The Gift That Gives

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For my 38th Birthday, I asked my friends and family to give me the gift of RANDOM ACTS OF KINDNESS.

I was so excited to get text messages throughout the day telling me of the great things they did for others as a gift to me…

I assure you that these great people would go above and beyond for others, because it is in their nature. A Random Act of Kindness Challenge is a way to do that little extra something, on top of the greatness you do daily in honor of someone else!

Here are some of the Random Acts of Kindness they gifted me (and the UNIVERSE!!!) 

1. Went food shopping and picked up some extra stuff for the annual Bend To Mend Thanksgiving Basket Brigade Food Drive and another food drive!!!

Sidebar: *** If you are interested in donating ask me how! ***

2. Helped clean a friends house out of LOVE!

3. Surprised a girlfriend and delivered her lunch at work.

4. Stood out in the freezing cold for HOURS at the NYC MARATHON just to cheer on the runners, chanting their names and  reminding them they were doing GREAT!!!

5. Held the door open for an entire family. 5 1/2. Didn’t YELL at said family when they neglected to say THANK YOU. lol

6. Bought a $20 Gift Card at Dunkin Donuts and left it there to pay for the next few customers to enjoy their coffee on them!

7. Visited an elderly neighbor who lost all his family and enjoyed a nice talk!

8. Went to the Coffee Shop to get breakfast and grabbed a breakfast sandwich for the woman sitting outside!

9. Stood up for a homeless man when the restaurant owners and other customers wanted him out because of his appearance. Then bought him lunch so he could enjoy a hot meal, inside.

10. Paid for the entire lunch tab for a family sitting next to you at the pizzeria!

11. Donated BLOOD!!! (again!)

AND… My favorite RAOK of the day came from my Soul Sister…

12.  Played “VERY NICE” with my IN-LAWS, despite how hard they made it!!!

(insert rolling eye emoji here!)

Thank you to those who took the time to text me and let me know what you did to make my day special! It was an awesome birthday!

 

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Moving On

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November 8, 2016

I am always excited on Election Day! I am the girl who checks out the ballot weeks in advance, regardless if it is a local election or a Presidential one! It is my way of being  involved in something, in part, so I can say I did what I could to see that like-minded people are representing me. It is something that has been instilled in me from my parents, who didn’t even tell us kids who they voted for, because it is “private”.

I thought it would be funny to post a little political satire, a Snapchat Video of me after exiting my polling site saying “This Pu$$y is NOT up for GRABS”. My mistake. TACKY, I know. For the most part, despite the urge to voice my opinion openly, I had followed my mother’s lifelong instructions, “never discuss politics in mixed company, ALWAYS participate in democracy and NEVER tell anyone WHO you are voting for”. Sorry Mom, I let you down. I didn’t outright say I who I was voting for, but I let you know who I wasn’t voting for that day.

I dragged my teenage daughter from her bed to sit with me and watch something I excitedly called “HER”Story in the Making. As the results came in, state by state, I was intrigued by the tightness of the race. I live in New Jersey, I was confident we would go Blue and we did. (By the way, my child quietly abandoned very early on.)

By 2:00 am, waiting to hear from President-Elect Trump, I replayed the many things that triggered my emotions during the campaign such as his comments on Immigration, Muslims, the LGBTQ Community, the Environment, how he treated the Disabled, Women’s Rights and even our Veterans. When he began to speak about uniting again and going forward together. Things I believe in, things I want to do, I was excited once again.

I resigned myself to the fact many politicians say whatever they need to say for votes. So I didn’t cry or stomp my feet, besides I was exhausted. I am an American and this is democracy at work. I already heard the cries of the people that the system was “RIGGED” when it wasn’t looking to favor them, and I thought that was absurd. Thankfully, all the parts seemed to be working smooth, like a well-oiled machine on November 8, 2016, possibly because it went in their favor or maybe because it is what it is and in a race as tight as this whoever won would need to admit they NEED to take something from the other.

Little known secret about me, I have politicians (ALL Republicans!) in my very own family who held political offices for years and some who are in office to date. We share so many of the same values, they are people of great integrity. We respect one another, it works. I don’t believe HATE should be tolerated on either side. A political party does not define a person.

I know firsthand that most politicians will appeal to peoples inner most beliefs and play on them. I am sure they both said things and avoided saying things strategically.

All in all, the election is over, we have a President-Elect and I will respect this President as I have all others before him, as an American.

November 9, 2016

I went to work with a smile on my face and a caffeinated water in my hand. After all, I turned 38 on Sunday and I know I had been through much more difficult things than an election not going my way. I had received a few texts from friends and family, just expressing their emotions and thoughts on the outcome.

