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Look for the Helpers

I didn’t watch Mr. Rogers as a kid. He always kind of gave me the creeps. I had never encountered anybody that was that kind all of the time, and I doubted his sincerity. And now I need to add that to the list of things I should bring up with my therapist. Regardless, as an adult I have come to love and, in times of trial, cling to a quote of his: “Look for the helpers.”


There will always be helpers. There will always be hope. There will always be a way. I am still at a loss to fully express myself after the election. I sat down to witness history, and I did. Just not the history I had anticipated. I watched as an oft ignored part of our country declared in one loud, red voice that they would not be ignored any longer. That they would not let their way of life go quietly into that good night. They raged, and we all listened in disbelief.

To the rural Americans who feel disenfranchised because their America has been slipping away from them, I am sorry. I am sorry that we didn’t listen, that we didn’t care. I am sorry that we didn’t hear your cries and that even though everyone says you’re privileged you don’t feel that way living at the poverty line. I am sorry that it has come to this, and I hope that in the years to come your situation will improve. I truly do. We are listening now.

However, we need you to listen too. As evidenced by how close this election was, we are a country divided. A deep chasm exists separating one side from the other and because of that chasm neither side can hear the hopes, dreams, fears and wants from the other. And if we can’t hear each other, we have no hope of understanding or empathizing with each other. This is a problem. This country is big enough for all of us to exist together, but only if we can understand each other. The only way for that to happen is to truly listen and appreciate where the opposite side is coming from.


I hold strongly to the belief that you don’t have to push others down in order to rise yourself, which is in direct conflict to the rhetoric of our new president. I respect the decision of our country to elect him, but I do not respect him or his hateful disparagements and I will not sit quietly by while they are said. I will not sit quietly by and watch rights being taken away from American citizens simply because they are different. There is room for all of us, and we can all rise together if we are willing to listen and try. And while we learn to do that, we need to have each other’s backs.


To the LGBTQ+ communities – I stand with you, I am your advocate.

To the people of color in this nation – I stand with you, I am your advocate.

To the women who seek equality and autonomy of their bodies – I am one of you, I am your advocate.

To the non-Christian religious communities – I stand with you, I am your advocate.


Now is the time for tolerance and acceptance. Now is the time for love. Now is the time for the helpers.



This is a good resource talking about what to do if you witness or experience racism specifically, but the information can be expanded to other scenarios as well.

This is a good strategy to use if you witness Islamaphobic harassment. Again the technique can be used in other scenarios as well.

If you are LGBTQ and need a friendly forum to express your concerns or you need someone to talk to click here for an established community who are there to help.

If you feel that your rights are being infringed upon, please check out the ACLU.

If it all feels like too much and you are considering suicide, please now that you matter, and call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline for help – 1-800-273-8255.

Use Your Vacation Hours

I will never understand why people let their vacation time pile up at work.  I mean, if you are working your dream job and you love your work, then I can somewhat understand that. After all the big goal is to find a job that you don’t need a vacation from. However, even in that situation you still need to take a vacation every so often to refuel your batteries! Or to give your brain a rest, or visit loved ones, or just to do something different. I take it back, I don’t even understand letting vacation hours pile up in that circumstance. Taking time off is good for you even if you love your job!

I was talking to a co-worker today who has over 200 hours of PTO banked – my company doesn’t differentiate between vacation or sick, it’s all PTO. I’m fairly certain that my jaw hit my chest. 200+ hours!!! That is over five week’s worth of time off. Good lord! The things I could do with that kind of time off blows my mind, and she’s just sitting on it! When I asked her why she hasn’t used any of that, she gave several answers, but the one that stuck with me the most was this one, “Something might happen, and then I’ll need it.”


Okay, there’s some sense to that. Be prepared and all that jazz. (Name those two musicals) However, tomorrow you could drop dead from a heart attack, and then what good did it do stockpiling those hours? None! Those hours could have been spent pursuing a hobby, road-tripping across the country, or sitting on a beach reading a good book. Instead, you spent them sitting on your butt at work … just in case. I don’t get it. For perspective, I am the person who keeps fully stocked earthquake survival kits at home, in my car and at work. I am all about being prepared! But that does not translate to time. I refuse to stockpile time for future use.

The fact that I lost seven family members before I could legally buy a drink, probably has a lot to do with this. There’s something about watching people you love die, especially before their time, that puts a whole new perspective on things.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s sad when anybody dies, but somebody in their nineties has done one heck of a lot of living. Someone in their forties or fifties, not so much. My mom was in her forties when she died, and my aunt was in her fifties. They still had vacation time in the bank. Not literally, well maybe literally who knows, but I can guarantee that they still had things they wanted to do.


