Sharon, if I had some crazy socks, I’d wear them. I promise you, I’ll find some to silly socks to celebrate World Down Syndrome Day.
Back in 1970, when my youngest sister was born, the term used to describe her condition was “retarded.” I still bristle when I hear that word. My ten-year-old self was horrified to think people would call my sister – or anyone else – that.
“Where were the parents?” is a question that I have read and heard countless times, especially since the victims of Dr. Nassar, the former US Gymnastics team doctor, have taken the stand to face their attacker. The video of this distraught father brings it all home for me – click HERE to watch it.
Anxiety and depression have plagued me off and on for years. The recent news coverage of Dr. Nassar has brought my experience up again. It happens – it is a form of PTSD. Though this essay easily flowed from my heart through my fingertips, it was the decision of whether or not to publish it that has brought me the most angst. For years I have felt that God has called me to discuss this. And for years, I couldn’t bring myself to do so. The fear of sharing this story is real. How will people react? My children, grandchildren, family, friends, co-workers, readers. But I feel that I have been repeatedly nudged by the Holy Spirit the past few weeks. Maybe my experience will help someone. Maybe that someone is you.
It seems to be a logical question. How could hundreds of victims have been sexually assaulted by one man, and the parents seemingly be clueless?
“I write journals and would recommend journal writing to anyone who wishes to pursue a writing career. You learn a lot. You also remember a lot… and memory is important.” -Judy Collins
On the first weekend of the New Year, I braved the bitter cold and headed out to a local writer’s workshop. The theme – perfect for starting the year – was “Writing Goals and Skills,” led by the president of the Detroit Working Writers.
I purposely left my laptop at home, for a multitude of reasons. First, there was the practicality of lugging it in the cold. As uncoordinated as I can be, I envisioned slipping and falling in the icy parking lot, struggling to save my device as opposed to struggling to save myself.
“Oh, I am very weary, Though tears no longer flow; My eyes are tired of weeping, My heart is sick of woe.” Anne Bronte
A friend posted a question on Facebook the other day. “Is it me, or is Facebook not fun anymore?”
To answer the question, no, it’s not you.
For the past few years, what used to be a fun way to reconnect has been anything but fun. It has been nothing but a constant barrage of political pain. A soul-sucking, life-draining experience. I even had someone remark that I hadn’t been on Facebook much lately. That’s true. It has mentally worn me out.
I think most people felt that no matter who won the election, the crazy would finally be over. Hah! Anything but. In my opinion, it is worse.
I am weary.
I can’t even count the number of people I talk to who are exhausted. It doesn’t matter the age, gender or economic status. Sleep seems to elude everyone.
I was chalking it up to hot flashes in the middle of the night, or too much coffee during the day, or too much on my to-do list. The lack of sleep had been affecting me on all levels – to include my writing (or lack thereof) and other creative endeavors.
But I think it is more. I think it is the constant negativity on social media, at social gatherings and on the news.
I am weary.
All the bickering and fighting about rights and who’s right is getting us absolutely nowhere. Nothing is positive is happening. Families are divided, friends are no longer friends.
I long for the days on social media where someone’s bowl oatmeal was filling my news feed.
While I appreciate people taking a stand, I have to wonder what that stand is doing. Is it changing anything for the better? Or is it furthering the divide?
Recent examples are the women’s marches and the pro-life marches. Who did it help? Did everyone attending these protests accomplish anything other than “solidarity” for their cause and drive a wedge even deeper?
I think of the time and money spent on these public displays. Could it have been spent better?
You won’t find me marching or protesting. First, my knees would not cooperate. But on a more serious and important level, I personally feel that my time, money and talents can be used for something more.
If you can spend time and money knitting protest caps, maybe you can use that same energy to knit chemo caps for cancer patients.
If you can spend time and money marching for life, maybe you can use that same time and money to buy and deliver diapers, layettes and formula to a pregnancy resource center.
If you can spend time and money marching for immigrants at an airport, maybe you can go to an intake organization for these people and donate furniture and clothing to those who arrive here with a suitcase and no provisions.
If we have a passion for what we protest for, then we need to also take care of the people with our actions.
It doesn’t matter what our politics are, because in the end, we are all people with opinions and the resources to make life better for others.
I think about the thousands and thousands of people at the recent protests who could have come together and filled the pantries at local food banks, served meals at homeless shelters, delivered food to homebound seniors, pulled weeds in a community garden or bought gift cards for groceries for a struggling family in their neighborhood.
For me, the only thing positive that has come from this continuous battle of the wills to be right instead of being the change, is to remind myself that I need to do more to make my corner of the world a better place. And I have already started to make that change.
The only way to heal this country is to start small. Like the old cliché poem of “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time,” that is the only way we can start to come together. One person doing one small thing for another person. That is all it takes.
So, I ask of you, friend or foe, can we put the politics aside and put the barbs down? Can we work together? Can we be respectful of one another, whether we agree with each other or not? If we work side-by-side, we just might realize that we are more alike than different. Then we can work together on effectively tackling other issues.
“Grandmas never run out of hugs or cookies.” Author Unknown
Looking out the kitchen window, I watched my two granddaughters playing basketball with their uncles – my sons.
It wasn’t too long ago that I’d watch my boys out that same window, and now they are grown men. They have fond memories of that basketball hoop, and memories of the one-and-one games with each other; of games with their dad, my dad, cousins and countless friends. And a few memories of the times when I’d impress them by landing several baskets of my own, thank you very much.
Since embracing my natural color, I have worked with my stylist to make sure my hair is up-to-date and that has led to a whole lot of time spent in the hair care aisle of my favorite stores. Yes, stores. Plural. Because no matter where I find myself shopping, I have to check to see what is available for my lovely locks. And then you just might find me wandering over to check out the lipsticks, gloss and mascara on another aisle. Whether I am at the hair salon, drug store, health food store or the mall, I find that the beauty product aisles beckon me, like a siren calling sailors.
For the past few days, I have purposely limited the time I have spent on social media. My boycott started out innocently enough – it was a beautiful day to be outside, planting flowers and pulling weeds. Good for the body, mind and soul.
A day to appreciate all of God’s creation – well, except for the spiders I encountered while weeding.
When I heard about the tragedy in Orlando, I jumped back online to see what had happened; what the latest updates were. Saddened and horrified, I felt sick to my stomach, just as I did on September 11, 2001.