Thoughts on Winter

I have a love/hate relationship with winter.

I love looking out my windows to the snowcapped mountains in the distance, especially when the sun is rising over the ones in the east and casting pink streaks of light across the snow. And when the sun is setting over the mountains on Antelope Island over the Great Salt Lake and the orange/hot pink bursts of light make the whole lake look like it is made of fire. I’m lucky enough to get a beautiful view of both where I live.

I love that in winter nature takes a break from creating to rest. I love the stillness of winter. Everything in nature hibernates for a while, and winter is just mother nature’s slumber. I love the peace I feel in the winter especially while just sitting at a window watching the snow fall.

I love watching people playing in the snow and making snowpeople. Especially since it inspired Bill Watterson’s best strips for Calvin & Hobbes.

I love winter because I have a lot of beautiful sweaters and cute boots and this appeals to the fashionista in me.

I hate commuting during snowstorms. I hate being cold. I hate that my asthma is cold weather induced and it’s harder to breathe. I hate that I have to find everyone’s coats, scarves, gloves and boots just to leave the house when in summer I can throw on a pair of flip flops and run out of the door. I hate plowing through my driveway and scraping off my car.

But however much I hate certain aspects of winter, I am grateful for this time of rest, of slumber, to let nature be quiet for a while. In two months growing things will wake up and sprout new life. I’m willing to wait for it.

Echo Chamber?

Recently I was accused of living in a liberal, social justice warrior, feminist bubble – an echo chamber surrounded by only people who agree with me.

Cool story, bro?

Let me tell you a little bit about my echo chamber.


Little girls who grow up in Mormon-dominated Utah in a part-member Mormon family where the only parent who is LDS (mom) does not attend church until she is 14, don’t live in echo chambers.

Little girls who attend their LDS ward alone growing up, with just her siblings, without parents but with their support, and were subjected to lessons about how every other child was born in the covenant, therefore more blessed, and members of eternal families, whereas she was not, through no fault of her own, don’t live in echo chambers.

Little girls who have kids in the neighborhood tell them they’re not allowed to play with them because her aforementioned parents don’t go to church and will probably make them drink beer (my parents rarely, if ever, drank alcohol) and watch R-rated movies, don’t live in echo chambers.

Little girls who are made fun of for having a father who did “un-masculine” household chores like laundry and didn’t go hunting or own guns because he’s a pacifist, don’t live in echo chambers.

Little girls who are raised by strong female role models and who are taught from birth they need to grow up to support themselves, despite being a member of a patriarchal religion where she was taught her only goal should be motherhood, and career and education “just in case,” don’t live in echo chambers.

Teenage girls who try to start a Young Democrats club in their High School in Republican dominated Utah, who had her posters ripped down and not a single teacher would agree to sponsor the club, letting it die before it began, don’t live in echo chambers.

Teenage girls who are told by the Student Body President their sophomore year of high school that they should be excommunicated from their shared church and humiliated in front of their entire Human Biology class, don’t live in echo chambers.

Teenage girls who are made fun of in front of an almost entire classroom full of boys in her AP American History class for being a feminist and bringing up the point that the foremothers of our state of Utah were suffragists, don’t live in echo chambers.

Teenage girls who excitedly register to vote during their senior year of High School only to have the woman registering her give a disgusted grunt when she asked if she would like to register for a party and she proudly proclaims, “yes! Democrat!”, don’t live in echo chambers.

Young college co-eds who attend one of the most liberal Universities in her state only to attend a Young Democrats meeting with 4 attendees on a campus of over 20,000 students, don’t live in echo chambers.

Young married females who are shamed for hyphenating their married last names (17+ years and counting), don’t live in echo chambers.

Women who have their gynecologist tell them that the very real physical negative side affects of their birth control are all in their head, don’t live in echo chambers.

Women who are pressured by their church leaders to have a testimony of a President and a war they don’t support, don’t live in echo chambers.

Women who have news articles written about the good work they’re doing in their career and are met with comments about how awful it is that a mother would dare to work, don’t live in echo chambers.

Women who are shunned from being in the cool mommy group in the neighborhood for not being a stay-at-home-mother, don’t live in echo chambers.

Women who have to constantly fight the culture of sexism and misogyny that permeates modern day America so she can raise her daughters in strength and sons with respect for all of humanity, don’t live in echo chambers.

Women who are told by their supervisor that the quarter inch of cleavage that shows when they fold their arms at work, even though they are dressed perfectly modestly and their garments are covered, might entice a clinical male client to rape someone, don’t live in echo chambers.

Women who are censored at work for having a feminist voice and threatened with the loss of job and income, not to mention their covenants since they work for their church, don’t live in echo chambers.

Women who vote their conscience and then are shamed for not voting for members of their faith and told they are being deceived by Satan, don’t live in echo chambers.

Women who are glared at for wearing pants to church by so-called loving members of their religion, don’t live in echo chambers.

Women who are asked  by their church leaders to gain a testimony of exclusion of LGBTQIA members, their children from baby blessings and baptism, when it goes against everything she knows is right and Christ-like, don’t live in echo chambers.

Women who want more authority in their church than their 12-year-old son who can perform one of the most sacred rituals, passing the sacrament, and she can’t despite being an adult and temple recommend holder, don’t live in echo chambers.

Women who break their own hearts and walk out of the church that informed their entire spirituality and into a church where they feel peace and no cognitive dissonance and aren’t asked to compromise their values and conscience, and can just worship the Christ that they love found in the New Testament, don’t live in echo chambers.

Women who have half of their neighborhood no longer talk or wave to her or unfriend her on Facebook because of her changing and evolving religious convictions, don’t live in echo chambers.

Women who are feminist liberals living, working, and raising their children every day in Utah, don’t live in echo chambers.

