Keep Calm and Use Some Love & Logic

HB2, otherwise known as the “Bathroom Bill” was proposed and quickly voted on and signed into law in a matter of hours about a month ago.  Many of us were confused from the git go.  I mean, it pretty much stands to reason that the men go in the men’s room and the women go in the women’s room, unless you have a child who is vulnerable due to age or disability and then you take them in your bathroom or the family bathroom.  I never much thought about whether there were transgendered persons in my bathroom.  There probably were times I used the ladies room with a person who was transgendered, but I didn’t know it. This was just never something I was spending much brain power on, but apparently our legislature was very bothered by it.  They tend to spend lots of time pondering how they can restrict, set rules about, and control the genitalia of the people of NC.

Since then, there has been a shit storm of backlash, and of course, it has been dichotomized by party.  I’m not going to rehash this, because unless you’ve been living under a rock or have been out of the country or taking a long FB break, you know what the backlash has consisted of on both sides.

I really try to stay out of it on FB.  I use some social media etiquette and I try very hard not to comment on others’ posts that I happen to disagree with, even those whose posts contain information I know to be patently false.  I don’t unfriend people for having views different than mine, although, that has happened to me quite a few times and fairly recently by someone whom I considered to be a friend. I try to remember that if I would not say something to someone’s face if I ran into them in the grocery, I shouldn’t write it on their wall/post or reply to their comment that way.

Don’t get me wrong, I believe that this legislation is a deplorable example of discrimination made legal by folks who don’t understand/are afraid of/hate/fear the LGBT community.  We provide diversity training now to social workers, educators, and health care providers.  I think it’s time our legislators got some of this training as well.

I wasn’t completely surprised at the NC legislators, they are primarily white males of a certain age, education, and religion and they tend to behave with a mob mentality governed by their demographic, but I was totally unprepared for the number of my friends who have come out in support of this legislation.  I get that they are buying into the “save our women and little girls” thing, but come on, is anyone thinking this thing through?   The facts about molestation do not validate this legislation.  The whole save our women and children argument also predicates on the assumption that the LGBT community is populated by child molesters and that is just insulting and uninformed. Come on, really?

90% of child sexual abuse victims know their abuser.  Maybe I should state this statistic again:  90% of child sexual abuse victims know their abuser.  The horrifying fact is that, given the statistics, at least a few of my Facebook friends [sadly maybe more] are likely to have a child or children who has/have recently been abused and they don’t even know it. This abuse was most likely perpetrated by someone they trusted.  This is what people should be up in arms about.  Let’s do something to lower this statistic.

There are over 42 million survivors of sexual abuse in this country.  These people know the truth.  This type of thing rarely happens in a public restroom, if ever.  If, it does, it’s most likely perpetrated a caregiver.

One of the best ways to protect children is to minimize opportunity.  That means limit times when your child is in isolated one-on-one situations with adults or other youth.  In my experience, most parents either go to the bathroom with their kids or wait outside the door.

What about your sons?  We are far more likely to read about men dressed like men who go into the men’s room and expose themselves to little boys or try to touch them.  Happens all the time.  There is a safeguard: it’s called supervision.

Trust me, I am as suspicious and on the look out for child molesters as you are, I just don’t assume that the LGBT community is posing a significant threat.  Ask my children, I gave them detailed and specific education and training on avoiding the threat of molestation.

I have friends who are posting stuff like:  “That’s what I’m worried about, some molester guy posing as a transgender person to get into the bathroom.”  Let’s walk this one through.  Let’s say there’s a guy who wants to molest a child.  Is dressing up like a woman to claim transgender privilege the easiest way to do this?  Unfortunately, there are many women out there more than willing to allow instant access to their children to boyfriends who they barely know.  Easy access to children happens every day outside of bathrooms and in the very homes of the victims.

People seem to have grave concerns about men coming in the ladies room or into the girl’s locker room without this law. I saw a meme of a girl’s locker room with a boy standing in his tightey whiteys while all the girls were in their underwear.  That is not even realistic. Here’s the deal.  If a transgendered person comes into the girls’ locker room or bathroom, it will be because she identifies as a female and she won’t stand out.  She will look like a girl and pee like a girl, and if she has a penis, she most likely will be keeping that under wraps.  She just wants to fit in.  If you don’t understand it, do some research, watch some movies, read a book.

And, seriously, I am still confused by it all.  Are people afraid that LGBT persons are more likely to offend? They are not- research confirms.  And, how in the world could this ever be managed and enforced?  Are we going to start doing panty checks?  What about men who look feminine and women who look kind of masculine?  I know women whose husbands look a little girly- what if someone pulls one of them out of the men’s room? Be careful what you wish for, people.

