Uncategorized

Bloomin’ Thought For The Day: The Glads Say…….

I love gladiolas. They’re tall and proud with bright colors that catch your eye in gardens. Just because they look strong and erect doesn’t mean they are, though. Sometimes the weight of their own stems, wind, or rain, can break them. That’s when I bring them in the house to enjoy, close to me. Aren’t some people kind of like that? Just because someone looks strong, bright, and self confident doesn’t always mean they are. Even the most self-assured individual can bend under the pressures of life. If no one notices, they can wind up on the ground, broken and dying. Keep your eyes open to those around you. If you see someone starting to bend, prop them up before they break altogether, and if you love them, bring them close to you, nurture them, and help them stand up tall again.

Uncategorized

What in the World is Labor Day?

Good day, everyone! I expect this is not a particularly scintillating topic for a blog post, but I always wonder how many people actually understand why we celebrate Labor Day. Of course, no one complains about having a day off for any reason, especially if it’s a paid one. I do believe, though, that the true meaning is lost for many of the more tender-aged citizens of this great country, who never really understood, or had occasion to experience, either first or second hand, the challenges of physical labor in factories. Men worked long, hard hours in hot factory buildings with insufficient safety regulations and exposure to environmental health hazards. It wasn’t until the advent of labor unions in 1866 in the form of the AFL, or American Federation of Labor, that workers began collectively bargaining for better pay, a 40 hour work week, paid holidays, and better working conditions. In 1955, the AFL merged with the Congress of Industrial Organizations to become the AFL-CIO, as it is known today.

Various opinions on the existence of Labor Unions can be found, some looking at them as the big bad wolf coming to huff and puff and blow their factories down. Growing up in a steel town, I did witness some harmful effects of the labor unions. Wages began to get a bit out of hand and the Bethlehem Steel Company found that it could outsource jobs to workers overseas who did not enjoy the same wages and protections the US unions now afforded theirs. Although there were certainly other factors contributing to the demise of the Steel, over- zealous labor unions did play a part, and I saw many families adversely affected when it closed up shop.

In spite of their drawbacks, however, the Labor Unions have their place in American History and played a huge role in the success of our industrialization. So go have fun at the beach, the lake, or your back yard on your Monday off, but remember that today, your forefathers are being honored for their hard work and dedication to some of the hardest jobs there are so you won’t have to do the same.

Uncategorized

For Jillian, Colt, Charlotte And The Rest: Childhood Cancer

There a few questions I plan to ask God when I get to the Pearly Gates. Topping the list is cancer, and topping that list is childhood cancer. It’s so easy to say that “it’s all in His plan”, and an even better one “everything happens for a reason”. Although I may believe these things to be true, I would never try to convince an aggrieved parent of that. In all honesty, I can’t say how I would feel. I do know that losing a child is my greatest fear, and I would have some serious struggles going on. Maybe that’s why I empathize with parents who have dealt with, or are dealing with, the inexplicable tragedy of children with cancer. Why? I don’t know. I do know that people like Jillian’s Mom and Colt’s mom have turned their tragedy into foundations and events to help others. Colt is still fighting, as is Charlotte, and I pray hard for them constantly, as I do for peace for Jillian’s family. Jillian earned her wings recently and every time her mom makes a poignant post, I feel a pit in my stomach and tears in my eyes. She was a beautiful, sweet, and happy 5 year old when her angels came. I never met her but I feel as if I knew her, through her mom’s beautiful and candid stories and pictures on Facebook. Her grandparents are friends of mine.

Jillian’s mom laid out a few statistics on childhood cancer in her touching back-to-school  post today, but one of them stuck out in my mind, “What Americans spend in 3 days at Starbucks, is what the national govt. spends on childhood cancer research in an ENTIRE year.” (Taken from mom Janelle Massey’s post on “Jillian Paige-You Got This Girl” Facebook page.) Wow. I think we should pester Starbucks to donate a portion of their sales toward childhood cancer, to supplement the government’s meager offering. I plan on writing a letter to them with this request. Anyone care to join me? The more the merrier. She also mentioned that September was Pediatric Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. I know I’m a few days early, but it’s never too early to care.

