thoughts, whims, and delusions of a middle aged mama

Saturday, February 28, 2009

The FLDS and Raising Healthy, Happy Children

This isn't the whole of it...that would be an enormous task...but hopefully, this is a glimpse into a world where raising decent, happy children is taken very seriously...

When we first heard about the raid in Texas, and saw the pictures of all the beautiful, sad looking children being herded onto buses, our hearts bled for them. Then we heard all the reports of how deprived they were. And we heard how they were raised so rigidly, and had so little, and were constantly disciplined using the sternest of corporal punishments. And oh my goodness, every mother's heart was broken. We heard how the fathers made the mothers do these horribly stern, abusive things.....and the whole country wanted to swoop down on Texas and care for these poor, poor children.....and to save these women who were so brainwashed and cowed that they would hurt even their own children for these awful men!!!!

Then the "back stories" started creeping out. We heard from nameless mental health workers how sweet and well behaved the children were. We heard from staff in the residential centers how lovely the children were. We heard how bright they were. We heard how they were all at or above grade level with their education. We heard how the older children helped so willingly with the younger one. We saw pictures of Teresa who had scrambled up a tree in front of the San Angelo courthouse...being a typical, happy, playful teenager.....
The other pictures started of children playing, and laughing and climbing fences and snuggling with farm animals....and swinging on those wonderful big swings in Cottonwood Park.....
And individual stories made their way to us...I remember reading a story, last summer, about one mother who went out and bought two parakeets for her children so they could learn responsibility through caring for and loving these beautiful song makers...and it touched my heart, what a wonderful way to teach.....

Well, the incongruity of the horror stories with what emerged as the reality, was striking.....
Over all, these were delightful, normal, beautiful children. With good manners, and amazing resilience. Since I have worked in the world of children and families with behavioral challenges for so long, it caught my attention! How could you have such a large group of children, who should, statistically anyway, have some portion with serious behavioral issues, be so happy, resilient, and well adjusted? So I've been watching pretty closely.....I wanted to know how they had accomplished this...
Was it harsh discipline? Would the problems show up on closer observation? Were the images staged and crafted? Were they children behaving out of fear?

Hogwash! This community, these individual households, were regularly doing intuitively, what we in Children's Behavioral Health are just beginning to promote as "excellence in childcare", or the "Gold Standard" of practice. They are living, breathing models of what we have structured a whole industry around...they walk the walk of every parenting class taught.....

The children have structure. They have unwavering predictability in their lives. (except when child welfare comes crashing in on them, their lives, and their stability) They have the assurance of a roof over their heads, beds to sleep in, ample food to eat. The basics are always there and sure.
Then we get to those intangibles that have made such a difference. Remember "keeping sweet"? Remember how a big part of "keeping sweet" is staying calm? Imagine the difference it makes to children who have parents who work at, and truly value, a calm presentation! Imagine how different a child's experience is when they have parents who think about what they are going to say, or do, before they do it. What would it be like for children if every parent had heard, their entire life, that teaching with love is the only way that is acceptable?
Now, add to their lives, the absence of television and video games. Add lots of song. Music, not hard rock and roll or hip-hop, but old fashioned classics and spiritual music, being a big part of everyday. Throw in a good measure of families doing things together. Preparing meals, praying, gardening, farm work, community clean-ups, house cleaning, family hikes and outings....lots of time together.....and all the talk and laughter and silly mishaps that go with all of that activity...
On top of all that, throw in a healthy measure of hearing, everyday, how wonderful and valuable you are. Throw in lots of hugs....hugging and touching, whether it is doing hair, or buttoning the collar of a shirt, or helping to straighten the shoulders of a coat, are a big part of their lives. Unlike us, who push physical independence almost from birth...FLDS mothers nurse all of their children...they touch their children...and they tell them how much they love them, constantly....

