dr. oz…channeling oprah?

Like his mentor, TV talk show host Oprah Winfrey, Dr. Oz is loved by millions of women. Granted, there are men in the audience…if only a few handfuls.

I too was bitten by the Oz bug, never having caught the Oprah bug. Probably because he’s a NYC cardiologist and he’s undeniably cute. That he’s “hot” in a passive-aggressive way helps.

When Dr. Oz began his show, I’d hang on his every word. I’d write down his health tips and bombard my husband with them as soon as he came through the front door. Not the jealous type, my husband merely chuckled at my exuberance over the man whose company I kept every day at 3 p.m.

As my initial adulation began wearing off, or maybe because I wasn’t one of the lucky ladies sitting in front of him, Dr. Oz reverted back to being mortal again. At least to me… sitting alone in front of the TV without other giddy women egging me on. 

Eventually I stopped watching Dr. Oz. In part, his shows were becoming repetitious. His favorite topic was weight loss, and probably still is. I guess I’d done enough research on my own to know what I had to do to keep my weight in check. Not that it made me an expert. It’s just that I’d…been there, done that.

Another reason I parted company with the Dr. Oz show was his obvious appeal to the women in the audience. They seemed to swoon when asked to join him on stage as volunteers for his experiments. I love hugging, don’t get me wrong. After all…I am hugmamma. It’s just that I got a little uncomfortable with the bountiful hugs being exchanged between the doctor and his female fans. They came to expect his hugs and he seemed only too glad to oblige. Granted, I’m sure he’s a genuinely caring person with a natural penchant for physical closeness. It might even be a cultural thing, like it is for me as a native of Hawaii where the Aloha Spirit abounds.

For me, it just got to be a little too much. 

Finally, there was one piece of advice he would voice time and again. I’d chuckle about it at first, especially while telling my husband that Dr. Oz said we should have sex several times a week. According to him, it was important to the male’s health. No pressure there.

As time passed, I simply stopped tuning into Dr. Oz. Pretty much like I stopped tuning into the Catholic Church every Sunday, because the priest seemed so far removed from the realities of today’s world.

You can imagine my surprise when I heard that Dr. Oz was called before Congress to answer to charges that he’s abusing his power over consumers. They feel he is energetically supporting products that have no proof in fact of working as he claims on his program. One example cited was the doctor’s claim that the geen coffee bean would increase weight loss. Evidently, there’s not substantive research to back up those claims. Can you imagine the FDA approving a drug because Dr. Oz says it works brilliantly, without scientific data to back him up?

Dr. Oz tried to do on his show what Oprah successfully did on hers…brought the audience along on her beautifully woven message of words. She inspired change, giving hope to millions who wanted to live their best life.

There’s a fine line between the psychological and the physical. And when health information is being doled out like a mixed bag of magic pills, then I agree with those who say…buyer beware!  Fortunately, Dr. Oz is now aware of his power over consumers and wants to help protect them against businesses only too happy to take their money.

As for me, if Dr. Oz could attend to me as a heart patient I’d be totally happy. I’m positive his bedside manner includes hugging. And in a crisis, who doesn’t want to have a compassionate soul holding you? However that doesn’t mean…

i’ll be watching him on tv…anytime soon…

………hugmamma.

Following is an excerpt from an article in the February 4, 2014 issue of THE NEW YORKER, written by Michael Specter…Is Dr. Oz Doing More Harm Than Good?

Oz has become used to crowds, to adulation, and to fame. That morning, when he arrived in darkness, hundreds of people, mostly women, already stood in line at the entrance to the hospital; many lacked insurance, a doctor, or medical support of any kind. There were screams of delight when he hopped out of the car. People had come for the free exam and for helpful advice, but also to see him. Oz is fifty-two and jauntily fit, with a perfectly tamed helmet of brown hair and lengthy sideburns. His scrubs, powder blue and cinched at the waist, fit so well they looked as if they had been run up for him onSavile Row. In promotional pictures, Oz, with a stethoscope draped like a scarf around his neck, looks eerily like Doug Ross, the character that George Clooney made famous on “E.R.” He worked the line like a gifted politician, hugging people as they flipped open their phones and tried to get a picture with him. Many had brought old copies of magazines to be signed: TimeGood HousekeepingPrevention—all with Oz on the cover. “I worship you, Dr. Oz,” one woman told him. Another threw her arms around his neck. “I haven’t seen a doctor in eight years,” she said. “I’m scared. You are the only one I trust.”

Oz squeezed her shoulder and stared into her eyes. “I’ll see you inside,” he said. “We are going to get through this, and we will do it together.”

 

 

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for letting me “overflow,” huge thanks

It’s been awhile since I’ve reached out to thank faithful readers of hugmamma’s mind, body and soul. Views have surpassed any number I would have imagined possible for me, a 61-year old wannabee writer wanting to give voice to my thoughts, feelings, and opinions. Any blogger will tell you, as any author of books would, that readers are an important part of the equation. I take that back, they’re actually an essential element for any blogger or writer’s success. At least that’s my opinion. Others may feel they do just fine in isolation.

In July I’ll have been blogging a year. If I felt my readers were done with listening to what I say, I might decide to take it down a notch and pursue other avenues for my passion. My WordPress experience has been the best by far, having started on Blogger.com with  no comments to the 35 posts I wrote, after which I was on Oprah.com where I felt well received, and where joining community discussions was easily accomplished. But with her transition to OWN TV, Oprah‘s blog became more like a stepchild. Hence my transition to WordPress.com.

I want to thank all those who have subscribed to my blog, whether by email or rss feed or any other avenue with which I’m technologically unfamiliar. Following are those who I know for sure who subscribe.

