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Thursday, August 4, 2016

The Racism With Which I Was Raised

Recently I saw a video in which a woman ranted and railed against the victim of her verbal assault, calling her "wetback," talking about "her kind" being such abominations.  We've all seen The Donald (or, as my son refers to him, President Bunmunch) spew racist epithets more times than we can count.  People are still, in 2016, being assaulted simply for the color of their skin.  The racism with which I was raised was not nearly so bold.

The racism with which I was raised was far more subtle.  It could almost be dismissed if one didn't make a concerted effort to think critically and reflect.  It's the kind with which a great many of us were raised, perhaps still raise our own children, without even believing it to be what it is: racism.  Degree of racism does not make it better or worse.  Racism, in and of itself, no matter how flagrant or indirect, is horrifying, abusive, and terribly, terribly real.

I was raised hearing that black people went to jail more often because they committed crimes more often.  I was raised hearing that "Ebonics" was just laziness and a gross lack of education.  I was raised hearing the story over and over of the black girl who often picked on others, leaving them with a perma-fear of all black people.  I was raised hearing about the different definitions of "respect" that black and white people have in their communities.  I was raised in schools with, maybe (big maybe) a handful of black kids, hearing that those are the "good" schools.  I was raised hearing that it would be OK for me to date a black boy, but not to have a child with one.  I was raised in a religion that has a generous estimation of 9% black people among its members; a religion that, in fact, teaches that black people were the antagonists in many of the stories taught to the young children and converts.  I was raised hearing that Affirmative Action was a blemish on our society.  I was raised hearing that drug dealers, rapists, wife-beaters, and thieves were largely black men.  I was raised hearing that black women were spitting out kids at an alarming rate for the purpose of sponging off the welfare system.  I was raised hearing that "reverse racism" existed and was heavily in play in our communities.

At the same time that all of this was being indirectly taught, I was also being told explicitly that racism was bad, that black kids and white kids were equal, that everyone was the same.  I was taught that we shouldn't see color.  Talk about mixed messages!

I never once heard anyone say the N-word.  I never saw anyone in a robe and pointed white hat.  Never once was I told to "get a white man" the way someone driving past me and my black boyfriend once screamed at us.  Never once was a black person treated poorly or with anything other than respect and kindness in my presence.

The racism with which I was raised was insidious and understated and every bit as treacherous, harmful, damaging, divisive, and genuine.  That's what makes it, perhaps, even more injurious, because it's harder, nearly impossible for some, to detect, to deflect, to pinpoint, to challenge.  So it goes uncontested by most, questioned by few.  And it goes propagated by many.  I bet, if you think about it, you can probably see your upbringing somewhere in here, perhaps even yourself.  I bet, if you think about it, you'll get a little uncomfortable, maybe even squirm or flinch.  That's how you know this is important.  That's how you know you should read it again, contemplate it once more, share it widely to help others face their experiences and feelings about them, too.

The voices with which I was raised, the racism with which I was raised isn't erased from me simply because I've fought against them, scrubbed them with a healthy dose of critical thought and change.  No.  It's all still there.  And when one of those deeply-seated thoughts creeps up seemingly out of nowhere, I work to stop it from becoming action, I consider why it arose, I own it as a blemish, I check my white privilege, I discuss it all with my young son, and I work to change it both in myself and, hopefully, in others along the way.  This is why I write.

Hey, we can pretend we aren't racist, that we weren't raised to be that way, because we're not as blatant as Trump or David Duke, but we're doing ourselves, our kids, and our society as a whole a grave disservice if we do.  Instead, I encourage us all to continue to reflect, continue to confront ourselves, and let our children see us do so in effort to help make the future generation just a little better for everyone.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

How I Became and Stopped Being a Yeller (A 60 Day Reflection)

Yelling at children goes against everything for which I stand, for which Zen Parenting stands.  It's abusive, damaging, ineffective, and unnecessary.  And yet, somewhere along the line, I started yelling.  I don't recall it happening.  It sneaked in while I wasn't being vigilant.  Then, like a fungus, it spread.  All of a sudden, I found myself yelling at my son on an all-too-regular basis and I hated myself for it.  He wasn't a big fan either.

I grew up with yelling.  I grew up being yelled out, I grew up yelling at and with my brother.  Fighting was a way of life.  It wasn't until my late 20s that I started therapy and began questioning, well, everything.  One thing was for sure: I no longer wanted to be a yeller.  Alas, decades of conditioning aren't always that easy to break.

I went a full 3 1/2 years of motherhood without even raising my voice.  Then it happened.  And once the first one slipped out, it left room for the second, and the twenty-second, until I could no longer count...and felt I could no longer control myself.  I reverted right back to what I had grown up with, what I had once been.  

Just over 60 days ago, I yelled at my son for the last time.  I made him cry.  I refuse to not acknowledge this.  I refuse to sweep it under the rug.  It's ugly, it's real, it's honest, and I hate it all.  It broke me.  It breaks me still as I type.  I cannot fool myself into believing it didn't also break him.  I broke my son.  Not totally, no, but some and that's too much.

