Crawling Back

Linda1I crawled inside myself this year. Allowed myself the luxury of being, simply being without considering the affect my actions have on others. I have stretched my arms, touched the four walls and claimed them, mine, just mine. This time of my own has been healing, soul and spirit healing.

Most people who don’t know me well don’t realize I am by nature an introvert. Most people see the public side of me, the side that stands up and speaks to large crowds, that leads large teams, that hustles for work, hell that writes two blogs and interacts in social media forums daily and thinks that is the ‘real’ me.

Lately I have allowed the introvert control and it has been freeing. I have lived inside of my head, explored the landscape more intimately; it has been hard but liberating. I realized just how much over most of my adult life I have spent making others happy, doing for others, pleasing others, and taking care of others; all too often at my expense. Most of my adult life I suppressed my own needs, wants and desires so everyone around me got what they needed first, if there was something left that was what I got. Oddly, this was ground into me, as ‘natural’ and thus I never realized it was part of my unhappiness.

Living alone and inside of my head has let me see the entirety of my life to now without external inputs, without distractions.

Personality Type

There is nothing inherently wrong with wanting to take care of others. Caring for others can be a source of pleasure, great joy even. A lack of selfishness can be a wonderful trait. I think I have both of these, I believe I am an unselfish person who naturally wishes to care for both those I love and my community. What I have come to realize though, is these traits can also be a source of pain and resentment where there is no balance, a fair exchange of power is critical though most of us do not think of power where our relationships are concerned.

The truth is power is at the core of our relationships whether love, family or friendship. Where we are not evenly yoked, balanced in our exchanges ultimately we fail to thrive. I suspect most of us don’t think of our relationships in these terms, we have all heard the term ‘evenly yoked’ when it comes to our marriages or love partnerships, but the truth all of our relationships are power based. I realized through this time of introspection how I failed within each of my relationships, whether parent, spouse or friend to balance power and allowed myself to grow in resentment or anger. I realized how I failed by not asking for what I needed.http://www.parsonsrocks.com/the-art-of-rock-balancing-with-photos/

Yes, the relationship might still have failed even had I asked. The truth is many of my relationships were toxic and were not going to change simply because I asked for something different, for something better than what existed at the time. The truth is, sometimes people are drawn to those they can hurt, drawn to those who are vulnerable. Sometimes relationships are established at birth, without early intervention they will not change and these have lasting effect. Friendships and love relationships though, these are different animals and we have different standards for them, at their core we are either balanced in our exchanges or miserable in our choices, I don’t think there is a middle ground.

For me, this has been a truth without realizing it.

I let myself settle into simply being me for most of this year, truly all of this year. I got through last year, through the divorce, through being scared spitless financially after nearly 6 months of unemployment and through a bad job choice and miserable work environment. Now even though I am still scared, barely recovering financially, struggling with pain issues and waking up some days to, ‘oh shit, what have I done’, when I think about the career move I have made, I realize I am beginning to find peace. By allowing myself the freedom to finally, for once in my entire adult life, put myself first I am finding peace.

Peace to choose what is needful, including fair and balanced exchanges of power with those who are in my life. Peace to ask for what I need from those who claim to love me, truthfully it is more than peace it is acknowledging I have a value that is sometimes greater than what I can give, that I am inherently of value. Recognizing I am perfectly good just as I am. My personal space, both externally and internally works for me and is built on strong foundations I do not have to modify it for the comfort of others unless I choose to do so.

alexander yakovlev, Dancer Portraits

alexander yakovlev, Dancer Portraits

I am also finding peace in acknowledging there is strength in asking for help. By crawling inside of my head and my heart, I have finally recognized strength and weakness. I have spent twenty-three years refusing to accept how damaged my body is, how many things I truly cannot or should not do. Living alone has seen me struggle with physical limitations, battle with what a ‘normal’ person might consider simple. I finally have had to accept there are things I shouldn’t or can’t do alone and have had to ask for help. It was hard at first, my pride was injured, ultimately I asked and no one turned me down. I was lifted up by their generosity of spirit.

So I crawled inside of myself, my natural introvert took over. I suspect I am going to allow my nature more time in control of my world in the future, I find I am happier this way. I have missed my interactions in the blogging world, but found I needed the time to find my footing again, find my voice and my spirit. Hopefully, now that I am finding a foundation of who I am I will begin more regular visits to you all once again and a more regular voice as well.

Citizens and Zealots, Wherefore

OpEdO Patriots and Christians, wherefore art thou claiming the name Patriot? If you will not defend others with the same vigor you defend your own, should they then turn away, accept the brutality, or are you instead forsworn.

When other US Citizens are denied their fundamental rights to worship, why are you not shouting from the steps of the Capital in their defense? When other US Citizens are denied employment because of they wear a hijab, why were your voices not lifted in fury. When Mosques are blocked by gun toting thugs in your name, why are you not demanding their terroristic actions be stopped?

The list goes on; the facts add up to one simple idea O Patriots and Christians. You are forsworn in your duty to your fellow Citizen, to the Constitution you claim to love; even to the God you claim to love.

