Sunday, February 28, 2010

Teach Your Children, Part I

Even before I had children of my own, I couldn't fathom how any person could not strive to leave a better, more prosperous, more healthy (or at least, not worse) world for his or her children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, and for all future generations, to live in.
Honestly, I can't (& never could) understand how captains of industry (have) manage(d) to go along, aimlessly polluting, wasting and destroying natural resources, fueling wars, etc., and still manage to go home and face their children without being crushed by guilt.
I've never been able to grasp the waging of wars and all that warfare brings, the indifference to poverty, hunger and disease that many world leaders who have children and families have displayed over the years.
I've pictured my kids, alone and aging, without me or any one to protect them, in a hostile world. I've pictured unknown descendants, little ones just as adorable and inquisitive as my babies were, unable to understand why they are being punished daily by living in a war-torn, filthy-beyond-reclamation, drained of resources-both economic and natural-world.
Leaders talk about a better world, but I feel safe in saying that most have never put their money where their mouths are, as it's infinitely more lucrative for them to put their money in their pockets and turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to the sorry state of the environment, the political landscape-including massive debt- and the close-to-mortally-wounded world.
So I find it worth mentioning, worth lauding, worth celebrating that in the wee hours of this morning, I read this quote by a sitting U.S. Senator, accompanied by supporting action:
"The present level of debt is unsustainable. I have too many grand children that want to grow up in the same America that I grew up."
Before I continue, I have to reiterate that politically, I'm an Independent. I'm an equal opportunity supporter or critic, regardless of political affiliation.
The Senator who uttered those words is Jim Bunning, R-Ky., the same fellow I wrote about in my last entry. Bunning is the Senator who caused unemployment & health insurance benefits to run out today, leaving more than 1 million jobless Americans high and dry.
Bunning took this unpopular, loathed action (so far this weekend, police have investigated bomb threats at 2 of Bunning's offices) because he believes the Senate should obey just-passed legislation that requires Congress to pay for legislation as it comes along, eliminating the practice of adding to the National debt. Bunning further put his money where his mouth is by suggesting that the $10 billion, 30-day extension of unemployment and health insurance benefits be paid for by utilizing left over funds from last year's economic stimulus plan.
Bunning chastised Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid for earlier squashing what Bunning saw as a solution to the unemployment insurance debacle, a bipartisan, $85 billion bill through which "all programs you have talked about could have been extended and for much longer periods . . .(if you) had not blown up the bipartisan job bill," Bunning told Reid.
(Bunning's quotes come from Fox News. I read news accounts from about 15 sources daily, so I can remain fair and balanced (!).)
The Senate will likely pass the extension of unemployment and health insurance benefits on Tuesday, and as there's not a better plan to address the more than 1 million citizens who face indefinite joblessness, the extension should be passed.
But the next time I'm explaining my views to one of my children, or nieces or nephews, or any young child, young man or young woman, I will hold Bunning , and this particular situation, up as an example of sound reasoning and viable honesty in politics.
Part II of "Teach Your Children" coming soon.
Be well. Be happy. Be safe. Leave a comment! What do you think?

Friday, February 26, 2010

Connecting the Dots to Economic Recovery

I have a lot to be thankful for today.
I have a new follower, Patricia Bator, a neighbor over in Scranton, Pa.
Patricia makes and sells very appealing-looking beeswax candles. I've found it increasingly difficult to find nice taper candles, so I'm sure there are some locally handmade beeswax candles in my future. Patricia's variety of candles can be seen @ Welcome, Patricia!
I'm thankful that we still have power here in the country. With snow ever-falling, cars looking as if they're nothing more than large, white lumps, and an estimated 650,000 northeasterners w/o power, I'd say I'm pretty fortunate to be connected and typing away!
Portsmouth, N.H. was hit with winds topping out at 91 mph - that's high category 1 hurricane force!
Last but never, ever least. My beautiful, smart, independent "little girl" (she was the youngest for 9 years!), Molly Sarah is turning 21 tomorrow! This young woman has been holding her own, living independently, staying in school and gainfully employed, way down south in Florida, since she graduated from High School in 07. I miss her, at times painfully, I love her , and I am oh so proud of my Molly!

