Wednesday, November 21, 2012

A Bitterly Cold Morning at Planned Parenthood

I arrived at Planned Parenthood a little after nine this morning. There were three others there already, the other sidewalk counselor, a a retired nurse in her sixties, and two prayer partners, one a retired Marine (I don't know much about the other prayer partner as I've only seen her there a few times). It wa a bitterly cold morning and despite wearing layers of clothing, I had forgotten gloves and was chilled to the bone, but fortunatr sidewalk counselor had packed extra gloves and things and for that I was grateful. and Shortly after I arrived, they began to say the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosery and Planned Parenthood clients began to pull in. One of the prayer partners offered me a rosary, however I declined. I stood on the side of the drive and offered our literature and help to women driving in, however very few stopped today. Indeed, it was a bitter and cold morning.

Update: This was to be my last day sidewalk counseling due to a series of morning appointments and picking up more hours in the morning in home health work. I am grateful for the time I had speaking with the other sidewalk counselors and prayer partners and the opportunity to work on the front lines reaching out to help women in a crisis pregnancy.

Friday, November 9, 2012

I Sense A Great Disturbance in the Force...

A cute comic I saw in the Indianapolis Star on
Disney's aquisition of Star Wars

I've just received word of Disney's acquisition of the Star Wars franchise and the production of yet-to-be-named Episode 7. All I can say is Oh My Gosh! Mixed feelings here. On one hand, I feel like George Lucas and LucasFilm is selling out to a mega conglomerate and I was sad to read that George Lucas burned out after so much flack & hate mail from Star Wars fans, his fans, in response to the prequel trilogy & modifications to the original & that fueled his decision to sell out. On the other hand, the Clone Wars series has been a great success & possible preview of great things to come. However, with that said, as a die-hard SW fan, I still have a lot of reservations about this upcoming trilogy. 1)Lack of purity. Although George Lucas will be giving input, it won't be solely his ideas and creative genius behind this. 2)Expanded Universe and SW Cannon. What of the expanded universe contained in the novels written after the original trilogy, will the movie over-ride these and create a new cannon and time line (destroying all the hard work of the authors all these years?) 3)Will they be bringing back the original actors to reprise their roles and/or incorporating new ones? But my biggest question is, Is this taking the Star Wars franchise too far and will the franchise jump the shark with this new trilogy?

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Fighting Stigma During Halloween

It's that time of year again for ghosts and goblins, but also it is a time of stigma, especially more than usual, for individuals with a mental illness as costumes and attractions are featured depicting mentally ill individuals as ghoulish, deranged monsters of the night. Last year, I wrote on how you can fight the stigma surrounding mental illness around Halloween: Help Stamp Out Stigma This Halloween. I can't emphasize enough how hurtful these depictions and stereotypes can be to individuals with a mental illness or their family and yet they continue.

I think for next year's Halloween (seeing as Halloween is tomorrow and I'm tight on money), I'm going to design a t-shirt to wear out in public to bring awareness to this issue and challenge stereotypes. Here's what it'd look like:

Thursday, September 27, 2012

"Miss Manners" Gave Poor Advice When She Interjected Political Opinion

This morning, I am reading the advice columns in the local paper, as I usually do, and I came across the following question addresses to "Miss Manners" Judith Martin:

Dear Miss Manners: I am a father of three, with No. 4 on the way. This time, my wife and I decided to find out the sex of the baby before the birth (some-thing we did not do with the others). I am proud to say that we are expecting a girl, and I would like to share the news with my buddies with the traditional cigar. Do I wait until the birth to pass them out? Or is it OK to pass them out now when I share our good fortune?

Miss Manners response was less than suitable, filled with her political opinion and with a touch of bitterness:

Gentle Reader: You have three children, and you haven't learned patience? Yet there are other things Miss Manners hopes you never learn, such as that not all pregnancies go smoothly, and not everyone is as charmed by embryos as by babies. (Some people even find cigars offense, but that's another matter.) Your daughter is not ready yet for her debut. Please give her a chance to get ready to face the world, and, for heaven sakes, to put something on.
Copyright Judith Martin Distributed by Universal Uclick

As this father-to-be and his wife have been able to determine the gender of the fetus, that puts them at between 15-20 weeks at the earliest, as the sexual organs distinguishing male or female are clearly visible at 12 weeks post-ovulation/gestational age (14 weeks since Last Menstrual Period) (Source: Visible Embryo), and most patients don't seek to find out the gender of the baby by ultrasound until around 18-20 weeks (Source: His wife's pregnancy was more than just an embryo at that point and well past the point of the highest risk for miscarriage (About 10 to 20 percent of known pregnancies end in miscarriage, and more than 80 percent of these losses happen before 12 weeks. Source:
Also, even if Miss Manners didn't feel the pregnancy amounted to much, it obviously did for this father-to-be and surely it was poor etiquette for her to use her advice column on manners as to a pulpit to offer unsolicited personal political convictions on the value of an embryo/fetus, instead of the answer sought by this father-to-be. My advice to Miss Manners: better educate yourself in biology and to leave your personal political convictions out of your advice columns.
My advice for the father-to-be? Celebrate with your buddies and bring out the cigars (or a healthier, less stinky option is the candy/gum cigars made for such an occasion), congratulations on expecting and I wish your wife and child the best health.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Taboo...Talking About Living with Tourettes, Trichotillomania, and Autism