Now I'm not trying to paint a picture of Nirvana, here. Every family and every child has challenges, from time to time. Every child stomps his or her foot occasionally. Every child learns the word "NO", early on, and to the complete frustration of parents.... "No!" is only cute for about ten seconds, the first couple of is obnoxious for the next 18 or so years. And there are certainly parents, no matter how well meaning, get frustrated and behave badly. That is just the nature of our human beast. What makes things in this community different, is how those aberrations, even from parents, is handled.
One of the things I read in the Jeffs papers, is about a child who was bed-wetting, and a mother who made the child sit in the wet bed for hours, to teach that bed wetting is wrong....
Well, we know this isn't a good way to teach this lesson. We know that this is probably a very frustrated parent, not a bad child. So what was so interesting to me was that Jeffs addressed the issue, not be being angry and harsh, but by reteaching to many mothers, together, that kindness, love, consistency, discussing, trying new things, etc. was the way to always approach children. Never harshness or embarrassment, etc. And he did this in a way that "walked the walk". He made sure that everyone got the lesson. For those that were already doing it, it was a simple reinforcement. For those who had gotten off track, it was a reminder. No one was embarrassed or shamed. The opportunity for change was made easy and supported...and how to handle the child was demonstrated through how the adults were handled. Jeffs may not have a PhD in child psychology, but his instincts about how to handle people, and how to get them to produce the desired behaviors is remarkable! And the fact that he is a "do as I do" teacher, teaches parents the lesson in a very tangible and demonstrably "doable" way. He didn't "blame" the old ways, he acted to change how children are taught through his own way of doing things. He simply changed the culture through action. And it isn't perfect, but everyone is working toward a new way...and for young children, they will never know the harshness of an old way. Too bad we aren't so quick to discard the ways of past generations..our children sure would benefit....

So, slowly these 'pieces' of the puzzle are coming together for me. I am seeing how so many children in a community can all be so well mannered and developing so 'normally'. The adults in the homes talk to one another. There isn't lots of drama and yelling. Life is deliberately structured and predictable. There is a lot of love and joy demonstrated everyday. Discipline is through talk and lessons.
Value is placed more on relationships and activities than on things. Parents do things with their children. Children are a part of the life blood of the home, not decorations or burdens....
And there is humor....laughter is as a valued part of life as song and prayer....laughter is prayer...having joy and doing good things is exalted.....breaking a dish or getting a bit of mud on your trousers is no big deal...there is always another plate, and there's plenty of soap and water....
Problems aren't hidden, they're talked about. Problem behaviors are corrected with love...
No wonder those who cared for the FLDS children found them a joy!

It's not there aren't problems...the difference is in how the adults face them and cope with them as they come along....
They have built in support systems...they have common goals and expectations for behavior...and they are willing to learn and try new things...and they don't quit on a child.....even a difficult child....and they have a much broader definition of 'normal' than we, who overly pathologize everything, do....
And it comes together in a community of great children and wonderful family lives....

Thursday, February 26, 2009

FLDS Women; What An Amazing Group!!!!!

A few days ago, when I started writing this blog in earnest, I asked my new friends in the FLDS community to suggest things I could write about. I asked them to tell me what things they would like to see people have a different than the popular perspective on.
Last evening I got a note from a friend. She said, tell people about our "brainwashing". Tell them how we are so lost without our husbands, that when most of them are gone from town working, for weeks at a time, we all just fall apart!
Of course, she was being sarcastic! Yet pointing out a very real truism, these days. Many of the men in the FLDS community work in various aspects of the building and construction industry. With the recession and decline in those industries, the men often have to travel long distances, for weeks at a time, to stay employed. That leaves the women at home, keeping things going...making sure that life is held together for the children. Making sure the small businesses some own and operate keep going. Making sure the groceries are bought, the bills are paid, the prayers are said, appointments are kept, schooling continues, the repairs are done....
And for many, this means helping with all of these things while keeping their own jobs amidst this awful recession. Many FLDS women have jobs outside the home, as well as their responsibilities in the home.
Their lives are not terribly different than the millions of other American families struggling and making changes, just to get through these hard times. And just as with the millions of the rest of us, these women are the backbone of the home. And just as the rest of us are being tested by these times, so are they. Stretching budgets and making do. Mending on top of mending, what would have been replaced, just a few months ago. Times are no easier for them, than for any of us. They are not robots, unaffected by the times.

