Sunday, May 17

Being Pregnant is not Being Fat

Part of being kind to ourselves, is watching the things we say about ourselves.

The word “fat” is thrown around so carelessly by some who are nowhere near the definition of such. When I hear, “I’m so fat”, I immediately want to ask people if they FEEL overweight because the following doesn’t automatically make anyone a fat person:

- if you love food 
- if you’re pregnant
- if you can’t fit your clothes (you might need to buy a 6 or 14 instead of the 4 or 12 you’re forcing yourself into)
- if you’re not having a photogenic day and none of your selfies live up to your posting requirements
- if you’re out of breath after making several trips up the stairs with groceries

The list can grow amazingly long depending on how critical we are of our body and unfortunately, of others.

Growing up bigger than my sister (she was a 00 until she turned 17 and was a 3 until she got pregnant with my nephew at 18), my family considered me the “fat” one. My grandfather called her Po Gal, because she was thin, and called me Fatso, ONLY because I was bigger than her. I HATED THAT SHIT. My friends were usually smaller than me but they were also much shorter. Being a size 2, 4, and 6 is pretty normal when you’re 5"-5'5". I’ve been 5'7.5" since I was 12. Between the age of 12 and 18, I went from a size 6 to a 12. NORMAL. Between the age 18 and 30, I’ve been a 12-16. Most women (not all) will admit to weight fluctuating based on medication (see: birth control for #1 way to gain weight that has nothing at all to do with eating), hormonal changes, stress, menstrual cycles, and just plain old fashion growth. I was 29 when I got pregnant and a size 10/12. My pregnancy wardrobe consisted of sundresses and leggings. I lost 25 lbs the first trimester and didn’t gain it back until my last trimester, in addition to 20 more pounds. By the end, I’d only gone up two sizes. NORMAL.

Even though I lost all but 15 lbs of my pregnancy weight, I sunk into this ugly depression and stopped eating regularly. Started drinking a hell of a lot more and exercised even less. So I gained weight. I’m now a size 18, teetering close to a 20. I am going to lose this weight because I have back and knee injuries from when I was a teen that cannot sustain all of this...not because I think being fat is disgusting. I’m too heavy. Some days I DO feel fat because I AM fat. Other days? I feel fine in my fatness. Ashamed? Never.

Even though I’ve mentioned other things than pregnancy, I called this “being pregnant is not being fat” because that is how a lot of people in society view pregnancy. As a bunch of fat women who are unnecessarily overeating. When I was pregnant the doctor had to remind me to eat MORE because I wasn’t eating enough. The extra eating we do as a mom is not us being a “fatty” or a greedy “fat ass”. We’re feeding our baby, a living, growing organism that needs nourishment just like any other human being. And we gotta stop automatically associating eating food with being fat. People get overweight and obese from other things too and it makes us have unhealthy relationships with food.

But I get it, we can’t let go of how our bodies used to look prior to pregnancy. If our bodies didn’t change to host this growing tiny human, we wouldn’t be able to sustain all the changes and growth that will continue for nine months. Our pregnancy would more than likely terminate early if our body didn’t change. It adapts to bring another life into the world and as difficult as the change can be, we owe it to ourselves to be kind. It encourages other people to look at pregnant women different also. After giving birth, our bodies will take a minute to get back to something we might consider normal but if it doesn’t, it isn’t the end of the world. I had to accept that my boobs weren’t going to be those perky sweater puppies they once were. They were now full, low-hanging fruit of life. Not everybody gets to breast feed their baby because they don’t even produce milk. I could have fed an entire small country of children with all the milk coming out of these jugs. My stomach? Oh, the agony of stretch marks, right? I’ve had stretch marks since I was 8 yrs old because me and my siblings had ridiculous growth spurts. So the additions to my belly? They’re part of life. I don’t necessarily like the after effects of the c-section but I gave birth to a beautiful, healthy little girl and she rarely gets sick, to this day.

We’re only born with one body. If we’re lucky and get some money to create another one, we get two. Kidding but seriously, this is part of treating our body well. Loving it in its entirety. Not calling ourselves things we REALLY aren’t and embracing what we truly are. The shit is contagious and it wouldn’t kill any of us to be a little less of an asshole and a lot more compassionate. Plus, we need to teach our children (girls AND boys) to be comfortable in their skin, not to paint or adopt mental pictures of themselves that aren’t true, and to love themselves.