It was otherwise a normal day in my life. UNTIL, my phone rang. It was an unknown number but I get that from time to time, so I always answer just in case.

“Hello?”

I could hear a TV playing loudly in the background, a man’s voice slurring the words while laughing “HA-HA you N*gger LOVER” followed by “You and that N*GGER need to get on the next boat back to AFRICA because YOU’RE DONE!”, I asked “WHO IS THIS!” loudly and in shock.

This alerted many of my coworkers to look towards my office, as it wasn’t typical of me to speak that loud while on a call. “He responded “YOU KNOW WHO IT IS! This day has been coming, PRESIDENT TRUMP is gonna kick that N*GGER out of the WHITE House and then you and all the other unemployed, welfare N*GGERS with no jobs who don’t pay taxes… disgrace to the white race… no man would want you after being with a black so you’re a N*GGER now too…”

Honestly, I am not sure what else happened after that. I did exchange some intelligent words with the man and the irony wasn’t lost on me that he called while I was at work, yet he seemingly was under the influence of something at 9 am and hopefully not working in that condition.

Several coworkers came back to my desk to “check on me”, I wasn’t upset or scared, just disappointed. One coworker was brought to tears, so I comforted her, explaining that this wasn’t the first time in my life that I have been called such names and I am sure it wouldn’t be the last. This is a reality of my life, maybe even more so now than ever. This is a reality I face more often than you could ever imagine or that I would ever share.

My thoughts are very simple. While I appreciate the concept of playing into people’s emotions and telling them what they want to hear “to get the vote”, there needs to be some obligation to not incite hate. Did Mr. Donald Trump tell that man to pick up the phone and call me those names, absolutely not, but did he give that man the courage to do that, possibly. Is it fair to say that ALL those who voted for Mr. Trump share these beliefs, NOT AT ALL! It was a singular person voicing their opinion on how I chose to live MY LIFE. More importantly, the fact that I have built a beautiful life with a Black man is not something I will hide or be ashamed of – EVER.

In my humble opinion, people have stooped lower than ever during this election on both sides. We have called names, made allegations, said things that we may have had buried deep inside and all because we have multiple platforms to share our voices. The media is largely to blame, as are we for giving them that power. The “news” played such a vital role in this Election and we can all rest assured that we didn’t research every single meme we read to validate it, right? Where was the integrity? We NEED to do better as Americans and as HUMANS. So, I will counter HATE with LOVE, something I do quite often.

Call me naïve, but I always believed America was great. Like everything else, there is room for improvement and I will look forward to trying to see that through.

God Bless America!

 

 

Tubal Ligation and NovaSure

I thought I would share my story, incase you are interested in having a tubal ligation and an Endometrial Ablation, like me.

The actual process of getting this set up as simple. I found a doctor who offered NovaSure (endo-ablation) and booked my annual with him. I went for my usual GYNO visit and explained my interest in getting sterilized. I also advised of my medical history, with all of that information I was told that I would need the following:

  • A blood panel that comes back healthy
  • A PAP that comes back without any abnormalities
  • No Fibroids or heavy scar tissue on my uterus (detected with an internal sonogram)
  • A well office exam
  • Healthy enough to get anesthesia

Once we had all of those these completed and thankfully, aside from my weight, I was found to be in very good health I was able to book the procedure.

In order to have surgery, I was told to stop all medication 24 hours prior. I was to not eat or drink anything after midnight the night before and I was to arrive at the surgical center at 6:30 am.

After checking in, I changed into hospital garb, sat on a recliner and got my IV put in. That was connected to a bag of fluid for hydration as well as the port for the anesthesiologist. I walked myself into the surgery room, which I found slightly odd. I hopped myself up on the bed and a nurse bundled me up with a warm blanket.

I was told “you’re going to get a little burning sensation but you will be sleepy soon” and within seconds, lights out!

I woke up to a kind nurse, asking me if I was feeling ok. I was. There was no nausea, I went into surgery with bleeding and came out without any bleeding. It was like magic! My period was GONE! Thank goodness.I felt very tired but able to sit and wake up a bit while they discharged me. It was about 4 hours total that I was there. They removed my IV and I dressed myself, walked out to my car where my handsome husband awaited!

I don’t remember the ride home, but I do recall being THIRSTY!

The most discomfort I felt on DAY 1 was a very sore throat from the breathing tube. I was able to drink and eat whatever, but I wasn’t necessarily hungry. I slept the day away, without much pain at all. Until about 9 pm, when I got hungry, my throat hurt and my stomach began to feel very tight and sore.