My friend who wrote to me pointed out that with so many men out of town, "escaping" wouldn't be a problem. This is actually what she wrote: "We are so controlled that the men in general are never in town and if we wanted to we could escape at anytime and return unnoticed. =)"

Let me tell you a little about the women I have gotten to be friends with.....
Each of them are very bright. And each of them write wonderfully! Well, to be perfectly honest, one spells just like my's in a sort of "new era shorthand"...she writes in the language of accommodation for the techno minded.....but she usually writes to me from her phone....and I'm resistant to this new I usually have to have my son interpret what she is writing...
Each of them are funny! Oh my goodness, we write back and forth with tears running down our faces from laughing at our mutual stories of the vagaries of life in retrospect.....
And each of them reached out in friendship to me. When I began this journey, I didn't know these people, their names, and certainly not their email addresses. But they follow the news and the blogs, and they saw that I was struggling to learn without being judgmental, so they reached out...willing to befriend, share, learn, and teach....
And each of them are unique. Beautiful, smart, funny, unique women.
Some folks on other blogs would tell me these women I was getting to know and be friends with were actually FLDS men, creating a ruse. Pretending to be women to rope me in as a mouthpiece. Oh my goodness, did that ever make me laugh! A woman KNOWS another woman...just by the way we write, the topics we choose, the vantage point(s) we describe...the talk of is subtle, sometimes even subliminal, but it is very definitely something men cannot fake!

Let me tell you a little about our sharing....
One woman was a truck driver, for years. Cross country trucking, not your local pick-up truck stuff. No way! We're talking big rig stuff...long trips, heavy work, wondrous adventures....
One woman helps run her family business. Two women I write back and forth with do not have biological children of their own, yet. They are mothering, and loving, and shedding tears over their children, yes, but they have not biologically had children. (Despite the common belief that all women are is 'baby makers') One woman can't stand cooking. Another loves gardening. Another loves teaching, creating wonderful learning projects.
Two pull out their hair finding ways to cope with boys with attention challenges. Another works at keeping up with her adolescent daughter who is a roller blade whiz!
A father has written to me about how proud he is of two of his daughters who both recently graduated from college and have promising careers on their horizons, along with the desire and intent of having wonderful, big families......
I don't know, I haven't asked, but somehow I don't think any of them place any importance on whether they have matching Tupperware in their kitchens, or not. They don't strike me as being in the market for Louis Vuitton (sp?) handbags. Although one mother and I shared the misery of the cost of Under Armor underwear for our men who work outside....
All of them keep up with national politics and issues, and discuss them with ease, and conviction!

Each of them have taken the time out of their very, very busy, full, gratifying lives to befriend me...and I'm not all that easy a person to befriend...*smile*...I've been known to be just a tad crotchety and abrasive, not to mention "intense"...but they have made time for me...and send me smiles and hugs when I need them....

These women are not robots! They work at "keeping sweet". They work at maintaining harmony and calm in their lives. All have some success and some failure at the equilibrium they strive toward.....
Each of them know full well that they have the choice to leave and live in the outside world. None of them feel they live a deprived or subjugated life. Each has chosen to live in their community, practice their faith the best that they can, love their children, love their neighbors, and even love their semi-heathen cyber-friend....
As saddened and angry as I am by the events of April 2008, I will always be grateful, too. Those events expanded my world. They brought wonderful new friends into my life. Those awful events actually opened many doors, for many people....As the saying goes;
The Lord works in strange and mysterious ways!

By the by...keep friends and I are collaborating on writing a piece about what "submitting" means for an FLDS woman. *smile* It's going to be an 'eye opener'! It isn't what you think!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

"Marriage" and the FLDS

Okay, folks...
I'm going to take a stab at this. I know I'll get parts wrong. I know I'll miss some aspects.
However, the term "marriage" is as big and broad in the world of the FLDS as it is narrow and defined in the lexicon of the average person.
I think that the myriad of uses of a single word has caused considerable grief. Mainly because those persons in empowered positions have not taken the time to learn what the word actually is in the FLDS culture. They have assumed our simple meaning and superimposed that meaning over every instance they confront the word in the FLDS.
The other thing that confounds me is how "we" have assumed the term "sealed" to mean a conventional marriage, as we define marriage. And, conveniently, we pretend the difference between "time" and "all eternity" are negligible.
Anyway, here are the types of situations I have seen referred to as "marriage" within the FLDS.

