I’m standing in a long line at King Soopers. I’m so hungry I am feeling light headed and I am doing everything I can to stay in this line because my instinct is to abandon this cart and instead drive through Starbucks or order something from my husband who has pretty much been my caretaker in all things food for the last several years. I have gotten out of the habit of being the kind of mom I started out as. The kind of mom who shopped and cooked and baked and was truly on top of all the things. THAT kind of mom. I am desperately trying to get back to being THAT kind of mom. I do know why it’s so difficult and I’m not ashamed to name the reasons, but I don’t have time for that anymore. And it won’t help me with the fact that I’m hungry most of the time and I do need some help if I’m to be the kind of mom my kids need me to be. The kind of mom I was so good at before…..my paid job got in the way.
It’s the getting the help that is the most difficult part. People don’t come out of the woodwork to run your errands or make meals or help you clean your house unless they are in it with you. Even friends and family have their OWN lives and professionals need to make a living wage.
And then there’s the lawyers and consultants REQUIRED to help you fight for your child’s right to equal access to a basic public education. Publicly traded private schools are taking over our public school system and private schools are a privilege that a majority of US cannot afford. The whole thing is horrifying for children.
When I was in my thirties and my children were young I became very ill. I looked fine to most people, but I didn’t feel fine at all. I battled insomnia hard for about seven years. I was exhausted and severely fatigued. I ran on adrenaline most of the time. At the height of my illness I once went 23 days with only a few hours of rest each night, induced by Ambien. The pain was almost unbearable. My kids saved my life. Being here for them kept me going.
While chasing down my symptoms I ended up with several diagnoses. Fibromyalgia, Epstein Barr virus, Insomnia, Sleep Apnea, and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome are the main ones that have stuck with me. Now I have learned that I am under the umbrella of conditions called dysautonomia. It took me a while, but I had enough doctors ask me about my level of stress and push prescriptions at me to understand that I just needed to biohack my body so that’s what I did. At some point I realized that my body had stopped sweating altogether. I found this to be more alarming than the extreme sweating I had been doing throughout my heart palpitating fitful nights for the few years before. Not sweating didn’t feel right at all. So I went back to the hot yoga my mom introduced me to when I was in college. It took me a few months of just going into the hot room and laying on my yoga mat three times a week before I finally broke a sweat again. I never really discussed it with anyone, but I knew that it was something important. Our bodies are made to hold and release water. I’ve realized through my biohacking that my body doesn’t always do that very easily on its own. I wonder why.
I’m the same way with crying. I just don’t do it very often. It is something I should probably start tracking because it can’t be good for me. I’m certain it’s as important for my health as being well hydrated or sleeping. I wonder if the sweating and the crying are part of my same wiring? What I know is that the sweating was something new that happened when I was sick and was never an issue before. But I’ve never been a crier. I’ve always been stoic. Sort of unflappable. I’ve become curious about the meaning of this part of my human design.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a robot. It’s not that I never cry or that I don’t feel things deeply. I absolutely do. I cry uncontrollably sometimes. Just not very often. During my sickness I experienced a kind of crying breakthrough. I remember being at a museum with my kids and our friends. It was winter break and we had a good time with our friends. I had nothing particular on my mind as I was driving us home and then out of nowhere the tears just came. There was no reason I could think of, but it became clear that my body just couldn’t hold whatever it was in any longer and the water was coming out in buckets. As it turned out, I did release a bunch of emotions that I had stuffed deep down. My thoughts about feelings I had over the years that I didn’t even recall at all came spewing out of my mouth in what felt like projectile verbal vomit all over my now ex-husband. It felt like a kind of out of body experience for me and an unwitting assault on him.
I think back on the few times I have cried hard like this because I wonder how the tears sometimes feel like they rush in with such intensity and without control and then other times not at all. I have experienced a lot of pain. Anyone who really knows me can see this. But the things is that I don’t feel like crying. Why? Recently I began wondering if there is a specific therapy that would release me from this human design feature that just feels wrong. Surely, I have enough pain stored up for a few weeks of uninterrupted bawling. But nothing until about a month ago when suddently every day for a few weeks I had tears running out of the corners of my eyes all day long. It was strange and annoying. Enough so that that I thought about chasing down the symptom. But then it stopped as suddenly as it had started. Fascinating. I interpreted this symptom as my body telling me that I better get more water out even if I wouldn’t cry. I haven’t found cry therapy, so back to hot yoga I go. It’s so good to sweat.
