Friday, November 18, 2011

For Those Of Us Who Need To Gain Weight, Whoo Hoo! Thanksgiving!

Some people might get mad at me for saying this, but I need to gain weight.

In the last 24 hours I have eaten the following terrible things: a cheeseburger; chocolate ice cream; a huge chocolate muffin and I did throw in some nicely baked chicken, vegetables and potatoes.

I am still underweight! Well, thank goodness for family and a huge turkey dinner on the way. -Alison Whiteman

Saturday, November 12, 2011

An Hour A Day Can Change The Life Of A Student

Our community is asking for one hour a week. One hour a week will increase the ability of students in our community to graduate from high school. Recently, a 2003 graduate of a Tacoma high school informed me that during matriculation for her school in 1999, an administrator told her to look around her. "One student you are sitting next to will not graduate from high school," he said.

Approximately a thousand students were enrolled in her high school. The graduating class in 2003 was just over four hundred.

An hour a day is about the amount of time we spend on Facebook or watching a television show. A community effort to assist students graduate is very much needed in our community.

If you are interested in helping a local student meet this goal, please call
253-242-3463 or visit the web site
http://www.findanhour.org/ -Alison Whiteman

Friday, November 11, 2011

Let's Be Honest, Let's Rename The Social Services Book

"A Guide to community resources for older adults in Tacoma/Pierce County"

I think it is brazen of anyone to print a brochure indicating where one might turn in these times for assistance. Other than family who might or might not have two pennies to scrape together to assist, you are pretty much an overturned tanker. If you are fortunate to come from one of those families, be very grateful.

To test the waters, I called The United Way Helpline (211) just the other day and the message said, "Due to the economic crisis..." right there I knew enough to just hang up.

If there is no way to get help to care for your parents while you are working two minimum wage jobs, my suggestion would be to stay away from any non-union caregiving agency. I will refrain from naming one: LUTHERAN COMMUNITY SERVICES. Unless they have changed their policies, caregivers are placed on the job with no training! This is just one reason we need unions in this country. I would not want an untrained caregiver near my mother any more than a baboon released from the zoo.

The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) exists for a reason. The protections give by the SEIU protect the client and the caregiver. Think of how unions got started in the first place. On May 25, 1911 a fire started in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in New York City. The factory employed people as young as fourteen. The end result, the death of 146 workers, remains the fourth highest number of people killed in an industrial accident in history.

In 1915, the New York State Committee labor laws report led to the organization of The International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union. Sweeping changes led to labor reforms so no one had to face this atrocity again. Right now we are seeing a surge in discussion about the care of elderly citizens due to the aging populations. In January of 2010, the number of baby boomers turning 65 hit ten thousand a month.

A non-union agency organzied to "assist" the elderly exists entirely without protections for the workers or the clients. The only way citizens in this state have circumvented agencies like Lutheran Community Services is the passage of Initiative 1163 which will result in drastic changes. First, the number of hours to train an employee will increase from 28 to 75 hours. Background checks will be FBI checks, not just in-state checks. They way funds are distributed to the agencies will result in changes. The distribution of payments will shift away from upper management to the workers. Why there has been such opposition to this bill is simple.

Agencies like Lutheran Community Services have been making an absolute windfall off the backs of seniors and the disabled. The money has not trickled down to the front line workers. One can argue we do not need unions anymore until you take a good hard look at caregiving agencies. Do you want a fully trained worker caring for your loved one with a FBI background check or would you prefer a baboon? Our Governor argued this was a union backed and political move to force the state to pay the SEIU more money to train workers. However, this is the same Governor who has run our state into complete near bankruptcy along with a legislature that has written in state constutional measures to protect all agencies from cuts except for social services.

The director of The Department of Social and Health Services, Susan Dreyfus,  is fleeing at the end of this year. She's only been here two years. I think I would jump ship too and hope for a nice solid piece of wood to float safely away. -Alison Whiteman

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Pheasant And The Neuro-Linguistic Programmer

Nothing happens in the Cotswolds. When I asked the a local reporter what crimes had happened in the last year, he said someone had broken into the phone box for change.

In the bucolic setting of a tiny village in the Cotswolds, England I learned to walk strongly again. My parents, understandably annoyed with my attitude about my then two-year diagnosis of multiple sclerosis took me there to be with my mom’s family. “We think you need cheering up,” my parents said. Oh no kidding! I had been torturing everyone from my parents to friends to even the police who came to my apartment door to ask me to plug my phone back into the wall and stop ignoring those who care for me. “We know it is devastating to learn you have a debilitating illness, but please don’t cut off everyone. And Alison, the door to your apartment was unlocked.” Fortunately I was on the third floor of a secure building or I might not be writing this.