My aunt and I had been “planning” a whitewater rafting trip for over ten years. It would come up every so often when we were together and we would both agree that we really needed to do that, because it would be so fun. Then it would be filed back onto the ‘Do It Later’ list. It has now been moved to the ‘Can’t Ever Do It” list. I guess that’s why I decided to go to England next year. I can’t really afford it, but I’m doing it anyway. One of the things on my bucket list is to see a live performance of every play in Shakespeare’s canon. As it stands today, I have seen every one of his plays, except one. And wouldn’t you know it, The Royal Shakespeare Company is mounting that exact play in Stratford-Upon-Avon in late 2016 – early 2017. So I am flying half way around the world to see a play. Why? Because I can.

Use your vacation hours.



I Just Can’t

I am the suite safety warden for my company, which means that in the event of an emergency I am in charge. It also means that every year I have to attend the annual safety meeting. In three years, that meeting has gone from the main focus being earthquake preparedness – we are in LA after all – to workplace shooter preparedness. Everything from what should be in place at a company level to help prevent an incident all the way to what to do during an incident. There is a video – Run>Hide>Fight – the three steps to try to save your life should there be an active shooter. There’s a goddamn video. And please note, that what the video doesn’t emphasize enough, is that while you’re running out of the building away from the shooter, make sure that your hands are in the air, so the cops have no reason to mistake you for the gunman. And put your cell phone in your pocket just in case. Holding something shiny in your hand is probably not the best idea. This meeting was planned well before the Orlando shooting, but its timing was poignant nonetheless.

Last week was all about rape and abuse – Brock Turner and Profiles Theater – and it looks as if this week is going to be all about shootings, and I just can’t. I have reached the point where I can’t take another headline, video clip, Facebook rant or snide comment about hatred or violence or abuse toward a people or person simply because they are different. I cannot take another comment blaming the victim’s behavior, or second guessing the victim’s motive, or spreading advice on how not to be a victim. Not one more, ‘Well, if they weren’t living in sin . . .’ I can’t. I just can’t. The victim’s part in a crime starts when the perpetrator forces their presence on the victim. Not a second before. I don’t care what they do in their everyday lives. I don’t care who they love, how they dress, or how they comport themselves. They have no culpability in the crime itself. How do I know this? Look at the fucking definition of the word. According to Merriam Webster Dictionary:


1:  a living being sacrificed to a deity or in the performance of a religious rite

2:  one that is acted on and usually adversely affected by a force or agent

a (1) :  one that is injured, destroyed, or sacrificed under any of various conditions

a (2) :  one that is subjected to oppression, hardship, or mistreatment

b :  one that is tricked or duped

One that is acted on. Their only active role is to try to stop the attack if they can. Beyond that, a victim has no action. Why do you think one of the most common feelings of victims is a feeling of helplessness? Because they had NO PART in the crime committed against them. If they had no part in the crime, they can hold no part in the blame. Until our society can truly grasp and understand that, until our society at the leadership level can stop the moral damning and undermining of certain groups of people, you can give every woman in the US a rape whistle and a can of mace and there will still be rape. You can give everyone in the US a gun to carry and there will still be shootings.

Until it is clear – across the board from political leaders to religious leaders – that all human life is sacred and worthy regardless of gender, race or sexual orientation; until it is clear that the victimizing of a group of people simply because of their differences is not condoned, this will never stop. As long as victims are blamed for the crimes acted upon them, this will never stop. As long as people of influence preach fear and hatred towards those that don’t fall in line with their own doctrines, this will never stop. Until it is known, carte blanche, that acts of hatred and dominance toward others will NOT be tolerated for even a second, this will never stop.

This will never stop. I don’t know how we will fix that sentence, and I don’t know how to live happily in a world where that sentence cannot be fixed.

Scooby Doo

It Takes a Village

I would hazard to guess that when something bad happens, or something goes wrong the majority of people have the same thought, “I want my mom.” I’m basing this theory off the fact that this is the reaction of my friends, and it is also my reaction. The former makes perfect sense. Some of my friends have absolutely awesome moms. The latter makes no earthly sense whatsoever, because I didn’t grow up with a mother. Yes, I physically had a mother until I was twenty. There was a woman with that title in my life. However, because of her disease she checked out mentally and emotionally over a decade before she physically died. Therefore, when I was upset, sick or injured it wasn’t my mom providing comfort. I honestly do not have a single memory of my mother comforting me. The truth of the matter is that she was often the cause of the upset, and the comfort afterwards had to come from me, myself and I. So if MY first reaction is that I want my mom, then I have a feeling that the majority of people have this reaction. I think it’s a societal training thing. Society tells us that mothers = comfort, therefore even if that isn’t your own experience that is still what you want.


