Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Stop talking . . . and listen

If you vote red, blue, or 51 shades of gray (new movie out, not trying to get sued), I’m talking to you. I promise, this is not a political rant, but something for all sides to hear, so keep reading. Thank you to my international readers; however, this post is directed at those living in the United States.

The county (USA) is divided and everyone is “yelling” at each other. Friday’s Inauguration is one of the most feared and anticipated events happening. On the one hand you have supporters who are excited for change. On the other hand you have non-supporters who are looking at their counterparts with huge side eyes, like, really? And the world is watching, wondering how this event in US History will affect world relations.

Let’s back up a second, though. I can’t predict the future, and neither can you. So let’s talk about what we can affect. Now more than ever we need to TRY HARDER. I’m not just talking to the Liberals, or just to the Conservatives, but to everyone. This mentality that our way is the only right way is hurting us. We have lost friendships over the last couple of months because people didn’t agree with us. Or people became disrespectful when we said something they did not agree with. What? We have the freedom to believe and speak our minds. It is a freedom that we often take for granted. But with freedom comes much responsibility.

We have categorized people by where they live or what they look like. We make assumptions about the other sides’ capabilities. We are talking and talking and talking, but not listening. My purpose is not to convince you that my side is right and you are wrong. My purpose, is to get you to consider their story.

Globalization has been great for the world. We are able to trade goods and purchase things from other countries that we could not, or chose not, to make for ourselves. But again, anything exploited eventually goes bad. Soon it becomes cheaper to import than to manufacture.  Manufacturing goes down and jobs get eliminated.  People stop going to school for those lost trades, and now you HAVE to import the materials because you have lost the skill to make them. The import country is free to raise the price with no competition. This is no secret and businesses do it all the time. So it’s really unfair to later get upset and add more taxes to this country for just using good business practices.

Just like it’s unfair to claim that immigrants take away all our jobs. First of all, the country was founded on immigrants and it is something that has always been celebrated. Secondly, most of the jobs people claim are taken by immigrants, are jobs they don’t want to do. And if they are jobs they DO want to do, then why is the assumption that the other candidate wasn’t qualified? Many times I have heard ‘the [Black/Hispanic/Asian/etc] person took my job.’ What? If you and I both apply and you don’t get it, why can’t it just be that you were not as fit? The minute a minority and majority party is involved, there is often a raised eyebrow as if to say the minority did not truly earn it. That is a problem. Building a wall instead of addressing the actual issue, is a problem. Paying considerably less money for hard labor is a problem. So we should fix the problem. Not put yet another band-aid over it. The reason the wall is so offensive is because people act like Mexicans are unwanted. Imagine if you were Mexican and living in Texas and you knew that people around you think you shouldn’t be there, when you are a tax-paying citizen just like them. How would you feel?

Consider that your kids are being bombed daily on their way to school and you have to turn off the lights at least once a week, for fear of being seen. Imagine being in a country where someone might try to kill you, just because. As a parent, you would do anything in your power to protect your family; even leaving the place you call home. Refugees are living this life every day. While it may seem a burden to bare the responsibility of taking care of people that are not from your country when your own country has issues, what part of being human is it to ignore someone when you are in a position to help them? What happens when you are the one that needs the help? Immigration reform is a HUGE topic, that I can’t cover in this little post, but I am just pointing out issues that we need to talk about. To look beyond how this issue affects us at home, but to think, what if we were in that position and home wasn’t safe? We can’t protect everyone, but as one of the most developed countries in the world, don’t we have a moral obligation to at least try?

Imagine walking home in the dark on a cold winter night. You have your hoodie on and are minding your business. A cop car pulls up and you are scared. Why should you be scared if you didn’t do anything? Sometimes whether you do something or not is irrelevant. When you see tons of people that look like you being shot and killed for no reason, with no real punishment, you feel as if your life does not matter. That is what Black Lives Matter is all about. It’s not a terrorist group, and the label that caring about a subset of an American group in America would ever be classified as terrorism is more than offensive. Yet, we easily dismiss it with All Lives Matter, which was never excluded. When we consider one another we stop and think of why someone would need to tell me that their life mattered. If we can’t listen, and instead we just get defensive and dismiss what this person is trying to tell us, we are not really trying.

