Friday, December 31, 2010

Always New Things to Learn

It's weird but I've learned a lot about Ron after he died.  Wish I could tell him.  For example, I learned that that glare he got that I thought meant he was angry, really meant he was feeling emotional and trying to hold it in.  Unfortunately, I reacted to the anger I suspected instead of the aching heart he probably was feeling.  I just discovered something else:  for the past several days I've been sick enough to stay in bed and just get up to get apple juice and lie back down.  Today I felt better and began to gather up laundry, change the cat's water, etc.  Since I was more aware of my surroundings, I noticed that cabinet doors were open all over the place.  Apparently, I didn't have the energy to close them.  I used to get mad at Ron for leaving cabinet doors open - attributing it to laziness.  Hmmmm.  Probably it was just an indication that he was very sick.  Hmmm.  Still learning about love and misunderstandings.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Eve

I've been to the Christmas Eve service at the Village Church.  The preacher was so good I remember the sermon - human beings have a rightiousness problem (we can't seem to stay with the rules for being good to each other) so God had to do something about that and he sent perfection into the world so we could have it too - so we would be able to really be in his image.  God isn't so much about trying to make us behave as he is about getting us to love.  Good sermon.

The Christmas Eve dinner is finishing up.  Thein made "phuh" - a lovely Vietnamese soup.  Liz made peanut brittle, fudge and some other kind of candy.  Fred made a fire in the fire pit and roasted tiny sausages.  Pretty soon we'll celebrate. 

I feel fairly detached about Christmas these days.  But still I love everything.  It's a beautiful spritual time.  I just read an article in Spirituality and Health that basically said that it isn't much in the way of spirituality if it's all personal.  If we aren't addressing the suffering of others in the world...well our practices aren't worth much.  So, I wish the whole world peace.and hope I can further that in the year to come.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Lucky

Lucky Man is the name of one of Michael J. Fox's books.  Since he has Parkinson's, the title stands out.  Often as I write the story of my life, I am struck again by how lucky I am.  (Or another way of putting it is that there's a God looking out for me.)  It wouldn't seem that way when you look at the events of my life.  Each story I write I worry that the miracles won't stand out, that all I'm showing is bad luck and tragedy.  But I truly am lucky.  I had a friend that was just wiped out by the accident that caused Ron to die and me to be so seriously injured.  She was angry at the drunk driver and overwhelmed by the sadness of it all.  I was more focused on how mine and Ron's friends stepped up to take care of us, by the great good luck of having a caring surgeon, by the fantastically skilled therapists in the rehab unit I spent a month in, by the great advantage I had to be in a program that had prepared me to deal with difficulty by finding the gift in all of it.  I could go on and on but I won't.  I'm just feeling lucky today.

Play time

Today is the day Aaron and Sofi come to visit for a few days.  It's one of my best Christmas presents.  I love having the opportunity to get to know Sofi better; she seems like such a beautiful spirit.  Aaron just graduated from college and so we'll be celebrating that.  Lots of fun stuff to do.  Yay for play!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Resentments and Victims

I can always tell when I'm seeing myself as a victim - I feel powerless, hopeless and resentful.  I spent a whole lot of my adult life like that.  By the time I got into recovery I was so angry and resentful I was like a powder keg.  Pretty much everything made me mad.  What I learned was that I was NEVER a victim and would never be a victim - I just lacked the skills to take care of myself. 

Our whole world educates us to see ourselves as victims of "the bad guys."  We're taught to fight - attack those bad guys, make them see the error of their ways and punish them.  It's incredible but we totally miss the fact that this does not work and never has in all of history - either in our individual relationships or in countries.  Somebody wins, somebody loses.  The losers are resentful and plot revenge and spend a lot of time and energy carrying out their plots.  They either get revenge or they don't.  If they do, they never notice that they're no better off than they were before.  Or they don't get revenge, stay resentful and then plot more revenge.  Try to find the happy people in that mess!  Ha!

I'm not immune now from resentment.  What I have is some tools to identify the story I told myself that identified me as a victim.  Then I can think up (mostly with help from someone else) another story to tell myself. 

When I first was told about this idea of never being a victim, I tried hard to disprove it.  "What if I'm captured by Nazi's and put in a concentration camp.  Doesn't that mean I'm being victimized?" I said.  They pointed out that this kind of stuff goes on in the world all the time.  The trick is to use the situation for good.  There are books written about people who were in concentration camps who decided to use their situation for good - one guy wrote a book in his head about what was happening so that he could tell the story when he got out so that something like that would never happen again.  A woman and her sister spent every single day trying to help the other people.  They took care of the sick, comforted the dying, etc.  They had goals and a mission to use their situation for good.

I've used this concept in my own life - not so many dramatic situations, of course - just in small ways.  It completely changes how I feel, how I think, and the level of fun I'm having in my life.  It is really true that I'm never a victim - no matter what happens to me, no matter how other people treat me.  There's always a way to use the situation for my good and the good of other people.  The process starts with me being angry, complaining to the right people (people who won't sympathize more than a minute or two and who will remind me of my mission), and choosing a course of action.  There's no guarantee that I will always win this little game, but I would rather fight back against seeing myself as a victim than lie down and whine!!

I've been at this for over 28 years now.  It can pay off in some terrific ways.  After being hit by a drunk driver, having the love of my life die as a result, and being very seriously injured, I could surely have claimed victim hood, and a lot of people would have listened while I whined incessantly.  I did my share of whining but the whole time I knew that was not the answer.  So as best I could I accepted all the help I was offered, tried my best to do what I needed to do to heal, and look for the lessons I could learn as a result of my situation. 

Friday, December 17, 2010

Hmmm

More things that make me go "hmmmm."  I signed up to take a meeting to a DUI school.  I have a soft spot in my heart for the place because Ron used to work for them teaching classes.  He had a whole lot of fun harassing the students and making fun of their denial that they had a problem with drugs and alcohol.  Evidently the DUI schools are making it mandatory for the folks that are court ordered to DUI school to go to meetings - which results in a lot of cranky people coming to meetings.  So some volunteers are taking meetings to the schools.  None of the students at the meeting I attended were at all interested but all of us volunteers had a great time.  I barely could drag myself out of the house to go.  I was very tired and wanted to go to bed.  But I went anyway and was so surprised that I felt better after the meeting.  Hmmmm.  Maybe the energy I'm needing doesn't come from rest but from other people, or being of service or whatever.  Hmmm.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Listening for God

I was taught early in recovery that listening to God was the definition of meditation.  That sounded crazy to me.  Who but people who were more than a little off would even have the temerity to think that an almighty God would speak directly to them.  Who did they think they were?  Moses?  Later after I had some recovery and had actually tried to meditate and had begun to understand what they meant, I had a discussion with someone I was sponsoring who was a non-believer.  I shared some of the experiences I had had in meditation.  She, like I had been, was skeptical and told me she was sure all I was listening to was my own mind.  She was not encouraged when I said that she was undoubtedly right - I was listening to the part of my mind where God lived.  She thought that was even weirder.  I guess it's one of those things where you just have to have been there.  Actually, I don't listen TO God; I just listen FOR God.  Sometimes I get in touch with something I know is God; sometimes not.  In any case, it seems like a practical thing to do - take a few minutes to make myself available in case there's something God wants me to know or do.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Hooray for Graduations

Middle grandson's party was lovely.  He didn't get enough money as gifts to make a down payment on a house (ha), but enough to help him get started in a place of his own as soon as he finds a job.  He intends to work in law enforcement which is kind of scary, but he will be the kind of guy who helps people rather than hurts people.  Got to see all the relatives and outlaws (ex-husband plus new wife) and friends of the family.  Happy day.  The trip to and from was energized by a Robin Cook mystery with a surprise ending.  I'm not sure it was written that way, though.  I fast forwarded through the boring parts so much that I probably missed the part that would have given me a hint as to how it was going to end.  That's the trouble with audio books.  If they go too slowly to suit me, I fast forward and lose a lot.  Whatever.  I was entertained.  I'm glad to be home.  The sun is shining and I'm making progress on my stories. 

Friday, December 10, 2010

Graduation

It's weird.  I do not feel old even though my MIDDLE grandson is graduating from college.  There's probably something wrong with me.  On the inside I still feel like I'm about 18.  That may be because I've started my life over so many times.  So today I leave for Dallas to help get things ready for the graduation party tomorrow night.  In a couple of weeks he and his girlfriend will be here to visit for a few days and we will have all kinds of fun.  I love my grandchildren because they are all wonderful.  However, one of the best parts of being a grandmother is that I get to play when they do!!  Can't wait.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

December is still beautiful

Global warming or whatever it is, is making me really enjoy the 50 degree weather we're having.  My friend, Chuck, came yesterday and today to clean up my piles of leaves in the yard.  I am blessed.  Usually I just let the leaves blow away, but now I have this neighbor who rakes his and landscapes and all that.  I'm embarrassed so I called Chuck who came and bailed me out of my-neighbor-hates-me-hell. 