Then it occurred to me last night, that while I didn’t get that comfort from my own mother, I can vividly remember times that I got that comfort from my friend’s mothers. Mary Kay wiping the dirt off of my face after a fall instead of simply pointing me toward the bathroom. Tammy genuinely offering to help me set something right and giving me a big hug because she knew I was upset, and no one else seemed to care. Lori teaching me how to make a meal from scratch, so I didn’t have to serve a Hamburger Helper at my first ever dinner party. Deb understanding that I had an emotionally impossible decision to make, so she told me what to do so I wouldn’t feel guilty about the choice. Amelia telling me not to be stupid, if I had to have surgery I obviously would stay at her house until I got better. Susan telling me that clearly I got the crazy from her side of the family.

I don’t know if they remember any of these moments, but they meant a lot to me. I didn’t have a mother, I had several and it has taken me years to realize that. To realize that they are the ones that taught me what I need to know. They are the ones that I want when something gets scary and I want my mom. I’ve had a bit of a rough year, and therefore I’ve wanted a mom on several occasions. None more so than this week. My fur baby, Bubba, tore his ACL. Not just torn, but severed completely. Surgery or a horrible limp for the rest of his life are the only options on the table. In my heart, I knew without hesitation what I wanted to do, but my brain needed that reassurance that can only come from a mom, that I was doing the right thing. I didn’t call all of my moms, that would be a bit excessive, but I did call one of them. I wanted my mom, and I got my mom. So thank you to all of ‘my’ moms for filling in where my own had to be absent.


Marriage Equality

I tend to stay away from politics on my blog and social media. I’ve never found those to be good platforms for that type of discourse, not to mention I have no interest in interacting with the immense number of trolls out there in the internet depths just waiting to lash out at people. So I tend to keep it to myself. However, with the recent Supreme Court ruling that has essentially opened the gates for Marriage Equality to spread across the country, I felt the need to say something.

I grew up in a small mountain town in Colorado. Technically speaking, it wasn’t even big enough to be a town, it was a village. I grew up in the suburb of a village – and you thought that there was nothing to do where you grew up! Needless to say, there wasn’t a whole lot of diversity around. I was eighteen years-old when I had my first conversation with an African American person. Let that boggle your mind for a while. There was however, a lesbian couple. One of the women worked in the middle school as a gym teacher, and despite the fact that she was always extremely professional there would occasionally be titters around the locker room like:

“I think she saw me changing clothes, how gross!”

“If you’re nice to her, she’ll turn you into a lesbian too.”

“Have you seen? They have matching lesbian haircuts.”

It always bothered me when I would hear things like this. Gym was never my favorite class as I generally had one injury or another and couldn’t participate, which of course meant that gym teachers never really liked me much. Despite this, it still bothered me to hear people talking behind her back simply because she was a lesbian. Judging her based upon who she loved. But no matter how much it bothered me, I never said anything, and I don’t know why. Maybe it was because I was afraid that that ridicule would be redirected at me and I didn’t need another reason to hate life. Maybe it was because I didn’t understand why it bothered me. Deep down I felt that what was going on was wrong, but since it seemed to be the norm maybe I was wrong and they weren’t. Who knows?

What I do know, is that I wish I would have said something. I wish I would have had the guts to call them out and ask them to stop. Not because I wanted the approval of our gym teacher, but because somehow, despite the small mountain town upbringing I’d received, I knew that it was wrong, and sitting there pretending that I didn’t hear it made me just as culpable.


I didn’t say anything then, and for that I am sorry. I can, however, say something now. I am a huge proponent of marriage equality, and for every state that starts issuing same-sex marriage certificates a part of me lightens and feels better about the state of this world that we live in. There are such better things to be spending money on than trying to block the right of two people to get married. Love is love. Whether love be between a man and a woman, a man and a man, or a woman and a woman, it is the same love. Each and every one of those people deserves the right to stand up in front of their friends and family and declare that love publicly.

I have been to both gay and straight weddings and in each one there are the same shy hesitations from being up in front of a crowd. There are the same awkward fumbles over lines or missing props. There are the same rolling eyes from kids in the wedding party who have already had their picture taken 500 times and don’t want to pose for any more. And there are the same tears of joy that well up and spill over when a bride or a groom finally realizes that they are standing in front of their soul-mate and that they are finally bound together by more than just words.

