bless them father because they are ignorant

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Yes I am Catholic.

Yes I believe in a woman’s right to choose. Individually and privately. (That is what I mean by believing in choice – choosing privately and without undue pressure what is right for themselves and if necessary, their family. It’s no one else’s business but theirs.)

I am also really tired of a woman’s right to choose being a target. It is a highly and wholly personal decision that should not be influenced from the pulpit, the political platform, or the judicial bench.

These signs frequently appear at Saints Peter and Paul on Boot Road in West Chester. I appreciate that the people who place the signs have a fervent believe they are doing right. However, if you notice this is also a school zone? So why do children have to be smacked in the face with such ugliness every day let alone the rest of us?

Pope Francis seems to be interested in not only making the Catholic Church more approachable, but more tolerant. I guess they haven’t gotten the memo here yet have they?

after the fire

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I was sent these photos today.

Earlier this week there was a horrible fire in West Vincent on Buttonwood Lane.

It’s truly a miracle no one was killed.

However, have to ask if this home being located near the end of a small road or lane that was originally built as a private cul-de-sac, and later adopted by West Vincent as a public road, did the narrow cartway and 10 ton bridge hamper efforts of emergency responders? Were fire trucks even able to go over the bridge?

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what is beauty?

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What is beauty? When it comes to nature as in flora and fauna, it’s easy to point out a beautiful bird or a flower. But when it comes to humans, can it be said it is not only more subjective, but societally subjective?

Yes this may indeed be a post that some consider a flowing stream of female consciousness and that’s ok. No one is after all, holding a gun to their heads and say read this, right? And yes, it is all the chatter about actress Renée Zellweger which made me think about this.

I will start with this article I read this morning:

Are we hypocrites over Renee Zellweger? By LZ Granderson, CNN Contributor
updated 9:40 AM EDT, Thu October 23, 2014

(CNN) — Renee Zellweger looks different than she did 10 years ago.
Big deal—who doesn’t?
Maybe she had plastic surgery. Maybe a little lipo, too. Or maybe her new look, at 45, is truly courtesy of her living a healthier, happier life away from the constant media glare, as she reportedly told People Magazine.

Considering how mean-spirited some of the response has been since Zellweger showed up at the Elle Women in Hollywood Awards much slimmer than we remembered, who could question the effect time away from the vitriol can have on a person?

….The face and body we associated with her for all these years was, in her words, a byproduct of having “a schedule that is not realistically sustainable and didn’t allow for taking care of myself.” Makes sense to me. I can’t tell you how many former NFL players I have come across who look nothing like the men I saw on the field—significant weight loss, clean-shaven, hell, just being clean for a change. And dare I say healthier.

I then read something on someone’s Facebook page (also this morning):

Can we leave Renee Zellweger alone, please? As a woman, I’m offended by the criticism she has received for doing something personal and private. Do the talking heads have nothing better to discuss? And seriously, if we should fault anyone, shouldn’t it be the entertainment and fashion industries for harping on their own standards of beauty? Sorry, I don’t usually take public stands, but this issue hits home.

So this is true…..but I am tired of what the media and Hollywood puts out there as far as women and aging, aren’t you? Renée Zellweger is a victim of that cycle I believe, but unfortunately she is also in the public eye. Why are people talking about Renée Zellweger? Because she did the all-American mid-life woman thing and apparently got some nipping and tucking and filling.

Why do women have such a hard time aging? Or admitting they are getting older?

Maybe we all play a part in this?

As women, we need to stand up for what the definition of beauty actually is. I don’t know a single female from 15 to 70 plus who doesn’t fight with self body image at times. And how many women just want people to notice sometimes when they look nice and not that they have a few more wrinkles than last year?

As a 50-year-old breast cancer survivor who did not have breast reconstruction when I look in the mirror I often only see a lopsided me. I have to remind myself how blessed I am to be alive. But how hyper-focused are we often as a society and the concept of the perfect female form and does that perfection even exist naturally?

In that vein, after seven weeks of radiation coursing through my body there were a lot of things about chemicals that I decided to shed from my life. That included hair coloring. I decided I was going to let my hair color change naturally to what it was meant to be, versus trying to cover it up every few weeks.

Truthfully I am very slow to gray up and in three years there is little difference. Yet if you look around all you see is advertising aimed at women which subliminally tells us day after day that aging naturally is BAD. We are bombarded with hair color and cosmetics ads, ads for injectibles like Botox and Juvaderm, ads for plastic surgeons, commentary on what unnaturally thin actress with unnaturally large and upstanding boobs are wearing.

