Community is the new currency...

Welcome to Lake Wobegon, where all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average.


"Well, that's the news from Lake Wobegon, where all the women are strong, all the men are good looking, and all the children are above average."
Welcome to Lake Wobegon, where all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average.

Welcome to Lake Wobegon, where all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average.



The UnGame

This is a great "connecting" exercise for couples; facilitates communication, reveals inner thoughts in a respectful and loving way, and allows each partner to ask and share on a wide range of topics. Highly only $10!


Off to the Parent/Child Expo on Camp Pendleton for the day (Lincoln Housing).
I will present four 5 minute talks: topics include Becoming a Dad, Avoiding Power Struggles, and Fresh Air/Getting Outside.

I love our military and am proud to be included.


In Favor of Childhood Vaccines...HuffPo

I'm Coming Out... as Pro-Vaccine
Posted: 09/24/2013 2:35 pm

I know. Some mom coming out in favor of vaccines shouldn't be breaking news. There's nothing edgy about siding with most parents, nearly all the world's governments and the vast majority of medical researchers and practitioners. But more of us need to do it.
When I see debates about vaccines online -- and as someone who writes about parenting culture I see a lot -- I used to pat myself on the back for not getting mixed up in the fray. I mean, what's it to me what other people do with their kids? I'm secure in my own choices. Besides, even if I wanted to change the minds of anti-vaccine advocates, how could I?
I have two reasons for rethinking my silence: Jack and Clio. I came to know both children through their mothers' blogs and have been following along with their diagnosis and treatment for leukemia. Their illnesses prevent them from receiving live vaccines such as the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) shot. Some kids get diagnosed before they have a chance to receive all of their vaccines, but even kids who were vaccinated, as Jack and Clio were, remain vulnerable to contagious diseases because of their compromised immune systems. The idea that they could be exposed to a vaccine-preventable disease while they are enduring treatment is troubling.
You might be thinking, "No worries, because those kids are protected by herd immunity." Well, so many parents are foregoing vaccines now, quite often in progressive communities like the ones in which Jack and Clio live, that herd immunity is threatened. In California, where I live, there is a database of vaccine rates listed by school. There are pockets where the vaccine rates are dipping below 50 percent. For herd immunity to be effective, vaccination rates need to be at least in the ballpark of 80 percent.
There seems to be two main types of parents who are skipping routine immunization for their healthy children: the ultra-crunchy and the ultra-conservative (plus a third group that I'll address later). The two camps of "ultras" might not seem to have a lot in common, but they're buying their doomsday rations from the same catalog, if you catch my drift. Both groups often have intense distrust of modern medicine and the government. (And not for nothing, as it often feels like the United States government is actively searching for ways to intensify the paranoia of its citizens. I mean, WTH with that NSA stuff?)
However, while there is nothing more "natural" than large numbers of children dying in a Malthusian cesspool of unchecked contagious disease, I'm going to go out on a limb and say that we should avoid that. This shouldn't be a controversial opinion. The increasing success of the anti-vaccine movement is endangering not only immune-compromised children such as Jack and Clio, but also infants too young to be vaccinated. To say nothing of the unvaccinated children themselves.


Cigarette and Alcohol Use Fall, Pot Use Rises


Teen drinking, smoking continue to decline, but pot use is up

A Monitoring the Future survey finds that alcohol and cigarette use among teens is at its lowest point in 30 years, but the availability of medical marijuana seems to be boosting pot use.

December 15, 2011|
 By Shari Roan, Los Angeles Times

Fewer teens drink and smoke cigarettes than in any time in the last 30 years, but the widespread availability of medical marijuana appears to be fueling a rise in pot use, health experts said Wednesday.
One in four of the 47,000 teens surveyed for the 2011 Monitoring the Future report said they had used marijuana during the last year, up from 21.4% in 2007. The survey, which polled students nationwide in the eighth, 10th and 12th grades, also found that 1 in 15 of the oldest students used pot on a daily or near-daily basis — the highest rate since 1981.

