Get Informed, Edited

I apologize. I haven’t had a chance to expand on the thoughts of this link I posted earlier. I don’t mean this post to be controversial. I merely want to share my thoughts about what is going on and share personal experiences that hopefully will shed some light on why this cause is so important to me.

On February 18th, the House of Representatives voted to “defund” Title X. Title X provides federal money for programs the offer family planning/women’s reproductive health services. This defunding directly impacts the largest organization that provides these services, Planned Parenthood. To be clear, because some people closely associate Planned Parenthood with only abortion, Title X DOES NOT provide federal money for abortions. All of the Title X money Planned Parenthood receives goes directly to providing confidential, affordable health care for women, men, and teens who otherwise cannot afford insurance or their insurance is inadequate. They provide birth control, annual exams and pap smears, pregnancy testing, sexually transmitted disease testing and treatment, HIV/AIDS testing, vasectomies, emergency contraception, community education and outreach, counseling, HPV vaccine, and adoption information. Services that are crucial for women and men’s reproductive health. I want to make it clear that this debate IS NOT about abortion.

A close relative of mine is a care provider at Planned Parenthood. I believe the care she provides is vital to the people in my community. Her clinic serves low-income people who do not have insurance. They also serve middle-class people who cannot afford private insurance. Their fees are on a sliding scale basis and they never turn anyone away because they can’t pay. Can you say that about your OB/GYN?

From the link I provided, you can go to your state and see how the funding from Title X directly affects your neighbors. I live in Utah, so I will focus on it’s numbers. Planned Parenthood of Utah serves 43,000 people a year. Each year, they provide 31,000 people with STI testing, 122,000 women with pap tests, 10,000 women with breast exams, and 39,000 people with birth control. In Utah, 97% of the services Planned Parenthood provides are the women’s health services mentioned above. Where are these people supposed to go if the government is successful in denying them care through defunding Title X?

This is what I’m afraid of, the government taking women’s choices away. Speaking as an Adoption caseworker, there are states right now working very hard to take away a woman’s right to place her baby for adoption because they believe that natural families should be maintained at all costs (and it should be obvious to point out that the people who bear those “costs” are the innocent children). When it comes to family matters and reproduction, I believe the government needs to stay out of it. Reproductive choices are between a woman, her partner, her doctor, and her God. Not between her and the whims of the rotating elected officials in office.

My relative who works for Planned Parenthood told me that 75% of what she does at her clinic is pap smears/pelvic exams. She has never, will never, and has never been asked to perform an abortion. Only one Planned Parenthood clinic in Utah offers this service after one clinic in Utah had to close it’s doors. Planned Parenthood offers abortion counseling where they give their clients facts about the procedure and counsel them heavily on their other options like parenting and adoption. Nationally, abortion only accounts for 4% of the medical services provided at Planned Parenthood. Even though I really really hate the idea of abortion and would much rather have a woman consider an alternative plan such as adoption, I’m not willing to throw the baby out with the bath water and cut 96% of the very much needed, and vital services Planned Parenthood provides because of some ill-informed vendetta.

This makes me angry. I care about women and I care about their health, being that I am a woman and primarily I work with women. I am pro-family, pro-child, and pro-choice. As a side note, the Planned Parenthood in my community has referred women to my agency interested in adoption. How come when Congress wants to slash the budget the first people they go after are the poor and women?

As for as personal experience goes, Planned Parenthood was very important to me at a certain time in my life. Without getting too personal, they allowed me to plan my own parenthood. And they did so in a very kind manner. They never judged me, never pressured me into a decision I didn’t want to make, and I genuinely felt like they were there to help me. They treated me like a person and not a patient. When the hubs and I were newlyweds our insurance would not pay for birth control. This pissed me off to my feminist core. For the birth control I wanted I would have had to shell out $65 a month. This was an astronomical expense considering we were poor, college students and worked crappy jobs. Some times I don’t know how we ever survived. Because of Planned Parenthood, I had access to affordable birth control.

