Wednesday, July 31, 2019

What kind of person would I be if I wasn't ...

... born into poverty, would I have compassion for the poor?
... born to mentally ill parents, would I have compassion for the mentally ill?
... female, would I have compassion for women who need access to affordable reproductive healthcare? Would I be pro-choice?
... the daughter of an Irish immigrant, would I have compassion for immigrants from other countries?
... a lesbian, would I have compassion for people in the queer community? Asexual people? Trans people? Non-binary gendered people? Genderqueer people? For people in other minority groups?
... a foster child, would I have compassion for young people struggling in that system? For young people struggling as they age out of the system?
... bullied in school, would I have compassion for the underdog?
... physically and sexually abused as a child, would I have compassion for child abuse victims and survivors of childhood sexual abuse?
... raped, would I have compassion for rape victims?
... someone with an eating disorder, would I have compassion for people struggling with eating disorders or food addiction?
... an alcoholic, would I have compassion for the addicted?
... sober, would I have compassion for people struggling to stay clean and sober?
... a caregiver to parents with dementia, would I have compassion for people with dementia and their caregivers?
... a breast cancer survivor, would I have compassion for people without adequate health insurance? Without access to adequate healthcare? Living with a pre-existing condition?

We are the product of our environments and life experiences, and I know that I have relied on and benefited from the compassion of others as I faced all of the challenges stemming from these different aspects of my identity, my childhood, my adult life.

I would like to believe that had I lived a different life, I would still be compassionate and know right from wrong on all of these issues, but what if that wasn't the case? Every moral, social and political value that I hold dear is rooted in my experiences with different kinds of oppression, with the consequences of being neglected and abused as a child, with facing my own mental health issues, eating disorders, addictions, breast cancer, and the resulting chronic health concerns resulting from these experiences. All of my choices are the result of my experiences. But is that the only thing that makes us who we are?

I am surrounded by people who have not had all of these experiences, who are just as or more compassionate as I. But there are also people in this world who have many of the same experiences who do not seem as compassionate.

What IS it that makes us compassionate? What is it that makes YOU a compassionate person?

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Think locally, act locally... to rescue abused and neglected animals

The ASPCA has such heart-wrenching commercials.  Absolutely heart-wrenching. They are designed to make you feel guilty if you don't send them money. 

But what do they do with the money you send them?
These commercials seem to be focused on raising money for a national organization to rescue abused animals. But most of what they raise isn't spent on the animal rescue efforts they highlight in these commercials. In fact, they spend almost $40 to raise every $100. And about $35 of that $100 on administration and overhead. Which is why charity watchdog organizations give the ASPCA only a C+ rating. Additionally, the ASPCA has a long and conflicted history, none of which is reflected in these commercials, and they may not even be that focused on the animal rescue and cruelty prevention that they advertise as their main purpose. They may also be killing animals rather then rehabilitating and rehoming them.

And where do they operate?
They appear to be a national organization, but focus most of their work in the New York City area. And although they may provide links on their website to local shelters in your area, very little (if any) of the money they raise is sent to those shelters.

Other national animal charities have a higher rating. If you are really motivated to donate to a national animal charity, your money might be better spent by A+ rated PetSmart Charities. PetSmart spends 93% of the money it raises for programming, and every additional $100 raised only costs them $4. However, your money may be better spent donating pet food and supplies to local PetSmart stores, who give those donations to local animal shelters. Or adopting the rescue animals that you can find in their local retail locations.

Or, you might want to donate to your local animal shelters or SPCA organization. For me, that's organizations like the Central New York SPCA or the CNY Humane Society. This local organization is NOT related to the ASPCA, so your money stays local, your aid goes to local animals. Donating to your local organization can also mean you have more control over how they spend your money. You can visit or volunteer at the local shelter, and see first-hand how they treat the animals in their care. You can donate food and other supplies, or items on the shelter's wish list, instead of cash, if you want to make sure your donations are going directly to animal care. And, of course, you can rescue animals yourself by adopting them from your local shelter.

Friday, January 4, 2019

Just Exactly HOW Does Someone Overcome Poverty? It's Not Easy.