Today I sat with one of my teenagers as they wailed at the world that has been so cruel to them, especially the last few years. I listened and I loved my beautiful child struggling and I wept beside them. My heart ached as I listened to them wail about how humanity is lost. How they wish the world was just different. Given all we’ve been through over the last few years, I wish the same thing. What we have experienced and witnessed over and over again can make you lose faith in humanity. At least some of the time. I’ve been there. For me, I really just try to remain focused on the more immediate human problem rather than all of humanity.
What I see right now is that our school system is lacking humanity. So I pray for all of humanity that the adult human beings who are in charge of our schools will bring their focus back to the young human beings we are supposed to be educating. That’s all it really takes. Focus on the kids instead of the adults. In the meantime, I’m going to do everything I can to change it because there are just so many kids getting hurt. I know because I’ve got three of those kids myself.
I have faith that we can change the world if we can just focus on humanity.
1m3s = PEACE in the written code for my deaf language✌🏼
I don’t actually recall if anyone has said it to my face, but I know that some people think that it’s my own fault that I have so many problems. It’s impossible not to see that I have a lot of problems if you’re paying attention. And who doesn’t have a lot of problems? I’ve found that life comes with an endless supply. Some are more difficult than others and there are always solutions.
A numerologist called Lisa E. recently explained to me that I have five karmic corrections. I don’t exactly understand that, but it does give me some relielf. My life is a lot. Now I know that it’s in the stars. Karmic corrections. It’s a tangible reason. Otherwise, it looks like a choice or it looks like it is my fault. And I always knew that it is not. Even if others don’t see it that way.
Sometimes I know that people assume that I make my life harder than it needs to be. I guess that is theoretically true and maybe even actually true, based on my own abilities and inabilities. I am not perfect. But what people are really thinking is, do I really have to fight so hard? Yes, I do. It’s my life and I don’t see giving up as a choice. I’m pretty sure now that my soul might just end up with a sixth karmic correction if I don’t fight when I know that I can. I am responsible. The truth is that not fighting is not something I would ever consider. It’s my responsibility. I am also intentional about always trying to do what I think is right. It is my foundation. And I was born this way. Strong. A fighter. I feel fortunate to be this way. And I am very aware that not everyone is able to fight the school system like I do. Not everyone can afford to. They can’t make the time. They don’t have the money. They don’t have the skills. They don’t know the law. Not everyone knows their rights. Someone has to do it. It’s the only way that change is made for others. It’s why I became a civil rights lawyer in the first place.
The truth is that my life looks like a mess because I’m open about it. I’ve never really been afraid to talk about it, but I am aware that sometimes it makes other people feel scared so until recently I have tried to keep it close. Only those closest to me know what is going on in my life. This is still true. I have a lot of people in my life who really don’t know anything about me. They see as much as they want to see. It’s just not always comfortable. I certainly haven’t often written or spoken about my experience until now, but I wish I had. Maybe I wouldn’t be so isolated. Maybe the trauma my family has endured wouldn’t have been so intense if we had more people who understood what we have going on and what we have been through. The truth is that is the reason I started writing and speaking. People need to know.
My friend Susan says that now I’m living out loud. I guess that’s true, but it doesn’t feel loud to me. I just wasn’t born to be loud. I’ve always been quiet and observant. Stoic. And I have learned a lot. That’s what living a hard life does for you. I am grateful for this wisdom. My life is a master class I am here to share. Now I can’t seem to get my story out far enough or fast enough or wide enough. Or loud enough.
Because I am a well-educated, middle class white woman living in a good neighborhood, I live in a circle of people who can often afford private services, private therapists, private evalutators, private schools, private whatever their kids need. I’m not criticizing this. I can afford some of those things. I am fortunate. These things have become necessities that many people cannot afford. That’s why they suffer. I also live in a circle of people who were raised in a privileged environment themselves. They were fortunate in that way, but that has not been my experience. I know what it’s like in the public school system and so do my kids. Sometimes I imagine how nice that protective bubble must feel. I don’t have time for envy. I have to keep moving and fighting. Sometimes it feels like I’m treading water or running in circles. And I am known to take others’ hands along the way because I know they need the support. It is a lot and it is a choice, but I know that’s what I’m here for and I believe that we are all in this together. Privilege is irrelevant to me.