Four news stories stood out this week, illustrating the humongous mess our country is in, said messes' decades-spanning creation (and the tendency of many to ignore the hulking mess as it burst out of its clothing, wreaking wide spread havoc across the decades), and the bull-headed inability of the masses & our government to connect the dots, so to speak, that will lead our country (eventually) to a satisfying, productive conclusion.
Remember connect the dots? If a reasonably smart little kid could pay attention and follow the numbers, the result would be a pretty picture. I never once encountered a fellow little kid who didn't love connecting the dots.
First off, it was simple to master once you knew your numbers. Second, and best of all, there was always a pay off, a reward, a thrilling surprise- the pretty picture!
A simple concept that I believe can be applied to more daunting issues.
OK, Dot#1. From 2/22 and the Christian Science Monitor we have the Bloom Box.
An it's-about-time-we've-been-talking-energy-crisis-since-the-70s, by-all-appearances, out and out miracle!
(I love the Christian Science Monitor. Its correspondents almost always possess the gift to write clearly and concisely- it is magnificently understandable.)
According to the CSM's Husna Haq, the Bloom Box (created by Bloom Energy of Ca. & its CEO, K.R. Sridhar) is a collection of fuel cells (skinny batteries) that use oxygen and fuel to create electricity with NO EMISSIONS!
Beautiful in its simplicity, not unlike connect the dots.
The fuel cells themselves are made of baked sand and each has the potential to power one light bulb.The fuel cells are stacked in a refrigerator-sized "Bloom Box."
The Box draws in oxygen on one side, fuel is fed into the other side. It can be fossil fuel, bio-fuel or solar power. The fuel and oxygen combine within the fuel cell and produce a chemical reaction that creates energy VOID OF burning, combustion and power lines (creating a prettier picture!).
Currently, the corporate Bloom Box retails for a prohibitive-to-most $700,000 to $800,000.
Sridhar aims to whittle the cost down to $2,000 per box. He envisions a Bloom Box in every home by 2020.
Is this too good to be true? It may be.
Let's just think about the power companies that exist today, mercilessly squeezing every last penny from our already defeated, deflated wallets. It's hard to muster any sympathy for them. But what about (millions of?) power company employees nation-wide? Will a Bloom Box in every home add to the already outrageously high numbers of unemployed workers?
I fear that it will, unless Bloom Box, its agents, subsidiaries, etc, plan to gather power-company employees and train them to be Bloom Box employees.
Will the Bloom Box industry create a sufficient number of jobs to employ the legions of power company employees? And will keeping the jobs in the U.S. be cost effective, allowing the home Bloom Box to be affordable to all? That remains to be seen.
On to Dot#2: 2/24's semi-annual address to Congress by Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke.
According to ABC News, Bernanke predicts that high unemployment and low interest rates will continue through 2012 as the country continues to undergo a "nascent" economic recovery. That word troubles me. Nascent, as far as I know, means "in idea form," or "just forming."
I deferred to Mr. Webster, and found "coming into being, beginning to form or develop, said of ideas."
The description just doesn't inspire confidence, it doesn't conjure images of strength, but that's just my opinion.
Bernanke went on to point out that the country's economy expanded at a 4 % rate during the second half of last year. But to me, he waxed a bit cryptic, or at least not as enthusiastic as he could have waxed (OK, I know he's not a cheerleader! But still . . . ) by adding that once the government pulls back rescue efforts, recovery depends on the private sector.
I have faith in American ingenuity, strength, will to succeed, etc. But I got this fleeting image of a mommy-dearest type maniacally pulling a rug out from under a little child. Go ahead, public, see if you can manage to stand up without government bail outs! Maybe it's just my wild imagination!
Bernanke told Congress that it and the administration must come up with "some kind of program, some kind of plan," that will "credibly show how the U.S. government is going to bring itself back to a sustainable position."
Those are very serious words. Those words need to be heeded NOW, as Bernanke added,
"It's not something that's 10 years away as it affects the markets today. The longer you wait, the harder it's going to be."
Dot # 3 was reported today by ABC News. The Senate failed to extend unemployment benefits and other programs for laid-off workers late yesterday.
The package also included programs and loans for small businesses, highway funding and saving Medicare payments to physicians from a 21 % cut.
Take that, public! We'll kick you while you're down!
Honestly, I don't believe that the government should be responsible for every citizen's basic needs all of the time.
But the government (many administrations), and the apathy of its citizens, and corporate greed did cause this mess (that's been decades in the making).
One man stood in the way last night, and I believe he was correct in his opposition.
Republican Senator Jim Bunning of Kentucky didn't support the legislation. Bunning believes it should be paid for by what's left in last year's economic recovery package kitty.
And if there's enough left over, why not?
Why add (as the majority proposes) to the massive U.S. debt, projected to hit 1.5 TRILLION this year?
Why not save the estimated 1.1 million citizens who will lose unemployment benefits next month without adding to the deficit? (But we do need a permanent fix - jobs!!)
I'm an Independent, I'm not a Republican.
I have to further research and discover if the amount left over in the recovery package can sufficiently save unemployment benefits, small business loans, highway programs and medicare payments.
This Bunning fellow may just be blowing smoke. But if he's not, why isn't his proposal worthy?
Dot #4 is another one from today's ABC News site.
With the national unemployment rate just under 10 %, there's a shortage of long-haul truck drivers. I want to scream, but those who would hear me are used to that!
The shortage will grow worse over the next 10 years (there's that same 10 years again), as the "least desirable jobs" go unfilled because they require the truckers to be away from home for weeks or more.
I say "boo-hoo." One has to step up and do what may be inconvenient, uncomfortable and down right hard to survive - to eat and to keep a roof over his or her family's heads, to provide clothing and health care.
Nothing lasts forever, and these days, a job is a job!
The trucking company officials interviewed are looking to attract truckers by offering higher wages if the jobs remain vacant.
Fewer truckers equate to fewer goods arriving regularly for consumers to buy.
SO naturally, the cost of goods rises. Another blow to the common citizen!
Let's connect the dots, shall we?
Connect the Bloom Box people with others in the private sector who need to come up with a plan - pronto! (I say disconnect the government, but that's just me. I guess I can allow the government to seek advice from Bloom Box, too)
For heaven's sake, Colin Powell is on Bloom Energy's board of directors. Surely he and Sridhar and other private sector movers and shakers can help rally the troops!
This is a man and a company who seem to have solved a problem that has spanned centuries! This will satisfy Bernanke's call for a viable, sooner-rather-than-later plan.
Bloom Energy should also help solve the unemployment problem.
As previously suggested, Bloom should train workers in the myriad capacities I'm sure exist and will develop over time thanks to the Bloom Box.
If there's going to be a Box in every home in 10 years, Bloom will need sales and advertising reps, technicians, installers, satellite offices, the list goes on and on.
Now connect the shortage of truckers to unemployment. And for a temporary fix, if Bunning's on the level, if he's all about integrity and responsibility, let's follow his example and seek viable ways to fund programs without adding to the deficit!
It seems kind of simple, and maybe I am being too simplistic, too idealistic.
But it creates a pretty picture, doesn't it?
What do you think?

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

A Ghost's Story

Mystery solved! Rick, who I welcomed to the fold last time, came by way of NEPABuzz- a cool chat site for NEPA. Thanks for letting me know, Rick. I love communication with readers!
NEPABuzz has also signed in here at the Web site, so thanks to the Buzz!
11-inches of snow fell yesterday into last night and is still falling in this corner of NEPA! I'm just grateful that the electricity is still with us! It flashed a few minutes ago, so I'll try to make this one quick in an effort not to lose it & to get it posted!