I saw a post on Facebook today about how it is virtually impossible to save money when you are poor. It reminded me of a book review I read last year that argued that for someone living in poverty to lift themselves out of poverty, they need nearly 20 years with nothing going wrong

I remember - having grown up on welfare and then in foster care - how difficult it was to gain financial traction in my early and mid 20s, and to finally leave poverty behind me in my 30s.  And now in my 50s, I still live with a very real, although more and more faint, fear of falling back into poverty, especially in old age. I think once you have been poor, you just never forget how it felt. You might be more equipped to cope with poverty again as opposed to someone who has never been poor, but you also know you never want to be in that position again because you know how hard it is to live in, and to overcome poverty.

Multiple things - some positive, some negative, some resulting from my own efforts, some a matter of good fortune, helped me climb out of poverty in those 15 years after college. Not the least of which is the color of my skin, because White privilege gave me access to understanding, support and assistance from friends, landlords, employers, loan officers, etc. that I might not otherwise have had.

The more I wrote about this, the more I remembered about the events that facilitated my overcoming poverty. It's complicated. There are actually many, many details that I am not including here (like how many times I moved during those years, or how many roommates I lived with so I could afford rent, etc.), but I think this will give you a pretty good picture of how overcoming poverty, at least for me, was a combination of education, good and bad fortune, hard work, and the emotional and financial support of other people: 
  1. My first job out of college at age 21 was walking distance from my apartment, so I didn't have any transportation costs for the first 3 years on the job, which helped me save up for a down payment on my first used car at age 25. Even then, I could only buy that car after a friend promised me that I could live with her if I became homeless because I couldn't keep up with rent, student loans, AND car payments. I never had to take her up on that promise, but I needed the security of it to take what felt like the huge risk of  taking on car payments.
  2. I worked full-time in a corporate setting where I had access to health insurance and paid time off benefits.  And where I was able to start saving, however slowly, for retirement through a 401k. And I was lucky enough to stay with that corporation for 13 years, and to advance in responsibility and income over that time. Stable employment and advancement in employment are a MUST if you are going to overcome poverty or become and remain financially stable.
  3. My landlord for my first apartment was also my landlord my senior year in college. I graduated from college 5 months behind in rent to her, and she allowed me to set up a payment schedule to make up that debt while paying rent on the new apartment.
  4. During my first year on the job, I moonlighted as a bartender, and the tips from that second job helped me pay my landlord that back rent and also save money for rent and security deposit for a new apartment.
  5. My landlords for that new apartment were VERY flexible about my paying rent on time and not charging me late fees. Which was helpful because I got paid weekly and lived from paycheck to paycheck. So some months I had to delay my rent check by a week so that I could make my student loan payment on time. And anyone who has ever been poor knows how late fees can be the bane of your existence, keeping you from getting ahead of your debt no matter how hard you are working.
  6. That second job also resulted in my getting sick often that year, which ultimately cost me that second job and extra income. However, I had insurance to get medical care and paid sick time from my day job, so I didn't lose any of THAT income when I was sick. 
  7. There were multiple providers in my town that offered sliding fee scales for care - like the therapist I needed for several years to cope with childhood trauma, or Planned Parenthood, which was my only affordable provider of OB/GYN care during my 20s. And my primary care provider, who was willing to prescribe antibiotics over the phone for my *many* bouts of sinus and respiratory infections during those years, so that I didn't have to come up with copays every time I got sick.
  8. Being anorexic (from age 14 to 28) meant very low food bills, so I never had to choose between eating and making student loan payments or paying rent or making car payments. Thus helping me to avoid catastrophic financial setbacks, although also contributing to my lack of stamina in terms of working second jobs and my tendency to get sick.
  9. My first car was a used car, and I had an honest mechanic who accepted payment over time for major maintenance. For example, when my car died outside of Scranton, NJ, and he had to come and tow me back, he let me pay for the tow and the subsequent repairs over time. And he fixed the car just enough that I could trade it in for another car.
  10. My second car, at age 28, was the smallest, most stripped-down new car for which I could afford payments, thus reducing the risk of catastrophic car problems. And it was this car that enabled me to keep my job when the office moved out of our downtown location to a more rural setting.
  11. And actually it was a car accident in that new car, and a small insurance settlement from that accident, that enabled me to build up enough savings to qualify for a mortgage on my first little house at age 32. And again, I had health insurance and paid sick time to cope with the back problems that resulted from that accident, and which also led to that insurance settlement. 
  12. I was still poor enough to qualify for a subsidized second mortgage to help with the down payment and closing costs for the house, and the house and accompanying mortgage payments were small enough that I was actually able to start saving money on housing costs after purchasing the house.

