The Right to Choose

On November 1, 2014, a 29 year old woman in Oregon took her own life. It made the news, but not because it was a tragic suicide. The tragedy occurred 11 months before, when Brittany Maynard was diagnosed with a brain tumor and was told she had about six months to live.

And live, Brittany Maynard did. She was given the opportunity to make the most of her time left on Earth, to make memories for the people she would leave behind, and to come to terms with her failing health and ultimate death. A search on Google will give you plenty of details on how Brittany spent the last year of her life, and that’s not what I want to write about, anyway. I want to write about how she chose to die, as I imagine a lot of people are doing this week.

All Brittany Maynard wanted was to die with dignity. She didn’t want to linger in pain, become dependent on friends, family or machines to continue her life. There was no doubt she would die, so she wanted to be in control of how much suffering she would be made to endure. She wanted her loved ones to remember her life, and not how awful her decline and death was. She wanted to die in a humane manner.

Ms. Maynard’s wishes gained national attention because willingly taking a human life, including our own, is a big deal. In many states suicide is illegal and, in fact, she moved to Oregon in order to be able to die when she was ready. Washington, Montana, Vermont and New Mexico are the only other states that have similar laws that allow people to take their own lives if they are terminally ill. Ms. Maynard’s death wasn’t suicide as we have come to think about suicide. She didn’t kill herself because she didn’t want to live; in fact, it seems her very desire to live was part of the foundation of her decision. She never hid the fact that she was dying, and she was very open with the media about her decision, so I can only imagine that she had plenty of difficult conversations with those who were close to her. It can’t have been easy to accept that she would die, but nothing was going to change that. How she would die was the one thing anyone could control, and it was entirely Ms. Maynard’s choice.

It boggles my mind that I can take my cat, which had an aggressive and painful tumor that caused her to waste away, to the veterinarian’s office for a drug cocktail that will stop her suffering, but that we cannot allow another human being the right to make the same decision for his or herself. We wouldn’t allow an animal to suffer the same way we make humans suffer by not allowing the terminally ill to choose how their life will end. We have lots of choices about what will happen when it’s time to die, including Do Not Resuscitate orders, Power of Attorney to allow our loved ones to speak on our behalf when we can’t, and even the choice of how our body will be disposed of once we’re dead. If a person wishes to not suffer at the end of their life, how can we humanely say no to that? It’s an insanely personal, insanely hard decision, and everything about it sucks, but it should be an option when there are very few options left.

So, thank you, Brittany Maynard, for getting us to talk about the hard stuff. Your life, and your death, was meaningful. May you rest in peace.

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Back At It – With a Few Egrets

Well, I was on a roll for a while, wasn’t I? Then I fell off the face of the Earth, as I often do with blogging. This is why I gave myself permission to suck once in a while: it gives me the courage to come back and start writing again without shame.

A big reason I haven’t posted in a while is because I found myself wanting to capture a pretty awesome moment in the most descriptive way possible, and wound up creating something even a Thomas Kincaide fan would have found too idyllic for their tastes. I decided against publishing the piece, and found myself not wanting to come back and look at it again, even if just to trash it.

It really was a fantastic moment I wanted to capture – the boys, my mother and I had dinner at our favorite Thai restaurant, and then drove down to Eastern Point Beach in Groton, Connecticut to watch the sunset. We were all back in the car, headed back to mom’s house, when we came around the corner, with the sunset at our backs, and saw at least a dozen Great Egrets roosting in the trees in the salt marsh. I didn’t have a camera, but I don’t think any picture I could have taken would have done the moment justice. In lieu of my own picture, and instead of me trying to describe it, I’ll invite you to check out a really nice blog that I found titled The Great Egrets of Avery Point. There are some great pictures of the egrets and other fauna that frequent the marshes at various times of the year. Enjoy!

So, with that hurdle conquered, I am back at it with no regrets – just a few egrets.

