Jimmy Kimmel: The Voice of Reason

One day after the worst mass shooting in our nation’s history, an emotional Jimmy Kimmel gave a powerful and resounding monologue. Many complain that the Holywood elite have too much to say about current events, and I often agree with this. However, this well spoken, educated, man spoke as a person who grew up in Las Vegas. His points can be dismissed as just another liberal with a microphone, but I do not believe this to be the case.

I do not delve into politics, especially since it has become such a devisive topic. I do, however, encourage people to contact their representatives when something is particularly concerning to them. This often takes research. One does not want to call or write their representative uninformed. For me, this advice really hit home yesterday. I am a native New Yorker, who now lives in a state where many people own hand guns legally and can carry them. I have adjusted my behavior because you never know who is carrying a gun, and if they have a short fuse. I do not beep my horn, as I would in NY, even if someone hasn’t noticed the light has changed. Last month, guns were drawn in two different local “road rage” incidents. But now, I feel a different fear. Yesterday, I was walking across the Publix parking lot and twice I flinched when someone reached into their pocket! It was a horrible feeling.

Back to Jimmy Kimmel’s monologue. He spoke so knowledgeably and reasonably. I assume, that as a brand new father, he fears for the world he has brought his child into. Like never before, we are living in a gun culture. He pointed out, that over the week-end, “five people were shot in Lawrence, Kansas, three of whom died, it wasn’t even a blip on the news.” Here in Florida yesterday, a 5 year old boy shot and killed himself with a gun which was not properly safeguarded in the car he was in. We clearly have a problem and it needs to be fixed. As JK pointed out, if it’s not gun control, than come up with another solution, because it is a public safety issue that is only getting worse.

This comment really hit home for me. “And by the way, the House of Representatives will be voting on a piece of legislation this week: It’s a bill to legalize the sale of silencers for guns. This is what they’re working on. We have a major problem with gun violence in this country, and I guess they don’t care. And if I’m wrong on that, fine, do something about it, ’cause I’m sick of it.” So am I. Never mind the fact, regardless of your political leanings, I think we can all agree that legalizing silencers so that people who use guns don’t hurt their hearing is really the least of our problems. It actually boggles the mind!

So let’s not make this a partisan debate – although his monologue was clearly a cry for gun control. What I walked away from from is this. Okay – if gun control is not the answer then someone better attempt to find one. That is what our house of representative should be working on. However, politicians have become so rigid in their thinking they have forgotten that all real solutions involve compromise and an open mind. Even House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.), who was shot at a GOP softball practice says that in spite of the Las Vegas shooting, he is still AGAINST gun control. Really????

For the most part, our leaders do not appear to have our best interests at heart. If this was a pandemic, there would be swift and clear attempts to resolve the crisis, not debates over how and why it should be solved. This is a life or death issue of epidemic proportions Why is it not handled the same way? Our political system has deteriorated so greatly, I have no idea what we are paying any of these people to do.

So please, educate yourself on both sides.

Learn the issues and then calmly, eloquently, educate others.

I will close with Jimmy Kimmel’s sentiments. “It’s like someone has opened a window into hell!”  We cannot become numb to the escalation of violence in our country because to do so will seal our fate.

 

Las Vegas Mass Shooting Horror

I awoke today to the horrible news that another mass shooting had occurred in our country, this time in Las Vegas. The headline read “worst in US history since 1949.” My mind immediately began playing quik clips of all the horrors we have witnessed; the Pulse Night Club, the heartbreaking massacre of the children at Sandy Hook, Virginia Tech, too many to even wrap my mind around. Never have Thomas Paine’s words rung more true, “these are the times that try men’s souls.”

This is not going to be an op-ed piece about gun control, a diatribe regarding our country’s severe mental health crisis or a political commentary. It is just meant to be a unifying gesture to comfort all of us who sit shocked and powerless, in a world that seems to be feeling more and more like a the set of a bad movie.

