Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Widowed Wednesday: Widows Sue Tobacco Company and Win



I don't usually post about widows in the news but this article caught my eye. It's about how a widow of a man with lung cancer sued R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co.and won a $13.5 million dollar lawsuit. Her case was based on the fact that the company advertised that a filtered cigarette was safer than filterless Camels. He began smoking in 1932, long before Big Tobacco was forced to come clean about the real dangers of smoking.

However, it seems the jury didn't entirely put the tobacco companies at fault. They decided her husband was 30 percent at fault with the tobacco companies 70 percent at fault.

This is not the first widow to sue R.J Reynolds. When I searched Google I found another lawsuit from back in July. Time Magazine reported that this was "one of many lawsuits referred to as an 'Engle progeny,' stemming from a 2000 $145 billion verdict in a class action suit led Dr. Howard A. Engle." Unlike the man in the first link, the widow's husband didn't even live long enough to smoke forty years. He died an untimely death at only 36.

To be honest, while I support the verdict in the case of the elderly man, I'm not so sure I entirely agree with the judgment in the case of the 36 year old.

The younger man had to have known about the dangers of smoking. If he started smoking at 13 yrs old, it would have been 1983. I decided to do some research and cigarettes were required to carry a warning label in 1965 with it being put in the name of the surgeon general in 1970. He was clearly aware of the dangers of smoking when he started. Does this still make R.J. Reynolds at fault? I suppose if you take into consideration the companies entire history of covering up the realities of smoking it does. I think this man's fault was far more than 30 percent though.

Many people call the Fast Food Industry the new Big Tobacco. Will widows be suing McDonalds's in the not so distant future? What do you think?  Leave your responses in the comments.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Guest Blogger: Incorporate Children into Lighting the Unity Candle


In today’s world, blended families are nothing new. It is common for a bride or a groom to add a child to the union. This has seen many youngsters participating not just in the entrance portion of the wedding ceremony, but as other active participants in the wedding. Now, sons and daughters are junior bridesmaids and groomsmen, they read passages for the newly joined parents and help with other parts of the ceremony. One favorite section of the ceremony that people love to have their children participate in is lighting the unity candle.

Lighting the unity candle has become a popular part of the wedding ceremony. When couples light the candle, it is supposed to symbolize the joining of two people and two families into one. The usual manner in creating a unity candle ceremony is to have one large candle surrounded by at least two smaller candles. However, people who have been including their children in the ceremony have either had one smaller candle for each child and everyone lights the candle at the same time.

Another method is for the children to light their respective parent’s candle which the bride and groom then use to light the large unity candle. This can represent the coming together of individuals who will contribute to the formation of loving family filled with affection and joy.

Sometimes the service combines the popular sand ceremony with the unity lighting ceremony. When this happens, the children pour sand into the candle’s vase to signify that they will be the base of the family and to show that they are joining together to become one. Sand and unity candle ceremonies are now included in innumerable wedding ceremonies, especially because many modern families are blended.

Incorporating children into a couple’s most important and happiest day of their lives signifies to them that they are important in the union as well. Children want to know that even though a parent has found love and they are gaining another parent, they are still valued in their relationship. Many couples choose to have their children included in the unity candle ceremony to symbolize this, and the gesture is a great way to assure their children and share with them the warmth of the new family. 

Written by Heather Bell from SimplyBridal

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Eight Years Ago Today...


Eight years ago today, the police and my sister-in-law showed up at my door to tell me my husband had died in a horrific car accident on his way to work. For some unknown reason, he veered into the oncoming lane and crashed head on an 18 wheeler hauling steel. Even though he died early that morning, I didn't learn of his death until early afternoon because we had bought our first house only two months earlier and had yet to change the address on our driver's licenses. 

After learning of my husband's death and going into shock, I was bizzarely calm enough to drive to two different schools to gather my children. One office lady kept asking me over and over if I was alright to drive. I was. The mind is a blessed thing when it comes to shock. It allows us to function in the most terrible situations. 

When we got home I sat them down on the couch all together and told them what had happened. This is the hardest thing I have ever had to do as a mother. Our youngest was only 2 years old and couldn't understand. Listening to her ask for her daddy over and over and not understand me when I said "He can't come back" was worse than any mightmare I have ever experienced.

