France! The Netherlands! The Momma Hen is Taking Flight

December 17th, 2014 by under Travel Bug, Travels. No Comments.

A two decade old dream is about to come true. On December 26th, 2014 I’ll be heading to the airport with six classmates, one professor, a program director, and his wife. We’ll be journeying to Paris, France where we will be from Dec. 27th until around January 4th or 5th. At this point we will board a train and head to Amsterdam, the Netherlands where we will stay until January 9th.

Pinch me! I can hardly believe this is happening!

This is going to be the adventure of a lifetime. There are so many exciting things on our travel itinerary and so many learning opportunities.

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Boo! Surprise! Here I am

November 5th, 2014 by under The Busy Life. No Comments.

I did not fall off the face of the planet even though my posting ceased once again.

For those who may be new onlookers, Hello! I’m Jen Hen aka The Momma Hen aka “Mom, Mommy, Ma, Mother, She-who-embarrasses-me-in-front-of-my-friends.” I have a few more things I answer to regularly, but you get the general idea.

When was the last time I posted? As if I haven’t been lazy enough with posts, I’m now going to admit to being too lazy to check back at the date of my last publication. It just doesn’t seem pertinent or pressing.

“How about an update on life in The Hen House?” Well, golly gee willickers, I’m glad you asked.

Some of this may be a repeat from a previous post – I’ll apologize for not checking on my sharing of information. First things – I became a certified C-Print Captionist at the very beginning of the year. “What the heck is that?” Again, I’m glad you asked. You know how you see those Closed Captioning symbols, or see closed captioning on the television screen? I basically do that. The key difference is that I am sitting in a classroom with a college level student who is deaf or hard of hearing, live captioning in the moment, so that the client is able to read the lecture and discussion as it is taking place. Certification includes learning the proper listening skills to be as accurate, thorough, and active of a listener and “translator” of sorts as possible, and learning the software and phonetic abbreviation “language” to decrease the work of my fingers and wrists. Example? Prof. X says “Thank you for coming. We will pick up where we left off last class.” I type: “Ty f kmg. We l pk up whr we left off last kls.” That “shorthand” is typed into a software program that automatically converts everything into the full length version of all words. Meanwhile, I’m “screen sharing” with the client on whatever form of technology he/she chooses to use, so they see everything I’m typing with (typically) minimal delay. I seriously love my job. It forces expanded knowledge on whatever topic I’m captioning because I’m forced into a highly active listening role. So, at this point I’ve “taken” 8 classes that I haven’t actually enrolled in. I don’t get as much out of the classes as a student since I do not have assigned readings or assignments, but I’m able to gather a lot out of lectures. It’s really the perfect job for someone who loves learning and typing.

Aside from work, I’m enrolled full time with 15 credit hours this semester. I “might” be graduating in May. I WAS on a count down. However, at the encouragement of a professor I applied for a program that will pay for four more semesters of school. This makes the difference between a Bachelor of Integrated Studies with a focus in Health & Human Services and an area in Social Work, and a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) which allows me to gain certification as a Social Worker. With this program, I am also simultaneously obligated and guaranteed a position with the state in the Department of Community Based Services, upon completion of my BSW. At this point nothing is “official.” I made it through the campus interview and the regional interview. I am now in a “hurry-up and wait” game to hear what the state commissioner’s decision is based off her review of my application, essay, and letter of recommendations, and notes from the panels that interviewed me (2 people in first round; 4 people in second round).

I WILL be traveling abroad for a two week “Winter Break” program in France and the Netherlands. Specifically studies will be held in Paris and Amsterdam. The topic area is Gender & Sexuality. “Sexuality? What?” Yep. Sexuality. Gender: How do people identify? How do other regions of the world, specific cities in European countries, socially respond to sexual identity and expression, and gender identity and expression? How are social policies constructed? What are the differences between these cultural views and the typical American diatribe on the same issue(s)? How do these things affect various populations (ie women, men, children, transgender, lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer, questioning, heterosexual, pansexual, asexual…. you get the idea?)? That is a tiny bit of insight on the studies.

