Monday, September 9, 2019


Continuing a theme, I know. And possibly getting repetitive and boring, but I will NEVER ever EVER wear pantyhose again. I will never again select the so-called flesh tone (NO ONE is actually that color), purchase something that, in no conceivable way, one size fits all, pay way too much, pull each leg up, fingers-over-thumb, slip my toes in, repeat for the second foot and leg, pull them up gently but firmly with a high likelihood of running them, adjusting the restricting ultra-thin fabric over my legs, masking them completely, shimmy into the chafing control top, adjust the placement of the crotch area to the not-too-loose and not-too-tight itchy perfect spot, pull the binding band up and over the belly, deal with the continual roll down waist band all damn day, and the sit down/stand up adjustment.

I absolutely refuse. Just WTF.

Is the skin on my legs not perfect enough? Are they not smooth enough? Is my abdomen not tight enough? Is the color not uniform enough? To whom do I owe this effort to present a defect less leg? To whom do we owe such binding?

You know that some business spaces require pantyhose to complete a professional look. You know, to wear with the high heels. Some special or formal events have dress codes that presuppose pantyhose with your high heels if you are a female. Pantyhose are de rigeur in nearly every social etiquette situation.

Is this an issue of feminism?
Or of the ruling patriarchy?

Do we owe it to someone to have attractive legs? 

Whatever it is, I simply refuse it.

In fact, the last time I wore pantyhose, several years ago, they were so completely uncomfortable I tore them off the very second I got into the car. The restriction was just too much to bear any longer. Hot, itchy, binding, weird feeling, chafing.

Also, the name. Pantyhose. Ick.

Nope. I'm done.

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Friday, September 6, 2019

The Perks of Being 55

Last year I turned 55, the same number of the 1974 National Speed Limit Law*. I remember when that was crazy big news in 1974.

Anyway, I'm 55. As in Years Old.

Man, that's weird.

Inside, I often feel waaaay young. I think most of us feel this way, super young and vital and ingenue...until we walk past a large picture window... At the same time I feel 55. Totally 55. In fact, I think I've felt like I was 55 inside for most of my life.
Weird, huh?

I actually think I've felt 55 inside for decades, but I didn't know it until I turned 55. I've been a very responsible person for most of my life and I've been super-adulty since I was twelve years old, the year my parents split up. I mean, really, about the only reason a young person "acts adult" is because their adult person or people aren't doing their jobs. That was me.

And this is me.
I'm 55 and I love it.

It's so much more than AARP and senior discounts. 

  • I feel completely and authentically myself now.
    I feel so much more personally powerful than ever before.
  • I'm far more trusting of my instincts and ideas.
  • I'm healthier than I've been in years.
  • I get to be a grandmother.
  • I'm married to a gorgeous guy.
    (For 24 years now!)
  • I'm participating in volunteer work that I love.
  • I love my job.
  • I feel no need to apologize for ANYTHING I have chosen.
  • Or explain.
  • I'm better able to stand up for myself and for my needs.
  • I have confidence in my abilities.
  • I'm super, super completely happy.

I'm 55 and I love it.

* The National Speed Limit Law was repealed in 1995.

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Thursday, September 5, 2019

Marsha Linehan

Back in the 80s and 90s when I was practicing social work, things were SO different than they are now. I worked in many different places back in the day, but most of the jobs were in the mental health field. Back in those days I was mostly a student or a total newbie, always flying by the seat of my pants. I really had alot to learn.

I mean, don't we all.

But the great thing about those days is that I learned so much...totally in the trenches.

Time: Early 90s. One day I went to a random staff meeting and we were being introduced to a total new treatment model called DBT, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, developed by a psychotherapist named Marsha Linehan. This treatment was focused on treating a particularly difficult type of problematic coping pattern style that is sometimes referred to as Borderline Personality Disorder. This disorder is one of pervasive and chaotic relational patterns (very unstable relationships of high intensity), dysregulation in emotion (very powerful, painful emotions that can feel out of control), and a distorted sense of self (I'm valuable beyond measure or I'm worthless, or both). Oh, and feeling suicidal. There's more to the disorder, but that's the gist.

Marsha Linehan developed this completely revolutionary treatment model for suicidality and borderline personality disorder; that amazes me because the mental health culture in those days, at least the culture that I knew of, was more shaming than helpful with this particular population. But we were confused and overwhelmed. That day in the early 1990s when I went to the staffing to learn about it, little did I know what a revolution I was being exposed to. I remember half of the room of clinicians scoffing at the so-called successful approach to treating this population and the other half of the room feeling excited about the new approach.

