1halffull's Blog

The Motorized Shopping Cart: Who Gets It?
October 9, 2015, 6:27 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

I was with a friend last week who has experienced the ravages of cancer treatments.  Five years ago, when she first began treatment, she gained well over 50 pounds, not because she ate more calories than she burned but because she had to take steroids to offset the effects of the chemo.  During that time she was weak; every movement winded her to the point that she found it very difficult to shop for groceries on foot.

fatIn order to continue to maintain some autonomy, critical to every person but especially when you’re under such a physical attack, she opted to use the store’s electric cart with the basket to hold her items.  She told me that it was very embarrassing having people look at her as though she was just some lazy, obese person who chose not to walk.  After all, those motorized carts are meant for ‘sick’ people.  She felt as though no one seemed to consider that she just might be extremely sick herself.  You can’t ‘see’ chemo, and the steroids taken because of it, so you judge that person as fat and lazy instead.

Fast forward five years to today.  The ravages of the cancer have reduced her by not only that ‘extra’ 50 pounds but also by another 100 pounds as well, leaving her so thin she is embarrassed by the sagging skin on her arms.  The weakness is much greater than it was before, yet being glad for the abilities she still has, she continues to get out of the house to the stores to purchase her needs.

The downside is that going to the store has made her even more angry than she was before.  Can you guess why?

Each store visit requires that she once again use a motorizethind cart to get around.  However, now she doesn’t get those scornful, judgmental stares.  Now people are okay seeing this very thin, almost frail person using the motorized transportation!  No judging.  No dirty looks.  They hardly pay attention at all.

After this last trip, when she got home, she began to think about all of the above:  then vs. now.  Here’s what she had to say (paraphrased):

“I thought about the difference between that experience five years ago versus the one this week and I got really angry!  I no longer felt judged for using that cart, because now I was thin!  Even though they didn’t know that I have cancer, because I was thin it was acceptable for me to use the motorized cart.

“There’s something wrong with our viewpoint when our message is ‘I’d rather see you have a devastating cancer that leaves you so debilitated that you need help to function than see a fat person, that I presume is just lazy, using the cart”.

“I had cancer back then and was debilitated, but because I appeared fat, bloated as I was from the steroids, everyone just presumed I was a fat lazy slob dogging it by using a motorized cart to which I was unentitled!  Now I’m thin and they think that makes it okay for me to use the cart!  What does that say about us?”

Hers is a valid and very good question:  What DOES this attitude say about us?

I owned up and said that I, too, had done my fair share of judging of the people who used the carts and had no noticeable signs of illness.  I apparently had forgotten my own mom who had emphysema (extremely thin) and my aunt (chubby) with cancer, who also used carts later in their illnesses.

I apparently also forgot, as many others seemingly do as well, that judgement should always be tempered by grace, grace that we all need to offer because we do not walk in someone else’s shoes.  Grace because that person may be swollen up with the preparatory, pre-transplant drugs they need while waiting for a new liver or heart.  Grace because knees or hips go bad.  Grace just because that person you’re scorning is someone just like you:  a human being, with cells, skin, hair, a soul, spirit, people who love them and issues you know nothing about.

Only if I had walked in their shoes, even for five minutes, might I be allowed to have the audacity to judge them.  But I don’t get to and I shouldn’t judge them.

What I can do rather than judge, is show each and every person I see a measure of grace without reserve.  The same measure of grace I hope to have shown to me.


After the Charleston murders, another thought….
July 14, 2015, 1:00 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Just three weeks ago, a young man walked into a church and sat down during a Bible study.  He interacted with the assembled group who received him, spoke to him, tried to make him feel welcome.  He was white and they were black.

How they responded to him wasn’t enough to change his mind about what he’d really come there to do.

He stood up, pulled a gun and without regard, shot nine of them dead.  When he was done, he told one lady that he was going to let her live so that she would tell the story of what had happened.

That statement made it clear that what he’d done had not much to do with them and everything to do with him.

pd_dylann_roof As I looked into the face of that young man in the ‘mug’ shot, I saw nothing; his eyes seemed soul-less, his face had, what they call in the psych world, ‘flat affect’.  Looking out from the photo, he appeared to me to be hollow.  I couldn’t help wonder what had happened to him in his short, 21 years that could empty him of his humanity?

