Friday, December 30, 2016

Happy New Year 2017




Auld Lang Syne was written by the Scottish poet Robert Burns in 1788. That's why the version I chose was played by the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards. You don't get more Scottish than bagpipes and the highlands. For more information about the history of this song go HERE.

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,                                
and never brought to mind ?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and auld lang syne* ?

CHORUS:
For auld lang syne, my jo (or my dear), for auld lang syne, we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet, for auld lang syne.
And surely ye’ll be your pint-stowp !
and surely I’ll be mine !
And we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.
CHORUS
We twa hae run about the braes,                                            
and pu’d the gowans fine ;
But we’ve wander’d mony a weary fit,
sin auld lang syne.
CHORUS
We twa hae paidl’d i' the burn,
frae morning sun till dine ;
But seas between us braid hae roar’d
sin auld lang syne.
CHORUS
And there’s a hand, my trusty fiere !
and gie's a hand o’ thine !
And we’ll tak a right gude-willy waught,
for auld lang syne.
CHORUS

Friday, December 23, 2016

Autistic Girl Sings Hallelujah, Breaking Down Stereotypes, Creating Mentorships

I had to share this video which has been making the rounds on social media. It shows an autistic girl singing a version of Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah. (The words had been rewritten as a Christmas song) I truly hope that this child does something amazing with her gift. h/t Kveller.Com *




I absolutely love videos like this one. Not simply because it shows an immensely talented young person. But it shows the world that simply because a person has an autism spectrum disorder, doesn't preclude them from doing anything they want.

Many are surprised that a person with ASD could get up in front of an audience and perform. This is simply a stereotype of autism, and what the world thinks autistic people can NOT do.

But these videos break stereotypes. 

Autistic people can do anything they want, for the most part, just like anyone else. (If an autistic person doesn't have 20/20 vision they will not be an airplane pilot, just like any typical person without 20/20 vision) The issue is how to create a situation, or program, that supports them the way they need to be helped in order to be successful. JUST.LIKE.ANYONE.ELSE.

Nobody thinks about the typical mentor-mentee relationship at a work place. It is taken for granted that for a business to be successful, hence for a person to be successful, they need a robust mentorship. Well so do autistic people. Only their mentorships would probably look a little different than the typical one. Each geared toward that special need or special idiosyncrasy of the autistic person.

Yes, it is more involved than the across the board corporate mentorship program. In general, typical people do not need tailor made support systems. Yes autistic people generally do, because as we always say "When you have met one autistic person, you have met only one autistic person." Each person with autism is unique requiring their own set of circumstances and nuanced support.

So creating mentorships, appropriate support systems and  ridding the world of its biases is definitely the goal for the future, and something to work on in the New Year. Lets' ask ourselves:

How do we get rid of autistic stereotypes?
How do we build better work support systems for autistics, so that they can show the world exactly what they are capable of doing, performing and accomplishing.

Yes, there are some corporate programs out there. The most famous of course is the one pioneered at Microsoft. But most autistics, as with most people, will not work for Microsoft, or a Microsoft-like corporation. They will work at a local store, business, or even become an entrepreneur. Advocating in your local area is a great way to begin, and creating at-home support mechanisms is another way to go as well.

Meanwhile, Mr.GS1 is lucky. He found a situation where not only were they glad to allow us to create a support program for him, but they reveled in their ability to do so. I continually hear how happy they are with his work, his work ethic and his abilities. And once we explained the purpose of the job coach, they were thrilled to have him on board, and even gave him his own workstation for when he showed up for support purposes.

So you see it can be done. All it takes is a company with an open mind, can see beyond the stereotypes and wants to embrace the future for every member of society


* The article in Kveller talks about Leonard Cohen and what he might feel being Jewish and that his song was turned into a Christmas song. Not knowing Mr. Cohen at all, but having read a lot about him since he passed away this year, I think he would be thrilled to know that this little girl could sing his music with such aplomb. In fact, I think, as the humanitarian he appeared to be, that he would be overjoyed to know that he had had a hand in helping this autistic girl in some way.




Hanukkah Song










Wednesday, December 7, 2016

"Candlelight" and "Angels We Have Heard on High"

I began the tradition of posting Christmas and Hanukkah songs during holiday season several years ago. This year both holidays fall on the same day. The first night of Hanukkah is Christmas Eve.

I think that this is very prophetic in a way. Here you have the holiday of the birth of the Prince of Peace and the remembrance of the first fight for religious freedom.

The Jews, the indigenous population of the Land of Israel/Holy Land/Judea, had been occupied by their oppressors the Assyrians for generations. The Assyrian-Greek king, Antiochus,  decided to eradicate the Jewish religion from the face of the Earth and force the Jewish people to worship him as a divinity.

The Jewish People, led by the Maccabees, fought back.

The Assyrians lost that war.

Thus began the Hasmonean Dynasty, which unfortunately ended with the occupation of Judea by Rome.

As a religious Jew, many historians, and those who understand first century politics, believe that Jesus was greatly influenced by the history of the Maccabees. Remember the Hasmonean Dynasty was still in control of Israel when the Romans began their occupation of the Land of Israel/Judea less than 100 years before Jesus' birth. In fact, the hated Roman puppet Herod, responsible for so many of the great ancient Roman structures still standing today in Israel, was married to a Hasmonean princess. It was after his rule that the Romans installed the vile Pontius Pilot.





During this holiday time, when we are reminded of Good will on Earth and we revive a hope for peace, freedom and compassion, we need to remember that we live in turbulent times. In truth its not as if we could really forget. Simply turn on the news, or read a paper, or go on social media, and it's right there in front of you.