1. The equivalent of a 'betrothal'. This seems to be infrequent, and usually involves a young adolescent girl, who is sealed to an older, 'elder' in the church. It is presumed that the marriage will not be consummated until much later, when the girl herself wants to, and comes to her husband. This assures a place in the afterlife as part of the family of the husband.
2. A 'sealing' of a widow to a man in the community, for 'time'. Her husband has died in good standing, and she is already assured her place with him in the afterlife, but a sealing for 'time' to another man assures her needs and care in this life are met. This may or may not, be a consummated sealing. That would be up to the woman.
3. A 'sealing' of a woman whose husband has lost his priesthood. A woman's path to eternal life is through her husband. If her husband has lost his priesthood, a woman can ask to be sealed to another in order to attain heaven in the next life. This is the choice of the woman, who also makes this choice on behalf of her young children who are unmarried, and boys who have not reached the age and requirements of priesthood. Some women choose to be sealed to another shortly after their husband has lost his priesthood. Some choose to wait and see if their husband repents and returns to the community. It is considered the woman's choice to make.
4. A conventional sealing., for time and eternity, between two individuals who have each decided they are ready for this union. This is the beginning of the journey, together. After being sealed, the couple get to know one another. They work at loving one another. When they are both ready, particularly the woman, the marriage is consummated, and the aspect of becoming a family together begins. There is no set time for this. It is when they have both decided that they are ready for this next step. And, importantly, the woman must be the one to come to her husband and declare herself ready for this step.

Now I may have over simplified these types of "marriages". And there may be types of relationships I have missed. And I didn't discuss the individual experiences aspect. And I didn't discuss the times when things have gone awry from the doctrinal definitions and expectations.

What I wanted to show is that "marriage" has many permutations within the FLDS community. Without understanding that, all sorts of assumptions of wrongdoing can happen. The differences in how we conventionally use language, and the variations within the specific culture of the FLDS are of tremendous importance. Over the last few months I have seen ugly judgments being rendered without any real understanding.
The judgments have been based on the use of the same word without accommodation for the very different meanings applied to the word.

In our "outside" world, marriage comes after two people have gotten to know one another, and have decided they want to spend their lives together, as a married couple. They have already determined that there is physical attraction and emotional commitment. Often, even if the relationship has not been consummated, there has been some degree of sexual intimacy and exploration.
In the FLDS culture, when an individual feels they are ready to begin the journey with another person, they let their parents know. And the Prophet is told. Or, for a man who has a family, the Prophet, through divine inspiration, will know that he is ready to expand his family.
Through the Prophet, who is inspired through prayer, two people are brought together. If both of them agree, they are sealed. Sometimes they have never met. Rarely do they know each other well.
For these two people, this is the beginning, there is a time of getting to know one another. Of working on love and commitment and building a relationship. It is a time for all of those things that have usually taken place in an "outside" relationship, before marriage. Here it happens after marriage. It is very, very different.
And, importantly, one only acts on one's sexuality within their marriage. Period. No exceptions. It is sacred. It is a gift from God, between two people.

Monday, February 23, 2009

FLDS and Racism

Probably one of the ugliest words in the English language.
Hating someone, or disliking someone, or simply looking down on someone, or thinking they are a lesser person, for no reason save the color of their skin. It absolutely goes beyond my ability to conceptualize. I know it's real. I know it is an integral part of some folk's being. I have seen it. I have watched it. I have felt it. I am the parent, friend, coworker, ally, of many people of many colors, so I am always tuned in to any undercurrents of "isms". They are so ugly and senseless, they make no sense to me.
And, racism is something I constantly see ascribed to the FLDS.
On the other hand, it is not something I have experienced from the FLDS individuals I have come to know. Those persons I have come to know are as offended by racism, and all of the isms, and all their awful permutations, as I am.
So, just because I feel I need to try and articulate what I've learned, I'm going to take a stab at writing about it. I may be completely off target. I may have completely not understood what I think I have learned. But here goes;

God loves everyone. Plain and simple. EVERYONE. Everyone is born with the opportunity to live a good life, and to make their way to heaven. What a good and righteous life is, is determined by the knowledge and beliefs of the group you are born into, or raised with, or have consciously adopted. (If you're born and raised in a Muslim country, as a Muslim, obviously then, living the best life you can, by the standards you are taught, is what makes you righteous. And so on, for other ways and places.) Thing is, no matter who you are, where you're born, etc., if you do the best you can to live a good life, God will know that, and your reward will be heaven. With every opportunity to work toward the highest levels.

Now, we get to the specifics....

The FLDS believe that they are the direct line of the Priesthood that Jesus will return through, or to...(I'm not sure on that one.) They also believe that the line that persons of color are of, is the line Satan will return through. They absolutely do not believe every person of color is Satan.
So, they abjectly do not believe in misogyny for FLDS faithful. That's not to say that others cannot make the choice to inter-marry. As far as making one's way to heaven, a righteous person of color has the same opportunity as does any of the rest of us.

