Monday, April 28, 2008


I often wonder how people can be marginalized, oppressed, abused so openly and without shame. I'm not sure why I wonder, because the truth is I already...we already know the answer.

Almost every one of us, as a professor once lectured, is a "they." We each belong to some group of people, whether it be women, a socioeconomic status, a religion, a race, a nationality...Each group is considered a "they" by some other group of "they." When we can look at our fellow human beings as "they" they can begin to appear less human, less like us (because we only focus on the differences) and it becomes easier to hate, to torture, to kill. The "object" of the hate is seen as inhuman and can be dealt with in the absence of guilt. It's easier to divide people into different groups of "they" because then we can forget that this is someone's child, someone's father, or mother, someones friend or teacher, instead "they" become objects, something so distant from ourselves that it is easier to justify hate.

Dividing people into groups of "they" allowed genocide in Armenia, Rwanda and Dar fur. It resulted in the Holocaust and social Darwinism and forced sterilization and experimentation like Tuskegee or the TB studies. The idea of "they" resulted in religious persecution around the globe, the Spanish Inquisition, Bloody Mary's reign of terror over protestants, The Crusades...the list goes on and on, it has happened for centuries. One would think that we might have learned from Histories lessons, yet "they" are still as present today as in the Old Testament.

If you think of any people as "they" and think in stereotypes or hate, I challenge you! Have a conversation with one of "they," look "they" in the eyes and hear about a family not so different from your own, or beliefs more similar than different."They" might start to look more like one of "we," for WE are all part of a human family, WE all bleed, love, learn and hurt. WE are all made the same, WE are all fabulous, WE are One!

If all else fails, remember the golden rule..."Do unto others"...

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Accentuate the positive

As a full time working mother and full time student, it is easy to get lost in the many things I have to do. Not only do I work full time, but my work is also my passion, so it is often at the forefront of my mind, or something will suddenly occur to me and I have to act at that moment. I act at that moment partly because I get excited and can't wait to put my thoughts into action, and partly because if I don't do it then, the momentum will be lost as I move on to the next thing, or I'll forget to do it at all (again, busy life). I am also quite the "nerd" as my son calls me, and love to learn but am also a perfectionist (for those of you who would lecture me right now, stop, you don't have to-I know it's not THAT important-but I just can't seem to help it!) so I won't accept any grade less than A. This of course means that I work long and hard on my school work, but I truly believe that anything worth doing is worth doing 110%

In all that busy work, passion and pure adrenaline it would be easy for me to lose sight of my most precious gift, my children and family. I admit when I walk in the door I sometimes need to decompress for a moment, but at some point I switch gears and it becomes more about them. (I will admit that I sometimes steal a moment to read and respond to my work e-mail-but honest I only do it in ten minute increments). My kids are amazing! they are also infuriating at times, my oldest two fight on a continuous basis, and whoever said son's are easier than daughters has obviously not met my son! I worry, I worry often that I am not doing my best, that I might fail my children, that people will think I'm a bad mother. I worry that I'm not good enough for my children. I work to let these thoughts go as soon as they appear, but it seems that this is what most parents do. At these times I remember that it would be easy to focus on the "bad," each mistake and every call from the school, but I'd rather focus on the good, and enjoy each little moment I get with my kids.

I have seen parents who speak to their kids only when they are offering reprimands, I know it's not that they don't love their children, they are simply living with the same pressures as everyone else, and it's hard to focus on the positive when there is so much work to be done to raise "good" people. To raise "good" people, we should start with respecting them the way we wish them to respect us, not in a "respect my authoritay" way(south park fans will get that reference), but respecting the fact that although our children are not yet adults, they are still human beings with emotions, and yes, opinions. The next thing is to focus on the positive, give hugs for the good and let the bad go whenever we can!