The WordPress bloggers include:

frizztext  
OneAngryBytch  
easylifestyles  
littlenavyfish  
dogear6  
carloscollazo06  
Redneckprincess  
Marion Driessen  
Beneath The Tin Foil Hat  
HaleyWhitehall  
sagechronicles  
jeanne  
Jackie Paulson Author  
CMSmith  
literaryescape  
My English Thoughts  
hakea  
Steph  
Northwestgimp  
Keith Kamisugi  
mecwrites25  
fussymissy  
 

I congratulate all of these bloggers who are also following their own voices. Family and friends have also subscribed, but where I once knew who you all were, I no longer seem able to identify you as that capacity seems to have been removed from my blog. But you know who you are, and I thank you all for supporting me all this time…from the bottom of my hearts. The same applies to all, and there are many, who have subscribed by rss feed who are not within the WordPress community. I thank you as well, for wanting to stay connected.

I hope I’ve kept you entertained while I’ve satisfied my need to unload all these words which would otherwise have exploded like magma from a volcano.

mahalo for letting me overflow into your lives…and let’s see where life takes us…hugmamma.

a role model?…more than

Most of you know of my dear friend Sylvia. From time to time she visits me on the internet, sharing some juicy tidbit sent by her UK network of friends and family. I first wrote of her in my post, “role models, aging gracefully,” dated 8-24-10.

My friend who’s 70ish is admirable not only because she’s such a fashion-plate, which she is, but also because she is laden with health issues that would bring a younger, stronger woman, like me, to my knees. I’m a wuss by comparison. Like an older sister, sometimes a mom, my girlfriend was a smoker for many years, but was finally able to kick the habit. Whether as a result of smoking or having had it beforehand, she continues to suffer with emphysema which is compounded by asthma. Weighing under 100 pounds she’s a lightweight, but she can be as “tough as nails” when debating her opinion. I’ve never tested her, and am not about to try. I’d rather have her in my corner. When a coughing fit overtakes her, she can easily bruise some ribs. As a last resort her doctor prescribes prednisone which eliminates the cough, but leaves my friend with side effects that linger. She has bouts of diverticulitis which has her curled up in great pain. Throughout our 13 years of friendship, she’s been poked, probed, xrayed, cat-scanned, MRI’d more than anyonelse I know. With the help of a physician who’s cared for her, REALLY CARED, my amazing friend always seems “as fit as a fiddle.” I forget her medical history until another episode occurs, and it always does.

I think I dress rather smartly, but when I’m out with my friend and her husband I know she’s outdone me. Not that I mind, for I am simply in awe of  her sense of style, wearing skirts and dresses that I never would, simply because they wouldn’t look as well on me. They’re not my “cup of tea,” but they suit my girlfriend to a tee. And the jewelry, she can wear several gold bangles, rings on several fingers, including on her toes, and of course, earrings. Stunning is the only word to describe her. Whether she’s lounging at home or stepping out, in my estimation, she’s always “dressed to the nines.”

You can continue to read more wonderful things about Sylvia, for there’s definitely more good things to be said about her, by going to the original post mentioned above. I just wanted to give you an inkling of who she is, before you read further. And you’ll want to read further, I guarantee you. Enjoy this little “gem” from Sylvia…

NO CHEATING!!!

I was really surprised to find out who my role was.

DON’T scroll down until you do the SIMPLE math below. It’s crazy how accurate this is!

NO PEEKING!

1) Pick your favorite number between 1-9
2) Multiply by 3, then
3) Add 3
4) Then again multiply by 3 (Go get the calculator…). You’ll get a 2 or 3 digit number
5) Add the digits together

Now scroll down…

With the last number, see who YOUR ROLE MODEL is from the following list:

According to Keirsey, Oprah Winfrey may be a T...

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1)  Bill Clinton
2)  Oprah Winfrey
3)  Jessica Simpson
4)  Sarah Palin
5)  Laura Bush
6)  Hilary Clinton
7)  Ronald Reagan
8)  Ron De Roma
9)  my friend Sylvia
10) Barbara Walters

 

I know. I know. I just have that effect on people. One day, you too can be like me.

P.S. Stop picking different numbers! I AM YOUR ROLE MODEL! Deal with it!!!

now she’s your role model too…gotta love sylvia…i do…hugmamma.

sleep, “ever catch up?”

12-hour digital clock radio

Image via Wikipedia

I envy those who regularly fall into bed at 10 p.m. or earlier. I’ve not done that in many, many years. I’ve always been the proverbial “night owl.” Bedtime for me is midnight, 1 or even 2 a.m. And every night before I close my eyes, I murmur to myself “Gotta get to bed earlier, 10:00, tomorrow night, 10:00.” It’s become more like a prayer, than a resolution.

Downtown Honolulu, HI, view from Punch Bowl.

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I can recall when we were first married, and were renting a nice 2 bedroom apartment in Honolulu. We could afford a larger unit because my husband worked odd jobs around the complex, in exchange for the discounted rent of $125 a month. Can you believe that? An unheard of amount in a major metropolitan city these days, but especially in Honolulu.

University of Hawaii

Image by wertheim via Flickr

My husband had just graduated from a private Catholic college; I was finishing up my last year at the University of HawaiiBetween trying to be the good, little wife, and the good, little student, I was “burning the midnight oil.” I was also interning as a 4th grade teacher as a requirement for the 5th-year teaching certificate towards which I was studying. Oftentimes, I’d take a break from all-night cramming, and do a little household cleaning. I’d even run the vacuum. I was 20 when I married, so what did I know about the right time to do chores? I did them when I could. Funny, the neighbors never complained. But my husband did. He had to get up early for work.