I was researching the worst mass shootings, (as if there could be a “best” list). For me, the one that stuck out was Columbine. Even though it was 18 years ago, I remember it like it was yesterday. I was in a bagel shop in Manhattan with my son and his father. We were very excited to be going to the Brazilian Consulate to get visas for a trip to see my family in Brazil. My 5 year old son and I were so excited with the anticipation of our upcoming adventure.

Behind the counter we were sitting at, enjoying our bagels, was a small, old school television. Suddenly the regular programming was interrupted for breaking news, and the details of Columbine began to unfold. I knew in that moment, that life, as we knew it had changed forever. I felt it in my bones. My only child, sitting next to me, would be going off to first grade in several months; something that was supposed to be an exciting milestone. At that moment, all I could think was “he won’t even be safe there.”

The dread that I felt in that moment dissipated, for I knew that I could not send my son off to school every day worrying that some random act of violence would touch his young life. To live in constant fear, is to not live at all. So I put it all in the back of my mind, taking note of the tragedies, but trying with all my faith to believe that this was not going to be an exponentially growing problem. As we all sadly know – I was wrong.

One mass shooting that did NOT make “the worst” list was the shooting in Charleston South Carolina, because “only”nine people were shot and killed there. The young man who murdered these people had sat with them prayed with them for an hour. With great purpose, he shot them one by one as they begged for their lives, reloading five times. He was not randomly attacking people, but like the Pulse shooter, he was full of hate. I just kept thinking, “how can you sit and pray with people, be embraced by them, and then just murder them?” So chillingly calculated.

Today, again, I am left, as we all are, dumbfounded with many questions running through my mind. “How can someone look down on a crowd of revelers, enjoying the most basic of joys; music, and shoot at them as though they were target practice in a game?” It is beyond heartbreaking. I really don’t know how much more our souls can take; we who are not even directly impacted by such violence. Imagine those who are? I still think of the first responders at Sandy Hook. How can they ever get those images of little children and the adults trying to protect them out of their heads? They can’t.

Tomorrow will come posturing on political issues such as gun control and Lord knows what else, but for today, we, as humans, are grieving. We need to do this and then find comfort. Look around and count your blessings. Hug your children, no matter their age, appreciate the people who love you. This is SO painful for all of us, watching this world that has turned into something no one can understand. Only you know what is right for you. If you need to talk to your kids about this, perhaps sit and pray as a family, or have a moment of silence.

This is my condelence letter to the world. I am sorry that things have devolved so greatly. I am so sorry that one cannot go out to have fun with their friends, or sit in a house of worship or movie theatre without the nagging thought that we all have targets on our back. I have no answers, no requests; just nothing, except the collective pain of all the victims weighing on my soul. I know I am not alone in this feeling, so I am reaching out in a feeble attempt to offer comfort where there is none. But know this, you are not alone, what hurts one of us hurts us all. I wish you peace.

 

 

© 2017 Charlene Viviano ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

 

Why the police are not the problem.

If the internet has done anything, it has brought to the forefront of our collective consciousness’ the many serious problems in the world and particularly in our country. The problem with the internet is that it has become a money machine, so the things that are going to procure the most attention ($) is what is often at the forefront. Thanks to social media, a lot of miss information is spread, and depending on the incidents that are filmed and shared, often for shock value, it is doing more harm than good. People become outraged after only seeing one side of a story, which often is carefully taken out of context or edited to suit the posters agenda. This is dangerous, because it is so easy to incite mass hysteria, when clearly calmer heads need to reign, now more than ever.

Last night, SIX police officers were shot in this country, one fatally, one gravely, two “with a long way to recover” and two are said to be in stable condition. And yet – the internet is not broken with outrage – they were just doing their jobs. Like they always do. If you research the stories, you will see that the suspects in two of the incidents drew their weapons first, and then the police returned fire. In the saddest story, a young husband and father of 4, working in an area where even Fedex and the Post office are fearful to enter, approached several suspects on the street with his partner. He did not have his gun drawn or appear to be a threat in any way.  He was shot at close range, as was his partner, before they could even reach for their weapons.

