Recently as I was scrolling somewhat mindlessly through social media, and I came across an album of pictures depicting various animals that have been either killed or seriously injured due to pollution in the Oceans. We have seen a lot of these sorts of things lately and for good reason. Our oceans and our planet as a whole are in big trouble. If we don’t really start doing something about it now, our children and grandchildren are not going to have much of a future. This is no longer something that we can leave to the hippies and flower children (Long live the Hippies and Flower Children!). Its up to every one of us no matter what or who you are.

Like many, when trying to figure out how to do the best I can to help I have gotten overwhelmed by all the choices. When you start to look around at your home and your lifestyle it seems like every where you look and every thing you do in some way impacts the environment. Many people just give up. We think there is no way we can possibly make all those changes. There is no denying that there is a lot that needs to change. In every aspect of our lives. But this does not mean we have to do it all at once and it does not make us bad people to not be able to reduce our carbon foot print to practically nothing over night. That’s just not realistic for anyone. What we can do, is take it one step at a time and create new healthier habits for ourselves and the environment? There are resources all around us if we just slow down, do a little research, and give ourselves time. The key is remembering that creating a habit takes time and repetition. So be patient with yourself.

So after crying a bit over these very hard to look at images, I wanted to do something more. I have a few things in place already but I wanted to take a few more steps in the right direction. As an up-cycle artist I am always coming up with ways to give something discarded new life and I take pride in that. Because I am a small business owner I also have at least a little bit of a platform that maybe I can use to help get the word out there and help others learn and grow as well. Mind you I am no guru or influencer, although one can dream. I am just a girl with a big squishy heart that wants to help make a difference. So I thought maybe I could do some writing on what I am learning about. I want to address the not so obvious as well as the obvious and simple. Even if I only reach one person it will be worth it.

One of the images that really caught me off guard was an image of a water bird that had starved to death because its beak had been jammed into a disposable razor head. I will not torture you with that image. It hurts my heart just to type that sentence. So I have decided that my first article is going to be about how to be more environmentally responsible with razors. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reports that 2 BILLION disposable razors are thrown away every year.

Let me first say that I am no expert. I have no official training. I encourage you to always do your own research. This is just the stuff I found that might be useful.

We are all in different stages of our journey to help heal the planet. Whatever stage you are at is ok. Don’t let anyone tell you that you have to be perfect all at once. There are lots of factors that can come in to play that are personal to you and your situation. That’s why I have decided to do this as steps on the journey that anyone can pick up at whatever stage they are and make improvements or take the next step. It’s up to you.

The first step for me would be if you are using disposable single use razors. Here are some things you can do to make sure you are doing it the best way possible until you are ready to take the next step.

  • Store the one you are using hanging or blade up to avoid rust.
  • Try using a little bit of baby oil on the blades after use to keep them sharp and rust free longer.
  • Do a little research and find out if the razors you are using are made from recycled material. If its not, consider switching to one that is.
  • Find out what programs are in place in your area or what mail in programs are convenient to you to recycle disposable razors.
  • Make sure that when disposing of them you are putting the protective cap back on the razor so that whom ever comes in contact with them is not getting cut.

Some razor companies even have take back programs that allow you to send back your used products to be disposed of properly.

If you are ready to move on to the next step, maybe try investing in a razor that only the heads need to be changed and the handle stays the same. This comes with its own set of precautions.(Remember the bird picture?)

  • Research before purchase is really important. It can seem daunting when your favorite search engine throws a thousand different options at you. Try refining your search parameters with locations, specific materials, and the programs you are looking for.
  • Try to find a company that has a take back program so you can send the heads back to be recycled.
  • Try to find a razor handle that is made out of recycled or recyclable materials. Although plastic can be a very important part of some things, there are better materials that don’t cause as much pollution, and waste. Maybe try metal or wood. Even better a sustainable wood like bamboo or hemp. But don’t get too bogged down. Taking the step to switch is a good decision no matter what the handle material is made out of.
  • If you are disposing of the heads yourself make sure they are in some kind of a sharps container. You can order razor boxes on line or a simple home made container can be made out of a metal can. Just make sure that it is closed well before putting it in the bin. There are plenty of tutorials on line to show you how to make one.
  • You can also use the baby oil trick with these razors to help them stay sharp and rust free. (Don’t forget to recycle the baby oil bottle. )

So we have come this far. You have gotten rid of the disposable one piece razors. You are responsibly using the changeable head razors but you want to do more. Is there somewhere to go from here? Can you do better some how? Are your ready for the next step? Hang onto your stubble cuz now it gets really cool!