My daughter, Savannah who is nine was out playing a few weeks ago. Usually I ask that she be in at 7:30 on a school night as I think rest is important for everyone, but especially children. We have to do baths and snacks, comb hair, pack lunches, prepare for the day to can be a lengthy process. Well, on this night I already had my youngest in the tub and we were laughing as she splashed and played, and I knew Savannah was outside enjoying the evening with her friends in our backyard, so it was about 7:41 before her step dad called her in. Now often when I ask my kids to come inside, I am met with grunts and groans "aw mommy, just five more minutes?" They always come begrudgingly but come inside non the less. Well on this evening Savannah hurried inside, looked at the clock and came directly to me saying "Mommy, thank you so much for letting me stay out until 7:41!" ( That's why I remember the time). She thanked me for an extra 16 minutes, I hadn't even knowingly given her the extra 16 minutes, yet she was grateful for them! She focused on the good, not the fact that the neighborhood kids were still playing in our backyard, not the fact that she had to come in, yet again, before anyone else. She was focused merely on the fact that she had been given extra time outside. I think I hugged her for ten minutes, I was so grateful at that moment for her and her expression of gratitude, and I realized that she does this a lot, there is so much more positive in our days together than anything else, and that's what I choose to acknowledge, for all of my kids (and my own sanity).

So, like the old song says "You've got AC-CENT-UATE the positive!"

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


Yesterday I blogged about people with disabilities and victimization and the stigmatization and violence committed against people with mental health disorders, at about the same time that I was writing that blog an act of violence was being committed against a High School student with a disability. The incident occurred in Beaver County, Pa.

The news broke last night on a local station. Apparently a 17 year old beat the other student until he gave the teen a concussion, causing him to lose consciousness. The beating took place on the school bus and other students captured this horrific act of violence with the video recorders on their cell phones. At this point there is speculation that fellow students on the bus were taking bets on who would "win" the fight. From seeing the video that was played on the news it is apparent that "fight" is not the accurate word, the student who was beaten was in his seat the entire time and the only thing he did in response was to reach up defensively to protect himself, he never once struck the other teen who mercilessly beat him around the head and torso. Also apparent on the video clip is the fact no one intervened, everyone just watched as if for sport, many cheered the violence on.

Incidents such as this continue to point to the lack of respect that our communities have for every member. When things like this happen, the responsibility falls on all of us to make sure it doesn't happen again. We are responsible for considering our own attitudes and the attitudes we share with our children and community. We are responsible, every last one of us! Let's stop this violence. Obviously school aged children and probably many of their parents still see people with disabilities as "less than." It's evident in the vernacular people use. The "r" word (which I refuse to write or speak and is banned from my home and children's mouths) is used on a routine basis by kids and adults alike, people joke about the "short bus" and tease others by implying they are "disabled" in some way. WE ARE THE DISABLED ONES! Disabled by the lack of ability to see other people as full human beings, disabled by our discomfort with people of all abilities in our neighborhoods and schools. People can say all they want that incidents like this point to "decaying youth" but the truth is, it's not just our youth, where did they learn this hate? Where did they learn this disrespect? Where did they learn to discriminate? know what they say about where the apples fall.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


Approximately 20% of the U.S. population has a disability and represent the largest minority (and most openly oppressed).

68% of children with disabilities are victims of sexual violence and 32% victims of physical violence.

Indications reveal that 90% of people with developmental disabilities will be victimized by sexual violence at some point during their life, 40% experience 10 or more incidents.

15,000-19,000 people with developmental disabilities are raped each year.

Twice the rate of women with disabilities (compared to non-disabled women), 67% experienced lifetime physical violence and 53% experience lifetime sexual violence.

The above noted statistics are considered to be just the “tip of the iceberg” given that victimization is severely underreported.

People with mental illness are 2 1/2 times more likely to be “attacked, raped or mugged” than the general population.

Women with mental illness who are homeless are raped so frequently that according to several reports; it is seen as “normal.”

People with mental health disorders are depicted as violent so regularly by the media that images of “the hockey mask” has become “a symbol of dangerousness and insanity” with no basis in reality. The media, novels, movies and primetime shows (which often portray “mental cases” committing violent crimes), increase and promote the stigma which is attached to mental illness yet has no bearing in reality. For example “On television, 45 percent of all characters are violent, compared with 72% of the characters with mental illness-including women…mental illness is the only label on TV that renders women as violent as men.” (According to George Gerbner, Ph.D.)

