Sunday, October 9, 2016


I have spent many hours thinking about the words I will use here.  If this post offends you, it should.  It is offensive that this even has to be written, but it does.

We have all had to suffer through a long and tormented election process, but this is nothing compared to the suffering of women who have suffered a sexual assault.  In perhaps the most stunning moment of his campaign, Mr. Trump was outed for the misogynist he is.  Despite the lewd and vulgar comments he made to Billy Bush on a "hot" mic discussion, and on many other occasions, people still support him.  Worse, WOMEN still support him.

Let me be clear here:  Real women with any sense of self, any sense of sisterhood, would never support this sexual predator as the next president.

1.  The statistics on sexual harassment and/or assault are staggering.  Two of every three females in the United States will have suffered some from of sexual abuse or assault by the age of 18.  Even if you are in the lucky 33.3% of females who hasn't been victimized (I am not), you know many women who have been.  From the shame of being groped by strange men or boys, to blatantly having ones breasts stared it, to hearing sexist comments about our bodies, to being raped, many of us don't talk about it because we are ashamed we didn't stand up for ourselves.  We have tried to put it behind us.  If many of us are just starting to talk about it, it is because it is now part of a national discussion.

2.  It is NOT just locker room banter.  The kind of talk on the tape released by the Washington Post is not just lewd, it is competitive, and the gist is that the more powerful and important you see yourself as a man, the more you can get and the easier it is with regard to females.  As a woman, you have to be aware that every time you step outside of your own home, you, your looks, your body, everything about you is up for free evaluation, for judging, shaming, or being used.  Your mind, your thoughts, your education, and accomplishments mean nothing to some of the men you will encounter.  You are nothing more than an object to admire or ridicule.  Men who engage in locker room banter often try to act upon it, and see what they can get away with because it is a challenge.  You and your body are his challenge.

3.  If you think you have never been hurt by words like these, think again.  Of course you have been hurt by words like these!  Words like these are why you can't stand up for yourself without being called a bitch.  Words like these are why any emotional outburst is met with "must be on the rag" instead of taken seriously.  It why even an overweight female physician will critique your weight in the exam room.  It is also why you are paid 73 cents for every dollar a man makes.  It is why you are discredited at every turn, and treated like a second class citizen.  It is why you work all day, come home and work the second shift of housework and childcare with little if any help from your spouse, if you have one.  This is so pervasive in American society, I'm not surprised you can't see it.  If you are dismissing this as "boys will be boys" you are perpetuating your own status as less than a man, and you are blind to the truth.

4.  Yes, the orange buffoon offered an apology.  It was conditional, highly conditional, at best.  He said "if" anyone was hurt or offended.  That "if" makes it conditional.  If I were to punch you in the nose and break it, and I said "sorry 'if' I hurt you" would that be an apology?  Of course I f--ing hurt you!  I broke your nose, and there are no ifs, ands or buts about it; I inflicted pain.  A true apology is a heartfelt acknowledgement of wrong doing.  Even when an apology is appropriate, it doesn't fix anything.  Whatever was broken is still broken.  A public, unipygic apology doesn't take away from the pain of sexual harassment, sexual abuse, or sexual assault.  Those of us who have suffered these highly distressing events know that no apology is going to make up for our suffering.

5.  Diminishing what was said on the aforementioned tape is, in fact, diminishing yourself as a human being, as a woman, as an American citizen.  It is stating that you don't mind being viewed as an object.  It is acknowledging that you do not value your education, your experience, your accomplishments, or even your very own worth.  You not only see yourself as having no value, you don't see value in other women either.  You are devaluing the experience of your sisters, girlfriends, aunts, mothers and perhaps even your daughters who have suffered at the hands of a sexual deviant.  Shame on you.  They need your support, the same way you would need their support if it happened to you.

It has to be said that not all men partake in this kind of lascivious, crude discussion.  Many of them, no doubt, had a mother who would have washed their mouths out with soap if they had, or received the switch from fathers who know that real men don't act like this.  Real men are respectful, decent human beings who would not denigrate women with such crass talk.  Men, bless them, by and large will not be able to relate to anything I have said here because they are men, but a great many of them will speak up on the behalf of women and withdraw their support for the republican candidate because they care more about women than many women care about other women, or themselves, for that matter.  