Thousands of police officers have to make choices like this a million times in their careers. It is a difficult and often thankless job. Ironically, as much as those who loathe law enforcement, if they were in danger, I am sure 911 would be their first call. Perhaps this story could have had a different ending, one that would have received much more press coverage. But it didn’t, and now Officer Baxter leaves a wife and fellow officer behind, as well as 4 small children. His partner is fighting for his life, and not expected to make it. His brothers and sisters in blue have to swallow their grief and continue to protect a dangerous community, while at the same time receiving death threats.

We can hate. It’s so easy to hate, to blame, to point fingers; release our rage and encourage violence. It is pretty clear that that will not change anything. We have grown away from being a solution oriented society to one that is so divided, we can’t even think straight. We have been faced with many disillusioning realities over the past two decades. But we need to seriously ask ourselves, are all priests pedophiles? After 911, are all Muslims terrorists? Are all Italians involved in illegal activities? Are all police officers bigotted bullies? (Honestly, most just want to go home to their families at the end of the day and live long enough to retire). In every group there is going to be a subgroup of bad apples. The question is, how do we deal with these situations effectively? The war on Law Enforcement is clearly SO counterproductive, even if you have a low opinion of them. Their job is so important to all of us, especially in these times, when they have to not only protect their municipalities, but in some large cities, the safety of the entire country can rest on their shoulders.

As humans, we do not always handle things in the most rational effective way, especially when we are personally hurt or grieving. If there is, in fact a problem in a  particular police department, (and you can’t lump them all into the same category) then it has to be dealt with. There are experts who know this better than I, but sensitivity training, counseling, reprimands, whatever tools are successful should be implemented. In cases where a police officer makes a mistake or is blatantly wrong, it is up to the judicial system to hold them to task. The entire Law Enforcement community is not to blame, and to do so is a grave mistake, because like it or not, we NEED them.

Last night we lost “one of the good ones.” And I don’t just mean a cop. By all accounts he was an incredible man, in the prime of his life, who could have potentially offered so much to this world. He was just “doing his job.” It is not trending on twitter, it is not the “hot topic” of the day. Even the fact that SIX officers were shot last night, all of them acting appropriately in life threatening situations, is not causing the incredible stir that it should; raising a million red flags. Where are their rights?

I encourage everyone to take time to really think about what is happening in our society. This is the world we will leave behind for our children and grandchildren. Violence and hatred has never solved anything during any time of history. Let’s become a solution oriented society, a loving society. Let’s somehow put aside our differences and join together to find hope. It is honestly the only chance we have.

NOTE: From the time I started writing this – to the time my editor read it – the second Kissimme officer succumbed to his injuries – my prayers to both Familys and the entire Kissimme Police Department.

 

 

Reprinted by permission

© 2017 scrappygirllifehacks.com ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Abuse me once….

There’s an old saying; “trick me once, shame on you, trick me twice, shame on me. It is sage wisdom that holds up to the test of time. To be tricked, is to not know what is being perpetrated upon you, so it’s not your fault. Ah, but to let it happen again, that’s on you. When someone show’s you their true intentions, or lack of integrity, take notice! With verbal and emotional abuse, you need to be even more diligent because it’s not always so apparent. If a partner is abusive once, there should be no opportunity for him* to abuse you again. NONE. Because he will, and you will either make excuses, or it will become an insidious type of abuse that you don’t even really realize is happening, until you have either wasted so much time or have become trapped, or worse.

I write of what I know. I did not have many male role models in my life and the lacking somehow caused me to put men up on a pedestal. If only my father had lived to see my fourth birthday, I knew my life would have been so different. Not that my life was bad, but I had a deep aching for a male figure and the sort of love that only a father can give. As a young girl, my favorite Uncle would visit from South America. Each time he left, I was bereft down to the core. I would cry and cry. In the 1960’s, it was not common place to send a child to counseling, but I clearly needed it; just to sort out my confused ideas as well as properly grieve my father’s death, which was never really explained to me. He collapsed from a stroke and then I just never saw him again.