How had I let this happen?  How could I look into the eyes of someone I love unquantifiably and tear away at him from the inside with my volume and venom?  How did I let myself get so out of control?  How did I become what I vowed I never would?

Something had to be done.  After many thoughtful conversations with my now five-year-old, we teamed up to take The Orange Rhino Challenge.  We went to the office supply store and picked out a calendar together.  We posted it up right next to the bed where we cosleep so that every night we could, together, write the number of days it has been since I yelled.  We printed and cut out a large Orange Rhino and pasted it to a thick piece of foam-core board so that he could hold it up for me as a reminder of my commitment if and when he thought I was getting close to yelling.  Nightly, we discussed my progress and our thoughts and feelings about that and about our relationship with each other.  Regularly, he told me how proud he was of me, how good things felt for him.  In fact, he told me it was the thing he was most proud of in me.

I messed up twice.  I did.  It was at the beginning when things were hardest, the adjustment took the most effort.  So, I took my days off my count, I apologized, we discussed, we continued on.  It has been far from easy.  I mean, no matter how much you love someone, they're still going to bug you from time to time.  He's absolute perfection in my mind, but he also knows how to make my eye twitch.

Taking on this challenge has not only brought us closer just by virtue of me no longer yelling, but by opening up conversations that hadn't yet taken place.  One of the reasons I used to yell was that I felt triggered.  He used to lie on top of  me if he didn't want me to get up from where we were sitting together or run in front of where I was trying to walk and tell me he was an "immovable boulder" while physically blocking my path.  This would instantly trigger me.  Instantly and hugely.  I would freak out.  As a survivor of sexual assault and rape, having my body controlled, even if just in perception, sends me over the edge.  He didn't know that, though.  How could he?  He's five, innocent, naive, and completely ignorant of what rape and triggers even are.  So, we talked about it.  We talked about triggers, we talked about what triggers me, we talked about why.  And he hasn't done either thing since.  He got it immediately.  We're closer for it.

Another trigger for me was sound and certain physical and visual cues.  I have misophonia.  The Misophonia Institute has spectacularly informative and clear videos explaining misophonia both the person afflicted and those around us affected.  Once my son understood triggers, he was then able to understand my misophonia far better, as he was then able to grasp that certain sounds were far more than simply "irritating" to me.  As a result, he's more cognizant, we talk more about it, and we're closer for it.

Look, I'm as fallible as the next person.  Just because I'm Zen Parenting doesn't mean I don't lose my zen from time to time.  The goal is to grow.  Progress, not perfection.  I fell.  I took several steps back on my path to where I want to be as a parent, but I'm on my way back, I'm 60 days deep, I'm a better mom and person for it.  Most importantly, my son sees me working, is growing and learning right beside me, knows unfailingly that he is loved.

I don't remember the day I became a yeller, but I recall vividly the day I stopped being one.  It was one of the best days of both my and my son's lives and I refuse to let that go.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Guns, Law Enforcement, and Accountability for All

Nearly 100% of law enforcement officers and personnel I know (which is a considerable amount given my background)* are for citizens owning and carrying weapons. The current sheriff of my own former department has gone above and beyond to expedite the process of obtaining one's concealed weapons permit in that county. Here's the problem: how then do they know a good guy from a bad guy especially in a fast-paced, chaotic situation? Those blurred lines are creating even bigger issues than we had before, which were already plentiful and myriad.
Traffic stops are some of the most dangerous encounters law enforcement officers ever have. Tensions are already high. Suspicions already abound. Wouldn't you then want to know that someone with a gun in the car you just pulled over is *certainly* not legally justified in having one? Wouldn't you want to eliminate any question so you could act accordingly and appropriately without fear of being fatally incorrect?
Open carry is applauded by many of you I know, as well, and yet that only further blurs lines and creates confusion and heightened danger. If someone outside of a store is wielding a gun and you respond to that call in an open carry state, how can you instantly tell which person holding a gun is the bad and which is the good? Wouldn't you want to eliminate any bewilderment so you could more confidently and efficiently do your already terribly dangerous, stressful job?
Your unending support of the "guns, guns everywhere" mentality is creating infinite problems for you, for us, for everyone.
Your unquestioning loyalty for those sharing your profession does nothing but create further distrust as opposed to the feelings others would have for you if you would simply evaluate each case on its own merits, stand behind that which is right, but also firmly admonish and distance yourself from that which is wrong. People can get behind someone, anyone who says, "Ugh. I'm so sorry that one not-fully-trained or mentally unstable or highly emotional or inexperienced or just plain mistaken in this circumstance officer did what they did. It wasn't right. It also isn't representative of the overwhelming majority of us. As ever, we continue to do our jobs, because we care." People can get behind someone, anyone who says, "That was a mistake" regardless of its egregiousness. People distrust unfailing support of that which is sometimes so very clearly wrong, sometimes questionable, sometimes riding the line of morality.
As a teacher, I am understandably sensitive and defensive when others post negativity about teachers. My knee-jerk reaction is to stand up for them. What does that say to others, though, when it turns out the teacher has done something unconscionable? How does anyone trust me as a teacher if I jump to the defense of all teachers blindly and without regard for offense? They can't. And I can't ask them to.
I know you. I see you. Let down your walls, allow your humanity to show through, give others a glimpse of your heart as opposed to the coldness of your blue walls.

