Not for Me But for My Friends.

I endured a grueling bus trip to be in DC on Saturday. I traveled from Iowa with friends. Not for me but for my friends.

I March for my black women friends who are worried that their husbands and sons will be killed in a traffic stop.

I marched for my immigrant friends so they would feel safe in the country they’ve adopted because their own country was not a healthy place to live.

I Marched for my Muslim friends, who deserve the right to choose their religion in a country taken from Native Americans by people escaping religious persecution.

I marched for my Great grandmother who lost her farm when her husband died, she had to sell grain in the name of her 5 year old son. For my great aunt who shared the story of her mother getting to vote. These stories of string women make up my family, may they watch over me and be proud.

For inequality in the workplace and everyday sexism we are so used to we barely notice. For a salary correction that awards equal work for equal pay.

Women are as capable of making decisions as men. Stop legislating our bodies. You cannot stop abortion, you can stop safe abortion. The Hyde amendment has kept your federal funds safe since 1976 when I was 10. Stop wasting your legislative efforts in non issues and spend time doing good.

For all the strong, wise women with an undefeatable spirit that came before me

I didn’t march because of a family obligation but I have often thought about why I would have. Many years ago I sat in a car, traveling across Nebraska with my aunt. Conversation had revolved around varied subjects but now settled on politics. She asked me what I thought about some current issue. I shrugged. I had grown up in a small town in the Black Hills of South Dakota. My mother was Democrat, my father was Republican. I can, maybe, remember one isolated instance of hearing them discuss politics. When I turned 18, I registered as a Democrat. I voted in every Presidential election….but I paid very little attention to politics. It wasn’t cool, it wasn’t comfortable, it took too much energy to try to understand it all.

In light of my conversation with my aunt, let me tell you something about the women of family. I come from a long line of wise, strong women with an undefeatable spirit. They crossed the ocean to a new, unfamiliar land filled with hope and, I would imagine, a little trepidation; but they didn’t let that stop them. They crossed the plains and forded rivers in covered wagons with children in tow filled with hope and a little trepidation; but they didn’t let that stop them. They lived in dugouts, built homes of raw timber, planted crops, raised livestock while raising a family with hope and a little trepidation; but they didn’t let that stop them. They raised families, took care of finances, found work outside of the home or took in washing while their husbands, brothers, sons fought in WWI, WWII, and Vietnam. They raised families while attending colleges and universities to become teachers, journalists, nurses, entrepreneurs with hope and a little trepidation; but they didn’t let that stop them.

So, when my aunt gently rebuked me for not being appraised of current political issues I didn’t take it lightly. She reminded me that it is my obligation as a citizen to pay attention because politics, in many ways, shape our lives. It is also my obligation to pay attention because of all the women who came before me that weren’t allowed to enjoy the same privileges that I enjoy.

If I would have marched, I would have marched for all those strong, wise women with an undefeatable spirit that took on life and an ever-changing society with hope and a little bit of trepidation that didn’t slow them down. I would have marched for women who came long before me and wagered everything for my privilege to vote. I would have marched for the women who fought for my right to choose when I start a family. I would have marched for the people who have fought for my friends and family in the LGBTQ community to openly love who and how they love. I would have marched for clean air, fresh water, and National Parks that give us respite and remind us how we are connected to Mother Earth. I would have marched for the marginalized whose voices can’t be heard. I would have marched for equal pay for equal work, for affordable health care for all, for immigrants, for refugees, for Muslims, for my black brothers and sisters who “can’t breathe” and are raised knowing that at some point in their lives they will face racism in some form. I can’t possibly list everything. The gist is this….we have come so far. We have come so far but we still have so far to go. We have come so very far and we must NOT allow a step back.

We are facing something entirely new an unprecedented in our country. With all of the wise, strong women with an undefeatable spirit from my past, my present, and my future standing with me I plan to move forward with hope, and a little bit of trepidation. But I don’t plan on letting that stop me.

Never again will I sit idly by

On January 20, 2017 I boarded a bus with 50 like-minded humans and rode all day and all night so I could take part in the Women’s March on Washington.  Many people asked why I would spend 24 hours on a bus just to spend 10 hours marching followed immediately by 24 more hours on that bus.  Here are some of my reasons:

I marched because black lives matter, Mexicans are not criminals, Muslims are not terrorists, love is love, climate change is real, and poverty shouldn’t be a crime.

I marched because woman is NOT the weaker sex incapable of making her own decisions.

I marched because Trump bragged about sexual assault and rather than condemn him, we, as a nation, cheered him on.

I marched because Trump mocked a disabled reporter and rather than condemn him we, as a nation, cheered him on.

I marched because Trump’s actions and policies have alienated the rest of the world and rather than condemn him, we, as a nation, cheered him on.

I marched because I’ve never been very politically active and I’m afraid my complacency is in part to blame for the incredible mess our country is now in.

I marched to let the powers that be know this: NEVER AGAIN will I sit idly by as our nation’s values are flushed down the toilet.

Reproductive Rights, Affordable Care, Public Schools, Equal Rights, and to Show My Kids What it Means to be an American

I marched:

For the right to take charge of my fertility.

In early 2004, I was pregnant. The pregnancy was unplanned, but welcome, although with an approaching overseas move, the timing was terrible. However, my husband and I were still thrilled. About two weeks later, I started to bleed so I visited my doctor.

An ultrasound proved that my uterus was empty, but I was still pregnant. My doctor took a wait and see approach and two days later I went back for another ultrasound and blood test. Still, my uterus was empty and my doctor determined I needed a D&C. It was scheduled for two days later.