The next step in our journey is the single blade safety Razor. (Razor that houses one single razor blade that gets replaced when dulled) If you have never heard of them before go ahead and look them up. Go ahead….I’ll wait.

Ok now don’t panic. I know what your thinking. I am asking you to put a regular straight razor blade into this medieval looking devise and then apply it to parts of your body and ask it to remove hair and not skin. I must be crazy. Chances are you may have had a grand parent that used something similar. So isn’t that a step backwards? Yes! And that’s exactly what we need to be doing.

Hear me out… Before the age of disposable everything, we had products that lasted. One of the big keys to saving this planet is going back and reexamining those things and seeing what we can do to recreate those sustainable things in the modern world. It does take a little skill to use one safely, but the mechanism itself does a lot of the work for you. Back in the day there was usually an older role model that would teach you how to do these things. Now a days as we are going forward to the old ways we may not have that person that can teach us, but fear not! The internet is full of tutorials and how to’s that can help you learn the ancient ways.

So what are the major points to look out for if you are taking this next big step? I thought you would never ask.

  • As always, first do your research.
  • If you are unsure if this right for you, try getting a less expensive version first and try it out. Once you are a bit more comfortable and know for sure this is right for you then you can invest in a nice one.
  • Find a nice metal or wood Razor that you like from a reputable company. It may seem a little pricey but remember, this may be your razor for life…if you wish. Something you may even pass down to your kids. Its fun to take some time and find a cool one that really reflects your personality.
  • Try to find a company to get your blades from that offers a take back program. Some of the companies that sell the handles also have blade programs. They often even come with packaging and label to send your used blades back and they recycle them for you.
  • If you cannot find a good take back program or prefer to recycle the blades yourself, make sure that you are using some kind of a sharps container. You can order one on line or make one out of a metal can just liked we talked about with the replaceable heads. This keeps kids, animals and everyone in between, safe. And if you think about it, it would take a long time to fill one metal soup can with razor blades before you would have to recycle it.
  • Once you are ready to recycle them don’t just throw them in your house recycle bin. Find a metal recycling facility near you and drop it off. Consider it an adventure. Some facilities even pay for the metal you bring in.
  • If you don’t have a recycling facility near you there are some mail in places as well.
  • Oiling your blade will keep it sharp and rust free as we have talked about before so they will last longer. Check with the company you get your handle from. Some of them have great oils and other products too.
  • And of course keep all sharp blades in or out of the handle in a safe place away from kids and pets and nosy house guests.

Now I bet your thinking, that’s it. We have found the ultimate in environmentally friendly, tiny carbon foot print, doing the most in shaving paraphernalia. Nope. There is one more step. If you have come this far and still want to do more. If you want to never buy another implement of hair removal again. If you are ready to really earn your Captain Planet shaving badge, there is the ultimate Excalibur of shaving!

THE STRAIGHT RAZOR! (Ba Ba Buuuuum!!) Yes, Like Sweeny Todd. (This author does not in any way support any uses of a straight razor other than shaving. No matter how cool Johnny Depp is)

This beautiful timeless piece of metal is the end all be all of manual shaving technology and by far the simplest. One Blade to rule them all!! Elegant, timeless, sophisticated. The straight razor has been around since the time of the ancient Egyptians. And will probably be around for many years to come. In takes a little getting used to for sure, but it is not as hard, or dangerous as you may think. It can, with a little practice, be mastered easily.

Lets get to the main points.