For the first time, researchers asked 12th-grade students about synthetic marijuana, which contains cannabinoids and produces a high similar to pot but is thought to be more dangerous because it can be contaminated with unknown substances. The finding — 11% of the high school seniors surveyed had tried the substance — surprised researchers.
Sold by the names Spice or K2, the drug had been widely available online and in tobacco shops until recently. In February, the Drug Enforcement Administration reclassified some of the chemicals found in the products as Schedule I controlled substances, which made them illegal.
The survey also revealed that teens don't think of marijuana as dangerous. Because of that, "we can predict that use of marijuana is going to increase," said Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, which funds the annual study.
That pot has become more widely used as more states legalize the use of medical marijuana cannot be ignored, said R. Gil Kerlikowske, director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.
"We know that any substance that is legally available is more widely used," he said.
The rise of marijuana use is largely responsible for an overall increase in youth drug use over the last four years, said study leader Lloyd Johnston of the University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research, which conducts the annual survey. When marijuana is taken out of the equation, the proportion of teens reporting they had used any illicit drug declined through the first half of the 2000s and has been stable over the last three years.
Since 1991, the proportion of eighth-grade students who said they had used alcohol within the last 30 days has declined by half, to 13%, the survey found. Rates have also fallen among older students, with binge-drinking among seniors dropping from 41% in 1981 to 22% this year. Still, about 40% of high school seniors said they had used alcohol within the last 30 days.
Cigarette use fell in all three age groups, which was reassuring since the 2010 survey hinted that the decades-long decline in smoking may have begun to reverse, Johnston said. In all three grades combined, 11.7% of youths said they had smoked within the last 30 days, down from 12.8% in the 2010 survey.


Male Sexual Assault Survivors - Project Breakthrough

 (read a first-hand amazing account)

The Message That Saved A Military Sexual Assault Survivor's Life

Posted:   |  Updated: 09/24/2013 3:40 pm EDT
When Jeremiah Arbogast entered the home of his former boss, a Marine staff sergeant, he was wearing a body wire hooked up by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, which was listening from a nearby car.
"I need to know what happened," Arbogast told the staff sergeant in 2001. "I need to get help. I can't get help if I don't know what happened."
The man began to coolly list everything he had done to Arbogast, recounting his rape.
"I don't know what possessed him to just be like, 'I did this, this and this, and that's that,'" Arbogast said. "No remorse, no nothing." Arbogast got his rapist's full confession on tape, but the process severely traumatized him -- again.
The staff sergeant was convicted by court martial in 2002, given merely a "bad conduct" discharge from the Marines. But Arbogast's ordeal went on for seven more years of severe depression, nightmares and insomnia. He had trouble concentrating; his mind would wander back to the rape. He swung abruptly from rage to numbness. He got divorced. Then got remarried. He drank. Nothing worked.