I've been thinking about ghosts. One ghost in particular has been starring in my thoughts.
The first thing that must be understood is that ghosts have always been a given in my life. Ghosts, spirits, specters, other-worldly presences, apparitions were matter-of-factly woven into the fabric of my life by my Irish Grandmother. She told, very simply and without drama or fanfare, great, it happened to her, ghost stories.
Naturally, I've never been afraid of ghosts in general. I've been excited by the prospect of them. I've been startled by their presence on more than one occasion.
A time or two, I was even a bit afraid, as a prankster-of-a ghost used to mess around with the stuff in my bedroom when I was sleeping. It's a bit alarming, frightening, to be awakened by unseen hands rather loudly shuffling a pile of papers. That was this little prankster's m.o.
But I instinctively knew that all one needs to do is pull the covers up over one's head and the ghost will eventually tire and vanish. Some ghosts quite enjoy an audience. If the audience isn't attentive, there's no point in wasting the energy to stay.
I've never had an hysterical reaction to a ghost. I've never been hurt by a ghost. I've never felt threatened, nor have I ever felt evil in the presence of a ghost.
Back to the present, and to the most recent ghost in my life.
I've lived in a really wonderful house for almost 2 years. I've moved around a lot during the last decade. It's just the way life unfolded for me and it's another story - at least!
With all the moving, this house was a gift from above. It's spacious. It's laid out really well. It's cozy. It has felt like home from the very start.
I would buy this house, or I would at least make every effort to buy it, except for one very large obstacle, and it has little to do with ghosts.
For more than a decade, the state has planned to demolish this house to make way for a road improvement.
The home's owner and just about everyone in this sleepy little town never quite believed that the state project would ever come to fruition.
But as a former newspaper reporter, I knew that eventually, all state plans that are included within (in this case) a 12-year-plan (that can be fairly easily accessed on the Web), will come to fruition.
Being that I attract change in all forms like a lightning rod, I resolved to hope for the best but to prepare for and to expect the inevitable, and to treasure every day and moment in this wonderful home.
The house will be demolished sometime this year, likely before summer.
When I moved into this house, the previous tenants, and just about everyone in this sleepy little town (that's becoming quite a regular phrase) swore the house was haunted by the man who built it.
He, let's call him Casper, lovingly built this house, equipped it with the latest and most desirable features of the day (1950s), such as an at-the-time very cool intercom system, happily lived in this house during the second half of the last century, and then unceremoniously died while sitting at the kitchen table.
Local legend tells that Casper wasn't found for a few days. I know it's true that he died in the kitchen. I don't know how long he sat there waiting to be found.
Naturally, I've been expecting to encounter Casper in some form or on some level from day one. I've experienced a few fleeting shadows, human figures, in my peripheral vision.
Miraculously, I've managed to keep the "Casper died at the kitchen table," story from my son. Still, he senses a presence. He's not afraid. He is, however, positive that there's a mischievous presence in the house. He swears the refrigerator magnets are often and significantly rearranged. He, too, has experienced the fleeting images in his peripheral vision field. He's heard a voice, nothing specific, just an indecipherable sound.
Once, when we first arrived here, something unseen blocked the airflow from a fan that was pointed at my bed for several minutes. It felt as though a person was standing between the fan and the bed. But nothing was seen or heard.
But honestly, I'm somewhat disappointed that Casper hasn't come right out into the open to introduce himself. I've expected to spot him in our living room rocking chair or somewhere in that specific area of our house. I sense that if he were to appear, it would be in that area of the house, in and near the living room.
Since it's obvious to me that Casper put his heart and soul into this house, I now worry, with the impending demolition, that Casper will return to roam the improved roadway once his beloved home has been razed. Images of poor, homeless, confused Casper wandering the road nightly fill my thoughts.
Drivers desperately breaking, swerving, skidding out-of-control in response to Casper suddenly materializing before their vehicles.
Until the house is demolished, I feel Casper is simply content to remain just that - contently unseen. He's happy that we are happy. He's satisfied that we love and appreciate his home just as he did.
I hope that Casper can accept the loss of his home, just as I hope that we who share it with him can accept the loss.
I've been through worse. I've survived death and illness, and I'll survive this, too.
But I'll really miss this house, this home, this warm and cozy place that a ghost and I love so dearly.
Stay safe. Stay warm. Be well & happy.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Recognizing Moments of Beauty, Hope & Joy

Welcome Snack-Girl (Lisa & Matt), and Rick Grant! I'm so glad you're along for the ride!
I'm not sure how Rick found me, but Snack-Girl comes by way of Twitter. If you're interested in healthy snacking/eating & sharing healthy snack recipes, check out Snack-Girl.
And DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT miss "Cheeseburger Watch," it's enlightening AND hilarious! Sign up at Snack-Girl to have 30 healthy snacks under 100 calories e-mailed to you. I signed up, and received the list nearly instantaneously. I'm looking forward to trying them!
I have to add, Twitter is a great little community. I am followed by & follow back 139 Tweeters - it's fun! & it's teaching me 2 b concise!

As I sit here basking in the glory of late-winter sunshine streaming through my windows, I can't help but be excited by the prospect of the coming spring!
Logically, I know more ice and snow are just beyond today's sunny horizon. Nature will be waving her still-icy wand over NEPA tomorrow. Yesterday, the temperature topped-off at a toasty 43! This morning, it was down in the frigid teens.
The poinsettia on my desk is dropping its red leaves daily, and sprouting tiny green ones.
The more than week-old Valentine's roses have gracefully, effortlessly evolved from demure, delicate spindles of pedals to fully open, voluptuous blossoms. The roses are still-fragrant, but are curling under at the edges, beautifully surrendering to time.
The shamrock I cut back for the winter has suddenly thrown itself into hyper-mode - urgently bursting with tiny, spring-green trefoils, like little children dressed in new spring clothes, calling out: "Look at us! Look at us!"
The shamrock's whimsically miniature, bright yellow blossoms can't be far behind!
The delightfully fuzzy, still-clenched-against-the-bitter-cold buds of the magnolia tree on our lawn have grown larger, incubating during the few warm, sunny days.
I've learned over time and by experience to hold on to these moments of beauty, hope & joy as they pass (thanks, Counting Crows!). I've learned to be calm and quiet so I recognize and become nourished and strengthened by the wonders that nature and everyday life offer.
So I'll take this time before the snow comes once more (I hope it will be only once more!) to gratefully drink-in and be fortified by the signs and hope of spring.
Have a wonderful day! Be well. Be happy. Be safe. Take time to hold on to and recognize your moments as they pass!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Tilting at Windmills or Righteous Service?

Welcome Karen Rice, a new fan & a neighbor here in NEPA. Karen is a fan at this site, on Facebook, and we follow each other on Twitter. But I believe she found me on another new site called NEPA Buzz. NEPAers are invited to post topics for discussion at I've used it a couple of times and it seems pretty cool, well organized, etc.

Having received zero comments or responses to my previous entry: "Solving the Health Care Crisis at Home," I have to wonder if I'm being quixotic, or by Mr. Webster's definition, "foolishly idealistic."
Is believing that regular Joes & Janes like us can come together to begin to solve the health care crisis that the government seems unable to solve just as delusional as seeing windmills as giants who can be conquered for their riches?
For those unfamiliar with the classic, "Don Quixote," by Miguel de Cervantes, I'm referring to the title character. Slipping deeper into insanity, Quixote spies a field of windmills. He sees them as dangerous monsters who must be slain, not only for the immediate benefit of capturing their riches, but as "righteous warfare (and) . . . God's good service."
After all, being I'm the one whose dream it is to form a non-profit organization to address health and insurance issues, I have to reason that I'm not crazy (at least not in this instance!)
I also have to reason that every one out there has a busy life with dreams, responsibilities & important pursuits of his or her own.
With that in mind, I'll continue my quest to make a positive difference on the health care reform front. It's not going to be quick or easy. It may well take the rest of my life. But it's my monster/windmill, so I'll continue to confront it.
If any one out there has any ideas, resources, knows some one who might have helpful insights into this, let me know.
So far, I've decided to write to the PA State Medial Association to ask for help/ camaraderie/suggestions/direction. The Medical Association has established "Eight Essential Principals of Health System Reform," which seems sympathetic to patients. The Association seems very concerned with cuts in medicare payments, preserving the patient/physician relationship, and addressing physician liability.
I'm only at the tip of the iceberg, so to speak, but as I've stated before, the longest most arduous journey begins with one step.
I'm also working on forming a non-profit organization. My eventual goal is to raise money and to be a voice for change for people who can't otherwise afford health care.
In a world where an adulterous golfer is the lead story on every station from Headline News (HLN) to NPR (National Public Radio), and children die in misery and hunger by the tens of thousands each day while Hollywood and the world laud a fanciful movie that sports a half-billion-dollar price tag, maybe tilting at windmills isn't such a bad thing at all!
Have a great weekend! Tune in Monday for a new entry!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Solving the Health Care Crisis at Home