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Hello December

It hasn't seemed much like December even though it has been for several days.  It's been quite balmy which has been nice since I've been playing catch up from being sick.  I went to the New Haven 25th
Anniversary dinner last night and it was good to connect with friends I don't see often.  Our speaker was a guy who was a member of a group I belonged to for a long time.  He was not yet 18 when he got sober so he had a hard time realizing what he was truly going to have to do to stay that way.  He said that at one point he was ready to either die or drink even though he had several years of recovery.  He had left so much out of his recovery program that he was easy prey for his disease.  Luckily, he recognized how much trouble he was in and headed for a meeting and changed his ideas of what was necessary to live a happy, productive, sober life.  Yay!  I'm so glad he's alive, well and happy now.  He's married, has two children and is a big support to other people trying to get well.  It was just what I needed to hear.  Sometimes I start feeling sorry for myself because things are not going that well.  Then I'm reminded that I have so much now that 27 years ago I would never have imagined I could have.  My life is full of gifts - a good thing for December.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Out from Under

I think I've been under a black cloud.  I spent Thanksgiving in bed with an ice pack on my face because I had a sinus infection.  Grrr.  BUT - now I'm better.  I was feeling very sorry for myself, though, and that's aways a crummy thing.  No more of that - the sun is shining and I'm going to have a great day, no matter what!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Application

One of the tools of recovery is the constamt reading we do - individually and in meetings.  We learn a lot about self-examination and how to apply spiritual principles - from our books and from the examples from our lives that we share.  I've noticed, though, that application of those principles is so hard it sometimes takes years to accomplish a behavior change.  I start out the day with meditation and prayer and a fervent desire for improvement.  As the day goes on I totally forget and my brain attacks.  Oh God!  I've done whatever it is again - from eating 20 chocolate chip cookies to saying something mean about somebody behind his or her back. 

For example, one of the things I've struggled with and I've heard that a lot of other people do too - is gossip - defined as saying negative things about people who are not present.  Gossip is always an entertaining topic of conversation plus it has the added benefit of making me feel superior.  It's only afterward that I feel crummy - plus what I've said frequently gets back to people and then I really pay a price. 

One of the books we read says something like, "restraint of tongue and pen will pay off handsomely."  And that's very true.  The only problem is that if those negative ideas are in my head, eventually they will come out of my mouth while I'm not looking.  So, although restraint (keeping my mouth shut; minding my own business) is a good thing, it's only the first step.  That's where the inventory comes in.  If I'm monitoring my behavior everyday, I will notice how much effort is going in to restraint and can identify the thoughts that need changing.  The only way to change them though, is to explore why I'm having them - what's really going on with me.  Usually, there's something I'm afraid of or my ego is trying to boost itself by trashing someone else - most of the time because I'm judging myself harshly about something.

Once I've identified what's going on with me, usually I have to talk to someone about it and then ask my higher power to remove what ever it is.  Once the thoughts are straightened out, it's not so hard to behave appropriately.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Personal Inventory

I've been a lot of places with the 10th Step of continuing to take personal inventory but it's always been a benefit.  It was suggested to me from the very beginning that I do one every night (or once a day) and that it would be helpful to do it in writing.  I hated doing a daily inventory.  I felt like I was just looking for ways to make myself feel bad.  So I didn't get serious about it until I had a scary experience testifying before a congressional committee. 

My dear "spiritual mother" said that if I had been doing a daily inventory I would have noticed that I was very fearful and taken spiritual steps to address the fear before I testified.  Sure enough that would have helped a lot.  I've learned to address fear before doing something important:  Pray, ask for guidance, manicure my nails, fix my hair, put on my best clothes.  (That part about nails, hair, and clothes is spiritual preparation because doing that preparation keeps me from thinking about how I look.  I've already done my best to look my best.  After that it's "whatever.")

Since getting serious I eventually got around to doing a daily inventory - in writing like they suggested.  I just write what I did that day, what I liked, what I'd like to do better in the future and I ask for help to do better.  That's it.  No frills.  No examination of my emotions, thoughts, etc.  - just my behavior.  The rest is already plain to me. 

One of the ways this inventory is helpful - if I know I'm going to be doing it, I often show some restraint because I hate writing crappy stuff down.  Kind of like keeping a food diary - I hate writing down that I ate twenty chocolate chip cookies.  Now it's perfectly possible to just quit doing the inventory to keep from having to write crappy stuff down, and I've certainly done that.  But then I lose the benefits and the benefits outweigh the hard part.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

365 Project

The sculpture at the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame taken before the Writers' Conference.
The Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame is the old Tulsa train station.
Minky at his birthday party before he got his new front teeth.
My neighbors are big on decorating for holidays.
Kristin felt sorry for me that I didn't have a fall mat so she fixed this one up.

Kristin picked some flowers for me.

Plus I have some new refrigerator art from Kristin.
Mara and I visited Philbrook and saw the gardens - wow!!!!

Here's Mara.
Here's me.
Kristin in her Halloween costume!
The benefit garage sale drew some interesting customers.
Here's Mary and Danna at the garage sale that will help Mary get to Greece with her daughter for the International Special Olympics.
Went to the park with Kristin and she found some new people to play with.
Aaron and Sofi at Thein's birthday party.
This is my kitchen table mess before I found a solution.
Here's my kitchen table after I found a solution.  (I love the new tablecloth I found at the benefit garage sale.)
And here's what the solution was - the wonder file.  You put your mess in the pockets and at the end of the day you fold it up.  Yay for solutions.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Birthdays

Today was my oldest daughter's birthday - she says it's her last year of being in her 40s - just like it's my last year in my 60s.  I remember her birth really well - for some odd reason there was an ice storm in Kansas City, and I had to walk across an icy parking lot in labor.  But she arrived really quickly and I wasn't tired or in pain at all after she was born.  I was absolutely thrilled with her.  She has been a blonde all her life but when she was born she had dark hair and a lot of it.  She was amazingly beautiful.  I've never been happier than that day!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Time Management

When I am down and out for awhile I get really behind with everything and then spend too much time worrying about that!  I love to read Steve Pavlina's blog on goal setting, time management, etc. because he is such a nut that I just have to laugh.  I totally ignore anything he writes on relationships because he is so far out there it's just creepy, but he knows what he's talking about in the area of acheivement.  Of course, as I said, he's a nut.  He decided to see if he could graduate from college in three semesters - which he actually did.  He says it was time management that made it possible, not brains - although he is very smart. 

When I'm stuck like I am right now with my writing - I don't have writer's block, I just can't decide what to do next - I look through some of the guru stuff I've got.  For whatever reason I looked up Steve today.  You wouldn't think there's much that would apply to me (the sleep half the day, move slowly, etc. person) from a crazy over-acheiver who probably works 24 hour days.  But sometimes... Today I read that he just writes whatever comes to mind during the time he's set aside for writing.  He's a very prolific writer so surely there's something to learn.  I've been stuck because I'm trying to decide between writing in third person and first person, whether I should consider other people's feelings about what I'm writing, who my audience would be, etc.  Today Steve's method spoke to me and I don't think I will try to decide anything and just write what comes to mind.  I don't have anything to lose anyway.  I have tons of stories yet to tell.

I mentioned my dilemma to my middle grandson (grandchildren are very wise.  we should consult them frequently), who said to write everything and then divide it into different books.  Cool.  Another brilliant idea.  It all boils down to - write.  So....

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Observations

I've been observing my sleep patterns with dismay for awhile now.  My challenge has been acceptance since the mean judge that lives in my mind keeps telling me I'm a lazy bum and I should get up and take care of my to-do list.  I'm also trying to be grateful that I'm falling asleep early in the evening compared to the midnight it used to be.  This way I wake up before noon which is really helpful in managing my life.  I've checked out my very old journals and apparently - even before the wreck - I've had this odd problem.  People who've known me for the past 30 years agree.  So once again I work at accepting reality and my powerlessness.  I've tried pretty much everything so I've proved to myself that I'm powerless.  So...today I woke up at 8:00 - which I hope is a sign that I'm coming out of the sleeping 14 hours out of every 24 thing.  I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I may have a whole day for my life today.

I just read an article about the woman who wrote Seabiscuit while living with extreme illness that keeps her in bed for days at a time.  There's always some annoying example of someone who has it worse than you who has accomplished wonders.  My barrier seems to be waiting to get better before I accomplish wonders!  Apparently, she didn't wait and just went on as best she could.  J.K. Rowling wrote the Harry Potter series while a single parent living in poverty.  My sad story just doesn't make it as an excuse for not getting much done!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Dodging the Bullet

I think I just dodged the bullet.  Dr. Dreamy doesn't think anything is wrong with my hip.  He thinks I just pulled some scar tissue loose because I was in an unusual position which in turn caused my leg to hurt so much it quit working for awhile.  He thinks I can go back to physical therapy and strengthen and stretch some of those muscles and I will probably be okay.  He agreed I shouldn't try to use the doctor he referred me to - but that if I needed follow up I could continue to come and see him - which is what I will continue to do.  Apparently, what I can expect is the possibility of trouble with my leg rather than complete healing.  I thought that was the case, but now I can be sure.  He said as I get more active (which is wonderful), I will need to be cautious about getting into positions that aren't normal for me, etc.  I can do that.  Whew!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Starting Over

"Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new end."  Courage to Change, One Day at a Time II.

I loved this reading this morning.  Starting from now and making a brand new end is possible every day.  I know tons of people who are living proof of this, including me.  None of us have to be a helpless product of our pasts.  We are perfectly capable of change with enough willingness and enough of the right kind of help.  The brand new end part requires a lot of prayerful thought for me.  At the moment I can see where I want to go but my body keeps interrupting my progress.  So, back to the one day at a time thing where I take what steps I'm capable of on that day.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Liberty

"The group defines liberty as the free market, gun rights and limited taxation—essentially, the ability to “do” something without restriction, mainly in economic terms. But, these values don’t take into account other ideas of freedom—freedom from hunger and freedom from economic exploitation,"  - quote from a student newspaper on line referring to the tea party movement. 