Because she was so little I knew that one day I would have to tell her again about how he died. It happened when she was about 6 yrs old. She was looking at the collage of photos of Scott in our living room and casually asked, "How did Daddy die? I forgot." 

My husband died on Oct 11. There was a scheduling conflict regarding Scott's funeral which my in laws so graciously took into consideration. My 31st birthday was on Oct 15. In an attempt to avoid having services on my birthday, the viewing was scheduled for Oct 14 and the burial on Oct 16. 

Unfortunately the attempt to spare my birthday was in vain. The person in charge of selling the burial sites at the cemetary was on vacation and didn't get in touch with us immediately. We were scheduled to meet the day before the burial on, you guessed it, my birthday! I spent my 31st birthday picking out both his gravesite and my own. 


I visited his gravesite to mark his deathiversary. My favorite time to visit the cemetary is fall because it has some trees and looks colorful. It brings some cheer to normally dreary place. I have to be honest though and admit I don't visit his gravesite often. I've always told people I don't visit it much because I don't feel him there any more than other places. I feel his presence just as easily in our family home. 

This is true but the real reason I don't visit often is because the idea that I am visiting the place where my body will be resting for all of time really freaks me out. Visiting it is always worse when it's so close to my birthday. It's overwhelming to be thinking about how much older I am and visit the place my body will be after I die. Every birthday is one step closer to my final resting place.

Don't get me wrong. I believe in an afterlife. I know I will be in Heaven with Scott one day and only my body stays behind. I just want that day to be a good 60 years from now. As I deal with all these feelings year after year, it's always topped off with a nice big helping of guilt. Since Scott's deathiversary is so close to my birthday, it's impossible to separate the feelings of mourning his death and mourning growing older. The older I get the stronger and more overlapped all these feelings get.

These complex feelings are always topped off with a big helping of guilt. I scold myself for making his deathiversary about me. It's not about me! It's supposed to be about him right? Yes and no. I remind myself of the saying "funerals are for the living." I'm pretty sure that applies to deathiversaries too. Plus when you are visiting your own future grave it's impossible not to think about yourself. 

There were a couple years where I skipped going to Scott's grave in hopes of avoiding these tangled feelings. Instead my guilt was even worse! What kind of widow doesn't visit her husband's gravesite on the deathiversary?

Last year was the worst one of all. I was so busy with things going on in my life I completely forgot it. I remembered on Oct 12 at about 2 am. I felt sick with guilt and was depressed for a long time afterwards. This year I was still subconsciously feeling that guilt and was almost hyperaware of what the date was. 

Even though I feel generally the same feelings, it fascinates me how differently I handle them year to year. The deathiversary before, I spent it crying so much you'd think he had recently died. Maybe there's a version of the 7 year itch that applies to widowhood too? But it's bizzare to me that I went from crying hysterically one year to completely forgtting it the next!

Next year will be interesting. It will be my 40th birthday. I don't know if this will make things worse or if it'll just be like any other birthday. You are probably chuckling to yourself right now. Of course it's not going to like any other year, it's the big 4-0! I have no idea what to expect. I get anxious just thinking about how this next year will be my last year in my thirties.

Sometimes I wonder if there is some sort of lesson in how Scott's death and my birthday is so entertwined. If there is, even after 8 years I still haven't figured it out. But wisdom does come with age right?

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Guest Blogger: He Knows When You Are Sleeping...


Let’s be honest, the whole idea of that Elf on the Shelf is just creepy. My friend sent me one for my daughters a year ago, but I remember the moment I received it as if it were yesterday.

I was cutting open the box the thing came in, when my phone rang. It was my friend; the one who’d sent the box.

“Did you get it?” she asked, upon my answering.

“Um, yeah, I got it.” I said, pulling the book and the elf doll out of the box. “It’s…cute,” I lied.

My friend laughed. “Read the book to the girls. It tells the story of how the elf was sent there by Santa, to watch over them until Christmas,” she said. “I’ve heard so many parents say that it really gives incentive for kids to behave, because you’re supposed to wait until the kids are asleep, and then sneak into the room and move the elf to a different spot in the house, that way the girls will think it’s flying back to the North Pole every night to report to Santa.” She paused. “Cute, right?”

