Saturday, March 28, 2015

"Unconditional Love," Ch. 24 of BUT...AT WHAT COST

I love my kids more than life, but my love is definitely conditional. The emotion I was feeling when Randy was throwing rocks at his sister, or Beth was drawing on the walls with oil paints, was NOT love. And they knew it!

I actually heard a mother say, “I will always love you, but it’s not nice to bite your brother.” WHAT? Could there be a more confusing message to a two-year-old? Well, yeah, there can be. I heard another mother admonish her husband not to say, “You’re bad.” He should say, “What you did was bad,” instead. Does anyone really think a little kid will discern this subtle difference? The child-rearing “experts” of the eighties, and later, did. They wrote scripts for parents to use.

I don’t think these scripts did any real harm to the kids because most parents couldn’t stick to them anyway, but the fact that parents were trained to think they needed scripts has been rather harmful.

I can’t think of anything more natural to any species than child-rearing. We are born to procreate and raise children, yet the experts created a whole mythology surrounding this very normal and ordinary process. Yes, there are parents who don’t do a good job – often because they’re drug-dependent or have some emotional disorder. However, most people respond to their children’s antics naturally and competently. It’s not brain surgery. When they’re sad, we try to make them feel better. When they’re bad, we get mad. When they’re bored, we suggest something to do. And we civilize the little buggers to the expectations of the prevalent group (i.e., the group or sub-group to which the parents belong.)

Sure, I wanted to beat my head against the wall a few times when Randy was little, and some folks gave me dirty looks when he misbehaved, but I responded naturally and without thought. He turned out great. So do most kids. For thousands of years, most kids have grown-up to be competent, productive adults – without advice from experts. They say “please” and “thank you.” They learn to read and write. They work; they play; they marry and have kids. Most aren’t criminals and most aren’t “bad” people. Even most children who have been abused turn out to be nice people. The odds are on society’s side.

So, why all the expert nit-picking? There is no research I know of that can cite any direct correlation between past treatment of a child and his future behaviors, unless the treatment was very extreme – like locking him in a box for a few years. Abused children don’t necessarily grow up to abuse. Some might, but others might grow up to be more empathetic than the norm. At this point in time, there’s no way to easily predict or manipulate an outcome, which leads me to believe there are too many other factors in play (like genetic tendencies) to presume causes and effects.

The best and funniest research I’ve come across that seems to exhibit some predictive qualities, are those on conformity. Check them out. Many, many people will give what they know is a wrong answer just to be accepted by the group they’re with. Without instruction, most people will stand up at the sound of a buzzer or bell (whatever)… if the other people in the room stand up. It’s fascinating. Many, if not most, of us are sheep and will follow the leader – no matter how silly it seems. However, few will carry over that learned behavior into a new situation, because that would be even sillier! We live in the present tense and are most responsive to present circumstances. It’s a survival imperative.

My conclusion from personal observation and all the studies I’ve read from many different psychological, sociological, and neuropsychological disciplines is: after the age of ten (or maybe earlier), genes, peers, culture, and who you’re with at the moment will influence your beliefs and behavior much, much more than anything your parents ever said or did. It’s just my opinion, but it makes a lot more sense to me than concluding that the scripted mantras of some expert, such as saying “What you did was bad” instead of “You’re bad,” will matter in the long run.

Certainly, there are experiences from your youth that will inform your future choices, but usually only under similar circumstances and with the same or similar people. We simply don’t easily transfer or apply knowledge learned in one place to a different venue, nor should we when it comes to people. What you’ve learned about Mommy will generally only apply to Mommy. It would not work to your advantage to treat all women the same way you treat your mother. That’s called being “sick.”

Likewise, it would not be to your advantage to ignore what you’ve learned about Mommy when you’re dealing with Mommy. If Mommy doesn’t like messes, a kid will clean up his messes. If Grandma doesn’t care, a kid won’t care either… but only when he’s with her. What he does with Mommy won’t transfer (unless, of course, he’s a natural born neat-nik).
Taken to its logical conclusion, Mother Nature would have to have been very short-sighted (and stupid) to have designed survival imperatives the way the popular advice-givers saw it. We MUST live in the present tense and adapt to present circumstances. Therefore, their presumption that what parents say while the kids are little will prescribe the kids’ future emotional health or his future behavior seems quite ridiculous.

Unconditional love is an adult concept. We understand that even when we’re mad as hell, we’ll get over it and love again. And, in good time, children will come to understand that too – without being told. They’ll see it in action. “Ooh, Mommy doesn’t like me when I do that… or Mommy reads me a story and kisses me goodnight.” All Mom has to do while they’re writing on the wall with magic markers is let them know they can’t do that. Don’t confuse them with gibberish! Do what comes naturally. It’s much easier than following a script, works better in the short run, and won’t matter in the long run anyway.

Oprah’s very popular television show hit the airwaves in 1984, and our culture is still paying the consequences. My friend Alice disagrees; she does not connect many behavioral choices to cultural influences much. She blames the parents… and so do I, but through a circuitous route. The culture (i.e., Oprah and other media sources) taught the parents of that era what and how to teach their kids, and then the parents followed those rules. That’s what accounts for generational differences in child-rearing practices, and the subsequent beliefs the children might hold.

If the rules stayed the same (or similar) as they did for generations before the sixties, most parents would raise their kids the same way their parents raised them. I raised my kids the same way my parents raised me, and as their parents had raised them. We all spanked our kids. We didn’t beat them; we spanked them, but you’d better not spank (in public) now. You might be arrested. I’m fairly certain Abe Lincoln and every other hero before the 1960s was taken to the wood shed a few times, so why spanking is such a “no, no” today is a real mystery.

I don’t think it makes any difference if parents spank occasionally or not. It should and usually does depend on the kid’s temperament. Some kids need a swat on the behind just to get their attention. With others, a look will do. Shouldn’t a parent be responsive to the individual needs of each child instead of having to follow some blanket rules?

Anyway, Oprah, as a representative of the prevalent culture, dictated the rules for the next twenty years or so. How did following those rules play out? Not well, I think. There were many other culturally imposed beliefs besides those involving raising kids, but, for now, I’ll stick with that.