And of course there are our more local influences. Our mothers, siblings, friends, spouses, and so on. For example, I adore my mother but you can ask anyone and they will tell you she is obsessed with appearance. The flip side is that is probably why she looks so good for her age, but you can’t wear sweat pants and a t-shirt around her! However, in her defense, as opposed to many of her contemporaries and my own contemporaries she is not someone who has been nipped, tucked, or injected. Which I am glad about because there have been some older ladies I have seen in society photos recently who look downright scary they have had so much work done. They don’t look attractive, they look freakish.

Most of the time I am good with me at 50, but there are days where I look in the mirror and wonder where I’ve gone. And then I have to remind myself that I’m not 24 anymore I’m 50 and that’s ok.

But societally in this country it seems to be the exception rather than the rule as far as aging naturally versus not aging naturally. The funny thing is when I was about 22 I wasn’t sure if I was going to like myself as a 50 year old. But that was a 22 year old looking at what was then, older than dirt.

Now that I am 50, it doesn’t seem so bad or so old. Yet because of what I see put out there some days I struggle. But when I lay it all out I would truly rather be a more authentic me and I don’t need anyone’s permission or approval to be that woman….and that is what women forget.

Women forget that we do have the right to be whomever it is we want to be. Societally we are often judged if we don’t wear makeup, don’t color out hair, haven’t been augmented and injected, and wear more age appropriate clothes rather than looking like the teenage daughter’s closet was raided.

Can it be said the obsession with appearance versus the inability to deal with aging is pervasive and damaging? And have you ever noticed the men who will sit and judge a woman like she is someone’s prize cow? My ex was one of those kinds of men and I think individuals like this need to take a long, hard look in the mirror before they judge another human being. Yet, it is often through eyes like those that women judge themselves. And yes, we are our own harshest critics

Getting older is a challenge. Of course it is. But it is part of the cycle of life, right? So what if societally we were a little more accepting?

Thanks for stopping by today.

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from blue dress infamous to social activist

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From blue dresses and White House scandals before there was the television show Scandal, to a line of failed (?) purses (see article in New York Magazine from a few years back), to social activist, Monica Lewinsky has spent years being an unfortunate household name stemming from poor choices made literally as a kid while a White House intern.

She opened up about the blue dress years and the aftermath of being a fallen star in the Clinton universe in the June 2014 edition of Vanity Fair. It was her article and it was fairly well written and interesting, I must admit.

Like millions of others at the time I remember thinking “What was she thinking and why can’t this politician keep his pants zipped?” (Face it, Clinton might look like the grand papa bear of Democrat politics today, but the man has had his issues with the ladies à la Pennsylvania’s own Ed Rendell, right?)

I don’t have the moral code that is able to justify cheating, or justify why a very bright young woman couldn’t stay away from a married man who happened to be the President of the United States, except I am guessing that was exactly why she couldn’t stay away.  However, after the first few weeks of hearing about her and that, I felt as if it was enough already.  There were after all, far bigger issues going on in the Clinton administration, weren’t there?

So now Monica is what? About 40 years old give or take? And she made a whopper of a mistake and has spent almost 20 years paying for it.

Yesterday she spoke in Philadelphia  on the subject of cyber bullying.

I have to give her props for stepping out onto the stage at the Forbes Under 30 Summit.  That took guts, all things considered. I am sure she was amply compensated for her time but her topic was of personal interest to me. Her topic was cyber bullying and that is also apparently now her personal cause.

I listened to the replays of her speech and could totally understand when she said “It feels like a punch in the gut.”  After all, cyber bullying = abuse.

That isn’t the first time I have heard a similar description applied to being cyber bullied. Of course those who perform the cyber bullying always blame their victims. Much like abusers who tell their victims it’s their own fault they had to beat them.

I make no bones about the fact that I have perverse admirers, otherwise known as cyber bullies. In part, when you become a writer or a blogger it sort of comes with the territory.  It shouldn’t, but it does. Only my main bully doesn’t bully me because I am some random blogger she doesn’t like, for her it’s personal. She used to know me, and used to be in my life.

It is odd to think about this late middle aged woman from several states away being so angry and so hateful because well she was someone very supportive of  me when a few years ago now, my ex abandoned me and his old dying dog quite literally and then a year or so after that when I was diagnosed with breast cancer and isn’t that strange? How can someone go from being caring to being pathologically angry and hateful when there was no fighting or anything like that?  This person chose to leave my life so what was I supposed to do? It was her choice and I tried to respect it. It’s like she had this weird unrequited crush on me and I am being punished for ignoring that, and her. It’s truly bizarre.

