Eggplant Roll Ups Recipe by Khashayar with Audio Podcast Version

Eggplant Roll Ups Recipe by Khashayar Parsi Happiness Between Tails

#Recipes #Health #Eating #Food #Vegetarian Do you have a favorite healthy recipe? Share your thoughts, experiences, and questions by recording them on my Anchor by Spotify page — or comment at HappinessBetweenTails.com — or email me. Like what you hear? Buy me a coffee. Time Stamps (where segments begin): HBT introduction Intro to today’s topic and guest 1:05 Eggplant Roll Ups Recipe by Khashayar Parsi My question for you HBT outro Check out the Happiness Between Tails blog post for this show to see the recipe and step-by-step photos. — This episode is sponsored by · Anchor: The easiest way to make a podcast. https://anchor.fm/app — Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/depe9/message Support this podcast: https://anchor.fm/depe9/support
Platter of eggplant rollups with yogurt dip. Photos by da-AL

Happiness for the eyes and tummy is a platter of these easy and dramatic healthy veggie bites! Everyone, including novel writers like me, need sustenance, right? Find more of Khashayar’s lovely recipes here and here and here and here and here and here

Eggplant Roll Ups by Khashayar Parsi

  • Eggplants – 2 large
  • Olive oil – 4 tablespoons
  • Soy sauce – 4 tablespoons
  • Persian cucumbers – 6 small
  • Carrots – 2 large
  • Walnuts – 1/4 cup
  • Yogurt – 2 cups

Slice each eggplant lengthwise to about 3/8” to 1/2” (or 6 to 8 slices).

Spread half the olive oil in a large oven pan over its entire surface.

Place the eggplant slices in the pan and bake in 400°F oven for 20 minutes. Turn them over and bake them for another 20 minutes or until browned on both sides, using the remaining olive oil.

Remove them from the oven and sprinkle the soy sauce evenly over the eggplants.

Set aside to cool to room temperature.

Julienned cucumbers and carrots with roasted eggplant slice. Ready to roll!

Meanwhile, julienne the cucumbers and carrots, and divide them evenly per eggplant slice.

For each eggplant, place the julienned pieces on one end and roll the piece tightly.

Eggplant rollup before it's been cut in half. Eggplant rollup before it’s been cut in half.

Cut each roll in half and stand each half on its flat side.

Sprinkle with ground walnuts and serve with yogurt.

Eggplant rollups cut in half. As adorable as they are yummy!

Do you have a favorite healthy recipe?

Abortion: P. Lazos + Privilege + Podcast: Blog Tips + Loan Words

Blog post title over photo of a woman holding a sign that reads, "Mandatory Vasectomies: Life Begins at Ejaculation."

27 Blog Tips + Borrowed Words by da-AL Happiness Between Tails

#Blogging #Writing #SocialMedia #WordPress #Marketing #BorrowedWords #Covid #Hair What tips do you know about blogging? Tips for blogging success and you may know more languages than you think. Here I share some that I’ve learned, along with some word fun. Share your thoughts, experiences, and questions by recording them on my Anchor by Spotify page — or comment at HappinessBetweenTails.com — or email me. Like what you hear? Buy me a coffee. buymeacoffee.com/SupportHBT Time Stamps (where segments begin): HBT introduction Intro to today’s topic and guest 1:05 27 Blog Tips + Borrowed Words by da-AL My questions for you HBT outro Links used for the HBT blog post of this episode: Original blog post for this episode at Happiness Between Tails. About my own novels in progress. My Facebook page. Video of Wayne Newton singing Schadenfreude, Darling, Schadenfreude" in 1963. The Hill post: "Hurricane Laura topples Confederate monument town had voted to keep". Grammarly Elle and Company Design's list of image dimensiions for posts. Canva My HBT post for still using WordPress Classic. Photos available at the HBT post for this show: One of me and one of a friend sporting our Covid-induced mustaches. — This episode is sponsored by · Anchor: The easiest way to make a podcast. https://anchor.fm/app — Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/depe9/message Support this podcast: https://anchor.fm/depe9/support

Click H-E-R-E for my podcast page at AnchorFM. This week’s show is the audio version of 27 Blog Tips + Borrowed Words by da-AL.

At the Happiness Between Tails podcast page, you’ll also find links to subscribe, hear, and share it via most any platform, from Spotify and Apple Podcasts, to Google Podcasts and Pocket Casts, along with RadioPublic and Castbox and Stitcher and more, plus an RSS feed. Check out the full list of 50+ places.

While fooling around — erhem, doing research — for my novels, I wandered across findings that conclude many well-off white guys want equality and equity for all. The problem is, since they don’t see it regarding them, their time is all full up with making and enjoying their inherent privileges.

“Humans are rational; we rationalize whatever we want,” or something to that effect, is how noted historian Howard Zinn summed it up.

What sound sleep such people must enjoy! No sweating over transgressions. No tossing over un-involvement with non-blood relatives, people different from them, or who don’t live right next door and aren’t knocking.

To further rile me the other day, when the subject of abortion came up within a group, someone asked whether others cared. To them, it was understandable that anyone who’s had all their kids, better still if they bore only sons and they were post-menopausal, not concern themselves.

Make no mistake, I don’t pretend to be a heroine who devotes every waking moment to bettering the world — but how do people justify take, take, taking, and never lifting a finger?

A breath of fresh air, blogger/novelist/environmental lawyer Pam Lazos is not a “don’t even try” sort. Visit her blog for info on her eco thriller, novellas, beekeeping, and daily laughter practice. Here she describes how, for her, abortion rights are personal…

Evolve or Revolve by Pam Lazos

Let me start by saying this is not my fight in the sense that I, personally, have something at stake.  I am past child-bearing years so the overturning of Roe v. Wade and all the restrictions on a woman’s reproductive system that come with it will not effect me, but if you are like me, let’s not make the mistake of thinking this mess is not going to impact our lives because failure to fight such moral turpitude is complacent, and complacency is how the world goes dark.  If history has taught us anything, complacent people get kicked to the curb because they don’t think the world is coming for them until it’s too late.  Just ask any one of the 6.6 million people living in refugee camps.  

Barring divine intervention — like Zechariah getting the nod from Archangel Gabriel about his elderly wife, Elizabeth, and her pregnancy with John the Baptist — that ship has sailed for me, but not for my daughters, and for them, and every other woman I love, I can never stop fighting until, and this is the tricky part, we EVOLVE into the amazing race of humans we were destined to be, not this crazy, tribal, hunkered-down caricature version of ourselves we have become.  

Imagine living in Texas right now, having a miscarriage, and being too afraid to tell anyone because you think they might arrest you and send you to jail, leaving the kids you have at home to grow up motherless.  Under the Texas abortion ban laws, you experience one of the most crushing moments of your life and rather than being able to look to your friends and community for support in dealing with such an unmooring personal tragedy, you are forced to hide your pain or risk the tragedy becoming public and you being incarcerated.  Don’t think this is just conjecture.  As Brian Stevenson chronicled in Just Mercy, Marsha Colbey spent five years in prison after the state of Alabama determined she was liable for her stillborn child’s death.  With that in mind, the overturning of Roe v. Wade feels like a witch trial where the rules are rigged from the start (ever watch Monty Python’s idea of the “scientific method”?).   

I had two miscarriages as a married woman after trying for years to have a baby.  If I had those miscarriages today, living in Texas, I may have ended up in jail.  So I ask all the whack-a-mole legislators in all the states that wrote such disgusting, anti-woman, anti-family, anti-society laws, why do you hate women, and why is your most fervent desire to see us fail?  Why do you want to see us busted, broke, and broken, without choice, but for those you make for us; pathless, but for those you set our feet upon; and penniless, but for those few coins you’ll throw our way for household items (and then complain because too much money is being spent on household items).  Are we destined to go back to the early 20th century, or will this time around be more insidiously like The Handmaid’s Tale?  Another thing:  once you’re done legislating what we can and can’t do with our bodies, do you think any one of us will want to have anything to do with any one of you?