Mostly, the kids did fine. No better or worse than they’ve always done… except for a general delay in growing up and taking responsibility for their own actions, and perhaps a delay in developing critical thinking skills. In my opinion, from personal observation, the more closely the new rules were followed, the more ornery and the less responsible the kids turned out to be. I’m sure there are many exceptions, but excessive, unearned praise seems to beget self-centered brats. Likewise, many kids get to set their own rules due to parental neglect, but that’s not relevant to the advice-givers; that’s due to parental inadequacy or sub-cultural expectations. Absent firm moral teachings, selfish brats become selfish adults – immoral adults, because to me, selfishness is a pretty good definition for immorality.

Had the new rules, which enhance a tendency toward selfishness, not been instituted in our classrooms and elsewhere, we might have had a chance to deter the growth of immoral behavior, but nearly everything these “experts” advised was, in effect, detrimental to moral (self-less) development. You simply CAN’T instill a strong moral compass in kids when everything is geared to make kids feel good about themselves… even when they’re underachieving, misbehaving, and making excuses. They need carrots AND sticks.

When gold stars were handed out to everyone for mediocre work and discipline left the classrooms, more kids failed. Parents blamed teachers, and teachers blamed parents for the failures. My inclination was to blame the kids, but over the decades, blaming the kids stopped happening or happened less both at home and in the classroom.

Self-responsibility is seldom mentioned, let alone emphasized by the political class of the Left. It’s not good for gathering votes. Remember, Democrats need to promote dependency to achieve their political goals. This leaves them in a rather untenable position because public service unions (teachers) and the parents of minority students are two of their major voting blocs. They are sorta left with no one to blame except their own policies, but they can’t blame those either. Result? Nothing gets done. Make no mistake; Democrats control our education system from kindergarten through graduate school, so nothing will get better until our culture rejects the self-esteem nonsense. Both parents and teachers have had their hands tied. All the normal, traditional, common sense ways of making a child perform well have been removed in favor of new educational philosophies, which, in effect, give the kids a free pass. You can’t hurt the kids’ feelings.

In my day (here I go again), kids were told if they got in trouble with the teacher, they would be in trouble at home too. I never asked my kids if their homework was done; it was their responsibility, and they knew it. Granted, some kids need to be ridden a little harder than others, but parents were seldom involved with schoolwork. The kids knew it was their job to get it done.

Believe it or not, then, we believed the normal responses of most parents and most teachers to ordinary problems were perfectly acceptable. We believed most adults were competent enough to recognize what a kid needed at the moment. We left teachers to their own devices (maybe a switch, maybe a hug). We didn’t believe in one-size-fits-all rules.

One of the main differences I see between the culture of yesteryear and the culture of today is the apparent willingness of folks to assume the role of victim – the old “woe is me” syndrome. I think that “victim culture” was created primarily by the advice-givers’ lack of faith in the competence of ordinary people, and their equally destructive tendency to make a really, really, big deal out of something really, really trivial. By demonizing, or ignoring, or redefining most of the tried and true methods of civilizing our children, they created most of the behavior problems moms are now asking the experts how to solve. Well, you might better ask Grandma, because most of the experts are still stuck in the same orthodoxy they’ve always had – which was wrong-headed from its inception.

Having grown up with the family I grew up with, I simply can’t believe women today think they need to go to a psychologist to help solve ordinary problems. A life counselor? Please! My grandmother is definitely rolling in her grave and so is my mother. They didn’t feel sorry for themselves or consider themselves victims… though God knows they weren’t dealt a winning hand. They didn’t blame their husbands or their parents for their lots in life. They were self-less – they and my father were among the most moral, giving, and understanding people I’ve known. Despite any human frailties they might have exhibited, they thrived on their goodness and strength of character.

The psychological advice industry’s main concern was to raise everyone’s self-esteem. As I said before, it was the end-all explanation for “failure” (as defined by them) starting in the sixties. Their favorite advice to raise self-esteem was praise, gold stars, and mumbo-jumbo (“What you did was bad.”). Their second corollary was to blame someone else – Mommy, Daddy, husbands, teachers, society whatever – and make new rules for the offenders and the victims to follow. Common sense left the country.

Instead of using common sense and helping, or maybe even insisting Beth lose weight, I followed most of the “how to raise your kids’ self-esteem” rules provided by the pop psychologists. Randy never needed higher self-esteem. He had too much. But no amount of praise worked for Beth when she was overweight. It took peer acceptance to restore her confidence (which she had plenty of before she gained weight). As soon as she lost weight, her self-image soared. I could have told her she was beautiful and brilliant every day of the week and it wouldn’t have meant a thing if she didn’t have a date for the prom.

It wasn’t entirely the culture that demanded I reinforce Beth’s esteem; it was my natural inclination, anyway. Many cultural impositions come naturally – it’s when the “experts” lend great importance to it that things get out of hand. I told her there was nothing wrong with her and that some people are insensitive and are wrong to be unkind. True, but not at all helpful.

Parents’ opinions just don’t matter much to teenagers. Haven’t people always known this? Haven’t we always known to keep our kids away from bad influences? Haven’t we always known kids will do damn near anything to be accepted by their peers? Many girls are on the phone half the night to make sure they’re going to wear the right jeans to the movies. Why do we think they do that? Because peers matter – big time! It explains fads too. Certain fashions don’t suddenly get hot because one product is better than another. The advertisers get the ball rolling and peer pressure does the rest. Gotta have it.

Sure, parents can refuse, but most of them are living under similar pressures from their peers, so don’t refuse. This was, and is, the era of pleasing kids – no matter what. Parents were, and are, scared to death they’ll do something wrong and cause their kids great permanent distress… and they’ll jump through hoops to avoid doing that. Plus, there is the normal inclination in some to want a better life (in the form of more stuff) for one’s children.

Thanks to the sellers of the self-esteem mythology, our culture all but ignores peer influence, yet it is probably the most important influence on any decision or behavioral choice a teen might make. I wish I’d understood that when Beth was overweight. The practical, common sense solution was for her to go on a diet. Listening to her mother’s unconditional love (in effect, I love you whether you’re fat or not) didn’t do diddley.

Facts trump words. Trying to make people feel better than THEY think they deserve to feel implicitly sends the opposite message: “You aren’t measuring up.” Anyone who thinks kids don’t know if they measure up or not (or can be persuaded otherwise by a kind word or an unearned gold star) is not seeing life as it really is. What kid doesn’t know who the smartest one in the class is, or the one who hits the most home runs, or who’s “hot”? False praise is an exercise in futility. We do it, because we want our kids to feel better when they’ve suffered a blow to their self-esteem. It may make them feel better briefly, but it doesn’t stop them from knowing where they stand in the lineup. They’re not stupid.