So, please consider the reason why you’re having a strong, negative reaction to my opinions is perhaps because you live in an echo chamber? You’ve grown up and lived in a conservative state, surrounded by conservative people, and a conservative religion, where the people in your life (friends, family, and neighbors) all share your conservative opinions. I might be the first person who has ever disagreed with you and offered a different perspective. Perhaps I do it in an assertive and strong voice, which makes you uncomfortable because you’re used to women deferring to men, backing down from confrontation, speaking to you in dulcet tones, and when they do disagree, keeping it to themselves.

Well, that ain’t me. I’m not a shrinking violet, I’m a damn iron daisy, and if you condescend to me, cast aspersion on my character, shame me, insult my intelligence, or question my spirituality, you will hear from me and it WON’T be in my Relief Society voice, but the strong, clear, voice of the strong, independent, proud woman my parents raised me to be.

I’m not a night owl anymore

I used to be a night owl. There wasn’t a morning that I didn’t want to sleep through.

Since I was a child I delighted in the dark, calm, still hours of the night. In high school and college I would stay up late reading into the wee hours. In the  morning, 10:00 am was too early for me and there was nothing I loved more than sleeping in. Frankly, there was nothing I loved more than sleeping as I would usually also require an afternoon nap after morning classes.

As a young mother I was blessed to have babies that started sleeping through the night at about 2 months old. I think the universe knew that I couldn’t handle the sleep deprivation that most parents are forced to endure. Even if my young children woke me up at an early hour, I remember half sleeping on the couch while they would watch “Sesame Street.” By 10:00 am I would be able to function, but I definitely napped when they napped.

Then something changed.

Now, there is not a sunrise over the Wasatch Mountains that I want to miss.

I witnessed years of gorgeous hot pink and orange sunsets over the Great Salt Lake.

Now I also get to bear witness to the audacious morning breaking almost every day.

A little over two years ago I accepted a job that required me to start work every week day at 8:00 am. With a half-hour commute and having to drop off my youngest at her beloved babysitter’s, I have to leave my house about the same time I used to wake up to get my kids off to school (and then promptly went back to bed).

It took me a while, but I began to appreciate the beauty of an early morning.

Then after numerous attempts to get back into an exercise routine, six months after I started my new job I resigned myself to the fact the only time I had to work-out was when the gym first opens at 4:30 am to give myself enough time to get ready for work, and my children ready for school. The thought of waking up at 4:00 am was obscene to me, but I did it.

And I noticed a swift transformation in me.

No longer a night owl.

I emerged as a morning person.

I’ve made fun of morning people my whole life. How can anyone be that happy at ungodly hours? I remember my mother getting ready for work in her bathroom while I was in Junior High and High School, singing and dancing to the oldies station, with a curling iron in her hair. She would chatter away at me all morning while I scowled over my cereal and wondered how I ever emerged from this woman’s womb. She didn’t even drink coffee.

And now, I’m that annoying person in the office who is so happy in the morning I even get on my own nerves. While most of my coworkers won’t even speak to me until they’ve had at least one cup of coffee, by the time I get to work I’ve already been up for four hours and I’m ready to engage and talk, while they scowl at me over their steaming mugs.

My favorite time of day now is when I leave the gym in the summer. I look to the East as the sun creeps over the purple mountains in the distance. I have a great view of Weber Canyon and the tilt of the earth at that time of year is just such that the sun shines through the break in the mountains.

It’s those times they I say a silent prayer of gratitude. That every day I was able to witness a sunrise and a sunset. To put myself in the way of beauty, as Cheryl Strayed says.

“Wasatch Sunrise” by Chad Dutson

The ultimate Tom Cruise rankings

It’s obvious that there are only five movies of Tom Cruise’s that really matter. They are (in no particular order):

1. Top Gun
2. Jerry Maguire
3. Interview with the Vampire
4. Risky Business
5. Rain Man

Honorable mention goes to Days of Thunder, A Few Good Men, Born on the Fourth of July, and The Firm. I only mention them because I’ve heard they’re good, but never seen them, and have no desire to do so, so I cannot critically analyze them. So, you are left really with the top 5 movies of Tom Cruise’s career that I’ve seen.

Tom Cruise winning the “Teacher’s Pet” award for L. Ron Hubbard’s “How to act like an Asshole” classes at the Scientology Celebrity Center

Top Gun

This is Cruise’s role that made him a star and household name. I think it was because he started taking Xenu classes at the local Scientology Celebrity Center and all the L. Ron Hubbard learnin’ really helped him hone his fine skills of acting like an asshole. Let’s be honest, this movie is just a homage to masculinity or homoerotic love (why can’t it be both?). You have a bunch of well-muscled bad ass dudebros, like Val Kilmer and Rick Rossovich, flexing the shit out of them in naked locker room and sand volleyball scenes. Then you have Anthony Edwards and you’re like, “hey Goose, who the hell let you in here?” But Goose has a wife who wants his D on the reg, so it’s obvious he’s a dynamo in bed. Spoiler alert, Goose dies because reasons and that’s supposed to make you cry but really you’re like, “is this necessary? Killing off the only comic relief in the movie?” This might be the best Cruise movie if it wasn’t for the complete lack of chemistry between him and Kelly McGillis. I mean, just thinking of their tongues touching in the “Take My Breath Away” love scene gives me the willies. It’s no surprise that years later McGillis came out as a lesbian. I think a Kelly McGillis/Meg Ryan love scene would have 100% more believable and palatable. 5 Cruise points.