If a river's source isn't clean & healthy, eventually, all things in & along the river - the people, the animals, the aquatic life, the water, the land - will become unclean & unhealthy.
It seems simple, doesn't it?
Now, replace the river's source with the government of the United States of America. Imagine the first inhabitants along the river as being the American people.
As the river runs its course, the inhabitants further along become the many countries and legions of non-citizens, both here and abroad, that the United States provides aid to.
Imagine that the strife and infighting going on daily among our representatives in Washington, D.C. is pollution.
As undecided issues vital to the good health & general welfare of the American people go unsolved, the source of the river becomes nearly stagnant & toxic with pollution. Our government ceases to be fruitful. It ceases to nurture its people.
Snaking down the river like a plague, the pollution/indecision, infighting, indifference, selfishness and catering to special interests of government officials sickens and debilitates its own people. As the American people become weaker and forlorn, the pollution continues to seep down the river, eventually poisoning or killing everyone in its path.
How can America's government remain a world power, a vital source of help and hope for the world if it can't take care of itself and of its own people?
The source must be functioning as smoothly as possible, be as selfless as possible, and be as morally healthy as possible to continue as a power, a responsible mentor, a light in the darkness to its own people first and to others second.
I cannot imagine, and think about daily, the pain and suffering of starving babies & children around the world. In a selfless world, the horrific reality that tens of thousands of children die in pain and misery EVERYDAY because they don't have food and clean water would have been rectified decades ago.
But this isn't a selfless world. And talking about why it's not a selfless world is counterproductive.
Action needs to be taken, and it needs to be taken by the people who empowered & created the river's source to begin with. You and me, regular people, need to begin healing our country from within.
The government isn't going to do it. The day I read that politicians were proposing that citizens who lack health insurance be fined, I knew, absolutely and without a doubt, that no matter how down-to-Earth they believe they are, politicians understand NOTHING about average people like us.
I don't know a single person who wouldn't buy health insurance if they could afford it.
Back in the last century, my former, late husband and I bought health insurance through our small business. It was very expensive, but every member of our family needed to be insured in order to receive good health care.
My sister, who barely survived breast cancer because her insurance company recommended that she have reconstructive surgery at the same time as undergoing a radical double mastectomy and as a result had her implants destroyed by radiation causing a nearly fatal infection, pays for health insurance to the tune of about $1,000 a month, through the small business she operates with her husband.
During her cancer treatment, the insurance company she had been paying for years, every month, dropped her. Calls to politicians and news outlets prompted the insurance company to reinstate her, but I'm sure the stress and horror of facing cancer without insurance didn't help.
It sure didn't do anything positive for me, as recovering from heart surgery I faced the very real possibility of losing a sister because of an insurance company!
Sister, who is living with a disfigured breast because she's reluctant to go under the knife again at the hands of the folks who put her life in jeopardy in the first place, is shopping for more affordable insurance because-big surprise in this economy- her small business is failing after 20-plus years of hard work.
In the recent past, I paid for my health insurance at a rate of about $100 out of every pay check, with a match from my employer. Single and with two minor children still at home, I could have used the cash, but we needed the insurance. In my often adhering to "Murphy's Law" life, I gave up the job because I was sick, and lost the insurance (COBRA was too expensive) about a year prior to needing heart surgery.
I'm not even going into that mess, except to say that medical assistance here in PA is only bestowed upon those who make LESS THAN $400 a month (in my county, the last time I checked).
So if you need help, you have to not work to get it, because honestly, who makes less than $400 a month at a full time job? And most people with full time jobs who don't belong to a union can't afford medical insurance.
I knew a woman here in PA who worked full time for health insurance ONLY, and this woman was no spring chicken. Her pay check was $40 a week, after paying the company for her insurance.
So these nuts in Washington- and honestly, I do believe that people go into politics for noble reasons, but the noble reasons and intentions get lost along the way- are going to fine people who work but who can't afford health insurance. And I know lots of people who need the cash to pay the mortgage or the rent, buy the food, the heating oil, etc, who can't spare money for medical insurance.
It seems that every state provides children's health insurance, (which is great, & reproductive education/responsibility is another issue for another day!)) but what are all these kids going to do when their parents become disabled or die because they couldn't buy health insurance? And don't believe it can't happen. The father of my kids died of cancer in 04, and I nearly died in 08!
We have to save ourselves here at the grass roots. I'm not kidding.
In 1978, when I was a teenager on Long Island, a singer/song writer/Long Islander named Billy Joel began an organization called "Charity Begins at Home."
The point was ( and I'm pretty sure still is) healing from within the community. Once the community is strong, we go on to help others, but we have to BEGIN AT HOME.
Teenagers (I bid $200 for Stones tickets for the charity way back when), bikers, radio stations and the like all got behind the cause. I know that "Charity Begins at Home" lasted at least 30 years, as its Web site boasts its 30th anniversary in 2008.
Its Web site further informs that Charity Begins at Home, Inc. raises funds that are directly allocated to agencies in the tri-state area , bypassing the huge administrative costs associated with larger national organizations.
Charity Begins at Home, Inc. is a model for grassroots change. If a rock singer and a bunch of teenagers, young adults and bikers could take a stand 30-plus years ago, then we can, too.
I'm calling on all of you regular folks to e-mail me and to tell me that you want to solve the health care crisis that your government can't solve.
We have to meet,organize, brainstorm, get medical people on board, and act to save ourselves, and in turn, save our government and the world.
The longest, most daunting journey starts with one step. E-mail me and we can begin together!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Heart of the Matter

I am thrilled to have Jolene as a fan. Jolene flew in by way of Twitter! She's also a geographic neighbor here in NEPA. Welcome Jolene! Welcome Tweeters & welcome everyone!

