Sunflower Power

This piece was written by my son, Cole, as I was starting up my LAW Access Education LLC practice with the support of my cohort in a program called Legal Entrepreneurs for Justice. Cole is now officially an adult at 19 and is studying photography and archaeology. He was 17 at the time he wrote this and he gave me permission and his trust to use his writing however I thought it could be useful. If you are lucky enough to know Cole you may already realize that he is an incredibly generous and kind soul and that he also has a wonderful way with words. Cole also trusted me to use his picture of a sunflower that he made in the 4th grade. This original picture has hung in my office or home since 2014 where it has provided me with a daily glimpse of bright light and hope and a reminder of his innate inner strength and optimism. It has been used as the catalyst for a few other projects and actions myself and my husband (and other individuals and organizations) have taken in an effort to spark a bit of Cole’s gift into the world around us. Cole and I hope that you enjoy both of his works featured in this post.

Peace and love.

Lisa and Cole

Cole Jackson Tucker, Grade 4 (Summit View Elementary, Highlands Ranch, Colorado)

“In Japan, lapel badges hold special meanings relating to law. These badges are called kisho. Most renowned are the badges worn by trial lawyers (bengoshi), and the one we will focus on today is the one used for defense attorneys. This badge is a 16 petaled sunflower with an imprint of scales in the center. The scales are an obvious symbol of law and justice, but the sunflower here is what we will be focusing on. I will get to that in a bit.

Legal badges in Japan are lent to lawyers by the JFBA, or the Japan Federation of Bar Associations. These badges are an easy way to recognize lawyers, and are taken very seriously. They are to be interchanged with anyone and are to be returned if the lawyer in question is disbarred, convicted of a crime, bankrupt, or dead. Badges are easily lost in things like laundry, and are a pain to replace as each badge is stamped with a specific serial number. These badges are taken as identification for a lawyer, contrasting us in the United States who don’t get fancy cool badges. 

Japanese pin

There are two types of trial badges, the sunflower and the chrysanthemum. The chrysanthemum is known as the Imperial Seal of Japan, and is representative of a prosecutor’s status as a government official. The prosecutor’s badge known as shuso retsujitsu, has white petals, golden leaves and a red jewel in the center representing the sun. The name means “autumn frost, scorching sunlight”, and it symbolises the poignance of punishment and the upholding of the principles expected of a prosecutor. 

But the sunflower I write about today is a perfect contrast to this extravagant government badge. This type of badge holds no allegiance to the government, only the law. The sunflower petals represent the pursuit and celebration of justice and liberty, and the scale in the center of the badge refers to fairness and equality. Both the trial lawyer and the prosecutor both pursue justice but are there to promote different principles of it, and ideally should reach a fair conclusion.

Hope and recovery from strife is also part of the sunflower, though it does not refer to any sort of legal connotation. Sunflowers have been noted to be able to extract toxic elements from soil, and have been specifically sought after for their ability to remove radiation from soil. Ever since the Chernobyl Incident, the Ukraine has used sunflowers to absorb radioactive elements from the soil. So Japan used sunflowers after their nuclear power plant, Fukushima Daiichi, had a series of core meltdowns and explosions on March 11, 2011.  After harvesting the sunflowers they were decomposed, and the radioactivity in the soil was lessened. 

LAWCO

Principles like these seem to be present in my mom’s job, so I recommended the sunflower for a symbol, since her job is about justice, fairness, hope and moving on from tragedy. Plus it’s nice and yellow, a sunny color that suits this optimistic view.

I don’t really know how to end this document, but I hope my mom serves you well and does the best she can to help you guys. I don’t think I can do much for you since I’m still in school. But I wish you luck. Have a good day.”

Cole Jackson Tucker, Age 17 (Independent Private High School Student)

Dear Boston,

I just spent the last four days in Vermont performing a critical task that I will not be writing about right now. Perhaps someday I will find a way to write about it, but not now. It’s too raw. What I want to write about is you. Boston is where I flew in and out of in order to perform my most important task.