While on the way home from the doctor, in a snowstorm that was shutting down Omaha, I got a phone call. She wanted me to turn around that instant and come back to her office because she feared an ectopic pregnancy. My HCG levels were high enough for an 8 week pregnancy and I was in danger of a burst fallopian tube if something weren’t done that day. By the time my husband and I got back to her office, most of the staff had left because of the storm, however my doctor and her nurse stayed for me. I was given a shot of methotrexate, which was a chemotherapy drug, to end the pregnancy. I cried as the drug entered my hip, not because it hurt (it did), but because it was the end of a very loved pregnancy.

Ectopic pregnancies do not result in a live birth. If left untreated, they continue to grow inside the fallopian tube, until the tube finally ruptures, causing internal bleeding. This is dangerous for the woman and can lead to death if undetected. The burst fallopian tube will never work again, leading to a loss of fertility even if the woman’s life is saved.

A few weeks later, my husband and I boarded a plane to the UK. While trying to receive care at the military hospital a few days after I arrived, the first thing the doctor said to me was, “Why didn’t you want to be pregnant anymore?  How come you had an abortion?”  I was horrified that someone would think I wanted this. This was to save my life, if there had been a way to save the pregnancy, I would have done it. To ensure my health, I had to receive a pregnancy blood test every week.  Every week, the lab techs excitedly chattered about how they hoped my test was positive, while I burst into tears in their chair and told them my baby was dead.

It took me years to call this what the military doctor called it – an abortion. I ended a non-viable pregnancy to save my life and my fertility. I’m thankful every day that my Omaha doctor had the wisdom and the knowledge to take care of me. Without her care, my two children wouldn’t be born and my husband would have been a 25 year old widower. For this reason, I strongly believe in the choice and I will always be pro-choice. That is one reason I marched.

To save the ACA and continue the pre-existing condition protection.

The Affordable Care Act is a lifesaver for Americans with chronic conditions. My 8 year old has ADHD. At 8, she is now saddled with a “pre-existing condition” and without the ACA protections, she could be turned down for health insurance for the rest of her life.  Again, she is 8. ADHD is not a life-threatening condition, but after 6 years of comments from teachers about her inability to focus and learn, we put her on medication to help her focus. It was an agonizing decision as parents, but we determined we needed to try something to help our little girl. She was falling further and further behind in school and was struggling with math and reading.

She started Adderall XR on Halloween. We didn’t say anything to her teacher and waited to see if she noticed anything.  After a week, we spoke on the phone with the teacher and her first question was “what is different?” Claire was able to complete a math assessment without help and was finishing all her work during the day. We no longer spend 90 minutes at home working on assignments that she didn’t finish in class. We just received her 2nd quarter report card and she is now at grade level on all subjects and received positive marks in Staying on Task and Completes Work on Time – something that has never happened before.

Although she may find better ways to cope with her ADHD as she gets older, she will always carry this diagnosis. She deserves access to healthcare and this is why I marched.

To save the ACA and save the lifetime cap protection.

I have a friend with a chronic condition. It’s expensive and she needs quarterly prescription injections, blood work and X-rays and daily medications. Her medications cost $3000 a month and she will be on them for the rest of her life. Her medical care costs nearly $50,000 a year, barring any health changes. At this rate, she will quickly reach the old $2M threshold, leaving her ineligible for insurance as she nears the end of her life. I marched for her because her health prohibited her from marching herself.

Because Black Lives Matter

Because our kids deserve a Secretary of Education who cares about public schools

Because we’re better than a ban on Muslims

Because I want to show my kids what it means to be an American

My concerns for the rights of my fellow Americans

I marched because I wanted to hold a candle to the many issues clouding our American government.  I marched because I came of age in the presidency of Barack Obama, who taught me about hope, optimism, grace, and democracy.  I marched because of Hillary Rodham Clinton, whose unapologetic intelligence, toughness, and perseverance has inspired me since I was a high schooler in a small town where no one cared about politics.  I marched because I’m grateful for the rights I do have as an American citizen–and how I’ve never felt as patriotic as I felt on my first Election Day morning, casting my first vote for president for a woman (and knowing how much that moment would mean to my mother, my grandmother, and my 105-year-old great-grandmother).  I marched because all of the people above have inspired me to attend law school in the future and I wanted to view this nation’s democracy at work.  I marched because I’m worried for the future of our world.  I marched for myself and my rights as a woman, but my concerns about my own rights are heavily outweighed by my concerns for the rights of my fellow Americans.  I marched for every woman I know, women and people of color (because BLACK LIVES MATTER!!!!), for trans women whose existence is ignored far too often by feminists and others alike, for immigrants whose existence alone is a positive contribution to the framework of this nation, for Muslims who shouldn’t have to live in fear, for everyone I know who is LGBTQ+ (because LOVE IS LOVE IS LOVE), for the water protectors and to say NO to DAPL, for our planet because science is real, for the rights of people with disabilities, for an end to systemic gun violence, mass incarcerations and police brutality, to save our nation’s healthcare, for a free press, for the refugees who just need a hand, and for everyone who makes up this already great nation, even those who believe a Women’s March and protesting are unnecessary.  I marched because I may be young now, but someday I’ll have grandchildren.  I marched because someday they will ask me how I could have let such backwards, hateful rhetoric happen.  I marched because I want to be able to say to them with my whole heart and without misgivings, “I didn’t.”

We’re paying attention

Social bonds. To be an example for my children. To feel less alone in a “red state”. I marched for women’s equality, for black lives, for immigration, for clean water, for equal rights for fathers, for public schools, for free press, and to show the elected members of this state, and our president/administration, that we are HERE. We’re paying attention. We’re watching how you vote. We will not be silent. We won’t forget your actions come election time.