Lil’ C is in Cub Scouts. Baby M is more like “Toddler” M now. X-man is in HIGH SCHOOL and has his first girlfriend. Sigh. X, C, and M have all been growing so much during the past year. We started a “growing wall” in the house so we could watch the growth. X has grown nearly five inches in less than a year with three of those inches happening in the past three-four months. He is now as tall as Hubby Cam which feels really surreal considering when Cam and I met nearly eight years ago, X-man was just a little first grader (Lil’ C is the first grader now!).

That’s just a brief overview of what has been happening around here. I anticipate writing more soon about various topics. I have a lot on my mind to write about, as usual. I just haven’t been giving myself the time to sit down and focus on writing non-academic things.

 

What’s been going on in your lives?

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Homeless and Asking For It

April 20th, 2014 by under I'm Just Saying. No Comments.

Do you listen to your gut? Or do you listen to your head?

When I’ve seen people stand on the side of the road with a sign that says they need help – I catch myself going one of two ways with my thoughts. “I need to help this person.” or “It’s another person who doesn’t really need help.” The latter? That comes from hearing it time and again. Have you heard it? Have you said it? You know the stereotype – it’s the homeless person’s own fault they are where they are. Or if you give the person money they’re just going to use it to buy booze and stay liquored up. Or that person really has a nice vehicle hidden somewhere and a nice cellphone and a nice place to sleep – they’re just lazy and don’t want to work.

Are there some times when people are doing something deceptive? Yes. I’m certain of it. BUT –

40% of our nation’s homeless are military veterans.

Can you imagine spending days, weeks, months – in trenches – watching for an enemy. Then, coming back to your home country and trying to sleep comfortably in a box (and in this instance I’m referring to a house). A box that confines you and makes you a sitting target for whatever enemy is still lurking in your mind. You are a sitting duck. Instead – you want to be out – where you can be aware of your surroundings. Or – the nightmares that keep you awake at night and prevent you from restful sleep – the ability to reconnect with and conform to the “norms” of society – that feels more daunting than anyone who hasn’t lived it could possibly understand.

Did you know that 25%, 1/4th, of our nation’s homeless are actually employed?

They are the “working poor.” The people who are struggling and working to make ends meet. Trying to find food and pay bills they have to pay and can’t find the connection to have enough for all the necessities for an apartment, home, SOMEWHERE to live. Or else they choose to live on the streets because of the aforementioned vet scenario. Or they’ve been put in a spot not of their own volition.

We have teens on their own because they are LGBT and their families chose to kick them out or shame them so hard, out of so much pride for what they themselves deem as right or wrong from their own endoctrination, that they would rather let their child end up on their own than accept that this is WHO their child is. Period.

We have tossed mentally ill  individuals, domestic abuse victims, and those we’ve deemed “unworthy” to the side and turned a blind eye.

You don’t even have to open your window more than a crack – I get it. There are some valid concerns to be had. But would you rather give freely to someone who might actually need help and know that maybe, for a moment, you were able to give assistance to someone? Or would you rather do nothing and go to sleep that night wondering if that person received the help they need – if they actually needed it?

 

When I was driving through downtown Nashville a few months ago I kept seeing homeless people. I couldn’t possibly stop in traffic and help every single person. I don’t have endless resources. But when I was stopped in traffic and there was an elderly gentleman with an obvious limp, which I was not going to question as to its validity, I did not hesitate to hand the man some money out of my wallet. It wasn’t much. But I could hope it helped him a little.
I recently gave an elderly hitch hiking war vet a ride from one side of our town to the other. My three year old, Baby M, was getting quite testy. My gut was telling me I should really give the old man a ride the rest of the way to his destination, but I felt like I  needed to take care of my kiddo because he was fussy and it was going to be an hour round trip drive. But when I arrived home with Baby M, I couldn’t get it off my mind – “Did he find a ride? Did he make it where he was headed? Was someone else willing to follow their gut and help the man out?”

