Emptiness and Life

So many people struggle with depression. According to “Uplift Program” the percentage of serious depressive disorders in the United States only affects 9.5% of our Country’s population, but that is equal to 18.8 million individuals. It is commonly stated that “everyone” will at some point in life suffer from depression. I do not know if this is true, but my own experiences with serious depression have led me to understand that depression is a condition that can be life threatening and a condition that can be relieved.

There are many “How To’s” for self-help in depression and there are doctors that work hard to help patients with serious clinical symptoms. Depression can be debilitating because it starts with a deep sadness and changes to an emptiness that has no explanation in the realities of day-to-day life. I know. I have been there. “Curing” depression is the myth. Finding a way out of it is possible. Learning to live with depression is difficult on an individual level and debilitating to others that live with those suffering from depression. It can be done and there is no “one path” forward for anyone.

Respect for individual life, thought, and decisions are key for those helping someone with serious depression. While these honesties from others will not “cure” depression in someone, they protect a depressed state of mind from becoming worse when others acknowledge these truths are viable even for those suffering depression episodes. Some depression stems from situations in life, some depression orients from personalities prone to a depressed state of mind, and some depression is literally unexplained by any “causal” factor. This is why not all “cures” can help all people in the same way.

As someone that has suffered from depression in a clinical way in life before, and as a person that has won in her battles against suicide, I can only relate what I know about the issues in depression “up close and personal”. For me, I had to find the strength to overcome situations in life and find my own stability in my own values. I learned that “put one foot in front of the other” is some days not the wrong advice. When there is emptiness in me I “do it anyway”…this usually brings back the reality that life needs my efforts.

I truly believe that everyone should find their own true beliefs and the things that work well in life for them. No one can “invent” or give answers for others that work as well as the mentalities and life-styles that someone finds keep them best on his or her own personal level. This does not mean that others cannot help. It just means that I have never found that an answer from others is going to prevent depression.

When I was young “The Facts of Life” was a sitcom with a theme song: “You take the good; you take the bad. You take them both and there you have the facts of life.” Love life.

History Today for Tomorrow (Women’s History Month)

Right now! Today! We are not only products of women in History; we are making strides for History in our immediate present. Milestones have been achieved across the ages for women’s rights, women’s equality as human beings, and women’s progress in images, philosophical thought, and education. Too many points in history of serious achievements for females have occurred for me to list them all and not miss some of the important contributions for women from women. However, this does not stop me from admiring women making strides today for the female voices on our planet. Among the females I genuinely admire for making a difference in the present tense are: Gina Trapani with ThinkUp, Chelsea Clinton with The Clinton Foundation, and Lady GaGa.

I grew up in the 1970s and 1980s where feminism was a question mark and most media referred to women’s rights as “Second Wave” or “Third Wave” questions. The generations at the forefront during that time were not original women’s movement founders and female empowerment was relegated to a “non-issue”. Women in this country were outnumbering men in higher education although men executives still outnumbered females in corporate United States. We did not grow up taught to make a “happy home” as our future. Girls and boys had an equal chance at dreams for whatever they desired to become in the next decade. I did not understand that issues still existed between male and female in the pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness.

Then the 1990s rolled in. Human rights became a priority in the women’s rights movement as we saw that other cultures did not support our ideals and images for the modern woman. By the time of the millennium, the two issues became inseparable. In later years, women’s rights would focus on economic stability and gender-based violence with resurgence in the assertion of female needs for children and pregnancy securities.

I have found myself something of an interesting sub-culture as a single, divorced, heterosexual woman in her mid-forties with no children. When I think of women’s rights, I agree to the humanitarian influence as important, but I am more concerned with the female as an individual- not as a woman that may be “at the mercy of a male husband” or dealing children’s needs. If we are going to talk about women’s rights or the female condition, I think we do need to focus on the opportunities available for females instead of focusing on issues related to prescribed female roles.

There are differences between the sexes. Laying aside sex based roles and issues forces us to deal with one another as individual persons. Women’s history has proven we can correctly make strides toward certain equalities. Perhaps we should consider that sexual bias of any sort has to be eliminated to obtain individual freedoms. When we learn that what we choose defines us and we have the opportunity to make viable choices, we will be more capable of eliminating abuses and discriminations based on those choices.