Photo of Pam Lazos, blogger/author/activist/environmental lawyer.
Photo of Pam Lazos, blogger/author/activist/environmental lawyer.

Why is it only the men who get to exercise their free will?  How about all you chivalrous dudes who seem to think women need champions (we do, but not in the way you think); protectors (we do, but not in the way you think); and role models (we do, but boy, are there too few of those around); how about you take the hit on this?  If life starts at conception and you are so hell-bent on saving every last zygote — it takes until approximately the 11th week of pregnancy to become a fetus — let’s solve the problem by assuring those little eggs do not get fertilized until everyone is in agreement about having a live baby.  You can get a fully reversible vasectomy while we’ll enjoy a brief respite from our birth control dilemma that is never 100% effective — another bonus provided by vasectomies!

You squeamish?  Try walking a hot minute in our shoes.  Do you think anyone who has actually had to get an abortion wants it?  No. Nadie.  I’d wager in 99% of cases, a woman would have preferred avoiding it altogether (using 99% to account for statistical anomalies).  Further, it’s inconceivable to me that there is not one, but two potential sexual predators sitting on the Supreme Court right now, and until Biden was elected president, we had one in the White House, too. Imagine our joy!  And while the MINORITY of ultra conservatives are all high-fiving each other over Alito’s successful, strident, downright diabolical ruling, God is shedding ginormous tears at how satanic you all look to him right now.  The Supreme Court has decided to shove conservatism and Christianity down America’s throat while not one thing they’ve done in the last month looks like anything Jesus would do.  Paid parental leave?  Nah.  Post-natal and educational services for the child?  Fogetaboutit.  Worker training for the mother.  What are you nuts? 

The most vexing thing to me:  why, when we are on the precipice of a sixth mass extinction, are we bringing more babies into the world?  You would think tapping the brakes on overpopulation is a good thing, possibly buying us a few more decades until we sort this climate change mess out — something we’ve only recently decided to take seriously.  While you were busy thinking about how to unravel 50 years of stare decisis, Supreme Court, Mother Nature has been busy plotting her revenge and no amount of judicial reasoning or false piety will save you when the real apocalypse arrives so if you were thinking you could hide behind the robes, think again.

I don’t want to be the last generation on a dying planet, I want to be the first generation on an enlightened one.  How I long for this fight to be over, yet, I think it’s barely started.  So many of my perceived longings are because I think, “when I have xx, I will be happy,” when the truth is, I don’t even know if I want xx anymore, or if I even ever wanted it, I just want to be happy.  Most others want the same, but no one can be happy if everyone else is telling them what to do with their bodies — NO ONE — not even the ones doing the telling.  In order to be happy, we must go directly to the source of light.  Reflections of someone else’s light don’t count, and legislation which curtails a woman’s light, by curtailing her right, is the worst kind of reflection because it reflects someone else views onto us, leaving our own somewhere around our feet, or shoved into a closet with the stuff we don’t want anymore but don’t have the heart to throw away.

It’s the 4th of July, a holiday to celebrate independence, but in America today, independence is now only afforded to the the pale, male, stale variety who mostly write the laws.  To be fair, I know plenty of men who are not of this variety, and to them I say, THANK YOU.  We women need you in this fight and it is the one small ray of light that has sprung from all this chaos:  women and their men are coming together in droves to SUPPORT ONE ANOTHER, something that doesn’t happen too often in America these days.

There are a few things too important to leave to the states:  the environment, civil rights, education, and a woman’s reproductive rights, to name a few, and we all — at least the ones of us who are still thinking clearly — need to get in there and make sure we keep those rights.

Today I feel worse about our country than I have ever felt in my adult life. I don’t know how we get back to center where most of us thrive other than for women of all walks and stripes to get out there and not just vote, but run, RUN, for local, state and federal legislative and executive positions, heck, you can run for dog catcher if it’s going to make all our lives better.  We need our voices to be heard and the time has passed to let the men do it for us.  It’s not going to be easy, and it will take heart and strength and courage, but we can do it — together.  

Remember:  no man has ever experienced the pain of childbirth so they have no idea what we are capable of withstanding.  And for all those men who think women should be relegated to the back of the bus, just wait until we find our voices — the concussive effect will be staggering.  If we stand together, we can not only find our way back to the reflection of our own pure light, we can be unstoppable.

Time to show them, Ladies.

Trick question: Do abortion rights involve you?

Happy Childfree Day + Podcast: K. Parsi’s Herb Salad

Graphic of comic book woman holding her head and saying, "I can't believe I forgot to have children" by Catherine Koettler.
Amazing art by awesome artist Catherine Koettler. I googled her and her (now-defunct?) Flying Fish graphics company, but found no info to credit her properly. I’d love to hear anything you might know about Koettler.

Recipe: Herb Salad Tasty + Easy + Healthy by Khashayar Parsi Happiness Between Tails

#Cooking #Food #Recipe #FreshHerbs #Health Do you have a favorite salad? This recipe for fresh herb salad is fantastic and like no other you’ve tried. My husband, Khashayar Parsi, came up with the recipe. Share your thoughts, experiences, and questions by recording them on my Anchor by Spotify page — or comment at HappinessBetweenTails.com — or email me. Like what you hear? Buy me a coffee. buymeacoffee.com/SupportHBT Time Stamps (where segments begin): HBT introduction Intro to today’s recipe 1:05 Recipe: Herb Salad Tasty + Easy + Healthy by Khashayar Parsi My question for you HBT outro Links used for the HBT blog post of this episode: Original blog post for this episode at Happiness Between Tails. About my own novels in progress. Photos for all the steps to this recipe are available at the HBT post for this show. — This episode is sponsored by · Anchor: The easiest way to make a podcast. https://anchor.fm/app — Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/depe9/message Support this podcast: https://anchor.fm/depe9/support

Click H-E-R-E for my podcast page at AnchorFM. This week’s show is the audio version of Khashayar’s Herb Salad Recipe.

At the Happiness Between Tails podcast page, you’ll also find links to subscribe, hear, and share it via most any platform, from Spotify and Apple Podcasts, to Google Podcasts and Pocket Casts, along with RadioPublic and Castbox and Stitcher and more, plus an RSS feed. Check out the full list of 50+ places.

The right to legal abortions is in mortal danger — I posted about it before, including here and here and here, etc. Lately, between that horror and the recent annual downpour of Mother’s Day “Odes to Motherhood” asserting all women are some sort of mother, plus “mom = saint,” I’ve yearned for another kind of day.

Dear friends, neighbors, and family, keep in mind that “childfree” implies choice, whereas “childless” is its sad opposite. If your language isn’t listed, it’s only for lack of space:

Happy Childfree Day!

!Feliz día sin niños!

روز آزادی کودکان مبارک

Haurrik gabeko Egun zoriontsua!

چائلڈ فری ڈے مبارک ہو۔

Schönen kinderfreien Tag!

해피 차일드 프리 데이

Feliç dia sense nens!

ハッピーチャイルドフリーデー

Glædelig børnefri dag!

无儿童日快乐

La mulți ani fără copii!

ਬਾਲ ਮੁਕਤ ਦਿਵਸ ਮੁਬਾਰਕ

Diwrnod Rhydd o Blant Hapus!

З днем без дітей

Feliĉan Seninfanan Tagon

No offense to kids — I was one myself, hyuk hyuk, but was never into having one.