Here are the facts. The education and health care system data reports show that problems like my family is experiencing (i.e., trauma, illness, truancy, dropout) affects only those who come from challenging circumstances like poverty, homelessness, and addiction. I’m here to tell you that this is not true and that these reports give people a false sense of security. It makes people think that they are not susceptible to such unfathomable things. It makes people think that these things are only challenging for people who have always struggled with these things. People who are not white or middle class. People who are not privileged.
I’m here to tell you that no one is immune to these problems. I know that this is just part of life at the moment because I am living it. I know this because I haven’t met a parent with a school age kid in quite a while, particularly those in our public school system, who doesn’t have problems similar to mine. Perhaps I’m not telling you anything you don’t know, but I want to make sure you do so I’m saying it out loud. Our systems are failing us and it’s because they have not been built to serve our needs and because they are only focused on money and not on people. Our public systems are not focused on you or me. This is the same world we are all living in together.
That’s all the time I have today. I need to get back to it. Be safe and take good care of yourselves.
I have not been paying much attention to the impeachment hearings. I know to some people that probably makes me seem like I am out of touch and maybe I am, but I know myself well enough by now to realize that I don’t need the impeachment hearings running through my head every day. Besides, my husband is deeply into it and he is a human being who is designed pretty much like a megaphone crossed with a tuning fork. That means that I am really not missing out on much and it still stresses me out. It also stresses him out, but he’s not as protective of himself as I have learned to be. I just hope it’s all over soon.
I don’t blame my husband for his curiosity. Back in the day I myself was devoted to following the OJ Simpson trial and I got caught up in the news scrum after the 2016 election for a few months, so I definitely understand the entertainment value. For the most part I have never really watched the news. It’s just not for me. I prefer to read my news. I just don’t have that kind of bandwidth.
But I do have a lot of respect for the whistleblower and for the civil servants who have been testifying this last week. I’ve heard the term whistleblower a lot lately, but I don’t know if there is much attention being given to who a whistleblower really is. The legal definition of a whistleblower is “an employee who brings wrongdoing by an employer or other employees to the attention of a government or law enforcement agency and who is commonly vested by statute with rights and remedies for retaliation.” This is what I found when I looked it up just now in the the Merriam-Webster.com Legal Dictionary. Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-Webster.com/legal/whistleblower. Accessed 23 November 2019.
What I think is that a whistleblower is simply someone who is willing to shine a light on something that they know to be wrong. Someone who is willing to put what they know on the record. What I know is that it takes an enormous amount of courage. I’ve heard enough of the impeachment hearings on NPR while I’m driving around town to know that these courageous people are being portrayed as hateful. I just don’t see them that way at all. From my perspective, these people have been called to action from a place of love, out of duty and honor.
There is also one thing about these impeachment hearings that is a constant reminder for me. It is something that has come up for me over the years whenever Rudy Guiliani is in the news cycle. You see, I was one of Guiliani’s lawyers.
This really isn’t a big deal. I defended the City of New York under Guiliani’s administration for a hot minute almost twenty years ago. I was just a baby lawyer trying to figure out how to practice law. Truth be told, my 29 year old self didn’t even think very much about my boss and I never even met the person. But over the years whenever it has come up that I was a lawyer under Mayor Guiliani’s administration it has felt awkward. There is something about revealing this truth that makes me brace myself for the person’s reaction. Just a smidge. It’s because I never know what kind of an assumption a person might make about me based on this professional association. Especially now that everyone is learning so much about him.
Oy. Guiliani really is a hot mess.
I realize now having worked under other administrations that my connection to Guiliani has always felt surreal to me only because he has such a high public profile and I am just the opposite. It is in my nature to fly under the radar. What I know is that everyone is connected a lot more closely than any of us usually stops to realize. I am one degree of separation from Donald Trump. If you know me, that means that you have only two degrees of separation. This is the kind of stuff that blows my mind.
The degrees of separation between human beings has long been fascinating to me. Pretty much ever since I saw the movie Six Degrees of Separation when I was still in high school. The theory of six degrees of separation is that any person on the planet can be connected to any other person on the planet through a chain of acquaintances that has no more than five intermediaries.