The last time I was in Boston was almost twenty years ago. It was the fall of 2001. I think it was less than a month after the 9/11 attack in New York City, which was a pivotal moment in my life. That’s for sure. That day changed the course of my life.

I’ve already written a bit about my 9/11 experience on Stuck in my Bra and I’m not really thinking about that so much, except that it was actually the only reason I ended up in Boston in September 2001. The truth is if I hadn’t been in Boston that weekend I’m not positive that I would be a mother. I take that back. I don’t believe that I would have been the same mother. I wouldn’t have the same kids. I guess I’ll never really know for sure if that’s true, but that’s what I believe. Nonetheless, I am grateful that I have these three beautiful human beings in my life and for that reason Boston holds a very special place in my mind and my heart. It reminds me of my kids who hold my heart together.

I spent the last 24 hours in Boston and I am now on a flight back home to Denver. Admittedly, I spent most of the last 24 hours barely holding it together. Like I said, my task was painful. I would have had a difficult time containing my tears and my sobs if I wasn’t alone, so I’m glad that I was alone even though I know that the people who care about me wish I wasn’t. The truth is that I have a difficult time expressing my feelings and letting it out full throttle would have been too difficult for me if I was with anyone else. It’s a lot for people to handle. They want to make all the pain just go away. That’s impossible.

My human design is to hold it together and hold it in even when it’s not good for me. I’m working on that all the time, but I am grateful that I was alone this time so that I could let it all out when the feeling came up. I am also grateful to have so many people who love me and care about my wellbeing. I am grateful to have parents who worry about me. I know how much my mom worries. We share the white hair worry gene and hers went white a long, long time ago worrying about me. I am grateful for my husband who worries for me. Jason is a godsend.

Anyway, Boston in September 2001. The reason that I was in Boston is because my boyfriend at that time had been relocated temporarily for his job. He worked on Wall Street. Technically, his office was located in the World Financial Center on 9/11 and Lehman Brothers (which is the company that he worked for at the time) wasted no time relocating him so that they could keep their money machine operating. My boyfriend’s life at that time was all about money. That’s the name of the game on Wall Street. Money money money. More money money money. There are people who believe that money makes the world go around. I’m thankful that I am not one of those people. Go ahead, call me foolish. I stopped caring what people think about me a long time ago. Call me whatever you want. I know what’s important to me and that’s all that matters.

My boyfriend and I were shacked up in Brooklyn at the time and I had stayed back. I don’t remember ever considering going to Boston with him at that time. I also don’t remember if he ever asked me to, but I don’t think he ever did. It’s been so long that I can’t actually remember what I was thinking or feeling about him going to Boston, but what my mind tells me now is that I was probably relieved that he was going and I was also emotionally numb. It’s a fair conclusion given that I was mostly emotionally numb back then and I had also just been shell shocked by 9/11. I also know that at that time I had put my law school loans on hold to save up money so that I could afford to move myself back to Colorado. I had registered to take the Colorado Bar Exam even though I was already licensed to practice law in New York and was doing well in my career. I liked my job and had friends.

But I had decided that I didn’t want to live in New York City any longer. I couldn’t afford to live there alone on my public servant wages and I didn’t want to get stuck in the relationship. Stuck is the worst. So at that time I was mentally preparing myself to break off our relationship. I couldn’t see a future that I wanted with him.

What I realize now is that I have always been resistant to people who focus their life decisions on money. Unfortunately, working on Wall Street had made that my boyfriend’s focus and I was repelled. Silently and subconsciously repelled, but repelled nonetheless. It was making me sick to my stomach so I knew I had to free myself from this relationship with a man who I cared about deeply. I loved him and I was also repelled by him. My gut is always right.

