I Have Found My People

A year and a half ago I remember sitting in my therapists office asking Where are my people? It was in reference to a specific aspect of my story we were talking about which I will not disclose here because of the stigma attached. I share this piece though because I know I am not the only person that feels this way due to stigma.

This past weekend was a big weekend for me in many ways. First was the women’s march, which I already shared some about. That was certainly a moment for me that answered that question. I rounded that corner downtown and felt my soul sing, Oh here they are.

Attending that rally and being physically and energetically part of this piece of history was so important for me, not just as a woman and a feminist, but as a survivor, as someone in recovery from a lifetime of trauma that is uniquely female, and as a possible future mother to a daughter.

We went back and forth that day about whether or not to go. Our introversion almost talked us out of it because the crowd was going to be so large and that is a nightmare for us. I knew though, deep down in my gut, that I would not be right with myself if I did not do this. I did not just want to be there, I needed it for my own personal healing. As my husband and I talked about it after we left one of things we discussed was how this is something we will be able to tell our children one day we did. We were part of history and before they were even born we were thinking of them.

The next day I woke up early. I was set with nerves because I had plans to go to a spiritual service with a friend from school. I felt good about the spiritual community I found for us to visit but the idea of entering any kind of religious/spiritual building and attending a service made me feel torn between wanting to cry and vomit.

I am taking a spirituality in social work class this semester. I decided on this class because of my own personal need for growth in this area and because I want to be a well rounded therapist who is able to discuss all aspects of a person’s identity with them when working together.

If you have been following my writing for a while then you know I have only started walking down my path towards spiritual awakening in the last year or two. Before that I identified as atheist, and before that I was suffering under the burden of Catholicism being forced down my throat by my well-meaning family.

My friend from class, who come to find out is also a recovering Catholic, felt as terrified about this task as I did. One of this assignments from this class is to attend a religious/spiritual service that is outside of your own religion and then report about what you learned.

Well in a way this assignment is easy for the two f us, because when you do not believe in anything specific all the doors are open as far as where you can go to learn about something new. The part that made it difficult and a bit terrifying is that both of us have the same aversion to religion/church as a result of the heavy handed judgement we experienced at the hands of the Catholic church growing up.

So in order for us to feel safe to do this assignment I did research, a lot of research. After a week of lots of digging I found something that not only did not feel icky but actually sounded kind of good, Unitarian Universalists. The website spoke of their commitment to inclusion, and social action, and love, and community.. They have seven principles that are directly in line with the social work code of ethics that we practice by. When I saw that I thought, this is a church for social workers!

So plans were made and Sunday morning at 9:30 am my girlfriend met me at my house and we set off together in my SUV to go see about a church. We got there early and sat in the car for 15 minutes working up the courage to go in, we were scared, both of us. We finally decided it was time to make the leap and we both got out of the car. We started walking towards the building and an older woman with short silver hair walked by us wearing a I Stand With Planned Parenthood shirt. She welcomed us as she walked by. My friend and I looked at each other after she passed and agreed that that was a good sign. I have that exact same shirt but I would have never dreamed of wearing it to a church service! That was pretty cool.

We walked in the front doors which were wide open letting the fresh air in and we were greeted by two more women. They gave us name tags and we explained that we were social work grad students from the University that were here to visit and observe a service. They were over the moon to hear this! Something that happened immediately after introducing ourselves that my friend really appreciated is that one of the women explained that one of the leaders of their group is a retired psychologist and this woman is also a retired LMHC.

My friend appreciated this woman saying this because it proved to my friend that this woman understood what we do. So many people still think that social workers are all DCF case workers who remove children. The field is so vast and this woman identified us as mental health professionals which was nice.

She walked us into their facility explained a little but about the service so we knew what to expect and then offered to give us a tour after and talk a bit more if we were willing to hang around, we willingly agreed and thanked her for her gracious hospitality.

The service started, we sat in the last row trying to be inconspicuous, it didn’t work. It is a small group (not too small but much smaller than the hundreds that we are accustomed to at a Catholic mass) and it is clearly tight knit so new comers stick out. The thing is though, that was okay. We stuck out but we did not feel like outsiders at any point. Everyone was so welcoming and accepting, it was a wonderful feeling.

The service started with the lighting of a candle by a child and only got better from there. This group does not worship a specific deity, they do not follow any specific religious scriptures. All faiths and belief systems are welcome. They do not pretend to have any answers, it is more about asking questions and bringing in multiple perspectives and philosophizing together. There is no right, or wrong, or good, or bad. It is all GRAY.

I was home. For the second day in a raw after years and years of searching.. I had found my people.

The woman who gave us a tour after shared that she too was a recovering Catholic, and she agreed that she was called to this group of people because for the first time in her life she felt safe to experience her spirituality her own way without losing that sense of connectedness and community. Everything about this service spoke to me. I am not going to go into further detail because this post is long enough, if you are still reading send me your address and I will mail you a sticker of appreciation.

I could not edit this down though because it was too important. The last 6 months, starting at soul camp and my monumental shift that took place there, have brought so much clarity to an area of my life that for so long has left me feeling lost and alone. I have found connection in ways I never thought possible. This past weekend was a huge jump forward in my work and my healing and I am profoundly grateful.

My friend and I were so excited and comforted after our experience with this group that we have decided to go back next Sunday. We want to go a few times together still just she and I before we bring both of our significant others in to check it out. I think because of our past experiences with organized anything in terms of religion/spirituality we are afraid and hugely skeptical of anything that feels remotely related to a church. We need to make sure this feels right on all levels before we make any decisions.

It is hard not to get ahead of myself though and keep from jumping in with a both feet. They have a social action committee that plans activism opportunities for the group.. I mean, how do more social workers not know about this?

“We Should All Be Feminists.”

These are the words my professor uttered a few semesters ago after a classmate stated, Well I don’t personally identify as feminist.

I don’t know if my professor meant we as social workers, or we as women, or we as liberal minded individuals, or we as in every single person ever (I personally lean towards the last option). And I know that professors “should” remain objective but I sure am glad she said it! I know I am not alone either.A lot of my friends in the class breathed a visible sigh of relief when the professor spoke up.

Every time I hear someone, specifically women, renounce feminism I feel myself hold my breath. Suddenly I don’t feel safe because if you are telling me that you do not identify as a feminist it makes me wonder if there is an aspect of equality that does not speak to you? And if that is the case then yeah, back to what I said, I kinda don’t feel completely safe around you.

This exchange led to a really awesome conversation. This professor is a huge feminist and very open about it. We discussed why some people do not choose to identify as feminist, some people in class spoke up to share their reasons.

The reasons ranged from: I don’t know enough about it, to my dad would kill me, to but I don’t hate men, to feminism is not inclusive, to I am not political, to I just don’t believe in it, to feminists are always so angry and I am not an angry person, to I’m not much of an activist.

My professor and some of the rest of us helped illuminate the discussion by explaining some misconceptions and answering questions.

So I wanted to share a little bit of the discussion for anyone else that may still think feminism is a dirty word.. Let’s brush some of that dirt off.