jeremiah arbogast
Jeremiah Arbogast wearing his Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation Ribbon, Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal and Global War on Terrorism Service Medal.
In 2009, Arbogast aimed a gun "right dead in the chest, where my heart would be, where my pain was." He missed and became partially paralyzed.
His wife told him, "You've got a gift now. You've been given a new life in death and you've got to do something with it."
Men accounted for only about 12 percent of reported military sexual assault cases in fiscal year 2012. But more men than women are sexually assaulted each year in the military, given that men make up some 85 percent of service members, notes Michael Matthews, a close friend of Arbogast. Matthews' own experience as a veteran and victim of rape served as the catalyst for "Justice Denied," a documentary about male military sexual assault survivors.
Back in 1998, when Arbogast joined the Marines just after high school, no one was talking about these issues. He started as a motor transport operator, and later served as a lance corporal in a weapons training battalion. He was preparing to deploy to Okinawa, Japan -- until he was assaulted.
"I served honorably," Arbogast said. "The rape trumped it."
Arbogast was unconscious during his attack -- doctors believe he may have been drugged -- and he didn't report it for months. "I'm trying to explain this to base counselors, and it was just eating me alive," he said. "I could not believe what I was going through ... It spiraled my world out of control."
After he confronted his rapist and went through the court martial, he didn't want to go near a base, but every six months the military brought him back to check on his health. It took him five years until he could formally retire from the Marines on medical grounds.
Then he had to face his demons in civilian life. His daughter was just under a year old, but he couldn't connect with anyone. He tried to move forward, marrying his daughter's mother in 2004.
"As much as I love my daughter, I didn't have the relationship with her that I should have," he said. "I ruined a lot of relationships."
Arbogast and his wife divorced. He withdrew from the world, unable to trust others or himself. He went from being uninterested in sex to engaging with a "chronic," endless string of faceless female partners. "The myth is that men can't be raped, so when this trauma takes place, it plays with their mind so bad," he said of men who become victims of sexual assault.
jeremiah arbogast
When he met his current wife, Tiffany, he was sure his experiences would chase her away. But it all came tumbling out. "She looked at me and told me it didn't matter, she would love me regardless. As much as I wanted to believe her, I couldn't," he said.
His downward spiral continued. On Oct. 1, 2009, about four months after they were married, Tiffany took his handgun, planning to keep it in her car while she was at work.
"I thought I was poison to everybody I was around, or anything I had ever touched," Arbogast said. "I was dragging people down again, it was starting all over ... I decided that's when I was gonna end it, stop being a problem to everybody else."
That afternoon, he got his 9mm handgun out of Tiffany's car before she left for work. "I told her I wasn't gonna do anything," he said. Hours later, he was sitting on the ground beside the car, "trying to make reason of why my life was the way it was."
He raised the gun to his chest, but because he had been drinking, slumped at the last second. The bullet tore through his high abdomen and blasted out through his spine, damaging his spinal cord. He lost 60 percent of his blood, and woke up a week later in the hospital from a medically induced coma.
His depression only deepened over the coming months, until his wife told him that he had a gift. Arbogast now had the understanding to spread awareness and speak for three groups that often suffer in silence: military sexual assault survivors, suicide survivors and people with disabilities.
"Something clicked," said Arbogast, now 32. "I didn't want anybody else to go through it."
"People don't understand why it's a gift," he added, reflecting on his whole experience. "But many people die and never realize what they really had, what their purpose in life was. My life was spared to give me a purpose."
Not that his recovery has ever been easy. He says, simply, "You can't undo a gunshot wound."
Though grateful for his military health care and benefits, he has relied less and less on medical facilities. "When you're in a wheelchair, you get so tired of being poked and prodded," he said. "One day I just said, 'enough. I need to live my life.'"
jeremiah arbogast
He has become involved in Paralympic and adaptive sports and is a decorated athlete in cycling and swimming. He had never skied in his life before he became a paraplegic; now he loves it, terrorizing the slopes in a monoski, a bucket chair with a ski attached. Recently, he's been learning how to get around with braces.
Arbogast has just begun to talk about his experience to his daughter, Brianna, who's now 11. "I'll tell her, 'Daddy tried to kill himself because he didn't want to be here,' and she'll say, 'I want you here.'"
Brianna helps him move around their house, which is not accessible for wheelchairs. "I'll tell you what, it's extreme hell," he said. "I can't even get into the bathroom safely, my wife has to get me a roll stool and roll me. Just think of all the places in a house when you're in a wheelchair you can't get to."
jeremiah arbogast
He said it's difficult for military and sexual assault survivors, especially men, to speak out about the issue. "We don't talk about sexual assault because it's 'complex,'" he said. "Complex? You try and come live for just an hour in my complex life."
But he feels strongly that the discrimination and misunderstanding he faces are worth it if he can help to save someone's life.
"I've been through life and death," he said. "There is gonna come a time in your life when you have to say enough is enough. You're letting that perpetrator who assaulted you rent your life for free. You're becoming a slave to what they've done to you."
Others may see his experience as a reason to want to give up. But he says it's the reason to keep living. "It's all the tragedy and the triumph between where I was and where I am today."
Several organizations have been trying to help the Arbogast family raise money to adapt their home, but so far, the funds have fallen short. Click here for more about the project and to donate.
This article is part of a special Huffington Post series, "Invisible Casualties," in which we shine a spotlight on suicide-prevention efforts within the military. To see all the articles, blog posts, audio and video, click here.
For a review of warning signs someone may be at risk of suicide, click here. For a list of resources to get free and confidential help, click here. If you or someone you know needs help, call the national crisis line for the military and veterans at 1-800-273-8255, or send a text to 838255.




Flying the less-friendly skies

Air travel is more challenging since 9/11, but for every complaining passenger, there's a planeload of interesting people.

