I Have The Right To An Opinion, Or Do I?

Many times, as Americans, we talk about freedom of speech.  We say we have the right to freedom of speech.  We are right and wrong when we say this.  Our rights to political and religious free speech are supposed to be guaranteed.  If those rights are trespassed against then we can pursue legal redress.  In daily life, however, we may imagine that we have the right to speak our mind, but that is increasingly less and less the case.

I remember years ago hearing my mother and sister talking about how things were not “PC”.  I could not understand what Personal Computers had to do with what they were discussing.  I had been fortunate enough not to have been infected/affected by this rather oppressive concept of things being “politically correct.”  I am politically neutral, I said to myself, so what does this have to do with me?

Many years have passed and this concept of “PC” has grown and grown.  I am a bit startled from time to time at the intolerance people display.  As I heard someone say today, ‘people have the right to be stupid’.  I think that is no longer the case.  Oh, intellectually, you may have the right to be a bigot or a racist or this or that, but that only lasts until you say out loud that you feel that way and then, buster, buckle your seat belt because it’s about to get bumpy.

There is a quotation that I looked up today, similar to one often attributed to Voltaire, but with a bit more of a bite.

“If all mankind minus one were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind. We can never be sure that the opinion we are endeavoring to stifle is false opinion; and if we were sure, stifling it would still be evil.”
John Stuart Mill, 1859 from the Introduction to “On Liberty.”

I fear that people are no longer allowed to have differences of opinion.  There is some anonymous Board Of The Proper Opinion and if you cross it May God (whoops, can’t say that, might offend the Atheists or the Pagans!) Help You.  The problem is that opinions, rather like fashions, come and go.  What was Right four years ago can suddenly be Wrong today.  Things widely regarded as religious teachings held sacred for thousands of years are now cast as ‘opinions’, possibly ‘wrong opinions’ that can’t be tolerated.  If I’m willing to ‘tolerate’ you, why can’t you ‘tolerate’ me?

It is this which concerns me.  If the only true freedom of opinion rests within our skull then there is no more freedom.  If there is no more freedom, then what?  Look to history for what happens when freedom of dissent is no longer allowed.  This country was founded by people who fled Intolerance, who Dissented with the Powers of their time.  If there is no place left any longer for tolerance, for dissent, for honest disagreement, it is a sad day indeed.

To conclude, don’t think I am defending racism or bigotry or hatred.  I’m not.  I may disagree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.



It’s Liebster Season And I Don’t Have A Hat To Match

It must be Liebster Award Season.  I was nominated by two bloggers, http://amforte66.wordpress.com/ and  http://liisthinks.wordpress.com/  It’s a bit of a hectic time for me and I was reluctant to accept the challenge, but I’m taking some time for myself and going with it.  Now, the way the Liebster Award works, according to my nominators, is this:

The nominated user must provide a link back to the person who nominated them.
Provide 11 facts about yourself
Answer 11 questions set by the person who nominated you
Choose 11 more people and ask them 11 questions!

Eleven facts about myself:

1.  Even though I am 53, I am always doing childish things like walking curb stops like they are balance beams, seeing how far I can spit my gum in the parking lot, and taking my shoes off and jumping into the river…
2. I am growing my hair out because I always dreamed that I would be a grey-headed, long-haired grandmother with a fat braid of hair hanging down my back. I’m on a tough schedule since my grandson is 14 months old and my hair is just below my shoulders and not nearly grey enough.
3. I like to think I’m humble and modest but really I am ridiculously proud. Because I take pride in my humility and modesty. So it ruins the whole thing. Drat.
4. I lived in only two houses up until I went away to college. Then I lived in 3 dorms in two years, four apartments in four years, and since I married I’ve lived in seven different houses in thirty years.
5. I am only now reading The Wind in The Willows. Proving myself right yet again: The book is always better than the movie.
6. I worked in my father’s newspaper office during one summer and I was allowed to rewrite an AP story about squirrels carrying bubonic plague on a military base and then my dad put it in the paper. The newspaper? The Army Times.
7. I have trouble with authority. I always feel like “who are you to tell me what to do?!”. I’m okay with God telling me what to do though, cuz, like, he’s God.
8. I’ve lived in three different states: Maryland, Florida, and Virginia.
9. Before I discovered I suffered from depression I thought I was just terribly hard to impress.
10. One of the most helpful books I ever read was “Sink Reflections” by the Flylady. Good for my head and my house.
11. I’ve never made my children eat spinach or liver because I hate them (spinach and liver) that much.