  1. Feminism is not about hating men. That is a totally different thing called misandry. Some Feminists may personally identify as misandrists but that is like some may identify as lesbian or Christian or Latina or male. You can be all of these things and be feminist but they are not the same. So to be clear: Misandry = dislike of, contempt for, or ingrained prejudice against men. Feminism = the advocacy of women’s rights on the basis of the equality of the sexes. NOT THE SAME THING.
  2. Feminism is all inclusive. Malala Yousafzai defined feminism as a synonym for equality and I personally agree with that definition. Now, this misconception is a fair one, but I would like to clear it up all the same. There are different branches of the feminist tree and some are less inclusive. For example, radical feminism has a history of discriminating against trans folks. Some radical feminists do not believe that trans folks belong in the movement. That is not the feeling of the majority however and feminism as it exists currently is very clear about its commitment to intersectionality and inclusion. Feminism has multiple branches, Liberal, Social, Radical, Womanism.. etc.. If you would be more comfortable getting super specific then I recommend doing the research and pick which one feels right to you. Or define it for yourself, that is a totally acceptable alternative as well.
  3. “I’m not political/ I am not an activist”. Cool, me either, but I am still a feminist. There are no rules to being a feminist, you get to define it for yourself. Let me repeat: THERE ARE NO RULES, YOU DEFINE WHAT IT MEANS TO YOU. I would not typically attend a protest personally because that it not usually the energy I want to put out into the world, that does not make me care any less about equality and women’s rights. I am also not super political. I think our political system is a joke and have very little faith in our elected officials. That does not make me any less a feminist.
  4. Not all feminists are angry. That is like saying all social workers work for DCF (my social work friends will get why that is such a cringe worthy statement), or all Christians are anti-gay, or all white people are racist. Those are pretty heavy accusations to make and THEY ARE NOT TRUE. Sure, some feminists are angry, and they have a right to be, consider what we are talking about here; protecting the rights of a group of people who have historically had their rights infringed upon based on their sex/gender. We have a right to be angry. And yes, some feminists bring that masculine energy into the movement, especially at protests. That does not mean all feminists are angry. Personally my brand of feminism comes from more of a earth-mother- nurturing place and I lead with a much more feminine energy. Again, there are no rules, you get to define it. Feminism belongs to you, and to me, and to everyone. We make the decisions about what it means to us. And I would like to make the statement one more time before moving on that there is nothing wrong with being angry. To focus on the emotion in a negative light like that serves to minimize the experience of the individual. People have the right to be angry, we all have the right to feel our feelings. There is nothing wrong or bad about that.
  5. My family/friends/significant other/social circle/kid/employer/grocer/dog/bus driver wouldn’t understand. THAT IS OKAY. This is not for THEM, it is FOR YOU. The things we believe in BELONG TO US. They are personal, they are sacred. No one is required to understand them and WE DO NOT OWE ANYONE AN EXPLANATION.

I am going to end my list there and address the last reason separately, I just don’t believe in it. To me that is a cop-out. That is shutting down the conversation because for some reason you are scared. It is like when I used to identify as atheist because I knew if I said that when someone tried to talk to me about spirituality the conversation would die and I wanted it to die because spirituality was a scary place for me for a long time. My question is WHY? What stops you from believing it? What is holding you back? What are you unsure of?

If you do not believe in equal rights then say that, say I do not believe in equal rights that way we know where you stand. But to say I don’t believe in feminism without a reason is just putting the movement back and that is not doing gender minorities any favors I can tell you that. Saying I don’t believe in feminism is like saying I don’t believe that Black Lives Matter. Saying I don’t identify with the feminist movement is like saying I don’t identify with the civil rights movement, or the LGBTQ+ movement, or any other social justice movement.

Understand this: Being feminist is not about being better than anyone else, it is not about excluding anyone, it is not about hating anyone. It is about equality and the very fact that feminism is still considered a bad/dirty/scary/negative word to some people proves that the patriarchy is alive and well.

Now more than ever it is IMPERATIVE that you stand up for what you believe. That you openly identify with those beliefs. WE NEED YOUR HELP. If nothing else, please do me this favor, do the movement this favor.. If you can’t get past the label for whatever your reason maybe 1. Please reconsider and 2. Please do not renounce feminism. We are trying to change the world and make it safe for all people, every time you renounce us you are setting back time. Please,please, please if you can’t get past the label at least find it in your heart to be our ally. And as our ally please do not do or say anything that would negatively impact the positive work we are striving towards.

If my passionate advocating has not convinced you, give me one last chance: here are a bunch or celebrity feminists who get it, maybe they will change your mind. I mean who doesn’t love Will Smith?

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www.hdnicewallpapers.com
http://www.hdnicewallpapers.com

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Coming Out

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We just got back from the Women’s Rally downtown. It was incredible. We heard the music and crowd while we were still walking a block away towards the event, when we turned the corner and I saw the scene laid out before me I began to cry. It was like coming home.

It was so beautiful. There were families, and every different kind of person you could possibly imagine. I saw fellow social workers, and some of my professors, and even our PCP walked by us with cat ears on! It was so great to see so many people I personally know but also just the turn out in general. The messages people were carrying on the signs they made were love, pure love. Some were also sad, sad because of the truth they hold. I cried behind my sun glasses for the first ten minutes while we were there, I was so overcome by the energy of it all and what it meant to me personally as someone who has very real reasons to be afraid right now. I am sure I was not the only person who felt so moved.

We walked around and took it all in and then planted ourselves so we could listen to the speakers. The first speaker spoke of the importance of coming out and how the rest of the world could learn a thing or two from our LGTBQ+ brothers and sisters about coming out. She talked about the importance of coming out everyday; in the grocery when we see someone treated poorly, at our jobs when we are afraid to speak out against something we know isn’t right, in our families, in our relationships, in public, everywhere. We have to come out as the people we actually are and have the courage to be seen. She talked about coming out as feminists, and as allies, and in all these other ways. We have to be willing to come out and been seen as the people we actually are and then live in that power of wholeness and authenticity everyday. It is a big ask, I know this because as much as I was inspired by her words I was also afraid.

I was afraid for the same reason we are all afraid; how will this change my life? will being my true self negatively impact my life/work/relationships? what if _____ isn’t/aren’t okay with it?
An extra fear for me that has always kept me small is fear of my safety. It is a fear I know I share with many. Coming out means allowing those who hate us without even knowing us to see us. In the closet we are safe, those who claim to hate us can’t see us. Coming out means taking an enormous risk. For some of us the stakes are higher than just will this person stop being my friend? or will this family member disown me?
For some of us it is will someone try to hurt me?

I was inspired though in spite of my fear. And just being in the presence of all these amazing, open minded, loving people made my light feel all the way turned up.

I agree that we need to come out, it is the only way to accomplish real progress. We have to step out of our fear and into our greatness.

When I think about my own coming out I know I am still operating from a place of fear, but I am working on it, and maybe one day I will find that courage to turn my light all the way up.

The Future is FEMALE

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I was in my office yesterday furiously knocking out a pile of documentation when a counselor who works in another department stopped by to say Hi. We were catching up for a bit and he asked me if I was going to the Women’s Rally downtown Saturday.

The what? I hadn’t heard about it. He gave me the details and a link to the website, which I will share at the bottom of this post in case any of my local friends who follow my blog would like to attend, and I checked it out.

It is essentially a feminist rally, it will be my first and I am so excited.

There will be speakers covering a variety of important topics, I am the most excited about the representative from Planned Parenthood. I was walking through the main area of my internship earlier this week and caught a snippet of an interview she was giving on the news. I am really impressed by this woman and am looking forward to hearing her speak in person.

So tomorrow morning hubs and I will get up, maybe stop by the vegan donut shop because Yum, and head downtown to support women’s rights.

Women’s Rally Link

Martyrdom is Manipulation

Martyrdom: a display of feigned or exaggerated suffering to obtain sympathy or admiration.

Martyrdom is a form of manipulation.

Parents use it to guilt their children into doing what they want. I gave birth to you! After all we have done for you! Enter the martyr.

It is a used in relationships. I would do anything for you and you can’t bring yourself to do this one thing for me! 

It is used in religion as a way to shame followers into submission. He died for your sins.

It is used at work as a means to increase productivity without incentive. Look at Sue she works 10 hour days and weekends and never comes in late, why can’t you be more like Sue?

Manipulation at its simplest is about control. It is about getting needs met. It usually refers to negative, underhanded ways of getting needs met, but at the core that is what manipulation is.

Martyrdom is an exaggerated form of manipulation that uses guilt trips, and shaming, and extremes, and generalizations to get these needs met or exert control.

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In my life I have personally been the victim of this kind of manipulation and I have used this kind of manipulation in past relationships. I am not proud of that fact of course but it is true and I am at a place now where I can show that piece of myself love.

This form of manipulation is very triggering for me none the less. It reminds me of times I have been hurt and times I have hurt others. Neither are memories I like to go back to.