I care about a great many things, including racism, bigotry, hate talk, hate crimes, freedom of religion, separation of church and state, the right to a safe, legal abortion even though I personally consider it murder.  I care about equal pay for women and minorities, fair housing for everyone, medical care for everyone, enough food for everyone.  I think a lot of things are important, and I am not trying to diminish any of these things with some heavy feminist wording, but sexual crimes of power and entitlement reach across all lines, no matter one's religion, race, or socioeconomic standing.  Being against this kind of talk and action should be a unifying force for all of us, men and women.  So, what's your excuse for supporting it?

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Grief and reconcillation

My Mother
Lynne Hurd Bryant
14 x 11 charcoal
Pop's Christmas gift, 2015

I've had a long year of sorting things out, but finally coming to a point where I can write about things.

The year started with the death of my mother.  She was only 71.  As she was only 17 years older than me, it feels like she died terribly young.  She had polio in 1952 and was in a wheelchair for more than 60 years.  I was an accident that happened to a young girl who didn't know anything about anything.  Because of the polio, the doctor would have given her an abortion.  No one told my mother she was pregnant, but my maternal grandmother told my father. My father, at the tender age of 19, puffed himself up and said, "no one is going to murder my son."  My grandmothers were best friends, and together they plotted hiding all of this from my grandfathers, bundling my parents off to Iowa to be married.  They were married until I was 30, when they ended their long running mismatch.  After their divorce, I didn't have too much contact with my parents, and they wanted none with me.

At this writing, I have not seen my father since 2002 and spoken to him only once when my mother died.  The last time I saw my mother was in August 2011.  She died without us ever reconciling.  I suppose she felt it was up to me to do the work of making that happen. I alternately would want to, not know how, and ultimately was not up for more of the abusive statements she liked to make to me.  I think I hoped she would mature and soften some, but she didn't.  I don't know that this feels like loose ends for me.  My peace was made when I set my boundaries in 2011.  I didn't expect her to respect my boundaries, but I never gave her a chance to try.

What I know absolutely is that I am carrying a chip on my shoulder about our relationship.  As I have every intention of living a long life as my grandparents all did, I have a lot of living left to do and it would be better for me if I lost that chip.  She can't be mean to me anymore.  Her abuse of me is in the past.  There has to be a way to come to some sort of an understanding on my part.  I have actively sought that understanding this year, and it is only a matter of days until the anniversary of her passing.

I was not open with my mother about a lot of things.  I think I was always afraid of what she would say, and rightly so, given our history.  I never told her about my ex-husband forcing himself on me, or the children that ensued from those events.  I didn't tell her about him hitting me or threatening me.  I was afraid she would tell me I deserved it, the same way she often told me that I was not a nice enough person to be happy or have a nice life, I was unworthy.  I never told her my college GPA because it was only 3.7, and she would have told me it was not good enough because it was not a perfect 4.0.  When I became a medical transcriptionist on the heels of my own divorce, she told me I'd never get a job because I was not smart enough to pass the CMT exam.  Today, after 20 years in that industry, I could sit that exam this very moment and pass it in one, but I have never needed to have it.  I never showed her my bought and paid for retirement home because it is a mobile home, and I was worried she'd say I lived in a trashy tin can.  I never told her I am autistic because I thought she would say that I was grasping at straws to make excuses for being mentally unstable and for my "retarded" behaviors.  I kept a lot to myself out of fear of her disapproval.

She married my stepfather 10 years ago.  He comes from the UK, and I'm anglophile, so naturally I would want to know him.  He has 3 sons, she had my brother and me.  He always wanted a daughter, but my mother deprived us both of a relationship.  Late this spring, we were on Facebook briefly at the same time, and while he is not my connection there, we got to talking.  We exchanged email and snail mail addresses, and started emailing one another.  We have emailed a few times each week for months now.  He is twice widowed, and trying to take this second time a bit better than he did the first time.

