This is not ok… 

This is not ok… 

*WARNING!! This blog post contains a graphic image of violence and racism which is likely to be upsetting to see. But I have had to include it for the integrity of the piece. 

Today I have been very ill, struck down with a serious bout of vomiting that has left me incredibly dehydrated and flaring in every sense of the word. Writing a blog post was hands down THE last thing I thought I would be doing tonight. But sometimes, life has other ideas.. 

Recently I’ve been paying a lot of attention to the goings on in America. As someone who has a lot of American, and Jewish, friends it’s a subject I feel to be of great importance. To be honest, even if I knew nobody from the US I’d still feel the same. Why? Because in this day of social media, internet stardom and cameras recording everything, no one country stands alone anymore. Everything that happens in America filters across to us in Europe. It affects us. It influences us. 

If people in America are able to get away with racism and hate speech, then suddenly it becomes ok in the eyes of our children. It is my belief, that thanks to the vast and intricate social network we’ve created, that all the ugliness spilling out onto the streets of America will soon be occurring here in the UK. 

A huge part of that social network is Facebook. I defy anyone in the modern world not to have at least heard of Facebook. Even my elderly Father knows about it, whilst not partaking himself. Mark Zuckerberg has become one of the richest and most powerful men in the world, all because of his premise of bringing people closer. But with that power comes responsibility. A responsibility to ensure that people aren’t using Facebook to promote hate and violence. In particular I’m referring to racial violence. 

That’s where the community standards came about… 



This brings me to the main point of my blog. Now, I consider myself as a fairly open minded type of gal. My ethos is very much ‘live and let live’. As such, it takes a lot for me to report something to Facebook for a review. 

But today, I saw something which prompted me to do just that. The image was posted in a group where videos of spots being popped are shared. (Yes I’m one of THOSE people). It graphically shows a white Neo Nazi (complete with swastika emblazoned on his chest) about to violently stomp on the head of a black person. Possibly a child. Along with this is the words ‘You’ve been popping blackheads all wrong’ and laughing emojis. It truly is a violent and disgusting image, and I’m only sharing it now to prove I’m not making this up. 


Obviously I was shocked and appalled. So I immediately reported the image to Facebook, rather than commenting and giving the original poster the attention they had hoped for. Then I tried to put this putrid piece of diatribe out of my mind as I spent the remainder of the evening drifting in and out of sleep and attempting not to vomit. 

Some hours later I received the notification that my report had been reviewed. Intrigued I clicked on the banner… 


‘It (the picture) doesn’t go against any of our community standards’. Seriously??!! How doesn’t it??!! Have I read the wrong ones?? Clearly this image is glorifying violence, racist violence. That’s a direct violation of not one but TWO Facebook community standards!! 

Now, I could have taken the easy option and simply blocked the original poster, as Facebook so kindly suggests. But what will that achieve? How will that help the situation?? By standing by and doing nothing we make these actions acceptable. Now is the time to take each and every opportunity we have to stand up and say NO! This new world full of hatred we live in is not ‘just one of those things’. These posts are not just ‘harmless talk’. THIS IS NOT OK!! 

So, in response to the lack of action from Facebook I chose to write this blog. I chose to push myself to use whatever voice I have online, and shout from the rooftops. I shout to you Mark Zuckerberg! I ask you, what is the point in having community standards if they are not upheld? What kind of world do you want your children to grow up in?? And just who is checking these standards??? 

I know for a fact that the people employed to check these reports do not have to submit anything more than what you would for a general job position. My source tells me that you don’t have to give any kind of background check whatsoever. So, what’s to stop the people ‘policing’ Facebook allowing it to become a racist and hateful place?? Nothing it seems. 

I will not stand back and watch as these images cross my path, doing nothing to try to change things. To ignore the situation our whole world, not just America, is in right now is to be as bad as those perpetuating things. So Mark Zuckerberg, if you see this… what are you going to do about it??? 