Please consider donating to this worthy cause. Below are a few links that Janelle Massey and Dolly Rever have on Jillain’s page and on Colt’s page, “Colt-One Tough Kiddo.”  Please keep these children and all of the others dealing with this devastating disease in your prayers, and if you choose to donate, no will complain.

https://www.facebook.com/Jillian-Paige-You-got-this-girl-612661515569210/?ref=br_rs

Home

https://www.facebook.com/search/top/?q=colt%3A%20one%20tough%20kiddo

https://www.dukehealth.org/hospitals/duke-childrens-hospital/giving

https://www.wral.com/-god-put-me-here-to-do-this-pioneering-pediatric-surgeon-hopes-to-train-others-at-unc-on-life-saving-procedure/17787599/

Uncategorized

Rest Room Revolt

Ladies, haven’t any of you wanted to start a revolt against public rest room inequality? I’m not speaking of gender designation or the fact that  diaper changing tables are placed mostly in women’s rest rooms. ( Since I don’t frequent men’s rooms, I wouldn’t bet the farm on the latter, but it’s what I expect is true.) I’m referring to the fact that the number of ladies restrooms appears disproportionate to the number of men’s based on our needs. 

I mean, really, all they have to do is pull down their pants and aim (or not). Nothing to sit on. They do their thing and boom, they’re gone, leaving it open for the next gent. Of course, there are those who will need to utilize the seat on occasion, but if they are like my husband, they’ll wait until they get home.

The women, however, require a much different process to achieve the same comfort level. We have to line the toilet seat first, if we’re lucky only once, unless there’s an automatic motion sensor that flushes before you can even sit down, sucking your thin tissue seatie right down the hole with the unused water. Line, flush, repeat. Line, flush, repeat. Line, flush, sit on hands, because you know you can wash those right there. Sometimes. you notice there are no seaties on the wall, so you cover the seat with double toilet paper, which can take a long time because the paper is so crappy (pardon the pun), that it rips off in pieces, hence all those little pieces of tissue on the floor  in a woman’s stall.

Women: pull pants down, pull top or dress up and hold them there until you are finished and have cleaned up, taking great care not to let them get in the water to which you will soon be contributing. Mission accomplished, redress, taking great care not to let your clothes hit the water in which you have made a deposit. Of course the time necessary to do all this is directly related to the attire. Tight pants? Loose pants? Stretch? Denim? Waistband? Elastic waist? Dress? Blouse? 

Men: Unless they’re doing their dailies, men don’t have to worry about protecting their clothes from used water like women do. Pull up and zip.

Men: depart stall and don’t worry about taking the time to wash your hands if there’s nothing you can see that needs washing. Who is to know except the other guy there, who probably isn’t washing his, either. The wings you’re about to eat will have more flavor that way, anyway. Leave restroom.

Women: depart stall, wash hands, hold them under air dryer for eternity, comb hair, fix makeup, walk out of restroom not knowing you have a tail of toilet paper from the seat tucked in your clothes. 

Women, unite and revolt against unfair rest room situations! We want more!

Disclaimer: my husband has forced me to add that he always washes his hands. And that is how I know how many other men don’t!

Uncategorized

Accountability

I know the risks of sharing plans with people. If you meet your goals, everyone cheers, high fives you, congratulates you. Well, that’s what happens on the big and small screens, anyway. If you don’t make it, it’s like “Oh, well, we aren’t surprised”. So I’m going out on a limb. It’s called the limb of accountability. If I tell you, I may feel more of a push to do it. I have been chewing on writing more books for what? Years? Well, now I have real action going on, and I am committed to my newest trade. Not sayin’ to where I will be committed, just sayin’!

I have one more hurdle to jump before I can begin ordering my second round of “The Giggle Box”, my first children’s picture book, initially published in 2014, but it’s out of my hands at this point, so I am waiting for that last piece to finish the puzzle.

