Dear Heather Bresch,
I made a solemn promise to keep all of my social media posts positive in 2016, a difficult thing in this political landscape. I've kept my resolution until now.
Today, that changed.
Because of you.
My daughter, Brooke, was born with a severe allergy to peanuts. She is twenty-years-old now, thankfully. She has suffered numerous allergic reactions due to her allergy, all requiring the use of an EpiPen (I hear you are quite familiar with the product). I've been buying these little suckers her entire life. They are a staple in our household, just like some people buy shampoo, we buy EpiPens.
But, what I really wanted to tell you was a simple story.
A parent of a child with a severe peanut allergy.
I am the face of the countless mothers (and fathers) who have been hurt by the reckless price gouging that Mylan has allowed with you at the helm.
So, I wonder...
Do you know what it is like to watch your child struggle to breath? Have you ever seen your child break out in hives all over their body and gasp for air? Have you been called by the school to inform you that your child has eaten something with a contaminant and has been rushed to the emergency room?
Have you experienced the deep, dreaded feeling that swirls in the pit of your stomach as you wonder, "Will my child be alive when I get there?" Have you walked your child into their classroom at the beginning of the school year with dread and terror, not for bullies or grades, but because your child's life is in the hands of strangers?
I'll tell you how it feels.
It's a horrible, gut-wrenching feeling that gnaws at your psyche. A constant reminder that today could be the day your child eats that cookie or bagel or whatever is being passed around at school or a party. You dread phone calls from schools. You dread parties. You dread special events.
But, you know what is even more awful?
The price of the EpiPen.
Sure, you've dodged responsibility. You've blamed society, the government, the pharmacy industry, but, babe, it's all you.
Last week a settlement was agreed upon between Mylan and the government. Oh, how nice for Uncle Sam. He is $465 million dollars richer.
But what about the families you have robbed these past years while taking a hefty salary at Mylan? ($19 million to be exact) Where is OUR refund? Where is OUR money? Where is OUR settlement?
I don't expect you to answer these questions.
You know what I do expect?
Karma to bite you in your millionaire ass. Because, sweetheart if there is one thing I know for sure, it is this. You will pay US back, one way or another.
I wish I could chat with you longer, but I've got to check my bank account right now to figure out how in the world I'm going to pay for a $650 EpiPen. Because contrary to what Mylan's PR firm is stating, there is still a huge discrepancy in who qualifies for your discount programs. I do not qualify.
I do want to leave you with one quote by Nelson Mandela, "There can be no keener revelation of a society's soul than the way in which it treats its children."
That's got to hurt your soul.
If, that is, you have one.
I hate bad days. I know we all have them, but, really, some of them just suck. Here are a few ideas to get through those sneaky little bad days:
I put on Pandora and pop on my comedian of choice (FYI: Dane Cooke and Jim Gaffigan). How can you continue to have a bad day when you are laughing? Really. It is my number one go-to when I'm having a rough patch at work or home. If you don't know about Pandora, it is a free streaming app (for both desktop and phone) that allows you to stream music (and comedians) for free.
No, not that kind of drink, although, I'm sure many of you have had those kind of days. I'm talking about having a comfort drink on hand. My choice is always hot cocoa. But, I do have herbal teas and even my favorite soda, on hand at work. Sometimes I need to take a mini-drink-break. If you have the kind of schedule that allows for you to dive out for a moment to go to Starbucks or Jamba Juice, take that time to rejuvenate and hydrate.
3. Pray or Meditate
Prayer should've been number one. I pray throughout the day to God. Little things. Big things. But, when I'm having an intense moment, I duck out to the bathroom or my car, and say a prayer. Meditation is huge for me as well. Sit at your desk and breath in for the count of seven, hold for four, and breath out for eight. Repeat ten times. I use this technique, hourly.
Get moving. Get out of the office or house and go for a walk. There is nothing better for you than getting your blood pumping and clearing your head. In Arizona I have the advantage of beautiful weather almost year-round, but for you folks in colder climates, I'd suggest just getting out of the office and walk. Anywhere. Even if it's just climbing the stairs.
Bad days come. Good news, they don't last forever. Try these four tips and see how they work.