Martyrdom is a thing in social work. It is not only a thing, I feel that it is glorified. I feel it used against us as a way to keep us down. To keep accepting low pay, and high case loads, and long hours, etc. etc. These things become expected and we become the martyrs.

Part of what took place in supervision the other day was manipulation. We listened to a long story of martyrdom and were told that we were not as good because we were not doing it this way.

I was triggered for two reasons mainly, for a moment it took me back to the absolute worst employment experience of my entire life.

I worked for a company for 5+ years that was completely toxic because I loved the work and the population. I finally left after my papa died. That is when I realized I had totally lost sight of what was important in life. The night he died he was surrounded by his family. I was not there. I had worked a 12+ hour day and was too tired to make the drive to hospice. He was stable, I would go to him first thing in the morning. He did not make it to the morning.

Following his death I took no time off to grieve. I was in charge, I could not take time off. I thought my job was the most important thing. I realized after experiencing prolonged complicated grief that I had that all wrong. It took me a long time to forgive myself for the time I lost at the end with him. He was more important. I don’t even work there anymore. How could I have ever thought that work, no matter how noble the work I was doing, was more important than the people I love?

The other part of the trigger for me has to do with my mother. Growing up and even into my twenties my mother used martyrdom, shame, and guilt to control me and get her way. It took years for me to recognize it for what it was. It was not until I recognized it in myself that I was able to see it in our relationship. She no longer has that power over me but the pain is still there. It takes a while to heal that kind of wound, especially when you are trying to learn to love and forgive yourself at the same time.

Social work is a primarily female field. Guess which gender struggles the most with work-life balance in general? Guess which gender is the most over-worked and underpaid? I think it is sad that we do not see this as the feminist issue that it is. It is true that many of us, myself included, do not enter this field for the money but that does not mean that what we do is not valuable and I do believe that we should be advocating for ourselves here. It is not just social work either. I feel the same way about teachers. It is another field that is heavily populated with female workers and is very demanding and treated in a similar way.

As women we are programmed by society to feel shame for wanting to be heard and seen and to have a place at the table. How are we supposed to break the glass ceiling if some of us do not even see how we are being manipulated and controlled by those who would rather keep it in place?

Martyrdom is manipulation. I will not believe anyone who tries to convince me I am not worthy of being seen, and heard, and that I have a place at the table. I will not be a martyr, I will be an advocate for myself and minorities like me who are being manipulated into believing we deserve less.

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Shine a Light

This morning hubs and I woke early. Truth be told I don’t think I was ever fully asleep. I went to bed earlyish last night because I realized with the direction the vote was going in there would be a good chance I would not sleep at all if I heard the results before bed. This measure to protect myself from bad news and attempt to get a sound nights rest was somewhat futile unfortunately.

So we woke up this morning with the anticipation of two children on Christmas morning only this was not a joyous anticipation.. It was the anticipation of two children who knew they would not be receiving gifts this Christmas but hoped against hope that by some miracle Santa had come and delivered presents to their home. I am sad to report that Santa did not visit America this election season. There were no overnight miracles just the sad sinking in of our new reality. A reality that many of us, myself and hubs included, are not ready to see.

You want to see what forcing an idealist to come to terms with reality looks like? I started my day in tears. I cried for myself, I cried for my future children, I cried for every single person in my country and in the world who has even more reason to mourn today than I do. I have certain amount of privilege that will insulate me from any havoc this new reality may wreak, I know many who have far more reason than I to cry this morning.

So I gave myself space this morning to have my reaction. My hubs had his as well and we supported one another through it. There were a lot of unanswerable questions. There was a lot of reassuring. There were lots and lots of hugs and snuggles.

The truth is I didn’t really want to get out of bed. It was hard to find the motivation. I wanted to stay in that negative frame of mind and dwell.. Then I was scrolling through the mournful reactions of my friends on social media I saw something that reminded me of my truth..

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My whole perspective changed in that moment and I remembered who I am and what my life purpose is. I am a badass idealist who sees what can be not what is. I am a light in dark places and sometimes “the real world” can be a very dark scary place. Yes, I got dropped kicked in the face by reality this morning and yes for a moment I felt shattered. What the outcome of the election has showed me though is right now my light is needed.

There is a reason there has been so much negative energy brewing lately and a lot of us, again myself included, thought that after election day that energy would finally clear.. Maybe it will, maybe it won’t. That doesn’t change me or my life mission though. I could not feel stronger in my resolve as an idealist in this moment.

Martin Luther King Jr, Gandhi, Bernie Sanders, John Lennon, Rosa Parks.. All of the heroes of the world who stood up for something bigger than themselves were idealists! They saw beyond what was to what could be. They believed in the goodness of the human spirit and what the world is capable of through love. They shined their lights so bright the world could not ignore them.

So today take your moment. Mourn, or celebrate if this is not a sad occasion for you, or get angry.. Do whatever you need to do for you then go out and be a light for others. Show our brothers and sisters your humanness, your ability to love, and to meet negative energy with pure kindness and compassion. Be example. Shine so bright that it is lights up the dark and blinds those whose lights are turned down.

While I was in the shower thinking about all of this and meditating on my truth and my own mission in life I started singing. Without realizing it at first I was singing a song from my childhood.. When I was little, 6 or 7 I think, Disney came out with Polly. It it a favorite movie from my childhood, it bestowed on me valuable lessons. My gift to anyone reading this is this song from the movie… Now go out and shine your light today. Be the reason someone does not lose hope today. Help remind the world what love feels like. It is time we turn up our light.

Standing Up for What You Believe In

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Saturday a presidential candidate who has been garnering much media attention will be holding a rally locally and the venue chosen just happened to be my university. I personally find this to be unfortunate because much of what I have heard from him sounds xenophobic, sexist, racist, and generally hateful fear mongering. With that being said, it appears there are plenty of people who do not share my view of him that plan to attend this event in support of the candidate. Such is their right.

One of my colleagues in the program shared a link to a peaceful protest that is being organized on campus Saturday against the candidate and in one day more 2,ooo people expressed and interest in going, myself included.

When my colleague first shared the link I was kind of excited by the proposition of a peaceful protest where I could stand with like minded people against all of these things I feel so strongly against. Throughout the course of the day though as the movement gained popularity I started to feel the idea of peaceful protest was beginning to devolve into something that felt too close to what I wanted to stand up against. I am hoping I am wrong about this but either way what I was seeing posted on the page was enough to make up my mind for me.

I understand the frustration that so many people are feeling, I feel it too but historically meeting hate with hate has never solved anything. There is nothing peaceful about some of what I am seeing being proposed and while I am sure the actions of a few are not representative of the many who truly do want to hold a peaceful protest, I started thinking there has to be another way to stand up for what I believe in a way that feels right to me.

Next Saturday Todd and I are attending a Bernie event downtown so we have decided that we will donate to his campaign while there and see how we can possibly get more involved locally with a candidate we do support rather than one we do not.

I fully support my friends and family who plan to attend the protest, I hope they are able to stand up for love and acceptance both peacefully and safely. I look forward to hearing all about it after and for myself I will put my energy into what feels right for me.

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Moms Deserve MORE!

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This post is so much bigger than me, I am not even sure it is wise for me to weigh in on the topic. This is one of those times I feel it is important to set up the disclaimer what I am about to write are strictly my own opinions.

Yesterday we were at my parent’s house and Todd was watching John Oliver’s show on HBO while my parents and I were playing scrabble. We were listening to the show while we played. John Oliver was talking about how behind the times our country is in terms of maternity benefits for mothers and this started a conversation.

John Oliver highlighted a story of a woman who had one month for maternity leave but then went into premature labor. Because her baby was born early it had to stay in the hospital for a period of time before being able to go home. The mother was then left with an agonizing decision to either take her maternity leave at present to be with her baby while it is in the NICU knowing that she could use up her leave before the baby ever comes home or wait to take her maternity leave until her baby is released from the hospital. She chose the latter which meant she had her baby on a Wednesday and returned to work the next Monday. The mother explained the guilt she felt leaving her baby, only being able to visit in the evenings after work and how difficult it was for her to focus at work because of the whole ordeal. Motherhood is made out to be this wondrous time in a woman’s life but for this woman, the start of motherhood at least, sounded devastating. That’s not right.