Jerry Maguire

Jerry Maguire is a movie about guy named Jerry Maguire at his full Jerry Maguireness. He’s a sports agent who gets a sudden attack of conscience (so unrealistic) when he realizes that dun, dun, dun sports is all about making money no matter what! Wow, Jer, that’s super insightful. Glad they made a whole movie about this. Jerry writes a 100 page manifesto in the middle of the night during which can only be described as a manic breakdown. I was worried about old Jerry and I’m sure he could have benefitted from a few milligrams of depakote at that point. Jerry is delusional enough to think his quirky little spiral bound manifesto will CHANGE THE WHOLE SPORTS INDUSTRY BECAUSE OF INTEGRITY! Instead he gets fired and a single mother named Dorothy agrees to follow him to his new agency because she was so inspired by his writing. (Let’s be honest, Dorothy was after the Jerry Maguire D for a while and she knew this is how she could get it). Blah blah blah, Jerry loses all his clients but one. This client is a small football player from Arizona who steals the whole movie from Jerry with his charisma. Jerry sleeps with and then marries Dorothy, like ya do with your employees just because you like their kid. And like every sports movie, small footplayer overcomes to WIN THE BIG GAME and gets his BIG CONTRACT and then everyone wants the Jerry Maguire D! Something something, you complete me, end scene. This movie does get extra points because Kelly Preston is a stone cold bitch, which makes me love her (probably also took the L. Ron Hubbard total asshole classes) and Regina King is almost the best thing about this movie. She and her husband majored in Marketing and they came to play, baby! 10 Cruise points.

Interview with a Vampire

This movie was highly anticipated because of the popularity of Anne Rice’s book of the same name. Ms. Rice was not happy with the casting of Mr. Cruise and Mr. Pitt as her much beloved vampires, Lestat and Louis. I don’t remember much about this movie except for a really weird makeout between Brad Pitt and a pre-pubescent Kirsten Dunst. What I really wanted was to see a makeout between Brad and Tom (Did this actually happen? I’m not sure. It’s been a long time since I saw the movie and I might have made this up during one of my late-night fantasies). Anyhoo, this movie loses points because I can’t really remember it well, therefore it didn’t make much of a Cruise-pression on me. 3 Cruise points. 

Risky Business

This movie is iconic for one thing and one thing only and it’s not the late night boinking scene between Tom Cruise and Rebecca De Mornay on an L train around Chicago. No! It’s iconic because Tom Cruise dances around his parent’s living room in his tighty whities and button down white oxford while listening to “Old Time Rock n’ Roll.” What a card! This movie is totes realistic. I mean, what kid doesn’t think the best way to earn some cash while his ‘rents are out of town is by turning the family domicile into a brothel? My sibs and I always did that when my ‘rents took their yearly wedding anniversary trip up to Glacier National Park  (just kidding, dad. We mostly  just sat around watching TV and eating cheetos). AND OF COURSE you fall in love with the prostitute who is just a hooker with a heart of gold. I mean that trope isn’t tired or overplayed AT ALL. This movie gets extra points for starring Curtis Armstrong as one of Cruise’s friends, Miles Dalby, who is best known for his role in Revenge of the Nerds, which also starred Anthony Edwards of Goose fame.That’s known as coming full Cruise circle. 7 Cruise points.

Rain Man

This is definitely, definitely the best movie Tom Cruise every starred in that featured a Cruise. This movie really is a vehicle for Dustin Hoffman to show off his best acting chops by playing an autistic man named Raymond with an asshole of a brother named, Charlie. Charlie, played by Cruise, also went to the L. Ron Hubbard school of How to be an Asshole by Really Trying. Charlie is a selfish yuppie because it’s the 80s and it’s a requirement for anyone under 30 in a movie. Charlie and Raymond’s father left a fortune to Raymond (who has savant-like characteristics) and a pittance to Charlie because he obviously has the yuppy means of supporting himself, but this pisses of Charlie because, again, he’s a yuppie asshole. They travel cross-country together and eventually Charlie learns that Raymond is A HUMAN BEING TOO! Good for you, Charlie! Developing a soul was hard in the 80s. Honestly I get Dustin Hoffman’s “Raymond” and Sean Penn’s “Sam” from “I Am Sam” confused all the time, so I may not remember all the plot points, but I know it’s a brothers gotta bro movie and we’re supposed to have special feels about Charlie ACTING LIKE A DECENT HUMAN BEING IN THE END to Raymond, because in the 80s people with special needs were only props to teach us how to be nice instead of fully-realized human beings of their own right. I’m taking off points for the disability inspiration porn, but giving points for the actual porniness when Charlie yells at Raymond listening to him porking his road-piece. I mean, give a guy a break. He’s lived in an institution his whole life! I’m sure they didn’t show movies with the humpin’ and a pumpin’ at the Walbrook Institute. 1 Cruise point. 

In conclusion, upon further analysis and dissection of these movies, it’s obvious to see that the true Tom Cruise movie rankings are:

1 – Jerry Maguire
2 – Risky Business
3 – Top Gun
4 – Interview with a Vampire
5 – Rain Man

Fight me.

Medical Marijuana and the LDS Church

Medical marjiuana.jpg

On Friday, February 5, 2016 the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints opposed a bill in the Utah legislature brought forth by Senator Mark Madsen that would make Utah the 24th state to legalize medical marijuana. citing unintended consequences that could come with use of the drug.

And I am angry.

I grew up being taught that the LDS church was politically neutral. Every election season a letter is read over the pulpit in every Ward in the United States written by the First Presidency emphatically stating that the church keeps out of politics.

However, this past legislative session in Utah has proven that the church’s long-claimed stance of political neutrality is false. Most people outside the state don’t understand how one religion, no matter how prominent, can have such an effect on state policies. But it does. Most of the state legislators identify as LDS and as any LDS person will tell you, when the prophet speaks, you listen, and you do as you are told. Obedience above conscious.

The reason for opposing medical marijuana?

Unintended consequences.