Flight Attendant

    One in an occasional series on the changing nature of work.
    Long ago — I'm talking in the 1960s — "stewardesses" were taught how to walk up stairs in heels and how to blow out a match after lighting a passenger's cigarette. They were issued pillbox hats and little white gloves. Their glamour was a big part of the allure of airline travel.
    But when passengers reminisce about those good old days, I remind them that barely anyone could afford to fly then, and then I might point out a colleague and say, "Remember the stewardesses back then, the ones in hot pants and go-go boots? Well, there's one right over there. Still flying."
    Hard to believe, I know, but these days flight attendants are allowed to grow old and gain a little weight. As long as we can still fit through the exit window, buckle our seat belts without an extension and, most important, pass the yearly training, we can fly as long as we want.
    I've been a flight attendant for a major carrier for 18 years, and I've seen a lot of changes in that time. But nothing changed my job more than 9/11. Since then, at yearly training we focus more on safety and security than service. We're taught karate. We talk about throwing hot coffee at lunging terrorists and other things I'm not at liberty to discuss. "This is not what I signed up for," I've often heard veteran flight attendants mumble during class.
    At the same time, with turmoil in the industry and rising fuel costs — and, more recently, with the recession — airlines are more focused than ever on the bottom line. Flight attendants have taken multiple pay cuts. We've watched days grow longer and layovers grow shorter. Sometimes, with only the minimum required eight hours behind a hotel room door, it feels like there's not enough time to eat, sleep and shower before we're back in the air.
    Because airlines have cut back, flights are staffed with minimum crews. That's why we no longer roam the aisles during boarding helping passengers the way we used to. Things passengers took for granted, like pillows, blankets and free meals, have disappeared. Back in the day, it wasn't unusual for stewardesses to get manhandled in the aisle. It still isn't, but now it happens more out of anger than attraction.
    But even though a lot has changed over the years, some things remain the same: bags get lost, delays happen and the no-smoking sign is still illuminated when the seat belt sign comes on, even though smoking has been banned on all U.S carriers since 1988. Red is still the preferred choice of lipstick for flight attendants, and smiling is still a big part of the job.
    One of the things that keeps me on the job is that smiling isn't difficult most days. Just when I think I've seen it all, someone brings an emotional-support dog wearing a tutu into first class. It's harder to smile, though, when somebody's complaining that the light on my credit card machine is keeping him awake on a red-eye flight, or while arguing with passengers about turning off electronic devices during boarding.
    If the FAA would start allowing electronic devices to be used during takeoff, it would sure make my job a lot easier. I spend way too much time asking people to turn off their phones, iPads, iPods and Kindles. And by off, I mean all the way off, not hiding-it-under-your-thigh off.
    I realize that air travel has more rules than it used to, and that simply getting into the airport and onto the plane is more stressful. And I know passengers don't appreciate having to pay for checking bags and for in-flight meals. But try to remember that your flight attendant didn't make the rules.
    When I started this job, Facebook and Twitter didn't exist. Now everybody's an undercover investigative reporter. Passengers are more inclined to document an event than to offer help — or even to get into their brace position during an emergency landing.
    Me, I wish I could document a few of the things I see on a daily basis, like why it's never a good idea to multitask during boarding. Yes, I'm talking about, among other things, the guy on the phone attempting the one-arm swing. I have yet to see a passenger get a bag into a bin that way, especially when it's the size of an elephant. But that won't stop him from trying again and again, as everyone behind him waits to get to their seats.
    But people are also the best part of my job. For every jerk who has had a few drinks too many, there's a planeful of wonderful passengers with interesting stories to share. I never know whom I'm going to meet next: a World War II veteran who wants to dance in the aisle, a monk carrying a Starbucks coffee and sporting Asics running sneakers, or a celebrity rolling a bag covered in so much duct tape it's impossible to make out the designer label. Recently I served an ex-New York mayor eight diet Cokes on a two-hour flight. Another day, a well-known comedian asked for a doggy bag for two leftover first-class shrimps. I even met my husband in the air, flying from New York to Los Angeles.
    If I've learned anything from 18 years as a flight attendant, it's that my job will continue to change — and the changes won't necessarily be for the better. But I also know that the best parts of my job will remain. Flying is in my blood and soul. It's a lifestyle, not just a job, and each time I walk on a plane, a new adventure awaits.
    Heather Poole is the author of "Cruising Attitude: Tales of Crashpads, Crew Drama, and Crazy Passengers at 35,000 Feet."
    Find additional essays in the Labor Pains series. Has your work changed in recent years? Tell us about it by email at or on Twitter at #latlaborpains.,0,5570368.story


    Health and Happiness - October 8th, 2013

    Health & Happiness Evening Series

    The purpose of the Health and Happiness Evening Series is to focus on outreach to a larger demographic in the San Diego area. 

    October 8, 2013  6:00-7:30 pm
    An Evening of Flow & Mindfulness: 
    Powerful Tools for Increasing Your Happiness

    FLOW:  Have you ever been so absorbed in what you were doing that time passes without you noticing? This state of intense focus is called “Flow.” Researchers report that people who frequently experience Flow are happier.  You will learn how to create more opportunities to experience Flow in your life with John Coffey M.A., M.S.W., Ph.D. Candidate, Claremont Graduate University.   