A parent’s job is not so much to make them feel better (though we always try), as much as it is to help them perform better and achieve their goals. When they perform better, or lose weight, or hit a home run, then they will feel better. Self-esteem isn’t some mysterious or particularly permanent state, except in the clinically depressed; it automatically rises and falls as circumstances demand. You do a good job, it’s high. You get fired, it’s low. You do something good for someone, it’s high. Just as it should be. Virtue is its own reward… or at least it used to be.

Neither is the decline in morality the only effect the advice-givers have foisted on our culture: too many people today think they are incompetent to solve life’s ordinary problems without help. After being told for decades that they need expert help to do darn near everything (including how to bathe a baby) many people, especially women, have started to believe it. Isn’t that a symptom of low self-esteem?


We are serializing here Judy Axtell's memoir, which describes her evolution from liberal to conservative. Her book is available from its publisher, Outskirts Press, as well as through such on-line booksellers as I am proud to have been her coach and editor.

My writing-coaching-editing site is

"Post Divorce..." from KIDNAPPED TWICE



My paternal grandmother and grandfather worked all through their lives and established enough wealth for all of their children to have financially comfortable lives. There were a restaurant/bar, a dairy farm, over 50 cottages, boats and a beach, a snack bar, half-ownership of the Lake and the falls, and approximately 250 acres with houses that my grandfather held the mortgages on.

All their children did was to fight for years. While all this fighting was going on, no one was paying taxes on the property. Aunt Jennie would go to the bungalow every summer and rent out the cottages and the snack bar, so that the people could still rent their cottages and swim every day. These people were more like family than just tenants; they had been coming for over 20 years.

I was old enough, with my son, to watch the insanity happening. Our family ended up selling everything to a group from New York City, who proceeded to burn down the barn, level every cottage, burn down the big house, all while never paying a dime to anyone. The property was auctioned off for taxes for nearly $75,000. The farmer who owned the farm next door bought everything. He had to wait seven years before he could sell any property. Our family had gone from riches to rags.

I went out to where the big house once stood, and I dug up some of my grandmother’s flowers, which I care for and enjoy every spring and summer. When I drive out there now, there are multi-million-dollar houses all along the shore of the Lake. One lot was sold for more than the price what the farmer paid at auction. Our family received nothing. It makes me sick!

Apparently, stupidity runs in my family.


I have always had much better friendships with men than with women.

I remember speaking to a man who was going through a bad divorce. We were at the Sunday church service. I was telling him that he should make some friends, men or women, to talk to and to do things with, such as movies, dinners, and so on. A woman who was listening to our conversation said that men and women cannot be friends. I told her that I had many male friends, more male friends than female friends. She insisted that it was not possible for men and women to be just friends.

She said to me, “You must be a better person than me, because I could not simply be a friend with a man.” I guess I am different from her, as I have had many male friends in my lifetime. They felt comfortable with me, and I with them. For those who are thinking, “Oh, sure!”– let me tell you that there was never anything more than friendship!

Two of my male friendships were made while I was on the police force. One man is married with children, and whenever we do see each other, we very easily start our conversations just where we left off when we saw each other last. My other policeman friend, whom I think of often, has passed away. He had gotten married and had a son. He was stricken with skin cancer, which later traveled to his brain. I think of him often. I have just written twice that I think of him often, which shows how true it is.

My sister-in-law is a New York City police officer. I worry about her a lot, knowing that her job is dangerous. It is not a nine-to-five desk job. I had a few scares when I was on the police force, and this was in a fairly rural location approximately an hour-and-a-half drive from New York City.

I had a few good laughs while on the force. One was when I was on patrol one night, and we were following a car that was weaving all over the road. We pulled the car over. He was a very prominent man locally, and he was definitely intoxicated. I gave him a ticket for driving while intoxicated, DWI, and I called his friend to come get him and take him home.

On the night of his court appearance, his attorney was telling the police officers who were walking by him and his client that he wanted to talk to me. Attorneys always want to get their clients’ tickets reduced in severity. I was a hard-head then– and I still am– about drinking and driving.

Finally, I walked out of the police office to deal with the attorney. He looked at me very strangely. He turned to his client and said, “You s.o.b., you were drunk!” It turned out that his client had told him that a tall, blond guy had given him the ticket. My hair was blonde and long, but I could not have passed for a man! All the cops in the hallway thought this was very funny. They talked about it for a long time. I was not amused!

After our shifts were over and the single guys would go out for coffee or a drink, they would ask me to go with them. I always felt like one of the guys, and they treated me as such.


We are serializing here the memoir Kidnapped Twice: Then Betrayed and Abused, by Mary E. Seaman and Douglas Winslow Cooper, available in paperback and ebook formats from its publisher Outskirts Press, as well as and other on-line booksellers.
This is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, and this story is quite appropriate.

My writing-coaching-editing site is

Sunday, March 22, 2015

"Naughty Movie..." from KIDNAPPED TWICE


During my first marriage, I had a close friend who had a little girl who was the same age as my son. There was what I called a “naughty” movie that my husband and his friends had watched the night before. The film and the projector were left at our mobile home. Both my friend and I had no idea what it was, so we hung a white sheet on the wall and set up this film. As we finally figured out how to get this movie going, we both were shocked at what the movie actually was. We were in the process of turning this trashy movie off when my brother-in-law came in the door and looked down the hall and saw our sheet with the movie being played!

I never forgot that day, and I’m sure my friend did not either. Neither of us knew beforehand that movies like that existed. The fact that my brother-in-law thought that my friend and I were watching such a thing embarrasses me to this day. After I left that marriage, my friend was not allowed to see me any more. That’s the way it was in those days: husbands called the shots!

A few years later, a friend with three children was living with an alcoholic husband. She left him and asked if she could stay with me for awhile. I took her in with the children. To this day that husband blames me for his failed marriage.

In trying to deal with the problems in my life now, I sometimes ask myself the same questions that Aunt Jennie had asked me, “So is this my last chance to try to fix these problems? Do I end up losing everything again?” I don’t have any answers anymore. I find it very hard to smile. The few things that once could make me smile very seldom do now.


I started planning to leave my first husband when he broke his toe going through the doorway of our son’s bedroom to throw our son onto his bed because our son had walked in front of the television when Marty was watching it. All the other marital problems did not matter any more. No one was going to hurt my son ever!