There may be individuals within the FLDS who are racist. There are racists everywhere. And if someone harbors those kinds of feelings, it is considered wrong, by the FLDS beliefs. Their beliefs teach that they are to love all of God's children. Period. I've never heard of any exceptions where hate is allowed.
That is true of every religion I know of. But purporting to be Christian never seemed to stop the KKK. Purporting to be Christian didn't have much effect on George Wallace
& Co.. Purporting to be Muslim doesn't seem to have much effect on the Taliban. Purporting to be Buddhists didn't have a lot of effect on the Khmer Rouge.

To address the comments about Warren Jeffs comments, before they even start; the tape that is so widely circulated is one of Jeffs, when he was a teacher, long before he became Prphet, reading the words of a long passed Prophet. And in his dictations were of a dream.....and, how he interpreted the dream was about Wisan and his cohorts....none of whom are persons of color.
Also, despite his many travels, Jeffs is a small town person with limited experiences in the larger world. When he was out of town, his interactions were still with those from his community, so his actual experiences were limited. One's way of framing lessons can only be as big and open as one's world.

Since Pliggy is often the "face of the FLDS", rather than defend him in a thread post, I want to say here, that he is the person who has given me this understanding. Not just through discussions, because we have had many, but also through observing him. He has been in my home. He has interacted with my sons and friends. He has shaken hands, and laughed and talked and shared stories, with all sorts of people. He has never shown anything but grace, humor, and goodwill. Period. There are no exceptions to this. He is an extremely likable young man, who exemplifies his religion through his living.
I am not a follower of any specific religion, but my God is the same God of everyone. And the God I am coming to know, wouldn't ask any more of anyone, than this young man gives in his life, today. So folks who read this, and read Pliggy's comments to various things may take exception to what he has to say. Folks may vehemently disagree with his positions on things. But no one has any room to ever call him racist. If he writes something you might interpret as 'racist', ask for clarification. Remember, we do have cultural differences that alter how we use language. So get clarity. Don't sling names around.
And, just for the record, those others in the FLDS community that I have had the privilege of having discussions with, have shared the same explanation and beliefs about God and the color of folk's skin.

Note: Pliggy has left a more accurate and complete description of the FLDS beliefs under comments. His is the tenth comment down. Mine above is "approaching" accuracy, but I missed the mark...I appologize.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Understanding the FLDS Reaction to Warren Jeff's Papers

I have been grappling for several days with how to succinctly capture the sentiments I have heard fom my friends in the FLDS community concerning the public dissemination of some of Warren Jeffs writings. The emotions are so big, and so deep, I have felt unqualified. I have felt as though I wouldn't be able to do justice to the depth of the feelings people are experiencing.

I don't want to comment on the legality of the search warrants, or how the papers were gotten. That is for the lawyers and courts. The reality is, no matter the decision of the courts, the papers are "out there", and no one can take them out of the minds and hearts of those who have read them. If nothing else, the jury pool has been forever tainted. They have read the private writings, out of context, of the leader of this group of people.

I've read some of the comments being made by the naysayers, trolls, and critics. They say the FLDS should read these papers. That it will show them a side of their prophet they do not know. They say the papers are "proof" of Warren Jeffs' bad character, etc. These are the same people who lapped up the contents of Merrianne's diary when her ad litem made them public. The private writings of a young lady in love. These are the people who thrive on the salacious, and can find it wherever they go.
Some of the open minded individuals involved in the dialogue say they welcome the comments and explanations about the writings, from the members of the FLDS community, from those persons who know Warren Jeffs and can put the statements and thoughts into context. Most of these people are well meaning, albeit naive about the character of the people in the community. I was struggling with how to approach this, Pliggy wrote a comment to another post. It comes as close as anyone has thus far, to capturing what was so ellusive for me.

"It is a matter of dignity. Those writing are personal and private, and the fact that they are public on any blog is deeply disturbing. Just imagine your good father writing everything he thought about your mother and siblings on a personal basis becoming public because the government raided his bedroom. Tell me you would dignify anyone who discussed it with your comments. I would never "listen to her reason it is newsworthy" I couldn't care less."