My lips curled involuntarily as I took in the wide grin on the elf’s plastic face. “Adorable,” I said.

“It’s really popular with children,” she continued. “I think the girls will like it.”

I think I would have buried this thing in the backyard were it given to me as a child, I thought.

“I’m sure they will,” I said.

This answer pleased my friend. My daughters, however–apples from my own tree that they are–were not pleased. We ended up throwing the elf doll away, at my daughters’ adamant request. I didn’t tell my friend this.

Being that I am a writer, with a healthy interest in the macabre, naturally, a story was born of this little episode. That story is called SANTA’S LITTLE HELPER, and it is scheduled to be released on amazon on 10/31/14, but you can pre-order it now for $2.99.

So, if you were one of those children who kept your limbs carefully tucked in, so as not to dangle over the edge of the bed, where any number of unimaginable creatures could take hold, and yank you into the darkness, this book is for you. All those terrors your imagination coughed up as you laid swallowed in shadows, are between the pages.

But, be warned, you might end up throwing out your child’s precious Elf on the Shelf by the end of SANTA’S LITTLE HELPER.

And if you’d like to read a sneak peak of Santa’s Little Helper, you can visit hdgordonbooks.com, and go to my blog page to download the first four chapters.

Thank you so much to Julie for allowing me to post on her amazing blog. It’s people like her that truly make my world go ‘round.

Happy Halloween, everyone!

H. D. Gordon

H. D. Gordon is the bestselling author of THE ALEXA MONTGOMERY SAGA, THE JOE KNOWE SERIES, and THE SURAH STORMSONG NOVELS. She is lifelong reader and writer, a true lover of words. When she is not reading and writing, she is busy raising her two daughters and keeping the world’s zombie population under control.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Widowed Wednesday: My Husband's Death Made Me Crazy (Literally)


This post is so deeply personal that I have been putting off writing it for weeks. My heart is beating a mile a minute. My hands are shaking. I feel on the verge of tears. All of this is odd considering I write an entire blog on what I'm about to say, but I don't say it here. I never talk about it here.

I have severe depression and borderline personality disorder. 

There. I said it. It wasn't really as hard as I imagined it would be. (Then again I haven't hit the publish button yet.)

You see, there is a stigma about people with mental illness. It's scary to tell this to the world because people with mental illness are treated like freaks, like weirdos, like...well...crazy people. Right now some of you reading this are uncomfortable. Some of you may be a little freaked out. Some of you may even keep reading because you have a sick curiosity. That's okay.

Because I'm used to it. I get the exact same reaction when I tell people I am a widow. There's a stigma about widows too. People get uncomfortable. People get freaked out. They even have a sick curiosity about it.

Yet I'm not announcing this for sympathy. I am announcing it because I feel empowered. Last week I received a Twitter message thanking me for being so honest about my BPD (borderline personality disorder.) It was then that I knew I had to write this post.

As a teenager at the age of fifteen, for no explainable reason I had an episode of severe depression where I was suicidal for a number of weeks. There was nothing in my life that triggered it. I had friends. I had a wonderful boyfriend. I had a good life. My only explanation is that it was chemical. 

I never had another episode of severe depression until after my husband died. One therapist told me it was prolonged grief. A few years later another therapist would tell me I was still depressed because I hadn't worked through the grief process. The truth is it's probably both.

However, i didn't have just severe depression. I was also diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. When I received this diagnosis, I wasn't in denial. Instead I was relieved. Unlike the depression which only occurred a couple times, I looked back at my entire life and saw how BPD affected me on a daily basis. It was a relief to finally have a name for this thing that affected me so deeply.

It explained why I was such a sensitive person. It explained why I thought people disliked me and insulted me when they really didn't. It explained why it took me two years to get over my first love. It explained why I acted out. It explained why I cried so easily about things. It explained how my mood could changed so quickly. I had such bad mood swings my kids actually nicknamed me Bipolar Bear. (As it turned out BPD Bear was more accurate.)