I started by buying a clothes dryer and setting up a good babysitter to stay with my son while I was at work. My son would be starting kindergarten in September for half-days, so it would work for me to have a sitter for half a day. Marty was always on the road driving his truck, but his attitude was: what happened yesterday was done…why are you upset today?

I put all of my husband’s belongings on my porch and told him I was filing for divorce. I had changed the locks, so that he could not get in. It was Halloween, and I was out with my son trick-or-treating. My neighbor let me know when Marty was gone so that I could return home.

That next Sunday, I took my son to church, and when I went home, Marty was parked there, waiting for me, so I kept on going.

I had to hide in different motels for approximately a week. My son was not going to school, because he was with me. I got a restraining order, which finally got Marty to leave me alone, for awhile.


When I purchased the mobile home, my grandfather helped me with part of the purchase price. The remainder was a loan through a bank. When Marty had wanted to borrow $1400 from the bank and he put my mobile home up for collateral, there was no problem. He told me that when our income tax refund check came, we would pay off the loan.

When the refund came, I took it to the bank and paid off the loan. When Marty asked me if the refund check came, I told him that it had and that I paid off the loan. Marty got into the car and started chasing me around the five mobile homes, trying to run me over. There were no trees or other objects that I could hide behind, so as not to get hit. It wasn’t over until a couple of men who realized what was happening came out and stopped Marty! Obviously, he had other plans for that income tax refund.


After my son’s father and I got divorced, there was an incident that took place that made the local newspapers. There was a company that had many large machines on its site. A gang of men went to the property and did a lot of damage. It did not take long before the police arrested some of the men, one of whom was my ex-husband.

Before this happened, my ex had brought my son home on a Sunday night and handed me $200 in $20 bills. I was very happy with the money, as he never paid child support. He then told me to switch the 20s with petty cash money where I worked and return the switched money to him, as what he was giving me were counterfeit. I gave him back the money!

Despite these criminal activities, he was able to stay out of jail by turning state’s evidence. For many years after this, I was petrified that someone would try to kill my ex during a time when my son was with him.

My ex started going out with a pretty girl who lived right up the street from me. She was very nice, and after their relationship got serious, she came to me to ask what had happened to break up our marriage. I often wonder what would’ve happened if I had told her the truth. Instead, I told her that we were just too young when we married.

This girl and my ex got married but did not live happily ever after. That marriage ended also. I know he really loved her, but he just could not change enough to make a marriage work.

My ex had to have heart surgery, done at a well-known hospital. I cannot remember what was his problem, but the surgeon told him that after the operation he had a heart of a 25-year-old. So that’s exactly what he did after the operation: lived as though he were a 25-year-old. Everything he should not have done, he did! Five years later he died doing what he loved doing, sitting behind the wheel of his truck. Thank God it was parked. He never got to see his grandchildren, for whom he would have been a fine grandfather. Sad!

As I write this, I just received a telephone call from my eldest granddaughter, Claire, telling me she has been accepted by the college in Maine that she most wants to attend. I’m so happy for her and want her to have a happy and full life. I pray for this for my three granddaughters every day.

Holidays are also when I do think of my son’s father. The one thing in life I think he would’ve done with love and done well would have been to be a grandfather. I think he would have been a great one.

I also think of my own father. He had one grandson, my son, but he never had a close relationship with him. I often had holiday celebrations at my home, and he and my son would see each other during these times. In later years, my son would have these holidays celebrated at his house. My father would attend, but he and my son never had the warm relationship of grandfather to grandson. So sad!

Now my brother has a beautiful baby boy. I somehow know that my own father, although deceased, is looking after my brother and his family. I would have liked to see our father with his new grandson.

How many mistakes we all make in our lives! If only we could go back and fix them, how wonderful that would be!

I am writing this section at Christmastime, that time of year when my father was dying in the hospital. My brother, my brother’s mother, and I would go every day to the hospital. The holidays have not been the same since then. My brother’s little boy was born in December, which has eased the pain somewhat for my brother and his mother.

My own pain has been eating away at me for many years. I am working at dealing with it by writing this. Sometimes I think it’s working, sometimes not. I must say at this point, that meeting with my writing partner, Douglas Cooper, every week has been very helpful to me: he has been through, and is still going through, so much in his own life, I know that he understands what I am saying, even if it comes out wrong. He just knows, and I know that he knows.


We are serializing on this blog the memoir KIDNAPPED TWICE: Then Betrayed and Abused, by Mary E. Seaman and Douglas Winslow Cooper, published by Outskirts Press, available as a paperback and ebook from OP and and other online booksellers.

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month. Stepchildren, like Mary, are much more often the targets of such abuse than other children.

My coaching-editing-writing site is


"Metamorphosis," Ch. 23 from BUT...AT WHAT COST

In the previous chapter I listed some questions which when answered are, to me, evidence of our continuing moral decline. Others may not see my examples as moral issues. I do. I further believe a diverse, democratic republic can survive only if a majority adhere to the same basic moral and ethical standards.

In a brief political conversation with my doctor, he said, “Politics is just opinion.” Yes, Doctor, beliefs (political or otherwise) are opinions; however, some beliefs are true. There are provable facts that should influence beliefs. If political beliefs are based on scientific, historical, and statistical evidence and not ideology, there is a very good chance one’s opinions are, in fact, true. There are some ultimate truths in this world and many are provable. Isn’t that the standard by which we should judge our politicians: that what they claim is, in fact, true?

By the end of the nineties, I was very critical of the changes in many of our prevalent cultural beliefs. I saw a country in moral decline. I’ve recounted some of them in previous chapters: higher divorce rates, more promiscuity, a declining education system, and a declining black ghetto culture, to name a few. However, I had never connected these unwanted results to political policies.

It wasn’t until my father became a political junky and listened to talk show Conservative, Rush Limbaugh, every day that I was forced to pay attention. As I recall, neither Rush nor my dad approached their political beliefs through the same lens I did – human nature, neuroscience and group psychology didn’t enter into their rationales. We were, however, distressed by the same things: the increasing lack of personal responsibility for one’s actions (the blame game), the proliferation of frivolous lawsuits, the apparent absence of critical thinking and common sense, affirmative action, trophies for losers, and diversity initiatives.

These guys who were upset at the same things that bothered me were Republicans… so I guessed I was a Republican too. I swear, I didn’t know. It was a completely unexpected revelation. I simply hadn’t known which political party stood for what. I was grossly uninformed or misinformed about all things political, so had never made those connections.