In other cities recently, the death of innocent African Americans has been followed by riots.  Not so in Charleston where people of all races came together to mourn and love and care for one another. This purely race-driven crime, instead of driving a wedge between them, brought all sides together.  They came together in love and resolve to see that it would not happen again.

This act also caused dialog about the Confederate flag flying over their capitol building, a sign of racism and belligerence that had been going on since Lincoln freed the slaves back in 1865 when the South lost the Civil War.  I admit, I’d never thought of the Confederate flag in that way.  What did I know?  I’m a northerner.  To me, that flag was about The Dukes of Hazard.  But as I think about that show, they were also renegades after a fashion, so it was instinctive for them to carry that flag of rebelry.

Another good thing came of those nine deaths:  because of what happened, now the Confederate flag that hung over the state house has been removed and relegated to a vault in a local museum.  Of course, that can only change things to the degree that the hearts of the citizenry is changed as well.

As I thought about Charleston and what happened there, I couldn’t help think about the numerous, seemingly unnecessary, killings of other African Americans recently – Missouri, Cleveland, Chicago.  What is going on?

I could take the easy way out and say, oh, it’s always been this way.  We’re just more aware because of the media’s penchant for hyping these crimes.  I could do that but I won’t because at the same time, I couldn’t get the following idea out of my head.

When then presidential candidate, Barack Obama, made claims of how he would bring on change for the better for every president-obamaAmerican, the people really wanted to believe him.  They hung on his every word and came to believe that here was a guy who could do what he said, so they elected him, believing that he would make a change.

After Mr. Obama was elected what changed?  We plunged into a huge recession with hundreds of thousands of jobs being lost; people lost their homes in greater numbers than ever before.

Over all, we, as individuals of a stricken middle class, have experienced change all right – negative change.  We’re constantly worried, frustrated, angry.   Pensions are gone; we work two or three part-time jobs just to keep life together; there are no extras.

The guy who told us there would be change, forgot to mention it would be ugly change.  Instead of being seen as someone who changed us for the better, under Mr. Obama’s watch, things have gone further downhill.

That being said, here’s the idea I couldn’t let go of:  Are people taking out their frustration and anger on innocent people of color over Mr. Obama’s negative changes ?  Could that be what’s really behind all these killings?

The Writer’s Crisis
July 3, 2015, 11:27 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

So, I said I was back but then I didn’t post anything.  What’s up with that?

Here’s what’s up with that:  I’ve had a writer’s block for over two years – or has it been three?  Even though I wrote again for the local newspaper, when it came to my blog, I had nothing to say.  Or rather, I had things to say, but didn’t think I could, or should, say them here.  Too personal and better left to my on again, off again journal – yes, even with that I’m selective about what goes on the page.

Then there’s this other ‘thing’.  I can best express it (and of course I’ll feel compelled to explain it) this way:  Lily Tomlin, who has been one of my favorite comedians since the first time I heard her say “One ringy-dingy….” also said this:  “Sometimes I worry about being a success in a mediocre world.”

I feel her pain.

Years ago, when Erma Bombeck (look her up) was still alive and writing a daily newspaper column along with her many books, you really had to be almost a stellar, one-of-a-kind writer to be invited for an interview on shows like TODAY or CBS This Morning.  Not that those interviews were the pinnacle of a writer’s career, but that accolade was pretty darn special and didn’t hurt your book sales one bit!  Now it appears that anyone can get a gig on these shows.  In fact, it’s nothing to see several writers pop up on any given day.

One such writer is touted as one of the best this generation has to offer.  Someone gave me a copy of one of her books which I dutifully read.  It was so below the ranking of mediocre that I tossed it in the trash rather than subject anyone else to its contents.

I asked my son, because he is a writer and understands these things, how these people make it to the TV set?  I have to say I was horrified, yet not at all surprised, by his answer which was this:  If you write a book, and you have a blog with a lot of followers – think over 80,000 give or take a few – versus some mom in the sticks who’s written the greatest thing since The Kinsey Report, the chic with the blog will win.  TV people see her as someone who can potentially bring them 80,000+ viewers to add to their ratings and for them, that’s all that’s important.  Not the person.  Not the writing.  Just the ratings.