A couple of years later when I was pregnant with my first child and went to a regular OB/GYN office I was shocked that they did not provide the same quality service that Planned Parenthood did. No one sat and talked with me and gave me information. No one treated me with as much care and concern. I was just a patient, and I remained just a patient until I finally become fed up and transferred my services to a midwife.

Personally, I think this defunding of Title X is a misogynistic attack on women and a classist attack on the poor. If the ultra right wing tea partiers in Congress are doing this to prevent abortion (which this issue is not about) than they are going about it the wrong way. Planned Parenthood PREVENTS more abortions than they ever will perform. I would ask that if you are of a like mind, you sign the petition on the link.

As for me, I stand with Planned Parenthood.


Blessed are the Peacemakers

Today in Sunday School we talked about the Beatitudes and one of the verses especially struck a chord with me.

“Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.” Matthew 5:9
I’ve spent so much of my life having to stick up for myself that I’ve never learned how to become a peacemaker. I think it was because I watched my maternal grandmother constantly criticize my mother as my mother just sat there and took it. She internalized those messages leaving her with horrible self-esteem. I always wished she would stand up for herself, but she once told me that her own father believed in peace at any price. Well my mother’s own self-esteem and self-worth was a high price to pay for peace.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my grandfather more than words can say. He was the kindest, most honorable man I have ever met. I feel a huge void in my life not having him here. I know he would have adored his great-grandchildren. But he was from a different generation. His parents emigrated from Denmark to the United States after suffering from religious persecution. I’m sure that they suffered so many hardships that they just didn’t want to dwell on them or talk about them. However, never talking about problems and resolving them leads to a superficial peace and internal turmoil.
The only time I saw my Mom stand up to my grandmother is when she focused her criticisms on us children.
I was teased a lot growing up. Tortured, really. I’ve had children say the meanest things in the world to me and I sat there and took it. I was a meek child. I was also very sickly and missed a lot of school. I was very sensitive. I was the kid who always befriended the new kid because I hated seeing other people lost or alone. I was an easy target. And then something happened in 7th grade. I stopped taking it. I learned to stand up for myself. Usually I’d do it with a quick wit and humor. I just had gotten so sick of people teasing me that I stopped taking anyone’s guff.
And I’ve never stopped standing up for myself. The hubs lives in constant fear that one day I’m going to get him beat up because I don’t back down. My sister once told me that my ability to stand up for myself and for others is what makes me a great social worker. I always say I’m a fighter, not a lover.
I don’t often back down from a fight. Not because I think I’m always right and I must win at any cost. I just will not tolerate someone attacking me. I won’t do it. You don’t get to say hurtful things to me and not hear my response. You just don’t. I won’t tolerate it.
So how do I balance my ability to stand up for myself with making peace with others? How do I not become a doormat in my efforts to become a peacemaker? This is what I’m struggling to find out.
About the only time I can think of in my life where I decided the fight wasn’t worth it was back in college. I was in a leadership position on campus and a group of people wrote me a note criticizing my performance in the position. What made me angry is that they didn’t have the guts to tell me to my face (they chose the ever so effective passive aggressive note technique) and there were personal attacks in the note. It wasn’t a, “We feel you could do better in this area…” and more of a, “you suck because….” type of note. What was really hurtful was that some of the people who wrote the note I considered friends.
So here I was, having just read a very hurtful, rude, condescending note and I was ANGRY. I sat down and I furiously wrote a response. Some of the people who were involved in the note saw me writing my retort. (One even commented to my roommate about it and said he couldn’t wait to hear my response). However, after I wrote the note I decided it just wasn’t worth it. I think I might have gone home and ripped it up, or I kept it and never delivered it. I don’t know. But I think it was one of the times in my life where I decided that I needed to keep the peace. Those people got to say what they thought, and I just continued living my life and not caring about their opinion of me.
I feel like I need to take this situation in my life and use it as an example of trying to become more of a peacemaker. I think learning to forgive, learning to let go, and giving up the hope that certain things and certain people are going to change, will go a long way toward helping me to achieve a balance between someone who stands up for themselves but also values peace.
I was thinking today in Sunday School, because we also talked about the Law of Moses and how Jesus came to fulfill the law, about how one of the commandments is “thou shalt not kill,” but Jesus came along and also warned about anger. I believe that anger is like taking poison and expecting the other person to die.
So here’s to peace. It’s my new journey.