Not unless we’re dead set on raising the future assholes of America.
it’s my hope that we choose to do better.

Monday, March 23

Rethinking Traditional Relationships

I sat with Anain Bjorkquist and discussed sex, love, joy, loyalty and many other things related to relationships. Out of the several hours we talked, this is what made the chopping block! Listen here.

If you cannot access iTunes Podcast, the interview can be heard on Soundcloud and Stitcher.  


Thursday, August 21

How Active Do We Want To Be?

Since I was a little kid, I've always befriended and stood up for the underdog. I've become an outcast on many occasions due to defending others. I regret not one moment of helping anyone though; it’s always been a genuine expression of compassion for my fellow human. There was a brief moment of time when I withdrew from what came natural because I’d grown tired of helping people who turned out to be ingrates. Had to remind myself that helping others isn't about ME so when unappreciative people pop up, it should be considered part of the territory. Instead of allowing that to deter me from helping, reflecting on all of the grateful people kept me wanting to give/help when I can, as much as I can.
A friend mockingly started calling me The Activist 7 years ago. Their reasoning behind the nickname was “you’re always standing up for someone else and attempting to defend people’s rights”. Every time they called me The Activist, it angered me; not because I consider activism to be something negative but because actively choosing to care about others interests as much as my own was being joked about. 
This wasn't the first time I was “made fun of” for giving a shit about other people whose voice wasn't as loud as mine, was terrified to speak up, or just didn't have faith that saying anything would make a difference. Any person I've taken the time to acquire knowledge about that assisted in liberating groups of people, all possessed this inherent trait of wanting to be of service to others, whether they knew them personally or not. So it confused me that these same people claiming to appreciate what leaders of the past have done, tell people today that they’re wasting their time to care about other people this much. 
It made me understand why we don’t have VISIBLE leaders today fighting for our human rights, that we can acknowledge on a global scale. People ask why there are no Dr. King’s, Malcolm X’s, Rosa Park’s, Shirley Chisholm’s, Angela Davis’, etc. My questions are, what do we think these people are supposed to look like? Are we so intoxicated by the glamour of what people are supposed to look like that we’re missing what people actually ARE? Because there ARE people in the world who are doing more than the average person to get others involved and interested in being better humans. There ARE people who want to rally others to give a bigger fuck about our rights that our government clearly states we are allowed to have but oddly try to prevent us from having. Those people helping each other in Ferguson are a great example of actively caring enough to defend and be of service to others. 
Instead of making fun of those who stand up and say something, arguing about how people contribute and what they’re contributing, being pessimistic and saying none of this really matters, would it hurt to think and do the opposite? Enough of the same people doing the right thing WILL make a difference and cause movement that only seems like a dream, right now. 
All of our past leaders started out with an ideal they chose to fight for and gained the respect and support of others. Their beliefs grew on a vast scale and it got national attention. It took some truly awful things happening before the government took notice and said something HAD to be done in order for us to move forward in a positive manner or things were going to continue to get worse. We’re back in that same situation today and it’s going to take some people who are willing to fight, stand up to our government, and suffer moments of unrest and lack of peace. Pretending this stuff isn’t happening to retain temporary sanity and peace of mind is a band-aid. 
But what do I know? I’m “The Activist”, remember?

Monday, July 14

Dear Boys and Men:

Imagine a world where you fell in love with the girl/woman of your dreams and had a beautiful child. That child was a little girl that captivated your heart with so much ease, you swore to protect her at any cost. You fell even more in love with her mother because she also made this child possible.

Imagine that in this world, there are men who aren't concerned in the least bit with how much you love that woman or child. As soon as your daughter begins to physically blossom into a woman, those same types of men feel entitled to that same precious child's body, whether she gives consent or not. That same child you hold dear to your heart. 

So when her and her mother walk down the street, whether they are together, by themselves, or with others, there is no guarantee that they won't be called a bitch because they have no desire to give out their phone number. They have to remember not to wear certain types of attire, even in their own homes because male humans are allowed to use lack of self-control as a reason to rape others. 

Imagine in this world there are also male humans that you are friends with, work next to everyday, and actually share the same blood with that put all the responsibility of controlling their sexual urges, off on women who don't even know they exist. If they're interested in your sister, female cousin, or female best friend and the feeling isn't mutual, she is a whore, slut, or stuck up. 