    I would say that it was the purchase of that little 700 square foot bungalow that marked my exit from poverty. The challenge then was to stay out of poverty.
     
  13. When I sold this house 3 years later, I had improved upon it enough, and the market had gone up enough, to make a small profit on the sale.  Which resulted in my having more savings after selling it than I had from the car accident settlement when I bought it.
  14. By then, I was in a stable relationship with a fiscally responsible and non-poor partner, so we could take the profit from this house and invest some of it in improvements to the house that she owned and that I was now living in with her. And the rest could be kept as savings and a cushion against emergent needs in the future. This was a luxury and a sense of security that my always-poor parents never had.
  15. I did not encounter my first breast cancer until I was 35/36 (my second was 5 years later). By then, I was financially stable because of that first house, and I had the financial support of my partner to help with my cancer-related costs. And health insurance, and paid time off. The importance of these benefits cannot be overstated. My total bill for radiation therapy for my first cancer - just radiation therapy alone, this does not include the multiple biopsies and surgeries for that cancer - was over $15,000.00. However, the portion for which I was financially responsible was only $700. If I had to pay that full bill and the bill for all of the procedures and surgeries out of pocket, it would have exhausted our combined savings and perhaps even required me to take out a personal loan or borrow money from my 401k.
  16. Finally, I had my savings from that home sale and the financial support of my partner, both of which enabled me to go to graduate school after recovering from my first cancer, at age 37.
As you can see, it was a combination of fortuitous and not-so-fortuitous life events that helped me overcome poverty. Not everyone is as fortunate as I have been.

For example, owning a car can enable you to find a better paying job, which could be the first step out of poverty. However, if you are poor and own a car, it is probably a used car (because poor people cannot afford or do not have credit ratings to finance affordable new cars). Used cars require more maintenance and are at greater risk of breaking down. If you are forced to buy another car because your current used car has broken down more than once, and you need that car to keep your better job, then any money you have accrued from your better paying job could be lost to that one catastrophic event, which means it will take longer to get out of poverty.

Similarly, many lower-income workers work 1 or 2 or even 3 jobs to make ends meet or, if you're lucky, to start saving money. Usually the poor need multiple jobs because most employers (think retail, food service, manual labor, "unskilled" labor, etc.) restrict hours to avoid providing benefits like health insurance and paid time off. Working multiple jobs, none that offer health insurance, exposes workers to higher levels of stress, increasing the likelihood of getting sick. Getting sick without access to paid time off means losing income from all of your jobs. And without health insurance, getting sick can also drain your finances if you need medical care. So any extra money you had been making is lost, which means it will take longer to get out of poverty. And if you have a catastrophic illness like cancer, you may never get out of poverty.

If you take the time to consider it, I'm sure you can see how life events that don't derail the finances of the non-poor can be devastating if you are poor. Whether they were born into poverty or ended up there because of catastrophic events in their lives, it's this understanding that people in poverty need. It's this understanding that can inform our political support for safety net programs and ensure access to services and supports that address these risks and enable people who are poor to one day overcome poverty.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day and Reaching Out to Socially Isolated Older Adults

June 15th is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day - the National Council on Aging is working to raise awareness about the different kinds of abuse that older adults experience.

Most cases of elder abuse are unreported and untreated. A report on elder mistreatment from the National Institutes of Health estimates that only 1 in 14 cases of elder abuse are reported. That's less that 10%.

Lately, I have been interviewing service providers in my area who work with older adults, and they are confirming what we see in the literature about elder abuse.  That the most prominent factors that put seniors at risk of abuse are social isolation and mental impairments like dementia.

Nationally, in about half of reported incidents of elder abuse and neglect, the person responsible for the abuse is a family member, usually a spouse or adult child. The research also indicates that the abusing party is often the only source of care or support the victim has, and so they are reluctant to tell anyone what is happening, for fear that the will lose that relationship and end up completely alone or in a nursing home.  This is certainly what my interviews are reporting so far.