The flight to England was eventful. I was sitting separated from my parents next to a man who did not stop drinking until he threw up and passed out. I hope the laws have changed regarding how much alcohol can be served on an international flight. His disturbing ten-hour drinking binge combined with my inability to rest may have contributed to my losing the ability to walk off the plane, but it’s hard to tell.

It was in 2000, prior to all the security changes implemented following the events of September 11, 2011. A helpful man in Heathrow airport got a wheelchair for me but he scolded my father. “Sir, if you don’t sit down, my supervisor will think I am getting this chair for you for no reason and I will get into trouble,” he said. My father cleared his throat and replied, “It’s for my daughter. She has multiple sclerosis.” The apologies were embarrassing for all of us. His face turned bright red, he kept fumbling about and we told him it was okay since one does not think of thirty-two year old woman who looks healthy as a person with a disability.

The subsequent visit with my family resulted in a much needed and fierce confrontation about my attitude. I credit my cousin with forcing me into her car and scaring the hell out of me driving some ninety miles an hour down a very narrow hedge lined country lane to world renowned Neuro-linguistic programmer Diana Beaver. To say her cottage was eccentric is an understatement. The place was a mish mash of knick knacks, antiques and uplifting sayings posted about her kitchen. I plopped down on a plush frayed couch and she confronted me right away. “What is you want, Alison?” “I want to be well,” I said. “Well, that’s easy enough. I want you to say out loud that you are well.” “I am well,” I said. “Good. We have that covered.”

The change in my thinking continued. “Please tell me what MS looks like to you and tell where around you it is placed.” I told her it was a black cloud to the left of my head. “Well, replace it then. What is a place you love?” I thought of Sherwood Forest where Robin Hood did all of his good deeds as well as the lovely lush green trees. “And where is Sherwood Forest located around you?” I told her it was to the right of my head. “Then look to the right and forget the left and if you traverse to the left, move to the right.”

It sounds simple enough. Then the work with Diana become more complex. She took me into her backyard with my cousin. Diana’s yard was surrounded by a brick wall built hundreds of years ago surely by underpaid non-union slaves who broke their backs lifting up all those stones. A festive looking pheasant ran back and forth across the wall the entire few hours I spent with her. It is interesting what happened next.

It’s hard to imagine that we live in an adult body stuffed with various ages of us. All human beings do. Sometimes we break out that five-year-old and get goofy, other times we are thirteen and self-absorbed and self conscious. Dianna had me walk around the yard leaving bits of me at various ages all over the garden. Then I was instructed to speak to each piece of me. “That three-year-old,” she said, “really needs some reassurance. You have completely scared her. Walk over there and pick her up and tell her you are going to take care of her.” I did exactly what Dianna told me to do.

This walking about the garden talking to myself at all ages sounds bizarre. However, it worked. I was walking all over the place after that. I even booked a flight to Dublin and spent nearly a full week there on my own. I had no need for a wheelchair, cane or anything. I came home about fifteen pounds lighter and person after person said I looked as though I had completely changed.

Was it the Neuro-linguistic programming? I have to say unequivocally it was just that. The connection between the mind and body is so incredibly strong. I had decided I had had enough. However, let’s not neglect the pheasant. There is a law in England. If you hit a pheasant you cannot pick it up and cook it. Only the person behind you can pick up the peasant and cook it. This is to prevent pheasant murder. I just thought I’d throw that fact into this story. –Alison Whiteman


Dinner and stew! Only if you are second behind the murderous car though. It's the law.

Friday, November 4, 2011

The Murray Morgan Bridge Will Have An Elevator!

Breaking news! For those of you who have not had the absolutely flat out terrifying experience of climbing the massive number of stairs to the top of Tacoma's infamous Murray Morgan Bridge, the City of Tacoma has plans for an elevator!

One day families will not be able to terrify children afraid of heights by taking them up the seemingly endless staircase. One look down and it's your mortality staring right back up at you from the depths.

I did extensive research via Wikepedia to find out the bridge was built in 1913. It took five minutes out of my life to do this research. Once called the 11th Street Bridge, it was renamed after historian Murray Morgan. But get this! Wicked-a-Pedia only mentions Morgan's infamous book called "Skid Road" which is about Seattle! Tacoma gets shafted again via Wicked-a-Pedia! What about all his books discussing the extensive history of Tacoma?

We have a plan for you, oh Wicked-a-Pedia. You must come here and climb the stairs to the top of the bridge in one swoop thirteen times with a black cat crossing under a ladder for extra bad luck for shafting us in your little blurb. Actually, we don't know who wrote the blurb on the page about our bridge, and I am just too lazy to find out. If you want to find out, have at it! Meanwhile, Tacoma remains forever bitter about the rail lines that landed in Seattle versus Tacoma. But heck! We are getting an elevator! Who knows when, as no one knows, but it's in the works. -Alison Whiteman