When the story was over I looked around and realized my parents and I had stopped playing scrabble a while ago. All three of us were glued to the TV. Todd made a comment about how messed up the story was and this prompted me to share my friend’s story.

My friend works for the same hospital I used to work for. I enjoyed working for that company more than any other company I have ever worked for. They take great care of their employees, their is a clear standard of professionalism and in my experience people cared about the work they did. There were a few issues though and one of the big ones related to the terrible benefits. You can barely call them benefits really. When a person has to pay for having Christmas off out of their own vacation time it is not much of a benefit. I get that there are some companies that don’t offer paid holidays but those companies are usually upfront about that and say, Hey by the way we don’t pay for holidays or Hey you have to work on Christmas. This company would have you believe they pay for holidays, Um no, the employee does.

The way it works is sick time, vacation time, maternity leave, holidays (Christmas, Thanksgiving, New Years.. all of them), personal time, all come out of the same pot. Time off is time off no matter how you use it. Of course like most companies though you only get so much time off in a year so you better hope you don’t fall ill too much in a year or you may not get to take that summer vacation or worse you may not get paid for the Christmas holiday even though the office is closed and you cannot work that day anyway. A few other important points to understand,

1. PTO (paid time off) does not roll over year to year with this company so you have to use or lose it.
2. You are not given PTO at the beginning of each new year, you have to earn it. – When I first heard this I actually thought it was fair, you get like 1 hour of PTO for every X amount of hours you work. – Where you get screwed though is at the beginning of the new year. For example January 1, a holiday in most countries, the office is closed but you do not get paid for this holiday because it is the beginning of a new year and you have not worked enough hours to have any PTO. Not to mention what if you want to take vacation at the beginning of the year? You haven’t worked enough to have vacation time. And you better hope you don’t get sick in the first few months of the year because you don’t have sick time saved up yet either. Pretty messed up right?

Back to my friend’s story. She made the colossal mistake of having a baby towards the beginning of the year. I mean what was she thinking, right? This is poor planning on her part, no reason the company should accommodate her in anyway. She had some PTO saved up but not much. She had a choice, take a very brief leave of absence for maternity leave and get paid, or take a longer maternity leave (approx 2-3 months) and go unpaid for a period of time. She chose to take a longer maternity leave. My friend was fortunate to even have an option because her significant other made enough money to support them while she did not have income.

Here are just a few of the factors that influenced her decision:

1. She had no real help with her baby after it was born. Most of the people in her support system work so she was almost solely responsible for taking care of the baby, which is probably the experience of a lot of women.

2. Once she went back to work she knew her baby had to go into a paid daycare. This meant:

A. That it would cost her and her significant other more for her to be working because of the cost of daycare so it made more since for her to be home longer and save that money. To be clear, even though she wasn’t working it still saved them some money because day care is so expensive.
B. She would have to hand her infant over to a paid care giver (who is not family) for the majority of the day while she was at work 5 days a week. She was in no rush to do that either. Talk about guilt.

3. She was breast feeding. Pumping while at work was not an option for her because of the kind of job she has.

So she got a few months to breast feed regularly, save some money even though she had none coming in and bond with her new born before she had to turn it over to strangers essentially and go back to work. I swear it about killed her. But hey, at least she got that time off right? Some women don’t get that. If that is the upside to this whole situation then WTF? Seriously.

So, here is the real kicker though. My friend is insured through her employer, the hospital. Her insurance covers her, her other child who was a toddler at the time and her infant. A certain portion of her pay check is held out each pay period and that pays for her health, dental etc. Because she was not making a paycheck for a period of time when she did finally return to work she actually owed her employer money! The hospital was nice enough to let her use her health insurance to take her new born to the necessary doctors appointments etc even though at the time she technically was not getting paid but when she returned to work this left her in a deficit and she did not receive a pay check for the first few pay periods until her employer was paid back for the health insurance she had used.

These were her options if she wanted to have more than a few weeks for maternity leave. And again she was fortunate to even have options, some women would not have an option to not receive a pay check and would have to go right back to work. I ask again, how can you really call this way of doing things a benefit? My friend certainly did not benefit from the company PTO program. Maybe it is better than nothing but better than nothing does not necessarily constitute being called a benefit. Not in my eyes at least.

I’ve shared my concerns about this companies benefits with Todd before because even with all this being said I have considered them an option for future employment. I am fortunate enough to be covered under Todd’s insurance which means I won’t have to use the hospital’s insurance but there is no getting away from the awful PTO “benefits”. We agreed if I do find myself working for this company in the future while pregnant we will do what is right for our family, like my friend did.

So after John Oliver finished up the story about the woman with the baby in NICU he went into another story that illustrated our lack of compassion for new mothers/parents. Ironically the next story had to with major league baseball, wasn’t I just calling out sexism in that organization a post or two ago?

Apparently the MLB has a paid paternity leave that gives a new father 3 days off after the arrival of a new baby/child. (notice I said arrival of a baby/child, not all families receive babies/children by going to the hospital and giving birth. Some adopt. I just think it is important to keep this kind of thing in mind when talking about maternity/paternity leave and the rights of new parents.)

Now before I continue I want to be clear that I have done zero research into this story, I am parroting what I heard on John Oliver’s show and I could be dealing with some misinformation. What I will say is this, my opinions are based on the story I heard and could stand to change if I came across further information that disputes any part of the story.

As I was explaining, apparently the MLB gives 3 days of PTO to new fathers as their form of paternity leave. As John Oilver reports it though very few baseball players actually use their paternity leave. In this case though a player did choose to use his paternity leave benefit to be home with his wife and new born and this caused him to miss two games at the beginning of the season. As a result of this decision he received some major back lash. People were angry with him for his decision, which in my opinion is offensive enough, but in one case an announcer or sportscaster ( I have know idea what this man’s actual title was, I just know he was someone with a voice in the industry) actually suggested that the player’s wife should have scheduled a c-section and given birth before the season started.

Um ma’am, your medical condition interferes with our baseball game, could you maybe surgically rip your baby from the womb a week early even though there is no medical reason to do so that way your husband can play with us?

So I guess baseball is more important than the integrity of human life? No, no, it’s totally cool.. Put mother and infant at risk through a completely unnecessary surgery so the boys can play their game. Once again people of society some how think they have a right to tell a woman what to do with her own body. Yeah, that NEVER gets old.

I know I went all angry feminist on this post but this is something to feel angry about. It is ridiculous to me that this is so many women’s lived reality in a country that prides itself on being a world leader.

For more information about our total failure in terms of paid maternity leave compare to other nations check out this ARTICLE . The graph will blow your mind. Get it together America, you are embarrassing yourself.

Past the Point of Exhaustion

parramore

I have spent the last few days working on the paper that reports on my groups findings from the field work we did in a local community. Between the time spent in front of the computer screen, discussing various aspects of the work with group members and controlling my emotions as I try to remain objective in my synopsis, I am EXHAUSTED.

This is the most worthwhile project I have ever been lucky enough to take part in but it is also the most intense. It has not been easy reporting on the level of marginalization and oppression experienced by this community. I have had to take multiple breaks to regain focus and expend some of the tension I am internalizing as a write.

I am glad to almost be finished with this project. I look forward to reporting on it with my group members in front of the class next week. What I look forward to most is what we plan to do with this information though. The project ends after the group presentation next week but a few of us have decided to take next steps and try to get this information into the hands of people who may be able to impact a change. Our professor is supporting us in this venture and it will probably be something I spend some time on over the summer.

This kind of macro work is new for me so this has been an amazing learning experience. This semester, as challenging as it was at times, was my best yet. I am starting to see who I am as a social worker and that is very exciting.

I look forward to the summer semester and opportunities to build on what has turned out to be a very solid foundation.