Upon becoming a young woman, the desire for a father figure morphed into the desire for a husband figure. I was 14 and my first boyfriend was five years my senior. We dated for 3 years and not until he was faced with the idea of losing me did he ever treat me with the kindness and respect that every young woman deserves. It’s important to know that the pattern of accepting abuse begins somewhere, so you need to stop it before it starts. For me, the worst incident was during a verbal argument in his car, he drove to a scarey state mental institution. He took me to the gates, told me that’s where I belonged and forced me out of the car. It was terrifying. There were no cell phones, it was too far to walk and it was pitch black out for God’s sake! I never told anyone about this, because I felt ashamed, like I somehow deserved it. This was the behavior of a manipulative bully. He made me feel like I had no control and left me in an unsafe position. I suppose he came back to pick me up, I don’t remember, but I do remember I continued to go out with him.

I was clearly in an inferior position; I was younger, naïve, and cared more about the relationship than he did….until I didn’t. And THAT is when I regained my power. Suddenly, I was treated like a princess, taken out and showered with gifts. This is fairly typical behavior of an abuser. When I finally cut the cord, he “escalated” humiliating me and physically attacking me. Not so bad that anyone took notice; and I will admit I hid it. He ripped my bathing suit top off of me in my front yard, as my mother lie in a hospital bed in the back room of our house. He ripped it so hard that he gave me a “rug burn.” Driving off in his hot shot car, he left me in shame to gather the strips of fabric and run inside before any of my neighbors saw what had transpired. I quietly opened that back door, slipped past my gravely ill mother and went upstairs to get dressed and wash the tears from my face.

Later standing outside my house with my best friend, he came back and threw a $20 bill at my feet. “Buy yourself a new suit,” he said, without an ounce of remorse, as if that fixed it. He drove away staring at me with venomously. As soon as he drove away, I took the bill and ripped it to shreds so he could see. He reversed the car, got out, and twisted my arm till I was on my knees, forcing me to pick up the tattered bits of currency. Once he was gone, I made a joke of it to my friend; found every last piece, taped it together, swung it in the air, and triumphantly said “Grateful Dead tickets, on me!” I never wanted my pain to be seen or appear weak. So humor was my armour.

The next boyfriend didn’t come for a year or so. He was no charm either. He was a controlling, cheater, who was “OK” as long as I played by his rules; if I didn’t, he was cruel and vengeful. (Thankfully it didn’t last long because I truly fell in love and that relationship got me away from him.) I don’t blame myself, but I accept responsibility for my part in it. That is important to me in order to heal.

This pattern would continue despite my best efforts to halt it. Some of these men went on to be, to the best of my knowledge, good husbands and fathers. Maybe it was me? So when it came time to choose a permanent life mate, I picked someone totally different. Guess what? He was the worst of all, and genuinely was a danger to women.

So, what does this have to do with you? There are many reasons people tolerate bad behavior; mine were very low self esteem as well as a lack of any healthy “couple” role models. We don’t even realize we are accepting abuse because we don’t have a healthy frame of reference. We make excuses, put other people’s feelings ahead of our own, or just start a bad pattern at a young age and never know how to fix it. I tried to fix mine, and I made it worse!!

I’ve gone to many Billy Joel concerts in my life and he ALWAYS closes the show by saying “and remember, don’t take any shit from anybody.” He has told millions of people that countless times. It’s such simple advice. If you are not treated with the respect you deserve, that is NOT love. You will just end up feeling worse and worse about yourself , till you end up with a full fledged batterer, mental abuser, or emotional terrorist. That charismatic, handsome, person who stole your heart is not going to suddenly become thoughtful, considerate, and kind if he did not start out that way. Most abusers are in fact usually quite charming and adept at gaining trust. With time, however, they subtley change and we grow to accept behavior that would make us cringe if we were to witness someone else as the recipient.

No matter what age you are, think about this. Abuse can be blatant or subtle. Learn the signs!