I am gratified today that persistence and faith have paid off. I have persisted in asking readers to leave a comment, and yesterday, a reader asked a question via e-mail that made me aware that I may indeed be reaching my goal of helping people and of creating a community.
I have faithfully believed that readers will start commenting and asking questions, so it looks as though my faith has been well-placed.
It's one question, but I'm thrilled that it was asked, and I hope it will be the start of a trend.
The heart of my writing career has been a community of readers. As a reporter in an office, with my name all over a publication for everyone to see, I received story requests, questions, even cries for help that no one else would answer.
The readers and their (our) community were the heart and soul of my job. And I loved it, I reveled in it. There was nothing better than meeting my readers, helping my readers, enlightening my readers and being enlightened by my readers.
The interaction and mutual spirit of community was close to divine. Our interaction gave me and my readers hope and clarity and purpose.
That's the interaction and spirit of community I want to create here at, and not just with local people, although local people, neighbors, are always welcome and valued.
I also realized through the first question I've received that while I gave an account of my experiences with cardiovascular disease in an effort to help & enlighten others, I may not have been thorough or concise enough.
Here follows a synopsis of my symptoms and of the actions a woman may take if she suspects heart trouble.
My symptoms were shortness of breath with even minor exertion; back pain along the bra strap; nausea; irritability; aches and pains throughout my body(including mid to lower back and leg pain); lethargy; confusion.
I would suggest, although I am not a doctor, that based on the severity of symptoms, a woman see a cardiologist and ask for a cholesterol test, an EKG and a stress test. If symptoms are severe, numerous, or debilitating, get to an emergency room. Also, have your blood sugar checked.
As for the stress tests, I have had nuclear stress tests. And although no one wants to have a radio active substance pumped into their body, it's the preferred type of stress test for severe cases such as mine. I believe the nuclear test is also superior diagnostically. I had a nuclear stress test upon arriving in the emergency room once it was established through examination and an EKG that I was in trouble. I couldn't get through the stress test, as it requires physical exertion.
I now have a nuclear stress test annually.
Again, I'm no a doctor. Any one with these symptoms should get to a doctor, preferably a cardiologist, as soon as possible.
It is never too late (except at the point you're having an attack) to begin a regime of exercise, freedom from smoking, and healthy eating.
If you've already had a "cardiac event," get into rehabilitation. If that's not affordable, exercise and diet with the guidance of your doctor, a nurse practitioner, a dietitian, someone knowledgeable and aware of your health situation.
And although the American Heart Association reports that 90 percent of women have 1 or more risk factors for developing heart/cardiovascular disease, the AHA goes on to report that 80 percent of cardiovascular events in women may be prevented if women make the right choices for their hearts involving DIET, EXERCISE & ABSTINENCE FROM SMOKING.
Tomorrow marks the start of Lent, but even if you're not a Christian or religious, it's the perfect time to give up bad habits (fatty, sugary foods, smoking, etc) and to begin practicing good habits - exercise, eating right, etc! Spring is coming to us all! It's time to shape up for good health!
Keep those questions and comments coming! Keep reading! Tell a friend to become a reader! Let's create a caring, comprehensive (and entertaining!) community here @
I can't do it without all of you!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

My Valentine to Twitter or Orwellian Sunrise?

With 113 Followers to date, I love Twitter. More accurately, I "luv" Twitter. And in those simple three letters, "L-U-V," lies one of the two reasons that I am both shocked and amazed that I do, despite previous reservations, love Twitter.
Less than a month ago, mention of the word "Twitter" conjured images of megalomaniac celebrities maniacally laughing from satin-pillow strewn golden towers as they gazed down upon zombie-like, clamouring hordes of blindly worshipping "Followers."
The term "Follower" made me nervous and wary. Brain-washing cults boast followers, totalitarian regimes boast (and torture, and make disappear, and kill by the thousands) followers.
I was suspicious and alarmed that Twitter was a wrapped-in-social-networking ploy to numb the masses to individuality. A Big Brother cleverly veiled in the harmless image of a cute tweeting bird, urging people to become friendly followers, giving the population-at-large its first, very intimate and quick-as-a-click-immediate access to celebrities, while ingraining in followers a false sense of celebrity and relative importance.
When my language & literature-loving, PhD-of-a-sister invited me to "Follow me on Twitter," I just about fell on the floor. I was deflated, defeated, disgusted. The battle to preserve individuality, the written word, our very language in this cyber world had truly been lost.
If my sister had been duped by the sneaky bird's appeal, the last bastions of civilization as we knew it would soon be falling in line, hypnotically tweeting. The situation seemed Biblical in severity, this seemingly meek bird would inherit the Earth.
My second Twitter-based fear , in fairness, existed long before Twitter. But Twitter was perpetuating it, solidifying it, even streamlining the already-streamlined word & phrase abbreviations born in cyber-chat land. LOL, OMG, LUV, UR, Thnx, BFF, and the like had long scared the heck out of me. It was all too close to George Orwell's "Newspeak" in the novel, "1984."
Newspeak is a tool of the totalitarian "Party" used to achieve thought control of the masses. Newspeak is constantly revised to remove all meaning from language. It obliterates all references to freedom, rebellion and the like. It is described as "the only language in the world whose vocabulary gets smaller every year."
Thought is a crime, engaging in "Old Speak" is a crime. It's a bleak, powerfully frightening scenario, and one that I have long suspected is being carried out against our world population discreetly, yet constantly and effectively, through cyber space.
And Twitter, with its forced method of say-what-you-have to-say in 140 words or less or we won't-let-you-say-it rule seemed to be, up until recently, the icing on the Orwellian cake.
But upon getting to know Twitter, the adage, "You can't judge a book by its cover," wins out, at least for now.
I'm a Tweeter. And in the name of camaraderie , and in an effort to keep megalomania off my list of psychological short-comings, I'm a Follower, too. I follow every one of my 113 Followers.
I have even enjoyed direct messages from several of them, and have sent direct messages to almost all of them. I've met an artist who lives on Long Island's (I'm a native) east end and who produces art based on landmarks and places I love. I've met a music-lover who posts based on her love of jazz and classical music. I've met a wife and mother who is into NASCAR and lives very near to where I reside.
The list goes on, young and not-so-young, male and female, people of widely varying interests, all coming together in a cyber community. And that was probably the most shocking revelation of all: Twitter has given me a sense of community, just as invigorating a sense of community as I've felt for real-world communities.
If Twitter is a cleverly disguised plot to intoxicate and render useless the thoughts and identities of individuals, I suppose that years from now, in hindsight, the old belief that first impressions are the correct impressions will prove to be the philosophy that I and millions of other should have adhered to.
If, eons from now, archaeologists and anthropologists are found scratching their heads, striving to understand the unearthing of vast numbers of skeletons gathered around statues of plump, tweeting birds, with no sign of a written language to be found, than I will have been wrong in my renaissance of thought that has brought me to embrace Twitter.
And big-brother fears aside, Twitter has accomplished a feat that no human has before. Twitter forces me, a dramatic writer overflowing with wordiness, to be concise and definitive. I can tell you, if my editor-mentors read that, there would be a collective gasp followed by an awe-inspired silence that would be heard round the world!
So Happy Valentine's Day to all of you Tweeters and Followers! I LUV U all! Long may U Tweet!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Flying Without a Net

Welcome to new reader, Ellen. Ellen comes by way of Twitter, and became a fan on the NEPAFollies' Facebook page, where I paste the blogs under "Discussions." Thank you, Ellen!