What I’ve come to understand about this is pretty simple. Our connections to people, no matter how distant they may seem, do mean something. The closeness of my connection to Guiliani and now Trump is a reminder to me that what I do does affect other people. It does matter. No matter how much you think it doesn’t, it does. We are all connected and we are all responsible for one another.
I just learned through a website about an organization called Transparency International and that June 23rd is World Whistleblower Day. Who knew?
I’m proud to be among the people who are called whistleblowers.
Anniversaries are a funny thing. Truthfully, I hadn’t even thought about the date today until a dear old friend posted a comment on my Facebook. Adam and I practiced law together in New York City and he is the one who reminded me of today’s anniversary. He is the one who reminded me to think about my own story from that day. Thank you, Adam.
Truth be told, I have not often told even my closest friends or family about my experience with 9/11. Some people don’t even know that I lived in New York City at that time. There were other people in my life who had stories that seemed so much more important or interesting than my own. My boyfriend turned husband now ex-husband was the 9/11 story that I was living and I am a person who reaches out to help rather than for help, so after 9/11 I quite naturally disregarded my own feelings and quickly, without a moment of thought, stuffed them down somewhere deep. That’s what I do. That’s what I’ve always done. I know it’s not healthy. That’s why I write.
The truth is it took me a decade to finally begin to think my own 9/11 experience. And it required therapy. My therapist did not even realize I had been impacted by 9/11 because I had so much regard for his story that I disregarded my feelings about the experience completely. I had “not being there” guilt. My therapist called it survivor guilt.
His story really was powerful and it is also only his story to share. And at the time there were people in international media who thought the world wanted to know about his story. I can still recall hearing the voices of Katie Couric and Oprah on our answering machine at the other end of the line. They both called our home phone in Brooklyn in the hours and days after the 9/11 attack. Maybe that’s one of the reasons it has taken me a long time to process my own experience.
Fortunately for me, when the plane hit the World Trade Center tower I was still lazing in bed in our brownstone apartment in Brooklyn. That’s one reason why I thought my story was no story. I wasn’t actually even there at the scene. I wasn’t one of the people running away from a burning building, running through ash and smoke and chaos like he did, like my friends and my colleagues at the New York City Law Department did. And I wasn’t one of the people trapped underneath the World Trade Center, which is where I most likely would have been if I had gone into work that morning as I had planned to do. That was where I was pretty much every morning when I went to work in Manhattan. The subway underneath the World Trade Center was where I started and ended my commute to work.
I had been on a plane myself on September 10th. I had taken a sabbatical from the stress of my job as a defense attorney for the City of New York and I had rented an apartment in Paris by myself and spent a few weeks traveling with friends and then came back to the states where he and I vacationed with my parents in Hawaii. He went to work that morning, but I did not have immediate work to get back to so I was taking my time getting up. All of my active cases had been reassigned before I left and I had planned to go back into my office that morning to talk to Georgia, my department chief. So when the tower was hit, I was still blissfully unaware.
I was alerted to the tower being hit by my landlord, Alba, who is a sweet and kind hearted woman from Colombia who lived downstairs. She owned the brownstone with her late husband, Stanley. He and I rented the apartment, which was the top two floors. A small closet in the hallway of our apartment provided the only access to the roof. I was finally roused by Alba pounding on my door so she could get up to the roof. She told me the tower had been hit and she wanted to see it with her own eyes. I did not.
Everything about that day is a little blurry and always has been. I turned on the tv as soon as Alba told me what had happened. What I could see immediately was that the tower was leaning and it looked to me like it was going to break apart and fall over. I was worried because he worked in the World Financial Center across the street from the tower. He called me twice shortly after and these quick phone calls reassured me that he was okay even though the tower had not come down yet. People had not started evacuating other buildings at that point. But I had heard his voice and in my mind that meant that he was fine. It led me to the conclusion in my own mind that he was alive all day that day. As much as that made no sense at all that’s how I felt and what I thought as I moved through that day. He was okay. Everything would be okay.
I remember talking to a few people on the phone. His sister. My mother. Instinctively somehow I knew that I was never going back to my law office. There was no reason for me to think this so it must have been from somewhere inside. I remember wandering around Brooklyn on foot. I remember going to an office store to buy a fax machine because I was going to be looking for a job. I remember lugging that fax machine home somehow. I don’t remember how, but I didn’t have a car. All I know now is that I felt sure that day that my life was going to be different. I had no idea then how much.