Target came out this week in opposition to the law and in support of the LGBT community saying their bathrooms will remain status quo, meaning, hey folks, you’ve been peeing with transgender folks all along and didn’t even know it.  Get over yourselves.  And, boom! More backlash from the FB community– people threatening boycotts now.  Well, by all means, take it to Wal-mart, home of the most normal and non-threatening shoppers on the planet.  LMAO.  I am sure this smarts for many, because, well, Target.

Finally, how many people think that criminals follow laws?  If there are molesters who want to dress up in opposite sex garb in order to infiltrate a forbidden bathroom and take liberties with some unsuspecting victim, are we to think that a new law will prevent this from happening?  Wow, just wow.

Sometimes, you have to look at the greater good.  Here, I think the greater good is just loving our fellow human beings, no matter their gender identity or sexual orientation and stop confusing differences in gender identity and sexual orientation with pedophilia or a propensity toward molestation.

It wasn’t broke.  It didn’t need fixing.  Laws should prevent discrimination not sanction it.

We are better than this.






The New Year waits

I love this lazy time between Christmas and New Year’s Day.  It is the time when I can finally relax and enjoy Christmas.  From Thanksgiving to Christmas, time and responsibilities come at me like a loud, fast freight train.  I cannot work, run, clean, cook, fast enough… and that holiday train catches up to me when, like a character from a thriller, I finish it all just in the nick of time.  By Christmas morning I am bleary-eyed and dizzy with exhaustion. So, this time, this languorous space, is when I catch up on sleep and I eat whatever I want, open a book, shop for a new pair of shoes online with my Amazon gift card, write reviews of the make up received in Birchboxes, and admire my new socks. IMG_4193

This is when I recharge.  In the frenzy of preparation for this holiday, I seldom get to truly enjoy it, so this time is Christmas to me. Unfortunately, the rest of the world thinks that Christmas ends on Christmas day.  The radio station immediately stops playing holiday music😦.  My neighbors throw their naked trees into the street and take down their lights and wreaths.  I am saddened by this and I turn to my itunes library to continue my personal holiday right on through to the Epiphany on Jan. 6th [and, honestly, sometimes longer].

This is perhaps my favorite time of year because of the feast of possibility. Saturdays are my favorite days for this reason.  They are generally the only day when there are no responsibilities on the calendar, so they dawn bright with possibility.  For an eternal optimist, this is the piece de resistance- possibility in all its glittering glory.  This time of year, when we put the past behind us, reflect on what went well and what went wrong, and then leave it behind; when we look toward a ribbon of road that twists off into the horizon just ever so slightly.. giving us nothing but miles and miles of hope.

So, I spend these last few days of 2015, mesmerized by the lights on my tree.  FullSizeRender

This year’s unseasonably warm weather has also found me contemplating the evening sky from Bean’s front porch.  IMG_4089

A new year waiting is the best kind of blank canvas.  Happy 2016!



So Lucky

I love my kids.  Not just my biological ones; the ones I see every day at school- my precious students.  Now, don’t get me wrong, we have our days, but they are what makes teaching in NC worth doing.  Yesterday, I woke up to stomach pain.  Not the run of the mill kind of stomach pain, but the kind that doubles you over.  I went to school because we had Special Olympics bowling and it was our last Friday outing to bowling.  I teach students with Autism but don’t try to tell me that children with Autism don’t have as much empathy, because they just knew… and they responded.  They were by turns kind and attentive and I was getting extra hugs.  A couple of them stayed closer than usual.  One noticed I was not my usual self and asked what was wrong. I was hurting, but also thinking about how lucky I am to have a job where I get to make a difference and I get back as much or more than I even give.

I have this one student who sometimes seems neglected.  She is so sweet and she tries so hard.  She is happy to be at school every day.  One of the biggest treats of my life has been when my preschool grandson runs into my arms when he sees me yelling “BB!!!”  Literally, the atoms fall out the bottom.  But I also get this from her.  Dalia [not her real name] runs off the bus to me each morning and hugs me.  Her face literally lights up to see me.  Doing what other job could I get this?

So today, I am feeling pretty lucky, blessed, and grateful.  I am thankful I am a teacher of students with Autism.  I am thankful for their love, their progress, and the stories and laughter they bring into my life.