  • This one is a big leap, and may not be for everyone. I recommend getting a good, inexpensive one first to learn and practice with, just like the last step. Decide if this is right for you before you invest in a really nice one. And if you do keep going you will have one for travel so you don’t have to take your good one out and risk loosing it.
  • Once you have decided this is right for you, as always, research. Find a reputable company, one that has been around for a while. Read reviews. Take your time and find the perfect one. Just like the safety razor you could potentially have this razor for the rest of your life and pass it down to the next generation. Find a nice one. Save up if you have to. Trust me its worth it.
  • There is one accessory you will need for a straight razor that you cant go with out. The strop. A strip of leather attached to a loop that is used to sharpen the razor. I suggest really doing your homework for this. Find a good one and learn how to use it properly. Internet to the rescue! However, if you do have an older friend or relative that has one please by all means seize the opportunity to bond with them and ask for a tutorial. You might just find out some really cool stuff about them.
  • Another great source of information and learning is the fetish community. If you know someone that is in that scene, there is a good chance they, or someone they know, can teach you how to use one.
  • Practice with this one for a while on less sensitive parts of the body that you can see easily. Like your arm or easily accessible part of the leg. With practice you can get just as close a shave as with modern multiple blades. Just please be realistic. If you find that its not working don’t push it. Safety first always.
  • Also I highly recommend looking up the wiki on the history of the straight razor. Its fascinating!
  • For a step in between there are also versions of the straight razor that take disposable blades.
  • Also straight razors are dominant hand specific so make sure you get the one right, or left, for you.

So there you have it folks. The evolution of the de-evolution of the shaving paraphernalia phenomenon. Its a lot of information, I know. Remember you don’t have to, and are not expected to just jump to the end and be a straight razor expert over night, or at all. Find the step that works for you. Make a commitment to take one step in the right direction. That’s all it takes to make a difference.

Here are a couple of other things to think about that can be helpful to the environment in the vast realm of shaving.

Take a look at the other shaving products you are using. Shaving cream, gel, after shave, lotions etc.. Are they environmentally friendly? Are they plant based and cruelty free? Is the packaging recyclable? Is the company ethical? These are simple questions we can ask about any product we use. If the answer is no to any of these questions, consider finding an alternative. Or if you really want to have some fun, maybe try making your own.

Have you always wanted to go natural? What better way to save on shaving products then to just not shave at all. I know this is a super personal choice and not for everyone. But if you have always wanted to and just haven’t done it yet, now is the time. Our world is changing. Our society is changing. More and more people are making the person choice not to shave. Its your body and your hair. Do with it as your please. I am aware that there are still circumstances in the world where this is not acceptable and if you do not feel comfortable or safe by all means do not put your self in danger. Do what you feel is right for you. But if you do get the chance to go natural, even if its just for a bit, I highly recommend it. Flower wreaths and bongo drums optional…..But fun.

Some say that electric razors are an option. Defiantly not as disposable as a plastic razor and convenient for sure. Its not my first choice as electric razors are still made with all kinds of plastics and don’t last forever and when they do die they are even harder to recycle. But that’s more of a personal opinion for me. If you like them by all means go for it. Its still better than throwing away a whole plastic hand razor every other week.

One more little environmental thing. Think about your water consumption. Shaving takes time. Turning off the water while you are shaving saves water and energy in heating the water, which saves the environment and your wallet.

I hope that you have found this article informative and entertaining and maybe even learned a few things. I know I did. I would love to hear from you. What stage of the journey are you on? How are things going? Share with me your new stuff if you have made a purchase towards a better future in shaving. Let me know if there is something I didn’t cover that you would like to know about. Give me your ideas for future posts.

Thanks for reading and remember to share with your friends!

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In life we are blessed, for better or worse with family. And then there is chosen family. Those amazing people in our lives that start out as friends, quickly move to best friends and eventually become family. The people that we would not ever want to live with out. Today I want to talk about one of my oldest and dearest friends who is my chosen sister. Sharene. We met almost 30 years ago at a tiny little neighborhood park in Hollywood and have been thick as thieves ever since. Even when we lost touch for a little bit we would eventually find each other and it would be like no time had passed. Sharene is my grounding. Even at the height of my crazy years which lasted way past my teens she has been there to keep me from going too crazy. And when I didn’t listen so well, and had to learn the hard way, she has loved me and been there for me anyway. She has picked me up off the floor more times than I can count. Her influence has not always been saintly. But even in corrupting me she has protected me. She gave me my first drink but never let me have too much. She exposed me to the joys of cutting class from time to time but always encouraged me to do my best. We stayed out late, but she made sure we were always safe. We learned about boys and love and sex but were never too far apart. We smoked and laughed together on my living room floor and I always knew we were OK because she was right there with me. We have seen each other through two kids a piece and all of the ups and downs and tears of fear and joy that come with it. We are Godmother to each others children and love them all with all of our crazy Mama Bear hearts.