I have been accused of reading only those books which agree with my philosophy. That’s mostly true of my current reading list, but it wasn’t true when I was forming my beliefs. My life philosophy grew from my experiences – all of them – ranging from living with only adults in a poor neighborhood to tutoring immigrants. I have rejected much of what has been the accepted orthodoxies my whole life when they haven’t made sense to me. Because of my personal studies of biological, psychological and sociological disciplines (and from having common sense), I rejected feminist dogma. Men and women are NOT different only because of the way they’re socialized; they’re born different. I rejected much of the self-esteem dogma: asserting one’s group identity has little to do with self-anything, unless the group is the honor society.

I rejected the diversity dogma on many levels: bad behaviors should never be accepted no matter who is doing them. It’s best to judge only individuals, but sometimes whole groups of individuals tend to demonstrate the same unwanted qualities that we as a society must reject. It’s human nature to both be friendly toward AND a bit suspicious of strangers. The whole cry for accepting diversity unconditionally is nonsense.

Reasonable people behave reasonably, and supposing that most folks these days need to be forced to accept minor differences such as skin color is ludicrous. We respond primarily to present circumstances, not to old biases. We don’t still hate the Japanese and the Germans because of World War II. Old biases die a natural death and new ones arise when circumstances demand. It’s human nature.

In the beginning of this book, I said the disdain rained on me for my presumed political views by family members and a good friend prompted this memoir. Our disagreements were surely due to our seeing the world from different perspectives. Suffice it to say our motivations are exactly the same: being able to raise our children in a non-racist America. The ways by which we hope to achieve that end are miles apart… and have unfortunately become too sensitive an area to discuss.

My friend Dave has no dogs in the race, so I’ll use him to demonstrate just how divisive and alienating political tactics can be. Dave and I were in the middle of our once-a-year phone conversation when he said, “You are such a Republican!” At first, I didn’t get it at all. I wondered what I had said to get that response. I reviewed. We were talking about older women letting themselves go – not caring so much about how they looked. (Guilty.)

I had laughed and said, “You should have seen Jean and me on our last trip. We just rolled out of bed, brushed our teeth and headed out the door. So what? Nobody saw us but a Pakistani in a turban and a couple of truck drivers.” Apparently, that’s what had drawn his response.

I couldn’t believe it. What was wrong with saying “Pakistani in a turban?” I figured the “word police” were working overtime again, but I said (because I never was any good at clever come backs), “Yes, I am.” I wasn’t really mad about my being called a Republican, but the more I thought about it, the more confused I got. What on earth does my describing someone’s ethnicity have to do with my being a Republican? It makes no sense. Was “in a turban” the problem? I don’t have anything against Sikhs. Ashley’s doctor is a Sikh, and I had a very pleasant Sikh student. If I have a bias, it’s a positive one.

First, why did Dave presume a negative bias on my part? Does he dislike Sikhs, so presumed I did too? More likely – no one in his world (ultra-PC California) is allowed to describe any person who is “different” without being presumed a bigot.

Second, how did my presumed bigotry translate to being a Republican? Where is that connection? Dave has known me for more than forty years, but it wasn’t until I told him I joined the Tea Party that he effectively accused me of being a bigot. It was an automatic designation for him, so I’d like to know his reasoning… if there was any reasoning involved. I don’t think there was – his was an automatic response. Bigot= Republican, and vice-versa. Why, Dave? Was discounting the opinion of a Sikh who was a stranger to me somehow worse than discounting the opinions of truck drivers who were also strangers to me? My point was: Jean and I didn’t care what people we would never see again might think about how we looked in our traveling duds. To make that point, I described the people who saw us. No more, no less. His perception of me was wholly presumptive – and false and insulting!

Where do these mostly unfounded, unproved, presumptuous, and false perceptions come from? In this particular case, I believe they came directly from the Left’s political tactics. Since the sixties, that has been a primary political strategy of theirs: to label Republicans “racists.” Hey, it worked on me, too. It’s dead-easy to win over uninformed, but well-meaning, people to your side that way. Because of my affection for Rod, I became aware, saw the unfairness and believed the rhetoric without any further thought. I didn’t know the history of either political party, their rationales, or anything else. I didn’t know, for example, that Democrats had run the segregationist, Jim Crow, South. I just saw a lot of political ads at election time – all of which were pure rhetoric. Democrats, apparently, were better at the racial rhetoric, and that was the issue I cared most about. Slam dunk!

Long before I had any serious interest in politics, I started making the connections between psychological advice-mongers and false perceptions. Next, I started making connections between PC mandates and unwanted educational outcomes. The “enemy” in my mind was junk social science. It wasn’t until I fully understood the influences of memes, culturally imposed beliefs, and our natural tendencies to conform to the norm, that I connected these bits of knowledge to purposeful, political strategies and tactics. Obviously, the propagandists knew what they were doing. They knew what buttons to push for each group they were trying to reach or keep.

In short, my evolution from Democrat to Republican grew from knowledge gained in other areas (neuropsychology, group psychology, human nature, etc.), and my subsequent recognition that the policies of the Democrat Party were, in fact, causing or exacerbating most of the unwanted results I was seeing: the sustained delusion of rampant racism in America, a failing educational system, and the creation and maintenance of a very dysfunctional black ghetto culture.

When the underlying premise of a social experiment is wrong, unexpected results will follow. In my view, instead of achieving parity, the Left’s instituted policies achieved further racial and political alienation. As soon as I looked back and noted how race relations and assimilation had progressed under the old (naturally formed) rules, I had to conclude that for many, it’s gotten much worse under the new rules. I count myself with those for whom it has gotten worse, but the real victims are those whose trespasses have been automatically forgiven – poor black people.

The only question left for me was: Did the Left know what it was doing or not? Were the consequences of their policies intended or accidental?


We are serializing on this blog Judy Axtell's memoir, BUT...AT WHAT COST, available in paperback from its publisher, Outskirts Press, as well as from online booksellers like and I am proud to have been her coach and editor for the book.

My coaching-writing-editing site is

Saturday, March 14, 2015

"Meeting and Marrying Marty,": from KIDNAPPED TWICE

Within a few weeks after I returned to live with my father and Ann, I met my the man who was to become my first husband, at my third full-time job, American Felt Company in Newburgh, NY. I was working as the billing clerk for this large company. I would have to go out to the shipping department to get the shipping invoices so I could bill them. One day I walked out to get an invoice, and a tall, very handsome man was standing at the shipping desk waiting for the paperwork for the product he had just picked up.

