Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Smartest Person in the Room

There are a lot of us humans that think we are the smartest person in the room wherever we go.  It may be an illusion or it may be the truth.  The thing is that thinking that is a huge hazard!  What happens is that we begin to think everyone else is stupid and then the way we interact with them is condescending.  That does NOT make us popular.

I know a lot about this problem since I was told over and over as a kid that my best trait was that I was smart.  Somehow I translated that to mean that I was smarter than everybody else.  I was wrong about that, for sure.  Plus I learned that people are at different levels of smartness, but everybody knows and understands stuff that other people don't.  I've also learned to be patient with the other smartest people in the room who are shocked to find out that I don't know as much as they do.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Don't Believe Everything You Hear

One of the things that really bothers me as I get older is how much stuff people believe that I'm fairly sure is not true.  This is especially true in politics - if my side says something bad about the other side, it must be true, right?  Not really.  However, the number of things that are not true that many, many people believe range far beyond politics.  Some things become "common knowledge."  People say, "Everybody knows that!" 

Since I have two adult children in my life that are cognitively disabled (used to be called mental retardation but it was changed because "retard" became such a bad word that was used to hurt people), I've heard a bunch of stuff that's supposedly "common knowledge."  For example, there are a lot of people in the medical profession and even people who work in the field who believe that people who are cognitively disabled don't feel physical pain like the rest of us.  I don't know about other people, but my adult children feel pain just like anyone else and have suffered a lot at the hands of people who believed they didn't need pain medication.  I've heard a lot of other very bad stuff too that I'm not going to repeat.  Most of it is designed to make people afraid of people with disabilities.

I think the root of these beliefs came from a belief system that was common in the first half of the 20th century.  When I was in college, some class I was in had a book that mentioned "eugenics."  When I read about it, I thought, "Boy those people sure were stupid to believe that stuff.  Glad no one believes that now."  Basically, eugenics was a belief and a movement that people could be bred like animals - and by doing so "defective people" could be eliminated.   The list of defective people went on and on - people (children) with disabilties especially those with cognitive disabilities, people with mental illness, Native Americans, African Americans, immigrants from Ireland, Italy, etc.; people who were convicted of a crime, alcoholics and addicts, poor people.  How the movement functioned to eliminate these people from the population was to sterilize both men and women.  The media worked to educate the public to report and/or capture children and adults and turn them in to be locked up and sterilized. 

Good grief!  How could this have happened in the 20th Century?  I have no idea.  In fact, Oklahoma still had a sterilization program for Native American women in the 1960s.  These practices are not so far away in time.  I would have thought that this stuff would have to be carried out on the fringes of society but the Rockefeller Foundation funded a lot of it, Winston Churchill was a proponent.  Also, Margaret Sanger and Theodore Roosevelt were proponents in the United States.  Oklahoma was the 30th state to pass a law mandating compulsory sterilization and institutionalization for "undesirables."  Sterilizations were carried out at the "Institution for the Feebleminded" in Enid, Oklahoma (a facility that still exists) and at the McAlester State Prison (also still in existence).  According to statistics kept by the federal Indian Health Care system, in the 1970s there were more sterilizations of Native American women than there were births at the Claremore Indian Hospital.

It's not a surprise that Hitler in Nazi Germany took up the crusade - he loved eugenics.  Of course, that led to the rounding up of Jews AND people with disabilities, gypsies, people in prisons, etc. and getting rid of them in gas chambers.  He was "purifying the Aryan race."  A lot of people in the rest of the world talk about this as a horrible, evil thing that Hitler did and how he must have been both evil and crazy and how awful it was that the people of Germany went along with it.  The thing is, right here in the United States of America we did something similar for half a century.  Odd how since World War II no one even mentions the eugenics movement.   However, I can see every day by how people talk about people with disabilities and minorities that there are still a lot of people who regard these groups as "defective."  It isn't that far a jump to start allowing people to die without medical treatment,etc.

The conclusion I reach is that I'm not believing the latest "scientific" research or philosophy, no matter how famous and credible it's proponents.  I'm taking everything with a grain of salt. 

Monday, May 14, 2012

Wedding Pix

Rehearsal Dinner

Vietnamese tradition - the groom's family gives the bride's family a pig.  Here it is - ready to be eaten!

Dad and groom

Rebecca, groom's sister, bride's mom and sister plus groom's grandad and wife in the background.

Bride's sister and boyfriend with bride's mom in the background taking a picture.

Rebecca and Jeremy
Groom, bride's mom and bride.

Groom's brother and date
Groom's brother looking sad because it's sparkling cider and not champagne
Pig after dinner.