Shall I tell you what brings me to this conclusion? Wherefore I am drawn toward these dark thoughts of my fellow man (and woman), my fellow citizen.

Freedom of Religion Restoration, yes several states in these United States believe it is important they provide the means for individuals within their borders to use religion to act out their fear, biasFFP and bigotry. Standing behind the Bible they can now refuse service to anyone they choose. Of course, this was intended to focus only on those who had the gall to demand entry into the circle of full enfranchisement of citizenship, the LBGT community but in fact these acts allow a Christian to claim their faith demands bigotry against all comers.

To be clear, those who have gleefully passed these acts; pandering to their Christian base have received the lashes they deserve from business especially. They have had to walk the language of their Restoration Bills back, disavowing their original intent. This is what happens when politicians run, without understanding the true history of this nation or the capitalism they profess to love, with a Bible stuck up their ass trying to Restore us to the Christian Nation we never were intended to be.

In every country and in every age, the priest has been hostile to liberty. He is always in alliance with the despot, abetting his abuses in return for protection to his own. It is error alone that needs the support of government. Truth can stand by itself.

Thomas Jefferson, to Horatio G. Spafford, 1814

O Christians, who are so blinded by your own ignorance and righteous fear you would stand before other houses of worship, gun toting, sign waving and spewing messages of fear and hate. Wherefore art thou in thy ascension to heavenly favor so filled with anger? Where, pray tell is Sharia Law being applied to your daily life, that you must stand before a Mosque in the light of day images (4)and disrespect your fellow citizens, their faith and their places of worship? What gives you the right to show up with guns, signs and a cartoon contest in an attempt to spark another act of violence; then call those peaceful citizens the terrorist? You, yes you are the bad element in this scenario. You are not protecting the US from anything. You are not acting in good faith. You are not acting in accordance with the Bible or the Constitution you claim to love. You are the Thugs you are Christian Terrorists.

In our country are evangelists and zealots of many different political, economic and religious persuasions whose fanatical conviction is that all thought is divinely classified into two kinds – that which is their own and that which is false and dangerous.

Robert H. Jackson, American Communications Assn. v. Douds, 339 US 382, 438; 70 SCt. 674 704 (1950)

O Zealots, yea of Faith and Patriotism, where were you with signs waving and demands for religious freedom, when Samantha Elauf was denied a job at Abercrombie & Fitch for wearing hijab. Where were you when her religious freedom was denied? Did you stand up for her? Did you demand her rights be protected as your own? Or are her rights, as a Muslim woman somehow not as imagesimportant, not as due to her because of the God she worships. Did you know, Zealots and Patriots, her God is the same God you worship, the God of Abram, the God of the Old Testament, the God of David. Did you know, all you zealots you when you pray for the destruction of the other side, you pray to their God.

[5]And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
[6] But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.
[7] But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.
[8] Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.

Jesus, Matthew 6:5-8

angry-godDo you think I rant? I do. I am ranting. SCOTUS did a good thing by sending the Elauf v. Abercrombie & Fitch case back down to the circuit courts for review. The problem though, it doesn’t end there. The real problem is there are still so many in this nation who truly believe they can hide behind the shield of their ‘faith’ their ‘religion’ to do terrible things. Only yesterday North Carolina passed bill that would allow public officials to refuse marriage licenses to anyone they disagree on moral grounds, that is based on their personal religious views. This despite the federal court striking down their anti-gay marriage laws. Now, a public official, sworn to uphold the law and the Constitution decides he/she doesn’t want to issue a license to a couple of different religions, of different races, of same gender based on their ‘sincerely held religious belief’ they are protected.

O Christians, O Zealots, wherefore art thou so ignorant of your own history and the book you stand so firmly upon. Shed the scales, remove the plank; join the rest of us in trying to make this a better world or be forsworn, truly.

Over the Cliff

OpEdThe world spins and each of us finds our center of gravity based on many different inputs, different sources of information and values gathered throughout our lives. We come to our beliefs, our moral centers through our experiences, our families and our communities. We judge the world around us, what is happening, who is doing what to whom based on our own emotional response to what we see, as well as, what we are fed through the various sources of information we absorb (e.g. media, friends, family). Some of us, because of our experiences fall far away from where we started others of us never take a road less traveled; never stray far from the path our parents, even grandparents before us trudged down before us.

What is the impetus for those who take the branch in the road that takes us away from our roots? Do we see the world differently from those around us? Is our vision different from birth?

I know for me, I was always different from those around me. My beloved stepmother said to me once, I was exotic, not just in my looks but my mind was unfathomable. This combination made me an outsider within my family, as a child and an adult. Keeping in mind I was adopted at birth I wondered sometimes if ‘exotic’ thinking was a product of biology, this was often the subject of my second mother’s rages against me. Needless to say, I am the one who always sought the road less traveled, the path hidden in the brambles and ran toward it, barefoot and with bells on to find the clearing in the woods and all too often the monsters awaiting me. Oddly, even after meeting my first family I find myself at odds with many of them as well; my conclusion is I am simply a product of my own thinking, my own strange mind, a combination of experiences and how I have processed them over the years.