Seriously, though, as a kid I often reeled over the implication that a woman’s most valuable contribution is as a vessel. Barring that, childhood rumination involved a mini-me who I’d be angelic to in ways that I wished folks would be to me. (Insert genuine listening and caring for mini-me, rather than treating her as an appendage or toy.) Back then, I envied adoptees whose parents, I reasoned, were better equipped to regard their kids as independent and separate souls. If I were ever to become a parent, it would be that way, I told myself.

The two times I got pregnant despite contraceptives freaked me out to the extent that only after terminating them, did I muse on how motherhood might have felt. Still, friends, strangers, and doctors insisted that in due time I would long to be a mother.

Shortly after I married Mr. Marvelous, I was pregnant again. In this case, we get along so well that once some of the initial terror subsided, I chose to go through with the pregnancy. Three months later, I miscarried. Sad, yes. However, it provided a valuable window of empathy for the many women who really want kids but can’t have them.

Also, I reminded myself, if I wanted kids badly, I could just adopt. After a brief glance into what’s involved with fertility drugs and adoption, I knew once and for all that I don’t want motherhood that badly.

My hat is off to those who desire children and become parents.

And I curtsy low for people like me who are best kid-free.

Here are some interviews with people who don’t want kids…

If you’re looking for a man’s take, I found only this one with a guy’s input…

For me, particularly as a younger adult, childfree folks were down-to-earth and easier to be around. Their lives were more fulfilled and interesting. People with kids often acted as if I wasn’t a full adult, even though I fully supported myself and lived independently once I turned eighteen…

Elderly parents moaned a lot about their kids not calling and not visiting. They complained that their grown children only kept in touch when they wanted money, grandkid-sitting, or to tell them what to do. They acted far lonelier than the non-parents who learned early to appreciate a family of friends…

What do you think of childfree people? If you don’t want kids, did people say you’re bound to change your mind? In your opinion, do childfree people seem pitiable or perhaps worse?

My Abortion Story also as Podcast

This post's title over photo of da-AL wearing hooded red cape in the style of Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale.
Handmaid’s Tale, anyone?…

My Abortion Story by da-AL Happiness Between Tails

#ReproductiveFreedom #Abortion #HumanRights #Women #ProChoice How much control over your body do you want to give to lawmakers? Roe v Wade is the 1973 landmark United States Supreme Court decision that ensures all women have the right to obtain legal and safe abortions. Tragically, it’s on the verge of becoming history. Share your thoughts, experiences, and questions by recording them on my Anchor by Spotify page — or comment at HappinessBetweenTails.com — or email me. Like what you hear? Buy me a coffee. buymeacoffee.com/SupportHBT Time Stamps (where segments begin): HBT introduction Intro to today’s topic 1:05 My Abortion by da-AL My question for you HBT outro Links used for the HBT blog post of this episode: Original blog post for this episode at Happiness Between Tails. About my own novels in progress. Wiki page on Roe v Wade Margaret Atwood, author and her iconic novel and TV series, “The Handmaid’s Tale.” Guest blogger Infidel753 Wiki page on feminist Gloria Steinem About the infamous 40-year Tuskegee Study Planned Parenthood site Wiki page on Planned Parenthood & Nixon Wiki page on abortion in Poland — This episode is sponsored by · Anchor: The easiest way to make a podcast. https://anchor.fm/app — Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/depe9/message Support this podcast: https://anchor.fm/depe9/support

Click H-E-R-E for my podcast page at AnchorFM. This week’s show is the audio version of the post below.

At the Happiness Between Tails podcast page, you’ll also find links to subscribe, hear, and share it via most any platform, from Spotify and Apple Podcasts, to Google Podcasts and Pocket Casts, along with RadioPublic and Castbox and Stitcher and more, plus an RSS feed. Check out the full list of 50+ places.

Roe v Wade is the 1973 landmark United States Supreme Court decision that ensures all women have the right to obtain legal and safe abortions. Tragically, it’s on the verge of becoming history.

When I first published “My Abortion Story,” Roe v Wade was already under siege. Mobilized right wing groups do whatever they can, sometimes violently, to make it hard for doctors to work and clinics to exist. They murder physicians, set up false clinics, heckle patients, and work to undo basic legal human rights.

Those same bible-thumpers protest governmental Covid-immunization efforts. If it were up to them, we’d be living Margaret Atwood’s iconic novel and TV series, “The Handmaid’s Tale.”

Start saving up your wire hangers?

Planned Parenthood outlines the current horror this way…

“… a leaked Supreme Court draft opinion confirms our worst fears: that the Supreme Court is prepared to end the constitutional right to abortion by overturning Roe v. Wade. But as of today, abortion remains your constitutional right.”

In an earlier Happiness Between Tails post, “My Jury Duty Pt 1 + Infidel753 Works for Justice and Freedom to Choose,” guest blogger Infidel753 recounted his stint volunteering at an abortion clinic as a patient escort. Your comments to his story lent me the courage to tell mine.

So did reading KE Garland’s thoughts and experience on getting an abortion at her blog, which she allowed me to re-publish here.

Pioneering militant feminist Gloria Steinem, at 22 years old had an abortion in 1957, when it was illegal. Years later, she openly discussed it. She said…

”It [abortion] is supposed to make us a bad person. But I must say, I never felt that. I used to sit and try and figure out how old the child would be, trying to make myself feel guilty. But I never could! I think the person who said: ‘Honey, if men could get pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament’ was right. Speaking for myself, I knew it was the first time I had taken responsibility for my own life. I wasn’t going to let things happen to me. I was going to direct my life, and therefore it felt positive… In later years, if I’m remembered at all, it will be for inventing a phrase like ‘reproductive freedom’  … as a phrase it includes the freedom to have children or not to. So it makes it possible for us to make a coalition.”

By the way, when it comes to transgender rights, she and Mona Sinha co-wrote a letter to The New York Times in 2020. They decried then-President Trump’s elimination of civil rights protections for transgender healthcare and said…

“The health of any of us affects the health of all of us, and excluding trans people endangers us all.”

Abortion: My Story by da-AL

In my mid-20s, I terminated two pregnancies. That same year, I got pregnant twice, each time using different forms of birth control. At the time, I’d been living with a boyfriend since I was 18. He was a sweet, intelligent man who I loved dearly.

We were surviving on sporadic work, earning hardly above minimum wage. For that and many more reasons, I didn’t feel I could provide any child with a decent upbringing.

Abortions were expensive, and weren’t covered by my job’s health insurance. Each procedure was a physical ordeal of pain and then high fevers. I had to take days off from work, which I could ill afford.

Fortunately…

I had a kind lover to help me through. Never have I regretted my decisions.

Later, in my 30s, I was sexually assaulted. Good luck, if the term can apply to anything about rape, is the only reason I didn’t get pregnant.

Regarding Choice…

When people seek control, they say others “need to be held accountable.”

Seeing the world as “them” versus “us” makes it easy to objectify one another. Not so long ago, United States medical officials conducted the infamous 40-year Tuskegee Study. They pretended to treat black people for syphilis when really they were studying the full progression of the disease. To their reasoning, white lives mattered and black lives didn’t. Sound familiar?

What if you’re very young and your family is the opposite of a Hallmark card? What if you’re not employed? Or your job doesn’t provide insurance and sick days? What if the rape was more than you could bear? And you don’t want the added burdens of facing the police, defending your reputation as well as your case, can’t afford a good lawyer, and don’t want to confront whoever assaulted you in court?

Or say you simply got pregnant at any age, and for whatever reason, just don’t want to go through a full pregnancy?

What if, what if, what if?…

It’s no one’s business why or how many times any woman has an abortion.

When statisticians tally how many people consider abortion acceptable, they sidestep the real issue. What matters is no government ought to be entitled to have say over women’s bodies.

No one should have a say over who is sterilized or who must bear children. End of story.

Is it still legal to get an abortion?

The answer in the United States is yes, due in good measure for Planned Parenthood’s work.

