Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Good Cop/Bad Cop

"People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf."
~George Orwell

I'm so tired of the cop bashing.

Too many people in the United States and around the world are putting our police officers into a box and labeling them evil. That is about as justified as labeling every German who lived through World War Two a Nazi or every person even resembling someone from the Middle East a terrorist.

Yet that, as a society, seems to be our mentality.

Do you remember after 9/11 how we revered our men in women in uniform? Police, firefighters, and our military were the heroes we so needed. But we also needed someone to blame so innocent people in our country were taunted, called names, threatened or were the victims of violence because they wore a head cover, spoke with a certain accent or had a skin color just similar enough to look like the men who crashed planes. I know this not from the news, but because some of them were my friends.

Some police officers recently have done some extremely unfortunate things. But I would put all of my money that in the same time period the majority of our sworn protectors have done just that, protected. I would wager for every mistake a cop has made there are at least a thousand who have done something amazing in that same second. We don't hear about them. Nor do we hear about every officer in the country killed in the line of duty.

I personally can't even imagine performing a simple traffic stop, walking up to a car not knowing if the person driving is hiding something much more than a broken tail light or traffic violation. Every police officer is amazingly braver than I ever will be. Can you imagine our society without them?

My son wants to be a police officer, but the recent environment makes him question that choice. Does he want to be in a profession where he is putting his life on the line every day and still people hate and disrespect him? It's a fair concern. How many other future amazing men and women are second guessing that career choice?

I know, we have racial profiling and a society that claims to be evolved but continually fall backward into conflict. But blaming a race or a profession on circumstances we personally can't even begin to understand is fueling the fire and solidifying that we will never be as smart or forward thinking as we so intently try to be.

I may not live to see a time when racial issues are completely out of our society, but I can definitely say we are going in the extreme wrong direction.  And I'm not a religious person but there is one part of my upbringing that would be great to start saying to everyone regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation or occupation.

Peace be with you.

"Ignorance and prejudice are the handmaidens of propaganda. Our mission, therefore, is to confront ignorance with knowledge, bigotry with tolerance, and isolation with the outstretched hand of generosity."
~Kofi Annan

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Body Shame

"Sometimes we're more fit. Like, especially me. I'm such a creative person that I yo-yo. Sometimes I'm more fit and I get into kickboxing hardcore. And then sometimes I don't and I'm like, 'I'd rather have wine.'"
~Kelly Clarkson responding to body shaming.

I'm confused by this sudden outpouring of body shaming. Okay, maybe not sudden. It's been happening for awhile. And I'm not an angel when it comes to obesity. At least not inwardly. I try not to speak my thoughts, but I'll admit at times looking at someone and thinking "how do you let it get to that?"

That's extreme cases, for example recently my daughter and I were out to dinner and witnessed a man who actually, physically needed two chairs. But I don't know his story. So thus my question of 'how do you let it get to that?'

But body shaming a weight gain is just mean.

When I look at my daughter she is, of course, perfect. She has the best little physique. She has strong shoulders from 8 years of gymnastics, strong legs from track, riding, swimming and walking, and a great attitude about eating. She is the first to tell a friend who is body shaming themselves that they are fine and to freakin' eat something!

She is an advocate to eat to be healthy. In fact, at 12, she's probably the healthiest eater I know.

And that is where the issue often lies. Food and eating considered healthy. Too often, food is a taboo and eating is something to be agonized over and regretted. Food is the enemy. That seems only true if you have a terrible allergy or issue such as high blood pressure, diabetes or an eating disorder.
For these serious health issues, food can very readily be the enemy. It can also be the hero. It depends on the moment.

But as I go through a nutrition degree program I'm truly understanding what we need and why. Food is not the enemy, we are. We decide what to put into our bodies and how much.

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for the occasional french fry or onion ring, I'm also for the desire to eat a salad (and by that I mean vegetables), go for a run, ride a horse or do anything that moves your body. I'm about living a healthy lifestyle full of everything delicious.

I am, at the moment, the heaviest I've been in three decades (not counting pregnancies) and that is to say I'd feel best if I lost about 5 pounds. Boo freakin' hoo right? I apologize that I have my dad's genetics and both of my parent's desire to stay fit (my mom is super fit and strong, but her side has to work twice as hard to stay that way). That's not to say every time I lace up my running shoes I don't secretly think maybe I could just skim the internet for an hour instead, find a blog topic or read a book. It's a struggle most of the time.

But I also know how I feel in my own skin, and that is how I can motivate me.

But overeating and staying sedentary are, of course, never the right choice. But as Miss Clarkson stated, we go through phases in our life that may derail us and that's okay. We are allowed and no one should shame us for it. We just need to figure out what motivates us to get stronger, healthier and run (no pun intended) with it.

After all, I'm sure we all have some part of us that may embarrass or shame us. It just might not be as openly obvious as an extra 50 pounds. If we all had to wear a sign as we see in pet shaming Facebook photos we may look at each other with more compassion and understanding.

