My photo
Drums, Pa, United States
My heart is on my sleeve and my soul is on paper. Please be kind to those around you, we are all glass.

The richness of sybolism

The richness of sybolism
Telling my story with no words

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Tomorrow will be a joyous day for me.  My husband and babies have been planning some sort of surprise that, so far, according to my loose lipped 4-year-old, includes fresh squeezed orange juice, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with “special sauce,” and a surprisingly good rendering of Doc McStuffins.
Tomorrow will be a joyous day for me.  I will check on the lilac bushes Chris and the girls planted for me a few years ago.  The ones that never grow because the deer pluck the buds.  Every.  Year. 
Tomorrow will be a joyous day, for as I wait to hear a small voice say, “Mommy, is it wake up time yet?” and smile, ever so eternally grateful to be blessed with those small voices that echo in my home.
Tomorrow will be a sad day for me.  I will recall the countless years I didn’t get a carnation as I left church.  The years I couldn’t stand up to be “honored” for being a mother.  The year I was in the choir singing a Mother’s Day special and left the stage sobbing.  
Tomorrow will be a sad day for me as I remember the pain in my heart while I watched people in pastels filing in for a Mother’s Day brunch. Those days I spent in bed longing for the pair of heartbeats that once beat under my own; silenced by miscarriage.
Tomorrow will be a sad day for me as I pray for my sisters. The ones whose bellies and arms are empty.  The ones who long for a day of life in a silent house.  The ones who envy the spit up on your shoulder, who would give anything for an endless night punctuated by the hourly calling of a cranky baby.  These women mourn in silence on this day, unsure of their place.  They stay away from social media knowing that Instagram will stab them in the heart.  They lay their heads on the pillow that was handmade for the baby whose last breath was taken before their first. 
I pray for solace, for peace, for wholeness for my fellow mothers whose children aren’t here.  I pray for a heart of gratefulness for my abundant blessings.  I pray for a sensitivity, a break in my own joy to share the burden of unimaginable sorrow.  Most of all, I pray that you know you are honored, you are loved, you are a mother.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Sex talk 2 of 2

As promised here is the follow up to the first post about the need for safe sex education for everyone across the board but my focus is on students. To be responsible I must include that there has been an increase in STIs in the older adult population. For instance in 2000 older adults presented with roughly 7000 cases of chlamydia and in 2012 the number jumped to 19,000. More info in the link at the bottom on this and theories about the increase.
Back to students; here are some facts I hope you find just as alarming as I did (all information is cited in the website links at the end).

*Young people age 15 to 24 account for 50 percent of all new STIs, although they represent just 25 percent of the sexually experienced population.
*HPV (human papillomavirus) accounts for the majority of prevalent STIs in the U.S
*1 in 4 teens contracts an STD/STI every year
*33.7% had had sexual intercourse during the previous 3 months, and, of these
    39.8% did not use a condom the last time they had sex 
    76.7% did not use birth control pills or Depo-Provera to prevent pregnancy 
Just take a minute to read those numbers again and let them sink in. With all this technology, knowledge and the tools for protection there is something very very wrong when we have this to show. What a lot of people don't know is that there are plenty of infections that have no outward signs and for some reason people still subscribe to the belief that if someone looks clean they are ok. I could go on and on about the different infections and what they look like but I don't want to get so wordy and clinical for fear I will turn you off. Just please learn something, even if it is one new fact and pass it on to someone you are responsible for. You can save someone's life. 




Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Uncomfortable topic 2: sex

I've been trying to figure out how to do justice to this issue that is crazy important to me and really should be to you too. Keeping with the theme of speaking openly about uncomfortable topics we have no choice but to find a way to get comfortable about this....it's life or death.
We are WAY too far advanced as a society to still have so many new cases of STI (sexually transmitted infections, bc nobody says VD anymore thank god) and unplanned pregnancy. Although I was raised in a very conservative home and taught that sex without being married is a no no this post will have nothing to do with religiosity or morality. I feel like that's where a lot of us go wrong when trying to reconcile sex v. safe sex. It matters not the parameters of a sexual relationship when talking about safety.
Just as an aside I do believe that young people should not have sex until they are able to understand that it means more than just something physical and also understand the idea of consequences; emotionally and practically (this is a tall order as most adults are still grappling with this). I also believe that having sex with many people leaves you less than whole as an individual. So many people believe that sex is just physical and no matter how hard you try to convince yourself I don't think anyone really really thinks this especially late at night when the world is quiet and you are alone. In the spirit of full disclosure I was a virgin when I got married and I never even kissed a boy before chris. This was probably bc of a lack of opportunity rather than some extreme practice in self control but I truly believe had I been with other people I would have left pieces of myself with those guys leaving me less than....well, me. I don't deserve any praise for this bc it's just the way it worked out since I was way too awkward and had such little confidence that no one dated me. I thought this was the end of my young and small world but now I thank my god for keeping me from heartbreak that would've changed me in bad ways.
Please don't see this at preachy or stuck up, I'm a modern and progressive woman who owns her sexuality and is not sorry for it, for knowing what I like and want and asking for it. I realize there is something to be said for equality it sexuality....women seeking what they want should not be labeled sluts while men doing the same are excused bc "that's just how guys are". That's not what this blog is about. What it is about is being safe.
Teaching kids about safety in sex does not make them have sex. I'd like for everyone to just read that line again.....and again. This is an especially hard concept for people governed heavily by religion. I'm not at all against abstinence but we should always be teaching a why; kids (and thoughtful adults for that matter) are very rarely moved to the core by rules with no explanation other than fear for not obeying. Abstinence is like a dirty word among progressives but it doesn't have to be. If you are not ready or not sure you are ready for sex then don't do it bc you can't take it back. That's a perfectly good reason to teach the A word. What about it being the only fool proof way of preventing pregnancy and STI? Another great reason. Above all lets give kids and adults some credit; give them all the information and let them make an informed choice. If you think that telling your kids not to have sex before they are married bc the bible says so is an acceptable sex ed speech you will have a kid who is learning from the Internet, their more experienced friends (most likely bad information) and experimenting dangerously on their own to learn about what you should have taught them. They will probably seem like "good kids" and you will think you did a great job until they become pregnant or worse get HIV (don't roll your eyes I am far from being dramatic) bc no one explained the reality of sex and consequences of ignorance.
We have the tools; there is access to more testing, so many more options for birth control and STI protection than ever that there is no excuse....seriously no excuse.
I going to make this a 2 part blog bc it's so important and there's too much information and I don't want to wear out my welcome all at once. Next time I'm going to talk about the icky details of STI and give you some startling statistics.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Mommy, how are babies made?