Or instead of a hoodie at night, imagine this person had an hijab in plain daylight. How would you feel if you were scared to wear a baseball cap to the game? Not everyone in any group is bad and to automatically stereotype that they are perpetuates hate. It starts with kids teasing one another and “random” hate crimes. This is a problem we need to address.

Lastly, I want to challenge you to meet someone that looks nothing like you this year. Not only meet them, but have a conversation. Learn the difference between Transgender and transsexual; understand what makes Black hair so unique; get a refugee penpal who had to leave everything they know and love to save their life; talk to someone who voted for the other candidate and truly ask them why; learn about the education system for farm children; research why affirmative action is in place and the socioeconomic gap in minorities; ask an NRA-supporter why they love guns so much; learn a language different from your own so you can understand how difficult it can be; talk to someone 10 years younger and older than you, and find out what is/was “cool” in their day; talk to someone on the opposite religious spectrum as you and find out the basis of their beliefs (or non-beliefs). And finally, something as simple as, listen to a Pandora station opposite of what you normally listen.

There are 325 million people in the United Sates. Surely, we the people, can have some control over our destiny. It can't be just one person.

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Well, Here We Are

Today, my friends, I am sad. My friends are sad. I have never seen more depressing posts on Facebook than when Whitney Houston or Michael Jackson died.  The world was watching along with the United States all night last night and all morning today, waiting for the 2016 US Presidential election results but America has voted. Although Hillary Clinton won the popular vote, she did not win the necessary 270 electoral votes, and Donald Trump (Yes, Donald Trump) is the president-elect. Devastation does not even grasp my feelings right now. And it’s not because he is a Republican or because Hillary lost; it’s because this scary person will be in power - A person who wants to build a physical wall to prevent immigrants from coming in; A person who wants to ship all the illegal immigrants out who have been positively contributing to society just because they didn’t have their paperwork and separate them from their children; A person who wants to create even more loop holes for the wealthy and who I can’t count on for the poor or middle class; A person who treats all Muslims like terrorists and did not show any empathy in regards to the many shootings of Blacks by police; And lastly (but I'm sure there's more), a person who has encouraged physical violence and intimidation during his campaign.

It is about so much more than party lines, my friends. I think that is what Trump voters are not understanding. Republicans have control of the House, the Senate, and now the Presidency, but the kind of behavior I have seen from this President-elect is not the behavior fitting of the leader of the free world. A leader does not mock or isolate his constituents. So many are fearing that we are going to set the country back 100 or so years in the next 4 years. The fear is real. So it’s not just about me being sad my candidate didn’t win. I’m sad for humanity that someone so “wild” and “insulting” is the leader of my country.

So no, I will not be silent. I am exercising my First Amendment right, just as many of you exercised your right to vote. If this has been an Independent party candidate, or Ted Cruz, or any of the other Republican candidates, I would quietly concede. But y’all picked TRUMP? Mr. No-political-experience TRUMP? And it’s not even him – sure he’s loud and obnoxious, but at the end of the day he’s somewhat controllable or faces impeachment. But the scary part is the amount of people coming out in drones about being violent if you don’t agree with them. I have never seen so much ignorance than in the last year.

It is very important for the country to unite. We have had a rough year and just need to get back to “normal,” or whatever that is. In January when Mr. Trump is elected, I’ll take one for the team and acknowledge that he’s our president, but right now? I’m going to need a moment. I am going to continue to relish in the classy Obama family until President Barack Obama’s last day.  

