Monday, March 18

Answering a Direct Question w/a Direct Answer is Brash & Arrogant?

brash: impertinent; impudent; tactless
arrogant: making claims or pretensions to superior importance or rights; overbearingly assuming; insolently proud

I was recently called brash and arrogant for stating that I didn't wear makeup because I didn't need it. In an effort to keep things in context, I wasn't tooting my horn. There was a discussion being had about wearing a full face of makeup. I was asked why I chose not to. My response was:

"because I don't need it"

I was met with a turned up nose and the statement that I must think I'm better than women who do wear makeup. This confused me because my reply wasn't about ANYONE ELSE but ME. You asked me why I didn't wear makeup and I answered you; because you didn't like my answer, you assume I think I'm better than you and any woman who chooses to wear makeup. Ok.

This lead me to ask someone else if the woman who asked me the question was being a little sensitive. After playing back the conversation to them, their assesment was that because I didn't offer any further explanation as to WHY I didn't wear makeup, it makes me come across as brash and arrogant.


How did I become the bad guy for answering a direct question, directly? I didn't give my opinion as to why other women wear makeup. I didn't even say that I don't think women need makeup. I said nothing in reference to anyone but myself. So I can't choose to not wear makeup because I don't need to? Or is there a problem here that has absolutely NOTHING to do with me? I'm going to say the latter.

The other day, a makeup artist stated that all women should wear makeup and those who don't, need to "get their life". She went on further to assume that if you don't wear makeup, you must not really love yourself because why wouldn't you want to enhance what you already have. Her statements were not in regards to just herself. She targeted an entire group of women to attack...simply because they weren't anything like her. I don't agree with her at all and I definitely don't think that all women's self-esteem is tied up in their beauty. Never mind that everyone can't wear makeup and there are some women who don't like it on THEIR face. 

I'm brash and arrogant though, right?

This is the perfect example of up being down, left being right, and right being wrong. Had she asked me a question that focused on all women and makeup, she would have gotten a totally different answer. However, her question was directed only to me. When did communication change to where I should be answering every question as if I'm speaking for everyone? I will not speak for all women in a LOT of areas because I do some things differently. I don't want someone who does things differently than me, speaking for me either. 

Yet, I'm still the problem.

This is why I've never been a fan of majority rule because it brushes aside those who think outside of the norm. Being different isn't something that I do so that I can get brownie points for being unique. EVERYONE has something about themselves that contrasts from others. At no point should they be called tactless or accused of feeling superior because of their diversity. Different doesn't automatically mean better or wrong. It means not the same.

Sunday, March 17

Being Fearless

I was once told that having courage does not mean being without fear. Some of the most courageous people in history were fearful of the path they had chosen, at one point or another. If we were to think about all of the world leaders that have left lasting impressions on us, it would stand to reason that with the things they were intent on accomplishing included rightful moments of fear. Fear of failing…fear that someone powerful was going to get in the way of them accomplishing their goal…fear that someone else would have and fulfill the same goal. So, what does it really mean to be fearless?

         Much too often we let our dreams, ambitions, and goals get crushed or thrown on the back burner because of that debilitating four-letter word: FEAR. It can leave us in stagnant waters all our life, wondering why we never excelled as far as we had planned once before. When we get to that point where we begin to doubt ourselves and what we are capable of, we have to realize being fearless means recognizing what we want to accomplish is more important than any setbacks.

There will be some apprehension when approaching anything that seems to be a challenge. It goes without saying, especially when we are setting ourselves up to do something that is truly innovative and will affect many. Not letting anyone or anything stand in our way is the key to following through.

My life has been filled with moments that others would deem as courageous but they were actually some of the most terrifying moments I have experienced. Moving out of my parents house at 16 years old took two years to plan and muster the strength to follow through. It was necessary for me to continue personal growth. Leaving my hometown at 21 years old to reside on the other side of my country took even more gumption. The first six months of living in a new state, there were many days I'd sit in my room and let tears fall. It was a big change that wasn't automatically a smooth transition. I stuck to my guns and never left. Deciding to have my daughter at 29 years old, despite having to take a huge pay cut, weighed heavily on my mind. Choosing not to take my life as it spiraled out of my control for the last four years, took a tremendous amount of tenacity. I wake up [now] everyday knowing that my dreams are more important than any self-doubt I can muster up.