What’s Going On Outside My Window

One of the nice things about my office is that I have a window seat. I get plenty of natural light, and a front row view to anything interesting happening in the street. It’s usually pretty quiet, but once in a while there’s some entertainment. Like, a few months ago, I heard a crash down below and turned around to see three cars involved in an accident. The guy who caused the accident jumped out of his car and started chasing the other two drivers like he was going to tear their heads off. A pedestrian intervened, and the aggressive guy jumped back in his car to drive off, just as the police showed up. If I hadn’t been so surprised by the guy’s reaction, I might have thought faster and snapped a picture of his license plate as he squealed away. It was certainly one of the more adrenaline producing “shows” we’ve witnessed.

Periodically, we see the police pulling over multiple cars just up the street from me. It wasn’t readily apparent what was triggering the police to pull over one person and not another, but at times they’d have 5 or more cars lined up, waiting to get ticketed. Elsewhere in the city, I’ve encountered similar setups looking for expired inspection stickers, so that was one of our theories. That theory held up when they were pulling people over at the beginning of the month, but they also show up mid-month and pull over just as many people, so we decided it wasn’t inspection stickers. Then we decided there must be another police unit further down the street that was in radio contact with the units we can see out the windows. The drivers must be doing something to get the attention of the police, and then it’s the job of the units by us to pull them over and issue tickets. This theory holds up over time, and explains why people coming up to the intersection from the cross-street aren’t ever pulled over. But what are these people doing – apparently in droves – to warrant a ticket?

Yesterday, we finally figured it out. The building where I work takes up a whole city block, and the street outside my window is a one-way with three lanes, coming from my left as I’m looking out the window. Halfway between the intersection to my left and the intersection to my right, where the police units are set up, is a cross walk. There’s a plain clothes police officer stationed at the cross walk, and when the units tell him they’re ready, he casually tries to cross the street. From what I can see, they try to time this for when there’s a decent sized knot of cars coming along, and the ones who don’t stop for the under cover cop are pulled over once they reach the units up ahead. It’s sneaky, but I love it!  Hopefully this set up happens around the city, and reminds drivers to be on the lookout for people crossing the street. Maybe the city will be a safer place to walk, one of these days!

DIY: The “Fakkare” Hair Clip

In my internet travels, several times I’ve come across hair accessories from a company named Ficcare. In particular their beak clips, also known as the Maximas clip, are especially popular. These clips come in a variety of colors and sizes, and feature a very strong spring which securely and comfortably holds all kinds of hair styles, lending a polished look that a pony tail holder can’t achieve.

Sounds great, right? The one drawback for me is the price. While Ficcare makes a good quality hair clip, I still can’t bring myself to spend $40+ for one, especially because most of the colors I want have been sold out for months. So, what’s a frugal girl to do? Create a knock off!

While browsing at Ulta one day, I came across the Karina Flamingo Clip. It closely resembles a Ficcare, but it only comes in one color. On the upside, it’s significantly cheaper than a Ficcare, especially if you catch it on sale. Ulta periodically offers $3.50 off $10 coupons – combine these with their periodic sale price, and you could get 2 of these clips for $10.

I’m sure you’re asking yourself why you would want two clips of the same color. Here’s the beautiful thing – the clips are easily paintable! All you need is some free time, a small amount of acetone, a cotton ball, a bottle of your preferred nail polish color and a decent quality nail polish top coat.  Use the acetone and cotton ball to clean any dirt and finger prints off the face of the clip. Once it’s dry, start painting with your nail polish; you may need several coats, depending on the nail polish formula. Build up the color to your liking, allowing each coat to dry between applications, and then seal with the top coat. If you get bored, just use a nail polish remover to bring the clip back to its original color and repaint!

My two clips are pictured below. The blue one is “For Audrey” by China Glaze and the green one is “Show Me the Way” by Sinful Colors, with a hand drawn design using black nail art polish. These clips are both about 2 years old, and have seen moderate use, though neither shows much wear and tear at all. I carry these around in my handbag or pocket, and they take a good amount of abuse. I originally thought I would switch out the colors once in a while, but I’ve been so happy with the way they turned out, I haven’t been tempted to change the color or design.

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The real-deal Ficcare is certainly a beautiful thing, and I would still like to invest in a clip one day. In the meantime, I’m thrilled with my Fakkares!

Review – eShakti Cowl Neck Birdsong Dress

A while back, I promised pictures and a review of some of my purchases from eShakti. Finding a time when I’m wearing makeup, happy with my hair, haven’t spilled on myself, don’t have other commitments, and have access to a camera and some half-way decent lighting is not as easy as it sounds.