Day 2, I rested some more. I didn’t get a restful night sleep but I attempted to lay all night in one place. I didn’t do much of anything on Day 2 because the belly was sore, but no vaginal pain at all from the ablation. Still no bleeding or cramping.

Day 3, just a tenderness and soreness. I was able to get out and walk in short increments. I was able to get some rest, comfortably. No bleeding. A little uncomfortable where they cut into my belly button but nothing unbearable. So far, VERY HAPPY with my decision!

Day 4, Monday. I was able to go to work and get a good 1/2 day in at the office. I was having some soreness but… OVERALL, I felt great!

TODAY! DAY 5. I just finished a full day of work. Totally happy I did this, practically no downtime. I am just mildly sore and still no bleeding. I am completely able to function and do my normal routine.

I highly recommend this if you are looking for a permanent fix! If you have any questions, please just ask! I hope this helps anyone who has been thinking of it!!!

 

Keeping it REAL.

If you’ve made it here to my blog, you probably have a pretty good idea of who I am and what I’m about. In the event that you’re just now discovering me, allow me to introduce myself. Hi, My Name Is: Dee-Dee!

Today, I find myself in a moral dilemma. A constant battle between expressing myself or remaining silent. Typically, I choose the latter. I don’t withhold in fear of backlash or opposition, I’m always open for intelligent discussion, I hold back because a wise man told me don’t argue with fools, because people from a distance can’t tell who’s who! 

First off, this election has brought one undeniable truth to the forefront, RACISM is still ALIVE and WELL here in America. This isn’t news to me, I experience it regularly, being in a inter-racial and inter-cultural marriage and being the mother of a multiracial teenager. 

Just yesterday, someone I know posted a photo of “Hillary Clinton in black face”, (I refuse to include this photo) a photo we all know is not real and one that has been around for many many years, her comment below the post “I still find it funny lol” and because I never understood why it was funny years ago, I figured it wouldn’t hurt to ask, why today, it was funny. I asked politely for her to explain what was so funny about it? And her answer was as follows: 

“Omg. Ok I don’t explain myself to anyone. But because it’s YOU 😉.. I find how the media spins people to be amusing- I hate politics and this election. It is such a joke! Not a racists thing. I know what your thinking We BOTH have biracial daughters.”

There you have it, her answer that we BOTH (note the caps!) have biracial daughters, cleared it up. She has a pass? Strange thing is, her political posts were offensive to me and my sensibilities but I had no interest in losing any friends over opposing beliefs. This was an entirely new level of hate, one I couldn’t watch play out. As I unfriended this person it reminded me to appreciate the one good thing that came out of this election, the clear racists, bigots, sexists and hate!!! 

Now, let me take anyone to class who is THIS ignorant.

As a mother of an older child who is (in her words) “biracial”, I’ve been in this a bit longer so maybe it hasn’t sunk in for her just yet. Having a black child does NOT give you any privledges or passes, it actually gives you an even bigger JOB as a mother, to do everything in your power to help fix the problem – certainly not ADD to it! 

The history of the blackface was born in prejudice, hostility, and ignorance towards black people. 

These blackface “entertainers” would  imitate black music & dance and exaggerate the language by speaking in a “plantation” dialect of improper English. No performers (white or black) were allowed on stage to act the parts of blacks – WITHOUT THIS BLACK FACE because they wanted to ensure that nobody saw them as equals. Most roles included the ugliest stereotypes of African American slaves. It was a grotesque and demeaning mischaracterization of the people, many of whom, despite the terrible odds managed to educate themselves, speak proper, read, write, care for themselves, uplift one another and go on to be productive members of society. Blackface portrayed NONE of that. 

Another common term for these roles was the part of “the coon”. That’s funny?

Sadly, the White audiences some of whom never encountered black people in real life, would come to believe that these charactures depicted what blacks were actually like. This would further the misconception that black people were very content being enslaved and would be ill-equipped for independence so they were doing black people a favor. 

The history of blackface is very dark and complex. While you may think it’s harmless to laugh at these “jokes” it just proves you are a HUGE part of the problem. People like to say that there is no such thing as “systematic oppression” yet here you are, centuries later, laughing and making a mockery of an entire race of people who were abducted and forced into slavery, raped, not taught to read or write, abused and murdered for simply having more melanin. 

It shows that although she may have been so socially unaware, that she ended up having a “biracial” child. Obviously she has yet to educate herself on the enormous responsibility it is to raise a child and then add to it the tremendous added responsibility it is to raise a child of African descent when she is obviously completely and utterly unprepared to do so!!!! To me, it’s been an honor and a privledge to raise a young woman who embraces ALL of who she is and where her story began, but it took extra work and effort! So if I could say one thing to her, it would be, DO NOT EVER COMPARE YOURSELF TO ME! Our similarities end with, in her own text “we both have biracial daughters”! That is it!

