How to be Attractive

I logged into my Pinterest account today to grab one of my images for one of the other posts I was writing and there was an image sitting there waiting for me because apparently based on the other things I have been pinning Pinterest thought I would like it. I had a total WTF moment about it. Here is the image:

how-to-be-attractive

What the fuck Pinterest? Really? Do you not know me at all?

I am sorry but my inner feminist could not let this one slide. I have been made aware that this utter nonsense exists in the world and for the next five minutes it is my mission to balance this garbage.

Luckily as if she somehow knew I needed something awesome in this moment my soul friend sent me this.

This awesome slam poetry serves to rip shame in half and give the finger to sexist agendas that aim to keep women small, neither seen nor heard.

Hear is my truth about feeling attractive and connected to myself: I do it for me not for anyone else.

  1. I smile when I feel like it not out of obligation to the world. Sometimes I feel swallowed by my emotions and smiling is not a thing, I am no less attractive because I experience more than one emotion.
  2. I smell the way that I smell. It is my smell. My smell is usually lavender and lemon oil, it may not be for everyone. I am not open to anyone else’s opinion on my smell.
  3. I wear clothes that feel good and make me feel like myself when I look in the mirror. No outside opinions needed or wanted in that area either.
  4. I will educate or shelter myself on and from the world as I see fit. I am no less intelligent or worthy of taking up space based on my decision in this area.
  5. I can kind of get behind this one honestly. I do not speak kindly of myself though, that is doing it for other people. I speak kindly to myself because I do it for me, not for you.
  6. Have whatever kind of hobby you want, screen or no screen. Or if you prefer don’t have a hobby at all. Your interests are YOUR interests. They belong to you, do what feels right.
  7. I do value education, that is my truth. I also thought that college was out of reach. You are no less worthy if you did not get past the 8th grade. You do your life in the way that feels right for you and do not accept anyone else’s judgements or opinions based on some classist bullshit like higher education.
  8. Make time for yourself and anyone else you feel drawn to give your time to. Our time is an enormous gift, we deserve it as much as the rest of the world. You are still a good  and worthy person if you never volunteer a day in your life.
  9. I like the piece about saying thank you because one of my own personal truths is deeply connected to daily gratitude. I do not believe in obligatory reciprocation though. You reciprocate when you feel compelled to and do not allow others or society to guilt you into doing favors you are not comfortable doing.

These are my truths about being attractive based on the list provided. They may not be your truth, maybe you like the original list. That is alright. Personally, it was not for me. I am more in line with Olivia Gatwood and her Ode to the Resting Bitch Face.

You owe the world nothing. Focus on you, figure out what unique brilliance you bring to the world and do not allow others to tell you that you are less than because you did not conform. Radical self-love my friends. Embrace all aspects of yourself as you are not as others believe you should be.

 

 

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Don’t Mind Us, We just Live Here

Tonight hubs and I chose to stay in and have a quite night. We had a nice dinner together, played some games, and now we are both enjoying our introvert time – separate but together.

He is watching a documentary on the tablet with earbuds so I can read in silence. It was a nice idea, to spend the night reading in silence, in theory. It hasn’t quite worked out to be the quiet evening I hoped for. This is thanks to living so near downtown.

The outdoor stadium is not far from our home. It is common place for us to go to bed listening to fire works, or announcers announcing soccer scores, or crowds cheering the distance. These noises have become the noises of our home, much like the train that goes by in the night, we have become used to their presence in our home, they are welcome and comforting in a way.

Tonight is different though. There must be a monster truck rally going on or something. The music is obscenely loud, I can hear every word. I guess it would have to be in order to be heard over the deafening noise of the trucks.

We live a few miles away and it is as though this event is taking place in our backyard. Lucy has been pacing and whining, it is all a bit much. But I guess that is what we get, we knew the stadium was this close when we bought our home. It comes with the territory, literally.

This post is not about me though, not really. The people I am really frustrated for are the people of the community I did work in a few semesters ago.

When our city decided to take on a professional soccer team with it came the plans to build a new soccer stadium for the team. It was decided that this stadium would go smack in the middle of the community I am talking about. Right in the middle of this residential community’s downtown.

As a result, in solidarity with this community, my husband and I have never attended a soccer game. We will not support anything connected to the gentrification taking place in this community.