Now, 11 Questions from amforte66: (Small panic, are these from amforte or liisthinks?! )
How are you, really?
Well, doctor, today I’m not too bad. I added some DLPA to my amino acid cocktail and I haven’t left my husband nor stabbed anyone, so, yeah, we’re okay today!
Are you an introvert or an extrovert?
I would say I am an extroverted introvert.
Mathlete or Athlete?
Neither, thank you very much. I think I am a bibliophile. Unless that’s an illegal or immoral thing and I’ve gotten confused, in that case, just forget I ever said anything.
What is your favorite television show and what do you like about it?
My favorite television show is The Bletchley Circle, although the last episode was a bit upsetting and I may renounce all dramas, including Call The Midwife.
What have you learned today?
I am not sure I like Pomegranate dressing
What is a habit you have that you like?
I am very self-critical, so it is hard to like anything about myself sometimes. That would be a habit you don’t like about yourself, Laura. Pick one you like. Ummm, I refuse to answer this question on the grounds that I can’t think of anything.
What’s the biggest personal change you’ve ever made?
I used to be a horrible potty-mouthed obscenity spewing cook in a Mexican Restaurant. I taught myself not to curse by drawing out the first letter of the epithet of the moment and then finishing it with a non-offensive word. Example: Ffffff-fudge, or Shhhhhhh-sugar. This training was so transformative that even if I have a shock of some sort or suffer bodily injury I do not curse. Mostly.
What’s the stupidest thing you’ve ever done?
I have to pick one? I’ll lump it all together as one thing: Drink three beers in college on three different occasions. I cannot drink. Each time I did stupid, regretful, humiliating things. I do not drink to this day. Lesson learned at 18.
What are some of your favorite websites?
What’s something most people don’t know about you?
I am brutally honest about myself to others. I do this because I hate secrets. I have seen people destroy themselves and others trying to keep a secret under the misguided belief that the secret must be kept. I will not keep your secret; Don’t ask me to.
What do you like about blogging?
It’s a way for me to express myself. Cheaper than a shrink.

My 11 Questions to Bloggers (These have to be from liisthinks. They feel like her.)
1. If you could be an animal then what would you be and why?
When I was a pre-teen, I wanted to be a horse. Because they seemed so free and powerful.
2. If the whole world was about to End in one week, what would you do with the last 7 days of existence?
I live every day as if the world were about to end tomorrow. If you are waiting for the Grand Crisis to make changes in your life or tell that person that you are sorry or that you forgive them, realize that any day could be the end of the world for you. Life is not guaranteed each day.
3. If you could choose another Planet in the Solar system to go live on, which would it be and why?
I don’t have the house catalog for any other planet yet and Zillow’s Mars page is under construction. I am not averse to living on another planet, however, and it would not have to be like earth, exactly, but I would prefer it to be solid rather than liquid or gaseous. Not too close to a star, easy access to water, ample supply of a breathable atmosphere. No fiercesome beasts.
4. What would you change about your daily routine?
I was walking every day until my BIL came to stay with us during his cancer recovery. I need to do that again.
5. The best place ever you have traveled? If not traveled yet, then what would this best place be?
I have been up and down the East Coast of the US. Every place is different. I think that if you haven’t traveled in your own country, whatever it is, don’t be in such a rush to travel abroad. You might be astonished at the variety of culture, climate, architecture, etc in your own backyard.
6. Would you rather live in a city or country-side and why?
Oh, Oh, I blogged this!!!! http://goodenoughfarm.blogspot.com/2010/10/tracing-path.html
7. If you could become the president of your country tomorrow, what would you change?
That’s easy. I would change being the president of my country. I am in no way qualified.
8. Ever “judge a book by its cover” and have you been wrong?
No. I judge people by their ‘vibes’. I am never wrong. Sometime people will say, “oh, you would like so and so” and then I meet them and their vibes are all wrong and I will wonder, ‘why did they think I would like this person?’ I will try to overcome my vibe and get to know the person better, but in the end, my vibe detector is always right.
9. If you could travel back in time what decade would you like to live in and why? (be a hippy in 60s? a king/queen in medieval times? rockstar in 80s? a cave man in “donkeys years ago”?)
I used to think I should have been born in the years before the first World War because life was simpler then. I think now that I try to have a simpler life in the time I live in, embracing the technology I’m comfortable with and rediscovering how to do things without some of that technology.
10. Give praise to the person you idolize!
I try not to idolize. People are just people with faults and good qualities. I admire some people but I hope I keep them in the proper perspective.
11. Having fun?
It wasn’t as bad as I thought!

Choose 11 more people and ask them 11 questions

And this is the part I always have trouble with.  It’s like a chain letter. I always break the chain letter and die horrible deaths and am cursed forever and lose my left eyeball.  *sigh*  I don’t even know eleven bloggers….  And what’s with the number 11 anyway?

Let me come up with eleven questions first.  Let’s see….