I did talk to him again toward the end of the day, so I had been right that he was alive. He was trying to figure out how to get home. We talked about people he could contact. Places he could stay that night if necessary. I didn’t know then if he was coming home that night. Ultimately, he walked home and walked right through the door looking as he always did after work. That surprised me. He didn’t look disheveled or dirty and he appeared calm. The only difference was that he had walked, that he was not wearing a tie, and that he had quite a story to share. And I just felt numb.
What I remember now about the days following was that it felt as if someone close to me had died, but there was no process for the death. No funeral. No sitting shivah. No mourning or grieving process that I could recognize. I knew a lot of people who were there that day. Of course, there were a lot of people who died, but I didn’t know any of those dead people. All of my friends and colleagues survived that day.
Those first few days after 9/11 there were people calling trying to get in touch with him. Important people wanted him to tell his story. He said he didn’t want to discuss it with anyone. He just wanted it all to go away. He began having nightmares. Neither of us was going in to work because our offices had been damaged so badly. And we really weren’t talking about it much at all. We weren’t talking about anything. I think we probably just wanted everything to go back to normal. What was normal?
I wonder now if the death that I was feeling was a piece of myself that died during that time. I couldn’t talk about my own feelings because I didn’t feel like my feelings mattered. My only story was his story. And he didn’t even want to talk about it with me. I wonder now if the death that I was feeling was also a part of us that died, him and me together.
There were real, tangible ways that my life changed after 9/11. At least, in my mind they were direct results of my 9/11 experience. Most importantly, the unexpected conception of our identical twins and later, our youngest child. I have no doubt that they would not have been here but for 9/11. For them, I am eternally grateful for that day.
Hope has been on my mind a lot over the last week as I think about what it must feel like to be my 16 year old. Despite everything that has happened over the last few years at school, they have practiced forgiveness and patience and have continued to hold out hope that people will do what they promise and what is right. I have always been patient and I realize that I tend to be a hopeful person, too. I think I’ve always been that way and maybe that has rubbed off or maybe we were both just born that way. I don’t really know how that works. What I do know is that we are both people who can be patient and who look for hope. The way I see it, these are qualities that weigh heavily in our favor.
People are very curious about my child, but they don’t always seem interested in the ways we need them to be. Right now they’re more interested in my child’s gender identity. It’s the question I am most often asked. Even when I am in the middle of a conversation about what is most important in school. Deafness. I get it. Not everyone has a transgender person in the family and it must seem like the biggest deal in the world to a lot of people. I guess it is a big deal, but not to me. Not right now. My child is almost 17 years old. I’ve known that they didn’t fit quite right into the gender role that was assigned at birth since they were as young as six years old and I found them in one of my formal dresses adoring themself in a full length mirror in my bathroom. I have a whole photo shoot of that moment. I need to find those images on my computer. They felt beautiful and they still are beautiful. The labels are irrelevant to me. They are the same exact person they have always been. I’m not here to tell them who to be and I never would. People praise me for this attitude and tell me how lucky they are to have me as a mother. I appreciate that and I know that is true because I know that not everyone accepts their children for who they are. I just feel like their mother. I feel so lucky to have this child.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m glad that there are people who are curious who support them and accept them, but what I truly wish is that people would take an interest in the fact that they are Deaf and they are being discriminated against. It’s a big deal. It makes them really expensive to educate because they need an educational interpreter at school. They are entitled to it under the law, but we have to fight for it ourselves. The discrimination against my child as a Deaf person permeates every single crevice of our lives. We have been traumatized. It hurts every person in our family. It’s hard when hope falls out from under you and you feel hopeless. It wipes you out and makes you feel depressed. That’s just what hopelessness does. That’s why hope is so important to me.