Sharene is the most amazing bad ass warrior women I have ever had the honor of knowing. She has lived through, nay, fiercely fought through, abuse, drama, heartache and pain that no normal human would have been able to endure. She has kicked cancer’s ass with extreme prejudice. Been dealt the worst aftermath and side effects of cancer treatment I have ever heard of and continues to fight like the beautiful strong goddess that she is. She has been there to lend and ear and give advice even when she felt horrible. She has never pushed me away or told me not now. She always tells it like she sees it. No sugar coating or telling me what I wanna hear and for that I am eternally grateful. I love this women so much. I could never do enough to repay her for all of her love, tough or otherwise. There are not enough words to say thank you for all that she has done for me. Including taking me and my boys, and all our pets in when we found ourselves with out a home for a little while.

We have not always seen totally eye to eye. And we defiantly have different tastes in just about everything except David Bowie but that is what has made our friendship so wonderful. We give each other different perspectives. We teach each other new things. We celebrate our diversity. We love each other unconditionally.

I look up to her. I cherish her. Even though we don’t see each other as much as I would like, as we both tend to be house bound with our respective health issues. She is in my heart and on my mind every day.

She is beauty.

She is strength.

She is Joy.

She is Goddess, Princess, and Queen.

She is a rock star!

She is my Sister forever.

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Very often we hear the phrase “Give yourself permission to fail”. Well I think that’s great but what I have learned is that what I need is permission to try again. I have learned that for me, it very often takes many tries get something right, or to make a change. Not only because my memory is so bad that sometimes I don’t remember what I have done. But also because if I dont or cant do something right the first time I give up. I am learning that just because I fail once this does not mean it cant be done or its a bad idea. I just means I may have to try again…and again…and again. Hopefully making adjustments along the way so I am not just defining insanity. Having Fibromyalsia has taught me that what is impossible today may not be tomorrow. And it has also taught me that what I used to be able to do, I may not be able to the same way anymore.

It’s easy to give up. To just say, I already tried that and never do it again. Or see how someone else does something and think, if I cant do it like they do it, I cant do it at all. Someone once told me about this thing called adaptive skills. Great concept. One problem. There is no one, hard and fast manual on how to adapt. And adapting is not just about all of a sudden being totally comfortable with doing something different. Maybe some people can do that, but that is defiantly not me. I figured out with the help of an amazing therapist, that the first step, is letting go of what used to be…what I used to be able to do. That, in and of itself is not easy at all. While I was still wallowing in my past there was no way I can even try to figure out any other way to do anything. Once I figured out that I needed to stop looking back, the problem became, now I have to figure out how to do things and who I am now. Its not just, “ ok I’m gonna do it this way now”. Its basically learning how to do something all over again. Moreover I am becoming a different person with a completely different way of thinking and problem solving. So its kinda nuts to think that its gonna go all perfect the first time.

All of that doesn’t even begin to cover the fear. So much fear. Having to change how you do the most fundamental of things can really play havoc with your self worth. What if I don’t do it right? What if I embarrass myself? What are people going to think of me? Are they going to judge me? It’s terrifying!

I talk myself out of things again and again. No matter how good my idea might be. No matter how much I need to do something. Fear will stop me in my tracks and make me rethink everything. I will talk myself out of even the things I want to do the most. I will sit paralyzed for hours afraid to even confront that thing that I need or want to do. What if I do it wrong? What if by doing it wrong I hurt someone I love? But then by not doing it am I hurting someone. Which I think about long before I worry about what this is doing to me.

All of those things pile up squarely on my shoulders. All of which, I put there.

Overwhelmed, weighed down, paralyzed, terrified. The only way out is a path I have to travel alone. Ok maybe not completely alone. I have this amazing therapist that most of the time just feels like this really cool friend that listens to me bitch and tells me its ok to feel the way I do. It’s funny how my friends and family can tell me all day long that I am doing ok and it takes a perfect stranger to make me believe it, but with out those friends and family non of this would mean anything.