I was planning to gripe about a recent miscarriage of justice here in NEPA, but news of an old friend's death changed that. The list I keep of story subjects includes a piece explaining the close relationship between me, as a writer/reporter, and the editors and support staff that I depended on to "have my back."
My late friend, Susan Creswell, whose address I have as being in Lincoln Park, Michigan, was more than a friend. She was the strongest link in my chain of support during a professionally stimulating and personally difficult time of my life. Sue always had my back. She always made time to listen, and provided support, both personally and professionally. She had a mind like a steel trap. I envied her command of the language and of grammar. Technically, she was a Goddess of the English language. Personally, she was one of the most supportive friends I've ever had.
Our time together was short, but eventful and meaningful. We both moved to Florida in search of a better life and with the aim of making our dreams come true. We both found jobs and a family of strangers at Hometown News in Vero Beach, Florida. Together, we survived hurricanes, loss and a cavalcade of nutty co-workers.
Sue loved to listen to the wondrous stories of my madcap life. She was absolutely sure that I should write a book, and that I was a brilliant writer who would realize wild success.
Sue is now a lot closer to having those sentiments go from her mouth to God's ears. I am profoundly sad that I'll never have the pleasure of knowing that Sue is reading my bestseller. I am profoundly sad that we will never see each other again - sit and talk, share a laugh or a tear- on this Earth. But I am grateful to have known her and to have benefited from her generous nature and from her mental brilliance.
I tried several times over the years to contact her, and I thought about her often. She died a year ago. I found out today, through contact with another old friend.
If you love someone, if you miss someone, give them a call. Don't hesitate.
Rest in peace, Sue. You were one of the best.

Now onto "Flying Without a Net"

"To write is human, to edit, divine," is one of the truest statements I have ever read. I recall reading it in a book about writing by Stephen King.
I am, by nature (it seems) emotionally raw and extremely dramatic. Since childhood, I've been inexplicably moved to cry at the end of live performances - from Broadway plays to elementary school concerts (it is SOOOO embarrassing! But I cannot help it!). I cry at graduations, weddings, and baptisms - at a moment's notice, at a ceremony of any kind, I can be depended upon to tear up and begin the power sniffling.
During the course of many seemingly normal conversations, I've been asked by co-workers, friends, acquaintances, children's teachers and interview subjects if I've ever acted, performed as a comedian, or hosted a show.
Being such a helplessly open book, I am drawn to quiet strength. I'm drawn to individuals who are kind nurturers, individuals who unassumingly and matter-of-factly possess and share their brilliance. Individuals willing to gently guide me, praise me, and who just as gently yet firmly correct me and teach me when I am mistaken or un-knowledgeable about a given subject.
The two newspaper editors, one bureau chief, and two news clerks I have worked with during my wonderful years as a reporter have been such individuals. These five people (Sue was one of them) have been my ground wires and the sources of my confidence, more than any parent, school teacher or lover has ever been. They have openly and generously respected me for my talents and abilities, as I respect them for theirs.
When you're plummeting head first into a deadline, when it's your name under the headline above the fold and on the front page, you're ruined without expert support.
So as I delve into this blogging adventure without an editor, with my back exposed and unguarded, I liken the experience to that of an acrobat flying without a net.
I'm no dummy. I have an AP (Associated Press) style book in the closet, a dictionary within reach, and I was one of those annoying kids who aced grammar and vocabulary and spelling.
But enthusiasm, the ravages of time and wear and tear on the old brain, and what I surmise to be a minor and unidentified learning disability (I reorder the letters in words when I type. For instance, "from" becomes "form" ), sometimes get the better of me. As a reporter, I labored to hand in articles that were as "clean" as possible - clean meaning error-free. I even did some copy editing, and was meticulous (obsessive) about that responsibility.
I've also got a hyphen problem. Yes, I'm long familiar with the top-notch quarterback of AP style, but I do get carried away with those menacing little dashes. Perhaps I was frightened by a hyphen during early childhood!
So please forgive any inadvertent errors I may make while flying without a net. I love our language. I love writing. I love telling stories.
I hope to win over many readers who love what I'm offering - occasional errors and all!
What do you think? Leave a comment!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Life is Good Here in the Future

I have 94 followers on Twitter - and I've actually received direct messages from several people! It seems Twitter is an opportunity to get to know new folks. I'm still figuring it all out. Any one out there have any Twitter experience? Let me know what you think of Twitter.

A shout out to my S.O. (significant other)! "His team" won the Super Bowl last night - the Saint's first victory!
I'm not much for football or TV these days. I was in love with Joe Namath and the Jets 40 years ago. Those dreamy eyes, that winning smile . . . I even had his number 70 (if I remember correctly!) jersey among my otherwise-conservative & limited wardrobe.
Remember the days when kids weren't consumers/fashion devotees? The days before Nickelodeon (which I blame in large part for the "unchilding" of children - in the early 90s, I watched unaware as my sweet little babies were transformed from cartoon-gazing innocents to full blown consumers!) and "Kid's Choice."
The days before kids knew they had rights, before little Johnny & Suzie (now Sophie & Tyler) had their attorneys and therapists on speed dial?
We were just little kids, hoping not to be obliterated by a nuclear bomb (remember huddling under our desks, or out in the hallway covered by a coat? All that would have saved us from was the horror of seeing each other flash-seared to ash!). We were little kids dreaming of the future, calculating how old we'd be when the 21st Century dawned, imagining being space-age adults with home computers & flying cars, living on Mars - free from being told what to do and when to do it in a thoroughly modern world of endless possibilities!
OK, back on track ! I sometimes stray, but there's usually a method to my madness!
After Broadway Joe & the Jets, it was on to Terry Bradshaw & the Steelers, courtesy of my first boyfriend. Then, as my sister resided in Buffalo and went on a sweatshirt gifting spree, it was on to the Bills. I remember, though not clearly, a few Bills' Super Bowls.
My late, former husband was a gambling man. He loved the big-money football pools.
It didn't really matter who won, it mattered who scored and it mattered if your box on a chart, numbered randomly from a deck of cards, matched the game -scores at the quarter, the half, and the final. The fate of the pool-participant was tied to every field goal, every play, every touch-down. It was nerve racking, but profitable! The late, former Mr. Lizzie won thousands of dollars - before and after our marriage - via football pools.
He even wanted to get married on Superbowl Sunday. Although at 22 I was, looking back, ridiculously sweet and accommodating (Do you suppose that's why I had 3 lovely babies by 26? Ya think?) I had to hold my ground against that one - but I do still get a little misty (for about 10 seconds!) every Superbowl Sunday! Ahhh - sweet, young, foolish love!
And as for TV, well, I simply can't abide that racket any more!
Quick back story: An October 2008 snowstorm here in NEPA knocked out our cable - TV/phone/ Internet. I called & called & called, but a service person didn't show up at our door for more than three months!
By that time, we had lived without TV during the Christmas special season - beginning with my very favorite Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade, the one during which THE Santa comes to town riding in his Supreme Swan Sled. We found the New Year's Eve Times Square ball drop on the Internet, as well as President Obama's inauguration.
We bought a couple of (in addition to the one we had) used laptops, and turned to the Web for our news, our weather, and for our day-after-broadcast favorite TV shows. We joined Netflix for $18 a month, which includes direct streaming to our TV.
Back to the fellow who came to the door to reconnect our cable. Getting tired of being ignored or lost in the system or whatever we were by cable, I had very recently called another carrier to secure much-less-expensive-than-cable phone & Internet service.
I told the Cable Guy about the three-month lapse, and about my defection-out-of-frustration to another carrier.
In turn, he presented me with a $500 bill for the months when WE DIDN'T HAVE SERVICE. Without mincing further words, I told Mr. Cable Guy to hit the road.
These days, we're happily saving about $100 a month as citizens of the World Wide Web!
My son & I agree that there are MUCH better things to do with $100 a month than paying for TV, which once upon a time in MY LIFETIME was free!
In order to watch last night's Super Bowl, my little guy headed to a friend's house (dear folks still enslaved by the miserly cable company!) with a box of ice cream to share.
My boy is learning a lot about the history of cinema courtesy of Netflix, and he's learning the social niceties, such as one never shows up at another person's door to watch the Super Bowl empty-handed!
My boy has also learned that one needn't be a slave to the machine, one of the sheep following the shepherd. He's learned to think outside the box (pun intended!)!
The S.O. and I could have downloaded a link to watch the big game, but as I mentioned earlier, I'm not really into football these days, and I'm no longer a sweet, accommodating young woman, either. I know what I want and I will speak up to get it.
I've got the respect of my S.O., to the point that I can say "I don't want to watch a football game. I want to watch a movie," and not be second-guessed.
Wonderful S.O. even searches for the movie, while I get comfortably settled in my jammies!
Life is good here in the free-thinking, out-spoken 21st Century!
Be well. Be happy. Leave a comment!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