I'm just guessing, but maybe the movement is not concerned about freedom from hunger and economic exploitation since none of them are experiencing these problems and see themselves as being able to keep from ever having these problems by their own hard work.  From what I've heard, these folks feel that people who need protection from hunger and economic exploitation are just lazy, have created their own problems and so deserve to suffer.  And so, apparently, they do not want to be taxed to provide something for others that they feel is caused by laziness. 

The thing is, I grew up in a time when women made less than half of the income men made from doing the same work.  Of course, women could not go to law school, medical school or a lot of other schools that trained men for high-paying work.  The trades that paid well were also off limits for women.  So, the choices women had were to be teachers, nurses, secretaries, waitresses, maids, factory workers, and wives - all low paying jobs.  Wives weren't paid much either, by the way.  If a woman was on her own (without a husband), especially if she had children, she was certain to be in poverty.  To an extent, this is still true now.  There are a lot of very hardworking women working minimum wage jobs - maybe two or three at a time - that are going hungry in order to feed their children.  Maybe some would say that that's because they're not trying to work their way up.  But what about people who are not disabled but who do not have the capability to do higher paying jobs.  The truth is the world is full of people - women and men - whose capabilities are lower than average.  Should they just do without the necessities of life, live miserably but humbly accept their fate, and die young after they've worked cheap to subsidize the rest of us?

Then there are the older folks who did plan for their retirement.  They've got a couple of problems - companies don't provide retirement payments as they once did, the stock market has crashed a couple of times in the last few years, and interest rates are almost non-existent.  Also, people used to die soon after they turned 65 but are now living to 85 on the average.  This year Social Security payments did not receive an increase, but the premium for Medicare went up.  So older folks are being penalized for the bad economy while their incomes have decreased drastically.

Then there are the people who are disabled - unable to work.  What should happen to them?  I could go on and on, but I won't.  From what I've heard, the belief is that churches should take care of the women, children, the incapable, the elderly and the disabled.  Of course, this would mean that you would only share what you have with others if you felt like it.  Before the laws were passed that use tax money to help these folks, the churches did a very bad job of taking care of these folks.  Apparently, not many people felt like helping.

I'm not crazy about the idea of reducing taxes and elimating social programs.  I'm not crazy about going back to people begging on the street, dying of starvation and treatable diseases, 8 year old children working in factories, 80 hour work weeks, and so forth.  I'm not sure anyone really is in favor of that.  Back in 1994, I think it was, when the Republicans took the House and Senate during Clinton's term in office, one of the things they did right away was to cut off school breakfasts and lunches for poor children.  That didn't go over well with the public and the program was restored. 

So, maybe we should all think about the actual results from changes based on philosophy rather than reality.  Some ideas have already been proved unworkable from past experience.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

This and That

One of the columnists in the latest Newsweek described Republican themes as "liberty and small government" and Democrats' themes as "compassion and fairness."  I thought those descriptions were a terrific summary that didn't make one or the other look stupid or evil.  The thing is, I wondered why we can't have liberty, small government, compassion and fairness all at the same time.  I realize I'm a hopeless optimist but I really do think it's possible.  Making those four things the goals of government for the next couple of years might be a way to proceed in a positive way.  I know, I know.  The belief is that you can't have small government and liberty if you are compassionate and fair.  But that's just bull.  In order to do something different, we will have to stop enjoying the war between the two ideologies so much.  A tall order but maybe someone will step up.  I'm going to write the President for starters.  Of course I already told him to get Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu to address Congress on reconciliation, but he didn't do it.  I think I'll suggest it again.  He's already on his way to being a one-term president (unless the economy rebounds greatly), so what has he got to lose?

Update on my current dilemma with my leg:  The damage from the hardware popping out and back seems to be healing.  I still have some discomfort when I walk, so I'm using my cane a lot as a precaution.  I will see my original surgeon this week and plan to get an appointment with another orthopedist to get a second (maybe it's a 3rd) opinion.  I'm thinking that I have two options:  try to get somebody to replace this hip in case it's defective or wait and see what happens - whether I have another episode where it pops out.  I think I like the second option better.  It's a little nerve wracking but I truly hate having surgery.  Sooo.  From now until after the first of the year I'm just going to be careful and work on finishing this book I'm trying desperately but not too successfully to write.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Invisible Gorillas

I'm listening to an audio book in the car called, The Invisible Gorilla.  It's slow going getting through a book just doing errands but I'm down to the last disc finally.  It's a very scary book about how poorly our brains work.  The title refers to an experiment where research subjects watched a video of a basketball game with instructions to count the number of times the players passed the ball.  In the middle of the video, a person in a gorilla suit walked in front of the camera.  After the video was over, the subjects were asked if they saw anything unusual during the video - 75% of them said no.  Scary.  When we're focused on one thing, we usually tune out everything else.

The whole book is about how our brains are wired to draw conclusions when there's no reason to do so and to ignore facts that don't fit with our beliefs.  It explains a lot about why people will devotedly believe things that simply aren't true.  Another example from the book is a question usually asked in beginning psychology classes- what is the connection between increased numbers of people drowning and increased numbers of people eating ice cream?  These two things increase at the exact same time every year.  Students usually try to figure out which one caused the other although it's fairly apparent that it's unlikely either could have caused the other.  It is true that drownings and ice cream eating do increase at exactly the same time every year - in the summer when many people are both swimming and eating ice cream.  If you were a conspiracy-type person, I guess you could decide that the government has put something in ice cream that causes people to sink. 

The book has a lot more examples of how people are misled by the belief that if an event happens after another event, the first event must have caused the second event.  Of course, it's extremely unlikely that just because something happens after something else happens, that the first caused the second - there are too many other possible causes.  But we love stories - our brains are wired to store stories rather than facts and stories usually run along the lines of "this happened and then that happened" - implying cause.  But there's actually no way to know except by doing a carefully crafted research study.

This all reminds me of what Don Miguel Ruiz says in The Four Agreements -  It's not a good idea to believe what you or anyone else thinks because neither of you has the truth - all you have is your own perception.  Much of the trouble in the world, he says, is caused by believing what you think and believing that everyone else is wrong.  It's a miracle that human beings are still alive on the earth considering how many incredibly stupid mistakes we make!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Meditation

This week's concept in Melody Beattie's, 52 Weeks of Conscious Contact, is meditation.  The first thing I heard about meditation in the program was that prayer is talking to God and meditation is listening to God.  I liked the terminology.  Prayer sounds to me like begging.  Talking and listening is a conversation which doesn't require that I be on my best behavior or use the right language or not complain, etc.  I complain to God a lot - He/She doesn't seem to mind.  Right now I'm complaining about my problem with my leg.  I'm asking Him/Her if this is really something I'm going to have to put up with. 

Anyway... for a long time I enjoyed a comfortable meditation practice - had no trouble sitting for 20 minutes a day listening for God.  I noticed that whether it was God talking to me or my own mind, that when I was asking for guidance for that day, I got no messages about doing the dishes, pleasing my boss or what color my hair should be.  The messages were entirely about how I could be a channel for God's love and peace that day.  That sounds pretty lofty but it's the truth.  Since the wreck, I've not been able to re-establish a meditation practice.  I fidget at about 1 1/2 minutes and it keeps up until I finally give up.  What I know for sure though, is that I will keep trying because meditation has been unbelievably valuable in my life over the past 27 years.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Do Your Chores First

My grandmother told me when I was eleven or twelve years old, that I should do my chores first and then have fun.  That philosophy seemed so very right that I've held on to it for - what would that be - almost 60 years.  The thing is almost all of the fun I've had during that period of time has been done with a certain amount of guilt because I was pretty sure I wasn't entirely done with ALL the chores I needed to do.  I've decided that I'm not going to have that philsophy any more because of my endless to-do list.  I will either live forever and get my to-do list done some day or I'll die with part of it left feeling guilty.  Whatever fun there is in the after life would be polluted with guilt!  My new philosophy is that fun comes first.  When I'm done having fun, then I will do my chores.  This is absolutely important because at almost 70, I'm a little short of unpolluted-with-guilt fun and MUST catch up!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Update

I'm not going to run off in all directions trying to quickly solve the problem with my leg.  I'm going to get a second opinion and then see what I think.  This is a bad time to be doing surgery with the holidays coming up.  So I'm back on my crutches awaiting a call from both of my surgeons to see the results of my lab tests and see whether there's anyone they can refer me to for a second opinion. 

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Heavy Heart

I've been avoiding the news for awhile now because it makes me want to cry.  The political scene is the saddest of my life.  It looks to me like people are prepared to do anything to get into office.  The only things I see right now are when I'm flipping channels on my way to something else, but apparently a little physical violence is starting to appear - inevitably.  And these are grown people who want to run the country!

As a problem solver, I'm constantly wondering what motivates people to do this stuff.  We humans are very flawed in a lot of ways and have been throughout the time we've been on the earth, apparently.  The only way I could even speculate what would cause this insanity is to try to picture what my motives would be if I were participating in this.  Since there was a time when I was doing what I call the "we're right and you're wrong and so you are evil and anything we think up to do to evil people is okay" thing, I was motived by fear and self-righteousness.  For me at least, at that time of my life, I felt crappy about myself and powerless to do anything about it.  Casting myself on the "right" side, and attacking those evil people, made me feel better.  Plus I felt like those evil people had the power and I had to fight like a banshee just to stay even.  Thank God, thanks to the program, I no longer feel that way and so get no pleasure from being on the "right" side.

