Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Attacked for A Differing Opinion

I was viewing a friend's FB page and clicked on a page she liked, Planned Parenthood Texas Votes, because I now live in Texas and I was curious to see what was posted there since we have an election coming up next month. This group claims to represent Texas women. 

I made a comment about which candidate I support and mentioned that I am a mother of ten. A woman responded with this comment, "Rebecca Cornish Talley: you must be very wealthy and are able to support 10 children. Have you ever given thought to population control, conserving our resources? Not breeding like rats? Of coarse not!" 

Obviously, the poster does not understand the difference between "coarse' and "course," but that is beside the point.

When I went back to read the comment on the page, I found that I'd been blocked from commenting. Why? Because I expressed a different opinion. My opinion is not valuable because it is different.

Planned Parenthood, and WomenWinTexas, a public political group, claims to represent women. They claim to have the best interest of women at heart. they want women to be active in politics and to go out and vote. Yet when a woman has a different opinion, she is personally attacked and then blocked from participating in a discussion about candidates. PP and WomenWinTexas is not interested in hearing from women whose views differ from their agenda, and they are willing to attack women who disagree with them. What happened to discussing opposing views?

For the record, I am thankful every day that I have ten children. My children are not a pack of rats. They are good, decent human beings who strive to be kind and serve those around them. They are not perfect, and I am not a perfect parent, but I love my job as a wife and mom. My only regret is that I could not have ten more children. I am thankful that my children have loved growing up in a big family and want to have many children themselves. People may not agree with my lifestyle or my choice to have a large family. That is fine. 

Why is is that groups like PP are so intent on protecting a woman's "right to choose" but not my right to choose to have a large family? Why is it that PP does not want anyone to control a woman's body when it comes to abortion, but have no problem wanting to control my body and stop me from having as many children as I can care for? Why is it that if a woman dares express a differing opinion it is okay to personally attack her? I have found that usually happens when the attacker has no substance to his/her argument and must stoop to name-calling.

And another thing. I am very wealthy. I am wealthy in all the things that matter.

To Planned Parenthood Texas Votes and to #WomenWinTexas, you may have personally attacked me on a public page and successfully blocked me from that page so that I cannot make comments, but you will not silence me. I still have a voice. I still have the right to my opinion. I still have the right to vote for the candidate I choose. 

I may not agree with anything you represent, nor the disrespectful and hateful things you say about the candidates you don't support, but I will fight for your right to say what you want, because that is what freedom of speech means. I am not afraid to hear what you have to say. If only that worked both ways.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

My Thoughts on Suicide

Yesterday, the counselor at the middle school in CO where most of my children attended (until we moved to Texas) passed away tragically from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. This has devastated the community that we called home for so many years. This counselor was well-loved and had positively impacted many, many lives in the 15 years that he worked in the school district. He had helped so many students during their own dark times to find the light again. He will be greatly missed. He leaves behind a wife and two children.

Losing anyone we love to death is heart-breaking and hard to deal with, but losing someone to suicide adds another layer. Not only do we mourn the loss of the one we loved, but we may be left with feelings of regret, guilt, and anger.

I read many posts when Robin Williams died. One post in particular called him selfish to take his own life. I think one of the mistakes we make, as we try to make sense out of a senseless situation, is projecting our own life experiences onto someone else. We wonder how anyone could leave his or her spouse, children, parents, etc. We try to assign our own feelings to someone else. We simply cannot do that. Of course, anyone in his right mind would never, ever subject his loved ones to the pain and agony that comes with losing a loved one. No one would ever want to thrust feelings of guilt and remorse on the people he loved most.

But that's the thing. Someone who is in the frame of mind to take his own life, isn't in the same frame of mind as someone who isn't. He is not thinking rationally. He is not thinking about the long-term effects. He is not thinking about what his death will mean for those around him. Or perhaps he thinks life without him will be better for his loved ones. At any rate, we who are not suffering in this way cannot assign our own frame of reference to someone who is. We do not know what someone else is going through, We do not know the pain or the suffering or the agony that person may be enduring, even if that person appears to be fine.

Robin Williams seemed to have it all. Fame, fortune, an adoring fan base. The counselor at school lived his life to help others navigate treacherous waters of sadness and depression. He was married, had children, had a steady job, and lived in a beautiful subdivision. He was not on the radar as someone who was in desperate need of help, at least not to the general public.

We all have "stuff." We all have trials we've lived through. Some of those trials have been more public than others. Some of us share our trials and some of us don't. Some of us know when to seek help. Others don't. Some of us hide pain on a daily basis.

We cannot stand in judgment of those who end their lives, because we are not them. We do not know what is in their minds or in their hearts. Only a loving Heavenly Father can do that. We cannot condemn them to an everlasting hell because that is not our job or our role. We cannot judge others, because we do not know their hearts, their desires, their intents. We only know our own.