The organization offers a range of affordable health care to all genders, all ages, all over the world. Interestingly, in 1970, President Richard Nixon signed into law funding for family planning services, which included Planned Parenthood.

According to Wikipedia, Nixon decreed…

“No American woman should be denied access to family planning assistance because of her economic condition.”

Remember, it’s not enough to win rights — we must continually work to keep them. We can’t rest on our laurels.

For example, according to Wikipedia

Poland is one of the few countries in the world to largely outlaw abortion after decades of permissive legislation during Polish People’s Republic. About 10-15% of Polish women seek abortion in neighboring countries due to the strict restraints in their own country. Poland’s abortion law is one of the most restrictive in Europe, along with a group of other traditionally Roman Catholic countries of the region.”

Daunting news, yes — which is why we absolutely mustn’t succumb to burnout. Now more than ever we must be active in whatever way we can, big or small. Please share this post and podcast to your social media, tell lawmakers and whoever you know where you stand. Contribute time and/or money to organizations such as Planned Parenthood. Contribute to justice winning.

Infidel753’s blog offers a growing wealth of information. A recent post included abortion resources, tips to avoid criminal charges for abortion pills, a link to Valerie Tarico’s post on fighting for abortion rights inspired by a discussion at Nan’s Notebook.

It’s your body — how much control do you want lawmakers to have over it?

Customer Service n Health Care Tips + Podcast: C. Levy’s Book Art

A happy elderly one-eyed black labrador dog at a lake by blakeverdoornphoto.com for unsplash.com

Book Art by Cecilia Levy Happiness Between Tails

#Books #FineArt #Recycling #Reading #Sculpture #Sweden What do books mean to you? For Swedish artist Cecilia Levy, the narrative of old unwanted books can be forms waiting to be discovered. Share your thoughts, experiences, and questions by recording them on my Anchor by Spotify page — or comment at HappinessBetweenTails.com — or email me. Like what you hear? Buy me a coffee. buymeacoffee.com/SupportHBT Time Stamps (where segments begin): HBT introduction Intro to today’s topic and guest 1:05 Book Art by Cecilia Levy My question for you HBT outro Links used for the HBT blog post of this episode: Original blog post for this episode at Happiness Between Tails. Cecilia Levy's site Stockholm's New Karolinska University Hospital, NKS, where Cecilia’s public art commission, "In Fusion – Contemplation Pieces," was installed. Here's a video of Cecilia at work. Photos & a video available at the HBT post for this show: Video and a photo of Cecilia Levy, artist, working in her studio. “Companion,” teacup and strainer, 2018. “Longing," mocha set, 2020. “Chapter One,” thistle, 2015. “Hobo – Homeward Bound,” boots, 2012. “Coltsfoot and Artichoke,” medicinal plants for a public commission, 2017. — This episode is sponsored by · Anchor: The easiest way to make a podcast. https://anchor.fm/app — Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/depe9/message Support this podcast: https://anchor.fm/depe9/support

Click H-E-R-E for my podcast page at AnchorFM. This week’s show is the audio version of the HBT blog post, “Book Art by Cecilia Levy.”

At the Happiness Between Tails podcast page, you’ll also find links to subscribe, hear, and share it via most any platform, from Spotify and Apple Podcasts, to Google Podcasts and Pocket Casts, along with RadioPublic and Castbox and Stitcher and more, plus an RSS feed. Check out the full list of 50+ places.

Are you a creative novelist like me or work at anything else for which there’s never enough time? For too many people, precious moments are squandered ironing out business issues with health care agencies, stores, and all manner of institutions. The one silver lining is that any time a consumer fights for fairness, it helps everyone.

Here are some of the things that worked for me when health insurance woes added to the chaos of when I had cancer and when I injured my knee. If you’re covered through your employer, their personnel department is your mediator. The rest of us must tough it out on our own.

Before listing some of the tactics I’ve gathered that can be used anywhere and with any type of business, I owe great thanks to Obamacare. Here in California it’s implemented as Covered California (Obamacare’s official name is the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), or the Affordable Care Act (ACA) for short.) Thanks to ObamaCare, it is illegal for insurance companies to discriminate against gender and pre-existing conditions other than tobacco use. Best of all, it ensures everyone is covered.

Note to Californians like me: Most know Covered California subsidizes health insurance for individuals with low incomes. (Medi-Cal helps people with zero income.) Few are aware it can broker for anyone. They’re a formidable mediator with excellent customer service! Thanks to them, it was a heck of a lot easier to work out my insurance problems.

  1. Above all else, stay solution-oriented and tenacious.
  2. Be emphatic about what you need and why. Make sure whoever you’re speaking with understands how important this is to you. Don’t settle for their doing what’s easiest for themselves.
  3. Telephoning, not merely emailing, achieves more immediate and thorough results. Phone when they’re least busy, such as early on weekdays or after 7pm. Forget about weekends. Even if they’re open, they’re likely to be super busy and their decision-makers are usually off-duty.
  4. Don’t waste time. Again, telephoning and not leaving things to just email works best. When using the phone, the moment they start to give you the runaround, ask to speak to a supervisor. If they’re totally obtuse, hang up and redial so you might encounter someone better. Later, be sure to fill out an online grievance form.
  5. If your grievance is not rectified within 30 days, it’s easy to file a lawsuit with the state. To learn how to do this without paying a private lawyer, google “how to file a consumer lawsuit.” In the case of health insurance, consult your broker.
  6. Don’t take things personally. Stay focused. For everyone but you, it’s just business.
  7. Refuse “No.”
  8. Keep notes regarding: A) who you spoke with, B) the number you dialed, the date, and the time of day, C) a transaction case ID number, ticket number, or whatever identifier they use for your interaction.

For interacting with a doctor, Kaiser Permanente offers great advice. In short, start by researching for like-minded physicians, then communicate assertively with notes and questions. Bringing a family member or patient advocate can help.

Doctors strive to be reassuring, but if yours isn’t concerned enough, use the “C.U.S.” method. State:

  • C: I’m Concerned.
  • U: I’m Uncomfortable with your diagnosis.
  • S: My top priority is my Safety.

Also, it never hurts to get a second opinion.

Good luck! I’m rooting for you — it’ll help all of us.

Sun rays through forest trees by unsplash.com blakeverdoorn.com
Sun rays through forest trees by unsplash.com blakeverdoorn.com

Have you experienced terrible service?

Royal Beauty + Birgit’s True Elfins + Podcast: Gruen’s Ageless Passion

María del Rosario Cayetana Fitz-James Stuart y Silva, 18th Duchess of Alba
María del Rosario Cayetana Fitz-James Stuart y Silva, 18th Duchess of Alba

Passion at Any Age by Lee Gale Gruen Happiness Between Tails

#Authors #Books #Writing #Aging #Acting Do you worry that you're too old to accomplish something you 're passionate about? Lee Gale Gruen started acting, publishing books, and blogging after she retired from a career as a probation officer. Share your thoughts, experiences, and questions by recording them on my Anchor by Spotify page — or comment at HappinessBetweenTails.com — or email me. Like what you hear? Buy me a coffee. buymeacoffee.com/SupportHBT Time Stamps (where segments begin): HBT introduction Today’s topic and about today’s guest 1:05 “Passion at Any Age,” by Lee Gale Gruen My question for you HBT outro Links used for the HBT blog post of this episode: Lee Gale Gruen's website. Original blog post for this episode at Happiness Between Tails. Lee Gale’s prior guest blog post at Happiness Between Tails. Lee Gale’s books are available at Amazon. Martha Graham, modern dance pioneer, bio at Wikipedia Epictetus, ancient Greek philosopher, bio at Wikipedia Photos available at the HBT post for this show: Photo of Lee Gale Gruen. Covers of Lee Gale Gruen’s two books: “Reinventing Yourself in Your Retirement Years: Find Joy, Excitement, and Purpose After You Retire,” and “Adventures with Dad: A Father and Daughter’s Journey Through a Senior Acting Class” — This episode is sponsored by · Anchor: The easiest way to make a podcast. https://anchor.fm/app — Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/depe9/message Support this podcast: https://anchor.fm/depe9/support

Click H-E-R-E for my podcast page at AnchorFM. This week’s episode is the audio version of  “Passion at Any Age: Writer/Actress Lee Gale Gruen” that you can read the text version of H-E-R-E.