I was brought up to be a racist but it didn't take.  I just didn't see the evidence for the belief that people other than white, Anglo-Saxon, protestants were bad.  But since that was how I grew up I think I can imagine what I would feel if a black president were elected.  I think I would be scared to death that he would do something to white people to get even.  There's a lot to get even for.  I think I would be scared to death that other black people would feel emboldened to do the same.  I think I would believe that it would be necessary to try to get the upper hand before that happened.  And once I noticed that scared white people would pretend to (or actually) believe pretty much anything if it made the president look evil and scary, I might go all out with a bunch of other crazy lies - like the legislator in Texas who says the Arabs are smuggling pregnant women into the US so that they can have their babies be American citizens and then take them back to the Arab world to be raised as terrorists.  Then, of course, when they're ready they can come back to the US because they will be citizens and blow us all up.  That's creative but....

I don't know.  I don't think I want to live to be a hundred so I can see how this comes out.  My friend, Gil, used to say that this crap would keep happening and get worse and worse until a significant number of humans on the planet had grown enough emotionally and intellectually so that they realized how crazy this shit is and how it has never in history made life any better for anybody.  So I guess I will just keep working on growing and helping other people grow.  It's the only thing I can think of to do.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Tone Down the Drama

Just got back from the hip doctor who doesn't think the problem I'm having is the hip that is being recalled.  He thinks the rest of the hardware is at fault and needs to be tinkered with.  So it appears I'll be having some out-patient surgery.  As I've known all along, the hip is fastened in in an odd way that causes the muscles to be strained.  Apparently that plus some loose wires are the actual problem.  So...

Monday, October 25, 2010

Doctor Appointment Tomorrow

Tomorrow at 9:15 I go see the hip doctor to see what will happen next.  I've already had an Xray and blood work when I went a couple of weeks ago to see Dr. Dreamy.  I'm betting I will have to have a ct scan, but maybe not.  I hope he will just believe my symptoms and get on with it (IT probably meaning surgery).  I don't want to wait.  If I have to wait I'm getting back in the wheelchair.  My fear is that when all this hardware is moving around it will break my femur that we waited four years to heal. 

I've stopped being amazed and amused, stopped being pissed, stopped being anxious.  Now I'm just back to what I've learned over and over:  God knows what he's doing and whatever happens, it will be a good thing for me.  I won't know what that is until after it's all over though.  In the meantime, I'm carrying on with my writing project and developing my budget for the next year. 

Tonight is the first meeting of the "fun club" at my house. This was an idea I had when a friend of mine was talking about the loss of a close friendship.  They did stuff together but no more.  It occurred to me that there are probably a bunch of us older gals in recovery that sit at home on Saturday night.  (I don't but they do.)  I could use some more company in my recreation life, so I suggested this.  A friend can't be replaced but new activities and people can help.

We're having a "baked potato" dinner (my idea - it's simple - no one has to cook) to "organize."  I'm of the mind that organizing is a waste of time - we could just decide what we want to do each week and invite people and then ask them for suggestions for future fun - but my friend is not comfortable with that lack of organization.  I do have a suggestion for a rule though (I guess that's organized) - no whining, no bitching.

I'm drawing the line at officers and minutes and a treasury though.  I'm out of there if that comes up!  I want pure, unadulterated fun without extraneous work-type stuff.  Like I always say, "Life is short; my time is running out.  I don't have time for anything except what's important and what is fun." I am very committed to this principle!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Garage Sales

I love garage sales. I especially love benefit garage sales.  I have had dozens of them to raise money for various projects for people with disabilities.  Ron used to beg me never to do it again, and I would promise, knowing I was lying.  The next time I had one, he would remind me that I had lied, and I would explain that this was just this one little exception and it was for a good cause...He usually forgave me, but once or twice he stayed mad and wouldn't help.

What I don't love is all the work involved which is why Ron hated them.  I counted on him to help, which he usually did.  However, as time went on, we became sloppier and sloppier about how we did them.  We didn't notice any dip in our proceeds though, which made us even sloppier still.  We no longer advertised them in the paper; we just put up signs on main streets - which we made ourselves (much cheaper and you can use atomic pink poster board, make HUGE signs and put them everywhere).  We didn't pick up stuff from the donors - they had to bring it themselves plus price it for us.  I refused men's clothes and most women's clothes unless they were designer clothes.

We only priced the really big items and sometimes not even them.  We put up a sign that said, "If there's not a price on it, ask us."  Then we could just give them a price based on how long the sale had been going on and how tired we were.  Everything else just went in piles on various table labeled, "Everything $5, $1, 50 cents and a quarter."  There were paper bags labeled, "$1.00 for everything in this bag."  Sometimes we didn't even put out tables - we just used cardboard boxes for tables and laid all the stuff on top of them.

For the past couple of days I've been helping with a benefit garage sale for a friend whose daughter has been selected to compete in the International Special Olympics in Greece this summer.  It's been an interesting experience.  I suggested that we do a garage sale so I thought I was in charge and was going to do it my way.  But she wasn't comfortable with the concept so she did it her way.  It was a lot of work for her and I doubt she made any more money than she would have by doing it the "Almost No-Work"  way.  But everyone was happy - she probably made enough to pay for about 25%  to 33% of her travel expenses (and going to Greece is not cheap) and it was a fun social occasion for friends.  We loved it.

So now I'm having dreams of having garage sales again.  I might be able to do it if I can find some help.  Of course I realize I'm going to have to see what shape I'm going to be in after they repossess (recall?) my hip.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Update

Yesterday a letter came from the surgeon who put in my artificial hip four years ago- it seems the manufacturer is recalling the hip because they are falling apart before they've been in five years.  I think that's probably the explanation for the problem I'm having with my hip and leg.  So next week I see that surgeon and see what happens next.  I  can't imagine there's anything they can do about it except replace this one with another one.  At first I just laughed because it seemed so ridiculous.  Now I'm just going "What!!!!  I'm not a car that can be brought in for service.  I have to go through a long surgery with a long rehab.  GRRRRR!"  I will come to terms with this in a few days but right now I am outraged plus amazed.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Prayer

When I first started talking to God again (I quit when I was 7 and God didn't answer), I asked for other people to change.  And that didn't happen.  Since I was pretty desperate and pretty convinced that the source of my unhappiness was the behavior of other people (I'm pretty sure I'm not alone in this), I kept asking anyway.  Finally, the teaching of the program sunk in and I realized I was the one that needed to change - not because it was my fault but because the happiness and peace that come from living life on life's terms is not variable - it works all the time! 
I learned to be quiet and ask myself what I needed and then I asked God for that.  Often it was love, approval, companionship, sufficient money, health, rest and so forth.  The problem I had was that I had selected certain people to provide those things and they were not coming through.  My dear friend Joanie, kept reminding me that God was my source, not people.  God would see to it I had what I needed, even though I would not always have what I wanted.  And sure enough when I started noticing, I have always had what I needed - just not from the sources I expected it. 

Ahhh.  Peace.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Wash the Car in the Rain

I promised myself that once I felt like I was healed as much as possible, I would go on a budget.  I delayed as long as I could but finally believed it was time.  So, I'm cutting out the little expenditures like the $5.00 to run through a car wash.  I thought I would just try to get it done myself and see how it went.  It went great. 

The next time it rained, I thought that the rain might soften some of the dirt, making it easier to wash.  Once it had soaked awhile I dipped my carwashing sponge in a puddle (nice clean one on the driveway) and soaped up the car.  Then I rinsed my sponge in another puddle and wiped the car down.  It looked excellent.  So when it rains I wash the car.  The thing is it hasn't really rained during the day since I drove to Heart to Heart the second weekend in September.  I was starting to be embarrassed by how dirty my car was. 

But this morning it was raining and in less than 10 minutes my car was washed.  Right now I'm waiting for the rain to do the rinse and then I'll park back in the garage.  Yay for a problem-solving mind.  (I know, I know.  Lots of people would tell me the last thing you should do is wash your car in the rain - that the men in the white coats will come and get you.  Well, I don't see any difference in how my car looks after I've washed it in the rain and what it looks like after I pay $5.00 to run it through the car wash.  I've saved $5.00 and a lot of water.)

Sunday, October 17, 2010

I Always Need to Hear What I Have to Say

Short update:  It's been a week since whatever happened happened.  Eric thinks I popped the ball out of my artificial hip and it (luckily) popped back.  I think he's right.  In that process it would have moved all my hardware around because everything is attached, which would explain why my leg and hip are sore.  I saw my regular doctor on Monday who read me the riot act for trying to tough it out and not going to the emergency room.  He says I need to go back and see the hip doctor and wrote me a script for physical therapy so they can assess where I am now.  I am feeling much more humble.  This week I've been back to sleeping 11 hours every day.  I'm okay with that.  It's probably happening from a need to heal.  The good thing is I go to sleep about 10 and wake up about 9 so I'm asleep and awake at regular hours at least.