I posted a status message on my Facebook in hopes that someone on my friends list would see it and go help the man out. I should have listened to my gut and gone to help the man the rest of the way.

“Tent City, U.S.A.” is an excellent documentary. I watched it a few months ago. I have one about Skid Row in my list of things to watch on Netflix. There are some big perspectives.

There’s a lot to consider in this life. Would you rather walk through it being jaded and skeptical of your fellow humans? Or would you rather have some faith?

Are you REALLY positive that someday that couldn’t possibly be you on the side of the street holding a sign with a few weeks of dirt, the same clothes, and a hungry stomach? Are you SURE?

(So, the guy in the image below looks like he’s still in good shape – don’t get nit-picky on me, just see the point.)

PhD Homeless

Get involved in your community. If you are near/in the Nashville area – check out Open Table Nashville and Nashville Rescue Mission to see how you can help.

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This Might Make You Uncomfortable But…

April 19th, 2014 by under I'm Just Saying. No Comments.

Do I make you uncomfortable?

Talking about the poorest of the poor, the working poor, the homeless, the abandoned, the neglected, the abused, the beaten, the battered, the verbally and mentally torn and tattered, the addicts, the prostitutes, the middle class, the people fighting to survive –

YOUR NEIGHBORS, YOUR FORMER FRIENDS, YOUR FORMER CLASSMATES, THE PEOPLE YOU PASS ON THE STREET BUT PRETEND YOU DON’T SEE – Does that make you uncomfortable?

Talking about lesbian, gay, transgender, transsexual, bisexual, questioning, pansexual, polygamy, polyandry, monogamy, open relationships –

LOVE BETWEEN CONSENTING INDIVIDUALS- Does that make you uncomfortable?

Talking about rape, rape culture, rape bias, molestation, drugging, slut-shaming, whore-labeling –

VOICE GIVING – Does that make you uncomfortable?

Talking about civil unions, marriage, adoption, living wills, blended families, blended communities, voting rights and insurance rights –

HUMAN RIGHTS AND CIVIL RIGHTS – Does that make you uncomfortable?

Talking about Buddha, Vishnu, Allah, Crystal Children, Indigo Children, Crystals, Tarot, Intuitives, Mediums, Dreams, Empaths, Spirit  Guides, Angels, Jesus, God, the Holy Spirit, Catholic, Church of Christ, Baptist, Methodist, Protestant, Jew, Episcopalian, Unitarian Universalists, Agnostic, Atheist, Creationism versus Evolution –

RELIGIONS and BELIEFS – Does that make you uncomfortable?

Talking about bulimia, anorexia, bipolar, schizophrenia, depression, borderline, narcissism, sociopaths, psychopathy, PTSD –

MENTAL HEALTH – Does that make you uncomfortable?

Talking about piercings, tattoos, painting, photography, architecture, coloring, music, writing, fashion –

SELF EXPRESSION – Does that make you uncomfortable?

 

Sorry. Not sorry. I’m not. I don’t feel uncomfortable about being open minded to the fact that there are realities in this world. There are things people have to choose for themselves. Their lives are not mine to live. I don’t feel uncomfortable TALKING about things that NEED to be talked about.

My veins scream for embracing people who BELIEVE different, LOOK different, LIVE different, and LOVE in a plethora of ways. I don’t give a flying flip if they are Japanese, Chinese, African, Hispanic, Martian, Greek, French, Australian, German, Swedish, whatever. I don’t care what language they speak. I don’t care if they are Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim, Mormon, Jehovah, Catholic, Methodist, Baptist, Episcopalian, Lutheran, Pentecostal, Pagan, Atheist, Agnostic, Wiccan, or whatever. I don’t care if you’re gay, lesbian, queer, transgendered, transexual, pansexual, bisexual, polygomist, polyandrist, or whatever. All I care about is that people are decent people with decent humanistic guiding principles. What I care about is that people are given justice, that people are treated fairly, that people are treated like PEOPLE. I care that all the important issues are paid attention to. I will talk about the “tough stuff” because too often it’s ignored – too often it isn’t talked about because it is “uncomfortable.” Other people don’t want to talk about it and don’t want to deal with it. How do you solve problems? How do you resolve conflicts? Ideally… through talking. Talk things out. Talk things through. And LISTEN.

