Human Issues, Random Thoughts, Spiritual

Pro-Life, Roe vs. Wade, and… Joe Biden?

I am a Christian, a 30-year registered Republican Pro-Lifer. I believe life begins at conception.

At 16, still in high school, I had an unplanned pregnancy – the results of which continues to be one of my greatest joys.

I wasn’t promiscuous, just uneducated, madly “in love,” and convinced I would marry this person right after high school. Contraceptives weren’t easy for everyone to come by in the 80s, especially if you were teenagers as clueless as we. Should we have waited for marriage? Sure. But practicing abstinence is hardly in the front of most teenagers’ minds in the heat of the moment.

When I first suspected a pregnancy, I needed to know for sure before I upset and disappointed my mom. I went to the only place I could find to get a real pregnancy test for free without parental consent – Planned Parenthood. I’m sure most people equate Planned Parenthood with abortion or pushing abortion, but my personal experience was completely opposite. I saw a doctor, had my first ever female exam (gasp!!), and sat down in a cozy living room-like space to discuss options over a cup of tea with a sweet lady counselor.

We talked a lot about me, my goals for college and career, my home life, school, my boyfriend. She said I had a couple of options, and I do remember her saying “terminate the pregnancy” was one of them. Most of the time, however, she talked about resources that were available to me should I decide to keep the baby or give him up for adoption. I was relieved she didn’t push me in any direction or the other. She gave me some pre-natal vitamins, a folder full of literature, and some phone numbers. She also told me I could come to Planned Parenthood for contraceptives and female exams and gave me a few cards in case I wanted to share with any of my not-yet-pregnant friends.

Obviously, I chose to keep the baby, and his sister who came along 2 ½ years later. I also finished high school, went to college and graduate school, and have had a long successful career. I have to give credit, in part, to that Planned Parenthood counselor. She helped me feel the weighty importance of my decision without making me more terrified than when I walked in the door. I felt like no matter which option I chose, even had it been abortion, I would have one person on this planet who wouldn’t judge me badly either way.

I feel terrible for women who don’t believe they have viable options. I don’t judge them, though. It’s not my place to judge anyone else. Everyone sins. If we spent half the energy on empathy and understanding that we spend on judging people, we’d all have enough energy to run marathons. I think, though, that empathy and understanding is a learned behavior that, unfortunately, isn’t taught much anymore.

When I taught composition at the University of Tennessee, my favorite assignment I gave my students involved writing an argument essay on whichever topic interested them the most – no matter how controversial – including gun control, abortion, gay rights, whatever – they simply had to be passionate about it. This assignment came immediately after a series of assignments on appropriate sources to help prove their arguments. Unlike most of my teacher collogues, I allowed my students to cite the Bible (and any other religious text), but they could not use more than one of any type of resource. Part of winning arguments is providing evidence that resonates with your audience.

Once they chose their topics, I told them the actual writing assignment was to write a paper arguing the other side. I remember an upset girl in one class who threatened to withdraw saying writing about pro-choice would be against her religion. This same girl, at the end of the semester, wrote me the sweetest card about how well a pro-life conversation had gone with a friend, simply because she better understood why her friend thought the way she did in the first place.

So now, when I’m asked how a pro-life Republican Christian could possibly vote for Biden instead of Trump, I can also give a solid, well-rounded, educated answer. Biden, a practicing Catholic, is pro-life, and his support in upholding Roe vs. Wade proves it.

Stick with me, here – I can hear the Right and the Left both freaking out.

One of the most common misconceptions about abortion is Roe vs. Wade. Most people believe that overturning that decision would make abortion illegal, but that’s simply not the case. The decision has more to do with rights to privacy and due process.

Abortion has never been illegal nationally. In fact, abortion was not banned in 17 of the 37 states when the 14th Amendment of the constitution was ratified. By the 1950s, most, but not all, states banned abortion. This lasted only a decade or so, however, and by the 1960s and early 1970s, 13 states allowed abortions, and many had few or no restrictions. In the 31 states where abortion was allowed only to save a woman’s life, unscrupulous doctors wildly stretched that criteria. Across the nation, dangerous and deadly back room and self-induced abortions killed and maimed without regard to trimesters. And even in states where abortion was illegal, they were routinely conducted on military bases because the states do not have jurisdiction on military (federal) property.