    MINDFULNESS:  Mindfulness is the practice of purposely focusing your attention on the present moment—and accepting it without judgment.  Research results indicate that by practicing Mindfulness you can improve both your physical and psychological health. You will learn practices for increasing Mindfulness in your daily life with Steven Hickman, Psy.D, Director of the UCSD Center for Mindfulness.

    WHERE:  The McMillin Center, Liberty Station (Bldg 117), 2875 Dewey Rd., San Diego, CA  92106

    WHEN: 5:00pm - Registration, Cash bar, and hors d’oeuvres 
    6:00pm - Program begins

    • Register for the two-part series:  $60  (15% discount)
    • Register at the door if seating available:  $40


    Louis CK - Why the Kids Don't Get Phones...

    "100% of people driving are texting" 

    "Sitting with boredom and loneliness is being human..."


    Volunteer for Emergency Trauma Response - San Diego

    CAST PROGRAM ACCEPTING NEW VOLUNTEERS If you have ever thought about serving your community as a volunteer, consider joining the City of Chula Vista CAST program. Chula Vista’s CAST - Citizen’s Adversity Support Team – consists of volunteers trained to provide families of trauma victims with compassionate, supportive assistance.

    Volunteers, on call 24 hours a day, every day of the year, are trained by professionals including police officers, firefighters, psychologists, and emergency room staff. First responders summon CAST to a variety of emergency calls – serious motor vehicle accidents, murders, domestic violence, shootings and fires. Since 1993, CAST members have responded to thousands of calls in the communities of Chula Vista, Bonita, and Imperial Beach.

    The next training session begins in January and runs through mid-April 2014. For more information, or to request an application, please contact Dr. Emerald Randolph at (619) 691-5213 or


    Cyber Bullying - (Parents, block

    Girl’s Suicide Points to Rise in Apps Used by Cyberbullies

    Brian Blanco for The New York Times
    A memorial for 12-year-old Rebecca Sedwick has sprouted at the abandoned cement plant in Lakeland, Fla., where she committed suicide.

    Published: September 13, 2013   

    MIAMI — The clues were buried in her bedroom. Before leaving for school on Monday morning, Rebecca Ann Sedwick had hidden her schoolbooks under a pile of clothes and left her cellphone behind, a rare lapse for a 12-year-old girl.

    Rebecca Sedwick
    Lance Speere for The New York Times
    Rebecca’s mother, Tricia Norman, said she had no idea that her daughter, who died this week, was being cyberbullied by about 15 middle-school children, a problem that first arose and was addressed last year.

    Inside her phone’s virtual world, she had changed her user name on Kik Messenger, a cellphone application, to “That Dead Girl” and delivered a message to two friends, saying goodbye forever. Then she climbed a platform at an abandoned cement plant near her home in the Central Florida city of Lakeland and leaped to the ground, the Polk County sheriff said.
    In jumping, Rebecca became one of the youngest members of a growing list of children and teenagers apparently driven to suicide, at least in part, after being maligned, threatened and taunted online, mostly through a new collection of texting and photo-sharing cellphone applications. Her suicide raises new questions about the proliferation and popularity of these applications and Web sites among children and the ability of parents to keep up with their children’s online relationships.
    For more than a year, Rebecca, pretty and smart, was cyberbullied by a coterie of 15 middle-school children who urged her to kill herself, her mother said. The Polk County sheriff’s office is investigating the role of cyberbullying in the suicide and considering filing charges against the middle-school students who apparently barraged Rebecca with hostile text messages. Florida passed a law this year making it easier to bring felony charges in online bullying cases.
    Rebecca was “absolutely terrorized on social media,” Sheriff Grady Judd of Polk County said at a news conference this week.
    Along with her grief, Rebecca’s mother, Tricia Norman, faces the frustration of wondering what else she could have done. She complained to school officials for several months about the bullying, and when little changed, she pulled Rebecca out of school. She closed down her daughter’s Facebook page and took her cellphone away. She changed her number. Rebecca was so distraught in December that she began to cut herself, so her mother had her hospitalized and got her counseling. As best she could, Ms. Norman said, she kept tabs on Rebecca’s social media footprint.
    It all seemed to be working, she said. Rebecca appeared content at her new school as a seventh grader. She was gearing up to audition for chorus and was considering slipping into her cheerleading uniform once again. But unknown to her mother, Rebecca had recently signed on to new applications —, and Kik and Voxer — which kick-started the messaging and bullying once again.
    “I had never even heard of them; I did go through her phone but didn’t even know,” said Ms. Norman, 42, who works in customer service. “I had no reason to even think that anything was going on. She was laughing and joking.”
    Sheriff Judd said Rebecca had been using these messaging applications to send and receive texts and photographs. His office showed Ms. Norman the messages and photos, including one of Rebecca with razor blades on her arms and cuts on her body. The texts were full of hate, her mother said: “Why are you still alive?” “You’re ugly.”
    One said, “Can u die please?” To which Rebecca responded, with a flash of resilience, “Nope but I can live.” Her family said the bullying began with a dispute over a boy Rebecca dated for a while. But Rebecca had stopped seeing him, they said.
    Rebecca was not nearly as resilient as she was letting on. Not long before her death, she had clicked on questions online that explored suicide. “How many Advil do you have to take to die?”
    In hindsight, Ms. Norman wonders whether Rebecca kept her distress from her family because she feared her mother might take away her cellphone again.
    “Maybe she thought she could handle it on her own,” Ms. Norman said.
    It is impossible to be certain what role the online abuse may have played in her death. But cyberbullying experts said cellphone messaging applications are proliferating so quickly that it is increasingly difficult for parents to keep pace with their children’s complex digital lives.
    “It’s a whole new culture, and the thing is that as adults, we don’t know anything about it because it’s changing every single day,” said Denise Marzullo, the chief executive of Mental Health America of Northeast Florida in Jacksonville, who works with the schools there on bullying issues.