As we ALL know, there is no test of qualifications of your ability to parent. Most of us go into it blind and we see things along the way that make us better! When it comes to my daughter, of very diverse cultural backgrounds, I rely on my “village” to help me, I use common sense and morality when it comes to racial issues! My village is amazing, for this I’m grateful. Maybe this person doesn’t have enlightened and strong men and women around her to guide her, which isn’t an excuse, but I’m pretty sure if I posted something as obscene and vulgar – my village would have quickly called me on it! 

Ignorance sure is bliss, but someday her beautiful child will be an adult. This young lady will see the world and the ugliness in it first hand and hopefully it won’t destroy her knowing it came from her own mother. 

Nothing but love and lessons offered here! 

Today.

October 21, 2016

Today I go through with something I’ve wanted to do for over 15 years. After a very hard pregnancy that was high risk, I was happy to have my healthy baby, but knew that would be our only child. I asked my doctor, at just 22, if I could get sterilized. I was told, NO. With every year that passed, during my annual visit, I would remind the doctor that I was still interested in getting myself sterilized, but with every year I was told, “you’re too young” or “you’ll regret it”. I was unable to use any hormone release birth control methods due to other medical conditions. So, month to month, I would hope that our “other” methods have held up. Finally, last year, my doctor said that she would consider this, provided I brought my husband into the office so he could sign documents approving this procedure. That was the final straw. I could not believe that, as a woman, I was being told that I couldn’t do something to my body by choice that could increase my quality of life without judgement AND my husbands permission (which I had regardless, but that was not the point!). I finally began to search out a doctor who would allow me to make this decision for myself and found him on my second try. He absolutely agreed this would be a great choice for someone like me, we booked the surgery THAT DAY! After 3 weeks of pre admission tests, I was cleared for surgery. Today, after so much talk about the recent remarks during our presidential debate, I see that this antiquated thinking is not so uncommon and shocked me!!! 

I’m absolutely thrilled to have this CHOICE. This is a choice that I made alone. I’m excited that I was finally given the choice to get sterilized after 15 years. I know it’s hard for some to believe that I knew what I want to do with my body at the ripe young age of 22 and that choice hasn’t wavered in 15 years. 

Here we go! 

The RESULTS are IN!

 

About 2 months ago, Chloe, my 15 year old daughter mentioned she really wanted to get a Genetic/Ethnicity test done to see what her DNA traced back to. I totally understood her interest, she comes from two very diverse and mixed backgrounds. Honestly, we really couldn’t tell her anything concrete and we were more than happy to get her, for $99, Ancestry.com DNA test!

To date, I have been told my ethnic background is everything from Native American, Italian, Swedish, Dutch and on. From her father, Trinidadian and Scottish. Trinidad was originally occupied by Spaniards, Africans and the French, so Chloe could say, without a doubt, that she was multi-ethnic!

Well, the results came in today and it was even more exciting and interesting than we could have ever expected.

Chloe’s RESULTS

Organic Magic by DD Downer 

Back in 2005 I began studying Buddhism. Very early on in my studies I came across the JOURNAL FOR THE STUDY OF RELIGION, NATURE AND CULTURE, ECOTHEOLOGY ISSUE 9 JULY 2000 and it opened my eyes to a lot of issues surrounding the food “industry” in the United States and how mass production, processing and wasteful packaging is against fundamental Buddhist beliefs. I was a twenty five year old mom to a four year old child who required most of my time and energy, so although this information set off alarms for me, I didn’t explore a personal plan of attack to fix my habits. 

As I continued my studies, I would come across many more informative articles about the subject and by 2009, without much effort at all, I began to make small but impactful changes in our home. The very first thing I noticed about converting to a “cleaner diet with less waste” was how time consuming it was. I was spending triple the time shopping, trekking back and forth between 4-5 different markets a week. Add on to that the time I spent trying to find some of my favorite ingredients in their organic, natural state. It required a lot of time, energy and MONEY. It hurt my heart and pockets to spend the extra few bucks per item but it was time I made this change. 
Eventually I designed a program in my household that fit our needs. Many who know me have heard of my  “Project 80/20” creation. It was simple, 80% of my household foods would be NON-GMO, organic, all natural, locally sourced, unpackaged (bulk) and overall “CLEAN FOODS”. The other 20% of my foods were just regular, run of the mill, foods. If the grass fed, farm to table beef was way out of my budget, I found the next best thing within my price point. If there were foods, like ketchup, that my daughter refused to budge on taste preferences, I’d get the Heinz 57 and call it a day. The bottom line was, this system worked for us and it became law in our home! 