And then I moved away, took a job at a hospital, and proceeded to forget about DBT completely. But now I'm truly in awe of the wisdom and brilliance of Marsha Linehan and her treatment protocol called DBT.

Dr. Linehan spent the first part of her life being a client. And the majority of her adulthood being a student, doing research, and becoming an award-winning author, and, now, Professor Emeritus of Psychology in the Department of Psychology at the University of Washington and is Director Emeritus of the Behavioral Research and Therapy Clinics. And there is more to her, way more. She is truly brilliant.

Her DBT model is now considered the foremost, preeminent treatment for Borderline Personality Disorder and for some other disorders too. Now DBT is an evidence-based, structured approach to working with these clients who are so very challenged.

The more I learn and the more I read, the more I realize Marsha Linehan is a real hero.

In the 1990s, at that staffing, if you had told me I would be training to be swimming in the deep end of her pool, I would have never believed you. 
In 2019, I'm proud to be here.

Thank you, Dr. Linehan.

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Sunday, August 25, 2019

Weird and Honest: Death

When you lose someone in your life, in addition to entering into the so-called grief cycle, you also enter into a complete cover-up culture of your own thoughts and feelings. Let me explain what I mean, because, as usual, I have had to come to this awareness slowly... 

But first, please read the cautionary comment below.

 And please, be aware, this blog post might trigger you 
if you are in a place of grief...
yet it is a freeing post for me 
because I plan on being entirely transparent 
in my usual TMI, weird, awkward, honest way.

OK, let's first start with the so-called Grief Cycle. 
Look, I'm a huge fan of Kubler-Ross. I think she was brilliant. I've probably read far more K-R than most people have simply because of my field of study and because of my own interest. Her book On Death and Dying was a landmark book at the time because it, first, looked at an almost taboo subject, death, it also sought out to normalize what is, in fact, normal. I'm sure you have at least a passing knowledge of the stages of grief.

Her five stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance) are pretty universally accepted, though some offer criticism of these stages that the stages are not universal and, in fact, have no empirical evidence to support the theory. But most people, lay people and human behavior researchers alike, can acknowledge that the stages are very relatable. From the loss to death of a loved one, to one's own journey toward an expected death, to losses of all kinds, like moving from place to place, major breaks ups, loss of personal reputation, to loss of important objects, etc, the stages of loss tend to look pretty similar.

Other critics of K-R's Stages of Grief Theory simply suggest that the so-called stages are undefined and fluid and, therefore, not useful. The critics also remind us that the tasks of grief are never really behind us, as the concept of a stage might suggest, but remain ongoing in our lives for most loss. On other hand, their usefulness as predictive points of grief cannot be denied and have been a real comfort to me.

Before and After
Second, and I'll be brief here, the idea that the grieving process actually leads to a place, a place of new meaning, seems counter to my own experiences. Many losses really have no meaning. We each might have to move toward a new reality or understanding of ourselves in the world, but the idea that loss actually has intrinsic meaning...let's just say that I'm skeptical about this one.

Kudos to you if you have found new meaning. But please understand that that new meaning is not the purpose or the point of our loss; it is our own need to move forward into our continuing life without our lost person, object, or personal loss.  That idea of before and after a loss or major life-changing struggle. We do have to move forward, right?

So there's that, the fact that our grieving is never really over, never really past, never really apart from ourselves...but my next point is the real crux of this post, so beware. Be. Ware.

Ever since my parents' deaths, one of the thoughts that I have had in my head, in spite of trying very hard to push the thoughts away, is the propensity to imagine the actual physical stages of decomposition of my parents' bodies. In their metal, hot caskets. Under the ground. 

I know.
How can I actually say this one out loud?
I've given it alot ALOT of thought and I actually think that MOST people must have thoughts like this, but they do every single, solitary thing they can to push the thoughts out of their heads...I simply refuse to do that anymore. I acknowledge that I have obsessed about this because I've tried hard to push the thoughts out of my mind. I have looked on line for stages of decomposition of a body over time because I needed to know...for some reason.

Don't, DO NOT Google this subject unless you think you can handle the truth. The truth: the body decomposes in a very predictable, normal way. There are images of these stages of decomposition... No supernatural stuff. No fear. Nothing unnatural. Just the complete natural aspect of nature: non-living tissue breaks down into smaller and smaller particles until those particles disperse and become a part of the natural world around them.

And, actually, writing that just gave me sincere comfort because I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one. I'll bet more people experience these thoughts but are CERTAIN that they are weird or alone in this. When, in fact, why wouldn't we think of this? Right?