Winfrey on the first national broadcast of The...

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While my penchant for cleaning late at night has dissipated, my desire to hang onto the last moments of a waning day have not. No matter where I’ve lived or what course my life has taken, there never seem to be enough hours in the day to do all that I want. That’s not to say I make the most of every minute. No. I dawdle…a lot. I stop to read parts of the newspaper. I crouch down beside Mocha to tell her I love her and nuzzle my face into hers. I catch parts of Ellenor Oprah.” I munch…munch…munch. I pick up Sitka. Oh, and of course, I blog. Those of you who subscribe, or are regular readers, know that I blog. Can’t help myself. Love to write.

Chatting with my husband when he arrives home from work and interminttently throughout the evening,  prepping dinner, dinner itself, cleaning up afterwards, more blogging, a little reading before switching off the light, and before long the clock reads midnight, or later.  Where does the time go? And it doesn’t help that Dr. Oz, and a myriad of others, continually advises that 7 0r 8 hours of sleep a night is mandtory for good health. I resolve to do better…in my next life. Promise. Meanwhile…

A Westclox Big Ben Clock

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Are you an early bird, or a night owl like me, or both? God bless you if you’re both. I’d be napping all day.

know where i can borrow some hours?…hugmamma.

“funny thing?!?,” ellen de generes

Something just happened which makes me think I’ve still got a tiny, rain cloud hovering overhead, leftover from my recent spate of mishaps.

Image representing LiveJournal as depicted in ...

Image via CrunchBase

While I was in my hovel pounding away on my keyboard, wordpress.com initiated “blog buddies” in January of this year. A great idea, it fosters the growth of communities among wordpress.com bloggers. Other sites like Oprah.com and Live Journal  are known for their interactive networks. Having been a latecomer to the scene, I attempted to make connections. With no responses to my requests forthcoming, I surmised that perhaps our interests and backgrounds were too dissimilar. No problem, I thought. There’ll be other opportunities, I’m sure.

Ellen The Complete Fourth Season DVD Cover Art

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But being the person I am, oft times gregarious, I decided to email Ellen,  inviting her to be my blog buddy. When I’ve watched her show, she seems up for anything. So I thought “Why not?”

Going to her website and pulling up its first page, there was a contest I could enter if I wanted. Out of curiosity, I did. I knew 2 of the 3 answers immediately; I guessed the third. Upon clicking “continue,” what I saw next were 3 gold ribbons offering prizes for having been the day’s grand prize winner.” They were a $1,000 Walmart gift card, a $1,000 Best Buy gift card and an Ipad. Unable to fathom what I was seeing, but attempting to make a quick decision, I called my husband and my daughter, to no avail. Finally deciding to go for the Best Buy prize, I  clicked my choice. As expected, the next part of the process was to fill in some information, which I did. Continuing to the next page, I was asked to input my cell phone number. Of course I had to call my cell to make sure I had the correct number. But before I went any further, I read the fine print. Oh, oh, I thought.

If I clicked, I would be engaged in an ongoing game of sorts with ringtones, games, messages and so on. The cost? $9.99 a month, indefinitely. I was assured I’d be able to cancel after 30 days if I wanted. Well, I couldn’t get out of that scenario fast enough, especially after being scammed recently by “System Tool,” which infiltrated my laptop with viruses. Fixing that problem cost me $199, and cancelling a couple of credit cards as well. So I quickly began backing out of what looked like another scam, “Click + alt + delete.” What I couldn’t understand is how Ellen’s website would allow such an occurrence. But, hey! This is still all new to me.

[Sisters Lucretia Electa and Louisa Ellen Cros...

Image by The Library of Congress via Flickr

I emailed Ellen asking about the contest, and if she’d agree to be my blog buddy. I’m sure she’s got lots on her plate, so I don’t expect a response to either. But maybe one of her fun assistants will send a big “hello.” Again, I won’t be holding my breath…

seven months does not an expert make…but i’m having fun in the process…hugmamma.  😉

“real” reality tv

Glee

flooding “down under”

Super Bowl Sunday

egyptian citizens protesting economic deprivation

Angelina Jolie, “Cleopatra”

mother nature reeks winter havoc

Oscars

mubarak thugs descend upon unsuspecting protestors

Oprah celebrates birthday

initiative to continue funding educational programs

Justin Bieber, “Never Say Never”

monroe prison guard killed

Crystal Mountain Ski Lodge, gondola, weddings, Summit restaurant

revolution spreading as i type

that’s how it is on “real” reality tv

are you getting the picture?…hugmamma.

 

 

 

 

chinese parenting, not so “superior”

Amy Chua, the mom who boasted that Chinese parenting is superior, in her new book Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, was in Seattle promoting it. According to the local news, a Queen Anne area bookstore had invited her to do a reading. I glimpsed part of the report, the most significant aspect of it, I think.

When the Wall Street Journal ran its 2 page article on Amy Chua and her philosophy on parenting, I was left with the impression that she was fiercely and adamantly in support of her arguments. So I was surprised, pleasantly I might add, to learn that she ends Tiger Mother acknowledging that she might have gone too far. It seems being hated by one of her daughters made Chua realize that she had to back off from her unrelenting, authoritative mothering. Her daughter couldn’t withstand the barrage of demanding abuse. Good for Chua, knowing and admitting that she needed to change her ways for the sake of her child, and their relationship!

In an interview with Oprah, Chua retracts part of what she’s strongly upheld, deciding that perhaps she went too far.

O: What is the single thing you wish you’d done differently?

AC: I wish that I’d paid a bit more attention to the individual personalities of the girls, their temperaments and needs. I wish I’d realized earlier that parenting cannot just be one size fits all. 