At the Happiness Between Tails podcast page, you’ll also find links to subscribe, hear, and share it via most any platform, from Spotify and Apple Podcasts, to Google Podcasts and Pocket Casts, along with RadioPublic and Castbox and Stitcher and more, plus an RSS feed. The full list of 50+ places is H-E-R-E.

You know how it goes when you’re doing research, maybe for something you’re writing? Google one thing, and end up in a totally different place. In my case, since my novel-in-progress is called “Flamenco & the Sitting Cat,” it started with looking up the Spanish iconic painter, Francisco de Goya. Coming across his 1700’s portrait of a prior Duchess of Alba sent me clicking.

Goya’s image, called “The Black Duchess,” portrays a young woman in mostly frilly black portrays a young woman in a mostly frilly black outfit that’s punctuated with a red sash, as well as a gold blouse, shoes, and accessories…

"The Black Duchess" by Francisco de Goya.
“The Black Duchess” by Francisco de Goya

More clicking led to a modern-day Duchess of Alba. María del Rosario Cayetana Fitz-James Stuart y Silva, the eighteenth Duchess of Alba, remains the most titled of aristocrats. Much was made of her socialite “joie de vivre” (here’s a video of her dancing flamenco at her last wedding) and how she married three times. Husbands two and three were “commoners” — gasp! — and the last one was twenty-five years her junior. When her kids fussed about her love interests, she told them that as divorcees, they ought to mind their own business….

Black and white photo, probably from the 1960s or so, of the Duchess dancing with a guitarist.
Ever a flamenco aficionada: María del Rosario Cayetana Fitz-James Stuart y Silva, 18th Duchess of Alba.

It’s no business of mine what others think of their looks, and if they care, I encourage people to do whatever allows them to love themselves more. The reason I’ve brought this present-time duchess to your attention is because I’d love for you to fill me in on anything you might know about her. Her in-your-face boldness is something I’d give anything to pull off. More to her credit, she didn’t seem to take herself too seriously and she had a great sense of humor. At that flamenco wedding, she handed out whimsical party favors that were little sculptures of her face, broad-lips, deep-set eyes, and whirl-wind hairstyle.

Seeing photographs from late in her life, though, compels me to wonder why men don’t change their appearances as frequently and dramatically as women do? Sure, one need look no further than our orange-haired embarrassment of a former U.S. president, but men still lag far behind women when it comes to the extensive remodeling that induces a double-take.

Maybe it has to do with how girls and women are culturally and commercially targeted nonstop about how they appear. There’s a cruel power play that never ends, no matter how old we get. It’s as insignificant as when a yoga classmate gives me lip for favoring a little make-up and heels, and as weighty as when an influential woman is marked as a crackpot because she doesn’t look Wall Street enough.

Today’s guest shows us how ugliness and cuteness can blend together, certainly when it comes to elfins!

Birgit hales from Germany and blogs from Denmark. At her Stella, oh, Stella site, there’s always something uplifting, educational, beautiful, and fun, including videos of her and her gentleman making music…

Before I turn you over to Birgit, here’s my first try at a new bread recipe that I mixed and baked in under two hours, thanks to Jenny Jones! Khashayar confirmed (since my long-term post-Covid probs limit my senses of taste and smell) that…

Love can mean pain… but this time it’s the French definition!

Photo of loaf of bread I baked.
Dinner was home-baked bread with fresh mild herbs, drizzles of extra virgin olive oil, and fancy cheeses.

A True Elfin Story by Birgit

That’s it, I cannot do anything else for now. I will have to continue in spring.

The beginning is done: the fireplace, the ladder, the tiled path, the area for gatherings … the rest will have to wait. A pile of firewood is also ready …

What I am talking about is, of course, the elfin dwelling place in the birch tree stump. I have marked the places for the entrance door and the windows, but it is getting too cold to accomplish artistic wood carvings.

Photo of blogger Birgit.
Blogger/author Birgit in one of her gardens, where she lived near the German border.

The following winter is comparatively mild, but grey, rainy, stormy, in short: not cosy at all! The spring bulbs are slowly coming our with their first green.

At the beginning of May, my husband enters the kitchen and says enthusiastically that the door, which I have carved into the birch stump looks incredibly real, the windows as well. I rush into the garden right away. It is true! Where I have marked the door last winter, is now an intricate carving looking like Yggdrasil, the world tree from the Nordic cosmology. Further up I can see two windows. They do not look real, no, they are real, with frames and panes and everything. This is not my handiwork! I have not hollowed the tree stump and put in windows and a door. I believe my husband is playing a joke on me. 

I take him to task, but he denies all knowledge of the matter. Very well then, I will let him have his fun!

The same night, around one o’clock in the morning, I take a last stroll in the garden, as I often do. There isn’t any wind for a change. I detect a light at the south end of the house. Has my husband lit the candles? 

On the birch stump I discover a little figure, swathed in bright light. It is dressed in green cloth from top to toe. Furthermore, one can clearly see four wings on its back. Am I going crazy? Is my imagination running wild? No, my husband must be playing a practical joke. Somehow he is projecting pictures. I go back into the house to tell him that he cannot fool me. I discover that he is already in bed and asleep. What am I to think?

I look out of the southern window. The little figure is still standing out there and is looking directly into my eyes. I go outside again and head towards the birch stump. The elfin, and such a one it is, is not moving an inch. 

This first night we only look at each other in silence. I do not remember, how long, but very long. During the following nights we start talking. The elfin understands me and speaks our language. Incredible! What did I expect?

Four elfins have moved into the tree stump, two couples. From my preparations they could see that they would be welcome here. They have embellished everything a lot. The door was too low, the gathering place too small, but then I did not know how tall an elfin was, did I?

It is wonderful to have the small creatures living in the garden. I could watch them for hours. But one day a devil is possessing me. I want to prove to other people that the elfins exist, that they are not purely spawn of my imagination. 

So I take my husband’s camera and secretly take some photos. Only one of them is really sharp. But … what is that? Those are not the creatures that I photographed! The figures on the photo look like brown Goldsmiths; still dressed in green, but looking more like insects and with ugly, wrinkly faces. One says that a camera does not lie. I don’t know what to believe. 

The next evening I confront the elfins with the photo that I have printed out. They are startled, and then sad, letting their shoulders sag. Slowly their appearance changes, until they resemble the creatures on the photo. But then they begin to whisper among each other, and I notice that their sadness turns into rage. They all look at me with very angry eyes. Can the small ones seriously harm me? I ask myself. 

“You know what?” I say. “I will burn the photo. Nobody will ever know anything about this.” I take a match and burn the photo on the spot. The faces are looking friendlier already. They come to me and tell me that the elfin faces I have seen so far are only projections, because they have only experienced rejection with their real appearance. People had thought that they were big insects and had tried to kill them. As they are magical creatures, they had thought up the deception with the projection. They had given themselves the cutest possible appearance, so that they would be generally accepted. “Although it does not really matter so much anymore. Hardly anybody can see us nowadays, not even the children”, I am told. I am glad that peace is restored and the elfins don’t bear a grudge. All four of them have already changed into their cute version again. I wish them good night and go back into the house.

