Friday, April 29, 2016

You Gotta Fight . . for Your Right

I rarely post about controversial issues. It's not so much that I was raised believing that it's impolite to talk about religion or politics--even though I was. It's more that when I feel strongly about something, and someone expresses what I feel is hate, discrimination, intolerance or changes my perception of them. Those issues are few in number, but those few are deal breakers. And I understand that these issues also cause "friends" to change their opinion of me. It's all good.

A lot of people get worked up about their "rights," but many don't stop to consider that historically one group's "rights" have come at the expense of another's. Was it white people's "right" to enslave black people? Was it man's "right" to rape and abuse women? In the past, people believed that. Some still do.

Not so long ago people were up in arms about same-sex marriage. Not sure how it affected them. It affected our family because now my beautiful sisters can get married.

People are pissed that Harriet Tubman is on currency. Ummm...whyyyyyy?

And today, some are incensed about transgender individuals' freedom to use the bathroom with which they identify. Maybe they are confused about what trans means? Because certainly they wouldn't look at any of the beautiful, kind, loving, generous trans individuals I know and call them "perverts." That wouldn't even make any sense.

Certainly they wouldn't consider a precious, bright-eyed, innocent little three-year-old who played with dolls and longed to wear dresses a pervert. Most probably wouldn't even realize this grown-up child had a penis if they saw her in a bathroom. She's stunning. They likely wouldn't see her penis unless they invaded her privacy.

However, the gentle but very masculine-looking man who was born with a vagina incites panic, dirty looks and angry comments when he enters the women's restroom. He has to use that restroom. He has to endure those looks. He doesn't meant to scare the women...he just has to sit down to pee.

I understand that some people naturally fear what's different. I just don't understand why the reaction so often seems to be panic and hysteria. It's okay to be scared of what you don't understand, but ask a question, read a book, use the freaking internet for something other than fear-mongering ... perhaps to enlighten yourself.

It's appalling. I'm horrified.

Lots of people are afraid of the boogieman. And yes, let's be honest: Bad people exist. However, statistically speaking you and your children are far more likely to be abused, hurt, and victimized by someone you already know and trust than by a stranger. That means you're probably more likely to encounter the boogieman in your own home than in the Target bathroom.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Warning: This Post Contains Several Uses of the F Word

Life is hectic when you have multiple children involved in activities. It's more hectic when only one parent is available to take them to their activities. I do my best to be at each child's events, but it's just me. This is life for a single parent. This is also the life for a person whose spouse travels. And during the months of March through May, when I run from dance to baseball to dance to baseball...and back to dance, it wears me out a bit.

I juggle ever-changing schedules. Is the game home or away? Is it knots or princess buns? Is it at the school or the park? Where am I supposed to glue these gems? Are you JV or Varsity? What color tights? What kind of glue? What. The. Fuck?!

It's just a little vent. I gotta get this stuff out of my head. 

So, here's the thing: My husband travels for work. Yes, every week. Yes, he's gone this week too. He's gone E-VE-RY week. Next week? He'll be gone then too. It's not a phase his job was going through; it's his job. No, he's not looking for another job. No, his job is not going to change so he doesn't have to travel. No, it doesn't make me crazy. Sometimes it makes life challenging since there is one me and two non-driving children. But in the meantime...

Here are a few suggestions for those who interact with a person whose spouse travels, based on my experiences:

  1. If you would hate your spouse traveling for work, then I'd recommend your spouse avoids getting a job that requires travel. Please don't repeatedly tell us, "Oh, I would HATE it if my husband traveled." Seriously. We get it. 
  2. Please don't give your friends books about a woman whose husband travels for work and has a secret family in another state. And then claim ignorance. That's 50 different kinds of fucked up.
  3. Don't suggest that your friend's husband might be unfaithful or that she might be naive. I trust my husband and rarely entertain the thought of him banging waitresses; thank you for asking. I wouldn't like it if your husband traveled.
  4. No, I am not tempted to have an affair. I'm too busy remembering which bun and what field the glue and dinner, AND I'm completely in love with my husband.
  5. Please don't get mad when we won't make plans on the weekend; it is the only family time we have.
  6. No our marriage hasn't suffered, but again thanks for your concern.

I love my husband. I appreciate everything he does for our family, and he appreciates everything I do as well. Our situation is not that unique, but it's unique to us, and we're always working to make it better. 

Oh, and to the wonderful, amazing people, I'm blessed to call my tribe: Thank you for offering to pick up or drop off one of my kids. Thank you for accommodating my M-Thurs. day dates. Thank you for inviting Lily over so Brad and I can have a real date. Thank you for not feeling sorry for me. Thank you for sometimes suggesting it would be nice if your husband traveled occasionally. Thank you for saying, "What can I do?" and really meaning it. Thanks for letting me vent. Thank you for understanding that sometimes I'm trying so hard not to let any bit of our life slip through the cracks that I might forget to text you back or answer your question or ask about what is going on in your life. It doesn't mean I'm mad at you; I'm just at full capacity.

If you've been through a similar situation and have tips, by all means, I'd love to hear them. But save your sad faces and pity for someone else. And if you know someone whose spouse travels for work, please, please, please, please, please...don't do any of the dickish things I've mentioned. 

Monday, April 25, 2016

Being Brave

I've heard this said a lot of different ways, but this seems to fit me best. I'm trying to be okay with things being good, okay even, and not trying to make them perfect all the time. Like, the time I freaked out on the day after Thanksgiving because we weren't all going to be able to go together to get a Christmas tree, so I tainted a GOOD experience because it wasn't going to be perfect.

I don't want to do that anymore.

Additionally, I have a million and a half projects pinned that go uncompleted because they can't be ... perfect. So, I'm trying to make a couple good ones. Even if they're just kind of good, that's really better than just being a passing thought I never acted on.