A Wintery Mix of the Light and the Heavy

Welcome new follower Veronica! Thanks to readers Susan & Kathleen for the encouraging comments - one here on the site, and one via facebook. As of yesterday, I had about 70 followers on Twitter! Welcome to the "Follies" Tweeters!

To readers in the mid-Atlantic states, I hope you are all safe indoors, as warm as you can be, and that you have the necessary supplies to ride-out the monster blizzard in relative comfort. It's very frustrating to be without electricity and all of its accompanying necessities/comforts, and a readily available supply of food and water. Me and mine have endured weeks of primitive living brought to us by hurricanes, but at least the temperature was warm outside.
This morning's news reports informed that more than 30 inches of snow has fallen in a Baltimore suburb, with a record two-and-a- half feet predicted for our nation's capital. As of early today, 1o inches were reported near the White House. A father & son were reported killed in Virginia while stopping to help another motorist (Rest in peace).
This morning's news indicates that upward of 80,000 homes in the D.C. area are without power thus far. According to the National Weather Service, Washington, D.C. has only been covered with more than a foot of snow 13 times in the last 140 years. Blizzard warnings have been issued for parts of Delaware and New Jersey. God Bless and keep all those who are in the storm's wake and in its path.

On the Women's Heart Health front: Did you know? Heart disease is largely preventable! Eighty percent of cardiovascular events in women may be prevented if women make the right choices for their hearts involving diet, exercise, and abstinence from smoking. (American Heart Association).
BUT, according to the AHA, 90 % of women have one or more risk factors for developing heart disease, and more women die of cardiovascular disease than of the next five causes of death combined, including all forms of cancer.

On to the lighter side of life!
With Valentine's Day approaching, I was happy to read an article on MSN Lifestyle from Women's Health touting the merits of using pet names and a secret lover's language with one's partner!
I am the queen of nick names and "baby/secret talk!" For example, uttering to my honey in a crowded room "It's getting warm in here. I need some air," instead of "Let's blow this nightclub and go make sweet love!"
You get the picture.
I tend to delve more deeply into the realm of endearing names and sweet, silly talk than others might, putting on goofy, sugary-sweet voices as an added feature.
On any given day, not only my partner, but my children and our cats, as well, can boast multiple monikers bestowed on them by loving, nutty me!
At times, I take a bit of good-humored ribbing in exchange for my clever terms, tender tags and wacky voices. So naturally, discovering that experts believe that my tendency to employ a fantasy language and nick names is fertile fodder for relationships, charged me with an invigorating sense of vindication and satisfaction!
According to the article, "The Secret Language of Close Couples," by Leslie Goldman,
"Pet names and code phrases pave the way to a playful, resilient and satisfying relationship."
As a lover's bonus, sweet, secret talk sends a message to the world at large that the couple engaged in "cutesy conversation," is deeply committed to each other.
The quantity of the sweet talk is more important than its quality, with the suggestion that a five to one ratio of positive to negative comments between a couple is the easiest way to keep a relationship strong.
Verbally sweetening a disagreement will also serve to strengthen your relationship, says psychology professor Lorne Campbell, Ph.D.
"Tossing in an inside joke during a would-be brawl not only relieves tension but brings you back to the present," Campbell theorizes in Women's Health.
Words, it seems, may after all speak just as loudly as actions.
So to all you lovers out there, instead of saying "it" with flowers, candy, jewelry and the like, put your money where your mouth is in your precious relationship and say "it" with the intimate words that only you and your sweetheart will understand!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Cardiovascular Disease & Women: My Story

Did you know? While 1 in 30 American women die of breast cancer, 1 in 3 die from cardiovascular disease. (American Heart Association)