So, permission to fail, permission to try again, believing those friends and family that they are strong enough to take it if I accidentally hurt them. All boils down to one thing for me.

Most people would say that it’s courage. And yes that is what other people call it. But like everything else what other people see isn’t exactly right for me. The word for me is something more like… Fuck it. Yup. Fuck it.

I have to invoke the rebellion with in me. The defiant, Stubborn, women that can just say Fuck it. Imma do it anyway. I kinda gotta get mad. Get mad at me in the most positive way possible. Does that make sense? Probably not completely. Which means its perfect for me.

Fuck it. I am going to stumble and fall. I am going to look like I have no idea what I am doing from time to time and some times I wont. But I will learn from it and I will get better the next time I try. So Fuck it.

Sometimes I am going to break down and cry and want to give up and I am going to wallow for a while. Fuck it

I am going to forget stuff. I am going to forget why it didn’t work the first time and I am going to do the same thing again. I have people that love me in my life that will be there for me to gently remind me and help me find another way or just cheer me on. So Fuck it.

I still want to live. I still want to see my friends and go places It is going to be a little more difficult to do some things because my body doesn’t work the way it used to. Fuck it.

Each time I say Fuck it I am going to get stronger and do more and be happier in the body I have now.

And anytime anyone wants to say Fuck it with me I will be more than happy to shout it to the world with you.

I am what I am. Right her right now. I am not what I used to be. I am not my mistakes. I am not my disabilities. I am the ever changing, ever evolving me. And I am going to try and try again as many times as I need to.

Fuck it.

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The first two people I would like to talk about are the two closest people to me in the whole world. My partner Joe and my oldest son Jason. These two amazing men make my life better every day. The list of ways they help me is miles long.

Joe has stuck with me through 6 years of the roller-coaster that is my life. With patience and tolerance that can only be described as saintly, this man has fed me in bed more times than I can count. He has indulged late night cravings, run unending errands, ferried kids to school and band events all over creation, indulged me in all sorts of crazy ideas, jumped on board with my life long dream, insisted that I take my meds and eat well, rubbed and massaged sore muscles so much it has permanently effected his hands. He has cried with me, held me, made sure I fell asleep, Cried with relief when I do finally sleep. He has defended me, and educated others about my condition. I cannot say enough about all of the amazing ways that Joe makes my life better and easier.

On our third date, I sat him down and set all the cards on the table for him. I told him all about my health conditions and what it means to be with me. He did not flinch. He has never seen my conditions as me. He sees me when I cant. No matter how sick I am, how messy my hair or how much weight I gain he loves me and thinks I am beautiful. And to top it all of, he has this amazing family that has accepted me and has gone out of their way to help me as well. In ways I have not even been able to process completely yet. I am so blessed and thankful to have him in my life. I don’t tell him enough. I hope that this will help him know how much I love and appreciate him.

The next person I need to honor is my oldest son Jason. Jason had a rough start to life. Born with a defect in his heart, he underwent open heart surgery at 6 weeks old. He was partially deaf until he was 4 years old when a brilliant homeopathic doctor found the problem and cured it when no other doctor could. Because of these set backs so early on he struggled with speech for many years to come. And Goddess knows I was not the best Mom. He grew up with Mom being in bed sick a lot. Having to do things for himself much earlier than a child should have to. He struggled with many things and through it all he has always had the sweetest, softest, most loving disposition I have ever seen in a child.

Now that he is grown up, and has a good job he could have easily left the nest and distanced himself from me but my dear sweet child has done the exact opposite.

He is here, at home, making his family and me a priority. I can not say enough about this sweet young man who I am honored to call son. He calls me every day from work to say hi and check up on me. He has kicked in money for food. He has taken Joe and I out to movies when we didn’t have the money to go, many times. He comes into my room when I am stuck in bed and talks to me and hangs out with me. He has brought me food in bed just as much as Joe has. We have shows on TV that we only watch when we are together, which he will come home from a hard day at work and still take the time to watch with me. He cooks and helps clean. Listens when I cry and when I complain. Through heartache and trials of his own he has been there for me. He has never been embarrassed of me. He has never pushed me away when I wanted to be there for him. He takes me out to eat just because and has used his money for things often when I have given him my card to pay. He fills my van up with gas, loads my wheelchair onto the van. The list goes on and on. I am so proud of him and so blessed to have him in my life. I want the world to know how special and wonderful he is so this is my way of shouting it from the rooftops.

