Thursday, November 13, 2014
I remember wonderful Thanksgivings and Christmas's surrounded by family. Aunt Donna, Uncle Gene, Scott and Diane, they were a part of it all. Then it happened. People began to get to that point where there would be kids going off to college, people getting married and the large family that silenced out loneliness and separation began to dwindle. We began to see people less and less. Only 7 years later would render us motherless as Mom died too soon.
Soon it was just Maureen, Michael (who had headed off to college) Me, Rick and little Miss. The others headed out for greener pasture. I remember feeling that it would be okay, I could talk with all of them as needed by phone. My weekly, sometimes daily phone calls to my sisters would keep the emptiness, confusion and feeling of orphan-like confusion at bay. I would always have them. They would always be my first friends. My brothers who are 2 years younger and 2 years older would be my protectors, my shelter from the storm. I remember feeling dread when my sister announced that they were moving to Arizona. The farthest corner of the South West to be exact. "Don't worry we will be home at least once a year." I remember thinking, "no, you won't your family will want to experience other places. Kankakee will be the last place you visit. That is the way it all happens.
I know, two way street. So it is that time and tide has come and gone. I am blessed I still have my sisters and my brothers, there are no weekly calls, the sometime daily call. There are not visits on Saturday morning with a cup of coffee and ramblings of the week before. There are minimal exchanges by way of a fabricated social network created for people who do not have brothers and sisters and large families that gather and talk on the phone weekly and sometimes daily. Where did it all go? In the end I had and I am blessed. I still have; I can still claim it as mine.
The aforementioned rambling came as a result of thinking about National Adoption Month. Sometimes we all feel like a motherless child. Some will always feel it, others just in those moments of orphan-like confusion, like now.
Tuesday, September 9, 2014
Dear fellow representatives (US Senator Joe Donnelly, US Senator Dan Coats, US Representative Peter Visclosky, Indiana State Senator Karen Tallian, Indiana State Representative Scott Pelath),
This year, as my COBRA insurance was ending on July 31, I obtained medical and dental insurance through the healthcare exchange, to begin August 1. The medical coverage is through PHPNI (Physicians Health Plan Northern Indiana), and the dental through Anthem Blue Cross. I selected these plans for both cost reasons, and because their own website documentation listed my existing providers as being "in network".
In August, I learned from my dentist that the Anthem insurance was not fully accepted, contrary to Anthem's website information.
I called Anthem to cancel my insurance so that I could sign up with another dental insurer and thus not have to switch providers.
Anthem directed my call to the healthcare exchange. There, one Veronica first told me that she couldn't cancel just the dental; she would have to cancel the medical portion as well. Furthermore, should I cancel my medical coverage, I would not be eligible to enroll in another medical plan until November, effective January 1, 2015. That was a completely untenable proposition, because I was due for my yearly physical and prescriptions for necessary medications.
After I complained that "there must be a way", Veronica finally said, "Oh, I see how to do it now!", and she did something on her end, and told me that she had accomplished what I desired: she had canceled my dental insurance plan, but not the medical. Fine. Thanking her, I waited about a week (because she said the cancellation would take 2-3 business days to complete), and obtained new dental insurance with Humana so that I could see my dentist, because I was due for a cleaning and checkup scheduled six months earlier.
That appointment went well.
Fast forward to September 8. That morning - the day of my yearly medical exam - I received a "late notice" from Anthem, saying I was late with my payment. This, despite having been told by Veronica (of the healthcare exchange) that my Anthem policy was canceled.
I called Anthem, and they said my policy was *not* canceled. I called the healthcare exchange, where I was told in no uncertain terms that they cannot cancel just the dental, that I would have to cancel both (this is the day of my yearly checkup and prescription renewals, mind you!) and wait until January 1, 2015 to have coverage again! Furthermore, they said that Veronica "made a mistake" but that "there was nothing they could do about it".