He smiled at me, and we soon started dating. He was very charming and someone I thought I could have a future with. It was during a very challenging time for me, as I had just moved back to my father's house. The fire had taken place, and I was trying to survive having Ann again in my life. I knew I would not mind living somewhere else.

What I was seeing in Marty is what I wanted to see. He had a lot of friends, and I was flattered that someone that good-looking would want to go out with me. I never saw what I should have seen.

Within about a half a year, we got married. It took only a couple of weeks after that before I knew there were problems. He lost his job, and it was up to me to pay the bills, as I was the only one working.

Soon I was pregnant with my son, and I was sick every day. It was rough. We were living in a three-family house when I gave birth.

Approximately a year later, I was looking for a mobile home. My grandfather helped me purchase one, which we moved into. That mobile home would be my son's and my home for many years, and I was able to purchase land to move it to.


When I got married, my father was counting money as I was getting ready to go away. He looked at me and said that it was the money left over from money that my grandfather had given him to pay for the wedding. He said he was keeping it, as he needed it. He said he could not give me anything for a gift. How about a card, Dad?


We lived in a three-story house. A husband and wife were on the first floor. The sister of that wife lived with her husband on the second floor. My husband and I lived on the third floor.

There was very little privacy. The people on the floors below us could see whoever came or went from our apartment.

I went into labor with our baby, a son, also named Marty. When the day came to leave the hospital and go home with my baby, my husband sent one of his friends to pick me up from the hospital to bring me home.

I had never met this friend before, and his coming to get me was a shock. A few years later, my husband admitted to me that he did not come himself because he had to clean up our apartment. He and his friend had entertained other women there while I was in the hospital.

I was hurt and embarrassed. Not only had he been disloyal to me while I was giving birth, but also the living situation with the other families was such that all the people who were living in that house knew what had gone on while I was in the hospital.

Many years later, that friend of my husband sat me down and confessed that he was very sorry for what they had done.

Quickly, my life centered around my son and no one else!


My first marriage was hell right from the very beginning– so much pain.

My husband had many affairs: with next-door neighbors, babysitters, and women on the road when he traveled, even my friends, at least I had thought they were my friends. Once I received a telephone call from a girl who said that I used to baby-sit for her when I was younger. She told me that my husband was leaving me for her.

I remember asking my husband once if he loved me. He said he did not, but that if he ever did, I would be the first one to know.

One of our neighbors’ homes burned down. The husband sent his wife and son to stay with relatives, and we took him in so that he would be able to get to work in the town where we lived. This was to be until they could make other plans, as all of this happened unexpectedly. The man slept on our pull-out couch.

One night my husband came home. I was asleep in my room, my son in his, and my neighbor in the living room. I had taken a bath before I went to bed, as I always did. My husband could not get in the house; he had forgotten his key. When I finally heard him knocking, I got up and unlocked the door. He wanted to know what I was doing. I told him I had taken a bath and was sleeping. He went to the bathroom, felt the bathtub, said it was dry, so that I must’ve been fooling around with the neighbor, which was shocking not only to me but also to the neighbor.

After my husband stopped yelling, he went to a friend’s house and told them I was having an affair with the neighbor. That spread like wildfire, so this neighbor left and stayed with another friend!

Actually, when I finally broke up the marriage, my husband started writing letters to me and calling me, telling me how much he loved me. How totally insane it all was! After a few years went by, my husband and I became civil– friends even– and I could say I actually liked him…as long as I was not married to him.

My son did exactly what I had done, in his own life: everything that his father did or did not do my son did the opposite. My son is a wonderful father to his three daughters.

For many years I was unaware that my son’s father and grandmother, my mother-in-law, were saying bad things about me to him. I really do not know if I would have done anything differently if I had known this. I do know my son and I had a few tough years when he was in high school. Was this because of what he was being told? His father never paid child support, which was only $25 a week. I came up with that figure, as I felt it would be enough, given that I had a job. That was what the judge then ordered.

Each one of these affairs– or I’ll call them “incidents”– the neighbors, friends, babysitters I walked in on, and all the others I either found out about or he told me about later, after a few years had passed. Why he told me, I do not know.

One night my son was sick and his medication was at a drugstore. My husband, Marty, said he would pick up the meds. I waited and waited, yet no Marty, no meds. I had a Corvair at the time. I bundled my son up and put him in a blanket. I got in the car and started down the road and smoke came into the car so badly that I had to pull over and get my son out. The night was one of those very dark nights with no streetlights on the road. I could not see anything, as it was pitch black. Trying to carry my son and walking in the dark was very frightening. My son kept sliding down in the wrapping. It was very slippery. I finally made it home and started calling for my husband at different places where I thought he might be. There were no cell phones in those days. He was at a bar in town. I never got over this, as the meds were for our son, not for me!

There was an accident while I was still married to my son’s father. He had a large truck. I was working, and he took our son for a ride in the truck, then left him in the truck while he stopped somewhere to visit someone. I came home from work to find there was no one at home, but the truck was there. I walked over to my neighbor’s house, only to see that my son’s finger was wrapped in many layers of bandages. I asked what had happened and was told that my son had stuck his finger in a fan. I undid the wrapping on the finger to inspect it. It looked very, very bad. His finger was mangled. I took him to the hospital, the beginning of many trips to the surgeon who operated on the finger.

I’m not saying that my son never got hurt on my watch, but it never happened due to leaving him alone in a vehicle!

My son’s father’s mother and father were very good to my son. They were good grandparents. His grandfather died many years ago. His grandmother is still living. My son is making arrangements to have his grandmother live next to him and his family. He’s a wonderful son and grandson. We both agree it’s the right thing to do. I know it will be hard at times for him, but he will handle it.


We are serializing Kidnapped Twice: Then Betrayed and Abandoned, by Mary E. Seaman and myself. The memoir tells of a terrible childhood followed by decades of slow recovery from it. Outskirts Press published it, and it can be obtained through them and through and other on-line booksellers, in paperback or ebook format.

My writing-editing-coaching site is

"Uh,Oh, Politics," Ch.22 of memoir BUT...AT WHAT COST

I’ve been reading Dr. Charles Krauthammer’s book, Things That Matter. In it he visits all sorts of topics that are not overtly political – most are not “talking points” of either party – but, nevertheless, how anyone views each topic, be it art or dogs or language, can more or less define his political leanings. You see, life is politics. Unfortunately, there is no facet of your life that won’t be touched by those in charge of regulating it. Therefore, it’s best if each of us figures out what matters, why it matters, and to what degree it matters.