I wrote this just a couple of hours before seeing a similar plea about peer accountability from Officer Nakia Jones and then as she expounded upon that in a press conference the next day.  I wrote this days before hearing Chief David Brown speak eloquently and passionately about guns in public making his job and the jobs of his employees infinitely harder. I wrote this a week before reading the Associated Press' pointed questions as to the logic and wisdom of laws permitting open carry gun laws to which people are still vehemently responding with their standard 2nd Amendment quotes that serve no purpose in driving progress.  I am not alone in wanting, no, demanding more and better both for our law enforcement officers and for the people they serve, all the people they serve.  We will continue to set high expectations, hold each other accountable even when it is an unpopular act to do so, press the loud and well-armed minority on the prudence of their votes and decisions.  We do this precisely because we do so appreciate the intensely trying and, at times, life-threatening jobs our peace officers do and wish for only the cream of the crop to represent them.  We do this not because we value only black lives or only blue lives while dismissing the lives of the other; we do this because we value lives and care most immediately about protecting those that are most in danger, most at risk. 

*  6 years working in both training and as a Sheriff's Service Specialist with the San Bernardino** County Sheriff's Department, as well as living as a child of and family member to law enforcement officers ranging in rank from deputy all the way up to sheriff of the largest county in the United States. 

** Yes, that San Bernardino.  The one that got shot up and terrorized.  The one in which my sister-in-law and four-year-old nephew were having lunch around the corner from gunshots ringing out, feeling unsure if they'd make it home alive as they fled.  The one in which a former classmate of mine lost his life.  This is personal.  It's all personal.

Your "Drama" is My Reality - Racial Disparity in the U.S.

Guest Post by Tramane

A lot of you will not understand this, but that’s the problem. You don’t understand and you don’t try to.* People of color live in a very different reality than their white counterparts when it comes to law enforcement. The narratives we hear growing up are very different. If you watch or read the same news stories I do, then you should understand why. What I once thought were isolated incidents have somehow become commonplace. The reality is African-Americans are killed at a disproportionately higher rate than others.

I have an irrational** fear of being confronted by police officers and it not ending well for me. This thought runs through my head quite frequently. So much so that I play scenarios in my head of how the aftermath might play out. I have a list of four people who I would want to speak on my behalf or the behalf of my family in the event that I am unable to speak for myself. I wonder what pictures the news or social media will use to share my story. Will anyone even get my side of the story or will the anchor simply say, “A man resisted arrest today and police were forced to shoot him”?

This might sound “dramatic” to some of you but it’s my reality. I’ve seen too many examples that started with a broken tail light and ended with a body bag.

Tramane is a beloved public high school teacher, passionate world traveler, and hopes to one day be a social justice warrior.

He lives his life consciously, learns as much from his students as they learn from him, and immerses himself in all cultures he encounters in effort to gain greater and deeper as a global citizen.

Tramane makes the world just a little better by being himself in it.

*We cannot all understand, but we can acknowledge our privilege and use it to effect change.

**Zen Parenting does not agree with Tramane's assessment that his very real fear is irrational, rather based on awareness.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Motivation Kickstarter Day 24: Area of My Life I Want to Improve

As part of my quest to find my motivation, I've accepted the 30 Day Writing Challenge.  Each post will be added to the main post HERE.

The Area of My Life in Which I'd Like to Improve

Budgeting.  I suck at it.  

I probably don't give myself enough credit, because we're able to live in home we own, under oppressive student loan debt, without significant other debt, and all on a single teacher's income in the 49th lowest state for teacher pay.  That we're all still able to eat, let alone sometimes have a little extra fun ("sometimes" and "little" being the operative words here) is fairly miraculous.  

Still, though, budgeting is not my forte.  When I take the time to write out my financial and budgeting goals, I am able to stick to the plan, but I too often try to wing it and that always ends in disaster.  At age 38, it's not cute.  I simply need to do better.  There's no way around it.  

So, that's it.  That's my secret.  I suck at budgeting, at managing my family's finances, at saving (with what money?), at money in general.  I suck at it and I'm working on it.  So far, I still suck at it after working on it, but I suppose I suck a smidge less.  

What area of your life do you need to work to improve?

Monday, June 13, 2016

Motivation Kickstarter Day 23: Lesson I Learned the Hard Way

As part of my quest to find my motivation, I've accepted the 30 Day Writing Challenge.  Each post will be added to the main post HERE.

