Be The Change You Wish To See In The World

By Tasche Laine

  • Gratitude
 I am grateful to be here. I am grateful to be alive, grateful that I beat cancer, and grateful to have a voice—so I am using it.
 
In June of 2012, I had a thyroidectomy.  A third of my thyroid was surgically removed because it had a fluid filled cyst, the size of a small plum, attached to it. The mass had been sitting on my voice box and a mere millimeter from my carotid artery.
 
When I asked if the surgery was necessary, Dr. Lee said, “You want to live, don’t you? If the mass moves and hits your carotid—you’re dead.” I liked this guy. He didn’t have much of a bedside manner, but he told it to me straight, and I appreciated that.
 
After the surgery, Dr. Lee was there when I woke up in recovery. He handed me a pen and a clipboard with blank paper on it, and asked how I was feeling.
 
“A little groggy, I guess, but pretty good,” I said easily. “But what is this paper for?”
 
“Wait, what? You’re talking? Tasche, you’re not supposed to be able to speak,” said a bewildered Dr. Lee, who had given me the paper to write my reply.
 
What was he talking about? Was I hearing things? Maybe it was the pain meds. I mean, yes, he did warn me that I might never speak again, but I didn’t think he meant it! Doctors are always going on about the risks of surgery. You know, yada, yada, yada. I didn’t really pay much attention to it when I signed all those pre-surgery forms.
 
He explained how my voice box had been completely crushed during surgery, and that he had painstakingly tried to re-shape it and make it “3-D” again. He admitted that he thought his efforts had been futile and was positive I’d lost my voice. And then he pointed at the ceiling and said, “Somebody up there likes you.”
 
The fact that I could speak was a medical miracle. The fact that I had zero knowledge of this grim prognosis before entering surgery, I think, was also a miracle. Why worry about something I had no control over? Especially when it turns out there was nothing to worry about in the first place? I can speak!
 
***
 
Four years later, in November of 2016, I had a radical nephrectomy. This surgery removed my left kidney and the 5.7-pound cancerous tumor that was attached to it. Because the tumor was so large, it required a twelve-inch incision (sternum to lower gut) that looks like a 7 or an upside down L, to remove the tumor intact—to prevent the cancer from spreading.
 
The surgery went better than anyone had hoped, and to this day I am cancer free. I’m alive!
 
So when I tell you I am grateful to be here—I mean it. I feel I have been given another chance at this thing called life and I want to do something with it. I have a voice and I want to use it.
 
I’m launching my first book today. It just went live on Amazon as I write this. Yes, that was a surreal sentence to write.
 
I wrote CLOSURE for a few reasons. First, this story would not let me rest until I told it. I felt I had a story to tell, and even though it is deeply personal, I felt an obligation to tell it. I want to be a voice for the people who feel silenced. My story addresses formerly taboo topics such as rape and depression.
 
It is time to acknowledge the prevalence of these issues—the first step as a catalyst for change. I was inspired to speak out by Milck’s song, “Quiet.” I can’t keep quiet anymore—and I want things to change. This is something I can do with my new life; and if it helps one person, makes a difference in one reader’s life—it will be worth it. I’m taking Gandhi’s advice and I’m “be(ing) the change (I) wish to see in the world.”
 
CLOSURE is a hybrid of two genres—fiction and memoir. It is based on a true story of events in my life, but some aspects have been fictionalized for literary effect, and names have been changed to protect the privacy of the people involved.
 
I hope that you will see this book as more than just a story about two kids who fell in love. Because life is so much more complicated than that. Yes, there is a love story here, but it is also a life story.
 
I am alive. I am grateful. I am celebrating. Life with all its crazy ups and downs is messy, but it’s also beautiful—and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
 
If you’d like, you can view CLOSURE here.
 

Book Launch News

  • New Press Release

 PRESS RELEASE

 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 27, 2018

FIRST TIME AUTHOR LAUNCHES BOOK VIRTUALLY

Closure by Tasche Laine released April 2, 2018

 

Portland, OR – March 27, 2018:  Tasche Laine will launch her first book from the comfort of her home, wearing slippers. In a Facebook Launch Party, Monday, April 2, 2018, from 5:00 PM – 7:00 PM PDT, she will broadcast via live video on her Author Page, read excerpts from her debut novel, Closure, and have prizes and giveaway contests for her fans.
 