Evil and intolerance will always rear its ugly head. Sadly there is nothing ahistorical about the rise of hate. But it is when good people demand and fight for justice and righteousness that evil can and will always be vanquished. It is not an easy fight. But we need to fight the fights that are worth fighting, not the fights that are easy.

May God bless you and your families during this time of the year.

May God bless us all with strength, wisdom and fortitude.


Sunday, December 4, 2016

Book Review: The Devlin Quick Mysteries-Into the Lion's Den by Linda Fairstein

You may know of Linda Fairstein from her popular and intriguing Alexander Cooper mystery series. Always interesting, and full of surprises, Fairstein keeps us on our toes when it comes to the genre of who-done-its and legal thrillers. Bringing into play her career in the Manhattan DAs office, what Fairstein does for the adult mystery enthusiasts, she now does for readers ages 8-12. Welcome to her new series starring young heroine Devlin Quick in  Into the Lion's Den.

A rambunctious, precocious, adorable teenager Devlin, or Dev for short, uses her wits to find the man her friend Liza, saw steal a page out of a very rare map book at the New York Public Library. It all begins with an exciting chase through the streets of midtown Manhattan as our heroine tries to keep an eye on this dangerous miscreant. It doesn't take our intrepid detectives long to find out that this is not the first time our thief has struck.

So begins the readers travels through the boroughs and libraries of New York City, as well as travailing the ins and outs of the vaulted 1PP, or One Police Plaza. The home of New York City's Police Commissioner. Who just happens to be Dev's mom.

As is Fairstein's style the reader is not only gifted with an interesting and sometimes illusionary mystery, but are exposed to some interesting facts along the way. Since this is a story surrounding libraries, and the New York City police department, young readers partake of information about beloved authors, forensic analysis, and stories of police departments past. In fact the book's mystery itself, is taken from a real life crime story that became a major cause celebre.

If you have an avid reader, or want to spark that reader within your pre-teen child, this book is a fun place to start. For both young girls and boys it provides a well written intelligent, forthright, honest and descent role model replete with a fact infused intriguing mystery. For parents this is a book that will excite your young reader, and teach them the lessons of sticktoitiveness, honesty, and friendship. This is an enjoyable yarn for all.



Monday, November 28, 2016

Rogue One, the Simplicity of Right versus Wrong; Don't forget #GivingTuesday

There is something simple about stories where you can tell the good side from the bad. You know who the enemy is and you know that they need to be defeated.

Too much in today's world is gray.

Why anyone would send out condolences for Castro, one of the worst human rights abusers of the 20th century, shows that there are moral and ethical fibers missing among some people today.

Western governments do nothing to help those trapped in Aleppo, after almost 500,000 have been killed and millions displaced during the Syrian war. They let the mass slaughter by Russia, Iran and Assad go unabated, and unchecked, with merely an 140 count tweet to admonish the genocide.

Meanwhile, the United Nations seats Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, and other third world tyrannies on the Human Rights Council. Allowing the worst of humanity to oversee themselves.

So thank the stars above, for Hollywood. At least we can fictionalize our feelings. It allows us to hope that somewhere in the universe, there are leaders that can actually lead.

In truth most of us do know right from wrong, good from bad, and righteousness from evil. But we are at a loss on how to implement these tenets on a global scale.

But we still can give something for those less fortunate....

On Giving Tuesday you can help the Syrian refugees HERE

And on Giving Tuesday of course REMEMBER the needy closer to home.

Don't forget that there are millions who live with food insecurity in the USA....Food Banks, Donors Choose (to help teachers with projects), Shelters for battered women, ASPCA, autism organizations that actually help autistics, cancer/AIDS/medical charities...the list is endless, because need in our world is never ending.

Use Charity Navigator to make certain a charity is worth your dollars.

****
So in an era of political uncertainty and upheaval, I enjoy knowing that "Long Ago in a Galaxy Far Far Away" someone knew right from wrong....

And yes even though I am the only Star Wars fanatic in the family, all the mens in the house consented to go with me.... Can't wait.


Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Book Review: Exploring Depression and Beating the Blues by Tony Attwood and Michelle Garnett

Twenty years ago when I was trying to understand my son's autism diagnosis one of the first places I turned was to the books written by Tony Attwood. He had a clear, concise and useable approach to the now DSM defunct term "Aspergers syndrome." This latest book, Exploring Depression and beating the Blues adds to that library of knowledge and support. The authors formulate a new avenue of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or CBT, geared towards those on the spectrum.

One aspect of autism is the reality of depression. Attwood explains it is not the inherent nature of autism to be depressed, but it is the challenges that autistic people face that leads to the depression. Hence, to help yourself and those you love, it is not simply about understanding autism, but understanding how autism, affects your day-to-day that will help any autistic figure out how to "beat the blues."

Persons with autism*, have unique challenges. It is because of these challenges and  the intense emotions they engender that depression may set in. Interestingly one of the issues listed by the authors that could cause depression is being sensitive to others. It is a longstanding myth that autistics do not care about other people and cannot identify other's hurt. In fact, one of the most challenging issues we personally have faced is how to help our sons navigate the world of cruelty, whether it is person to person, or human to the world. In truth, the saddest part of the recent election for MrGS2, is not how the President-elect talked about those with autism, but the hate engendered towards other groups be concerning gender identity, race, ethnicity, or religion. He is frightened for everyone else with no thought of himself. (See Here)

Now in understanding why an autistic person may be depressed,  the authors outline a program of identifying symptoms and how to evaluate what is going on. There are self awareness exercises to help the individual understand how they are acting and how they are not living up to their happiness potential. This is termed the "Energy Accounting."