You mean like people suffering from chronic, debilitating, and painful diseases getting relief?

You mean like people who do suffer those painful diseases not becoming addicted to the opioids their doctors prescribe because that’s all doctors can do legally?

You mean like people being high all the time on THC? NEWFLASH – these same people are high all the time. On opioids.

And because they are having to ever increase their opioid use with no legal proven alternative available, it is leading to some patients becoming addicted. Utah has an insanely high opioid usage rate as well as heroin rate. The Utah Department of Health has noted that Utah has an experienced a more than 400% increase in prescription drug use injuries and death in the last decade. An average of 21 Utahns die a month due to prescription drug overdoses. Utah ranks 8th highest in prescription drug overdose deaths in the United States.

Marijuana isn’t the drug you should be worried about, LDS church.

Heavy opioid use for chronic pain also leads to liver damage, digestive difficulties like not being able to keep food down and chronic, and bowel damaging, constipation.

I’m sure the LDS church leaders believe this is a moral issue, so I have to ask…

What’s so moral about letting people suffer?

No one has ever overdosed on Marijuana.

I could see if this were legalizing recreational marijuana use why the LDS church would be opposed to that and taking a strong stance against it.

But this is about medicinal use in oil form. Mormons love their medicinal oils. I’m sure if doTerra was pushing this, all the prominent MLM owning Mormons would jump at having it legalized.

Luckily Senator Madsen is not kowtowing to the incredible and inappropriate overreach of the LDS church into state politics. He has proposed 8 amendments to the law that he hopes will alleviate concerns to the Bill.

Anecdotally, when my mother was diagnosed with Stage 4 Pancreatic Cancer in August 2007. She opted for chemotherapy treatments to extend her life and it was awful. She threw up constantly. She couldn’t keep any food down, thereby becoming dehydrated. She was in constant pain. Her doctor prescribed for her Marinol to help increase her appetite and deal with the nausea chemotherapy caused. Marinol is one of the cannabinoids.

I wish I could sit down with the leaders of the LDS church and describe to them what it was like to watch my mom suffer an absolute nightmarish hell during her last 3 months on this earth. I wish I could tell them what it was like to sit with her in her hospital room watching her writhe in pain, wake up and look at me with panic-stricken eyes that reminded me of a wounded animal, and beg me, BEG ME, her second daughter, someone she called “girl baby” and nursed at her breast until I was 15 months old, BEG ME to go find someone to kill her. Please tell me how you would feel to have your mother, a light and sunshine to everyone she knew, be suffering so much she begged you to find someone to take her life.

You know that scene in Terms of Endearment when Debra Winger is in the hospital dying of cancer and her mother, Shirley MacClaine, goes and screams at the nurses and demands they relieve the suffering of her dying daughter? Yeah, that was me.

Please tell where the dignity is in letting dying people suffer when oil from a plant…A PLANT that God planted in the ground.. can alleviate suffering? Why are those who aren’t suffering constantly asking others to do it when they have no idea the pain that is involved?

On another anecdotal note, I’m old enough now to have several friends who suffer from various chronic, painful diseases:  Fibromyalgia, Lupus, Rheumatoid arthritis, Anxiety, Erytohmelalgia (or Mitchell’s syndrome), and numerous other autoimmune disorders. THC has been proven to alleviate the pain and other symptoms that these debilitating and painful diseases cause. Prescribing people who are suffering ever-increasing amounts of opioids is unconscionable, and I would argue, ammoral.

So I’m begging the leaders of the LDS church to do the right thing. I was always taught growing up in church to do the right thing and let the consequences follow. I was taught to be honest in my dealings. I was taught to put the pain and suffering of others above my own comfort. Please LDS church, practice what you preach. Again I ask,

What’s so moral about letting people suffer?

Oh No! It’s Time for the Father’s Day Whining to Begin

For the irony impaired, this post is a parody of this post

Let me make this perfectly clear: I’m a gal. A female. I have a double X chromosome. And lady parts.

And because I’m a possessor of a double X, some will immediately discount my opinion regarding Father’s Day. It is true: I will never be a dad. I will never experience what it feels like to create sperm, to feel it grow inside me – and that is kind of a bummer, because sperm is awesome. On the other hand, I will never have anyone kick me in the undermeats until I cry like a baby and then have to walk around bow-legged for a whole day. That part? Not such a bummer because tender undermeats is a thing.

What I know about Fatherhood is as a beneficiary, first-hand witness, and supporter of both the men and the Godly institution of fatherhood, spermhood, and such. The righteous nobility of the XY holders!

On a very serious note, I have been greatly blessed in my life, more so than some because I’m just that awesomely righteous: I will also never experienced what it feels like to not be able to have children because my eggs and my husbro’s spermys work. I do not know what it is like to not love my father, or have him not love me. I do not know what it is like to have my children not love, appreciate and acknowledge their own father – my “Eternal Dudebro”. I recognize that I am very privileged in this area. But I WILL NOT recognize the amount of privilege I have when I lay all this self-righteous bull crap on you right now.

Many women, and men, struggle with having children. Some fight for years to conceive – many never do. Please hand me my Captain Obvious cape. This is something I can’t understand on a personal level, but will self-righteously lecture the rest of you on how to handle. Many bravely fight the adoption battle to add a child to their family, which isn’t really a battle and I’m kind of an ass for labeling it that way. Many men have such difficult and frayed relationships with their own fathers. Heartbreak does abound. And yet while I acknowledge heartbreak, I will not be sensitive or empathetic to anyone about theirs and will now lecture you on how all you Father’s Day whiners are harshing my mellow.

Those who are living with that heartbreak deserve our love, and our acknowledgment.. They also deserve to be heard…Except now I’m going to totally discount hearing them with what I’m just about to write by saying…

But not this weekend.