    The Current Psychology and Sociology of Loneliness

    Social fabric...
    Social network...
    Collecting friends like stamps...
    Sacrificing conversation for mere connection...
    Many friends but very lonely...
    We are lonely and afraid of intimacy...
    Obsessed with personal promotion...


    Dove Library Gardening Workshop...September 21st

    You're invited as a friend, mentor, parent, teacher and gardener who loves to grow and share healthy food. We have a California State-Grant Supported "Gardening Leadership Workshop" coming up Saturday, September 21st at the Carlsbad - Dove Library, 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. at 1775 Dove Lane, Carlsbad, CA, 92008, in the library's Gowland Meeting Room.
    Mary Ann Lucas, a state agriculture and gardening expert, will lead the workshop. Our Carlsbad Community Gardens Collaborative Board will host this special community event.
    There will be lots of "hands-on" experiences, along with a "take home tote bag" full of garden curriculum, supplies and resources. See the web links below for more info and to register.
    In addition, you're welcome to stay later from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. for a "bring your own lunch" networking opportunity.   
    (There is a $5 registration fee benefiting the local efforts of the Carlsbad Community Gardens Collaborative. There is no charge for instruction or tote bag)


    Yom Kippur, Jew in the City - Forgiveness

    Cleaning My Slate With Forgiveness This Yom Kippur

    Clean the Slate
    There have been a few people who have hurt me pretty badly this past year; more this year than other years, actually. Jew in the City’s profile has risen over these last many months, and I think, or maybe I fear, that that thing they say, that “it’s lonely at the top,” is truer than I ever knew. It’s not that I’ve reached “the top” by any stretch of the imagination. But already through these small successes, I saw some real jealousy and negative reactions from people I had thought were allies, and that was really hard for me to swallow.
    I’ve been trying to forgive these people all year. Every night before we go to bed, there’s a prayer we say to absolve those who have hurt us: Master of the Universe, I hereby forgive anyone who angered or antagonized me or who sinned against me in any way – whether against my body, my property, my honor or against anything of mine; whether he did so accidentally, willfully, carelessly, or purposely; whether through speech, deed, thought, or notion. And it’s been helping me let go little by little, but not enough. As Yom Kippur approaches, and I await the apologies that I know are due, the closer the holiday gets, the more I’m thinking they might not be coming from some of these people….
    And then I think about Yom Kippur and its “clean slate.” What a remarkable gift that is offered to us! As far back as I can remember, I have known that we get a “clean slate” on Yom Kippur if we do “teshuva.” If we reflect and apologize to those we wronged and commit to changing, God gives us a fresh start for the new year. But I just realized something today: I can do all the teshuva I want from today until tomorrow, but I can’t make the people who hurt me do teshuva. I can’t make them recognize or apologize or commit to not hurting me again.
    And that leaves me in a bind, because if I continue to hold onto those sour feelings, my slate won’t exactly be clean. It will be free of my shmutz, but not theirs. God can wipe away my mistakes if I properly do teshuva, but only I can let go of the hurt that has been done to me. And I don’t want to hold onto it any more. So as I reflect and atone and set goals for myself this Yom Kippur, I will focus especially on forgiveness. I’ve been going through this process slowly, but I will make Yom Kippur (to the best of my ability) my clean break from the junk I’ve been carrying because I want to leave last year’s messes – both the ones I caused and the ones I didn’t – in last year.
    God willing, this will be a new year filled with wonderful things. There will be mistakes, but God willing also successes and likely some more negative reactions from those successes. And if I’m still holding onto last year’s baggage, how will I have the capacity to grab onto whatever this new year throws my way?
    Wishing you and yours the blessing of leaving last year’s pain behind where it belongs, in the past. And may you be sealed in the Book of Life


