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Monica Pickard spent twenty years of her adult life as a child care provider. During that time, with the help of her husband, she raised her son who has been diagnosed with Autism and Developmental Delay. She learned to navigate a world that was new to her – the world of Special Needs. She now shares these experiences and the wisdom they taught her, with love and heartfelt compassion for the human condition.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

News We Need to Know

Americans often wonder why people around the world hate us or rather hate our government. There are some very good reasons for their hatred of our government that our media often does not tell us. Our media focuses on all the salacious tidbits of nonsense, but they don't tell us things we need to know. In my Open Letter to American Lawmakers, I pointed out many of the ways Congress funds programs for their donors and the excuses they make for not funding programs for our poor, elderly, and people with special needs. Well, here is another bit of news they are not telling us. Two podcasts that will blow your mind and really get you to think. They are not just about the money we spend, but the humanitarian crisis we help to create around the world and the number of civilians and children our government kills around the world. Listen, then if you don't want to believe our government is capable of it, do your own research.

If you take the time to listen, you will be just as outraged as I am. This is not partisan. It is about Democrats and Republicans in our government and the decisions they make around the world that impact innocent people like you and me and our kids. 

The Trace Bell Interview

Special Edition the Trace Report

Check out my recommended reading post at the top of the menu. I hope this blog helps you to create a more peaceful life. Keep in touch with the following methods: Use the links under the archive menu to subscribe or follow by e-mail. Help me get this message out by sharing it with your friends on social media! If you enjoyed it and were helped by it, they will, too! Write to me with your comments and questions at mindchange4all@gmail.com. I look forward to hearing from you. 

Friday, December 15, 2017


There are some days when I feel like I’m crushing it. Like hey, with a little effort, this being a mom of a disabled man thing isn’t really so hard. Those days are very few and far between. So few and so far that I really had to think hard to find an example. And it’s not much. Sometimes I look at the activity brochure that my park district puts out and I figure out what my son might like to do and actually get to the administration building to sign him up. Whoopy! Right? Or, I might look at the weather app on my phone far enough in advance to set a date to do a WorkerBee collection and take all the steps required to make that happen, so that a week or two from now we can have something to do on a Tuesday or Thursday besides going to the grocery store. We will have a beautiful life to post on Facebook and show the world; to mask the way I feel right now.

I feel stuck and I know he feels it, too. He really truly is stuck and that is what breaks my heart the most. He depends on me for every single thing. It is so overwhelming sometimes I don’t think I can stand it. So, I get stuck. I don’t do anything.

I don’t want to wallow in self-pity. That is not good for either of us. But I feel like I’m not good enough to be his mom. I fail him way too much. I imagine what it must be like to be him. It feels horrible. He does not do one single thing unless I make it happen. I am responsible for everything. His breakfast, deciding if he gets a bath, his activities, what he wears, his movies, his lunch, his communication device and showing him how to use it so that maybe one day he will use it to say something and be more independent in choosing everything he wants in his life, including how to live it. That feels like a pipe dream. What is a pipe dream? Why do people say that? Oh my! I just looked it up and it refers to the dreams that people have when smoking opium. Now, that’s funny! I don’t drink in order to avoid not being there for my son, but if ever there was an excuse… A pipe dream sounds pretty damn good right about now. But, no. He needs me.

Anyway, what else am I responsible for? Oh, yes, his dinner, his snacks after trying to get him to eat his dinner, making sure he gets enough fluids, wiping his bottom and his nose, his laundry, taking him to and from activities when there are any, getting ready for bed, filing paperwork for him, making phone calls for him, so he can keep his Medicaid and SSI, figuring out what will happen to him when I’m gone. I have no fucking clue, by the way. I am terrified of that.