Labor Force “At-Will”

South Carolina is an “Employment At-Will” state. This means: “that the employer may terminate the employment or the employee may leave the employment at any time for any reason (or for no reason)” in the absence of an employment contract or specific statutory protection. Labor unions largely fulfill the function of representing members in disputes over labor contracts. With the strike by oil industry workers prominent in the news, it seems that these terms and uses bear some consideration for the workforce in this state. I am a contractor and employed by contract. When my contracts are fulfilled there is usually room for an employer to pick up further work on “at-will” terms. This results in working past a contract or over the limitations specified in a contract for both my employer’s benefit and my own benefit. A “breakdown” in the contract employment relationship is my personal responsibility to repair, redeem, or negotiate. I like this arrangement. In my line of work, it keeps me independent and paid. In a corporation, where certain workers may or may not form a union, tension forms from the “at-will” status that is in force in South Carolina. I do not see “at-will” and “contract” as mutually exclusive. Like an independent contract, union contracts can be created to benefit employees and work well for employers if “at-will” rights are retained and not excluded by contract terms. This gives union members contract points to collectively bargain and everyone involved the rights of “at-will” agreements that are not contrary to contract terms. While it seems that this would erode the “collective” idea of bargaining, it actually strengthens it. When contracts are terminated, employment is terminated and this comes from both union and management vantage points. Neither unions nor management want to lose jobs under a collective contract. Retaining the capability of contract negotiation with “at-will” freedoms designates that the employer/employee relationship is not bound by “contract only” specifications. As an independent contractor my employment is bound by contract, but often some work in the job is “at-will”. I do not usually have an obligation to my employer for overtime, extra work, or certain hours on the clock. On the other hand, some of the best jobs I have worked under contract allow for an “at-will” give and take between my employer and me to include some of those “extras at-will”. These “extra” terms do not have to be built into a re-negotiated contract. I am not implying that these same terms apply to non-contractual agreements for unions to uphold. What I am stating is that contracts can leave room for “at-will” answers to still exist. Perhaps I see an “at-will” state’s union workers as just a large group of independent contractors- the union workers are just all on the same contract. In a time where jobs are precious, the employer/employee relationship is important and keeping both contract work and “at-will” employment should benefit the workforce through keeping job elimination at a minimum while still protecting employees.


The government of The Republic of Sierra Leone is rising in recovery from the EBOLA pandemic with a voice that must be heard. Abdulai Bayraytay a National Publicity and Outreach Coordinator in the Office of the Government Spokesman of Sierra Leone gave press conference statements on February 10, 2015 citing: “Ebola still exists” and that “The fight continues”. The schools have been re-opened in Sierra Leone to provide the training and education necessary on EBOLA for community socialization on avoiding the chain of transmission.

The first outbreak of EBOLA in Sierra Leone was documented on May 25, 2014 and there have been over 2,000 plus deaths related to EBOLA since. An infected individual has a 50/50 chance of survival. Regional efforts in stemming the spread of EBOLA have been expanded in partnerships with Guinea and Liberia. Although the borders are still open between these regions, checkpoints are operating at intra-district levels to curtail the migration of EBOLA. In Sierra Leone international trade has been severely impacted; banks have reduced operations; and over 24,000 jobs have been lost due to the EBOLA pandemic.

Although EBOLA has heavily impacted the Sierra Leone economy, recovery measures are in progress. A key challenge is establishing a reliable health care system. The Ministry of Water Resources and of Social Welfare for Sierra Leone has partnered with UNICEF to establish over ten free healthcare treatment centers and the IMF has contributed substantial funds for relief and national stability. The Sierra Leone national census has been postponed. A “117” response phone line has been established for emergency reporting.

Vaccine trials started in Liberia are being extended to other regions and doctors in Uganda are working to prevent possible re-emergence and mutation factor controls. The Sierra Leone Ministry of Health and Sanitation Is conducting ongoing inquiries into EBOLA spread and contamination causes, some of which have been identified including bush meat and bats as major carriers.

Abdulai Bayraytay was cited as reminding the press that “EBOLA is real and it kills”. There is a two-year jail sentence in Sierra Leone served by those found hiding EBOLA infected individuals and fines are applied for not reporting known EBOLA cases. All of the facts and figures listed above were officially released and the press conference may be viewed at this following link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pF56kKnXePA

Post EBOLA strategies are being discussed with a mind to continuing to implement the Sierra Leone agenda of prosperity with international communities. History teaches us that plagues can change societies. Perhaps the greatest change our modern cultures can show will be a new day where Sierra Leone is not left isolated and devastated but, through international coordination and efforts, education and modern medical science establish a presence that will preserve the future of the Sierra Leone population. Today EBOLA is an Emergency. Tomorrow the history books will show EBOLA as a chapter in our past that reflects a test of our humanity and our resources on a global scale, not just in The Republic of Sierra Leone.