It only takes a split second.. 

There’s a video on Facebook at the moment. An advert about the safety, or lack of, of mobile phones when driving. A video about a dad, and a young boy. These videos always hit a nerve with me, as a mother of young children. But today more than ever the message hit home. 

Why? Because yesterday that could have been me. Yesterday I was driving down the road when a young girl, maybe two years old, dashed out in front of the car. In front of my car. 

I was turning a bend and about to mount a raised zebra crossing. The kids were chatting merrily in the back and me and Gran were looking forward to an afternoon in Filey. Then my blood ran cold. At the side of the road was a group of children, all varying ages. They were next to the crossing but most had their backs to the road. Still, I’d noted them as I turned the corner. I’d kept them in the corner of my eye as I continued up the road. Thank God I did. Almost at the very second my front bumper reached the edge of the crossing the youngest girl darted out and into the road. I slammed on the brakes, but lost in front of my bonnet I had no clue if I’d hit her. 

Silence. No screams. No tears. The rest of the children just stared white faced at the spot in front of my car. A girl at the back of the group sobbed openly, but no noise came. Had I stopped? Had I made it?! I didn’t know. Gran didn’t know. The little girl was too tiny to see. 

I wound down the window and asked. Did I hit her?! Is she ok?! My voice seemed to startle the group into action. Some yelled at each other about who should have been watching her. Who was meant to hold her hand. The eldest scooped up the shocked little lady and carried her to the pavement, telling me she was ok. Anpther child, the sobbing girl, just kept repeating ‘Thankyou, thankyou, thankyou so so much.’Over and over again. My car must have been millimetres from that little girl. Millimetres from snuffing out her tiny life. Perhaps it even brushed those bouncy golden curls that were now swaying in the wind. I asked if they needed to cross, intending to watch them over the road. No. I’d been right, they had no intention of crossing. But that doesn’t matter with little ones about. A ball, a bird, anything can take their attention and have them darting into harms way. 

There was nothing more that could be done; so I took a deep breath, calmed my heart and set off. My kids reeling at what had almost just been a tragedy. I looked in the rear view mirror and noted the eldest girl still carrying who I could only assume was possibly her little sister. I hoped she carried her a the way to their destination. I hope they all would remember that bear miss and know how important it is to keep hold of her hand and stay vigilant near roads. I hope they’ve told their parents who may decide to supervise them in future. 

But mostly I hope I never forget. I hope I never forget that flash of terror as the girl with golden curls bounded out in front of my car. That fear right down to my very soul as I waited to find out if she was ok. The feeling of my breath caught in my chest as I waited for the world to start turning again. I hope I never forget so that no matter what happens, I’m vigilant and always ready to stop in time. 

I’m fighting a battle. 

Tonight’s blog post was going to be about the massage I had today and it’s beneficial affect on my body. It was supposed to be happy. Upbeat. Light. 

But I’m not feeling light right now. I’m laid in bed, it’s the middle of the night and I’m feeling anything but light. The weight of the world pushes hard upon my chest, constructing my breaths to short painful gasps. Or at least so it seems. My mind whirs away hashing and rehashing over my problems whilst the stress that was released earlier seeps back into my every sinew. It gnaws at me, scratches at the corners of my thoughts, spoiling them. Fraying them at the edges and pulling at the seams, until they unravel and I’m left with only my stress and a tension headache.

At the moment I’m fighting a battle. A battle no parent should have to fight. I’m fighting with my daughters other biological parent for what I feel is best for her. No, before you think I’m one of ‘those’ women, I’m not trying to keep him out of her life. I’m trying to get him involved. I’m trying to make it so instead of a 200 mile round twice monthly trip, she has that trip only once a month. I’m trying to encourage her biological father to come here, instead of forcing her to always go there. To miss birthdays and events, clubs and memories. 