 

LISTEN with your heart.

LISTEN with your gut.

LISTEN with your SOUL and an open mind.

Recognize that life exists a whole lot differently than what and how you live it in your little 20 mile by 20 mile section of the world. You live on less than .05% of 1% of the WORLD. Do you REALLY think that what YOU do is the only right way of living and the only right way to think? THERE’S OTHER STUFF OUT THERE AND TONS OF OTHER PEOPLE WHO HAVE A RIGHT TO LIVE FREELY.

I’m speaking up about the need for everyone to recognize that there’s a reason to think beyond SELF. Think about OTHERS. Think about the GREATER GOOD. And before one claims to be thinking about the greater good – trace the thought backwards and see if you directly benefit from it – if you don’t, then you are in fact, thinking of the greater good. If you do… then you are not… then you have to decide if it is just incidental, or if it is a selfish propaganda you are supporting.

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Where the Road Might Lead

April 19th, 2014 by under The Busy Life. No Comments.

I am continually blown away by how much life has changed over the last year, let alone seven years.

I have been going through treatment for Chronic Lyme Disease. I am one of the very fortunate people who not only found a LLMD, but I have been responding exceptionally well to treatment. As a result I have been able to go back to college, pursue the end of my Bachelor Degree, and I am preparing to go on several trips this year. I feel as though I have already mentioned these things before but – I’ll mention them again. I’m pretty sure most of my readers have headed off into the blogosphere and internetweb for terrains that are watered more often. haha I went out to LA quickly in February. I am headed to Michigan in September. Rhode Island is coming up two weeks after the Michigan trip — October — my birthday this year will be spent celebrating my lovely sister’s wedding to her beautiful fiance.  This summer I will be plugging away at 12 credit hours. This fall will be an additional 12-15 credit hours, then from Dec. 26th-January 9th I will be in Paris, France and Amsterdam, Netherlands doing a study abroad with the University and preparing for my final undergraduate semester. Next Spring will find me writing my senior research project, taking a few more classes, and preparing for grad school (or an additional Bachelor degree THEN grad school) and GRADUATING with my Bachelor Degree – FINALLY.

I am not entirely certain about which road I am about to travel to get to my future career. But that’s okay because the beautiful thing about this life is that it is full of options and I do not have to travel a straight path. I have a husband who has been willing to embrace my somewhat flighty interests. I’m always localized in my interests but I never really know which route I’m going to take to get where ever I think I want to land.

There was a point in my life where options were overwhelming. That time wasn’t so long ago. I’m grateful that I’ve reached a point where options don’t feel like tedious decision making processes. Instead they feel like an exciting challenge. I get to peek around a few corners and see where it lands me. What door might open up for me next? Who knows. It’s exciting!

 

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Life is Beautiful When You Are Living It

April 18th, 2014 by under The Busy Life. No Comments.

When you are getting to live life,

when  you are breathing it in,

feeling the wind on your face,

letting the goosebumps take over your skin, making every hair follicle rise on your arms and legs.

When you are listening to the sound of the birds in the trees,

the leaves as they are blooming as new life and birth of Spring is coming.

When you are listening to the laughter of little bodies,

watching them run and play in the crisp sunshine.

When you are driving down the road with the windows open and feeling the breeze dishevel your hair

But not caring.

 

When you sit next to the camp fire on a crisp evening in the middle of April and feel the glowing ember’s heat

your jeans press against your leg reminding you that you are just a tad too close.

But you are alive and can feel the difference in the temp. The cool air meets the warmth. And you feel alive.

