Monday, May 27, 2013

Appalling Statistic: Military/Veteran Suicides Have Reached 22 Per Day

On Memorial Day we give thanks to those who have served our nation.   To those who have given their lives to protect and defend our freedom, we pay our respects.  But one sacrifice that is unbearable to accept is the suicide rate of active military and veterans. 

According to CNN statistics, there were more military deaths from suicide than from combat in 2012.  We know there is a problem.  It is not hard to imagine the unspeakable horrors soldiers have witnessed, the losses, the fears, the financial concerns, the readjustment and employment issues, health issues, the vast array of possible physical, mental and emotional handicaps that war and destruction bring to the doorsteps of the young men and women who serve.

The New York Times reports that "the Pentagon’s first department-wide suicide prevention policy, to be released this year, will require “leaders to foster a command climate that encourages Department of Defense personnel to seek help,” Jacqueline Garrick, acting director of the Defense Suicide Prevention Office, told Congress in March."

There is help for soldiers struggling with mental and emotional trauma:

[photo credit: <a href="">The U.S. Army</a> via <a href="">photopin</a> <a href="">cc</a>]

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Angelina Jolie's Double Mastectomy & Gene Patenting

We are not our breasts.
If you haven't already, you can read Angelina Jolie's New York Times op-ed to understand her carefully reasoned decision to undergo a prophylactic double mastectomy. I applaud her decision to publicly share her experience.

As a celebrity, Angelina enjoys a platform from which she can speak internationally, amplifying the power of her message.  In sharing her story, she has directed a brighter spotlight on breast and ovarian cancer.

She addresses the most essential issues of womanhood, motherhood, beauty, femininity and family.  In her candor, she added her distinct voice to the destigmatization of perceived imperfection. Her bold, controlled and direct discussion of her choices delivered the message that when faced with illness or a personal crisis, there is no place for shame or secrecy. For those among us who have been challenged, it is a call to our best selves to become beacons, guides and escorts to those who follow in our footsteps.

Allowing time for private healing for both herself and her loved ones, Angelina bypassed the press, the paparazzi and the celebrity voyeurs.  But when Angelia spoke in her own time and in her own voice, it resonated with a simple elegance.

Thank you to all celebrities who  have reached out to us to share your challenges. Whether encompassing your physical, emotional or mental health issues, or those of your parents or your children, you remind us that pain and suffering know no bounds.  Not money, not fame, not prestige, not power nor influence can shield any one of us from the dangers of the human condition.  You remind us that the truest measure of wealth is health.

Thank you, Angelina, for speaking from your heart to ours.  But there is still more work to be done. Please use your eloquent voice to speak out against BRAC1 and BRAC2 gene patenting.

On its website, the ACLU asks, "Did you know that private companies can patent genes in your body? A company called Myriad Genetics "owns" two genes known as BRCA 1 and BRCA2 –or Breast Cancer 1 and Breast Cancer 2. Women with certain mutations in these genes have a strong chance of getting breast or ovarian cancer.

This has very dangerous implications for women’s health and scientific research.

The government should not be granting private entities control over something as personal and basic to the human body as our genes. Moreover, granting patents that limit scientific research, learning and the free flow of information violates the First Amendment."

The ACLU  argued it's case against gene patents before the U.S. Supreme Court on April 15, 2013.  They expect a decision this summer.  You can learn more about this issue from Breast Cancer Action.

[photo credit: <a href=""></a> via <a href="">photopin</a> <a href="">cc</a> ]

Monday, May 20, 2013

10 Truths About My Wabi-Sabi Life

Chihuly Glass Sculpture in Seatle
You’ve found me!  Our journey begins with 10 truths about my wabi-sabi life that will ground your understanding of how I’ve come to this place.

1.   Born in 1951, I've got plenty to say about
all things Baby Boomer.  Hey, I'm a proud, card carrying member of AARP.  I get discounts!  Actually, I've got plenty to say about most things so my posts will range from the universal to the personal.  I like to consolidate my thinking in the short essay format.  Perfect for blogging.  I'm waaaay too verbose for Twitter.

2.   I've been blessed with two adored daughters.  Infertility, miscarriages, difficult deliveries got things off to a rocky start, but I would do it all again.  The only thing better than one daughter is two!  They amaze, inspire, and educate me. They challenge me to become my best self.  Though far from perfect, they are simply perfect to me.  I like to say I had my first child to make me think I could do no wrong and my second child to humble me.  But the truth is, they have each brought me some of the happiest days of my life, some of the scariest and some of the saddest.  They have given me their permission to "go there" should a post warrant a recounting.   

“Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.” Elizabeth Stone   And oh how we fly like the wind trying to catch up....

  1. My first marriage was arranged and I was the idiot who arranged it.  Divorce put an end to that ill-fated union.  More about my thoughts on courtship, marriage and divorce to come.
  1. As a result of my first marriage, I lived in Los Angeles for 25 years, finally high-tailing it back to the east coast in 2006 when my younger daughter was safely ensconced in college.  Now I am blissfully at home in Maryland, actually the home state of my beloved Grandma Kathryn.  Everybody needs a Grandma Kathryn in her/his life.  I can't wait to tell you why.
  1. Deceptively simple aphorisms guide my thinking, planning and doing:  “Life isn’t about finding yourself.  Life is about creating yourself.”;  “Do what you can, where you are, with what you have.”  “Leap and the net will appear.”  “You’re never too old to become what you might have been.”  “Feel the fear and do it anyway.”  Many more adages inspire, motivate and comfort me.  What are yours?
  1. I am the devoted sidekick of my blue-eyed feline companion, Rocky.  While I can love dogs, particularly my dearly departed Jake, a Wheaten Terrier, and Woody, a West Highland White Terrier, I am an avowed cataholic.  From their fur to their purr, they make my heart sing. 
  1. I love all things “home.”  Whether buying, selling, remodeling, designing, decorating, cooking, entertaining or relaxing, real estate is in my blood. Home is my nirvana. As Samuel Johnson opined, " To be happy at home is the ultimate result of all ambition."
  1. I am obsessed with healthy eating, Gary Taubes, particularly his most recent book, Why We Get Fat, paleo food (although not a strict paleo program), increasing dietary fat and eliminating grains.  While I am far from perfect in my actual day-to-day food consumption, I am 100% focused on a philosophy and a plan.  As has been said, "Shoot for the moon and you may land among the stars."  I would say I'm an 80/20 person---80% of the time I'm on track, strategic, organized and planning.  But the other 20% of the time I'm driven by cravings for thin crust pizza, ice cream, that hard, crusty rye bread heel, potato chips, and more.  Some days are great, some days better than others, some are just plain challenging.  All in all I'm in pretty good shape and pretty good health.  Oh, and let's just end with this blasphemous thought:  I don't believe in controlling cholesterol with statins.  High cholesterol alone is not a frightful devil waiting to do us in!
  1. My guilty pleasures: TV and my iPad.  Reality TV fascinates me.  Perhaps there is some relationship to my preference for non-fiction and my eternal love of the self-help genre.  My iPad is my constant companion.  I never travel without it.  I am addicted to reading and information discovery.  I can zoom from books, to blogs, to news media, to email, to the internet, to AbbleDabble Scrabble, all as my whims dictate.  My iPad is my magic carpet.
  1. And last but certainly not least, after more than 10 years of searching far and wide, I have found the man in whom my soul delights.  He is now my beloved husband.  I am over-the-moon grateful for this second chance at love.  What joy to wake up happy.  
Now that I've concluded this brief introduction, I lift my glass to you.  A toast:  May this be the beginning a long and engaging conversation.  I can't wait to hear from you!