Closure is a story about childhood sweethearts Trey and Tara who fall in love through writing letters. Each other’s first love, they pledge to spend their lives together. But unforeseen events tear them apart, putting them on different paths. Yet, they weave in and out of each other’s lives through the years, even though they are not together. Haunted by memories and feeling incomplete—that fate isn’t finished with them yet—they see each other after twenty years. Could this be their second chance?

 

“We promised to keep in touch, write, stay friends . . . he told me to be strong and to ‘have faith.’ At that moment I knew our paths would cross again someday, they had to. I just couldn’t imagine never seeing him again.” ~Tara Carter, CLOSURE

 

Tasche Laine has lived all over the U.S. and currently resides in Vancouver, Washington. She has worked as a journalist, newspaper columnist, teacher, and studio teacher to the stars. CLOSURE is her first book. For more information, please visit her website at taschelaine.com.

 

Contact:  Tasche Laine, Author
Email:  taschelaine@gmail.com
Website:  http://taschelaine.com
Facebook Author Page:  https://facebook.com/TascheLaine/
Book info: 
ISBN-13: 978-1-7321261-0-7 (ebook) $1.99 launch promo
ISBN-13: 978-1-7321261-1-4 (paperback) $14.99
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07BC5627S

 

 

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In A World Filled With Hate We Need More Compassion

  • Man on water with rocks
HATE. What does this word mean to you? What connotations do you associate with it?
 
I asked my students these same questions as I wrote the word “HATE” in big block letters on the white board, after teaching them the difference between denotation and connotation.

 

It was the morning after the mass shooting in Orlando, Florida, that killed 49 people and injured 58 others. I needed to address the shooting with my students, as they were all talking about it and I knew we wouldn’t get any work done if I stifled their discussions. I decided to make it the morning lesson—an English lesson.

 

June 13, 2016, I was teaching at Troy High School, in Fullerton, California—2,514 miles away. It was summer school and the students before me had failed Freshman English for one reason or another and knew they had to pass my class or they wouldn’t graduate.

 

Given my audience, made up of teenagers who would rather be at the beach (or anywhere else) than my classroom, forced to take summer school, their answers were predictable. After I wrote the word, I asked for examples of words they associated with hate.

 

One student said, “Homework!” Everyone laughed.

 

Another said, “School.”

 

“Okay, good. Those are examples of things you hate. But what do you feel when you hear the word hate? Remember, a connotative word is the feeling invoked or the meaning implied by the word.”

 

And then they got it. Soon the room was bustling with energy as they shouted the words faster than I could write them. Words like:  rage, anger, bully, fight, bad, mad, ugly, violent, hurt, pain, kill, war, fear . . . I wrote their examples until there was no room left to write; the white board was full.

 

The room fell silent as they realized how powerful the word hate is; how it holds so many negative, destructive connotations. Then I challenged them to eliminate the word hate from their vocabularies, for at least the remainder of summer school. I encouraged them instead to use synonyms, such as dislike, loathe, etc. And I asked them to keep a journal, noting all the times they would usually say hate, and writing the word they chose to say instead.

 

We talked about hate crimes and what causes people to have so much hate in their hearts for other people. According to Silvia Dutchevici, LCSW, president and founder of the Critical Therapy Center, we hate because it is in our psychological makeup and family history. She adds that it is also in our cultural and political history. “We live in a war culture that promotes violence, in which competition is a way of life,” she says. “We fear connecting because it requires us to reveal something about ourselves. We are taught to hate the enemy — meaning anyone different than us — which leaves little room for vulnerability and an exploration of hate through empathic discourse and understanding. In our current society, one is more ready to fight than to resolve conflict. Peace is seldom the option,” from “The Psychology of Hate” by Allison Abrams, LCSW-R. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/nurturing-self-compassion/201703/the-psychology-hate

 

 

What Can We Do About It?

 

According to the article, Psychologist Bernard Golden says that hatred has to be learned, “We are all born with the capacity for aggression as well as compassion. Which tendencies we embrace requires mindful choice by individuals, families, communities and our culture in general. The key to overcoming hate is education: at home, in schools, and in the community.”

 

To wrap up my lesson that day, I encouraged my students to spread kindness, compassion, and love. I encouraged them to smile at each other and pay it forward.

 

In light of the most recent school shooting, in Parkland, Florida, I think that is sound advice for our whole country. Please. Be kind to each other. Have compassion. Spread love.
 

The Damn Cat Died

  • blue cat eyes
Have you ever wondered how different your life would be now if certain things had happened? My son would be 11 today . . . at least according to my due date. But I don’t know when his actual birthday is because he was never born.