The following are actual comments I received on my blog when I dared sing the praises of Father’s Day:

“Father’s Day just makes me feel guilty for not being a good enough father.” (Risa rates this a level 1 whiner)

“I loathe church on Father’s Day, because it is usually a long, drawn out testimonial to these “perfect” fathers who certainly didn’t get divorced and have kids who all went on missions and got married in the temple. Father’s Day is the WORST day of the year for me, and I’d just as soon it didn’t even happen.” (Risa rates this a level 10 whiner for clarity and depth)

“I would rather my family just pretend that Father’s Day doesn’t exist. The last thing I need is my wife and kids wasting money on things I don’t want or need.” (Risa rates this a level 5 whiner because gifts you don’t need are always a must…stop looking gift Father’s Day horses in the mouth)

“I hate going to Church on Father’s Day because I wasn’t able to have kids.” (Whine s’more whiner, infertility is suuuuuch a bummer topic, whiner level 6)

“I don’t like the fuss they make in church. I don’t. I guess it’s because I struggle with my own relationship with my dad, and I am not sure some days about how good of a dad I am. It’s a hard day, and I dread it like the plague.” (Whine, whine, whine…dysfunctional relationships only get a whine level 3)

Ugh. No, I didn’t make those up. I copied and pasted. (Because I know how to use Word. Thanks Microsoft! Copy and paste is my favorite feature.) Can you believe these whiners? These people are expressing their valid and legitimate issues with this holiday on MY BLOG? Don’t they know I’m devoid of any empathy and compassion? I can’t hear the sound of your whining over my own awesomeness!

There are Father’s Day haters out there, who are quick to let the world know their displeasure. To them I would say:

Excuse me…dudebros: You do understand that everything isn’t always about you, right? I mean, sure Father’s Day is about Fathers and actual Fathers are expressing why this day is hard for them, but they know that Father’s Day isn’t about Father’s right? I’m mean, that is just LOL worthy.

You know that there are other men in the world who actually like Father’s Day, and kind of enjoy being recognized for the most important thing they will do in their lives? Right? I mean, it should be ALL ABOUT THEM. Who cares about your pathetic little feel bads. Again, harshing my mellow with your wah wahs.

And you understand that as you complain about it, and talk about how much you hate it, and how unfair you think it is, can cause these well-deserving fathers to enjoy their day less, right?  I mean, you having empathy and compassion for other people’s pain on your special day is just so not what Jesus would do. Do you think he spends his birthday worrying about all the whiners and how hard Christmas is for them? I don’t think so. Jesus has way better things to do than worry about the hurts of others. Jesus doesn’t care about your hurt little fee fees!

Unbelievably, some in church leadership worry if they should even acknowledge the fathers at church for fear of hurting your feelings, or having you feel left out. Can you even believe these saps have considered being sympathetic and considerate of other people’s feelings???? This isn’t why I go to church! I go so I can feel superior about my privileges and blessings that others don’t have. And your whining is really making it hard for me to feel how blessed I am.

You are emotionally stronger than that…right? Probably not since you’re acknowledging this day is hard for you, but what do I know about being considerate of other people’s feelings? Seeing someone else getting recognition for something you don’t have doesn’t really stir up thoughts of envy, and anguish…does it?  Because I’m very privileged and it really annoys me when people are so jealous of me. It’s like, why are you so obsessed with me? I can’t help it if I’m more popular with Jesus than you and so he rewards me more fully. Only Regina George can truly understand my pain.

So, how about for the next few days we all just take a breath, bite our tongues, and let the Dads enjoy their holiday? There are 51 other weekends a year to vent. Except don’t vent to me, because I am too busy counting all my Jesus blessings to listen to you whiners.

As for me?

This Father’s Day, I’m going to be thinking about how awesomely blessed I am to be fertile, have a good relationship with my dad, that my dad is still alive, and that he never beat me, abused me, ran around on my mom, or all the other legitimate reasons why someone would rightfully feel sad about this holiday.


Because I CAN! Didn’t I just tell you just how privileged I am??? If that doesn’t demand respect and recognition, I don’t know what does in this society anymore!

I would invite those of you who hate Father’s Day to check your emotions, and join with us in celebrating Fatherhood. Think about your own Dad. If that is difficult, mend fences if necessary (Code for repent) because if you have a bad relationship with your Dad, it couldn’t be that he abused you or is an emotionally toxic person…no, it’s your own lack of righteousness! Repent ye sinners! At the very least, we can all celebrate the Institution of Fatherhood. Because sperm is awesome.

But don’t sour it for everyone else. Wait until Monday for that. Get over it whiners. I have no time for empathy and compassion. That’s for suckers who don’t have totes cool blogs like me.

Prevention Child Abuse: NEVER Shake a Baby

Elijah’s Story

I remember the first time I saw Elijah’s Story. I had just given birth to my first child, I was exhausted, hormonal, and frustrated that nursing wasn’t the easy, natural experience I was promised. I desperately wanted to be discharged from the hospital so I could go home and get some real sleep without a nurse taking my blood pressure every hour. My nurse rushed through the discharge paperwork, but then made my husband and me stop and watch a movie about “shaken baby syndrome.” I wasn’t prepared for the impact Elijah and his story would have on my life. Elijah was a toddler who was violently shaken by his father and then died on Christmas Eve in 1997. Watching Elijah’s loved ones talk about what happened to this beautiful boy was heart-breaking for my new mommy heart.