    Adopting an Older Child

    Just Holding on Through the Curves
    Published: August 29, 2013   

    My daughter just turned 30. How is this possible when it seemed like only a week before she was a scrappy, sassy teenager? Like mothers everywhere, I don’t think I’m old enough to have delivered a baby girl who could hit such a milestone.

    In my case, it’s true: I’m only 41. I didn’t give birth to my daughter. I became her mother when I was 28 and she was 17. Call it an unplanned delivery, very late term. Christina was one of the 135,000-plus teenagers nationwide in foster care, most of whom are abandoned when they age out of the system between 18 and 21.
    I was lucky enough to snare one of these gems, to share my life with the smartest, most beautiful, resourceful and hilarious kid around.
    Want proof? I have pictures. But be careful what you ask for: like mothers everywhere, I’m insufferable that way.
    I say I’m lucky because I didn’t plan for this life. Back when everything happened, Christina was just my favorite student in the high school English class I was teaching. When her agency made her change schools, we stayed in touch.
    There was something both fierce and vulnerable about Christina, and I liked being with her. She is also deeply intelligent, and I wanted to ensure that no matter how the world tossed her around, at least one of her teachers had shown her that she mattered.
    I also wanted to keep an eye on her safety. Christina is transgender, which meant there were fewer beds available to her within the system and fewer protections over all.
    Sure enough, at her new school, disaster struck: After a security guard told some of her fellow students she had been born male, they threatened to kill her, so she fled. I was the first person she called, and my then-partner and I offered to let her sleep on our couch until we could sort things out with the agency. Anyone with a conscience would have done the same.
    What I didn’t understand at the time was how profoundly child welfare can fail its teenagers. I didn’t know that fully half of all the teenagers in foster care are institutionalized in group homes or more serious lockdown facilities because families don’t want them.
    I didn’t know that, by age 19, 30 percent of the boys will have been incarcerated. I didn’t know, as Christina’s first night bled into a second and a third and as we went to Home Depot to buy containers for her clothes and cleared her a shelf in the bathroom, that 30 percent of the homeless in this country were once in foster care.
    Most of us can’t survive our first jobs, first apartments, first loves or first big mistakes without family to fall back on. We need money, love, advice and encouragement well past our 18th birthdays — especially if we celebrated that birthday in an institution with state-financed guardians working eight-hour shifts.
    What I did know, as I tucked sheets into Christina’s makeshift bed those first few nights, was that I had a hurt and angry child on my hands who was frightened of being rejected one more time. And I knew that child because I had been one, too.
    When I was 14, I left my mother’s house and never saw her again. I moved to my father’s house 30 miles away. My mother didn’t reach out or call, and I was too afraid to reach back to the woman who didn’t want me.
    When I graduated from college, I sent my mother a letter, and she sent me a note on a paper scrap, wishing me a good life and misspelling my name. Later I recognized the signs of mental illness in her; I recognized it in the men she brought around, in the nights she didn’t come home, in the way she’d drift into corners and lose herself all day. 


    Healing Our Heroes Homes - 'Embrace' College Students Help Vets

    WATCH Paralyzed LGBT US Navy Commander Brian Delaney: Leadership

    Welcome to Embrace. Embrace is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization built on the philosophy that serving the less fortunate members of civilian and veteran communities brings people together – irrespective of their race, religion or cultural upbringing.

    Our mission is to bring people from all walks of life together to serve the less fortunate. Embrace programs are designed to connect college student volunteers to San Diego’s multi-cultural community in the areas of social and physical wellness through service learning and social justice activities.

    Embrace has a direct impact on the daily lives of the homeless every week of the year. Embrace does its part to address those daily needs by mobilizing hundreds of college students to serve the homeless 2 days per week year-round by providing food, clothes and blankets. Our 'GIV  MAS' (give more) goal is to mobilize volunteers to serve the homeless 7 days a week to over 50,000 people each year.