The love is the same, the rights should be the same. I stand for marriage equality and I’m no longer willing to keep quiet simply because I might become a target.

Marriage Equality

Born Under Different Moons

We were born under different moons,
Yet met early in life.
We were destined to be friends,
Though friends was not close enough.
My twin you’ll always be,
Joined by one heart beating for two.
One brain sharing the same thoughts.
You’re my better half when clouds fill my days,
My conscience when judgment slips,
My advocate and  sounding board.
My comrade in arms,
Companion in all,
In your embrace the world disappears.
All my sorrows, for just one moment, slip away.
You become the sunshine.
That ray of hope shining through that promises better days.
Until they come you let me dance in your glory,
When they come, you share in mine.
Someone to skip in the street,
Play at the beach,
Or simply share a bottle of wine.
Someone who doesn’t keep score,
But is sure that you are winning when you’re down,
And losing when you get a little too cocky.
Someone who knows all the stories,
And can’t wait to hear the ones yet to come.
Even when apart, together,
If only in thought.
Only a phone away, a short journey away.
The strength of love making the distance short.
The light of the same moon making the distance vanish, and with that love and that moon a promise is made.
In your darkest hour
When life doesn’t have a purpose
Remember this:
Live for me,
For I cannot live my life without you.
And to you I say the same:
In my darkest hour,
I’ll remember you
And live another day.


The Catch-22 of the Holidays

I love Christmas.  I love the sparkle of lights, the gaiety, the carols, the childlike wonder and excitement and the fact that people are generally nicer to one another.  It’s a beautiful thing.  But as an adult, I’ve discovered that the holidays also come with a melancholy.  A deep ache and yearning to be with those that we’ve lost, that is felt so much more acutely now than any other time of the year.  For whatever reason, I’ve noticed this more this year than in the past.  It’s very conflicting.  You know that they would want you to enjoy yourself and not spend your time grieving, but the more that you enjoy yourself the more that you wish they could be there with you.  It’s a bit of a vicious catch-22.

So you stuff those emotions down and like Clark Griswold you force yourself and all those around you to have the “Hap, hap, happiest Christmas since Bing Crosby tap-danced with Danny fucking Kaye.”  I think we all know how that works out for all involved.  Instead of acknowledging and embracing the sadness, we try to ignore it which makes everything worse.  There is a beauty and simplicity to surrendering to the ache, feeling the loss, remembering the pain and love and having a good cry.  There is nothing wrong with missing the people that we’ve lost, but I feel like society says that after a certain point we should be over it, have moved on with our lives.

I don’t think it works that way.  Every loss, every hardship, every trial and tribulation leaves its mark.  Sometimes just a ding or a crack, but other times massive breaks that cause entire pieces to fall away and be lost forever.  So we rebuild.  We find new pieces to fill in the gaps and we fortify the weak spots.  But all of our hard work and care can be stripped away in a moment by the simple act of discovering a long lost ornament that was somebody’s favorite, or a particular Christmas carol coming on right as you’re making cookies that transports you back to a long ago time. A beautiful memory of a moment that you haven’t thought of in years.  A memory that rips through all of your fortifications and reminds you of what caused the breaks in the first place.

It hurts.  It’s suffocating.  It feels like you’ve been blind-sided by a truck and that you will never be able to move again.  You curse the pain.  You curse the breaks and yearn to be whole and unblemished again.  A clear pane of glass without so much as a smudge to obscure the view. Until one day you realize that the window to your soul is now made of stained glass, and you are so much more beautiful for it.  It is the heartaches and hardships that forge our true spirits.  The obstacles that we overcome and the love, forgiveness and trust that is used to fill in and fuse those cracks and breaks caused by all that troubles us.  We are wiser for our faults.  We are stronger for our breaks. We are happier for our losses. Thus forms the mettle of true character and what is life but a play of characters?  A dancing drama unfolding every second of every day.  Those that are remembered are the intriguing, the flawed, the intricate ones that touch our hearts and remind us that the best way forward is with our chins up. Reminds us that the best way to live is with our hearts and not our heads.

So to all of the characters, embrace the ache deep inside.  Acknowledge and feel your loss, but be grateful for all that you have not lost.  For all that you have in hand and all that lays before. You may be broken, pieced back together and still healing, but you are standing and you are beautiful. Best of all, you get to choose how best to put your window back together. Personally, mine is of puppies farting rainbows and butterflies . . . because that makes me giggle.

Cease to be Funny

Are There Degrees of Loss?