Along with understanding the person's energy output, there is also an awareness exercise for the person to understand their "Discovery Criteria." This exercise is used to figure out the positive aspects and the gifts specific to each individual. Harnessing what you are good at will inevitably lead to a more fulfilling and positive life.

Once you have figured out what is making you sad, how it is manifesting itself in your daily life along with acknowledging the terrific things about yourself, then the program to help beat depression begins. The authors take you slowly, step-by-step through an actualized, helpful program. This next adjunct is aptly named  Tools to Combat Depression.

Here the authors direct their ideas to specific activities and how these activities should manifest in your daily life. They help you create a plan of action and explain what, why, and how their program can be implemented. You are given charts, exercises, and goals in order to accomplish each and every level:

Selfawareness Tools (Acknowledge the positive aspects of Aspergers syndrome)
Art and Pleasure Tools
Physical Activity Tools
Thinking Tools
Social Tools
Emotional Repair Toolbox
Positive Thought and Relaxation Exercises

Throughout the book, the authors teach the individual how to set up a scheduled program to help themselves. They are taught about organization, charting and the art of self-monitoring. But remember, none of this is necessarily easy. In fact, what is suggested here may be very challenging for some. Yet in the end it is rewarding. The individual is given permission to enjoy the world around them and to be happy.

But there is also an important reminder. The authors, help the individual set up an emergency plan. Nothing is perfect, and it is reasonable to assume that at some time in the future, depression may set in again, and a plan on what needs to be done to help yourself at that time is essential. They do not skip the reality, that for some depression also means self-harm. This can be anything from negative thoughts, to actual physically momentarily hurting yourself, or thoughts of suicide. It is important that a plan be in place so that there is a strategic way to access the medical help you will need. This is nothing to be nervous about. It is an essential part of repairing yourself as you look forward to, and plan a happy future.

As the parent of two youngmen on the autism spectrum, I would recommend this book to any autistic individual who is trying to understand themselves, or the parents of any autistic child. It will help you watch for and monitor signs of depression, and give you a good handle on how to help yourself or those you love.

NOTE: One caveat and it is important. If you or anyone you love is suffering from depression, this book is a good place to start. The program outlined is very useful. But please work with a medical professional too. As the authors mention, therapy (CBT), support and  medication are tools to be used in getting well.


You can buy the book at Amazon, Barnes and Noble or directly from the publisher JKP 
(I receive no compensation no matter where you buy the book, and was given a copy of the book to review.)


*You will notice that I vacillate between using the terms "autistic person" and"person with autism." This is simple. I use the former reference because that is the term I am told that most professional autistic advocates prefer. I use the latter term, because that is the term my sons with autism prefer. My sons prefer person first language, and since they are my guide through the "land of autism," I take their lead.



Friday, November 11, 2016

Hallelujah

 Leonard Cohen... BDE (baruch dayan emet)*.

Leonard Cohen biography







Cohen with Israeli solders during the 1973 Yom Kippur War. 


*BDE is the Hebrew equivalent of RIP.


Thursday, November 10, 2016

Fear and Loathing after the USA Election

So we are not a happy family. We did not vote for Trump. We felt that he was not only terribly ill equipped for the position of President, but that his disdain for the disabled, for women, for minorities, his teams blind-eye to the mainstreaming of antisemitism lead us to favor Clinton. And no, we did not think that she was some kind of angel. As hubby would ask," after she is elected and then put in jail, did we think Tim Kaine would be a good president?"

But there is being unhappy, which is a  rather typical feeling, and the true feeling of despondency that Mr. GS2 feels right now. His older brother is also upset, but my 23 year old is completely besides himself. He is depressed. He is angry. He has so many emotions right now that he can't even keep track of them, never mind how to process his feelings at the moment. To paraphrase a well worn bon mot: "Little child with aspergers, little issues. Big child (adult child) with aspergers, bigger issues."

I know many people in our community feel the same way. Heck, half the country feels the same way. But of course, when you are dealing with someone who has aspergers, OCD and anxiety you need to approach situations differently and with care. So what have we decided to do in order to help Mr. GS2?

We are trying to make him feel secure. We want him to understand that he is still loved and cared for. That we will not let anything happen to him. But his biggest concern is not even himself, but for everyone else in the country who doesn't have his support system.

Moreover, my son asked me yesterday if he had to carry some kind of protection now since the antisemites' candidate had won the presidency. Was it even safe for him to walk down the street? I explained to him that where we live he is perfectly fine. That our area went for Clinton, and besides there are as many Jews who live here as live in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem combined. That did help him for awhile. Then a new issue arose.

What really started to bother him was the fact that the GOP was going to gut Obamacare. Now I don't think that everything in the ACA is terrific. In fact, much of it stinks. But the fact that the boys can stay on our insurance until they are 26, plus that they can't be denied, or I can't be denied, health insurance because of preexisting causes is wonderful. Furthermore, that there are people who need health care and that they can get subsidies I think is also a good thing. (I never have problems with the taxes I pay going to help my fellow Americans. And I am proud actually that I can help others. It's when Congress throws my money away on crap that I get annoyed.) But the cost of the ACA is horrible. It is anything but affordable. The deductibles are ridiculous. Healthcare needs to be affordable. Really affordable, not as a ploy, but as a means for people to live their lives well.

The truth is that there is a lot of fear right now in the disability community about what a Trump presidency and a GOP controlled Congress will mean for them as far as their healthcare, their medicare, and above all disability rights. When you have a President-elect that buys into the debunked conspiracy theory that vaccines cause autism, the idea that disability advocacy and autism support will be pushed back decades is a real concern.

