Sunday, March 12, 2017

Spirit Animal and Cultural Appropriation- A Lesson Learned

I had a very interesting conversation on a friend's thread today. I am all for educating yourself and this was a good opportunity for me. As a pagan of 20+ years I always thought Spirit Animal was simply what you called the animal spirit that guided you that you were connected with. It was today I learned that many Native Americans believe this to be cultural appropriation.

(Cultural appropriation=is the adoption or use of the elements of one culture by members of another culture.)

I disagreed with this because many cultures have animal spirits that guide you and are sacred, so I argued with my friend’s friend and then I did some research. I mean ALL religions have cultural appropriation in them, you see bits and pieces from so many cultures in everything, where do we draw the line at what is offensive and what isn’t?

Spirit Animal is a roughly translated phrase introduced by white anthropologists into American Literature. It is something sacred to Native Americans. I never knew that, I thought it was a basic concept not the actual translation of something specific.

I can admit when I’m wrong,  the term is cultural appropriation. I also enjoy learning new things, reading, researching and educating myself. So thanks to my friend’s friend! I am a better person because someone else took the time to explain something to me and while I don’t agree with everything they said- I appreciate others opinions and new knowledge.

I read dozens of articles and blogs about this subject, desperate to learn about it.

I found some Native Americans who didn’t care if white people used this term as long as they weren’t using it like “whiskey is my spirit animal.” I found others who think it’s totally inappropriate to say If you’re non-native. I also found some who didn’t care about this phrase, but did care about the use of the word totem.

As a pagan, a liberal and a human being I will try to stop saying this word if it is offensive, I would never use a racial slur or want to make someone else feel uncomfortable. It is difficult as I grew in my own religion using this phrase.

I do, however, have a few things to point out.

1) If it’s not ok for me to call my kinship with bats who have spiritually guided me for almost 20 years a “Spirit Animal” what do I call it? I have seen recommendations from daemon and muse to patronus and those are all awful. Patronus isn’t even a real thing and the other two do not actually describe what Pagans are normally talking about when they use this phrase.

2) Do not get angry if you hear your pagan friend use this term. Most pagans actually think a spirit animal or guide is simply that. A corporeal animal spirit that protects and guides you that you feel kinship with. We don’t mean to be offensive, instead educate them- kindly.

3) In the realm of cultural appropriation non-pagans should realize using terms like Samhain or forgetting you celebrate Christmas because Christians took over a pagan holiday is also insulting. However paganism is treated like a joke, unlike other religions and cultures. So no one worries about offending us. I haven’t been offended by a non-pagan saying Samhain in years because it doesn’t matter, it won’t change.

Anyone have suggestions for better terms than Spirit Animal? I really would love something that doesn’t make my religious belief sound stupid or like a joke. Does anyone know if Spirit Guide is part of someone’s cultural and is offensive? I like that term too.

Anyway, I love that even at almost 34 I can still learn new things, about others and about myself.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

The Affordable Care Act versus the American Healthcare Act

Obamacare vs The American Health Care Act

UPDATE : 3/24/2017 FUCK TRUMP AND PAUL RYAN Because they won't have the votes here is what has just been added. 
"Then, in an apparent effort to please hardliners from the House Freedom Caucus, House Speaker Paul Ryan introduced a four-page amendment that would essentially roll-back the mandatory coverage of “essential health benefits” under the Affordable Care Act. The amendment allows states to decide what is considered essential, which means that insurance companies may no longer be required to cover prenatal care, maternity and newborn care, mental health, prescription drugs, emergency visits, hospitalization, outpatient care, preventative care, and more. The Congressional Budget Office has not yet analyzed the proposed changes to the bill."

No matter what you feel about the ACA , the new plan that the Republican Party is trying to shove down our throats is worse, maybe not Apocalypse worse, but it's not good either.