Well, guess what that means to me, who has been unemployed since July of 2013? It means that I'm now stuck with two dental plans. I can't cancel Anthem plan, because Anthem says they can't cancel it because it was obtained through the healthcare exchange, and the healthcare exchange can't cancel it without canceling my medical insurance with it, thereby jeopardizing my health and well-being due to the timing of my yearly exams and prescription refill cycle. And I can't cancel the Humana plan, because I just saw the dentist, I don't want to wind up paying in full for that visit, and furthermore I paid a non-refundable $35 signup fee with Humana, which I would have to pay again in January should I cancel them and signup with them again in November.
So - again, I'm unemployed! - I'm going to have to dish out $120 to Anthem for the remainder of the year for ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. I can't tell you how disturbed and disgusted I am by this. I'm stuck paying due to the extortion also known as "going to collections and having my credit rating affected negatively", and apparently NOBODY CAN DO ANYTHING ABOUT IT. Anthem responds to my online requests with idiotic customer service replies that ignore the meat of my requests (e.g. I ask for them to cancel my policy, they reply with some polite mumbo jumbo about what phone number to call for customer service). The healthcare exchange people are similarly useless, repeating back the same verbiage about what they can and can't do, none of which solves this ridiculous situation that I'm in through no fault of my own (although I'm sure all these organizations have lawyers that will be able to find some sliver of "terms and agreements" text that "prove" otherwise).
Tell me. Is it reasonable that medical and dental insurance have be canceled *together*? Is it reasonable that Anthem bears no responsibility for their website information stating that my dental provider was in their network, when the dental provider itself insists otherwise?
Where is the sensible America I once knew? The ridiculous costs of the healthcare system, the mazes of "where is such and such an insurance plan good?", and the fact that someone who just wants the kind of health and dental care they used to have BEFORE A LARGE COMPANY (IBM) DECIDED TO USE WALL STREET EARNINGS PER SHARE TARGETS AS AN EXCUSE TO PRACTICE THINLY VEILED AGE DISCRIMINATION (WHICH OF COURSE THEIR LAWYERS KNOW HOW TO DEFEND AGAINST) can get themselves into a situation where they're UTTERLY STUCK with TWO dental insurance plans, with no way out except to either cancel their medical insurance and remain uninsured for several months, or pay dearly to just ride it out in order to avoid collection agency harassment and a tanking credit rating. I'm just sick over this.
I would appreciate it if you could do something about this that leads to my not having to suffer the cost and indignity of $120 out of pocket for NOTHING. Greedy Anthem and the apparently powerless healthcare exchange remain willfully deaf on this matter.
[snipped contact information]
Friday, August 8, 2014
Last evening, (August 7, 2014) Steve Champagne and I had the opportunity to experience first hand what a few women, when they network together can do. We have had the privilege at ArtSees Productions, to feature Step Up, on our radio show. We were also guests at last night's Shine & Dine event held at the Bridgeport Art's Center, Skyline Loft.
Through the preliminary exploration into the Step Up, I was able to glean a pretty good understanding of what it was about, why professional women networking on behalf of under-resourced girls was needed, and how it works. But, last night I witnessed first hand what this program is doing for the 250 girls found at four neighborhood schools.
Upon arrival at the Bridgeport Art's Center, we were greeted with a sea of finely dressed women and young ladies all adorned with an orange daisy, which represents the organizations logo. We were also greeted by young women wearing the official SUWN t-shirt. All greeters were gracious and exuded an air of gratitude that we were there. As well as a belief in the program. We were delivered to the "Skyline Loft" by way of a chic "service elevator" and it was there that I met Miss "Daisy" a beautiful young woman who immediately responded to my presence. I graciously asked her where the ladies room was and not only did she show me, she escorted me there. We had a nice little walk ahead of us, so I was able to explain to her why I was there and what I do as a profession. I shared with her that I am a radio show host, blogger, writer with ArtSees Productions. She was interested and then I shared my other profession, education. It was then that she became intrigued with my role as a high school educator. She was an interested listener, gracious, poised, and very engaging and filled with questions.