The truth is that suicide outnumbers homicide in the U.S. as the 11th leading cause of death. Each year over 30,000 people in the U.S. commit suicide, more than 90% of them are believed to have a diagnosable mental disorder.

Check your assumptions…We are the dangerous ones!

Monday, April 21, 2008


As human being's, almost every one of us has endured a life-changing event. Not just the happy events like marriage or the birth of a child, but also the events that we tuck away, too painful to bear. Many people who have survived these events, often at the hands of another human being, struggle with the impact daily. For some it haunts them wherever they go. There are others who have also survived, and sprung forth from the ashes to create some meaning out of the suffering. Most people keep living, because they have to, that's also part of being human...the sheer desire to live.

I have met people and heard their stories and wondered how they went on, people who have been tortured at the hands of those who were meant to love or protect them, people who were subjected to unimaginable cruelty just because they were seen as different or weak or "less than." I have heard stories that make me want to crawl into a dark place and cry, yet the people who own these stories keep going, keep fighting. They stand up for their freedom, for their right to a life just like anyone else. I watch in wonder and awe, how is it that people can be so resilient? How is it that a person can still greet me with a hug, a smile, a laugh, love in their eyes when they have seen the darkest side of humanity?

This, as incredible as it seems, is part of the beauty of life. Others can strip us of everything, they can show us a cruelty we never knew existed and try to take away dignity, innocence and even life...but we have a choice. Victor Frankl wrote of it in "Man's Search for Meaning," the choice we can make to go on, keep fighting and find the meaning in it all, or to allow the cruelty to swallow us. I see people every day who have risen victorious, who are truly survivors because they made the choice to go on, to make the world a better place, to not give in to hate and vengeance.

We can't touch it, taste, or hold it, but the human spirit is one of the most powerful forces to which we will ever bear witness! I am so grateful that I have, I am so grateful for the lesson, and I am so grateful to every survivor for not giving up and making the world a better place.


Sunday, April 20, 2008


This morning I went to Church. I am fairly new there, as I hadn't been to any church in a long time. As a teenager I professed myself to be an atheist, but at various other times in my life I have found myself "church searching" as I have come to call it. I have always wanted to be part of a church community and although as a teenager I professed myself an atheist I was just struggling with spirituality and what God really meant to me. During that time my whole argument that there was no God was that if there was, why was there so much suffering? I later realized that much of the suffering was man made. When I did venture to various churches I struggled with the amount of hate I heard. The words uttered from some of the most "devout" (they called themselves that) were often of hatred and superiority, and I just didn't see God that way. Long story short, after recently writing a spiritual journey paper for a theological class I was taking I decided to give it another shot. I have found myself within the church of my upbringing. Being born in England I was part of the Church of England, and when I decided to return to church I felt that maybe I should start where I began, so I now find myself at an Episcopal church. I do still hear some hate, but have chosen not to "throw out the baby with bath water."

Part of my desire for church is of course to satisfy my own spirituality, and to also enjoy a sense of community. I'm still pretty much a stranger to everyone there but do what I can to get involved. Today, our Deacon Ruth asked if anyone could deliver some flowers today. When no one spoke up, for some reason I volunteered. Ruth had to ask my name (like I said, still a stranger), but gave me instruction as to where to take the flowers.