Facebook drama

Sometimes I want to delete my Facebook account because of childish people who can’t handle it. All I have to say is if you are an adult and can’t handle someone else’s opinion without it threatening yours, get off Facebook. There is no reason to attack and harass someone because you disagree with them. I’ve had plenty of people “unfriend” me because I hold differing political views than them. Get over yourself. I have never unfriended someone because I disagreed with them (I have unfriended pyschos who are exhibiting stalking behavior and those who have said truly racially offensive things). I’ve never unfriended someone because my political views are more liberal and theirs are more conservative. If I unfriended everyone I had a difference of opinion with, I’d have no friends, including my husband. I’m so tired of childish behavior from adults.

That is all I have to say.

February 12th

Dear Mom,

Happy Birthday! Today you would have turned 66. I remember when I was little figuring out that when you were 66 and I was 33, I would finally be half your age. I guess I didn’t count on you not living to see 66.
We all miss you. I know I think of you every day. Today I was looking at some pictures of you and I caught myself smiling. I’m glad that looking at your picture now brings joy to my heart instead of sadness.
Some people are regretful when someone they love dies because they left with so many things unsaid. I know there was nothing left unsaid between us. That brings me peace. I know you loved me in this life. And you know that I love you.
I know no one is perfect and we all make mistakes. And this parenting stuff is hard. But I know you tried your best. You were the perfect mom for us. What I loved and appreciated most is that you always accepted me for who I was. I know that you had an unconditional love for me.
Thank you for everything you did for me. Thank you for the things that you sacrificed on my behalf so that I could have an education, grow up in a safe place, and have all my needs met. Thank you for loving me. Thank you for giving me my roots and for your belief in me.
Today we celebrate you. For the beautiful life you had. No, not everything was perfect and you suffered some real hurts. But your courage, grace, and humor touched every who knew you.
I love you, Mom. You are always, always in my heart.
Your Girl Baby
“For Good” from the musical Wicked
I’ve heard it said
That people come into our lives for a reason
Bringing something we must learn
And we are led
To those who help us most to grow
If we let them
And we help them in return
Well, I don’t know if I believe that’s true
But I know I’m who I am today
Because I knew you…

Like a comet pulled from orbit
As it passes a sun
Like a stream that meets a boulder
Halfway through the wood
Who can say if I’ve been changed for the better?
But because I knew you
I have been changed for good

It well may be
That we will never meet again
In this lifetime
So let me say before we part
So much of me
Is made of what I learned from you
You’ll be with me
Like a handprint on my heart
And now whatever way our stories end
I know you have re-written mine
By being my friend…

Like a ship blown from its mooring
By a wind off the sea
Like a seed dropped by a skybird
In a distant wood
Who can say if I’ve been changed for the better?
But because I knew you
I have been changed
For Good

Dinner Experiment

I don’t usually experiment with dinner. I totally respect people who can look in their pantries and fridges and come up with a delicious meal. Me? I am a recipe follower. I follow recipes exactly and don’t deviate at all. I just don’t have the gift that some people do. I mean, the most exciting thing I’ve done to a recipe is use baby shells instead of macaroni noodles in my homemade mac ‘n cheese.

Monday night I was tired of having our same old same old. I have about 10 dinner recipes that I put into rotation. So I was looking at the pantry and I saw the brown rice. I decided to make a stir fry of sorts. I was going to stir fry some chicken, carrots and broccoli together. I got all the way through chopping up the carrots and chicken before I discovered I didn’t have any broccoli. Oh yeah, and I was out of soy sauce. So I cooked up the chicken and carrots and rice, mixed them together, and dumped a couple of tablespoons of teriyaki sauce on them.
It tasted blandly okay. Which means my kids loved it. I had to dump some salt on it to make it have a taste at all. I noticed on the back of the rice box a recipe for beef and broccoli. I think I’m going to try that. And I won’t deviate from the recipe. I’m just no good at experimenting.