A girl's night out. That's all it was supposed to be. Bridget Jones, the gals, and laughter. Instead, the lights dimmed in the movie theatre, the smell of fresh popcorn drifted through the air, and the screen jumped to life with the previews. The first preview, A Dog's Purpose, left me a blubbering, whiney, mess and made me wish I was at home snuggling with my pups.
Why are they so darn special?
Try crying in front of your dog. Do it. Real, thick, crocodile tears. I can guarantee you one thing, your dog will not like it. Instead, he will cuddle up next to you and lick your face. He'll snuggle with you, hoping, whatever (or whoever) has done this to you, will pay. Until then, your furry friend will hope his love is enough. And, it is.
Feeling left out or out of place? It's as if your dog knows. He will race to greet you the minute you walk through the door, like you are the only human being on the planet. They L-O-V-E you! Just you. It doesn't matter how your day has gone, seeing their little faces (and, I swear, they look like they are smiling) can brighten any sulky, dreary day. The love of a dog has no limits.
Dogs are little comedians. Having a rough day (pun intended) or need a little pick-me-up? Dogs have a telepathic way of knowing you need a good laugh. Whether it's running around the house like a maniac-dog, barking playfully, or just running into walls (oh, that's my dog, Jake, he's the dog-version of Jim Carey); dogs know exactly when to be silly.
Besides barking and biting strangers, dogs have a way of sniffing out the people you bring around as "company" and "friends". If they don't like them, chances are, you shouldn't either. Hey, I can only point to a few friends that my doggies weren't fond of and they ended up being real, well, let's just say, jerks.
My dogs know everything. They know when I'm mad, and who at, and why. I've told them all of my deepest darkest secrets. They know when I'm upset about work, or friends, or kids, or anything; they just sit, obediently, and listen to my stories, and seem, at least to me, to really care. The good news with dogs is they can't tell anyone (but, I don't think they would, even if they could speak).
See, Dogs are healing.I don't know where I'd be without my furry little friends.
One thing is for sure, I never want to find out.
Three years ago I took a big step. I left a job that was killing me, literally. So, I quit. Walked out the door, smiling.
That was Thursday, October 10th, 2013.
Pay attention. There is a reason I tell you this and it all circles back to the New York Times Best-Selling Author, Bob Goff.
Bob Goff encourages people to quit something every Thursday. A job. A bad habit. Soda. Sugar. Judging others. Sleeping in too late. A club. A credit card. The list can go on and on and on.
I was introduced to his radical way of thinking (and loving others!) when I went with my mom to a church event where he was the main speaker. My life changed, forever. The minute he got on the stage, his very presence, made me listen to what he said. Dynamic, funny, whimsical, and filled with love for other people, I felt myself drawn into his stories about love (more to come on that in another post).
Today, is for quitting.
Typically quitting is considered bad. Looked down upon. Discouraged. But, Bob Goff teaches it's good to quit one thing every Thursday. It doesn't have to be monumental (ex:me quitting my job) but it can be something small, almost insignificant.
I'll be transparent and let you know that today I am quitting weighting myself everyday. Yup, every morning I wake up, naked (as if that somehow helps) and weight myself and I've let it determine my happiness.
Today, I quit doing it.
I've found myself, and my life, much happier since I started this practice.
Thanks, Bob Goff.
I knew being a quitter was a good thing.
The bus. A major vehicle of transportation in many industrialized cities, but in Arizona, fifteen years ago, it was a nightmare. A tangled web of waiting for hours, mixed with walking for miles. Yet, we were without a car and we needed to get from point A to point B. Try that in 120 degree weather with three children. No thanks.
When I look back on those days, I find I learned more than I realized from the hardship.
1. People are Unique
People come in all different shapes and sizes. This is quite an elementary concept, but, when I was riding the bus I was exposed to all walks of life. Different languages, cultures, backgrounds, and histories. I listened to the stories of different homelands and foods, one day, one of the old women I rode with every day to work, brought some of her homemade bread from Denmark. I really learned to appreciate the differences in human beings by riding the bus, and, yes, there were a few bad apples in the bunch, but that just made it more exciting. I truly learned to appreciate the different types of people and cultures from riding the bus.