My youngest daughter and I made our way to the address on the card to deliver the flowers to Louise. When we arrived it took her a while to answer the door, but when she did her face lit up and immediately she invited us inside. She talked about how lovely some of the flowers were that were sent from the church, and then just sat and chatted. I learned that Louise really can not make it to Church any longer due to macular degeneration and other difficulties. I know she couldn't really see my face, but she smiled at me non the less and delighted my daughter with tales of the various nick-knacks she had in her home. She offered several to my daughter who has now proudly displayed them in her room. Louise told me some fascinating stories about her life, her many travels and people she had known, I was entranced, I wondered what she was like when she was younger and about all the people she had known. She talked about the things she still does now, regular trips to the museum when she is able, and nieces who make regular visits. She was frustrated by the things she can't do so well on her own, but it is pretty clear that she's still out there, living, enjoying every moment that she can. When I first arrived at her house I thought I was just dropping off flowers, but I have come away with gifts for myself. She shared the gift of her stories, her warmth and her wisdom and I feel I have made a friend whom I cannot wait to see again. This is why I came to church, to know people, connect with them, to be helpful and to share a spiritual journey...

...I thought I was just delivering flowers...You should try it sometime.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Live fast...

Yesterday I was in my car for over 6 hours. I had spent most of my week in the car and by yesterday I was exhausted, I was about two hours into my trip to Harrisburg when I called our office to whine for five minutes. The truth is I was headed toward a meeting that I love going to, I was just wishing that I could somehow magically teleport myself and cut out the commute.

Just when I was contemplating driving a little faster, I saw a billboard for Sheetz. It had some picture of food on it and said "Live Fast. Eat Well." First of all, I'd like to point out that while the food at Sheetz is great in a pinch, calling it eating well is a stretch...but I digress. Upon seeing the sign, I thought about what it means to "live fast." In today's age it seems we are all doing it, buzzing from one thing to the next (unable to take the time to eat quality food), and missing a lot as we do so. I suddenly got an image of what living fast might look like. It was me on Rollerblades careening down a hill screaming and reaching the bottom tattered, torn and bloody (not fabulous!). Then I contemplated living slow. The image was me playing in a meadow with my children, laughing, smelling flowers and enjoying the sunshine (I'd also like to add that in this image I looked much more fabulous, in fact almost angelic).

After pondering both images I remembered why I usually like the long drives, peace, tranquility, an opportunity to listen to whatever I want on the radio (no 11 year old asking for rap, or a 9 year old insisting on "bubble gum pop" ), and the chance to observe the beauty around me. Instead of driving faster, I slowed a little, relished the sound of Ravel and paid attention to the small farm houses I passed and the incredible view of rolling hills. The rest of the drive was lovely.

Living fast sounds good and in today's age it's almost the expected thing, but living fast really means not taking the time to enjoy a moment. Life is made up of small moments, it's not about the next big thing, it's all the little ones, making mud pies with your kids, laughing while hanging curtains, making lasagna with someone you love. These are the moments we should relish, life is fleeting don't speed it up, take time to soak it all in!

So, if you're barrelling down that hill on Rollerblades, I urge you, direct your body toward the closest bush to break your fall and run to the nearest meadow! Besides, you really have to see just how angelic I do look surrounded by all these flowers...the kids are cute too.

Monday, April 14, 2008


I was talking to my dearest friend today. She had a realization about "home" that gave her a sense of peace I was so happy to see. I've been thinking about it all day, the power of "home". Home is about more than a house, condo or apartment. There is more to home than the shelter of bricks and mortar. For me, home is reaching my driveway after a long day to see my girls faces at the door as they greet me with smiles and hugs, "Mommy's home!" (I of course also am welcomed by the obligatory grunt offered by my son- warming in a different way). Home is sitting and chatting with my mom over that perfect cup of coffee. Home is snuggling in bed at night with my head nestled in that spot on my husband's chest that was made just for me. Home is knowing every shortcut near my house, and all the neighborhood kids who gather in my yard during summer looking for ice cream. Home is the delivery man from our favorite takeout restaurant up the street, who knows every Friday he'll be bringing me a "Nico's club".

As my friend realized today, home is belonging, to friends, family, a community. Without it we feel lost and lonely. Belonging, having people who know us and people to celebrate our triumphs with, people who love us no matter what and will be there when we fall, that's a home.