I think that the reason I went out to visit him when he was in Boston was because he invited me out for a weekend with one of his client/friend’s family who had a vacation home on Nantucket. I think it was Nantucket? I can’t even be sure now exactly where it was, but that’s why I took the train to Boston that weekend. His client and their family were really nice people from Milwaukee and I enjoyed spending time with them. I knew my boyfriend did, too, and that’s when we were at our best together. When we were enjoying ourselves with other people. That was one thing that was enjoyable about the Wall Street life. It allowed us to touch the lifestyles of the wealthy. Some of those wealthy people were good people and they had good lives that they shared with us. For that, I was grateful. I never would have had those kinds of experiences without him. Anyway, we had a fun weekend despite the trauma we had both experienced just a few weeks before.

That is the weekend that our beautiful twins were conceived. That’s it. That’s why I love Boston.

When I was in Boston this time though I couldn’t help myself from thinking about a dear friend of mine who lived in Boston for many years. I’ve wracked my brain to think of someone else I know who lives in Boston and I can only think of him.

My friend Josh Libby was a gem. He passed away recently and it really hit me hard. Most people probably didn’t even realize we were close, but he was special to me. We had reconnected again recently and were on Facebook messenger a lot discussing life and Cued Speech history and drama. Josh was one of my favorite people. He was easy to be around. He was charming and playful and authentic and just a good all around human being. We confided in one another. We were like cousins. I miss him a lot. He was one of my favorite hearing free mentors and I have had plenty.

I first met Josh when he was the President of the National Cued Speech Association and I was just a baby board member. I had been recruited onto his board because I am the parent of a Deaf native Cuer like Josh and also because of my professional skillset. They knew that I could be invested in the mission and probably hoped that I would be useful. Maybe I would even fight for them. Of course I will. I don’t see it as a choice. Its my call of duty.

Now my Deaf child is grown. She is a Deaf leader. She has always been my Deaf leader. Whether anyone else recognizes that fact or not, I don’t really care. It’s the truth. That is what I learned by knowing Josh and other people like him. That is what I have learned from my own kids. That is what I’ve learned as a person who has sometimes become disabled myself. The truth is if we don’t take the lead we may not survive in this audist and ableist world.

Here’s the truth about me.

I am repelled by greed. I get fired up by discrimination in all of its forms. I really do love Boston. I love my family the most. And I always choose love. I don’t see any way through this life if I didn’t because I believe that it is love and not money that makes the world go around.

1m3sforPeace always,

Lisa

What are your True Colors?

November 3, 2020

Four years ago I didn’t have a pussy hat. It wasn’t a thing I would have imagined so many women wearing. I know lots of people who thought my little group of friends in college were disgusting girls for wearing tampon costumes on Halloween. We just thought it was hilarious and provocative. But then shock humor comes naturally to me.

Pussyhat knitted by my friend, Wendy❤️

Four years ago I was worried that someone whose rhetoric smacked of so many things we’ve learned throughout history eventually results in genocide might become our next president, but I still assumed that our systems would work. And I still believed that more people cared about each other as much as they cared about only themselves.

Four years ago I talked to people who worked in the Colorado public school system every day. Kids were getting hurt in the school systems for sure. Especially the kids I look out for. The hard truth is that they always have. But something shifted in people four years ago and it was obvious to me within days after the last election.

I have worked with public school system administrators to resolve conflict for many years and I had only met a few who raised the hair on the back of my neck. One who was purely politically minded and offered to get me a job as a school district superintendent even though I had absolutely no experience or interest. (Um, what?!!!). And one who spoke disgustingly of a kid who clearly needed accommodations and wasn’t getting them. (That’s just wrong. Time to find a new field.)

Four years ago red flags became a huge wave in my line of work. I could feel the energy shift in our environment the morning after the election on my way into my government office. The darkness and gloom on the streets was visceral. I could sense the fear all around me all the time for the first time I could recall since September 11, 2001. I didn’t even have to talk to anyone to feel the fear all around me.

