Happy Dr. King Day, Happy New Year, Happy New Decade

Good To Be Back

So, I’ve been MIA for awhile. Holiday stress really kicked my ass. Being short on cash made it more depressing and stressful since I’m so used to buying gifts for others and myself during the holiday season. I fell off my self-care wagon. I only started taking vitamin D supplements in December and it can take 1-3 months before they really take effect, so the lack of sun sucked. I was eating and drinking too much sugar (hello, eggnog), not being regularly active, not getting enough sleep, consuming alcohol more often than normal for me, and we can probably add not eating enough vegetables, though I don’t exactly remember. 

All this along with the added stress from the holidays, families, medical bills, and a family death on my husband’s side. There were a few meltdowns had throughout the month of December, mostly the second half. 

Since January began, I’ve already made some health changes. I’ve slept with my mouth open my entire life. When I was a child, I just thought it was more comfortable to fall asleep or I would notice it fall open as I was falling asleep. I didn’t think much about it until my husband had made multiple comments about it, mostly about my breath in the morning. I finally googled it and learned that mouth breathing during sleep is linked to multiple health issues. 

Health problems linked to mouth breathing during sleep include; bad breath, gingivitis and dental cavities, daytime fatigue, sleep disorders, increased anxiety, and so many more but these are most of the side effects I experienced. This article from healthline has great information on the topic: https://www.healthline.com/health/mouth-breathing#complications .

I tried sleeping with nasal strips for a few nights but became so frustrated because I couldn’t keep my mouth shut in my sleep throughout the night. I ended up buying a sleep-chin-strap advertised for C-PAP users to keep their mouth closed when they sleep. It’s working mostly. It’s adjustable with velcro, so it starts out tight and loosens as I turn my head around on my pillow at night. If it gets loose enough, my lips creep open but I’ll still be breathing through my nose, which is most important. My husband doesn’t love it because it looks like I have a beard when I’m sleeping.

I’ve always thought I was a person who needed 9-10 hours of sleep at night to feel best, but now I wonder how much of my oversleeping and struggle to commit to a sleep schedule has had to do with my sleep mouth-breathing. I’m excited to see how my sleep quality and health changes over time with the use of my chin strap.

My added sugar intake is way down from December, I’m working out and being active regularly, and I’m giving myself enough time to get enough rest. My anxiety scale has been low for a couple weeks now and this week has been a lot of 1s out of 10 which is a huge difference for me. It feels good to not be irritable or worried constantly throughout the day. I feel it creep up if I go a day without activity though or not enough sleep. My physical activity is a daily medication I need to make myself take every day, or risk moodiness.

Publishing Elsewhere:

I didn’t completely stop writing during all this time off. I actually just had a guest article published in my local newspaper. When I wrote it, it was originally going to be a letter to the local elementary school, but because the problem is much bigger, I sent the letter out to my city’s officials, the local library, the local newspaper, as well as the district superintendent, school principals, and reading/English teachers. 

The letter was regarding racist books sitting on the shelves of the local schools and libraries. My main example was the children’s book series Skippyjon Jones, but the main point was that there are plenty more where that came from, on top of false histories being taught, and I expressed the harm these books can cause to the entire community. 

Out of the 30+ people I sent this message to, I received responses from just 2, the mayor and the local newspaper. The mayor responded that he would look into removing the Skippyjon Jones books from the elementary school, but didn’t mention any further efforts to be made or conversations to be had. The Newspaper Editor told me they spoke with the mayor and he said they’d be removing the series from the elementary, it is still available in the local library, and that this would be an ongoing story in the newspaper. 

I was disappointed by getting only 2 out of 30 replies. I can give some leeway to the fact I sent this during winter break so it could have been buried in the school staff emails, but still…

My husband is proud of me for being responsible for getting the book series removed. I have mixed feelings about it because I don’t want them to just remove the one book series and say “problem solved” without having a larger conversation, which was an important point in my letter; white educators need to have a conversation about racism in their schools and curriculum.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a subject in the curriculum of many schools this past week. However, if there were not a national holiday to recognize him, this wouldn’t be the case, he’d likely have been the subject of a small portion of history class, if we’d be lucky enough to learn anything about him in grade school at all, the way the rest of black history is ignored by schools throughout the US. The title of the holiday itself is disrespectful by dropping the “Dr.” title from Dr. King’s name, and if you Google Dr. King, the Google response page titles him “Martin Luther King Jr. ‘American Minister'”.

One of the activities at our local elementary school this past week was a build-a-book activity about Dr. King. Not surprisingly, the “Dr” was dropped here as well. The last page of the book reads “because of his work, the laws eventually changed and everyone has the same rights in America today!”

I was disgusted, but not surprised. These were the same lies I was fed in elementary school almost twenty years ago. EVERYONE DOES NOT HAVE THE SAME RIGHTS IN AMERICA TODAY, and we should not be spreading this ignorance in schools. Our present and future generations deserve the truth. We all deserve the truth.

Some Hard Truth

David GreyOwl From the Native Opinion Podcast says that for white people “racism is as natural to them as taking a breath of air,” and it’s so true! I’m saying that as a white person who grew up in a 95+% white town for my later childhood. Because I was surrounded by it in school, media, and society and just taught the bare minimum about racism in school like the majority of us, I grew up as a “well-meaning-white-person” being wary of the Confederate flag and knowing the “n-word” was bad, but not knowing how to combat either of these things when I encountered other white people using them freely, besides “ignore it”. Not to mention how racism is built into our constitution, government and societal systems, or how people of color experience racism throughout each and every day in our country. 

I’ve seen decor and internet posts with a quote saying “ignore ignorance” or along those lines. This quote reeks of white privilege. This is how white people in the US deal with racism if they aren’t all about it themselves. This is why racism persists and is in every breath of air we take, because white people ignore our racist past, ignore our racist present, and ignore the racist future we are destined to have by refusing to acknowledge and put a stop to the racism we come across in our everyday lives. We are greedy cowards and would rather hold onto every bit of privilege and safety we have than make this country we share better for everyone who exists within it. 

Education is power, education is freedom. We can free ourselves from the greedy, cowardly mindsets and behaviors many of us are trapped in. We just need to educate ourselves and do our future a favor by better educating our children, and empowering them with the tools to combat and defeat this plague that has had the US infected since it’s “discovery” by the original illegal immigrants, Europeans (white people). 

Don’t “ignore ignorance”. Those of us with white privilege don’t have an excuse in 2020. If you see something, say something.

Check This Out

I’m sharing the resources that I attached in my original letter to the community. They include some good articles further addressing the problems within the Skippyjon Jones books as well as a multitude of other “classic” children’s books . The other resource was a PDF of a presentation slide show from the Oregon Library Association Conference from 2016 that is extremely informative and has great reference links as well. I couldn’t get the link for it but if you Google “Your Patrons Need Diverse Books” it should be the first option at nwcentral.org.

Full List of Links

Cafasso, Jacquelyn; Fisher, J. Keith MD. Mouth Breathing: Symptoms, Complications, and Treatments. 2019, July 15. Healthline.

Casillas, Dolores Inés. Speaking “Mexican” and the use of “Mock Spanish” in Children’s Books (or Do Not Read Skippyjon Jones). 2014, May 05. Sounding Out!. ISSN 2333-0309

Fattal, Isabel. Reading Racism in Dr. Seuss. 2017, August 15. The Atlantic.

GreyOwl, David; KickingBear, Micheal. Native Opinion Podcast. 2016-Present.

Jordan, Joelle. We are Creswell, We Can Do Better. 2020, January 16. The Creswell Chronicle.

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