Category Archives: Politics

Accessing Welfare Is Easy

Just fill out the forms, submit them, and wait for the phone to ring, right?

Some of you probably know late last year I began the journey to join the throngs of people who subsist off Social Security Disability (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Truly, I tell you, it was such an easy thing to recognize and claim I could no longer work.

Not.

I got so excited when I thought about the idea of living on an average of SSDI $1,022.29 per month, or SSI $561.60 per month. Actually, less than that, since “The amount you receive each month will be based on your average lifetime earnings before your disability began. It is not based on how severe your disability is or how much income you have.

Not. Could you do it?

Why have I spent the last two years using every ounce of energy I have to try to earn a living?  Because the last thing I wanted to do was admit that I was too sick to function like the normal, healthy human being I knew I would always be. Because I was raised to work hard, and remember, there are people out there who have it worse than I do. But I learned those things when the biggest challenge in my life was convincing my soccer coach to let me play the whole match without subbing out. I was the super-involved kid in high school: on the soccer team, track team, in band and drama, and a straight-A student who graduated 10th or 11th in my class. I could do anything and everything and that’s the way the world worked for everyone else too, if they would just approach life with all the vigor and energy I had rattling in my pockets.

That was then. It’s different now. A diagnosis of ankylosing spondylitis flipped me over and shook the spare change out of my pockets. Where I used to sleep through North Carolina hurricanes that hurled tree branches and rain pellets onto the roof of my house, I now rarely find REM sleep even in the most relaxed spaces. Fatigue affects my mental and physical functions, sometimes causing me to lose the word I was about to say in the middle of a sentence. My depth perception is off, causing me to hit my head on clothes racks and slam into door frames with my hip.  I now focus on the basic needs to function and survive, which involves a much different skill-set than my original dream of saving the world as a professional soccer player and community garden coordinator. Others my age are focused on getting a promotion at work, losing weight, starting a family, buying a house, and finding a good group of friends to grow old with.   Continue reading Accessing Welfare Is Easy

Walmart’s Little Experiment Screwed My Hometown

 

20160202_165125In recent days headlines have announced Walmart’s decision to close their experimental neighborhood stores just a few years after the pilot program began. For many this is just another announcement of a mega-retailer changing strategy in order to improve profits. But what is a small failure to Walmart has huge, real-life impacts on the small towns where many of these neighborhood stores were built. A few examples are Oriental, NC; Redwater, TX; Chicago, IL; and Rose Hill, Kansas. People lost jobs, but not before many towns lost their locally owned, family run grocery stores and pharmacies that had adequately served the same community through thick and thin for decades.

In Oriental, Town N Country, in business over 40 years, held on as long as possible against the monopoly and sadly closed at the end of October, 2015, less than three months before news came that the Walmart neighborhood market would be closing. Oriental is a quaint fishing village with a lot of quirky retired people.  We didn’t make national news, but now we’re left with no grocery store and no pharmacy in our village of 900 people.  Our marriage with Walmart cannot be annulled and it came with no prenuptial agreements, so we are left to deal with the mess left on our doorstep. Continue reading Walmart’s Little Experiment Screwed My Hometown

Ten Reasons I Am Proud to Be An Episcopalian

Note: since publishing this post, I have left the Church. Here is why: Ableism Killed My Christianity.

I encourage you to read it, as it overshadows this ‘top ten’ list.


There are a lot of these lists going around, but in light of the current sanctions imposed by the Anglican Communion against The Episcopal Church, I felt it was time to throw my #EpiscopalPride out there.

Why I am sticking with a church the Anglican Communion is afraid of:

  1. I can be who I am, openly, and expect full inclusion in the life of the church – that means female or male or trans*, gay or straight or queer, black or white or tan, democrat or republican or libertarian, old or young or middle-aged, famous or not, etc.
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    And don’t forget it.
  2. I can be ordained as a deacon, priest, bishop, or presiding bishop as a female. And I can be ordained and have a husband or wife. And sex. And children.
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    Because gender doesn’t matter when it comes to leadership and service.
  3. I know I can find comfort in the liturgy at any Episcopal service I attend. It’s the same every week. I can follow the service in any language and know what’s being said. It’s predictable. Did someone say BCP?
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    It’s all RITE here.
  4. We are adaptive to the changes of the modern world and take prayerful action to be part of today, not yesterday. We are constantly considering the scriptures as they relate to the world today so we can remain relevant.
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    And that includes a radical, loud welcome, because Jesus was loud about embracing the marginalized and being in the world, not hidden away.
  5. We allow room for embracing beliefs and practices of different religions and cultures. My faith is stronger because of this. The Episcopal Church does not close its doors or punish and condemn its members for appreciating a range of beliefs and ideas. In fact, I think one of our strengths is our collaborative spirit.
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    Taiko drummers at General Convention 2015
  6. I’m encouraged to question anything, knowing that chances are I’ll then be able to engage in a loving, powerful conversation where both I and my priest/friend/bishop/committee will learn more about our own faith journeys.
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    Shirt modeled by Matt Scully
  7. Our governing structure is largely democratic. Lay people’s votes carry the same weight as those by clergy, with one exception for bishops – but all political changes are debated and voted on by many committees as well as by both laypeople/clergy and bishops before becoming church law.
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    Yep, that’s me.
  8. We don’t operate as a church that requires a middle-person between people and God. We don’t like hierarchy in that way. We trust people to have an open relationship with and to be able to communicate freely with God without an intermediary.
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    Washington National Cathedral. Have a seat and chat with God a while.
  9. We’re a missionary church in everything we do, by definition and official corporate title. And our job is not to convert people to think like us – that’s not our interpretation of being evangelists. We show the love of Jesus with no strings attached because that’s what the gospel is. That’s what we are called to do – love.
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    Love thy neighbor is not a multiple choice circumstance.
  10. We really know how to hug. Have you hugged an Episcopalian today?


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The Affordable Care Act is Not Affordable for Me

My previous post, The Work of Being a Professional Patient, needed a second chapter. There’s more to that broken system than simply being an unpaid professional patient.  In addition to the phone calls, meetings, emails – the legwork of managing our healthcare as chronic disease patients – there’s a lot of money involved, and a lot of it flows out of the pockets of people who can’t afford the care they need.

The system is broken.

It is a system designed for healthy people to get catastrophically sick and go from there. A system that punishes people for being sick but provides no support to keep them from getting sick.  Only $251 is spent per capita on public health measures aimed at proactively preventing illness.

The American healthcare system pads the wallets of health insurance and big pharma companies and often doctors and nurses too, then forces patients to do their work for them. America, land of the sick, home of the outsourced labor in our own back yards: people paying corporations a big chunk of their income for the privilege of managing their own healthcare.

Privilege is a dangerous word. I’m privileged? to be chronically ill and I pay over 10% of my monthly budget on my healthcare premium alone, after the assistance of the federal subsidy intended to keep my rates within my income limits. This does not include my out of pocket expenses on doctor visit copays, prescription copays, over the counter NSAIDs, heating pads, and various treatments to manage side effects of either medication or illness. Continue reading The Affordable Care Act is Not Affordable for Me