But my first actual red flag came less than a week after the election when people I actually knew began showing their true colors. I was talking to a school district administrator when the first red flag came up in my job. I’m an attorney working as a mediator and a special education policy expert and complaints investigator. This administrator was someone I had worked with as I investigated discrimination cases in their school district for several years. I knew them to be funny, charming, and I thought compassionate. I was either very wrong or something had changed. All I know is a regular friendly and professional conversation turned into what sounded to me like a school district witch hunt against a kid’s mother. She wasn’t doing anything but her job. It’s a parent’s responsibility to protect their children’s right to a public education. It is the law.

My 18 year old is a natural born linguist. When Ruth Bader Ginsberg passed away and everyone was saying her name it got him to thinking. He was thinking about what the word ruth meant. He said everyone knew what ruthless meant. (We sure do.) But what did the word ruth mean?

On Merriam-Webster.com the definition of ruth is: compassion for the misery of another OR sorry for one’s own faults: REMORSE.

We have lost our course as a nation, people. We have lost our ruth.

Find your remorse. Find your compassion. Show your true colors as if you are not afraid. Show that you care about someone besides yourself and your small circle of people who are the same as you. That’s my best advice.

Lisa

DO THE RIGHT THING

I am 50 years old. I am a native daughter of Denver. I live with my family in a small house that is pretty much smack in the middle of the city. Our house rests on the south edge of Park Hill right off of Colfax Avenue. I have a story.

Yesterday I was running around delivering boxes full of eggs that I was fortunate enough to get my hands on and I was rushing home just before noon to make myself some eggs and spend some time with my family when I remembered that we were out of milk. I stopped at the 7 Eleven around the corner from our house for a quick grab and go where I usually love talking to the people who work there, so I was kind of looking forward to that part. It’s an easy quick shopping stop. This time was anything but easy. As I touched the handle to open the door to the 7 Eleven I could feel the electricity in the building. What I had walked into was a ticking time bomb. It took me only a few seconds to sense what was happening inside that store.

When I walked in an older woman was being harassed by a man who was behind her in line. Apparently, she had jumped the line straight to the counter and he was angry. She seemed scared and I’m guessing she was confused. It’s difficult to understand the lines in the stores these days. By the time I grabbed my gallon of milk and made my way to the end of the 8-10 man line behind those two I heard the man angrily call the woman a bitch. It had probably been 20 seconds? Everyone in the store seemed frozen, unable to react. The men in line were all just watching and probably going through a similar thought process to mine. I know I was considering how I could help the woman. I was so afraid that she was going to be physically attacked.

As I took my place at the end of the line, a younger man walked in. I’m guessing he was in his early 40s, but it’s so difficult to recognize people with masks on. The man took his place between the woman and the man who was verbally assaulting her. The man began standing up for her, telling the man that you can’t talk to people like that. Yes. But it was also making the situation scarier. Now the two men were engaged in verbal conflict. Oy.

At that point I felt like someone had to do something. I just didn’t know exactly what that was. I couldn’t fully view any of the people from the back of the line and I was starting to feel more fearful that maybe none of us were going to make it out of the store at this point. My life started to flash through my mind. My life insurance policy. I need to pay that bill.

I got out of line and went back to the cooler where I got my milk to put it away. I was considering maybe going outside to call 911 or whether I could text 911 and stay at the front of the store. I really didn’t want to see any physical violence added to the verbal violence that was escalating rapidly now as her protector stood up for what was right. I walked to the front of the store to face the line. I quickly observed both men. The woman’s aggressor was about a 40 year old caucasian man who was not wearing a mask. He had piercing blue eyes, a shaved bald head, and tattoos covering his face and neck. I was trying to figure out why his eyes were so scary. Was it drugs? It was definitely anger. The woman’s protector was black and he was wearing a mask and looked a lot like my friend, Steve, who is one of the kindest, most sensitive people I know. And I know that throughout his life he also has stood up for a lot of people. I know because I am one of them. I’m lucky to have him as a friend and I couldn’t help but notice the resemblance. Good trouble.