So what, then, did Roe vs Wade actually do? Literalists will shoot me for over simplifying it, but I’ll take the risk. Take the emotionally charged word “abortion” away and consider this:

If you lived in a state where something is illegal, and you travel to a state where that something is not illegal, prosecuting you for it requires a complete invasion of your privacy.

Problem #1 solved. You can’t prosecute someone for something done in another state if it isn’t illegal in that state.

But wait! Roe didn’t go to another state. She couldn’t afford to go to another state and tried to get one in Texas.

The case argued that the Texas anti-abortion laws denied women due process given in the 14th Amendment and violated a woman’s rights to personal, marital, familial, and sexual privacy. This was built on similar Bill of Rights and 14th Amendment arguments were made almost 10 years prior to regarding contraceptives. The Supreme Court decided it was no one’s business if a couple chose to use contraceptives. I won’t go into the details about the laws prior, but oh my goodness, take the time and read about it sometime. The ban on contraceptives was purely religious, (not a clear separation of church and state) and was an invasion of privacy for the state to poke its nose in your bedroom.

Back to abortion. What a woman and her doctor discuss about her health, including if a pregnancy is a risk to a woman’s life is private. It is also widely open to interpretation, since no pregnancy is risk-free. The court wants to protect everyone’s right to privacy and equal rights under the law, but they sure don’t want to make all abortion legal. Here’s the tricky part. Late term abortions were rampant. Some states tried to restrict, other states didn’t. The Court made a constitutionally appropriate decision to protect privacy and due process, but leaving it there alone would allow unrestricted, late term, or dangerous abortions to continue.

Without a constitutional amendment ratified by the states (the people) giving a fetus full rights, the Court can only work within the existing constitution and established precedents. This means that the government does not have a compelling interest in being involved in a decision between a woman and her doctor while the fetus is not viable for surviving outside of the womb. It’s between her and her doctor, privately. The youngest surviving baby was 21 weeks gestation, which is why states can restrict abortion after 20 weeks. Even the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act would only allow a nationwide-ban on abortions after 20 weeks, not before.

Do I personally believe that a person isn’t a person until 20 weeks? Of course not. But unless we invent some type of incubator to replicate the uterus, or we amend the constitution, that unborn baby does not have the rights granted by the constitution. Overturning Roe vs. Wade does not change this fact. All that overturning Roe vs. Wade does is give the power back to the states to return to an abortion free-for-all. Plus a whole lot of other implications regarding due process and privacy. Overturning Roe vs. Wade also removes the foundation for the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which seeks to punish people who perform disallowed abortions, not women who receive them. Before Roe vs. Wade, women were criminals in some states, even if the abortion was forced by a boyfriend/spouse.

So why don’t we see an actual effort to amend the constitution? To my pro-life ear, that sounds great on the surface, but I can see why people would be wary of the inevitable laws and punishments for things like spontaneous miscarriages. Neglect for not taking prenatal vitamins. Lawsuits for birth defects. Despite the risks, I believe a well-crafted amendment would get my vote, if it ever comes to fruition.

See, basically people are barking up the wrong tree. The Supreme Court does not have the power to change the constitution – this must be proposed in Congress, passed by 2/3 majority in both the Senate and the House, and then ratified by 3/4 of the states.

Pushing to overturn Roe vs. Wade will not do what people think. The ruling allows states to restrict abortions after 20 weeks, implicitly forcing states to restrict abortions. Biden’s voting record and statements made over the years show he understands this. He does not support abortion after 20 weeks. His platform is actually to codify Roe vs. Wade so that it cannot be overturned based on the whims of a president or the religious and political leanings of the Court. While we all wait for people to realize a fetus is a human being, It is better to have some restrictions in all states than no restrictions in some states.

Being a practicing Catholic, Biden also supports the “consistent life ethic,” which includes things like opposing capital punishment, humane treatment of immigrants, and doing things to protect others from COVID (like wearing a mask).

Trump, on the other hand, is not pro-life, or at minimum, he doesn’t understand what “pro-life” means. I’m thrilled he has, as he states “evolved” his position on abortion – in 1999 he stated he is “very, very pro-choice in every respect,” but in 2011 said he changed to pro-life after a friend and his wife did not have a planned abortion and the baby became the apple of his friends eye. While that may make him anti-abortion, it does not make him pro-life.