I suspect this might be true of most of us, which takes me to the reason for writing today. First let me say this, I am not a Christian. I do not subscribe to any formal religion. I have nothing against those that do, but have an enormous issue with those who wish to force their religious dogma down my throat or in my face, either through legislation or through bullshit-rewritten history. I am not an Atheist, nor am I Agnostic. I am frankly not anything in particular. I subscribe to the idea there is something greater than me, something wider and broader than me in the universe, not that this something takes an overwhelming interest in me simply that it exists. I do not believe it is a White Man with a long white beard sitting in a cloud. I believe both Jesus and Mohammed existed as real live men of their time, I also believe they were both of Middle Eastern descent (thus Jesus could not be a Blue-eyed, pale skinned White man as depicted). I believe they were both great teachers, as were the other great teachers and founders of the other religions of the world. Finally, I believe religion corrupts and is corrupted by man; it is used to keep societies placid and ignorant.

I have been watching the news as it unfolds this week have you? I am disheartened by all of it; I am dismayed by the way we treat social injustice, police violence, racial inequality and most disheartening sex crimes within Christian cults. What do I mean by all this? Let’s take three specific issues and compare them, three specific media worthy events and compare their outcomes, both real and hypothetical.

Shootout in Waco, Texas: Nine Dead, 18 injured. Criminal conspirators, known motorcycle biker clubs, predominantly White males (infrequently a Hispanic will be allowed to ride with them). Police knew they were there and were on standby. No dead bodies shown on the ground, not once did the media show the after effects of the violence of the day, the blood running in the streets, the bodies strewn in the streets or in the restaurant. Not once did the media show the ambulances carting off the injured. Those flying their colors were not referred to as thugs, their criminal histories were not trotted out immediately to insure sympathy for the officers involved, oh that’s right there was no need there were over 500 guns found in bathrooms, potato chip bags and locked cars, these were not innocent and unarmed civilans being shot down in the street by the police. Those who were involved were milling about, sitting on sidewalks, crossing police lines, texting and talking on their phones. No teargas was deployed against them, no military riot gear on police.

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Compare this to the peaceful protestors of Ferguson, Baltimore, New York. Do you wonder what the difference is? I do not, I do not wonder for a single instant how the police would have responded had those ‘bikers’ been black what the response would have been.

Next up? How about the acquittal of Michael Brelo, he fired 49 times into the car of Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams’, reloading twice before he was done. He wasn’t charged with murder only manslaughter, why was he acquitted? Because there was a total of one hundred and thirty-seven (137) shots fired into their car and it couldn’t be proven he fired the killing shots. Before his trial the other officers involved in the deadly shooting of the unarmed black men who did nothing more than drive a car that backfired, they refused to meet with the prosecutor’s office to review testimony. There was no jury trial, Michael Brelo waived his right thus having it heard only by a judge who found him ‘Not Guilty’. See a pattern? I surely do. Since the aquittal of George Zimmerman, the only ‘thug’ on the street that night, I surely do see a pattern.

josh-duggar_1Finally, let’s talk about family values or the distinct lack thereof. Let’s talk about why those who wrap themselves in the mantle of holier than thou Christianity are allowed the most heinous corruptions, while those who have done no wrong are accused of the ugliest of faults. Let’s talk about why it is perfectly acceptable for a serial pedophile to continue to live under the roof with his victims while his mother and father hide his crimes, while those who should be protecting the children turn away. Oh, that’s right they are Christian and he asked God to Forgive him. He went on to become a stand up activist against the rights of others, even going so far as to suggest those ‘others’ would be a danger to children (like he is).

We, those of us with a thinking cell in our brain are being ‘mean’ to suggest his actions are not simply childhood curiosity but something more, something terrible and should have been treated like Josh_Duggar_Mike_Huckabeethe criminal and deviant behavior they were. We, those of us who understand sex crimes, understand molestation and rape, we look at this family and wonder what else and how much worse was it than what we know. What we have instead is Presidential wannabe’s standing up for the poor mistreated deviant and his entire cult like family, because they are Christians. What we have is others from the far right of the flock, speaking out against anyone who questions, anyone who wonders, “what about his victims”; Josh Duggar and his parents are not the victims in this, the victims are the young girls he molested. Let’s get this right, the victims were his sisters and the other young girls he molested. He did not pay a price for his serial molestation of the young girls within his control. Young girls who did not receive counseling, young girls who did not receive justice for what was done to them.

See a problem here? I surely do. Yet there are those who defend this family. Why did Josh Duggar get away with his bad acts? I assure you, had he been a different skin color he would have been locked up and in one of the programs I speak in every month. I see boys as young as 11 years old, they aren’t considered too young, they also are Christian and have often asked for God’s forgiveness. Josh though, he got a pass, shouldn’t we be asking ourselves why?

I am disheartened by all of it. The media is training this nation to not ask the hard questions, like sheep we wander to the cliff and fall off.


 

I only ask of God
That i am not indifferent to the pain,
That the dry death won’t find me
Empty and alone, without having done the sufficient.

I only ask of God
That i won’t be indifferent to the injustice
That they won’t slap my other cheek,
After a claw (or talon) has scratched this destiny (luck) of mine.