So, terrified I want to jump on it and figure it out and so terrified I don’t know where to begin or what to do. Sometimes there’s a meeting about housing for people with disabilities two hours away in the winter on a Thursday evening at 7:00 that none of my friends want to go to because they have family that will care for their child when they are gone. I want to go, but not by myself in the winter on a Thursday night two hours away. I’ve gone before with some friends. I learned stuff, but not enough to make something happen. I need to go to more meetings, but the meetings are not here, where I live, and even if they were my friends would not want to go, to make a plan together for our kids. They don’t need this like I do. I probably would find some excuse not to go either. Because it scares the hell out of me. And so, I fail because I am so scared I can’t function. And it is so not fair. This life is so not fair. For him or for me. But here we are. Stuck.

And what about my life? Whoever thought this would be my life? Not me! Do I want to spend hours researching housing and programs for his future? Did I sign up for this? I envy people who can have a dream and go for it. People who are not stuck. I have dreams and hopes and plans for myself that will never come true. But many of those dreams are because I have him. Without him I would not know what I know now. I hate to think how shallow I would still be without him. He has brought wisdom and growth that I never would have gotten without him. Does it make this suffering worth it? I can’t answer that in this depressed state. I want to say yes, but right now... It feels like a no. To be oblivious would feel like heaven compared to this grief and worry. My grandmother is dying. She is 90. She gets to die knowing that her children are self-sufficient and capable of caring for themselves. I won’t have that. I envy her. Not the dying, but the dying with that peace. But I am grateful for everything I have learned by having my son in my life. Seeing the oblivion of others is not pretty. Knowing I still have some of it is not pretty. But at times like this, I wish I had complete and utter oblivion. I wish I could turn away from his suffering. Now I feel guilty for saying that. Another fail.

So, there are friends of mine who have had a bad experience with a group home for their son and now are having a wonderful experience with a different group home. This gives me hope. Then I remember that waiting lists, and funding, and red tape, and bullshit in Illinois politics… and fear crushes the hope out of me. What makes me so afraid? All the horror stories I’ve heard, but also the fact that if I am failing him, what makes me think someone else won’t fail him worse? I am his mother and I can’t do this! But, some stranger who’s in their 20’s, not married, has no kids; I’m supposed to rely on them making $10.00 an hour to care for my son with challenges? Yes, relying on someone who has no clue sounds really great and optimistic. Eye roll. Hopeless. I am alone. He is alone. We have family, but this is all on me. The weight of the world. The life experience of my 29-year-old son is my responsibility and mine alone.

So, my television is my opium. It takes me into a fantasy world of other fake families who live exciting lives where problems happen, but everything is wonderful by the end of the show. And he gets between me and my TV. He keeps pulling me back to reality where I do not want to be. But, I feel bad for having this refuge, too. It takes my focus off of him, which is bliss for me, but hell for him and so it ends up being hell for me, too. It’s one more way I fail him.

I write this blog to try help other people feel better, but there are times I can’t help myself feel better. It feels hopeless. I feel helpless. And now my head is stuffed up from crying and I’m going to have to lay down to sleep soon. My beautiful boy is sleeping in the next room after this completely dull day where his mom could not make herself do anything other than care for his basic needs. I feel horrible about that. Especially since it was the same exact day as Tuesday. The same as it will probably be on Saturday and God knows how many times over the 18-day break from his day program. Yes, I count the days. I count how many days my failures as his mom will be shoved into my face. No one shoves them in my face, except for me. Every hand wave telling me he wants to go somewhere when there is no place to go is the unintentional reminder of my failure. All he knows is that he wants to leave this dull house and go somewhere. He does not know his pleas are my failure. Every thought I have of what his life could have been like if only…

Will I have the courage to post this for eyes to read? I want the world to know this, but I don’t want my family to know it. They can’t do anything about it. They will read it and feel bad. I don’t want that. I don’t want a conversation about it. I just want to feel it until its gone. I want others who feel it to know they are not alone. But, I also don’t want it to make anyone else feel hopeless.