I am happy to live in a country with a democracy, so as much as I don’t like the outcome, it is what it is. I am faithful that the checks and balances the founding fathers put in play will be useful so that the President does not try to overuse his power. I have even more reasons to get myself and my friends more involved in local politics so that we can keep an eye on the ‘wild child.’

And I have hope because I answer to a bigger power and I know that God has much bigger plans than we can imagine.
It will all be ok, but today, today I vent, so we can start anew tomorrow. You get a trump pass today; and then let's work on making sure his 'great again' is great for us too.
~My unusual political rant

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Here We Go Again

Prompted by the latest event in the news, the shooting of Terence Crutcher in Oklahoma on Friday. My thoughts on what's been going on these last couple months. . .

It is twenty sixteen
and I can not watch the news
Yesterday and now today another
Black person is getting abused
Unarmed, non-violent, doing their own thing
It was them, but could have been me

Here we go again
I pray to God it's never a friend
or family member or self
But it's somebody's son or daughter
The fear is real for this indiscreet slaughter
We are TIRED of the injustice
Of protests that fall on deaf ears

I just finished winning you medals
for swimming, gymnastics, shot put, and what not
You were happily cheering me on
and together we celebrated the red, white, and blue

But now, when black and blue strikes fear
where are you
When I'm walking home in a hoodie
where are you
When my car breaks down and triple A is not there yet
Where are you
because it seems like the only thing I can do
is perform in front of millions
but when I'm all alone
I'm on my own

I celebrate not being in bondage
And what our ancestors have done
but still I have invisible chains
of systematic problems of subconscious and conscious racism
in Twenty Sixteen
whilst we have a Black president

We all have to wear the mask
And I thought by now that maybe I could remove it
But we are all still pretending
you may tan to get darker, but my dark is too dark
my dark is not beautiful, you imply
when my dark is not seen on the television screen
or in plays or musicals
So the only way to get "me" on tv is for
my people to create their own shows
Then you complain why there are no people that look like you in
the Wiz

When I rock my hair au naturale
you imply it's not professional
When I buy some hair and put it atop
you say i'm not being my genuine self
When I wear clothes that snugly fit
you say my curves are inappropriate
When I scream that Black Lives Matter
you SOMEHOW make it about you

So you tell me, when can I win?
Where can I be my authentic self?
How do I stop you from seeing Black and brown
as enemies of black and blue
What is the solution that you propose?
How do we all get along?
In more than just sports and song

Tell me when I can start watching the news again
And not seeing a potential friend
Being attacked with no remorse
and no repercussions

Tell me when I don't have to avoid social media
just not to feel depressed
When living in the free world
but we are under distress

Tell me when it's ok for my little boy
to play with a toy gun in the playground

And lastly, tell me the last time YOU had to write a poem
because you are filled with so much emotion about
what is going on with your race in your own home country.

Lack of acknowledgement that there in fact is a problem,
is part of the problem.

Wake up!

Monday, February 22, 2016

Finished "Year of Yes"

So I gave a brutal first pass review of Shonda Rhimes's Year of Yes in the review here. While I still stick to my guns and say the writing style was boring, my book club members point out that it is more self-reflective and there are several takeaways from this book that can be helpful.

Say "yes" to things that scare you. We all have fears, but when those fears get in the way of us reaching our full potential, or become a hindrance, we have to challenge ourselves to tackle that fear head out. Shonda would not be the writer that she was if she did not write controversial stuff, or challenged herself to write 3 shows simultaneously.

Say "yes" to the people that matter. Put your phone down. Get off Facebook. Turn off the tv. Give the people that matter uninterrupted, full-attention time. I'll refer you to another website that I enjoy and how we really don't know how much time we have with people, so we should cherish them while we can. (Here's the link, excuse the fowl language). In the book, Shonda said yes everytime her kid wanted to play. It was only 15 minutes usually, but in those 15 minutes, it taught her kids that she was accessible, and it gave her insight into their world. Parents often wonder why their teenagers don't talk to them or tell them things. Perhaps they were trying to for the past 10 years and you were too busy. Invest the time now and build those relationships.

