Why I Love America


Today saw the inauguration of Barak Obama as a second term President of the United States, a peaceful re-affirmation of his leadership of this country for the next four years. I was happy to see him sworn in, but I would have been happy to have seen Mitt Romney sworn in as well.


Because every time there in an inauguration I am reminded of how lucky we are in this country to have peaceful elections and transitions of power without bloodshed (literally, if not figuratively).

The swearing in ceremony and all of the celebration that goes along with it, is not celebrating any one person, but, to me, is a celebration of the greatness of our system of government as flawed as it might be at times.

That’s all I have to say tonight. I am so very grateful to be American. I am grateful to be able to vote. I am grateful to be able to express my opinion in public, on Facebook or in this blog.

Mostly I am grateful that I don’t have to fear for my life or the lives of my loved ones with every change in power in my country.


We Need To Talk About Connecticut

Capturing the grief that is so overwhelming we slump over without strength.

Capturing the grief that is so overwhelming we slump over without strength.

This post is going to be hard to write. I have too much to say and not enough writing ability to say it the way I think it. I’m heartbroken, but worse, I feel frustrated and helpless.

Why helpless?

Helpless because this is going to happen again and again. The variables that go into a situation where an individual decides to kill innocent people as some kind of statement are too diverse for there to be an easy fix. If you look at Facebook, of course, you’ll find all sorts of solutions.

  • better gun control
  • more people carrying guns
  • better parenting
  • better school security
  • more religion in schools
  • less violent video games and media

I could go on and on.

It’s easy to put a firm statement out there about what needs to happen so this doesn’t happen again. It’s human nature. If we think we know the solution then we can control the problem, and who wouldn’t want to feel like they have control over this problem? We never want to think of ourselves or our kids in that kind of mortal danger. We’d be paralyzed if we thought about all of the “what ifs” every day.

The primary issue here is not gun control, although I do believe it has a role to play, and it is certainly not about school prayer. Seriously, if you are trying to tell me that God needs to teach us a lesson by having someone kill 6 & 7 year olds and their teachers, then you need to take a hard look at the God you believe in.

WTF? Do people who post this think of the ramifications of what this actually means???

WTF? Do people who post this think of the ramifications of what this actually means???

The issue here is mental illness, and the lack of resources available to help individuals and families who are dealing with it. Even though it seems like there is an overabundance of little pills for all kinds of mental problems like depression and anxiety there is actually very little help for and understanding of major psychiatric issues and personality disorders. Add into that, the difficulty in getting services for psychiatric disorders and the stigma surrounding mental illness, and you have a recipe for disaster.


Addressing mental illness is definitely a step in the right direction, but it is fraught with difficulties. What do we do with a child who displays sociopathic signs? Lock them up and throw away the key…just in case? You may be thinking that, yes, that is exactly what we need to do to keep everyone safe, but what if it was your child? They haven’t done anything yet. You love them, and you’re scared of them at the same time. Do you condemn them to an institution? Do you hope for the best? Who do you turn to for help when everyone looks at you strangely when your child acts out? When everyone blames you because that is easier than admitting that mental illness is random?

I am not ashamed to admit that many members of my family have struggled with varying degrees of mental illness. Some have gotten better with intervention, some haven’t. Some refuse intervention, but they are adults and that is their right, I guess. Unlike physical illness, mental illness is still shrouded in shame and secrecy. It’s interesting to me how no one blames a parent if their kid gets leukemia, but if the child is diagnosed as bipolar then the parents must have done something to cause it. This type of judgmental attitude needs to change.


As it stands, I don’t know what the answer is, unless it is to say that there is no one answer, but opening up about mental illness and how to treat it is a big step in the right direction.

To quote President Obama from his Newtown Speech:

We will be told that the causes of such violence are complex, and that is true. No single law, no set of laws can eliminate evil from the world or prevent every senseless act of violence in our society, but that can’t be an excuse for inaction. Surely we can do better than this.


If you are a reader, I would like to suggest you read “We Need To Talk About Kevin” by Lionel Shriver. It is a gripping and chilling book about a mother whose son has committed a mass murder at his high school. The story deals with the aftermath she must face but also tells the story of how she knew there was something wrong with him from early childhood and the desperation she feels to understand and change it.