When I worked with and interviewed families in this community I noticed something, when I would ask them about their feelings about what was happening in their community they did not even identify that part of their community as theirs any longer.

The report my classmates and I submitted with our findings is what got me the spot on the committee I sat on during undergrad. It was also circulated in certain circles associated with the work and continued gentrification of this community because others who have tried to come into this community and speak with the residents have not had much success, they will not speak with outsiders.

Unfortunately my work did nothing to impact positive change for this community. The stadium is moving along on schedule and now the very university I attend is planning to build a campus in this community. It is wrong but that is all I will say about it. I stand with the community, not those who would take it from them.

So tonight as I lament in my home over the noise pollution plaguing my quiet evening I think of this community I have come to love. I think of the mothers who will be trying to put babies to bed over the noise of a soccer stadium that is literally in their backyard. I think of families who will be plagued by the noise of the crowd, and of concerts as they choose between keeping the windows open to stay cool or close them to get some peace even though they do not have air conditioning. I think about how this community has been invaded, how they are being pushed out, how they have been told over and over that they do not matter, and their land is not theirs. They watch as their community is taken from them block by block and turned into a playground for outsiders. Stadiums and universities are built all around them while they know full well that even though it is on their land, they will never have access.

I may not like the noise, but I have options. What about those who don’t? I guess they don’t matter as long as everyone else is having a good time.

gentr

Letting Go of What Does Not Serve Me

borrowed identity

You know that voice in your head, the “not good enough” voice, the bully?.. Where did that voice come from? Who gifted you the negative messages that you play over and over? Does your truest self actually believe these negative things or are they someone else’s words or actions that you absorbed and have turned into your own personal torture device?

Maybe it is a little bit of both (most things are after all). Our internal bully can be made up of social messaging from society, messages received in close relationships, and things we say to ourselves that have a foundation in one of the first two.

Listening to one of our clients in group yesterday made me think about this. What the client was sharing made me wonder, Where did they first receive that message? As I was processing the day on my way home I was thinking about some of my own messages I have internalized over the years and who they came from. I had some major I show myself love moments on the drive home and have decided it is time to release some of these messages because I no longer believe them and they do not serve me.

I am crazy. That was a gift from a former intimate partner that could not cope with my depression and grief after the death of a loved one. I was in pain, a pain so deep it scared him. I release this message. It is not my truth and it does not serve me.

My body is not good enough. This was also a gift from a former intimate partner. My body belongs to me alone and I know she is worthy of my love. That is my truth. I release this message. It is not my truth and does not serve me.

I am manipulative. There were times when this was other’s truth about me. I recognize times in my life when I was without and did what I needed to make myself feel safe and loved. I am grateful to the pieces of myself that took care of me during that time. I send love and light to those I hurt with my actions when I was trying to take care of myself. I release this message. It is not my truth and does not serve me.

I am not deserving, I am not worthy. I release these messages. They are not my truth and do not serve me.

I am unlovable. This was one of my most painful messages, and one that I have had the longest relationship with. This is not my truth now because I love myself. I am worthy of love and I show all the pieces of myself unconditional love. I receive love from without and within. I RELEASE THIS MESSAGE. IT IS NOT MY TRUTH AND IT DOES NOT SERVE ME.

I know my truth. These messages can no longer hurt me. These words no longer have meaning in my life and no one will ever be able to use them to hurt me again. I am stable and safe, my body belongs to me and I am in love with it just as it is, I have everything I need to take care of myself, I deserve to be here and I am worthy of the goodness of life, I feel love, I give love, I am love.

My Ally not my Enemy: A Story about Finding Common Ground

common ground

I was speaking with a classmate recently about an assignment and without him realizing it he said something that made me feel very uncomfortable. It was not with malintent and I knew that immediately but it did not change the way I felt when it happened.

I had a choice to make here, as we so often do when presented with these kinds of microagressions in life, either speak up or let it slide. This is rarely an easy decision to make because by choosing to say something the situation could become even more uncomfortable based on how you address what happened and how the other person reacts to what you say. The other option doesn’t seem much better though. By not saying something this person may never know that this behavior is something that makes people uncomfortable and will continue to do it. In this case it didn’t take much thought, I knew I had to say something.

So having made the decision to speak up I had another decision to make, one that is equally as important as the first. In bringing up this transgression do I call my classmate out or call them in? I read an article a while back that helped me understand how to navigate these very situations in a compassionate but assertive manner and knowing when to call people out versus calling them in is a very big part of having a successful outcome.