I thought about this for much of the day and began to feel broken hearted. You see, for my entire adult life I have worked with people with intellectual disabilities, most of whom lived in "group homes," and I realized, not one of the people I used to work with had that sense of home. I've heard people ask to go home, but they didn't mean the house where they lived, they meant their family home. It's not intentional, but for many who live in these arrangements don't have that sense of home, of belonging. Most of the people I used to work with, were ignored or sometimes ridiculed by their neighbors, I don't remember anyone having a favorite local restaurant with drivers who knew their favorite order. Most of the people I used to work with lived with people they barely liked, but there was an opening so they were put in a house together. I remember one woman, who later became a very important person to me, being told by staff that she needed to say "please" before she could get something from the kitchen. I didn't realize at that moment, such a long time ago, what a horrible statement that was. I am saddened by all the houses I've worked in or visited that were never really homes, just shelters.

Please, if you're reading this and you work with someone or know someone who lives in such a place, tell them sorry. Tell them we tried, but maybe we got it wrong, maybe it's about a lot more than providing four walls and three square meals a day, maybe it should always have been about home...then ask for a chance to get it right this time. Be prepared to listen and act when you ask "what can we do together to make your house a home?"

Sunday, April 13, 2008


When we are apathetic...

People are oppressed, across the globe and here at home...

Our environment, our earth, our home decays...

Wars continue...

People starve, are abused, murdered...

And it's all overlooked as we worry only about "me and mine"...

What if the abused and dying were "you and yours"?

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Channeling Freddie

For several days now I have been "channeling" Freddie Mercury. Queen is one of my all time favorite bands and I've been fascinated with Freddie for as long as I can remember. Queen songs have been like the sound track to my life, I swear you can find a song that fits almost every occasion. Anyway, Queen is one of my "go to" Cd's. I have a great fondness of music and it is central to my life, I have music that fits almost every mood and music I choose to produce a specific mood. I've been feeling kind of wacky and stressed lately and when that is the case it's either ABBA or Queen that provides an instant good mood. (I would like to take this moment to thank my parents-some of my fondest memories as a child were set to the music of ABBA, Queen, Elvis, the Shadows etc...there was often music floating through our house). So, I have been listening to Queen and have been singing Queen throughout my days, I have begun to refer to it as "channeling Freddie".

I was channeling Freddie today (actually Freddie and David Bowie), my favorite song is Under Pressure, so I listened to and sang it almost all day. Not only did it lift my mood but I also started thinking about the lyrics.
"love dares you to care for
The people on the edge of the night
And love dares you to change our way of
Caring about ourselves"
I often talk about various issues around the globe (much to the irritation of those around me), and I often wonder why more people aren't concerned about our fellow human beings. I think perhaps thinking about issues across the globe can be overwhelming, so people give up. Maybe we need to think smaller. yesterday I blogged about being helpful, perhaps that's the best place to start.
STEP 1- Look people in the eye, connect with every person as the full human being they are, whether it's the cashier at the grocery store or your own children. Once you feel that connection, you'll be grateful for it. It's an amazing sensation when you come to the realization that we are all somehow connected.
STEP 2-Stop worrying about the little things. Are you really in that much of a hurry that you have to get mad when the cashier takes too long? Is it that important? Try focusing instead on the sunshine or the fact that you are breathing, or that you have people who love you!
STEP 3- Stop thinking about the things you want, i.e. more money, better car, designer purse, boob job. We can't take those with us (except maybe the boob job-is silicone biodegradable?) Instead think about how you can leave the world in a better condition than when you came into it.
STEP 4- Start really listening to people, I mean really listening. Turn off the voice in your head, stop waiting for your turn to talk and pay attention to what people are really saying.
STEP 5-Stop judging fellow man. first of all, that's not your job "judge not lest ye be judged," and "forgive our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us," do we really want God to forgive us the way we forgive others? You can never know another man's heart unless you have walked a mile in his shoes.

That's a good enough place to start for now. Give these steps a shot and I promise, life will look up and you'll actually improve the world around you. Like Freddie said "Turned away from it all like a blind man, Sat on a fence but it don't work," So stop sitting on the fence and turning a blind eye, it doesn't work!