Facing What Scares Me

I mentioned a while back that this semester the school of social work will be taking a field trip of sorts to Tallahassee to advocate for social issues. I have been looking forward to this sense learning about it when I entered into the program. March is Social Work month so that is when this event takes place and as the days grow nearer I feel my anxiety starting to grow.

I am excited about being there and the rally we will have as a school. I am excited about experiencing this with so many of my classmates. My anxiety stems from a fear I have of meeting in person with some of the legislatures or their aids to discuss one on one the issues I am passionate about. We do not have to schedule meetings, we can sit on committees or just walk around the capitol and observe the goings on. All of that is more my speed honesty. When put in new, unfamiliar surroundings I usually prefer to hang back and silently observe before engaging, I need an adjustment period. I need to get a feel for what is happening around me. The idea of getting up there and this all being new and exciting and me possibly feeling completely overstimulated and then walking into a meeting and trying to articulate a cohesive thought. I don’t know..

I would not even consider it if there were not causes I am personally passionate about, but there are. I would like to discuss HB511 and HB583. One concerns palliative care which is right in my wheel house. Some of my main areas of interest are end-of-life issues, terminal illness, palliative care and my big one, physician assisted suicide. The other bill has to do with prohibiting equal access to public facilities. It is offensive and completely discriminatory.

I am meeting with one of my professors this week to discuss my concerns about scheduling a meeting with representatives. This professor likes to push me, I know she sees a potential I have not realized so I do my best to follow her lead. She has already encouraged me to do this so I am hoping she can talk me through the process so I have a better idea of what to expect and will warm up to the idea.

I am not going to be disappointed in myself if I choose not to schedule any meetings and instead spend this first time in an observing role. I don’t want to force what does not feel right to me. I would like to challenge myself though. I think it would feel very rewarding to step outside of my comfort zone and put myself out there in a way I normally wouldn’t. I have still have a few weeks to decide ad I plan to use the time thoughtfully.

 

A Luxury that should be a Standard

obey

 

I called this morning and made appointments for Todd and I with the dentist in town to get ourselves established as new patients. Admittedly neither of us has had a cleaning since we moved to College Park, this call was a few years overdue. While scheduling I gave the scheduler our dental insurance information and she informed me we have wonderful dental insurance, some of the best they see in fact. Todd works for one of the largest engineering firms in the country so this did not surprise me to hear. I already knew just from treating patients in the healthcare field that worked for his same employer that the medical insurance was good, it was nice to hear they take care of their employees health across the board. The company encourages their employees to have a healthy lifestyle through a program that adds funds to their HSA by logging their activity with pedometers as well. Free money for making healthy choices is something I can get behind.

The Hospital I formerly worked for was one of the largest, if not the largest, in the central FL area and they had a similar health program that gave incentives for making healthy choices. Now personally I thought their healthcare package was lacking, big time. But as a company they took care of their employees in other ways that were no lost on me. I believe they care about the well-being of those they employ. They were a wonderful company to work for, especially if you did not have to use their insurance package.

After I made our appointment I was thinking what a relief it is to not only have good insurance but encouragement to live healthy and make good choices. With that sense of relief also comes a small pang of guilt though. Why isn’t this the standard? How can I, as a socially conscious human being, truly enjoy the access I am granted to doctors and medical treatment knowing that others in more dire need than myself are denied that same access?! I am grateful for it, absolutely, but I cannot feel good about it, truly, in good conscience.

You have heard the adage, Happy wife, happy life? I think that could apply to employees as well. If great healthcare coverage (dental, vision, maternity.. the works!) was a given in all areas of employment doesn’t it stand to reason that you would end up with healthier, more focused, all around happier employees? I am reading The Power of Habit:Why we do what we do in life and business by Charles Duhigg. The most recent section I read talked about how a new CEO took over a failing company and turned it all around by focusing on employee safety. His goal was to have zero incidents reported not just at the factory level but at all levels of the company. This was a lofty goal but by turning the focus back onto the well-being of the employee instead of profits etc he not only met his goal but the company became profitable again. If you take care of people they take notice.

To be clear though, I do not think that healthcare access should be limited exclusively to those who are employed. This should be something that all people, regardless of employment status, income, age, race creed etc should have equal access to.

I am not doing any research here to back any of this up, I am just thinking out loud which means these thoughts are unrefined and maybe even a little oversimplified. But really, I think I have a point. A point that I know others before me have already made. This is not some radical idea I am suggesting. Healthcare, or in our countries case – lack thereof, is a topic that is constantly under heavy debate.

I just don’t think it is right for something like this to be considered a luxury. It is not a designer bad, it is someones health. Health, a decent education, refuge, all of these things should be a given not a rarity.

Yes it was nice to hear that we have good dental coverage I just wish that we lived in a society where that kind of thing was the standard. Then there would never be a reason to point it out to a person because it was true for all.

The Honeymoon Part III: Surrounded by Books, an Introvert’s Dream.

As the title describes we did surround ourselves by books on more than one occasion while honeymooning. And on at least one occassion we truly were surrounded!

Capitol Hill Books was one of my desired destinations to visit while in D.C. it is in the Eastern Market neighborhood which was about 10 blocks from our brown stone. I had read about the floor to ceiling books the store boasts to hold but was unprepared for what being that engulfed would be like. I am not claustrophobic but if I were there is no way I would have been able to set foot in the store.

books9                              books1

Capitol Hill Books is the most stocked used book store I have ever visited. Now I can claim it to be the best stocked because I unfortunately did not find anything special enough to purchase, as I had so hoped. This book store ended up being more about quantity than quality. It was neat just to look around though.

books8         books6        Books7         books3

As you can see from the bathroom no room was off limits. This was a hoard if I ever saw one.

We also made sure to visit the National Library. We got to walk through and look at Thomas Jefferson’s personal library, some of the originals were present which was neat.

books       books5

The main library itself was impressive. I so wished we could have gone down and looked around. The room was stunning and so quiet, it seemed serene.

books4      books10

When I worked at the MRI facility one of the most interesting patients I had the pleasure of talking with was an older man who was retired from working at the Congressional Library. In truth I spent more time socializing with his wife as he was on the table being scanned but he certainly seemed to have lived a fascinating life. I thought of him as I stood there in awe. I imagined how wonderful it must have been to have a job like that.

A few days later we had intended to spend the afternoon doing some shopping, there were a number of vintage boutiques I had read about that I was dying to patron. That was the one day of disagreeable weather, which in turn worked in our favor. Although I did not visit all the shops on my list due ti distance and us trying to stay out of the snow flurries we did end up at a few book stores. Kramerbooks and Afterwords Cafe had always been on the agenda, I read about it months before our honeymoon. It was everything I hoped it would be. An amazing selection of books for young and old alike, we bought the kids one of their souvenirs there. We also enjoyed an delicious lunch, this is where I ate vegetarian and had the autumn vegetable hash that I have now successfully recreated at home twice. We purchased a coffee table book for our home from Kramerbooks as well.
Then later that afternoon we ducked into another book store cafe, Busboys and Poets, in order to take a break from the snow. We both got a hot beverage, a tea for me and some kind of coffee creation for Todd. We sat together on an old leather couch near a big picture window and watched the snow fall outside, it was quiet and beautiful, two things I love about winter days like that one.

After we finished our beverages we wandered around their bookstore for a little while. Although it was the smallest we visited while in D.C. it was without question the best. Quality, not quantity. In fact I would go so far as to say it is tied for the best book store I have ever visited. I am also very fond of a book store we have here called Bookmark It. The title is a clever play on words and it is located in the East End Market, a community gathering place Todd and I frequent on the weekends for craft beer and cold pressed juice. These two book stores are similar in that although they are small they are selective about the titles the sell. They are concerned about what people read and offer a different perspective to book buying. I love it. They are both socially responsible book stores.

While perusing this is what we found above some of the book shelves.

books11  The books on these shelves all had to do with current social issues, those that mainstream and those that are not.

books12       books2  There children section was one of the best I have ever seen. My inner social worker was elated.

