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Wednesday, June 3, 2015

It's NOT about Bruce/Caitlyn... It's about compassion for your fellow human.

Every single damn day, I learn something new and different by being a foster parent and working with kids.

Things I didn't think I could ever deal with are right in my face.

I am most definitely NOT here to toot my own horn. This whole foster parenting thing... as rewarding as it can be can also be so incredibly draining I can't even begin to tell you. Some days, I don't know how I get through it. I'm no saint. I'm no blessing. I'm no hero. I'm just some old chick from Jersey who loves kids and wants to take the crap I had in my childhood and use it to help someone else if I'm able.

There were a lot of things I didn't think I could handle being a foster parent: drug addicted toddlers, mentally ill children, self abusers, children who couldn't dress or feed themselves at school age because they'd never been taught, children with gender confusion and kids who've just fallen through the cracks.

Some of you who read this know more about me than I want anyone to remember. You know the good, the bad, the ugly. You know the not so wonderful Jenn. The Jenn who - well wasn't someone I'm proud of. You know my "back story". I wasn't the worst person in the world - but I also wouldn't want my kids to follow in those footsteps.  Just like everyone else, I've got dark days and times I've embarrassed myself that I wish I could extinguish from the planet - but they're there. Some things are forgiven - others may totally blow up in my face one day.

It is the reason that I push on with the don't friggin' judge me (or anyone else) thing....  We've ALL got something. Even if it's a deep dark secret.
I am NOT all that and a bag of chips, and ya know what - you probably aren't either. Nothing personal - but we've all got something that we'd rather not have others know about us. That's OK.

I am all over the place with this, I know - and it will remain unedited on purpose. I've had a difficult / emotional morning that really had nothing to do with me and everything to do with a teen I'm working with. A gender "confused" teen. A teen who is seeing both the comments about the strength of Bruce Jenner's transition to Caitlyn and the horrible comments of judgment toward the same topic. It's a lot for a young person to take in.

It truly makes my heart hurt.

Genuinely...this stuff confuses me too. I've never been a woman who wanted to be with another woman.  I've never been a woman who wanted to be a man. I've pretty much always known who I am and because that knowledge is socially acceptable - I haven't had a problem. But here's this kid. A young, fragile child who doesn't know who they are. Who identifies as something completely different than how they were born - and  this person is afraid. This person has been bullied their entire lives in the skin they were born in, and ostracized for the person they are becoming. The person outside the social norm - and people are mean.

At the risk of sounding like a hypocrite, I really don't care all that much about Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner. Whater - it's not my business. If he's found happiness as she - rock on with that. I wish Caitlyn peace.

I understand this gender identity confusion seems to be crammed down everyone's throat. Thank mass media for that. Fact is that it's been going on for YEARS! Anyone recall a little ditty by the Kinks Lola??  Or  Lou Reed's Take a Walk on the Wildside? Just sayin'

I knew a family several years ago who's young son was born with both male and female organs. The parents had to make the choice how their child would be raised - male or female.  What if they were wrong? What if they removed the female organs and let the child grow up male and they were wrong - that the child was female? What if they removed the penis (I can mentally see every man reading grabbing their crotch right now, lol) and the child was male? What if Bruce Jenner & this child I know have the same issue going on but they didn't have the "benefit" of having both organs and making the choice?

Listen, I don't know what's 100% right and I'm pretty sure you don't either. I'm sure that making people feel terrible about who they are is wrong.

We've all been taught one thing or another growing up.

We ALL something in our lives that we aren't proud of or maybe want hidden.

It all comes down to basic human kindness.

At very least, you SHOULD be kind to the HUMAN dealing with whatever they are dealing with.

We are all in this together and life has a way of changing things up and smacking you upside the back of the head when you least expect it.

Kindness matters.

Just be kind.

And thank you for reading my blog!!


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Friday, April 10, 2015

Facebook... To Connect or Disconnect. That is the question.

I can remember hearing about Facebook for the first time.
My husband and I had been new volunteers through our area chapter of Young Life.

Our volunteer position was to pick up a high school girl and bring her to and from Young Life group meetings. We loved hearing her stories about school, and friends, and her college preparations.  It was in this discussion that she mentioned Facebook to me as a site that helped college kids meet others, etc.  I thought - wow, pretty cool and I never thought of it again.

I never thought of it again UNTIL my young son became a teenager.

When he first started out it was MySpace. Like any over protective mom of a teenaged boy who likes to step on the line, I also got an account. He accepted me on his friend's list and I kept an eye on him. All of the sudden, the page got really slow. He was "hiding" on me, but WHERE the HECK was he hiding...FACEBOOK!!

So I joined Facebook and he became my friend on Facebook as well. His friends also became my friend on Facebook, ya know - since I was the cool mom (insert eye roll here.). It was still handy in keeping the kids out of trouble and communicating as I or they needed to. I didn't bother much with it until I learned that people I hadn't seen in years might also be on Facebook too!! I'd dabbled in and I tripped over myself on MySpace. I was totally weirded out with Facebook until I learned that there were long lost people EVERWHERE in there! I thought, wow, this could REALLY help me to connect with people I'd love to be in touch with again. Friends that live far away. Family I hadn't seen in years. I was hooked!! I LOVED IT!! It all seemed so WONDERFUL!!
Until it wasn't.