I have found an awesome illustrator who trades under Artfully Annie to do my second children’s book, “The Town of Alpaca”. I love what she has done so far, and I’m very excited to see the rest. This book was written during a foliage tour of the Blue Ridge Mountains three years ago , when we happened upon an alpaca farm. For whatever unknown reason, I had an instant affection for these llama-like animals, and a story began to form. This small chapter book for Early Readers presents the danger of judging people (or llamas!) based solely on what another person (or llama!) of the same kind has done in the past, and how friendships can be formed in the most unlikely of ways, with the most unlikely of people. (or alpacas!). Overcoming hardships and accomplishing goals by working together add to the lessons a child will learn by reading “The Town of Alpaca”!

“The Dynamite Kids” was written a few years ago, also, and I have now finished editing the first three chapters with at least 7 more to go. This one is for Middle Readers. Like the others, it will have wholesome messages and life lessons. I realize this is an almost antiquated concept in our rapid fire society with its insatiable appetite for the edge, but children still need to learn how to be good people, so if it helps a handful of kids, my goal will have been met. It’s the first in a series of an unbreakable bond between six friends, who are very different, and their last summer before the start of Middle School. This one will be the first in a series.

Friendship, sportsmanship, a heart for animals, dealing with family struggles, the value of differences, and the dangers of the internet are only a few of the lessons that can be learned from this book. I’m very excited to continue working on this one. It will be my first real chapter book instead of the picture books I have done in the past.

I do have others started and lots of ideas but I’ll get these out first and go from there! One step at a time!

Baseball, Uncategorized

Trees, Apples, and Baseball

Penn School playground, Steel Field, passing the hat in the stands during games for donations to the North Central Little League. These are my earliest memories of baseball. Good memories. I remember going up to the playground almost every day after school with my bat and glove to play a game of pick up with whoever showed up, then going to Steel Field on game evenings, and so my love affair with baseball began. I’m talking elementary school, way back in the day. Back in the day when I loved baseball for the game, and friendly competition between teams was kept to just that. Parents came to watch their sons play the game, not run the show from the stands; or maybe I just wasn’t aware of that side of it. After all, I was just a girl who came to watch the boys play.

By the time I had boys of my own, it seemed different. My husband tried to coach every team our boys were on, if he was able to, because he loved the game,  loved our boys, and because he wanted to ensure that every kid on the team was given a chance to play and learn different positions. Amidst occasional tongue biting and teeth grinding, he tried to play to teach and to have fun. Winning was a plus. In all fairness to coaches who didn’t practice these principles to the same extent, they are often caught between a rock and a hard place: play the less talented boys the bare minimum required by the rules and have a better chance of winning or give everyone an equal chance to have fun and risk losing. No one wants to be on a losing team and everyone wants to win. There is just no pleasing everyone.

And then there are the parents.  I’ve been known to yell at an ump or two in my time, but the vast majority of my time as an athlete’s mom I tried to accept the decisions that were passed down, even if they royally ticked me off. I think most moms were the same; dads, however, were a different story. There were times I actually felt sorry for the refs and the coaches, as the armchair athletes in the stands tried to tell them how to do their jobs.

Even that I could handle, but the emotional abuse some of these young boys suffered at the hands of their wannabe athlete dads chilled me to the bone and then boiled my skin. Tell me, parents, did your child grow up to be a professional athlete, or did he grow up fearing your disapproval? Or maybe both? These are children, and children should be taught, guided, and disciplined with love, not constant criticism and judgement. I don’t believe in sugar coating realities, but I don’t believe in belittling children for what a parent may consider a shortcoming, either. The only failure is the one that is not tried at all, in sports and in life. They should be given credit for giving it a shot. Not everyone was born to be a baseball player. Every child is unique with unique talents, and just because your dream of smashing it clear over the fence never materialized doesn’t mean your child should be expected to fulfill that dream for you. He might want a pair of dance shoes or a violin instead. If you want to be disappointed, that’s OK, but keep it to yourself. Nurture the talents he has shown. Some apples fall a little farther away from the tree than others.