Two moms were briefly interviewed during the broadcast. Both disagreed with the severity of Chua’s mothering style. One in particular, a Chinese woman raising 2 young daughters, disputed Chua’s portrayal that all mothers of their race parented like her.

One thing is true, however. Amy Chua has had one heck of a publicity ride. The controversy stirred up a lot of national attention, even in the blogosphere. I noticed a number of posts on wordpress.com, which spoke of the brouhaha swirling around her. So it seems all’s well that ends well. Chua’s book will go on to make the New York Time’s Bestseller’s List. Parents of the world will close ranks in their common goal to raise upstanding citizens. And best of all, Chua’s daughters get a well-deserved break from all her harassing.

chua’s come over to the “dark side,” hooray…hugmamma.

interests, so varied

As with the surge in readership that I got from “stumbleupon” traffic, my recent posts “put a ‘face’ on the ‘unknown,’ and to a lesser degree, “an expert, in my opinion,” sent views “through the roof.” Where a day or 2 before, I had reached 3,027 views, 2-3 days after these postings, views are up to 3,470. It’s pretty heady to think that my words can draw so many to want to read what I have to say. I must admit to returning to re-reading what I wrote a number of times, trying to discern what it was I said that might have made such an impression. Whatever it was, I’m humbled to know that I struck a chord. I was moved by comments telling me as much, including one from Janice Langbehn and her children.

When I write about a topic, I am intensely passionate about what I’m saying. My feelings are genuine. Those who know me know that I am candid, only given to expressing my honest beliefs. Sometimes it’s integrity gone amuck. I’m not prone to do “battle” in person because my emotions can tend to twist my tongue, better known as being “tongue-tied.” And so I blog.

As a blogger I can say what I want, in a responsible way. Any writer will tell you that readership is key to sustaining the motivation to continue. I’m no different. When I first started, I thought I’d be content merely floating my “voice” out in the internet universe. I published 38 posts on blogger.com, never knowing if they were read, with the exception of a handful of friends who told me they had. So I went in search of another platform from which to launch my voice, and found Oprah.com. 

For the most part, I was a happy blogger in Oprah’s universe. There I honed my writing skills further, and began learning about the technical details. When that site changed its format to being more about OWN, Oprah’s upcoming, new venture, I gradually ceased blogging. I rediscovered my passion for it after taking a Blogging 101 class with Cat Rambo. The information she shared inspired me to look into WordPress.com.

One of the main things Cat told the 9 or 10 of us in class was that we’d need to write “something of value,” whatever that meant to each of us. A guy wanted to start a small business, an Asian woman wanted to post photographs, an Indian woman was a total novice but wanted to share her thoughts and feelings, another woman works for a nonprofit and was looking to increase its visibility. Cat thought sharing the details of my life experiences was an interesting blog. So I bought several “blogging for dummy” books, including “WordPress.com for dummies,” and proceeded down the path leading to the magical, yet mysterious, kingdom of Oz, or Blog-dom.

So here I am, happily residing in a “cottage” of words, offering shelter by the “side of the road” to passersby in need of a boost, as they continue their journey through life. My interests are so varied, that I am passionate about many things. But the mainstay will always be my compassion for people, especially the downtrodden, and more especially, children. Humor and laughter are also very important to me, and is often reflected in my “tongue-in-cheek” style of writing.

I blog, hoping what I post will be enjoyed, but I don’t write to increase my readership stats. Just as some “stumbleupon” readers have continued life’s journey with me, I would welcome having HRC, Johnny Weir, and AARP devotees along for the “ride” as well. But just as my interests are varied, everyone must pursue whatever catches their fancy.

so go chase some “butterflies,” hugs…hugmamma.

“getting to happy”

One of Oprah’s guests today was author Terry McMillan who had written the book “Waiting to Exhale.” I remember having seen the movie it spawned, enjoying the 4 black actresses who portrayed the story’s main characters. I can’t recite what it was about, only that it dealt with the all too familiar romantic difficulties between men and women. McMillan’s newest book, “Getting to Happy,” brings the 4 women full circle. Maybe I’ll read this, her second book, or wait until the movie is made. I’m not overly fond of reading fiction, preferring non-fiction instead.

While I missed most of the interview, I was present when McMillan’s ex-husband was speaking of the hellish 5 years following their divorce. Feeling betrayed when he cheated on her with a gay partner, McMillan sought revenge by suing her husband and his attorney for $40 million. To his relief, she eventually dropped the suit. In her explanation to Oprah, the author explained that while she harboured resentment against her husband, she continued to suffer, because she’d hung onto the hurt. Once she released the pain and rescinded the lawsuit, McMillan was on her way, “getting to happy.” Sitting side by side, she and her ex teased and laughed, sharing the friendship they’d once had.

Interjecting an anecdote of her own life experience, Oprah told of a long-held grudge against someone she happened to observe one day at a distance, walking into Tiffany’s, laughing.  The woman looked like she’d carried on with her life, while Oprah had dwelt upon the rift between them. How could that woman not continue to be as agitated as Oprah over the incident? This was the question she asked the audience in total disbelief. I understood the look on her face.

When I lived in New York, I had worked for a black manager who involved me in his ongoing battle with his boss, the department’s director and her close friend, the vice president, both white females. I would return home each evening, upset and crying to my husband about the grief I was experiencing. Something he said finally sank in, shutting me up once and for all. “While you’re spending all your nights bemoaning something Tony’s done or said, he’s probably enjoying himself with friends, and a glass of wine.” Picturing him relaxed and laughing, angered me. I decided not to let my boss have one more minute of my day. “Out of sight, out of mind,” has become my motto when dealing with aggravating people. That’s not to say I always succeed, but I never stop trying.

of course Oprah learned the same lesson, long ago…hugmamma.

putting a “face” on the “unknown”

Glad I stepped away from the keyboard to visit with dear friends last night. Because of them I overcame my reluctance to get gussied up for a fundraising event in the city. My husband knew nothing about the organization sponsoring the dinner; he didn’t know what the letters “HRC” represented. The hours slipped by quickly, as we listened and learned about the “Human Rights Campaign.” 