I'm sorry, I simply can't not say it and, as I was thinking about it again today, I decided to simply OUT myself as human. I'm sharing with you a thing that I've pushed out and pushed away and tried to eradicate from my thoughts for years now...with no success. The thoughts are still there and, this is key, I honestly think we all struggle with this part of our mortality. With the physical part of our own death which, of course, leads directly to decomposition.

But what a taboo thing to write, say, THINK.
It's dark but it's real.
And, here we are and I'm feeling a bit calmer now simply calling this out, simply writing the thing that has consumed so much energy to avoid thinking about...WOW. 

A glass thing
with ashes
And so, with this in mind, I've talked to my husband and kids and I've told them that I do not want to be buried. I don't want them to have these disturbing images in their heads as I have know, the very real and predictable stages of decomposition. Sorry, you do know... Anyway, I told them that I wish to be cremated and to have my ashes either put into a cool glass thing or spread somewhere that means something to each person. It's their choice and they will have to live with it.

I THINK this will prevent each of them from having the potential gruesome thoughts that I, myself, have fought for so long...

What do you think?

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Sunday, August 18, 2019

Mid-August Gratitude List

I've been having a non-relaxing summer as I really dig into my new job and to all of the learning that I'm doing to get up to speed. 

I have to admit that I'm not the strongest person, I'm not that person who has unlimited back bone, and I'm not that person who has large reserves of grit. No, I must admit that I can only take so much challenge before having to stop and take a rest. 

I'm at that spot.
This week I've had a day or two of mental exhaustion from actually doing what I love to do. Which brings me to the part where I have to lay out some things for which I am extremely grateful.

Beginning with a HUGE #1: My Husband.
I was having a very rough day, lots of feels, lots of exhaustion the other day. Lots of self doubt. And there he was. Fresh and ready to support me with every bit of energy and every bit of time I needed.
When I asked him if he would support me if I wanted to quit work, without a second's pause, he looked me deep in the eyes and replied YES.
I don't want to quit and I have no plans to quit, but his total and complete support of me was a balm to my heart and mind.
I'll never forget that moment.

#2 - My kids.
I know I talk about them nonstop, but the truth is, they are my very heart. With my struggles and challenges, they are both there, solid, and supportive. No mom to cook, clean, hug on a daily basis and these two have stepped up and I SO appreciate it.
I needed to know that they could do that.

#3 - Melatonin.
I have a lifelong issue with sleeping at night.
I don't do it, sleep at night, it's not a thing I do.

And, you know, if you have a job in the day time, it's better to sleep at night. (I'm pretty sure that this issue is a huge part of my difficulties this month.) Melatonin isn't fixing anything in the long run, but it's taking a small bit of the pressure off of me and helping me to function on a daily basis.

#4 - My Heart and Mind
This job uses every single bit of me on most days. The good thing is that I have a good heart and a good mind and they serve me well. I've learned so much and I'm getting so much of the information organized in my head. I enjoy this job and I'm glad I have the chance to have it. And my heart and my mind? I'm grateful for them.
They're rare and fine, and I know it.

So, Thank you, Life.
Thank you for the beautiful people.

What are you thankful for?

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Sunday, August 11, 2019

The Secular Therapist Project - #400

If you are a freethinker, a skeptic, an atheist, an agnostic looking for either a therapist, mental health services, or a recovery program for yourself, have you been thoroughly discouraged by the absence of similarly-minded people in these roles? Back in the day, when I was in therapy hot and heavy, I was ALWAYS discouraged and annoyed that therapists were almost all exclusively Christian or almost all unable to keep their religion out of the therapeutic session.

With the caveat that I was almost 100% happy with my therapy those years ago, the religion thing was an ongoing issue. Some of the people who I saw were unable to keep the religion and woo out of the session and I just, often, gave up on those therapists and went looking for someone else... Even those who, when questioned, would say that they were capable of doing secular sessions with me, could simply not keep up that part of the original bargain. Some people even brought in their New Agey woo, in spite of my specific requirements that all of this woo remain outside of the relationship.

Some of these people honestly can't help themselves and have no idea of how to help people without their magical ideas. It's incredibly discouraging. Especially since the vast majority of people in the mental health field bring their religiosity to their work when, I believe, clients would benefit from evidence-based practice one hundred percent of the time.