Recently I've been dealing with people who are suffering from their own judgmentalness about other people.  Since that's an issue I'm dealing with right now myself (I don't like how I make negative comments about other people), I have had to think deeply about my own experience - what has helped me and what hasn't.  I know, for example, the more I'm criticising other people - even if it's just inside my own head - there's almost a 100% chance I'm hiding my self-judgment from myself.  A lot of spiritual teachers say that whatever I see in someone else, I have myself - "If you spot it, you got it."  The solution is to own my own faults and ask for help from a Higher Power to correct them. 

I love what Marianne Williamson suggests:  "Ask for a healing.  Ask to experience your own angelic nature, that you might see beyond someone else's behavior to the angel, however, wounded, within them."

If I want love, I can give love.  If I want people to not judge me, I can stop judging them.  (They intuitively know when I'm judging them even if I'm keeping my mouth shut - which I usually don't.)  All my time and energy really should go toward dealing with myself with the help of God.  My mission on earth, like I believe everyone's is, is love and forgiveness.  Of myself, of "them,"  Of all of us.  A very, very big job.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Results

The visit to Dr. Dreamy went about as I expected.  The xray looked wonderful.  So, his thought was that I might have had a muscle spasm in the muscle that runs along the rod which moved it and then when I relaxed, it moved back.  He said this might happen from time to time, but if it happened again come back.  If it's the artificial hip acting up I have to go back to see the surgeon I don't like.  Grrr.  He sent me for some blood tests to check for the possibility of infection because I have so much metal in my leg.  After that I was worn out and went to bed.  I'm still tired.  That tiny drama was wearing.  But for now all is well.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Grrr

I may know more tomorrow when I see my orthopedic surgeon, but I think the rod in my leg is loose from my hip.  I've been having mysterious symptoms for awhile, but yesterday my leg suddenly wouldn't hold me up and I had extreme pain.  Some time later when I moved, there was a pop and the pain went away.  It certainly felt like the rod had popped back into place.  Since it may be loose, I'm not bearing weight on the leg.  A couple of weeks ago I made an appointment to see Dr. Dreamy because of my mysterious symptoms so, luckily, I have more information to give him.

Since I believe everything has a reason, I will be looking for the reason in this latest mysterious happening.  Right now I have no idea.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Bell Curve

Now I'M going to be politically incorrect.  I'm going to go way, way, way out on a limb.  I haven't heard one single human but one say anything about this.  That one single human just said one little sentence that stayed with me.  She had a son with severe mental and physical disabilities and is a psychology professor at a local university.  She said, grumpily, one day, "I can only stand to be around people with really high I.Q.s and people with mental retardation.  Every one else just irritates me to death."  I think she was just having a bad day but I knew what she meant.

I don't have a really high I.Q.  It's a little above average but that's it.  What I do have is an inquiring mind, a desire to learn new stuff, and an innate gift for problem solving.  In the past few years I've realized that I'm definitely in a minority.  Watching all the bumbling around in government, during disasters, and people's beliefs on the internet, I'm starting to think that everybody who has an average I.Q. has serious resentments against anybody who knows anything.

It's really scary because those folks are running the world.  They believe things there's no evidence for (like every stupid rumor on the internet, and believe that "fact checkers" are just lying when they say those rumors are not true.).  They base their beliefs on what they "feel" is true (if they "feel" it, it must be true, right?).  It seems fairly obvious to me that they believe what they emotionally want to believe.  If they want to hate someone, they'll believe any crazy thing someone says about the person.  They hate people they have some crazy reason to be afraid of.  The people they like...well, those people can do no wrong even if there's provable evidence that they're a mess.  Proof doesn't move their minds at all.  Just labeling someone an "expert" means these folks will automatically refuse to believe anything the "expert" says. 

I guess this has been going on a long time. For years I've been hearing the word "elitist" as meaning the person labeled that way is educated and smart and looks down on everyone else and wants to take advantage of everyone else.  Could that mean that the person calling someone else "elitist" thinks he/she would act that way if he/she were smart and educated?  When Eisenhower was running against Stephenson, people were saying Stephenson was too smart and that was in the 50s.  What the hell?  Can you be too smart to be president?  That's what we need - a not smart president so that he/she will understand us not smart folks.  Of course, we've had several of those and things predictably went to shit when they were in office.  Good grief!  Let's not rely at all on those smart, educated people.  They might run over us.  The only thing is maybe smart, educated people would have sense enough to know that we're all in this together, so if some of us are in trouble, all of us are in trouble, and if all of us are doing well, all of us will be doing well.

A long, long time ago I had a job as a secretary where there were about 10 of us who had the exact same job.  One day we were all assigned this big hairy project that had to be done by the end of the day.  Now remember that I am a very, very good problem solver.  So after working for awhile it dawned on me that there were some super good ways to speed things up.  I exuberantly announced my idea - thinking that everyone would be thrilled to hear about a way to make the project 100 times easier.  But that's not what happened.  The other gals accused me of being a smart ass and trying to show them up and tell them what to do.  I was utterly astonished.  Since then I've been careful in those situations to lay low.  I try to remember to keep my bright ideas to myself.  I don't do that great at it, but I'm better than I was. 

As a very, very good problem solver I just want to say that one of the best kept secrets of being an amazing problem solver is to seek out really smart, educated experts and ask them a lot of questions and then take their advice.  It doesn't make me feel "less than" at all.  I've been in some really, really tight spots in my life and the advice I've gotten from those "elitists" is usually what pulled me out.  Too bad we're wasting so much good advice from people who could really help, cause we are in one hell of a tight spot at the moment.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Politically incorrect

I believe in being politically correct.  I know, I know, people make fun of the concept like it's a stupid idea or something.  But I think it's a good thing.  The point is to show respect for everybody and not do or say things that promote stereotypes and that hurt people's feelings.

My favorite example is when I was on the board of the local association for people with development disabilities.  The original name was The Association for Retarded Citizens.  The board of directors wanted to change the name back to use the word, "retarded."  Of course, people who have been labeled, "retarded" want nothing to do with that word.  They call it the "r" word.  It has been used against them as a label that means a worthless person good only for being made fun of.  The board of directors thought that by changing the name back, potential donors would better understand what the organization was about and it would be easier to raise money. 

My reaction was, "Okay.  We are an organization that represents people with developmental disabilities.  They hate the word, "retarded" and would rather die than be associated with a group that is called by that word.  But we're going to do it anyway like we don't care what the people we represent feel.  Hmmm.  I think that's wrong."  But the board still put it to a vote of the members of the organization.  A bunch of people with developmental disabilities joined the organization so they could vote and voted the proposition down.  Thank God.  I resigned from the board shortly thereafter. 

I think it's important to care about our own attitudes, words and behaviors.  We're all just one car wreck away from being disabled ourselves.  Even if that weren't the case, I wonder what kind of life it is to go through the world basically just not giving a shit how we hurt people and "putting down" people who do care.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Ups and Downs

I really thought the point of life was to arrange things so that nothing happened that I didn't like.  Well...guess what...Of course, when I couldn't seem to work that out, I just figured everyone else had it figured out and I didn't.  So I just tried harder.  And oh my God how I complained to anyone who would listen about my rotten luck, the bad guys out there that were causing me all this trouble, and on and on and on.  My friend, Rose says that some of us in recovery used to belong to the convent called "The Sisters of Perpetual Suffering." 

And then I found out that no one leads a charmed life, that this is a troubled world and even if you go live in a cave, trouble will find you.  Saints probably get headaches and have to make their beds when they're too tired and have to put up with people who obnoxiously disagree with them.  So... what in the world can we do!?  The wisest seem to say make the best of it. 

My dear friend, Joanie, my spiritual mother, had a husband I really didn't like.  He was arrogant and disrespectful of her and I'm pretty sure he cheated on her.  She deserved so much better.  But when he got brain cancer and died in two months after it was diagnosed, I gained a little respect for him.  He said, (while he could still talk), "I don't like the hand I've been dealt but I'm going to play it the best I can."  And he did.  And that's what we all can do if we choose to.

Monday, October 04, 2010

You Can Learn Something New Every Day

Near Tulsa is a place called the "Forest of Peace."  It used to be the Osage Monastery but the sisters retired.  For years it was an "ashram" - Roman Catholic with an Asian twist.  One goes there for a retreat.  There are cabins and a main building with a chapel.  Everyone eats together - vegetarian.  There are "services" three or four times a day -an hour of meditation and some Buddhist hymns.  It's situated in the middle of a forest.  You park your car in beween trees. 

I've gone there off and on for about 27 years and I just love it even though I'm not catholic.  My friend, Mary, who is Catholic, goes there for Mass on Sundays as well as going there on retreat.  She invited me to go with her for a special evening of music and food last night.  An awesome evening it was - the two singers (jazz) who performed in the chapel, had their own unusual style - every song was arranged in a minor key and the instruments came from garage sales - accordion, mandolin, xylophone, etc.  Incredibly lovely.  I loved the crowd too.  There were a couple of young families with kids of different races than the parents.  Since that's how my family looks and I rarely see any families like mine, I loved it.  Plus everyone was nice to everyone else - not always the case in a crowd.  I saw my massage therapist and a man who was in one of my classes.  I thought, "This is a group I could hang out with and be comfortable."

I went to bed early and slept like a baby in my little bare cabin.  When I got dressed and went to the main building in the morning, my friend, Mary, was talking to a visiting priest named Father John.  He is very old and very wise.  He told us a story about a hitchhiking hobo he picked once upon a time.  The guy was young - in his 20s - and had gone to school at Yale.  At some point he decided to become a professional hobo and drop out of society.  He had been doing this successfully for several years.  He shared his secrets with the priest - I guess because priest are supposed to keep secrets. 