As I exited from the ladies room, there was Daisy, waiting for me. I was glad to see her as I wanted to talk with this beautiful flower ( perfectly named for the evening and as a representative of the endeavor) a little more. I was deeply touched that she waited and that she wanted to walk me back to my companion. All the way we talked and shared our passion for education.
It was in that moment that I was reminded of how valuable we are to one another. Daisy made me feel comfortable in unfamiliar surroundings and I sense that our commonality availed a sense of well-being for her too. I felt valued as a woman, and important as a professional educator. Our conversation ended with a shaking of hands and a "pleasure to meet you" farewell. But, what I walked away with was an assurance that this program works. I spent the rest of the evening witnessing the collaboration, passion, camaraderie and friendships that have emerged by way of Step Up. In addition to the aforementioned, I realized how important it is to lead, guide and impress upon each other how valuable we are to the bigger picture.
Thank you Daisy, you "stepped up" and you Shined!
Friday, July 25, 2014
Last night as I watched my precious granddaughter dancing it was like being a young mother again, only this time I just got to watch in a very different way as an observer. I was the celebrity chosen to watch a performance of a lifetime. More precious than the dance that my granddaughter insist that she would do while I was singing, was the planning. There I was, hand in hand with my Bella. She had something so special to talk to me about. So special that we had to escape downstairs away from prying eyes and ears numerous times. So special that she had to choreograph/produce how it would all play out. Listening to her little mind, (not little at all, genius mind) discuss all the aspects of how it would play out. She asked if I had any ballet songs I could sing as she had the perfect dance for that. She asked if I do any hip-hop. She insisted that we announce that she had a special dance planned for the guests at her Great-Aunt Missy's benefit.
Imagine this little peanut coming up with her check list to ensure that all of the food was being prepared correctly.
Equally beautiful was to be able to experience the 2 grandmothers holding hands with their only granddaughter and dancing. All 3 of us dancing while BeBe was singing a Beatles' cover. That image of what it is to be a woman will be forever etched on her heart and on our's.
Sharing in the dance of life...
Wednesday, July 23, 2014
Thursday, July 17, 2014
One of the realities of being me is that I grew up under the shadow of cancer. My mother's mother died of uterine cancer when she was only 16, my mother died of ovarian cancer when my baby sister was only 16. My father's sisters, his mother, my mother all died too young, too soon, painfully and yes, from cancer.
I remember signing on with the American Cancer Society door to door drives when I was barely old enough to leave my yard. I recall collecting dimes, dollars, whatever my kind neighbors would give. I recall putting it in an envelope and sending it on its way. I had no idea what that money was used for, or even where it really went. I just knew it might be the thing that would keep my mom and dad from crying. I recall laying next to my grandmother as her health was failing. I was six.
I have grown up in fear. I became as some would say, mildly paranoid. The idea of leaving my children behind without me was more than I could bare. I could not accept the idea that my children would feel the pain I felt when I buried my mother, too young, too soon. My doctor realized my fear. He sat me down when I was about 28 and said, Mary, worrying about developing cancer, will not keep it from happening. But, we can be proactive and if we come to that bridge we will cross it. I listened and I became as proactive as I could be. Now this is not to say that those I love in my lifetime didn't care, or were not proactive. I just means that being as aware of the genetic connection as possible is wise. It is like having a high occurrence of diabetes or heart disease.
I became involved a few years back with the American Cancer Society, this time as a grown woman.My partner Steve and I held a "Making Strides" awareness raiser. A concert where many of my friends came together and we celebrated life with music. We wrote a song titled, "Strides." I wrote for all women and those who love them. Little did I know that within just a couple years I would discover that a cousin was a breast cancer survivor, our first born niece would be a sarcoma survivor and that two of my sisters would be diagnosed with cancer. Too young, too soon.Here are videos that capture the song and the speech I made for a "Making Strides" kick-off event. The "Strides" video is reflecting my sister Marissa. Please read the article that was so generously written by The Kankakee Daily Journal.