I'd recently heard and read via other media sources that Facebook has been thought to cause depression because some people couldn't handle seeing other having better lives than them. Again, can I get an eye roll here....Sheesh.

On that level, I think it's totally ridiculous.
Who the hell cares what other people are doing? If you are so unhappy with your life that you can't stand to see others having a good life - you need to do something about that and maybe get the heck OFF Facebook.

On another level...I can totally see it.

Have you noticed how absolutely MEAN Facebook is making people?

It's as if people actually believe that they are entitled to "say" mean things to people just because they're typing the words and not actually speaking the words.

The Facebook society seems to have created this "it's all about me" mentality.

I sort of get it...Facebook IS a solo sport. I mean, really - it's you and the computer. If the computer screen isn't talking to you, than who the heck is it talking to??  And DAMN that person who posted that comment. HOW DARE THEY?

I get it, but I don't.

I recently put up a random post on my page. I didn't think it was a big deal.  It was an opinion thing, run of the mill, nothing controversial. This post incited so much anger in one person, based on another person's opinion. This other person completely internalized the comment and flat out attacked this other total stranger.

This isn't just my issue. I see more than a fair share of page administrators stating how they have to ban and block people constantly due to mean or even threatening comments based on a silly post.
Yes, of COURSE we want feedback and reactions! Do we want people attacking other people or us? NO.  For the love of all that's holy, IT'S FACEBOOK! Get a hold of yourselves!

I wonder, if this were a face to face conversation or a conversation overheard from one table to another in a diner - would this person EVER have the nerve to react in such anger toward another?

The meanness on here is relentless.

I had once been accused of being a keyboard coward, which I took with a grain of salt due to its source. Truth be told - if I have something to say, I don't hide behind my keyboard. I say what I have to say to the person.
May it come out in my blog as well?  Who knows...If the situation could help someone else - yes.  I don't feel guilty because I've already addressed it. I try to NOT do that, but if I do and you think it's you...ASK. It's probably not.

Anyway, I'm getting off topic.

The point is - that if you heard LIVE AND IN PERSON one stranger saying something to another stranger that offended you or that you didn't agree with, would you ever have the nerve to flat out blast them? Most people would not. I would not.

I don't know what gives the people the idea that it's totally OK to say the meanest things possible to someone else based on what they do and do not agree with, just because it's being typed instead of spoken.

I'm not claiming innocence. I've had my share of things that I've typed in words. In my defense, I do actually have conversations and speak the words if I'm upset or angry about something. Have I been guilty of a "poison pen" email?  Um, yes I have. In some cases I've been absolutely remorseful about what I'd said, and apologized. Other times I'm so thankful that I finally had a chance to say what I had to say without interruption and be done with it.

Does that make me better? No. As I said, I don't claim innocence.

What I am saying is that I can totally understand why Facebook is making people feel bad.

Someone will post something totally innocuous (and this is NOT just my experience, though this has been my experience in the past) and five people will decide the comment is about them and either flat out attack them on their page, attack them on their own page or attack them in real life by spouting off to others what they took the remark or shared post to mean.

I have been called negative. I have been called hypocritical. I have been called things I won't even say on here - when the fact is that sometimes I just see a post that I like for one reason or another and I share it. If it is an emotion I'm feeling at the moment - whatever. That doesn't mean it's open season on Jenn, or that I'm inciting some sort of secret battle with another. Sometimes it just is what it is - a random post.

Will I post something that can be construed as mean, or something I think is funny that others won't - yes. I probably will. Not everyone going to love everything I share or post, or even know my state of mind at the time of the post, and that's OK.

I am putting this onto myself at the moment because I can relate - but also because it's a topic that I've seen people discuss over and over and over again - shutting down their Facebook accounts because it's just so mean and petty some times.

I totally get it!

I often think, "Is it even worth it to have a Facebook account?"

Then I realize that I can't control what other people think or feel. If I don't want to see the negativity other people post, well - I can control that.

I stay because I blog. I stay because I believe that some of the things that I have to share might actually help someone else going through the same stuff, and if the crap I've been through can help someone else - great. I also like to see the lives of my friends and family that live far away. I stay for some of the reasons I had when I first learned about Facebook. To connect with the people I love and care about.

I'm not going to let the negativity of someone else take that away from me.

...instead I choose to disconnect from the drama that others seem to thrive on.  I choose to disconnect from the people or things that will hurt me or people I care about. I choose to disconnect from the meanness that I don't want in my life.  I don't see it, so it doesn't exist.

You can disconnect from all of that as well.

I wish you peace.

Thank you for reading my blog!


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Friday, March 27, 2015

Please don't leave. If you don't think you'll be missed, think again...

Every year around this time I get all blah...

Not only is seasonal depression still lingering, because Mother Nature can't figure out which season should be in play - I'm also rolling into the time of year that I lost my dad.

It's been 31 years.  I still miss him every day.