From the blogosphere, I think everyone needs to read this. It is currently making the rounds on Facebook under the title: “I am Adam Lanza’s Mom


Written by a mom who has a son who, by all accounts could grow up to be another name in the news. As a mother I am so sad for her, but also want to be sure no one ever gets hurt by her son. I hope that this family gets the help they need so they can all be at peace. A needed perspective from the other side of the story.

Finally, I wanted to confess, I hadn’t cried about this news story since it broke. I was just to stunned to process it properly. Watching the President’s speech from Newtown, got me choked up, until he read the names of those precious babies who were snatched so violently from this world. Then I was sobbing, for the fear they must have felt, and for the anguish their parents are feeling now. And yes, I even feel a great deal of compassion for the shooter’s father and brother. They are left alone, without answers and I imagine a great deal of guilt.

Thank you for making it this far. There are a lot of blogs being written right now on this subject. If you feel the way I feel, please like or comment, but most of all share. Get the word out and drown some of the noise out there on the internet.

Now, if you’re a parent go and give your kid an extra squeeze. They will look at you like you’re crazy (at least mine did) but that is because they are blissfully ignorant of the fragility of life, and that is part of what makes them beautiful and precious.


Shower the People

I dutifully posted a reminder on my FaceBook wall to watch last night’s final presidential debate.

However, I didn’t watch it myself, and here’s why.

I had better things to do, and not in the snarky sense of “debates suck and why would I watch” but in the very real sense of I had a choice to sit and watch my daughter practice for a band competition or watch the debate and I chose my daughter.

I’m a band geek at heart, so having a child in the largest marching band in the country is pretty exciting for me. They are also deep into marching competition practices which means they are working hard and perfecting every section of their show. And my daughter is a great marcher. And I love her. And I want to show her how much watching her do what she loves makes me happy.

The Allen High School Band at their last competition a week and a half ago.

I am most definitely not one of those super self sacrificing uber-moms. I wish I was, but I care too much about my own life to be totally selfless. (If you’re a fan of the Divergent books, you know I would never be in Abnegation.) I do however try to find balance between the time I spend on me and the time I devote to the people I love, and sometimes, the issues of the world just do not fit into that equation.

As much as I believe it’s important to be informed and news savvy, I also believe in retreating to that little cocoon that is my husband and kids…the rest of the world be damned.

This weekend an acquaintance of mine lost a child to SIDS, and an acquaintance of my husband was killed in a motorcycle accident. When things like that happens, it is human nature to stop and think about your own mortality and the mortality of the people you love. We can’t always live each day like it’s our last, but we remember to appreciate that the time we have together is limited and do our very best to enjoy it.

And that it why I spent my evening with friends and with great music instead of fuming over the TV.

And I don’t regret it one. little. bit.

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To Chik-fil-A or To Not Chik-fil-A, That Is the Question


A friend e-mailed me today asking if The Passionate Moderate was going to wade in to the Chik-fil-A conversation. I had been mulling it over, but her e-mail really got me thinking about it more. To be honest, I had been pretty ambivalent about the whole controversy, mostly because I never eat at Chik-fil-A anyway so my reasons for not doing so are irrelevant.

As you may know from my previous posts, I am very much in favor of marriage equality. My poor daughter who is all about gay rights is also a Chik-fil-A lover and has decided that she can’t patronize the restaurant any more because it isn’t in line with her most strongly held beliefs. I’m really proud of her for taking a stand, especially because it’s been so hard for her. Giving up Chik-fil-A is really a sacrifice.

That said, I’m not jumping on the boycott bandwagon.

Here’s why…

First of all, I’m not entirely happy with the snarky tone this boycott has taken. It’s all gotten a bit sanctimonious if you ask me. The owners of Chik-fil-A have the right to their opinion, and each of us has a right, as consumers, to voice our opinions through our dollars. If we like a company‘s product, and/or philosophy we buy it; if we don’t we don’t. More on that in a minute.