 

When you are able to look forward to traveling the country to see smiles on faces of people who play your heart strings and know your souls happy songs. When you know you are able to look forward to adventures with the people who are kindred to your soul.

 

Life is Beautiful When You are Living It.

 

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Falling Apart

March 27th, 2014 by under The Busy Life. No Comments.

Have you ever
thought about that person
the one you had the connection with
that no one else could get?
The person who understood you better
than you even understood yourself
to the point that you could say something
be confused
then they give you the complete clarity in a few simple words.
Have you ever had such a strong connection with someone
that you could feel
sense
know that something was wrong
even when you hadn’t talked to them?
In days, weeks, months.
Like the universe has connected your
neurons or mind. Somehow the two of you
were born from the same fibers.
Have you ever dreamed
dreams of conversations
as simple as steam
rising off
a fresh cup of coffee? 
The conversations brought you the peace you needed
in moments when you otherwise felt like the world around you
was falling
a
part.
Have you ever been able to sit with someone
in complete and utter silence
and
be
content and okay with that shared absence of sound?
Been okay with not hearing a television, or music,
but hearing breath
and a heart beat. Just sitting there.
Have you ever cried tears that start
in your gut
and rumble through your whole body because you missed someone so much that you felt
a
hole. Right there in the core. Right in the center
of your beating heart. 
In your soul.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Confessions

January 3rd, 2014 by under Parenting. No Comments.

New Year – I have some confessions to make in the new year. I’m human. I’ve had some… moments.

You know how you want to accomplish all these wonderful things as a parent? You wake up in the morning and you think to yourself, “I’m going to be super parent today and do this craft with the kids, and cook this wonderfully nutritious meal for them, and then we’re going to snuggle together and read this wholesome book teaching great moral values. Maybe we’ll even end the night with a movie as a treat.” Yeah, I have those mornings. Every once in a while I’m delusional and convince myself I’m going to be super mom and actually follow through with this dream. Sometimes I even achieve one or two goals in one day. Today, though? Today we had pizza rolls for dinner. And I fell asleep in the recliner at 7:30pm while X, C and M were playing… and I was mid chew on a cracker M had given me.

Yes, you just read that correctly. Mid. Chew. I woke up some undetermined amount of time later with an open mouth, half chewed and (surprisingly) dry cracker still in my mouth. (How did I not gag? There are advantages to falling asleep sitting upright.) I managed to stay conscious enough to finish chewing and swallow, then proceeded to pass the f-back out until X tapped me to let me know it was actually their bed time. In other words, “Yo. Slacker. It’s time for you to get up out of that chair and tuck us in. Jerk.” Sigh. No reading with the kids. No snuggles. No movie night. No craft. I didn’t even get in the floor and play with them today.

I’ve been cramming in training for a certification I have to complete by the 10th – training that I slacked on during the week of Christmas so I could spend time baking and playing and doing Christmas-family-stuff. As a result I feel like I’m now losing a lot of time. I woke up this morning after five hours of sleep and proceeded to slink through the house before anyone else woke up so I could ease out the door and head for the nearest coffee IV drip and focus on the training away from home while the hubs was left to man the fort. He looked a little crazed when I returned several hours later. Aside from M’s injuries after performing some chair climbing stunt, everyone was unharmed and alive.

But – point being – as much as I want to live intentionally, it’s still a struggle some days. Some days (more often than I care to acknowledge) I’m wiped out at the end of the night and I couldn’t keep my eyelids open with toothpicks even if I wanted to. My eyelids would just have a few piercings and I’d walk around looking like I was trying to start some new warped fad.

I’m hoping that with the general set-up of my semester and the job hours, this will be a semester with a lot of changes that afford more structure to time around the house. I keep telling myself I just need to get through this training (which — I should get back to right now… )
What about you? What do you try to accomplish but feel like you fall short on more than you like?

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It’s a New Year – A New Post

January 1st, 2014 by under The Busy Life. No Comments.