Please consider helping me help my sister. http://youcaring.com/TeamRissa
This week's The Herald's Country Market paper. Tickle Me Pink @ Off The Vine, Momence, Il July 24 6-9 pm! pic.twitter.com/n8Wwl8Bj14— Miss Riss (@MarissaRapier) July 16, 2014
Tuesday, July 15, 2014
Sunday, July 13, 2014
And, of course, "all" pertains primarily - if not utterly - to internet information.
Which, of course, I'm hypocritically contributing to simply by referring to it.
And that's a strong component of my weariness: to touch it is to necessarily be infected by it.
And thus continues the spiral of the absence of peace of mind also known as information, and thus the weariness.
Information is perhaps the most addicting drug of all, being not merely a chemical affecting the brain that arguably generates the mind. It, swirling about in juxtaposition to other slightly different instantiations of itself, *is* the mind, for there is no mind without mind content.
Which suggests that letting it go is essentially losing your mind.
Or, in the case of online information (mind stuff), most of your modern mind.
Peace of mind, as it turns out, is quite simply absence of mind.
This mind - hopefully soon, I pray - will check out of the sleazy Hotel Infofornia, and once again become more engaged with life than with *about life* (aka information), which is to say return to being its ineffable source than its ephemeral, tumultuous content.
Friday, July 11, 2014
I begin my post with a picture that was so cleverly posted by the blogger.
"WOW, these testimonials are frightening. I recently had a diagnostic mammogram, actually I have had many over the past 15 years as I have lost too many to breast cancer and ovarian.
So, this last one scared me as I have developed chronic regional pain syndrome from a fall I had 18 months ago. I too was considered as hysterical, crazy and workman's comp sent me to a shrink instead of dealing with the massive soft tissue injuries and joint injuries that I sustained. I am wondering if many of the women in this thread actually have RDS, or CRPS which is the way the body reacts in some people, 20% of injuries and trauma result in varying degrees of CRPS, mostly women. YAY hormones! Anyway, we need to remember that a mammogram is a traumatic experience on many levels. You are absolutely right, women's breasts should not be flattened at such and what I underwent this last time is unforgivable on many levels.
I went to Lynn Sage Breast Center with the Northwestern Medical Center, Chicago. I was very anxiety ridden as 2 of my sisters had been diagnosed with breast cancer the month prior, (how is that for a double whammy!) Knowing Lynn Sage's reputation, I acquiesced and went. I filled out the forms and waited. I was brought back to the cattle trough and told to put on a very unattractive gown, (seriously? After the millions upon billion dollars spent on mammograms can't they come up with something better?) All of these things do not help a woman who is concerned about her tata's! The mammo-techie came out and got me and immediately she laid into me, literally reprimanding me because I did not answer the questions to her satisfaction. I could tell in an instance that she was singling me out for whatever reason...maybe her lover left her for a blond? Who the hell knows. Anyway, after listening to her minimization and making me feel stupid, she conducted the mammo, which was the most painful I have ever experienced. Now, before you go to "you were anxiety ridden that is why it hurt so bad" stop, because while I was emotionally heightened and did not trust her to treat me well, it was the way she did the mammo. Right breast first: She kept tisking as she cold not get enough of my breast up on the shelf. Then she openly complained that my hair was getting in the way. (I have long blond hair which is why I referenced the wounded lover earlier) Next the left: She not only kept complaining that my hair was in the way, but, she pulled my breast so hard that I could feel the skin on my face being pulled. She got it into place, lowered the boom and left me there for way longer than I have ever felt before. "Don't breath" no worries lady, I cannot move. I was told to wait until she got a comparison from prior films, which she also complained about! I saw her come out and get other women and she treated them like they were long lost friends! This only added to my displeasure. Fortunately no identifiable cancer, and the breast health nurse was amazingly kind.