One Lesson I Learned the Hard Way

I'm not one of the smart ones who learns from the mistakes of others.  No, no, I'm ridiculously hard-headed, I require my lessons to come at high costs.  Now, this does mean I really learn those lessons, they stick like glue, but, boy, it'd be nice if I didn't have to get hit upside the head quite so hard in order to gain clarity.

One lesson that took me a particularly long time to learn over the course of a particularly arduous internal battle was that I cannot trust my mother.  I don't write that lightly.  Just the mere act of stating what I stated is enough to cause Familial War XXIV.  However, I made a agreement with myself to always be honest on this blog (and in my life), so here we are.

There is no real need to go into the specifics of why I learned this lesson or all the myriad and multitudinous incidents that went into learning it.   Suffice it to say, my mother has spent a lot of time over the years touting the importance of honesty, trustworthiness, and integrity, but has spent the same amount of time showing she has none of it.  It's as vital to learn who you cannot trust as it is to learn who you can.  It only took me 32 years to finally, finally catch on.   

In the years since learning my lesson, things have become much simpler for me in my dealings with my  mother.  I know my boundaries, I clearly lay out my boundaries, I stick to my boundaries.  As even the word "boundary" is met with near violent derision by her, my simpler life has made her life as my mother more difficult.  I can no longer be gaslighted, I am no longer intimidated, I no longer let my guard down with her.  When those are your basic interpersonal tools and your tools no longer work, life gets difficult.  Part of learning this lesson has been becoming comfortable with the fact that I am not responsible for those difficulties.  I am responsible for me and my son solely.  Simple. 

I wish I had learned this lesson far earlier in my life.  I could've avoided so much pain and heartache.  However, I am the sum of my experiences and I like who I am now and who I am becoming.  I learned the lesson, however long and hard it was coming, and for that I am grateful and satisfied.  Perhaps it was the long and hard that made the lesson so worthwhile.  

Friday, June 10, 2016

"Hi, I'm a Slut"

A must-hear, must-see, must-inhale slam poem by Savannah Brown.  I invite the men in the room to pay particular attention.  I invite the women who have internalized misogyny for all these years to listen and reflect.  I invite all of you to share.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Motivation Kickstarter Day 22: What I Want to Say to 5 People

As part of my quest to find my motivation, I've accepted the 30 Day Writing Challenge.  Each post will be added to the main post HERE.

What I Want to Say to Five People

I have made it a point to be unfailingly honest in my life, which includes in this blog.  That sometimes means getting very uncomfortable and, perhaps, making others feel the same.  Today's post will do both.  

1. My Nephew B
You are, have always been, one of the most incredible, brilliant, loving people I've ever had the honor of knowing.  I wish you could see you as I see you.  I wish those on the outskirts of your world could see you as I see you.   I know you're loved by many, but I don't always believe you're appreciated for the unique you that you are and for that I am sorry.  I wish I could help you understand why some ride you harder than you deserve and than they do your brothers.  I wish I could stop that for you.  I love you more than you could ever know, have loved you I first held you in my arms just moments after you took your first breath.  More than that, though, I both like and respect you.  If you weren't my nephew, I'd choose you as my friend.  You always have a soft place to land with me.  

2. Paul Ring
That you were young is not an excuse.  I was younger.  That it was almost 30 years ago now does not dampen what you did.  That you likely don't even remember it does not mean I don't.  If there were no statute of limitations on sexual assault, I would press charges even now.  You hurt me, you changed my life.  Should we ever meet again in life, I will not hesitate to throw the first punch I've ever thrown and, hopefully, land it straight in your throat.  I will remind you.  If I ever get the chance, I will ensure you live the rest of your life with the memory of what you did to me when I was just a little girl.

3. Alice Lee
I threatened you and you took those feelings out on me publicly, loudly, wrongly, and meanly.  I was a good student teacher.  I consistently got the highest reviews in my graduating class.  I was hired to teach honors classes the next year before I even finished student teaching.  I was good.  And yes, as I got better, I began to pull away from you, I began to see how little respect you had for the students, I began to understand all the ways I wanted to be different than you.  I relied on you less and less, I came into my own, I simply outgrew you.  You had no right to dress me down, attack me with lies and false assumptions, yell at me for a full 15 minutes in front of another teacher and student.  You didn't like that I no longer put you on a pedestal and you needed to put me back in the lower position the ugliest way you knew how.  I don't forgive you.  You are despicable.  