Suicide is still a taboo subject. We don't talk about it. Those who've been affected by it may feel a stigma and feel that the death of their loved one is different than a death from a car accident or an illness. They may feel shame and embarrassment because our society earmarks suicide as something "different" and it makes people uncomfortable to speak about it. And the cycle continues. We see suicide as something different, so those affected feel different. However the death occurred, it is still a death. People have lost a loved one. They are in pain. They are suffering. It doesn't matter how that loved one died. We need to offer support, love, and sympathy to those affected.

Suicide can also incite deep guilt because the death could have been prevented. We feel helpless and wonder what we could have done. But we cannot play the blame game. "Why didn't I see it?" "Why didn't I go talk to her?" "Why didn't I call the doctor?" "What if I'd gone to see him that day?" "What if I'd put that gun away?" "What if I'd been a better husband, wife, brother, sister, mother, father, friend?" Most of the time, those who have determined to commit suicide have thought about it and kept it a secret from those closest to them. It does no good to immerse ourselves in guilt.

What can we do? What can we learn? Maybe to be a little kinder. To be a little softer. To remember that we have no idea what someone is going through. We see what others want us to see, because people hide the dark parts of themselves. People hide the pain. The suffering.

We need to love one another. We need to be gentler. We need to treat others the way we want to be treated. We need to help those we meet along our path. We need to leave the world better than we found it. We need to reach out and comfort each other. Be patient with each other. Remember that we are all struggling along this path of life. Just because we don't have the same struggles, or just because we haven't made those struggles public, does not mean we don't have them.

Suicide affects all of us in a profound way. Some of us are affected more intimately than others. True healing comes from God. From trusting in His love and allowing Him to comfort us in these times. We may not be able to understand why someone would commit suicide, but we can do a better job of talking about it and allowing those who've been the most affected to feel our love and compassion. We can do a better job of not casting aspersions on those who commit suicide and alienating their loved ones. We can do a better job of loving each other.

Monday, September 15, 2014

My Grandmother's "Visions"

I was talking to my paternal grandmother last night. She is 99 years old. 99. Wow. I think her longevity is due to her heritage--she is one-half Italian.

About fifteen years ago, she began suffering from macular degeneration. She was very upset because she'd always been such an avid reader. Unfortunately, there isn't much that can be done to reverse this condition. She's been able to keep it at bay, but she's had to adjust her life. She now listens to the radio and depends on phone calls to keep her updated. When I visit her, she can see me, but only if the light is just right and she's close enough to me.

Some weeks back, after she went to bed, she thought she saw people in her room. Naturally, it scared her, but she couldn't prove anyone had been in her room. Her next thought was that she was going crazy, so she didn't want to tell anyone about it. After several experiences, she finally told someone.

Turns out, no one was visiting her room after hours and she isn't crazy. There's actually a condition called the Charles Bonnet Syndrome in which people who are visually impaired experience complex visual hallucinations. It's a real thing.

Isn't that fascinating? You can learn more here about the Charles Bonnet Syndrome, if you are interested. It usually occurs in the elderly and they are reluctant to talk about it because they think it means they are going insane.

People who lose a limb often experience phantom pain and sensations where the limb once was and perhaps this is what happens to those who've lost their vision.

The good news is my grandmother was checked out by a neurosurgeon and she's fine. She's not crazy. But discovering this syndrome has certainly given me some food for thought for a future novel.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Stung by Amazon: An Open Letter to Jeff Bezos

Mr. Bezos,

I have always been an Amazon cheerleader. I have been a customer for more than 15 years. I have ordered thousands of dollars worth of products over the years and have been happy with the customer service.

Until now.

As a traditionally published author who decided to go the indie route, my natural choice was to publish with Amazon since I had previously had such good experiences. I published Imperfect Love on March 1. 2014. My book has hit the bestsellers lists on different occasions and was in the Top 10 in a few categories.

Imagine my surprise when I checked on my book on September 5, 2014 and found it was suddenly not available. I sent an email query to ask why. I received an answer that it was a glitch and would be fixed soon. On September 6th it was still not available. I sent another email and received the same generic response. On September 7th it was still not available. The morning of September 8th I called Amazon to try to sort it out since sending emails didn't seem to elicit much help. I was told that there is no direct line to KDP and no phone support. The customer service rep offered to send an email with my concerns.

Thanks, but I'd already done that.

Finally, later on September 8th my book was for sale again. I contacted Amazon to ask for some compensation for lost sales by way of advertising my book somehow in hopes of getting some sales to regain its sales rank. I was told that Amazon will not do anything to make up for the time my book was not available.Period.

Amazon was responsible for the glitch, but I'm the one that got stung.

I realize I'm merely a nobody author. I realize my sales aren't earth-shattering. I realize that my sales certainly won't make or break Amazon, but I lost sales. My book lost its ranking. What if I had invested in a promotion, which I've done numerous times, and found my book wasn't for sale? Would I just be out all that money? How can I trust Amazon to have my book for sale in the future and that it won't be a victim of some glitch in your software?

I am so disappointed that Amazon won't make this right. I am disappointed that I don't matter. I am disappointed that I'd be treated like this after all the money I have spent at Amazon.

I thought Amazon was better than this.

A Very Disappointed Customer