In this case I chose to call my classmate in. The cringe worthy act that took place was my classmate calling me sweetheart while thanking me for something. Some people may not give much thought to this pet name, they may not have flinched at all but I did.

First of all I do not know this classmate that well, we are not friends or have any kind of personal relationship. Him saying this was not coming from a place of familiarity. Second, that’s not my name. My name is Jill. I am willing to bet he would not call my brother who is in the program sweetheart, please do not think it is okay to do it to me then. Although I am sure it was coming from a place of good intentions to me it feels condescending and unprofessional. Plus I worried that if I did not saying something it would set a precedent. What if in future exchanges he continues to call me sweet heart? Better to put a stop to it now to avoid negative feelings going forward.

This scene from the movie Tootsie outlines what I am talking about perfectly:

(Dorothy’s boss, Ron, just referred to her as tootsie.)

Dorothy Michaels: Ron? I have a name it’s Dorothy. It’s not Tootsie or Toots or Sweetie or Honey or Doll.

Ron Carlisle: Oh, Christ.

Dorothy Michaels: No, just Dorothy. Alan’s always Alan, Tom’s always Tom and John’s always John. I have a name too. It’s Dorothy, capital D-O-R-O-T-H-Y.

So back to how I handled the situation in the moment.. He calls me sweetheart while thanking me for my help and I say oh you’re welcome I am glad I was able to help, before I go can I share something with you real quick? He gave me an affirmative response of some sort so I continued to say, I am sure you did not mean anything by it but in the interest of keeping things professional I prefer to be called Jill please.

You never really know how someone is going to react when you have to call them in/out so I prepared myself for anything in terms of how he would respond. At least I thought I did until he managed to surprise me anyway. He apologized to which I said thank you and that it was okay. Then he shared that recently his professor told him the same thing. I was confused at first, did he really call a professor sweet heart? I responded by simply saying, Oh really. He went on to explain that he was doing a role play with a female student in front of the class, he was the social worker and the female student was the client. During the role play he called the client sweet heart. Apparently the instructor stopped the role play for a moment to discuss why that is not okay.

He and I talked for a few more minutes about why some women feel uncomfortable when this kind of thing happens. What I learned from him is he was raised thinking that this type of behavior was chivalrous. He definitely seemed to have some knight-in-shining-white-armor ideals going on. My perception, based on a lot of what he shared about his upbringing, is that he seems to think women are delicate and need saving. I was actually pretty surprised, I would not have known any of this based on my previous interactions with him. He certainly seems pro-equality across the board, and I still think he is, there is just this other side that kind of conflicts. I took everything he shared in stride, a person doesn’t know what they don’t know. However, I took the opportunity to explain that what he was talking about could very well be interpreted as oppressive and sexist and the reasons why.

The conversation went well. I definitely feel that we both learned something from the each other. I think he has a much better handle on why sweet heart is not appropriate now. I think calling him in was the right choice. I did not shame him for his statements, I did not make assumptions about him like he should know better, I approached him as an ally that just made a misstep.

That was my biggest take away when I read that article about how to approach these types of interactions. Regardless of if you decide to call someone out or call them in, treat them as an ally who made a mistake. It is a lot easier to approach the situation objectively with compassion for the other person if you see them as someone who is on your side instead of as enemy.

The book I finished recently on dichotomous and hierarchical thinking touched on this as well. If we stop labeling everything (including people) as “good” or “bad”, “right” or “wrong” or (any other type of binary where there are only two options instead of a spectrum) then we will find it much easier to find common ground.

My classmate was not a bad person, this was not an issue of right and wrong. My experiences, thoughts and reality are no more or less real or important than his. My experiences are different from his, my thoughts are different, my reality is different. Different does not equate to bad, it does not equate to wrong. I think this is where people get stuck.

It would be very easy for me to have gotten angry with him when he called me sweet heart because he lives in a place of privilege where he is less likely to have to earn respect, it is given based solely on his gender. I could have schooled him on how he doesn’t understand my struggle as a woman and lectured him endlessly about his privilege. But what would that kind of tirade gotten us? Would we have found common ground? Would he have had this break through about his place of privilege and what his words mean to those of us who don’t live in that place? No, I don’t think so.