Again in the words of my man...

"Why can't we give love
Give love give love give love give love
Give love give love give love

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Being Helpful

Last week I was on my way home from work. My commute is well over an hour from the office and usually I enjoy the peaceful drive. At home I have three kids, three dogs, two cats, the husband, and a mother.My commute and visits to the bathroom (most of the time) are the ONLY times I'm in any space alone! Every now and then at the end of the day I want to be home as soon as possible. Last Friday was one of those days, I was hungry, tired and just wanted to play with my kids. Ofcourse, this would be the day my car was almost out of gas, so I begrudgingly stopped at the gas station to fill up. Pumping gas, I was counting the minutes(and money) I was losing by having to fill up and felt more exhausted by the second.

I started to look around and noticed a man standing in front of his car with the hood up. He had jumper cables attached to his battery and was going to various men at the gas station asking for a jump. I wasn't sure how long he had been there, but I could see that he was frustrated and appeared hurt when each man he approached turned him away. My car was finally full so I made my way inside the gas station to buy a drink for the ride. While inside, I saw the man approach a few more men and again get rejected. Now at this point I had a choice to make, I could get in my car and continue my journey home or I could take a little more time and offer the man help. I made my way out of the gas station toward my car. I noticed the man did not approach me, I don't know if this was some sexist assumption or if he was being repsectful. I have chosen to believe that he was being respectful. I looked at him and shouted across the parking lot "do you need help?" (I know, here's your sign right). The relief I saw across the man's face was instantaneous, "Oh please, I need a jump." I told him I'd be right over and pulled my car in front of his. Much to my relief, he did everything, I didn't want to have to touch a dirty car battery (I am a feminist but also a princess). The process took maybe 50 seconds and the gentleman again expressed his gratitude and bid me farewell.

On my way home I wondered why, of all the people this man approached, I was the only one willing to help. Was everyone else too busy? Maybe they didn't want to take the time. Did it have something to do with the man's accent? He appeared to be of middle eastern descent. Or, are people just down right not interetsed in being helpful? Well, if there such a thing as Karma or kismet or whatever, When I am stranded on the side of the road with a dead battery, someone will stop to help. When everyone who refused to help gets stuck, they'll remain stuck!

For me, there is no reason not to help our fellow man. If it seems like too much when you see someone needing help, just stop and think about how you might feel if you needed help and noone would lend a hand. We are all part of the human family so let's acknowledge each other, make eyecontact, and do something for someone else! However small or large the help, it will make a difference for the person in need at that moment and it will make a difference for you. Trust me, when you're in need you'll be glad of every helpful act as you get paid back ten fold.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Seen, not heard

It was about a month or so ago when I received a call from my sons school. It was the vice principal, he manages all the disciplinary issues. This wasn't my first call from him. We exchanged the usual pleasantries and then he got right to the point "Tyler has been engaging in some inappropriate behavior at lunchtime." I was immediately gripped by fear, I grabbed a pen so that I could make notes should I need to make a report to a therapist or psychiatrist regarding this "inappropriate behavior." My imagination immediately began to play about a thousand different scenarios, the foremost of which was the image of my son standing on a cafeteria table proudly displaying that part of his anatomy of which he is currently most proud and shouting "I'm the king of the world!" The vice principle continued pulling my mind away from that somewhat amusing, somewhat disturbing worst-case-scenario. "Well, he has been laughing and moving around..." "O.k." said I, frantically scribbling and waiting for the rest of it...but that was the rest of it. Laughing and moving around, an 11 year old, yup that's just down right scary! After realizing this was the extent of the infraction I had to swallow laughter and sarcasm, "O.K...well...I'll talk to him, thanks for the call."