  • He continually repeats the misconception regarding overturning Roe vs. Wade – a far-right justice overturning this ruling would not only result in a much worse situation regarding abortions (see essay above), but also places other rulings at risk, such as privacy for contraceptives and the ability for women to have their own money and property without a man’s signature
  • In 2016, Trump stated “there has to be some form of punishment should be in place for women who have abortions”
  • He barred family planning dollars from going to places that even refer patients to abortion clinics, including Planned Parenthood – which only serves to restrict certain populations from contraceptives, early pregnancy care, cervical cancer prevention, and information about adoption and low-income parenting resources
  • As recently as the first 2020 presidential debate he repeated his ardent support of the death penalty
  • Trump’s antibody treatment he received for COVID-19 was tested using cells from an abortion
  • Trump has yet to provide a documented plan to replace the Affordable Care Act that, despite its many many flaws (in my opinion), gives people access to basic health care – even the well-meaning but defective Medicaid expansion for the most at-risk uninsured adults is better than unhealthy people left untreated while treatable, then massive uninsured major medical expenses with costs passed on to the rest of us, then early death
  • His continued stance that COVID only affects older people with health problems (even if this were true, the lives of older people matter)   

I could make more bullet points, but it risks straying from the topic at hand. I don’t approve of a lot of things Trump as done so far, and even though I can point out a few good things, there aren’t enough to outweigh the bad for me. I’ve heard many people say they hate everything about Trump but have to vote for him because they are pro-life, but I just don’t see how he is pro-life. If Trump were running against a true Liberal Democrat, I could see arguments for voting Trump. However, most of the people in this country are not radical left. Most of the people in this country aren’t radical right, either. I must vote my religion and my conscience and vote pro-life.

Addendum – a couple of thoughts on some other major issues. My husband calls me an “extreme moderate,” but I lean Reagan and Bush Sr. conservative.

Racism and Nationalism – Systemic racism is well documented in this country, but I don’t believe Trump is racist. He support far-right, authoritarian ultranationalism characterized by dictatorial power, forcible suppression of opposition and strong regimentation of society and of the economy – which is completely against my Christian views, let alone my political ones. It feeds systemic racism, albeit somewhat indirectly, and survives only through creating fear of “the other.” Fear of people from other countries, fear of people with different political views, fear of other cultures, fear that only power can create peace. Us against them is ugly and dangerous, and it’s tearing our country to pieces. It is also more of a direct threat to our beloved capitalism than the fledgling and largely misunderstood moderate Democratic Socialism movement. I repeat. Most of the people in this country are not radical left. Most of the people in this country aren’t radical right, either.

Gun Control – No the “Dems” aren’t going to take your guns. It’s a pretty big part of the Constitution. I own guns. I support the right to bear arms. I also think if you have to have a license to drive a car and a permit to hunt a deer, you can have an application process to buy a gun, you can wait a few days, and you shouldn’t get a gun if you’re a felon or you’re mentally ill.

Police Brutality – “Defund the police” is one of the dumbest names I’ve ever heard. It’s too easy to think it means abolish the police. It doesn’t. Those mentally ill people who shouldn’t have guns? They need someone who can help them because the police can’t. Police aren’t trained to be social workers! Nurses and social workers and counselors go to school for years, must pass hard tests to be licensed, and must complete continuing education to maintain their licenses. There is no consistent bar for police officers. In a world suffering from systemic racism, that lack of consistency causes real problems. If a nurse walks into the wrong hospital room and gives someone medicine that kills them, there’s no protests. That nurse loses her job and license, and is sued, jailed, or both. There is a certain standard and expectation already established for that nurse, but not for cops. Most police are brave, amazing people (including several close, dear friends), some are really bad apples, and many are undertrained and overworked.

Human Issues, Reblog

Research Part III: How To Get A Narcissist To Reveal Themselves 

Image Credit: The Narcissistic Life

First off, let’s be clear. Gaslighting by some stranger or even someone you used to know and are still “friends” with on Facebook do not need to be “revealed.” If the person gaslighting you is not a part of your REAL life, don’t read what they write!

While this may not be the easiest thing to do, it will make your life so much better. People who say things on social media for no other reason than to stir other people up are attention seekers. Worse than people posting are the trolls who comment. By acknowledging or arguing with these people, you are giving them all the attention they desire. You can’t win. You can’t make them “woke.” They have zero interest in being educated or hearing your side or your evidence. But most importantly, if they don’t live in your house, work with you, or are somehow intimately involved in your daily life, what they say simply doesn’t matter.