It doesn't matter that for every one bad story about someone's premium going up or how "obamacare" screwed them I hear, I hear four more about how it saved someone's life or made it so for the first time ever someone had affordable insurance or insurance at all.

All that matters is too many people in America do not think that affordable healthcare is something EVERYONE should be entitled too.

Just to be clear even a lot of Republicans think the new healthcare plan is not great.

Also, I don't think the ACA is perfect, alot needs to be changed. Like religious and non-profit organizations shouldn't be allowed to deny birth control, sterilization or weight loss treatments.

Here are some links from  reliable sources that explain both healthcare plans without being total assholes about it.

Obamacare Facts

Is the AHCA Awful?

Who wins under the AHCA

Republicans not happy with AHCA

Birth Control Benefits Won't Really Change

Republican's Replacement Plan

No More Mental Healthcare

So here's a brief break down of the two plans. Now the AHCA does keep a lot of the good things from the ACA, however the things it gets rid of like the Medicaid Expansion and allocating extra funds for Medicaid hurt the poor and especially poor women, while giving better tax breaks to the rich. It also makes certain Planned Parenthood is defunded. I could argue for hours about how many women depend on Planned Parenthood for their basic healthcare needs and that no federal money goes towards abortion but I've already done that, so let's move on.

ACA       VS       AHCA

What it covers THE ACA THE AHCA
Doesn't Deny or Raise Prices for Pre existing conditions  x
Makes sure companies cannot drop you if you get sick x
Protects against gender discrimination x
Free preventive services like pap smears and vaccines x
Expands Medicaid and CHIP so more people are covered x
Improves Medicare Coverage x
Requires Larger employers to insure employees x
Creates a marketplace so people can find insurance x
Young Adults can stay on their parents insurance until 26 x x
Without a waiver there is a fee if you don't have or offer insurance x
Tax credits for poor people x
No lifetime health limits on coverage x x
Insurance can't raise premiums without getting the OK from Gov't x
Taxes are increased if you make more than 200k a year x
No insurance subsidies instead tax credits x
Allows insurance to charge more for older customers than younger x
Pay 30% more for health insurance if you have more than a few months gap of coverage x
Defunds Planned Parenthood x
No money to insurance companies that cover abortion even if you don't use the service x
Mental Health Services Covered                                                                                  x

Now I didn't go into tons and tons of details, but I did read the proposed replacement bill and have tried to do as much research as possible. I may have missed something and if I did, apologies.  I also haven't talked about how everyone suddenly dropping their required insurance will actually fuck the economy, I figure as adults you can read about that yourself.

America- you've lost touch with yourself. We are supposed to help the poor, the needy and welcome all peoples from all walks of life- everyone should be able to access the American Dream. You are not supposed be the biggest over privileged douche in the room.

Friday, February 24, 2017

What it Looks Like When you Make Abortion Illegal

* WARNING: I have posted a graphic picture at the bottom of this article. It is hidden unless you click the show button. I will warn you again in case you missed this first warning. It is NSFW.

Women have been having abortions for centuries, it's true whether you want to believe it or not. Roe vs. Wade did not make it so women started "killing babies" it made it so women stopped dying from botched back alley abortions.

Abortion is not a concept to simply pop up in the last 100 years either. Women have always found a way to get rid of babies they do not want or cannot support.

Ancient Greeks used an herb called silphium, which is now extinct, they also used pennyroyal and hellbore. Most historians don't think abortion was illegal or punished at this time, either. Though what was more common was to birth a baby you didn't want and simply leave it somewhere to die. Girl children more often than boys were treated this way.
Some interesting history

In the early 1800's birth control was not available in Victorian England, so while abortions were illegal for the first time in English history women were seeking them on a regular basis. Midwives, real doctors and hacks sold all kinds of pills and assistance in getting rid of unwanted pregnancies.
Abortion in Victorian Times

In Russia and Japan abortion has been legal for decades, though this is mainly due to the fact the countries had/have strict laws in regards to the availability of birth control and sexual education.