1.  Name the best book you read as a child and the best book you read as an adult.

2.  Why did you start blogging and are you still blogging for the same reasons?

3.  Do you break the rule to never discuss politics or religion?

4.  What is your most favored pet you have had and why?

5.  Is Monsanto really the Devil?

6.  Paper or Plastic?

7.  If I asked you to write a rant, what would it be?

8.  Does it bother you that they took planet status away from Pluto?

9.  Why do movie makers rewrite the ending of the book when making movies?

10.  If you could be a superhero, what would you want your power to be?

11.  Looking back, at what age do you think you really became an adult and why?

Last, but not least, as many bloggers as can think of (excepting my nominators):










Sometime in early 2013, my husband traded a car for a motorcycle.  It seemed like a good deal at the time.  Even Steven.

Until he wanted new pipes.  And a new windshield.  And a cool helmet.  And two leather motorcycle jackets.  Oh, and the motorcycle has to have somewhere to live now, because God Forbid it should get a raindrop on it.

Enter:  The Shed.

shed debt 001

shed debt 002

It’s a rent-to-own deal, so the monthly payments are low, but I checked the paperwork and the total payoff is ridiculous, so we’ll pay it off early somehow.

I can feel a migraine coming on.

There’s An Amino Acid For That

(I’ve been fidgeting with my About page and widget per assignments on ‘zerotohero’ but today I’m going to blog from my heart.)

As Life has firmly established for me, I struggle with my head.  My mother tells me that I started crying when I was two.  By this she means that I cried about everything:  “It’s too loud”, “It’s too bright”, “They’re looking at me”, etc.  I distinctly remember hiding under the kitchen table at mealtimes because it was all just too much.  I’m sure I was a fun, fun child.  *snort*  Although I loved learning, school was a tremendous challenge for me;  If I could not bear my own family around the kitchen table, how do you think I handled being in a classroom of twenty+ children?  I lived for lunchtime.  At lunch, because we were three houses down from the school, I got to go home.  Blissful interlude to regather myself and gain strength to go back and face all the stress.

I remember the intensity of distress mitigating itself somewhat during puberty.  I was not in so much visible distress, but I was aware that I did not feel the depth of happy emotions that other people did while I was keenly affected by sadness.  I would deliberately listen to sad music to make myself cry in a sort of cathartic process.

Things were generally better by the time I went away to college.  Until I started having panic attacks. The school psychologist suggested that the reason I was having these attacks was because I was not making a decision about something–how she knew this I do not know–and I should make the decision and everything would resolve.  Well, yes and no.  I made the decision, ended up pregnant, destroyed my relationship with my family, had a late term miscarriage and my first major depressive episode as an adult.

Major depression came and went, homeopathic and herbal remedies were tried and tossed, pharmaceuticals were introduced and thus began a 13 year journey on a succession of drugs which blunted all my emotions but at least I could function instead of sitting on the couch crying or banging my head against the wall behind the locked bathroom door just wishing that I could be dead so I didn’t have to feel this way anymore.

I spent most of 2012 weaning myself off of Paxil and was ‘clean’ for two months before I could not stand it anymore.  Now, this is a point of debate with doctors:  Was that a relapse or was that a result of discontinuation or something else?  The best answer is this:  I never in my life felt like I felt after I came off Paxil.  The sheer insanity of it was astonishing.  I know depression. I know anxiety.  I know panic.  We are intimate acquaintances, we three.  This was something else. This was horrific.  This, I now know, is Primary Discontinuation Syndrome.

Primary discontinuation syndrome

Adding insult to injury, studies now show that the gap between neurons and their receptors widens during anti-depressant use.  Essentially, Beforehand your feel-good chemicals had to jump two inches to reach their receptors, now they have to jump a foot.  They might not make it.  So the situation in your brain is worse than when you began.  How do you fix that?

Enter “The Mood Cure” by Julia Ross.  I cannot tell you how much this book helped me to understand my whole life.  She describes your brain as being run by four distinct ‘engines’.  Each ‘engine’ runs on a different ‘fuel’.  If you do not have enough of the needed fuel then your engine will not run properly.  To determine which fuel you lack, you take some questionnaires.  I recognized myself repeatedly and unexpectedly.  It was almost as if she had been peeking at even my unspoken thoughts. How could she know that?!  The long and the short of it is that I have never had very good fuel levels.  I was honestly just born that way.  But that can be fixed.  I can use amino acids to build those levels and fix the actual cause of the problem.

For me, personally, I have what she calls ‘sleeping cats.’

There are three kinds of catecholamines:  dopamine, norepinephrine, and the best known of the trio, adrenaline…I’m going to call them collectively the “cats.” 

