Friday, January 26, 2018

Sadness

Some of my work-people call me Sarah-Sunshine. I have embraced the name because it's fitting. I usually bring a pretty sunny attitude everywhere I go. However, sometimes I have a sassy attitude, and that's fine.

I also think you should know that even Sarah-Sunshine gets the blues.
It's true. A few clouds here or there pile upon me and before I know it, I'm feeling sad.
Public Service Announcement: It is totally okay to be sad sometimes.

Did you read my last post? There are cruelties in the world that are unjustified. There are kids with the same genetic/idiopathic disease as my daughter who are financially discriminated against by insurance companies and drug manufacturers simply because their parents don't have jobs that provide private health insurance. It's crap and it makes me angry, but mostly it makes me sad.

The governments of the world refuse to work together, the world is being polluted by people who are in denial, and the education of our children is going to pot. It's crap and it makes me angry, but mostly it makes me sad.

Did you know that one of my close friends from high school died by suicide before she was twenty years old? Her birthday was this week. She would have turned 34, but she didn't because mental illness and drug abuse told her she wasn't good enough for this life and she left it too soon. It's crap. It makes me angry, but mostly it makes me sad.

Do you know that I have a big brother? He is two years and ten months older than me. I adored him and idolized him when we were growing up. I listened to his music (because he played it to loudly), had crushes on his friends, and copied his style of dress when I could (flannels, flannels, baggy jean, and more flannels). It is his birthday today. I won't see him. I won't hear from him. I can't call him or hug him or sing to him. My parents can't either. Can you imagine being a mother and not being able to embrace your baby boy on his birthday?!?!? I can. I can and it breaks my heart. (I'm here for you, Mommy.)
Mental illness and too many challenges within the family have made him seek isolation from us. I understand his reasoning, but not entirely, because it's downright impossible for a person like me to ever really comprehend a person like him. With his twisted, beautiful, brilliant mind that is so up and down and every direction at once, I can't keep up. But I miss him. I miss him and I wish him a happy birthday. It's crap that I can't tell him in person. It makes me angry, but mostly...
It makes me sad. 

The last time I saw you. 2/2012. xoxoxo and Happy Birthday.



Thursday, January 25, 2018

Naiveté

Can you recall an experience that shattered your perspective or opened your eyes and totally rocked your world?
I can.
In fact, I can think of several. 

One of the first really eye-opening, paradigm-shifting moments of my adult life happened my freshman year of college during an honors medical ethics discussion class. (Did I say "honors?" Yes I did, and yes, I am tooting my own horn.)  One of the subjects up for discussion was health insurance. As a privileged, upper-middle class, white, healthy, American 19 year old kid who grew up having spectacular private health insurance through my parents' jobs, I thought that health insurance existed to help everybody. My dad's insurance was billed first, my mom's picked up the balance, and I left my doctor and dental appointments without paying a cent. 
I can remember the room where the class was held. I remember sitting with peers and probably a professor as we explored this topic... and my brain exploded. Insurance companies can deny covering a necessary medication that a doctor has prescribed?!? Insurance companies can deny coverage to a person based on pre-existing conditions? INSURANCE COMPANIES ARE FOR-PROFIT ENTITIES GOUGING PEOPLE FINANCIALLY AND SOMETIMES ROBBING THEM OF THEIR HEALTH? Whyyyyyyyy???!?!!? 
I'm still a privileged, white, mostly healthy, American kid (ha!) with spectacular private health insurance, but I am no longer blind to the fact that insurance is designed to help those of us who are privileged and that it screws over those of us who are not.
It makes me sad* and I don't know how to fix it. 

Another eye-opening experience happened when I was learning how to be a teacher. There's a saying amongst educators that I have heard many times, and have repeated many times since. "Fair doesn't mean equal." Think about that for a minute. If kindergarten student #1 is an awesome reader, and kindergarten student #2 is struggling to sound out letters, should I make them both read the same exact book? No. That's ridiculous. I want their learning experience to be fair, I want to challenge each child appropriately, so I would have them read books at their appropriate, yet different, reading levels. That is fair. Equality for equality's sake is not always the best solution. Mind blown. Cramming people into identical boxes is a bad idea. Who knew?

Remember when we were kids and the grown-ups taught us to share with other children? Also, we sang a song with the lyrics "Co-op-er-ation is the answer! Cooperation! We're working together." We learned that bullies are mean because they have issues and that we should stand up to them, tell on them, and stop the abuse. We learned communication skills that included "I statements," listening, and problem solving.  It was my understanding that these skills were possessed by all adults, particularly by those who ruled the world and controlled my life, and that we should all be striving to be cooperative, kind, open communicators.
Now join me in the present, if you would...
The two-party political system of the United States of America is totally crazy-pants because they apparently didn't embrace these lessons I learned as a kid! Adults from two separate sides actively work for their own agendas while poo-pooing on the other side's ideas. Really? REALLY? "Cooperation is the answer! Cooperation, we're working together!" Didn't these people ever hear this song??!?! Don't they know that the majority of their constituents will benefit when they work together. WHY THE HELL DO WE ONLY HAVE TWO POLITICAL PARTIES in this country when everyone knows there are more than two sides to a story?!?  
The fact that the government can't actually work for the greater good of humanity makes me sad* and I don't know how to fix it.