Here in American (and many other countries) abortion spent too long being illegal. Many women died from botched abortions and doing anything they could to get rid of a fetus.  What many  people do not understand (or possibly don't want to understand) is that sex is a) natural and b) fun. That not everyone has access to sexual education classes or birth control that is either cheap or free and cannot afford to spend 60 bucks a month on a package of pills. Some women are raped, others pressured into sex. Sometimes it's simply a mistake, failed birth control know what? Or it's none of your damn business.

There is this thing, and I've harped on it before, called bodily autonomy which means you have rights over your own body. It's why a corpse cannot have it's organ's harvested unless, while alive, the person agreed and signed off on it. Most of the time they STILL ask the family's permission first. You cannot give women less rights than a corpse.

Women are not hosts to their babies, we are not an incubator for a tiny fetus that leaches off our systems and cannot live outside the body. We are not disposable.

I want to share with you a story you may not have heard of. In fact, as pro-choice as I am... I hadn't heard this tale until today and did some research.

It's the story of a woman called Gerri Santoro.

Gerri was married at 18 to a man she didn't know very well.  Her husband abused her so often their daughter remembered it long after her mother's death.  In 1963 Gerri left her abusive husband, taking her two daughters with her.

In 1964 she met and fell in love with a much older married man, her supervisor at work. She got pregnant. Gerri was 28 years old. When she found out her ex husband was coming to visit she feared her pregnant state would mean he would either kill her or take her children from her.

She tried an herb to dispel the pregnancy and it didn't work.  Her sister pulled together a substantial amount of money so that her sister could go away to have an illegal abortion.

Instead Gerri and her lover checked into a hotel and he performed an abortion on her, inserting a catheter into her uterus. Gerri soon began to hemorrhage. Her lover abandoned her to die and her body was found by the maids in the morning. Her sister had to go to the hospital to ID her. Her lover was eventually arrested and went to jail for a little over a year.

A photo taken of Gerri was used in Ms. with the headline Never Again to promote need for legal safe access to abortion.

Article on Gerri

Gerri Santoros

Below is the iconic photo of Gerri, naked and dead after bleeding out on the floor. I respect the family and understand this image is horrible and should not have been used without their permission in the first place. However, now it has been used by abortion advocates for decades. It's awful but THIS is was illegal abortions look like. Someone's sweet, ordinary mother...dead on the ground. Just click the show button if you have the stomach to see it, I doubt many do.

If you don't like abortion don't have one, but don't tell others what they can and cannot do with their own body. You can be pro-choice and still think abortion is wrong....for you.

Friday, February 17, 2017


Not even a month since Dictator Trump became president (Steve Bannon's bitch) and already I feel like 2017 might be worse than 2016.  He's already established he can and will do as many horrible things as he wants to our country and the republicans and the idiots who voted for him are cheering/enabling it.

From his Muslim Ban to thinking upping the taxes on Mexican imports will pay for his dumb wall, our country is starting to look a lot more like Nazi Germany than I would like. Not only is he basically sucking Putin's dick at this point but he's alienating our actual allies like Australia and England.

The man is a fascist, and the staff surrounding him are no better. In fact I believe JK Rowling must have prophetic powers because Voldemort, death eaters and Dolores Umbridge all could make an appearance in his cabinet or by his side the the American people would not be surprised.

American's need to stand up for our core principals and values, we must resist! All people are welcome here, all races and religions, all nationalities and well....ALL. Or have we forgotten that we stole this land from the Native Americans and the Puritans who came here were in fact escaping religious persecution? Have we learned nothing from our own history?

Why is is so hard to believe that all Americans deserve to live the best life they can, whether that includes a little help from the government or not? We deserve to be paid a living wage, have affordable healthcare and be able to access that healthcare. Our children deserve to breathe clean air and have a planet that isn't trying to kill them. Our kids deserve public free education that actually teaches them facts and science. We each deserve to practice (or not practice) the religion we choose, love whom we want and marry without government interference. The rich should help the poor and no one should be discriminated against for ANY reason. Why are these concepts hard? Why are humans so awful to each other? HOW THE FUCK DID THIS ORANGE DUSTED BURRITO GET ELECTED PRESIDENT?