As busy as our honeymoon was Todd and I did have plenty of time to sit quietly and just be together. On more than occasion it was in these book stores we visited. I love that we share this love of books and thirst for information and understanding. Our honeymoon was so us. We learned so much and tried new things, we got to explore and just be quiet together. It was romance our way and it was wonderful.

I cannot be what I am not

balance

In life a challenge everyone faces is balance. Keeping balance in your everyday life is an important part of being a grounded, happy human being. When it comes to balance in my daily life the biggest challenge I face is keeping my emotionally driven personality in check. I am constantly trying to put my feelings toward any given thing into perspective, always trying to keep my eye on the bigger picture.

The problem I  face is that for me everything revolves around how I feel. Logic, statistics and analytical thought do not usually play a role in my decision making process. Being so far to one side of the scale in this aspect of my personality poses a real danger for me slipping into extremes. This is something I am afraid of and keep a wary eye on because I do not want to lose touch with reality.

Todd and I had a discussion this morning about something that has been bothering me and how I plan to handle it. I, like many Americans, walk around blissfully unaware of a lot of the yuck going on around me in society. When something is brought to my attention, however, it is difficult for me to ignore it and pretend it is not there. This is especially true when I have some level of control over whatever the thing is.

I do have a level of perspective about this, I know that I cannot single-handedly change all the defects of our society. I have to choose my battles and my causes. I do not have it in me to fight for every cause out there. However, I can choose what is best for me personally and not give my support financially to a company with immoral business practices for example. This is something small but it is what feels right.

What disappoints me so often is our society’s level of greed and what people and companies are willing to do for money. I see things and hear about things happening that are just wrong. Really wrong. But it is allowed to happen, there are no laws stopping it or those in place are loose and not often upheld.

I am not trying to change the world, I do not have the energy for that, but I don’t want to be part of the problem when I am aware of it and can make the decision not to be. It is exhausting to care this much but I would still rather be an exhausted person of principle than a carefree hypocrite as often as possible.

Another plea to disconnect

texting-smartphone

I am mounting my soap box, the time to turn back is now.

Earlier this week I watched a story on the news that threw me into a ranting whirl at the time and has been nagging in the back of my mind ever since.

The story was about a car full of college students that were killed in an head-on collision with an SUV that was speeding down the interstate going the wrong direction. The driver of the car that was hit apparently did not have to react and both cars exploded on impact. It bothers me to type this out because as I do I replay the footage in my mind.

One would think given the information I just shared that my outrage would be directed towards the driver of the SUV that caused the accident, that would be an incorrect assumption however. The news had footage of the crash as it happened, this is where my disapproval starts.

A female driver going 70 mph on the correct side of the interstate saw what was taking place across the median and pulled out her phone to video tape what was happening. Are you kidding me?! Let me make sure I understand this, you are driving down a road like I4 (for those of us who live locally) or the turnpike perhaps and you notice on the other side of the highway that a car is going way over the speed limit and driving in the wrong direction into traffic and your first reaction is to videotape it?! Pull out your phone sure, but call the police! This person could have caused a whole other accident because she was focusing on what was taking place across the median and video taping rather than on the road and driving. In my opinion she deserves a citation not to be getting recognition by the media for capturing this video for them. Yea, I bet the news stations were really kissing her ass. Not only do they have a story but they have video of the crash taking place to play over and over during prime-time. Does anyone else think this is completely disrespectful and disgusting? 5 people died in a very tragic way and the news is playing the video of their death on repeat. The lives lost mean nothing here, it is a story. How upsetting for the family and friends of the people involved to be exposed to something so horrific.

Over and over you hear on the news “Tweet us your videos, send us your pictures via this email address or that social media site”. Who cares how the video/photos were obtained. Who cares how graphic the images are, just throw a disclaimer out there and roll with it. I have been disenchanted by the sensationalist, twisted tactics the media uses to get a story but now I am utterly fed up. There is such little value placed on human life anymore all that matters is getting the story. Shove the camera in everyone’s face until someone agrees to talk with us.

A police officer was killed this week while trying to apprehend someone suspected of a crime. The news is broadcasting live from his funeral tomorrow. Uninterrupted coverage. If I were his family I would say Go Jump. Let those who actually know him grieve. Leave his family alone. This is sad, shoving a camera in the face of a grieving widow is not necessary to drive home the point.

Back to what I was saying about the driver who shot the video while going 70 on the interstate instead of informing the authorities of what was going on.. Judgement calls like this one scare the hell out of me. I would never dream of using my phone in this way while driving. I know the big push for the last however many years has been to discourage texting and driving but to me that is just part of the problem. In general people seem so distracted. I think we as a society have become so accustomed to multitasking that it carries over into areas of our life where it becomes dangerous. Using your phone and driving is not an efficient use of time, it is dangerous. Do people not realize the possible consequence of such a decision? This decision to willing allow yourself to be distracted while driving could be deadly. Is such little value placed on the preservation of human life that this kind of decision would somehow seem worth the risk? Todd and I were almost struck by other cars on the road twice today, we had been on the road all of 15 minutes. A dump truck merged crept into our lane without realizing it forcing into the lane next to ours to avoid being hit. Thankfully the lane next to us was clear and Todd had time enough to verify that before having to get out of the way. Then again while making a left turn the woman in the car next to us merged right on top of us without even looking. She did not use her indicator to change lanes, did not look, she did this while in the middle of an intersection AND she was on her phone clearly yelling at someone. For cripes sake hang up the GD phone!

It scares me the way things are, it also makes me feel incredibly discouraged. As is true in so many other circumstances I just wish that collectively people cared a little more. The silver lining to this post is that laws are starting to crack down on such issues as cell phone usage while driving. As it stands I feel this sort of thing is hard to regulate and hard to prove but acknowledgement of the issue is at least a small step in the right direction.

Losing the “Care” in Healthcare

blog inspiration- jaded healthcare

There is no room for not caring in the healthcare field. This is not my opinion, this is a fact. And Frankly my dear, it’s not OK to not give a damn. Caring is one of the biggest parts of the job yet more and more I find myself face to face with an alarming level of apathy. I understand why it happens, in healthcare you are dealing with a specific population, the sick. You’re rarely going to treat a patient who isn’t coming to you with an issue, maybe with the exception of annual check-ups in a PCP’s office. So day in and day out you are responsible for fixing someone’s elses problem. To me working with the public in this way requires the highest level of customer service. I believe that is what patient care is, customer service on super steroids. There is no such thing as going “above and beyond”, there should be no above or beyond just what needs to be done getting done. And even that is enough, getting the job done is not enough. Doing the job well while creating a level of trust with your patient is crucial.

Here are some examples of what I have run into that rub me wrong..

Not using your name. This covers a lot of area. I hate calling an office and when I get a receptionist the greeting is, “Dr. X’s office”. When you call our office I answer the phone, “Good Morning/Afternoon/Evening Thank you for calling xxxxx My name is Jill how may I help you?” Now I understand that is long-winded so I will lower the expectation, just give me your name. In healthcare I believe we should be held accountable for what we are telling our patient’s, how is that possible? By putting our name on it. This also applies to nurses and technologists, anyone who comes in contact with a patient should be introducing themselves. If you are speaking to this patient you are now involved in their care, even if it is on a small level, own it. It is the polite thing to do and more importantly it is the right thing to do.

Negative Talk. What I mean by this is, when we are unable to do something for a patient I do not focus on what we CAN’T do, I focus on what we CAN do. I will call an office for something, like clinical notes let’s say, if they are not ready I get that but give me an ETA. Don’t just answer the phone without giving me your name, say they are not ready and hang up on me. Crap, I am not even your patient but now I know I wouldn’t want to be. Instead, how about this.. A patient calls and wants to schedule a dexa scan (this is not a test we do).. Some offices would say “Sorry we don’t do dexa scans” and be done with it, well that doesn’t really help this patient does it? Ok so maybe we can’t do the scan but I can at least educate them and lead them in the right direction. “At xxxxx we specialize in MRI and CT so unfortunately we do not have the equipment for the test you require. May I suggest you call your referring Doctor’s office to find out if there is a facility they like to use for this type of test.” That was not that much more work but here is what it does for that patient, it lets them know what we can do for them if they ever need us in the future and it keeps them from chasing their tell for the next hour. A patient could spend an hour or more calling around to different facilities trying to find out who does the test they need when quite often their doctor’s office knows which facility does what and is able to advise them cutting out all the work. If that is not the case, they are no worse off but at least you tried to make things easier for them.