I know I will get through this dark period. I always do. But my fear feels stronger every time. Probably because time is running out. I won’t live forever and I wake up aching every day now. Arthritis? Fibromyalgia? MS? Just plain old age? Who the hell knows. Today I am stuck, but hopefully tomorrow I won’t feel stuck. We will see.

Thanks for reading this and for just being somewhere out there. It helps to know you are there.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

The Devil Wears Politicians

America has been dealt a cruel practical joke by “Christians.” Oh, yes, I very much stand by those quotations around the word Christians. You see, there is a huge difference between a Christian politician and a fake Christian politician. Since I wrote Punk'd, American politics have devolved even further into a fake form of Christianity. You might feel offended by my saying this, but I’m not talking about you unless you are a politician who distorts Christianity for your own gain. Average voters like you and I are victims of these fake Christian politicians. This fake Christianity has been engineered by politicians, with an immoral result: We are gearing up to elect a known alleged pedophile to the Senate of the United States of America, we have elected an admitted sexual predator to the presidency of the United States of America, and we are making excuses for sexual predators in politics and other high-profile jobs because they align with our political party’s agendas. You might think some of these accused men are innocent of the crimes or misconduct they have been accused of. But, I hope you will continue to read this post to the end because there is much more to these issues than we think. It is not my intention to disrespect your beliefs. It is my intention to show you how your very real and moral beliefs may have been infiltrated by fake Christians and blown out of proportion for other’s personal gain.

What does this topic have to do with people with disabilities? A lot, actually. The two are intimately connected, right in front of our eyes, but we have been distracted by one to keep us from looking at the other. Voters are infected by an evil force that eats away at programs for people with disabilities like cancer eats away at a body. That evil force is greed. Greed cuts program funding and funnels those funds to wealthy Americans through subsidies (welfare) for big corporations, tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy, tax exemptions for churches, and through exemptions to a property tax principal called highest and best use. Click here to learn more about the highest and best use exemption.

Both conservatives and liberals are infected. It spreads through political rhetoric and campaigns designed to manipulate our minds. It starts with money in politics. The wealthiest people are able to purchase Democrat and Republican politicians, ensuring they will vote for legislation that will redistribute our country’s wealth, our tax dollars – paid in by the hardest working Americans – upward to the already wealthiest Americans. Sometimes the legislation is to funnel our money directly into the hands of the wealthy through corporate subsidies, aka corporate welfare. High-profit industries like oil, insurance, and pharmaceuticals get paid by the government (our taxes) to do business. It doesn’t stop there. The legislation wealthy people and corporations influence with their political donations can be anything that keeps money in their pockets at your expense: Keeping your wages low, keeping your health insurance premiums high, spending your tax dollars on projects their wealthy donors will be contracted to build and maintain. Recently, the tax cut legislation that passed in the House of Representatives does all these things and more. It has a provision to allow church and state to merge in a way our founding fathers NEVER intended. It repeals The Johnson Amendment which was intended to keep churches and other non-profit organizations from endorsing political candidates. 

You might feel like it’s okay for churches to endorse candidates. They pretty much do it anyway because the IRS has only sought to enforce the amendment once but to no avail. The amendment is pretty vague. The problem comes, when large campaign donors, who always have their own greedy agenda, shift their donations from non-deductible political organizations to deductible charities like churches. So, what is wrong with that? Let me put it this way, do you want your pastor, your priest, your Rabbi or your Imam being influenced by some large, greedy corporation? I don’t! The separation of church and state, along with the Johnson Amendment are meant to allow everyone to worship how they choose, and to keep politics and religion from corrupting each other.

Now, you might think your church leaders have much more integrity than that. We all like to think that, don’t we? Consider this: Kankakee Priest Sexual Assault of Man With Intellectual Disability 

In addition to that horrifying bit of reality, consider how Jesus threw a hissy-fit in the temple to protest the corruption of religion by government. 2000 years ago, the church leaders had become corrupt with the powers given to them by the government. They were no longer working for God, they were working for the government and themselves. When Jesus went into the temple and turned over the tables and set the sacrificial animals free, he was sending a clear message to the government and the church leaders:

We will no longer accept this unholy alliance of the church and the state.