My mother kept journals.  I didn't even know about that, but she had kept them a long time.  She had a set of beautiful cabinets fitted in her kitchen and dining room and a desk that she could wheel under there as well.  Pop, my stepfather, said that in the whole of their marriage he never once peeked in her stuff, he felt it was private. When she died, he was going through some of that, and for whatever reason, grabbed her journals to take back with him to the UK.  He didn't read any of them until this week.  She wrote about her love for him, and that what she felt for him had made her feel transformed.  They had met online and talked daily for years with emails, Skype and the phone sometimes.  When he visited her home in Denver 12 years ago, it was love at first sight for them both.  The journal entry he started with was the day he left to go home from that visit.  She talked about discovering love for the first time, and about what she hoped could be their future.  She never said anything of the kind to him directly, but all those journals from the time she met him were addressed to him.  He asked me why she couldn't have told him all of this directly.  He said, it would have made things a lot easier for him if she had, and perhaps they would have been even happier together.

I'm not a fool, and I don't expect there to be any entries that pertain to me, and that is fine.  All of this does make me wonder if, rather than being incapable of love as I have often thought, she simply could not speak of her feelings.  She was not one to pay compliments ever, quite the contrary.  Paying a sincere compliment made her feel weak as person.  Perhaps speaking of love and feelings of admiration also made her feel like a weak person.  Perhaps she thought someone would laugh at her.  Perhaps she said to me all of those mean, nasty things because it was easier than saying what she really felt.  Perhaps she didn't want me to over inflate myself and be disappointed.  Parents will often do that because they want to spare their children the agony of defeat.  I'm decidedly more direct and outspoken than than most people, and have no filters at all.  She, it seems, was just the opposite.

My Pop has been good for me.  He is older and wiser, honest, forthcoming, kind, generous, and thoughtful.  I have been able to ask him all sorts of things, particularly about my mother.  He has helped me understand her a bit better.  With his help, I hope to remove the chip from my shoulder.  It is Christmas Eve, and this one thing is what I really want for Christmas.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Autism Acceptance and why I'm not wearing blue today

April 2, National Autism Acceptance Day, not awareness day.  Awareness isn't enough.  Awareness means you know about it.  Who isn't aware of autism these days?  I'm more than "aware" I live with it. It stares back at me when I look in the mirror.  It moves with me every time I run into a wall, misjudge a step, forget to pay a bill, whiff someone's strong perfume from across a large room, every time I can see an oscillation in a fluorescent light bulb, or the deafening noise of the Walmart.  I am aware of it every waking moment of my life, all 54 years of it.  I've heard whispering behind my back about how strange I am.  I've been labeled as certifiably insane by my family of origin.  I've been teased, taunted, bullied and horribly, unspeakably abused.  I'm very aware of autism!

Some people are going to read this blog and say to themselves...ah! She's not autistic, she is too articulate, too educated, seems too "normal."  Possibly followed by, oh she must be "high functioning."  I'm here to tell you, there is no such thing as "high functioning autism."  What there is, instead, is experience, those things that change with age for everyone (even we autistic folks), learned behaviors, learned and finely tuned coping strategies, courage, determination and the strength of character not to be diminished by how we've been treated, no matter how inappropriate that treatment has been.  We have all had to "fake it until we make it" in this life on the false belief we will one day actually make it.  On so many levels, I am still faking it and I know I won't make it.  I fake it to get by, to keep my job, to preserve relationships, to do my grocery shopping, to see a doctor, to get any of a great number of things accomplished in life.  I will never be "normal."

To be fair, I don't want to be normal.  Being autistic has given me gifts I would not trade for the world.  I can say, without irony or sarcasm, that I have never been bored a moment of my life.  The ability to focus on just one thing at a time may be tested on a regular basis, but boredom has never been an issue.  It gave me both intellectual and creative giftedness, and to possess both is a rare gift indeed.  I have comorbid attention deficit, hyperactivity disorder with an emphasis on hyperactivity.  This means that I'm creative, too smart for my own good and have enough energy to carry out anything which resides in my imagination, and that is an imagination that comes as full color pictures in my head.  I'm very visually oriented and I often follow the pictures in my head rather than instructions because it is faster and easier.  I make a lot of things look quite easy.