Defensiveness and back talk when met with a difficult patient or circumstance. You cannot take things personal in this field!! I cannot stress that enough to people, and that rings true for any career that requires you to work directly with the public. Our patients are sick, they are in pain, they just got done with a round of chemo and now we are calling them wanting them to list all the surgeries they have ever had. They are worn out and worn down and entitled to a bad day, do not take it personal. And in some cases you get the patient who truly does just have a difficult personality to handle, I think some people enjoy arguing for sport. That’s fine, but don’t get pulled in. It still isn’t personal, it has nothing to do with you, none of it does, these patient’s don’t even know you. And no matter how difficult or rude they might be they still deserve your best. Every single patient deserves your best.

 

This is a topic I have felt strongly about since starting in this field 5 years ago. I think everyone has had to deal with a jaded healthcare worker at some point or another and to me there is no greater crime than complacency in this field. It is not fair to those we serve, if you’re done and you have had enough, then move on. Go on to the next thing, this is not the kind of work you do for a paycheck, at least it isn’t supposed to be.

 

It’s not about being a feminist

I stumbled upon a blog post today I thought I would be interested in, I was wrong. The title had something to do with being easy to love, I was curious to hear this woman’s thoughts, so I thought. My curiosity was stifled upon reading the words, “be submissive to your husband.”

Gut reaction? Shock I guess because a full-mouthed “WHAT?!” promptly erupted out of me upon reading the words. All I could think initially was “she can’t be serious” and “there must be something I am missing here.” I could not believe this woman meant exactly what she was saying. I was considering the fact that I don’t know her blog, maybe there is a back story I am missing. That is when I noticed the word “submissive” was actually a link so I clicked on it. As I thought it took me to another posting that served to better explain her meaning of submission. Surely this woman has a different definition of the word and she is going to enlighten her readers here, I was ready for her explanation.

She started this posting explaining that in order to be submissive to your husband it does not require you to be without your own opinions and it does not make you a weak woman, Oh good – She had me worried.. Then she proceeds to talk about the importance of letting your man be head of the household even if you think he is an idiot!

I am doing my absolute best not to judge this woman because she is entitled to her opinion and beliefs as I am to mine that are clearly in contrast. If I don’t like what she is writing then I don’t have to read it but unfortunately I did. I can’t unread her words and being the kind of woman I am I have let out what is banging around inside me now.

She said most women have an issue with the idea of submission because they think they are of higher intelligence therefore better suited to run the household. If that is true I disagree with that idea as well. Am I wrong in thinking that a truly functional relationship should not be a power struggle? Is the idea of mutual respect so very outlandish? Words like compromise and team work and compassion come to mind when I think about the home I hope to create with Todd. It is about love without boundaries or conditions and reciprocal esteem for one another.

The author of the blog was right about one thing, the idea of being submissive is belittling and it makes me angry. However, my feelings on the topic she raises does just stem from the fact that I am woman who demands my free will. This is an issue that reaches beyond gender, race, religion or any other label we as humans put on one another. I do not consider myself a feminist per say, I believe in what is right for all people not just my own gender. This woman is making an argument for submission. She is encouraging free thinking women to submit to another person, to be owned and controlled by another. I wonder how women in places like Afghanistan and Pakistan who are born without freedom would feel about this woman’s ideas? I wonder how members of the Dalit Caste in India would feel  reading her words? I wonder what a girl like Malala Yousafzai who was shot in the face by the Taliban for speaking up for girl’s rights to an education in Pakistan would say to this woman and her notion that we as women should play passive roles in our lives allowing our men to rule.

The woman makes the argument for her religion, she quotes bible verses and states that submitting to your husband is in the bigger picture submitting to her Lord. Call it what you want lady. I am not drinking the cool aid. I was absolutely offended by this backwards suggestion. My disdain comes in part because it goes against what my own feelings and beliefs are but moreover I am deeply offended for the people in the world that are not born into freedom. They have never had the luxury of an opinion. The thought that a woman who clearly takes her own freedoms for granted would encourage others to so willingly throw them away.. It’s nonsense and it’s disrespectful to those who never had the option to begin with.

 

I feel it is important to I reiterate that this woman’s post was based on her religious beliefs and teachings, teachings that I am not personally familiar with. I do not wish to be disrespectful of her beliefs or her relationship. I just have different beliefs and a different relationship.

I carry my soap box with me

Todd is not an activist, it’s not that he doesn’t care about social issues, he just doesn’t get riled up enough to vent and take action. This is an area where we differ greatly. I get riled up. I see discrimination or something that isn’t right and I pull out my soap box and go off. He jokes that I carry my soap box with me everywhere I go just in case I need to jump on it. I guess I do. I am sure for those of you that have read certain posts I have put out there you have noticed this about me. I have opinions, opinions I will voice. At the same time though I believe in being respectful. My opinions are not everyone’s opinions, I am aware of this, and I am not arrogant enough to believe that just because I have a certain opinion that it is necessarily right. It is just my perspective on a certain situation, it is what I believe to be right or wrong and it is subjective. Which is why I voice my opinions here, or with Todd or anywhere else where the time and place are appropriate. I would never force my opinions on anyone just like I do not want other’s opinions forced upon me.

With all of this being said, I am mounting my soap box because I have something to say.

Yesterday afternoon while on break I was listening to a radio show I always listen to, they cover news topics. It is not exactly the news, just a talk show that covers certain stories and it is more for entertainment value. So yesterday they were talking about this new app that was created by a couple of women that allows other women to log-in through FB and rate/comment on the men they have been with. Whether it is ex-boyfriend’s, flings, or any other guy that they have come in contact with in their lives. As far as I can tell there is no regulation forcing these women to be honest, they can go in and say whatever they want about these guys and there is no recourse available to the men. It is done anonymously (we already know how I feel about that). There is apparently a picture of the guy posted with his name and God knows what written about him.

How is this not cyber bullying??? How in the hell is this app allowed to exist?! This is a colossal invasion of privacy and if I were one of these guys I would be looking into my legal rights.

I am ashamed of the women that are actually participating on this app.

OK, so maybe a guy broke your heart, I get that I have had my heart-broken, but this is not the way to deal with it.

Maybe it isn’t that the guy broke your heart, maybe he is just a prick and you feel an obligation to warn other women. I get that too, there are plenty of pricks out there, but again this is not the way.

I don’t care what your reason is for wanting to dog this guy out or exact some kind of revenge, THIS IS NOT THE WAY.

THIS IS WRONG.

I was so infuriated listening to them talk about what this app is about. I went online to learn more about exactly what we are talking about with this thing and it is every bit as bad as it sounds. I read some of the  comments about it which to my relief were mostly negative and were posted from both men and women. One was from a girl who said her Dad ended up on there and random people were just going in and saying nasty things about him. She couldn’t do anything to get him taken down. How awful!

I am completely disgusted but even more than that I am just sad.  Is this really what we are coming to? How cool would it have been if this app came out and everyone saw it for what it is was and completely rejected it? Once again this idealist is let down. This isn’t how we should be treating each other. I have been let down by men, I’ve been lied to, I have had my heart-broken but I do not wish anything but good things to each one of those men and I have gone out of my way to let them know that. Harboring ill-will is just allowing a cancer to fester in your soul. In trying to hurt them you are also hurting yourself.

In spite of everything I still believe people are really good at heart.

autistic hate letter

 

If you have not heard about this hate letter sent to the grandmother of an autistic child here is the link to the story.

Ontario family shocked after receiving letter from neighbour telling them to ‘euthanize’ autistic son

 

My sister-in-law showed me this story yesterday when my family came over for our weekly dinner. It is taking a while for me to sort out my feelings about it. After reading the actual letter my most fundamental reaction was shock and anger and that is not just because my nephew is autistic, I think most people would feel one of those two emotions after reading something steeped in that much hate.