So, how do we identify older adults around us who are socially isolated, and how do we break that isolation?  The National Council on Aging suggests 4 steps:

1. increase communication with isolated older adults - if they are family, reach out to them more than you have been; if they are neighbors, make an effort to get to know them, invite them out for coffee or a meal, or ask if you can help them with yard work or accompany them on a walk; engage other neighbors in reaching out to them as well

2. offer to accompany them to social activities at a local church or senior center

3. explore their interests and hobbies - are they a gardener? maybe you can ask their advice about your garden or invite them to help pick out plants for you at a local garden center; are they a reader? you can ask them to join a book club with you;

4. help them identify opportunities for support whenever they need it - if they are online, they can access a support community through Mental Health America; if the prefer talking on the phone, give them the number for The Friendship Line: 1-800-971-0016. This is a nationwide 24/7 warmline and also a crisis intervention hotline, that specifically serves older adults or adults living with disabilities.  They also reach out to their callers on a regular basis, to monitor their health and well being.

In addition to these ideas, you may want to reach out to the person or persons who are caring for an isolated older adult. Sometimes they are just as isolated, and it is that stress and isolation that can lead to some kinds of elder abuse.

If they are family, what can you do to assist them in caregiving? Are there ways you can offer them respite, or time off from their caregiving responsibilities? Can you stay with the older adult while they take time for themselves or run personal errands? Is there a way to help them take a vacation? Can you connect them with services through your local Office or Aging or Alzheimer's Association chapter? Perhaps they would benefit from learning about challenges faced by other caregivers - this can be accomplished by attending a caregiver support group relevant to their loved one's condition, or they could access online resources like Caregiver Matters of CNY, where I provide links to articles and resources related to caregiving, or videos about issues faced by caregivers.

If they are not family, perhaps you can introduce yourself to them as a neighborly resource, interested in helping them and their loved one. Offer to put some of the above ideas in place for their loved one, or ask them if there is anything specific that you can do for them. Maybe you can help with mowing the lawn or shoveling their snow; perhaps you can offer to check in on grocery days to see if they need anything from the store. After establishing trust by proving yourself to be reliable and consistently engaged, you may be able to offer them opportunities for respite as well.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Who Said Life Was Fair?

Nobody who has ever had cancer, that's for sure. Or who has loved someone who had cancer. Or lost someone to cancer.

Today I found out that a friend who has been incredibly successful at surviving longer than medicine  originally predicted he would may not be with us much longer...

I don't know why some of us get cancer and some do not, or why some who get cancer get to have a "curable" cancer and others do not. Or why good people die and bad people don't, or some people with children and grandchildren to love and watch grow die, and some do not.  I have lost a beloved mentor to the same cancer I had, I have lost friends to the same cancer I had, and I don't know why I was able to survive it and they were not.

Everyone diagnosed with cancer, any cancer, is given their odds - odds of a cure, odds of survival, odds of recurrence.  Odds. Statistics. Numbers. Numbers that may mean something, or may not. And you have a choice, fight the odds or believe that they dictate your future. Statistics may not reflect individual experience. Unless they do.

After my first biopsy in 2002, I was given excellent odds - very small chance that the atypical tissue they found would be breast cancer. Except that it was. Early stage, DCIS, but there it was. Once you have DCIS, you are at risk of getting it again. But not necessarily of getting invasive cancer. Unless you do. Which I did in 2007. Again, the odds of getting it were lower than the odds of not getting it, but the odds betrayed me.  Now, I live with incredibly small odds of recurrence, and because I did everything I could to lower even those small odds, according to the medical understanding at the time, I work at training my brain not to worry about it.

I think most of us, when first diagnosed, feel hopeless. Maybe we believe the odds are too great. Maybe we consider the treatment too frightening. The future in front of us is suddenly uncertain, or we are just painfully aware of how uncertain the future really is. What if we can't beat it? What if we can? What if it comes back? What if it doesn't?

When my friend was first diagnosed, he almost didn't fight because he was told his odds of survival, even with treatment, were incredibly low. But then he decided to fight, for his kids, for his wife, for their future. Treatment made him so sick, he almost gave up. But then he didn't. And after months of chemo and radiation, he bought himself years of survival that the statistics said he would not have.

Some of us beat it, and some of us don't. There is no way to know which we will be. And beating it once doesn't mean it won't come back or that you will beat it again if it does. Some people who develop late stage or metastatic disease can enjoy long periods of remission after treatment, but not everyone. And nobody seems to be able to predict who will fall into which group.