With everything else going on in my life this year I haven't been as active as I would like in trying to improve our country and be apart of the resistance. Aside from ACLU and Planned Parenthood donations I haven't even been able to attend one protest, but I think about it all the time. Every time my phone goes off I wonder if it's another facebook alert telling me another horrible thing Donald Trump is trying to get away with and I wonder, is this how Hitler got his start?

My husband and I had a serious conversation yesterday about how we hoped we would be the kind of people who would take in those in need. It is a scary prospect wondering where you could Anne Frank style hide those fleeing persecution and what would happen to you and your family if you got caught.

We live in a very diverse community and my daughter has friends whose parents are either illegal or here on a green card/work visa. She has told me some of her friends are worried they will come home from school one day and their parents will be gone. What child should have to worry about that? Why don't more people see how fucked up this situation is?  People here legally are just as likely to be criminals or be on welfare (if not more so), get over your white privilege and learn to have empathy for another person!

This is not a time for any of us (the human race) to be divided. Maybe I've been playing too much Mass Effect in anticipation for the release of Mass Effect: Andromeda but Trump and his team of assholes are the Reapers and we all need to band together or they will destroy us, no doubt about it.

Please let this all be a horrible nightmare. Someone save us from this man child and the awful cronies who are helping him ruin our country.

And yet, maybe that someone is you and me. Stand up for your beliefs, fight for those less fortunate than you. RESIST RESIST RESIST

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Being a Mom in the NICU, Secret Diabetes, Spinal Headaches and Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction- A Birth Story

Eight days ago my birth plan for my fourth, and last, child failed...Failed in an epic way. At 1:30am Saturday January 7th I went into labor on my own. I was so excited because I was worried that I wouldn't and would wind up being induced or having another c-section and as a VBA2C I was trying very hard to make sure neither of those things happened.

This pregnancy was much different from my other two. I was in SO much pain the last month I couldn't walk, sleep, sit or move. I was diagnosed with SPD, Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction- where the ligaments that keep your pelvic bone aligned get too stretchy and loose too soon. So when labor began I was beyond excited.

We were admitted to the L & D around 7 am and I was dilated to a five. I almost cried when I heard that because I had been a 2 for a month and was worried the labor wasn't causing any dilation. Once we got in a room, I tried really hard to breathe through my contractions and relax, but I had been in pain for such a long time I didn't want to be anymore so I asked for the epidural.

Biggest mistake ever. The epidural went badly and the medicine went up and down, causing everything from the waist down to numb so I couldn't move and causing everything from the waist up to start numbing. My hands went first and it moved up my arms, then I couldn't feel myself breathe and my blood pressure dropped very low. I believe my doula saw it go down to 65/45. In fact my husband later told me a crash cart was brought in just in case. I had to have three doses of medication before my blood pressure came back up, plus they removed the epidural.

During this time my son's heart rate dropped dangerously low and they rolled me on my side and gave me oxygen. They broke my water to see if it would speed up labor and I drifted in and out of consciousness.

At this time they decided to deliver me via emergency c-section because the baby was now in distress. They had to put me all the way under because they couldn't risk another epidural or a spinal tap. I was not awake when my son was born. He was taken to the nursery with my husband and I was left in the care of a nurse, my doula and my mother. I woke confused, in a ton of pain, hungry and freezing. It took lime flavored ice chips, ten heated blankets and a shit ton of narcotics before I felt normal again.

While in recovery (my mom told me this as I don’t actually remember seeing my doctor) my doctor came in to tell me there was a knot in my son’s cord. Every time I had a contraction the cord was being compressed and even if the epidural hadn’t sent him into distress he probably wouldn’t have handled further labor well. I don’t know how much I believe that, but it felt better to know that the horrible events that led to the c-section may not have been avoidable.