It’s a slippery slope… How I turned to the Autoimmune Protocol

If you’ve ever stopped in to this blog before, you know that I frequently talk about what is ailing me or what new diet I [a] want to try or [b] am currently on.  When I look back or even think about its totality, I get it; it’s a rather self-absorbed rambling rant, but it’s not really for you, it’s for me…. to keep track of progress, major setbacks or victories, what’s working and what’s not working.  It’s only for you if you: share a problem, you stumble upon this blog, and we can help one another in any way.  That is why I share in a public forum.  I have gained so much knowledge and support through the Internet, I cannot imagine tackling a chronic illness without it.  I truly came into my own in my forties and I continue to grow wiser/calmer/happier in my fifties.  I was thrown a bit of hardball with the RA diagnosis, but what the heck, it made me forget about menopause. Menopause, smenopause, if I can thrive with Rheumatoid Arthritis, menopause is not even on the radar.

So, a couple of years ago, I lost almost 50 pounds and I was on top of the world.  Then someone stole my wings and over the next couple of years, I slowly and painfully gained over half of it back.  It feels like more since I also lost some lean muscle as I could not walk/zumba/hike/run like I used to.  I cannot blame this all on the RA, making unhealthy food choices is a slippery slope that once you begin to slide down seems like a super slide with no stopping mechanism.  Sugar and simple carbs are poison to me; I know this.  When I eat them, I am medicating with food.  I have done this my entire life.  My Mother and Grandfather taught me.  Food was comfort, food was reward, food was a drug, and food was an ever present focus.

You cannot read about health issues or autoimmunity [I already have at least 2 autoimmune diseases], without learning that our gut is the new center of our health.  Hippocrates, was evidently, right all along when he said “all disease begins in the gut.”  Our microbiome is as messed up as our planet.  I discovered a couple of years ago that gluten and I didn’t get along and I cut it out. It was no picnic in the beginning, but I am used to it now.  I have become quite creative with alternative flours and grains, but I know that I am still allergic to something because of persistent rash on my thigh that reacts to my food intake by inflaming and healing in turns.  I suspect I may be sensitive to other grains, lignans, dairy, or eggs.

October is an auspicious month for me.  It’s my birth month and I have had two successful beginnings on October 6th. October 6, 1999, I stopped smoking and never looked back.  October 6, 2013, I began using Take Shape for Life/Medifast and lost almost 50 pounds in 5 short months. So, on Monday October 5th, I began the Autoimmune Protocol.  It basically removes anything that might be allergenic or that tends to promote leaky gut for at least 30 days- it is easier to say what I can eat than what I cannot.  I can eat fresh unprocessed meats, broths, vegetables that are non legume, and fruits that are non citrus.  I cannot have coffee, sugar of any kind, nuts, seeds, or grains, eggs, or dairy.  I am allowing myself only one grain and that is a bit of brown rice, and only if the brown rice is soaked, slow cooked in coconut oil, and then refrigerated for 8-12 hours.

I’m on day 5 and I feel more energized already.  Seriously, once the sugar is gone for a few days, it no longer has power over me and I feel back in control.  I’ll be writing this month to record how this elimination protocol is going and how I reintroduce foods.  If you have tried it yourself, I’d love to hear from you or get a link to your blog.

Humira Update

I think I might be able to see remission at the end of this tunnel.  I still have some thumb pain and some ghost pains in my wrist, but my feet are easing up, as is my hip.  I’m at 20 mg of MTX weekly, 40 mg. Humira every 10 days, 400 mg. Plaquenil daily, and still hanging in with 5 mg. Prednisone a day.  The proof in the pudding will be when I can completely come off of the Prednisone.  I might have to go weekly on Humira to do that, though.

Humira is a weird drug.  I do sometimes have what I call the Humira hangover where I feel wiped out the day of or after an injection.  Sometimes it’ll be delayed a few days.  I also have strange ear fullness akin to pain and sore throat and some increased allergy like nasal symptoms.  I guess that is a small price to pay to be able to hold a cup again, get dressed, walk.

I was virtually pain free the week before school started again, but I guess stress really does exacerbate symptoms, so starting back to school has been a bit of a set back.  I am just trying to get enough sleep each night.  The extra exercise on school days is good though.  I walk 7500 steps just during a reg school day and it doesn’t take much extra to get 10,000.

I’d like to hear from you if you take Humira, and especially if you take it for RA.  Leave a comment about your experience.  Has it worked?  How long have you been on it?  Side effects?

PS:  I am starting year 19 of teaching Special Education and year 2 of teaching elementary Autism.  I love my class this year and I’m looking forward to a great year.

A teacher’s Summer and Yoga!