  1. Teasing or putting you down in front of others
  2. Caring so much about you that you feel smothered
  3. Controlling what you wear or your hairstyle
  4. Undermining your hopes and dreams (belittling you)
  5. Cutting you off from any friends or family (isolation)
  6. Making you think YOU are the one with the problem (this is called gas lighting in extreme cases)
  7. Trying to make you doubt your own perceptions (crazy making)
  8. Extreme jealousy (controlling)

Now this might all sound very obvious or benign, but it’s not. Most abusers who do not seek help, do not suddenly get better. Remember my first story? He showered me with attention and did a total 180 degrees, however, when his efforts didn’t work, he got violent. Was I fearful for my life? No, but we live in different times. Bad behavior in general has become more accepted. Domestic violence is an incredible and growing problem that is, in my opinion, not being addressed seriously enough. One in three women murdered were killed by an intimate partner. It is for this reason that we need to talk to our young girls about relationships before they start dating. Teaching them boundaries and self respect will help them to pick suitable mates as well as friends in general. Point out unacceptable behavior when the opportunities arise. Encouraging young women to seek other outlets that are as equally fulfilling as a relationship will give them much needed balance in there life, such as career, hobbies, friends, etc.

Abuse me once – you showed your hand. That’s it! – Easy for me to say, because I only see this in retrospect, with a lot of counseling, and more than “a little help from my friends.” In my golden years, I remain alone by choice and am taking the time to discover my true passions. There is no one like you! YOU deserve a happy life that includes neither pain nor abuse. Choose wisely, and when necessary walk away quickly. Trust me! It will be awful, but honestly, there is a happier ending waiting for you down the road. And it might not even involve a man. YOU get to choose the life you want. And honestly, don’t take any shit from anybody!

  • Authors note: This article was written for a site for women, but men are abused in relationships as well. If you are a victim of abuse – please reach out to a professional or a local support agency.

Reprinted by permission © 2017 scrappygirllifehacks.com  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

“A rose by an other name” – or Life Doesn’t Actually Suck.

I haven’t been writing much lately – but I have been thinking a lot. Getting older gives us the perspective of standing on the the hill of our “history” and looking at things from a different perspective.  As we get older, we definitely need a different perspective. In the immortal words of Bette Davis,”Old age ain’t no place for sissies!”

Especially in this age of full disclosure, the internet, and a new disregard for our own privacy – an onlooker of facebook or other social media might think that most people have the fairytale life. First of all, that’s a whole other post….what exactly is a fairtyale life? In my mind, growing up, it meant an intact, loving, family, a comfortable house, a security in our families, streets and leaders.  So we actually have a dichotomy here, because what we see on the news and on social media is either the perfect or the tragic. I have news for you, life is both for everyone.

I usually consider myself a very sympathetic and empathetic person, but I am human, I get caught up in my own worries and challenges, just like everyone else, and I drop the ball on peope I love the most ( I try not to) Sometimes I feel forsaken myself….but that’s just human nature. We are all struggling in what is becoming a more challenging environment to live in.

I have done a lot of soul searching and reading and listening to different opinions of all sorts of people, trying to use my time effectively while I am in an autoimmune flare. In the end it all doesn’t matter, to me anyway. I figured out that after a half a century on this planet, I’ve been right about some things and wrong about lots. Not until I stood on the hill of my own history and looked at it like a painting did I begin to understand the truth. It doesn’t matter about other people’s lives – their suffering is no more or less than yours – nor is their joy. They don’t need to look at my “art,” I do, and with a different eye.

Guide posts used to be the tragedies; “oh, that was the Christmas my Dad died.” I no longer want pain as the markers on my map. When I look back, I want to catalog life by the joy, not the sorrow, because otherwise all we begin to see and feel is pain. This is not who I am, but it was who I was becoming.  A lot of it is directly related to the pain and loneliness of living with autoimmune disease. The rest is just from being “battle weary” Life is exhausting for everyone. However, it is also exhilirating. Find the joy and focus on that; on the now, because that is truly all we have. Better to make the best of it than become bitter.