I've often taken time in the month of February to indulge my crafty side by designing and sewing decorative heart-shaped pillows and sachets as gifts for my loved ones and for my own artistic satisfaction.
As a kid, I marveled at, coveted and collected the lacy, flower embellished, lavender, pink and red heart-shaped boxes of candy that Dad would bring Mom on Valentine's Day.
Over the years, when doodling, the emphasis has been on curly, circular vines, flowers, and hearts.
During my 24 years as a parent, when I scrawl a note to one of my kids, a hastily drawn heart always accompanies my messy "Mom" signature.
So I suppose it was only fitting that the greatest heart event of my life occurred in February of 2008 - a quadruple cardiac bypass surgery.
Since childhood, I've feared heart attacks. My father suffered a big one when I was seven. It left him forever changed - living on borrowed time; visibly sensitive to exertion, heat, and stress; often and suddenly pale, breathless and popping a nitroglycerin pill under his tongue; a diet fanatic - we all became salt-free and regular visitors to health food stores.
My dad drank fish oil from a large brown bottle and chomped on raw garlic as most of us would chomp on gum or a mint. He walked on the beach for physical exercise and spiritual and mental peace. He rode his bicycle as often as his condition and his schedule would allow. He installed a pull-up bar in our kitchen threshold.
He died suddenly, but not unexpectedly, in the wee hours of Thanksgiving morning 1979, a few days before I turned 17. He was 49.
The salt-free diet served me well, as did the exercise of riding my bicycle nearly everywhere I went as a teenager. The love of the beach I inherited from my Dad was also helpful -I swam a lot in the ocean and I ran and played a lot in the sand.
As a teenager, it wasn't unusual for me to pass out because of low blood sugar.
In my twenties, I managed to have three children while effortlessly maintaining LOW blood pressure and LOW blood sugar.
While in my teens and on the beach, I developed a fear of heart surgery. I could barely muster the courage to steal a fleeting glimpse of the scar-bearing chests of older men who had obviously gone under the knife. I resolved then that I would never allow my torso to be cracked open like some boiled lobster on a dinner plate.
But, obviously, when push came to shove and I was faced with do or die at the age of 45, I consented to become the dreaded lobster on the plate, so to speak, cracked open for all to see.
My plea to women and to those who love a woman (en) is to pay careful attention to the next part of my story.
The part about the unusual changes that took place in my physiology after 30, and the unexpected physical symptoms that indicated I was approaching death's door.
At 30, as though someone put a curse on me, I began to feel regularly lethargic and depressed. I loved being a mother, so the decline in physical and mental health and stamina wasn't due to that.
Since my late teen years, I had played with the same 10 to 15 pounds of weight - up and down the scale, on and off the chin to belly region - that same 10 to 15 pounds, year after year.
But at about 32, after two years of declining stamina, it seemed that one morning, I woke up 50 pounds heavier than I had ever been. It was the most rapid weight-gain I had ever experienced. I was also very thirsty, and eating before 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. made me nearly catatonic.
I hypothesized that I had a disorder of the endocrine system, and headed off to a doctor. The doctor, who later lost his license, told me there was no reason to address my endocrine system. He prescribed diet pills and Prozac, and sent me on my way.
I'm not going to detail the fiasco that ensued from the whopping misdiagnosis. My condition improved at first, followed by out and out mayhem.
I suffered with lethargy, depression and battled my weight until I became pregnant at 36.
I was immediately diagnosed as a type 1 diabetic, not gestational, not type 2, but type 1, or Juvenile Diabetes. I began a strict diet and thrice daily insulin injections.
My then-10-year-old daughter, Lauren, was my savior. I was a big baby who couldn't stand to inject myself.
Little Lauren practiced a few times on an orange, and then fearlessly became my essential person, my injector. I did eventually suck it up and inject myself, as I was out in the world working as a newspaper reporter, and as Lauren had to go to school and have a life of her own!
I lost lots of fat during the pregnancy, kept my sugar down, gave birth to a 7-pound ,healthy boy with normal blood sugar. I hadn't felt as healthy in 10 years!
After the birth, I wasn't as diligent with the insulin as I had been during pregnancy. I went off of it more times and for longer periods than I should have, surely damaging my arteries.
I never experienced a dramatic weight gain again. It was back to playing with the usual 10 to 15 pounds.
The stress of divorce; my newly ex-husband becoming terminally ill; moving to Florida; hurricanes destroying my home; working as a reporter and bureau chief; dealing with frightened, confused teenagers and a little boy, all took a toll.
I ended up in an emergency room with 600 blood sugar.
I went back on insulin religiously. I eventually lost the fight against increasing stress and fatigue. I quit my wonderful, well-insured job. I was so tired, so sick, so "undone."
With no health insurance, I employed natural remedies for the diabetes and ate well.
I began to rapidly lose weight. I had never, ever experienced such a dramatic weight loss.
People were commenting that I looked great - that I looked like a teenager.
I would reply with a sarcastic, ironic laugh,"Yeah, for me to be this skinny and looking this good, I must be dying of some dreaded disease."
From childhood, I've had lower back problems, and less often upper back and neck pain.
Along with the weight loss, I began to experience increasing upper back pain, especially and most painfully along the bra strap line, with tightness and burning.
I had moved to NEPA for personal reasons, and I'd gotten a job at a local newspaper. Two weeks into the job, my back pain was becoming detrimental to physical activity.
The weekend of January 26/27, I couldn't get out of bed. I was irritable, lethargic, nauseous.
Every inch of my body ached and throbbed, but none more than my upper back.
On Monday morning, January 28, 2008 I was determined to either go to a chiropractor or to ignore it all and head to my new job.
My significant other braved my stubborn, indignant dismissal of his concern and my formidable wrath. He stood his ground and loved me enough to save my life by confiscating my car keys and refusing to drive me anywhere but to an emergency room.
He had watched my decline. He had noticed that I was becoming weaker by the day, when no one else saw it. And, most importantly and just in time, he refused not to act to save my life.
Be aware of your body and what it may be telling you.
Be aware of the condition of the women you love.
And don't ever be afraid to speak up to save a life!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

A Day of Celebrating Light & Life

Welcome new followers/fans, Lauren & James. Thanks for logging on!
I created a Twitter account. After choosing a few Tweeters to follow yesterday, my in-box is now filled with people following me! So I suppose if you're so inclined, you can follow me on Twitter, or on Facebook, where I actually post the blogs under "Discussions."

It's a good day here in frozen NEPA! Today we are half way to Spring!
For me, personally, it's a special day, as two-years-ago today I was lying on a gurney, being prepped for heart surgery. I'd say things are looking up, as today I'm sitting at my desk writing about life!

February is an exciting, event-filled month. It's Women's Heart Health month (I'll be writing more about that in the next blog), it's Black History month (as legendary songstress, Etta James, battles Alzheimer's, and President Obama considers meeting with the Dali Lama in the shadow of China's disapproval), it's the month when thoughts turn to love in anticipation of Valentine's Day.
My beautiful, bright, self-sufficient younger daughter, Molly, will turn 21 at the end of the month! And one of the newest additions to our family, my beautiful baby cousin, Rose, will celebrate her first birthday on the 13th!

For eons, the thoughts, activities and rituals of humanity have focused on fertility, planting seeds, and the anticipation of the coming Spring at this time of year, and particularly, on this day.
Some call this day Candlemas, some call it Groundhog Day. I refer to this day and observe it as Imbolg (pronounced 'im mol' g'). Imbolg means "in the belly," and is the quickening of the year. It brings the first signs that Spring is beginning to blossom in Mother Earth's fertile womb.
It is one of the Celtic Great Sabbats, and as such, is a festival of fire, with the emphasis on the light beginning to pierce Winter's dark shroud.
Today is also the feast of Brigid, the fertility Goddess. Brigid is a pagan Goddess who was Christianized and transformed into Ireland's St. Brigid (approx. AD 453-523), whose feast day is February 1, the eve of Imbolg.
In Ireland, traditions associated with St. Brigid can be traced back to the Goddess Brigid and fertility, such as crosses made of straw or rush, likely born from an ancient pagan ceremony for the preparation of seeds for sewing.
On Imbolg, as the first signs of Spring emerge, the spirit, the body, and the earth are quickened in unison.
It came as no coincidence to me that on Imbolg two years ago, my body was cut open, revealing my heart, my very physical and symbolic center, and that my heart was renewed, reborn, made useful and strong and fertile once more! My life force turned that day from the darkness of death to the glorious light of life! That day, I became more aware of my body's needs and weaknesses, as well as its strengths. I continue to learn to nurture my body as though it were a child in need of special love & care. Let's hope my doctors and I remain successful!
Blessed Imbolg to you all! May your life force shine brightly and grow in health & joy & prosperity!