4. Dad
You abandoned us.  You used to see us twice a week, you used to send us letters telling us how proud you are of us, you used to be present in our lives until you found a new family.  You abandoned us.  You even stopped acknowledging us.  You stopped celebrating our birthdays, even calling us on holidays.  You stopped the letters, the visits, the relationships.  You moved 800 miles away, started your new family, and told everyone you had three kids instead of five.  Mom made things difficult on you, this I know.  Believe me, she made it difficult on me, too.  But we were there, living with the difficulties, while you decided we weren't worth the effort.  You somehow justified abandoning us for the sake of getting away from her.  You've expressed no remorse about this, only continued to justify it when asked even all these years later.  You abandoned us and it has colored everything we are and have done for the rest of our lives in small and large ways.  That you've never once apologized or, for that matter, been anything but proud of your decision to move on will be your legacy.  

5. Aunt L
I will not again listen to you defend my dad.  I will not ever again let you shut me down when I express hurt over our abandonment.  I will not ever again let you get away with telling me the same thing my dad always has: it's OK that he left, because my mom made things hard for him.  From now on, I will talk back.  The next time you do this, I will ask pointedly if you'd ever give up your children because it got hard to see them.  The next time you try this, I will point out that the difficulty that simply is my mother is even more of a reason why he should've stayed near and present, so that we could have a more stable influence somewhere in our lives.  The next time, I will say that this paltry, pathetic excuse no longer works on me, because I am a parent now and understand exactly what you would do for your child no matter how hard things get.  Never would I abandon my son.  Never would you abandon your children.  There is not a single excuse that justifies him leaving us and the next time you give one in that snotty tone, I'm going to respond accordingly.

Uncomfortable yet?  I am.  That's how I know it should be written, probably should've been written long ago.  

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Motivation Kickstarter Day 21: The First 10 Songs on Shuffle

As part of my quest to find my motivation, I've accepted the 30 Day Writing Challenge.  Each post will be added to the main post HERE.

First 10 Shuffled Songs

This is either going to make me look really cool or really uncool and I'm betting on the latter.  Whatever happens, this is me.

1. What the World Needs Now is Love by Jackie DeShannon
My Best Friend's Wedding soundtrack is most excellent and most kitchy.  No apologies.

2. Go Your Own Way by Fleetwood Mac

3. I Say a Little Prayer by Aretha Franklin
Even classicker!

4. Without You by Harry Nilsson
I almost always skip past this.  I must've been feeling particularly angsty when I added this.  

5. Stuck With You by Huey Lewis and the News
I was born in 1978.  Clearly, I'm a product of the 80s.  Nostalgia.

6. Something to Save by George Michael
His most angsty album that spoke to my angsty middle-schooler and hasn't ever left me.

7. Drive By by Train
I don't even know this song by its title.  I'd have to listen to it to tell you why it's here.  Train doesn't do much for me but for Meet Virginia.  This has me thinking it's time to purge some songs from my iTunes.

8. Every Time I Close My Eyes by Babyface
A god.  No shame.

9. All I Want for Christmas is You by Olivia Olson
If you'll recall my confession that the problematic Love Actually is one of my favorite movies, you'll not be surprised that the soundtrack is also a fave.  Thus, I have to love this soundtrack version of this song and not the Mariah Carey version.

10. Blister in the Sun by Violent Femmes
That's more like it.  I'm a little cool.  Sometimes.  

Shuffle is a jerk.  Where's my Sublime, my Tracies (Tracy Bonham and Tracy Chapman, that is), my Prince, my Presidents of the United States of America, my Journey, my Joss Stone, and my Jack Johnson?  These artists are all over my iTunes, but do they come up on my shuffle for this particular post?  Noooooo.  Thanks, Shuffle.  Ass.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Motivation Kickstarter Day 20: 3 Lessons I Want My Child to Learn From Me

As part of my quest to find my motivation, I've accepted the 30 Day Writing Challenge.  Each post will be added to the main post HERE.

Three Lessons I Want My Child to Learn From Me

1. Be Good to Your Word
Say what you mean and mean what you say.  If you tell someone you're going to do something, do it.  My mom once told me she's stop doing something and then, as is typical, continued doing it.  When called out on that, she responded with, "I never said 'I promise.'"  I am happy to say that my five-year-old son already understands the importance of this lesson more than my mom ever will.  As a result, I trust what he says and others will as he continues on in life.

2. People Aren't Mind-Readers
If you want someone to know something, tell them directly and explicitly.  Conversely, if you want to know something, ask directly and clearly.  Never assume either of you know what the other is thinking or feeling.

3. You're Not Perfect
You're not perfect, you're never going to be perfect, but that shouldn't stop you from trying whatever it is you want to do.  This is something he hears me talk to his dad about regularly, as he simply doesn't try anything if he thinks he won't be perfect at it the first time, thus he doesn't try much that is new.  It's a cryin' shame.  I see this tendency in my son, as well, so we've been working on it extra.  In tennis, he doesn't stop when he misses or doesn't get it over the net.  He simply makes a quick face of disappointment and moves along.  In pottery, he doesn't quit when he collapses the pot.  He simply fixes it and continues on.  The lesson is getting through.  He's an imperfect wonder and I absolutely adore him for it.

What lessons do you want your children to learn from YOU?