What we try to tell our sons is that this is why our Constitution is important. The first amendment of the Bill of Rights talks about the right to petition your government, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly and freedom of the press. Simply because one party wins an election  doesn't mean you shut up about what is important to you. You join together and lobby. You protest. You write letters. You let those in power know that you will not go gently into that good night.

But most of all you try to stop feeling sorry for yourself. Your side lost. It happens. But it doesn't mean you give up. It simply means you work harder so that next time, the issues that are important to you can win the day.

But at the end of the day when your very sensitive youngman is sitting and crying, you hand them a glass of chocolate milk and make their favorite dinner as you strategize a way forward. They may be resistant. They may continue to cry and be frightened. But you do as you have always done as their parent. Talk to them. Be there for them. Let them know that one election does not a country make, and that the greatness of the US of A, is that no, you never have to be quiet....ever. No matter who wins.

****

By the way The Wall Street Journal has written an incisive article trying to calm everyone down about Obamacare. Their take is that it will not be a gutting, but a slow fix. That no politician is going to want to be the one who takes away someone's healthcare and then that person gets sick or dies because of what they did.  Hubby said the same thing this morning. I only hope that they are both right. HERE.

A list from the Friendship Circle ....Join National Advocacy Groups






Sunday, November 6, 2016

Mom-Shaming: seriously society, please grow up already

So you think that the only ones in need of self-esteem trophies are the little children on the soccer field? Think again. For some unknown reason, members of society have taken it upon themselves, to validate their own style of parenting, by berating other parents, especially moms.

By the way, it's not new.

Apparently, if the nonsense I have seen on the internet is any indication, we have been hit by an epidemic of mom-shaming. That is where complete strangers go up to a mom, whether she is breast feeding, bottle feeding, teaching her child manners or trying to get them locked in their car seat and threaten them, attack them, and basically call them out as bad parents. There are now videos up that decry how we treat one another as moms. You know what. Who cares what someone else thinks about how you parent?

Perhaps its all the years as an autism parent, that I basically couldn't care less what someone else decides about my parenting style. Now that doesn't mean I didn't seek out advice. I have asked for help along the way from professionals, therapists, doctors, teachers, in order to help the boys grow and develop properly. We have always put our heads together to come up with a plan that will enable them as much as any peer. So no, I never did anything in a vacuum, and always, always tried my very best to help the boys the best way we could. And yes, there are still the nasties who think they can have input, but they are ignored and relegated into the trashbin of humanity where they belong.

But I do remember when my youngmen were little, newborn and very young, when complete strangers took it upon themselves to attack me for my parenting choices. I remember at times, that it did cause me angst and anxiety. New mothers are very fragile when it comes to their children. Not because they don't love them, but because they do....

Some examples of my own personal mom-shaming episodes:

I was walking along the streets of Manhattan with my newborn, and some older ladies stopped us and wanted to look at him. They began asking me all kinds of invasive questions and then decided to chastise me for not breastfeeding. Well my mom was there with me and she did take exception to their input. I don't think they expected the pushback they received. You could see it in their faces. What gives some stranger the right to tell you how to use your body and what would be best for your child? I didn't live in the middle of a desert island. I lived in the middle of one of the largest cities in the US, with access to some of the best pediatric advice available in the world. Meanwhile, I understand mothers today are even still attacked for bottle feeding, or for even breast feeding in public.

I had a man scream at me from a car in the middle of Manhattan because of how I was walking with a stroller, telling me I have no right to be a mother. I wasn't up on the sidewalk and he felt it was his butinsky duty to correct me. As if I would endanger my child. I would hate to have been related to that horribly nasty abusive man.

There was a sales person in Bloomingdales making fun of me using a child-lead for my toddler son, asking me if he was a boy or a dog. I replied, he was a very well protected child...she of course walked away quickly....

I had an old man in the post office call the boys "brats," because I was letting them run around like children and have fun while we waited in line for our turn. That's right, in a small enclosed place, two small boys didn't have the patience to wait without playing tag, so some creep thought it was his right to attack two children that he didn't know. Well I told that nasty old-man off. Mr. GS1, at the time, 6 years old, told me I did a good job. The sad thing, was that not one person told him to be quiet. In fact all the other people in the post office were old women. Probably deciding he was right, or simply not caring that this old man was being a shit. By the way, the boys never came near him or anyone else. Their crime was laughing and having fun.

What is it about people that they think they know what is best for your life, your child, and the choices you have to make? What insecurity is in them that they so badly need to tell others what to do? Are they so weak willed about their own choices, that if everyone doesn't follow their regime, it means they are doing something wrong?

It is bad enough when you have family members, or their friends, decide what you should or should not do when it comes to your child. They at least may actually care about your existence and your child's future. I would of course argue, that they too need to keep their mouths shut and listen and learn about what is happening and their place in your family. But that is just me.

But strangers! Complete strangers, with no connection to your life whatsoever, coming up to you and telling you what to do?

Listen, the government has laws that protects children from abuse, neglect and harm. If you think a child's life is in danger, get the help that is needed. But if something being done does not fall within these categories, then people need to mind their own business. Whether you are in Bloomingdales, a postoffice, or walking down the street in any city, you are allowed to make choices for your child without anyone else's input.

People simply need to keep their mouths shut.

But funnily enough, you never hear anyone chastising dads or grandparents. It's usually only moms. I wonder why that is? Actually I don't wonder, I already know. Yes its misogyny. And yes I went there. I don't usually blame issues on some social justice claptrap, but I can't figure it out any other way. No one has ever chastised the hubby for his choices when it came to the boys. When we walked around Manhattan with the boys in strollers, no one from a car screamed at him that he was a bad father. And no one in our little town ever called the boys names or challenged hubby on any level when he was parenting, and no it's not that they were better behaved with him.