The reaction of the FLDS community has nothing, what so ever, to do with content. The content actually held no real surprises. Everyone was well aware of the almost compulsively organized aspect of Warren Jeffs personality. Everyone is aware of how detail oriented he is. This is a man who's life and habits have been very public within the community for as long as most can remember. The fact that the minutia of his daily life was chronicled is not shocking.
The fact that it has been made public, for all of the voyeurs of the salacious to pore over, is what is disturbing. That it feeds the trolls is disturbing. That it puts the day when peace and quiet can return that much further away is disturbing.

For so many reasons, the FLDS are a very private people. Even within their own community. People are quiet and private. They spend much of their time in "prayer through activity", and in reflection and giving glory to God, through work and family life. They do not spend time chit chatting with each other, about each other. There is a tremendous respect for one another's privacy. There is a true and much practiced belief that God is our judge, not each other. And a firm belief that we are all human and therefore all sinners and the old adage of "people who live in glass houses, shouldn't throw stones" is exemplified in their daily lives of respect and non-intrusion. And none of this is to say they don't interact with one another. Or to say there aren't friendships and socializing. Because there is. On the other hand, they have worked hard, and continue to do so, at eliminating that 'nosy parker' aspect of life we humans are often so fond of.
It serves no purpose save to put people at odds with one another.

By prying into the private thinking, completely absent context, and with no opportunity for explanation, of Warren Jeffs, we show abject disrespect for his community, for his people, and for their right to privacy concerning their religious leader and his thoughts.

I don't know if I have even begun to give a working understanding of the intense emotions being felt. I hope I have. I hope others will expand this. I hope others will use this as a starting point for thinking about, and maybe discussing, how we as humans often cross lines we should not cross. How some things simply are none of our business. We each are entitled to privacy of thought.

Friday, February 20, 2009

"Keep Sweet", A Mantra for Good Living

Much ado has been made about the FLDS term "keep sweet".
More often than not, the ado is very pejorative. There is a belief that "keep sweet" applies only to women, and that women are expected to be sweet and docile all of the time, without ever showing emotions.
Nothing could be further from the reality of the expression and it's intent. Nothing could be further from the way that the expression is used by the FLDS people.
"Keep sweet" is a cue. An easy reminder. A phrase that can be internalized and become part of the subliminal set of coping skills we all have.
"Keep sweet" is as big and comprehensive and important as it is simple.
It is a reminder to stay calm. It is a reminder to stay in prayer. It is a reminder that allowing angers and negative emotions to erupt without control usually has bad consequences.
The positive effects are also huge. It allows individuals who are in disagreement to talk, not shout. It allows children to have consistency. It allows parents to discipline their children without having anger at an action overshadow the need to be firm, yet loving. It allows the individual to move from instant, emotional reactions, to cognitive thinking, quickly.
It allows a smile to return to your face, even when something has gone awfully wrong. It helps you to fall asleep faster, more soundly, more restfully. It allows you to let go of angers and hostilities before they ferment and begin to erode your thinking.
In short, "keeping sweet" encompasses all of the foundations of good mental health. It ties together mind, body, spirit. It is a mantra. It is a goal. It is a way of being. It is for young and old. It is for men and women. It is for everyone.
It keeps blood pressure down. It keeps children secure. It keeps marriages from crumbling. It keeps friendships strong. It fosters talking instead of arguing. It turns swords into plow shears.
It is the equivalent of "taking a deep breath". It is the equivalent of "count to ten". And it is more.
It is a prayer of "Lord, give me strength.". It is a prayer of "Thank-you Lord, for all that I have". It is a prayer of "Please Lord, help this other person."
It is a reminder of "Lord, I love this person." It is the classic, "You catch more bees with honey." It is classic, "Slow and steady wins the race."

It is consciously giving over to trust in the Lord, through every thought and deed of our lives.
In essence, it is a psychiatrist's dream come true. For those who understand it, and work toward it, it brings balance and a calm way of dealing with life, people, and all the joys and vagaries that are inherent to the human condition.

It is something we should admire and learn from and embrace in our own lives. It is so simple. It is so brilliant. It is so misunderstood. The FLDS have given us an amazing gift in "keep sweet" that we don't even recognize, much less avail ourselves of.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Leaving Brooke's Blog, The Plural Life

I've stopped posting on Brooke Adam's "The Plural Life" blog, for a number of reasons.
And now, I have stopped even reading it.

First and foremost, I stopped posting because of the personal toll the constant barage of meanness and hatred was taking on me. I was finding myself getting really depressed and unable to perform the functions of my own job in a way that adequately served parents and families. I was too distracted and upset.