 So, the next time we are faced with scary situations that threaten what we want to do, we can't let skepticism settle in where our faith should be. We will be okay and fulfill our dreams because fear is something we can always choose to remove from our mental process. As long as we're moving forward and not letting our thoughts get the best of us, nothing can stop us from being the awesome person we are destined to become.

[this post was originally published in a column I used to write back in 2009; it has been edited for relevance. it is a great reminder for me, as well :-)]

Saturday, March 9

Have Some Self-Control. Don't Rape.

Yesterday there was discussion on Twitter about rape amongst minority women. I found the coincidence to be odd considering I was having a conversation with someone about rape, before I was aware of my fast moving timeline's concerns. As I read some of the tweets about date rape, being raped by someone they knew really well, and lots of men not accepting "No" as a serious response to their advances, I started getting a little sick to my stomach. I counted how many women I have in my phone. Of the almost 600 contacts, about 200 are women. Of those 200, 15% have been raped before. Some of them were molested as children, experienced rape from boyfriends, friends of the family, even their best friends. Some of these women have suffered at the hands of different rapists. My stomach sinks even lower to know that some of these predators are women too. 

As alarming as this is, an even greater sadness washed over me when I realized this isn't even ALL the women I know that have been raped. It might sound like an exaggeration, but for some of us, almost 50% of the women we know have been in a situation that could be constituted as rape, unwanted sexual advances, or molestation of some kind. It moved me to ask a few people how many women they knew that had been raped. Most responses were, "1 or 2 people".

It might seem like I'm over-thinking things but...I'm a woman, have two beautiful daughters, and I care a hell of a lot about us NOT being raped. While I could focus on finding a deeper meaning to why so many women have shared such emotionally damaging information with me, it would be selfish to not concern myself with WHY so many people have formed a sense of entitlement over others genitals. This is no laughing matter or something to be brushed aside. Most of the women I speak of that have suffered at the hands of their predators, knew them well enough to trust that they were in good company. Until they weren't.

It makes one begin to think that some of the rapists don't view themselves as such and that there is nothing wrong with their aggressive, predatory behavior. If it isn't consensual, it's rape. Maybe it needs to be clarified as to what consensual is.

If someone is in your bed, that doesn't make it consensual. If you feel that way, don't let anyone into your sheets until it is confirmed that they will be having sex with you. If someone is in the middle of heavy foreplay with you and decides they don't want to move further, that IS a "No". Every woman who says "No" isn't playing hard to get and even if she is, regardless of you being a man/woman or extremely horny, back up. Hearing a "No" is your cue to STOP, whether she is laughing or has to scream it out. 

You just started dating and she's moving slow when it comes to having sex. You decide to speed it up by having sex with her after she falls asleep. Nothing about this is consensual unless she has given you permission to invade her personal space while she is sleep. Some of the synonyms for consensual are agreed, like-minded, of one mind, shared, undisputed, unquestioned. If you didn't get a favorable answer before she dozed off, keep your appendages to yourself. Have some self-control.

THINK first. It might be easier said than done when all the blood in your body seems to have rushed to your penis or your vagina is pulsating. Keep in mind that because you have the crotch of fire raging for sexual interaction, that isn't everyone else's condition. This person more than likely trusts that you would never harm them and just because you make a point to not leave any physical proof of damage, that doesn't mean you aren't fucking up people's head that you touch inappropriately. Molestation is still a form of nonconsensual activity. 