He did it because the prices of the animals that were to be sacrificed kept going up higher and higher. The profits from selling all those animals were shared by church leaders and the government. Jewish people were required by the religion to make sacrifices to God in the temple, but it kept getting harder and harder for the poor to purchase those animals and be faithful servants of God. Jesus saw this corruption and fought against it. But now, we have fake Christian politicians using Christianity to bring church and state back together in an unholy alliance. They are convincing good people that churches should be allowed to campaign in order to rid the world of the other party’s evil agenda and still be able to keep their tax-exempt status. This might sound wonderful to you. What if the other party were to give more money to your church than your party and began to influence your church leaders to endorse their agenda? This unholy alliance would not sound so great then, would it? It’s always about the money and the insidious ways they use to use to funnel the money upward to the wealthy.

A quote from the USA Today article, which shows how wealthy people will use this repeal to keep from paying taxes on their political contributions:

"This is a really radical revision of the tax laws," said Stephen Spaulding, chief of strategy at the government watchdog group Common Cause, and "it's just ripe for abuse. I think you are going to see all kinds of backroom deals between funders and charities— or future charities that will be set up as sham charities," Spaulding said.

Wealthy people will simply start “charities” of their own in order to get tax deductions on political contributions!

Now that we have covered greed in politics, let’s move on to how voters get infected and distracted from the greed and redistribution of tax dollars by fake Christian politicians in such a way that we lose our moral compass. Keep in mind, greed is always the driving force behind political rhetoric, even when it seems to have nothing to do with the subject at hand. America has already elected an admitted – we all heard the tape – sexually abusive man to the presidency of the United States. Alabama is about to go to the polls and elect an accused pedophile, Roy Moore. Why? Because Moore will vote with the conservatives. Everyone who is even considering supporting this man has either lost their minds or has zero compassion and empathy for his victims. People on both sides are so hysterical in their support of everyone in their party they need a good smack upside the head to snap out of it. This is a no-brainer to people who have NOT lost their minds:

You simply do not vote for people who sexually abuse other people!

Can you agree with that? If so, there is hope for you. If you’re thinking it’s not that simple and you’re making excuses for Trump or Moore or Bill Clinton or Al Franken, then you have been infected by fake Christian politicians. People bend over backward looking for excuses to vote for these vile men. And that is how you know they have been infected. Fake Christian politicians give us excuses and turn us away from following our hearts and souls. True Christian conservatives and liberals would never in a million years encourage others to vote for a man accused of sexual abuse of children or sexual misconduct against women. These are the Christians who still have their souls connected with their brains. And yes, My Liberal Friends, fake Christians politicians are on both sides of the aisle. There are fake Christian liberals who didn’t want Al Franken to resign. They refuse to believe he did anything wrong. They talk about how he apologized and should be given a pass for apologizing. I was stricken with the infection myself, so I know the feeling. I chose not to believe the women who said Bill Clinton had abused them. And yes, it was very much a choice, just like these people are doing now, choosing not to believe the women coming forward today in droves, purely to avoid the other party from getting the upper hand. This is how the ego-devil works and it is wearing our greedy politicians like cheap suits.

Here’s the bottom line: Wrong is wrong, no matter who is doing the wrong; no matter what the consequences are in admitting it. To admit that someone you once supported has done wrong shows you have integrity. Integrity in politics and religion is the cure we need to kill this infection. Can you agree with that? If so, there is hope for you.

Here is a link to an article that showcases the infection engineered by Fake Christian Politicians. It begins with the headline,

Really? They struggle with it?

The article says, “Still, many Alabama voters prioritize maintaining a slim two-seat majority in the Senate in Washington.”