For the rest of that day I felt several things, shame for having expected the worst of my son, and guilt. When my son was first born I had insisted on living in this school district, I went to this school district and believed it to be the best in this area. After frequent "meetings" during which educators, psychologists and Principles have stared down their noses at me the "bad mother," I now realize that this school district, and I suspect many others are quite excellent, as long as each child conform and for heaven's sake, not behave like children. School is no place to have fun! My son walks to the beat of his own drum, he always has and Lord willing he always will. He is unfazed by the demands that he must somehow stop being who he is and fall into line with the other students. He is interested only in the classes he has use for, and the others he could take or leave. The work he does needs to be meaningful and relevant for him but most teachers will not adapt their style to suit him, not when they can get the rest of the students to conform quite nicely.

I loved that school district because during my years there, I was a conformist. I was every teachers dream. I carefully hid every quirk I now hold dear in a sad attempt to fit in and be accepted, especially by the teachers. My daughter who is now in third grade is a student more similar to myself, conscientious and quite the people pleaser. She is sweet and her teachers love her. Her experience with school has been a completely different one from that of her brother. While she maintains her individuality, Tyler blazes his own path and makes no apologies. While this means that the next several years will no doubt consist of frequent calls from the school, I will only encourage that he be respectful (which he always is) and that he try. But I want him to know that I'm proud of who he is, that I admire the way he knows himself so well at such a young age and that he won't pretend to be something else. I hope that the trail he blazes will leave a nice mark behind him, and make it easier for other students who are "different." I realize how difficult it must be sometimes for other students, any student who learns differently or moves differently or is "different" in any way. I'm sure I'm not the only parent who gets a call, but I hope the rest of the parents show more faith in their kids than I do when that phone first rings. Lets start embracing difference instead of trying to make people fit some misshapen, unnatural and certainly boring mold!

As I child, I was raised to be seen and not heard, the whole time I was screaming inside (anyone who knows me knows all too well how much I like to be heard). I refuse to impose this oppression upon my children, I want to play with them and laugh with them and encourage each and every dream! So, go ahead kids, laugh and move around at the lunch table, express yourselves, teach us stiff adults a lesson! Learn and have fun all at the same time and don't let the vice principals silence who you are!

Friday, April 4, 2008

Did you know?

"Wartime” said Hitler,” is the best time for the elimination of the incurably ill.“ At the beginning of World War II individuals with disabilities were the first to be killed. It was practicing on these people that led to the refinement of the gas chambers used to exterminate Jews. The practice was called the T-4 or Euthanasia Program. “Patients from institutions were killed in specially constructed gas chambers. Handicapped infants and smaller children were killed by injection with deadly doses of drugs or starvation. The bodies of the victims burned in large ovens or crematoria."

In the United Kingdom, physicians are actively encouraging the euthanization of newborn babies born with disabilities as a way to “spare parents emotional and financial burden.”

In the Netherlands, the Groningen Protocol proposes criteria for euthanizing babies and children with disabilities.

Derek Humphrey co-founder of The Hemlock Society, who has written in his own book, Final Exit, that the “pitiful existence” of "the disabled" is better to be cut short than lived. A quote from Dr. Jack Kevorkian, “The voluntary self-elimination of individual and (sic) mortally diseased and crippled lives taken collectively can only enhance the preservation of public health and welfare.”

A world renowned embryologist Mr. Bob Edwards has said, “Soon it will be a sin for parents to have a child that carries the heavy burden of genetic disease. We are entering a world where we have to consider the quality of our children.”

The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology is urging women of all ages to undergo prenatal testing for Down syndrome, while statistics show that “85% of pregnancies diagnosed with Down syndrome end in abortion."

The U.N. Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities recognized in its preamble, “The inherent dignity and worth and equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family as the fountain of freedom, justice, and peace in the world.”

Please stop and think about it.