Elijah’s Impact on My Life

A few months later I was the frustrated parent at my wit’s end. I was trying to transition my one year old daughter from a bottle to a sippy cup and she was not having it. I had worked a long shift at a very physically taxing job and my husband was gone at his job. I was home alone, exhausted, aggravated, and my toddler wouldn’t do the thing I needed her to do. I wanted to hurt her and those thoughts and feelings scared me. I remembered Elijah and I put her in her crib and walked away. I sat on the steps of my back porch and cried my eyes out while my baby cried her eyes out in her crib. We both survived that day because I took a deep breath, put her in a safe place, and walked away until I calmed down. Elijah’s story saved us both.

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Thirteen years later I was interviewing for a position at The National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome. As a social worker and a CASA volunteer I was already committed to the safety of children and preventing child abuse and I was impressed with the Center’s commitment to keeping all babies safe from harm. In my research of the position I re-watched Elijah’s Story and remembered the impact it had on my life and the lives of my four children. I parented differently because I had been taught as a new parent through the Center’s mission of education and prevention how to control my anger and walk away before doing irreparable damage. I was excited to be hired to work for an organization that directly impacted my life and my children’s lives for the better.

Child Abuse Prevention Month

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month. Child abuse cuts across every socio-economic, racial, gender, and sexual orientation boundary. No community is immune from child abuse, but there are things we can do as individuals and parents to prevent it. The American Society for the Prevention of Child Abuse determined that the number one factor to combating child abuse is education through public awareness. Through education parents can learn coping mechanisms and skills that can help them deal with frustrating situations, like Elijah taught me to walk away and calm down.

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Keeping babies safe from harm is the belief statement of the Center and one I whole-heartedly embrace. My co-workers and I do this through our SBS prevention program, The Period of PURPLE Crying©, which teaches parents about normal infant crying patterns, how to soothe their babies, that crying is the number one trigger that leads to SBS, and how to cope with crying which can aggravate and stress out even the most well-rested parent. Parents and caregivers who understand that crying is a normal and healthy part of infancy can greatly reduce their own stress and frustration with incessant crying. The difference between a parent or caregiver who abuses a child and one who doesn’t is education, coping skills, and self-control. Prevention is our number one goal and education is the key.

Facts about Shaken Baby Syndrome/Abusive Head Trauma

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that shaken baby syndrome is the leading cause of child abuse deaths in the United States. This is a very sobering statistic. However, the good news is that shaken baby syndrome is 100% preventable through education. It’s important for anyone caring for an infant to know the symptoms of shaking a baby. They are:

• Trouble sucking or swallowing
• Decreased appetite
• Trouble sleeping
• Increased fussing or irritability
• Vomiting
• Lethargy
• Difficulty breathing or turning blue
• Change in level of awareness
• Inability to suck or swallow
• Loss of Consciousness

Shaking a baby can cause devastating injuries, which can include traumatic brain injuries and bleeding in the eyes. These injuries are seldom found together in any other kind of child abuse, medical condition or accidental trauma, and are often found with other child abuse injuries like bruising, broken ribs, broken long bones, and skull fractures.

Sadly, 25 percent of all victims of SBS/AHT die as a direct result of their injuries. Those who do survive often suffer severe, lifelong disabilities including: learning disabilities, motor/cognitive difficulties, cerebral palsy, blindness, paralysis, or coma.


What Shaken Baby Syndrome Isn’t

Every week I have worried parents calling me wondering if they have caused damage to their children by accidentally jostling them. Often they are crying and worried that they have done irreparable harm to their child. I have to reassure them that shaking injuries are not caused by casual or accidental handling of a baby. Shaking injuries require massive, violent force. They are not caused by:

• Tossing a baby in the air
• Sudden stops in a car or driving over bumps
• Running, jogging or bicycling with a baby
• Bouncing a baby on your knee
• Short Falls

While some of these activities may be dangerous and are not recommended, they will not likely cause SBS/AHT. However, I recommend parents have their children checked by a medical professional if they are worried. Doctors are never too busy to make sure your child is okay. At the very least, the visit will give parents peace of mind.

What can you do?

Whenever I get a phone call from a parent or loved one who has lost a child to shaken baby syndrome, I often think of Elijah and how he would be in high school by now if he had lived, but because of an impulsive, split-second decision his father made out of aggravation and anger, his family will never get to see Elijah grow into the young man he could have become. So much potential was taken away in a split second and it all could have been prevented. Although his family has moved on and live full and complete lives, their grace in sharing Elijah’s Story with the world has benefitted thousands of parents, me included.

Please, if you’re a parent do everything you can to keep your baby safe from harm. Take care of yourself, ask for help, walk away when you are frustrated, and remember Elijah and who he could have become if he had been allowed to grow up.

To learn more about Shaken Baby Syndrome/Abusive Head Trauma please visit

If you suspect a child is being abused please call the National Child Abuse Hotline 1-800-4-A-CHILD. 


This post was featured on The Huffington Post.

The Women of the Civil Rights Movement

Ella Baker.

Fannie Lou Hamer.

Septima Poinsette Clark.

Coretta Scott King.

Ruby Bridges.

Diane Nash.

Do you know these names?  They are a few of the integral women of the American Civil Rights Movements.


Ella Baker

Ella began working for the NAACP in 1938 and her work with the Civil Rights movement spanned 5 decades.  She worked with the prominent leaders of the movement, like Martin Luther King, Jr. and Thurgood Marshall.  She was involved in Montgomery Bus Boycott, was a staffer for the Crusade for Citizenship (a voter registration camp), worked for student de-segregation with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, and helped organize the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party.  She died in 1986, but was honored with a US Postage Stamp in 2009.  One of Ms. Baker’s most famous quotes:  “Remember, we are not fighting for the freedom of the Negro alone, but for the freedom of the human spirit, a larger freedom that encompasses all mankind.”