There it is in black and white. That’s the problem in a nutshell. Maintaining that seat is THE most important thing to fake Christian politicians. Not the children who will learn to keep their mouths shut about abuse since no one will believe them anyway, not the children who stay silent because we’ve shown them no one cares about the pain they have endured, not the boys and men who will learn that all it takes to get away with abusing girls and women is to deny, deny, deny that they did it. Not our morals, not our values, not even our souls are more important than maintaining that seat, that trickle up economics vote. They place infectious thoughts of division in our minds to get us to go along with it. Divide and conquer is their true game. And they’ve done it very well for several years now. They plant infection in our minds and then they claim to have the cure for it. Elect Roy Moore so the evil abortion loving democrat won’t get the seat! See how it works? They take something important to you and use it to get you to do something horrible.

Any support of this man takes the shouldn’t-have-to-bake-a-gay-wedding cake. That, too, is a thing politically engineered by fake Christian politicians. Along with, “They’re taking Christ out of Christmas!” They don’t really care about any of that. They are using it to divide us. For them it’s not about Christ, or the wrongness of child abuse or molestation, or sexual assault of women, or making fun of people with disabilities, or taking healthcare away from millions of people, or the high cost of your healthcare, or gay people having the right to marry… no, no, no. Those things are not important to them, but they have made them important to you by making you think your religious freedom depends on them.  It’s not even about electing a man who will vote to take away a woman’s right to get an abortion. That is simply one tool of infection they use to get you to vote for a man who is accused of abusing children. The reality is that voting for an accused pedophile in order to redistribute our hard-earned tax money upward to the already-have-more-money-than-they-can-ever-spend elite few and then cut programs for the poor and people with disabilities to pay for it is way more important than anything else. And that is what will happen after they pass their huge tax cut bill. Don’t believe it? Here it is, straight from the horse’s mouth: Ryan Plans Entitlement Reform to Tackle Deficit. This is the $1 Trillion deficit that will be left when they pass the tax bill!

It boggles the mind that in 2017 – soon to be 2018 – people will vote for an accused pedophile before someone with a D next to his name. I get that the D represents the evil of abortion to Christian Conservatives. The problem with this thinking is that the rhetoric you’ve been infected with is simply not true. Liberals do not love abortion. Most of us would love to see it never happen again. That is the truth, straight from a liberal’s heart. We actually try to produce programs that will cut down on the number of abortions! The only difference we have on this issue is that we don’t feel it’s right to take away someone else’s free will. That decision is between them and God. And we understand that God is perfectly capable of handling that person’s soul if God is opposed to how they handle their own body. We do not feel that causing unwanted children to be born and then slashing the programs which allow them to survive the perils of a poverty-stricken life rids us of evil. When we do that, we have simply traded one evil for another, rather than doing anything about either. Furthermore, what does eliminating birth control coverage do to end abortions? Nothing. It eliminates zero abortions and might even cause more abortions. All it does is allows the wealthy elite few keep more of their money, which is their real goal.

For liberals, the party line infection is that anyone with an R next to their name is racist, sexist, greedy, and heartless. The truth is that anyone can be those things and anyone can be evil when the greedy ego-devil is controlling them. The images we see in the media of white supremacists marching in the streets, plays into our liberal infection and we forget – like conservatives forget – that the other party is vastly different from these few we see in front of our eyes. The extremists are the minority in both parties. But to hear our fake Christian politicians, you’d think everyone in both parties is pure evil. I’m sure you know people on the other side of the aisle who are not evil demons, but when you think of other voters from that party as a block of people all lumped together you picture them as evil demons, right? You see them as an evil that has to be eliminated. You think their policies are evil and that if we can just get more of our party elected, the system will right itself and all will be well. Right? It doesn’t matter if you’re liberal or conservative. This is how we have been brainwashed by our politicians. They infected our minds and created this war between us. The ego-devil, disguised as a Christian politician has distorted Christianity for their own personal gain.