Summer.  Teachers live for it.  Don’t get me wrong- we are super excited in August stockpiling all those nifty school supplies and planning our room theme with the year stretching out like a ribbon of unexplored highway.  We come back and work day and night to get those rooms ready and greet those new little faces.  The air is ripe with possibility and we are the world’s optimists.  We work feverishly and we’re exhausted, but luckily there is a long weekend right around the corner.   Labor Day to Christmas flies by.  We return in January to a fragmented month banked by Christmas vacation and the MLK Jr long weekend, and before we know it, it’s February also known as the beginning of the wilderness. This time between Groundhog Day and Spring Break is where we begin to show a little wear and tear around the edges and we begin praying for snow days.  The weather channel becomes our favorite website or channel and we watch fervently for the southern storm which will give us an opportunity for a delay or even better a day in our jammies to catch our breath or catch up on our planning, grading, IEPs, laminating file folder activities or PECS, etc.  Spring Break dawns like an answered prayer and goes by in a flash and we return rested and ready to plow on toward summer.  By late May, we are shells of our former selves- veritable trolls who rarely clean house, eat right, or get enough sleep.  We dream about early retirement, but summer looms like a beckoning oasis in the harshest desert.

Every teacher knows that the first week or two off is just like the first pancake or two- right in the trash.  We go into a death spiral of languid escapes like sitting in our pajamas catching up on social media until we are suffering from the worst kind of inertia.  It happens effortlessly.  We think, wow, we have an entire summer to clean out the closets, list all that junk on ebay, plan and execute the perfect vacation, plan our entire next school year, catch up on all those doctor appts., read at least 10 books, go out to lunch with all our old friends we have ignored for another year, and go on cool day adventures with our kids or grandkids, and lose those stubborn pounds we put on this winter by working out.  One day, we come back reality and realize that we do not have three months off, that we barely have 10 weeks and oh how quickly that will go.  Then, a vacation or a project kicks us into gear, and before we know it, it’s the 4th of July.  That’s when the first alarm goes off, holy shit, my summer is almost half over and I haven’t even (well, you can fill the blank here).  Then there is that mid-point, where I find myself today, when another month of summer lies before me like a sparkling, shimmering pool.  Now, I will live more intentionally and savor each day, unwrapping it like a unique chocolate truffle, a new flavor and mouth feel each day.  This is strictly metaphorical since I am off the carbs again, but you get the idea.


This morning I decided to go to yoga class at an actual yoga center in a metropolitan area.  This is sort of where you would expect me to be, but then, not so much because while I have always gravitated toward the granola, I’ve never been inclined toward yoga.  As a younger woman, I didn’t get it.  How could all that standing and leaning over and lying down do anything for you?  Fast forward to that rocky precipice we call menopause and chronic illness [Rheumatoid Arthritis if you haven’t been reading this bitchfest of a blog], and you begin to “get it.”  So, yeah, I get it now.  I should have been eating better–from the years of Capt’n Crunch and Lucky Charms to the young woman stuffing Hershey bars and Kisses like somebody needed those wrappers back to the donut-loving, carb-worshipping. trainwreck who woke up one morning and could not walk on her broken little feet.  A body needs to move.  It doesn’t have to run marathons, although I’m not discounting those and one day I might get on that bandwagon, but right now, my joints need to be stroked out of their gel-lock by deliberate movement that elongates and opens all those chakras.

So, I studied the center’s menu and settled on a class for 50+ year olds.  I am only 51, but I thought, I might find a class of blue haired ladies I could keep up with.  I dug the yoga mat I purchased online 3 years ago out of my spare room closet and tossed it into the back of the car.  I put on my yoga pants, because we love those things whether we have ever taken a yoga class or not.  I’m sure you feel me here.  I donned a loose t-shirt and headed to class.  I had to park around back and walk around the two-story business complex, up a hill, and loop back around to the front where the yoga center is situated.  This 9:45 am walk was smack in the middle of my morning stiffness time and so I had several joints and tendons yelling at me as I climbed the hill in the hot morning sun.  My left hip was screaming, my right Achilles tendon was moaning, and my left foot [that feels like a bone might just poke on through at any moment] was whining as usual.  I thought, omg, what am I doing here?  I walked in to the center and was greeted by a kindly little woman with heavy rimmed glasses and salt and pepper hair pulled back into a perky pony tail.  She was wearing a cute little kimono-like top and some loose capris and she asked if I was the new sign up.  I said yes, and this would be my first real yoga class.  She was incredulous and asked what made me decide to come.  I said, because this was a 50 and over class and I was diagnosed with RA a year prior and thought this might help.  I knew from her bio that she too was an RA survivor and she quickly shared that remission came after she took up yoga more than 10 years ago.  I was in.