Later that day I went swimming, on about the 3rd lap, I suddenly got this excruciating burning pain under my left breast. I seriously had to stop in the middle of the pool and feel my breast, I was almost in tears. The chlorinated water, the buoyancy of my breasts, and the rapid movement revealed a massive skin tear under my breast! After I got out of the pool, I showed my partner and he said, "my god, you have a huge tear under there, it was blood red! I applied anti-biotic ointment and it healed after 3 days, however, it is still a little red. No people we are not cattle going to the milking machine. We are human beings and no man would ever inflict this on his penal tissue. There are better diagnostic tools. #1 event if a mammo shows something a woman then undergoes an ultrasound, then a biopsy, further invading her cellular structure and health, then they go through lumpectomies and in many cases only then do they perform more specific advanced diagnostic means. This is all WRONG! My little sister's BC was diagnosed in May and while she went through a biopsy, lumpectomy, she has still not undergone any treatment! She is awaiting an MRI to find out how widespread it is. It is ALL WRONG! What has happened to our medical field?
To join in the TeamRissa endeavor please check out our Love Quilt and then kindly click on any square to find out what we are doing!
Wednesday, July 9, 2014
This is about my little sister and that is why it is very dear to me. My sister's fight is my fight! My sister has as a single mom raised her son Spenser against many odds. Against things that no mom should ever have to. Renting rooms from friends, leaving pretty much everything behind in Georgia so that Spenser could be surrounded by family. She is amazing and I love her dearly.
What I wouldn't do to move her into a beautiful condo overlooking peaceful waters to remove the financial stress that has kept her awake at night.
Now, she faces a new fight. She has been diagnosed with breast cancer. While I believe 100% that she will be rejoicing soon that she is among the many survivors, together we CAN make life so much better for her during the next few months. Please, please, please go to TeamRissa and donate, whether it is $5, or $500, every dollar goes along way. Marissa has learned how to with little, now it is time to show her what financial relief feels like. Thank you and Bless you for reading this. Please feel free to share! Make sure you check out the Love Quilt!
Sunday, June 29, 2014
Prayer is when hope grows wings and flies to the heavens and back to the heart! (mlaluna, 2014)
How often we hear ourselves say, "I hope this, and I hope that" Hope is a personal statement of wishing. Hope is sometimes the thread we are holding on to as we attempt to awaken the next morning. Or the thread we tug on when we need to take just one more step. Sometimes we find it impossible all by ourselves to take that step. Most of the time we need someone else holding our hand and maybe even holding on to the thread when we are not able to ourselves. It is in our most fragile states that we rely upon the unseen threads. Those energy beams that are sent on our behalf and join together with the power of the universe. Those unseen energy beams are prayer. If we only knew how many people were praying for us on a moment to moment basis we would be blown away! When we personally move from, "I hope everything goes well at work today, or I hope my surgery goes well, etc., to I pray for guidance at my job. I pray for my boss. I pray for the surgeons. and then when others join together with us in prayer, although things may get rough, and the waves toss you about, love is the lighthouse on the shore that will carry you and those you love to shore. Sometimes hope comes in very strange ways.
Saturday, June 28, 2014
Wednesday, June 25, 2014
My sister Marissa Rapier was recently diagnosed with breast cancer. She underwent a lumpectomy and removal of lymph nodes 6/23/2014. She will have to undergo healing from the surgery, as well as radiation and chemotherapy treatment. As a result she will have to be off of work for an unknown period of time. She is raising a son, who although he is college age, still lives at home and has Asperger Syndrome. The financial of this new diagnosis impacts Marissa in a very unique way. As a single mom she has been raising single handedly her son. Her devotion to him and to her friends and family is remarkable. Marissa needs our help financially. Not just for medical expenses, but, transportation, the unforeseen expenses, utilities, food, etc. She will be taking a very hard economic hit over this. WE need to ¨walk side by side¨ and help carry some of the load for her. Her focus needs to be on healing.