Why am I so surprised by this?  Actually I’m not.  Instead, I’m insulted for all of us that they choose ratings over excellence, which more often than not, enhances the culture of mediocrity.

So I question:  Do I want to be a success in a mediocre world?  No, I don’t.  However, like Erma Bombeck before me, I do think I have something to say that people can relate to.  And for that reason, I will continue to write.  It may not often be stellar, but it may make someone laugh, or cry, or realize that they are not alone on their journey.  And for me, those responses make it worth the effort.

Hello! I’m Back!
June 17, 2015, 8:08 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

It’s been quite some time since I last wrote anything, much less for ‘1/2 Full’.  It’s not that I haven’t had things to say, it’s just that I couldn’t quite trust myself to say them.  Some were too personal, some were just mental junk that had piled up and some you probably wouldn’t have wanted to read about anyway!

But now, I’ve managed to give the header a new, bolder look.  I’ve gotten some thoughts together and I decided I might as well inflict my opinion on anyone who is brave enough to show up here periodically.  BEWARE!  I will speak candidly and without apology but I will not purposefully try to hurt anyone.

As always, you’re welcome to comment.  The fun part about that is, that if I don’t like what you say, I can cut you off like the Queen in the story ‘Through the Looking Glass’ (although your head will remain intact).  I’ve yet to stop a comment, but there’s always a first time!

So, welcome back to me, and hopefully, to you!  Happy reading!

The World Is Mine….
November 19, 2012, 9:17 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

The author of the following is unknown.  However they recall something very important that in our hurried, anxiety ridden world, we tend to forget.  It is the appreciation we might have for how fortunate we are if we have able bodies and the breath of life filling our lungs.  I think this is a charming piece…..


Today, upon a bus, I saw a very beautiful woman and wished I were as beautiful.

Suddenly she rose to leave and I watched her hobble down the aisle.

She had one leg and used a crutch.

But as she passed, she passed a smile.

Oh, God, forgive me when I whine. I have two legs; the world is mine.

I stopped to buy some candy.

The lad who sold it had such charm.

I talked with him, he seemed so glad.

If I were late, it’d do no harm.

And as I left, he said to me “I thank you; you’ve been so kind.

It’s nice to talk with folks like you.

You see,” he said, “I’m Blind.”

Oh, God, forgive me when I whine. I have two eyes; the world is mine.

Later while walking down the street, I saw a child I knew.

He stood and watched the others play, but he did not know what to do.

I stopped a moment and then I said, “Why don’t you join them dear?”

He looked ahead without a Word. I forgot, he couldn’t hear.

Oh, God, forgive Me when I whine. I have two ears; the world is mine.

With feet to take me where I’d go….

With eyes to see the sunset’s glow….

With ears to hear what I’d know….

Oh, God, forgive me when I whine. I’ve been blessed indeed, the world is mine.



Dealing with Illness: Angry or Compassionate Caregiver?
October 27, 2012, 3:41 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: ,

Let’s face it:  People don’t deal well with illness.  Not their own, not that of others.

Why is that?

Well, I’m thinking it’s pretty clear why we don’t deal well with our own sickness – I mean, who really wants to be sick?  Okay, okay, there are some people who want to be sick and that, in itself, is a sickness.  It’s called Munchausen Disease.

In case you don’t know, this is a mental health disease where people do things to themselves to make themselves sick so they can receive attention from medical professionals.  It used to be harder for them to ‘get’ these diseases and conditions because they had to go to the library and read up on how to make themselves sick.  Now, it’s much simpler to facilitate your own conditions because you can go on the internet where you have access to just about every condition and disease known to man.  Here’s an example that I found on the interneta woman who pumped egg whites into her kidneys via catheter to induce kidney failure. (Answers by Yahoo).  That’s pretty serious stuff!

