Obama’s Approval Sinks. What Would it Be if They Asked About Religious Liberty?

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons. Official White House Photo.

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons. Official White House Photo.

CNN recently polled Americans’ approval of President Obama’s job performance.

It turns out that President Obama’s approval ratings have now sunk lower than the approval ratings of former President Bush. The article I’m citing makes a big deal about that, but it’s really a non-sequitur since former President Bush hasn’t been on the hot seat for quite a while now, and Americans tend to wax nostalgic about former presidents.

President Obama’s approval ratings fell most sharply in the areas of illegal immigration, ISIS and surveillance.

The latter is particularly important, because the issue of surveillance cuts into the base that elected President Obama. I think it reflects his failure to live up to campaign promises in this matter.

I wonder what the poll numbers would be if the poll had included questions about religious freedom. I agree with some of the things President Obama has done and disagree with others. But his attack on religious freedom via the HHS Mandate is a total deal breaker for me. It would be a deal breaker with any president, of either party.

I don’t think I’m alone in this. In fact, if the 2014 election results mean anything, President Obama has single-handedly scuttled the Democratic Party base among Catholic voters.

Another area I’d like to see polling firms ask about is legal immigration. Do We the People approve of the current immigration policies of our government? In fact how many of us know about the immigration policies of our government?

I can tell you that corporate greed and its demand for cheap labor and good relations with certain countries for purposes of commerce decides immigration policy, including policies concerning illegal immigration. Campaign rhetoric aside, these policies do not change, no matter which party wins the election. The welfare and opinions of the American people don’t figure into it.

From Breitbart:

A CNN poll released Wednesday shows that George W. Bush is not only more popular than President Obama, a majority of Americans now view the former president in a positive light. A full 52% see Bush favorably, compared to just 43% who do not. Only 49% of Americans have a favorable opinion of Obama. The same number, 49%, do not.

Obama’s job approval numbers also took a serious dive in the CNN poll. Just last month, the president sat at a 48% approval rating, with just 47% disapproving. Not great, but he was at least above water. Today Obama is upside down a full 7 points, with just 45% approving of his job and a clear majority of 52% disapproving.

That’s an 8 point drop.

On the specifics of his job, other than race relations, Obama is upside down, sometimes by huge margins, in every category: economy 46-53;  ISIS 32-63;  race relations 50-47;  Climate Change 41-49;  illegal immigration 36-60;   government surveillance 29-67;  health care 44-54; foreign affairs 43-55;  terrorism 45-51.

Since last month, Obama’s numbers have worsened considerably on the specific issues of ISIS, immigration, and surveillance.

 

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Throwing Verbal Sewage on the Pope. Why?

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Aleteia Image Department https://www.flickr.com/photos/113018453@N05/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Aleteia Image Department https://www.flickr.com/photos/113018453@N05/

Every morning, I re-tweet Pope Francis’ tweet.

The Holy Father’s tweets are, without fail, a drop of sunshine. They remind us of the love and mercy of our Precious Lord. I don’t know about you, but I can use all the love and mercy I can get.

Jesus is the unfailing source of love and mercy when everything in life has been upended. When everybody else has la la la-ad right past you and your problems, you can turn to Jesus. He will give you the grace you need to deal with what’s in front of you.

Do you know who Pope Francis is?

He’s the Vicar of Christ.

Pope Francis is the Jesus-follower-in-chief. He’s the shepherd we trust to lead us home to glory. At a time when the bishops are at odds with one another over such basic Christian teachings as marriage, and when the priests are pretty much ignoring the constant bashing ordinary Christians take for following Christ, we still have the Pope. Pope Francis is the lighthouse which warns us away from the rocks and keeps us in the safe channels.

I don’t know what Catholics in places like Germany, where the bishops are following one another instead of the Gospels, would do without the Pope. I don’t know who those Catholics who are burdened with trendy priests who teach the world’s wisdom instead of God’s would have for a teacher without the Pope.

Even if a person isn’t Catholic, Pope Francis is still a beacon of pastoral love and hope. He is God’s mercy and justice, personified.

Why then, do people feel compelled to drop vile tweets on his Twitter account?

It appears for all the world like a form of virtual exhibitionism, like the sickos who walk around elementary schools with their genitals hanging out. Or maybe it’s a social form of Tourette’s Syndrome in which people are compelled to shout out obscenities due to a mental tic. I’m not a psychologist, so I don’t know the medical/mental problem involved here.

Maybe it’s just another manifestation of the current zeitgeist in which Christians are the group it’s ok to hate. Perhaps the only mental problem at work is prejudice and hatred, taking form in a deliberate attempt to affront Catholics and degrade the Holy Father as an expression of the overall ethos of Christian bashing.

I think these sewage-dumping trolls are too numerous, and some of the things they tweet too sick, to be the work of adolescents on a dare.

The interesting thing is that the filthy darkness of these tweets tends to make the Holy Father’s goodness shine even brighter. His tweets of support for the suffering, assurance of God’s love, and hope for the salvation of all humankind cast a holy light that overcomes the darkness of this trash.

If you look at it that way, the whole business of sewage-dumping on the Pope becomes analogous to what we face as Christians living in post Christian world every day. The light of Christ is hope, mercy, love, eternal life. The darkness has no light. It only offers viciousness, degradation and anger. Even the jokes that come from people in its thrall are cruel.