Now here's the part where I learned something useful.  If I ever become a bag lady, I will need to know this stuff.  How do you get a free cup of coffee?  Go to a little neighborhood diner (chain restaurants don't work).  If coffee is 50 cents, put a quarter on the counter and ask for half a cup.  They will give you a full cup for free.  If you want a free meal, order and pay for a cup of coffee.  Strike up a conversation with the cook and tell him/her that you're broke but if he/she drops anything on the floor, instead of throwing it out, put it on a plate and you'll eat it.  They'll give you a free meal.  Hitching or riding the rails will get you where you want to go but if you want a little higher class transportation, go to the airport and go to the area where the private planes are.  Strike up a conversation and ask if you can ride along to wherever they're going.  (It costs them nothing since they're going there anyway.)    Most of the time they will say yes.  So, food and transportation are taken care of but where will you sleep?  The best places are hospitals, he said.  There's usually an empty gurney in emergency rooms they will let you use.  Cool!  Beats homeless shelters and doorways over grates!

Learn something useful every day

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Sleep Experiment

I decided almost two weeks ago to see if taking care of sleep hygiene would help my sleep patterns.  Sleep hygiene:  Go to bed and get up at the same time.  Take a hot bath before bed.  Listen to CDs to promote sleep.  Turn tv off.  Turn lights off.  Turn fan on (white noise).  Read a prayer.  No naps.  Take a melatonin at 8:00 p.m.  I logged everything and then analyzed it.  The answer is ....are you ready?....  "yes" and "no"  Grrr. 

Of course, my ability to consistently do anything is so impaired that the results are skewed.  Did I do my evening routine when I was tired?  No.  I did manage to put on a nightgown every night which is good.  Sometimes I'm so tired I fall asleep in my clothes.  (Don't tell anyone who is self-disciplined.  They will be terribly disgusted.  To those people I am mostly disgusting.  Thank God I no longer disgust myself.  Let them live my life and see how they're doing at almost 70, I always say!) 

Did I manage not to take a nap?  Well....I only took a nap when I felt so tired I was sick.  That was three times in two weeks (almost two weeks).  Well... there was this 4th time when I held off until 6:00 p.m. and then had a nap until 8:30 p.m.  Does that count as a nap?  I did pretty consistently get to sleep before midnight (went to bed at 10:00) and almost made it out of bed by 8:00 a.m. every day.  I set the alarm at 6:30.  Either I didn't hear it at all or turned it off in my sleep.  It didn't seem to matter at all whether I practiced sleep hygiene, set an alarm, took a nap or not,  or whatever.  I still fell asleep and woke up at about the same times.  However, I didn't have any nights when I was awake until 3, 4, 5 or 6 in the morning and slept until 10, 11 or noon.  That's a vast improvement.  What did seem to have an influence was how much physical pain I was in.  Of course.  So, I think my mental intention to regulate my sleep patterns had the most influence of all.

Final result:  It's time to get off my own case about sleep patterns.  I intend to continue my effort to use sleep hygiene and self care.  But worrying about all of it is over, over, over.  If I sleep until noon, sleep in my clothes by accident, etc. I no longer care.  So there.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Celebration of Books

I don't remember how I got on the mailing list for the Center for Writers and Poets.  I may have signed up when I went to hear Anne Lamott a bunch of years ago.  I may have even sent a donation when I was flush.  I get their mailings but pay very little attention to them.  But the writers they had at the conference last weekend they called Celebration of Books attracted me.  It's even very cheap.  I didn't make it through the whole thing, to my very deep regret.  I wore out - my back was hurting bad and I felt like I was going to throw up.  All of that sent me home at noon on Saturday and I missed Rita Dove - Pulitzer Prize winning poet.  But I definitely got a bunch of inspiration and information from the Friday night and Saturday morning presentations. 

Sue Monk Kidd (author of "The Secret Life of Bees") and Michael Cunningham (Pulitzer prize winner for "The Hours") talked on Friday night.  They talked about what it took to be a writer - the difficulties mostly, and to my amazement, even though I'm an unpublished writer, I have had all those difficulties and emotions.  The message was you just have to do it anyway.  It's a calling, not a choice.

On Saturday morning the youngest member of the Little Rock seven who integrated a Little Rock high school in 1957 talked.  She has just written a book about her experiences because in this new environment we're living in, some people are denying that it was really as bad as people think - sort of like the folks who are saying the holocaust never happened.  I remember seeing on TV the little girl walking up to the high school with crowds of white people screaming, "Nigger," etc. and spitting on her.  I was a junior in high school and this was my first introduction to what I now call "the evil world."  In my little southern Missouri town, people might be prejudiced but they didn't act like that.  I was heart broken to see that human beings could treat a child like that.  I cried and cried.  I shed a few tears on Saturday morning too.

After that I went to two breakout sessions - one on mothers and daughters collaborating on memoirs which intrigued me a lot, and one on memoirs.  I learned so much, I cannot say how much.  All but one of the writers were women and they talked about how difficult it was for them and the barriers they had to overcome to be writers - a lot of the obvious stuff - child care, home care, husband care - "just a housewife syndrome" I call it.  But the real barriers were internal - the belief that we're not good enough to be REAL writers etc.  I was blown away again. 

In both sessions all of the writers talked about what to really reveal about ourselves in our writing.  Who is going to have hurt feelings?  Who is going to be mad?  Do we get permission first?  How badly will readers view us when we reveal our inner selves.  The agreement was - you've got to tell the truth.  Sometimes you may moderate to save someone else (but it's better if you don't.  Just be brave and take the consequences), but not to save yourself.

Every writer I heard said the point of writing is to allow others to experience other people's reality - it promotes empathy and thus - perhaps - helps make the world a better place.  So it's absolutely necessary to tell the truth.  Being a servant of your own work is necessary, but also writing to serve the world is also necessary.

Heavy stuff.  I'm motivated but more afraid even than I was but also more determined to do my writing anyway.  I just finished another story.  Good for me. 

Monday, September 27, 2010

The God Shaped Hole

We sang this song at Heart to Heart:

Every point of view has another angle, and every angle has its merit, but it all comes down to faith; that's the way I see it.  You can say that love is not divine and you can say that life is not eternal; that all we have is now, but I don't believe it.

There's a God-shaped hole in all of us and the restless soul is searching.  There's a God-shaped hole in all of us and it's a void only God can fill. 

Does the world seem gray and empty longing? Wearing every shade of cynical and do you ever feel that there is something missing?

There's a God-shaped hole in all of us and it's a void only he can fill.

In the program, we talk a about this hole in our gut that we tried to fill with booze, drugs, sex, work, whatever.  It doesn't work, of course.  But the good thing is that the pain drives many of us to the solution. 

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Courage

As usual something spooky and interesting happened as I picked up my name tag at Heart to Heart.  The minute you get to Heart to Heart, interesting things start happening.  There's great significance to signing in at the registration desk because that's when you get your "word" for the weekend.  This word represents something you already are and need to acknowledge or something you need to work on during the weekend.  You just randomly pick up a name tag (which are usually hand made and very special).  Name tags are face down so you can't see the word written on each one.  The one you pick up has your word for the weekend.  This year mine was "fearless." 

On Friday night each year there's a candlelight ceremony with everyone sitting in a circle and passing the light to each other's candle.  Each person states what they want to receive from the weekend as they light their candles.  Usually I just say what occurs to me in that moment.  After 15 years of attending this retreat, I thought, "you know, I might just decide ahead of time - after prayerful thought - what I really need from Heart to Heart." And what I decided I needed was "courage."  Courage to continue to write my memoir in spite of fear of putting myself out there. So my name tag said, "fearless."  Hmmmm.

Then Friday night and yesterday morning I attended OSU's Celebration of Books - a conference for writers and poets.  I was blown away - emotionally and mentally - and I will elaborate in a another post.  But what struck me was that every writer said that they had to gather up all the courage they could to write because you are exposing yourself to the world every time you put your writing out there into the world.  Hmmm.  Guess I'm not alone in writing with fear of letting anyone read my writing.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Projection

Here's a radical idea -when someone accuses someone else of doing something bad without any evidence, where does he/she get the idea?  Maybe from knowing what he/she would do in that circumstance?  Projection?

For the most part, I've not had to deal with much of this kind of stuff in recent years.  However, when I have had to deal with it, I've always been astounded at being accused of doing something that never even crossed my mind.  So I think about this problem from time to time, trying to understand what could have happened.  I've been taught to look within myself for the answer - what did I do that would give the person the idea that I would do such a thing?  Also, what goes on within me when I think someone else is up to no good and I have no evidence?  I really have no way to guess except to try to think what I might do in that situation.  Actually, I've sort of given up on guessing what other people are doing and what their motives are.  It's actually completely impossible.  But since that would be my only method of guessing if I were guessing, maybe that's what everyone does. 

Maybe when I've been accused of doing something that I can't even imagine doing, my accuser is just guessing by imagining what he/she would do.  Hmmmm.  Projection is a scary thing.  Looking back - in my last job I was accused of lying more than once by one particular person, and that person really saw no problem with lying herself.  Hmmmm.  Maybe I can quit trying to figure out what I did and just chalk it up to projection.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Giving up or giving in is not the same as letting go.