I'm not 100% sure this blog will be well put together or easily flowing.  It is totally unedited and will be 100% my feelings, my thoughts, my ramblings as they come out of me today - 31 years (tomorrow) after my dad killed himself.

For those of you reading for the first time - on March 28, 1984 my dad took his own life.
It's a day that is etched so far into my mind I can still close my eyes and see/feel every single moment as if it's happening over again.

Because of what I've been through, I take this time of year to tell my side of it as a way to help others who may be suffering from depression or suicidal thoughts to realize they do mean something to someone, no matter how you may feel - AND to help people like me to know that it's totally OK to still feel the pain and still not be able to make sense of any of it.

If you want to read "My Story" click here:   How Suicide Has Affected Me.  My Real Life Story

I am LUCKY to have gotten to where I am without depression, without suicidal thoughts and without full on self-destructive behavior. (though I definitely walked the line.)  I am thankful every day that I am not someone who suffers from depression.  Thankful!

I was 18 when my dad died.
Even though it's been 31 years - that's 31 years of stuff that he missed.  That I missed having him here for.  Do you know how much happens in 31 years?  How many things you're forced to figure out for yourself as a child of someone who committed suicide?  Yes, he DID miss them.  I don't want to hear that he "Didn't miss anything, he's been right there watching."  Those are the nice things people like to say when someone is mourning.  While it may be true - my dad wasn't HERE WITH ME because he CHOSE to leave - and that is what's different.  That's where the anger, sadness, pain come in.  Because he CHOSE to go.

My family life wasn't all sunshine & flowers.  I lived with my dad.  So when he was gone, it was just me to figure it out.  And it's the words of another that forced me to figure it out...

The words I'll never forget that were spoken to me.  Words that both tore me down and forced me to build myself.  "Just because your father's dead, don't think you can move back in with me."
At the time those words terrified me.  I hated and resented those words.  The felt vile and completely unloving.  My dad was all I had and he was gone.  What now?

Whatever the sentiment behind those words at the time, I'm grateful for them now as they forced me to figure it out for myself.  Those words created the survivor that I am.  I figured it out for myself because I had no choice in the matter. I'm a better / stronger person today because of those words.

Do you know what it's like to be 18 and alone with no guidance??  How about dropping some insurance money into the mix?  That alone was a recipe for disaster.

I was LUCKY.

I didn't have my dad, the perpetual voice of reason, guiding my steps.  Steering me out of trouble in his own way.

I was only 18 years old when my father committed suicide.  I'm not saying that I didn't know my dad. He was my dad, of course I knew him.  I just didn't KNOW him as one adult knows another.  I knew him as the little girl I once was.

Yes, I know... many kids lose their parents.  Losing your parent to suicide is a whole new ball game.  You don't know how to feel.  You don't know what to say.  You don't know if you should feel embarrassed or brave or protective or victimized.  It's like being naked in the middle of a crowd.  You're completely vulnerable.

I both lost it completely AND totally held it together at the same time.  Sometimes I think I still do.

Right now, I am older than my dad was when he died.  When I think about that alone, it saddens me how much he lost.  So many things he missed.

I think that's one of the things those who are suicidal don't get... the tomorrows that they will miss.  I can't say for sure as I'm lucky enough to not suffer from suicidal thoughts or depression.  Even though I've lived through the deaths of both my father and brother by suicide, I'm no expert on the subject.  I can only speak of my thoughts, feelings and the things told to me in grief counseling.

It was said that a sad person can still function.  Still cares about the day to day activities, those who need to be tended to.  A depressed person still cares, but does only what needs to be done.  If the house is on fire - they'll burn with the house.  That's a lot to take in.

All these years since my dad died, I often think about the things he's missed.  I think about the mistakes I'd made because I didn't have my dad to ask me what the hell I was thinking.  He was good at that.  He'd never tell me what or what not to do, but he'd steer me.  He was the only one that could do that.

For those of you left behind - I get you.  I feel how you feel.  Lost for answers.  Even if you got a "note" (I didn't) you still don't totally get it.  All you feel is the pain, the loss, the anger and the confusion.  I know.  It's 31 years and typing this mish mosh of feelings - I still don't get it.

If you are someone struggling, some one who thinks they won't be missed - I have news for you - YOU WILL BE MISSED.  In that split second between life & death where you make your decision - make it be the decision to live - to go on - to fight.  There is another tomorrow to figure it out.  Tomorrow may not be filled with all you've dreamed of - but if you keep dreaming, there's the next day and the next day.  One second, one minute, one hour, one day - one breath at time.

It's OK to be sad.  It's OK to feel like things just totally suck.  It's NOT OK to quit on yourself and everyone who loves you.  Just because you're not getting what you want at this second - doesn't mean the next second won't get better.  Stick around to see it.  Please.

Don't leave someone you love left behind to wonder WHY?  To be alone.  To feel the pain.  To feel the loss.  To feel the anger over and over again of the decision you made to check out.

Please talk to someone - anyone.  SOMEONE will listen.

Choose life.

Thank you for getting through this mess of feelings.

Peace & Love,


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