If they are in your house, work with you, or a part of your daily life, by all means, do something about it. Unfortunately, in relationships, often the only thing you can do is leave. I’m sure some people can go through therapy and be reformed or cured from their narcissism, but that’s not the norm, and people I care deeply about have been destroyed in the process of trying to “fix” a narcissistic partner.

“The Narcissist has designed a perfect exterior to cover their deep-seated sense of inadequacy. As long as you appeal to their false self, they will value and even idealize you. But your worth is contingent on giving the narcissist the positive affirmation they crave; it has nothing to do with who you are.”

“Narcissists are experts at manipulating people by distorting reality in subtle ways: taking facts way out of context, appearing victimized when they’re actually the victimizers…”

One thing they can’t do, however, is control their rage. Triggered at the right time in the right place (for example, in front of a judge), the narcissistic rage may, for once, actually help the victim. “Being exposed, especially in front of people they want to impress, will trigger the narcissist’s rage. Family law professionals will witness a distinct personality change and have proof that the narcissist’s words don’t line up with their actions.”

Want to read more? Click on the image to read The Narcissistic Life blog or here to view: How To Get A Narcissist To Reveal Themselves – Latest Divorce Child Custody Family Law

Thank you for reading this series. My greatest wish is that someone who needs to see this does see it before it is too late.

Human Issues, Reblog

Research Part II: Gaslighting – How To Protect Yourself

Of this entire series, this is the article I wish most that I could send back in time. Gaslighting in and of itself is bad enough, but it can actually go far enough to cause someone to hurt themselves, self-medicate (i.e. drug abuse/alcoholism), or even commit suicide.

Image Credit: Lauren Wilson; adapted from Psychology Today

What if you could protect yourself, instead?

  1. State your position — but don’t argue.  A narcissist will gaslight you in order to get an emotional reaction out of you. As soon as you get emotional – as soon as you argue – the attention is diverted off from whatever the narcissist wants to deflect.
  2. Remain calm Again, the whole point is to get you agitated and emotional.
  3. Seek outside support. You may feel like this person has the whole world “snowed,” but chances are, they see it too. They may not know how bad it really is, though. It’s okay to do a sanity check. And yes, you should always own what’s yours – nobody is perfect. But no one should have to endure traumatic emotional abuse.
  4. Look for patterns, not isolated incidents.  “Why do I always forgive him/her?” If you have ever asked yourself this question, perhaps it’s time to ask yourself different questions: “Is he/she a narcissist?” “Is his/her behavior abusive?”
  5. The artful use of the word “nevertheless.” I loved this advice. Having a strong word to refocus a conversation can help keep you calm so you don’t go chasing rabbits down emotional holes.

In the next, and final post of this series, I’ll share how to defeat a narcissist.

Read the entire article referenced above at: Gaslighting: How To Protect Yourself – Latest Divorce Child Custody Family Law

Human Issues, Reblog

Research Part I: Gaslighting – How To Recognize Manipulative Behavior

Gaslighting Red Flags
Image Credit: Introvert Doodles

I’ve been researching a bit as I look for background information on my latest writing project and came across some good articles that I wish I could go back in time and give to someone close to me. A lot of pain might have been prevented. Maybe sharing them will prevent someone else from suffering.

Let’s start with some behavior that has gotten a lot of attention lately. Gaslighting. We see it on social media constantly. I won’t name names, but some politicians have really been able to stir things up on Twitter. Whether you agree with the tweets or are on the other side, the ensuing arguments are filled with emotional reactions and responses. 

But what if the gaslighting is more personal than the nonsense we read on social media?

What is “Gaslighting?”

“The term was taken from the 1944 thriller Gaslight, in which a husband convinces his wife she’s going insane to distract her from his criminal shenanigans.” Gaslighting and narcissism go hand-in-hand, whether the perpetrator is a covert narcissist or an overt narcissist. Or a little bit of both, as both “develop a false sense of superiority to mask their vulnerability and feelings of inadequacy.”

I found a series of articles I’d like to share over the course of a couple of posts. While they focus on marriage and divorce, any intimate relationship will suffer if one of the parties is a narcissist. Want to know more? Keep reading here: Gaslighting: How To Recognize Your Spouse’s Manipulative Behavior

Random Thoughts

Want real reform? This is how.

Police are not the problem. The people making the laws are the problem. They choose where your money goes. For decades money has been channeled for political gain. Step over a dollar to pick up a dime.