As the examples fill my head to further drive home the point for people to keep their hands to themselves, I begin to feel like this is just banter. I don't believe rape can be prevented by teaching people not to get raped. We as a society have to teach one another that IT ISN'T OKAY TO FORCE OURSELVES ON EACH OTHER. A part of me feels like people would stop and think if the violator's were punished by being raped themselves. When you are forced to have something so personal taken from you, you being to look at the world differently. You understand the fear in some people's eyes of being left alone with someone who looks like their attacker. You understand the women who seem to be all over the place in their relationships because deep down, their trust issues are preventing them from opening up to others. The world becomes a little more clearer than just your control/power issues, need to dominate, and unhealthy ego that says 'If I want it, it's mine".

I hope we can move one step closer to giving a fuck about someone other than ourselves. If rape isn't one of the most selfish things to ever exist, it's pretty damn close. As a woman and a mother, I feel like the universe is trying to deliver a message by allowing me to meet these women who've opened up to me about their rapes. I can't say I immediately know how my purpose in life is connected to this but it is definitely a cause worth fighting for and I plan to seek out ways to educate people on the subject. If it helps one man/woman think before their aggression consumes them, I've done something that mattered. I hope more people choose to be part of a solution for rape, versus becoming a negative part of the problem.

Tuesday, March 5

Actively Choosing to Be Happy

The difficult conversations are usually the most important ones we should be having. I recently had two and while I think there was a mutual understanding with one person, I'm more than positive the other is upset with me. In an effort to refocus and better align with my true purpose, I had to make some tough decisions. Since it looks effortless to others [because I don't process my difficult choices out loud on social networks], I am often viewed as callous, trying to be perfect, and a bunch of other stuff that has nothing to do with positive movement forward.

I often use the example of an addict trying to free themselves of the burden of their addiction. The minute they make the decision that they don't want to do drugs, drink excessively, etc. it is suggested they limit/cut off interaction with users. What I would like to know is, why this is viewed differently when someone limits their interaction with those they know aren't mentally healthy for them at the moment?. Surely our mental health is just as important as our physical so why the exception?

If someone makes the decision to remove themselves from underneath a dark cloud, shouldn't we be happy for them? Instead, the responses I've had to contend with are accusations that I'm being self-righteous, I think I'm perfect and have it all figured out when I don't know shit about shit. Nice, right? Of course this is abusive speech targeted at people to get them to do what you want. Fortunately, it doesn't work on me. It has become motivation to keep traveling down my road and further distance myself from people like this.

When someone makes the decision to not let life get the best of them EVERY DAY THEY WAKE UP, it isn't about ignoring things that aren't right in their world. It is impossible for me to not think about the following:

  • in the last 6 months, I've had 3 family members pass away, 1 being my mothers mom and another being my father's dad ; my husband has had 3, as well, one being a suicide
  • I had pneumonia and was laid up in the hospital for half a day
  • my daughter developed asthma and has an ongoing condition called rhinitis [which gives her a sinus infection twice a month]; she's been sick for a year; not off and on, literally not well for an entire year
  • I had a stressful job where I was undergoing harassment during the time our family members were passing, which the EEOC confirmed but I can't press charges because it wasn't within the parameters of their guidelines 
  • the employee that was harassing me happened to be my supervisor; she created a full letter of lies in order to fire me, even though we live in a right to work state so attempting to tarnish my character added insult to injury
  • during all of the above, our cars turbo goes out and we have to purchase another car
  • the car we just purchased, engine fell out a couple weeks ago
This list can continue for another 2 pages because that's life, something is ALWAYS going on. Does it help to sit around feeling sorry for myself because of this? No. Me talking about it to anyone who will listen doesn't make it go away either. If we are truly striving to make the best of things, it's always best to focus on the good things happening around us anyway. For me, it has been the following:
  • we were able to find a more spacious, less expensive place in a neighborhood 10 times better, after leaving a black mold infested house
  • my husband still has his job; one income is better than none
  • we've been fortunate enough to still be able to afford my daughter's daycare so I can write while she's at school
  • our daughter's health has drastically improved since we changed her doctor
  • my stress levels are amazingly low due to not being on edge everyday
  • we live in a neighborhood where basic necessities are within a miles reach so no car isn't as bad as it sounds
  • I have an opportunity to work on doing what I love, not what appears to provide security
I can list more but the point is made. Actively choosing to be happy isn't about forgetting the things we have to deal with. It's about not letting the downers in life keep us in a place that affects our positivity. I'm further uplifted by those who subscribe to the same belief. My friends and I discuss things that go wrong in life but we also encourage each other not to complain incessantly about things that are out of our control. The things we can change, we remind each other to work on them diligently. This doesn't free up much time to negatively fixate in a "Woe is me" manner.