In the following chapters I will try to show what matters to me, why it matters, and to what degree it matters. It is up to the reader to decide which political party better represents the values that matter to him. For me, there is no question. I usually align with Conservative and/or Libertarian principles and policies. Maybe your priorities are different from mine; I get that. But, be aware before you pull the lever, that your choice will have consequences. You should use your common sense to figure out what those consequences might be and the effects they might have on the things that matter to you.

You should know what your party of choice stands for, why they stand for it, and to what extremes they will go to accomplish their goals. If you don’t assess your priorities and fully understand your options, you probably shouldn’t vote!

I liked the good old days. I’m not foolish enough to want to take back the technical advances and knowledge gained since then, but I sure as heck would like to get back to the good old days where values and morality are concerned. I can’t trace every technical advancement directly to a subsequent change in morality (as with the pill), but I can trace many changes in morality back to the political acceptance of new cultural beliefs. Culture and politics go hand-in-hand, each reinforcing the effects of the other.

It used to be that people were ashamed to go on the public dole. Most people had too much pride to admit they needed financial help and worked harder to prove they didn’t. Not so true, anymore. Many people seem more willing to abandon their previously held moral values (taking care of one’s self and family) for the chance to get something for nothing. I see that as a pretty dramatic change in cultural belief to have happened in just fifty years or so. It took a concerted effort to achieve that change in moral thinking – a political effort, I think.

A person I respected once said on the subject of morality, “Unless a behavior is illegal, you shouldn’t judge the person.” Really? Morality, ethics and values don’t matter? If something is legal, it’s okay? Well, I can think of many actions that are legal, but wrong. I no longer respect that person’s opinion very much – well intentioned, maybe, but somewhat shallow and knee-jerk.

Sometimes, legislators and judges get it wrong and sometimes morality can’t be or shouldn’t be legislated because it’s none of the government’s business – and/or it’s unconstitutional. In the U.S.A., religion has declined as an influencing factor on moral choice, and the media have more or less defined and prescribed the new morality – which at best, is very wishy-washy on right and wrong unless it suits their political agenda.

I know scores of people whose views of morality have changed over the years – some for the better (on race), but most for the worse. There have always been people with different values from mine, and some with few, if any, recognizable values at all, but there are more of them now… in every area of life, and across the entire economic spectrum. It seems moral and ethical considerations have all but been abandoned. Those of us who would return a buck when given too much change are laughed at instead of admired; we are considered “suckers” for not taking advantage of mistakes or available government programs.

Many cheat on applications. In fact, ways to cheat are offered on applications… if you qualify as part of an “underachieving” minority group, for example, checking that box might give you a leg up in being accepted in college or being hired. Why? What does ethnicity have to do with anything relevant to performance or diversity when you’ve never been near a reservation or a ghetto or experienced any presumed hardship from being a minority group member? It’s all so phony – done to inflate the “make-nice” and performance statistics. Is that ethical? No way is it ethical. Manipulating statistics for any reason is legal, but WRONG! And nobody seems to care.

Elizabeth Warren is the best modern example I can think of to demonstrate and measure the increase in this kind of unethical behavior. It was wrong for Harvard to tout her as a Native American employee; it was wrong for her to try to take advantage of her heritage when it’s irrelevant, and it was wrong for the electorate of Massachusetts to not give a damn when they elected her to the Senate. Maybe she didn’t lie exactly, but neither did she or the voters recognize the inherent unfairness of pursuing such a policy. Fifty years ago more folks would have noticed and cared. Now, they don’t – “Everybody does it” is everyone’s excuse for a behavior each knows is wrong. Our young people are being trained to be immoral. I don’t know what Elizabeth Warren’s motivation was, but lots of white kids filling out college applications don’t hesitate to check any box that might gain them an advantage – and why wouldn’t they? They’re routinely screwed by affirmative action policies, so become willing to “level the playing field” for themselves. I don’t blame them (I guess), but it makes me very sad that we’ve created a society that has made unethical choices not only acceptable, but officially condoned.

How many folks look for and get government hand-outs and are proud instead of ashamed? How many women think they deserve the same salary as a man even though they’re less qualified and probably work fewer hours (e.g., through maternity leave and sick days) than a man holding the same position?

Having a child and not getting married is legal, as it should be. But is it acceptable to do this over and over again while being on welfare? Taking unemployment benefits and not looking for a job is done, too. Well, that’s not actually legal, but who’s going to find out? In many circles, these bad behaviors have become acceptable behaviors – despite all the economic problems these behaviors will necessarily cause in any country.

In my opinion, our moral decline – that is the acceptance of destructive and unethical behavior – one way or another – has caused most of our educational decline, our fiscal decline, and the rising disparity in incomes and outcomes; a disparity, by the way, which should be completely expected in an intellectually and morally diverse community.

I know it is hopelessly old-fashioned of me to expect young people not to be promiscuous. With the pill and abortions readily available, and sex being a primal urge, I guess promiscuity is hard to avoid these days. I even hesitate to call it a moral issue. In the biblical sense, it is, but I don’t view it as wrong in and of itself. It’s what comes after the promiscuity that’s often wrong and causes all the problems.

A friend of mine has two grandchildren, young men, who are in the middle of custody battles. In each case, the wife and girlfriend bowed out of the relationship after a minimal trial run, and apparently with few second thoughts. The kids and the fathers are suffering greatly. Personally, I don’t think these two girls, and I hesitate to call them women because of their selfishness, tried hard enough. They did not think of the kids’ welfare or their mates’ welfare, only their own momentary needs and interests. I expect more than that from adults with adult responsibilities. Our society, however, does not. More often, we change our laws and cultural expectations to suit the new morality – even though the new morality is driving the country into the ground.

The following chapters, I hope, will demonstrate how the political policies of the Left have caused many of the changes in our moral and ethical (culturally imposed) expectations. Policies have consequences… and it is best to acknowledge how those policies are born. Most often, they are not born out of genuine need for change; they are generated from propaganda and advertising.

For example, people didn’t always use deodorant. Some self-interested entity (deodorant manufacturers) convinced us we needed it – that body odor is bad. Those ads worked. Smelling good became a cultural expectation, and now almost everyone wears it or suffers the consequences of rejection.