We’ve attended other fundraisers over the years, ballet balls, zoo events, symphony dinners, among others. At the ballet ball, I remember ending the night rocking to the deejay’s music on the dance floor. At zoo events, I thought it was cool to visit the butterfly house, and witness the jaguar feeding, afterhours. And at a symphony fundraising dinner, my husband bought me my favorite watch, which I wear every day. Unlike these, last night’s event had no gimmicks, unless one considers the guest speakers as the “drawing card.” If so then, in my estimation, they were the most relevant “gimmicks” I’ve ever entailed.

Washington’s U.S. Senator Patty Murray spoke of her genuine efforts on behalf of her constituents. She focused on 2 in particular, who wrote letters asking for  her help. One was sent by a young girl whose dream it is to proudly serve her country in the military, but isn’t allowed to do so while proudly “owning” who she is, because of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. The other letter was written by a dedicated teacher of 30 years, who tried to help a young student suffering the harassment of peers after she “came out.” Failing to garner official support for the youngster’s plight, the teacher informed the girl. Three days later, she committed suicide.

In his turn at the podium Joe Solmonese, HRC President for 5 years, brought me “up to speed” on the organization’s efforts to achieve total equality for a segment of the population that has been disenfranchised for too long. I was especially impressed when he emphasized that they are NOT victims, that they will not be deterred in their efforts, no matter what obstacles they encounter as they campaign for their freedom and rights. In the evening’s program, Mr. Solmonese wrote, in part, “Our community’s voice has never been more influential and never have we had a more friendly audience in our lawmakers. With your support, HRC can make our community’s voice heard loud and clear.”

A Child Protection Social Worker, Janice Langbehn, related a moving story of “man’s inhumanity to man,” to coin a phrase from a long ago episode of “All in the Family,” where Gloria attempted to explain a simple truth to her family. While she elicited chuckles from the viewing audience, including me, Ms. Langbehn’s words resonated with both my husband and I. With her legal partner, Lisa, and 3 of their 4 adopted children, they celebrated their 15th anniversary in February 2007, by boarding a ship in Miami to cruise to the Bahamas. While waiting to sail, Lisa oversaw a basketball game the kids were playing. Within 20 minutes they ran to their stateroom to get Janice, telling her that Lisa was sick. Janice and the children made their way to “Jackson Memorial Ryder Trauma Center, where Lisa had been taken. When her family, Janice and the youngsters, arrived they were told by a trauma social worker that Miami and Florida were “an anti-gay city and state” and were not allowed to visit Lisa or receive any news of her condition. Despite securing the couples Medical POA required by the Center, Lisa’s family continued to meet with resistance, until Janice accompanied a priest who gave her partner the Last Rites. The children were also finally allowed a few minutes with their mom. But in the end, Lisa died alone on February 19, 2007. Since then Janice has publicly spoken on behalf of change to homophobic policies like those of Jackson Memorial. In April of this year, President Obama phoned Janice apologizing for “the treatment her family received and described the Presidential Memorandum he sent to HHS to direct Federal Regulations to allow same-sex couples the same hospital visitation rights as other families.”

What makes Langbehn’s story even more compelling is the dedication with which she and her partner committed their lives to helping children. “Their love and life together was defined by their care and passion for aiding special needs children. In 1992 they were the first openly gay foster parents in their county, fostering 25 children, 4 of which they adopted, and all with special needs due to drug and HIV exposure. Janice’s long history of social work and care for children began while employed with DSHS and the State of Washington as a Sex Offender treatment provider in a juvenile prison. She saw a need to intervene earlier in a child’s life and so became a Child Protection Social Worker. Janice completed her first Master’s in Public Administration in 1995 and in 1997 was accepted to the University of Washington Master in Social Work Program. In April of 1999, Janice was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. From 1996 until Lisa’s untimely death in 2007, the two were intimately involved in their children’s lives. They managed HIV appointments, taught first communion classes, volunteered in the children’s school and began a successful Girl Scout troop.” Janice continues to speak out as part of “the educational process that comes with the fight for equality.” To a standing ovation and thunderous applause, she was honored with the HRC Equality Award.

Introducing the final speaker of the evening, was a dentist who shared a childhood secret with us. He had always dreamed of becoming a figure skater. But he put aside his dreams, and fulfilled his mother’s dream instead. Forty years later, thanks to Johnny Weir, the dentist is taking ice skating lessons. Bravo!

The name meant nothing to me, until a video clip showed Johnny Weir in the spotlight, representing the U.S. at the last winter Olympics. He is a flamboyant figure skater, in his style, dress and makeup. He was not my favorite, so I wasn’t as impressed with his performance as I was with some of his competitors. But after hearing his story, I have more admiration for him, as a person. Starting late, he taught himself to ice skate at age 12 on the frozen ponds in back of the cornfields at his home in Amish country, Pennsylvania. With the love and support of amazing parents and younger brother, Weir “hopped, skipped, and jumped” his way into figure skating history, capturing the hearts of millions around the world (he is knowns as the “people’s skater”), and U.S. Figure Skating’s 2010 Reader’s Choice Award for Skater of the Year (Michelle Kwan Trophy). 