Fannie Lou Hamer

Fannie’s activism started in the 50s organizing the Mississippi Freedom Summer and became the Vice-Chair of the Mississippi Democratic Freedom Party.  Fannie was deeply religious and soft-spoken and often used Bible verses in her speeches.  She ran for Congress in 1964 and 1965.  She worked at a grassroots level as well, and helped start Head Start, the Freedom Farm Cooperative, and worked with Martin Luther King, Jr. on the Poor People’s Campaign.  Fannie died of breast cancer in 1977.  Ms. Hamer’s most famous quote is: “I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired.

Septima Poinsette Clark

Septima was born in 1898 and was an educator as well as a civil rights activist.  Her father was born a slave and after the Civil War he worked as a caterer. Her mother refused to let Septima become a domestic for a white family.  Instead, Septima graduated from high school and became an educator without a college education at that time.  In 1919, Septima taught at Avery Normal Institute, in Charleston, S.C., a private academy in for black children.  It was here Septima started her work with the NAACP.  She then went on to earn her Bachelors and Masters degrees and worked with noted Civil Rights Activist, W.E.B. Du Bois.  Septima is most known for starting Citizenship Schools which taught black adults in the Deep South how to read.  Septima worked with many health organizations.  In 1979, President Carter award Septima with a Living Legacy Award.  Septima died in 1987.  Her most famous quote:  “I have a great belief in the fact that whenever there is chaos, it creates wonderful thinking.  I consider chaos a gift.”

Coretta Scott King

Coretta was the widow of Martin Luther King, Jr. and helped lead the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s.  Coretta was part of the Montgomery Bus Boycott and helped pass the Voting Rights Act in 1964.  Her most prominent role in the movement was after her husband was murdered as she continued his work and his legacy as the new leader of the movement.  As a new leader of the movement she founded the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change and broadened her focus to include women’s issues, LGBT rights, economic issues, world peace, racism, poverty, and war.  Coretta was a published author and educator.  In the 1980s Coretta worked to end apartheid in South Africa.  Ms. King died in 2006 and was eulogized by former President Jimmy Carter.  My most favorite Coretta Scott King quote:  “Freedom and justice cannot be parceled out in pieces to suit political convenience.  I don’t believe you can stand for freedom for one group of people and deny it to others.”

Ruby Bridges

Ruby was born in 1954 in New Orleans.  In 1960, Ruby’s parents answered the call from the NAACP and volunteered to have Ruby integrated in the New Orleans school system.  She is known as the first African American child at an all-white elementary school in the South.  Ruby walked to school every day despite protests from parents, citizens, and backlash the landed her father jobless and her share-cropper grandparents turned off their land.  Can you imagine how brave Ruby must have been?  Can you imagine that courage of that 6 year old girl?  I can’t think of Ms. Bridges without tears coming to my eyes.  Ruby currently lives in New Orleans and there have been many books written about her and movies created about her life.  My favorite Ruby Bridges quote:  “I now know that experience comes to us for a purpose, and if we follow the guidance of the spirit within us, we will probably find that the purpose is a good one.”


Diane Nash

Diane was born in Chicago and attended Howard University.  She was a part of the most successful act of the 1960s Civil Rights Movement – The Freedom Rides.  As a college student, Diane was successful in desegregating lunch counters in Nashville, TN.  Her activism did not stop there.  When the Freedom Riders decided to cut their rides short (because of outrageous violence and deaths), Diane, and other Nashville college students, promptly decided they would finish the trip.  Her courageous act caught national attention.  Robert F. Kennedy, himself, begged her to stop (fearing more violence and deaths).  Her response was to say everyone who was going on the Freedom Rides had signed their last Will and Testament the night before.  Diane was also integral in the Selma Campaign (a non-violent Army to combat church bombings), the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and has been the subject of two books and numerous documentaries.  Diane continues to advocate for the civil rights, the rights of the poor and impoverished, and for the rights of children.  My most favorite quote of Ms. Nash’s is:  “Every time I participated in segregation, like going into a ‘colored’s only’ bathroom, I felt like I was agreeing that I was inferior.  And I’m not inferior.”

To find out more about these remarkable women, click the links on their names above, or check out this article.

Boys Don’t Cry, another socially constructed lie of humanness

Do you know what I’m really tired of people telling me? That little girls are more dramatic than little boys. That they’re so happy they have all male children or having a male child because “girls are drama.” Bullshit.

As a mother of two boys and two girls I can say unequivocally that the drama comes in equal parts from the different sexes in my home. And any drama or non-drama that comes from my children is solely based on their individual personalities and not their genitals.

Maybe it’s because I allow my sons the freedom to express the full capacity of their emotions without shaming them that they actually feel comfortable crying and saying their feelings are hurt or that they are willing to admit that they are sensitive. My two sons are very different from each other. One has more tender feelings than the other and that is okay. That’s a condition of being a human being, not a condition of being a certain sex.

There is a lot of crying and fighting and sibling rivalry in my house. It’s hard growing up and it’s hard living with other people. Especially your siblings some times. But I refuse to allow my daughters the space to express their emotions while simultaneously denying that from my sons because of the harmful and cultural lie that “boys don’t cry.” Yes, they do and it’s damn healthy.

I want all my children, my two sons and my two daughters, to grow up into people who can be empathetic and compassionate to others. I don’t want any of them to steel and shield themselves from the emotions of life because of damaging cultural expectations. How can I do this if I shunt and make them repress their emotions now while they’re growing up based on their sex?