    By utilizing multi-cultural volunteers to serve a multi-cultural population in need through the distribution of healthy meals, Embrace adheres to its mission by creating opportunities for social and physical wellness to bring about "A Healthier San Diego®"

    In 2012, Embrace served over 25,000 meals and provided thousands of clothing and blanket donations to homeless veterans and civilians in need.This would not have been possible without college student and non-student volunteers logging over 15,000 hours while serving our homeless veterans and homeless civilians.

    Embrace is a nonprofit organization rooted in the promotion of social and physical wellness programs that serve underprivileged communities in a variety of ways. Founded in 2000 by CEO Sean Sheppard, Embrace programs are designed to connect college student leaders to San Diego’s multi-cultural community in the areas of social and physical wellness through service learning and volunteerism. The organization is built on the philosophy that serving less fortunate members of civilian and veteran communities brings people together - irrespective of their race, religion or cultural upbringing.


    Yipee! Wrestling Reinstated

    BBC SportOlympics
    8 September 2013 Last updated at 17:10 GMT

    Olympics 2020: Wrestling reinstated to Games

    Wrestling has been reinstated as an Olympic sport for the 2020 and 2024 Games after being voted in ahead of baseball/softball and squash.
    International Olympic Committee (IOC) members conducted a secret electronic ballot on the issue in Buenos Aires.
    Wrestling had been dropped from the 2020 Olympic programme in February after the IOC assessed the performance of all 26 sports at London 2012.
    On Saturday, the organisation's 125th session awarded Tokyo the 2020 Games.


    "Wrestling was axed back in February and it has waged a very successful campaign ever since then to be reinstated.
    "Wrestling, squash and baseball/softball have all spent millions of pounds on their campaigns to convince the IOC they should be in the Olympics.
    "The IOC will have to address their policy on inclusion into the Olympics. It is a controversial decision.
    "It will be interesting to see how the votes for wrestling and Tokyo to host the 2020 Olympics will affect the vote to name the next IOC president."
    Wrestling - which was the favourite - received a majority of 49 votes, while a combined baseball/softball bid got 24 votes and squash 22.
    The sport - one of the original disciplines at the Ancient Olympics - had been due to end its Olympic participation at Rio 2016 following its dismissal by the IOC earlier this year.
    English 2010 Commonwealth bronze medallist, Leon Rattigan, told BBC Sport: "I am so pleased that the pinnacle competition to which we all aspire is saved.
    "Wrestlers across the world continue to have something to work for."
    Members of amateur wrestling's world governing body, the International Federation of Associated Wrestling Styles (Fila), gave a roar when the result was announced by IOC president Jacques Rogge.
    Wrestling's triumph in the vote follows a number of sweeping reforms made following its exclusion, including overhauling its rules, administration, gender equality and operations.
    Fila president, Nenad Lalovic, said the IOC would not regret its decision: "With this vote, you have shown that the steps we have taken to improve our sport have made a difference.

    Who struck wrestling gold at London 2012

    • Russia: 4 golds
    • Japan: 4 golds
    • Iran: 3 golds
    • Azerbaijan: 2 golds
    • USA: 2 golds
    "I assure each of you that our modernisation will not stop now. We will continue to strive to be the best partner to the Olympic Movement that we can be."
    Earlier on Sunday, Lalovic had declared during wrestling's presentation to IOC members: "Today is the most important day in the 3,000-year history of our sport."
    British Wrestling chief executive, Colin Nicholson, told BBC Sport: "In Britain we will now re-focus on growing participation in this Olympic sport."
    Squash suffered its third failed bid to take part in the Games for a first time. It had topped an IOC vote in 2005 for Olympic inclusion but failed to get the required two-thirds majority. It then failed again in 2009.
    "Today's decision is heart-breaking for the millions of squash players around the world, particularly given the 10-year journey we have been on to join the Olympic Games Sports Programme," World Squash Federation president, Narayana Ramachandran, said.
    "As the only new Olympic sport on today's shortlist, we believed squash offered something for the future and I still hope that our inclusion may still be possible."
    Play media
    Who deserves a 2020 Olympic place?
    Baseball/softball - which had the son of ex-Cuban leader Fidel Castro, Antonio Castro, in its presentation team - last featured at the Beijing Olympics in 2008.
    Wrestling, which combines freestyle and Greco-Roman events, was included in the inaugural modern Olympics in Athens in 1896.
    It has been in every Games since, apart from Paris in 1900. At London 2012, it featured 344 athletes competing in 11 medal events.
    The success of its bid showed the sport had not suffered from a reprimand its federation received last week from the IOC for breaching rules.