There were times when we’d be able to carry our system over from food to cleaning products, lawn and gardening supplies and appliance useage. It was personally fulfilling to live my life consciously and by implementing these changes.

For years, when I was buying organic, I came to terms with the following:

  • My fruits were going to be less “appealing” visually

  • My produce will be much smaller 

  • Organic will be more expensive

  • There would be times during the year that you couldn’t buy certain vegetables because “out of season” on organic – ACTUALLY MEANS “out of season” 

 

There were many adjustments and exceptions to everything you’ve thought when buying your 100% natural and USDA Organic products. 

If you were shopping for meats, that was even trickier. Words like, Grass Fed, Grain Fed, All Natural, Hormone Free, Antibiotic Free, Free Range, Preservative Free, Etc… could really make your head spin. Then the impact it had on your wallet was going to certainly give you the full exorcist head spin full circle. Was it worth it? ABSOLUTELY!

Let’s fast forward to 2016, we still actively apply the 80/20 Program in our household  but it’s become somewhat effortless. I can now get 9/10 of my shopping done in one place, a CHAIN SUPERMARKET like Stop & Shop, Shop Rite and Foodtown. Most of my “big supermarkets” have organic aisles, organic and naturals in every single product from hair products to jello. Plus there’s organic vegetables and fruit found right smack dab in the middle of every single one of your favorite fruits and veggies! Wow! So, I guess you think it has become easier with the abundance of options but it really hasn’t, because something set an alarm off in me recently and I can’t quite shake it.

I knew that as the consumers demanded more healthy and natural products, the grocery gods would deliver. But at what cost? How did these changes happen that fast. How come my ORGANIC apple is now the size of the Non-Organic apple? Why are my natural meats now only pennies more than the regular factory farmed meats? I see fancy new packaging and labeling on products with BIG BOLD letters that say ALL NATURAL and ORGANIC with more “healthy” options than not. Sounds like a good thing, I know! But it just didn’t make sense to me. So, I did what I always do, started to research what the new laws, regulations and standards were on production and labeling I needed to know what changed! (And it’s not very promising!)

So, first off I’ve learned that “NON-GMO” Project is throwing us off. Yes, we want non-GMO foods but be very clear, that does not mean ORGANIC. So, to clear this up, here’s an article I read that was interesting enough to share. 

NonGMO & ORGANIC Choices
The advertising game is tricky. Remember, cigarettes used to be marketed towards the younger generation, as non addictive and we were told the rewards of smoking were social acceptance, helpful with weight loss, etc… we now know those are all false. We can also use the “low fat” and “fat free” craze that promises more lean bodies, but in return we were given massive amounts of carbohydrates and sugars (artificial sweeteners that our bodies didn’t know how to process) in return. We saw a rapid rise in health issues after that great marketing push! So is this just another “pull the wool over the consumers eyes” tactic that we are going to regret in a few years? Quite possibly! 

Here’s the bottom line, organic agriculture, although synthetic chemical pesticides are generally prohibited, many exceptions are allowed on the basis of “need,” and most “natural” ones, which can be extremely toxic, are permitted. Here’s a quick reference. 

Allowed Pesticides for Organics
Now. I’m sure you didn’t read all of that, but to sum it up. Nothing is ALL NATURAL and 100% ORGANIC and does that bother me? Yes, because it’s very misleading to most. I knew there had to be some exceptions but at what cost? So who do we believe about what? That’s where we are today. I read there was an 84% increase in consumers buying organic since 2009 but couldn’t understand how we were able to adjust to this increase without any sacrifice and bottom line is, we didn’t. We simply lowered our standards to meet the demand. 

So where do we go from here? Do we stop trying? Absolutely not! This year I planted my own garden, sadly it was a bust. But I learned a lot in the process and I’m sure the next one will be remarkable! I’m going to go back to the good old days, where I had to spend hours shopping and dissecting labels and trying to figure out what is best for us, my family. Trust me, I’m not ready to throw in the towel just yet. 

Most importantly I want to share this, the USDA Blog site… I have been reading the blog posts and then REALLY reading the comments from the farmers and seeing some real world debate about our food, sustainability and the future of ORGANIC! I encourage you to read the posts, REALLY read the comments and come to a conclusion yourself. Just don’t follow blindly, it’s that simple. MUST READ USDA BLOG & COMMENTS