Monday, January 1, 2018

The Advice of Oprah

"Surround yourself with people who are going to lift you higher."
~Oprah Winfrey

Oprah, the sage of millions of women everywhere. My mother buys me a subscription to her magazine every year and I do enjoy it. It is much less fluff and more intelligent, thoughtful and interesting articles than most women's magazines. But for the last six months, I have been holding them, unread, for the beach vacation my family enjoyed between the holidays.

What I found in binge reading is the alternating feeling throughout. As someone who has had a pretty shitty 2017 as far as losing people in my life, I was particularly interested in the idea of keeping negativity in your life versus cutting it out.

One article will tell you to move away from those that don't align with your values and beliefs, while another will push for you to mend broken relationships no matter what the circumstance, to be the forgiving and loving person everyone should be.

It's a limbo of circular arguments.

I also find that in her body acceptance articles. Either love who you are or realize you need to lose weight to be happy. 

I get it. There are always different authors and varying opinions in any monthly magazine and I guess you get from it what you want to hear. Or you just keep on being confused.

Do I need to drop a few?

Am I not accepting of myself?

Should I reach out to those who I cut from my life?

Am I better off without such negativity?

Do I need to be a better wife, mother, friend, daughter, human?

Am I getting enough protein, fiber, whole grains, calcium, coffee, red wine, all natural healing foods that have just been studied and show you are a horrible person without them?

Am I getting too much of any of the above?

It's all so confusing.

But thankfully Oprah is a big advocate of having a life coach. If only I could get her to do a commercial for me.

"You get a life coach. You get a life coach. Everyone gets a life coach!"
~My wishful Oprah quote.


Saturday, December 23, 2017

Karma

"If you're really a mean person you're going to come back a fly and eat poop."
~Kurt Cobain

Karma.

Is it a thing?

Is there a power to the universe that brings justice to those who deserve it?

Or is it just that eventually, bad things happen to bad and good people?

I've had moments of what could be thought of as karma in my life. Times when dishonest employers have been discovered and fired or simply could not continue their businesses. Those past moments when a coworker has crossed the line and then you see them in the newspaper for soliciting a prostitute.

And then when an ex-husband who has, on multiple occasions, refused to support his children is found guilty, with his organization, of filtering funds to certain parties that would give them kickbacks in return (according to LNP). The verdict to the tune of four million dollars and a portion of the income received from the kickbacks.

I know. I should not feel happy for another's misfortune. But when that person has been continually negligent towards his children how do you take the higher ground?

No, I'm asking. Seriously, how? It would help me with the whole "better person" thing.

And maybe karma will come for me too. Maybe for being a Democrat who took her daughter to the Woman's March. Oh, wait, Trump is still president, so yeah...

But, in the interim,  I'll be petting kittens, riding my massive horse, loving kindergarteners, coaching, spending time with friends, basking in the sun with my amazing family this week, and trying to be the best person I can be (a promise I made my middle son who believes I was too negative in 2017).

Because I guess if it's karma or not, life deals you a deck of cards and every day you could draw a winning or losing hand. But to help, love and support others might just stack your deck a bit thicker in your own heart.

"The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well,"
~Ralph Waldo Emerson




Tuesday, October 17, 2017

#metoo

"You save yourself or you remain unsaved."
~Alice Sebold

If you are on any social media you have seen the hashtag me too.

Me too. I have shared this before in a blog and for this purpose, the purpose of standing together as a community of women and men who have been victims, I will do it again.

I was raped as a teenager on a date. It may have been our third date but I had decided he wasn't for me. He decided differently.

Details I will spare you but I never told anyone at the time. My parents were away and I wasn't such a good girl as I had had sex with my year-long high school boyfriend who later broke up with me. So was I so innocent?

As things like this tend to manifest, it manifested in a severe eating disorder and depression. I would eat barely enough to stay alive, run, ride my horse, swim, and do everything I could to disappear. Disappear physically and mentally. By exercising I could escape the memories, thoughts, nightmares. I barely slept and when I did it was full of horrors I didn't want. I was slowly trying to kill myself while mentally also thinking of other ways. I was broken.

I recently read a book called Hunger, A Memoir of My Body by Roxane Gay. She was gang-raped at the age of 12. Instead of disappearing by becoming smaller she rationalized that men don't lust after large women so her armor became weight and size. She was broken.

My hero, Maya Angelou, simply stopped speaking for years after her assault. She was broken.

Those that say the words of our President admitting to grabbing women or abusing his power in dressing rooms of women and teenagers as merely "locker-room talk" are equally to blame for the tragic culture we still fight. Where victims are made into criminals, criminals are given a slap on the wrist, or even a comedy career, Hollywood movie awards, sports prestige,  or a presidency.