What is it that makes people think they can denigrate moms? What is it that makes people think they can tell a mom how to use her body-aka, breast feeding? Yet it's ok that father's never get a chance to hold their child during bottle feedings? Putting all the responsibility only on mother-child bonding....what about the dad and his role in raising a newborn? What is it that makes people think they can look down on the choices a mother makes, yet celebrate simply if a dad changes a diaper?

This may be an old topic. At least it is for me. My sons are grown men. But I think it has something to do with how we still see women's roles in society and who we expect them to be. It is also something, when as a new mother, or a mother of a newly diagnosed child, when people attack you as if you do not love or care for your child. There is that feeling that you never forget. It is visceral. (Hubby says my memory is not always a good thing. Perhaps when I can't let go of issues from decades ago he may have a point.)

Here you are holding, loving, caring for probably the only people in the world, for whom you would lay down your life, and some asshole stranger thinks they can tell you what to do when it comes to them as if they love your child more than you ever could.  I think we need to begin to laugh at these know-it-alls. Put them in their place. Give them one resoundingly simple statement:

"Mind your own damn business." Then send these losers on their way.


Sunday, October 2, 2016

Jewish New Year - Rosh Hashanah 5777

I wanted to wish everyone a Happy New Year. This is the time of year when the Jewish People sit and contemplate the future. It is a time when we review what we did right and what we did wrong in the year just completed. We try to figure out how to make ourselves better people.

As with our secular New Year resolutions, we tend to not always live up to our own expectations, which may make us feel inadequate at times. But I like to think that even if we fall short at least we gave it the old "college try." As long as our gestures were done with a pure heart then we are doing a good thing.

The Jewish New Year is also a time when we pray for a better world. Considering the worldwide news, I think, and this is my personal perspective, that the world needs some understanding, love and compassion. There are parts of the world that are on fire. While there is very little that we as individuals can do to stem this evil, we can demand from our leaders a realistic and humanitarian approach to this modern day genocide. Words sometimes are not enough. Platitudes, cajoling and appeasement of evil only gets you more evil.

Elie Wiesel, the Nobel Peace laureate, who died this past year, would remind us:

“We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere. When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant. Wherever men and women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must - at that moment - become the center of the universe.”


I know that many of us in the US live afraid. Residing in New York City, and having lived through 9/11 and the recent bombing attempts, I understand how the unknown can be frightening. Thousands of years of Jewish history has also taught the Jewish people what it is to be persecuted, slaughtered, exiled and scapegoated. Sadly, alot of the antisemitism that we have dealt with for thousands of years is making a roaring comeback.  But also being Jewish I understand that if you allow yourself to be drawn into fear, if you allow yourself to be drawn into hate, then what you do is destroy all that humanity holds dear. What you destroy is yourself and your soul.

No I have no magic bullet or magic idea on what to do. But I do know that the answers are greater than one individual and beyond the reach of the average humanbeing. I suppose the rabbis always knew that too, for in the Talmud, the Jewish book of laws,  it says:

Whoever saves one life, it is as if they have saved an entire world. 

We are not expected to be able to save the world. But we can make a difference in our day-to-day. We have a Hebrew saying for this endeavor and it is called Tikkun Olam. Sadly we find that many in our world have been trying to use this ancient Jewish custom for political purposes to invalidate what others believe when it comes to modern day politics (more about that at another time). But doing the right thing is not dependent upon politics, it is part of the human condition. Remember that the Torah, what Christians call the Old testament, exhorts us to do what is right:

Justice, justice shalt thou pursue.

We are not commanded to seek law. We are not commanded to seek money. We are not commanded to seek privilege. We are commanded to do what is right, honest, and just.

So as you go forth into your world today and every day to come, think whether you are being your best. Think whether you could be more understanding, more compassionate, and more giving.

There is a tradition that when God hears the Shofar on Rosh Hashanah, he opens the Book of Life, to decide who will live and who will die; who will be rich and who will be poor; who will be healthy and who will be sick....The Book is closed at the end of the Days of Awe on Yom Kippur with a mighty Shofar blast. We have ten days to convince God that we are worthy of his mercy.

So to all of my friends, Jews and Gentiles alike. May God bless you and keep you. May he shine his countenance upon you. May he give you peace.

Shanah Tova Umetukah and  Gmar Hatimah Tovah
Happy New Year and May you be inscribed for a Good Year






Thursday, September 15, 2016

Auditory Processing: The Pain of Hearing Shofar

In my latest blog, I discuss how having auditory processing disorder has caused our family to change what otherwise would be a typical religious activity of hearing the shofar, or ram's horn, blown during the Rosh Hashanah, or Jewish New Year, holiday.

The purpose of blowing the shofar, is to signal to God that it is time to open up the Book of Life. It is during the period between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur that God decides your year to come.





But as with many things that come with raising autistic children holiday traditions are some of the things you change. Holidays: Permission Granted to Celebrate as You Please.

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The days are getting shorter, and the shadows are getting longer. Rosh Hashanah is around the corner. 


Growing up I remember being taught that on Rosh Hashanah it is a mitzvah to hear shofar. 

Yet as a family, we have not heard shofar for decades. It is simply too painful for my sons.

No, we are not dealing with an emotional trauma. This pain is caused by a physical, yet unseen disability: Auditory processing disorder. A disability, that can stand alone, but is very common in those with autism spectrum disorders.

Initially, we believed that auditory processing was merely a glitch in the uptake of oral information. There needed to be a pause for those with this processing issue to organize, understand, and assimilate the information being presented. But, auditory processing issues are not simply the inability to process oral information in real time. It can also lead to severe pain when faced with certain sounds; anything from a horn beep, to the din of a school cafeteria, to the rush of city traffic.