I can admit it now, but I am very traumatized by my birth events. My doula has been concerned I will develop Postpartum PTSD. So I’m keeping an eye on it.

My son was born at 10:35 am on Saturday morning. I didn't see him until 7 pm that night. I didn't get to hold him until the next day. He was admitted to the NICU around 2 pm Saturday because he couldn't regulate his blood sugar or his oxygen and had a mild infection. He was 10 pounds 12 ounces and 22 inches long and the doctors are certain I had undiagnosed gestational diabetes, even though I passed the text at 28 weeks and was negative. I also wasn't told until I went into labor that the Group B Strep test had come back positive (two weeks earlier). Needless to say even with the same doctor as the Goblin King, I am VERY unhappy with the quality of care I got this time around.

Oh! And then I developed a headache caused by the botched epidural. So unless I am lying down or doped to the max I’ve had a bitch of a headache since Sunday night. It’s getting better now but it sucks and apparently is common and caused when the needle creates a passage for the spinal fluid to leak out, changing the fluid pressure around the brain and spinal cord. (Fun sounding, right?) Anyway, back to the story.

Having a baby in the NICU is hard, everyone knows that. However, what you don't know is how hard. He didn't feel like mine for the first three days. He was just this cute baby I could go and visit for an hour or two every day. Other people told me how he liked to be held and what his feeding schedule was. I just sat next to him in my wheel chair and thought, "This can't be my baby. He doesn't know who I am and he doesn't feel like mine."

At one point I considered not going to see him anymore until he could come home, because I felt so disconnected from everything that was going on. I felt guilty that what was wrong with him was my fault and I felt like we'd missed out on crucial bonding time and now it was all pointless. I tried not to cry, 1) I am not a cry kind of person and 2) Because it felt counterproductive.

After a good conversation with my mom, on Monday (and my husband bringing my two year old to see me) I did have a good cry and started to go see my son on a regular basis. Things began to feel at least a little normal. Until they told me on Tuesday, no way was he coming home when I did. I fact it could be three weeks before he came home.

I had to go home without my baby. It was surreal, I went home and nothing had changed. There was no baby for me to care for; in fact he'll probably be too big to wear the custom made bat outfit that's just sitting, collecting dust, on my dresser. I was 30 miles away from the baby I had just given birth to. One I never even got to celebrate because of all the drama surrounding his birth and the following events. I simply went home, saw my mom and dad, had dinner with my three other kids and went to bed....Fairly anti-climactic.

It's been eight days and, while still hard, I can say that I look forward to seeing him every day. I go up there for hours and sit, I read while he sleeps. I change diapers and cuddle. Everything I would be doing with him at home, except I’m in a curtained area surrounded by nurses and beeping machines.

I call and check on him every night and every morning. My hands are chapped from the amount of hand washing I have to do before I even get in the room to see him. Until today I was nervous every time I picked him up because of all the tubes and wires connected to him. I don't like that he's not home with us, it makes me stressed and anxious and I just want him to come home. I'm sick of feeling like I want to cry all the time, but I don't because I need to be strong. Not only am I recovering from a c-section that has been very hard on me, but I have major emotional wounds as well.

Today was a good day. My son is on the smallest amount of oxygen he can be on, he is regulating his blood sugar all on his own, they took out the IV connected to his belly button and stopped the course of antibiotics. Aside from a bad diaper rash and not being totally able to drink from a bottle (they have to pump it directly into his stomach) he could come home now. Things are looking up, and while it could have been so much worse (which honestly is a dumb thing to say to ANY mom in the NICU- it DOESN'T help) it wasn't and I know we are blessed as a family.

But tonight....I miss my baby and he's asleep somewhere else with other people caring for him. It’s hard, it is an awful sensation and I just want this experience to be over with now.