Say "yes" to no. The lack of a decision is a guilt-ridden passive aggressive no. But it still lingers over you. If you don't want to do something or go somewhere, just say no. Have enough respect for the person asking to not give them a "maybe" when you know you won't, and enough strength in the choices you are making to decide. We make a lot of decisions by not deciding to decide. But it's not purposeful. Just decide. Just say no and move on. Read the book or return/sell it. Work out or get rid of the gym membership. Go to bed early or decide that you don't deserve enough sleep. Say "yes" to conscious decisions by saying no to passive ones.

Say "yes" to being good enough. One of the stories Shonda told was about a school who looked down upon mothers who brought in store-bought goods over home-baked goods. You can feel bad about our parenting skills because you didn't have time to bake 30 kids snacks or you can focus on what really matters: providing a good home environment, feeding your kids, working so that they can have what they need, and spending time with them. If cookies don't fit into your schedule, forego them. People need to learn to stop shaming other people for not being able to do what they did. We don't know our neighbor's struggles or what they do and don't have time for. Women especially, are expected to do it all. As soon as we all realize that we are not, and will never be, perfect, the sooner we give ourselves permission to be good enough.

There are several good pieces of advice in the book, like just accepting a compliment: Don't downplay it, just say thank you and smile. I recommend the audiobook to push through, and extract what's good for you.

I am motivated to say "yes" more. "Yes" to me!

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Hours of "NO"

It's the beginning of 2016. Who wouldn't want to read a book entitled Year of Yes: How to Dance it Out, Stand in the Sun and Be Your Own Person, by Shonda Rhimes? THE Shonda Rhimes who has written Grey's Anatomy and Scandal. Shonda Rhimes who owns ABC Thursdays. She has her own hashtag #tgit. You would think that such an amazing writer, would have a killer self-help book. You. Would. Think.

And believe me, my purpose is not to bash her or the book. But I gotta let this out. Because I am ONLY on the 2nd of 6 cds and the only thing keeping my eyes open was that I was driving 60 mph in an automobile. I have to finish this book. I have a book club to run. I suggested this book. People are coming over to my house to discuss this. But Ugh.

First, big ups to audiobooks. I love them!! You can multitask to the fullest and still "read" a book. I don't think I would be as far if I weren't listening to this. Second, it is nice to have the author read the book themselves. They know exactly where to place emphasis and if it were anyone else, you might blame the reader for not conveying the characters. Third, to be fair, I am not finished with the book. It might get better. I'm praying it gets better. But I feel like I have a gist of the writing style and content already from listening to 2 hours of the book.

Shonda Rhimes is a remarkable writer. If she were writing a script or if this were a Lord of the Rings type book, where Tolkien paints detail to an excruciatingly painful level, this would be great. It would make a great movie, because the producer would have to just follow the bread crumb trail clearly written. But this is not a script or a movie. THIS is a book I purchased to motivate me. To convince me to say "YES" instead of "NO"; to take a challenge. Instead, I feel lied to. Like this was just some marketing ploy to get me to spend $20. 2 hours in, I don't think she's offered any helpful advice. Sure, advice is IMPLIED by her actions, but all I hear is -  and I know she doesn't mean to do this - I'VE DONE THIS, THEN I DID THAT, SO I SHOULD BE OUTGOING, BUT I'M NOT, SO THEN I DID THIS, AND I WAS SCARED, AND SO I CHALLENGED MYSELF TO SAY YES, THEN I SAID YES, THEN I DID THE SCARED THING, AND HIP HOP HURRAY TO ME. And I'm like, well that was great and all, but where is the "how to" in the TITLE!?!?!

