Monday, June 22, 2015

Ok, so I'm not doing so well with the blogging thing. What else is new? But here I am again. Writing is my thing. It has been since I was young. So I am back. Despite the fact that no one reads my stuff. Despite the fact that I don't know if I will be able to keep it up. I'm back because I need to write. For me. It may be a hodge podge for awhile while I explore different topics of interest. Hopefully I will narrow down and settle on a niche at some point. My interests are varied and so many things flit through my head.

My current and latest obsession has been Andrew Wakefield. Why? And who is he, you ask? Well, the why is easy. He is fascinating, and I have an insatiable desire to find the truth. The truth about anything. I want it. I want to know what the truth is. Always. And he is an intriguing person. People either love him or they hate him. If they even know who he is at all. He's the man at the center of the vaccination debate. He authored or co-authored (can't remember which) a paper back in the late 90's that supposedly found a correlation between the MMR vaccination and gut problems in 12 children that may have been linked to autism. First of all, twelve children? Hardly a convincing study. Such a tiny sample.  But Wakefield used the study to call a press conference where he basically made a big deal about the findings and madness ensued. This seemed to be the first real evidence that the MMR vaccine might be linked to autism, and it was huge.

Of course, the paper was later retracted, and eventually Wakefield lost his medical license. A few years later another man, Brian Deer, did an investigation on Wakefield and turned up a lot of damning evidence against him. However, Wakefield's supporters have always maintained that he does what he does for the children and most still support him. They claim that the big industry that is pharmaceuticals and government have made an example out of him for challenging the status quo and the huge profit machine of vaccinations. The other side calls him a quack, a liar, a fraud and much worse. They claim that he is responsible for the comeback of measles and other diseases because many parents stopped vaccinating after Wakefield's study. 

And the vaccine debate rages on still. But Wakefield is not solely responsible for those who question vaccines. People will always question things. And they should. I don't have a problem with questioning. I have a problem with those on the pro-vaccine side who demonize and mock those who question. I also have a problem with those who, in the face of strong evidence, refuse to question their own strongly held beliefs. Some of the so-called "anti-vaxxers" do this, in my opinion, when presented with unsavory evidence against Wakefield. 

Regardless of where one stands on vaccines, Wakefield is intriguing. He is to me anyway. So where am I going with this? I don't really know. Just trying to find answers. And this is my first step.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

C & D - Connection as Discipline

Well, I am going to cheat for C and do D at the same time because I have gotten behind. Surprise. Considering that I’m winging it and forgot about the challenge until the day before, this is not exactly unexpected. I had a great idea for writing a fictional piece about a controversial doctor, but I just never could get that fleshed out. So I’m settling on something that will be easy for me so that I can hopefully move on tomorrow. It’s connection as discipline. What is that? Well, there’s a saying: Connect before you correct. That just means instead of barking orders, you connect with your child first. When you think about it, it just makes sense. All humans crave connection. For some reason, this gets lost in parenting. It’s much too easy to end up becoming dictators barking out orders for our kids to follow so that we can get to the next item on our To Do list. We lose sight of what’s important – the relationship. We blow the connection over a million different things every day. Well, I do. But what does it look like to connect before you correct? Let’s say you’re trying to get your child ready to go somewhere and he needs a diaper change. You can pick him up and take him against his will. Or you can go over to him, make a comment on what he is doing and then tell him it’s time for a diaper change after you’ve connected. It doesn’t have to take long. In fact, sometimes those short little connections can make all the difference in their cooperation level. Of course you want to connect in big ways too. It’s not always easy, but connection as discipline seems to work better than screaming or being harsh. It always seems to work better when you get to the heart of the matter. And people, not just children, are usually going to respond better when they feel connected. It’s just how we are wired.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

B - Bus

I sneak a peek through the blinds, hoping he doesn’t notice. I can barely make out his form in the darkness. He doesn’t want much to do with me anymore. I wipe some sleep from my eyes. What happened to my little boy? The one who used to light up when he saw me? The one who was so eager to tell me everything that I thought he would burst into flames? We used to chat while I made him breakfast. Now he eats alone because he wants it that way. We used to sit together while he waited on the bus in the dark. Now I am reduced to spying on him from the window because he doesn’t want me there. I shield my eyes from the flashing lights of the approaching school bus. My teenaged son chats with the neighbor kids as he boards the bus. I brush away a tear as I close the blinds and drag myself back to bed.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

A is for Aggravation

Aggravated. Seems that's my state of mind lately. Aggravated with the kids. Aggravated with difficult people. Life can seem like one annoyance after another. I even get aggravated with myself when I snap at everyone. Or I stay up too late. Or I'm tired. Again. I can live in a constant state of aggravation (or anger, for that matter.). Or I can accept what is and make the best of it. I can recognize all the big and small aggravations as chances to grow. Acceptance. Yeah. I think that's what's needed. Just accepting what is...Accepting that kids are just doing what they do. And that's okay. Accepting that I mess up constantly. I stay up too late. I eat too much chocolate. I don't do the things I know I should do. And that's okay. Accept it. Own it. Stop fighting it. Accept. Accept the flaws in other people and in myself. Accept the annoyances and the interruptions. Stop fighting the way things *should* be and accept the way they actually *are*. Funny thing happens when you do that. You feel a lot less aggravated. 