The woman paid for her things and walked past me out the door. I spoke to her quietly. I told her I was sorry and that I hoped she would have a nice day. I didn’t know what else to say. She looked stunned. That’s when I turned to the men who could not take their eyes off of each other. They seemed to be sizing each other up. The protector said again that you cannot disrespect women like that. The aggressor replied that she couldn’t just jump in line. It felt to me like it was about to erupt into violence. All I could sense was anger and fear in the building. So I spoke. I raised up my hands to them and I looked the two men in the eyes. I asked them to please give everyone here some peace. The aggressor looked at me for what felt like minutes and said something again about the woman jumping the line. I shook my head up and down and I calmly asked again for some peace. They both tried to state their arguments to me again. I shook my head up and down that I understood their positions and I asked them to let it go. I said let’s all please have some peace.

Luckily, it worked. The aggressor walked out of the store. I picked up my milk and went to the back of the line. The protector got in line in front of me to buy whatever he was buying and I started sobbing as quietly as possible. Big fat tears running down my cheeks. The protector and I spoke to each other. I thanked him. He explained that he would have stood up for anyone. That it wasn’t right. I told him that I knew that. The we are the same.

I hope that the rest of the day went peacefully for everyone else who witnessed what happened in our neighborhood 7 Eleven yesterday. I know I was pretty shaken all day and also just so incredibly grateful that I hadn’t witnessed anything worse than what I had. Grateful that I got to come home to my family.

It’s chaotic out there. Please remember what and who you are fighting FOR. We are one nation. One people. I hope we can remember that we are all representatives of the UNITED States of America. I believe we must.

Peace always,

Lisa

My Resting Smirk Face

“The woods are lovely, dark , and deep but I have promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep. . .” Robert Frost

Turning off emotions that don’t serve me is something I have thought about a lot during my adulthood. I realize that I may have always been quite good at shutting some of my emotions off and I suspect that I became quite adept from an early age. Sometimes I wonder if this is purely instinctual or if it is learned behavior. I suspect it is a combination of both, but I really don’t know and I guess it doesn’t really matter. The truth is I can turn off some of my emotions automatically. People say I’m stoic. This is a quality that I’ve come to understand about myself after years of seeing it reflected back to me. After years of feeling misunderstood. Like everything else in life, there is good and bad that comes with stoicism. That’s life.

The downside. I have a poker face. So my words are important and I don’t always choose them carefully enough. I feel misunderstood. My facial expressions sometimes don’t match my feelings or the words I may be using to express myself. Sometimes I laugh when I don’t mean to at all. This results in miscommunication, hurt feelings, bad blood, disconnection from loved ones, and feelings of abandonment. It causes me to turn inward to avoid hurting others. And then that hurts them, too. It’s a no win situation really.

The upside. I have a poker face. The only time I really cannot control my face is at times when I am feeling really angry or sad. At these times I might appear to have a little smirk on my face that is misinterpreted as snobbery or sarcasm or meanness. This was something that a good friend pointed out to me in high school. I might have gone years longer if she hadn’t pointed this out so kindly. Thank you, Kelly.

Because I have been a special special education policy lawyer for twenty years and I read and study evaluations about children as a job, I know that the assessments are helpful for identifying the roots of some of our challenges. I do think that it will help some people to understand me better if I identify myself. I am actually autistic. I have never received a diagnosis and have never been identified by a public school system definitively as being on the autism spectrum. The truth is I found out as an adult that when I was a child there were teachers who suspected that I was autistic, but I was never evaluated so I was never identified as anything by my public schools other than gifted and talented.

That is irrelevant. I identify myself. What I do not relate to is my human design being a disorder. It’s just my human design. I am hoping that by knowing this people may be able to understand me better and maybe even understand their kids better. And they will forgive me for my miscommunications or other challenges that being in relationship with me might present.

This is just who I am.