Now here I am watching my grandsons play. Many changes have come down the pike since I sat in the bleachers at Steel Field watching Little League games The structure of the leagues and teams are a little different and there aren’t as many neighborhood playgrounds that kids can walk to by themselves and enjoy a game of pick-up, especially for those of us living in the ‘burbs. Even for those living in the city, many children are bused to more distant schools and still can’t get to a neighborhood playground easily. Between the inaccessibility of playgrounds, air conditioning, and device addiction, the knowledge, expertise, and love of America’s past-time has been diluted.

Another trend is what I see as an increasingly vocal group of parents: moms, dads, and even grandparents. I still yell, but it’s all positive. Parents still yell at the umps, but now they are yelling at not only their own children when they make a mistake, which is bad enough, but at other children, which is even more unacceptable. They coach from the stands, which confuses the kids. Who do they listen to? Their coach? Their dad? Their mom? Their grandmother? (Oh yeah, I see that, too.) That other parent yelling instructions to them? Coaches have given their time to help everyone’s children learn how to play the game. Let them do their jobs and don’t confuse the kids with conflicting stereophonic advice.

In the event that coaches are feeling a bit left out right now, I have some news for you, too. You’re not coaching the MLB, or even high school. They’re kids. Much like my advice to parents, don’t berate your little ballplayers. They are there to have fun, learn the game, and practice sportsmanship. not be chastised, and you are their role model.  You are the tree and at this moment you have many little apples looking up to you. It’s just a game, and if you are there to win just to prove your own self worth instead of for those other, more important, things, then recuse yourself from the bench. Additionally, don’t show favoritism to your own son or your friends’ sons. Don’t take play time away from other players or deny them prime positions so your own son can have them.  Rotate positions to make it more equitable. Explain to the team that no one is going to get preferential treatment, but you expect them all to do the best they can at whatever position they are assigned. Tell them, and yourself,  to  relax, have fun, and play ball!

Uncategorized

What’s in a Name?

When I had my first book published in 2014, it was more of a legacy than anything. Of course, I would have loved for it to become a best-seller, but had absolutely no illusions of this. In fact, I gave so many away as gifts that I lost money! I have written several more since then for which I have not pursued publication. However, my passion for writing and for making a difference in people, especially children, is still alive and well and living in “It’s All Write”, just itching to be released.
I believe that God has everything under control in our lives and that things will be OK, if we have faith. We have to stay positive and believe that “It’s All Write”. When I was working on the logo, one choice popped into my mind and there was no other option for me since then. “Do the write thing” had to be it. The picture I chose is a natural expression of my love for color and dancing. It just “worked”.
My first book, “The Giggle Box”, and my next (future) two are all about teaching children how to do the “write” things in life. A couple of others that are either partially written or still images in my brain follow this theme. In my books you will find elements of kindness, compassion, honesty, acceptance, and friendship. You may also find some that offer education to children, especially in relation to the medical field, my first chosen profession.
Since I will be self-publishing, my books will be slow in coming out, unless some mainstream publisher “discovers” my work and just can’t live without it or I hit the lottery! It is almost impossible, unless you are “someone” or have an agent, to break into the larger world of publishing. Therefore, as I said, my work will be slow in coming out! Next up: “The Town of Alpaca”, which was started a few years ago on a foliage tour through the Blue Ridge Mountains when we came across an alpaca farm. I had heard of them but had never seen them before and fell in love with these llama-like animals. For some odd reason, an old song about the town of El Paso worked its way into my consciousness, and a story was born. Stay tuned, and remember, “It’s All Write!”
Uncategorized

Daddy’s Girl

Disclaimer: It is understood that each parent is important in both young boys’ and young girls’ lives and that there are different types of families that can provide an environment in which a child can grow up without emotional baggage. This particular piece will focus on potential issues of girls without daddies.