Weir makes no excuses for being gay, embracing his “fabulosity.” Having concluded that he wasn’t representative of the image of the U.S. Olympic figure skater, and would therefore not medal, he decided to do his best, for himself. So he brought to his dynamic performance 13 years of hard work, sacrifice and passion for his craft. When he finished skating, and stood up from a back bend, his eyes were met with an arena of waving flags from around the world. I understood his joy, for as a ballerina, my daughter strives to connect with an audience appreciative of her talent, sacrifice, hard work, and passion for her art.

I think in our own personal struggles to come to terms with life, we don’t see that others are also struggling. I’m guilty of such tunnel vision. It’s human nature to think there’s not enough time or energy to be stretched so thin. Some of us are more capable than others, depending upon our own circumstances of health, finances, and commitments. We needn’t all react exactly alike; we can’t, by virtue of our individual DNA. Perhaps what we all CAN and SHOULD DO, is “put a face on the unknown.”    

Senator Patty Murray, HRC President Joe Solmonese, Johnny Weir, the dentist, and most prominently, Janice Langbehn and her children, are the “faces” of the Human Rights Campaign. America’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community are no longer the “unknown.” I now know who they are. Each is someone’s child living on the periphery of society, “assigned” rights which are already theirs by virtue of their citizenship in the human race, and their birthright as U.S. citizens. I don’t feel their rights are mine to give or withhold. I believe they’re inalienable, as written in our Constitution. I am a spiritual person, a member of the Catholic church. I think religion offers us sound principles with which to live our lives, but I think we’ve succumbed to using religion as a weapon to pass judgment upon, and excommunicate, those who are non-compliant. I’m not God, and I don’t want to be God. As with Oprah, the job has serious responsibilities which I’m not equipped to handle. Better I leave it to the experts, God in his domain, and Oprah in hers.

I’ve been fortunate to know the men behind the “faces,” good friends we’ve known since moving to the Pacific Northwest. Leon and Ken made me feel comfortable and welcome, when I met them at the first gathering my husband and I attended at his boss’s home, 13 years ago. Before their arrival, I felt self-conscious and awkward, being a stay-at-home mom trying to mingle with career people. The 2 men were interested in knowing more about me, and soon we were joking and laughing like old friends. Through the years, our friendship has remained steadfast, and I’m able to relax in their company as soon as I see them. They’ve never had an “agenda,” other than to know that I’m fine. I always welcome that concern in friends, straight, or gay.

My friendship with Brent and Rick is more recent, although my husband’s known them for several years, because he and Rick are employed by the same company. Although I was acquainted with both men, I got to know Brent better when we accompanied our significant others on a business trip to Victoria, BC. As with Leon and Ken, I felt comfortable in Brent’s company because he made me feel my contribution to the conversation was valuable. Although he’s taking college courses toward becoming a social worker, I never felt like my 60’s college experience was arcane. In fact, Brent complimented my common sense approach to life. That’s music to the ears of a senior citizen! A smart man 20 years my junior is inspired by what I might have to say. Kind of novel in this day and age. Needless to say, I’m very happy to be in the company of Brent and Rick, 2 men with discerning tastes for quality of life for all, including the elderly.

Personally I know that I’m unlikely to be swayed in my opinions unless I can put a “face” on the “unknown,” whatever that might be. Rather than having someone force me to think differently, I’m inclined to change because of personal motivation. I don’t think any of us like being browbeaten into a decision. My husband and I made a contribution to the HRC, because last night we were educated about their worthwhile efforts, and because Leon, Ken, Brent and Rick are real “faces” for the cause of human rights.

Another real “face” is a nephew of mine who “came out” to his parents decades ago. He was a wonderful, young man when I knew him. He played the piano beautifully; he seemed a sensitive soul. Having lost touch, I learned years later that he’d contracted a near fatal disease. His partner at the time helped nurse my nephew back to complete health. He has shared his life with another partner for many years, adopting 2 girls who had been students in my nephew’s middle school class, several years ago. Before they became a family, the youngsters were in and out of foster homes.

Children are my concern, because of my childhood experiences, and because I wish all children would know the unconditional love and support to be who they are, and not what others want them to be. Our gay peers are intelligent, resourceful and hard-working. They will evince long-term change through their commitment not to return to the “dark ages” of society’s earlier days. We can either embrace the inevitable and co-exist, all striving to live our best lives, or we can maintain our isolation from certain segments of society, holding onto historical prejudices. It’s our choice; it’s our freedom. I choose, that others might enjoy the same freedom. I may have an island mentality about driving on freeways, and fear of black bears, but not in matters that are substantive. In these cases, I prefer to draw from the “aloha spirit” inherent in my native fibre, and welcome all as “ohana” (family).

hugs for conquering our fear of the “unknown”, by putting a “face” to it…hugmamma.

wordpress.com, working for me

Having blogged on 2 sites prior to WordPress.com, I find that this site is the most user-friendly. Being technologically challenged, I thought I might have given up before now, frustrated that I wasn’t reaching an audience with whom to share my journey. Two months later, I’m still blogging, and you’re still reading, with many more having joined us. There were moments of doubt, but my passion for writing kept me going, as did several handfuls of viewers who said my words meant something to them. Their sentiments went a long way in “stroking my ego,” something we all need to maintain our motivation, and grow our self-confidence. Thanks to them and now, many more like them, I continue to share life experiences which might help those in need of compassion, validation, consolation, laughs and perhaps, hope. None of us are going it alone; we’re all striving, to live our best lives. I’m not Oprah, but I am one voice trying to make a difference, one person at a time. 

WordPress.com has been an ally in my efforts to share my writing. While I’m not one of the famous bloggers on this site, I still feel my voice is welcome. I’m certain I have far less traffic than the Wall Street Journal’s blog, but I’m grateful for the readership I have. It’s more than I would have imagined. Once I established its  look, purpose, technical details, and alerted friends and family to my blog, I began composing my posts.

Along the way I made new discoveries about WordPress.com, some intentional, others accidental. Since I’m anal about details, I always figured my way in, and around, obstacles. When I succeeded, I cheered my own efforts. When I ran into a “wall,” I turned to my husband for help. His assistance was limited however, because I was more familiar with the inner workings of WordPress.com than he. I never thought I’d see the day when I’d know something more about the computer than my husband. Feels kind of good, except when I’m really stuck. The great thing is that I’ve always been able to resolve a problem by consulting WordPress for Dummies by Lisa Sabin-Wilson, or search through the site’s extended inventory of helpful information, or email the support staff.

When I’m blogging the last thing I want to encounter are technical “hiccups.” On Oprah.com I would lose what I’d written from time to time. Because of this I’d first type my draft on Microsoft Word, then copied and pasted it onto my blog site. WordPress.com automatically saves my writing as I’m typing. I’ve published 124 posts, not having lost one in the process. While comments are encouraged, WordPress.com moderators will hold off publishing ones which might be “spams,” letting me decide whether or not they are. This gives me a sense of security, which was a definite plus on Oprah.com. But while both sites had that in common, over time I felt Oprah.com’s moderators were sometimes too involved in whether or not something was or wasn’t allowed. That aside, I might have remained on the site if it hadn’t morphed away from personal blogs, in its transition to Oprah’s new venture, OWN TV.

Crafting the look of my blog was fun, especially personalizing the header with my own photograph. As I became more comfortable with my new “home,” I found inserting photos and YouTube videos relatively easy, thanks to WordPress.com instructions, and my own dogged determination. Growing readership is always a challenge, but this site also assists by “threading” posts throughout their system, as well as offering various other aids, one of which is “stumbleupon” which has garnered additional readers for which I’m very grateful. Early on I took advantage of a link to “Facebook,” which also quickly bore fruit. While typing away contentedly, WordPress.com continually informs me of further services that can enhance my blog experience.

The one disadvantage to WordPress.com is the inability to sell items. Since I dabble in antiques, collectibles, folk art, and crafts, I might look elsewhere to satisfy my retailing inclination. While this feature is available on Blogger.com, the first site on which I blogged, its “no holds barred” attitude about privacy is somewhat discouraging. I understand it’s going through changes to make it more competitive with other sites, so I’ll keep my eyes and ears open. Meanwhile, I’m happy where I am.

wordpress.com, working for me…hugmamma.

oprah, one door closes…

Today is the beginning of the end, but when “one door closes, another opens.” I’ve not followed Oprah as avidly as millions of other fans. But I have admired her from afar, preferring to remain on the periphery of her empire. I’m not one to march to the beat of someonelse’s cadence; I like making my way through life, listening to the ordinary folks who offer practical advice. I admire celebrities for their accomplishments, but don’t identify with their lifestyles for they seem of another stratosphere. Their biographies are entrancing, especially those of movie stars from the “golden age of Hollywood.” I not only enjoy them for their entertainment value, but also as scripts about lives gone awry. In many cases they’ve made me appreciative of my life, not envious of the riches and fame which probably cause or exasperate the problems of the stars.

Oprah is unique in being able to walk the line between celebrity and ordinary. She is friends with John Travolta, Celine Dion and the Obamas; yet she can envelope audience members in a huge hug, as if they were long-lost relatives. Oprah’s charisma may leave strangers wanting more of her and, perhaps, from her. With $2.4 billion, how can she ever be sure of people’s intentions.

I was blogging on Oprah’s site before it morphed into its current format, which serves to promote her own cable network, OWN. Maneuvering through the blog world on her former site, I encountered both adoring fans, and “doubting Thomases” who questioned Oprah’s genuineness. While I’m not one to hang on her every word, I do credit her for pulling herself up by the “bootstraps,” and for funding philanthropic projects. My opinion, which I’ve shared in responses to others’ blogs, is that Oprah has lived her best life, as well as helped others live theirs.

Along with Oprah’s mega bucks comes mega responsibilities, mega privacy and security issues, and mega loss of a simpler life. Her’s is mine, amplified by a million, even a billion. I can grocery shop, walk my dog in town, sit in an audience, hug my family in public, have coffee with exercise friends at the local Starbuck’s. Oprah can do it all bigger and pricier, but she won’t enjoy it any better than me doing it smaller and cheaper. And I can do it without the scrutiny of the world. So I take my hat off to Oprah who, despite her wealth and fame, has maintained her human touch as evidenced by fans world-wide who, unlike her, live ordinary lives.

So while she bids farewell to 25 years hosting her current talk show, Oprah opens another “door,” onto OWN. It’s speculated that there’ll be an audience of 70 million ready and waiting, seats already “reserved.” She’ll want for nothing as she goes forward continuing to lead her best life, so I’ll just send Oprah…

hugs, and prayers…for continued success…hugmamma.

trivia, but not trivial

Life is about the minutiae in our lives. Details that make each of us unique. Oh, we may all have similar routines: awake, brush teeth, down a cup of coffee, get to where we’re going, try to beat the homebound traffic, feed our tummies, put our feet up in front of the TV… where we doze off. (Well, at least half the population does this, while the rest of us find our way to bed. You women know of whom I speak.)

It’s what we use to carry on, how we prioritize things, and how our personalities affect what we do that separates us one from the other. Therein lies the substance of our individuality. All this to say…let’s focus on the “small,” for it’s the “new big.”

