Imaginary Lines

It’s bad enough that we, as in humanity, have drawn imaginary lines that separate and label us and that they are used to pass judgement, create stereotypes and even start wars – but in this day and age to even consider putting up actual walls to separate us even further – seems like regression.

Is this the kind of world that god intended? That’s what I find myself asking myself. And if not, maybe we should consider getting closer to that idea as opposed to getting further and further away from it.

It’s not compassionate nor humanitarian to group all people from one region into one or even two specific types. There are good, bad and indifferent everywhere you go and it’s probably roughly the same percentage rate across the board.

I’m not sure why all the scare tactics and propaganda are necessary right now but I would assume it’s to either lead us into a war or to divert our attention from what’s really going on in the world.

Either way it makes my heart hurt. Things that are meant to divide us are doing just that. Creating sides and opposition and fighting. And for what, honestly?

I see how widespread panic has been initiated and I see where people are buying in to the “We’re the greatest and we must protect our freedom” stuff that is going around… but what are you really afraid of and who do we need to be better than?

They say ‘veterans over refugees’ and where the hell did that come from? I would wager that if we build a wall… all of the veterans won’t magically be taken care of in every way. As a matter of fact – with the government shut down over the matter, our country is already suffering losses on our own soil.

There’s a better way to handle “border security” without walls. Handle it like when the immigrants first came to this country to settle it. I understand that it looks scary to see a large group of people headed towards the country wanting refuge and you may see criminals – but I see mothers and fathers willing to travel the world over to try and make a better life for their children.

It has been presented that everyone in Mexico that wants to come here is a sex trafficking drug lord. Is that what people are honestly choosing to believe?? There are bad people everywhere. But most people wanting to come here are willing to work for their pay. They are not looking for handouts.

I feel people’s attention is being diverted from the real problems of the world. We should start a go fund me for global warming (which is NOT a “hoax” and IS relevant) and start being concerned over the resources of the WORLD and stop acting elitist and better than everyone, because we aren’t doing anything better than anyone, plus that’s not even what matters for our survival.

We’re all humans and I believe that compassion and caring is the key to our future. Not borders and walls.

Plus, the main threat to ourselves – is truly ourselves, not anyone else.

 

 

**Photo Credit: http://www.gulin.world/on-imaginary-lines.html

World Without Borders – http://www.coutoart.com

“Borders Are Imaginary Lines, People Are Flesh and Bone”

…I Broke Even

I live in a state that does not offer the lottery or gambling. So a common “quick trip” that we in the Salt Lake and surrounding valleys take to get our fix – is to Wendover, Nevada (literally at the Utah/Nevada stateline). There are a handful of casinos and it is only a 90 minute drive away.

Lee and I get a wild hair every once in a while to go lose money and come home sad. That is the truth… while the typical response to the question “Did you win?” is “Nah, I broke even” which happens to be the biggest and most widely accepted lie in Utah.

We decided to go 2 days ago and unfortunately, and of course, there were no promotions for free rooms the night we wanted to go. We have comped rooms almost every other weeknight during every single month – but of course we chose one that did not qualify. That should have been a warning sign right there – but we seem to avoid those when it specifically does not suit us.

We stayed at the Rainbow casino in a “mini suite” with a jacuzzi tub in the room. It was $129.99 without tax – so, not cheap. What it looked like was a regular hotel room in a rectangle shape that had a jacuzzi tub installed where the couch used to be. Other than that and a steam shower (that burned my ankle) in the bathroom, it was extremely un-glamorous. I don’t know why but when I go there I always expect glitz and glamour when really it is nothing but cheap carpet and stale cigarette smoke.

That is me romanticizing gambling – like I do with just about everything else. It’s not pretty and it’s not good. Every drive home I have a sick stomach and a mind full of regrets – not to mention the empty pockets. I have considered myself “lucky” my whole life because I usually “win” at least small amounts whenever we go there… or do I??

I decided to read up on gambling while we were there, specifically on slot machines because that’s where my weakness lies and I learned that I may not be so lucky after all… I’m just drawn to a non-volatile machine that suckers you in with small wins as it is really sucking you dry. It’s a mental victory for casinos, not to mention monetary victory, but they got you where they want you with the tease of the big win.