2013… Wow. What a year! No really… what a year.

The year in review.

Migraines and stutters began the year. Brain fog and what-was-I-sayings were common place with my own built in t.v. censors only all my eyes were censoring were random spots that didn’t need censoring.

A semester that brought tears despite the most studying I’ve done EVER. In all of my schooling career (and WOW what a long time that has been).

Another degree change. New friends. Old friendships ending. Rekindling old friendships. Continuing some of the best friendships I could ever ask for and deepening them to a level I never could have possibly imagined.

Going through some gut wrenching sobs and some tough battles, but rising up and rising higher than I’ve ever risen before.

Finding a doc like none-other that has been treating me so effectively that I’m in better shape than I’ve been in a few years with so many things reversed in a short period of time. Woot!

Kid challenges – lots of lessons, lots of heartaches, lots of laughter, lots of successes. Lots of hugs and kisses. We read stories and played games. The oldest two and I went adventuring in Florida and swam in the ocean. We went to Disney and Lil’ C had his first Disney adventure which lit up his face. I cried tears of pure joy as I held C on my hip and put my other arm around X-man. “Are you sad, Mom?” C asked. “No honey. I’m not sad at all. Sometimes I get so happy I cry tears of happy. These are tears of super happy.” “Oh!” And he resumed watching the fireworks light up the night sky behind The Magic Kingdom. It was magic in that place.

Bonnaroo – four days of musical vibrations running through my body. Waking up in the morning to sound checks on the main stage so very close to my tent. Going to sleep hearing the music float over the wall dividing camping from Centeroo. The tears of PURE JOY that poured from my eyes as I watched Paul McCartney on stage playing Paperback Writer, Eleanor Rigby, Hey Jude, Lucy in the Sky, When I’m 64…. the fireworks during Live and Let Die… OHHHHhhhhh the fireworks and that man playing his piano with the pyrotechnics going off all around him and through the crowd. Him strumming those guitars. Him singing into the microphone with the voice that reflects his age but still resonates with that signature sound I and millions of others would recognize anywhere. Jack Johnson. Of Monsters and Men inducing goosebumps all over my body with their tribal closing to their set with Yellow Lights. The free spirited fun of He’s My Brother, She’s My Sister. The raw true country of Kacey Musgraves. The dark smooth alto sound of Trixie Whitley and watching the way she slams the palm of her hand against her electric guitar. The way she glides her fingers over the ivory keys of the piano. Watching the DJ spin and the way people are moved by the electronic techno of Pretty Lights. Feeling the mood of Ed Helm’s. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis moving 30K+ people to raise one finger in unison to show the unity of support for SAME LOVE. And the humor of Thrift Shop while wearing a fur coat in 80+ degree weather. Watching him crowd WALK – the trust he has in his fans. Alt-J. Trombone Shorty. Animal Collective. Method Man. Jim James. Von Grey. —– The meditation experience with The Art of Living group in Planet Roo. Watching people hoolahoop and slack line and paint and be free and dress freely and speak freely. Feeling… HOME.

There were some downs… I could focus on the downs, but that’s not my style. I have so many WONDERFUL ups that really gave me such THRILLS this year. There are concerns, there are things that could have been better, there are a few things that will carry over to 2014 that need continued attention (Lyme, Baby M’s medical stuff, etc.), but ultimately? The 2013 year is over. I’ve lived. I’ve had a lot of experiences. I’ve learned a lot of things about a lot of different topics and a lot of people and about myself.

In 2014 — Resolutions? Yeah, I’m making them:

  1. Continue on a path to Healing my WHOLE self from Within through Nutrition and Growth.
  2. Gain certification as a C-Print Captionist.
  3. Graduate from college with my BIS!
  4. Become even more open hearted and open minded
  5. Grow as an individual
  6. Read more books – for pleasure
  7. Read more books – for knowledge
  8. Center myself more
  9. Yoga. To help with 1, 4, 5, and 8.
  10. QUIT SMOKING. THIS is the year. For 1, and 8.
  11. Grow as a MOTHER.
  12. Make arrangements for my next program of study by the end of 2014.
  13. And… this is going on the resolution list… GO to Bonnaroo 2014 NO MATTER WHAT. For 1, 4, 5, 8, 9.
  14. Meditate – for all of the above.
  15. Write more – in general.
  16. Play piano more – in general.
  17. Stretch my mind more – in general.