Politics operates the same way – convince unwary, potential buyers they need something. It doesn’t particularly matter if they need it or not; they just have to think they do. Just like deodorant, counseling, PC mantras, climate change initiatives, or any other product, people first must be convinced it’s necessary. Our job, as consumers of political rhetoric, is to recognize if the need is real or not. Usually, it’s not. It’s a manufactured need created to secure a voting bloc. That’s why politicians so often speak from both sides of their mouths. What’s good for one group isn’t always good for the rest of us… or I might add, for anyone – including the group it’s framed for. Read on, please.


We are serializing Judy Axtell's memoir, What Cost, published by Outskirts Press and available from on-line booksellers like I am proud to have coached Judy and edited the book.

My writing-editing-coaching site is

Monday, March 9, 2015

Stepchildren at Risk: the Cinderella Effect

April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month.

A step-daughter or step-son is about 100 times more likely to suffer child abuse or even murder than is a child who is the offspring of the two parents. This shocking statistic holds pretty much around the world and can best be explained by the tendency of parents to further the well-being of those related to them genetically, in line with the premises of sociobiology and evolution.

The hundred-fold increase in child abuse associated with step-parenting has been a major theme of the research work done by Professors Martin Daly and the late Margo Wilson. They presented their work in their 1998 book, The Truth about Cinderella, and defended its genetic / evolutionary arguments at length in a review article [Daly and Wilson, 2008].

With more divorces and separations, spouses are being replaced by stepparents and "lovers," putting children at greater risk.


Daly M. & Wilson M. (2008) Is the “Cinderella effect” controversial? A case study of evolution-minded research and critiques thereof. Pp. 381-398 in C.B. Crawford & D. Krebs, eds., Foundations of Evolutionary Psychology. Mahwah NJ: Erlbaum


Saturday, March 7, 2015

"End of an Era," Ch. 20 of BUT...AT WHAT COST

Because of my experience with ESL (English as a Second Language) and my contributions to developing new techniques, the powers in the agency had asked me to become a tutor trainer. I went through the extensive training and was gradually added to the ranks. I was moving up, and eventually, I and the other mucky-mucks gradually instituted what we hoped was a better program that concentrated more on techniques and resource material than on “why Juan needs help.” The original program (the one I had taken) had emphasized something all of us already knew – that Juan did, indeed, need help. That was why we were there.

It took years, and there is always room for improvement, but by 2010 we had it the way we wanted it. Enter the State of New York. They wanted us to install a comprehensive, state-wide tutor training program with guaranteed funding. In other words, do it our way, or else no money. I went to their seminars and evaluated their plans. Soon after, I handed in my resignation:

“To Whom It May Concern:

“It is with great regret I resign my position at Literacy Orange (LO). I have worked hard, helped many, learned a lot, and thoroughly enjoyed my nearly ten-year association with students, tutors and staff. I believe in our mission ‘to improve lives through literacy,’ but over the years I have watched that mission countermanded by the dictates of funding agencies and now Literacy New York (LNY). Put simply, I refuse to jump through hoops in order to comply with demands I find unnecessary, burdensome, expensive and intrusive.

“But this isn’t about me. I fear for the future of Literacy Orange. In my opinion, it is about to be regulated out of existence. Five of us represented LO at White Eagle for three days of training in LNY’s new tutor-training initiative. Not cheap. On our return we learned those seminars were just the beginning. A much bigger time and financial investment would be required to participate. (This came as a complete surprise to all the attendees and in my opinion was a deceitful withholding of information.) I have no doubt their demands will continue… every module they complete, every tweak they recommend may necessitate expenditures for further training. I suspect their new bureaucratic demands may require the hiring of more employees too. And to whose benefit?

“Requiring competent, experienced trainers to change their training programs to one that is in all likelihood inferior is crazy! Yes, there are parts of their program that could be incorporated into affiliates’ courses, but I have no confidence that LNY’s arbitrary choices are any better than ours. Having to hire employees to file irrelevant data (test scores and hours) is not cost effective. Suffice it to say, I think it’s not in anyone’s best interest for LO to allow itself to be held hostage by funding agencies and/or parent organizations. The more they require, the more it costs. The more it costs, the more funding we need. It’s an unsustainable circle that I fear will ultimately destroy LO. Bigger is NOT better.

“I think the community would be better served if LO used ‘KISS’ (keep it simple, stupid) as its guiding motto. Tutoring is not rocket science. I’m certain I could take any willing and able adult off the street, talk to him for an hour, hand him a copy of ‘Side by Side’ (the best instruction manual I’ve found) and send him on his way. The only things a literacy agency really needs to supply for the tutors of ESL are students and some resource materials.

“Our paid staff is caring, hard-working and very competent, but I think we’ve reached a point that most of the services they provide are neither cost-effective nor relevant to student or tutor performance. I believe we could spend less than half the money now spent and still maintain the same results… if overseeing bodies would butt out (if you’ll excuse the expression).

“I know… therein lies the rub. Non-profits in general and LO specifically are in the untenable position of existing at the mercy of self-appointed ‘experts’ and politicians whose missions may be different from our own. We simply want to help people and they want to get measurable, statistically meaningful results. Well, the dedication of tutors (and their impact on their students’ lives) isn’t measurable. Tutors are often mentors. Before students gain competency, tutors may help register children in school or talk to a doctor or read a lease. The list is endless. Most tutors do much, much more than teach reading and/or English. And I, for one, would hate to see that change. LNY’s stated goal is to make the affiliates ‘more professional.’ What does that mean? I fear it means they want us to be more like BOCES; they already compare our results to those of BOCES (which is another point to add to the ‘crazy’ list). In my opinion, ‘professionalizing’ would irreparably damage the heart and soul of Literacy Orange. We were not intended to be a professional organization nor do we need to be to achieve our mission.

“In closing, I must note that I have committed to the October training (if we use the old program). I will, of course, honor that commitment if you so choose, but not as an employee. I am a volunteer; that’s all I ever wanted to be.


Judy Axtell”

So, I am left with my fond memories, a wealth of cultural knowledge, invaluable insights, “priceless” friendships, and few regrets.

We are serializing Judy Axtell's memoir, What Cost. In this chapter, Judy is on her journey from liberal to conservative, and she finds bureaucracy too constricting. I am proud to have coached and edited for the book, which is published by Outskirts Press and is available in paperback through, other on-line book sellers, and Outskirts Press.

My writing-coaching-editing site is