I have two women in my neighborhood who walk for hours and hours every day of the week. I'm pretty sure their upper thigh is the size of my lower forearm. I'd like to often ask them to take a break with me and get a pizza. But even that thought is shaming them for what they are struggeling with.

We all have one body, one skin, and one chance. What we do with that chance is only and completely up to us. And no one, unless you are a true harm to yourself or others, has a right to judge you. So be creative, be dramatic, be energetic, be confident, drink wine, have a slice of cheesecake, have an adventure. Just be who you are to the best you know how to be and then no one has the right to say you're doing it wrong.

Be strong.

"Nothing was a more powerful compass of my mood or a better indication of my self-worth than the number on the scale."
~Betsy Lerner,  Food and Loathing: A Life Measured Out in Calories

Friday, April 17, 2015

Unhappily Ever After: Divorce

"The only thing more unthinkable than leaving was staying; the only thing more impossible than staying was leaving. I didn't want to destroy anything or anybody. I just wanted to slip quietly out the back door, without causing any fuss or consequences, and then not stop running until I reached Greenland."
~Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love

That book had a profound impact on my life. Especially the bathroom section where she is sure she doesn't want to be married anymore and it becomes a prayer. It is one of a huge list of things that gave me strength.

I had lunch today with a long time friend who I have some things in common with. The first time we met, possibly ten or more years ago, we both admitted we were desperately unhappy in our respective marriages. I've been done for more than six years now and she is finally making the leap.

And like all newly starting the process you believe it will be easy. You'll be nice, he'll be understanding and life will go on happily ever after.

And then you wake up from that dream.

Divorce is the quintessential Gotham villain Two-Face, nice one moment and ready to rip you to shreds the next. It brings out the most horrible attributes in the best of people. It becomes about greed, blame, and control. Throw kids in the mix and you have a lifetime of dealing with such issues.

I've done divorce coaching and I have to say my only advice I give is to be prepared for anything. Know your rights, worth and angles for every circumstance long before you need them. Too often I've heard the words, "It was going so well, I never thought he/she was capable."

Things change, people go a bit off, emotions are never predictable.

As for the kids, I read a column from a pediatrician last year stating how detrimental divorce is to children. My kids would beg to differ. They are much happier with parents that are happy. They are learning what a good marriage looks like and what stability in a family feels like. They no longer deal with the tension and sadness that was any family time together.

No happy marriage ends in divorce. No one ever said, "I love you way too much to make you keep living with me."

Stop beating yourself up if that is the path you are presented. Stop feeling so guilty!

I used to choke on the words, telling people I was in the midst of such a thing. I was only ever met with understanding and support. (Although don't ever say "I'm sorry" to that news. As stated above, usually for the best.)

And in the end you may find what I've found, that person that is exactly what you were missing. That person you never thought you would find let alone deserve.

Don't beat yourself up for happiness. I guarantee the divorce process will take care of that for you.

Happiness is worth it.

"Divorce isn't such a tragedy. The tragedy's staying in an unhappy marriage, teaching your children the wrong things about love. Nobody ever died of divorce."
~Jennifer Wiener, Fly Away Home

"What we wait around a lifetime for with one person, we can find in a moment with someone else."
~Stephanie Klein, Straight Up and Dirty, A Memoir

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Anger Management

"Get mad, then get over it."
~Colin Powell

If only that were easy. Forgive and forget, right? But how do we accomplish that divine ability to take a deep breath and, well, let it go?

It's a struggle.

I can really hold a grudge.

I haven't forgiven a boss from years ago who was so dishonest it made me quit. Or a co-worker who betrayed me so horribly I had to walk away.

I haven't forgotten certain family members that turned against me during my divorce, believing I was wrong, and later coming to see the horrible person I was getting away from.

And, of course, there is that said person. Every month when he proves where his children are in his priorities I have to fight my anger. I often write long emails that I never send. I have learned to bite my tongue and know that my kids will always feel loved and wanted here.

The hardest one at the moment are those kids. I get angry at my one son for not trying harder in school (I mean he's REALLY not trying). Or my other son for deciding his teenage girlfriend's family is more important than ours to the extent if someday they get married he should probably take her name.

So how to unknot the stomach and redefine emotions? How can you get to that inner peace where you can look back on people's mistakes or failures and not feel that same sick feeling of hurt and anger?

I'm very much trying.

Mark Twain said, "When angry, count four. When very angry, swear."

True enough. Sometimes anger is needed, necessary, cathartic even. As John Green wrote in The Fault in Our Stars, "Pain demands to be felt." If you stifle pain, anger, disappointment, you may quickly either implode or explode leaving yourself and possibly others as casualties.

I think the trick is to deal with it as it happens. Address it right away and move on. Not something I'm very good at, thus the lingering occasional stomach knot.

But I'm going to try and do better. Be bolder and braver when the time comes to discuss my disappointment. I'm a natural "keep it in" and "don't make waves" kind of person. But maybe from now on a few surfing days are in order.

"Speak when you are angry and you will make the best speech you will ever regret."
~Ambrose Bierce