Join ArtSees Diner Radio and special musical guests as we use Music for Good! http://www.blogtalkradio.com/artseesdiner/2014/06/26/teamrissa-walking-side-by-side-a-musical-celebration
I wrote the song titled, ¨Strides¨ with partner Steve Champagne in 2009 for a Making Strides concert/breast cancer awareness event. Never, NEVER did I imagine that my family would be battling this in our lifetime. Recently Marissa and my sister Maureen were diagnosed with breast cancer. As a gift to all those donating, Steve Champagne and I, will be sending each of you your own mp3, of ¨Strides¨ we ask that you please share this video, this link and whether it is a $1 (that will buy a loaf of bread) $4 buys a gallon of gas, or $1,000 that pays for half a month household expenses, every penny, every $ goes to helping Marissa remained focused on Healing! Thank you and God Bless!
Friday, June 20, 2014
Tuesday, May 20, 2014
Until the your light shown through me, the beauty was not completely evident.
This image was captured whilst swirling Ksara wine in a glass the other night. From it emerged a glorious red calla lily! I look forward to capturing this image in acrylic. Photo created by Steve Champagne and Mary E. LaLuna
Thursday, April 10, 2014
rip away our mother’s wombs
we end our daughter’s lives too soon.
and leave young boys to face
the hate of hand guns
pointed in their face.
We say okay, it’s quite okay
we are overpopulated anyway,
we need to build more condos
and vacay casas for the rich,
we applaud them as they take
more mother nature,
she’s their bitch.
Prime real estate,
were liars cheaters still,
We did not learn our lesson
from a trail of tears
just rewrite history,
no one takes a second look
Just keep the cha-ching coming
we’ve all been conditioned go ahead
its quite ok,
the one who has all of the gold
the one's a-makin' all the rules
they label lessers as their fools
those who put a turtle first
a turtle, the turtle,
tortoise do they care
the symbol that the first man wears
does it matter
they have worth,
bring to end fertility,
man made forced sterility
euthanize, vilify, obliterate,
it is in my way,
land of the free home of the brave,
Welcome home, US of A!
by Mary E. LaLuna, 4/9/2014
Sunday, March 2, 2014
BE: "The fact, state of existence" The Lord calls us to be present, to be aware. For anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” Ephesians 5:14. We must be spiritually awake, consciously aware of the existence of something greater than ourselves in order to realize our potential and to see the purpose of our existence come to pass.
INSPIRED: "of extraordinary quality, as if arising from some external creative impulse." We are extraordinary when we are in the presence and awareness of God in and through us. "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11. The Lord is all the inspiration we need. HE believes in us even when we cannot. That extraordinary ability comes from the one CREATIVE Impulse, the creator of all creativity and beauty in the world.
BE: Consciousness. We are called to live and be one with our creator. While before we were asleep, we have been awaken and alive in our desire, our dream state has been replaced with an awareness of the possibilities before us. "For by grace we are saved through faith; and that not of yourselves:it is the gift of God:Not of works,lest any man should boast." John 3:16. I believe proclaiming that we are consciously aware of that which is given to us by our Lord and Savior is the ultimate "BE!"
TRANSFORMED:"a complete or major change in someone's or something's appearance, form, etc." Transformation is not reformation. Reformation means you take what is there and change part of it in order to alter a process that has been in place. Transformation means to change to the point that you almost become unrecognizable. Jesus Christ invites us to be transformed, changed through accepting Him into our lives. "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect." Romans 12:2 When we change our mind and do as Ezekial calls us to do in 36:26, we will trade in our hearts of stone for hearts of flesh. WE are transformed! "And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh."