Category Archives: Be-Causes

What I Learn From Reality TV And Why I Can’t Stop Thinking About I Am Jazz

(Disclaimer: I want to formally apologize to the transgender population if I misuse terminology, make inaccurate assumptions, etc. I am learning. I am trying to educate myself. I am human.)

I watched a series on TLC over the summer and I can’t stop thinking about it. I watched because I was curious. I watched because I wanted to understand. I had no idea it would resonate and touch me, as a mother, so deeply.

Before “I Am Cait” on the television station E! featuring Caitlyn Jenner (formerly known as Bruce Jenner) there was “I Am Jazz” on TLC. It was an 11 episode series featuring Jazz and her family as she navigates the world as a transgender adolescent.

The Jennings family from I Am Jazz on TLC

The Jennings family from I Am Jazz on TLC

In the very first episode, Jazz’s mother talks about how, as a pre-preschooler, Jazz asked her mother “Am I a boy or a girl?” Instead of pointing to her anatomy, her mother asked her what she thought. “Well, my body says I’m a boy but my head says I’m a girl.” And so began their journey of helping Jazz to become the person she was meant to be.

Now, I know some of you out there are shaking your heads and saying, “Who she was meant to be? He was born with male anatomy.” But think back. Way back. To when you were a preschooler. Did you feel uncomfortable playing with dolls? Or desperately wanting to wear a dress to feel pretty but you were told “boys don’t wear dresses?”

No one, not a tiny 4 year old but especially an adolescent, actively chooses a way of life that invites ridicule and death threats. Gender identification is not a choice. And I Am Jazz illustrates this beautifully.

And the beauty in Jazz Jennings’ story is that she isn’t the only one telling it. Her family, from her parents to her siblings to her grandparents and friends, are helping to tell her story. They are supportive. And kind. And wanting nothing but for their loved one to feel confident and comfortable in their own skin. Just like any one of us.

Jazz struggles with the anxiety of starting high school and finding flattering clothes and wanting to fit in with her peers. What 14-year old isn’t struggling with these issues? Each episode dealt with her specific struggles but when watered down? Her struggles are no different than those of any teenager anywhere in the world.

What touched me so deeply was the love and acceptance from her family, especially her parents. All they want is  a confident, secure, happy child. Just like me. They want their child to excel in their strengths and work on their weaknesses. Just like me. They want a productive, self-assured, joyful adult life for their child. Just like me. They want all the same things every other parent out there wants for their child. And they have the courage, more courage than most of us are ever expected to draw from, to help create that kind of life for their child.

Jazz’s story is one of struggle and pain. But that’s not what you feel watching her story unfold. Her smile sparkles on screen and you realize that her joy is carrying her through. She has a deep and powerful optimism that is inspiring and contagious. And as a parent, you realize that we have so much influence on how well our children face the challenges they are presented with. Jazz’s parents are her greatest cheerleaders and as a result she is blossoming into a beautiful human being and role model.

I Am Jazz has shaken me, but not because I am dealing with gender identification with my children. It has helped me to understand the transgender population as little better, sure. But more importantly, it has reminded me of the incredible influence I have with my children and how I react to their struggles in life. I can help them to face challenges with courage and strength and hope. Or I can teach them to bury and destroy their truth. I can appreciate their talents and encourage them to be the best they can be or I can mold them into a model of my own choosing.

Jazz has said, “Other people don’t define me. I define me.”

Wise words from a 14-year old.

And a lesson for each of us.



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Filed under Be-Causes, parenting

Old News But News To Me. And It’s Feel-Good-Friday!

Apparently, this is old news. Three months old, to be exact.

But it’s news to me. So I’m sharing.

The Allegheny Window Cleaning company, in Pennsylvania, surprised a client (a local children’s hospital) with this:



Not to be outdone (honestly, I don’t know who went first…it just fit my internet surfing timeline) the window washers at La Bonheur Children’s Hospital in Memphis, Tennesee did this:



And this great idea is now a movement. If you Google “superhero window washers” you’ll find similar stories popping up all over America. From Pittsburgh to Memphis to St. Petersburg, Florida and beyond.

Bringing joy to these children’s faces, allowing them to forget about their illness for even just a moment is such a precious and amazing thing.

Now, that’s my definition of a Superhero.



Filed under All In A Day's Work, Be-Causes, RAOK, The !!!

The Sandy Hook Elementary Snowflake Project. An Opportunity For Healing.

The first day of holiday break and my daughter, home from college, dragged her brothers to the kitchen table.

“We’re making snowflakes. As many as you can. And we’re sending them to Sandy Hook Elementary.”

She had heard about the Snowflake Project for Sandy Hook Elementary on Facebook and like many of us, was searching for a way to help.

So two young boys, under the firm direction of their older sister, sat for hours at the kitchen table, designing, cutting, decorating. Pleased with some of their creations. Tossing their failures (or giving them to Mom, because Mom loves everything they create.)