I won’t go into depth about volatile and not so volatile machines but you can read up on them in your spare time, if you wish, and I highly recommend that you do prior to your next casino jaunt. But in a nutshell the volatility of a slot machine game measures the risk involved in playing a particular slot for the real money. And it determines how you win at slots. If a slot has low volatility, it means the wins are more frequent. But they’re smaller, too. High volatility slots have rarer wins, but they are bigger.

The odds of any machine are made up of how many possible other combinations besides the winning one, that there are on the spinning reels. Just an example for the old machines is this: 3 reals with 10 different symbols each and sometimes including the blank spaces in between give you odds of like 30,000 to 1. With the newer machines that have 7 reels and 20 different symbols on each… you do the math.

If I was to put a number on the amount of money that I have lost at casinos it would be in the $10 -$20,000 range, I would guess… if not more. When I think of all the exotic places I could have gone instead of wasting my time with cheap carpet and stale cigarette smoke… I get sad. Lol.

So here’s the thing – I may have finally learned a very expensive lesson. I have never “broken even” when it comes to gambling and if people are truly honest about what they put in as opposed to what they get out… they probably haven’t either.

So the next time Lee and I feel the need to lose money – I think we’ll go throw it in the ocean in Hawaii instead.

3 days, 5 hours and 49 minutes and counting

I’m on my 3rd cup of tea by 10 am… and that’s after 2 cups of coffee this morning and a mug of vegetable broth. You would think that I was trying to overcompensate for not eating for the next 3 days, 5 hours and 49 minutes… and counting. I started my self imposed 4 day fast yesterday at 4:30 pm. Oh. My. Hell. food is mental to me.

I didn’t think much of it last night except that Lee and I usually have ice cream before bed and so neither of us did. We also usually have toast before bed and again, no. I would like to say that I have mastered my mind enough to actually be able to handle this mentally without freaking out inside my head and my mind acting as if I’m trying to kill us.

There is a lot of reasoning going on in my mind like “I can just eat oatmeal… or grits or that whole box of chocolates” as I walk by it in the kitchen over and over and over each day.

I know that physically and medically it is possible for me to survive this but honestly I question my brain power in this scenario. It is used to chocolate and sweets on command and bread and pasta at will. It is used to getting what it wants and not having to suffer or go without, like EVER.

I am trying to stay busy in order to “trick” myself into not thinking about food… and what do I sit here writing about?? Yep. Can’t let it go.

I went back to my kickboxing class this morning to keep busy after not attending for a couple months due to personal issues and I don’t know what I was expecting but I arrived to absolutely 0 fan fare and ended up with burning lungs and I swear I had a heart attack. Why do I do this to myself? I should have stuck with it months ago and then maybe I wouldn’t be feeling so frumpy and out of shape.

Inherently I am very, very aware that what I put in my body and how I treat it while here on this earth matters. Yet – I feel I am using and abusing my privilege of having an earthly body all the time. I have felt the need to fast for several days for about 6 months now and I have had several 24 hour stints… but now I have actually committed and also purposefully was public about it in order to hold myself accountable and not be able to hide behind my bullshit excuses and “reasons” for not doing it.

The purpose of this fast for me is both spiritual and physical. I have come to the point where I am pretty damn sure that I’m giving myself diabetes… and I do not want that. So this acts as a reset for my blood sugar and gives me some time to reflect on what I put in my mouth and when and why. I honestly do want to be more aware and eat better just in case I do happen to live another 40 some odd years. Spiritually… fasting is a journey deep into ones soul to get answers and have epiphanies… or at least become hyper aware that you are obsessed with food and need to handle that accordingly.

The bible both new and old testaments are full of references to fasting. I am so divinely grateful to be doing this and for having this experience willingly (mostly) and aware. I have prayed for help in this matter and for answers to huge questions that I have weighing heavily on my mind about the direction of my life and who I am supposed to be and what I am supposed to be doing.

Will I get the answers I seek and be able to stay strong and diligent throughout this journey and NOT break down and eat? Stay tuned… just 3 days 5 hours and 36 minutes left…

Dedicated to Mariah

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My oldest granddaughter that I had never met was 3 years old and developed a brain tumor and died while I was in prison. The part of that story that belongs to me – is that I’ll never forget the phone call while standing against a wall in Davis County jail with 60 females who didn’t even have the decency to turn down Dr. Phil long enough for me to hear the news clearly. With one finger in my ear and the other hand gripping the phone to my head – my youngest son explained the situation and the tears flowed like Niagara falls as I turned my forehead against the wall and had no words to even speak as I ended the phone call.