Before I go to bed, I want to delete the electronic original of the photo. My finger hovers a long moment above the delete key. This photo is my only proof of what elfins really look like. But does it really matter? What do those, who do not believe in elfins, care whether they are cute or not? I press the key; the photo is deleted. I will take the secret with me into my grave.

Photo of Birgit's elfish abode under a tree in her garden, replete with small rocks to mark a path, and doll-sized pots, pans, and chairs.
You never know what you’ll find in Birgit’s garden — or at her blog!

Epilog…

Twenty years have gone by now. The elfins are very comfortable in our garden. The furry animals stay away from them. Their only irritation is the clumsy pheasant that upsets everything and often tears the pile of firewood apart. I wonder what he expects to find there?

They do not care so much anymore about their projected image. I don’t care. I have grown fond of them; they are my friends, no matter what they look like. My husband also started seeing them after a while. Sometimes they make themselves invisible and pull his beard to tease him. From one second to the other the “cute little creatures” become an “irritating gang of mosquitos”. When we are alone, to provoke me, he sometimes calls them my “tame goldsmiths”. But it is all in good humour; everybody respects each other.

When the elfins have children, they urge them quite soon to find their own dwelling, so that the birch stump is not over-populated. They are six now; one more couple has moved in. 

From under the roots of the birch stump they have dug a secret tunnel. Not even I was told where it surfaces. I do understand them!

How do you define beauty?

Vid + Squat 4 Health/Politics + Podcast: J. Diamond Published 100+ Books

Photo of 3 men smiling and doing full squats.
Can you do this and smile? Image by edwindoms610 from Pixabay.

Novelist Jacqueline Diamond Published 100+ Books! Happiness Between Tails

#Authors #NovelWriting #Reading #Animals #Books #Fiction #Romance Award-winning author Jacqueline Diamond has published over a hundred books: mystery, non-fiction, romance for all ages, historical, and modern. What fiction are you reading at the moment? Share your thoughts, experiences, and questions by recording them on my Anchor by Spotify page — or comment at HappinessBetweenTails.com — or email me. Like what you hear? Buy me a coffee. buymeacoffee.com/SupportHBT The original Happiness Between Tails blog post (H-E-R-E) that goes with this episode includes all the links below and photos: Original blog post. Jacqueline’s site with more about her, her blog, tips on writing, and a list of her books purchase info. This video interview where Jacqueline discusses how to develop interesting characters. This video where she describes the storytelling ins and outs of point-of-view. Time Stamps (where segments begin): 1) HBT introduction 2) da-AL discusses today’s topic and tells a bit about today’s guest 1:07 3) Jacqueline Diamond discusses how animals figure into her novels 2:30 4) This episode’s question with info on how to comment and learn more 4:41 — This episode is sponsored by · Anchor: The easiest way to make a podcast. https://anchor.fm/app — Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/depe9/message Support this podcast: https://anchor.fm/depe9/support

Click H-E-R-E for my new podcast page at AnchorFM. This week’s episode is the audio version of “Novelist Jacqueline Diamond Published 100+ Books!” that you can read the text version of H-E-R-E.

At the Happiness Between Tails podcast page, you’ll also find links to subscribe, hear, and share it via most any platform, from Spotifyand Apple Podcasts, to Google Podcasts and Pocket Casts, along with RadioPublic and Castbox and Stitcher and more, plus an RSS feed. The full list of 50+ places is at LinkTree.

Picture me sitting on my haunches atop a conference table, assigned to perform an entertaining Toastmasters speech titled, “Benefits and Politics of Squatting”…

The subject first piqued my interest years ago, when my mom moved in with us. To make things extra comfy for all (including for when I’ working on my novels H-E-R-E), we had some construction done on our snug home.

Each morning, a crew of men assembled under our backyard gazebo. Aged from early twenties to eighties, they all immigrated to here in the United States from Cambodia.

The way they waited for each other to show up amazed me! In totally relaxed full-squats, the gentlemen sipped coffees, munched pastries, chatted, and smoked. Once all arrived, they stood; none of them groaned or complained of creaky bones.

Lunch involved more of the same. They full-squatted as they passed around freshly steamed rice with fragrant grilled meat and veggies. Afterward, still squatting, they finished with smokes and maybe a bit of candy.

Fast forward to some time later, when I broke my knee twice in the same year. Torn cartilage, fractured bone, stretched tendon, blah, blah, blah. Ouch!!!! and Ohno!!! don’t begin to cover it.

Screenshot from video of da-AL's speech on the benefits of doing full squats.
Squatting for my speech.

Enter, Francisco Rufino, a gifted yoga instructor who pointed out that squatting keeps people in India free of knee, back, and digestive problems.

Thanks to his suggestion that I squat for thirty seconds, five times a day, as I watched TV, my knee is so restored that I never needed the surgery that two doctors beforehand prescribed! Yesterday I went for a long jog and experienced no problems whatsoever!

Full squats align muscles and organs from toes to neck. The aid in…

  • Getting rid of hemorrhoids, diverticulosis, and hernias.
  • Preventing heart attacks caused by straining on European-style toilets.
  • Alleviating incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse.
  • Making pregnancy easier.
  • Guarding reproductive organs, including protecting against prostate cancer.

So why don’t we do it more? When I gave the speech, at least one audience member expressed disgust. My h-a-unch is that we believe we’re too good for it — and that includes politically. This Korean woman, married to an Anglo man, explains his chagrin when she and her family squat while socializing.

Would people you know feel embarrassed if you squatted while you relaxed?

Pro-Choice: what being it actually means by K E Garland

“Everybody’s a teacher if you listen.” — Doris Roberts; actress, author, and philanthropist.

When I posted, “My Abortion Story + Jury Service Pt 2,” I neglected to tell you something important; were it not for Kathy Garland’s courageous and honest blog post that you’ll find below, I might not have published it. (Her account first appeared at PULPMag on Feb. 13, 2020.)

(For an audio version of this post, click H-E-R-E.)

Perhaps you remember Kathy from when she was a prior guest at Happiness Between Tails? (And by the way, here’s another excellent post about the subject contributed by Infidel753.)

Below, she mentions Planned Parenthood. Funding for the organization was signed into law by President Richard Nixon who decreed, “no American woman should be denied access to family planning assistance because of her economic condition.” Planned Parenthood provides far more than abortions. The agency is committed to giving affordable reproductive health care to all genders, all ages,  all over the world. They offer sex education, cervical cancer screenings, contraception including vasectomies, and help with sexually transmitted infections.

Kathy has taught English for 25 years, which makes perfect sense, given how she inspires all who read her posts. A wife and mother, she lives in Jacksonville, Florida. Her award-winning work is featured in anthologies and many other places. For info about the three books she’s published and to contact her, check out her personal blog. In addition, she hosts a site to normalize conversations about menopause

Blogger/author/teacher K E Garland.

“What it Actually Means to be Pro-Choice” by Kathy Garland

My father taught me about sex when I started my period. We sat on the loveseat, where he explained how menstruation worked, a banana balanced on his thigh. I suspected this was my mother’s idea, although she and I never discussed sex or women’s bodies. 

My father explained bleeding meant I could now get pregnant, if I ever had sex, and that it was my responsibility to avoid such circumstances. A condom would do the trick. He pulled one out of his pocket, ripped open the small package, and showed me how to put it on the banana, a mock penis. I suppose he thought it appropriate to cram three separate topics — sex, safe-sex, and periods — into one conversation, because we never revisited either again. But at ten years old, I couldn’t comprehend what fake penises and condoms had to do with the pain in my lower abdomen or the blood that soaked the pad I’d just learned to wear. I wanted the conversation to end so I could finish playing with my dolls.Cover of "Daddy: Reflections of Father-Daughter Relationships" by Dr. K E Garland.

Six years later, my mother suddenly died from kidney disease. My maternal grandmother was an expert at pushing emotions aside and had advised me to do the same.