I love psychology. When I was in nursing school my favorite subject was psych.  My, how things have changed over the years. Theories have been disputed or disavowed, behaviors that had previously been considered abnormal, even in the psychology journals, are now accepted, and the importance of a male or female presence in a child’s life is hotly debated.

Today, I watched a 2007 movie starring “The Rock”, Dwayne Johnson, called “The Play Book”, with my grandsons. I had seen it before and remembered being as enchanted with it then as I was today. If you haven’t seen the movie, it’s a heartwarming, mushy tale about a little 8 year old girl (Madison Pettis) who marches into the life of her pro-football playing father and declares, unbeknownst to him, her existence. It was a sweet, funny movie, and little Madison really brought it home.

Without citing studies, I will tell you that it is believed by many that it is healthier for a little girl to have a loving  father, or father figure, in her life, but I also know that there are just as many studies that claim to prove otherwise. Undoubtedly, it is possible for a fatherless child to grow up to be an emotionally healthy and productive adult; it depends on other positive figures and influences in the life of that child and how the absence of her father is presented to her.

One of the biggest mistakes a parent can make is to turn a child against the other parent, unless that parent poses a danger.  If dad is deserving of a tongue-lashing, she will find out on her own, in time, and then the “tongue-lasher” will be perceived as the villain for bad-mouthing a good guy. Stay quiet. He is still her father. She’ll make her own decisions one day and she will respect you more if you stay kind or at the very least, not mean, in regards to her daddy. My mother, on occasion, shared unpleasant insights with us but did not rake our dad over the coals. (The rest of the family did that for her.) Actually, they were pretty much on the money, but I do not remember growing up constantly hearing it from my mom, and I respected her for that.

The key element to a child growing up healthy is unconditional love. Whether parents are divorced or a father is deceased, a child needs to feel that she is, or was, loved by her dad. She needs to grow up feeling wanted and valued instead of feeling like a cross her daddy has to bear. She needs to see love and pride in his eyes, enjoy his attention, and be able to trust in him.  The relationship a daughter shares with her father should be special and will shape how she feels about herself as a little girl, an adolescent, and a woman, and also how she will expect to be treated by other men. If she knows she has a male person in her life on whom she can depend and enjoy reciprocal love, she will be less likely to seek acceptance and attention through unhealthy relationships and behavior. I won’t pretend to know actual statistics, but I believe that many babies are born to single moms who just wanted to feel loved, in any way they could.

There may be a father figure to fill the hole in a little girl’s life, but if he does not show love, respect, and acceptance, the hole stays open. And if, instead, he is a source of humiliation, ridicule, or disdain, that hole can become a chasm. Moms, protect your little girls. Love is important to you, of course, but remember you are not the only one who needs it, and if a man is more of a detriment to your daughter than an asset, tell him to hit the road. She is your priority.

“The Play Book” brought enjoyment as well as a hint of sadness to me. Growing up in a female dominated family with little use for men, it was challenging to even know what a healthy relationship looked like. As a little girl, I don’t remember thinking there was anything wrong with not having a dad around. It just seemed normal to me to live the way we did. One thing does stand out in my memory, though, and tells me I subconsciously felt otherwise. One summer day, my father came to pick my sister and me up for our annual family tour, for which, by the way, I have always been grateful. I loved getting to know my half-siblings and my father’s side of the family. This particular day I was at my friend’s house, and when I saw him come around the corner I remember saying to her “See? I have a daddy, too.”  Little sentence, big punch.

It was as I grew older, though, that I really began to feel that hole. I saw my girlfriends with fathers who worshiped them, watched with envy the flowers that got delivered to our dorm rooms from loving daddies. It began to hurt knowing that kind of love would never be available to me.  The love between a woman and her husband is wonderful and special, but it isn’t the same as that between a girl and her daddy. I will be forever grateful that my own daughter never had to feel that emptiness, and never will.

My time is long gone, but I hope my candor will help someone else think about what they are doing to their daughters, if that is necessary. Current behavioral theorists can say anything they want about the importance of a good daddy in a girl’s life, but I will tell you without hesitation:  he matters.