And then there's writing. I can find 8 1/2 million reasons not to write or if I do write, I have 927 million reasons not to share it. Most of those reasons are......."it sucks," "no one will relate," "this is self-indulgent." It's a lot of defeatist drivel.

I listened to a TedTalk (linked if you wanna listen; it's fabulous) about how hesitant women are to try if we aren't certain that we're going to succeed. The speaker said that we should stop teaching our daughters to be perfect and start teaching them to be brave.

So, I'm going to be really brave and move forward with a project that's been on my heart for awhile. And do you know what I'm most afraid of? Failing. Embarrassing myself. People talking bad about me. I hear my group therapy facilitator saying, "So what would happen if they did?" And do you know what would happen? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. I know who I am. And all of you who read this? You know who I am too. I am flawed, imperfect and a hot mess lots of days. I'm a work in progress. However, I am also kind, compassionate, loving and empathetic--I really want to write empathic, but it provokes the red squiggly line which makes my skin prickle because I'm such a rule follower.

Whether I succeed, fail or face criticism, I'll at least be able to say I used my unique gifts to contribute positively to humanity one kind word at a time. Do you want to do something, but fear is holding you back? Please share. We can be brave together!

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Who Do You Think You Are?

In one of my favorite books, Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert likened life to a road trip. She mused that fear--along with anger, jealousy, bitterness and all your other emotions--get a seat in the mini-van; they just don't get to drive.

I've spent a good deal of time trying to outrun, outsmart, out-pray, and grow out of what self-labeled weak, negative, or non-productive feelings. Instead of just acknowledging them and then moving on, I wrestled, criticized, condemned and guilted* myself. For what seems like -ever, I prayed for more patience until a few years ago when a mentor-sister-saint-friend admonished, "MARE!!! If you pray for patience, God will give you trials so you can practice and develop it."

Sweet. Jesus. Light bulb moment to say the least.

A guided meditation I listened to recently focused on taking your power back. Letting go of the labels others place on us and more importantly resisting the urge to label ourselves.

I get angry sometimes, but I'm not an angry person. I feel sad sometimes, but I'm not a sad person. I have felt jealous, snippy, snarky, bitchy, embarrassed, insane, proud, smart, stupid, beautiful, sexy, confident, terrified and hideous... Guess what? Having feelings makes us human. Normal. Okay.

Throughout our lives we give up things, people, plans. Oddly enough, sometimes we give up what is good for us and have a harder time relinquishing what is bad. I'll chose to sit and watch a movie over a workout most days. I'll usually choose beer over water. And it's way easier for me to point out my many flaws than it is to acknowledge my strengths. I'll usually make myself small rather than allow myself to take up too much space in the world.

But when we are brave enough to let go of our own ideas, labels, and yes even sometimes dreams...when we are willing to let ourselves be who we already are, we open our hearts to receive blessings beyond our wildest imagination.

One of the questions I've struggled with my whole life is, "Who do you think you are?" Every word, every action, every thought ... I question. Every success. Every mistake. Who do you think you are? I'm claiming power over that question today and will no longer let it keep me "in my place." I know who I am.

So, my beautiful friends, I say this with the utmost love and compassion: Who do you think you are? Who do you want to be?

*Anyone who was raised by a Catholic mother knows that guilted absolutely is a verb.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Searching vs. Seeking

Today, my sister in law mentioned my "energy has been different." Although, I wasn't aware of a shift, it was apparent enough to her that she felt prompted to check on me. And that, of course, led me to question my behavior, demeanor, attitude and energy.

I try to be very aware of how I treat people, act, behave, and express myself in all interactions. I try to be kind, genuine, and seek to understand others rather than just responding or sharing information about myself. I try not only to make people feel that I'm interested, but also to genuinely BE* interested.

Generally, I'm about as transparent as a freshly cleaned window, and if someone perceives that I'm upset, off, distracted, it is usually because I am. Only once have I ever been "accused" of being stand-offish when I really had no idea that I was being stand-offish. And that caught me so off-guard that I've monitored the space I take up even more vigilantly since.

So when she said this--mind you, my sister-in-law is a straight shooter who would not ask this if she didn't genuinely sense something was amiss--it knocked me a little off-kilter.

Here's what I figured out.

My energy is different. I don't give it away anymore to people, places, things, or thoughts that don't inspire me. That doesn't mean I don't care ... I just don't hop on board the feelings express every time. Also, the more time I spend meditating, writing, doing yoga and just being, the less I engage with so many of the silly things that used to work me up.

Meditation teachers advise that when a thought crosses your mind during meditation, simply acknowledge it and then let it go. This simple revelation has rocked my world. For 43 years, I never had the space between an action and reaction that many people have. That space that allows you to process things before (over)reacting. Many of you have that space. Brad does. He has a big space. Sometimes, he doesn't react at all.

Meditation has given me that space. I'm still learning and practicing using the space, but I am so grateful every time I am able to observe, acknowledge and not lose my shit.

I read an article that clarified my energy shift beautifully. I have transitioned from a searcher to a seeker.

"A searcher needs ... to be supported to help find their goals. They need to find the thing that will provide motivation and propel them forward. This will require a more in-depth examination of values and wants, learning what makes the person tick and what gives his life meaning. 

A seeker has already set the path for herself. She may need help motivating to follow the course, to reach the goals, to keep envisioning and acting upon her own agency and pathways, but there is something already in her mind that she wants to achieve. " 

So thank you, my darling little sister, for helping me to see this.

Do you have that space? How did you get it or was it always there? Or, if you're like me, did you even know there was a space?

*I know that split infinitive irks me too, but "to be" feels so Shakespeare-y.