So the next time someone gets upset with you for not stooping to their level of negativity, take comfort that you are doing something right. There is a quote that says "You become like the 5 people you spend the most time with. Choose carefully". If those 5 people want nothing but the best for you and encourage you to stay positive, choosing to be happy can become as easy as breathing...

Friday, March 1

Pregnancy & The Public Eye

The above pictures are of me when I was 7 months pregnant and about 3 months before I found out I was with child. Nothing about my pregnancy was easy but my daughter was healthy the entire time I was pregnant. That made me so grateful and I took all the "punches" in stride. The comments about my body during pregnancy from women who had never been pregnant, as well as men who don't know shit about shit when it comes to pregnancy, used to piss me off. 

I was extremely emotional during this time and used to cry a lot when I was by myself. My hormones were all out of whack, I was stressed beyond belief, and couldn't stop counting the days until delivery. The judgments of others did not make this process any better so when I hear/see others calling other pregnant women rude ass names, a part of me taps back into my experience. 

My body changed SO much that I would get upset at what I was seeing in the mirror, more often than not. I was used to my butt looking a certain way; my rear end was ALL OVER THE GOTDAM PLACE. My boobs looked fantastic but were so heavy that I couldn't really appreciate them as much as other mothers. My [now] husband was so concerned about poking his daughter in the head while having sex that I didn't get it in as much as I would have liked to. Another contributing factor to my crankiness while pregnant. When I say that EVERYTHING changed JUST to bring my daughter into this world, I am so serious.

I didn't really talk to many people about my feelings while pregnant. I was experiencing things I never acknowledged in the past and I felt alone during this process, most days. I had a couple friends that (figuratively) held my hand through it all and I love them SO much for being there. I often wonder how some women who are in the public eye deal with this because we all know how insensitive people can be towards the famous. 

I heard/saw people calling Mariah everything from a "fat fuck" to "Shamu" when she was pregnant. Never mind that she was carrying twins and it's expected amongst people with functioning brains that she was going to gain a considerable amount of weight.

Kim Kardashian has also been called Shamu, as well as "a big bitch" and "overweight". Of course because she is the world's favorite person to gossip about and hate, she's rarely spared when it comes to name calling.

Some even questioned whether Jill Scott was really pregnant or just "ridiculously obese". Due to her already being a plus size woman, pre-pregnancy, the jokes were endless and...cruel. It got to the point where I began to question if people valued a healthy mother or seemingly thinner expecting mothers.
I could keep posting pre-pregnancy and pregnancy pictures of women in the spotlight, listing the irrational comments that were made about them. It would only further support my point that the general public can sometimes be mindless as a box of rocks. It caused me to question how many women accepted what happens when you get the opportunity to create life. Some of these same women are eagerly awaiting the day they get to have a family of their own but the level of their immaturity is astounding. 

My only suggestion to the public is to be easy on moms-to-be. They are dealing with enough preparing for the arrival of their tiny bundle[s]. While they might be used to ignoring the mean things people hurl their way, some of us women who are used to looking a certain way, still have to manage our feelings regarding pregnancy. I guess what I'm trying to say is, stop being dickheads about pregnant women. Yes, some of us gain a ton of weight while pregnant, our noses might spread all over our face, and it could look like we're about to give birth to Paul Bunyan. However, if you've never carried a baby past 3-4 months, shut the entire fuck up. It's a process of up to 9 months. Respect this miracle or just be quiet.

Animated Social Gadget - Blogger And Wordpress Tips