I didn't wear blue today because I'm not broken.  I'm unique, special, different, challenged and trying my best, but I am not broken.  Blue in the autism puzzle symbol stands for an organization called Autism Speaks.  Well, Autism Speaks does not speak for me!!   No one on their board of governors is on the autism spectrum.  They are not after acceptance of differences, they are after prevention and "cure."  They would like to find that magic bullet that would make all of us normal.  They gather funding and use it to promote the idea that autistic people are broken and need to be fixed, that there is no reason to tolerate or accept our differences because they should be wiped out instead.  I find this stance repugnant, just as repugnant as the idea that people should not vaccinate their children because vaccines cause autism, which they DO NOT.  Out of fear, parents would rather risk their children's lives than raise a child who turns out like me, like any of us who are on the autism spectrum.  It is beyond words to explain the pain hurdled at autistic people when they are told they are broken, bad, damaged, despicable, lowlife humanity and being one of them is a fate worse than death.

What I need most, what the whole community of autistic people needs, is acceptance.  We accept who we are, just as we are.  We don't need or even want to be like neurotypicals and we're tired of being told to act "normal" or to "snap out of it."  That's awareness, not acceptance.  If we can accept ourselves as we are, why can't the rest of the world?

Don't wear blue today.  Don't don't wear blue next year on Autism Acceptance Day either.  Rather, try accepting what you don't understand.  That's what autistic people are doing everyday.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Now that that's over…

We are FINALLY at the end of an especially grueling election cycle.  For the most part, I kept my politics to myself or expressed them with the like-minded people I know.  I like to say that I'm a liberal conservative or a conservative liberal, you may take your pick.  Thus, it was with some embarrassment that I had to declare a party affiliation when I registered to vote on election day.  Yes, on election day; Wyoming allows this.   Much I was not going to vote all, great pacifist that I am, I went and cast my vote for the first time in nearly 20 years, making this only the third presidential election I have voted in during my 50 odd years in this life. 

What was so striking about this election cycle was the great chasm it created it amongst the American people, the way it divided us and made us the least of what we are as a society.  People I felt to be otherwise intelligent, thinking people became rabidly attached to their "side" of the equation, and given to a rather constant barrage of what I can only describe as a type of verbal diarrhea, and they simply would not shut up about politics.  Being a pacifist at heart, but deeply an old-style American and equally deeply a Catholic, this was very difficult to tolerate from both sides. 

Most concerning was the total lack of the ability to compromise, the intolerance, the bigotry, the ignorance, the complete inflexibility to even consider that there is another point of view other than their own.  This is NOT what America is all about!  This is true of Congress, of course, but they are drawing on the desires and behavior of their constituents, therefore, the deadlock in Congress is quite home grown with you and me, and carried forward to the national level.

Our greatest strength, the root of our prosperity, our greatness as Americans, as a country, is our ability to be flexible, to adapt, to grow and change and develop into the greatest country in the world.  How, when and why did we lose this?  Moving back to our roots, to what made this country great, is the key to our future. 

I don't mean, however, trying to turn back the clock to the 1950s in America.  That decade holds some sort of strange appeal for so many Americans and particularly politicians.  Was it really a simpler time?  Were we really better off?  In that era, black men like our president were still being lynched for so much as looking at a white woman.  Women could expect no more out of life than to marry, have a family, keep house, cook, clean and look after their children and husbands with no personal identity and no opportunity for self-actualization.  Women were as constricted by girdles as by society.  Men could not exercise their creativity or connect with their children in ways that are loving and nurturing.  They were often tied to jobs that drained the life out of them because it was what was expected of them.  They wore neckties like nooses around their lives.  How very sad. 

We can't carry America back to prosperity by turning back the clock, but we can look instead to turning the clock ahead some number of years, to a time when partisan politics is a dirty phase and deficit spending is a thing of the past.  We have to start with the person who looks back at us in the mirror and look at that person very hard and squarely on.  What have you done for your country lately?  Fought with an acquaintance about politics?  How is that working for you?  Did it create any jobs, stop abortion, balance the budget?  No, I thought not. 

This country has been going to "hell in a hand basket" for over 200 years, so if your candidate(s) weren't elected, I'm sorry for you.  This country has survived into its third century by the greatness of its people, not the greatness of its politicians.  I challenge you not to spend the next four years plotting your revenge and spend it instead on becoming a better person.  As Tip O'Neill said "All politics is local" and by local, I mean YOU.  

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

How are you still single?

Having been asked this question many times over the last couple of years, and after being “pestered” a number of times to the point where I had to be blunt and hurt someone’s feelings, I think it is time I answered this question.