Some of you may have a preconceived idea about borderlines. We are seen as cutters. We are believed to be stalkers like in the movies Fatal Attraction or Single White Female. Or we are seen as sensitive and fragile like Marilyn Monroe or Princess Diana. (Both are said to have shown symptoms of BPD.) The truth is no borderline is exactly alike. The images of BPD in the media do not accurately reflect every single borderline. The descriptions of symptoms you read on websites like WebMD don't even accurately reflect every single borderline.

Even though I had traits of BPD my entire life, up until the death of my husband I was what is called high functioning. I was able to keep my symptoms under control and live a completely normal life.

Then my husband died. My grandfather had died two years prior and my grandmother died a year after my husband. They had adopted and raised me at the age of 18 months so I basically lost my parents and my husband in a four year period. These were the three closest people in my life. It was losing my grandparents when I needed them the most that was so completely devastating. Grieving all three deaths at once was all encompassing. 

That four year period was a turning point where my mind and my life spiraled out of control. There were also other factors regarding my family which I will not share for privacy reasons.

I was so mentally ill that my family decided to hold an intervention. I mean that literally as well. My husband's family actually held a family meeting where we all discussed how to help me. While their hearts were in the right place, the truth is they were pretty much clueless as to how to help me. Eventually they realized this and called for professional help. 

I went into therapy and it was then that I was first diagnosed. Unfortunately my therapy was only temporary. I was sent on my way with well wishes and I even got better for awhile.

Then I got sick again. Only this time it was worse. My family skipped the intervention this time and went straight to the professionals. I entered therapy again and saw a psychiatrist but because I was pregnant at the time, I was not prescribed any medication. Instead I had to rely on a therapist that "didn't like labels" so my depression was treated but not my borderline personality disorder. Fortunately, getting relief from my depression prompted me to seek books, online groups, and do what I could to help myself.

Yet I kept it hidden. I didn't tell friends about my diagnosis. I didn't even tell my family members. So perhaps I didn't really accept it. It's one thing to admit to yourself that you have mental illness but quite another to admit it to others. (It's also made dating interesting as well, but that's a post for another day.)

I didn't find the courage to share it publicly until I got involved with online groups that are working to end the stigma of mental illness. It was the comparison to other diseases that made me realize I had to be honest and had nothing to be ashamed of. If I had diabetes or heart disease, would I be afraid to blog or tweet about it? No of course not. 

So first I started tweeting about it then created a special Twitter. I also started a Facebook page. Next I started a blog about it. Then I created a second blog. I still had one more place to share my story which was here. For some reason, I avoided talking about it on here.

So when that wonderful person congratulated me on "being open about my BPD" it felt partially like a lie. I was open everywhere but where the most people see what I write.

While it's true my husband's death made something snap inside of me, I know the potential was always there. Whatever is wrong with me is something I was born with. I showed symptoms of BPD as early as five years old. I had severe depression at fifteen years old. It is genetic. It wasn't until I was in my twenties that I learned Grandma's "nerve pills" were actually antidepressant and/or anti anxiety medicine. There are indications of mental illness elsewhere in my family tree as well. 

I also have diabetes in my family which I have talked about often on this blog. I should be able to talk about mental illness the exact same way I talk about diabetes. I should but unfortunately the world doesn't always reflect that. There's that stigma.

Writing this post is terrifying. I don't know what will happen once I hit the publish button. You see rejection, judgment, criticism, and shame are all things a borderline is most afraid of in the world. But I have reached a point where I don't want my depression and BPD to be side issues anymore. I have to be honest about all of me. I can't censor parts of myself for this blog anymore. It's as much part of my story as becoming a widow.


I am adding the badge for the 2014 Blog for Mental Health pledge to this blog which is also hosted by A Canvas Of the Minds

The pledge says:

“I pledge my commitment to the Blog for Mental Health 2014 Project. I will blog about mental health topics not only for myself, but for others. By displaying this badge, I show my pride, dedication, and acceptance for mental health. I use this to promote mental health education in the struggle to erase stigma.”

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Weekly Round-Up (Belated)

The Weekly Round-Up

Welcome to this week's edition of The Weekly Round-up which is hosted by High-Heeled Love and My So-Called Chaos.