Because of my frustrating experiences from Back in the Day, I'm sharing here, with you, the Secular Therapist Project (STP), a sub project of the Recovering From Religion  (RFR) people. The project started in about 2012 when the founder of STP, Dr. Darryl Ray started realizing the problem in the mental health world.  Not only do secular, Humanist, atheist therapist EXIST, they are often concerned about advertising themselves in these categories because of their fears of not getting referrals from churches and other religiously-based agencies that frequently make referrals to professionals. So it's hard to find them, us.

Dr. Ray started and grew the STP and has passed it on to the current director of the project, Dr. Caleb Lack.

I've been in contact with Dr. Lack a few times this year as I went through the process of getting myself registered on the site as a clinician. I'm proud to be the 400th professional added to the list.

So, if YOU are looking for mental health services that are totally WOO-FREE, check out The Secular Therapy Project! It's there to connect you with a mental health professional in your area who has been vetted and who is 100% on your team.

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Tuesday, August 6, 2019

I Give Up

Oh yes, I tried. 

I've tried to please certain people for far too long. I've tried to please the unpleasable. I've tried to be more together. I've tried to be a day person rather than a night person. I've tried to keep the house clean. I've tried to listen to country music. I've tried to be a pet person. I've tried to explain atheism to believers. I've tried to decorate my house. I've tried wearing high heels and panty hose. I've tried to read Anna Karenina, several times. I've tried to keep my hair all nice and brown. I've tried to hide my loud laugh behind a dainty laugh. I've tried providing a hot, cooked meal to my family each night around the table. I've tried to hide my sensitivity. I've tried to whiten my teeth to the perfect shade of white. I've tried to lose my competitive streak with word games.

But I give up on all of these things.
None of them are parts of me and, eff it, I claim that fully.

I hope you give up too.
Give up on any false, non-authentic parts of yourself.
They waste time and emotional energy.

And, if you're competitive in WWFriends or Scrabble, contact me!

 What do YOU think?.

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Sunday, August 4, 2019

Go Smoke

Years ago, when the ground was still hot from all of the volcanoes and tectonic plate shifts, in my twenties, I remember this one time when I was feeling quite lonely, quite introspective, quite different. I was at the park near my house during a winter month while I was just thinking and feeling down and recognizing how I would probably never discover people who could or would appreciate or understand the way I move through the world.

In the mid-80s, I was standing near a tree, just looking out at the pond thinking to myself Dang, I wish I was a smoker; that might make it more understandable why I'm standing alone in the park on a day like this, because it wasn't just OK to be standing alone in the park on a cold day solely because I was lonely and deep in my musings. I even took a picture of myself that day, using a tripod, because taking a selfie wasn't a thing...for over two decades!

When I think of that blurry picture, I see myself standing there in a black-blue second-hand pea coat, face away from the camera, icy weather. I remember the thought I wish I was a smoker. I remember the beauty of the quiet of the day. I remember the perceived stigma of being there alone, with no witnesses whatsoever to my shame.

Being a deeply introspective person, a person deeply observant, deeply over-thinking, during my twenties, I was exquisitely aware of the uniqueness of my self. I knew I was not understandable. I knew I was too observant and too honest and too too and that knowledge was miserable to me.
I knew I was annoying to those around me who could not appreciate my own struggle with all of this.

Fast forward a couple of dozen years and I still, sometimes, wish I could just say that I'm going to go smoke, and then, just peacefully, solitarily breathe in the toxins inside of my little smoky cocoon outside the restaurant while the rest of the world spins on.

If you go smoke, you get to escape from the stress, from the interactions, from the unsaid, from the undercurrents, from the unspoken, from the connections, from the vibes, from your own reverie, from the intensity, from the overwhelm, from the immersion of so many keen impressions, hidden. 

The need to sometimes escape it, yet yearning for, requiring authenticity and depth...

I don't recommend this, by the way, being this type of person. It's painful. The absolute need for authenticity is exhausting.
Seeing underneath communication.
Seeing the motivations of others, whether I'm always correct or not, whether I'm seriously in error of these perceptions or not (which is not uncommon), the mind operates on several different levels at the same time. The realness in communication. The truths. Can't avoid it.
All of these qualities can really annoy people.

Sometimes, still, I think it would be a relief to just...go smoke.

.Your thoughts?.

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Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Niceness vs. Kindness

Niceness is nice. It is mild and gentle and passive and stilted. Niceness looks good center stage. Niceness pats you on the head. Niceness is calling out Bless You from two aisles away when someone sneezes in public. Niceness opens the door for you.