For the patients and their loved one, this uncertainty can be unbearable. Or you find a way to bear it.

And then some other damn thing like an infection finds it's way in to your body because of the treatment that has been keeping you alive. And there it is. Suddenly you are losing the fight, and it's the fighting that makes you lose. You can follow all medical advice, and take every possible precaution, and there's nothing you can do to predict if or how it will happen. It ambushes you, it ambushes your family. All are powerless in the face of it. No matter how brave you are, or how determined, or how loved, or how worthy. Even knowing  this a disease that can kill you, there is no way to really be prepared for losing the fight. It's maddening, maddening and heartbreaking. 

It is heartbreaking knowing that the world is going to lose someone who is a good person, who has children and (soon) grandchildren to love and watch grow up, who has fought bravely and beaten horrible odds to live this long.  Heartbreaking and infuriating.  And unfair.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Foster Kids and State Support for Tuition

Wisconsin aims to become the 29th state to offer some form of tuition support to foster youth.
 
I hope they are able to pass the legislation. Research shows that between 31% and 46% of foster kids experience some period of homelessness between "aging out" of foster care at 18 and their mid-twenties. They either live on the street, in homeless shelters, or "couch surf" in their friends homes. 
 
College gives foster kids (my siblings and I entered foster care system when I was 13) a chance to develop as independent young adults, to be competitive in the job market, and in many cases, to rise above the poverty we grew up in. According to the Education Commission of that States, there are now 28 states that offer foster kids varying levels of financial support for college (tuition waivers, grants, or scholarships), and New York is one of them through the Foster Youth College Success Initiative established by McKinney's Education Law section 6456. This bill provides grants to SUNY schools (and CUNY schools in the NYC area) to cover tuition, fees, books, transportation, housing, and summer college prep, including advising, tutoring and academic assistance. So financial and academic support, to better ensure their success.

These supports were not available when I graduated from high school in the early 1980s. The rare foster kids who dared pursue a college education (of the 75 kids who lived with my foster mother during her career as a foster parent, only 3 of us went to college, and only my brother and I graduated from college) back then had to make our own way. Our family was rare; three of us were still in foster care when we graduated from high school and we all went on to college. All of us relied on some combination of scholarships, financial aid, student loans to pay for school. 
 
To apply for financial aid back then, foster kids had to provide financial data from their parents, even if they had no relationship with them or access to that information or access to those resources. In my case, my parent's poverty helped me get some financial aid I might not otherwise have gotten, so it worked in my favor that I had enough of a relationship with them to get that information. But they only gave me a total of $75 towards my college expenses, so not much financial support there.
 
I was 17 when I graduated high school, so unlike many foster kids, I would have been able to continue in foster care until the next fall when I turned 18.  That might have been enough time to get a job and save some money so I could afford a place to live, but for many foster kids, it isn't enough. Which is how they end up homeless or in jail. However, I didn't have to find out what would happen to me if working and being on my own at 18 was my only option, because I was able to go to college. 
 
The Big Breaks That Allowed Me To Succeed
Because I went on to college, my Medicaid coverage was extended from my 18th birthday until my 21st birthday, and my foster mother got her monthly stipend for my room and board until I was 21. Legally, that money was hers, but every month college was in session she deposited it into a shared checking account so that I could use it for expenses at school. My first, and perhaps most important, big break. Without that extra money, I don't know what I would have done. And because she was still getting that stipend, she also allowed me to continue to stay with her during college breaks and summers, although I had to bring everything I owned with me back and forth to school, or store it in a barn while I was away. And everything stored in that barn became water-damage by my junior year.

I turned 21 during the fall of my senior year of college, and that's where my health insurance and my foster mother's support stopped. I had minimal coverage through the health center on campus, so I didn't really notice the loss of health insurance. But without that monthly stipend, I had to pick up a second job to help cover my rent. I was already doing 20 hours a week at a work study job. The second job did not last; it was too much to keep up with school work and my first job, my social life, and also get enough sleep, so I was fired for missing a mandatory, unpaid staff meeting at the second job on one of my days off. Retail - horribly abusive to their employees. As a result of not being able to manage a second job, I fell behind in rent. 
 
My second big break was that two of my brothers were able to loan me some of the money I needed to keep up with my rent the first half of senior year. Even so, by the end of senior year, I was five months behind in rent.  
 