So, my friend, what about you? What have you noticed as you have grown as a person? What has blown your mind and opened your eyes? Share your stories with me, please. I'd love to know.

Meanwhile, I'll be here, paying less for outrageously expensive "specialty medication" for my daughter because of my private insurance and drug-manufacturer payment assistance program (not available for non-privately insured patients), while trying to convince my employer that fair doesn't always mean equal, while I shake my fist at the members of my government who seem to have the mental development of toddlers.

Ugh.






*Observation: When crappy topics like those mentioned above pop up on my Facebook newsfeed, my reaction is almost always a sad face and almost never an angry face. I don't know why I default to sadness over anger, but I do. 

Monday, January 1, 2018

The Books of 2017!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!! 

2017 was a great year for reading! I consumed a total of 35 books, six of which were audio books. That's a record for me since I started keeping track in 2010. I'm pretty pleased about it.

I still participate in a monthly book group, which I love because my friends introduce me to books I might never read without the group. This year I started using the Goodreads app to log my reading, which has been fun, but I still write down my books in a journal. Goodreads also allows me to see what other people are reading, so I have discovered many new books on that app, too.



Here they are, my books of 2017!!!!

The Selection 
The Elite
The One
Happily Ever After
The Heir
The Crown  -all by Kiera Cass  (If you want quick reads with only moderately frustrating characters, these books are fun.)
This Is Not the Life I Ordered - Stephens, Speire, Risley, Yanehiro (I don't love self-help books)
The Sound of Gravel -Ruth Wariner (Wow. The experience of a girl raised in a polygamous Mormon group in Mexico. Heartbreaking.)
A Tree Grows In Brooklyn -Betty Smith (Loved)
The Orphan Keeper -Camron Wright (Really good)
The Girls -Lori Lansens (A good read)
Heartless -Marissa Meyer (SO VERY GOOD)
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets -JK Rowling
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban -JK Rowling (I'm still reading the Harry Potter series, one chapter a week, along with the podcast "Harry Potter and the Sacred Text" and loving it.)
Salt to the Sea -Ruta Sepetys *audio book* (I loved it.)
Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World -Vicky Myron (Super Cute true story!)
The Martian -Andy Weir (LOVED it.)
The Secret Life of Bees -Sue Monk Kidd (A wonderful book. I want to read more by this author.)
Legion #2: Skin Deep -Brandon Sanderson (Such a fun book. I need to read more by Sanderson!)
The Handmaid's Tale -Margaret Atwood (Wow and yuck. A powerful read.)
Animal Farm -George Orwell (My first time reading it. I found it to be disturbing and interesting.)
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them -JK Rowling as Newt Scamander  (Adorable!)
The Color of Fire -Ann Rinaldi (I remember reading other historical fiction novels by her as a kid, and I will definitely seek out more. I like her storytelling, and I like quickly-read young-adult books.)
1984 -George Orwell *audio book* (I tried reading this before but couldn't get going. It was easier in audio format. A good book.)
Wool -Hugh Howey (Yes, please. I'm going to have to read everything by this author.)
Shift -Hugh Howey (Ditto)
Dear John -Nicholas Sparks (This author has a format to his books and he's a best-seller, but he's not my favorite.)
After The Storm, Kate Burkholder #7 -Linda Castillo (A fun action/mystery novel. Though I liked it, I probably won't read any others in the series.)
The Girl On The Train -Paula Hawkind *audio book* (I really liked it.)
The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo -Stieglarsson *audio book* (I REALLY liked this. I plan to read the others in the series written by the original author.)
Murder on the Orient Express -Agatha Christie *audio book* (My first Agatha Christie book. It was fun, but full of SO MUCH racial profiling, it was a bit distracting.)
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child -Rowling, Tiffany, and Thorne (A fun read.)
Selected Poetry by Lewis Carol -Carol *audio book* (Very enjoyable! There were some good ones I'd never heard before.)
Celebrations: Rituals of Peace & Prayer -Maya Angelou (Powerful, inspiring poetry.)
Gift from the Sea -Anne Morrow Lindbergh (It took me a little bit to get into it, but then I was hooked. So many good reminders of how to bring peace into my life.)

A couple discoveries I've made about audio books: I love listening to British novels read by British actors. Also, books with multiple narrators that have different actors reading for each voice in the book (Salt to the Sea, The Girl on the Train) are SO ENJOYABLE.

2018 is off to a good start! I am partway through Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, and just started Dust by Hugh Howey



365 fresh days ahead! (Well, more accurately, it's about 364.29 fresh days ahead, but who's counting?)
What books are on your "To Read" list for 2018???