PicMonkey Collage

And then, they wrote little notes, welcoming the students back to school, placed their creations in an envelope and sent them on their way. A small gesture. But so meaningful for my children to help with the healing, theirs and ours.

After my own children went back to school I was curious about the snowflake project and found this post.  Sandy Hook was inundated with snowflakes, from all over the world. An outpouring of love and caring. More snowflakes than they needed, they are no longer accepting snowflake donations. But if you are moved to help, check in here.

Or, create your own winter wonderland. At your school. Your home.

Snowflakes. To remind us of what is beautiful.

And precious.

And fleeting.


Filed under Be-Causes, In the News, Uncategorized

Shannon Miller. Decorated U.S. Gymnast. And A Cancer Survivor.

Shannon Miller, former gymnast, is the most decorated gymnast in U.S. history. She is also a cancer survivor.


With absolutely no symptoms, her cancer was discovered during a yearly pap smear. Ovarian cancer is called the silent killer. Most symptoms do not present themselves until it is too late.

The following article was brought to my attention by David Hass of the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance. For inspiration and information, please click on the title below.

And then schedule your yearly exam, if you haven’t already.

From Olympic Gold to Ovarian Cancer: Our Interview with Former US Gymnast Shannon Miller


Filed under Be-Causes

Yes. There Is Even A Special Day For The Delusional. Happy Festival of Popular Delusions Day!

We all carry our favorite delusions around in our back pocket:

  • The 5-second rule for dropped food.
  • Barack Obama is not a natural born citizen of the United States. (For all you conservatives out there.)
  • Sarah Palin believes she can see Russia from her house. (For all you liberals out there.)
  • Global warming. (I just threw that in to irk my husband.)
  • Summer is a great time to get things done while the kids are out of school.
  • Irregardless is not a word. (So sad. It is so widely used it has become “nonstandard” English and now appears in virtually any dictionary. Look it up.) 
  • It takes 7 years for  gum to pass through your digestive system.
  • Eating turkey makes you sleepy. (Actually, ground beef and chicken contain the same amounts of tryptophan as turkey.)
  • Santa Claus. (For all of you. Because I still believe.)
  • That your boyfriend is completely faithful.
  • Saint Patrick was Irish. (He was English.)
  • Walt Disney is being preserved in a cryonic chamber.
  • Friday the 13th is an unlucky day. (When you’re a glass-half-full gal like me? It’s just another day.)

There are things we want to believe because it makes us happy. There are things we believe because it provides order and an explanation, no matter how irrational the belief may be. There are things we want to believe because it gives us hope. There are things we believe, not because we want to, but because we’re too lazy to look it up.

There are things we choose to believe because it’s the world we have created for ourselves and we like it that way.

Put me in that category.

I like my rose colored glasses.

I choose to believe that there can be a world without the need for war or weaponry. I believe in Disney magic and Santa Claus. I believe that the Mayan calendar would start all over again if the Mayans were here to produce a new one. I believe in the 5 second rule. (Depending on the surface on which it falls, of course.)

I choose to believe the unseen truths that comprise my faith. I believe that someday my mortgage will no longer be upside down. I choose to believe that I will not turn into my mother.  I believe that if I break a cookie in half the calories will fall out.  I believe in fairy tales and miracles. I believe that people are born good and fate has a nasty way of twisting those who succumb to evil. I believe in goodness and light and kindness and joy.


Call me delusional.

I don’t care.

I’m much happier this way.


Filed under Be-Causes, Holiday

Evolution Of A Hot News Story. Or How The Media Creates Mass Hysteria.

Day 1: I read about a young, innocent 17-year old boy, Trayvon Martin, shot by a crazed vigilante, George Zimmerman, in Florida. The crazed vigilante was patroling his neighborhood with a gun and it appears he singled out Martin because he was black and wearing a hoodie. Martin was armed only with a cellphone, a bag of Skittles and an iced tea. The nation is outraged. Twitter feeds light up. People are demanding the arrest of Zimmerman.

Day 4: I see a picture of George Zimmerman and he looks Hispanic to me. I think, of anyone he should be more sensitive to racial profiling, since he, too, is a minority. (Although, not for long.) I see a picture of Trayvon Martin. He looks all of 12 years old. He looks like a baby. How could he have been a threat?

Day 12: Citizens across the country are still outraged. Protests are being organized demanding Zimmermans arrest. I wonder how in the world he couldn’t have been arrested yet. This is outrageous.

Day 14: The friend Martin was talking to on the phone says that she heard Martin saying, “Why are you following me?” He tells her he has to go. He hangs up. Five minutes later, he is dead. I wonder what happened in those five minutes. Did Zimmerman chase Martin and then gun him down? Did they have a conversation? Did they argue? Could it have escalated to the point that Zimmerman did, indeed, feel he needed to defend himself? Nawwwww. He’s the psycho vigilante and Martin is the babyfaced victim that the media has portrayed them to be. I’m sure of it.