Here's how it works:
Share your favorite reads this week! The point of The Weekly Round-Up is to focus on other people instead of just another post about ourselves. It's to build better community, share insight into what we love to read, and hopefully introduce you to a new blogger you'll love and adore! Wanna play along? Write a post with links to your favorite blog posts from others throughout the week, put the button in it, and link up with us on Sundays! 

What I'm reading:

Criticism of Emma Watson and the #HeForShe Campaign
Recently Emma Watson made a UN speech launching the #heforshe campaign that has wowed feminists. While most are cheering her and the campaign on, some aren't so sure about it. In Unpopular Opinion: Sorry Privledged White Ladies But Emma Watson Isn't a "Game Changer" For Feminism the movement is being critcized for using a white cis-gendered celebrity yet again as the face of feminism.

The lack of intersectionality is echoed at Why I’m Not Really Here For Emma Watson’s Feminism Speech At the U.N.

The question of why Emma spoke about men's issues yet encouraged them to support women in theirs is asked in #SheForHe: Emma Watson’s Incredible Speech on Gender Equality Didn’t Go Far Enough. If everyone is needed to end gender equality why is it only #HeForShe and not also #SheForHe?

Someone Has Left the Ranks of Single Parenthood
Congratulations are in order to Single Parent Dad because he is now Married Parent Dad! Send some of that luck over to me please!

I Heart Sillouette Art
I have always loved sillouette art of any kind. 5 Nuts in a Nutshell has an awesome DIY Silhouette Art Tutorial that I just have to try myself!

I Need a Good Segway to This Next Link
I found this post What Your Poop Says About You (For Serious) over at Mama Natural. As if it wasn't an akward topic already the smiling poops make it even more awkward. Still the info is useful.

Fall Family Fun
There's a good list of ideas for quality family time in Fall Family Bucket List at More Than Mommies.

Fall Nail Art
There are some great nail art ideas in Thanksgiving and Fall Nail Art {Ideas and Tutorials at The Sparkle Queen. I'm definately going to try some of those this season!

Guest Blogger: What Population Health Management Means to Your Family


The modern mom has the most harrowing, busiest and most time-challenged job in the history of all motherhood. Many women run corporations as well as their households. Organizing everything and everyone in the family can be a difficult job for the modern mother, especially if she has taken on the care of her parents too. Savvy moms take advantage of new developments in technology to help run things more smoothly whenever possible.

Even though there were starts and stops when “Obamacare” was ushered in, the very idea that all Americans are entitled to good healthcare still stands true. And so, it makes sense to consider online tracking systems and portals when it comes to one of the most important family concerns - that of healthcare.

New technological advances are happening every day that work to improve your quality of life as well as quality of health. Information, medical research, scientific studies, and so much more are at your fingertips. It is just a matter of reaching out and using them to your family’s advantage.

What Exactly is Health Data Management?

Most medical facilities and providers are moving toward a digital system to manage all their data. Health data management is the process of collecting, analyzing, and compiling, as well as protecting patient care information. The bulky folders of papers and information that doctors and nurses used to file in cabinets, are now digitally coded and stored safely. They are integrated so that information is easily accessible on computers as well as handheld devices.

With a few key strokes, medical professionals can easily receive important patient information that has been aggregated from raw data to make diagnosis, treatment and preventative care more effective. This allows doctors and specialists quick information retrieval, when critical data can mean life or death.

Improving Doctor’s Care for Their Patients

This new technology is essential to creating a careful, quality, diagnostic decision when dealing with patient care. The ease at which prescription use, previous conditions, procedures, and family history can be found using this technology allows for medical professionals to have much of the information needed quicker to help diagnose and treat patients. Literally, it helps streamline the medical process.

With the push of a button, doctors can now prescribe new medication and ensure it is not going to interfere with current medications or complicate a patient’s condition. If an emergency arises that requires immediate medical care, health professionals can quickly access essential patient information to make the best decision for the medical issues at hand. It helps doctors and nurses take better care of you and your loved ones.

Portals Allow More Engagement from Patients

With the modernization of the healthcare system, numerous doors have opened for patients to take a more proactive stance when it comes to family health care. Portals offer patients access to their own records so they can stay up to date on their treatment or course of therapies.