Why do people feel compelled to throw sewage on the Pope? I think it’s because they are, without being aware of it, doing their master’s bidding. Who hates the Pope most of all? The one who would lead all the world away from Christ. Who are his disciples in this world? Those who aid him in achieving this desire.

I think that these attacks on the Pope are just another crude manifestation of the fact that we live in a fallen world and that we are, as St Paul told us, dealing with powers and dominions that we do not fully see and do not comprehend.

 

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Sex Change Surgery is the New Pre-Frontal Lobotomy, and a Trendy Form of Child Abuse

Original caption: "Dr. Walter Freeman, left, and Dr. James W. Watts study an X ray before a psychosurgical operation. Psychosurgery is cutting into the brain to form new patterns and rid a patient of delusions, obsessions, nervous tensions and the like." from Saturday Evening Post 1941, pages 18-19. Photo Source Wikimedia Commons. Public Domain.

Original caption: “Dr. Walter Freeman, left, and Dr. James W. Watts study an X ray before a psychosurgical operation. Psychosurgery is cutting into the brain to form new patterns and rid a patient of delusions, obsessions, nervous tensions and the like.” from Saturday Evening Post 1941, pages 18-19. Photo Source Wikimedia Commons. Public Domain.

What do prefrontal lobotomy and sex change surgery have in common from a scientific viewpoint?

Everything.

How are prefrontal lobotomy and sex change surgery different?

Prefrontal lobotomy was never marketed as a “right” for mentally ill people.

Prefrontal lobotomy is one of the grand dragons from the stone knives and bear skin beds era of mental health care. Back in the bad old days, doctors had the habit of “treating” people with mental health problems (or sometimes, just behavioral problems) by sticking what was essentially an ice pick through the top of their eye socket and into their brains and swishing it around.

The result? “Difficult” patients were ever so much nicer now that a big part of the prefrontal lobes of their brains had been disconnected. So … bingo! … doctors had a “cure.”

Today’s prefrontal lobotomy is to “treat” physically normal, healthy people who suffer from a compulsion to mutilate themselves by cutting off their sex organs with surgery that acts out their compulsive illness and actually does remove their sex organs. The follow-up is to put a cosmetic surgery placebo version of the sex organs of their opposite sex on the wound. This plays into their mental illness rather than treats it. It also subjects them to life-long, massive doses of hormones and permanent mutilation.

The major difference between the two “treatments” is that sex change surgery is being promoted as a “human right” by people in the LGBT community and has been taken up as a cause by the brain-dead politically correct media. I am talking about the mutilation of physically healthy and normal people. I am not talking about treatments for people who are born with mixed genitalia. Whenever I write about this topic, I get a smattering of comments calling me a few names for having the temerity to say what is obvious to anyone with a shred of intellectual and moral honesty: This is medical malpractice.

People who suffer from this compulsion are not the beneficiaries of this new trendy. They are its victims. They need real treatment that is based on something approaching science, not politically-motivated mutilation.

I used this analogy in another post: If I went to a doctor and asked him/her to cut off my healthy legs and replace them with prosthesis, they would call for a psych evaluation.

Why then do we behave as if a compulsion to cut off one’s genitals is somehow a healthy impulse?

This tawdry business of faux science enabling the mutilation of healthy people has moved into a sinister new arena. As usual, the brain dead trendies in the politically correct press are hyping it as an advance for human rights.

The new politically correct is to mutilate children with sex change surgeries and massive doses of hormones. A shameful article in the Boston Globe, titled Led by the child who simply knew promoted this horrific form of child abuse for all it was worth. For instance, here’s the summary sell-line that tops the article:

The twin boys were identical in every way but one. Wyatt was a girl to the core, and now lives as one, with the help of a brave, loving family and a path-breaking doctor’s care.

There’s a photo of these twins below the sell line and the caption for the photo reads: “Nicole Maines, 14, her twin brother, Jonas, and their parents have traveled a long, trying road.”

The article itself adds:

… now a groundbreaking clinic at Children’s Hospital in Boston – one of the few of its kind in the world – helps families deal with the issues, both emotional and medical, that arise from having a transgender child – one who doesn’t identify with the gender he or she was born into.

The Children’s Hospital Gender Management Services Clinic can, using hormone therapies, halt puberty in transgender children, blocking the development of secondary sexual characteristics – a beard, say, or breasts – that can make the eventual transition to the other gender more difficult, painful, and costly.

Founded in 2007 by endocrinologist Norman Spack and urologist David Diamond, the clinic – known as GeMS and modeled on a Dutch program – is the first pediatric academic program in the Western Hemisphere that evaluates and treats pubescent transgenders. A handful of other pediatric centers in the United States are developing similar programs, some started by former staffers at GeMS.

It was in that clinic, under Spack’s care, that Nicole and her family finally began to have hope for her future. (Read the rest here.)

 This fine piece of objective journalism won the GLAD Award for Outstanding Newspaper Article for 2012. The GLAD award “honors outstanding media images of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community that inspire change.”

We have another article from the Mail Online describing how the lesbian parents of an 11-year-old boy are putting him through sex change mutilation. This poor little boy, who has started calling himself Tammy instead of Thomas, is undergoing hormone block treatment by means of a hormone suppressant that is implanted in his upper arm. The purpose of this “treatment” is “to stop him from going through puberty as a boy.”