Seems like a lot – but I’m going to do it. I’m writing it down on a piece of paper and hanging it on my bulletin board where I can see it frequently.

What was your 2013 like?

What do you hope for in 2014? Do you have resolutions?

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The Position of a Momma Hen

December 28th, 2013 by under The Busy Life. No Comments.

I’ve written numerous times on my views – I’m not completely one way or the other (liberal or conservative). Labels don’t really fit me – and I tend to be fluid with some topics while steadfast in others.

I’ve found that I avoid debates more these days. I’ve gotten a bit exhausted with the concept of debating. Exhausted with the redundancy of making points that only fall on deaf ears. I’ve often found myself in the midst of debates that fall on moral values and the number one rule in persuasive speaking is to avoid persuasive presentations that try to change the moral base of your audience. This is the core set of values in people and it is practically impossible to achieve in a limited amount of time. It’s something that has to happen with something so earth shattering, with such an epiphany, such a lightbulb of a moment, that a relatively short segment of time is practically an improbable amount of time to say something that profound.

It doesn’t seem to matter how many times I’ve brought up the scientific lectures and research on chromosomal DNA. Nor the bio-chemical brain matters. It doesn’t seem to phase people that psychological and psychiatric studies have repeatedly turned their hypothesis into theories. The emotional pleas based on experience and the stories that have been told to me in confidence (and repeated only in the most delicate of matters to select people in delicate ways) are greeted with eye rolls or off the cuff remarks of how they are exceptions instead of quid-pro-quot. But I digress – my calling seems to be, at this time, to work with the people who are in these demographics that I understand and feel empathy and compassion for right now instead of working on the advocacy side of the lines.

I do not doubt that a day will come when advocacy is going to come back into the forefront of the battles I wage. For the time being though, I will continue to immerse myself in the technical writings, the literary works, the research and the journals. I will strive to sponge as much knowledge and understanding into my veins as I possibly can on all those human rights topics that shake me to my core in earth shattering waves of emotion.

Gender diversity. Human sexuality. Women’s rights. LGBTQ rights. Civil rights. HUMAN rights. Rural challenges. Suburban and urban challenges.

Studying – The continued culture of “sweeping” things under the proverbial rug. Shaming various groups. Attempting to silence those who speak up and speak out. —- And learning how to fight against those things effectively.

Seeking out mentors who have gone before and who have broken down barriers for people. Paved the first walk ways. Seeking to understand how the revolutions have formed and have begun changing the systems of oppression for every group before and every group present and every group ahead.

I will continue to do my best to teach my children the importance of rising above social injustices and giving people dignity, respect, and safety. Men, women, and children. Give a voice to those who are weak. Help them find their inner strength and their inner voice. Help my boys use the gifts that they possess to SEE what is in front of them even when people are not talking. Because perceptiveness and intuitiveness are gifts which must not be wasted when they are present. We must practice, polish and use these skills for a greater good. They must listen to their gut instincts when their guts are telling them that things are not right for people and that they need to help people. Because helping is important – turning a blind eye is never the way, even if it is the easier way. The hard way is the way to self-growth and self-discovery in the midst of selflessness.

Compassion does not equate to compromising character. Doing what is right means swallowing pride and extending an olive branch. When the olive branch is not accepted, you extend it again. When it’s not accepted again, you extend it yet again. Sometimes, you recognize when it’s time to stop making your arm ache and you simply wait for the other person to reach back out.

Silence is loud. Silence is deafening.

But silence can also be peaceful and welcome and golden.

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