I had a lot of questions, not necessarily for my sister-in-law just in general. After talking it out the initial conclusion I drew is that this woman lacks empathy. That in itself surprises me really. One of my first questions was “how, as a mother, is she able to harbor that much resentment towards a child? a disabled child at that?” I was working under the presumption that most mothers would be able to put themselves in the shoes of that child’s mother and consider how they would feel if it was their child in that position. Well without empathy you are unable to do that. The woman also seems to have a strong sense of entitlement. At the bottom of all of it though what we are really looking at it is ignorance. She is no different from any other bigot out there, she is just targeting an autistic child versus the gay community, those of different races or religions etc.

It is sad to follow yesterdays post about longing for a sense of community and brotherhood with a post that holds an example of such a stark contrast to that ideal. I was just saying how there are so many of us that have good in our hearts and want to take care of each other, this woman is out to prove me wrong. But fear not, this idealist is not easily dispirited. I would never dream of sharing such hateful news without providing a silver lining of hope. Ironically, it is the following news link that made me cry, not the previous.

Here is our silver lining.. “In spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart. I simply can’t build up my hopes on a foundation consisting of confusion, misery and death.” – Anne Frank

http://www.buzzfeed.com/mjs538/moments-that-restored-our-faith-in-humanity-this-y

 

 

To speak up or stay quiet

Yesterday was a bit of a fiasco. When put in situations where I see something happening that is wrong I say something. Not always immediately and it depends on the severity of the offense. A lot plays into this because it’s a risky move and it almost never ends well for me. I cannot sit back though while certain things are taking place in front of me, I feel as though I am going against myself.

Let me give a few examples of what I am talking about.

Watching a coworker get bullied by another coworker. – In this case I speak up, I have on multiple occasions when put in this situation. If I am friends with the bully I talk with them privately about it and try to stop the behavior that way. If I am friends with the “victim” than I speak out immediately while it is happening.

Being present during a moment of infidelity. – I will always say something but the key detail here is if I AM PRESENT. If someone is cheating blatantly or getting ready to and I am there I will say something but if it is just something I hear about from someone else that changes things. Word of mouth = none of my business but if I am being exposed to an action then that is a problem for me.

Abuse. – No question, I am speaking up. Verbal, physical, emotional or otherwise, it is not to be tolerated.

These are bigger examples of what I am talking about just to illustrate my point. Something to keep in mind in all of this is how subjective it can all be. When I say bullying and cheating cause me to speak out I am talking about my definition of bullying and cheating. Abuse is a little more black and white however.

Another example as a way to clarify, instances where I have opened my mouth about infidelity involved someone (a friend or the significant other of a friend) kissing someone other than their significant other. I am also not saying that I run and tell on them but I will say something to them about it.

The thing is my friends know this about me and it’s a not a concern at this point in my life because this kind of thing doesn’t happen.

Todd’s friend and I were talking about this while she stayed with us recently. She said I am a defender and am constantly running to the defense of others, she said she noticed this in me not long after she met me years ago. I don’t think about it much but I know this is an accurate assessment.

This was the case yesterday. I sat by at first while someone I love was getting a hard time but that’s not something I can do for long. I spoke up but of course it just made matters worse. It is hard because I have this inner struggle about what the right thing to do here is. If I know that by speaking up I could just make matters worse do I just not say anything and let the action continue?? Or do I take a stand the hell with the consequences? I don’t want to make things worse for the person but I cannot just sit by and watch someone I love be mistreated.

On a side note but some what related can I just say how much I detest passive aggressive behavior. Say what you mean or get over it. Snarky remarks, loud sighs, notes etc to me are a cowards way of handling an issue. If there is something to talk about, lets talk. That’s it. I will not allow myself to be pulled into that nonsense.

Anyway, things leveled off yesterday but I was certainly stirred up for a moment. I just hate being put in these kinds of situations because I do what I feel is right and then question myself for hours after.. “Did I do the right thing?” “What was my part in this?” “What is this person’s perspective that would have made them act this way in the first place?”.. It’s a lot of inner monologue and it is exhausting. Introspection can be a real pain.

Our beliefs and our children

Suzie and Bobby are at the beach all weekend with friends so Todd and I agreed to feed the animals while they are gone. Suz practically lives around the corner, we can drive through our neighborhood most of the way there and don’t have to get on any major roads to get there. I’d say it only takes maybe 5 minutes over all. It worked out nicely last night, after we left her house we stopped in at Matador which was one of our favorite bars downtown that house now relocated to College Park. Matador is now located on the street that gets us to Suzanne so it’s right in the middle of our two houses, talk about convenient.

This morning we went back to Suzanne’s to give the animals their breakfast and as we drove down the street that Matador is on I noticed their were people assembled for a protest, I was immediately intrigued. I thought for a moment that it might be a gay rights protest because everyone was in Red and had red duct tape covering their mouths (red is one of the colors that The Human Rights Campaign uses. I thought the duct tape may have symbolized something to do with “don’t ask don’t tell”). Oh I was quite wrong. It was a pro-life group protesting outside of an abortion clinic that I did not even realize was there. I mean, I have seen the building but there are many buildings on that street, I never paid attention to what kind of office it was.

Although I am pro-choice I still believe in everyone’s right to a peaceful protest and honestly think the world would be a better place if more people used that right. In my mind people would be protesting to end war and clean air and human rights rather than prohibiting the rights of women to make decisions about their own body but it’s at least nice to see people taking a stand about something I guess.. I guess.. So we went, fed the animals, pet the cat and started driving back. When we passed the clinic the second time that’s when I saw something that made me take issue. Children. Children with red duct tape over their mouths standing around watching the cars go by. I began to fume, my way of fuming is not what most people would consider fuming.. It’s more of soap box-esk rant. The thing is, as I began to rant to Todd about how wrong it is for people to drag their children out on their issues and subject them to anything that can happen at a rally I realized I needed to slow down before I became hypocritical.

I will sit here and imagine how when I have children I will do my best to teach them things that I value as important from a young age. There is the typical, kindness, respect, manners, honesty of course but on top of that to be civic minded and the importance of volunteering in your community for example. It encompasses so many important lessons like responsibility, sacrifice for others, gratitude for what you have a sense of compassion. I also think appreciation for the environment is important, it’s not just about saving the trees through lower carbon outputs and slowing deforestation, kids aren’t going to get that. My Dad taught to love nature by pointing out and naming all the different kinds of trees and plants to me when we would go on walks together. Being able to stop and actually appreciate the beauty in nature as a child and young adult influences the environmental choices you make as an adult. Another big one is gay rights / human rights. It so important to me that when my children look at people the first thing they see is not what makes them different. It is such a huge problem in our society, the amount of division that takes place and the only way to fix it is through awareness and educating the younger generation.

Now when I sit here and think about it the people that are out there protesting abortion are no different than me in that they believe strongly in certain things and want to instill those values in their children. My specific issue is that by not just bringing their child to a protest but actually involving them it exposes that child to things that (in my opinion) a child should not have to be exposed to. Abortion is a very adult topic, I did not know what it was until at least some point in middle school and even then it was not something I concerned myself with, I was too busy being a kid. I realize that if involved in a debate with one of the protestors from this morning they could say that I would be potentially doing the same damage to my future child by making them volunteer at a homeless shelter downtown. It is certainly something to think about. Not to say that the homeless shelter would be my first choice, I was thinking more along the lines of planting trees or something along those lines until they were older but still, it does make me reflect on it a little.

I do not agree with what I saw this morning just like I didn’t agree with it when I saw children on the news with their parents protesting at the Casey Anthony murder trial. Get a babysitter! Your kid does not need to be exposed to the negativity. Ultimately yes it would please me if my children grew up to be responsible members of society with a voice rather than responsible members of society who were bystanders like everyone else but ultimately that is a decision for them to make later on in life it is not something they should be subjected to as children.

I will now step off my soap box and go about the rest of my day.