Psychiatrists “diagnosed” this little boy with gender identity disorder when he was seven, after he had threatened gender mutilation on himself. I guess no one thought that this might be a mental health problem and that it might, possibly, be caused by his lesbian mothers. Nope. No child abuse here. This is obviously “gender identity disorder,” and the “treatment” is to mutilate this little boy’s body, as well as his psyche.

From the MailOnline:

The mothers say that one of the first things Thomas told them when he learned sign language aged three – because of a speech impediment – was, ‘I am a girl’.

At age seven, after threatening genital mutilation on himself, psychiatrists diagnosed Thomas with gender identity disorder. By the age of eight, he began transitioning.

This summer, he started taking hormone-blocking drugs, which will stop him from experiencing puberty.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2043345/The-California-boy-11-undergoing-hormone-blocking-treatment.html#ixzz2StkXJila
Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

The two mothers, who were “married” by a rabbi in 1990, insist that their sexuality has nothing to do with this. Which, I would guess, in today’s trendy, politically correct world, settles it.

When I was first elected for the very first time, back in the dark ages of 1980, a seasoned legislator remarked to me, “There are two groups of people that you will find you can do anything to in this place and no one will stop you: Prisoners and children.”

Thanks to court interventions, that is no longer as true of prisoners. However, in the case of children it has grown much, much worse. We kill children with impunity right up to the moment of their birth, and sometimes afterwards, as well. We have degraded the public schools into propaganda mills for sexually disturbed people to teach their view of life to the young. We push dangerous contraceptives on young girls. We destroy our children’s homes with divorce. We commodify their lives with designer babies and then harvest the bodies of young women for eggs to keep that cycle going.

And now, we are pushing the idea that we can submit young children to dangerous, mutilating “sex changes” because, hey, it’s politically correct and you’ll be called a few names if you object to it.

Ok. Let the name-calling start here.

Sex change surgery on healthy people is not treatment. It’s medical malpractice. 

Sex change on children is child abuse and child mutilation. Doctors who do it should lose their license to practice medicine and be sent to prison. Parents who push for it should lose custody of their children, and if they go forward with it, they also should be sent to prison.

No child should be mutilated for politically correctness. 

Call me all the names you want. I don’t care.

For further reading, check out Sex Reassignment Surgery for Children? Two Words … CHILD ABUSE

 

Note: I first published this post a couple of years ago. Since then, the push for this form of medical malpractice has only gotten worse.

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Research and Writing Software for Writers

Scrivener in cork board view. Copyright by Rebecca Hamilton. All Rights Reserved.

Scrivener in cork board view. Copyright by Rebecca Hamilton. All Rights Reserved.

Writers are like any other craftsmen. Their tools are part of the process.

The atmosphere of my work space matters to me. I aim for a certain level of comfort, peacefulness and prettiness in the way I put my home office together.

The tools I choose to implement my writing matter to me, also. Software, in particular, shapes the work day. Anyone who has ever had the unpleasant experience of writing a book in Microsoft Word knows that this software was not made for writers.

I’ve read that the latest iterations of Word are better. But I was burned so badly back in my thesis days that I have no appetite to try again. To put it simply, Word crashes with big documents that require a lot of editing. Word crashes a lot. And it corrupts the files so that even when you use a back up, it crashes again. I’ve had to re-type long documents from hard copies because Word corrupted the files so badly.

By the end of my thesis process, I hated Word. I have never tried to use it for a long document again. As I said, I’ve read that it’s all better now, but I value my happiness too much to commit long work I care about to Word.

Aside from that ancient beef with the software, there is the added factor that Word was never meant to be a book-writing application  in the first place. Word is meant for business use. Every other use is a tacked on deal.

What that means to a writer is that it’s awkward and insufficient for writing needs. If you’ve never used good writing software, you may not realize just how crippling Word is, kind of like the way that people didn’t know the power of word processing back when they were using typewriters.

Word does other things quite well. Again, back in my thesis days, I loved the way Word would go over to Excel and import a spreadsheet into a document without leaving Word. I could do computations inside Word and then print out a document with Word verbiage and Excel numbers, all in one place. It was great at that.

But for writing books? Nope.

I’ve looked at several book writing softwares, and have settled happily on Scrivener. Scrivener is the Swiss Army knife of writer’s software, which makes it a difficult thing to describe. It would be possible to go from the first niggling idea of a book, through research and straight to submission without leaving Scrivener.

However, I don’t recommend this.

My recommendation is to use specialized software for research and specialized software for outlining and Scrivener for writing. Import the research you are actually using so you can reference it as you write, but keep your more extensive research in its own files.

Here, for those who are trying to write, is how I handle the research part of my writing. Any suggestions you have on how to improve this process are welcome.

Devon Think Pro Office Research Files Copyright: Rebecca Hamilton. All Rights Reserved.

Devon Think Pro Office Research Files Copyright: Rebecca Hamilton. All Rights Reserved.

My research is done with two softwares, both of them from Devon Technologies. Devon Technologies is a German company that specializes in this kind of software. I use Devon Agent Pro when I’m looking for sources. I put documents I want to keep in Devon Think Pro Office.

Devon Think Pro Office will download and store emails, convert pdfs to readable and editable documents with ocr, and link to and index other files — such as your Scrivener files — on your computer. It handles enormous research files of all types, including videos, photos, and a large number of file formats, including pdf. Its ability to link between research files by idea and dig things out for you is almost magical.

The software I used to do the same thing back in my pc days was Ask Sam. When I tried to find a link to Ask Sam, I ran into discussions saying that the software has been discontinued. If that is true, I don’t know of an alternative for pcs. Perhaps readers can share one in the combox.