I only ask of God
That i am not indifferent to the battle,
It’s a big monster and it walks hardly on
All the poor innocence of people.

I only ask of God
That i am not indifferent to deceit,
If a traitor can do more than a bunch of people,
Then let not those people forget him easily.

I only ask of God
That i am not indifferent to the future,
Hopeless is he who has to go away
To live a different culture.

I only ask of God
That i am not indifferent to the battle,
It’s a big monster and it walks hardly on
All the poor innocence of people.

Léon Gieco

Race to the Bottom

OpEdWe are truly a nation to be reckoned with, if you are worried about your position at the bottom of the pile, the bottom of the world ranking in nearly all relevant areas; the United States is working hard to grab the title. We are international bullies, we stand up and are counted policing the world to do what we say not what we do. Our leaders condone torture; in fact, they are proud of their participation or at least their tactic approval of the torture of other human beings. Our nation enters wars, costing tens of thousands of lives, killing heads of state and civilians alike for no good reason but we want the natural resources of that nation, we want to destabilize that region, we want to break the world.

We spend billions, sometimes trillions of dollars in nations other than our own. Nations that do not need our money, that do not appreciate our interference, nations that do not align with our stated values. Meanwhile, here in our own country we have children going without food, shelter, education. We make some of the top lists, such as:

Homelessness, top fifteen cities the USA has the grace to steal six spots on the list, with an estimated total 212,579 homeless living on the streets of these cities alone.

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Once you let that lovely sink in, the idea we have so many on the streets consider this one, we haven’t had such a large income gap since 1928. In fact, the United States made another list; yes indeed, we made the list of nations with the largest income disparity, number 4 on the hit parade of 10. We should be wondering what the hell is wrong, only Chile, Turkey and Mexico are ahead of us on this list, the GOP isn’t doing their job if we haven’t made number 1.

Now while you are absorbing the thought of all your fellow citizens living rough; men, women and children living without shelter consider the findings of Transparency International, we aren’t doing so well on the issue of corruption. In fact, we are suck. Our perception of ourselves, as a nation isn’t great so how do we justify sending our military out to police others? Just asking mind you.

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Now let’s discuss the idiocy on the Hill, yes that hill Capital hill. While the nation falls down around our ears, the ijits on the Hill are busy writing twenty-four new anti-choice bills, well to be fair one of them is a full repeal of the Affordable Care Act. You know they do this because they are afraid of women, they are afraid of our power if we should ever figure out we actually have a majority in this nation and we band together, breaking down all the false lines they have drawn to keep us apart. If the vast majority of us reach across the walls of race, religion, classism and poverty we will find we have far more in common than not. When we do this, we might find most of these Bills are intended only to infantilize all of us, stripping of us of our rights to both body integrity and economic freedom.

We could talk about so many other things, the education system in this nation and our lack of commitment to excellence. Our race to the bottom of the heap, our fear of intellectualism, our on-IgnoranceMapgoing outsourcing of innovation. Despite our great wealth we don’t even come in at the top ten of the Pearson ranking. In our race to the bottom though, we have achieved one top score, we are the second most ignorant country in the world, on the Ipsos Mori social survey only Italy is more ignorant that the US.

We could discuss the bulging prisons, the one thing we are number one in the world. With over two million of our fellow citizens within the Industrial Prison Complex, this is not something to be proud of. The problem of course is, the prison system is another capitalist scam, with well over one billion a year in profits to be made, no one is going to start dismantling it in favor of better justice, not when the favored few can line their pockets on the backs of the disadvantaged.

We could discuss the horror of joblessness and ask the question, why in the world this administration the GOP, along with several Democrats wants so badly to continue to destroy our future opportunity to grow through trade agreements. Trade agreements the citizens of this country are kept in the dark about. Trade agreements that do not favor us, but instead favor multi-national business. The Trans-Pacific Trade Agreement is not about free trade, believe me.

As we continue our race to the bottom, I ask myself where does it end? I wish we would all ask the same question. I continue to love this clip from the Newsroom, it says it all; we sure use to be.

The Mirror

There are times in all our lives each of us wonder, what does the world see when they see me. When I look in the mirror, I see all of my flaws, real and perceived I count them off one by one. Staring in the eyes of my harshest critic, I see each year stamped across my face telling a story I might rather forget, or wish was never written at all. So I stare, I run fingers through hair sprinkled with silver, I count the furrows across my brow, the lines surrounding my mouth and eyes; then I wonder where the time escaped to and what others see.

Does the world see my flaws in the same way I see them? Can a stranger read my pain, my triumphs, my  history as if it was a roadmap written on my face, across my skin and over the angles, plains and curves of my body, or do they only see slight imperfections where I see something altogether different, something damaged, unworthy of a second glance, unlovable in the harsh light of day.