Setting appointments, paying bills, pulling personal medical information, contacting other healthcare providers are just a few of the options available when using a patient portal. There are also options for patients to transmit records to other providers which allow them to have more control over their personal information as well as to streamline the process of changing doctors or specialists when necessary. This gives the patient a much needed hands-on involvement with their health management.

Cohesive Management of Health Data Benefits

If you are responsible for managing your family’s health matters, there is a lot of information that you have to stay organized. You must have your children’s, your spouse’s, maybe even your parents’ health information readily at hand in case of any emergency. Their doctors must be informed of all their medications, allergies or adverse reactions.

With the files stored in digital format, you don’t have to worry if you can’t find the information.
Doctors and hospitals now have complete medical backgrounds of their patients. Conditions, medications, complaints are all documented and shared thus avoiding the need for the continual paper work. This system allows healthcare professionals to make knowledgeable, confident, and timely decisions when concerning patient care. Whether it is a routine checkup or an emergency trip to the ER, this technology helps doctors save lives.

What These Advances May Mean to You

Your family’s health is not something to be taken lightly.  Life spans are increasing every decade, so your parents are your concern again. If they are suffering from any chronic illnesses, the stress of managing their care could be daunting. With the transition from paper to digital of medical information, the operations doctors and hospitals are more streamlined.

It eases some of the burden on you when you know that they have correct and up-to-date information about your family members. When you’re in a stressed situation, such as a medical emergency, not having to recall a distant relative’s cause of death or medicines your mom is allergic to can be a huge load off your mind.

Journalist Nicole Bailey-Covin has a great deal of experience in taking care of aging parents. She just buried her father earlier this year and is presently taking care of her mother. She says it is not uncommon for moms to become overwhelmed under the stress of caring for both their parents and the immediate family. Nicole suggest that whenever possible, moms should support and take advantage of healthcare technology, as it can help provide families with organized care.

Photo credit:: http://mrg.bz/IPtY7L

Widowed Wednesday: #TweetAtYourself10YearsAgo


Friday, September 19, 2014

Let the Toddler and Mommy Socialization Begin


I am so excited because my baby will start something I have been looking forward to ever since I found out I was pregnant. Tomorrow my 19 month old daughter will start a toddler gymnastics class called Baby Bears. 
 
My 10 year old daughter has been taking gymnastics for the last five years. I put off enrolling my toddler because of the cost. Then a couple weeks ago Skylar tried to copy her big sister and do some gymnastics. She puts her arms way up into the air and then bends down into the downward facing dog yoga position. She seems to be trying to imitate a forward roll but just without the roll part. I knew I couldn't put off enrolling her into gymnastics any longer. I'd just have to drink less lattes to cover the cost.
 
I'm also really nervous. Skylar has been in very few situations where she socializes with other toddlers. She also has been showing quite a temper lately because she just doesn't know how to say what she wants and gets frustrated. She stopped hitting but now sometimes throws things. She also doesn't yet know how to share. A few weeks ago I had to leave the play area of our library because she refused to take turns with a toy shopping cart and just kept throwing a tantrum.
 
The class has parental involvement so I also will get to socialize with other parents. I'm pretty sure I remember how to do it face to face but as of late I seem to only socialize using my laptop or cell phone. To make matters worse I sometimes tend to be socially awkward.
I'm equally worried that other toddlers will be mean to her and there will be some parent that won't discipline her kid, then it will get really awkward and tense. Or if Skylar misbehaves I will look like that parent.
 
Lastly, I'm worried that trying to teach 1-2 year olds gymnastics is the equivalent of herding cats and my $45 a month will be better spent on those lattes.
 
I decided to do some research beforehand so I know how to handle any situation that may come up. Here are some articles with tips on making socializing your toddler (as well socializing with other parents) go well.
 
4 Ways to Help Your Toddler Social Skills
When Parallel Play Becomes Playing Together
Early Socialization in Toddlers & Parenting Styles
Shy Parents Survival Guide
10 Moms to Avoid (Or Just Ignore)
 
I will be writing a post sharing how the first class went so look for that next week!

Parenting Parody Videos of Current Hit Songs



"I Just Need Some Space" parody of "All About That Bass" by Meghan Trainor




"I'm so Cranky" parody of Iggy Azalea's "Fancy"




"Shake It Off" by Taylor Swift parody

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