Secondly, most free-standing Chik-fil-A restaurants have independent operators who may or may not share the founder’s views on gay rights and marriage equality. I kind of hate the idea that someone who is brave enough to start a business risks failing because of issues outside of their control. Yes, yes, I know what you’re about to say. They should research the company they are signing on with, and that’s life. True, but I still don’t like it. I know that one of the owners a Chik-fil-A in my super conservative part of the world is in fact quite liberal. A tough situation.

The biggest reason I have for not necessarily jumping of the anti-Chik-fil-A train can be summed up in this great Gene Wilder meme posted on Facebook  earlier this week:

There it is in a nutshell.

In the highly consumer driven culture of the United States we buy a wide variety of products from many countries. We invest in companies we may not know a thing about. We do support the oil-rich and women’s rights poor countries of the Middle East. We buy cheaper products from China which has an awful human rights record, and on and on it goes. Where does your food come from? Where do your clothes come from? What companies do you invest in and what is their record domestically and/or around the world? It’s funny how we can ignore some  human rights abuses and we get so fired up over others. Dare I even mention our own government and what may or may not go on behind closed doors… torture, covert missions, lobbying, and not to mention how our tax dollars are spent?. How many examples do I need to give to make the point? We can make moral decisions in just about every area in our lives; to actually think about it is daunting. It boils down to the proverb our moms always told us, “Pick your battles”.

So I guess what I’m saying is that a boycott like this always seems a bit hypocritical to me. We can get super self-righteous over one issue while ignoring a mountain of issues behind us,  and while we should take stands for what we believe it and seek to shed light on the issues that concern us, maybe we do it in a spirit of meekness that acknowledges we are only making a tiny difference but that we hope that all of us making our tiny differences together will turn into a world changing force for good.

So if you’re moved to give up Chik-fil-A and take a stand. Good for you. Let people know why you’re doing what you’re doing and then let it go. They will either make their own change or not based on what moves them. And, if you’re really feeling the stress of not eating there anymore there are fantastic fake Chik-fil-A chicken recipes on Pinterest.

(The secret is in the pickle juice!)

Let me know what you think in the comments. Have you decided to take your business elsewhere or are you supporting Chik-fil-A? What other issues have you taken a stand on? We’d all love to know, and don’t forget to like or share this article!

“ObamaCare” and the End of the World As We Know It

Chicken Little (2005 film)

Chicken Little (2005 film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I hadn’t even seen the news about the Supreme Court ruling before I had one of the funniest things I’ve seen pop up on my Facebook feed:

Ha ha…..whoever wrote this is a genius. Very, very true.

There are many things I don’t understand in this world, but the number one thing may very well be that people are so willing to panic before even knowing if there is a problem.

Here is the thing: I have ultra liberal friends who think the passage of the healthcare bill is the best thing to come out of Washington since Abe Lincoln. I have ultra conservative friends who think that if you look at the nearest hillside you’ll spot Nero fiddling….but what we should recognize is that both sides are most likely wrong.

I think we can all agree that the healthcare system in this country needs fixing, and the expense involved is only one of the issues. Unfortunately, the complexity and size of the problem makes reform extraordinarily difficult, and let’s face it, any plan for change is going to be met with a lot of resistance. There is no way healthcare reform is going to make things better for everyone, the point is to make the system sustainable and accessible for as many people as possible, and leaving the system “as-is” is not going to be an option for much longer. So the question on the table right now is this: Is “ObamaCare” the best fix?……….Well, who knows????? How about we give it a chance to work first and then decide?

I have my reservations to be sure, and there are things I’ll be watching as this bill gets put into effect. I’m especially concerned about what the insurance companies are going to do with this sudden windfall of clients. I wonder how healthcare services are going to be charged once there is no need to bump up prices to recover income that was lost due to clients with no insurance. In an ideal world prices for services and insurance premiums would go down, but I recognize that we live in a more Enron type of world so I’m not holding my breath that companies are going to do the right thing.

Neither am I panicking. I don’t think this is the beginning of the end of Western society. I don’t think this is going to ruin my life or put me in the poorhouse. I do think a great deal of good can come out of this for many families in the US who will now have free or low cost insurance available to them. I know people who have children with chronic illnesses who no longer have to worry about what will happen when their kids reach adulthood and need insurance to cover their treatment costs. Those are good things.