Since she was young she’s visited him. I’ve always encouraged it. In fact me and his family almost forced it upon him. But those visits have always been on his terms. She has to go there. He will not visit here nor attend anything for her up here. Which I’ve said all along will not work for her forever. As she’s grown up she’s been made to choose between seeing him and going to birthday parties. Seeing him and attending social events. No compromise. No fluidity. Just choose. Here. Or there. 

Recently things changed. She chose. She chose a club which helps her with her health. She chose to only visit there one weekend a month. She chose for her biological father to come here. To support her. To be involved. He is fighting against that choice. He is taking things down an official route. He is bribing and cajoling to get his way. 

But things run a little deeper than just being able to join in clubs and see friends. In fact, last week, things just got a whole lot more serious. My daughter went to a geneticist. She has EDS. Hopefully the same type as me, but at this point it’s not certain. This diagnosis is now a weight on her shoulders. It is now her shadow pulling at her, caught beneath the boulder of EDS and holding her back. I saw the signs. I knew this day would come. But I prayed I could work with her biological father to do things right for her. 

Her club, the weekend hobby that’s unimportant, has actually built her muscle tone so much her EDS has improved in her arms and legs. On the weeks she’s not travelling so far she is easy to get up for school. She’s calmer. She’s happier. She’s well rested. She’s as close to perfect as any child could be. I’m trying to teach her to pace. The doctor stressed how important rest was. Travelling long distances in a car does not constitute rest. 

But today. Today I found out everything regarding her health seems to have been pushed aside. Her need for her biological father to take part in her home life has also been pushed aside. The system that’s supposedly all about the needs of the child seems to be veering towards being more concerned with making life easy for her biological father. 

So here I lie. Stressed. Worried. Tying myself up in knots. 

I’ve tried my best. I’ve explained her needs to her, her biological father, everyone involved. I’ve gathered statements. I’ve spoken to doctors. I’ve done everything I can. I feel like I’m shouting to a crowd of people wearing ear defenders and not one of them is willing to take them off. People don’t understand. My daughter doesn’t understand. She can’t. She won’t understand until she’s older and in agony. When she looks back and sees the safety nets I tried to put in place flung aside. Until she sees a wrong turn was made. 

I hope beyond all hope she doesn’t end up in the same crippling pain as me. But I fear now she will. If she does, who’s fault is it? The biological father who refused to listen to her needs, or me the mother who passed it on? 

No matter the answer, I know I’ll always blame myself. 

My word… 

A friend of mine recently posted about the idea of choosing a word to try and live by rather than doing a New Years resolution. (See original post here https://labastet.wordpress.com/2016/01/09/my-word/ ) The idea is simple, you choose a word and let that word factor in your approach to life. Or that’s what I took it to mean anyway. 

Well, I do generally like to try and make a resolution at New Year, but this year I couldn’t. I didn’t want to put pressure on myself to achieve any set goals when some days I can’t even get out of bed. I did try. I tried to think of easily achievable things. Get dressed every day. Cook a full meal once a week. Go on a date with my husband once a month. But here’s the thing, even those simple mundane things are out of my reach right now. Many days I cannot even get out of bed. So getting dressed is out. (Apparently being dressed in bed is frowned upon.) Cooking a full meal and going on dates. Also Goliath tasks. If there’s one thing worse than having no resolution it’s having an ‘easy’ one and failing at it. Starting the year on a failure was not my idea of empowering. 

Therefore I’ve decided to choose a word. My word is KIND. 

Why KIND? Well one thing I really struggle with is low self esteem. Particularly in relation to my illness and the limitations it has put on me. But more recently in respect of my looks too. So I want to work on being KIND to myself. On appreciating that life is hard and I’m doing my best. Remember that my best is good enough and that I didn’t choose to be this way. This is not my fault. 

I want to be KIND to my body. On good days I don’t want to push it too hard. I don’t want to resent my body for failing me, instead I want to remind myself that my body is still going, despite all its problems, and has given me two beautiful children. When I’m in pain I vow to rest, and try to put myself first. 

