Two years ago I received the opportunity to write monologues for Draw the Line - a campaign for the Center for Reproductive Rights. The research involved reading and listening to a series of first-hand accounts from women who have come face to face with the repercussions of our healthcare system, primarily focusing on reproductive health. I remember crying over each story. Sobbing, as I took notes about their experience. I remember wondering if it was something I could actually do - hear their stories and rework them into monologues, while still having them remain true to themselves. I did the best I could, but it was no easy feat.
Since then, I have heard countless other stories from friends, family, and strangers. Stories regarding healthcare and the frustrations they have endured simply trying to take care of their bodies. With the announcement of the new healthcare bill (which includes deep cuts to Medicaid and fundamentally reshapes the program from an open-ended government commitment to a system of capped federal payments that limit federal spending), my mind has been thinking more and more about these stories. And it pains me to think about all that can change if this passes. People will die. Women will lose more rights to their bodies than before. Money will be taken from the poor and the sick, and given to the wealthy. How is this at all okay? How is this fair? When all we want is to protect our bodies and those we love. We all deserve the right to affordable healthcare. We all deserve the opportunity to take care of ourselves.
The women whose stories I read for Draw the Line, most of them were facing serious health issues themselves. They didn't choose to have an abortion lightly. They chose to protect themselves and their child in the best way possible. We all deserve to have a choice with what we want to do with our bodies.
So, I'm asking (pleading/begging), please contact your Senators (and even those in other states) and share your own story with them. You can call them at (202) 224-3121. Tell them how you feel about this new healthcare plan and how you see it affecting yourself and others. And please remember, it is your body. It doesn't belong to anyone else but you.
This Wednesday, June 21, marks the summer solstice - the longest day of the year. It also marks a day surrounding love. Love for all those affected by Alzheimer's disease. For those suffering from or caring for someone with Alzheimer's, some days can feel like the most grueling experiences. This movement, #TheLongestDay, was created to serve as a reminder to people that they are not in it alone. There are millions of others that are in the same boat, dealing with the same horrible disease, and continuing to fight against it in whatever way they can. This day is about doing something to honor the person(s) this disease has affected. It's about doing something fun, celebrating love, and raising awareness (and money) for organizations like The Alzheimer's Association. I urge you to look into this further and doing an activity of some sort that encompasses all of this.
Since my dad was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's in 2012, my family and I have been greatly involved with the Alzheimer's Association. My parents are amazing advocates that have been speakers at events and panels, and recently went to the State Capitol to meet with legislatures to speak out about the importance of funding for the Alzheimer's Association. Together, we have participated in and raised money for the Walk to End Alzheimer's over the past four years. The second year we attended the Walk, I wanted to document the event as best I could - feeling so humbled and grateful for all those people who donated to our cause - so I created a Thank You video. Looking at it now, I think it's time to create an updated version of it, encompassing all the other achievements my parents have accomplished since then. Until the next Walk, however, please enjoy the video, continue to spread awareness for the Alzheimer's Association (donate to the organization!), and share with others your experience on #TheLongestDay.
For more information, please check out http://www.alz.org.
Maybe it's because my birthday (and it's a big one) is coming up next month, but lately I've been asking myself this question a lot, and that question is: "what is my life?" Seriously. I find myself sitting in meetings, just wondering if everyone is looking at me wondering who let this child into the room, because majority of the time I feel like I'm just playing pretend. It's like I woke up in the morning and said, "Okay, let's imagine I'm a fancy business woman who loves to wear blazers and bright red lipstick. Yeah, that's the part I want to play today!" Except, I'm not pretending anymore. That's just who I naturally am, and it scares the bejeezus out of me. How did I suddenly go from dressing up like Liesl von Trapp and singing "You Are Sixteen Going On Seventeen" alone in my room to my stuffed animals to cruising down the 405 listening to NPR and wondering if I'm prepared for this meeting?
And I've noticed other women feel this way as well! I'm sure men do too, but I work with all women, so my perspective is limited these days. It's funny to me though that none of us feel we're actually the age we are today. When we're in our thirties, we feel like we are fifteen years younger, and when we're in our twenties, we feel like we are fifteen years older. There's no winning the age game (as Leslie Knope, I mean, Amy Poehler, eluded to in her recent Glamour speech). It is just a number after all, but it's amazing how fast time flies. Before you know it, you're the older woman sitting at a table with others looking to you for advice. But what about the advice I still need? Can't you tell I have no idea what I'm doing? Isn't it obvious I'm just dressing the part? Oh, maybe you're thinking I'm like Elle Woods and pretending to be something I am. That's cool. I can roll with that.
I can roll with most things, as long as the work I'm doing is dedicated towards empowering others. And my goal, as I get older, is that I'll be able to maintain my Sound of Music imagination and freedom as I continue to work alongside the girls, women, and people that make it all so meaningful. So to all those wondering the same thing out there, asking themselves "what is my life?" - I urge you to remember the freedom and imagination that got you to where you are today. Like me, you might still feel like you're playing this massive game of pretend, but honestly none of us know what we're doing with our lives and we never know who else is looking up to us, waiting for our awesome advice.