Day 15: Clever pictures of Skittles and cans of iced tea are popping up all over the internet with the caption “Not A Weapon.” I post said picture on my Facebook page to join the crusade.

Day 24: Geraldo Rivera claims that Martin’s hoodie is responsible for his death. Apparently, he thinks black men and boys shouldn’t wear hoodies, a common fashion statement among all people, of every race and gender. What an idiot.

Day 25: Rallies are popping up all over the country. Celebrities and politians are giving their two-cents. Zimmerman is still not arrested and has gone into hiding (legally.) I wonder how the authorities don’t have enough evidence by now to arrest the bastard. Sure, some inconsistencies are popping up, but he shot an unarmed man. How can this happen?

Day 29: Updated pictures of Martin and Zimmerman are now appearing on the internet. Martin now looks 17 years old and his full height of 6’3″. Zimmerman is now seen in a suit, not the old arrest picture, of which all charges were dropped. I also read that Martin was visiting his father while suspended for 10 days from school for possession of an empty baggie with trace amounts of marijuana.

Day 30: The Orlando Sentinel reveals that, according to police reports and Zimmerman’s account that has been corroborated by witnesses, that Martin knocked Zimmerman down with a single punch and then proceeded to slam his head into the pavement several times. This occurred while Zimmerman was returning to his vehicle and Martin approached Zimmerman. A witness states that Zimmerman was crying for help and then shot Martin twice at close range. It’s starting to make sense why, perhaps, Zimmerman hasn’t been arrested yet.  I take down clever picture from Facebook page.

Also Day 30: Martin’s mother is applying for a patent on phrases involving her child’s name. She says she is doing this to ” protect intellectual property rights for use in projects to help other families in similar situations.” Huh? This sounds fishy to me. But since I’ve never been in this situation, I’ll give her a crazy-because-I’ve-just-lost-my-son-in-a-tragic-horrific-way pass.

Day 31: Joe Oliver, a friend of George Zimmerman, a black friend of George Zimmerman, feels compelled to speak up for his friend. He confirms that George was attacked. He says that he is remorseful and suffering from post-traumatic stress. He can’t stop crying. Oliver describes a man who is caring and the farthest thing from a racist. I realize this is Zimmerman’s friend, so I take it all in with a grain of salt. But he is black. And he is on national television, supporting a very unpopular man. I take it all in with a minuscule grain.

The only two people who really know what happened are Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman.

Tragically, Trayvon can’t speak for himself. He is dead. Please, don’t tell me that guns don’t kill people, that people kill people. I won’t believe you. Why anyone needs to carry a gun on their person is beyond me. I’m aware that people kill people. But guns sure make it easy. This is not the wild west. We are a civilized nation. I want a world where guns, used to kill people, are unneccesary. Using guns to kill people is barbaric. There has got to be another way.

As tragic as Trayvon’s death is, the news that has trickled out oh-so-slowly certainly casts doubt to his complete innocence. Did he provoke George Zimmerman? Was there an altercation? Did he deserve to die? No. But should we cast stones at Zimmerman if we don’t know the whole story?

The media, at the start, led us to believe this was a hate-crime. Pure and simple. Then, slowly, information starts oozing out on both sides that creates doubt and suspicion. No real answers. Peppered with opinion and speculation. News stories that are short and factual. New stories that indirectly point blame.

But no one really knows anything. We are going to have to let the authorities do their job. Once a full investigation is complete. We might finally know what happened.

And by then? We’ll all be on to some new crusade.

I don’t know who is innocent. Both men are victims. Of many things.

But I do know one thing.

Geraldo Rivera is still an idiot.


Filed under Be-Causes, In the News, Observations

Joseph Kony And The Lord’s Resistance Army Must Be Stopped. NOW.

So important. Take the time.


Update: I’ve been criticized for perpetuating a cause that is old (the film is said to be completed in 2004), a cause that only sends 33% of its funds to Uganda and a cause that is virtually “over.” I did my homework. Kony may not be in Uganda but the Lord’s Resistance Army is alive and well. It is still wrecking havoc and terrorizing families and children. The Invisible Children financials are of public record. Google it. Their money is spread out approximately in thirds: to promote awareness, advocacy campaigns and actual on the ground  help. It is my belief that all three components are critical and deserve our support. And I humbly, yet loudly disagree that this cause is over. According to Michael Wilkerson, a freelance journalist who has lived and reported in Uganda, ” the LRA is the longest continually operating…rebel group that commits the kind of atrocities that it commits in the world. You pick any infamous group, and the LRA is right up there, except that it’s still going.” The Lord’s Resistance Army must be stopped. It is a terrorist group, like many others, that should be stopped. Joseph Kony is still at the top of the ICC’s (International Criminal Court) list of most wanted individuals

I will continue to support groups that promote peace. I will continue to support programs that do whatever they can to create a safer world for our children. No cause is without criticism or imperfections. But the basic tenants of Invisible Children come from a place of truth and goodness. Making others aware is critical to help change our world for the better. And that is all I need to know. 


Filed under Be-Causes