Friday, September 9, 2016

15 Years Later: 9/11 Remembered



It was the morning that changed the world. It brought us out of our euphoria of a post Cold War environment. Whether we liked it or not, a new enemy had arisen and it sought to destroy everything we hold dear-our liberal ideas of freedom and human rights.

While the wars that occurred, due to this attack on America, will be debated by historians for generations, the reality is that on that day 3,000 people died for no other reason that they lived, worked, and loved in the United States of America.We found out that we were hated merely because we did not follow an extremist form of a religion. A religion, by the way, that as with all religions, is able to flourish and grow in the USA. We are hated because we believe in diversity and live with the goal of respecting all peoples worldwide.

No we are not a perfect nation. Yes, as a nation, we have made and continue to make mistakes. But we are a brave people. We are able to think, analyze and review our own problems, issues and wrongdoings. We argue. We yell. We call each other names. We, the American people, fight the good fight. But ultimately, our hope is to bring the freedoms we hold deal, enshrined in the US Constitution, to people all over the world. In fact, these rights make up the platform of the Declaration of Human Rights. An agreement signed by the vast majority of nations of the world.

And no, all cultures are not equal and deserving of respect. If your religion, if your culture, destroys the hopes and dreams, and the right to life and freedom of others, and half of your population because of their gender, then you are not entitled to respect. If your religion and culture gives you permission to massacre nonbelievers (even members of your own religion whom you deem heretics) then you are not entitled to respect. You are most certainly not entitled to be free from criticism.

There is nothing wrong with believing that all people "are created equal, endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights, and among those rights are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

It has been 15 years since that fateful morning when America arose from her slumber. At times the American people have grown tired and weary from the reality of the world. There are too many who think that ignoring what is happening around the world, will keep us safe. But simply because you take no interest in politics, doesn't mean politics won't take an interest in you. Let us not hide ourselves in fear, angst, or selfishness.

Let us fight the good fight. Let us always strive to do what is right, not what is easy. We have never shirked from our place, and responsibilities, in the world. That is what it means to be an American. That is why, the United States of America is the shining beacon on the hill.

********

And no it is not easy to forget the destruction of the World trade Center, especially when the hubby works across the street from the Freedom Tower.


A photo posted by Elise (@raisingasdkids) on

Saturday, July 30, 2016

I've Decided on a Future of Joy, Hope and Happiness

I have the privilege of authoring a blog over at The Times of Israel, where I continue to write about special needs and parenting on the autism spectrum. Following is my latest blog. I am writing about the three week period of mourning prior to, and about, the Jewish holiday of Tisha B'av; what it is and what it means to me considering the year I have just lived through. I hope what I wrote speaks to you, no matter your faith, creed or ethnicity.

I've Decided on a Future of Joy, Hope and Happiness.





Sunday, July 24, 2016

No this doesn't make me feel better...

By now you have heard about the behavioral therapist in Miami shot by police, when the police had decided that an autistic man with a toy train was a threat to public safety. After the therapist was shot, the officer issued a statement saying that they were not aiming at the black therapist but the Hispanic autistic. I am sure that they issued that statement to try to squelch any public outcry from those in the Black Lives Matter Movement (and yes I am assuming this), but  tell me how this realization is  supposed to make a parent of an autistic person feel better?

According to the Ruderman Foundation the majority of persons shot by police in the US either have mental health or developmental issues. HERE  The truth is that police departments across the nation are wholly and inadequately prepared to deal with these issues that they confront every day.  The one main job that the police are supposed to do is provide public safety; they are not psychiatrists, social workers, or therapists. However with the lack of proper care and support throughout the mental health system, police departments have become the defacto go to professionals of first contact. In essence, we expect our police to do jobs that they are not trained to do.

Now does that excuse the police? Absolutely not. And I say this not simply because I am the parent of two youngmen on the autism spectrum, but because  the police are given the mantle of trust by the community. This basically behooves police departments to fix their own ignorance, knowing that they are the responsible party of first-contact. Is it fair? No its not, but police also ask for this job. Nobody forces them "to protect and serve," but while we honor their service, it has to be understood that their service comes with modern responsibilities.  Here is a list of police training programs geared towards understanding autism.

So what do we do in the meantime?

The boys wear medic alert necklaces, which detail their diagnoses and medicine. Of course, that only works if the police get close enough to see them.  The alert necklaces also won't be of any help if the boys are shot by the police if they reach for their necklaces while alerting the officers to their disabilities. We have the same issue with cards in their wallets, detailing their diagnoses, or the medical information in their iPhones. These security measures only help if they can access it to show the police, without the police taking their movements the wrong way.

We do know that the police are trained to recognize when a suspect is lying. The most important aspect is that someone doesn't look them in the eye, or they fidget too much. This scenario plays over and over in my head, because not only do the boys not always look you in the eye, but they both fidget, get nervous from anxiety, and come off rude and disrespectful when their anxiety ratchets itself up. So not a great scenario. We do teach them to be respectful to the police. We emphasize that if they are ever stopped to do just as they are told, with no back talk or sass. But of course, being who they are, new and frustrating situations don't always play out as they should.

Now we used to console ourselves that at least, since they generally have the para with them in public, if they got into any trouble with a policeman, then the para could help them through the situation. Considering the police just shot the therapist in Miami, while he was laying on the ground with his hands up, our pie-in-the-sky-theory no longer holds up.