Our society is broken.

Me too.

"Most men fear getting laughed at or humiliated by a romantic prospect while most women fear rape and death."
~Gavin  de Becker, The Gift of Fear: Survival Signals That Protect Us From Violence

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Food For Thought

"If nothing matters, there's nothing to save."
~Jonathan Safran Foer, Eating Animals

I have never been so happy to come to the end of a book as I am with Eating Animals. This book was recommended to me by a friend in Amsterdam who has kept to a diet most of his life as a pescetarian with fish being the only animals he would eat. After reading the above book he has also given up on fish (which I wish he would have done eight years ago before he convinced me to try a raw herring. It is NOT like sushi).

Saying this book was a challenge is putting it mildly. There were times when I physically had to stop for awhile.

I had stopped eating beef as a child after a girl scout trip to a slaughterhouse. I'm not sure what badge that was for but seeing cows hung by their feet bleeding out certainly turned my taste buds. I stopped eating pigs when I learned that pigs are smarter and more sensitive than dogs. If I was against eating dog why should I be for eating pigs?

Vegetarianism for many is one of those things they can dabble with now and then. Unlike religion where you don't hear people say, "I'll be Jewish this month but next month I think I'll try being a Baptist" many do dietary flips in a lifespan.

I have been guilty of this "meat fluid" diet. I was vegetarian in high school and college. It wasn't until I was pregnant with my first son that I began to eat meat again. Then, years later when I was going through my divorce it seemed like the perfect time to regain my veg status. And over the last eight years, I've gone in and out with my convictions.

My choice at times to not eat meat was never a matter of how they were treated but that I couldn't look in the soft eyes of my horse and know that cows have the same soft expression or that a pig would be able to follow directions better than my dog (not a great comparison if you knew my dog).

I was under the assumption that animals in factory farms were killed humanely. I was blissfully unaware of the horrific lives and deaths they are subjected to. I didn't realize that words like cage free don't necessarily mean better lives, just no wire involved. I was shocked to hear that Kosher also does not guarantee a humane killing. Words like free range, grass fed or even organic can be as real as canned unicorn.

The United States is woefully full of factory farms where animals die prolonged, horrifying deaths. Think of your beloved pet, after not being successfully knocked unconscious, skinned and gutted alive. Welcome to the nightmare.

Factory farming of cows, pigs, chickens, turkeys, and even fish incorporates the most extreme abuse of life you could ever imagine. As a bonus, factory farming is, by far, the leading cause of global warming.

I know a brief blog won't change anyone's mind. We like to live in the dark about where our food is from. But if I can challenge just a few people to read Eating Animals, watch Meet Your Meat, or explore smaller farms that can prove their livestock not only lives a good life but also receives a good death I will have done something.

"Choosing leaf over flesh, factory farm or family farm does not in itself change the world, but teaching ourselves, our children, our local communities, and our nation to choose conscience over ease can."
~Jonathan Safran Foer, Eating Animals


Monday, August 21, 2017

Not A Party Issue

"First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out because I was not a Socialist. Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out because I was not a Trade Unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak for me."
~Martin Niemoller

Nazis. Not something I ever imagined could still be a thing in 2017. People with flags, armbands, torches, and salutes using their freedom of speech to promote hate towards anyone not white, straight and Christian.

What I'm truly shocked about is that Nazis have somehow become a party issue. There seems to be this idea that if you speak out against the Nazis you are somehow not supporting the president. They are quick to mention ANTIFA which, if you research, has no connection with a party affiliate and are in their own right a promoter of violence over peace, but fail to be angry or vocal about a group who worships the biggest psychopath in human history (I could be wrong about this fact but I'm going with my gut here).

Having just returned from Berlin I was quite disturbed to go through a timeline display and see the chilling resemblance between the early stages of the Third Reich and what has been occurring over the last six months. If you truly research early events you will see what I mean.

And then there is the statue debate. Having lived in Gettysburg I do see the importance of some such relics. But I've found it very interesting that most of the Confederate statues were erected during two time periods. The first in the 20's during the rise of the KKK and the second during the civil rights movement in the 50's and 60's. These were not there to preserve history, they were created to promote the Confederate ideas of putting African Americans "in their place."

Some of these statues stand in predominantly black communities where the person it represents never even set foot near that area. Yes, we need to stop whitewashing history. Yes, we need to stop romanticizing the part of our history that tried to divide it just to keep owning other people. Yes, we need to learn from our mistakes.

We need a stronger voice against those waving a Confederate flag or a Nazi one. Whether right or left winged we should all be able to agree on two simple issue.

1) Nazi ideals should have no place in our country.

