Tag Archives: New Zealand

Reflections and Gratitude

15 Mar

I just finished my sixth chemo. I am up in the middle of the night writing because I am quite sick from the chemo and need something to distract me, so that I don’t throw up again. Quite sadly, when I looked in the mirror as I was brushing my teeth after throwing up, I saw a reflection I did not recognize. I saw a very old man who was quite gaunt, exceedingly pale — almost a gray pallor to his skin — and very thin black and mostly gray hair. While I was tearing up at what I saw in the mirror, the ghost looked back at me with some compassion and nodded his head politely to let me know that yes, this is what I look like with stage four cancer after six rounds of chemo. But this piece is about a less vain reflection and about such enormous gratitude to those who seek me out and work so hard to lift me up and be strong for me when I don’t feel strong.

I want to reflect on the humanity and overwhelming kindness: generosity of heart from so many that I have been able to be in community with while sick. Humanity that seems quite difficult to find in the age of the hypocritical and sociopathic Trump. Since announcing the news of the new cancer, I have been on the receiving end of so much love and so much caring, that I am usually crying tears of joy, with the occasional self-pity big cry of why the fuck me? What if I don’t have what it takes to beat this, as the odds are not good? When I feel defeated and in the pit of despair because of Trump, Pence, Mitch (I have no soul) McConnell, Theresa (I’m so popular) May, Boris (the Klassy version of Trump) Johnson, Jair (closet queen) Bolsonaro and others so full of hate, I have to look to my community of friends and family who help lift me up.

My friends here in Oregon have been so full of love and strength; they combined with all of my family/friends who have traveled from every point in the United States to love on me, have created so much strength for me that when I’m tired I can actually feel myself relaxing and gliding on their cloud of love.

Keeping with the theme of gratitude, I must thank my amazing teach of medical folk at OHSU. This amazing team of people are truly dedicated to helping me stay alive and to help me say Fuck Cancer! There are so many people to thank, so please forgive me if I forget someone: thank you Skye Mayo, Charlie Lopez, my two oncologists and Asher Caldwell my palliative care specialist, and Cheryl my chemo nurse seen in the picture above. Chemo is a horrible, scary journey and on my first chemo Cheryl gave me a huge hug and said thank  you just for coming and starting this. I so needed that, as it’s helping me get through and I’m not even in the middle of the journey yet.

As I have been reflecting on my own journey of life, I am have reaffirmed why I have to be here on earth, at least for a little bit longer. I want my legacy to be that I worked tirelessly to make the world a better place for all people, specifically for people with targeted identities that do not have equal access to resources. I want my legacy to be that I worked tirelessly to eradicate misogyny, homophobia, Islamophobia, and racism. Today, my heart goes out to all of the Muslim community. I am so very sorry for your loss today in New Zealand at the hands of a terrorist. Sadly, the President of the United States has only helped to fuel and to normalize such Islamophobia.

Right now, I am having to focus so hard on healing and beating this cancer. Unfortunately, our insurance does not cover all of the expenses and I am not able to work full-time, try though I might. My husband has set up a GoFundMe account to help us with expenses. If you are so inclined, I thank you in advance for all of your help and support. I also hope you will join me in the fight to make this a better world; that  means we need to learn how to live differently and to make sacrifices to leave a better world for posterity.

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Hero of the Week Award: April 19, Patricia Maisch

19 Apr
Hero of the Week

Hero of the Week

Despite massive popular support and rising levels of public violence, the U.S. Senate failed to pass even the weakest of gun control bills this week. In the face of this shameful behavior, one voice called out in the Senate chamber: “Shame on you!” That voice belonged to Patricia Maisch, my hero.

The woman from Tucson knows what she’s talking about. She was in the crowd when Jared Loughner opened fire, killing six and wounding many others including Rep. Gabby Giffords. Maisch leapt into action, helping subdue Loughner before he could reload. She has become an outspoken advocate for gun control and had testified in favor of congressional action.

She spoke for all sensible Americans with her outburst (which got her escorted out of the building). Congress is broken. Human lives matter less than lobbyists and corporations. Someone needs to speak the truth. Thank you, Patricia Maisch, for taking up that charge.

Honorable mention this week goes to the latest two countries to approve marriage equality for their LGBT citizens. Uruguay passed a bill last week which simply awaits the President’s signature (which he has promised). New Zealand’s Parliament approved a marriage bill on Wednesday, resulting in a joyous celebration amongst the legislators and onlookers. They are the 12th and 13th nations to approve full equality as a matter of law. How sad that the “Land of the Free” is still waiting for the same kind of justice.

Mental Health and Stigma

8 May

Progressive Health Care

Part of social justice is working to enfranchise marginalized populations.  Sadly, people living with mental health issues are too often marginalized and worry about stigma.  I was even anxious when I talked about my own struggles with depression.  I say with great certainty that most humans either struggle with some form of mental illness, or have family and friends who struggle.

Here in the United States, we can’t even talk about health care for all much less actually talk about treating mental health issues.  Here is where I would like to call attention to the amazing and progressive country of New Zealand.  New Zealand is tackling the issue of mental health with an advertising campaign that is compassionate, humane, and affirming in the attempt to remove stigma.  Click here to see part of this video campaign.

Action steps: not only do we need to make sure the Affordable Health Care Act passes, but we need to expand the act to take care of all of our brothers and sisters.

Celebrating LGBTQ History Month: June 11, Georgina Beyer

11 Jun

Today I would like to honor and pay tribute to Georgina Beyer. New Zealand seems often to be the font of the true progressive movement.  Beyer was the first openly transgender mayor of Carterton in New Zealand in 1995.  She was also the first openly transgender Member of Parliament from 1999 until 2007; this makes her the very first openly transgender elected official in the world.  In a December 2002 interview, Beyer said:

I get asked questions no other politician would ever have to answer. Regarding the surgery, you know. ‘Did it hurt?’, or, ‘When you have sex now as a woman, is it different to how you had sex as a man?’ Well, honey, obviously.

I think I am bothered by the fact that people are so focused on genitals rather than gender expression and identity–I refer you to the first interview I did with Jenn Burleton.  Brava, to our Georgina Beyer for her courage and dedication to equality for the LGBTQ community by living her life honestly and openly.

Women’s History: February 26

26 Feb

Patron of the Arts

Happy Birthday, Mabel Dodge Luhan. Luhan was a well known benefactress of the arts and was influential in the start of the Taos Art Colony. In her memoir, Intimate Memories, Luhan recounts her very colorful and well lived life, including her many bisexual affairs. Luhan played hostess to such figures as: Gertrude Stein, her brother Leo, and Stein’s partner Alice B. Toklas.  D.H. Lawrence and his wife visited Luhan and her then husband in Taos–apparently it was a rather tense visit, so much so that both Lawrence and Luhan wrote about the experience.

Happy Birthday, Helen Clark. Clark served as Prime Minister of New Zealand from 1999-2008.

Finally, on February 26, 1987 the Church of England’s General Synod voted to support the ordination of women priests—go Vicar of Dibley.

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