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How This Jewish American Wiccan “Celebrates Christmas”…

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How This Jewish American Wiccan “Celebrates Christmas”

In the very near future, I will be spending a huge chunk of my time in Israel. It will be nice not having to explain holidays to anyone or explaining why Christmas is just another day to me. For now, in the suburbs of a predominantly Irish and Italian neighborhood with a good 20 churches in pretty much every direction I turn (I wish I was exaggerating), I am still explaining myself. I have no idea why people still think their religion is the only one that exists on this planet. I’ll never understand it!

I am completely respectful of other people’s religious beliefs and their holidays, so long as I am not subjected to them in a means to try and convert me, but my spiritual beliefs and holidays are often met with some extremely disturbing questions, as opposed to the few I have received recently that were honest, curious, and filled with excitement for knowledge. They were by no means offensive. When a person is open and honest, and interested, it makes it so much easier for me to be me, as opposed to feeling like I have to repress my thoughts.

A few weeks ago someone wished me a “Merry Christmas” and received my usual response, which is that I do not celebrate Christmas. This is someone whose establishment I frequent once or twice a month, and not only did she look like I’d just kicked her, but she came over to make sure she hadn’t offended me. I had to explain that I celebrate Chanukah and Yule, and that I am not Catholic or Christian. She was incredibly confused, but she came over to make sure she hadn’t offended me with a wish for a good holiday. Me, I simply like to be clear with people. I am not trying to offend anyone, but if you’re going to wish me well, wish me properly. Don’t make assumptions and please, don’t tell me I “don’t look Jewish”. I don’t even know how to answer that one without telling you off, and because I come from a rich ancestral well of knowledge and an incredibly deep DNA pool, I can assure you that we come in all different shapes, sizes, and colors. We are all distinctly unique, some more than others.

Growing up, Christmas was not a word used much in our home. Not for any other reason than the simple fact that we’re Jewish. We had many Christian and Catholic friends, some who understood and some who did not, that we ourselves did not celebrate the same holiday, nor did we share the same spiritual or religious beliefs that they did. It is extremely disturbing to me that in 2013, any Jew still has to explain themselves.

People like to quote the Bible at me, and they are generally New Testament folk. They’re the kinds of people that don’t realize exactly how “new” the New Testament really is. I, myself, do not adhere to anything outside of the Old Testament. Even that kind of loses me at times. Prayer is an amazing thing, but I like to stick to my own path when it pertains to anything of a spiritual nature. I am not trying to change or convert anyone.

Today is simply December 25th to me. It’s not a holiday, but it IS my Great-Uncle’s birthday. He passed away 15 years ago, but I still remember him very clearly. I remember the last things he ever said to me, and I remember how silent this time of year became after he passed away. For several years prior to his passing, myself and two other family members would try to spend the day with him. Even though he had long since stopped acknowledging his own birthday, he still loved going out to a nice restaurant and enjoying good food, good company, and he told stories like nobodies business. They’re the kinds of stories you want to hear from someone over the age of 80, because you know that no matter how much time passes, you will never hear such stories again.

After he passed away, the tradition maintained in my home on Christmas Day was movies and good food. Either we went to the movies and came home to a really great meal, or we stayed home with a pile of movies and made a meal together. Almost always, it was homemade Italian food from scratch, or Chinese food from the best place in the area.

To know me is to know that I make killer Italian food. It’s something I love doing, but I am just as comfortable making Asian cuisine, Mexican cuisine, and pretty much anything else that I have mastered in all my years of cooking. Nothing is impossible, but I am an epic lasagna failure. It’s the only thing I make that falls apart, so I’ve stopped doing it. It is never inedible, it just never does what it’s supposed to do. Despite a family recipe for veggie lasagna that has been passed down for four generations, I completely and utterly suck at it. It’ll probably be another ten years before I attempt it again. It takes time and patience, and we all know I have no patience.

Over time I have found that people really seem to be offended whenever I clarify that I do not celebrate Christmas. They look at me like I kick puppies, torture kittens, steal winning lottery tickets, and am just, on a whole, not a good person. I look at them with the knowledge that, for over 5000 years, my people have not celebrated Christmas. It’s not on our calender and it’s not in our religious texts. It’s perfectly ok to not share the same religious beliefs. If we did, we’d be living in some kind of bizarre utopia. That’s not a world I can imagine functioning in. Differences make the world go ‘round. We can either choose to come together and learn from one another or we can continue fighting in the name of religion. The choice, however, is generally not ours to make because those that govern our respective countries are a huge part of why organized religion is failing. I could go on, but I won’t, or I assure you, I will offend you.

One year a family friend (one of my brother’s best friends at the time), on leave from the Army, wanted me to convince my brother to come to midnight mass with him. I, personally, do not spend time in churches. It has never been my thing. My brother politely declined, but as his friend became more insistent he finally said “Look, there’s a Jew hanging from a cross in no less than 7 places in there. With that track record, I don’t care to be the sacrifice sometime between midnight and 2 a.m.” We ALL laughed, and no one was offended.