Oh, it has been too long and my pen is rusty but we need to get moving again...let it flow.
I want to start a new series and really encourage free dialogue not just here but in my interpersonal life, I hope it helps some of you feel more at ease discussing things we don't feel so comfortable talking about.  The thing is we miss out on so much when we stick to what's benign; sometimes we need to squirm to really get to know each other and more importantly ourselves maybe MOST importantly advance our collective emotional maturity.
First I want to speak frankly about pregnancy and I get to do that because I happen to be 5 months into growing a human myself.  Please know I understand this does not make me an expert but the good thing about being here is this is my blog and my pregnancy and my feelings and observations, none of which are wrong..they just are.
This baby has been a VERY long time coming, just about 10 years we have been waiting for her.  It seems important to give enough of the back story so you can understand the appreciation we have for this miracle.  When I was 16 I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) and the doctor told me I most likely would have fertility issues.  PCOS in simplistic terms is a collection of symptoms caused by hormonal imbalance driven by insulin resistance.  It's more of an annoyance than anything else and at 16 I wasn't phased by the prediction of infertility.  Chris and I have been married for almost 12 years and about 2 years into things we started casually trying to get pregnant.  After a year and a half I started to ask for help because it wasn't working out like we planned.  We had all the tests done and it came down to PCOS causing infrequent and unreliable ovulation.  In 2006, a month after my doctor told me we would most likely never conceive on my own, I was pregnant.  10 weeks later her heart stopped.  I found out later 60% of pregnancies in women with PCOS end in miscarriage because of hormonal irregularities.  3 years and many doctor visits and fertility medications later I got pregnant on the first try at IUI (artificial insemination) and 10 weeks later she went to be with her sister in heaven.  Other attempts at IUI and procedures done by fertility doctors failed and I was beginning to accept that it wasn't meant to be for me to ever get pregnant again.  Fast forward another 3 years, a failed adoption attempt and a couple of hearts broken more times than we thought we could survive and we are in the middle of becoming foster parents and I found out I was pregnant.  I was in shock for a good 2 months because I had prayed for so long that I would just get the opportunity to give my husband a baby, to never watch him go through another fathers day with such emptiness, to feel the indescribable wonder of another heart beating under my own.
With both my other pregnancies I threw up but it was cute, a novelty, a welcomed rite of passage.  A few times a week I would get sick and Chris would cheer because we knew it meant things were still ok.  This time it wasn't cute.  I didn't have morning sickness I had 24 hour a day, wake up in the middle of the night to throw up, couldn't keep even liquids down for days at a time, spending day after day on the couch with never ending nausea, losing 25 pounds in 8 weeks sickness.  It's called hyperemesis gravidarium and if affects a very small percentage of pregnant women.  Now, just shy of 5 months I have relief enough that I can eat and function pretty well most days .  I still weigh less than I did when I got pregnant which definitely isn't bad for a chubby girl and I still get sick almost every day but this is manageable and allows me to enjoy being pregnant.
It became a struggle for me explaining exactly how sick I was.  I stopped making plans with people because I was never well enough to be anywhere but near the bathroom.  I couldn't clean my house, make dinner, be around food, take a trip in the car, work, talk on the phone, feed my dog or live a normal life.  When I tried to explain this I got a lot of advice about crackers, ginger ale and sour patch kids but I tried EVERYTHING and even the medication the doctor put me on wasn't working.  I became upset when people kept telling me to be happy I was so sick because it means everything is good or that it's all worth it because of what comes at the end.  I stopped explaining after a while because I kept getting the feeling that just because I was miserable and yes I was totally miserable, that I was not entirely grateful and understanding of the blessing and miracle that is this baby.  Please know that I thank God for this gift everyday and I would go through much worse if it meant I would have a child at the end but it is also ok to not enjoy feeling like you have the worst stomach bug you ever had for 4 months straight.
In other news I would like to report that pregnancy causes some other interesting issues...breakouts, crazy tiredness, even crazier dreams, constipation (that is no joke man), insomnia, intense mood changes, baby brain, a beautiful new view of the world, a deep love for my husband that I never knew before, a fierceness for protecting my family, a gratefulness that just doesn't quit and so many more things I am so excited to still discover.
Thanks for reading please share your thoughts with me!!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