I was a 911 operator for years. I heard call after call after call that never should have gone to the police. OF COURSE the police have had to weaponize and militarize – they have to protect themselves. OF COURSE they have had to hire more and more officers – they have to spend more time doing things that have ZERO to do with enforcing laws. Important things—things that have to be done by SOMEbody. Why does a sheriff’s deputy have to serve papers for civil court? Why does a police officer have to arrest that homeless man or take that drug addict to the hospital yet again, knowing that person has no real way out of their situation. Why does it take 3-4 hours a day to file paperwork on non-crime items like traffic accidents (AND, if they miss crossing a T, actual criminals walk… if they can afford a lawyer?).

If it doesn’t involve enforcing a criminal (not civil) law, why are we making our police do it?

What would happen in hospitals if we fired all the nurses and told the doctors to do all of the work themselves? Nurses are certainly not lesser jobs. They’re clearly needed. All of the important things they do keep the machine running and everybody knows it. But what if some politician said, we don’t need nurses. Doctors can do all the monitoring of their patients, and all the paperwork. They can respond every time that little button gets pushed. How easy would it be for the doctor to specialize? How could he focus on the most serious cases? Well, just hire more doctors, right? Instead of having the top 40% of each medical class become doctors, let the top 80% in. What harm could possibly come from that? So what if they didn’t do as well on their training? So what if that guy is a jerk to patients? We need more bodies! Let’s make our entry criteria even easier so we can take the top 90%.

This is how we get so many “bad apples” folks. And I don’t mean “bad people” – I mean there are people who were hired to do a job who were not suited for it or qualified for it who are in over their heads. I was a good 911 operator… for a while. Thank God I was self-aware enough to realize I didn’t like the person I was becoming. I simply wasn’t cut out for that line of work. I’m pretty smart and educated and capable – but there are some jobs I just shouldn’t do. I should not be a singer. I should/could not be a nurse (God Bless all y’all). But if I had to feed my family, and all the desk jobs were gone, but the hospital was hiring a thousand singing nurses and all I had to do was show up to the interview wearing pants… well, I think we can all imagine how THAT would be.

This is a lot longer than I set out to post. I think it’s important though. I get why people freak out about it. It’s hard to really understand because it’s a long game, not a short game. Politicians need quick wins so they’ll get re-elected next time, so they’ll always choose the option that will make them look good today – let tomorrow figure itself out.

You want real change? Defund the politicians. Better yet, defund the political parties. We’re at war with each other and most of us don’t know why. I don’t like abortion and I don’t like capital punishment, but I’m asked to choose between them. Having only two strong parties turns every single issue into black or white. Only the “far left” and the “far right” really believe in every single issue their party sides on—especially since so many are contradictions.

Changing the political landscape is a long game. Money will still be given hand over fist to the parties at a National level with the current regimes (and I mean BOTH of them). Change happens locally. Why does it freaking matter if a coroner is a Democrat or a Republican? Like any other doctor, I would like someone neutral doing autopsies, thank you! Why do we have parties listed on school board elections and for the local sheriff? We have ALLOWED this narrowness into our communities. We don’t listen to the candidates without their party labels—the labels that come with stereotypes and expectations.

Do you know what I want from a sheriff or a judge or a coroner? Impartiality. I want them to make decisions based on context and facts, not on maintaining an image that aligns with a party. I want a school board and local government who makes decisions that make sense for MY community, not basing it on needs for some big city 600 miles away.

You want real reform? Start with your local elections. Find out who the candidates are – don’t just flip a lever to red or blue. Get rid of the party structure locally and you’ll see change at the state and national levels in the future.

Travel, Travel Series

Europe – Eurostar High Speed Train

Eurostar High Speed Train

Trains. One thing we (and most travelers) love about Europe is the trains. We actually considered doing the entire trip by train, but we only had 3 weeks of vacation total, so we did fly around some. I had always wanted to take the Eurostar high speed train through the Chunnel (because why not?), so we opted for a detour on our way to Italy. Where better to celebrate our wedding anniversary than Paris?

At some point in the near future, I’m going to write an article about how we manage to do all this travel on a budget. My husband calls me the “extreme couponer of travel.” This particular expense, however, is definitely not one of those examples. Also, since he’s probably reading this, I’ll warn him to stop reading right now, because I never told him how much this little jaunt actually cost us.