What the hell does this have to do with roses you might be asking right around now. 🙂 I’ve been bedbound quite a bit the past two years. I miss a lot of things and it frustrates me. I was speaking to my sister, who has boundless energy and the ability to push herself no matter how exhausted she is. She raised three wonderful women and at sixty works three jobs. I was telling her how I feel robbed by this illness; that there are so many simple things I want to do and can’t….for years. She replies “you’ve done a lot of things.” This annoys me for a moment from the woman who has traveled all over, been married a million years to a great guy, seen amazing shows, met incredible people. “She totally does not understand the enormous value of what she has” I think with an eyeroll.

Well, she actually gave me a huge gift, and besides that, she was right, (something which is excrutiatingly difficult for this baby sister to concede). I took out my painting/map whatever you want to call it, and started seeing all the things that I DID do. There is so much joy that I lived, that I never want to take for granted. I had blessings that I didn’t understand at the time; being sent to Brazil for 4 months when I was nine. I was excited to go, but I didn’t realize then, that those four months brought me closer to my family in Brazil, and was the beginning of a bond that would last a lifetime and beyond. Many, if not most of my joyfull moments were spent there, or with them. And those unions molded who I am today. My amazing God sent friends who have stuck by me, laughing, singing, dancing, crying through the decades; Concerts, beach days, hugs from little arms and hands, unexpected kisses, flowers popping up after a brutal winter are all blessings never to be taken for granted.

Another thing I’ve learned is, that although relationships wax and wane, they are all there to teach us something – “life is a series of hellos and good-byes” : Billy Joel. But if you peruse your own life’s painting,  you will look down and understand things in a different way. You will see unexpected deep unexpected lifelong soul connections, passing strangers who evoked something important, kindnesses from acquantances at a time you really needed them. Don’t look for the people who disappointed you – look for the people who surprised and delighted you. Suddenly you will be flooded with beautiful memories and you might even be reminded of a single rose – a memory that is so old, you don’t know how your aging brain has retrieved it. And then, thanks to the wonder of technology a “hello Charlo” will appear on your screen after ten years….(only ONE friend ever called me that). The years melt away and it’s like we talked yesterday. It makes me smile, a deep heartfelt smile, alone in the dark with my dogs.

If you are lucky you will realize that nothing is all black or all white. Life has it’s ebbs and flows, and some of them are almost too excruciating to bare.  But try to remember, when we are feeling our most alone, there is someone out there who remembers you, who’s life you touched and many more who continue to love you every single day. If we are paying attention,  we will also see that life doesn’t suck – well at least not all the time!

 

PHOTO CRED Your Own Life – great site – great article

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Interpreting 23andme data (mostly for free) – how it changed my life.

Below is a great article about 23andme at home genetic testing. They send you your raw data, due to FDA restrictions. There are, however, many services that you can run your data file through for free or for a small charge. I didn’t feel it necessary to reinvent the wheel so to speak, so see the article below for information on how to go about having your results interpreted.

Source: Interpreting 23andme data (mostly for free) 

On a personal level, having this test done changed my life. Please contact me in the comments box if you have any questions. I will elaborate on this topic in the near future.

When Someone You Love is Mentally Ill

It’s difficult when you have a story to tell that has enlightened you, but it is so deeply personal that it is difficult to share. Ironically – those of us with mentally ill friends or family members need to share our stories and find support from each other. It is CRUCIAL, or we end up feeling alone and powerless. A very gray despair can take over. So please, if you are a parent, spouse or whatever of someone you suspect or know is mentally ill… reach out to me. Everyone should use a different name so they feel safe.

The stigma and shame of mental illness makes it so hard –  we want to protect our loved ones from that stigma so we remain silent. But WE need support. If you know of good resources for caregivers of those struggling with mental illness,  contact me. I would like to start an online support group for us. If there is enough interest I will eventually divide it into three groups – partners – parents of adults and parents of children. Or if one’s already exist – I will post links here.

People have NO idea how hard this is. Well meaning friends minimalize it in an effort to make you feel better “oh they have meds for that, she’ll be fine.” In the end, I have found, that the caregiver is the person who is judged, and the person who is ill ends up not receiving the help they need.  It’s time we join together and help one another. Are you with me?  – donandlolapt@gmail.com