Do I think that the situation in Miami unfolded the way it did because the people involved were persons of color? Perhaps, perhaps not. There was the recent tragedy where a young transgendered man with aspergers was  shot and killed by police during a meltdown, who was white. And yes he had a knife in his hand, but in another, better world, the police would have been taught how to handle the situation without lethal force. And no, I do not believe that police lives matter less, in fact I wholly believe, Blue Lives Matter alot, but they also don't matter more than the people they are supposed to help, like my autistic sons.

So no, I don't have an answer. I thought I did. But life teaches you many lessons, not the least of which is that "but for the grace of God, go I."

And with that, hubby and I have found another reason to not sleep well at night.







Friday, July 1, 2016

In Congress, July 4, 1776...Happy Fourth of July 2016








IN CONGRESS, JULY 4, 1776
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen United States of America
When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.
We, therefore, the Representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.
John Hancock
New Hampshire:
Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton
Massachusetts:
John Hancock, Samuel Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry
Rhode Island:
Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery
Connecticut:
Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott
New York:
William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris
New Jersey:
Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark
Pennsylvania:
Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross
Delaware:
Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean
Maryland:
Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton
Virginia:
George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton
North Carolina:
William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn
South Carolina:
Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton
Georgia:
Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton




Reasons to Love the USA

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with one another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitles them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
*****

We are at a great crossroads in our nation’s history. It’s not about the amount of taxation and the ineptitude of the government. That can be changed with the power of the vote and honest elections. Our issues lie in the fact that too many in our nation take for granted the guarantees within the Bill of Rights and the Constitution without truly understanding them. Remember... our rights given by nature and nature’s God.

It is time that We The People understand once again our responsibilities as citizens of a free country and demand that our government adhere to the Constitutional principles that they have so casually desecrated.

Freedom and the Laws of Nature and Nature’s God (originally posted May 9, 2014)

…Our rights come not from other men, but from an omnipotent all-powerful ruler of the universe who has decreed right from wrong, good from bad, justice from evil. No one human being can deny another these rights. Hence, the usurpation of these rights is a just cause for revolt against your government, ruler or liege lord….

What happens when rights are not given by virtue of existence, but with the largesse of the political class? These rights then are not rights as delineated in the US Constitution (Bill of Rights), which as rights cannot be taken away and can only be denied under a limited scope of governmental authority. In fact, rights that come down to us by virtue of the good will of a ruler are not real rights at all, but a grant of favor by a dictatorial government. As long as you stay in good stead with the power elite then you are entitled to your humanity. But as soon as you cross that threshold of noncompliance with these overseers, then your rights, property and even your life become forfeit.

Moreover, to actually believe that mankind itself defines the ultimate reality in the Universe is the modern hubris of a limited, vacuous mind and an outreach of malignant egos. To say that in the vastness that is the Universe humankind is the epitome of what can and does direct TIME itself calls into play the rationality and sanity of the purveyors of a God-less world. It does not even have to be about an Omnipotent being as much as it is about Nature and the power of the Universe and the acknowledgement of the unknown.

To say that there is no deity above ourselves is to give ourselves the moniker of almighty God. We can now decide what is right, wrong, good, bad, justice and evil. We, the human beings of this world, are now the sole masters of all that is before us without boundary, limit or consequence. To say that God is an anachronism and that humanity is above the immutable forces that have created the galaxy, is to advance upon the human race powers that belie the mortal human being.

When we turn from the concept of something, or someone, greater than ourselves, we have no rights beyond that which we bargain for within the context of our daily lives. Life becomes a merchants market, a bazaar of old. Where for  the right argument, and the proper coin, you can buy yourself freedom for the time being. If you are lucky enough to be allowed manumission at all.

In such a world, our rights are defined by those in control of the world, rather than rights being defined by those that live in the world. Therefore, if you believe that humans are born free and that it is only mankind that created the chains of slavery, real or virtual, the concept of giving your self-worth to those who are devoid of righteousness, or honor, those who convolute democratic action with obsequiousness, demands an act of revolution. However, in the end, you need the foundation by which to challenge your servitude when you live in a world of political class tyranny, oligarchical triumphalism and identity tribalism. Therefore, you need Nature and Nature’s God. You need to understand that your humanity, your freedom, your existence is yours by right and not something you need to bargain for against an evil specter.

That foundation of the right to freedom comes from the acknowledgement that all within humanity have rights inherent in their humanity. Given to them by their uniqueness as unique individuals. It is Nature, and Nature’s God, that defines these rights so necessary for society to flourish, grow and develop. The right to proceed with your own existence and humanness in a way that is both beneficial to the self and society becomes the task of the free person and those free enough to think that it can and must be done.

It is not the fault of Nature’s God that humanbeings throughout history have perverted the gift of choice and thought that they were given by the Universe.

It is not the fault of Nature’s God that humanbeings revert into barbarism and decadence when given freedom. It is that same human weakness that causes mankind to destroy itself and then ask to be relieved of all responsibility for the choices made.

It is not the fault of Nature’s God that humans throughout history prefer an infantile existence of dependency and supplication to the hard work inherent in the existence of free expression and self-governance.

It is not the fault of Nature’s God that humans have allowed themselves to be led by the inadequate, the cruel and the profoundly evil.

It is not the fault of Nature’s God that when confronted with evil’s challenge, most times throughout history humanity has faltered, in the end thereby losing all that it means to be human.

It is not the fault of Nature’s God that humanity perverted Nature’s message in order to enslave, dehumanize and destroy other humanbeings.

It is not the fault of Nature’s God that it is easier to invoke the yoke of tyranny than it is to travel the path of Nature’s truth.

Responsibility for ones actions, distancing yourself from a scapegoat and taking the reigns to an uncertain future is frightening. On the other hand,  it is a sign of profound weakness to cower in the dark, allowing others to decide your fate, your reality and your worth. It is sheer cowardice to succumb to the fear of the unknown and allow your children to be enslaved because of your own ineptness.

