The Doctor is IN

Keen Observations on Life … Whether You Need Them or Not


Plan your parenthood

I am overwhelmed with grief and rage and sadness. My heart is broken for legions of women in the near (and far) future who will have to make difficult decisions about their bodies and their lives, at the risk of their mental and physical health. I am enraged at the woman on the supreme court who, as my mother says, “climbed over the backs of women who gave her all her opportunities.” I am angry at the conservative women I’ve known for years, who migrated from high school and college friends to Facebook acquaintances — who had unplanned pregnancies and abortions as young women and are now cheering with the decision to end the constitutional right to abortion. To those women in particular, I say fuck you. Because if you don’t want to have an abortion, then don’t have an abortion. Abortion is healthcare.

The supreme court is on a tear this year, and the future is bleak. Be gentle with yourself.

I feel adrift in this shameful nation, so I will rely on the comfort of what I do best: write. I spent years of my life and career as an educator of reproductive and women’s rights. Women of child-bearing years, listen up: YOU are responsible for managing your parenthood. Of planning your pregnancy. Whether you’re in middle school or your mid-forties, YOU are on the hook for your own body. And unless you’re ready to begin a family, be smart. Educate yourself on the variety of birth control methods available. Talk to your physician. Get a prescription for birth control pills TODAY. Talk to your partner. Prevent unplanned pregnancies and STDs. Use a condom. Abstinence-only education endorses reproductive ignorance. Woman up!

Barrier methods: 

  • male condoms
  • female condoms
  • diaphragm
  • cervical cap
  • contraceptive sponge

Short-acting hormonal methods:

  • Birth control pills 
  • Vaginal ring
  • Skin patch
  • Contraceptive injection

Long-acting hormonal methods:

  • IUDs
  • Contraceptive implant


  • Tubal ligation
  • Vasectomy

– – > Here’s a list of U.S. companies offering abortion travel benefits. Check the list and buy the shit out of their products because consumer-buying power speaks volumes.

– – > Here’s a list of U.S. companies offering abortion-related benefits.

– – > Plans in the Health Insurance Marketplace® must cover contraceptive methods and counseling for all women, as prescribed by a health care provider.

Find help if you need it:

If you don’t have anybody to ask about birth control methods, HMU.


Farewell, Sweet Magpie

Magnolia May Sickles passed away peacefully around 10:05 am on January 5, 2022, surrounded by Peyton, Dolly, and Matt. She had a stroke mid-morning on January 4 and went downhill rapidly. She was a good girl and beloved member of our family. Our hearts are broken with the loss of the tiniest love of our lives, but we are all the better for having loved and been loved by this sweet girl. She is buried in her favorite meadow beneath the crabapple tree, with her sisters Penelope Butter up and Rosemary Violet, who preceded her in death. She was fourteen-and-a-half.

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Until the cure …

According to the CDC: “About 1 in 7 people with HIV in the United States do not know that they are infected. In 2015, an estimated 1,335 adults and adolescents were diagnosed with HIV in North Carolina. North Carolina ranked 8th among the 50 states in the number of HIV diagnoses in 2015.”

Further, “North Carolina is home to two cities on the CDC’s list of the top 25 cities with the highest HIV infection rates: Charlotte and Greensboro. There’s an estimated 36,700 people living with HIV or AIDS in North Carolina, and of those people, an estimated 4,900 people are unaware of their status.” (

On this 37th annual World AIDS Day, there is still no cure for HIV disease. There is no cure for AIDS. So that means that if you do not have HIV disease, you need to know how to not get it. And if you do have HIV disease, you need to know how to not spread it.

Until the cure …

My Time With Expired Kodak Gold 200

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This is going to be a great new series. I’m always happy to get new tips on photography!

The Practical Filmofile

It’s been about six months since I began shooting with film; both 35 and medium format. While six months sounds like a long time, for the world of film it really is nothing more than a blip. That said, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the learning process, and have much more to learn.