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I post a lot about how hard fibro is. From articles to comics to memes. It’s all over the internet, how often people with fibro and other “invisible conditions ” are miss understood and judged unfairly. I do this because it needs to be done.
But…what I don’t see a lot of is talk about the amazing support people we DO have in our lives. I feel like those people need to be celebrated much more. We need to write articles and draw comics and shout to the world about the people that are there for us every day in all sorts of different ways. Some of them struggling through there own health issues and hard times. Don’t me wrong, I do see it. Many do make it a point to thank there support people, privately and publicly. I just feel I need to do more to honor mine. And since I am limited in so many ways I can at least use the tools I still have to do so.
My support system is huge! They are the reasons I am still here. The reasons I survive.
It would be an injustice to try to squeeze them all into one post. So I have decided to split it up to one or two at a time over the next…well however long it takes. I want all of them to know, and everyone else to know, that every day they make a huge difference in my life.
I am eternally grateful for each and every one of them.
So…from here on out that will be my mission. Please come back and read about these amazing people and feel free to share with me the stories about your support people.

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Art has been used for therapy for centuries. Fine motor skills honed through painting, drawing, and sculpture. Dementia treated with music. A plethora of mental and emotional maladies made better through art, music, and dance. Art can move to tears and lift to joy. We are connected to it, it surrounds us. Even those who do not poses the drive to create appreciate it in some way.

I started my business, SecondHand Goddess at a time in my life when I needed healing and didn’t know how to find it any other way. I was trapped, scared, in pain everyday. I had not practiced any form of art in almost 5 years and it was killing me. The call became deafening. The universe stepped in and gave me what I needed to get started.

What I gained was was courage. In spite of the physical and emotional pain, it was all I could think about. All I wanted to do. The forces in my life that were keeping me down did not like what I was doing. They tried to get me to stop and I couldn’t. It was that drive, that call, that kept me going to the point that the person that was holding me back, let go of me. Completely. And even though it left me with two small children and no way to take care of myself or them, I still had my art. I still had that courage, that strength. It reminded me that I could do it. That I could survive. And I did. I was a long road to recovery. I struggled and cried and fought with all my heart. The mundane world and simple survival took all my energy for a while. But that drive to create never left me. I never turned my back on it and it never let me down.

Shortly after I gave birth to my first child I was diagnosed with Fibromyalsia. Acceptance of it was not very big in those days. Not much was known about it or how to live with it. My mother had it so I knew what it looked like. I knew how it destroyed her. Put her in bed for days. She was an artist too and I remember her struggling to get out of bed. Getting out to her studio in spite of her body fighting her. I understood very quickly that it was her art that kept her going. It was her art that gave her purpose when the fibro had taken everything else away. I have held onto that strength all my life. She used to say to me “Never let anyone break your spirit.” I did not always follow that. I allowed myself to be broken and I allowed others to be hurt because I was broken. But it was always the art that pulled me back.

A few years ago I was also diagnosed with Degenerative Disk Disease. I was told that nothing could be done until it got so bad that I would need surgery. I have lost jobs. I cannot work a normal job anymore. I am in constant pain. I cannot walk for stand for more than a minute or so. The call to create is stronger then it has ever been. As my body slowly fails I am left with pure raw desire to create. To take what was discarded and give it new life. Give it beauty. Just as I have been discarded and have found beauty in what I have become. Every set back in my life has opened a new door to creativity. Every time I embraces that drive I get stronger. I learn some new way to use the gift of creativity I have been given to keep going. A little at a time I am working towards a dream. I have found others along the way that believe in the dream as much as I do. And see the beauty in the broken. Broken does not mean ugly. Broken does not mean garbage. Broken means change, evolution, metamorphosis.

I have been broken in more ways than I can count. I am still hear and putting the pieces back together in whole new ways. My art is my therapy and my hope for the future.

