Recently, state police & canine units flooded a local middle school for an unannounced sweep searching for illegal drugs. Having attended that very school, I clicked to read some of the comments, & I was shocked to see the number of negative replies;
“Such a waste of tax-payers money.”
"They would have better luck at the High School."
"What 12-year-old- keeps codeine stuffed in their locker? Such a joke."
There were even comments with eye-rolling emoji’s.
Unless you live under a rock in the middle of Alaska, with no internet connection, no local newspapers & only Caribou as companions, you have heard or seen the recent rise in deaths due to the opioid epidemic. If not, pick up a newspaper, watch the local news, or just reach out to some friends & they'll likely be able to enlighten you, & if you think this epidemic doesn't affect you, you are wrong. If you think 'not my kid,' you could be wrong, very wrong. Sometimes, the people who you least expect to fall victim to such a disease are the ones who need help the most.
Sidebar: I am not going to debate whether or not addiction is a disease because it doesn't matter. Regardless of whether you think it's a disease or not, people are still dying. Brothers, sisters, mothers, father, aunts, uncles, friends, etc. they are people facing a problem, a problem we need to find a way to address because dead is dead, it doesn't matter if you label it an addiction or a choice.
This isn’t a joke. This isn’t a drill. Our children are dying & some would rather live in denial than address the problem head-on. Whether the sweep resulted in anything or not, whether it was used as a scare tactic or not, it is well worth our tax dollars. Just do a search for opioid epidemic & children. It won’t take long for your jaw to hit the floor in disbelief.
Researched released in 2018 from the Journal of Pediatrics shows the number of children brought in for opioid overdose doubled from 2003 to 2015 & the number of deaths from opioids overdose tripled from 1999-2016. Here’s another stat for you; there was a 45.2% increase in the number of deaths involving synthetic opioids from 2016-2017, according to the US Center for Disease Control & Prevention.
Opioids are the LEADING cause of death in individuals under the age of 50.
Opioids produce morphine-like effects. Medically they are used for pain relief, but heroin is also classified as an opioid due to the feelings of euphoria it provides. Enter synthetic opioids like Fentanyl & you have yourself an economy sized problem. A problem that results in an estimated $78.5 BILLION economic burden per year according to The Center for Disease Control & Prevention.
Just let that sink in. Besides the fact that there are roughly 130 people dying daily in the United States from opioid overdoses, our tax dollars are paying for their healthcare, rehab, lost productivity, & any criminal proceedings resulting from their opioid use. So yeah, if we can prevent or intervene at the middle school level, I say go for it.
For all those playing the "who's to blame" game all I can say is yes, this crisis may have started with an overabundance of doctors prescribing painkillers when they probably, really weren't necessary & insurance companies much rather pay for a tiny little pill than long-term therapies, but the fact is that we have to find a solution. It's time clean up the mess not point fingers because pointing fingers isn't going to save anyone who's already lost in the trenches of opioid addiction.
Turning a blind eye doesn’t make the bullet stop after the triggers been pulled. Just saying.
I've been thinking a lot about forgiveness lately. The craft of forgiving but not forgetting.
We've all been wronged in our lives, but I think its what we do with that anger or hurt that really defines us as people. I realized recently that forgiveness isn't about letting them off the hook, it's not even done for his or her sake, it should be done for yours. It's like hanging a "for rent" sign followed by another reading "free" in your mind & letting that person or event occupy the space no strings attached...indefinitely.
While I was painting the other night I was thinking back on the recent holidays & how my family & friends have evolved over time. There are people who were staples to the family that are no longer with us, & there are people who have burned bridges with others & no longer partake in family functions. There are also friends who I thought would be in my life for a lifetime that are no longer friends but rather just acquaintance, if that. Just when I was getting a little emotional, Winnie, our foxhound who was heavily abused, meandered over for a little loving & that's when I realized that holding onto the hurt, or anger means there is forever a tie between me & the person who did me wrong. Winnie experienced the unthinkable but she persevered & did what so many people can't seem to do, she let go; she forgave without forgetting. If she had held onto the fear & anger she would still be spending her days cowering in the closet rather than sprawled out on the loveseat soaking up all the love & snuggles we dish out.
When you hold onto a grudge you limit yourself in ways you may not even think about. You might not go to a party because someone you had a falling out with may be there. You might avoid a certain restaurant or store because you know a certain somebody frequents it. Avoidance becomes a game you spend too much time on. Not to mention you might miss out on the night of your life because you didn't want to risk the possibility of seeing someone who hurt you. Why give them that power?
Forgiveness does not erase the past, it can't, but a healed memory is not a deleted memory. Forgiveness, hopefully, changes the memory of our past into a hope for the future & provides us with more time to focus on the good things in our lives.
We all make mistakes. We've all hurt someone whether intentional or not, but we shouldn't dwell on the things we cannot change, nor should we let them hold us, prisoner. Let go. Live a grudge-free life, it's the best revenge you can have.
I turned 30 a few days ago.
Where in the actual F did time go? Seriously? Wasn't it like yesterday that I turned 21?
I'm not one of those people that proclaims the entire month as their birthday month & spends their nights in a drunken stupor. I like quiet, uneventful birthdays spent with family & friends. Plus, my birthday falls during the time of the year when most everybody is over celebrating; Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, & in my family a slew of birthdays that fall between November 30th & February 2nd.
I spent the day with my husband & daughter who took me to Sturgeon Point Marina to collect more rocks to paint. The crash of the waves & the solitude of being at this makeshift beach, which was completely deserted, was not only calming, but it led to some much-needed reflection on the significance of the day. As my daughter napped in the car with her father, I thought about all the ways in which I've grown over the last decade.
My 20's were eventful, as I think most peoples are. There were a lot of highs, & a handful of downs, but all those transitions allowed me to become the person I am today. Marrying my husband was one of the happiest days, but losing our first baby was the lowest of all my lows. My 20's were a decade of wonder, self-doubt, self-exploration & figuring out who I wanted to be & what I wanted to do with my life, but they were also filled with a lot of confusion.
The most impactful event of my 20's was the birth of my daughter, Shelby, which subsequently brought about the most significant changes in who I wanted to be & what I wanted to become. Don't get me wrong, becoming a parent was one of the most stressful & anxiety-ridden times of my life, but becoming Shelby's mother brought more clarity to the things I was still questioning about my life than I would have thought. I became more confident as a person, as a woman, and most importantly as an individual. I know some women feel as though they lose a piece of themselves when they have children, but I feel exactly the opposite which is somewhat ironic because until I met my husband, I wasn't even sure I wanted to have children. Funny how life works.
Thirty is not the new twenty. At least, I hope not. While I enjoyed my 20's, I'm looking forward to living life with this new found confidence. I'm looking forward to not feeling as though I'm part of an enormous rat race of individuals looking to be the most popular, or the most successful. I just want to be comfortable & happy. I just want to be myself regardless of what others might think of that person because I know now not everyone is going to like me & that's perfectly okay.
So, bring on the dirty 30...which hopefully means a cleaner house?