We learn that democracies are the rarest form of government in the history of human kind. For each democracy born was short-lived, either due to corruption, mendacious leaders or complicity in the destruction of that with which we are endowed by the virtue of the human soul. Humans allowed fear to win over freedom. Humans allowed fear to win over individuality. Humans allowed the political classes to declare themselves above Nature and Nature’s God. Humans allowed the political class to manipulate the true blessings of Nature and Nature’s God in exchange for bread and circuses and life without responsibility.

Those who wish to make a Godless society, those that wish to deny Nature’s blessings upon humankind are the enemy of freedom, of liberty and justice. Those that decide that our rights come from the will of a self-perpetuating narcissistic ruling class rather than the exigencies of humanity’s right to existence are the enemies of a free people.

Those who presuppose that they are more powerful than the Universe run roughshod over humanity’s inherent rights. Those that denigrate the Laws of Nature and Nature’s God, denigrate our greatest gift. Be careful of those that put themselves above the wonders of the Universe. For they will laud themselves over you, making of themselves a new deity while decrying the freedoms we hold so dear.

*****

I wanted to wish everyone a joyous Independence Day. Let us not forget those that sacrificed so much so that we, their posterity, would enjoy the freedoms to which we are entitled under the Laws of Nature and Nature’s God. By the way, just one of those obnoxious asides, the vote on the Independence Resolution, aka the Lee Resolution, actually took place on July 2, 1776. The Declaration was not read to the public until July 4, which is why July 4th is the day that we celebrate our Independence.










Saturday, June 4, 2016

So Where Have I Been?...GET.YOUR.MAMMOGRAM

I wanted to say hello to my readers and explain where I have been for these past months.

In October I had my yearly mammogram. The radiologist thought there was something odd in the picture so I proceeded to have the two different kinds of biopsies: ultra sound guided and stereotactic. While both didn't show cancer, and in fact the mammogram guided procedure showed benign calcifications, the results did show that I had a condition called hyperplasia.

Now hyperplasia, a precancerous condition, does not actually mean that you will develop cancer. In fact only 10% of those with this diagnosis go on to get cancer. But it was decided that I would have the area removed rather than simply watch it. I decided not to simply take that chance.

Well it was the best decision I ever made. It turns out that I did have stage 1a breast cancer. The pathologist actually found a 2cm tumor in the middle of the hyperplasia. It was so small, and what the doctor called incidental, that the biopsies actually didn't dedect it. Breast Cancer information

At that time I had to have a second surgery, a lymphnode biopsy. Usually when there is some indication of cancer, when the lump is removed, the surgeon actually takes out a lymphnode to see if the cancer has traveled out of the breast. But since there was no indication of cancer, the lymphnode biopsy had not been initially done. So the second surgery. Luckily the area was completely cancer free, which meant I only needed radiation therapy.

That therapy began two months after the original surgery and lasted 6 weeks. I did have some slight side effects, mostly being tired and something akin to a bad sunburn. But I listened to my doctors and applied the creams and rested when I needed rest. Luckily I never got that tired that I could not drive myself and take care of the normal everyday activities at home.

And yes, I did get a second opinion before I began radiation treatment to make certain I didn't need chemo.

And yes I was tested for the BRCA gene. I am completely negative for both types. YEAH!

It's been two months since my last treatment. The doctors told me that it would take several months for me to get back to myself and I am finally almost there. Hence, why I have the strength to basically start to blog once again.

Meanwhile, the oncologist has put me on estrogen blocking medication, to ward off any recurrence of the disease. You may have heard of tamoxifen. But now they have medication for post menopausal women as well. I had a very bad reaction to the first medication, so we are now trying another pill. I am on month two and so far so good. It does say that being tired is a side effect among others. But so far the tiredness has simply allowed me a good nights sleep. Something I haven't really had since I entered perimenopause. So this side-effect seems to have a positive outcome for me. Meanwhile, the reality is that all the side effects can be managed, or another medicine can be used if the side effects become too overwhelming. It's still worse to get a reoccurrence of cancer, so the balancing act. As the labels say, "your doctor has weighed and balanced the side effects against the disease being treated and they have decided to try the medication for you."

In the end my prognosis is very good. If you had to have breast cancer, then the only better situation would have been if I had caught the cancer at stage 0. So I consider myself beyond lucky. I also knew not to listen to the new guidelines, that at 55 you only have to have a mammogram every other year. If I had done that, waited until next year, only heaven knows how my life would have been endangered. Part of the reasoning for the new guidelines states that women are put through an unneeded amount of anxiety by having all these tests preformed. As if we are too infantile to handle the stress and the worry brought on by modern medicine.

Yes, the vast majority of mammograms and biopsies are negative. Yes, when you go through these procedures you have anxiety. But ignoring that you could have cancer and ignoring the fact that this test could save your life is foolish. If you have cancer it is not going to go away because you don't want to know that you are sick. If caught early breast cancer, like colon cancer, is the most survivable form of the disease.

So remember GET.YOUR.MAMMOGRAM.

Also, I have an issue with them only giving you a pap smear every three years. What nonsense. Last year my OBGYN didn't give me the test. This year I insisted and she did not fight me.

Just a little side note: funny how its women's health that seems to get shortshrift. They still tell men to get checked for prostate cancer every year. Noone ever worries about men's anxiety levels even though the majority of those tests are negative as well. HHmmm....

*****

Meanwhile, the boys were wonderful by the way. Very helpful, supportive and kind. And as usual when push came to shove, they rose to the occasion and have stayed there.