So when the world breaks you, when the pain, weather physical or emotional gets to be so blinding that it feels impossible to bring anything else into focus. Remember that art can save you. Art can bring in the light or dim it when its too bright. Whether you are a creator or an appreciator it has power. Remember your favorite song. The one that makes you smile or cry or both. Watch your favorite movie. Walk out side and look at the sky and the trees and let the art of nature inspire you.

Draw, paint, crochet, sew, dance, sing! Art is everywhere if we just look. Let it be your therapy. Let it be your courage and your strength.

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To Whom it may concern,

I am writing to you in regards to my recent visit to one of your appointed doctors. Dr Richard A. Reines M.D.. I have never in my life had such a dehumanizing experience with a physician. Some may say I am fortunate in this, which in and of itself is a sad commentary, but I digress.

I went in with the understanding that the purpose of this appointment was to have a physician deny that I am unable to work. It is a forgone conclusion that just about everyone gets denied the first time they apply for disability. What I did not expect was to be blatantly treated like nothing more than a number. To have my words twisted so perversely that it didn’t even resemble what I was trying to say was shocking to say the least. To have my questions blatantly ignored, extremely frustrating. To be asked questions and not allowed to answer seemed not just rude but extremely counterproductive. A certified, licensed physician looked right at me and told me that he knew nothing about my condition. Then I was not even be allowed to fully explain that condition.

What this all leads me to believe is that sending a person to a doctor to evaluate their condition on behalf of the social security administration is a sham…a rouse. It is there just to give justification to the inevitable first rejection. And if this is not the case then the other logical conclusion is that the social security administration does not actually know how bad people are being treated. Which is also very hard to believe.

Because it was hard for me to believe at first, I did what I thought was right. I called my case worker. I told her what I had experienced. How I felt about how I had been treated. My concerns about my fate being put into the hands of this person. The response I got was so rehearsed and uncaring that it not only did nothing to relieve my fears but it solidified my concerns. I was told that if I was concerned I could write a letter. I am not so naive as to not see that this is just a way to get rid of the complainers. Or maybe to flush out the ones that are sick enough to be willing to put in the time to complain. Well I have the time. So I decided to do a little research of my own. I needed to know if maybe it was just me or I was over reacting. Turns out it’s not just me.

So in addition to my review let me add these…

Fair and accurate diagnosis, Bedside manner, spends time with patients all one star on Vitals.com.

You are better off going to the animal hospital across the street. The office is dirty, smells and there were two roaches in the exam room. He is rude, smells, and pays no attention to what you are saying. He is nothing but a as Dr. who is paid 175 by disability to give you an unfavorable report. Seeing patients is a front.

http://www.vitals.com/doctors/Dr_Richard_Reines/reviews#ixzz4loI6U9TG

RateMDs.com

This man is nothing but a Dr. for disability,, and would not even consider him a capable veterinarian. He does not care about your health and should be investigated. He will sell your soul for 175 dollar check from disability to say you are not disabled. He was texting on his phone half of the time I was with him, and did not report one of my problems in his report. He says there is nothing wrong even though I have had neurologist at memorial hospital say different. His office is filthy and smelled, he smelled and there were roaches in his exam room. If you are really concerned for your health find another doctor. There is an animal hospital across the street, you are better of there. I am in the process of reporting him maybe if others did the same the would shut this fraud and his dirty office down.

Horrible experience. I’m finding a new doctor. The office is dirty and disorganized, and the wait time is outrageous. Especially in this economy, when patients take time away from work to see the doctor, you would think they would at least try to run on schedule. Dr. Reines is rude. He scowls, tosses a urine cup at you, and is unapologetic about the wait. I don’t know why anyone would see this doctor again if there is any other choice.

-RateMds.com

I personally interviewed three other people who wish to remain anonymous that say they had  similar experiences. Although I know that this does not add a whole lot to the credibility of my complaint it does make me feel a little better that I am not the only one.

So this begs the question, as I stated before…Why? Why would people still be sent to a person like this? Why are people not being listened to? Is this simply adding legitimacy to the first rejecting? Is this SSI truly not knowing how people are being treated? Or are we just simply being discredited and ignored. And to what end? Why send people to a Dr that is not going to actually be able to give a real diagnosis? Why waist the time and money? Why not do it right the first time? Or is it really all just a rouse. Just a way to flush out the fakers. Couldn’t a real, honest and caring physician do the same thing with better accuracy and with out having to do it over again? Wouldn’t defense against appeals hold more weight if the physician was not constantly being brought into question?