Lynn, Uncle Sam and Anita waiting for the ceremony.  Uncle Mike looking at the door waiting for the wedding party to come out.

And here they come - Aaron, best man, Steve, Liz (groom's mom) escorting the groom.
Bridesmaids looking for the bride

Groom and chaplain waiting for the bride.

And the bride made it!

Jeremy and Bec
Bride and groom eating the fabuloous food.
And a good time was had by everyone!!!

Wednesday, May 09, 2012


First picture - playground at the park nearest my house.  If you're older than six you can't get on this playground equipment.  Bummer.
Above - picture of the podium and stage at the Springtime in the Ozarks conference.  Very dramatic and suited for the dramatic story that followed.
Along the street in Eureka.

View from the balcony outside our room in Eureka.
My friend Cynthia's back yard of her office.  The pigeons are always happy there because they are so liberally fed.
I took this picture out the window of my car and it appears I was holding the camera crooked.  But it's still a terrific looking tree!
My friend, Phyllis, had a coupon for this Jamaican restaurant.
My hydrangea bush is blooming.
Stew with ground chicken.  Never made this stew with ground chicken before, but it's pretty good.

Monday, May 07, 2012


April, May and June of each year are full of anniversaries of some of the worst tragedies I've experienced.  Some years I do better than others with those times.  I've worked through the feelings, done the grief work and still sometimes my body remembers anyway.  This has been one of those years for remembering things I don't usually have occasion to think about. 

In April of 1976 my grandmother and mother were killed in a tornado.  For some reason, this year the memories that came to me were of how my youngest son and daughter, who are very severely disabled, reacted to being left with strangers while we went to my dad after the tornado.  Both of them came to me through the foster care system and never really left.  I knew that when they arrived at my house.  The placement was supposed to be temporary but due to their disabilities, I knew they weren't going anywhere.  By the time of the tornado, they had been with me most of their lives.  My daughter stayed with friends and my son had to go to Children's Medical Center.  Both of them were unbelievabley difficult to care for so we were lucky to have had any options for them.  Both of them were about four years old at the time.

While we were gone, one of our friends who also had a child with severe disabilities, called to tell us that our daughter had laid down in her bed with her eyes closed and would not respond, not even to eat.  She said that she had been that way for three days and thought we should come back.  So my husband jumped in the car and went back.  When he got there, he just picked her up.  She immediately opened her eyes.  He fed her and held her and when she was back to herself, he returned to my dad's.  Apparently, she did fine after that.  She just needed the reassurance that we had not left her forever.

When we returned from being with my dad, I picked our son up from Children's Medical Center.  He was very quiet on the way home.  I carried him into the house and set him down on the kitchen floor just inside the back door.  He immediately lay down on the floor and began to cry softly.  He just lay there for almost an hour, crying softly - I think with relief because he was finally home.  He too probably thought he had been deserted forever.

Both of these two are now 40 years old and I am always aware of my responsibility for them.  for the past 20 years they have lived with roommates in homes in the community with 24 hour staff assistance.  Their disabilities make them vulnerable in the world and the only consistent person they have in their lives to look out for their safely and well being is me.  Sometimes that responsibility is heavy and I would rather skip some of the things that need to be done.  But I always remember that my daughter tried to die when she thought we had deserted her and my son could not stop crying with relief for an hour after he came home.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012


It occurred to me the other day that I should write a book called, "Rules I'm Never Going to Follow Again."  At age 70 I'm pretty sure I'm done with a lot of them.  Of course, I'm still going to stop at stoplights, use my turn signal (follow traffic laws).  I'm still going to follow most of the laws of courtesy - basically they're just about caring about other people - not a bad thing at all.  However  I no longer think I have to wear make up when going out in public.  I no longer comb my hair more than once a day.  I don't have summer and winter clothes - I wear the same stuff year round.  I buy very comfortable clothes so that they can double as pajamas.  (I know.  That's really terrible.  That means I sometimes am too lazy to put on pajamas.  OMG!)  I don't like traditional breakfast foods so I often eat spagetti, pizza, salad, hamburgers, hot dogs and other lunch type stuff for breakfast.  What's the big deal?  My sleeping patterns have been messed up for years so I sleep at odd times.  Whatever. 

I hate business meetings so I never go to them anymore.  I've been boycotting funerals unless I think they're going to be the kind I like where they just talk about the person or I need to be there for support for the person's family.  Otherwise I generally don't like funerals so I don't go.  On the other hand I go to every wedding I'm invited to - I might even start crashing them.  They're usually fun.  I feel that way even though I've decided that no one should get married unles they're prepared to accept the other person exactly as they are. 

Well, that's just a few of the rules I'm not following anymore.  When the book is published, I'll post where it can be purchased.

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