Secondly, posters were personalizing their attacks more and more, with a vicious, "I want to hurt you, personally" tone. I find that repugnant. In my worst battles, with the most difficult of adversaries, I never see it as personal. It is idealogical. It is philosophical. It is plain old unrelenting loyalty to old ideas. It is many things, but it is never personal. And at the change of topic, or the end of the meeting, it is always cordial.
The posters on Brooke's blog fail to follow the most basic rules of civil discourse. Too often I found myself sinking to their level. Of either wanting to, or actually, attacking another poster, on a personal level.
I don't like that behavior. I abhor that behavior in myself.

And my third reason for leaving is the new "regulars". They seem to have appeared from out of the blue with no purpose save to attack the FLDS. They do not want to engage in discussion. They do not want to share ideas. They want to bash, slam, villify, and spread hate and ugly rumors. And worst of all they take unabshed pleasure inthe pain of the people of the FLDS faith. I find them to be the worst kind of internet "trolls". Some call them the "Kindred Spirits" because they seem to know one another from another place on the net and have banded together to be ugly and hurtful toward the FLDS, all the while chit-chatting with one another and sharing recipes, etc.. All as though their behavior is prefectly fine and acceptable. I want nothing to do with them.
The old group has always had posters on all sides of the issues raised. And some considerable ugliness, at times, but never this kind of abject hatred and total disregard for the feelings of those reading. Ron, Laurie, and Txbluesman, at their worst, cannot hold a candle to these creeps!

The final straw in deciding to not only not post, but to not even bother reading, is the kinds of blogs Brooke has been writing since her return from vacation. Brooke has developed a reputation as a reporter who deliberately tries to show the FLDS fairly, and has not joined the mob of journalists who play to the sensational. For that reason, Brooke has begun to enjoy the trust of the people in the FLDS community. Her blogs were basically unbiased and often showed a very human side of the FLDS people that regular news stories are not able to.
Many members of the community follow Brooke's blog. Some post to it. Some regularly. Not anymore.

When the personal writings of Warren Jeffs were made public, I wrote to Brooke and told her how disturbing this public viewing of what they consider very private writings of their Prophet is, to them. I know others conveyed the same sentiment to her. One by one the members of the FLDS community have dropped away from her blog. Yet Brooke continues to post items that are sensational and hurtful to people she claims to care for. I imagine she hasn't even noticed that she has lost Pliggy, Cheese, yuthehay, Rose, and others.
She has made no attempt to write anything about the sentiments of the FLDS people on this topic. She has made no appology for her topic choices. She has done nothing to mitigate the hurt she is furthering.

She has lost my respect, and following, for this, and the above reasons. I'll check in, from time to time, hoping she changes. But I'm not holding out any hope!

Christmas Came, and Christmas Went

The Christmas of 2008 almost didn't exist in my life. Strange thing.
I have always, always loved Christmas!
It's the time when family gathers. Presents are exchanged, stories told, friends visit....
It feels warm and wonderful...
The house lights up!
I spend all year buying presents. I love finding wonderful treasures that are "just perfect" for a friend or child or neighbor. I wrap and wrap until my fingers feel like they're going to fall off...and I love every minute of it......
And the tree....oh...the tree!!!!!
We go out in the country, to a wonderful, old, Christmas Tree farm...and we walk all over until we find the perfect tree. We always get a "concoulor". (I think that's how you spell it.)
And it has to be tall. Our ceiling is 10 foot. It has to be full, but not too full.
It's quite the production, getting our tree...Fred and I often don't speak for days after the tree expedition!!!!!!!
This year we went to a local garden center, two days before Christmas and bought the last 'concoulor' they had. Turned out to be quite nice, after lots of trimming. We were lucky, and God wanted us to have a nice tree....had nothing to do with good planning or careful choice!
But we got the tree, got it it up...Fred did most of the decorating, I did all of the rearranging.....
And it was beautiful...and I just took it down a few days ago....
Poor had been a fire hazzard for the last month...touch it and a gazillion needles fell....but once it was up, I just couldn't bring myself to take it down...
Maybe I was waiting for Christmas...or at least waiting for the good feelings and wonder I have always associated with the season.....the things that just didn't happen, this year....
My dining room, two days before Christmas, waiting for wrapping to happen!
Poor Fred, taking a break from putting up and decorating the tree!
A living room plant with my tropical bird ornaments....
The finished was nice, afterall!