A few months ago, I watched an interesting episode of the television show "Taboo." Featured in that episode  were individuals with tourettes, trichotillomania, and autism. I found the whole episode fascinating and educational (as in bringing awareness), however when they got to interviewing two individuals with autism and talking about autism and how individuals with autism (and other disabilities) were institutionalized when they were children (one interviewee was raised in an institution, the other by a family member), it broke my heart recalling some of the horror stories I've heard about how institutions were run back in the 1950's and 1960's, and having had seen the damaging effects of institutional abuse in a mentally disabled elderly gentleman I cared for a couple years ago. Fortunately, a demand for reform came back in the 1970's (although too late for some), resulting in movement towards integrating individuals into smaller group homes and expanding services in the community (which enables these individuals to stay in their home communities near friends and family), as well as an improvements in care and the development of new therapies, including assisted communication, music therapy, and art therapy, which enables individuals with disabilities to develop their abilities and strengths and live their life to the fullest. Also, the individuals in the show talked about stigma, the stigma surrounding having their condition and others reactions to their atypical behaviors and mannerisms. The show ended with a great message: "I have found a great purpose in my life. And that is to change people's view of disability to that of ability." and "Can you, as a supposedly non-disabled person, see me for who I truly am, not seeing the autism, but me, the real Tracy!" - Larry and Tracy, two gentlemen with autism.
to which the show's narrorator ended with this message, "Isn't it treating people as outcasts...taboo?"

This episode highlights the importance of educating children, teens, and adults in the fight to end bullying and erase the ignorance and stigma surrounding developmental disabilities and mental illness.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Thoughts on Sidewalk Counseling

It was in the high 90s yesterday when we were out at the Planned Parenthood on the Northwest side & boy was it hot! The local Gabriel Project works with the Indianapolis Metro Police Department to follow local and state laws and to ensure they are aware we are there. Yesterday, there were two prayer warriors there, sitting back and praying in the shade, one standing a distance down the road holding a sign of Mary which asked for prayers to close PP (we prefer those protesting & using signs keep their distance as to not associate ourselves with them or create fear or intimidation for those who we approach), as well as two other experienced sidewalk counselors, who I observed & learned from. From the grass along the entrance of PP’s driveway, we offered friendly waves and smiles and asked to speak with them, as they pulled through in the driveway. Of about 15 cars, 3 stopped to talk with us & we handed them a brochure from the Gabriel Project (we don’t use graphic images and can only use brochures approved by the Gabriel Project director) and let them know there are alternatives and assistance and to call the Gabriel Project number (the Gabriel Project on call hotline person then connects them with the assistance needed in their community and a sponsor parishioner through their local church participating in the Gabriel Project.) It was heartbreaking because one woman I spoke with was an immigrant and had two children with her spouse who is working, but barely have food to feed their children. I offered her our assistance, but she was already determined and closed her mind to anything else, even as we offered assistance for her family. Although she had made up her mind, it was clear she was emotionally struggling with the decision (she choked up when she stated she had asked for God’s forgiveness and stated her husband convinced her it was necessary) but felt she had no other choice. How can I best address individuals in these types of situations to help them see there is hope?

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

I've Started Sidewalk Counseling

Just wanted to let you guys know that I’ve connected with the local Gabriel Project of the Great Lakes Region in Indianapolis and have started to sidewalk counsel in front Planned Parenthood twice a week. I've given this much thought and have considered this for some time. What is a "sidewalk counselor?" We are peer counselors there to offer hope, encouragement, and alternatives to abortion as well as help connect women with resources in their communities to meet their immediate needs (whether it's food, transportation, employment, or housing). The Gabriel Project's focus is non-political, but rather to help connect the women with socioeconomic resources to develop independence and self-sufficiency and a support system through her pregnancy and beyond. We do not engage in “street theater” or “harassing,” nor do we use graphic aides. We do not beg or plead, yell out condemning words, discuss adoption, make empty promises, try to change their minds on the morality of abortion, evangelize, or coerce/manipulate her into choosing life. We are simply there to let her know there alternative and resources/support if she so chooses.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

My Blog Account Was Hacked...

Recently in the news, we learned LinkedIn was hacked and 56 million passwords were stolen and leaked. Unfortuantly, apparently my LinkedIn password was one of those taken, and with that, my e-mail contacts which were linked to my LinkedIn account as well as access to my blog as well. So my apologies for any spam messages posted. I'm working on removing access and applying further security measures for my social networking, e-mail and blog accounts, so I've resolved this issues on my end. Now as to what future security measures LinkedIn takes to prevent such an occurrence in the future, remains to be seen...

Sunday, January 1, 2012

New Years Resolutions and Changes

Just wanted to drop in and let my readers and visitors know blogging will be light over the next several months, as I'm making some major changes in my life right now. It's nothing radical, my New Years Resolution is to get healthier, but it's personal and I'm not ready to discuss it publicly at this point.