I used both Devon Think Pro Office and Devon Agent Pro when I was a legislator to research legislation and issues. That meant I didn’t have to buy it when I started writing. Neither of them is inexpensive, but if you do research and you don’t want to go crazy, they are must. It’s really a matter of how serious you are about what you do and how highly you value your time and efficiency.

Scrivener is no slouch at organizing research, either. You can store documents of many types right in Scrivener, alongside your writing. You can even open them side by side with what you’re writing and drag things across. You can also link research files to writing files and create a bibliography of sorts. You can view all Scrivener files as index cards on a cork board, as an outline, as individual documents or as contiguous documents. You can view your writing in one format and your research in another format and put them side by side on screen.

That’s why I advise moving the research you are using to Scrivener. The one caveat is that Scrivener slows down if you put too too many files it, although it takes a lot of files to do this. If you’re writing research-heavy non-fiction, you probably need Devon Think. If you’re writing a research-light contemporary novel, you might be happier with Scrivener alone.

One advantage to Devon Think Pro Office is that you can use your research for more than one book or more than one type of project without doing anything to it. When you move files from Devon Think to Scrivener, it’s just a matter of dragging them. The originals stay in Devon Think and you have what you need for your particular project in Scrivener. Since I’m working on a multi-book project, Devon Think Pro Office makes sense for me.

This is the software I use in my research work flow for big projects. For blogging, I tend to stick with an inexpensive (or even free, depending on which version you use) software called Papers. Papers is an easy place to store web pages. It also has a good search function that will locate old web pages by title.

I used Mars Edit for blogging for a long time. It’s a bit of a trick to link with Patheos. I had to get our IT people to help me do it. But it saved me from losing things I was writing when Patheos’ web site had one of its coughing fits. I switched to writing directly into Patheos because the internal Patheos work flow changed. This added another step to posting and I don’t like extra steps. If I have a train wreck and lose something I’ve been working on, I’ll probably switch back. I hate extra steps, but I dislike do-overs even more.

As you can tell, I’m a fan of using the right tools. My criteria for the “right” tool is a tool that helps me do what I want and that doesn’t add  unnecessary work by virtue of its complexity or because it simply was not meant for how I’m using it.

Those two criteria kick a lot of software to the curb that other writers use every day. For me, it’s a matter of how much I’m worth. My time and happiness matter to me. If I’m going to spend my time doing something every day, I want to make it as smooth and easy for myself as I can.

Feel free to add other ideas in the comboxes. I’ll blog more about software I use in other parts of the writing process later.

 

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Pope Francis: Failures are Par for the Course on the Road to Salvation

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Republic of Korea https://www.flickr.com/photos/koreanet/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Republic of Korea https://www.flickr.com/photos/koreanet/

From Catholic News Service:

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The road to salvation may be pitted with failures, but God uses them and overturns them to manifest his love for his people, said Pope Francis.

Reflecting on the parable of the wicked tenants in the Gospel of Mark during morning Mass at the Domus Sanctae Marthae June 1, the pope said the parable may be understood to represent the “failure of God’s dream.”

In the Gospel passage, Jesus tells of the owner of a vineyard, who has a dream for his land, which he carefully and lovingly prepares to be cultivated. He hires tenants to work the field, but they are wicked and kill all those whom the owner sends to retrieve his portion, including his son. What should have been a story of love, said the pope, instead appears to be a story of failure.

Failures are present throughout salvation history, the pope said. God’s dream for humanity included failure and bloodshed from the very beginning when Abel was killed by his brother Cain; the murders of many prophets followed, and the process culminated with the crucifixion of Jesus, he said.

The Bible includes the “many, many laments of God” when faced with the actions of his people, who are “unable to free themselves from the desire Satan sowed” in Adam and Eve to “become gods” themselves, the pope said.

“The story of salvation could very well be called the story of failure,” he said.

But this “logic of failure” is overturned in the cross, which is perceived as “a scandal,” but is where God makes manifest the ultimate victory of his love for his people, the pope said.

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FBI Flies Surveillance over Me and Thee

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by DonkeyHotey https://www.flickr.com/photos/donkeyhotey/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by DonkeyHotey https://www.flickr.com/photos/donkeyhotey/

I wonder if the government is going through our lingerie drawers when we’re out of the house.

That’s about the only thing they seem to be missing in their zeal to pry into what Americans are doing.

We all know about the government scooping up our cell phone calls and emails. We also know that they monitor our bank accounts to see if we withdrawing our money in suspicious ways. It’s even a federal crime to withdraw your own money from your own bank account in a “structured way.” You don’t have to commit any other crime. All you have to do is withdraw your own money from your own account in the wrong way.

Now it turns out that the FBI hires fleets of airplanes from dummy companies that it’s created to fly surveillance over Americans. The FBI says that these planes are “not equipped” to fly surveillance over me and thee. They are, rather used for “operational” activities.

So, we have a question, and that question is, do we believe the FBI?

Is this is all shades of Cold War spy stuff turned on the American people? Is the FBI running a U2 spy plane deal like those our country once flew over Communist countries?

We did that because Communist leaders said things like “We will bury you,” to America, and they had the bomb and an air force and missiles and a navy and World War II had proven they knew how to fight.

Is the FBI now running the same kind of surveillance on little old us?