Usually I would have been embarrassed to be crying in front of these hard ass bitches but this time if someone would have said anything to me – they would have gotten hit so hard in the face that they never would have asked me anything ever again. The pain I felt for her, for my son, for her mother and for everyone involved was immeasurable. It felt like I was literally being stabbed in my chest over and over and over. And where was my sorry ass?? Behind walls of concrete and steel due to my addiction and brief life of crime. Are you kidding me?

I will never, ever forgive myself for not being there for this part of my son’s life.

Her name was Mariah. She was such a gorgeous and beautiful little angel who graced the world’s presence for too short of a time – but she left such a huge impact on all who knew her and have known of her.

I love you Mariah. Grandma loves you.

 

Mixed Messages

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How can we say “Don’t be a bully” and “Don’t be a sissy” in the same breathe?

I hear stories on the news and Facebook – of bullying. I see parents reacting by saying things like “I’d kick that bully kids ass”… umm… ? I’m so confused.

Am I the only one who thinks we are sending our children and everyone else mixed messages?

Suicide and drug overdoses are at an all time high and we are still ok with thinking offensive things are funny and sharing things that encourage hate and violence and yet I don’t think some people even realize that they are doing it.

Either we are accepting of the fact that it’s ok to be different, have emotions and feelings and to reach out and ask for help if we are struggling… or we aren’t.

I just saw a post that was a complaint form, like one you would turn in if you worked for a large company but I believe it was for the Army. It’s one thing to be willingly going into the military and expecting drill sergeant mentality, belittling and degrading and it’s another to just be trying to get through day to day life when you’re suffering.

What I gathered from this post was that it was for someone who was complaining because they have “hurt feelings”. Obviously poking fun and belittling anyone who has an issue and has the nerve to say something about it.

In this day and age of #metoo and all of the depressed youth considering suicide as a better option than speaking out when they have “hurt feelings” it wouldn’t surprise me as to why they wouldn’t want to speak up and speak out.

I was saddened by the post and what it insinuated. But of course I was. I am different than I used to be… my whole life I have made fun of everything and everyone and I honestly now feel terrible about it.

I’m not offended by the post, please take note at the difference. People can say what they want. I was SADDENED at how conflicting these things that people say and share are from what they claim they actually stand for.

People reacted by sharing this post and putting the “thumbs up” and “laughing face” emoji. I just wonder if these are the same people claiming to care about stopping bullying and then suggesting we “kick asses” when one kid bullies another. I’m not sure how that is the answer…

I do feel that there is actually a solution. Raise your children to be compassionate, caring, respectful humans with no need to be offensive or cruel to other humans. Show them by being kind and understanding yourself.

I, for one, have made up my mind to change my mind about feelings and my reaction to when people have them. Especially children. Mixed messages are not helping, in my opinion. Maybe you disagree and think the heartless, demoralizing drill sergeant method – where you refer to everyone as sissys and make fun of people for having feelings is the way to go. I just feel like it is that type of kid who ends up on the news for bullying all of the other kids.

A few questions I don’t think God will ask me.

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I have often wondered if I am worthy to “cross over” when I die and what questions might I be asked about me and my life when I get there to determine worthiness.

Whether you believe in any of that or not, it’s still a great hypothetical, if nothing else.

First question I pose to you. It is made up of several questions within the same subject. Where is Jesus from; what land and area? What religion would you say he is? What political affiliation would you think he is? Do you think he was a peaceful, compassionate, caring person?

… and where I’m going with this is here: I believe that everything literally can be answered by asking the question “What would Jesus do?” I know Christians are all over that saying already and by my discernment meter, they are on the right track.

The following are my beliefs about Jesus and mine alone. If you agree, great. If not, great.

I think he would look at every single person on the planet with the exact same absolute compassion in his eyes and unconditional love in his heart. He would hug each and every one of us and probably wash all of our feet.

I DO think that whoever decided to put “God” and “Country” in the same statement was a marketing/ strategical genius. I think that way some people will confuse the laws of the commandments with the laws of the constitution.