Kindness tips its hat and winks. Kindness is visceral. Kindness is warm and rich and silent and private. Kindness takes you aside and offers you a shoulder, a ride, a hand, a heart. Kindness calls out the ugly in the room and silences its vigor. Kindness forgets itself.

Niceness is sugar and spice. It touches your back as it moves past you. Niceness talks the talk. Niceness knows which spoon to use and which door to open. It takes your temperature, changes the filter, files the papers, brings in the mail, and puts the cap back on the bottle. Niceness tops off your coffee.

Kindness adds a sandwich in a brown paper bag. It holds the seashell to your ear to remind you of the saltiness of the sea. Kindness holds your hair back as you weep. It knows the intricacy of your face and sees a masterpiece in its lines. Kindness remembers to close the lid. It adds a coin to your parking meter before it can expire.

Niceness tips the waiter, remembers your birthday, and brings a dish. Niceness applauds your successes. It offers you its seat, invites you to the bbq, brings a spare pen, and speaks sweetly to the stranger. It wears a pony tail, a shirt with a collar, comfortable flats. Niceness double bags.

Kindness carries the mud in a bucket. It remembers where the pain comes from and looks there to find you. Kindness stands up to offer you a seat and brings you a pillow for your back. Kindness looks into your eyes and sees you there. Kindness ties ribbons around trees. Kindness carries a flashlight.

Niceness remembers that you take two sugars. It welcomes you in the door with a smile and a hand. Niceness returns your Tupperware smelling sweet and leaves a nice note. Niceness brings something cute to the potluck. Niceness always allows you to cut ahead in line. Niceness has very good taste.

Kindness doesn't know if you like them. It takes risks. Kindness doubles over in laughter and sobs fat tears. Kindness is willing to feel the pain of being misunderstood. Kindness carries your bag the last mile. Kindness is comfortable with weakness. Kindness does not think first.

Niceness is a bit unsure. It would never offend. Niceness keeps its purse off of the table, carries Kleenex, and hangs its coat on the hook. Niceness brings cookies. Niceness knows we should be generous and good. It keeps things organized, orders the flowers, and knows where to find your keys.

Kindness carries you forward. It holds fast to your hand when all others have disappeared. Kindness has eyes as deep as a well, eyes that bring water to the surface in a wooden bucket. Kindness turns the handle to bring that water up to your lips, holding the bucket close. Kindness remembers the words of your favorite song and sings them back to you when you have lost your voice.

Niceness sends a nice Hallmark card. Niceness smells sweet and carries flowers. It is tactful and polite. Nice knows when to be quiet. Niceness shines and soothes and attracts smiles from those around it. It carries exact change, returns its cart, and kisses the smooth faces of babies. Niceness adds a sticker.

Kindness ties twine around branches to hold up the weight of the too-heavy branch. Kindness plants seeds that it will not see bloom. It touches your skin in all of the broken places. Kindness firmly marches you forward when you fear your strength is gone. Kindness rides the bus with you long after dark. Kindness has stamina and knows the taste of grit. Kindness makes you laugh.

Niceness is polite and dependable and terribly nice.
Kindness is fierce and tender and merciful.

What do you think?

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Monday, July 29, 2019

Jennifer vs. Jennifer

Controversy is my middle name and I've got a huge one for you.
I have an opinion here and, long in coming, I'm finally coming OUT.

If you've ever seen Dreamgirls, you know that Effie has some SONGS to SANG. And she does sang 'em. Oh yes.

In Dreamgirls, the story goes like this: three female SANGers come together to form a trio called the Dreamettes. When a Big Time Manager spots the Dreamettes at a talent show, he offers them the opportunity back up to a huge star on the local stage. Problem is, one of the trio makes a bigger splash than the others, forcing changes within the trio. The cost of fame is high and friendships within the trio suffer...

If you get the chance to see it, do. It's been remade several times with huge talents and huge voices.

The problem is, lovers of theater have to do this thing to prove that they are Real Fans. They have to pay homage, betray their troth, keep allegiance to one performance over the other. This is something I feel no need to do because I love performances of all kinds. For example, I don't feel the need to choose one Les Mis or one Phantom over any other. They are all wonderful and have their own pros and cons. But so many lovers of these musicals will stridently, vehemently prefer one performance or performer over others. Probably because their personal original is the best...

And that's fine for them.

Anyway, for me, this is not the case with the blockbuster, kicking ass song And I am Telling You in Dreamgirls. There IS a better performance between Jennifer Holliday's performance and Jennifer Hudson's performance

Bar none, whichever version I'm listening to at any given moment, THAT is the better version...hands down. 


Your Opinion?

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