Giving up or giving in is not the the same as letting go.  This is not an exact quote but is close to what Melody Beattie wrote in the latest daily reading in "52 Weeks of Conscious Contact."  I'm aware of how hard it is to separate the concept of letting go (usually followed by "letting God") from giving up or giving in.  As a sponsor I've worked with people who think their only choices are to try to get the alcoholic in their lives to quit drinking or just give up and figure the person is just going to drink until he/she dies and that they might as well just go to the liquor store and buy them some more.  The concept of letting go is totally foreign. 

From the outside it might look like they have given up or in because all the hoo hah about trying to get the person to stop ends.  But what's happened on the inside is that they have given the alcoholic into the care of God.  They don't know what will happen, but they know it's not up to them to fix the situation anymore.  When they give the person into the care of God, they don't go to the liquor store, bail the person out of jail, or pay the person's rent (they don't pay the consequences that result from the the drinking for the person).  They shut up the lectures.  They go on and live their own lives and treat the alcoholic lovingly.  They make space for God to work. 

This letting go thing works on anything I'm trying to change in someone else.  I don't pay their consequences for them, I don't lecture them.  I live my life and treat them with love and respect.  Sometimes I have to get out of their way to protect myself.  But I am at peace. 

Thursday, September 23, 2010

25th Anniversary of the Lawsuit, Part 2

After we won the lawsuit and the judge ordered the State to provide services in the community, we were too exhausted to actually celebrate.  But it was exciting to participate in setting up a whole new system for services in the community and to see our kids begin to have real lives.  All the experts from other states that had worked with the court led us to believe that our kids were about to live in paradise. 
It turns out it was one heck of a lot better than the institution, but there were a ton of problems. 

Here are some examples of what we gained by going through all that hell -

My son has a part time job and this year for the first time, he actually is paying for most of his living expenses even though he doesn't make even minimum wage.  He works at a recycling place and sorts cans, plastic and paper.  He definitely gets enough to eat - he gained 30 pounds in the first two months after he moved into the community; he's now a normal weight for his height.  Within a year his IQ went up 20 points.  He can read and write a little.  He gets to go to movies, dances and other social events with friends.  He has learned to play the keyboard and drums.  He takes swimming lessons.  He goes to church every Sunday and will tell you that he knows God loves him.  Every year he goes on an inexpensive vacation with his roommate and a staff person.  This year they went to St. Louis for a few days.  He lives in a regular house with a roommate.  His roommate and he are friends and have lived together since they moved into the house in 1991.  I can truly say he is a happy man.

My daughter's life has been a little more difficult due to her seizure disorder and side effects from seizure medication.  However, her health is 100 times better than it used to be.  She has lost the frown that used to be her perpetual look.  She too has had swimming lessons  She loves to be outside as she always has, and anytime she wants to she can go out the door of the house she lives in with the roommate she's had almost since she moved into the community to the back yard instead of being locked in a dark room with 24 other women.  She gets to go to the park, for walks in the neighborhood, the zoo and the aquarium.  This year she started taking horseback riding lessons which she absolutely loves.  I can truly say she has a very good life and enjoys it.

Another good thing about these good lives is that the cost of providing them is WAY less than it was in the institution.  So much for limited resources - the cheapest thing is to provide good lives that include paid work for those who can work.


Because families could/can choose providers, we have been able to solve a lot of the problems.  But some problems followed us from the institution and have either been impossible to solve or incredibly difficult to solve.  Here are some examples:

1)  In the beginning there were over 50 service providers to choose from.  Everyone had a case manager and a program coordinator as well as therapists of various kinds if the person had a need.  After awhile we discovered that most of these folks had absolutely no training of any kind about disability or how to provide services.  They made tons of serious mistakes.  They made even more silly mistakes.  I discovered, for example, that most of the women caregivers that worked in my daughter's house had absolutely no idea how to take her temperature to see if she had a fever.  They all thought that when they gave her a Tylenol when she had a fever and it went down, that she wasn't sick anymore and didn't need to go to the doctor. 

2)  Since there was no training, people just operated on what they thought up and on the prejudices they had about people with disabilities - like punishment is a good way to deal with difficult behavior, people with severe disabilities don't have emotions and can't experience physical pain.  Since they were the caregivers,  they should tell the person with disabilities what to do all the time and the person should obey.  Even later when the judge ordered that training be provided, most providers ignored what they learned because they experienced it as criticism for the way they had been providing care and refused to do anything different.

3)  A new system of services had to develop ways of doing business that some providers understood and some didn't.  One of the providers for my daughter did not know that they could be reimbursed for clothing, some medical expenses, adult diapers, etc .  They thought that her $500 a month disability had to pay for food, rent, clothing, etc. and that the State would only reimburse for the staff.  That ignorance led to my daughter and her roommate being without a lot of the necessities of life which in turn led to...guess what?  Yup - they said I was "unrealistic" in what I expected.  One of our lawyers backed them up!!  I talked to other parents and all of us worked on finding out what was wrong.  We studied the system of reimbursement and trained the service provider.  But there were a lot of hard feelings and I think that lawyer still thinks I was psychotically demanding.

4)  Medical doctors in the community were better than the ones at the institution.  But not many of them wanted our kids as patients.  So it took a long time to find good doctors that cared.  In the meantime health problems went unsolved.  For example, my daughter has a seizure disorder and every few years has a major seizure.  I guess a medical book somewhere says to give Dilantin so that's what they've always done.  Even though I told them that she can't take Dilantin, that it sedates her to the point where she can't walk, sit up, or eat and that it causes her to have many small seizures (what do I know, I'm just a parent), they give it to her anyway.  It has taken me as long as two years to find someone who will take her off it and by then she has lost massive amounts of weight, been in the hospital several times for aspiration pneumonia and has lost most of her muscle tone.  Finally, two years ago, we found a neurologist who understood.  She's still "rehabbing" from the last experience with Dilantin.

5)  One of the saddest things is the lack of programming.  Care staff just does what they want to do and blow off what they don't want to do.  The agencies don't do much about it because the job pays so little, it's very hard to find someone to hire.  So they settle for people who will generally show up for work and who don't abuse the people they're caring for.  If a staff member does get fired, he or she can easily get a job with another agency.  So, my daughter has been living in the community since 1991 but still has no communication system even though a system has been set up for her many times and experts from out of state have consulted.  The staff just won't do it.  They don't believe its necessary and it's too much trouble.

6)  My son has autism and severe mental retardation.  He probably also has schizophrenia.  These disabilities cause him to react with great fear if he's yelled at.  This has caused him to get fired from two or three jobs because the staff working with him thought punishment - especially yelling - was how to get him to do his job better.  When he's afraid he screams and cries and tries to run away.  Not a good thing on the job.  Actually, he really wants to work and to do well at it.  If you patiently show him what you want him to do and keep reminding him, and keep praising him, he will learn and never ever forget.  He's a hard worker and very proud of doing a good job.

Here's what I think - the root cause of the problems is the prejudice against people with disabilities - especially people with severe disabilities.  I think we (people in general) should either just admit that we believe these people are worthless, aren't really human and would be better off dead so they don't cost money and trouble, or we should treat them as the human beings they are and help them have a decent life.  The way we operate now is we provide most of them with a miserable life - terrible medical care, abuse, poverty and boredom and so they die early - I guess making a lot of people happy.  To me that's just murder in a slow torturous form because we don't want to admit the truth of what we really believe.  I'm sticking to my belief that disability does not take away humanity and that everyone has value and that everyone needs love and care - no matter how "unrealistic and unreasonable" that may seem to some.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Anniversary of the Law Suit - Part 1

You wouldn't think that someone like me would sue the State of Oklahoma on behalf of her foster children with disabilities - someone like me who HATES criticism and conflict - who would rather live in a cave than have to face the public with something controversial.  I can't speak for the other five parents who sued with me - maybe they are just braver or crazier than I am.  One of them said after the suit was over and we had won, "We were psychotically optimistic."  Very true.  But we did it.  There was nothing else to do.  We had tried everything we knew of to get changes made in the institution our kids lived in - just to make it safe.  We talked to DHS officials, state legislators, and anyone else who would listen.  There were plenty of promises made but nothing got better.  Some state officials told us it was hopeless.  DHS officials told us we were a vocal minority -  that no one else saw a problem. 

This year is the 25th anniversary of the year we filed suit, full of fear and trepidation, but determined.. This year the place is going to be torn down, blown up - whatever.  The State of Oklahoma has tried for all these years to sell it but no one bought it.  I think it's full of ghosts of the people who died there.  Officially, no one died there, of course.  People are so devious.  I've learned not to believe anything any more.  The way they made sure no one officially died there was to have their own ambulance.  When someone died they put the body in the ambulance and took it to an emergency room, so officially the person either died en route or at the hospital.

Our kids weren't in that place because we wanted them to be there.  They were there because we had no other choice.  All of our kids were severely disabled.  Most had multiple disabilities.  There were a lot of severe behavior problems.  Some of them had been kicked out of the school system because of difficult behaviors even though that was illegal.  The teachers had no idea how to cope with them.  One of them locked a boy in the closet a lot.  Another one carried a fly swatter and repeatedly used it to try to control another boy. 