Uncategorized

Live Loud and Give Thanks!

Cool, crisp, beautiful fall. It’s here in all of its splendor and I love it. Gorgeous colors, pumpkin spice everything, and Thanksgiving on the way. This year, though, I have felt more like I’m fallING. My faith in God is strong, my patience, not so much. I’m like the child who took her toy to God to mend and then stood around asking questions, making suggestions on how to fix it. Finally, in exasperation, she yelled “God, why are you so slow?!” to which He replied “Because, my child, you never did let go”. (Adaptation: “Let Go and Let God” – Anonymous). I love my Savior God and believe wholly in his grace and his plan for me, but I just want to skip some pages sometimes and see how this chapter ends and the next begins.

Today, after the bathroom touch-up guy, the appraiser, and my beautiful daughter left, I sat in quiet solitude save Dakota’s whining to be allowed in the house with her huge, gross bone, and the chirping of my bird clock on the hour. As I watched her drive away, I remembered that, in the “busyness” of my life and the wallowing in self- pity over the circumstances of my home selling, I had neglected to read an article my daughter wrote for our church publication, “Compass Starting Point”, chronicling the week she and her husband spent with their children and others from North Raleigh UMC at Camp Kidjam. This retreat is a fun, bustling, and spiritual week that brings children closer together with each other, with their adult leaders, and with their God, so I pulled it up and read “Live Loud”, sniffling with every word.

Reading this article and looking at pictures of the happy children of God, both kids and adults, brought me, once again, back into the folds of His love and presence. Sure, things don’t always go smoothly in life, but oh, what blessings we have. All four of our amazing children are servants of God and our grandchildren are following them, leading the way for their generation of faithful Christians. They teach, they sing, they play bells, they write, they work with youth, they build, they study the Word, they lead, and they witness their faith. They teach their children well and they fully rely on God in their lives every day. (Did you know that’s where the acronym FROG comes from – Fully Rely on God? Enjoy some Sweet FROG frozen custard sometime soon because yup, that’s what they’re all about.)

We haven’t enough money to worry about investing in the stock market, and our kids know they won’t be able to buy a mansion or a yacht with their inheritance, but we are oh, so very rich. We are blessed, happy and proud beyond expression with the adults our babies have become and the partners in life they have chosen. God is good. All the time. Thanksgiving came early for me today.

Compass Starting Point 2017

Click to access compass-starting-point-2017-web.pdf

 

Uncategorized

NO Means NO or Seek a SANE (Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner)

One time, way back in my junior year of high school, I looked up the word prude in the dictionary. Now that might seem like an odd thing on which to enlighten myself, but when one is being called this, in the context of the situation at hand, she can only guess at its meaning. I defiantly said “thank you” to my short- lived boyfriend, went home and looked it up. Pride and anger kind of swirled around each other as Miriam Webster filled me in. Another time a boy told my friend, when she asked about our split, that I was “the kind of girl you marry, not the kind you mess around with.” What a shame. Those guys were cute, and, I thought, pretty OK.

I was lucky. The guys I dated in high school were OK enough to either listen to me and like me for me, or be on their way if they didn’t want to bother. But it isn’t always that way for girls and women. Being forced to perform or endure unwanted sexual activity can have serious effects on a woman’s emotions for a long time.

I may cop to understanding that provocative clothing and mannerisms can send erroneous messages, subconsciously or otherwise, to guys, and that’s a dangerous scene, but no matter how a girl might be dressed or is acting, NO means NO. Even if she wants it, too, if she says no, case closed. Nothing justifies non-consensual sex or sex acts. Nothing. Not clothing, not actions, not words, not mutual desire, not even love. I might get some backlash on this next one, but there is even such a thing as marital rape in some states. Women should not be slaves to men’s desires if they don’t want to be. NO means NO even in the marital bed. But ladies, if it’s a pattern with you, there is something wrong. Go and get counseling with your partner.