Cool wind dances across heated skin

Leaving memory of other breath

Fingers trace the water’s edge

Sending ripples across a reflection

Unrecognized in the moonlit glow

Coalesced I come together, softer

In the silence memories pull nearer

The ethereal me beckons, closer

Remember, beauty under stars

Shredded without thought, nor care

For youth, innocence or hope

Lost in a scream for mercy

Tracing the water’s edge once more

Reflection lost to harder currents

Merged again, harder and more true

In the moonlit garden of memory

Does the world see my flaws? Does the world see the scars of my history? I don’t know, some of them are obvious, they are badges of honor I can’t help but wear them on my skin every single OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAblessed day of my life. I wish this were not the case, but it is the skin I live in the only skin I have so it is the skin I will have to walk this world in and the skin I will leave this world in. My problem? Truly, my problem is so many people over the years have left their calling card, announced their presence and left me something to remember them by; I can’t seem to step away far enough to start over again without carrying them along with me.

So, when I look in the mirror, I see my history. Some days I see myself victorious, but other days I see myself vulnerable and hurt, stupid for all the times I have laid myself open. When I look in the mirror, what I see is someone unloved and unlovable, someone who is not worthy of honest straightforward love, who must pay for any affection with something, either straightforward with my money or something else of value, including pain, because this is how it has always been.

Every single day I work toward changing my vision and work toward demanding more. But some days like today, this is what I feel.

We Own It

OpEdENOUGH

It should be that and more. All of us, no matter which side of the aisle we claim, should be scratching our heads and questioning what in the hell is wrong with this country, with our moral center and ultimately saying, ENOUGH.

We aren’t, that we aren’t leaves me wondering why.

Far too many of us are walking by the murder and mayhem created on our streets by those sworn to ‘serve and protect’, we are looking the other way, pretending not to see, to not hear the voices of the mothers, fathers, sons and daughters as the cry out; ENOUGH.

Far too many of us are turning our backs on the women and children, hungry, homeless and without hope for a better life and begging, please, help us, no more, ENOUGH.

Far too many of us are shrug our shoulders at the tens of thousands of veterans returning from wars we should never have fought only to be thrown out on the streets, without jobs, without proper care for their physical injuries or their mental wounds, none of us says ENOUGH.

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Far too many of us are passively accepting the millions of men and women locked behind the walls of prisons for decades for non-violent crimes, because they couldn’t afford the cost of justice in America. We don’t question, we don’t challenge the profits made by the private prison industry, we don’t question the children sent to prison for decades, we don’t say ENOUGH.

Far too many of us watch as state after state pass laws to disenfranchise our fellow citizens, ‘Voter Rights’ and ‘Freedom of Religion’. We simply watch, we simply shrug and sometimes even justify these Jim Crow era laws, maybe because we don’t understand or maybe because they don’t apply to us, we have the right ID, we are Christian or we don’t fall into one of the other categories these laws are trying to attack, to brutalize, to keep out of active participation in our communities and our process. Certainly, the last election showed the level of apathy we are capable of, we failed to say ENOUGH.

Far too many of us shake our heads and ‘tsk tsk’, as our only acknowledgment of the racist animus leveled at this President, how it has changed the conversation in Washington and created even greater polarity, frozen our system, cost us millions if not billions. We refuse to say it aloud; refuse to acknowledge that we, as a nation, continue to be divided by racial animosities and segregationist politicians. While we might not all be racist, we vote for those who are, we allow them to make our laws, accept their leadership and refuse to say, ENOUGH and NO MORE.

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Far too many of us watch as SCOTUS perverts our Democratic Republic, we shrug and say there is nothing we can do. We fail to demand an accounting. We fail to demand change. We fail to vote, to get up off our apathetic and sorry asses and say ENOUGH.

What is it we are thinking? Someone else will do our job, that must be it. Someone else will stand-up for us, we don’t have to do it, we don’t have to risk it? We aren’t Gay, so their issues don’t affect us, is that it? We aren’t Black, so their issues don’t affect us, is that it? We aren’t poor, homeless, hungry so their issues don’t affect us, is that it? We aren’t women, poor, pregnant with no way to raise a child, a rape victim, so her problems don’t affect us, is that it?

There is a conversation we have to have in this nation, one that will be painful and ugly, without it though we will never heal and become what is possible. Until the day, we say Enough and No More, until the day we own what is wrong and start the conversation this nation will never be put to right, will never begin to heal. Until the day we acknowledge the true foundations of the United US-Constitution-toilet-paperStates of America and its continuing framework of racial bigotry, misogyny, colonialism and classism we don’t have a snowballs chance in Hell of moving toward the promise of our Constitution and The Declaration of Independence; they might as well be toilet paper.

When I say we, I mean all those of European extraction, White Folks. It is us, we own the problem and we own the action of ripping the scab off the festering wound. We own the standing up first and saying Enough and No More. It is our actions, our elected officials, our filthy rich who drive the continuing wedge into this nation; we own this history and this future. We own SCOTUS, we own Congress, we own ALEX and all the legislation making its way into the States to destroy hope. We own the police departments responsible for killing citizens on the street without repercussion.

We, American White Folks, own the history of Slavery, of Native American Genocide and Land Theft, of Jim Crow, of Segregation, of community destruction through the War on Drugs and images (8)mandatory sentencing; the list goes on but every one of them attacks families and communities of color in this nation, we own it.