Most of us had been to every doctor, psychologist, etc. that we could find to help us figure out how to care for our kids but those folks seemed as clueless as we were.  As they got older and bigger and harder to deal with, some of us had Plexiglas windows in our houses to keep windows from being broken, and there were locks on cabinets and closets to keep the kids from getting hurt.  Almost all of us had other children and the demands of the ones with disabilities were keeping us from being good parents.  One by one we decided to give up and let our kids go to the institution - which is what professionals had been telling us to do almost from the time the kids were born.  I was divorced and when my ex-husband remarried, his wife did not want him to help care for the kids so he brought papers to me to institutionalize our youngest daughter and urged me to sign them which I eventually did.

This year - the year of the anniversary of the lawsuit - when I mentioned the anniversary, a friend of mine said, "I heard that the plaintiff parents in that lawsuit were just unrealistic in their demands."  I almost strangled her.  But my program has taught me "restraint of tongue and pen."  So I didn't say much of anything.  But that sentence has been rattling around in my head ever since.  It took its place in history since I've heard that sentence over and over and over again.  I heard it from the state officials who thought the institution was fine.  I heard it from service providers who were providing care for our children in the community after the lawsuit was won and they were able to leave the institution.  I heard it from one of our own lawyers - and that made me the maddest of all.  In fact, I still get mad when I think about it.  It's incredibly sad that my friend, who knows nothing about the lawsuit, was never in the courtroom, who knows nothing about people with disabilities, would repeat a sentence to me that she heard somewhere.  Is that what the public knows about the lawsuit?  That the plaintiff parents were just unrealistic and unreasonable?  Breaks my heart.

Now that I'm writing a memoir, the story of the lawsuit will be part of it.  But today I'm feeling angry again about being called unrealistic, so I'm going to write just a portion of the story - the list of things we thought were wrong both in the institution and in the community.  I think I will feel better if I do it.  I will print some copies and give it to the next person that says something about being unrealistic and ask them to tell me after they've read it whether they are sticking with their story.

This group of problems at the institution were presented in court and verified by people who worked there, plus some more problems we weren't even aware of.  The State didn't actually argue that they were untrue.  Their defense was that they were working to fix them.  The court gave them over a year and brought in experts from around the country to help.  After nearly a year had passed, nothing was even a little bit better and the judge ordered the institution closed and community services be provided for the residents of the institution.  Here are just some of the problems we discovered after our kids went there:

1.  My friend's son was brought, on a gurney, to a hospital emergency room in a coma and shoved in the door.  The institution staff left without a word.  There were no papers with him to even identify who he was.  He was dehydrated and had aspiration pneumonia.  There were acid burns all down the side of his face from lying in his own vomit.  Probably the staff thought he was dead, since their practice was to drop people at emergency rooms who were already dead to keep deaths from showing up on their statistics.

2.  When we picked up my foster son to visit at home, he regularly had on clothes that were way too big for him.  His pants were usually tied on him with rope.  He regularly had a fungus infection of the scalp (caused by being perpetually dirty.)  One of his front teeth was broken off.  No one knew how it happened.  He frequently had cuts on his hands, arms and head from breaking out windows.  He cried desperately when we had to take him back.

3.  My foster daughter had both her front teeth knocked out - and, of course, no one knew how it happened.  Her clothes were not hers.  They were torn, full of holes, didn't fit and were filthy dirty as was she.  She had frequent staph infections all over her body which were treated with fermented radish water - prescribed by a doctor from South America who said it was an effective folk remedy from his country.  She too was desperately unhappy when we took her back after visits.  She would try to grab the steering wheel in the car to make us go back.

4.  All of the parents in our little group reported that their kids were in clothes that didn't fit and that looked like they had been dug out of the town dump. They were all being mysteriously injured. They reported that their kids were desperately unhappy.  Later we learned that one of the perks of working at the institution was that they administration looked the other way and allowed them to steal the residents' clothes if they brought other clothes to replace them.  Where staff got the replacement clothes I can't imagine.

5.  One of the doctors at the institution decided that my daughter didn't need the brace she wore on her right leg to keep it straight.  She has cerebral palsy and the tight muscles kept her leg from being straight which in turn kept her from walking comfortably.  Naturally her leg became more and more bent, which caused her to walk in a lurching sort of way, which in turn caused her back to become crooked.  They also decided she didn't need allergy medicine which caused her a lot of misery from allergy symptoms.

6.  After my friend's son almost died, we applied to volunteer in the unit where he lived.  Our motive was to try to understand how something like that could happen.  It was very hard to get permission to do this because parents were not allowed to see where there kids lived.  One of the parents, determined to find out what was really going on in the cottage where his son lived, sneaked up to the window of the cottage.  Staff saw him, called security and he was escorted off the grounds, with the warning that if he did it again, he would be barred from visiting again.  So it was a big deal to get to volunteer anywhere where parents were not allowed.  We were helped by the ombudsman that had just been appointed. She was a social worker that some of us knew because she had worked at a medical center where some of us took our kids.

When the administration agreed to let us volunteer, we were all put through training.  Everyone but me freaked and never came back.  I would be willing to bet that they hoped that would be how we'd react.  It didn't take more than a quick look around to understand what had happened to my friend's son.  There were 48 adults in the unit - all in huge metal cribs, some with plastic tops.  There were only two staff on duty.  The smell was overpowering - feces, urine and vomit.  Although adult disposable diapers were on the market, we were told that the institution couldn't afford them.  So staff sewed cloth diapers together to make them big enough for adults.  Dirty ones were just thrown in a huge pile in the corner.  Cockroaches were running everywhere.

The staff did not wash their hands between diaper changes.  There was one sink with bar soap but no one used it.  Of course, using bar soap is a great way to spread disease.  This might account for the recurring epidemics of shigalla (severe diarrhea caused by bacteria) that took over ever so often.  None of the staff seemed to know the names or identities of the residents.  I wondered how in the world they could know who to give what medicine.  They also fed people lying down.  They thought it took less time.  Actually, it just promotes throwing up.  Digestion needs gravity.  It explains my friend's son's aspiration pneumonia.  He probably threw up while lying down and breathed in some of it.

Oh my God!  Why didn't you all just go get your kids and take them home when you found all this stuff out?  What kind of parent would just leave their kids in a hell hole?"  I am imagining that a lot of people would think or say this.  We said it to ourselves.  So I should probably elaborate on what I said before about our having kept our kids at home as long as we could.  We didn't just keep them at home until it got difficult or until we were exhausted or until we were about to go crazy.  We went WAY past difficult, exhaustion and crazy before we gave in.  We really could not go on another day.  So we knew we had no choice but to leave them there and try to find some other solution.  Personally, I cried most every day and slept very little.

Well, didn't you bring these terrible things to the attention of people who could fix them?  I probably need to reiterate here that we wrote letters, met with people, begged, pleaded and yelled.  We were met with indifference, sometimes threats (if you don't like how we're taking care of your kid, you can just take him/her home and do it yourself), and personal attacks (like, you don't care about your children or you wouldn't have abandoned them here, etc. etc.)

What I did do to alleviate my kids' misery while we waited to see what the judge was going to say:  I took on some extra jobs so I could hire some help to allow me to bring both my son and daughter home more often.  I took my daughter to a doctor in town who worked with me to circumvent the doctors at the institution.  She gave my daughter an allergy shot once a week, and a birth control shot once a month.  I didn't request the birth control because I couldn't imagine that my daughter was sexually active.  But the doctor explained that she had several girls with severe disabilities in her practice who were residents at the institution who were raped and got pregnant.  Good God!!!  The doctor also prescribed a disinfectant for me to bathe her in three times a week when I brought her home and that took care of the staph infections.  My son was very tall and very thin because all you got to eat was what was on your tray for that meal.  He was perpetually hungry so I took him to eat pizza, hamburgers, and fish three times a week.  I also took both of them swimming once a week.  I asked all my friends to let me have any clothes in my daughter's size that they didn't want anymore.  I shopped garage sales and re-sale shops.  As a result I was able to bring her clothes every few days with her name written in them in indelible ink.  When I brought a new batch of clothes, the ones I had brought a few days before were always gone.  Eventually though, the staff in her cottage must have outfitted their kids sufficiently since clothes began to stay there for awhile.

Here were my unrealistic expectations:  That my kids would be reasonably clean, get at least some decent medical care, not be abused (certainly not raped!), get enough to eat, be supervised well enough that they would be protected from hurting themselves or being hurt by other residents.  I knew they would not be happy because they would rather be at home with their family.  I doubted that they would get much useful education. Since the teachers in the public schools didn't know what to do with them, I didn't think the teachers at the institution would either. 

Here's why my expectations were unrealistic even though I didn't know it.  I didn't know these things until much later:

1.  Neither the staff nor the administration had any actual training in disability or anything else that would allow them to work effectively in that place.  They had a lot of erroneous ideas - like feeding people lying down was efficient and safe. Like cerebral palsy is a disease that progressively gets worse.  Like punishment is the best way to handle people with difficult behaviors.  Severely disabled people don't have emotions and cannot feel physical pain.  Severely disabled people cannot learn anything.  The way we run this place is the only possible way to run this place.

2.  They were just people off the street who had the same incorrect ideas and prejudices about people with disabilities as anyone else.  Prevalent were ideas like these:  These people would be better off dead anyway.  They are worthless, not really human.  They contribute nothing to society.  They just take up resources that are limited and that should be used for people who contribute to society.  Their parents are bad people for putting them here anyway.  If they cared they would take care of them themselves. 

So no wonder they thought we were unrealistic.  But it's still breaks my heart that there is so little understanding of what that lawsuit was about.

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