Man made laws, to me, are so very different than Gods laws. If we were living by the latter, things would be very different… and I pray that they still will be at some point.

We the people, by the people are the ones who were given free will. What we have chosen as a society says a lot about how far we’ve gotten away from the basics we were given in the beginning. There’s been liberties, interpretation and perception all over the place.

So back to when I die… My assumption is that I actually won’t be asked anything. Indeed, I believe, He who I stand before will already know the story in my heart. And The One and only One who should judge me, will.

If I was asked questions, my bet is that the questions will not be along the lines of “Are you Republican, Democrat or Liberal?” “What country is the greatest?” “How many firearms do you own?” “Who was the best president?” “How much money did you make?” These are all human things – not spiritual things.

I do believe it will matter how I loved myself and others. If I was compassionate and non judgmental. If I took care of the Earth (his greatest gift to us besides free will, I believe) and if I contributed more than I took. If I learned from my mistakes and strived to do better…

What we focus on becomes our reality… so I try not to focus on any of the human things – because those are all things that man has decided to separate and judge ourselves by. And if that’s how you make judgements – that’s up to you. I’m trying to remain focused on The One, not the many.

So today and every day I am trying to be a better human and to be worthy. To love myself, love my creator, love the earth and also love all of you!! And I do.

My ultimate goal for myself is death of ego and pride and to not be so selfish and wasteful. Also, to look at every other human with compassion and care and not in judgement and bias. Because… what would Jesus do??

Being Vegetarian in Prison

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I wasn’t introduced to my creator in prison, like some people are. My introduction came almost 2 years after.  And maybe that’s because I wasn’t looking for or open to it at that time. I did, however, learn a few religious things due to my diet…

Some people are curious about what food is available in prison or jails. First you should know the difference between jail and prison because people confuse the two a lot. When you initially are charged with a crime and are taken into custody you are taken to the nearest county jail.  After you are seen by a judge and depending on what crimes, what sentencing you get and where the crimes were committed – you either spend your time at that initial facility, or you are moved closer to where the crimes were committed or are sent to prison. Jail is more of a temporary thing while prison can be up to life sentences.

I’ve spent almost 2 years in jail concurrent and almost 2 years in prison consecutive. All for crimes and offenses committed within a 2 year period of my life when I turned to street drugs over pharmaceuticals because of my back pain and 2 surgeries.

Drugs turned me into a person that I myself would not recognize but my eating habits remained the same as far as what I ate… it was just far less frequent during drug use.

I am a vegetarian (ovo-lacto) and have been since I was pregnant with my first born 25 years ago.  That means I eat no meat or meat bi products but I eat eggs and milk as long as they are cooked into things beyond recognition (muffins as opposed to French toast or scrambled eggs). I choose not to eat anything that comes from the ocean because it makes me go “eww, gross”.

If you can imagine, jails and prisons are not exactly accommodating. The sectioned off food trays consist of what makes up to a state imposed desired caloric amount while attempting to touch on food groups-ish. So a meat like substance (Salt Lake County jail in Utah has a “meat loaf” that is referred to as a “rhino ball” and I’ll leave that up to your imagination as to why), with some sort of mushy, watery vegetable or “fruit” along with ALWAYS a slab of bread substance (sheet bread cut into squares usually) and possibly a dessert substance (a slightly sweeter sheet cake bread substance cut into squares) called “cake”. The “salad” you get whipped consist of various strange varieties of soggy, wilting lettuce with a version of Italian or French dressing usually.

You get a lot of “corn bread” which does taste like corn bread in just the slightest way,  but does leave a lot to be desired.  There is always a slab of butter scraped onto the tray somewhere, and you get a liquid substance called “juice” (0% fruit juice) that resembles Kool-Aid for lunch and dinner, but milk with breakfast. The “juice”, bread, and butter are there to help hit that required caloric amount, I believe.

Breakfast consists of “cakes and flakes” pancake shaped bread bricks, and corn flakes or oatmeal or grits. I literally broke a tooth on a “pancake” once there, so that might explain just how great they are.