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Motivation Kickstarter Day 19: Celebrity Crushes

As part of my quest to find my motivation, I've accepted the 30 Day Writing Challenge.  Each post will be added to the main post HERE.

My Celebrity Crushes

To be perfectly honest, I don't subscribe to the typical American obsession with celebrities.  I don't read People magazine, I don't watch the Oscars, I don't even know any of the names on my FB trending topics ticker.  It's just not my bag.  I'll play along, though, as there are a couple people I dig.

Jeff Goldblum
Quirky, intelligent, funny, unique.  Dead sexy.

Merritt Wever
Quirky, intelligent, funny, unique.  Dead sexy.

Sir Patrick Stewart
Quirky, intelligent, funny, unique.  Dead sexy.


Jennifer Lawrence
Quirky, intelligent, funny, unique.  Dead sexy.


Methinks I have a type.  

Monday, May 16, 2016

Motivation Kickstarter Day 18: My First Love

As part of my quest to find my motivation, I've accepted the 30 Day Writing Challenge.  Each post will be added to the main post HERE.

My First Love

Welp, this is a quick and easy one.  My first love sucked.  He was a compulsive liar, a total bum, and one scary ex-love.  I stayed with him or two years, lived with him, was engaged to him.  His parents hated me and blamed me for everything he ever did wrong and he never stood up for me.  He cheated on me and was a general waste of two years of my young life.  He was an excellent lesson, if nothing else.

And that's that.  I don't have fond memories of my time with him.  My only explanation is that he was both my first kiss and my first sexual partner and, having been brought up Mormon, that meant to me that I had done something very, very wrong that I could only rectify by sticking with him and marrying him.  

I refuse to allow my son to believe the same messed up things I was taught to believe, thus setting him up for the same ugly mistakes I made.  No, I won't do that to him.   

Friday, May 13, 2016

Motivation Kickstarter Day 17: Today's Epiphany

As part of my quest to find my motivation, I've accepted the 30 Day Writing Challenge.  Each post will be added to the main post HERE.

Today's Epiphany

(This post was originally scheduled to be 30 Little-Known Facts About Me, but I've already written something similar to that and I had these thoughts swirling, so I made a command decision to change the topic at the last minute.)

I realized today that my anxiety didn't start with the traumatic birth of my son, but as a young child myself.  I didn't have words for it then and didn't have the support for it even if I had.

It started with my parents multiple separations and reconciliations.  It manifested itself as fat lips.  I used to chew my bottom lip to the point of creating holes and face-deforming swelling.  It was something I could focus my attention on besides the turmoil going on in my life.  I was rarely without a painful and swollen bottom lip, because I was rarely without anxiety.

I used to get scolded for chewing my lip, so I became more sly about my chewing as I got older.  I moved onto chewing the inside of my cheeks, which, after 30+ years of doing this, have become covered in scar tissue.  I also began picking at and chewing my cuticles.  It is a rarity, even now, that I have 10 healthy fingers.  As I look at my hands now, I only have one bloody spot, which is actually quite impressive for me.

Obviously, my son's birth didn't help.  Whereas I was always able to keep my anxiety to myself before, it has now bubbled out into my life in other, more pervasive ways that affect those around me.  I stop my son and husband from doing things, because of my own irrational anxieties.  I can only handle so much clutter and mess before I absolutely flip the eff out.  I get terribly angry with my husband when he does something wrong, because I am somehow able to connect it back to my son and how he'll be negatively affected.

As I considered talking to my doctor about changing from Zoloft to another anti-depressant with anti-anxiety meds included, I began to feel anxious about that, as well.  "What if a new med dulls my edge?  What if the things I've been so anxious about happening actually do happen, because I wasn't uber-aware."  I was aware that this was my anxiety talking, but then the whole cycle started again.

Eventually, I talked to my doctor and we've together decided to change from the Zoloft to Wellbutrin.  This should help with my anxiety with the added benefit of ceasing to dampen my sex drive, which SSRIs such as Zoloft notoriously do.  We'll see.  Suffice it to say, I'm anxious.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Motivation Kickstarter Day 16: Something I Miss

As part of my quest to find my motivation, I've accepted the 30 Day Writing Challenge.  Each post will be added to the main post HERE.

Something I Miss

This will be a short one, because it's fairly black and white for me.

I miss working in law enforcement.  I miss the camaraderie of the Sheriff's Department.  I miss the fun I had there.  I miss the people with whom I always felt safe.  Quite honestly, I miss that feeling of badassery when I got to do something important.

I miss working as a high school English teacher.  I miss the connection I had with my students, especially at the first high school in which I taught.  I miss convincing students to give me their deeply considered opinions rather than what they thought I wanted to hear.  I miss helping them love to learn what I loved to learn.

I do miss them both, without a doubt.  I would miss my son more.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Motivation Kickstarter Day 15: Bullet-Points of My Day

As part of my quest to find my motivation, I've accepted the 30 Day Writing Challenge.  Each post will be added to the main post HERE.