Christ is trying to get through to us and stop all this mess. I have no doubt He is not okay with fake Christian politicians dividing His people into two groups that hate each other. Christ is still in the conscience of conservatives like Colin Powel, who I personally heard talk about these and other issues during the 2016 Presidential campaign. Now there is a man of integrity! Christ is in your conscience, too, when you refuse to demonize someone from the other party. Christ is in your heart when you make the welfare of an abused child or a woman your priority rather than a Senate seat or a presidency. He is there nagging at you when you are tempted to go against everything you know about justice because you’ve fallen into the trap of The Deceiver.

You can allow your ego to dismiss Moore’s religious rhetoric as “hot air” the same way many voters dismissed Trump’s “locker room talk” and Clinton’s abuses of women, and you can just sweep this pedophilia thing under the rug because you believe abortion to be a worse sin than pedophilia, as if one is worse than the other, but your Christ, the real Christ that politicians don’t seem to know and have made some of us forget is going to nag at your soul with this question:

How are you going to justify this at the Pearly Gates?

I know this because He has been nagging at my soul as I write this. My first draft of this post was a major conservative bash fest. But, Christ nags at you until you realize your errors. He points out your inconsistencies and your judgments. He reminds you of the times you erred and he shows you the grace of forgiveness. But you have to let Him. You cannot let the ego-devil make you forget everything Christ has taught you about decency and justice. That is the devil’s game. Are you going to let the devil steal your vote?  

There is a definite double standard in how we judge people who break our laws. Someone coming to this country seeking a better life, working hard, and making an honest day’s pay is vilified by our fake Christian politicians. Busses with child refugees are picketed and turned away by infected voters, but churches blatantly breaking the law are applauded. I can’t help but ask myself, what would Jesus say about all of this?

Christ is slowly and systematically being removed from Christianity by our fake Christian politicians and some of our church leaders. I urge Christians everywhere, whether you’re a liberal Christian or a conservative Christian to put Him back. Please. Heal your mind and your heart of this devil. Our County, our democracy, and our churches depend on it. Our children and adults with disabilities depend on it. Many believe our ability to get into heaven may depend on it, too.

I am aware this post points out many more conservative inconsistencies than liberal ones. I am a liberal who may not be aware of all of my infection, so I invite you to e-mail me and tell me the ways you see inconsistencies in liberals. That is the only way we can fight it. Just, please be gentle.

Update: Doug Jones won the Alabama Senate seat on the day this post was published. As of today, December 14, 2017, Roy Moore has yet to concede, despite having lost by an estimate of 20,000 votes (1 ½ percent), which is three times the margin needed to avoid an automatic recount. Trump’s response to the loss of the seat: “I wish we would have gotten the seat. A lot of Republicans feel differently, they’re very happy with the way things turned out, but I would have, uh, as the leader of the party, I would have liked to have had the seat.”

I’ll let that speak for itself.

Also, House and Senate Republicans have reached an agreement on their tax bill, cutting taxes on the wealthiest Americans to 37% - before deductions – and cutting the corporate tax rate to 21%. The Democrats have paid lip-service in their opposition to these cuts, but we all knew they would end up getting passed, didn’t we? As soon as Trump signs it into law the deficit will suddenly become a top priority. Our kids and adults with disabilities will suffer as they cut what they call entitlements, but what we know as security, care, and in some cases life-saving programs. As the middle class gives the wealthy a huge Christmas gift and wait for the ax to drop…

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and Happy New Year!

Check out my recommended reading post at the top of the menu. I hope this blog helps you to create a more peaceful life. Keep in touch with the following methods: Use the links under the archive menu to subscribe or follow by e-mail. Help me get this message out by sharing it with your friends on social media! If you enjoyed it and were helped by it, they will, too! Write to me with your comments and questions at mindchange4all@gmail.com. I look forward to hearing from you.