“Don’t cry,” she said, “you’ve had your Mama for a long time. Sixteen years is a long time.”

So, I followed her lead and stifled the pain.

 My father physically moved on by dating a new woman a week after my mother’s burial. He spent my junior year, courting his newfound love and ignoring me. Taking care of a teenage daughter seemed to be too much for him. The following year, he sent me to live with my grandparents in a small Michigan town called Covert. I was angry. There were more students in my former Chicago high school than in the entire township. I was saddened by how quickly my father discarded me and our relationship. But I’d learned to suppress and ignore all negative emotions. My plan was to keep to myself, graduate, and apply to colleges.

School began the day after Labor Day. It was hard not to be noticed in a class of sixteen seniors, but I tried. Even when I knew the answer, I remained as quiet as possible in English IV, hoping no one would speak to me. In typing class, I hid my nervousness behind intermittent pops of pink Bubble Yum; maybe my aloofness would repel others. Conversations were sparse until I went to computer class. That’s where I met him. He was a junior. He cracked my feigned exterior by making me laugh. He helped me bury my mother’s death. He helped me forget why I was living in Covert in the first place. His name was Eddie.

Our long phone conversations turned into afternoons at Eddie’s home where we sat on his family’s brown sectional and watched movies on their floor model TV. His mother was rarely home. Watching movies turned into tongue kissing and sex, sometimes on the couch or floor, other times in his room.

We became a couple and I’d forgotten about the talk my father and I had seven years prior. I’m not sure what Eddie’s safe sex lessons entailed. By the first day of fall, my period hadn’t come, so I asked his mother what she thought that meant.

She inhaled a long drag of her cigarette, blew a thin, cloudy stream out of the corner of her mouth, looked at me, and said, “Either you late, or you pregnant. And if you pregnant, you need to talk to Eddie.”

I was pregnant.Cover of "The Unhappy Wife" by Dr. K E Garland.

I knew I could trust my senior English teacher, a brown, petite, no-nonsense lady. Her church dresses and high heels felt like home. The day I confided in her, she asked if I could tell my grandmother. I assured her I could not. Expectations were high in my family, especially my mother’s side. My grandfather had been president of the school board for several years. My grandmother was an important figure at the local civic center. A seventeen-year-old pregnant granddaughter was outside of their equation.

My English teacher neatly wrote the name, Planned Parenthood on a sheet of paper and underneath it, a phone number.

For my initial visit to the clinic, I called into my work-study job and made the 36-mile-drive alone in the car my grandparents had lent me. The appointment was scheduled to ensure I was, indeed, pregnant. Once confirmed, I’d have to return on a separate day for the actual procedure. A nurse told me what I should bring: a change of clothes, socks, pads, and a person to drive me there and back. I also had to commit to a form of birth control. I opted for the pill.

Eddie drove us to the clinic in his mother’s blue Chevy. We sat in the waiting room and watched daytime television with other women of varied ages, until they called my name.

After recovering, we returned to Eddie’s house. His mother had allowed me to hide my car in her garage, so that passersby wouldn’t know I was there. I lay on the brown sofa for several hours, fading in and out of sleep. His mother encouraged me to eat her homemade meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and gravy. The meal warmed and comforted my spirit.

When it was time to leave their home, I hid the paper bag full of antibiotics and pain meds in my backpack and left around eight at night just in time to arrive at my grandparents’ house, as if I’d been working all evening.

Though physically painful, the days following my abortion were liberating. I not only escaped shame, but also teen motherhood. I didn’t want to be a part of the statistically low numbers of adolescent mothers, who never attended or finished college. An abortion ensured I never was.

Thirty years ago, having an abortion offered me a real choice, with no restrictions, followed by a birth control option.

But this isn’t the case in 2020.

In some states, women are currently faced with the strictest abortion regulations to date. Fetal heartbeat laws restrict abortions after six weeks, which is typically the timeframe for confirming a pregnancy and the earliest that abortions can be completed. My teenage self would’ve had no choice but to prepare for birth. Furthermore, states like Missouri that have one abortion clinic, limit access and add stress to an already stressful situation. Also, as it stands now, the national dialogue is centered on extreme cases. Questions like what if a woman is raped or what if the woman might die tend to exaggerate and cloud the idea of choice. While I agree that these are valid reasons for having an abortion, any situation is reasonable. 

When we focus on the need to prove rape or death, we create a hierarchy of reasons. When we begin ranking rationale, we also implicitly say, you don’t have the right to choose. The state will choose for you. And that is not pro-choice. That is punishment sanctioned by someone else’s idea of morality.

When I reflect on my senior year in Covert, I know it was best not to bring a baby into my world of anger and resentment. Furthermore, Eddie and I said we’d be together forever, but like many teenage relationships, ours didn’t last. We broke up by the beginning of my second year of college. Although conditions are never perfect, raising a baby with a sixteen-year-old boy in a high-poverty environment, while delaying my education wasn’t ideal. It wasn’t time.Cover of "Kwoted" by K E Garland.

But politicians dismiss stories like mine. Even though a study showed that women who have abortions do so because it would “interfere with their education, work or ability to care for their dependents, or they could not afford a baby at the time,” the current political climate ignores these as valid reasons to terminate a pregnancy.

Governments have successfully reframed the pro-choice narrative to only include situations like rape, incest, or a mother’s impending death. These are not pro-choice examples. These are abortion bans intended to punish women and teenage girls for not having protected sex.  

I’m grateful I was able to drive a safe distance to a Planned Parenthood within the state and I’m thankful I didn’t have to involve my grandparents by having them sign an informed consent form, which is current Michigan law. I’m glad I was able to make a choice that was best for me. This procedure allowed me to complete high school, and subsequently college with ease, which in part have contributed to the life I live today as a wife, mother, and professional with a terminal degree. I want the same choice offered for other women, who, for different reasons may become pregnant, but not want to birth a baby. I want our country to return to a true definition of pro-choice, one where women can safely decide the outcome of their situations, without their state’s interference.

To contact K E Garland and for more of her writing, visit her personal blog, or her site that normalizes conversations about menopause.

When were you challenged to make a pivotal decision only you ought to have decided?

My Abortion Story + Jury Service Pt 2

On Olvera Street, you can buy stuff like these Calaveras-style (skeleton) caricatures and plush versions of Mexican pastries. Photo by da-AL.
On Olvera Street, you can buy stuff like these Calaveras-style (skeleton) caricatures and plush versions of Mexican pastries. Photo by da-AL.

NOTE: Here’s the audio version of Abortion: My Story.

In posts and comments here and elsewhere, I often mention the importance of blogging, how delighted I am that social media and our freely commenting allow us to become closer to each other. The simpler it is for people to express themselves into the ethers, the smaller our the world becomes. When we speak from our hearts and personal experience, we see we all need each other and that every single one of us linked in doing our best to get by each day.

All that, and still I left out a vital bit of my own story last time. In that post, “My Jury Duty Pt 1 + Infidel753 Works for Justice and Freedom to Choose,” guest blogger Infidel753 told of his experience as a volunteer for an abortion clinic. Your comments to that story have lent me the courage to tell my own story. As a “pro-choice escort,” Infidel753 described how he navigated women past the intimidation efforts of anti-choicers. As a result, some readers were inspired shared their views on abortion rights. (By the way, My Jury Duty Pt 3 is here.)

Pico House, across from downtown Los Angeles' historic Olvera Street. Photo by da-AL.
Pico House, across from downtown Los Angeles’ historic Olvera Street, was built in 1870. Photo by da-AL.

My Story

In my mid-20s, I terminated two pregnancies. That same year, I got pregnant twice, each time using different forms of birth control. At the time, I’d been living with a boyfriend since I was 18. He was a sweet, intelligent man who I loved dearly.