My Day Bullet-Pointed

Some days it's "everything," other days it's, well, like today.

  • wake up at 9 a.m.
  • toast for breakfast
  • check the Etsy shop (Potter Alma Mater) for orders
  • wonder how to turn all those "favorites" into orders
  • discuss the science of sponges as my son marvels at how much blood my Jade & Pearl sea sponge can hold
  • continuation of ongoing discussion on periods
  • schedule son for pottery wheel class at local art studio per his request
  • set out butter to soften for cookie making later
  • remind husband to set son up for "cheetah class" at "Kid College"
  • mourn the loss of spring so early in the year (only 90s and 100s in the forecast in central AZ)
  • discuss with son the pros, cons, and frustrations of living with an HOA as I open two letters from them
  • put on allergy blend of essential oils from Living Essentially with Stephanie
  • start this blog post while thinking "ain't nobody got time (or desire) for (reading) this"
  • consider the tragic deaths of Jonathon Conte and Prince
  • poop (exactly an hour after I get up without fail - hashtag regular)
  • think that whatever few readers I had on this post have now gone, since the poop bullet
  • add a photo to Tinybeans for the family
  • send video wish to sister for her birthday
  • crochet Ravenclaw diaper cover for Potter Alma Mater while son plays Endless Reader on the Kindle
  • continue to try to crochet between "look at this, Mama" requests every six seconds
  • give up on crochet to do Endless Reader, because all the "look at this" requests have run together and it's time to give in
  • Dada came home from giving his final at the college where he teaches
  • my full attention was required as my son created and used a couch cushion trampoline, because, as was the case above, it's either willingly give the attention or hear "Mama, watch this" over and over again
  • break for The Sandlot, which, if you read yesterday's post, you know is one of my favorite movies
  • ask husband to do the same three things I've been asking him to do all week...again
  • practice tennis outside with son (when we did this yesterday, I nailed him in the penis)
  • bathe the boy
  • make doctor's appointment for lad
  • cancel doctor's appointment 10 minutes later
  • Google symptoms
  • lotion him up and make a mental note to keep an eye on it, rescheduling next week if it doesn't improve
  • listen to Superfudge again on Audiobooks with the child o' mine
  • find Halloween costume for son who has decided he simply must be a cowboy
  • make cookies for last day of my son's tennis session
  • make hamster treat for son's hamster, Pinkie
  • more Endless Reader
  • attend online Intro to Essential Oils class
  • get everyone ready for tennis (because my husband's version of "ready"  means he's aware that he needs to leave at some point and is considering moving, which is a completely different definition than mine, which means we're actually prepared to leave the house)
  • watch my son at tennis practice while trying my best to drown out the other parents yammering incessantly about everything besides what their kids were doing on the court, cheer on their kids, because their own parents don't notice
  • walk an elderly neighbor's dog right after practice as it is my son's paid job
  • get home an immediately get naked
  • wonder which one of us, me or my husband, is going to cave on making dinner first
  • read the name "Hyneman" as "Hymen," which tells me it's an early-to-bed kind of night for me 
  • manage social media for Denise Williams, Realtor
  • eat whatever we can scrounge, because neither of us wants to make anything
  • take a little alone time in bed to crochet and watch Star Trek: Voyager on Netflix while son and husband play
  • snuggle with my son in our bed, listen to Blubber on Audiobooks (discussing its happenings all the while), both fall asleep around 10 p.m.
It's a glamorous life I lead, folks.  A glamorous, glamorous life.  

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Motivation Kickstarter Day 14: Movies I Never Tire of Watching

As part of my quest to find my motivation, I've accepted the 30 Day Writing Challenge.  Each post will be added to the main post HERE.

Movies I Could Watch Over and Over

Let me say right off the bat that some of these are problematic.  They don't all align with all of my beliefs.  I'm aware.  I love them, though, and I won't hide them in effort to appear to be more perfect.  

So, in no particular order, I present my favorite movies.