2) The South lost the war and they were fighting, yes, for States Rights which was mainly the right to own people. Worshipping the flag and the cause includes a belief that they were fighting for something good.

I had hoped that this issue of all issues would be what party lines would agree on. That the hate-filled rising groups of protesters, whether it be Nazi extremists or anti-fascist organizations, that hate and violence are not the answer. We should be coming together to say we have zero tolerance for any of it.

I beg you, whether Democrat, Socialist, Libertarian, or Republican, make your voice heard that this is not okay. And if you are a white, straight Christian make your voice twice as loud. And if none of this bothers you there may be a tiki torch with your name on it.

They came for our immigrants, they came for our Muslims, they are trying to come for anyone who is not like them. Who will have a voice when they come for you?

"If they take down statues how will I ever write another history term paper?"
~Lily being Lily (My snarky daughter-shocking-I know)


Monday, July 31, 2017

A Perfect Life


"Comparison is the death of joy."
~Mark Twain

How often do you compare yourself to others? That person has a better car, a bigger house, a nicer spouse, a better body, a great job. I wish my kids were like that. He/she always has their shit together and never feels like I do.

I just finished reading The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life. One of the worst things we can do is compare ourselves to others.  Especially in a social media society where posts consist of our great accomplishments.

We share our kid's shining moments, not that we can't get the right depression med combination, that they just told us they hate us, or that they may fail out of school.

We share our great vacation destinations, not that you may have fought the entire time or the weather sucked all but one day so you took 200 pictures in 12 hours.

We brag about our promotions but fail to express how the stress has you on anti-anxiety medication and the people you work with are all basically assholes.

We talk about the great workout we had but fail to mention our addiction to McDonald's or ice cream or wine.

And we no longer have real conversations to learn the truth. We meet people immediately hiding our own insecurities if we feel they are better in some way.

Recently a friend stated that he becomes very quiet on social media when things are shitty. That's a normal response. Another person came forth to say her life is falling apart and she can't keep up with everyone else's perfect life. But things are never what they seem. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain making you look all powerful when really you are bumbling through as much as anyone. We all may be feeling stupid, dealing with heartbreak, afraid or missing someone terribly.

I wish that all of the great posts came with small disclaimers. I'm to blame as much as anyone. Right at this moment, I have shitty things going on but none of them are devastating.  I have had enough devastating over my life to know that it's coming. So maybe that's why we get so excited to post the good stuff. Conflict, loss, pain, and sadness are all certainties of living. None of us will get out of it unscathed.

So don't look at everyone's "perfect life" and wonder where you went wrong. We have a limited amount of time and therefore a limited amount of f*cks to give when it comes to our happiness.

One of the greatest things we can do right now in a divided society that often seems so angry is to reach out when you know someone is having a tough time. A text, a call, a card or a visit can mean the world to another person. I know, personally, having to deal with some pretty heavy stuff with my middle son the words of a friend who dealt with something far worse gave me focus and strength. I will always be grateful for that.

So choose your f*cks carefully.  Don't waste them on jealousy or bitterness. The world may seem upside down right now with our government in shambles and our president deciding to hate and ban and grandstand at every turn. But we can still be good to each other.

"Maturity is what happens when one learns to only give a fuck about what's truly fuckworthy."
~Mark Manson: The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life.







Friday, June 23, 2017

Rainbow Connection

"Each one of us has a chance to be a rainbow in somebody's cloud."
~Maya Angelou

Rainbows. From what I've heard no two people see the exact same rainbow. And even our right eye versus left eye takes in a different image. So what better metaphor for people?

Two people can see the same third person in very different ways. They could be seen as a threat, a danger, different, beautiful, friendly, familiar, ugly, funny or worthless. Wouldn't it be amazing if we could rid ourselves of old biases and see everyone as a person of great value until they show us otherwise? Let's face it, there is evil, hateful people of every race, religion, and cultural status.  But what if we never judged by just a skin color, tattoo, piercing, religious garb, disability, or profession? What if we assumed everyone is unicorn level awesome? If they open their mouths and turn out to be hateful trolls that would most likely eat a unicorn then, by all means, feel free to walk away and search for more rainbows and unicorns.

Last night I was surrounded by six of my favorite rainbows. As we talked for three hours we once again discovered that every one of us had a battle we were fighting and by sharing our strategies, battle scars, tears, and laughter at least for an evening made the battle seem less daunting.

We as a society get so wrapped up in our own schedules and problems we forget to ask for rainbows let alone be one for each other. But what an amazing and beautiful thing happens when we do. It's as precious as gold.

Kermit the Frog said it best, "Someday we'll find it, the rainbow connection, the lovers, the dreamers, and me."



***And don't forget to celebrate the rainbow that is Pride Week!