 

You know that superstitious saying? The one that says, “bad things come in threes?” Is it supposed to be reassuring? Well I don’t find any reassurance in it.

 

It was late July, 2006, and I was twelve weeks pregnant with my second child. The pregnancy was a surprise since I didn’t think I could get pregnant anymore and I had just turned forty. We’d had trouble conceiving our daughter, who was now eight years old, and had tried off and on for years to have a second child. I had given up and thought I was incapable of getting pregnant anymore. I had even been to a fertility specialist. Surprise!

 

Of course I was elated when I found out I was five weeks pregnant—a week after my fortieth birthday. Yet, there was this tiny voice in my head that was like, “What? You’re pregnant at FORTY?” Okay, so maybe the voice wasn’t so tiny. All right, yes, it was shouting at me. Sorry, what can I say? I had doubts. I thought forty might be too old to have a baby. Actually, by the time the baby was due I’d be almost forty-one.

 

Therefore, this pregnancy was bittersweet. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. There would be a nine-year gap between this baby and our daughter, I was about to start a new job, and my husband was less than thrilled. To make matters worse, I had severe morning sickness nearly every day for two months. It was worse than my first pregnancy, by far.

 

But by the time my twelve week prenatal check up was here, I had fully embraced the idea, had decorated the nursery over and over in my head, and already bought my daughter a cutesy ‘big sister’ t-shirt.

 

I was heading into my second trimester, the morning sickness was dissipating, and I was getting some energy back. I was optimistic and letting myself get excited at the prospect of having a baby in my forties.

 

Just when I was supposedly ‘out of the woods’ of the risk of miscarriage—I had one. The doctor said he wasn’t able to detect the baby’s heartbeat.

 

By this point I’d already had ultrasounds, seen the fetus moving on the screen, and heard the heartbeat multiple times. I was not prepared for the sudden shock of hearing the words “missed abortion” and “dead fetus” inside my womb. They scheduled me for surgery the next day, and forty hours after being told that my baby had died inside me, I was no longer pregnant.

 

A week later, my paternal grandfather died. He was 86 and suffered from Alzheimer’s disease. I flew up to Seattle by myself to attend the funeral, and my dad asked me to write and deliver the eulogy.

 

The day I got back from burying my grandfather, on a Sunday afternoon, our four-year-old cat, Patrick, suddenly collapsed. His breathing was slow, shallow, and labored. His sides were grotesquely heaving in and out. I hadn’t even unpacked my suitcase yet.

 

Patrick was a voracious eater and a bit on the chubby side. He was affectionately named after the soft, lovable, not too bright starfish on “Sponge Bob Square Pants.” The name fit the champagne-colored Burmese aptly.

 

I had to take Patrick to the animal emergency clinic twenty miles away because our Veterinarian’s office was closed Sundays. My daughter insisted on accompanying me, and she held Patrick on her lap in the car.

 

The Vet at the clinic gave Patrick something to help him breathe easier, and they ran a few tests.  They said he was having congenital heart failure. They said they could do surgery but there were no guarantees, and the prognosis did not look good. They told me I had to make the decision to put him down. Are you kidding me? He was only four years old! I had to decide this now? It wasn’t fair.

 

My beautiful eight-year-old daughter looked up at me with her big brown eyes, brimming with tears, and asked, “Mommy, can they save Patrick?” It was more than I could bear. I didn’t know what to do so I called my husband, ever the voice of reason.

 

When I told him how much the surgery would cost to save the cat, and that there was no guarantee it would even, in fact, save him, it was a no-brainer decision for my husband. But I was the one who had to tell our daughter that we had to kill her sweet kitty. Damn it.

 

I hung up the phone, took a deep breath, and told the Vet I’d made my decision.

 

While they were getting the injections ready, my daughter said her goodbyes to Patrick. Then I told her she had to wait in the lobby and that I would be out in a few minutes. I felt she was too young to witness the euthanasia of her precious cat. As it was, I felt I made the right call because I had a difficult time keeping it together myself, holding his head and stroking his fur while I watched the light go out of his eyes.

 

That night I cried. Well, that’s an understatement—more like broke down and wailed loud heart wrenching sobs that wracked my body as I grieved and mourned the loss of my unborn child, grandfather, and cat. I had held it together for two deaths, been strong for my family, and even spoke at my grandfather’s funeral with nearly perfect composure. Why is it that the third thing, a cat of all things, is the one that broke me? 