Enter the FNE, aka SANE.  I served in this capacity in my ER days many years ago at Nash General Hospital in Rocky Mount. My class was the very first of Forensic Nurse Examiners in NC, and it was by far the most dynamic and fascinating course I have ever taken. A week of concentrated learning was followed by hours of clinical experience with the police, counselors, in the courtroom, and actually using “The Rape Kit”, which is a box provided by the state containing everything one needs to collect physical evidence of a sexual assault for law enforcement. It’s a long, detailed process. Being a detail oriented person, a lover of justice, a caregiver, and a truth-seeker, this was right up my alley. Hair (clipped and pulled), saliva, blood samples, nail scrapings, any fibers, grass, loose hair, or other foreign substances or objects we could find all went into the envelopes and containers in The Kit. Meticulous documentation of anything the person could remember about the event was clearly and carefully charted on the pages provided in The Kit -no computers at that time.  Notice I said “person”, not woman. Yes, men get raped, too, and I’ve done a couple of those. Clothing, all of it, is removed while the survivor stands on a large white paper, is wrapped up, put into a paper bag and sealed for the police. I said survivor because that’s what they are – survivors. Doesn’t that sound more positive and hopeful than “victims”?

Now, as I haven’t done one in years nor kept up with the procedures, and because I had made this way too long, I’ll cut out the graphic details of the exam. Rest assured, we left no stone unturned. Anywhere. Skin staining for injuries, black light to check for the presence of semen, (or yogurt), a pelvic exam, pictures for identification and documentation of injuries. They all went into The Kit along with the other samples mentioned earlier. Then the sacred Box was glued to our sides until we could hand the untarnished evidence off to a police officer for the unbroken chain of evidence.

That’s awful, isn’t it,  but it’s just the beginning. A survivor may need months, even years, of counseling. Serial blood tests for HIV and Hepatitis B followed by breath-holding and sighs of relief when the last one comes back negative, or intense fear and anxiety paired with lengthy treatment if the result was unfortunate. Hormone pills to prevent a pregnancy are offered to women, but if religious convictions do not support this, then an unplanned pregnancy may be added to the rest of her worries. Another exam will be needed later on to test for other STD’s. If positive, treatment will be started and all sexual contacts must be notified.

Survivors tell their stories multiple times: to the nurse, sometimes a doctor, police, crisis counselors, long term counselors, family and friends, lawyers, and to a judge and jury if it goes to trial. The press withholds the names of survivors of sexual assault, but if it gets out through the grapevine, there may be more humiliation, even though it wasn’t the survivors “fault.

The SANE’s responsibilities do not end with sexual assaults, but include domestic violence and child abuse cases as well. A picture is worth a thousand words. These areas are even more upsetting to me. Women cannot, or will not, leave. They’re fearful, may have no means to support themselves and their children without “him”, or believe his repeated lies that he loves her, he’s sorry, and he’ll “never do it again”. Codependence. She can’t leave and he can’t stop abusing. I cared for a woman once whose husband was well-known and loved in the community, so her reports of abuse when unheeded. At a time when bangle bracelets were popular, she had a string of multicolored bracelets on her wrist, one for each time he had beaten her. That particular day she was covered in bruises. The most dangerous call police respond to is the “domestic”.

The children always put a pit in my stomach: the little boy who was burned halfway up his calves from a hot bathtub; the child with strap marks all the way across his back and chest; the little ones who knew words and language they never should in the innocence of the very young; the little girls who had obvious attempts at penetration on exam; and even the 11 year old girl found trying to have sex with a smaller 10 year old boy on a discarded mattress in a housing project. I remember her well. We talked a lot that night and I bought her a female developmental book, wrapped it, and took it to her school for her. She invited me to her sixth grade “graduation” and gave me a rose. I don’t think she had anyone else to give it to that day.