If the FBI turns out to be engaging in a U2 scenario against the American people — and given what we already know the government is doing to us, that’s a fair question — I can’t help but wonder which American managed to scare the government so badly that it is so afraid of its citizens.

Our government is increasingly an isolated bubble of group think whose decision-making positions are held by graduates of a few schools and members of a few think tanks and organizations who all know one another. They are as separated from the American people as a lone fisherman, living on the banks of the Amazon.

They not only don’t know anything about the people of this country, they have contempt for us. If you doubt that, just replay a couple of the comments made by President Obama and Governor Romney in their respective campaigns. If you take them at their words, you can only conclude that We the People are a bunch of unwashed ignoramuses to both of them.

They not only have contempt for us, they are, if all this surveillance means anything, afraid of us.

The real question here is does law enforcement exist to enforce the law and maintain the pubic safety in the interests of domestic tranquility, or does it exist to control the American people? If it turns out that the FBI really is surveilling the American people, U2 style, then I think the answer is clearly the latter.

From the Associated Press:

WASHINGTON (AP) — The FBI is operating a small air force with scores of low-flying planes across the country carrying video and, at times, cellphone surveillance technology — all hidden behind fictitious companies that are fronts for the government, The Associated Press has learned.

The planes’ surveillance equipment is generally used without a judge’s approval, and the FBI said the flights are used for specific, ongoing investigations. The FBI said it uses front companies to protect the safety of the pilots and aircraft. It also shields the identity of the aircraft so that suspects on the ground don’t know they’re being watched by the FBI.

In a recent 30-day period, the agency flew above more than 30 cities in 11 states across the country, an AP review found.

Aerial surveillance represents a changing frontier for law enforcement, providing what the government maintains is an important tool in criminal, terrorism or intelligence probes. But the program raises questions about whether there should be updated policies protecting civil liberties as new technologies pose intrusive opportunities for government spying.

U.S. law enforcement officials confirmed for the first time the wide-scale use of the aircraft, which the AP traced to at least 13 fake companies, such as FVX Research, KQM Aviation, NBR Aviation and PXW Services.

Even basic aspects of the program are withheld from the public in censored versions of official reports from the Justice Department’s inspector general.

The FBI also has been careful not to reveal its surveillance flights in court documents.

“The FBI’s aviation program is not secret,” spokesman Christopher Allen said in a statement. “Specific aircraft and their capabilities are protected for operational security purposes.” Allen added that the FBI’s planes “are not equipped, designed or used for bulk collection activities or mass surveillance.”

But the planes can capture video of unrelated criminal activity on the ground that could be handed over for prosecutions.

Some of the aircraft can also be equipped with technology that can identify thousands of people below through the cellphones they carry, even if they’re not making a call or in public. Officials said that practice, which mimics cell towers and gets phones to reveal basic subscriber information, is rare.

Details confirmed by the FBI track closely with published reports since at least 2003 that a government surveillance program might be behind suspicious-looking planes slowly circling neighborhoods.

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I’m Triaging My Life for Thriving, Not Just Surviving

Copyright: Rebecca Hamilton. All Rights Reserved.

Copyright: Rebecca Hamilton. All Rights Reserved.

I volunteered to host my book club at my house tonight.

Then, life piled on and I made a decision to move the book club meeting to a local restaurant. My fellow book-clubbers were not only gracious about it, they seemed delighted with the prospect of dining while we talk.

I could, if I had been stupid, have soldiered through, putting together snacks and polishing my house so I could play hostess. But that would have been, as I said, stupid.

I had plans to write a blog post today about a topical issue, taking my own slant on the subject. I’d done some research, filed the links in Omnifocus and had it ready to put together. That was going to be today’s big post.

Then, Mama’s hallucinations came back and I need to spend the day going from doc to doc. I could, if I had been stupid, have skipped my early-morning aerobics class and put that post together. But that would been, as I said, stupid.

Both these things would have violated the triage I’ve set up for my life. This isn’t the first time I’ve had to establish iron-clad priorities and stick with them, even when it stings. That’s the life of every successful elected official. I would never have been elected without the ability to do this, and I could never have passed all the legislation and taken care of my district and still had a happy home life without it, either.

I thought I was past that kind of self-discipline when I walked out of the House. I ping-ponged around for months, while the exigencies of Mama’s dementia made hash of my life, my health and my state of mind. I wasn’t managing these things; they were managing me.

It all came to a resounding crash a couple of months ago. Mama’s dementia tripped over into active 24/7 hallucinations of the ugly kind, and then, right on schedule, I got sick and couldn’t get well. Suddenly, I was out so deep in the deep that I couldn’t touch bottom, and I was so tired, that, try as I might, I was swallowing water and dipping under.

Enter depression, a big shot of despair and anger. It was miserable.

I prayed and prayed and I didn’t think I was getting answers. But God was answering me, He just wasn’t telling me about it. Help came in the form of new medications and healing in my own body. Help came in that small still voice that told me that I wasn’t going to be able to do this perfectly, but doing it in a messy way with lots of mistakes was alright. It was ok to just muddle through.

God gave me something I didn’t pray for but which has helped me more than I can say. He gave me peace with my own weaknesses and faults, acceptance of my failures and stumbles. He gave me His love and His acceptance and His assurance that imperfect was good enough.

I didn’t hear voices, and I didn’t get specific direction. What I got was a gentle attagirl and a loving Peace, Be Still.

The rest came from me. God gave me courage and peace. He freed my mind from the depression and anguish and that let me find my own way out of the woods.