I want to be KIND about my appearance. Instead of looking in the mirror and seeing a run down lump, I want to see a mother. Instead of seeing my weight I want to see cuddles with my children. Instead of seeing the bags under my eyes I want to see the smile on my face. A smile that still appears even through the worst pain. I want to look in the mirror and start to love myself. 

Mostly I want to be KIND about my achievements. I want to recognise those times I do get dressed or cook a meal, and give myself a pat on the back. I want to realise that though I’m not the mother I dreamed of being, I’m the best mother I can be. I want to focus on what I do manage, instead or wracking up my failures and beating myself up with them. 

Yes, of course I want to practice kindness towards others too. My husband and kids all deserve kindness. When I’m tired and in pain I will (try to) take a deep breath and calm down before I inevitably snap. I’ll recognise when my tone of voice may be taken aggressively and my words become harsh. At least I’ll try my very best to. But mainly I want to be KIND to myself, because this year I’d like to start believing I deserve it. 
  

I hate Asda.

I think my email to them illustrates why…

Hello.

I’m contacting you in regards to the very poor service I have received from Asda Direct.

I ordered a food processor on January 7th. It was to be delivered on the 28th, a disappointing 2 weeks later. I waited in all day and was called at 17:20 to say the item was no longer in stock and I would be refunded for the item. It’s unclear if I’ve received the item plus postage or just the item as I’m disabled and unable to check.

As soon as I was able I contacted your customer service team, as documented below. I was advised the item was not in stock. I should perhaps purchase a cheaper, less versatile food processor (that does not fit the needs of my family) and forwarded a voucher.

However, the item is in stock. You have just returned it to your original price.

On pointing this out I was basically told tough luck. Plus it seems the voucher is for George. So cannot even be used on electrical items.

Having consulted several large groups on Facebook, many people share my outrage. To the point that someone kindly scoured the Internet and provided me with this email, some telephone numbers, and great advice as to how to spread the word to the masses on what’s happened.

It seems very much like Asda had a quota for how many sale items to sell, when that was hit the unlucky customers, such as myself, were let down.

Let me ask you this. Why was my item not reserved as soon as I purchased? In this day of technology that’s not difficult. Amazon does this and also lets you know within 48 hours if items aren’t available. Which brings me on to my next question. Why was I not informed sooner? Thus giving me the opportunity to purchase elsewhere. Why was I told it was still out of stock when it was clearly on sale? Why was I given a (useless) voucher for George when my purchase was clearly electrical? Would I have been lucky enough to receive my item had I shelled out for express delivery? I believe I would.

I asked on the phone, originally, not to be refunded and to wait and get the item when it came back into stock. I was told this wouldn’t be happening within the foreseeable future. I had no choice. The refund had been put through.

As a company you have failed at every turn. You have broken our contract of sale and left me in a position I now cannot afford an item of the same calibre as the sales are over. I also cannot cook for my family, something I was greatly looking forward to.

I was incredibly excited to receive my purchase. As a disabled person, it is not just another gadget to me. It was my opportunity to regain some use within the home and give myself some self respect. I only purchased from yourselves, and shelled out the ridiculous postage, because I felt I could trust you more than other companies. Apparently not.

So, I am asking you. Do you think this treatment of a long valued customer is ok? Are you proud of your company? Is causing your customers disappointment and upset ‘all part of the service’?

I asked if Asda would honour the price I first purchased at, seeing as I didn’t choose to cancel the transaction, it was thrust upon me. I was told no. Not a chance. So much for ‘Asda price’.

So what am I to do? Other than spread the word on this debacle and advise everyone I possibly can how well you value your customers. (Yes, that was sarcastic).

Yours, with a complete lack of faith in you,

My name.

*The moral of the story? Small things are a big deal when your life revolves around hospitals, pain relief and bed!!

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