I should preface this by sharing here what I share with all men who think they want to chase me.  I work two jobs; one with a set schedule, one that is all the time and anytime.  I work long and I work hard because I like money, by which I mean a fat savings account is the best sleeping medication I have ever found.  I have a number of children, all grown, but they are an active part of my life and now they are starting to reproduce. I anticipate being an involved grandparent.  I am busy.  Not only do I have plenty of employment and a growing family, I am also an artist and a writer.  Additionally, I have a cycling addiction.  As if this were not enough, I’m down for three autoimmune disorders and there are some limitations on certain activities.  My life is not only full, it is overflowing.  I have increasingly better health these days, and an exponential growth in my happiness and contentment with my life.  I am self-sufficient and I want for nothing. 

These are things I have had said to me.  They all affront me.  At last, I’m going to answer them frankly and honestly.

  1. I know you’re busy, but you can make time for people who are important to you.

Of course I can and I do.  The subtext here reads, spend time with me; I should be important to you.  Explain to me why you are important to me because I hardly know you and I’m just not feeling it.  

  1. You need to get out more.  You stay home too much.

It is true, I do stay home a lot, but I work at home.  This is the office and the landing spot. My schedule is not conducive to going on dates and I can’t manage late nights these days because I like my sleep.

  1. Don’t you like spending time out of doors?  It would help you so much.

Of course I like spending time outside.  I can’t be out in sun.  Yes, thanks for suggesting sunscreen, why didn’t I think of that?  Sunlight breaks me out in blisters, I run a fever and I’m sick.  Sunscreen doesn’t make the slightest bit of an impact on this.   So, I cycle in the evenings or the early mornings so I’m not in as much sunlight.  

  1. You just need the right kind of exercise.  You should take up running.

Cycling IS the right kind of exercise.  My joints are permanently damaged and I need low impact, but high resistance.  Thanks for being so concerned about my health, but I think I got this.

  1. Oh baby, I’ve been looking for a girl like you!

I find this one irritating.  I’m no one’s “baby” and I haven’t been a “girl” in 30 years.  I’m an adult woman.  I’m more than reasonably complicated and I’m all woman, I assure you.

  1. Why do you work so much, I mean you never have the time to talk to me!

Has it occurred to you that I might feel my time is better spent elsewhere?  Personally, this comes across as needy and attention seeking.  I’m not your mom, your best friend or your therapist, though you might actually need the therapist. 

  1. You need a relationship.

It took me nearly 50 years to learn to identify my own needs.  I’ve known you all of five minutes and I don’t understand how you presume to know what I need, but I’m pretty sure you are not it.

  1. Don’t you want to get married again?

In a word?  No.  I have been there, done that and with a man who was not content to merely beat his wife and children, he had to violate the last human taboo against his daughters. 

  1. No wonder you hate men, are you sure he did that?  I mean, that’s a lot to accuse a man of doing.

I don’t hate men.  I gave birth to two of them for heaven’s sake, and I trust both of them with my life.  As for being sure, I’m 100% positive, absolutely certain and I live with the repercussions every day.  When my children suffer, I suffer with them and for them.  Questioning the voracity of my honesty infuriates me.  Good. Bye.

  1. You must get very lonely.

This is a projection.  No, I don’t get lonely.  The quiet single life works extremely well for me.  It is the reprieve from the large family I gave birth to.  I go and visit them, and they often come here, to share in the quiet, civilized and relaxed atmosphere I provide them.  Because I live alone and enjoy my own time, I’m that much happier to spend time with them and I enjoy them more.  I’m also my own best friend and there is nothing like spending quality time with a best friend.

  1. You need someone to take care of you.

I’m not sure what about me gives you that impression.  I’m quite adept at taking care of myself, thanks.  I have been on my own now for 16 years, raising kids and not.  I don’t have a mortgage, I don’t pay rent.  I don’t have credit cards or car payments.  I’m gainfully employed and have full benefits.  I don’t think I need to be taken care of in any way.

  1. You need love in your life.

We all need love in our lives, but what makes you think I’m lacking?  I have a large family of outstanding young adults whom I still call my children, a couple of grandchildren in the works and a great number of the best girlfriends in the world.  I have the love and constant attention of a fabulous dog.  Best of all, I love me.  I love how my mind works, I love my creativity and ingenuity and I love that I know what makes me feel good about anything and everything in my life.  I love the little things and the big things I accomplish.  I love my sense of the obvious because it makes others laugh.  I love that I know how to be present, real, honest, accepting, nonjudgmental, kind, thoughtful and a host of other things.  I love me.  I will always have more love than I know what to do with! 