They wrote something the other day about what it feels like to be discriminated against. I read it. Yesterday they asked me if I know what it feels like. I don’t. But I know what it feels like to be the mother of someone who has been discriminated against. It is hurting me deeply. I can only imagine what it feels like to be them. Now at a time when they are most vulnerable, they have been betrayed again by the same people who have been hurting them all along. We just hoped they would fix the problem. It stands to reason since that’s their job. So far hope and patience haven’t worked out in this situation at all. Not for either of us. My child has been an educational refugee all year because they don’t have an educational interpreter. It is a struggle to find any benefit for them at all in our schools. And I know that we are certainly not alone. The people who have hurt my child were supposed to teach them. It turns out the child is doing the teaching. They speak up for themself. My child doesn’t hesitate to speak publicly about how they have been mistreated because they are deaf. They want to call the police. My child cannot understand how discrimination, especially against a child, isn’t a criminal offense. Why doesn’t the law work that way? My child filed their own complaint about how they have been discriminated against by the school system because it’s just plain wrong. The complaint was ignored because they are a child.
I was texting with my child the other day and they said that they are glad that it was happening to them instead of someone else. I actually know that’s not exactly true. I’m certain that there are other Deaf kids who are suffering in the same way, but I didn’t say that to them. They feel like the only one right now. Instead I asked them why they were glad it was them. They said that it has to happen to someone for things to change and that they know that not everyone can handle it. They said they knows they can because they have become so used to it. It felt like an arrow was shot straight into my heart. I am raising a leader and only a few of us can see that. My child knows it though. That’s the only thing that really matters.
I am amazed at their resiliency and so thankful for them. I wish to god they didn’t have to be this strong. I thank god that they are. They hugged me and thanked me yesterday for always being their rock. I am thankful that I am strong and that they know that, too. But it is the kids who are going to have to lead us out of this mess because the adults are just failing. We live in an adult world where we have to navigate through lawyers. I am in awe of my child’s simplistic power.
And there it is again. There is always more hope when I look for it. I love that about hope.
The following was written by NPR commentator Aaron Freeman. I received this gem from a dear friend after my son, Cole Tucker, died last on April 14, 2022. I had it read at his funeral service. I hope it is meaningful for you, as well. Read on. From my deepest Mother Nature heart to you. 👐🏽💋Lisa Rudofsky🌳✌🏼❤️💎♊️
You want a physicist to speak at your funeral. You want the physicist to talk to your grieving family about the conservation of energy, so they will understand that your energy has not died. You want the physicist to remind your sobbing mother about the first law of thermodynamics; that no energy gets created in the universe, and none is destroyed. You want your mother to know that all your energy, every vibration, every Btu of heat, every wave of every particle that was her beloved child remains with her in this world. You want the physicist to tell your weeping father that amid energies of the cosmos, you gave as good as you got.
And at one point you’d hope that the physicist would step down from the pulpit and walk to your brokenhearted spouse there in the pew and tell him/her that all the photons that ever bounced off your face, all the particles whose paths were interrupted by your smile, by the touch of your hair, hundreds of trillions of particles, have raced off like children, their ways forever changed by you. And as your widow rocks in the arms of a loving family, may the physicist let him/her know that all the photons that bounced from you were gathered in the particle detectors that are her/his eyes, that those photons created within her/him constellations of electromagnetically charged neurons whose energy will go on forever.
And the physicist will remind the congregation of how much of all our energy is given off as heat. There may be a few fanning themselves with their programs as he says it. And he will tell them that the warmth that flowed through you in life is still here, still part of all that we are, even as we who mourn continue the heat of our own lives.
And you’ll want the physicist to explain to those who loved you that they need not have faith; indeed, they should not have faith. Let them know that they can measure, that scientists have measured precisely the conservation of energy and found it accurate, verifiable and consistent across space and time. You can hope your family will examine the evidence and satisfy themselves that the science is sound and that they’ll be comforted to know your energy’s still around. According to the law of the conservation of energy, not a bit of you is gone; you’re just less orderly.
“The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.” Mahatma Gandhi
For the past decade or so, I’ve been working on forgiveness, which I’ve come to understand, is the key to my peace of mind .
TODAY I got on my bike to ride to work which is the first time I’ve done that in about a year and as I was cleaning off my bike I realized that I had never truly loved this bike and in order to do so I needed to give it a good solid name. So I named it after one of my favorite songs by one of my favorite songwriters.
Forgiveness and the name of my bike probably seem like two completely unrelated concepts but to me they’re not because as I got on Walt Grace to pedal down the street to work all I could think about was forgiveness and then “naming conventions” and then all that I’ve learned from a shady businessman from New York City named Paul Levy.