1. Mr. Holland's Opus: the teacher in me identifies completely
2. Passion of Mind: as I have, more times than I can count, dreamt so vividly that I could not tell dream from reality, I feel this in my soul
3. Elf: hilarity
4. Step Brothers: ridiculousness
5. A Christmas Story: classic
6. Matilda: hello rad girl power
7. The Care Bears Movie: this is my childhood
8. The Sandlot: so many problems, still so funny
9. Love Actually: I know, I know, but I love it
10. To Kill a Mockingbird: Atticus is my literary hero and the movie is almost as good as the book
11. Of Mice and Men: my favorite book turned movie
12. The Money Pit: old school Tom Hanks
13. the original Star Wars trilogy: because I'm human
14. all the Harry Potter movies: they're not HP books, but they never get old (I mean, I do have a Harry Potter business, so I clearly dig it all)
15. Fantastic Mr. Fox: dry wit abounds
16. 50 First Dates: the soundtrack alone is reason to watch it
17. He Loves Me...He Loves Me Not: such weirdness
18. Labyrinth: memories...
19. Scrooged: as Dickens was meant to be told
20. The Neverending Story: 80s me
21. Fern Gully: Robin Williams, Tim Curry, sweet soundtrack, environmentalism, perfection
22. With Honors: this is all high school for me
23. Big: more classic Hanks goodness
24. The Business of Being Born: life changing
25. Iron Jawed Angels: strong historical women rock my socks
26. the Lord of the Rings trilogy: even if Legolas weren't in it, I'd still love it (but Legolas helps!)
27. Beauty and the Beast: like every other bibliophile, I want that library
28. Legends of the Fall: Brad Pitt's hair and hurts makes me want to pet him
29. The Mists of Avalon: my beloved King Arthur myth retold from the women's point of view
30. Sleepless in Seattle: sweetness and a soundtrack I have memorized

Monday, May 9, 2016

Motivation Kickstarter Day 13: What Currently Excites Me?

As part of my quest to find my motivation, I've accepted the 30 Day Writing Challenge.  Each post will be added to the main post HERE

What Currently Excites Me?

Bernie Sanders.  He's a sentence of his own.  

I grew up extraordinarily conservative.  Though I didn't think it possible, my parents have gotten even more so with time and age, now identifying as part of the infamous Tea Party.  Conversely, I've gone on to completely shame them by growing into a flaming liberal.  We could not be more different when it comes to our politics (and, in fairness, most other things, as well).  

I jumped on the Bernie train pretty early on in his bid for the presidency.  I've contributed to his campaign three times, something I've never done even once for any other politician.  I proudly sport his bumper sticker on my car and don his T-shirt around town.  My husband does the same.  Even my son has his own shirt and talks frequently about "President Bernie."  (He also talks about "President Bunmunch," which is his own pet name for the Trumpster.  All hopefuls are "President [insert name here]" according to him.)  We're a proud and enthusiastic Bernie family.  

That pride and enthusiasm for a democratic socialist makes us quite popular in our very red state of Arizona, as you can imagine.  We get dirty looks regularly and I even once got "dirty lesbian" comment as a woman walked by me while I wore my rainbow Bernie shirt.  This is how I know he's hitting a nerve and it's one of the skillion reasons I love him so.

I could go on about why I #feeltheBern rather than #standwithher, but Sarah Silverman has said it all for me, so I'll leave you with this: 

Friday, May 6, 2016

Motivation Kickstarter Day 12: 5 Privileges I Enjoy

As part of my quest to find my motivation, I've accepted the 30 Day Writing Challenge.  Each post will be added to the main post HERE

Five Privileges I Enjoy

Since it is so often misunderstood, I'll start with the definition of "privilege" as set forth by Merriam-Webster: a right or immunity granted as a peculiar benefit, advantage, or favor.  In layman's terms, that means "that some of us have advantages over others for any number of reasons we don't control - like who we are, where we come from, the color of our skin, or certain things that have happened in our lives."  It is about society and culture, not about gifts given to us for good behavior (such as what we think of as our privileges given to us by our parents and/or teachers when we are children).

We all have privilege of some sort.  (Leastwise, you do if you're reading this blog.)  It is vital that we recognize them so that we take it upon ourselves to learn, reflect, research, change what we are able, acknowledge what we're not able, and lend the benefits we enjoy from our privileged positions to help those in other positions.  

These are five privileges I have.

1. White Privilege
Nope, my life isn't always easy, but it's never been hard because of my skin color.  

2. Cisgender Privilege
Being a woman is fraught with its own difficulties (I surely don't have the ever-pervasive male privilege), but I do not have to concern myself with being harassed or harmed for going into the women's restroom or changing room.  I can also show outward affection to my husband while in public without a care in the world.   

3. Able-Bodied Privilege
Everything I want my body to do, it does.  I get to control that fully and that is taken for granted.  I'm not the butt of jokes or the subject of ugly memes, because my body works differently.  

4. Educational Privilege
I not only have access to quality, higher education, but am given credibility solely for the fact that I'm a college graduate.  My intelligence level has little to do with this credibility, as it's often given before a person even hears me speak or reads my writing.

5. Socioeconomic Privilege
Things are hard at home right now.  My husband lost his job and is now working three to bring home only 60% of what he was making before.  We don't get to eat all we want, we're not traveling anywhere, I can't even get myself a hair cut, but we own our home, we will have electricity to run our air conditioner during the upcoming oppressively and dangerously hot Arizona summer, we have clean drinking water, and our son will have shoes on his feet even if he hits a growth spurt.  And because my husband has clean, pressed clothes and a permanent home address, he can go on interviews and be sure he'll get a fair shot at the job.  

I have privilege.  Right now, what I'm doing with it is this.  I'm writing about it, hoping to prompt you to consider your privilege, working to open thought in others.