Your sparkle-the feeling of zest and excitement that may be missing from your life-is derived from this trio of supercharged brain chemicals.  All three cats can arouse and excite you emotionally, mentally, and physically if they’re working up to speed…

If you’re low in the cat department, though, you many not react strongly to anything…

Whole classes of antidepressant medications have been designed to try to mimic or amplify the cats’ activities in the brain-notably, the popular Wellbutrin (or Zyban), the older tricyclics and MAO inhibitors, and simple uppers like Dexedrine, Adderall, and Ritalin.  Even some of the serotonin reuptake inhibitors like Prozac and Zoloft, whose primary job is to enhance serotonin’s calming influence, also have cat-stimulating effects….

At our clinic, we’ve had much better results using nutrients to boost cat levels.  One amino acid in particular has worked wonders in helping our clients recover their natural vivacity and focus.  It’s called “tyrosine.”

Ah, blessed tyrosine.  It has saved my life, especially while stopping my Paxil.  Normally I would be in the throes of PDS (see above chart) but I am actually better than ever.  No fuss, no muss.  Some tyrosine, some GABA, a little 5-HTP at dinner and bedtime and I am a new person.

If you suffer from any sort of Mood Problem, I strongly recommend this book.  Not often that I say something is a Life Saver, but I am not exaggerating when I apply that label to this book.

Absolutely Amazing.

Things You Won’t Read On My About Page

I have a dog.  Her name is Chloe.  She is a rat terrier.  That really says it all if you know rat terriers, but I will go on to explain for those of you that don’t.

She is the Queen of the World.

snow garden bandana 010

She is very protective of her house and her yard and her people.  Do not mess with her.

from the Getty Commons Collection

She takes awhile to warm up to people.  She will hesitantly approach you, sniff you all over, decide if she likes you or not and then either jump in your lap, ignore you or growl at you.  She never changes her mind.

We are going away for a few days this summer and I need to find a place to board her.  The local vet said they would board her but she would need a current rabies shot and an exam before they would accept her.  No problem.

Except Chloe hates the vet.  She hates people she doesn’t know touching her.  She will not let you clip her nails without a muzzle (and good luck with that) or a tranquilizer.   She’s the Queen, remember?

So let us imagine that everything went well until we put her up on the exam table.  Nippity Snippity, no charge but please leave, thank you very much.

I hate to admit that the whole thing amused me a bit.  I took immense satisfaction in knowing that her dislike of these things was universal and not limited to me.  That doesn’t solve my boarding problem, but we’ll deal with that later.

So, here’s the thing.

Chloe is me.  I am the Queen of my world.  I try to order it and regulate it and control it because that makes me feel calm.  I am highly suspicious of strangers;  While I may not sniff them, I am slow to warm up to new people.  In a sense, I circle around them for a few weeks until I can ‘feel’ them and then I will either jump in their lap, ignore them or growl at them.  I do tend to snap at my doctor, unfortunately, because I come from a more ‘natural’ approach and he does not.  I have not had to be muzzled yet, but there is always time for that.

This all puts me in an odd position as a blogger.  Yes, I’m putting myself out there in the yard but I’m not really sure I want to let you open the gate and come in.  Can’t we just play with each other for a bit, you on your side and me on mine for a while?

I promise not to bite.



Just When I Think I’m Out They Drag Me Back In Again!

Blogging 201:  “While you’ve been doing a great job putting your special brand on your site so far, we don’t live in isolation — and neither does your blog….Today’s Assignment: pick one social network you’ll use to help grow your blog and connect it to your site in at least one way.

Well, dagnabbit!  I managed to leave facebook and not feel tormented and now they want to force me back!  Argh!

(Warning:  Hyperbolic mini-rant)  It’s like having been addicted to alcohol and then being told, just for publicity purposes, you’ve got to go hang out in bars surrounded by alcohol!

The worst part is that I had started to do this a few weeks ago and stopped myself, standing outside the doors of the “Facebook Liquor Store“:

“Do you really want to go in there again?”

“I don’t know.” 

“Remember what happened last time?”

“I know, but it’s for my blog not me.”

“Really?  ‘Your blog’?  Be honest now.”

“*sobbing*  Okay, it’s for me, it’s for me!” 

In the end the question becomes “What am I looking for?”  Am I blogging for myself, blogging for other people, for an audience, for what?  Oy.  I hate it that blogging makes me think.  And I love it at the same time.  That is why I do it.  It makes me organize myself and sort through all the extraneous stuff and condense down to essentials.  Which is what I am trying to do with my life.

So, do I really want to add more stuff to my life?  How complicated would it be to do it?

I’m essentially not looking to do anything that makes my life harder or more complicated.

So I’m back to where I began.  Do I really want to grow my blog?  Do I really want to needlessly complicate my life?  Even though I enjoy blogging, would I be willing to walk away from it rather than grow it?

Thought for the day.