2. Love Others
I found myself more compassionate. If an old woman was staggering to get on the bus, I'd help her. If a pregnant woman was standing on a crowded commute, I'd get up and let her sit down. A crying baby, I'd help the mom. I served so many people on my little drive from home to work and at the end of the day, I never remember feeling sorry for myself. I can't say that about myself now. Interesting...
3. Kindness Prevails
As much as I helped others on the bus, others helped me. Probably more. I remember one night I had all three children with me and a large Monsoon ( that's a crazy, rain storm for those that don't live in AZ) hit the Valley. I could barely see through the pouring rain, when a nice, young man helped me load my stroller and children onto the bus. Another time, I was late to catch the LAST bus home. I would've missed it, but a kind older gentleman banged on the side of the bus for me until the bus driver stopped for me. Kindness at its finest.
There are also LOTS of hilarious stories to tell you guys as well (another, post, maybe?), but, I wanted to emphasize that I learned a lot of good lessons from a period in my life that I felt was difficult, harsh, and sometimes unbearable. I had to stand in the rain, in 115 degree heat, sweaty, smelly, grouchy, moody, and with children, nonetheless, but I made it through that season of my life and I am a much better person because of it. A bus. Who knew it would have such an impact on me.
Reality. Is. Much. More. Different.
Instead, I wake up looking like something that crawled out of a hole. My hair looks like I just got off a roller coaster, after riding it two hundred times, and my nails look like I've been clawing my way out of a coffin. My skin, ugh, looks like it's been lashed by some menacing creature who lives under my bed and my makeup, oh no, I can't find it anywhere. My outfits, unfortunately, do not always look like I image them, mainly because I've purchased them on how they look on a model that is a size two, and, I, well, am not.
Yet, here I am. Walking out the door with an old zebra striped skirt, a flowered top, the closest shoes to the door I can find (colorful flip flops), hair in a messy bun (not the cute kind), no makeup on, barely remembered a bra, and I do not smell like sunshine. All because my family needs toilet paper. Right now. (FYI: It's 9:44 pm)
Priorities took precedence over looks.
I get one good look at myself in the mirror on the way out.
I don't match, and I don't care.
Such is my life, sometimes.
(Photo Credit: Ruth Nickle)
This is my favorite time of the year: The American Night Writer's Association Annual Conference! I know it should be Christmas, but, since I'm being honest here, it's this magical event that is held each year. An annual, three-day spectacular conference that sends my creativity into overdrive. If you've never been to a writing conference, do it. I get lots of questions from people, especially writers, who want to know how to get the most out of these writing conferences.
1. Take Notes
Seems simple enough. But I don't mean mere scribbles, I'm talking about legit, hardcore, notes when you feel inspired about something the speaker is saying. Keep a pen and paper handy the entire time. This year I was inspired when the founder of ANWA spoke about how she created this magnificent group. Often times if I overheard a conversation going on that peaked my interest, out came my notepad. I usually take a 1 subject notebook, college ruled and pack it with relevant, inspiring content.
2. Make Friends
I'm an extrovert 100%. Yet when it comes to my writing I tend to be more subdued and introverted. I'd rather sit in a corner and plot out my next novel. Most writers, or creatives, tend to fall on the introverted side, and that's okay, but you really must overcome the need to stay a recluse during these conferences. Make friends. Lots of them. This year at the conference I made tons of new friends and I'm following them on all of their social media outlets.
3. Homework-Do it.
Anytime a speaker tells you to apply this-or-that to your writing, put a huge star by your notes. You now have homework! When the conference ended (last week) I spent a majority of my free time doing the homework the various speakers, authors, and literary agents mentioned. My writing has improved drastically in just one week, I can't wait to see how it looks in a few months.
4. Speaking of a few months...
Don't let the spark die. Just like any relationship worth having, you've got to nurture your writing by giving it time, quality time. Remember the nifty notebook I take with me to all my conferences? Well, I give myself time to review the notes every week, even if I only read one outline. There are also speakers who provide notes via PowerPoint, make sure you download those and review them every so often.
5. Return the Love
One last thing, make sure you engage with your new friends on social media. Follow their Twitter accounts and retweet items, go show some love to their Instagram and Facebook accounts. Foster these relationships and grow them. Also, make sure you thank the people who have worked behind the scenes to make these writing conferences available to you.
Now, go, write!