Robert Frost said that the way out is through. In this case, he was absolutely right. The way out is through. I’m not the perfect daughter doing the perfect job of caregiving. I am just me, seeing my Mama home the best way that I can.

The first rule of going through is to make sure that you get through. What that means in direct terms is don’t get sick. In the new triage of my life, I have a husband, a mother, and my own self to tend to. My precious children are adults who can and do take care of themselves. Not only that, but they’ve come on board big time in terms of Mama, or as they call her, Amah care.

My first priority isn’t taking care of Mama or even being a wife to my husband. My first priority is taking care of me. By that I mean two simple things: Don’t get sick spiritually and don’t get sick physically.

A couple of the Catholic Patheosi are pretty much saints. I won’t embarrass them by detailing their life of prayer and worship. It’s enough for the purposes of this post to say that I ain’t them. For me, not getting sick spiritually depends an awful lot on God’s mercy. I pray, and I pray often. But many of my prayers are said while I’m driving my car or loading the dishwasher or giving Mama her bath or throwing out her dirty diapers.

One constant prayer is simply that God will save me from my inner jerk.

I go to mass, but only once a week. There was a time when I went every day, but not now. I probably should start going more often, simply because every time I take the Eucharist, it heals me, and I do need healing. But it’s tough to start something new right now.

My first area of triage is simply this: Get 8 hours sleep (I’m not doing so good at this one), go to aerobics class and ride my recumbent bike on the off days, stop eating junk. This is number one. If I crater physically, I can’t do anything else.

Right next to this is pay the bills, keep the car and house maintained. This isn’t time consuming, but it must be done.

Still in the first area of triage is say a prayer, read the Bible and play some music on the piano every day. The piano soothes and heals me almost as much as sleep and exercise. Ditto for prayer and Scripture.

Then, my next first area of triage is take care of Mama. This is huge. It’s hours and hours. It’s unpredictable and crazy making. It’s why I have to stay prayed up and exercise, sleep, eat right. I can not take care of Mama unless I do those things.

The other thing in my first area of triage is my husband. He’s my other half, my life’s partner, my lover and my love. It’s a joy to spend time with him. I can’t let him and our relationship be shoved out of my life by other things.

Spiritual and physical health, Mama, hubby: These are first priorities.

Second priorities are the book and the blog. The blog comes after the book in priorities.

Third is everything else. That includes keeping the house clean, doing laundry, etc.

So, the reason I haven’t been blogging as much is simple. The blog got bumped to second place of second place. I blog after I take care of me, Mama, hubby, pay the bills, change the oil in my car, get the air conditioner serviced and write my book. The blog still comes in ahead of running the vacuum and doing the laundry. Fortunately, those things fit easily in odd moments.

When I need to stand up and take a break, I vacuum the living room or empty the dishwasher.

What I don’t do is skip aerobics to blog or short-change my husband to work on the book.

That, my friends, is the new triage of my life. It seems to be working, but as I said, Mama’s hallucinations are back. That may well force a whole new paradigm on me. I’m doing doctor duty today. And that’s why this is the only post you’ll see from me until tomorrow.

Prayers and blessings to each of you.

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Do-It-Yourself Home Office Organization That Won’t Drive You to the Dogs

Copyright Rebecca Hamilton, All Rights Reserved

Omnifocus Pro Screen Shot. Copyright Rebecca Hamilton, All Rights Reserved

I didn’t wait around about closing down my legislative office. I was ready to go.

I had been packing for weeks. We adjourned on Friday, the following Monday we took my son’s pickup to the capitol and loaded it up with my stuff. It actually took two trips.

I unpacked it … sort of. I put things with no place to go in drawers and closets; stacked artwork and framed documents, and proceeded to ignore the mess for the next year.

I also ignored the needs of revamping how I do things.

Then, a couple of weeks ago, I realized that it was time, past time in fact, to plow through this and get rid of it. This realization began with another realization: I need to organize my work life according to the work I’m doing and not the work that I did.

That began with looking at my software. I discovered that my computer back door into the House was still active. I could, if I wanted, go into the bowels of the legislative process and co-author bills, file amendments, and, I guess, even author bills. I tried to delete this, and found that it wouldn’t go away.

Finally, I gave up and decided to do a complete reformat of every computer. That took a while, but it was well worth it. I backed up all the files that relate to the legislature onto my archive drive and then wiped the main drives clean. I only reinstalled software that I actually use.

I had another realization that had been pinging me for several months now: I need to get serious about organizing calendars. I came into this writing deal from the thoroughly spoiled vantage of an elected lawmaker. Legislators don’t worry about getting to things on time or remembering appointments, or even making appointments.

When I was a legislator, I had somebody who did all that for me. Lila, Deborah, Linda, Miss Trina made sure that my schedule was buttoned down tight. They handed me maps on how to get there, agendas and lists of notes for every occasion. They reminded me which mark to hit. If I took a trip, they not only made every arrangement in advance, they handed me a folder with every detail I could possibly need arranged in one, two, three, follow-the-yellow-brick-road format.

I couldn’t do all that for myself if I was still a rep. The workload is too much, the scheduling too complicated and too tight. I needed to keep sharp just to handle what I was handling.

Now that I’m running my own little ship, things are much less fraught. I am challenged by taking care of Mama while trying to do all else, but the scheduling is down to simple stuff like doctor’s appointments and going to the bank, with an occasional speech or public event thrown in for spice.