We own the conversation that must start and we own the cure. The election of Barack Obama did not indicate a shift, what it did was cause all the racial hostility to come out of the closet. What it did was create even greater polarization, now we know who they are and where they are. Some of them are running for President, by damn some of them are running ahead of the pack. We have a chance to say Enough and No More, will we? We own the elephant in the room of our nation, we have ignored it for far too long.

We have the chance to start the conversation, to start healing the nation. Will we? I wonder, truly I wonder.

I leave you with this question are we ready for the change necessary to heal ourselves and this nation, what say you?

I Quit with Much Rejoicing

Linda1I may have hinted I was unhappy, in reality absolutely and utterly miserable in my current employment. Nailing down the why’s hasn’t been easy. Truthfully, I knew some of the reasons but not all from the very beginning. The honest to goodness, oh my gawd, get me out of this madness fact was I was miserable nearly from the day I walked in the door and it only got worse. Exponentially worse each and every single day, it also got easier to identify the reasons why. Finally, this month I had enough of all of it, with great trepidation, I made a decision that I may well come to regret but is nonetheless the right decision for me.

I QUIT.

Yes, you read that correctly. I had enough, I reached my limit my wits end and I wrote my letter of resignation and pushed the send button. I had been contemplating this move for months, seriously contemplating for weeks but then it hit me and I hit the wall of ‘done’ and pushed send. Thinking to myself as that letter went out, ‘shit, can I take it back’.

Last year was very difficult for me, emotionally and financially. I was out of work for nearly six months, ran through my savings and was down to my last month of emergency funds when I accepted the position with my current employer. I had high hopes. I had made the decision to go from being self-employed to returning to the corporate world, to what I thought would be my last istock_000008650446small_custom-6ce6bb326422c9899f3e1b667f9bcae2444a689c-s6-c30job before retirement. I had researched this company, had spoken to more than twelve (12) people within the organization up and down the food chain. I was impressed with what I had seen and heard, I was happy with the salary and benefits, I was happy with the role I was taking. I was excited!

I wanted this to be wonderful.

Then reality hit, it hit hard and fast; it hit like a freight train and rolled over me, squashing me into the ground within the first two weeks. Honestly, I was left questioning my sanity, competency and value. I did not know where to turn, did not know whom to ask and did not have any direction. My boss was incommunicado, his boss simply said, ‘be patient’. The entire environment was toxic and I was miserable, I kept thinking it would get better; it didn’t.

Now less than a year later, I QUIT.

Scary as hell really, with bills to pay and a mortgage I am returning to independence. I am returning to contract work. I am going back to having some control over the environments I work within and those I work for and with every day. Is there risk? Yes, absolutely there is huge risk. Especially since I haven’t had time to rebuild my emergency fund. Nevertheless, misery is a far greater problem than the alternative, the possibility I might not stay busy and paid.

toxic-stress-response-pageIs it really I don’t have the patience to work within a corporate environment where the answer to many questions of inefficiency is, ‘this is the way it is always done’. Or is it that in my industry, consulting and IT, the culture is so toxic today I simply am incapable of surviving. I suspect it might be a mix of the two. Where the only concern is the bottom line, quality and human beings take a backseat. There is of course one other problem that everyone is afraid to mention, afraid to say aloud and that is cultural misalignment that has taken place within most large IT Consulting firms in the last decade.

Our industry, like so many others has been first outsourced then in-sourced through the H1B program, American workers replaced by primarily Indian workers. In the case of my employer, many  of management was Indian (2:1), most at my level were Indian (3:1), those one level below me (5:1) were Indian. Senior leadership of course were primarily American, this is the C-level those who were the face of the company but in all honesty they didn’t affect the lives of those of us who had to function with clients, or with each other day in and day out.

I am all for diversity in the workforce, however when it begins to create a toxic work environment I believe there needs to be something done. The fact of the matter is, when cultures collide especially in work environments all of us need to ask why and what we can do to fix the problem. We shouldn’t avoid the problem; we shouldn’t ignore what is causing the problem. We have an obligation to address the issues and create solutions, for our employees, our clients and our shareholders.

The H1B program was designed to bring qualified resources into the US, employers then sponsor those employees into Green Cards and even onwards towards their Citizenship. This provides large employers such as IBM, HP, Microsoft a source of educated IT professionals at a very low cost. Since the late ‘90’s when the program was expanded the program has brought millions of resources into the US and in turn sent millions of American professionals into the shadow economy of contracting versus full-time employment. One of the reasons for this is cost but as I think I have found out the cost is offset by the loss of organizational culture, the change in workplace culture is incompatible with our psyche and professional expectations, especially if we are women.

I QUIT.10402430_10205015207440428_9211021343351180985_n

Yes, I did that. Today is officially my last day. Yesterday I handed over all my gear, my computer, my phone, my badge. Today if they need something they can call my personal phone, I don’t expect they will though. My resignation caused some angst, though I suspect also it caused some small rejoicing, as I was a thorn in the side of some. I do not regret my decision to accept the position, I do regret allowing myself to stay longer than I should have hoping that it would get better.