Imagine that in this same world the women you value are also called whore, slut, and bitch because they decide to have sex. It doesn't matter if it is her first, fifth, or fifteenth time. There are men that you associate with that label your female counterparts negatively, whether they are chaste or promiscuous.

In this same world, it is expected that female humans have above novice level of sexual knowledge but there is a limit placed on how many people she should experience before she makes it to whatever male human decides he wants to date or spend the rest of his life with her. That limit changes for every male human, even though their perspective is, the more partners they have, it makes them a better lover, as men. Their belief in regards to women is, the more lovers, the less worthy of being loved. Sexually experienced women are more likely to be viewed as unclean, whereas lots of men look up to men who are sexually experienced.

Imagine that in this world, any male human who insists that other men treat women as fellow human beings versus possessions, is shunned by his brethren. He is called a pussy, soft, "just agreeing with women to get some ass", and other things that indicate he is viewed as a traitor to other men. Unless he gives some notion that he views women as lesser beings than men, some men view him as even less than the women he stands up for. 

Imagine a little girl/teenager/woman experiencing all of this in one day. 

Open your eyes. Call several of the closest women you know. Ask them if any of this is just in their imagination. 

The world so many male humans think we as female humans just imagine, is actually a real thing. Please remember that the next time you hear/see a woman you don't know make mention of rape, street harassment, unwanted advances, etc. Then realize that it has become such a societal norm that it's easier to NOT talk about it than to attempt to get ALL men to understand it isn't an imagined world. It's actually happening and every woman has experienced one of the above...and unfortunately, more. Your wife, girlfriend, daughter, sister, mother, cousin, aunt, best friend is not imagining subtle or aggressive attacks simply because she has a vagina.

Now, imagine a world where none of the above is the norm for anyone. THAT IS actually WHAT girls and women imagine.

Tuesday, May 20

What's Going On With Women in Position's of Power?

Anne Baldassari devoted 23 years of her life to the Picasso Museum, ran it for 9 of those years but was fired last week. She was responsible for the museums growth since she was brought on board. Her influence and work speaks for itself as The Guardian states that she "is renowned as a Picasso expert and has been the driving force behind the upgrading of the museum and its collection [of 5,000 paintings]". However, the staff accused her of "brutal management and [running a] regime of fear".

The Editor of Le Monde, Natalie Nougayrède, resigned last week after a little over a year as Editor in Chief. The New York Times reports that she was "criticized by her staff for a top-down management style and an inability to build consensus" even though their issue was with them being resistant to changes she was making to get Le Monde up to speed with the digital world. She was the first woman to be Editor in Chief and Director.

Jill Abramson was fired from her role as Executive Director at The New York Times last week. NBC News reported her as having "a pattern of behavior including "arbitrary decision-making, a failure to consult and bring colleagues with her, inadequate communication and the public mistreatment of colleagues". She was the first female Executive Editor in The New York Time's 160 year history.

I'm of the opinion that the complaints formed against these pioneers in art and journalism, are not coincidental. Had these firings and resignation taken place farther apart, it might have been a stretch to connect the dots. However, all of these occurrences happened in the last week so it begs for us to pay attention.

Women in positions of power often face being called bossy, difficult, and a bitch for operating no different than their male counterparts. All while still not receiving equal pay for equal work. The situations of the three women above force everyone to acknowledge that this problem is far more prevalent and real than a lot of people choose to admit. The pink elephant in the room just grew bigger. How much larger does it have to become before corrective action is implemented?

Thursday, November 7

Almost 70% of The United States of America Have Some Form of Stand Your Ground Laws

There are 34 states that have some form of stand your ground laws. With the recent shooting and killing of Trayvon Martin and Renisha McBride (both unarmed teenage Black/African Americans people), it becomes even more cause for concern among our communities. Some of these laws state that if a person FEELS threatened or PERCEIVES that there is a threat, they have a right to use deadly force to apprehend/stop the person they FEEL threatened by. I capitalized the letters of the words “feel(s)” and “perceives” because it’s important to understand that if someone already has a bias/prejudice or discriminates against a specific group of people, they can claim they FELT threatened and be within their rights to act on their EMOTIONS. A lot of stand your ground laws will protect someone, as illogical as that sounds, THIS is our justice system. It cannot get any clearer that it is STILL not safe to appear/be Black/African American. 