As our program faces what seems to be an uphill battle in the area of cultural competency I am thankful for common ground. I am thankful for conversations that come from a place of respect and a want to understand experiences that are different from our own. I am thankful for moments that prove we all have potential for growth. I am thankful.

“Don’t Try to be Someone Else’s Beautiful”.

feminism

 

I read the quote from the title of this post on HONY today and I thought it was so appropriate being that it is International Women’s Day. As women (not that this applies singularly to women but for the sake of this post they are my focus) we are constantly receiving messages that portray a very skewed, narrow definition of beauty and worth. We are marketed to by being told we are ugly and broken in some way in an effort to get us to buy make-up and hair products, or the latest designer thing. The messages we receive tell us we are less-than because we are women but that consumerism will fill that hole society has created.

In honor of the day I would like to share a few things that make me feel inspired and empowered.

Everyday Feminism is my go to online magazine. It has the best articles that I would recommend to anyone.

Advanced Style Because real beauty does not know age. I love that this movement challenges stereotypes and shows that we do not have to conform to society’s expectations of us.

One of my favorite Ted Talks to help kick those “not good enoughs” we all feel in the ass.

I think it is really important as women that as often as possible we try to be each other’s allies. I think this important across the board but again, for the purpose of this post I am focusing on women. What I mean by this is not giving into the urge to tear each other down but instead choosing to be a source of empowerment.

Here is what this looks like for me:

Not giving into the impulse to lash out when a woman at work was condescending with me and instead meeting her condescension with compassion.

Being genuine and kind and choosing to engage with my ex’s girlfriend when we ran into each other on an elevator because I believe it is wrong to allow a man to pit two women, who would otherwise have no problem with each other, against each other.

Listening and validating a colleague as she explained how difficult it can be at times to wake up in the morning and be the person you want to be everyday when the messages we receive from the outside world make it so easy to give into our insecurities.

Not giving into the urge to actively or passively engage in gossip, especially about other women.

Not allowing myself to be a bystander in situations of any kind of discrimination, to include discrimination based on gender and/or sex.

Showing my love for friends/family by encouraging them to love and belong to themselves.

I think that is the take away message here, to always behave in a way towards each other that encourages women to love and accept their authentic self. We don’t have to all love each other, everyone is entitled to the way they feel. However, if we, as women, engage in any activity that hurts other women we are giving into a bigger system of oppression. That is not something I want to do.

Happy International Women’s Day. Be kind to each other and to yourself.

 

 

Close Your Mouth, Open Your Eyes

malcom

 

I am approached a few times a semester by students doing surveys or polls for classes. I usually participate depending on what it is they need. For example, I am unlikely to sign a petition if I am not personally familiar with the subject matter. Earlier this semester I filled out an anonymous survey about my exercise habits. Today I was approached again.

This time it was a young-looking female student asking if I would fill out her survey about capitalism. Sure. Upon completion she asked if she could ask me a few questions, I was not busy and thought it was part of her assignment, so I agreed.

She proceeded to ask me what political party I belong to, I immediately thought I don’t like where this is going, I told her I had no party affiliation. She then began to explain her feelings about public assistance. She said it is not the government’s job to take care of the poor and that all the government programs should be cut because most poor people abuse them. She also said that if the government continues to give hand outs then no one will ever have the initiative to better themselves.

I just looked at her. What do I say to this? I really had to take a pause to calm myself before I opened my mouth. Some how I managed to politely say although I do not share her opinion I respect her right to it and asked if she minded sharing with me where she got her information. This very simple question rattled her. Has no one ever asked her to share her sources before? She said that she has friends who know people who use government assistance when they don’t need it.

I did not think I could be further dumbfounded but she did it. I asked if she had any other sources? Her reply, Fox news. So basically she is working on third-party information equivalent to gossip and Fox news.

The conversation that followed was brief. I discovered she does not know what the word equity means. I also discovered she does not know the difference between income and wealth and finally I found out that she thinks Doctors and Attorneys are the people who make up the upper 1%.  It concluded with me explaining that it was hard for me to take what she was saying seriously because it did not appear she was informed and her information does not appear to come from reputable sources. I explained that if she had some facts and figures to support her claims that were obtained from reputable, peer-reviewed research then there would be something to talk about it but as it stands I felt there was nothing more to discuss.