So onward and upward, the lesson I learned is to not allow others to treat me badly while making excuses for their bad behavior. Culture is not an excuse.

I QUIT and now I start something new.

Post Valentine’s Day

Linda1I tried, really I tried.

The idea of being enthusiastic about Valentine’s Day simply left me cold. First, it is somewhat a made up holiday intended to force lovers, wanna be lovers, not so much lovers, school children and others to pretend one day a year. Pretend what you ask. Well pretend to remember to say the stuff they forgot all the rest of the year in most cases, in the case of schoolchildren, pretend they are grown enough to “wooove” someone and give them little hearts with cute sayings on them.

Don’t get me wrong, Valentine’s Day can be fun. It can bring out the romantic in even the most taciturn of men, with some prodding. It can turn even the most practical of women to mush with the right amount of flowers, chocolate and a great foot massage. Valentine’s Day can provide couples the opportunity to remind each other they are still there, still hanging on.

The problem I have with Valentine’s Day?

It simply feels forced. Why do we need a day to tell each other we appreciate the things we are to each other? Shouldn’t we do this every single day of the year?image2474170x

Then there is the problem I have that we have co-opted a Catholic Saints day as our romantic holiday, a martyred saint no less. Of course, there is no historical connection between either St. Valentine and ‘romantic’ love, in fact there is very little written about them, anywhere. It is far more likely Valentine’s Day comes to us from an early Roman Rite, the festival of Lupercalia. This was a special one, priests would sacrifice a goat and a dog together, mixing their blood then flay the goats hide into strips, dipping that into the mixed blood. After that, they would slap single women and crops with the bloody strips, and then pair the women with bachelors for the year. The premise being if the women were fruitful they would marry, maybe.

150953_10202867023217165_1478976694_nJust so, we are all clear, the first Valentine’s card was sent by the then imprisoned Duke of Orleans in 1415. So this silliness has been around for a very long time.

As I said, I tried. I have never though been very good with Valentine’s Day. Maybe it was my name I was traumatized early on, we all have Valentine in our name somewhere. My mother had no clue what she did to us putting us in the local paper. Personally? I just like the sales on chocolate on February 15.

Blues, Funk and Aniversaries

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAYesterday I was blue, truly and honestly blue. I couldn’t put my finger on it, couldn’t identify the source but yesterday I was blue.

Yesterday, my energy levels were low and I was inspired to do nothing. Absolutely nothing inspired me, with the exception of finding a cave, crawling into it and pulling a rock over the entrance.

I could not find a reason for my ennui; thinking it was just the past three hard weeks at work. The long drive back and forth from Dallas to Houston was wearing me down. The twelve hour days resulting only in, ‘not good enough, not what I want’ feedback from leadership that seemed to have a constantly shifting agenda. Still through all of this, yesterday I was blue and I could not focus on the cause.

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It came to me, this morning, as I was checking the date or simply looking at a calendar for some reason or maybe trying to prove it was past now. Yesterday was a red-letter day and I ignored it, did not give yesterday its due. Ignored the date, did not sit down and allow my heart to wash over me with all the feelings I was having, instead I attempted to pretend there was nothing special and I was simply blue.

The truth is, yesterday wasn’t special, not in the way, most of us think of ‘special’. Yesterday did mark for me a day of transition, change or transformation. Yesterday did mark the anniversary of the day that set my feet on a different path and made changes to my body, my spirit even my brain there would be no turning back from, no matter how I might wish this to be different.

Yesterday I was blue and rather than acknowledge why I blamed it on everything, including:

  • My current job, client and bosses
  • The fact my house is a mess
  • My finances after a six month hiatus from work, but which are not as bad as they were or as I think they are or as bad as some people who are truly suffering
  • My loneliness, that is somewhat self-imposed
  • The lack of physical touch in my life, that I find I miss a great deal but which has also been self-imposed

Yesterday I was blue and what I didn’t blame it on was the date, the anniversary, the three bullets and the three young men that changed me forever and sent my life on a different and unlooked for trajectory. Yesterday, I was in a deep funk with tears settled right on the edge waiting to spill at slightest hint I would allow blue to turn into a crying jag (I didn’t) and I wouldn’t look at a calendar because instinctively I knew what day it was and simply didn’t want to say it out loud.download

So, I distracted myself with walks in the park, which honestly I needed anyway. I distracted myself with talking to people who love me, but I didn’t tell them I was hurting and why. Then when the sun was down and the house was dark again, with sitting quietly staring at a blank page in my journal unable to pick up my pen, because I was blue and I was in a deep funk. When the bedroom was dimly lit with the nightlight I never turn off,  I rocked myself to sleep finally because I was lonely and I miss physical touch, I was hurting and I simply refused to acknowledge it was an anniversary of sorts, one that had changed me in fundamental ways and at my core.