I submit that people are more likely to fake or exaggerate when faced with someone that is obviously just in it for the paycheck. That those like myself that truly do need help are having to wait longer because of all the subterfuge. The tax payer money is being wasted paying those that do not care just to get to those that do.

I am not sure if this is going to even be read. And if it is read I am not confident that it will be taken seriously. But I feel like I have to at least try. I still believe that the social security administration as a whole is trying to do a good thing, and that they do in fact help may people. So I am hoping that some of that good will shine through.

There was one big question that Dr. Reines asked me that I was no allowed to answer. I am told and I am sure that you can see by this letter that I can be a bit long winded. So I would like to take this opportunity to answer that question as simply and concisely as I can.

Why can you no longer work?

I am in pain all the time.

I am tired all the time.

I never know from one day to another how bad I am going to feel.

Employers will only put up with you not feeling well so long before they let you go.

I have lost 4 jobs due to my condition.

I have about 5 pages of details if your interested but that is hardly the focus here.

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to express my concerns. I sincerely hope that this might make a difference that can benefit all involved.

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This site is about me learning about. being me. Part of being me is learning to live with a chronic illness. Not to mention a few other fun miladies.  This is one of the hardest things I have ever had to do in my life. I have given birth twice. I have made the decision to not give birth once. I have had to start over from nothing. I had said good bye to loved ones on their last day on earth. I have kissed my 6 week old baby’s chest for last time without a scar as he was taken off to have open heart surgery.  But all of those things are…..in the past. But chronic illness is never in the past. It’s more like it makes you leave part of what you are in the past.

I was a dancer. I was a sword fighter. (yes really) I was physical. I was strong. I was a leader.  I was, I was I was.  I got diagnosed with Fibromyalsia shortly after my first son was born and then just recently with Degenerative Disk Disease and bi lateral sciatica. The DDD and sciatica could be fixed. One day. Maybe. But the Fibro is forever. Chronic they call it. A nice way of saying, live with it.  So the question becomes, How.  How do you live with something that is taking your life away? The easy answer is, you adapt. And that is the hardest thing I have ever had to do.  Maybe it’s just me. Maybe other people don’t struggle as much as I do. But this isn’t about them. This is about my journey in figuring out exactly how to “deal with it”.

I am doing all the things they tell you your supposed to do. Take it one day at a time. Get therapy. Make sure you have a support structure.  Learn adaptive skills. But to really live with it day by day is another matter. Sometimes I feel like the more work I do the worse it gets. The fact of the matter is, growth hurts.  Not just ow hurt. Screaming, crying, ripping,  heart wrenching, pain. The kind of pain that makes you cry for mercy and loose consciousness. Physically and mentally debilitating pain. Drowning in sorrow, anxiety, and fear every day. And every day trying to see through all that pain, to the growth. That growth is fragile. Little tiny sprouts in a stampede of giant beasts.  That little sprout is fed by the blood sweat and tears that come with all that hard work. I do believe that in the long run it is all worth it, but it doesn’t make the illness go away. It’s chronic. So no matter what you do, no matter how hard you work or don’t work its still there. This dark cloud hovering over everything. Every thing I do, I have to think about if I am going to have enough energy, what I might have to do the next day that I am going to need energy for.  Am I even going to physically be able to do it since i can’t walk or stand for more than a minute.

Then there is the anxiety and fear of thinking people are going to treat me weird or judge me. I am going to have to start using a wheel chair soon. What are people going to think? Are they going to think that because I can walk a little that i should not use a wheel chair. I struggle with my weight. Are people going to think i am only in a wheel chair because I am fat?  On and on the cycle goes. I am going to learn to break it….someday. Hey having the chair means I can go to Disney.

So I struggle. I cry. I reach out. I sleep…a lot. I go to therapy. My therapist is amazing by the way. He says I have come a long way.  I kinda gotta take his word for it right now.  I lean heavily on my Partner. And I keep trying.  And I write this blog. Why? So maybe some of you out there keep trying too.

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