Please feel free to ask for my sources if you are interested. A person whom I greatly admire, we shall call her Mo has advised me that I should always have research to support what I say, so I've got it if you need it! Thanks Mo!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Finding Fab

So what's with this whole fab thing anyway? Well, I think I appointed FAB as my nickname sometime in the last year or so. There is this whole tongue-in-cheek thing with people around me that I am fabulous. Now, before you stop reading as you think "this woman is an ego maniacal twit" please read on. For me, finding my "fab" is about acknowledging the things that make me who I am, all the quirks, talents and mistakes that this might embody. To take it a step further I would encourage everyone to find their "fab" and to see it in others. It's not about believing that you are better than anyone else but about recognizing how amazing we all are and celebrating it! This does not mean bidding humility farewell, humility is about accepting that none of us are perfect, we may not always get it right, and we can always grow and learn no matter how fab we may be. Humility is not being the most attractive person in the room but denying it, even though everyone knows it to be true. Humility is not playing down your accomplishments and behaving as if "it's nothing special." Being fab isn't about pride either. Being proud of oneself can be wasted energy as much as false humility.

C.S. Lewis wrote about this most eloquently in his book The Screwtape Letters, so to borrow from a fellow fab..."The great thing is to make him(man) value an opinion for some quality other than truth, thus introducing an element of dishonesty and make-believe into the heart of what otherwise threatens to become a virtue. By this method thousands of humans have been brought to think that humility means pretty women trying to believe they are ugly and clever men trying to believe they are fools. And since what they are trying to believe may in some cases, be manifest nonsense, they cannot succeed in believing it and we (devils) have the chance of keeping their minds endlessly revolving on themselves in an effort to achieve the impossible. (God) wants to bring the man to a state of mind in which he could design the best cathedral in the world, and know it to be the best, and rejoice in the fact, without being any more (or less) or otherwise glad at having done it than he would be if it had been done by another."

You see, the thing is we can and should celebrate ourselves and each other. Whatever your spirituality, religion or faith seeing good in yourself and others just can't ever be a bad thing. If we seek out the fab in others as opposed to the bad we may find ourselves happier and making more connections with our fellow human beings! We are all more alike than different and we are all more amazing and good than we often believe. LOOK FOR THE FAB IN EVERYTHING! Before closing, I'll leave you with another favorite quote of mine from Marianne Williamson (this quote was used in the movie Akeelah and the Bee). "Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same."

With these thoughts I'll close. But before going, remind me sometime to write why I am mad at China, Romania, Wal-Mart and Nike-This will satisfy one of my favorite fabulous people whom we shall call Curly! Satisfied Curly?

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Finally inspired!

While I have had a profile on blog spot since February, today is the first time I have actually decided to blog. I read several other's, I recommend Chewing the Fat. I have thought several times about topics, I have a lot I like to say, whether other's wish to read it is a different story. I finally decided to toss my thoughts out into cyberspace and we'll see what happens!

I was finally inspired after attending a training today given by Kathie Snow. I highly recommend that if you're interested in disability rights you visit her website at Today Kathie challenged an audience of parents, educators, and other "experts" to think in a revolutionary use common sense. I found myself thinking a lot today (as I often do) about how we force people with disabilities into services, expect them to comply with those services and perhaps sometimes expect gratefulness, when all the while we are essentially telling people that they are broken. They have a "problem" (disability) and we can "fix" it. BUT DISABILITY ISN'T THE PROBLEM! WE ARE! When I was already excited and inspired, I came home and read my work e-mail where there was an article sent to me regarding a push from parents toward insurance coverage of autism therapies. Then I saw a report on the news about it. First of all, if newspapers are going to cover these stories couldn't they speak about children with autism as full human beings? These reports are so riddled with pity I could cry, no wonder there is so much stigma, and there are parents (not all, and they are always doing the best they can) who seem to be encouraging this. "Poor me, I have a child with autism" why is it never about "I'm so lucky, I have a child with an incredible wit" or "I have a child with an incredible knowledge of Star Wars and it's something to behold!" Also, the last time I checked, autism isn't a terminal disease! Why do we keep talking about "curing" it? I don't know about you, but I think I would take offense, and maybe not feel too good about myself if people wanted to cure me of my fabulousness!

Anyway, not to drone on, please just consider whose problem it is. Does the person with autism (or any other different ability) see it as a problem, or do we? Are we putting kids through therapy after therapy, and "programs" and behavior modification for them or us? If you really think about it you may not like the answer...