I had aspirations of being like the bloggers who are featured on the eShakti site – a beautifully artsy shot of me against a garden backdrop, or me walking confidently down the middle of a quiet road, or me looking contemplatively off into the distance in the middle of an urban jungle. Of course, one can’t achieve those kinds of pictures without help; Hubby offered me his tripod, and The King’s favorite setting on his camera is “Fish Eye Lens.” Ok, fine, I’ll do it by myself. If you aren’t impressed by selfies taken in the bedroom mirror, I apologize in advance.

The outfit that I chose to feature first is actually my most recent purchase from eShakti. One of the things I love about this company is that they rotate color options on quite a few of their styles, so if you see a dress shape that interests you, but the color is wrong, keep checking back because it’s pretty likely that it will be offered in a different color in a few weeks. eShakti offers a very nice $25 discount for first time orders, but if you use my referral link, eShakti has generously upped the first time order credit to $35.

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I first saw the Cowl Neck Birdsong Dress in a deep eggplant color; I loved the style, but I wasn’t sure about the color. When I saw it offered in Sunkist Coral a few weeks later, I couldn’t resist. I ordered without customization, and it’s great as-is, though I think it could be really cute with sleeves added, too. In the last few days, it’s been listed in Peacock Green, if Sunkist Coral isn’t your thing.

I can’t help but feel happy when I wear this dress. The color is so cheerful, and the jersey makes it feel like I’m wearing my favorite comfy t-shirt. I get tons of compliments on this dress, which tells me the dress looks as good as it feels. Last week, I was waiting for the elevator after a long day at work, and starting to feel a little grumpy. The grumpy feeling didn’t get any better when the elevator finally arrived without room to get on – but I was laughing by the time the elevator doors closed because one person in the elevator shouted “I love your dress” to me, which made the other 10 people jammed in there take notice and shout compliments through the closing doors, too.

The best thing about this dress is the fabric. It’s super comfortable, washes well, and doesn’t require ironing, even on the appliques. It’s a thick, soft cotton knit with some weight to it, which gives it shape and makes it hang nicely, but keeps me nice and cool on warm days. The cowl neck is fuss free because it falls from pleats in the shoulders; other cowl neck tops I’ve owned looked good, but needed constant attention because they’d flop in a weird way if I moved too much. The elasticized waist on this dress is nice because it helps the dress stay where it’s supposed to be, but isn’t too restricting.

I only have one minor complaint, and it’s easily avoidable; if I carry too much in the pockets, it causes the dress to stretch from the shoulders and sag under the arms. Luckily, a trip through the washer tightened up the knit and restored the original shape to the dress, and I now know not to put anything more than my phone and my keys in my pockets.

I mentioned customization a little earlier in this post, and I want to make sure I highlight that aspect of eShakti, because it’s really cool. For every order, eShakti requires your height, so there’s no more worry about whether a dress will be a mini-skirt on a tall person or a maxi-dress on a shorter person. While you might need to wait a few weeks for a color you like, you don’t need to wait to get the perfect fit for you. eShakti is really consistent with the measurements they use for standard sizes, but they also offer customization for a mere $7.50. You can do something as simple as modify the neckline, sleeves and/or hem length on a standard size, or you could send eShakti your measurements and have them create a dress that is made specifically for your body. I’ve even seen a handful of cases where people have entered a special request in the comments box, and eShakti has delivered, though I haven’t tried this myself. It’s because of this personalization that delivery time is 14 business days (18 calendar days) after your order; everything is made when you order, to your specifications.

I’ve seen some complaints online regarding eShakti’s customer service. Personally, I have never had any trouble, but I have noticed that responses are a little slower right after they’ve done a big promotion, and around holidays. The month before Easter I saw response times a little slower than usual, but I imagine they had a pretty big uptick in orders because who doesn’t want a pretty new dress for Easter? As long as you keep that in mind, I don’t think there’s anything to worry about.

I should mention that my clothes from eShakti were purchased by me with my own money; I do receive a referral bonus if you make your first order through my referral link, but I am not otherwise compensated for my reviews. If you’re interested in getting your own referral link, I encourage you to check out their referral page here.