Business Class Car

Knowing we have such a wish list for future trips and that we’d likely only do it once, we decided to splurge on Business Premiere for $365. Per person. So, at more than $700, let me just say that it is the most expensive breakfast I’ve ever had. Honestly, other than the food, the business class car was, well, kinda meh.

Like business class flying, there are some perks. However, we never used the exclusive business class lounge (the trip takes less than 3 hours). Nor did we take advantage of the taxi booking service (which we totally should have, but that’s another story).

The “fancy” seats?

Shame on me for not doing better research. I’m fairly certain we could have gone with Standard Premiere ($152-$183 pp), which also boasts “spacious seats.” The only other advantage the Premiere class has is flexibility, but I’m pretty sure that even if I had to pay a a change journey fee, it wouldn’t be nearly difference in cost between Standard and Business. Of course, next time I’ll probably just go Standard ($76-$136 pp) and spend that extra nearly $300 pp on something else!

I know, I know… I said I didn’t think we’d ever go again; however, now I say we’re quite likely to take train. While not the pinnacle of luxury, wow boy, is it ever convenient! You can get to both St. Pancras and Gare du Nord stations easily (we take taxis because I pack way too much luggage to mess with subway systems), it’s less than three hours between London and Paris, and the ride is so wonderfully smooth, even at nearly 300 kilometers per hour (186 mph). And if you’re afraid of the Chunnel, don’t worry. Even then the train goes 160 kph/100mph and the Chunnel is only 31 miles long. You’re out of it before you really realize it and back to enjoying the beautiful countryside.

$300 Breakfast

Next article in this series… Paris!

Travel, Travel Series

Europe – London

Charming Southampton

Once we said good-bye to the lovely Queen Mary 2, we set off on the first leg of our European adventure by train from Southampton to London. We had wrestled for quite some time about just hiring a car and visiting some of the wonderful bookstores in Wales; however, we knew The British Museum alone would eat an entire day.

Artists’ Colourmen – London

Having been to London, I tried to let this leg be all about what my husband, Wayne wanted to see. Plus, I always have so much fun visiting places through other people’s eyes! One thing we did all across Europe was visit every interesting-looking art store we happened upon. We found a gem right up the street from The British Museum. I picked up some new sketch pens that I carried around for the next two weeks without using even once. ::shrugs::

I think I have 200 pictures from inside The British Museum that I’m happy to bore anyone with if they ask, but since the Rosetta Stone gets asked about most, here it is – not nearly as large as one might picture. Plus? Doctor Who money!

In addition to museums, we did a lot of your typical touristy stuff, like paying way too much for lunch at Harrod’s, riding the tube (Mind the Gap!), and enjoying traveling by both double-decker bus and by taxi.

If you’ve never been to London, don’t even bother with an Uber. Taxi cab drivers in London are the best in the world. They know absolutely everything and are the friendliest people you’ll ever meet. And don’t you just want to say you’ve ridden in a hackney carriage? #BiggerOnTheInside However, weather permitting, walking London rocks.

Now I’m told the weather can be dreary in England, but I’ve never experienced that, having enjoyed lovely weather each visit. I think we had some clouds and sprinkles one day out of four; however, even on a cloudy day, the gardens around London are beautiful. One of the benefits of being your own travel agent is really getting to make the trip your own, so I purposefully booked a hotel right around the corner from Kensington Palace so I could see those gardens every day.

If I had any advice to give on travel in London, I would suggest:

  1. Four days is not nearly long enough for London. Next time we go for more than an airport layover, we’re taking two weeks, at least, with one whole week in London.
  2. Do a river cruise, for sure. You see things from a perspective hard to obtain otherwise.
  3. Take a taxi cab. Seriously.
  4. Get out of London. The United Kingdom in its entirety will take your breath away.
  5. T2 in London has tea that is NOT AVAILABLE in the United States. If I knew then, what I know now, I would have shipped myself a CASE of the Scots Breakfast tea.
  6. If you can time it right, see a play at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre.
Cruising, Travel, Travel Series

Europe – Queen Mary 2 Transatlantic Voyage

In 2019, Wayne and I took a trip to Europe with our dear friends, Tess and Donald. Because I have a love of all things Art Deco and because, well, it’s a freaking OCEAN LINER, we decided to take the Queen Mary 2 across. Because we desperately needed some downtime from work and life, we completely unplugged the entire voyage. And, since I wasn’t carrying around my phone, we don’t have a ton of pictures. One morning, Wayne got up crazy early to get some pictures of the ship, so it looks like we were the only people on the ship! But OMZ the Art Deco! :::swoons:::

