Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Ready to Quit?

There is help for those who are ready to kick their addiction, but only if you are lucky.

Are you ready to quit drugs and alcohol and reclaim your life?

If you are lucky, you are ready at the same time a bed in a rehab facility is available. Otherwise, you have to wait until a bed opens up. Good luck, not dying from your addiction while you wait.

When a bed opens up, insurance will pay for it. If you have no insurance, there is funding available, but that funding of addiction programs happens only once a year, in January, and is good only until the money runs out, usually by September or October. That means if you decide to kick your addiction anytime from Halloween through the end of the year, there will be no money for your treatment. Good luck, staying alive until the program is re-funded on New Year's Day.

One out of four people who have to take long-term medically-prescribed pain medication for legitimate purposes ends up addicted. When they realize it, they need help immediately.

Even children from loving families may try drugs, and some become addicted while their peers do not.

When you or a loved one realize it is time to fight an addiction, help is not always available. In this political year, please make sure your candidates are fighting for your right to treatment in case you or a loved one develop an addiction. Demand full funding for addiction services. Demand more beds in rehab facilities be made available, just as we demand beds in hospitals be available when it is time to deliver a baby.

I am not an addict, but it seems to me that it should be a basic human right to obtain treatment to free yourself from addiction, which could happen in any family.

Monday, June 15, 2015


Lotte Bloom - Her story of escaping Nazi Germany - Part 1

"Mike, I want to tell you. You don't know what you can take care of, when you're forced to."

I am writing about the above quotation from a video posted on Youtube of my friend's Aunt Lotte. The time marker for her words above is (44:11). When I read this time aloud, one numeral at a time, "4" "4" "1" "1," it hit me that it sounds like "For 411." Since my internet signature is susannalee411, I believe it is possible that, from the far reaches of the universe, across time and space, Lotte spoke this message for me, personally, and I need to do something for Lotte. Lotte recorded this video because she wants us never to forget what happened to her, what could happen to you. I feel challenged to do what I can to "take care of" Lotte's directive, by sharing this, her story, with you. The entire transcript is below.

In this video, Lotte recounts the saga of her life's most difficult journey, beginning from the moment when she, a Jewish teenager, first encountered "anti-Jew" activity in the new Nazis in her previously warm and friendly community in Germany. Lotte recalls a sudden hostility, which appeared literally overnight, against herself and her well-respected and much-loved family, from people in the community - friends, neighbors, classmates, and business associates - with whom she and her mother and father had been intimate friends only the day before it all started. It is absolutely shocking, how quickly a society can change, and this is an important video to watch, as Lotte is an eloquent yet natural speaker, telling what happened, from her vantage point as a teenager. She became separated from her parents, who eventually were deported to Poland and murdered. Yet Lotte managed to make it out of Germany and to America, and now, in her nineties, she is here to tell us her eyewitness account of exactly what happened. At (41:48), Lotte sums up with, "And that's my story"; this is at a point in her narrative when it seemed the nightmare was over, that day she met her husband in America and life became wonderful again.

Lotte had not seen it coming. The Holocaust appeared to take Lotte and her town by surprise. Yet, Lotte never fails to point out that, amid the tragedy of watching her family's beautiful and tranquil life destroyed, partially through the betrayal of people with whom they had once shared a mutual affection, there were also those people who sympathized with her family's plight and tried to help them. You can feel Lotte's compassion for her former friends and neighbors, whose sudden hostility toward Jews appeared to Lotte to be stimulated by their absolute fear that the same horror would happen to themselves and their loved ones immediately if they did not also participate in this persecution, or at least remain silently complicit in the shadow of its terrible face.

An oft-repeated line in Lotte's story, "And, I sometimes wonder, who was looking out for me?" (49:09). Lotte's is an incredible story of courage and perseverance in the face of adversity, and in her query is an attempt to find an answer, for herself, to her life-long question of why she survived and why she found, then, and continues to find, now, support from other people.

In her final moments of the video, Lotte shows her genuine concern for her interviewer, who had to listen to this difficult story of hers: "I gave you a headache" (50:32).

Never forget! Please, please watch Lotte's story, and share it with others you care about. And, please, care about everyone in the world. And remember, as Lotte  says, "I'm still here!" (44:01).


Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Source Material

When I noticed there was an ongoing extended internet outage at my kid's college, I texted what I thought might be a helpful suggestion (to save the data I was sure would be eaten up on our phone plan), "Read real books. In the library."

The reply, "What's a library?"

Tuesday, April 14, 2015


Kids, when you hear them say "Live in the moment," try hard to fathom what they mean, but realize you may not fully appreciate this saying until you start actually practicing it.

If I had realized earlier that all of life was to be a series of interesting moments, I might have spent more of my efforts in enjoying each fully at the time it happened, rather than attempting to preserve a memory path down which I expected I could travel one day in the future, to try to re-experience the same. I was always sure that, at some later point in my life, I would be able to do whatever it was I had done the first time; this next time, it would be even better, because I would be incorporating what I had since learned.

Instead, I have found that I don't actually take the same path twice, no matter how wonderful, no matter how much I have learned about how I could now improve upon it.

Each moment is unique. Each is a treasure.

Sometimes, the best thing that is happening at the moment is that you are not being eaten alive by mosquitoes.

Relish that thought, when it occurs.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Love Letter to The Prodigal Child

My Dear Child,

This is Mommy talking. This letter is about love.

You are my very own child and I love you so much.

It has been very painful to see you struggle with your feelings as you try to find solutions to life's most difficult problems, though you have rarely shared with me exactly what it is you have been thinking. I have tried to understand, and tried my very best to provide you with loving support, even as it seems you have insisted on doing everything your own way, independently of what I have tried to tell you. I often feel you are telling me you are not interested in listening to my opinion, that you feel I cannot possibly understand what you are going through, that you believe I cannot help you.

Every person in the world has their own unique set of experiences, but that does not mean they cannot be connected to other people in loving ways. I would hope you can work on removing the obstacles you have consciously set between us, and eventually come to understand that my role in your life as your mother is a valid one, a treasure worth preserving.

I would like for us both to try to heal our relationship, as we move forward.

As I sense that you have pushed me away, I have experienced a broken sense of trust, which may take a long time to restore. It may never again be the open trust I have come to rely on with my other loved ones, friends and family, and this loss of trust between you and me produces, deep in my heart, a profound sorrow.

I have always felt you to be closest to my heart. Your approach toward life and your challenges so nearly resemble my own struggles, as I worked at developing clear thought and an awareness of my own place in the universe, as one of its many unique individuals.

I am rooting for you in your battle for a sense of wellness and wholeness. I want to believe that you are on your way to growing into the healthy adult I have always hoped you want to become. If you ultimately fail in that venture, I want it to be not for a lack of trying, nor for a perception by you that it is not possible or that you are not deserving of success. No one—anywhere or at any time, past or present or future—deserves more of a wonderful life than you do.

It grieves me that I have often been clueless as to your state of mind, as you have not seemed to be able to share with me your thought processes. You did not describe to me what you were suffering, either because you did not want me to know that there was anything wrong, or because you yourself did not understand what was happening to you. I understood more than you think I did, because my own internal struggles during childhood and adolescence were so similar to yours.

We may not have all the answers, but I want you to know that I am here alongside you on this path called life and I would like to walk with you as time moves on.

Please consider my wishes. I believe it is somehow important to a person's sense of being as a whole person, to remain connected with your family who loves you, even as we appreciate that each is a unique individual who is not like anyone else in the world. My expectation is not, that you will become like me, or indistinguishable from any of the rest of us—an invisible, though important, pillar of society—but that you will come into your own and feel you are free to become yourself, in whatever manner you find best suits you. You may then want to share with us, your family, that wonderful person, the "you" who you are. I hope you will share with me, your mother, the person who you are now, as an adult, and continue to share with me the "you" who you are, at every future step of your life. You have grown and changed. You began as a child and were nurtured by me, from within myself, and from within our family.

From the time I first saw your exquisite face, minutes after you were born, when they brought you to me and I could hold you for the first time, I felt a special incredible love and an extraordinary deep spiritual connection with you, my child.

I was then dumbfounded with hurt and surprise when, suddenly, I realized I had been caught unaware by the facts, what is implied in the discovery that one is in the presence of true love. I found myself unprepared for a new and awful sense of worry. The realization hit me, that this fountain, overflowing with joy and unblemished happiness, might not last forever. It was so distressing, my awareness that this bliss could vanish, in any instant, without warning.