✌🏼💌

The cost of freedom

July 4, 2020

It’s the 4th of July. That’s a day I have always associated with fireworks, swimming pools, the mountains, barbecue, and playing with my family into the night. Nostalgia is an interesting thing. No matter how hard I have tried in the past few years to recreate that experience, it’s been difficult for multiple reasons. Mostly environmental, but I’m just going to put them all into the category of “Life”.

Anyway, national holidays seem like they have kind of become a bust. Everything gets diluted down to how much money we can spend instead of what is the original meaning of the holiday. What does it mean to anyone anymore if not for a good day to relax and celebrate with the people you love? It’s got me thinking, that’s for sure.

Right now I’m thinking a lot about education. To be honest, that’s pretty much all I think about. it’s taken over my life.

The question is . . . who will be responsible?

The Mental Health Crisis is About Pain Relief

I’ve just spent my whole morning hanging out around the convenience stores near my neighborhood high school. That’s because my friend asked me to buy out medication so there wouldn’t be any for his kid to steal. My friend is what I would call a professional dad. He has been advocating for his kids for a long time. And my friend thinks he knows that his kid has a suicide plan.

I know a lot of people are hyper aware that we have a mental health crisis on our hands in this country. According to the CDC teenage suicide has increased by 76% in the last decade. The thing is I’m not sure that a person can truly understand suicide unless they’ve faced a crisis themselves. Suicide is pain relief. That’s the truth.

As parents we are pretty much left to handle everything on our own because our school system would rather not deal with these kids at all. And the schools do legally share this responsibility. The problem is everyone gets hurt when we advocate for the kids. Teachers get hurt. Families get hurt. Our kids don’t get what they need. People become worn down and sick. People lose jobs. It’s a terrible situation.

Our school system has forgotten that education is a human service. I’ve been working in the school system with a birds eye view so I know what’s really going on. Kids are a political business. It’s wrong.

There were too many products at these two stores for me to buy and people actually do need these medications, so instead I took it all off the shelves and got the store managers to agree to keep them off for a few hours. The people I talked to who work at the stores felt helpless. It’s scary. A person can end a life in so many ways if that’s what they set their mind to. Sometimes sick minds do sick things.

Luckily, my friend is relentless. And smart. He is a fighter. I think his kid is, too. I can tell. I’ve seen these kinds of things up close. I have kids and we have had a lot of sickness in our household. It would be an enormous understatement to say that it’s difficult to get the kind of help we need when we are sick these days.

And it’s not just kids. I know people are going through similar things with aging parents. Suicide rates are climbing across the board. It’s just plain hard. It can make you feel helpless sometimes. Sometimes that becomes overwhelming. And the truth is that sickness can be contagious. That’s why it’s scary. I think we can all relate to that right now.

Here’s the thing. Can someone please call Oprah or something because I’m beginning to feel like a broken record and everyone needs to know. MENTAL ILLNESS IS NO DIFFERENT THAN ANY OTHER ILLNESS. Does it really matter if it’s your brain or some other part of your body that gets sick? It makes no difference. Sick is sick. Let’s just call it what it is. This is a pain crisis.

✌🏼💌

What about Ketamine?

I want to share what I’ve learned about ketamine because over the last few months ketamine treatments have revived my 17 year old from a deep depression that has been disabling him since he was 14. Now Cole is like a doll that has come to life. My gentle, intelligent, thoughtful, compassionate, kind, witty, wise old soul is coming out of the woods. It’s a relief to this mom.

Chronic illness like Cole has experienced is exhausting and it can be scary. Just like a lot of other illnesses. I think that’s just personal. Just like treatment is personal. It is just different for everyone. Anyone can become sick and sometimes people need medical treatments. And sometimes you need to try something different. It’s all scary. That’s because it’s unknown.