A reader’s comment on another blog site prompted me to coin the phrase. He asked if we ageed that Oprah was losing her humility. He felt her behavior strange in that upon leaving her residence she bid farewell to the doorman, nearby flowers, and so on. My reply to his query was that I felt Oprah realized that the “small” things in her life were more important to her, than all the material wealth she had garnered. The big stuff comes and goes; the small remains…right to the end.

So here’s my small stuff.

  • Sitka, one of my Maine Coone/mixed-breed cats, behaves more like a dog, than even my dog does. Reaching for my hands as they flutter over the keyboard, Sitka’s huge paw interrupts my typing while he peers at me from under my elbow, with huge, pleading eyes. He nudges me so that it’s difficult to continue what I’m doing. So you’re mistaken if you think I just sit here merrily cranking out blog, after blog, after blog. There are interruptions.
  • Just returned from my monthly hair appointment. Without my hairdresser, my BFF, Best Friends Forever (as defined for me by my daughter), I couldn’t “hold back the hand of time.” Is that from an “oldies, but goodies” tune? Anyway, it seems my stylist is allergic to dark hair coloring. First thought? Oh, oh. The hunt is on for a new BFF. But she put me at ease in explaining that she’d just use gloves. Problem solved. Love my hairdresser, my BFF.
  • Speaking of where I’ve just been. I schedule my hair appointment on a weekday because the salon is less busy than on Saturdays; but  of equal importance is the receptionist on hand. Her smiling face and warm demeanor welcomes me like family. In the moment, I like to feel I belong. I think we all do. It’s more fun than hanging around the periphery feeling left out. The more I feel I’m part of my community, the more I feel I belong…I’m home. And we all have to do it in our own way, and in our own time. (My husband’s favorite refrain when I ask him to do something.)
  • Driving home today, I noticed taxpayer money at work. Construction has picked up in and around our town, even in our own neighborhood. One common aspect that I noticed are the workers holding the signs, SLOW and STOP. I often think how boring their job must be. Hours of standing, dust flying in their faces, dirty looks from drivers, in the path of traffic as they stand alongside the busy roads. Who’d want to spend mindless hours, days, and months in a seemingless thankless job? So I’ll take this opportunity to say THANK YOU to all those who serve us in the “line of duty.”
  • By now you know my husband has compelled me to read the Wall Street Journal regularly. So if I have to deal with it, you dear reader, must too. But there really are articles for you and me, the normal folk. I cite 2 articles in today’s copy. “Tired of Nit-Picking? Lice Are Peskier Than Ever” and “Fighting Happily Ever After.” Both are relevant to me, as I’m sure they are for many of you. Kids are away at summer camps. Who knows what they’ll bring home amidst their belongings or on their scalps? I’ve personally experienced trying to get the little buggers to give up residence on my youngster’s pretty, little head. But here’s what caught my eye in the article “Another possible treatment: applying Cetaphil and letting it dry on the hair overnight to suffocate the head lice.” It goes on to say that there’s no guarantee it’ll work. Cetaphil! I use it as a daily face cleanser with great success. My skin feels ageless. How it looks is “in the eye of the beholder.” I think “I look maaahvalous, dahling!” But maybe I’m biased? As for the Journal’s other article? I think it’s self-explanatory. Even a newspaper that is daily reading for Wall Street types, can have advice for the lovelorn among us local gazette readers.
  • Just untied a tiny, rolled up piece of paper that was placed into the bag holding a stretchy, silver bracelet I’d bought at a small gift shop on Saturday. Had toyed with the idea of simply tossing it in the garbage, unread. But I didn’t. My curiosity got the better of me. It is true that “good things come in small packages.” Unrolling the paper whose edges had been carefully cut, forming scallops all around, was a gift of words “May You Receive His Amazing Grace.” I pass this along to you as you go about your day.
  • Did you know that ENTERPRISE, that bastion of rental cars, is rolling out the latest addition to their fleet, Nissan’s Leaf, an electric car. The partnership allows the auto maker a platform from which to familiarize the car-buying public with its newest “toy.” Enterprise is our agency of choice, but I’d hate to run out of electricity with nowhere to recharge on the open road…in unfamiliar surroundings. Something to ponder. Hmmm…
  • WIKILEAKS, the whistle-blowing website that leaked 76,000 documents on the Afghan war, may be guilty of doing so to raise its public profile. Reader beware. Don’t believe what you hear, until you look at the “fine print,” the facts behind the facts. Remember it’s “in the details, dummy.” Fitting, but not my words. I know I’ve heard it somewhere…but where?
  • Reality shows make me chuckle. Sometimes I even laugh out loud. I don’t follow them religiously, but if I happen upon one that interests me I may settle into a comfy chair. My husband despises the “Housewives of…” saga. He’ll stomach a lot, but not tales of bitchy women. I’m beginning to wonder if that show is giving us real housewives a bad rep. I mean are we getting a bad rap? Of the many, and there are now quite a few, Bethenny Frankel-Hopy wins my vote for “most real.” This is totally apparent on her spin-off, “Bethenny gettin’ married?”   “What you see is what you get!”, a New Yorker who doesn’t give a “…” what people think. Bethenny lives her life her way, takes her lumps, and gets back in the fray. What I especially like about her own show is that it exposes an endearing side. Proof? Jason, her new husband, and his parents are the most loveable, normal people. And they love Bethenny to pieces! They “get” who she is under all the sarcasm, a woman scarred by selfish parents, who made it to the big league with her talent for cooking. Having lived and worked in New York, and having friends who are natives, I know they are people with big hearts willing to embrace you with oversized hugs…if you let them. So let them.

The bewitching hour has arrived, prepping for dinner. So adios, muchachas y muchachos…

until we meet again…hugmamma