My greatest difficulty has been understanding what aperture truly does to an image. On my D750, stopping down my aperture means I’ll have a wider DOF with almost everything in focus, however I will also need a slower shutter speed to account for the lack of light. Shadow recovery and messing with highlights after the fact is quite easy to manage. This has not been the case with the rolls of film I’ve shot with. I find that while yes, a sharper aperture means I’ll have more in tack-sharp focus, I also have almost similar amounts of light. Obviously…

View original post 1,042 more words

This gallery contains 14 photos

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New Semester, New Writing Courses!

I can honestly say that I’m never bored. But 2016 will go down in history as one crazy, busy year. We traveled to Barbados; sold our house of 19 years; we built a new house; our son graduated from high school; we traveled to San Diego, CA; we traveled to NYC; our son started college; my mother sold her house in a day; and we moved my mother in with us while her house is being built (expected completion: June 2017). WHEW.

It’s a good thing I like to be busy. One of the upsides of moving to a new county and a new community is finding fun new things. Like Central Carolina Community College in Pittsboro. I’ll be starting this spring as an adjunct instructor in their Creative Writing Program. AND I’ll also be continuing to work as an adjunct instructor in Wake Technical Community College’s writing program. 🙂 Check it out:

Introduction to Grantwriting
Wake Technical Community College
Tuesdays : March 21 – May 2, 2017

The Business of Writing Romance
Central Carolina Community College
Thursdays : March 23 – May 4, 2017

Sign up today!


So long, house!

acornIn 1997, my soul mate and I kicked off an adventure in a little town called Apex, in a beautiful little house on Acorn Hill Lane. Nineteen years, one son, three dogs and three cats later, we’re moving on to a new adventure half an hour down the road in a new little town. When we moved into this house, I was four months pregnant; I had breakfast one morning with my husband, went to work, and came home to a different house in a different town. Today, our son woke up and had breakfast with us, went to school, and will come home to a different house in a different town. I’ve passed the torch. I’m going to miss our house, where the most exciting (the birth of our son) and the saddest (the death of my father-in-law) events have occurred.

Screen Shot 2016-05-18 at 5.07.40 PMBut we are nothing if not adventurers, we Sickles Three, and anticipate that our new house on two acres in the meadow will bring with it more of the good stuff, and likely more of the sad stuff … eventually. Either way, we face our new adventure head-on, where being together makes any house a home.

So, so long house … and thanks for all the fish!

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World AIDS Day 2015

red_ribbonThe time to act is now.

Did you know that HIV disease is a communicable disease spread through semen, vaginal fluids, blood, and breast milk? It’s spread through shared needles during intravenous drug use. It’s spread through sexual contact when one partner isn’t aware of their positive status. It does not discriminate based on gender, race, culture, age, economic status … it affects everyone.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “an estimated 36.9 million people are living with HIV/AIDS worldwide … Around 1.2 million people are living with HIV in the United States, and 1 in 8 don’t know it.” There were 1,566 new HIV diagnoses in North Carolina in 2013, and there were 541 deaths due to HIV disease in 2012.

HIV disease is preventable, and it’s treatable – but it’s not curable. Yet. If you have HIV disease, you need to know how to not spread it; if you don’t have HIV disease, you need to know how to NOT get it. If you have young people in your family, love and respect them enough to get past the discomfort of discussing sex, disease prevention and responsibility, and provide straight talk. It’s unrealistic to assume your children are waiting because it’s what Jesus would do, or through the sheer force of YOUR will. Kids are smart nowadays; educate them as to why they should wait until they’re more mature to handle the emotional side of being sexually active, and how to be as safe as possible. Teach them to protect and respect themselves, and in turn to protect and respect their partner. The smart choices need to be present in the quick, stolen moments when intimacy will occur, and your conversations are only a memory.

So know your status; knowledge is power. And wear a condom. Every time. Until the cure …

Learn more about HIV disease

HIV Test Locations

 “Grant that we may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.”

– St. Francis