It should be ez pz. But it’s not. I find myself struggling to carve out time to write my book, time to sleep and time to relax. Caregiving has its own demands and they tend to wreak havoc with schedules.

I’m faced with an entirely different kind of planning than I have done before. Writing a book requires extensive research and outlining. Writing a blog takes a chunk of time every day. Caring for Mama is all about constant interruptions, intermittent runs to the er, and unpredictability that can slip into chaos at a moment’s notice.

The thing about caring for a 90-year-old-going-on-two is that things can slide from calm and settled to out of the box crazy and terrifying in seconds. Oldsters get a cough. It’s just a little cough. Then, without warning, they’re wheezing and struggling to breathe and your day looks like a drawerful of stuff that someone jerked out and upended on the floor.

I spent months “handling” this by putting my head down in dumb endurance; like a buffalo, walking into the wind. Then I realized that if I don’t get on top of it, it’s going to roll right over me and leave me flat.

How to organize this in a workable way? That was the question I faced when I finally got around to considering these things.

My first stop was to consider what software I needed to help me get organized and work more efficiently. I thought about Microsoft Outlook. That’s the software of choice for the people who had kept me marching in a straight line when I was a legislator.

I actually signed up for MS Office’s monthly fee and downloaded it. Then I realized that MS Office is an island of sorts. It doesn’t play all that well with Scrivener or Curio or Aeon Timeline. That gave me pause.

When I finally understood that if I wanted to sync my Outlook planning files to my iPhone, iPad, MacBooks, I would have to upgrade to the business version, I bailed. Apple syncs my calendar and contacts for free. I like that price.

Still, I needed more powerful planning software than Apple’s Calendar and Contacts. That’s when I remembered that I owned a software called Omnifocus Pro. I bought it on a special introductory deal a while back, then didn’t use it because I had people doing what it did for me.

I downloaded Omnifocus (I have the pro version) and fired it up. It turns out that it’s exactly what I need and that I much prefer the combination of Omnifocus/Calendar/Contacts/Mail to MS Office. They work together seamlessly, and it didn’t cost me a dime. Also, Omnifocus is very friendly with Curio. Curio is a wonderful software that I’ll talk about in another post.

I’ve got my computer work process streamlined now. I have planning software that works for me, and everything syncs like magic. This process has convinced me that Microsoft Office may the best for a corporate type environment, but it has serious shortcomings for a blogger/writer/mom/caregiver.

That’s difficult since I’ve sworn that I will abandon Apple when these devices become obsolete. The problem isn’t the big stuff. MS Office will work for a writer, although it’s not very elegant. I actually prefer Access to Filemaker Pro, although I don’t really need either now that I’m running a small shop. MS Publisher is the best software going for putting out mailings for campaigns. But I don’t do that anymore, either. Outlook is probably the best for complex schedules, especially for more than one person. But I fly solo now, and my schedule is unpredictable; not complex.

Here’s how I’m doing the organization part of my computing life today.

I made a schedule with times blocked off for blogging, book writing, Mama’s daily stuff, my aerobics class, etc. The schedule syncs automatically between Omnifocus Pro and Calendar. It also picks up addresses, phone numbers, etc, automatically from Contacts. In fact, it even gives me a map to appointments.

I set up projects for the blog, the book and Mama in Omnifocus Pro. Omnifocus Pro syncs with Safari, so if I find a web site I want to blog about, I can just send it to Omnfocus Pro. If I plan an activity in Omnifocus Pro, it automatically goes to calendar. I can view calendar from inside Omnifocus Pro, so I have a multi-colored view of my schedule with times blocked off. It’s so simple, Leisy and Lufte could do it.

Copyright: Rebecca Hamilton. All Rights Reserved.

Copyright: Rebecca Hamilton. All Rights Reserved.

Everything syncs automatically between all my devices.

This setup seems to be working. I get a lot more done, and I don’t feel so stressed. It’s great to be able to pick up my iPhone and see everything I need to know, wherever I am. In fact, it comes close to making my iPhone a replacement for those incredible folders I used to get when I was in the House.

This allows me a more livable life. Thanks to better scheduling through technology I’m not constantly walking into days that look like this:

dog.jpg

Copyright Rebecca Hamilton. All Rights Reserved.

 

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Former Oklahoma Rep Randy Terrill Begins Prison Sentence

Rep Randy Terrill. Photo Source: Oklahoma House of Representatives File Photo.

Rep Randy Terrill. Photo Source: Oklahoma House of Representatives File Photo.

My former colleague Representative Randy Terrill surrendered to authorities today. He is beginning a one-year prison sentence for bribery. He will also pay a $5,000 fine.

Rep Terrill and I fought one another to a fare-thee-well over immigration laws that he passed. Other times, on other issues, we agreed with one another.

But the important thing to me is not the issues. It is the tragedy of seeing someone I know go to prison. I will pray for Randy. He can come back from this and live a good life. I hope that is what he does.

From kfor.com:

OKLAHOMA CITY – A former State Representative turned himself into authorities Friday morning to begin service his sentence for his political bribery conviction.

Randy Terrill’s surrender comes exactly one week after the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals upheld his conviction.

He will be transferred to a state prison where he will serve one year for the crime.

He also has to pay a $5,000 fine.

His co-defendant, former State Senator Debbe Leftwich, is serving one year of probation.