Some people might say, “Well you’re in jail – you shouldn’t expect the food to be great”… indeed, you would have a point… but try being on the other side of that statement when, in general, you believe that you are a good person, but you made huge mistakes… You still need to eat and trust and believe when you come down off of drugs in a jail cell the one thing you’re going to need… is food. It can be argued all day long and the food is generally ample to sustain life for periods of time but it is exactly what you would expect to eat if you were behind bars.

Commissary (items you can purchase from your jail inmate account if there is money on your books) is a totally different story and I’ll get into that another time.

Prison food and jail food differ as well,  reason being is that, as I stated earlier, people in prison are generally doing more time so there are more options. I was always told while in jail that if I was going to do large amounts of time, that I should do it in prison because the food is way better.

They were right.  Meals at the Draper prison were better. Also, more women were on self imposed diets to lose weight or had massive amounts of commissary foods so they were more willing to share the prison given food with others. On a lucky day, if you were starving, someone would give you their whole tray.

The women there had meal calendars to keep track of all of the options. You would get those trial sized boxes of cereal or a pack of microwaveable pancakes or waffles and a thing of syrup like the ones on the table at restaurants.  There were hard boiled eggs and actual fruit! There was still always bread but this time it was actual bread slices with a wheat or white option (still very thin and very dehydrated from being frozen and thawed) and you got 2 slices with every meal. There were days I ate a whole loaf of bread and virtually nothing else.

The lunches and dinners were varied with things like tuna casserole, mixed vegetables, always a bag of chips and cookies or snack treats like Little Debbie snacks. On holidays, there were actually grilled hamburgers and hot dogs with buns and chips and potato salad or green salad.

After I had been at the prison for about 2 months, someone told me you could request a “vegetarian tray”. This was after almost 2 months of starving and begging everyone and anyone for the bread that they weren’t eating and living solely off of that.  It took 2 days to get the form and 3 weeks after I turned it in to finally receive the special “diet” tray but the day it came I’ll never forget.

It had a veggie patty instead of the meat and for once in a very long time – I was full after the meal and i didn’t have to beg anyone for extra food. I was so relieved and I can’t tell you how much better you sleep at night when you aren’t literally starving to death.

I got used to this and started to think that maybe I could survive the 2 years I had left and then one morning it happened. My name was called and I was told to “roll up” (gather any and all items that didn’t belong specifically to the prison or jail) and head to the gate house.

I was “farmed out” (due to overcrowding of the prisons, they contract with some of the county jails to house prison inmates along side the jail inmates because jails have more room due to there being 1 prison and many jails per state).

Seriously? Go from the jail to the prison back to jail? Holy unfair. One of my first thoughts was of starving due to lack of my special diet tray I had become accustomed to.

I was sent to a tiny little jail in the middle of nowhere… or as others refer to it as Cache County jail. No special diet tray. Back to begging for bread scraps. Eventually I was transferred to a slightly larger facility, Davis County jail and heard they had something similar to a veggie tray called “kosher” diet tray. Growing up in a predominantly Mormon state in a predominantly Mormon family, kosher wasn’t fully understood by my brain, but due to my starving belly, I decided to try and get it anyways.

I put my request in and I waited. And waited. And waited. Finally 5 1/2 weeks later I was called out of the pod around lunch time and an officer met me outside the pod door with what I could see was my request for a kosher meal form. I got excited too soon because the first thing he did was ask if i was Jewish. Criminal brain switched on and I answered him stating that “No, but I’m considering it.” He countered with the question “So you know things about the Jewish faith?” “Um, sure.” I replied.

He stated that if I could answer ONE question about it then I could receive the tray. Ok, I thought. I can usually BS my way out of anything.

“What book or books of the bible does the Jewish faith study?” Mathematically, I was screwed. There were too many possible answers and no way to pretend or actually guess the answer. “Uh, Revelations?” I said because it was the only ‘Book of’ that came to my mind.

Nope. My quest to not starve to death was just ruined by my lack of knowledge of the Jewish religion.

Answer: Five Books of Moses: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy.

Never in a million years could I have guessed that answer. So for the rest of my stays in county jails and then back to the prison, I received a regular tray and had to beg, trade and barter food with people. I also started studying the Jewish religion and I’m grateful for the knowledge because I’m not sure I would have had the interest if it were not for this experience.

My advice to vegetarians… stay out of jail and prison. So, that’s actually my advice to everyone – but especially vegans and vegetarians.