Losing a loved one is never easy.  But a conversation that I had the other day has really gotten me thinking about whether or not there are degrees of loss.  Are there circumstances that make a loss easier or harder to bear?  I know that past experiences can make a big difference.  The loss of a dear pet, if that is the first death a person has encountered, can be devastating and debilitating.  On the other hand I had lost all four of my grandparents, a couple of great aunts and my mother by the time that I graduated from college.  When my childhood dog died I was sad, but since I had been through worse several times before, I was able to grieve the loss while remaining fully functional.  In essence it’s the same loss, but received very differently.  It doesn’t mean that I loved my dog any less, I was simply more accustomed to the processes involved in loss and I knew first hand that the profound ache deep inside does eventually lesson and in some cases fades into the background.


But back to this conversation that I had. A friend told me of her aunt who suddenly passed away due to an aortic rupture, leaving behind college aged children. My heart immediately went out to not only her, but her cousins whom I have never met.  Especially her cousins who found themselves in the same shoes that I walked in ten years ago.  However, I feel like their path is even harder than the one I took. When I said this to my friend, who knows my history, she assumed that I meant that it is easier when you can see the loss coming instead of having someone ripped away from you with no notice.  I was taken aback by this, because that hadn’t even crossed my mind, although there may be something to be said for that.  What was in my mind was that these girls had known their mother, had sought her advice and counsel. They lost the person that comforted them when they were sick and celebrated with them when they had victories.  My mother had not been any of those things to me, she’d been too sick.  So in essence I lost the construct in my mind of what a mother is, not the physical embodiment of a mother.

To me, this seems like an easier loss to bear.  Yes, it comes with its own complications and heart aches.  I’ve had more than one person look at me with grief-wracked eyes while uttering that “I lost something that I never had.” Which is true.  When I was home sick from school I not only took care of myself, but my mother as well.  I never confided in her, I never sought her advice.  When something in my life goes horribly wrong, I don’t wish that my mother was with me, because the last time that she provided me with comfort and security was so long ago that I can’t remember.  So when she died, I didn’t lose these things.  I lost the dream of what I had always wanted her to be, but deep down I had always known that that was never possible anyway, so I don’t know that I can even count it as a loss.

These girls did lose all of that.  My best friend who lost her mother several years ago lost all of this.  She lost her best friend and her soul mate.  They stuck together through thick and thin and when her mother died, a piece of her died with her.  This kind of loss seems to me much harder to bear than the loss I experienced.  The same loss, yet different degrees of loss.  I’m still trying to wrap my head around it, maybe it makes sense to you.

10 Things My Puggles Have Taught Me

1. Take time for snuggles.

Puppy Z on Jo's Lap 4

2. A cold wet nose first thing in the morning is more effective than any alarm clock.


3. Patience is a virtue.


4. Where there is a will, there is a way.


5. One should always put their best face forward.

Photo by Lori Fusaro

Photo by Lori Fusaro

6. Chores are more fun when you have help.


7. If all else fails take a nap.


8. Sometimes you have to get away from it all.


9. Take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way.


10. Best friends are priceless.

Puppies Heart Tails

Let People Love You

I tend to be very guarded in my personal life.  I’m wary to let people in before a certain amount of trust is established.  I’ve always thought that this was because I’m very selfish with my personal time.  Not only am I a writer – a solitary pursuit – but I’m an introvert.  I need time to myself to recharge my batteries so to speak.  However, I’ve recently decided, that I don’t think that that is the reason.  I think it is actually because I have a deep seated belief that the only reason that someone would want to spend time with me is because they want something from me.  I am constantly wondering what it is I have to offer to people.  What can I give them?  What can I provide?  What can I do that will make me invaluable? Because if I can’t fill some need, then they’ll find somebody else who can.

As I’m sure you can imagine, this creates a certain amount of stress.  If I’m already having a harried day, someone calling will generally illicit the reaction of, “Oh good grief!  What do they want? I don’t have the time or energy for this!”  Which isn’t really fair to them, and ridiculous on my part.  Maybe what they want is to chat, tell me about their day and hear about mine.  Why should that cause me stress?  And what if they do want something from me?  If it’s something that I’m willing to give, great.  If not, say no.  Again, why should this cause me stress?

I need to learn that sometimes people want to be around you, simply because they love you.  Not to get something or gain some advantage, but simply to share your company.  This is a crazy, messed up world that we live in, so why not let people love you?  Let them in without assuming an ulterior motive.  Let them love you, and love them back.  Written out it sounds so simple.  Let people love you.

Deep thoughts for a Monday, I know.