 

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Crisis Pregnancy Centers are Under Attack for Saving Lives

Copyright:  Mother and Unborn Child Care. All Rights Reserved.

Copyright: Mother and Unborn Child Care. All Rights Reserved.

Two days ago, the California Assembly passed a bill attacking crisis pregnancy centers. Among other things, this new law would require crisis pregnancy centers to refer women for abortions.

The President of the United States has staked his administration’s legacy on an attempt, through the HHS Mandate, to force Catholic ministries and Christian businesses to pay for contraceptives, including abortifacients.

Christian small business people are being threatened with life-destroying fines and the loss of their livelihoods if they will not bake cakes and provide flowers for gay weddings. This is being called discrimination on the part of these small businesses, even though it is nothing of the sort.

They do not discriminate against any group of people. They offer service to all, including homosexuals. What they do not want is to participate in this one type of event which violates their religious faith.

Why are these things happening?

Why is it so important to those who hold different viewpoints from traditional Christianity to force Christians to violate their faith?

The answer is that in terms of practical reality, it isn’t. Crisis pregnancy centers do not stop women from choosing an abortion. “Choice” co-exists with crisis pregnancy centers.

What crisis pregnancy centers do is offer life-saving alternatives to abortion. Unlike the scrape ‘em and street ‘em abortion clinics, crisis pregnancy centers are in for the long haul. They help women throughout their pregnancies and afterward.

Birth Choice of Oklahoma, the crisis pregnancy center where I volunteered, also has a home where women can stay during their pregnancies. We have women who come back to bring their adult children who they chose not to abort because of Birth Choices’ ministry to them in a desperate time of their lives.

These women are grateful beyond words for their children’s lives. Grateful, too, for the lives of their grandchildren. They realize now what they would have lost if they had chosen to kill their baby. They are grateful to the people who helped them and supported them so that they could chose life instead of death for their child.

That doesn’t answer the question as to why crisis pregnancy centers are under attack, why a President has staked his administration’s place in history on an attempt to narrow and ultimately destroy the First Amendment, why the existence of Christian small businesses who don’t want to violate their faith is such a cause of rage and hatred.

Pro life people have used the business model to explain the attacks on crisis pregnancy centers. After all, abortion is a big, profitable business. It turns out that doctors who kill can make a killing doing their worst.

So, pro life people posit that abortionists attack crisis pregnancy centers because these centers cost them business. It is all a matter of  the doh rey mi.

The trouble with this explanation is that it doesn’t explain why a president would destroy his own place in history, just to attack religious freedom. It doesn’t explain why destroying every small business person who does not want to participate in gay weddings must be ground to dust.

There’s more afoot than money in this desire to punish and destroy competing voices in the march to cultural nihilism. It appears that the something lying at the bottom of this sewer of coercion is far simpler and pure in its evil than greed.

I think what we are dealing with is a desire to destroy faith itself. Every time a Christian is forced by government power to chose between following Christ and doing what the government commands, one of two things must happen. The Christian either bows low before government and denies Christ, or they chose Christ and defy the government.

If they deny Christ, the demons and devils rejoice, and Christian witness in our society dies another death. If they chose Christ, the government swings into action to either bring them to heel or destroy them. Either way, the lesson is plain for every other Christian to see: Following Jesus can cost you everything you have. The government will attack you with all its might, and the media and the howling Christian haters will support them in doing it.

Worse, other Christians will mostly just stand by and let it happen by making a Niemoller choice that, since this isn’t happening to them personally, they can pretend that it doesn’t matter all that much.

Crisis pregnancy centers have been under attack from those who want to destroy Christian voices in the public sphere for quite a while now.

I would think that of all the voices the darkness wants to silence, crisis pregnancy centers would head the list.

Crisis pregnancy centers give the option of choosing life to women who have been offered nothing but the option of death as a solution for their problems. Crisis pregnancy centers save babies’ lives. They also save young women from murdering their own child.

Crisis pregnancy centers are a light, shining in the darkness, and the darkness, as it always does, hates the light.

Every time you write a check in support of Mother and Unborn Child Care, you are choosing life. You are, whether you know it or not, choosing Christ.

Every volunteer hour you spend in service to Mother and Unborn Child Care is an hour given to the light against the darkness.

Every child you save, every mother you save, sets in motion a line of life that goes forward into the generations to grandchildren, great grandchildren and on.

You are helping young women chose life and by doing that you are saving the life of a child, and you are saving a young women from killing her own baby, and you are saving her patrimony.

Of course, the darkness attacks crisis pregnancy centers. Of course, this darkness wants to force those who have given so much to the service of life to bow before the baals.

Breaking us — and make no mistake about it, everything I have described is an attempt to break us — and our witness for life is, in the twisted minds of those who listen to the darkness and follow after it — breaking Him. It is another Calvary, only this time it is in the hearts of believers.

I urge everyone here to open your check books and write checks that say no to the darkness and yes to the light. Mother and Unborn Child Care needs our support to continue its life-giving work.

Supporting Mother and Unborn Child Care is an opportunity for you. You can, by writing a check, save  generations of life, defend young women from being coerced into murder, and light a small flame that drives back the darkness, just a bit.

Is there anything more important you can do with your money?

Do you have the opportunity to do this much good with your hard-earned cash in any other way, any other place?

If not, I urge you to take full advantage of the opportunity that is before you tonight and support life.

Thank you.

To donate to Mother and Unborn Child Care, go here.

To learn more about Birth Choice of Oklahoma, go here.

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