So now, the hypochondriacs among you are thinking – OMG!!! Is this what I have? (meaning Munchausen).  No, your issues, while also a mental health problem, are much different.  Being a hypochondriac is when ‘the person feels that they are legitimately sick or they have something medically wrong with them. For example if a person gets a mosquito bite after being outside, they’ll put some anti-itch cream on it, but a person with hypochondria will be sure that they’ve just been infected with the West Nile Virus.’  (Answers by Yahoo)

Do you see the difference?  Just in case, here it is in black and white:  ‘So the difference between the two is that with Munchausen syndrome the person makes themselves sick or appear to be and with hypochondria the person only fears that they are sick or somehow unhealthy. They don’t take any action to induce sickness.’  (Answers by Yahoo)

Even sicker is the Munchausen’s by Proxy syndrome where people do things to their children so that they’ll need medical care.  Ewwww.

But I digress….

When we or someone we love is sick, why do we not immediately and constantly shower ourselves or them with loving and helpful care?  It’s simple:  We don’t want to be sick and we don’t want our loved ones to be sick either.

Why does that translate into borderline or totally mean behavior?

The answer is simple:  FEAR with maybe some ignorance thrown in!

Typically, we love those around us and want only the best for them.  Specifically, as a parent you do everything earthly possible to protect your children, so when something happens to them, you take it as a personal affront – you didn’t, couldn’t protect them from this illness, this surgery.

Fear kicks in – all the what ifs of an illness or disease race around in your head and come out in your actions as though somehow, being angry about what’s happening will encourage your kid to get better.  After all, how many times did that kid make you angry by doing something and your anger caused them to stop doing it?  So, if you’re angry about them being sick, maybe it will have the same effect?

Pardon my French, but HELL NO it doesn’t work that way.

Or maybe it’s because you know the sick/diseased person pretty well and know that, unlike you, they don’t/won’t just buck up and push through it.  It annoys you that they, by your assessment, just choose to languish and whine endlessly about the pain, the aches, and the gaping hole in their belly.

But you’re wrong, again.

The reality that was directly contrary to my faulty thinking was two-fold.

First I learned, and shamefacedly ended up apologizing for, that just because you’re tough as nails, not everyone else is.  They feel things differently; they need more TLC and even sympathy than you do and you, as the caregiver, need to suck it up, remember how much you really love them, and keep swabbing that gaping hole in their belly until they are all better.

Second, I have to stop letting the ‘what ifs’ cause the fear that influences how I’m treating someone who’s sick. I learned that those racing, ‘what if’ thoughts are really just there to mess with me and generally are not a real part of the situation.  More often than not, the person will get well; their blood clot will go away and not return and they’ll live to lift weights another day.

Finally, I’ve realized that it’s much more important to show the love and care to those you love rather than being a mean girl, especially if they’re your kids because one day, they will be the ones selecting your nursing home.

Parents: You Are Sufficient
October 5, 2012, 12:26 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

It’s amazing what we can learn about life, our kids, ourselves if we just pay attention to what’s going on around us.  Here’s what I’ve learned this week….

A friend of mine, (we’ll call her Wilma) has struggled, and struggled again, with trying to control what her adult children do or don’t do.  However, it just doesn’t seem to be working – her kids just keep doing whatever it is they want to do, regardless of all her ‘helpful’ input!

Hard to admit, but I, too, have behaved in similar fashion, even as recently as last night!  Not a good thing.

The following scenario has facilitated this writing…..

Wilma’s only daughter, (we’ll call her Harriet) who has a perfectly good husband and a pretty good life – 1,500 miles away from her family – has been pregnant with her first child, Wilma’s third grandchild.  Wilma has been trying to get Harriet to take her advice, do it her way throughout the pregnancy (and well before it).  Harriet, however, having been raised by Wilma to be a strong and independent woman, thwarts her mother’s every attempt at continuing to smother her!  Imagine that!

With Wilma’s every attempt to impose her desires on her daughter, Harriet rebuffs, shuts down, ignores or just gets flat-out angry with her mother, making things worse for both.

Enter:  the baby.  Wilma didn’t approve of the selected birthing process.  Wilma didn’t approve of how the birth went through the chosen process.  Wilma didn’t approve of the choice that the couple made about how the baby was treated after birth.  Wilma was extremely frustrated that her child neglected her every input.  After all, mom knows best, right?