What I’ve found is that there is a lot of misinformation and a lot of stigma about medical treatments like ketamine. These are a product of fear and ignorance, which can prevent people from looking into it for themselves and their loved ones. I think that’s a shame so I’m taking a shot at helping you to feel brave and maybe even hopeful by sharing a bit about our experience with ketamine. Please do your own research. That’s what we did after Cole’s biological father learned about this project healing veterans with PTSD. https://www.invictusproject.org/program-ketamine-infusion-therapy/

The following are some of Cole’s thoughts about his ketamine treatment that he has written himself.

Ketamine is most commonly known as a dissociative anesthetic, but it can also be used as a painkiller and a bronchodilator. It has been well established as a drug in the medical community. But recent studies have shown ketamine might have purpose as an antidepressant, and although these studies are few, they look to be quite promising. 

I’ve been struggling with depression for as long as I can remember. Around four or five years ago I was at my lowest, so I asked for help. Therapy and conventional medication only lessened the strain it put on me. I got more and more fed up with pills, and constantly going to doctor’s appointments. I was constantly tired. Maybe it was being fed up with it all that allowed me to take this risk. 

Ketamine is still experimental, but there was a clinic I could go to. It was a leap of faith honestly, I knew it was risky, but I was tired of just being like this, day in day out, waiting for drugs that didn’t even help much to fix me. They told me I couldn’t eat for something like half a day in time, and I couldn’t drink either. I went in and they had this big reclinable chair, with pillows and blankets. They hooked me up to an IV and blood pressure machine, and put some electrodes on me. The lights were turned off, and everything was quiet. My mom was sitting close by and so was the nurse.

They told me that it’d start to set in in about seven minutes. My body felt dead, like that numb feeling you have when you don’t have gloves on on a snowy day. I was aware and awake and could talk normally, but I felt peaceful. Like nothing in the world really mattered for the moment, and that was great. Everything I could see looked far away. Everything looked simultaneously blurry and incredibly detailed. So I just closed my eyes and relaxed. An hour and ten minutes passed and it was time to go. It was hard to stand and walk, I felt dizzy, but the first benefit I noticed was that happiness and peace remained. Mom drove me home and I talked the most I felt I had in ages for the rest of the night. I actually chose to interact with people instead of shutting myself away, because for once I had energy and I didn’t wanna waste it. 

I’ve gone back several times since then for maintenance, but I can say without a doubt it’s done me a world of good. I know some people are skeptical of the stuff, but who wouldn’t be skeptical of an experimental mood-altering drug? If your problem with it is potential risks of addiction, it’s been said to me by them that the treatment is not addictive. If it’s the fear that it might cause more harm than good, then I’d say that may be possible, but don’t entirely rule out its benefits, and even then you can always just try it out once and move on. This stuff has really helped me and was the primer for all those years of therapy and trying to suddenly make a massive difference in my life. So if you’ve heard about it and can’t ignore the possibility of relief from treatment-resistant depression, I’d say go for it. I hope it benefits you.

Cole began ketamine treatments in November 2019. His depression is now in remission. #endthestigma

Sweat, Tears, and a Prayer for Humanity

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 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.

2008 photo by Kathy Nemeth Kayne

While chasing down my symptoms I ended up with several diagnoses. Fibromyalgia, Epstein Barr virus, and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome are the main ones that have stuck with me. 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 with PTSD 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 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 humanity. 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 ✌🏼

Lisa

Community is the Solution

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. I have three teenagers. 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 good friend of mine recently explained to me that I have five karmic corrections. I don’t exactly understand that, but it does give me some relielf. My friend is able to see in me what I already know. My life is hard. Now I know that it’s in the stars. Karmic corrections. It’s a tangible reason that explains why my life is hard. 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. The truth is that not fighting is not something I would ever consider. It’s my life. They’re my kids. It’s my responsibility. They are my family. I am also intentional about always trying to do what I think is right. It is my foundation. And I was born this way. A fighter. I feel fortunate to be this way. And I am very aware that not everyone is able to fight the school system for their kids like I am. 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 am a civil rights lawyer.

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.

Another good friend 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.

Peace and light always,

LAW

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