In short, next time someone laughingly tells me that girls are so much drama, expect me to call you out. One individual girl might be more dramatic than one individual boy, but it’s a sweeping generalization that is hurting girls as much as hurts boys. Just stop it.

boys don't cry
Boys cry and that’s healthy and good

What I Learned From My Mom About Parenting

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Mom, me, and my oldest on my lap at my nephew’s baby blessing in 2002

The other day I was looking at a photo of myself at my toddler daughter’s age. I marveled at how much she looked like me and I relished the family resemblance. We don’t have the same eye color, but the same eye shape, and the same long eyelashes. I realized that, although I was hoping she would have the same blue eyes as mine, she has hazel eyes like my mother. Then I pulled out a photo of my mother crying on her first birthday. I could see my daughter’s face in hers since my baby has that exact same expression when she cries. I realized the family resemblance ran through at least three generations. These moments are especially bittersweet since I can’t share them with my mother because she died six years ago from pancreatic cancer. The family resemblances don’t end at our face shapes and our shared hair color. My mom taught me a lot of lessons about parenting and oftentimes I’m a reflection of her.

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Toddler me in 1979. My daughter looks just like me.

1. The love of reading

Every Saturday of my childhood my mother would take me to the library. She was an avid reader and always had her name on a list to reserve the latest must-read book. I spent countless hours at our city library stacking up the piles of books she let me check-out. I remember when she got me my first library card and how proud I was to be responsible for my own books. I remember my mother said once she could survive anything in life as long as she had her books to take her away on a new adventure. She instilled her love of books in me. I don’t take my children to the library as often as she did, but I take them frequently. In the summer times I read a large chapter book to my children for a few minutes every night. They’re always begging me to read more chapters. Whenever I see one of my kids reading a book independent of a school assignment I get a little thrill.

2. Parenting doesn’t stop when your child turns 18

After my mother died I was going through her things and picking out the books I wanted to keep while the rest would be donated. Among the thousands of books I found in her collection was a book about parenting from an empty nest. To think that my mother was worried about parenting her children right even after we were adults let me know how much she truly did love us and wanted us to succeed. I was married young and after I had only completed two and a half years of college. My mother constantly encouraged me to go back to college. She wanted each of her children to have a college education and it was an important goal for her since she never got the opportunity. After the birth of my second child, every so often my mom would ask me when I was planning on going back. Once I made the decision to quit my job and go back to school full-time my mother supported me completely. She and my dad even paid for the semesters not covered by financial aid. It took me two years to graduate and my mother couldn’t have been prouder. I’ll always be thankful she was there to see me graduate since she died six months after I donned my cap and gown.

3. Loyalty

My mom always taught me that “blood is thicker than water” or that you should always stand up for your family no matter what. She taught me that you should always have your family’s back over other people. I think I learned this lesson especially too well because one of the earliest memories my younger brother has is me taking off my shoe in the foyer at our church and hitting a kid with it who was teasing him. My mother especially wanted her children to have a close relationship as siblings. I think because she instilled that loyalty to my family in me is why my sister and brother are two of the most important people in the world to me. I try to instill this in my own children, which is why it’s especially painful for me when they fight with each other. I want them to know that most friends come and go, but family is forever.

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Mom on her first birthday. My toddler looks just like this when she cries.

4. Your life doesn’t stop because you have children

When I became a mother for the first time my mother told me that children are supposed to fit into our lives, not the other way around. Because of this I have not lost my whole self in motherhood to the point where that is my whole identity. While I love being a mother and parenting my children, I have retained my hobbies and my friendships and I encourage this with my husband as well. I completed my Bachelors degree when I had two children and plan to complete a Masters degree when my youngest gets out of the toddler years. Active parenting is such a short period of time, and while most of my time if devoted to parenting I hold a small space that is just my own and only belongs to me.

5. Talking

My mother was somebody I always could talk to. I would lay in her bed with her for hours talking about my life and my problems. Even during my cranky teenage years my mother was someone I could always talk to and she would always listen. She would even put down her book long enough to pay attention to me. Years later as an adult, even though she only lived five miles away, I would call my mom and we would spend hours on the phone.  I’ve had friends tell me that they could never talk to their mothers the way I talked to mine, like a friend. I remember the first time I reached for the phone to call my mother after she died and realizing, with a slap to the face, she wouldn’t be on the other end if I called her number. I still have the very last voice mail she ever left me singing me a birthday song and wishing my a happy birthday. As my oldest is about the enter the teenage years I have tried to develop this relationship with her. She comes and talks to me about school, her friends, and the boy she likes and I try to listen without judgment. The other day she told me liked hanging out with me, so maybe I’m doing a good job at this.

6. Accepting me for who I am

I was flipping through a book about mothers that my in-laws gave me one Mother’s day when I came across this quote by Fredelle Maynard and it struck me:

“Beyond all lessons, beyond the model she provided, my mother gave me a parent’s ultimate gift; she made me feel lovable and good. She paid attention; she listened; she remembered what I said. She did not think me perfect, but she accepted me, without qualification.”

My mother always accepted me for who I was. She didn’t try to change me or push me into doing things I didn’t want to do. I mean, within reason. She did expect me to finish my vegetables at dinner. She didn’t try to change me into the Homecoming Queen when I was a book nerd. She let me make my owns mistakes and learn from them. A lot of parents try to make their children into their own image and that is not what my mother did. She lets us find out who we were without expectations, or qualifications, like Maynard said. As a mother, I have loved watching my children’s personalities unfold, and like my mother, I try to not push my own view of who they should be on them. I want them to grow up to be exactly who they are.

7. Time is a gift

The most important thing my mom taught me about parenting is that time is a gift. The reason why time is so precious is because you never know when your time is going to end. My mother died when I was 29 years old. I believed that we had at least 20 more years together. I thought she would be around to watch my children grow up and to be an active grandparent in their lives, but she’s not. That has made every moment that I ever spent with her special. I don’t know how much time I have with my children on this earth. That means the time I do spend with them is precious to me and I want them to know it’s special too. I can’t think of a greater gift to my children then to give them my time.

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My daughter and I on her first birthday.


Cross posted at the Huffington Post