Girls, you can be strong. Say no and mean it. Say it and don’t back down. You are worth something, you ARE someone. Let no one steal your pride and dignity. You don’t belong to anyone but yourself. Stand up and be glad if you are a “prude”. Go look it up if you don’t know what it means and say “thank you” if someone calls you that. Be a proud prude. If he cares about you, he will listen to you. If he doesn’t want to listen, move on. He’s not worth it. More than likely, he will try to control you in other ways, too. If the worst happens and you can’t stop him, go to a hospital IMMEDIATELY for a rape exam. Time is of the essence for evidence collection. Don’t change clothes, shower, eat, drink, rinse your mouth or go to the bathroom before you go. I know it’s unpleasant, but you will need help, and the person responsible needs to be arrested. Please, though, do it only if it was a true coercion. Trying to get back at someone for whatever other injustices you think you sustained at his hand can ruin someone’s life forever. Don’t do it. On the other hand, if you don’t report a legitimate sexual assault, you will probably not be his last prey. Don’t let that happen, either.

Guys, come on. You’ll live. They’re not going to turn blue. Respect your girls and women. It’s not cool at all to force a woman to do what she doesn’t want. Maybe you and your buddies think it is, but it’s not. Besides, if she reports an assault and wins, you will be on the sex offender registry forever. Employers don’t like that. Neither do neighbors. You will always have to report your addresses, anyone can find out if there is a sex offender living in their neighborhood, and they won’t be happy. Your parents are going to be ticked and it will cost you, or them, lots of money. Don’t be stupid.

Ladies, it’s difficult, but NOT IMPOSSIBLE to get out. PLEASE, if any reader is in this situation, there is help. GET AWAY! You are worthy and deserving of a better life filled with love and respect. Love shouldn’t hurt. You can break the cycle of abuse.

Below are some sites that may be helpful to anyone in these situations. Write them down and keep them nearby. If you are in an abusive relationship, however, don’t let your abuser see them.

http://www.thehotline.org/ – Domestic Violence

https://hotline.rainn.org/online/terms-of-service.jsp – Sexual Assault

http://www.statisticbrain.com/rape-statistics/ – Sexual Assault  Statistics

 

Helping Others, Uncategorized

Two Flood Buckets Apiece

My heart is hurting, and I’m not alone. Where do we start? It’s one thing when the devastation is confined to defined states or geographical areas, but unimaginable pain, suffering, and loss in multiple countries? Where do we start? Are the first to be helped chosen by lottery draw? By the percentage of the area that’s been decimated? By the estimated financial losses? Or is it like a triage system? Field triage isn’t about taking the most seriously ill or injured first, as in a hospital. It’s about taking the ones most likely to live first, at the unspeakable expense of losing others, because they can’t save them all. Viability drives the agonizing choice of who to save in the field.

Most of us shake our heads, some of us cry, some pray, many will seek out ways to be of assistance, but how many of us have actually felt the pain of losing everything we had, and not only our health, possessions and loved ones, but our entire country, to the wrath of Mother Nature? I am humbled.

Who of us all will give until it hurts? To whom do we go to offer help? Opportunity abounds at every step; in churches, in schools, in stores, in emails, on web pages. There are endless chances to offer support, but which one is best? My 10 year old grandson, in the innocence to which only the tender young are privy, mused that if every single person gave 2 flood buckets apiece we could help so many people. How simple, how sweet, and how true. I think this weekend we’ll make 4 flood buckets, two for each of us, and take them somewhere where they are being collected. Or maybe one flood bucket and a basket of toiletries, or a basket of toiletries and a bag of clothing, or a  bag of people food and a bag of pet food, or a check, or………follow your own heart.

So many people. I am reminded of a story, author unknown, of which one variation goes something like this: “An old man was walking down a beach one morning after a strong storm the night before. The storm had washed hundreds of thousands of helpless starfish ashore. The starfish were stranded and faced certain doom once the sun was high in the sky. Across the beach the man saw a young child walking in his direction. As the boy walked, he would pause to bend down, pick a starfish up, and toss it back into the ocean. The old man was puzzled by the boy’s behavior and once they were close enough the man yelled to the boy, ‘Why are you wasting your time? You can’t possibly save them all’, to which the boy replied, ‘Maybe not, but it mattered to that one,’ as he tossed another far into the waves.” People matter.