my first publication

A Sludge Story

We always enjoy sharing ROWE stories with you. However, we also receive stories from non-ROWErs, which are often oozing with Sludge. Following is a Sludgey story with an optimistic ending.Kat Coolbaugh-Steiner, from Drums, PA, shares her story about Sludge, timing, and moving on….
Sludge. What a spectacular term for what I have been swimming in for the last few years at work. It wasn’t until I started reading “Why Work Sucks and How to Fix it”, that I realized there was a name and a face for this monster.
Over 10 years ago in a college lecture, a guest speaker’s words resonated so strongly with me; I still recall them vividly. He explained that the way we work in this nation is tiresome, inefficient, almost barbaric and the opposite of family friendly. He spoke of siestas in South America, shorter work days and weeks in Europe and a high focus on family time with lengthy paid maternity and paternity time in the Netherlands. This lit a fire in me, but as I entered the real world, I quickly understood the way to get noticed was to be fake, care more about work than family and be willing to be anywhere at anytime. Work was life. When I voiced my concerns about the erosion of family and self worth because of high demand low control professions, I was criticized and called lazy. I was swimming upstream, which is cool with me, but I also realized I needed to buy into this “work myself to death” mentality to make any money.
The last 7 years of my life I was a social worker in a nursing home. I was really good at my job and had 4 promotions in 6 years. I loved my job, my clients, my coworkers but mostly my boss. She never micromanaged me, I didn’t have to punch a clock and she told me as long as my work gets done I could be wherever I wanted to be. Of course I never took advantage of this, it would have been stupid to do that. I worked hard, and most weeks, more than 40 hours, but it was because things needed to be done. I had even negotiated a 4-10 hour day work week when gas prices were astronomical.
Two years ago, another social worker was hired as our clientele was growing. She was nice and a fast, efficient learner which helps me – since I was the one training her. We became friends and enjoyed working together. About a year later she completed her Masters degree and because of this piece of paper, my boss decided she would make the women I trained…..my supervisor. I voiced my concerns saying that things were great as they were and I just didn’t feel the change in dynamic would work. I warned her of what would come. Sure enough as soon as my coworker I trained became my supervisor – everything changed.
I was told I would need to punch the clock and have a set schedule with a set time for lunch. My office was moved from a bright space with a window to the middle of the medical records room without a phone. And then the menial tasks were thrown my way. I was given the work she felt too superior to do. I could go on, but in short, she was enjoying breaking me. Being a stubborn, optimistic and overall good hearted person, I did the best I could to have a good attitude.
Things became unbearable about 8 months into this arrangement. She was a miserable person and her bad attitude spread like a cancer throughout my coworkers. Instead of shunning this behavior, it became like a mob mentality, a pack of wolves who would discard the weak or non conforming ones. If there is anything I am not, its a conformist.
These people made it their jobs and took pleasure in tearing people down, spending hours at a time gossiping and forming alliances to shun people. When I refused to take part and even numerous times voiced my concern, I was ostracized and in the end my job was sabotaged. I am not attempting to make this sound dramatic, it literally was like watching an animal hunt on National Geographic. I ended up being fired because my supervisor lied and I had no recourse. I had never been fired and it was a blow to my ego, but now I see it as the best thing that could have happened.
Without knowing my circumstances, Michael Barata and I got to talking about ROWE and he sent me “Why Work Sucks and How To Fix It” the very same week I was fired, which I believe to be serendipity. This book not only validated feelings I have had for years, but lit a fire in me to pass this on to as many people that will hear me. I am thankful for the book, Cali & Jody, the people willing to give this a try and all of us who choose to think and live in ways that make our hearts and spirits grow.

set to open

We are all the same
shoot for love but tire after we take aim
our skin becomes an armor
we want to connect but heavy feet refuse to walk any further

take some time and set the mind to open
choosing to know another heart, do better than just coping
i look you in the eye now and give you power
maybe 1 and a half seconds will turn into an hour

see me for who i am, see me
let's be honest and fragile and break together
living without walls is my choice, love and rocks hurling
let me be the sister and you be my brother

i will move my feet no matter
to get a different view and avoid the chatter
your doing your best i trust this
i will still love you if you miss

see me for who i am, see me
let's be honest, fragile and break together
living without walls is my choice, love and rocks hurling
let me be the sister and you be my brother

dont find reasons to be gone, stay present
the hurt is real, its so real
before long i promise you will heal

Still life; bowl

Did you ever get so sick of things?  Sick of water boiling, clocks ticking, lights shining, air moving? Quite morose don't you think?
This picture of me with a bowl has become my favorite.  I make the same far away, stubborn, tantrum look to outsiders that I have now, just way cuter.  I think I was writing my book even then and thinking about how I could fix things if they would just fit inside the bowl or my hand.
Little Kat; I should tell you not to worry so much but I won't.  I refuse to take one pound away from your heavy little shoulders or one wrinkle from your already furrowed brow.  I would just remind you to start saving earlier for botox.