So, I ask everyone reading this blog to take a deep breath and even if you think this is a terrible piece of legislation sit back for just a little while and see what happens. Maybe it will be better than you think. If not, then it’s time to lobby and advocate for another overhaul……. And if you are an ObamaCare supporter please look at what happens over the coming months and years and acknowledge the flaws in the plan (because there will be some) and be willing to change them. Time will tell.

I’m not willing to be a Pollyanna or a Chicken Little. If you feel the same, please like, follow, comment on, and/or share my blog. Thanks everyone for your support, great comments and blogging ideas.

The Birth Wars (Part 2)

Because I’m a nurse in the labor and delivery arena, I follow a lot of organizations on Facebook that post links to articles about birth. Last week, my midwifery school posted a link to an opinion article about the benefits of non-intervention in uncomplicated pregnancies and births. The actual article  isn’t what bothered me, it was the epic comment section.

Enter Dr Amy Tuteur, a woman who is fed up with the natural childbirth movement.

Reading the comment section was like staring at a car wreck as you pass by, or following Charlie Sheen‘s meltdown, you know nothing good can come of it, but you just can’t seem to turn away. I read for at least two hours; first I read the comments, then I went to Dr Amy’s blog and read her postings and I was just sick. Not because I disagree with her opinions because we’re all entitled to our opinions, but because of the lack of respect or compassion for women who may have a different philosophy of birthing than she does.

Some of the inflammatory things she said included that natural childbirth advocates are uneducated, that midwives learn everything they know from obstetricians and how it doesn’t take any skill to catch a baby that’s coming out alright anyway. In one fell swoop dismissing an entire profession of caregivers and the work they do. Now, I can understand her bias towards the medical model of care, and I don’t fault her for that. Hell, most women agree with her if you look at the numbers. But why the rhetoric? Why the nastiness? Why not try to talk to your audience in a way that makes them want to learn more, instead of fanning the flames of discord?

Don’t get me wrong; I know there are plenty of people on the other side of the argument who are just as inflammatory. They minimize the great service OBs do for women who have complicated pregnancies or emergencies during labor, characterizing them all as greedy and unfeeling about the women they care for and that is just as despicable.

Can’t we all just get along?

There is a huge spectrum of birth choice out there with a planned unattended home birth at one end and a planned c-section (without a medical cause) at the other. My guess is that your birth (or your wife’s or partner’s or whatever’s), like mine, fell somewhere in the middle. I tend towards the “crunchy” end of things in that I birthed with a certified nurse midwife in a hospital based birth center. I have friends who would have gotten their epidural placed at 8 months pregnant if they could have. I don’t think my births were better or more special or more gratifying than theirs. I think my births were the births I wanted.

An open discussion and trying to figure out why we gravitate to the models of care we do is a fascinating conversation, and here is where I get passionate. I don’t care what you choose for your birth, and you should never feel judged for the birth you had.  What I care about is that all women have access to good information which will guide them in the direction that’s right for them, and that when they decide on a hospital, birth center or home birth, they are supported and encouraged instead of being made to feel like they are already screwing up as a mother. Not only that, but that a full range of choices are actually available to them. What is more personal than how your baby comes into the world? Why would we ever think that one size fits all? Yes, we all want healthy moms and healthy babies, but there is more than one way to get there and “health” has many meanings including emotional and psychological health.

So next time one of these topics comes up and you feel yourself getting defensive or feeling threatened, take a deep breath and remember someone else’s choices have absolutely no impact on who you are or what you’ve chosen and if you’re ever tempted to dismiss someone else’s choices as just plain crazy, stop a minute and listen to why they did what they did. It will probably not change your mind but it will give you a new perspective to consider. Even I learned something from reading the hateful commentary of Dr Amy; I realized how important it is to me to make sure I’m informed about the latest research guidelines so that I truly know what I’m talking about when I recommend something to a client or get into a debate with someone about the risks and benefits of  an out-of-hospital birth, but most of all I realized that I could have a part in stopping some of the spite and name-calling and help us be gentler to ourselves.

And here I am, blogging because of it.

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