I could have wallowed in the misery of my awareness of the inevitability of loss of that which is most precious, but I decided to choose differently, and make my reality one that would continue to contain our eternal connection. Our hearts would forever be as one, mother and child. I felt confident that this truth would sustain me to the end of time, no matter whatever else might happen.

I felt lucky that I had finally been able to enjoy that moment when we first met and we physically touched our skins together, out in the open air, as I had felt your presence while I carried you inside me, before you were born, and had cherished our bonded intimacy. I knew our physical closeness could not possibly last forever, so I steeled myself against the inevitable time of our eventual separation, where our paths would go in different directions.

Yet, I knew the intensity of our connection would be eternal. Through these, my words (if they are preserved), I would hope that this, an acknowledgement and description of our connection, becomes one with the consciousness of "all that is."

Now, back to the present moment.

Today, you are grown up and apart from me, both physically and in other senses of the word "apart." Yet, you are also "a part" of me. We are parts of a unified "one."

I hope to once again be able to hold you in my arms and tell you I love you with all my heart. I would hope to hear you someday echo these, my own feelings, as your own feelings of love for your mother spring honestly and freely from your own heart.

I wish you all the joy love can bring. I want you to never give up seeking love, and I want you to find much love. I want for you to find that it is love that enriches your life, as much as my love of you has enriched my own life.

My love for you will continue to make me happy until I die. I hope my love for you will live forever in your own heart, as you remember me throughout the rest of your own life, even if you outlive me. You will always have my love. Always know how much I always love you. This love and our connection will last forever.


Monday, February 23, 2015


Life is too hard. It's breathe, breathe, breathe, all the time.
~  Barbara

Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.
~  Gandhi

Our greatest glory is not in never failing but in rising up every time we fail.
~  Confucius

. . . I reflected that all things happen to oneself, and happen precisely, precisely now. Century follows century, yet events occur only in the present; countless men in the air, on the land and sea, yet everything that truly happens, happens to me. . . .
(The Garden of Forking Paths)
~ Jorge Luis Borges

The trick is, if you really believe the world is going to hell in a handbasket, don't let it upset you.
~  Susanna

Monday, January 26, 2015

Always Do Right

Always do right.

It is time to speak of the unspeakable horror of The Holocaust, it is always time to speak of those peculiar atrocities committed against groups of people who had been labeled as not people, of those extreme acts of cruelty performed by those who believed themselves to be good people dedicated to making the world a better place by exterminating, en masse, so many other good people.

Never forget that human beings are capable of being so wrong and so terrible to one another.

Never forget.

Repeat the story of The Holocaust, so that it is not forgotten, so that it is not reenacted, so that The Holocaust is never repeated.

Seek out the stories that exist today, the stories that do and the ones that do not make the news. Where are there horrors that indicate a new The Holocaust is possible, is likely, is happening now next door, is on our doorstep, is happening now and right here, is being perpetrated by well-meaning, upstanding, good citizens who truly believe that they are doing what is right? Bad-deed-doing people who are either unaware or unconcerned that they are doing evil are possibly even... us. You. Me.

Examine society. Examine oneself. Examine neighbors, friends, family, religions, beliefs, ideas, philosophies, cultural norms, laws, familiar practices.

What are we doing? Are we always doing what is right? How do we know?

I truly believe that I live in a society which is dedicated to always doing right and actually succeeds, to the best of its ability, in making the world a better place for all.

Always do right.

Never forget The Holocaust, nor those who were enticed or coerced into performing each one of the independently heinous acts. Those real people acted as they did just like all people do, because the course of action they took "seemed like a good idea at the time" or because the alternative course of action was seen to be worse. This is not unlike so many other activities human.

The Holocaust is the one worst thing that history has, to date, ever recorded. The people who committed these atrocities followed what seemed to them like a normal course of human activity. Doing what each one of them did seemed, to each one of those real people, like making a choice and choosing the best possible alternative at the time. Many had never examined whether or not their society was committed to doing right. Many people might have felt they were stuck living within the society that perpetrated The Holocaust, that they had no alternative way to live their lives, even if they wanted to.

Never forget that it was real people who carried out the individual acts which echo through our collective psyche and scream "Never again!"

You are a real person. Always do right.

Never forget that even good people who believe they are doing right could be very, very wrong.