I have come to feel about my life the way that old T-shirt read…A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle.  I have no idea why anyone should think that an educated, accomplished and intelligent 50-something woman can’t be happy on her own.  This 50-something woman is doing just fine.

Friday, August 26, 2011

A Brazen Act

 Unfurled by Lynne Hurd Bryant

I did something this week that I found liberating.  I should preface this by saying that I have lived in my little home in Wyoming for five years this week, and when I moved in here, I viewed it as my five-year cocoon.  I felt that at the end of the time, I would emerge from the chrysalis a different woman, one ready for the world in a new way.  I shed my chrysalis by shedding my clothing and posing in the nude for an artist friend. 

I have had some mixed reviews, not about the painting which has been well admired and deservedly so, but comments about what is viewed as a brazen or exhibitionist act; to take my clothes off and allow someone to actually look at my body and interpret it on canvas.  I am 50, and if I am not going to let it all hang out now, then when?  I am not ashamed of my body, but I know I don't have a stunning figure...then again I never did.  It is a vessel that has served me and served me very well.  It has carried several lovely, healthy children and fed them abundantly.  It has loved, touched, worked, nurtured and done the bidding of my heart and mind for half a century.  For its contribution to me, and every life I have had the opportunity to touch, I celebrate it, in its natural state. 

How many times have I heard "I could/would never do that!" from other women?  Many times now.  For the record, I was not embarrassed in the least.  Afraid of judgment, perhaps, but not embarrassed. Had I been asked to discuss my innermost thoughts and feelings, that would be exhibitionist for one, and I would have felt extremely naked and very exposed, for two.  That is the private part of me. There is nothing remarkable in showing one's body...two arms, two legs, a head, feet, hands, belly button...we all have those, right?  It is not extraordinary, it is quite ordinary, when you think about it. 

In the end, I am what I am.  I am not ashamed of my stretchmarks anymore than I am ashamed of saying what I think, or telling a filthy joke, or being extremely direct.  Being able to pose in the nude was really about being comfortable with myself.  I know who I am, what I am, what makes me tick, what makes me happy, what makes me sad, and all points in between.  I am comfortable in my own skin, even when it is all I am wearing.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Feminine Empowerment: A Tribute to Betty Ford

Water Lily by Lynne Hurd Bryant
If one could point to one woman who changed the late 20th Century, that one woman would be Betty Ford.  She changed the way we view femininity, allowing frankness and honesty to become part of the definition.  She made it possible to be definitively lady-like and speak one's truth. She proved that wearing a dress didn't mean weakness or fragility.  We owe her much.

Mrs. Ford was the first woman to speak publicly about breast cancer and addiction.  The Betty Ford Center is her living legacy, giving a better life to tens of thousands of people who would not otherwise have sought help.  It is impossible to know how many breast cancer victims would have died, had she not encouraged all women in being examined and tested.

In thinking about the ever increasing openness she encouraged, it is easy to name a multitude of issues that are now discussed openly; homosexuality, impotence, incest, child abuse, alcoholism, HIV/AIDS, and the list goes on.  This free discussion of previously personal issues has lead us from Jerry Springer to reality TV, the down side of being able to discuss anything publicly.  These shows miss the point that Mrs. Ford brought us:  Dignity.

Reality TV, which seems to be every other show on television these days, is a chance to let people with problems bare it all.  This is summertime, my younger daughter is home from college and she loves this garbage, so I have had this inflicted upon me, once again.  These shows have always struck me as people behaving badly in front of a camera, and for the all the world to see.  Having challenges in life does not entitle one to behave badly, in front of a camera or in life.  Letting it "all hang out" doesn't solve the problems and it is anything, but dignity.

There is a fine line between being honest and saying too much, between honoring your personal reality and attention seeking, between being a good example and serving as a warning to others.  Mrs. Ford walked this line with great skill, and I admire her for it.  She was one of the last great American ladies, and a true lady, she was.

As my grandmother used to say:  It is not what happens to you, it is how you take it. Betty Ford met her challenges with grace and personal integrity, which we would all do well to remember and emulate.