Here is a list of the states, in case anyone wants to research the statutes/limitations in their area:
  • Alabama
  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • California
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • New Hampshire
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Virginia
  • West Virginia
  • Washington
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming

Friday, October 18

This Thing Called Love...

It is my belief that every person alive is capable of loving something/someone, no matter our personal opinions/judgments of others. From personal experiences and some observations, there's an ongoing battle of WHAT love really is, HOW we should love, and WHO should be loved. Some say that WE ARE love; others believe that love is something that has to be cultivated before we can give or be it; yet and still there are others who do not freely give love because their understanding is that everyone doesn't deserve that exchange with them. 

Depending on how we are raised, the life we've lived, and where we're headed, the definition of love changes. On a surface level, it can also be understood that the kind of love we all deserve is one free from negativity. So why set a time limit on when we can give deep affection to others, especially when it causes them to have positive exchanges with others?

If that stigma disappeared, it is my belief that the act of love would occur more frequently. Instead we're told that we have to KNOW someone to love them. Know exactly what though? How much knowledge should we amass before we share pure emotion with others? We could spend everyday with someone for 10 years and STILL not know everything there is to know about them. On the other hand, I've spent months with some people and acquired more knowledge about them through intimate conversation/interaction than they've shared with people who've known them all their life. 

It doesn't really cost us anything to give another person love. Granted, not everyone will want to be loved by us for a multitude of reasons and as much as that might hurt our ego, it should be understood that everyone isn't going to like us enough to be vulnerable with us. If there is one thing I know, regardless of our style of love, it should NEVER be forced on each other because it won't feel or be viewed as something positive. It's my hope that we can get to a place of being comfortable enough to say "this isn't working" without retaliation because the feelings aren't mutual. It would keep us from wasting valuable time that could be spent on those who want to love/be loved by us, specifically.

When we effectively communicate, give people space and allow them their right to say what works for them and what doesn't, we create more room for healthy love. We'd get happier people and a byproduct of that is...more love being given and received. Positive exchanges of love don't rub us raw but actually have been known to heal parts of our souls and minds that have been damaged by negative experiences. The lack of love? I've grown to believe a lot of us have experienced this far more than we'd like and that's what makes this thing called love so difficult...

Friday, September 27

The Great (g)od Hype Complex

I've always thought it was irrational to think that everyone should like us. No one is created to be liked by every human being. Granted, there are things that some people choose not to like simply due to preference but to think people are being fucked up because they don't like us? Mind boggling.

Our opinions of ourselves are always what's most important. Think greatly or lowly of yourself. Definitely your choice. If we want to pull a Kanye and call ourselves a god, by all means, do that too. Being delusional about our entire persona doesn't assist in more people being enamored with us. 

We can believe our own hype for the rest of our lives. The problem, I see, is when we try to force everyone else to accept the greatness of who we believe ourselves to be. Everyone isn't going to care. They'd sooner make fun of us than see what we're trying so hard to prove. If we sincerely have no fucks to give about being liked, everyone in the world could have a reason for not liking us. It won't affect our self-ordained godliness...or at least it shouldn't.

I guess that's the paradox of having a God complex...we actually care a WHOLE lot.

Wednesday, July 24

Being Close-Minded Slows Down Your Brain

I'm not a doctor so there are no scientific facts behind MY statement that being close-minded slows down brain function. However, if you took a topic that appears to be unfathomable, a close-minded person tends to form an opinion and stick with it before they consider any other possibilities.

Sometimes entertaining and accepting the idea that there ARE different people and ways of doing things, is too much for some people. Life is easier when we don't look at it outside of the bubble we know. Some of us choose to sign up for a lifetime membership of ignorance simply to attain the bliss associated with not knowing. So I get it; some people don't want to retain or consider MORE knowledge because then they have to "do better". The reality is, everyone isn't the same so close-minded individuals will probably always exist. The big thing is, deciding what type of thinker we want to go through life being.

Wednesday, July 10

The [Colored] Elephant in the Room

 The tragic thing about Colorism is that we'd rather fight each other or pretend to ignore the elephant in the room, than appreciate the variety we have and become unified..
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