We were surviving on sporadic work, earning hardly above minimum wage. For that and many more reasons, I didn’t feel I could provide any child with a decent upbringing.

Abortions were expensive, and weren’t covered by my job’s health insurance. Each procedure was a physical ordeal of pain and then high fevers. I had to take days off from work, which I could ill afford.

The picturesque old church across from Olvera Street. Photo by da-AL.
The picturesque old church across from Olvera Street. Photo by da-AL.

Fortunately…

I had a kind lover to help me through. Never have I regretted my decisions.

Later, in my 30s, I was sexually assaulted. Good luck, if the term can apply to anything about rape, is the only reason I didn’t get pregnant.

Part of the fun of jury duty was walking the local sights, like these stalls of Olvera Street. Photo by da-AL.
Part of the fun of jury duty was walking the local sights, like these stalls of Olvera Street. Photo by da-AL.

Regarding choice…

When people seek control, they say others “need to be held accountable.”

Seeing the world as “them” versus “us” makes it easy to objectify one another. Not so long ago, United States medical officials conducted the infamous 40-year Tuskegee Study. They pretended to treat black people for syphilis when really they were studying the full progression of the disease. To their reasoning, white lives mattered and black lives didn’t. Sound familiar?

What if you’re very young and your family is the opposite of a Hallmark card? What if you’re not employed? Or your job doesn’t provide insurance and sick days? What if the rape was more than you could bear? And you don’t want the added burdens of facing the police, defending your reputation as well as your case, can’t afford a good lawyer, and don’t want to confront whoever assaulted you in court?

Or say you simply got pregnant at any age, and for whatever reason, just don’t want to go through a full pregnancy?

It was closed when I strolled by, but here’s where you can go up to see a David Alfaro Siqueiros (one of Mexico's greatest muralists) mural that was hidden for many years. Photo by da-AL.
It was closed when I strolled by, but here’s where you can go up to see a David Alfaro Siqueiros (one of Mexico’s greatest muralists) mural that was hidden for many decades. Photo by da-AL.  

What if, what if, what if?…

It’s no one’s business why or how many times any woman has an abortion.

When statisticians tally how many people consider abortion acceptable, they sidestep the real issue. What matters is no government ought to be entitled to have say over women’s bodies.

No one should have a say over who is sterilized or who must bear children. End of story.

Is it still legal to get an abortion?

The answer in the United States is yes, due in good measure for Planned Parenthood’s work.

The organization offers a range of affordable health care to all genders, all ages, all over the world. Interestingly, in 1970, President Richard Nixon signed into law funding for family planning services, which included Planned Parenthood.

According to Wikipedia, Nixon decreed, “No American woman should be denied access to family planning assistance because of her economic condition.”

Remember, it’s not enough to win rights — we must continually work to keep them. We can’t rest on our laurels.

For example, according to Wikipedia:

Poland is one of the few countries in the world to largely outlaw abortion after decades of permissive legislation during Polish People’s Republic. About 10-15% of Polish women seek abortion in neighboring countries due to the strict restraints in their own country. Poland’s abortion law is one of the most restrictive in Europe, along with a group of other traditionally Roman Catholic countries of the region.”

In non-Covid-19 times, the plaza at the mouth of Olvera Street is filled with performers and audiences. Photo by da-AL.
In non-Covid-19 times, the plaza at the mouth of Olvera Street is filled with performers and audiences. Photo by da-AL.

What about Pt 2 of my jury duty?

It was a holiday weekend, so we all stayed home that Monday.

Since my car was in the shop, on Tuesday my husband lent me his car. Ten minutes away from home, his “check engine” light blinked on.

Fortunately (a word I don’t use lightly, as explained several headings ago), I had another car I could borrow. My mom lives with us and she was away visiting my brothers who live in different states. Can one take a vacation when one is retired? Regardless, her generosity allowed me to continue jury duty, albeit half an hour tardy that day.

Today’s post was an emotional one and it took a lot out of me so I’ll leave off here and fill you in on the rest of my jury service next time…

Here's one entrance to the Olvera Street outdoor mall. Photo by da-AL.
Here’s one entrance to the Olvera Street outdoor mall. Photo by da-AL.

In the meantime, since the courthouse was in the Los Angeles Historic District, these photos are of Olvera Street. I walked there during our lunch break. According to Wikipedia, it’s “been the main square of the city since the early 1820s, when California was still part of Mexico, and was the center of community life[ until the town expanded in the 1870s.”

How much control over your body do you want to hand over to your government?

Cancer’s 3 Blessings

Cancer's 3 Blessings by da-AL

Before I became a podcaster/blogger/novelist, I worked as a journalist, and sometimes produced promotional videos. Years ago, a non-profit agency that helps people emotionally deal with cancer hired my business partner and me to produce one for them.

The afternoon we were to tape a talk-therapy group, I braced myself.

As it turned out, these were no mere survivors. They were warriors committed to savoring every bit of wonderfulness from every moment they had left. Those people, sick as they were, regarded cancer as a blessing.

To my mind, they were kidding either themselves or me. Nonetheless, the tears I shed behind the camera’s lens gave way to smiles. Their stories, to my amazement, were filled with hope, gratitude, and acceptance. I left certain they were made of far sterner stuff than me.

Forward to some years later… In 2007, I was diagnosed with cancer.

To put it mildly, I was scared witless. So freaked, that I couldn’t sleep for a month. Fighting with my insurance company and doctors added to the nightmare.

It took me time… a long while… to understand what those people had spoken of. Eventually, though, same as for them, cancer has indeed enhanced my life.

Here are only three of the many blessings cancer imparted to me:

1. Staying focused and positive leads me to my highest self.

Round the clock, I obsessed while I waited for my illness to be categorized and quantified. Questions tormented me…

How did I get this? How to rid myself of it? How do I ensure it never touches my life again? How will my illness hurt my loved ones? How much longer until I die?

In desperation, I thought a detox could be the answer. If the lump could be sweated out, then hot yoga might do that. Insane with fear as I was, suddenly the prospect of exercising in 105-plus-degrees sounded worth trying.

It took conventional medicine (which I complimented with alternative therapies such as acupuncture and Chinese herbs) to resolve my cancer — but hot yoga healed me in other ways. The laser focus needed to survive those initial classes renewed my spirit. The full-length mirrors taught me as much about what I could achieve as the instructors did.

For one thing, when I thought only of how miserable I felt, I couldn’t do any of the poses. For another, if I did them while truly experiencing a positive word such as “healthy,” “happy,” “joy,” or “love,” I fared way better. My steady poses reflected back in those mirrors confirmed it.

2. All of us deserve to live.

Like too many other kids, especially little girls, I was raised to believe that my own needs were secondary to those of others and that I wasn’t smart enough to have opinions or make decisions.

At the worst of my ordeal, I decided that because I had never accomplished anything extraordinary and probably never would, I did not deserve to live.

That rocked me — clear into the second wisdom that cancer imparted. Deciding I was no better than a cockroach or a flea made me realize if they deserve to live, so do I! My ordinary mortal best is enough.

3. Sometimes happiness comes easily. Other times it requires effort. Regardless, it’s always worth striving for. Life is meant to be joyful…

Perpetual dread that the worst was near eclipsed my life. Then I had the good luck to meet a volunteer for The American Cancer Society. She’d had cancer twenty years earlier and listened patiently to what I was going through.

Then she relayed the story of someone she knew. After a decade of being cancer-free, her friend continued to be anxious that cancer would strike again, this time fatally. Over those ten years, several of that friend’s loved ones had passed away from accidents and natural causes. The volunteer reasoned, “No one can predict the future, not when we’re going to die or from what.”

Her wisdom allowed me to see that worry, if I continued to allow it, was sucking the vitality from my life worse than cancer ever could.

What has a challenge taught you?