Friday, April 25, 2014

V & W - Value and Worth

I’ll be honest. I’m on my last leg with this A to Z challenge. I’m barely hobbling in here. I totally skipped T and U. But I’m determined to drag myself to the finish line if at all possible. So I’m combining V and W and hoping I’ll come up with an X, Y and Z post cuz I got nothin’ at this point. But I guess the upside to all this is that I’ve done a lot of writing in the last month. Anyway, on to V and W. Incidentally, since I’m rambling, my first car was a VW bug……
Know your value; know your worth. I think women, for some reason more than men, struggle with this. Or maybe men just deal with it in different ways or hide it better than we do. I don’t know b/c I’m not a guy. I can only speak for myself, and I have always struggled with this particular issue.

Now I’m not talking about an arrogant, princess-y, wait-on-me-hand-and-foot kinda attitude. That’s just obnoxious. I’m talking more of a deep down “I am worth it” kind of thinking.

We put up with stuff because we don’t realize how valuable we are or because we are used to being treated in less than respectful ways. It feels normal to be dismissed or belittled and we may not even be conscious of what’s happening. We get in or stay in relationships because we don’t think anyone else will have us and we’d better take what we can get.

It can be hard to believe we are enough because it seldom feels that way. We get messages from all around us that we are not. Culture’s constantly telling us we need this or that to be worth something.  We need to look a certain way. We’re just not enough the way we are. Or maybe the people who are supposed to love and cherish you are the ones who have beaten you down for so long. After awhile, in your core, you believe the lie. Because it feels true.

So what do we do? How do we change? Well, we walk in the truth that we are valuable and worth it. I’ve had to start with baby steps. When I’m being screamed at, I can tell them that I’ll talk to them when they speak to me respectfully. And then follow through by not engaging with them until they do. Sometimes it’s little nuances that can make a big difference. And of course we have to treat others, especially our children, with the respect and honor that we want to be treated with. How often do I speak disrespectfully to my children? How often am I demeaning and dismissive of them and their concerns? Yet I expect them to be respectful of me and to listen to me. Yeah, it’s a big cycle. And the only one we can change is our self. But that usually makes all the difference. And we are worth it. We are worth the work that it takes to change.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

S - Struggle

If there’s one thing I’ve learned as I’ve gotten older, it’s that we all struggle with personal demons. It could be a situation we are unhappy with. It might be dysfunction that prevents us from being who we want to be. It could be health issues or relationship or financial issues. The question is not whether we’re going to struggle; it’s how we’re going to handle the battle. We can blame others. We can resent the situation. We can play the victim because we feel helpless and hopeless. Or we can look for solutions. We can look for a better way to handle things. We can mine for the lessons we need to take from our struggles and let them make us stronger. We can choose to face them from a place of strength. We can let them make us more compassionate and softer or bitter and angry. As with most things in life, it’s not the initial problem that’s the problem. It’s how we choose to handle it that matters. It’s not so much about the problem as it is about how we respond. 

Here’s an example of what I mean. A few years ago I ordered some study materials for continuing education from a company. A few weeks after I received my materials, I realized part of my order was not what I needed and wouldn’t count for credit. Suffice it to say that the whole process involved a lot of stress for me, so I was livid. I called the company. Now whether it was my fault for not being careful enough when ordering is up for debate. And certainly the company could have gotten an attitude and told me I needed to be more careful, that they can’t monitor everyone’s continuing education requirements, yada yada yada. Maybe I was the cause of the problem. But do you know what they did? They allowed me to send it back, refunded my money, helped me to find something that would work and even gave me an extra coupon. Because they handled it so well, they got a loyal customer. Out of a problem. It applies to our personal struggles as well. We can fuss and fume that we have these struggles. Or we can roll up our sleeves, decide to accept the challenge and dig deep. What’s that saying? What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

Be strong. If you don’t think you’re strong, because I totally get that, dig deep until you find that strength. It’s there. It is. You know… maybe that’s what the struggles are for – to bring out our strengths. Like mining for jewels.

Monday, April 21, 2014

R - Right thing

Do the right thing. Do the right thing when you see no good reason to. Do the right thing when the person doesn’t deserve your thoughtfulness. Do it when you see no possible payoff. Do it when no one will know or give you accolades. Do the right thing even though no one else is doing the right thing. Do it even if you have to do it alone. Sometimes you know in your gut what the right thing is to do. You just need to do it. Period.