It came as a shock when I realized I not only had cyber bullies, but they had been essentially stalking my life.  I am not a public figure. I am just an ordinary woman living my life.  Yes, I write, and I am not just a blogger given my published bylines here and there (albeit local and regional), but I am just a regular person. I write more about my recipes and gardening these days than anything else. I share my photography, as well. Apparently and ironically, it is very upsetting to people when you are happy. And apparently it’s all my fault they have to bully me because I am happy in my life and they are miserable and stuck. Bullies like other forms of abusers have a limited sense of personal accountability, have you noticed?

Since this cyber bullying and cyber stalking began shortly before my 50th birthday I have been fascinated by the people who have supported the efforts.  People I have never known or spoken to. And why do they cheer on negative and spurious activity that there are laws against? I guess because at some point in time I wrote something they didn’t agree with and isn’t that so bizarre coming from “adults”?

But as far as adults go, I have seen a lot of strange behavior. Especially recently.  Take for example parents of teenagers who not only support their teen’s scorched earth bullying behavior, but in essence bully other parents themselves and how crazy is that? People who are parents and who you know love their children but who can’t see right from wrong on their own?

People spend so much time hating and why put all that negativity out there? Its not so much a Zen or spiritual thought as it is  that I just don’t get people of any age who wake up with the intent to be mean or malicious. Life is a precious gift and having survived breast cancer I know full well we are all on borrowed time on this earth so why not try to be better human beings, not worse?

Cyber bullying is as pervasive and invasive as physical bullying.  And there is a certain disconnect from reality with it on the part of the bullies.   These bullies seem to think in their minds their behaviors are justified, and that they are invincible, which of course couldn’t be farther from the truth.   They also only have power if you allow them to have power because the truth of it is, bullies are cowards. They only accept their version of reality as the ultimate reality and get totally tweaked if you mess with their perception of how it should all be. With mine I marvel at how literally crazy and unbalanced they are and pity them at the same time.  This hatred is all they have to do all day, and that is truly and incredibly sad.

Cyber bullying is something, however, that not enough people take seriously even if it is illegal. So if Monica Lewinsky wishes to use her unfortunate celebrity to shine a light  down the dark rabbit hole of bullying, I am all for it. After all, bullying happens most often to the less obvious in this world: ordinary people both adult and kids.

Monica Lewinsky being a social activist will take some getting used to. Of course she was immediately trolled after doing this. In addition to the article excerpts below, follow this LINK and check out an interesting perspective in the Washington Post and another CNN article.

Thanks for stopping by today.

Lewinsky makes emotional plea to end cyberbullying

By Dan Merica, CNN
updated 6:46 AM EDT, Tue October 21, 2014

(CNN) — Monica Lewinsky told an audience in Philadelphia on Monday that her new mission in life was to end cyberbullying. Her speech — and her goal — come as the former White House intern steps into the public eye after years of trying to live privately.

“Having survived myself, what I want to do now is help other victims of the shame game survive, too,” she told the audience at Forbes’ 30 Under 30 summit. “I want to put my suffering to good use and give purpose to my past.”

Lewinsky, who as an intern in 1995 had an affair with President Bill Clinton, said she was “patient zero” of online harassment.

“There was no Facebook, Twitter or Instagram back then,” she said. “But there were gossip, news and entertainment websites replete with comment sections and emails which could be forwarded. Of course, it was all done on the excruciatingly slow dial up. Yet around the world this story went. A viral phenomenon that, you could argue, was the first moment of truly ‘social media’.”

Forbes:  Monica Lewinsky Speaks: ‘It’s My Mission To End Cyberbullying’

Clare O’Connor Forbes Staff

Monica Lewinsky has broken a decade-long silence to announce her campaign to end cyberbullying and today’s toxic culture of internet shaming.

In her first ever public address, the former mistress of President Bill Clinton revealed her plan to launch a “cultural revolution” against the sort of online harassment she experienced firsthand in the late 1990s…..Lewinsky described her life since the 1998 sex scandal that resulted in Clinton’s impeachment by the House of Representative and subsequent acquittal by the Senate as one marred by a deep sense of shame and even suicidal thoughts….She intends to share her story with victims of cyberbullying and online harassment. There are many of them: almost 54% of young Facebook users describe being bullied or harassed online.

Forbes:Full Transcript: Monica Lewinsky Speaks Out On Ending Online Abuse

(Click on hyperlink above to go to the Forbes website and read the full transcript.)