 pm crouched out of sight.  I tried for two hours to get her to go to bed until we were both spinning out of control.  Eventually I got mean. My husband was usually my mediator during these tirades but he was out-of-town that night and so I was left to my own inner voice which was exhausted, enraged and unsympathetic.  Afraid I might shake or slap my toddler I retreated onto the porch for a couple of minutes. Tina ran around the house from room to room crying “Mommy where are you?

Take that.

Suddenly I felt like throwing up and so I went back inside. I hugged my child on my knees sobbing into the horror that I created even a second of abandonment in her life, because I’d felt more than a second in mine.

My daughter doesn’t remember that night; she seems to remember the other 20 or so days of the month across 16 years I didn’t lose my shit.

The majority wins. That’s parenting.

My Dad’s first wife Pat left our family when I was five.  She had an affair with a man she met on a time-away-from-my-father bird watching cruise.  Pat and Frank eventually got married, partnered up as world-famous wildlife photographers and left their respective kids. Parenting bushels of kids didn’t stand a chance against photographing Lamas, tigers and giraffes in Africa for National Geographic.

This is a woman who should never have had children but she wasn’t born into an era when it was acceptable to opt out, and so she kept having babies. Exist strategies for women who didn’t want to mother used to be Valium, limited career choices outside the home or to leave altogether.  Pat became a mother because at the time when my three brothers, sister and I were born in the fifties and sixties (my father and mother adopted my sister and I) having children is what couples did. Having children was the check list in a woman’s categorized life; not a choice to consider your options.

Not everyone should have children.

Some people shouldn’t dig for non-existent child longings and leanings and the stamina for forever parenthood. I had this for one child; I didn’t have it for two. My desire for a baby while I went through invasive fertility treatments was so all consuming that getting pregnant was a daily breathe prayer of absolute unrelenting certainty that nothing else mattered and nothing else would, until. And yet when my doctor told me I was just as likely to have a second baby as I was a first, my decision had already been made. I was done. 

We need to know why we want to mother. We need to know if our answer is enough to sustain ourselves and our family.

We need to stop pretending we can make some people into parents because kids end up being target practice. 

“Some people are bad parents,  writes Orlando Sentinel columnist Beth Kassab, “and no matter what we do, they won’t get any better.” Orlando resident Rachel Fryer has had seven children is pregnant again and is being held on charges of murdering her 2-year-old daughter and burying her in a shallow grave. Two years earlier she “accidentally” suffocated her daughter’s twin brother by rolling over him when he was only two weeks old while she was asleep on the couch.  Rachel was on drugs at the time.  

My life is as removed from Rachel Fryer’s as you can imagine, still as any mother, I’ve felt overwhelmed, depressed, enraged and desperate. “I’m bout to have a nervous breakdown,” read a message allegedly found on Fryer’s cellphone. “I can’t take it no more….My child is retarded, I don’t know what else to do….I need my depression medicine ASAP. This is too much, I’m about to lose it.”

Rachel’s 7 year old daughter allegedly told the police that her mom often hit she and her siblings, and that Rachel beat her the day before her younger sister disappeared.

I know the feeling of wanting to smother incessant crying or to haul off and wallop a child who hits your last nerve. And yet thank God I never did either of those things because I had internal and external options given to me by my parents. I was born into lucky circumstances and somehow maintained impulse control.

I’m not heartless to Rachel’s tragic story, but I’m not willing to give an adult the repeated benefit of the doubt where kids are concerned, when doubt has as long and obvious a tragic history as Rachel’s.

As reported by the Orlando Sentinel

  • Child-welfare officials were concerned Rachel Fryer was an unfit mother and, at various times, objected to her regaining custody.
  • The 32-year-old and her children were reunited, and it wasn’t long before Fryer’s life began to crumble.
  • She couldn’t afford rent.
  • She didn’t have enough money for food.
  • Beds she rented for the kids — ages 2, 3, 4 and 7 — were returned because she couldn’t afford them.
  • Two months after Fryer and the children were reunited a court-appointed child-advocate requested a hearing over “pressing concerns” about the Sanford family.
  • That hearing was never scheduled, and the following week, Fryer’s 2-year-old daughter Tariji was dead.
  • More than 1,700 pages of documents detailing those and other elements of Fryer’s history with child-welfare agencies were released Friday, providing a glimpse of what unfolded in the years after Tariji’s twin brother died in 2011.
  • Fryer, who has given birth to at least seven children and is pregnant, has a long history with the Department of Children and Families.
  • After a drug raid at her home in 2005, Fryer voluntarily gave up her parental rights to two of her children.
  • She gave birth to several more children, and in 2011, Tariji’s twin brother, Tavontae Gordon, died.
  • At the time, authorities concluded Fryer accidentally suffocated the infant while they slept together on the couch. But Sanford police earlier this month reopened the investigation into Tavontae’s death.
  • The infant’s death prompted DCF to remove the four other children — including Tariji — and place them in foster homes.
  • DCF reports characterize Fryer as a woman with mental health problems, drug and alcohol abuse, physical health problems, unstable housing, unstable employment and recurring criminal behavior.
  • In mid-2013, a court-appointed child advocate said the children should remain in foster care because neither Fryer nor the children’s father, Timothy Gordon Jr., had complied fully with the reunification requirements.
  • But Fryer completed her case plan, and Seminole County Circuit Judge Donna McIntosh reunited the family.
  • After that reunion in November, problems quickly arose.
  • Case workers noted in an early December report that Fryer had no steady employment and her income wasn’t sufficient to care for the children.
  • As Fryer’s struggles mounted, she and the children withdrew. The kids missed school. When a bus driver walked up to Fryer’s door and asked to see Tariji, Fryer refused.
  • In a Jan. 30 report, the court-appointed child advocate expressed concerns about Fryer’s financial problems and an array of other issues, including her arrest in December for failing to appear at a court hearing.
  • She also took her kids out of daycare because she was “tired of everyone in her business,” even though it was a condition of her reunification with the children.

“I don’t want people to think I don’t love my kids because I really love my kids. I was scared. I was really scared,” Rachel Fryer said. 

The problem I have is with Rachel’s version of love is her version isn’t good enough. More than likely she grew up around drugs, was neglected or abused and her way is the only parenting style she knows. I could be non-judgmental except we have to judge the welfare of children when lives are at stake. Sometimes we have to judge the long and obvious history of some parents or we don’t protect the children.

This isn’t a matter of whether a mother breast feeds or not, stays home or works, all that competitive parenting chatter that doesn’t make an ounce of difference in the long run of a child’s life. We’re talking about neglect and injury and death, we’re talking about the fact that Rachel somehow keeps getting pregnant and so, is getting another chance to try parenting, again and again.   

Kids aren’t practice for get parenting right, eventually. Kids are the main event for getting ourselves right.

 

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