Now, today, this morning I acknowledge I was blue because it is hard not to remember, it is impossible not to be triggered no matter how hard I try to avoid calendars and other reminders. It is hard not to remember and be angry. It is hard not to remember and be sad. It is hard not to remember and then wonder sometimes, what would life be like if I hadn’t have stopped for gas, if I hadn’t have stopped for cigarettes. What would life be like if I had just been five minutes earlier or later, just five minutes that is all. Sometimes I can’t help myself, I wonder if it wouldn’t have been better if I hadn’t survived, hadn’t have been quite so strong. It isn’t that I am not happy to be alive 97% of the time, but I can’t help but wonder sometimes if it wouldn’t have been better, when I am blue like yesterday or when I am hurting or when I have a seizure.

Yesterday I was blue, I know why. Yesterday was the twenty-third anniversary of my carjacking / kidnapping and shooting; where I nearly lost my life and most certainly lost my belief I was invincible.

There, I said it.

Today, I start the first day of my personal new year. I am determined to get back in the swing of things.

Stepping into Who I Am

Linda1My dear friend over at Single Working Mom inspired me to write about how we, as women, seem to lose ourselves in our effort to ‘fit’. Visit her post, which inspired this one here.

Stepping into who I am, I think that is what I have been trying to do for more than a year maybe even more than a decade. I simply didn’t know this is what I was doing. All the small acts of rebellion, the tiny bits and pieces I kept trying to reclaim, that was me saying to the world and those who wished me to be otherwise; really, just leave me be to find me in a world I never truly fit or that never fit me perfectly.

I fail to understand why it is so difficult for women especially to claim ourselves completely, to step into the space we occupy without apology. It seems though, there are very few of us who are not in some way apologizing for who or what we are on a daily basis. We bow to the whims of those who dictate to us the terms of beauty and desirability allowing our self-worth to be undermined by how others define it and thus what we see in the mirror is far too often unacceptable, unbeautiful and unworthy of love.

Far too many of us, reshape ourselves to be what others want of us and accept harsh judgment as truth when we fail to meet standards which are either impossible, not our choice, even sometimes ridiculous. We shrink to take up less space, we speak softly or not at all so as not offend, we apologize for our opinions and our needs and do so without thinking in doing so we are apologizing for ourselves, for our very being. We accept harsh words as truth and demands to change ourselves, make ourselves different so we might fit another person’s fantasy, simply so they will touch us in the night, with the light off.

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When I read For Me and For Her it got me thinking about all the things I had done over the course of my nearly 15 year marriage that I resented and how I have slowly begun to shed them. It also got me thinking about the shell I have slowly started to crack open around me, about as I said how I am beginning to step into myself into who I am, perhaps who I was meant to be. I am certain I have a very long way to go before I am fully in the moment with myself, nevertheless it is a starting point and one I believe I should own with pride. I think it is difficult when we are in the middle of hurting to realize how much we give up, so someone will love us. Sometimes how much we lose of ourselves so the person we promised to love will continue to love us.

I am finding I don’t want to be loved if it isn’t for the me that is real; hardheaded, opinionated, pragmatic, softhearted, introverted and creative; someone who has lived life fully and been down a few dark alleys. I don’t want to be touched if it isn’t touching me with the lights on, seeing all of me; scars, dimpled flesh, imperfections, tattoos all of me. I don’t want to be made over. I don’t want to be hidden.

These words hurt me, still hurt me on some level and I am still fighting to breathe through them and find me behind them.

“You are more beautiful as a blonde that as how I met you and that is how you should stay.”

“You are too pale, I think you are more beautiful with a tan. You look too White without one.”

“I hate when you let your hair grow. You look better when it is short and I am not as attracted to you when it is long.”

“If you get a tattoo I will divorce you.”

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Here is the thing about all of those, they all represented ‘things’ that were not me.

  1. I am a natural brunette. My natural color is damned near black, though now days it has a great deal of grey.
  2. I have pale olive toned skin. I love my complexion, though I tan easily for years I have protected my skin. Further, tanning is dangerous this didn’t seem to matter so long as I wasn’t too White. What the hell did this mean anyway?
  3. The first time I cut my hair it was down to the middle of my back. I cut it because I couldn’t brush it, I cut it because I was recovering from gunshots and I needed to make life easier for myself. I never intended to keep it short and certainly not that short. Yes, it was funky and fun, especially the pale blonde, but it was hard to maintain. I never felt like me.
  4. When we met I had Tattoo’s, it wasn’t a secret I didn’t hide them. I also made no secret I want more. Why did I ever allow myself to be bullied into a corner?

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Worse, yes even worse than being bullied into a corner. Why did I allow myself to feel unlovable, undesirable and without value simply because of cruel words and the lack of touch. Now, a year later I am beginning to figure some of it out, some of the hurt is falling away and letting me see what is beneath. I don’t love what I see, but I do love that I am able to reach into the hurt and find me.

It is these slow and careful steps we take, these questions we ask that allow us to walk into the world fully owning the space we inhabit, not asking for forgiveness or how we can mold ourselves to fit another person’s desires. I want to be desired, loved and wanted for me, just me. I want to be chased around the room and thrown on the bed, because I am me not someone else but me. I want my words to enflame passion, my heart to sooth, my body to excite and my soul to provide a resting place. I want all of that to be just me, without a demand for change.

So I will continue to step into who I am and tell those who think I should be otherwise to take a flying leap.

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