The yoga studio was quiet, with shiny blonde wood floors, windows looking out toward a wooded area across the highway, and colorless with gray walls and white trim.  The class participants were quite varied.  I chose to place my mat between a short, muscular, bald man of about 65 dressed totally in black and a plus sized woman of about 60 with a kind face and a graying pony tail.  I was the youngest in the room, but also the greenest.  I had to watch what other people were getting off the shelf.  Do I want the foam blocks, the blanket rug thing, the pillow bolster, or the bean baggie thing?  I had no idea, so I took one of everything.  I was way in the back of a room with about 15 or more mostly women, but there were two quite dignified looking men.  Everyone sat criss-cross applesauce waiting for the class to begin with their hand palms up on their knees.  I had to strain to keep my back straightened as it wanted to fall into the slouchy “c” of the computer user.  Keeping my spine in a straight line was an exercise unto itself and my hips, especially left, were dying in this position.

We began with a melodic group Om and then went straight into child position where, with my head down, forehead to mat, I could not see what I was supposed to be doing, and as I am auditory learning challenged [this gives me tons of empathy for my students who are primarily visual learners], I had no idea what I was supposed to be doing down here.  My ass was indeed in the air though, flailing about, and I had to concentrate on keeping those straight line.  At one point, I sort of laid my cheek on the mat and fell into a private giggle about this particular quandary I was in.  Later, on our feet, we entered the warrior pose– now I was made for this pose.  The teacher said, “I could see your face become warrior like as you entered this pose.”  I enjoyed lunging and back bending in the warrior until a wave of nausea came over me.  It’s warm in the yoga room and I had only had a bit of cheese and half apple for breakfast, luckily, or I think I would have up-chucked onto that shiny light wood floor.  I had to leave to go out and get my bottle of water and take a sip and make sure I was not going to actually vomit.  False alarm, but strong evidence that, yeah, yoga does stimulate the organs and get that digestive train rolling out.  By the time we arrived at the part where we got to loll about on the bolster pillow on the floor and meditate, I was all in.

In the end, I felt better than when arrived, and that was enough proof that this was where I needed to be.  I plan to go back and am excited about the possibility of attending a restorative yoga class where you get over an hour of all floor pillow-hugging stretches and meditations.  Apparently a guy named Steve teaches that class and his voice is quite soothing.  I will leave you with a video I found.  I am not a skinny girl. I have never been the long lean willow of a woman.  Even at my tiniest, I always had curves.  Currently, I am between a size 12 and 14, so I am not particularly over-sized, but neither am a I what you typically envision when you see the yoga devotee.  This video made me laugh out loud– lots of good tips🙂.

Fat Girl’s Guide to Yoga

Namaste’ [Yeah, I think I’ll stay]

What I wish people knew about RA:

I found this article today on and overwhelmingly, these things ring so true.  I decided to make my own list.  Hopefully, if you love someone who has RA, you will take the time to read this list.

Community Thoughts: What Do You Wish More People Knew About RA?

My list:

1.  My sister was dx with RA 10 years or so before me.  I thought I understood.  I had NO IDEA.

2.  I don’t know what it is like any longer not to hurt somewhere.

3.  I get really tired of compensating and asking for help at times like when my hands just won’t work.

4.  I’m pretty much tired all the time.

5.  There’s a world of pain and fatigue behind this smile.

6.  I have always taken pride in being strong and independent; this disease tries every day to take that from me.

7.  I feel like I am battling a monster every single day.

8.  I get it- you don’t understand, and even when you try, you still don’t really understand.

9.  It never goes away.  I don’t get to look forward to a cure.  All I can hope for is chemical remission where the drugs that put me there could also take me out in any number of other ways.

10.  I feel like I have aged 5-10 years in the 15 months since my diagnosis.  This frightens me.  Sometimes I just cry.

So, wow.  This list makes me sound really self-centered- it’s all “I, I, I, and I.”  That’s another thing this disease does.  It makes you feel self-absorbed and whiny.  That is so far from who I think I am.

The most important thing for you to know, though, is this:

I have RA, but it does not have me.  I will not stop fighting.  

Gifts RA has given me:

1.  I live in the moment a little more.

2.  I have more compassion for people who live with chronic pain… for people in general.

3.  I think I am kinder and gentler on the daily.

4.  I have let go of all the anger I used to hold on to, which could have contributed to the firing up this disease/state of inflammation.

5.  I practice mindfulness and forgiveness more often.

So, as always, with loss, there are gains.  I imagine I will find more gifts as I go along.  ~Peace.