For Prying Eyes or Just the Nosy

I've always thought you could tell much about a person from what the place where they live looks like. Of late, there seem to be all sorts of folks who want to "know" about me. So here are a few pics from inside my house. See what you think you can tell about me!

Or just laugh....I do alot of that....anything else is hopeless!

So, there you have it. Random shots from inside my house. Shots of bathrooms, and friends. Shots of children and dogs. Shots in the evening, and shots in the daytime....
Pretty boring stuff...

Becka Has Gone To The Rainbow Bridge....

For those of you who don't know about the Rainbow Bridge, let me tell you the quick version;

There is a rainbow that forms a bridge between heaven and earth. Just at the foot of the rainbow, before you step on the bridge, there is a beautiful meadow and woods. This place always has perfect weather, and bright sunshine. When our pets die, their spirits go to this meadow. All of their hurts and pains are relieved and they romp and run and play with each other. Every once in a while, you see someone stop playing and look into the distance. They look and look and suddenly they start running to the horizon. It is because they saw you coming. They run to meet you, and together, you cross the Rainbow Bridge to Heaven....

My beautiful Becka went to the Rainbow Bridge to wait for me on Dec. 23rd.

The three weeks before had been very difficult. Becka had developed a major seizure disorder several years earlier. She was just a few weeks shy of her fourth birthday, and a few weeks shy of us breeding her, when she had her first cluster of seizures. Becka had just come off of a wonderful winning streak. She had been the top hund in the country for awhile, she had gone "Best of Opposite" at Westminster, she was beautiful, and in her prime. And now she was this trembling, shaking, seizing, mess. It was devastating.

Becka had what are called 'cluster seizures'. She would have a grand mal seizure, and before it had completely subsided, she would go into another, and another, and another. It was truly awful.
Over the next three years we had her on phenobarbitol, in ever increasing doses. She was on sodium bromide, again in ever increasing doses. She was on a medication for her thyroid, which the phenobarbitol was damaging. Everytime she had a seizure she spent four days on round the clock valium, given almost every hour, to block the cluster. From all of this, she had significant neurological damage. Her back legs didn't work as they should. Her tongue didn't work as well as it should. Drinking water became increasingly difficult.

In early December her legs and her balance started getting markedly worse. Her stomach was bloated. She had to have medication for bloat added to her regimen of drugs. I had to start cooking her plain chicken and rice. It was all she could keep in. Everyday, her symptoms got worse.

Through all of this, she never stopped trying to play with Katie, our Golden Retriever. She never stopped being loving, and wanting me to scratch behind her ears. Becka was one of those dogs with an incredibly expresive face. She had eyebrows that moved up and down with her looks. And eyes that could peer into your soul. This beautiful, loving dog was getting sicker and sicker, everyday. Her dignity was slipping away. We had to carry her up and down the stairs. Her legs just wouldn't hold her.

On the afternoon of December 23rd,we said our goodbyes to this magnificent friend, and our wonderful vet, Clair, came to our house to help Becka make her journey to the Rainbow Bridge.

Some pictures of my friend:

Becka as a 3 month old puppy, still in the ex-pen with Jake, our Aussie.

Becka as a six month old, still fitting in a large crate.

Becka taking a "Group 3" in the Hound Group at the National Dog Show

Becka lounging on the deck

Becka soaking up a few rays with 'Dusty" our cat who is now twenty years old.

Becka in the T.V. room, the consumate 'couch potato'.

Becka at the Garden

Becka enjoying a bone, just before her journey to the Rainbow Bridge

Catching Up

I am so sorry I abandoned writing, here. Life has been busy. Lots has happened in my life and I just forgot to take time to write.
I completely forgot how valuable this is. That it forces me to drill down to what is essential. To let go of the fluff, and to think about how others see me, my life, and my choices. It had also allowed me to test ideas, especially about how I think.
So, without further ado, as they say, I will try to bring folks up-to-speed, and get this writing thing back on track.

About Me

My photo
First I am a mother, and grandmother....that is probably the single most important aspect of my life. Then I am a family advocate for a large, national advocacy organization. I work primarily in "systems advocay", helping to identify needs and change policies in children's behavioral health. And I love my dogs, my garden, my pond and fish, and trashy murder mysteries and the occasional shot of good scotch.... Fell free to post a note in whatever the most recent entry is...I love meeting new people!

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