I realize I could have shared a wealth of information with her from far more objective sources but the truth is I was so offended by her lack of knowledge that I just had to stop. I did not want a random conversation with a stranger, that I secretly knew I should have never engaged in, to effect me. That was one of the worst cases of ignorance, parroting and confirmation bias I have witnessed in quite some time. I am surrounded by well-informed, open-minded, socially conscious individuals all day long, I forget that not everyone is as well-informed on the issues. This was a sad reality check.

 

Technology Zombies Part Trois: This is not Communicating.

phone

 

As I mentioned in my last post, this semester comes with a multitude of projects. Many of which are to be done in groups. Group projects as a rule can be tricky but up to this point it has actually been pretty painless. I do have one small gripe however, it is less specific to the group project experience and more about phone etiquette and communication on a larger scale.

When I was in high school cell phones were not the thing, it was all about the pager/beeper. I got my first cell phone as a graduation present after high school. I did not even start texting until my second cell phone a few years later. As I have mentioned in other posts I am not a big fan of texting. I prefer speaking by phone or in person than written communication, too much can be lost in translation not to mention it is time consuming, at least for me, I am not a fast texter. I could say what I need to say much faster than I could ever type it out on my phone’s keyboard. I do see the merit in a text if you just need a quick yes or no answer on something and you are unable for some reason to call, like you are in a meeting etc.

With all of that said, I have noticed a trend that drives me a bit crazy. I know texting is popular, a lot of people seem to prefer it, that is fine. What I find annoying is when someone is texting me, not a quick “yes or no” type text, rather one that requires in depth explanation. With this I decide to call them, this requires a true conversation, and not only do they not answer but immediately after they text me again. My response is always call me when you are available to talk. They almost never do! Almost inevitably I wind up getting another text a while later saying something like, “I am free now, whats up?” Um, No.. I said CALL. So I call again, they said they were free, and again no answer but another text right after I hang up. What is that??

I bring this up because I have experienced this with more than 3 people now. One of which is an actual friend that I made a few years back at school. She is 10 years younger than me, as is everyone else that I seem to have this issue with. With her what I do now is if she wants to catch up with me via text I immediately make plans with her to meet face to face and catch up. I have known her for close to 3 years now and she has picked up the phone for me once in that time. If I didn’t like her so much this nonsense would be a deal breaker (as inflection is lost in text let me clarify, that last sentence was expressed with mild jest).

My most recent experience was especially frustrating. I was assigned a partner for a short skit to be preformed in class about “appropriate self-disclosure with a client”. My classmate and I are to develop a 1-2 minute skit that is an example of this, easy enough. I had about three ideas before I even left class. To me this requires a five minute brainstorm by phone and we are ready. The classmate and I swap numbers and agree to contact each other over the weekend. She contacts me Friday and explains she would like to get together in person to discuss our skit. I agree to this and we start going over our schedules together, all via text. At one point the convo is getting pretty involved and I decide it would be easier to just hammer things out in a quick call. No answer, shocker. Then I do not hear from her for two days. I try to call again last yesterday, no answer. Also after sending a text I receive no response. I chalk it up to it being Super Bowl Sunday and decide to wait to hear from her. This morning I check in with her through two texts and she finally gets back to me saying she has sketchy cell service and does not always receive texts. All the more reason to speak by phone. She finally agreed to answer my call and it took 30 seconds to make a plan to meet. I mean really, what a waste of energy.

I do not understand this way of communicating and find it truly lacking. Not to mention this nonsense does not fly in the “real” world. I did, on occasion, text with my executives when I worked at the hospital because they were often in meetings but you better believe that if a client or your boss calls you have to answer that phone.

Ultimately I just feel like you lose so much of the connection when communicating like this. I will always prefer to discuss serious matters in person, everyday matters are fine by phone. Let me give an example of what I mean by losing the connection… One of my best girlfriends and I talk by phone about every other week. She has a child and a crazy schedule as do I with school and the things that keep me busy. We do not get to see each other as often as I would like but these calls we have tide me over until I can spend time with her in person. I have never felt as good from a text message as I do after getting to hear her voice on a half hour phone call. We talk, we laugh and I feel like she is in the room with me. Not to mention it meas something to me that she devoted a whole half hour of her busy day just to speak with me. That is the connection. A text can never replace her laugh, it will never feel as good as hearing her voice. That is what is lost.