“To the souls who gave their lives, to your sacrifice we rise. There are none who pass unsung when the laurel wreathes are hung.”- song lyrics for “Laud”

Living With Our Ghosts

I have published a story in the anthology “Haunted Tales” by Samie Sands at:


It is a compilation of supernatural stories about encounters with the unknown “ghosts” in our world. While we shiver and spook over tales about the unseen and unnatural; we forget to live with our ghosts. Many times, ghosts are simply memories: energies that we remember tied to objects or places, not actual entities working maliciously in their own will against humankind. The living are catalysts for these “memories” that are in fact not embodied spirits of an ethereal nature. There are some instances for believing actual spirits of humans are “trapped” tied to the Earth in some ways and some churches believe that this could be part of a “purgatorial” divine decision. In the real world, I believe we pay too much attention to our “ghosts”. God has reasons that the spiritual realm is composed of differing answers. We should not be afraid of our “ghosts” and we should not deny there are such things. On the other hand, our concern is with the living and life as we are created to live it, and while our “ghosts” may touch our lives, perhaps we should just find acceptance in us of these answers when they occur and give them less importance in our daily living. This does not mean that we should deny our memories or refuse supernatural encounters that do occur in life with a stubbornness that does not admit that they have a reality on the planet.

Scientific inquiry has tried to quantify, control, and understand such phenomena. Unfortunately, this was never meant- in my opinion- to be the provenance of the dominion of man. A book falls off the shelf with no prompting and a scientist will discover why. I feel the best approach is to replace the book back to the shelf and not worry so much about it. It concerns me that we have not learned to accept the world without over analyzing and questioning. Not that analysis and questioning are not valid pursuits with a purpose, but that we have decided not to live with the world created. To better the situation of mankind, we seek answers to solve our problems. This is a good thing, but we create problems as well.

As a fiction writer, I find that elements of life are reflected in fiction and that “ghosts” (regardless of explanation) are part of life. Some critics have said that fiction writing is to no purpose other than children who wish to pretend. I disagree. Fiction opens up ideas for thought, communication about these ideas, and a way to explore “other” in life without having to walk through the actual events and consequences. Ghost stories are no different. I believe, in fiction, that such stories bear consideration. We should not be afraid of the ideas on the printed page, although we scare ourselves. On the other hand, the living need the living, and the dead are the dead.




“Haunted Tales” by Samie Sands

“Haunted Tales” by Samie Sands
I have had an opportunity to participate in an anthology by Samie Sands titled “Haunted Tales”. Find “Upside the Down Elevator” and other spine tingling contributions at:


You can read up on my interview at:


The Price of Learning

I was a non-traditional student that went back to college at thirty-five years of age after a divorce as an adult. In the middle of financial hardships and social devastation due to my situation, I needed a new direction and a way to improve my outlook. While working a full time job, I searched for a program that would cater to adult students and not put me back on a campus with teenagers. Not only did I find the program I needed, I graduated in May of 2009 with a BS in Business Management- a degree I had given up on when life had too much promise and too many possibilities for me to maintain an education mindset. I am glad I finished my degree. I would not recommend this path to younger students. I found out the hard way that the easy way is to obtain your education while you are younger.

I will never obtain an advanced degree. At almost forty-five years of age I have a mortgage payment, a household to run on my own, and ten years under my belt in a career as a Technical Writer. While experience counts, I have had to pay the price of learning without going through the ivy covered halls most of my life. The average cost of a basic college degree in 2014-2015 according to U.S. News is $31,381 USD. That cost does not include further schooling for advanced degrees. Still funding student loans from my partial education in my teenage years and early twenties, I cannot afford the difference in the time it would take to earn the advanced degree, the monetary investment necessary, and the cost of my wages that will be needed for retirement diverted to further my studies.

When I was nineteen, I wanted to be in the performing arts and I was studying psychology and business in college. The world was a grand adventure. By the time I was twenty-five I discovered I was not cut out for acting or performance and that going back to school was next to impossible. I did not pursue education in my youth. Because of this, my education cost more and furthered my answers in life less.

I would ask younger students to respect this: there is no substitute for education and experience is a hard teacher. I do not believe that experience does not teach knowledge and lessons worth learning. I do believe that education increases knowledge and skills and prepares people for experience. “Success is where preparation and opportunity meet.” (quoted from Bobby Unser). In a world where the prices for learning are never cheap, it is necessary for us to realize that we will all eventually grow in knowledge and wisdom. There are simply better and easier educational paths to take to the holy grail of understanding and these ways should not be abandoned- if they are, believe me, we return to them later and I, for one, regret the time lost along the way.