March 21, 2023 Good afternoon, I understand that there is substantial opposition right now to Colorado HB23-1200 before the Public and Behavioral Health and Human Services committee. I presume that people who are opposed to this bill are not personally acquainted with any individual or family who needs such services and supports and they are therefore unable to understand the daily struggles of a person like myself who is in treatment and in need of life support at this time. At least I assume that people who are opposed are not dispassionate, but rather they have not yet been stricken with disability yet themselves. Folks at the Colorado Cross Disability Coalition asked me to provide my testimony, which is the reason I am sharing my personal story with you today in support of Colorado HB23-1200. I hope that sharing my story about how a voucher for mental health services will support me to recover from my disabling conditions and go back to full time pursuit of happiness and employment will sway decision makers to act in the right direction for the people of our state. Let me start by sharing that since 2014 I have been witness to the grim circumstances that children and families in our state are in due to my work at the Colorado Department of Education. I had the privilege of working for the State of Colorado as a special education policy specialist and IDEA state complaints officer at the CDE for six years, during which time I witnessed horrific personal stories related to children not getting what they need to thrive in our public school system. There were too many horror stories to count and my employment working for the state in children’s rights is the root cause of my mental health disability now, which began with compassion fatigue and has ended in post traumatic stress disorder. The state complaints officers before me also became ill and one died shortly after leaving, or so I was told when I began working there in January 2014. Currently, I am in outpatient treatment for PTSD, which I have endured without assistance since becoming disabled in 2018 while working for the CDE. After five long years of struggling and fighting through my circumstances without public assistance or any appropriate level of support, this year my new medicaid health care provider immediately recognized my need for whole person support and filled out an application for me to receive a mental health medicaid waiver so that I will be able to recover from my illness. I am currently in the evaluation process with Rocky Mountain Human Services for a mental health medicaid waiver. Since 2014, I have become hyper aware that our public school system and our public health system are not working well either separately or together. These facts and my advocacy for Colorado school children has disabled me and I know many families who are suffering the same fate. It is the #1 reason that I agreed to give testimony today and any day that I am asked to do so. The truth is that life could be drastically better for families in our state if people in Colorado actually had access to appropriate services when, where, and how we need them. The challenges that thousands of other families like mine face are easily rectified if Colorado’s funding flowed properly to agencies that provide services and if the people who worked for these agencies were paid a fair and liveable wage. I have found that our systems are completely corrupted and dysfunctional, which is the root cause of our collective demise. Ordinary people like teachers, homemakers, drivers, caregivers, case workers, public servants of any kind, etc. are being burned out and used up. The mismanagement and misuse of funding that I have witnessed in our state agencies is egregious and shameful and as a result people are being injured daily. Most striking from my perspective is how we are treating children in Colorado. Children’s needs are being neglected horribly as public agencies hide behind illegal and immoral policies to deny benefits and escape accountability. Colorado is creating a massive overload of people (mostly children) with serious emotional and other health disabilities and we can all see it camping out in the emergency rooms and on the streets and becoming violent wherever they happen to be at that moment in time. This mess that Colorado has created itself can and must be rectified. People like me who need treatment and time to recover from serious emotional disabilities need daily support. Some of these supports are very simple to obtain if one has the financial means, which a majority of us do not. We must instead be supported by the medicaid voucher system, which is a system that is almost impossible to navigate without obtaining instruction. I know families who are spending as much as $1800 to learn how to navigate the public school and healthcare systems and that’s a story for another time. Feel free to reach out to me for that and more. Right now, I personally need daily homemaking and transportation in order to continue working to support and take proper care of myself and my children. And this has been my case since 2018. Not receiving these simple homemaking and transportation services results in devastation to a family like mine. From a financial perspective, we simply cannot afford to pay for private schooling and also Uber rides, health club memberships, and residential treatment centers outside of