Watching this scenario play out, I was intrinsically asked to be supportive of my good friend, Wilma, as one mom would look for the support of another mom who would understand.  And I did understand.

At the same time, I was struck by, what was for me, a thundering revelation!

It occurred to me to ask myself two questions:

1.  Why won’t this girl, née, adult woman, listen to her mother who has years more experience and is herself, a medical professional?

2.  Why does this mom (or any parent for that matter) feel such a strong need to jump in and try to ‘fix’ or change things that maybe don’t really need fixing?

Let me answer number two first.  This is the revelation part that came to me as I tried to talk Wilma through her situation.  If you’re the parent of grown kids you might want to pay attention here.

Our parents raised us like they were raised:  we were taught to be self-sufficient, how to get along in life, how to be responsible people. We got spanked when they needed to get our attention; we maybe got a hug when we fell down and got back up again.  The mistakes we made were ours to use to learn what not to do next time.

When we grew to an adult age, they pushed (yes, pushed) us out of the nest, trusting that they had done the right things and that we would know what to do out there in the big wide world!  They didn’t try to meddle or second guess because they didn’t believe there was a need.  We were raised to take care of ourselves and they expected that we would!  That included having our own babies and raising our own children to do the same thing!

However, we didn’t do that.  Somehow along the way, (and I’d like to blame Benjamin Spock right here and now) we got the idea that if we didn’t give our kids self-esteem, hang on their every word, spank them, let them experience loss sometimes and they screwed up along the way, it was our fault because we’d parented them insufficiently!  It wasn’t them, it was us.

Our response to that input was to second guess our every move and resent our own parents for not stepping in to help out.  We determined that we weren’t going to be like them!  Instead of trusting that we’d raised people who could take care of themselves as did our parents, we became these second guessing, OMG-I’m-sure-I-didn’t-get-it-right-so-I-have-to-make-sure-their-every-move-is-perfect-or-people-will-blame-me-for-everything-that-happens-to-my-child-or-is-done-by-my-child, parents of adult children.  Maybe there should be a self-help group for that?  Nah, the title’s too long.

Now, instead of parents who are confident that they raised their kids to survive on their own, we have a wave of people who are deeply insecure about how they’ve raised their kids.  These are parents who continue to run after perfectly good, capable adults trying to assuage their own Monday morning, self-induced, quarterbacking guilt.

Unlike our parents who were confident in how they raised us, we’ve bought into the idea that what we’ve done as parents is insufficient.  We’ve resulted to a meddling behavior trying to ‘fix’ our own feelings of insufficiency. Unfortunately – or actually fortunately – this behavior is typically not working for us.  We aren’t  getting what it is we think we want.  Our kids just aren’t allowing us to continue to direct their lives.  And rightfully so.

Which brings up the answer to #1 by asking this:  Why do we feel insufficient?

As parents (and people in general), we see lots of other people around us who can’t seem to handle life, get it ‘right’ as it were.  That seems to make us afraid that some of those people might be ‘our’ people, our kids, adult or otherwise.  So we try to override their decisions, their choices, by imposing our idea of what those choices should be.  But these adult  kids seem to have gone deaf – they just can’t seem to hear us and they especially don’t do what we tell them they ‘should’ do!  Imagine that.

Generally speaking, and for the most part, our kids already know that they are NOT ‘those’ people.  The reality is that they have been raised, to a good degree, to be able to take care of themselves.  Like we did, if only we could remember, they will learn the rest as needed. They will make it on their own through trial and error, just as we did and our parents did before us.  And that’s really okay.

So, how do we make ourselves recognize and accept that we are NOT insufficient?

We MUST give ourselves permission to accept the reality that our adult kids reflect back to us everyday that they ignore our input:  we really did do the best we could and it IS sufficient.  If it wasn’t, our adult kids would be doing exactly what we tell them to, and as I pointed out, they aren’t.

Parents, we need to accept that we weren’t perfect, but what we did was sufficient.  Most important of all:  Our kids, like us, are making it on their own!