This was where I got my third big break - my landlord let me carry that debt until I had a full-time job and could pay her back.  She even rented to me again for the following year, deferring the required first month's rent and a security deposit until I found a job, so that I had somewhere to live after graduation. I paid her back in full as soon as possible that first year.
 
Without these big breaks, I don't think I would have finished school or had anywhere to live senior year. In other words, I would have become homeless. And that possibility was always there in my mind during my early 20s, when I was living paycheck to paycheck, paying back my debts from senior year, and barely scraping by. But instead, because a handful of people were willing to provide needed financial support, I was able to finish school and find a job, and become successful.

And now, in 28 states across the country, foster kids have a chance to do just that, without having to hope that the people around them will come through in a crisis. This is good news for foster kids in those 28 states, but we need the rest of the country to catch up.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Balancing Survival and Serenity in Trying Political Times - How Are YOU Doing it?

What is the balance between awareness and resistance, which seem necessary for survival, and peace of mind, also necessary for survival? Any ideas? I'm open to comments!

In A.A. we often talk about accepting that you are powerless (over alcohol, over other people's actions, over the future), doing the footwork, and not projecting about future outcomes. So, do what you need to do next to achieve a goal, but don't worry about whether that goal will be achieved. 

Just as I have always had to be vigilant about my sobriety, however, I feel that I need to be vigilant about tyranny, like a President who believes he can violate the Constitution to suit his own financial gain and a Congress that appears to support that behavior, and political maneuvering to strip vulnerable Americans of basic protections, like freedom of speech, the right to dissent, and access to affordable healthcare.

Sobriety happens one day at a time. You cannot be sober on Saturday night if it's only Thursday morning; you can only be sober on Thursday morning. But you can plan to be somewhere Saturday night that doesn't put you at risk of drinking, and you can coordinate with someone who will respect your sobriety on Thursday morning to be there with you on Saturday night. Do the footwork with the intention of staying sober on Saturday night, but not project about how Saturday night will turn out.

That approach I understand, and after all these years it's like second nature. I don't drink, I don't plan to drink, but I do that one day of sobriety at a time.

All of the steps, principles, and suggestions of A.A. should be transferable to any life problem, concern, event, relationship, job, and usually they work for me no matter what the situation. My dissertation? Write it a day at a time, have a deadline for finishing a draft, don't think ahead to that deadline, just decide what you need to get done today to move in the direction of the goal.  When my Dad was on Hospice? Monitor the situation one day at a time, do or say whatever you need to today in order to be at peace with him and within yourself , and to make sure that he is getting good care, so that when the day comes you have minimal regrets. But know you cannot predict that day or really know what it will be like until it arrives. 

I'm not perfect at it, and some days it is harder than others, but most days I can "work my program" so that I am accepting life on life's terms, taking whatever actions I need to, and feeling generally calm and able to enjoy life.

So, then, I should be able to apply these principals to the transition from my favorite President of all time to someone who I believe is a liar, a con artist, and a threat to democracy and the civil rights of most Americans.  But so far, I haven't been able to do that. Every day, there is something more outrageous than the last, more appointees who would shred consumer protections and corporate regulations; blatant indicators that Presidential favors are for sale on an unprecedented level; attempts to undermine the Office of Congressional Ethics; proposed legislation to cut security for US embassies after years of being obsessed with Benghazi, when security had been underfunded by Congress but the outcomes were blamed on the State Department; reviving archaic rules from the 1800s that allow Congress to devalue Federal workers and agencies on a whim; or the Senate beginning the process to repeal the Affordable Care Act without a plan to replace it.

Every time I choose to pay attention, it takes only minutes for my head to start spinning with anger, apprehension, and anxiety. But when I choose to look away, it is with the knowledge that even more outrageous things ARE happening or COULD BE happening, and I dread being taken unawares. It's sort of like the last few years of my Mom's life, when I would take a break from paying attention to the daily details of her care, only to be called while away on vacation because she had a fall or an ER visit or some other crisis; so I never really stopped worrying about her even if I wasn't actively engaged. It feels like that, only on a much larger and more frightening scale.

So, I don't know how to make the move from this constant state of apprehension and anxiety to the one day at a time approach to surviving this new administration. But I'm working on it.

How are YOU managing it?