 

On today, what should be my son’s eleventh birthday; I look back on that week of the terrible triad. I shake my head as I recall crying the most for the damn cat.

 

I’m Using My Voice

  • close up of blue eye
My babysitter molested me when I was five years old. He was 13. It happened on several occasions. He made a game out of it. The last time it happened I was eight. I told no one and suppressed the memories for many years. It’s amazing how our brains can block out and shut off certain memories as self-preservation.  

 

Why am I telling you now? Because of beautiful, courageous women like singer/songwriter, @MILCKMUSIC (Connie Lim), who wrote the incredible anthem, “Quiet,” and performed it with a choir at the women’s march a year ago. In an interview with Allure, Milck stated, “It’s difficult but I wanted to share this. I feel if I do it will empower others, and we can start healing our personal shame, and empower ourselves to be community leaders.” (Allure’s, “Singer MILCK Shares The Deeper Meaning Behind the Viral Anthem for the Women’s March” by @ChantelMorel, https://www.allure.com/story/milck-womens-march-anthem).

 

I’m telling you because repressed memories have a way of catching up to us, and we need to let them out so we can release them and begin to heal.

 

Many years after my abuser was out of the picture, when I though I’d never have to see him again, I ran into him at a funeral. By this time I was a 29-year-old adult, and yet I suddenly felt like that small, helpless child all over again.

 

As I met his gaze, my body went rigid with fear and I felt the blood rush out of my face. The memories came back like ocean waves crashing over me. I couldn’t speak, could barely breathe, and began shaking uncontrollably.

 

The rest of that day is a blur. I tried to act normal, tried to just get through the day so I could go home and fall apart. I needed to cry for the little girl who lost her innocence too young.

 

I told two people:  my mother and my husband. Neither one was equipped to deal with the news. Neither one knew what to say or how to support me. I didn’t know how to get help or what kind of support I even needed, so I shoved the memories back down again, ready to repress them for a few more years.   

 

Now I lend my voice to the brave women who are fighting this fight. Speaking up is not easy. Speaking up is terrifying and I’m shaking as I write this. But something has to be done to stop the violence. We have to end the cycle of abuse, and if I don’t break the silence I become part of the problem.

 

“For too long, survivors of sexual assault and harassment have been in the shadows. We have been afraid to speak up, to say ‘Me Too’ and seek accountability. For many, the consequences of doing so have been devastating.” Tarana Burke, founder of the #MeToo movement. @TaranaBurke

 

These women are making a difference. These women are changing how we, as a society, treat victims of sexual abuse. It is time to use our voices. It is time to take our power back.

 

The word ‘victim’ often conjures negative connotations. It is surrounded by a stigma of shame and guilt. Many victims are shamed and blamed, mocked, ridiculed, mistrusted, and even demonized. They are put on trial and accused of seeking fame, attention, or even lying. Why the hell would anyone want to become famous by claiming to be a victim? What kind of sick society do we live in where people prey on victims as though they are the villains?

 

In my book I struggled with whether or not to include a rape scene. I nearly left it out because I didn’t want people to judge me. I didn’t want them to look at me differently once they knew. The humiliation and shame a victim feels are so powerful that we tend to want to stay silent, for fear of being shunned, or worse.  

 

Fortunately, that stigma is slowly being lifted as more and more women are banding together in unity and sharing their stories.

 

“ . . . Every voice matters, whether you name your abuser or tell your story publicly or privately or in a journal or even just sort it in your head—that may make zero sense to you if you’ve never experienced it, but a survivor knows and understands . . . . Whatever your story, know that you’re not alone. All sexual abuse is bad, and it’s not a competition. You matter.”  Rachel Thompson, “This is the One About Sexual Harassment.” @RachelintheOC

 

I get angry when people openly condemn women for speaking up, for sharing their stories. And I get even angrier when it is other women hating on women. What’s that about?  
 
No one signs up to be a victim. We don’t want to talk about what happened to us. But if we don’t, how will real change occur? For many, it’s still something they can’t talk about. They carry around this horrible secret and stay silent in their suffering, bearing their heavy burdens.

 

I don’t tell you my story because I want attention, fame, or pity. Who needs that kind of attention? Trust me, it is so much easier to stay silent. I tell you my story because I know I am not alone. I tell you my story for the millions of survivors who haven’t found the courage to tell you theirs. I tell you my story because there are brave women out there making a difference. We are changing the world for our children and our children’s children, so that one day they won’t have to live in fear. I tell you my story because I have a voice—and I’m using it.