Some notable differences between a Cunard ocean liner and other cruises:

Tess and Donald
  1. The service – While we didn’t actually have the place to ourselves, QM2 does not feel crowded like a cruise ship.
  2. The decor and general upkeep – Art Deco gorgeous! I may have to redecorate my entire house now. #inspired
  3. Activities – Some of what we did: watercolor painting lessons, fencing lessons, participated in a fashion show, had proper afternoon tea, enjoyed a book club, indulged in the Godiva lounge, sampled port flights, went ballroom dancing (well, watching really – everyone was so good!)
  4. PLUS: The spa, the pool, and (yes, it really has one) the planetarium.
  5. A whole new meaning to “formal night” – There are parts of the ship (basically all but one deck) you’re not allowed to enter on formal nights if you don’t have the proper attire. They’re not joking.
  6. Entertainment – With the exception of one (omg they were really really bad) singing duo, the entertainment was great. I don’t recall other cruises having guest lectures.
  7. Alcohol – or lack thereof. One of the things I hate most about a Carnival cruise? Drunk people. Not on QM2. While most do enjoy a snifter of brandy or a martini after dinner, getting drunk would simply be gauche.
  8. The Roaring 20s:

Would we have changed anything? Not much.

  1. We went from NYC to Southampton on the first week of our trip. We all agree if (when) we go again, we would take the Southampton to NYC direction after visiting Europe, instead. Going from west to east, you lose an hour each day. Plus, Wayne and I were spent two weeks in Europe after the week-long voyage. We could have used the rest on the way home! And going east to west, we’d have one hour added each day; thus, we would have skipped the jet leg completely.
  2. Spend more girl time!! Tess and I were overly (unnecessarily) concerned about our husbands getting bored and didn’t get to spend that much time just the two of us. The first thing we wanted to do when we got back was plan our next girlfriends’ cruise (no offense, boys)!
  3. Select the second seating – We had the first seating, and with the formal nights, I had to be in the salon by around 3 PM to be ready for dinner. That really cuts into the day.

If you’re considering a transatlantic, and you’re not going all out for a Royal or Grand Duplex Queens Grills suite, I recommend a standard balcony room at the Britannia level. We were on the fence about Britannia club or Princess Grills, but the food is all the same and the service at all levels is white glove.

It was about 40 degrees freezing, no one else up on deck. The photographer laid down on her stomach IN A DRESS to get this shot.

Random Thoughts

What’s next?

I’m back!! W00t! My husband, Wayne and I are both back on social media after a crazy long hiatus. Truthfully, we have endured the most difficult couple of years in our entire lives. I’ve been silent for various reasons, but I think we’ve processed enough to be able to share and, hopefully, use our experiences to help others. I’ll get into all that eventually.

Living Proof Live 2015

But first, something positive. No period of time is all bad, just like none is all good, so I have a lot of various tidbits and interesting things I’m looking forward to blogging about. Today I’m super excited about two different Beth Moore events coming up this fall. If you have never heard of Beth, I highly recommend looking into her work. Her bible studies have made a tremendous impact on my life over the years. I don’t have a clue how just yet, but I am certain Beth will have some kind of influence in shaping my path on a project or event or “thing” I’m feeling led to do. That still small voice says the time is near and I’m excited to find out what it is!

So this fall, the first bit of awesomeness is Lifeway Women Live – a conference happening in Greenville, SC in August. While I’m looking forward to hearing Beth Moore, one of my other favorite and most influential writers, Priscilla Shirer, will also be there — as will Jen Wilkin, Jackie Hill Perry, Kelly Minter, and Jennifer Rothschild.

The second :::squee!!::: is a Living Proof Live New England Adventure. What a great new way to see Boston, Portland, and Bar Harbor, plus I’ll be seeing Saint John, New Brunswick (Bay of Fundy) and Halifax, Nova Scotia for the first time. And while Royal Caribbean is probably my least favorite cruise line (one of these days I’m going to get around to writing that post comparing various cruise lines), my time on the boat will be extraordinary, if not life changing.

Girlfriends’ NYC Trip – Erika, Grace, Donna, and Morgan

Sharing in both of these adventures is my sister-in-Christ, Grace, one of my dearest friends. We have been traveling together for more than 10 years now and we ALWAYS have a good time. This is going to be amazing!!