This very same friend asked us about Christmas trees, genuinely wanting to know “If we put up Christmas trees, what do Jewish people do?” Never one to miss an opportunity, I turned around and said “We put up a Chanukah Bush, John.” He nodded and said “Oh, ok.” I said absolutely nothing for a few minutes, everyone was in on it because they’d heard me do this little bit before. Finally, after suppressing serious laughter to the point where I almost hurt myself, I admitted to him that I was just fucking around with him, that there was no such thing as a Chanukah Bush (though I admit, I know some people that put one up because they love Christmas trees, but don’t celebrate Christmas). Again, laughter ensued. You have to really know me to know that I will joke like that with the people that know me best, and that, while inappropriate to some, I am careful what I say in mixed company because I don’t go out of my way to be hurtful to others. I do like to be very clear though, that’s just my way. Humor and clarity.

Approximately 11 ½ years ago, Wicca was introduced to me. It is the perfect blend of a nature based religion steeped in Kabbalistic teachings. Kabbalah is Jewish Mysticism. If you don’t know what that is, use a search engine. That will explain it more clearly for you.

For me, Wicca was like coming home. It was pretty much everything I had been raised around, especially a love for animals and nature, and the elements. Part of the Wiccan Rede is “An it harm none, do as ye will”. There is no governing body, you govern yourself, and the Wiccan Rede tells you “So long as you are not harming anyone, do as you will. Live your life.” It is laid back and calm, and it brings an extra level of peace to my life. Even my Rabbi is comfortable with my spiritual beliefs. He’s one of the most open people I have ever met, so I feel supremely comfortable being myself and speaking my mind around him. Until I met him, I had NEVER been in the presence of a man of God and not felt judged. However, my Rabbi is unique. He too, is from a foundation of “You’re not harming anyone by being you. Live your life.” In this, I always feel incredibly blessed.

Almost all of my friends are religiously different than I am, and that is beyond ok. I am not sitting in judgement of them or their beliefs. I want them to be their authentic selves, and I can only hope they want the same for me. I have friends that are Jewish and friends that are Wiccan, so I don’t feel spiritually deprived in any sense of the word. We should all celebrate what we believe in and do so with those we love. We should wish the people in our lives well EVERY DAY, not just during the month of December.

So Lisa, exactly how does a Jewish American Wiccan “celebrate Christmas”? Simply put, I don’t. I ignore the insanity of my neighbors, all of whom DO celebrate Christmas, and I go about my day. I will bake Cranberry Orange scones for breakfast, I will do laundry and maybe enjoy a movie. I will play with my fuzzy little Princess. Later on, I will be making a nice meal for the family I am spending my day with. I might even get some writing finished, if I’m feeling up to it. Basically, anything goes. It’s just another quiet day for me. After years and years spent taking care of others, quiet days are something I really treasure.

Wishing you & yours a beautiful holiday season.

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Learning To Love Our Bodies

Learning To Love Our Bodies

http://celebritybabies.people.com/2013/08/14/garcelle-beauvais-blog-learning-to-love-our-bodies/

I’ve been meaning to share this blog for quite some time now. It breaks my heart that any child would ask if raisins are fattening. I openly admit to having an image problem, but I can tell you that it did not start until I left gymnastics and it didn’t begin at home. In fact, I never saw anything wrong with myself physically (except for obvious things that all girls find issue with at one time in their life or another) until people started pointing my flaws out left and right. All of a sudden, I was avoiding mirrors and wouldn’t purchase new clothes.

As women, we make this worse. Instead of building each other up, we tear each other down. It’s disgusting and I don’t want to be a part of that. If I think someone is beautiful, be it inner or outer beauty (occasionally it is both, but not all the time,), then I find absolutely nothing wrong with saying it. That doesn’t mean I want to be in a relationship with them, it simply means I’m not blind.

Zero and Double Zero are not sizes, even if that’s your “natural weight”. It should not be anyone’s goal of perfection because perfection is an illusion. Be yourself. Be comfortable in the skin you’re in because you’re going to be in that skin for a very long time. Be kind to yourself and try to achieve self-acceptance, because it’s so much easier than “perfection”.

The Fibromyalgia Myth

The Fibromyalgia Myth

http://sheamedical.com/the-fibromyalgia-myth

This FREAKS ME OUT. I have been tested for Lyme Disease more than once, but I am going to request a re-test due to some of the things I have been experiencing of late, just to be on the safe side. For some of us, I think we need to be tested and re-tested because Lyme Disease is no joke. Neither is Fibromyalgia, but there’s no denying that the symptoms are the same and if we’re not seeing any relief, maybe there’s a misdiagnosis somewhere along the line. How amazing would it be if some of us could get our lives back and not have to suffer to the extent that we do?

I don’t think it hurts to double-check and find out if any of this applies to some or maybe even all of us. Better safe, than sorry. Don’t be afraid to speak up, ask questions, and be your own advocate.

Vicious, Vicious Mood

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Do bad days ever just turn into bad months, culminating in a series of moments where you realize that you’re experiencing a bad year, or possibly bad years, plural? That’s how I’m feeling right now and yet, people refuse to mind their own business, step back, and fuck off. I should be wearing a Do Not Disturb sign as a t-shirt because I am all sorts of pissed off and there’s just no getting around it. I wish I could say it was *just* PMS (sorry guys), but honestly, I think I’ve simply reached my limit for the next 10 years worth of idiocy, ignorance, stupidity, and douche-baggery.

I actually had someone start an obnoxious passive-aggressive “fight” with me via Facebook this week. If a person doesn’t speak to me at all for well over a year and a half and then proceeds to comment on my status with a “Hehe” (My God-daughter will be three in six months, and her vocabulary is far superior to that of an almost 40 year old woman. How sad is that?!), I am going to want to harm them. This is just plain fact, though most of the time I am very good at ignoring one’s idiocy, depending on how high you are on my friendship/love scale.

Pretending to be a “friend” wanting to “brighten my day” is bullshit. If a person wants to brighten my day, there are so many private ways to do that, you do not need to do it on Facebook so that others can think you’re a good person. Moreover, either I am your friend at all times or you can fuck off. There is no middle ground. I am not here for anyone’s amusement. I take my friendships and relationships seriously because honestly, why bother if you’re not going to be genuine?! Be real. Don’t pretend with me and then passively aggressively ask me if you’ve done something wrong. Yes, you’ve done something wrong. You’ve behaved like an idiotic jack-ass and even better, everyone on Facebook gets to see how childish you are and how curt I am in turn. When I tell a person that Facebook is not the time, nor the place for this, and that if they have something to say to me personally, to do so, that does NOT mean you ask me a question via Facebook messaging. It means you put on your big girl panties and send me an e-mail like an adult (this only pertains to friends overseas. If you live in the U.S. or Canada, pick up the fucking phone. I asked several people if I was wrong and they agreed with me, so I know I’m not being childish, petty, or dramatic.). And please, do us all a favor and don’t claim that I’m a treasured friend “regardless of the miles between us or how busy our daily lives are” (I’m paraphrasing here.) when I haven’t been a treasured friend in quite some time. In fact, do yourself a very big favor and un-friend me ’cause it’s very clear to me that we are not friends, as most people on Facebook aren’t any way, despite knowing each other for 18 years.

A formerly dear friend (who I will eventually blog about because after discarding me for a guy she barely knew three years ago, I need to get the situation off my chest before I show up at her front door and do her serious harm. That’s not a threat, it’s not often I feel such anger and hatred toward someone I once loved like a sister.) once told me that it’s ok to outgrow people and move on from friendships when they no longer work for you. She also said she believes in having closure and saying something to the other person, as opposed to just leaving them hanging (apparently not, but it wouldn’t be the first time a huge lie came out of her big trap!). I did not know if I agreed back then, but now I’m feeling like maybe she was right. Of course, maybe my tolerance level just isn’t up to snuff this week/month/year. Who knows? Who cares? Vicious mood shall remain vicious. I have a weekend full of sports to take out my hostility on.

I’ll be back with your usually scheduled insanity when my post-concussion nausea and dizziness subside. Does anyone have any ginger? This is NOT the time for me to run out of ginger tea. Note to self: Buy stock in Lipton.

Why I’m Sick Of Hearing About “The A-Rod Scandal”: The Playing Field Is A Witch Hunt

Why I’m Sick Of Hearing About “The A-Rod Scandal”: The Playing Field Is A Witch Hunt

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As a native New Yorker who is also a die-hard Yankees fan, many people have been asking me about Major League Baseball’s decision to suspend Alex Rodriquez for 211 games due to the information provided to them by the former owner(s) of Biogenesis. Initially I wasn’t going to write about this, but as things have progressively gotten nastier in the media, I have decided to do so.

When the subject initially came up and I vaguely considered writing about it, my brother & I were discussing it on an almost daily basis and since he & I were completely in sync with our feelings on the subject, I felt like it was one I could handle with relative ease.

A slightly unknown fact about me is that, in the past, I’ve worked for a baseball player, so I feel like I can speak on this subject without it being an immense issue. Please be advised that I am writing MY views and opinions and while you may share in them, you may also firmly disagree. You’re entitled to your feelings and opinions, and if you want/need to express your views, please do so on your own blog(s), don’t bombard me with hate filled rants simply because our opinions do not mesh. If you want to debate with me like a rational human being, by all means, there is a comment button. I’m very cool when it comes to discussing a veritable motley’s crew of things, but I will not tolerate rudeness. Disagree, for it is your right to do so, but be respectful.

Moving onward…

Obviously people are full of their opinions in regard to this subject, most especially people that aren’t Yankees fans, or even baseball fans for that matter, which is more than a little disturbing, and is often one of those moments when “freedom of speech” starts to get on my nerves. It is in times of this nature where I often want to start suturing people’s mouths shut and taking away their smart-phones and laptops. This is when the assholes all come out from their caves. I find I have little tolerance for it.

I’ve always been supremely fair whenever I write about things like this. Up until a few months ago, I knew very little about this in its entirety. I knew only that Alex was being accused of something serious, but I did not know if he’d truly done anything warranting more than a mere investigation, or what the true nature of it entailed. I figured the worst they’d do was hand down a suspension of 50-75 games and fine him. I was ok with that because, based on the accusations, that’s really all that was warranted. Fine him, suspend him, but for God’s sake, he is NOT an animal to be slaughtered or a person to be stoned. It’s baseball, it’s not the end of the world.

I’m still not 100% sure he did anything because the facts are not sitting in front of me to be analyzed. There are no documents here, no physical proof of a damn thing, no medical reports, no financial documents, just the things Major League Baseball is spewing and spreading to the press like a disease. The more they talk to the media and spread various things to news outlets, the more I feel like it’s a smear campaign. I’ve seen this done to another athlete before when he questioned a team doctors’ misdiagnosis of something very serious, something that nearly got him killed. Incidentally, Alex told a doctor he did not trust him because he never informed him of damage to his hip during the 2012 playoffs, an injury that was severe enough to require off-season surgery. Can you blame him?! I’d have been all over that doctor like white on rice. The treatment the previously aforementioned athlete received by “daring” to question a team’s medical staff enraged me, so maybe some of that anger will creep into this piece and if it does, so be it.

For anyone to ask him to turn over all of his medical records, a request that was supposed to go to his lawyers and was “accidentally” released to the media is another load of shit completely disrespectful and if I am not mistaken, it is a complete and utter HIPAA violation to make such a request. He doesn’t have to give up his rights, tell you his life story, or have any more of his life dragged through the mud to appease anyone. 

Despite all kinds of drugs being wide-spread across every professional sport, and anyone scoffing at that statement is either lying to themselves or has been lied to, I see no visible evidence that he has been on performance enhancers during his tenure as a Yankee. He’d be playing a much better game all around if he were, and that’s a very simple fact. If you’re taking drugs that are meant to enhance your natural athletic abilities, then you’re not constantly missing fielding opportunities or constantly striking out. In my family, a missed fielding opportunity is called “an Alex Rodriquez”, I kid you not. There were kids in the Little League World Series playing better third base than I’ve seen from him in years. Should we drug test them too?

The suspension itself is grossly excessive. As a first time offender who openly admitted to taking performance enhancing drugs while he played for the Texas Rangers, I feel like this whole thing is coming ten years too late. You didn’t have a league drug policy back then, but seriously, that’s your big excuse?! If you were going to suspend him, shouldn’t you have done it when he was testing positive repeatedly for PED’s in 2003, policy or no policy?! Because that makes sense, this however just seems like a witch hunt, and that’s exactly what it is. Alex is the biggest name in baseball on the list of players linked to Biogenesis and performance enhancing drugs right now. Trying to make a public example out of him, and accusing him of naming all the other players currently on suspension, is a load of shit. How is he personally responsible for all of their poor decision making along with, maybe, his own?

He has openly stated that he has not used anything since 2003, and that when he did, it was based on pressure to perform due to the $250 million dollar contract the Rangers bestowed upon him, along with all their hopes and dreams of winning a ring. If Alex was batting above his shoe size right now, or above average for him, I’d say they need to be testing him every day and twice on Sunday, but he’s not. If anything, his performance over the past seven years has done nothing, but rapidly decline. I think that has more to do with age and the burning out of the body than anything else. Compare him to other players of his caliber that are in the same age bracket, and there are very few of them that have not taken PED’s at one time or another (whether they will admit to it or not, and the temptation to do so is always there. I’m not saying every single great player in any sport is on such drugs.), and fewer that are playing like they’re 25 when they’re pushing 40.

I both understand and find myself lacking respect for the Yankees organization for the way they have handled the situation publicly. You’re paying this man an outrageous sum of money to play for you, yet the second a hint of a scandal comes out, you’re jumping ship, openly discussing trading him, there’s media speculation (clearly SOMEONE is talking to these people!) that they will try terminating his contract so they can save money on the luxury tax fine the league places on them for being over the salary cap each year (which I am sure is more than made up for in ticket sales and merchandising), and just plain being snide and incredibly disrespectful in the handling of all of this.

Playing Devil’s Advocate for a second, if the roles were reversed and it was Derek Jeter being accused of this, the entire organization would be up in arms. They’d defend him to the death, or they’d cut him and let him bleed on the field. That’s how it works. You may be a part of a team, but at the end of each day, you are still expendable. It’s a business. Even if it means they have to find five people to “replace” you, they will all sleep like babies regardless. They really don’t care how it looks, sounds, or how it affects your reputation. They will send you out like a lamb to slaughter. I’ve always found it incredibly disgusting.

Playing in New York is very different from playing in Tampa, St. Louis, or Kansas City. While most major cities are behind their sports clubs with a ferocious passion, New York fans are supportive, passionate, and, at times, slightly rabid. I can’t tell you how many times I have personally threatened to rip a pitcher’s arm off and beat him with it for screwing up a game. In the same vein, if the team had been hitting, maybe it wouldn’t have looked like such a major fuck-up on his part, whoever “he” may have been at the time. I love David Cone, but when it was time for him to retire, I was sad to see such a brilliant pitcher lose his arm to the extent that he did. However, I didn’t want him out there risking further injury either. I respected his decision. If ever he was on a performance enhancing substance, you would not have been able to tell because he was both consistent and inconsistent in his outings. The same can be said for so many players in so many different sports. No one is perfect every single time and no one wins every single time either.

On a whole, I think baseball players are placed under incredibly heavy microscopes that athletes in other sports aren’t placed under. I’m not saying that is always the case, but in many respects, it absolutely is. There is always going to be some younger ace that they can sign for less money until they have to really start paying up. Considering that the average MLB salary was $480,000 just last year, compared to what Alex makes, it’s an immense payroll savings for the Yankees to have five players making half a million dollars, as opposed to what Alex makes on a seasonal basis. Do the math. To the Yankees it’s “more money, more problems”. Until there’s solid proof in front of all of us, not just media bullshit, judge not lest ye be judged.

For the record, I am not saying it is right to take drugs of any kind. I’ve never taken drugs in my life. I am a former athlete, I have worked for more than one professional athlete, and I’m 100% against them in all forms. When you’re in the public eye especially, you have to be careful in this day and age of cell phone cameras and people recording conversations and video that they have no business recording. You end up being treated as public property, which is unacceptable, but apparently this country doesn’t have a lot of laws to protect you, which i find disgusting.

If you’re in the public eye, have the common sense to keep your nose clean. No drugs, no drunken bar fights, no sex tapes, don’t fucking cheat on your husband/wife/partner, no beating your husband/wife/partner/children, no nude photos “accidentally” leaking onto the Internet, and for God’s sake, do NOT be a douche-bag when you’re being interviewed. Be direct, be terse if you must, but don’t be a blatant asshole because it really makes you look like someone people want to steer clear of, not support and cheer for. No one wants to pay hard-earned money for their children to cheer on a complete and utter jackass. I’ve seen how some baseball players act when they think no one is paying attention. Some of the batting practice and warm-up behavior is disgusting beyond words. I will never forget my personal reaction to a former player’s behavior towards his own hometown fans in Philly. I wanted to throw a bat at him. I won’t name name’s, even though I really want to, but I can say that I lost every ounce of respect I had for him in how he was treating kids that merely wanted a wave or a ball thrown their way. The look on my face said it all, and after that incident, I just couldn’t look at him as a decent person any longer. You’re standing around doing nothing, the least you can do is brighten a child’s day with a wave in their direction or by signing a few autographs. It’s what you’re supposed to be doing as a person placed in the position of role model, be an adult about it.

If you’re an athlete, know that PED’s break your body down so badly that it is almost guaranteed that you will die young. It will destroy your bones, enlarge your heart, and cause other problems as you get older. You may feel like a God in the moment, but you will live with severe regrets the second you are no longer in your sport of choice. If and when you ever test positive for said substance, or you’re considering “trying something out to help give you an edge”, just think of Lance Armstrong. People adored, respected, and revered this man until the blood doping scandal was a fact he admitted to. He was then stripped of all the accomplishments he’d achieved, and publicly humiliated his sport, family, friends, and fans. That is not something anyone should aspire to.

I know this might come off sounding like I’m the biggest Alex Rodriquez fan (I refuse to call a grown man A-Rod) and/or supporter, but the truth is, it’s been years since I’ve truly liked him. However, I noticed a shift during Sunday Night Baseball a few weeks ago when the Boston Red Sox pitcher for that evening’s game (whose name escapes me, because he was completely unmemorable, but clearly a dick. I refuse to look it up and mention him by name because he’s an undeserving dirt-bag. I am glad to hear he was suspended for what he did.) had the sheer gall to hit Alex during the 4th pitch of the 2nd inning. Throwing the ball behind his leg was enough with the first pitch, backing him off the plate was fine, but hitting him in the ribs? Not fucking cool!! Alex was so calm, collected, and reserved, which made me proud of him, but I just about lunged off my couch, hostility raging, as if he’d just personally harmed my brother. I said some pretty vile things that night, all of which I own (and won’t repeat here). When Alex hit that home run in the 6th inning, it was basically him pissing on the pitcher’s mound at Fenway Park, and I was proud & thrilled. That’s when i realized that I do indeed support him.

All this crap is going down and it continues to spread daily like wildfire, but I’m going to choose to remember Alex when he first started playing, because he was a sweet kid then and even though he’s clearly got some questionable morals and ethics, that’s really none of my business. I am not married to him, I do not share children with him, and I don’t have to live with him. How he plays the game, represents his team, and treats his fans? That matters. If he’s guilty, he’s going to have to suck it up and serve his time, though I hope for a reduced suspension. If he’s found not guilty of all these accusations, I don’t ever want to hear anyone utter a bad thing about him unless he goes out and shoots animals and small children, ok?

For those of you that want to see the man hung out to dry, ask yourself if you’d want your child treated that way before you start throwing stones.

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I’m going to support Alex, whether he is guilty or not. If he is guilty, the only person he harmed is himself. He hasn’t harmed baseball or affected the future of the game, and for anyone to say that is just plain ridiculous. There will always be drugs in professional sports. Anyone who denies that is in for a seriously rude awakening. No sport is 100% drug free. If he’s not guilty, I want every player that’s been Tweeting in judgement of him (and a long line of comedians who have been using him as their public punching bag) to be lined up to kiss his ass.

If this had never been made public, no one would be psycho-analyzing his every move, every word, his on-field performance, his injuries, his off-field behavior, or anything else. He would simply be the third baseman of the New York Yankees, one of the most hated and beloved franchises in all of sports. Criticize him all you want, he’s made his money, he has a World Series ring, and he earned every single Gold Glove at shortstop. He’s always been a talented player. If ever that was enhanced by PED’s, so be it. Because if ever it was, he won’t be the first and he certainly won’t be the last.

Doing Things MY WAY…..

Doing Things MY WAY…..


While doing research for the first four novels in my Locke & Keye’ series, I was informed that publishers would not be even remotely interested in so much as looking at my final product (we’re talking the first completed novel) unless I had a blog. Not just “a blog”, but one that I manage entirely on my own, update regularly (which means more than once a month), where I connect with my readers, and that they want to see that people are interested in the every day things I have to say, not just what I write for them in printed format.

There were some other “musts”. One of which included Facebook. I have an author’s page. You won’t see me say a whole lot on there, but you can certainly friend me if you want to., just be sure I know who you are because I am not the type to just accept every single friend request sent my way. It is not a popularity contest for me in ANY way.

Twitter was another “must”, and there were a few other things I rolled my eyes at.

It is somehow the belief that you gain readers via social media, and ONLY via social media. I call BULLSHIT on that, and I’ll tell you why.

#1- Unless you have absolutely no life, you don’t care what I say or don’t say on Facebook. Why would you? There’s nothing special going on there. Anything you want to learn about me you can learn via my work, via sending me an e-mail, or via responding to the things I post. I will always answer a person, so long as they’re being respectful. If you’re going to be a jackass, I respectfully decline to communicate with you. Period.

#2- I am a reader and a writer. I read what my favorite writers’ have to say on their own blogs and web-sites, but when I’m busy and haven’t had the time to read their blogs, I stick to their books as they are released. I don’t care what they say on Facebook, Twitter, or anywhere else. I don’t care about their political views (In truth I think it’s important for publiuc figures to keep their political and religious views to themselves. That’s just me though.), what they had for lunch, that they just found a pair of cute shoes, or whether or not they got to the gym today. That doesn’t sell me a damn thing, the stories they write are the selling point. However, it does let me know at times that some people have way too much time on their hands and really need to quit discussing their sex life via Facebook. Why does anyone feel the need to share every single detail of their lives like that? When did we all become the Kardashians?! (And I say this despite the fact that I follow Khloe’ on Facebook and adore her.)

#3- If you have time to “tweet” all damn day, I really don’t care. It doesn’t prove anything to me, other than the fact that a lot of people can knowingly embarrass themselves in 140 characters, or less. I refuse to join Twitter. Do not expect me to be tweeting EVER. It’s not going to happen, not even on a bet.

About seven months ago I met an amazing guy who has the same thought process I do regarding Twitter. His exact words were “One day I’ll get drunk, post something completely inappropriate or rude on Twitter, embarrass myself and my family, and do I REALLY want to explain that to my mother when she sees it, even at my age? No. So I will take a pass on that whole thing. I think it’s a great promotional tool, but it’s not for me.” Agreed. Did I mention he’s amazing? 

#4- I did start this blog because of a publishing mandate, but I have grown to LOVE my blog. Unless I am really sick, or obscenely engaged in something I’m doing, I post at least one thing a day on here. I try not to miss too many days in a row without posting something. I probably lost 10 “followers” in May because I was unable to post every single day as I normally do, which sucks, but not for me, because I see it as defining the true from the fake.

I have met some really wonderful, kind, caring, hilarious, genuine, generous people because of this blog, many of whom I now have friendships with off the blogosphere. You all know who you are. For a person who values friendship to the extent that I do, for me to call you a friend is a big deal. I don’t call every single person I talk to in this world a friend. I do not use the word lightly, not ever, so if you’re my friend, be loyal and don’t discuss me behind my back. If you want to know something, ask me directly. I am an extremely private person, but I’m also incredibly direct and blunt. I will give you honest, kind, caring advice. I treat everyone the way I want to be treated in kind. If I see someone is hurting, I try to be supportive. I don’t say things to be cruel to people. That’s abuse to me, and I would rather keep my mouth shut than come off like some kind of crazed, cruel bitch. I can save that side of myself for those deserving of it.

#5- Deciding to commit to this blog and keep it going has sparked something in me and given me a fantastic sharing and sounding board. It is something I love doing and look forward to continuing. I do not expect every single person that “follows me” to buy my books. It’s an unrealistic expectation, so do not feel obligated. Buy only what you want to. I am not going to push myself on you. Everyone has the right to use their entertainment dollar as they see fit. If it’s your deal and your genre, or you simply want to check it out, then you will. You’ll give me honest feedback, maybe even come to events and introduce yourself to me in person. I will never treat you like I don’t know who you are. In fact, I will be happy for the support. I will appreciate your effort in showing up and I will listen to what you have to say. I’m invested in this, so please feel free to communicate with me whenever and however you choose.

#6- My books are important to me, but so are the people that will eventually read them. I will always do my best to communicate with readers and respond to their comments, just as I do here.

A lot has happened to me in my life. A lot has happened to me since I started this blog, and those I have linked to it. I have grown, I have changed, I have become a better, stronger person. I like and respect the woman that I look at in the mirror, even if I occasionally cringe and say “Where the !@#$ did that line come from? It wasn’t there yesterday!” I am by no means perfect. I suffer from Fibromyalgia & Chronic Pain every single day of my life, but being a writer has saved me more times than I can count. I do it because it’s what I want to do and I will always do things MY WAY. Any of you with a strong personality knows what I’m talking about and why. If I don’t do it myself, it will never be done right, and I feel like I’ve got a great handle on “doing it right” here.

Thank you to everyone I can call a friend, to those that have supported me here on WordPress from day one, to the small group that supports me in my creative endeavors, to those who send me e-mails and leave me comments, and to the new people that have started following me in the last few months. I appreciate it and hope that I will continue to keep you interested, intrigued, laughing, smiling, and nodding your heads. And of course, to those who have been in my life for so long, you know what you mean to me.

Respectfully,

Lisa

The Pain Game

The Pain Game: Trying To Stay Sane & Keep Yourself From Exploding

 

I don’t find anything even remotely amusing about pain. I couldn’t be any more unamused than I am right now. By pain I don’t mean a paper cut or your cat scratching you, I mean mind-numbing, nausea inducing pain. Suffering from a spinal injury, I am constantly being told that my injury is inoperable. That’s fine, because I’d never agree to surgery. I saw what it did to people I loved, and I continue to hear horror stories, which pretty much gives me a number in my head that the success rate for such operations is nowhere near as successful as surgeons profess. None of these “it will fix the problem” surgeries improved their quality of life or range of motion. If anything, it deprived them of a more complete life, but I understand that when you’re in pain and suffering, all you want to do is find a way to alleviate your suffering.

Last weekend (Saturday morning) I reached a very critical point in my own pain levels and decided to take a medication that is being used off label for Chronic Pain. That was my first mistake, because for the first time in a long time, I took the “Very high success rate for Chronic Pain sufferers.” statement and the numbers at face value. I didn’t look too deeply into the medication until it was already in my system, and by then it wasn’t like I could reverse it because it’s a time release drug with an extremely long half-life, one of the longest I’ve ever seen in any drug, be it for pain or not. For the record, I’m usually very on the ball about this sort of thing to avoid problems and potential allergies. The pain was just so bad, and I was irrational in my attempt to rid myself of it and be able to function. Instead, I was pretty much bed ridden for over a day and a half, in between dealing with some pretty vile side effects. Because I’d only heard ½ of the prescription instructions, and no one had ever told me to not drink water before and after taking it, the medication released into my system much too quickly. Less than 30 minutes after taking it, I damn near threw up on my laptop before returning to my bed to pass out for a few hours. After several trips to throw up and return to a passed out/asleep phase, I woke up at one point and realized I was completely pain free. I did not hurt at all from the top of my head to the tips of my toes. My muscles, which had been killing me earlier that day, my spinal injury which had been screaming for months on end, was completely silent. No migraines, no muscle pain, no physical pain, but a complete inability to eat or keep fluids down (big problem, since this medication makes me thirstier than anything else I’ve ever been on. Water does NOT aid nausea though, so I had to switch over to iced tea at some point. Unfortunately I couldn’t keep that down either. Ginger ale wouldn’t stay down, fluids were becoming pretty hopeless.). As it slowly started to trickle out of my system, I was finally able to eat and drink without problem, but I was still really concerned and waited until I thought I’d pass out from hunger before I allowed myself to eat. I did not want to endure any more “fly out of the room” moments to puke up my guts. It’s not something I’d like to relive anytime soon.

By Sunday night though, the pain had become unbelievable. I was fine and completely pain free, and the next thing I know, my lower back was completely shot. It felt as if I’d been doing heavy lifting for weeks without a break, lots of bending, digging ditches, you get the drift. The pain was so bad I could not sit, stand, and could barely walk. There was no relief in sight. My mind was screaming “partial paralysis” at me in a very bad way. I used a topical roll-on product easily found at Walmart called Max-Freeze. In the past, this product has worked for me and worked quickly. I’d apply it, lay down, and by the time I woke up the pain would be gone, or at the very least manageable. The problem this time around is that I couldn’t even feel the product working, because even though I know I applied it directly to the source of the pain, I couldn’t feel it activate on my skin. I panicked a bit and after a while, resorted to ice packs. I probably should have made my ice packs hot, but because of the Max-Freeze I chose not to. Eventually I was able to get in my bed, some of the medicine still coursing through my system, and I was able to fall asleep, but Monday morning I was still in pain, and still experiencing that “What the hell did I do to my lower back?!” moment. My brother asked if I had tried doing anything out of the ordinary while on the new pain medicine and I said “I could barely walk from the bathroom to the bedroom. Do you think I was lifting weights at the gym, or doing something that I already know would aggravate my lower back?! What damage do you think I did in a less than ten foot radius?” I probably sounded insane, especially with the slurred speech and sudden whiny tone to my voice. I tried really hard to hold solid in my belief that my lower back would eventually loosen up and I’d be fine, that maybe I’d twisted wrong or caught an air conditioning chill. With Fibromyalgia, you simply never know.

It is now Friday and I can sit, which is a huge bonus. There’s still some pain, but I’ve got other pain to focus on too. Pain in my head (the migraine that just won’t quit. I’ve had it for two days. It’s trying to break me. I’m determined to break it first,), pain from wisdom teeth (Yes, I still have both of mine. I never saw the need to have them removed. They shift and cause some pain a dozen or so times a year, but outside of that, they do not affect me much. Plus, I am not a big fan of oral surgeons. They creep me out. They simply take way too much joy in pulling teeth and ripping your mouth open. Some people are fine to go and leave with pain medicine, but I’m not one of them. If something has to be done, they’d better bring in the anesthesia because I really don’t feel the need to see, hear, or feel what’s going on.), pain in my spine, and that emotional pain we all know called depression.

In my attempt to rid myself of pain, I ended up wasting a week of my life. That’s extremely upsetting to me. Life is short, pain makes it feel so much shorter, and I want to live. It’s hard to live when you can’t sleep, or you sleep, but you sleep too much. It’s hard to live when your body is geared up for every twinge that hits you and becomes the next great battle. And outside of the pain you experiences physically, you still have a real life. Bills to pay, things that need to be done, fixed, etc. Pain makes you feel like your life is a disaster. When you feel this crappy, faking a smile, pretending you’re fine, and lying to yourself to get through the next hour is just plain unacceptable to me. If I don’t feel good, I say so. Not because I want someone’s attention, a response, sympathy, pity, or anything else, but because it’s the truth and I refuse to feel ashamed because I suffer from more than one form of Chronic Pain. People usually say “I’m sorry you don’t feel good.” or “I’m sorry you’re in so much pain.” and my response is always the same. “Did you cause this pain? If not, don’t apologize for it. It is what it is.” I am a firm believer that I probably take on pain for those not strong enough to handle it, but honestly, I’ve had enough. I’d like to check out of my life for the next ten years, pain free, and do what I want to do. I want to live, I want to get up and go, I don’t want to deal with stress, anxiety, or all the other things that come along with the pain. I don’t want a half-life.

Am I being a kvetch? No, I’m being honest. The “pain game” is not a game I want to play. I wouldn’t wish this on anyone (except maybe Hitler, but honestly, Chronic Pain is too good for him.). I appreciate having a voice and a forum where I can say “I’ve had enough.” and no one judges me for my honesty, but I’d also like to use that voice and that forum to discuss happier, more successful things. I’d like to be able to say that I can get out of bed and feel good each day, or simply that I can get out of bed. I’d like to say “I laughed ‘til it hurt.”, but not because the pain is unbearable. Unfortunately, the pain IS unbearable, I’ve had enough, and I’d like a new alternative that doesn’t kick my ass and torment me. Doctors and scientists are making all kinds of advancements, yet they claim they know too little about the brain to help Chronic Pain sufferers. That’s bullshit to me. If one in every three people that sufferers from some form of Chronic Pain got a grant and became a doctor or a scientist, I guarantee we’d have better medicine and eventually, a cure. I’d like better medicine and a cure in my lifetime, and I’m sure everyone else that suffers would too.

I’m sick of all this crap. It’s time for a change.

The Versatile Blogger Award

I got hit with three of these, so I am going to squeeze them all into one to avoid annoying people with multiple nominations.

Thank you to Fish of Gold, Shaun, and Kalabalu for bestowing these upon me. It’s extremely kind of all of you. I genuinely appreciate it.

In keeping with the rules:

1-Thank and link back to the person who awarded you.

2- Nominate 15 bloggers for The Versatile Blogger Award and include a link to their site (and tell them that you have nominated them.). You can find the graphics for each award on my About page.

3-State 7 things about yourself.

7 things:

1. I watch far more TV than I will ever openly admit to. My newest obsession: Da Vinci’s Demons. It is one of the most brilliantly portrayed shows I have ever had the privilege of watching. I’m totally addicted. If you missed out on season one, I highly recommend it. I’m definitely pre-ordering this one on Blu-Ray.

2. I’m extremely maternal.

3. I love soft, buttery spa socks. They moisturize, keep your feet warm when needed, and are nice and cozy. Especially when your body doesn’t always respond well to cold.

4. Etsy is one of my favorite places to shop on-line. I’ve gotten some of the most awesome custom-made items there.

5. I collect gemstones and crystals.

6. I am currently obsessed with lemon candles and constantly searching for the perfect one. My favorite candle company in the world is Twistavants. If you buy from them, order Cakebake, Cinnamon, Blueberry, and/or Christmas Memories. You won’t be sorry.

7.  I hate the Spring and Summer months.

I now nominate 15 blogs.

1. mentalinthemidwest.wordpress.com

2. findingmyinnercourage.wordpress.com

3. fairytaleepidemic.wordpress.com

4. fibromyalgiathis.wordpress.com

5. bipolar2ne.wordpress.com

6. http://knockedoverbyafeather.wordpress.com/

7. polishalcoholic.com

8. producthoochie.wordpress.com

9. Must Have Boxes

10. High, High Higher

11. Caffeinated Brunette

12. mymiasart.com

13. sethsnap.com

14. koshersamurai.wordpress.com

15. meganhasocd.com

Thank you again for the award(s). I hope everyone can accept graciously.

I did these in an extremely random order because it was very hard to come up with 15 AND my new laptop is driving me up the wall. Mind you it’s new in the sense that up until recently, it was sitting in my dresser drawer, still fresh out of the box for the last few years. My post-grad laptop is so badly damaged that I got every last penny’s worth out of it, but I am still slowly transferring my files over to this one because part of me can’t bear to part with the poor bastard. Between actual work and my music, it’s proving stressful, so I am going to get my brother to fix this and get it to work correctly ASAP, unless I somehow manage to figure it out myself, which is entirely possible.  Though asking him to do it MIGHT make up for the fact that he keeps saying “You’re STILL in pain!”, like it will magically go away if he keeps asking me about it! Siblings. Can’t live with them and apparently it’s frowned upon if you stab them with a fork. Who knew?!

If for some reason a link does not work, I promise I will fix it as quickly as possible