I did like the commencement speech she gave at Dartmouth graduation in 2014 but I felt like I was eavesdropping. It wasn't really directed at me, the reader. I'm waiting for her to explicitly tell me, the reader, some jaw dropping knowledge. But while I wait for it, I shouldn't be bored to tears. The writer of Scandal and Grey's Anatomy should not be boring me to tears when I read her stuff. I am utterly shocked and dismayed. I do not understand how this could be. But then a friend reminded me that the original script is just a suggestion and a lot of production and direction goes into a show. And while she provides the skeleton, there's so much more that make these hit shows hits. Not to trivialize her talent, but it's like night and day y'all.

So, I'm going to keep pushing forward. But only because it's Shonda. Because I know she is an awesome writer, I know that it will get better. Or, at least, I hope very strongly. I want to like this book. I want to support one of the best tv writers in my time. I love to write. I want to support a fellow writer. I want to say Yes to this book.

I want to say Yes . . .

Friday, January 01, 2016

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year everyone!!!

I can't believe 2015 is already gone, but yes, yes it is. Today is January 1, 2016.

In my previous post I talk about not setting goals just because it's the new year, but making changes and resolutions when you are ready.

Well, look for some changes coming from me and my blog! I'll be hoping to revamp the blog, include some guest posts, and post more frequently.

So share, share, share my blog link; kick back and enjoy!!

Have a great New Year!

God Bless,

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

No, It's not

Yes it is. Denial is that silent killer of dreams. As we approach the beginning of another year, we, or someone we may know, may begin to make their infamous New Year's resolutions list. In this list we will list all the things we plan to do differently: be on time, work out more, be nicer, [insert typical resolution], etc. And for the first one or two months, we will really give it a nice concerted effort; but by April, we are probably back to our old ways, softly kicking ourselves for not being able to stick with it. And then in November we will all wonder how the year flew by so quickly and seriously stand confused about why we COMPLETED ZERO things from New Year's resolutions list.

So why, why is that? Why do we continue to go into a circle expecting something different? I think we have this delusional optimism that just by writing things down on a list, on a certain day of the year, with a happy attitude, and nice gel pen, that we have, by some effect, changed the course of our life. When in fact, all we have done, is put pen to paper. We are in denial at not having to do anything else. Let's say we wrote down that we wanted to work out more. Sure, we joined the gym when they offered the no joiner fee "special." If we are paying, certainly we will go. We haven't altered our work schedule to allow for more time after work to work out; haven't always kept sneakers in the car; haven't restocked our gym bag with clean clothes and a granola bar; but sure!! That six pack will naturally come by spring, because I wrote it down on my list, is what we tell ourselves.

Or deciding to read more. You haven't turned the tv off any more than when you weren't reading more and you keep selecting books that you have no interest in just because they are best sellers.

Thinking that he/she will come back to you if you get them a birthday gift or a valentine's gift. Or sitting by the phone waiting for someone to call. If they wanted to, they would have.

Change is not easy, by any means, but we do ourselves a disservice when we let the calendar dictate when it's time to change. You are in complete denial of the situation if you think that just by writing something down YOU have changed. Resolutions should come when you are ready; with some epiphany that you need to change. The first step to getting over denial is to accept the situation as is. As much as I may want to read a book a week, I have to look at my schedule and realize that that is not going to happen. I need to make my goals more realistic so that I don't get discouraged and give up half way. 

If he/she hasn't called you in a week, they are probably not going to. If you are continually getting overlooked for a raise than you need to either say something or leave. If you think that he/she would never lie to you and there's no way that they could be this bad person, leave emotions aside and look at the facts. It's time to move on. As Maya Angelou had said - "If someone shows you who they are, believe them."

Loyalty is a great life skill, but sometimes you have to look at your surroundings and wonder if the denial of your changing environment is worth adapting to.

So when the year changes to 2016, do nothing, or do something, but decide which one it is. Just don't pretend to do something, when in fact you've done nothing. Yup, I'm calling you out. Consider this your wake up call.