Colorado. We cannot afford to pay others to clean our homes, run our errands, cook, and help us take care of our families and animals. From an emotional perspective, it takes its toll on a person’s self-esteem to have to rely on relatives and friends for support just to keep up with life and we are left in a vulnerable position that opens us up to private companies/nonprofits who are on the take. From a health perspective, it takes a toll on a person’s body, mind, and spirit to live day in and day out with a disability and insufficient support to be able to live our lives like everyone else. From a community perspective, it results in homelessness, uneducated citizens, suicide, homicide, and an overall state filled with crime and addiction out of sheer desperation. On a final note, last April my beautiful son (Cole Tucker) died. This is a picture of him on his 19th birthday. I took this photo of him nearly one year before he passed away. At the time he died, he was a freshman at Community College of Denver. Cole was legally blind and was struggling through a serious emotional disability. He and I were fighting back against Denver Public Schools for his free appropriate public education and related services. Cole also died waiting for his mental health medicaid application to be processed. There is no question in my mind that if circumstances had been different in our state, Cole would never have become disabled in the first place and I like to believe that he would have been enjoying his life today. He was a beautiful human being full of promise and hope. He started an organization called Solid Ground Denver in the last few years of his life. We carry on in his honor and memory. Sincerely, Lisa (Weiss) Rudofsky Solid Ground Denver
Before I became a lawyer I worked at several different places and one of my first paid gigs was teaching tennis to younger kids at public tennis courts for the City of Denver Department of Parks and Recreation. I think I was turning 15 the first summer I taught tennis at Crestmoor Park. Looking back, I was terrified most of the time because I had no idea what I was doing there. I was a 15 year old competitive tennis player. It was never my plan to teach, but I’m a yes person and I said yes when I was offered the opportunity that summer. The truth is I felt not at all prepared and like a fish out of water teaching and that has always felt a bit awkward to admit, but when I think back to those times that’s what I felt like. Awkward. Plus fortunate to be a natural athlete and a talented tennis player. That summer was challenging and a little gut wrenching and it was the summer I feel like I started to learn how to wing it. It turns out that tennis and winging it are both very valuable skills. Thank you for the lessons, Brent.
After spending what feels like a complete lifetime building a different career, I have been forced to my knees. Not literally. But it means figuring out what to do next. Homebound is where I have been. Maybe I need to be home. That’s probably it. I need to be home because I am a responsible homemaker and it is where my heart really is almost all of the time. That’s the truth.
And I also need to play tennis. For fun.
I started working back in the tennis business in November, stringing and selling racquets. I love tennis. Thank god I still love tennis. I am grateful for that job. It reintroduced me to my passion for tennis.
When my husband and I first got together over a decade ago he was playing league tennis at Crestmoor (the club not the public courts). I didn’t play, but he kept telling me he wanted me to play mixed doubles with him. I didn’t have the energy for it then. Now I do, but I’m injured by the stringing job.
I just took another tennis business job at a beautiful new tennis training facility started by Randy Ross where I don’t have to string racquets and I can train and recover from my stringing injury so that I can play tennis. The place is across from the Denver Broncos Training Facility in Englewood, Colorado. My man and I are gearing up to play mixed doubles there. Ten years later than he wanted, but I am ready here and now. I hope we will make a killer couple.
I haven’t played doubles in years without hitting someone. And my forehand was completely absent when I checked in on it. And I still have a few weeks of PT and another business to get started for SGD.
How many times have you uttered these words to someone who worries about you? I really can’t say that I’ve said them too much. But I have said it. And I regretted it after the fact. I have my reasons. And I’m trying to make sense of these reasons. Right now I’m thinking about my ancestry + worrying.hmmm🤨 That’s something to ruminate.
Here’s the thing. A few weeks ago my cousin Brian L. Bensen and I had lunch at Tessa, a delicatessen on E. Colfax. 🈁🈶🈂🈚️🈺🈴🈹🉑🉐㊗️🈯️🈸🈷㊙️🈵🈳🈲😶✌🏼🌻🎶🌈💋🤟🏼🤨 Our food was delish and you must go there as soon as possible and try it. Seriously. I had the (4m.5c6s.5m) 🥓🥬🍅🥪, which was 😋🌈🤨 He + I discussed worrying + ancestry + 📚. Interestingly, he informed me that our paternal great-grandfather O.D. Wilson died at the young age of 56 from worrying. It was a sad story + 🤨 + it was during the time of The Great Depression in the 🇺🇸 (8c.5c3s.of 5c5t.)🍀🤞🏼🧧😉🇺🇸✏️
Sorry. I don’t have a photo of O.D. Wilson RN.
TTYL143 + Shabbat OzShalom + 😬✌🏼
1m3s = the code for the word PEACE in CAE (Cued American English) Cued Speech CueScript ♾