Re: My Previous Post

I wrote the preceding post 19 days ago.  I was in a pretty bad place and the days since then have been an emotional roller coaster.  Okay, they were more like a roller coaster in general, I just said “emotional roller coaster” because I had a flashback to Scrubs of Dr. Cox telling JD how much he loathed the saying “emotional roller coaster”.

Anyway, I didn’t post it the night that I wrote it because I was interrupted and then when I revisited it tonight, I decided it should be posted the way I left it.

So since then, even though I’m still on the roller coaster, I have a smile on.  I reread the last 5 posts that I wrote before my previous one, and it really helped me to put things in perspective.  I was naive to think that just because it went from 2013 to 2014 that I was done learning lessons.  And what’s transpired since January 1, 2014, has been the universe showing and telling me: “I’m not done teaching you yet.”  Its humbling, actually.  I’m still a student.  If I’m still breathing, I’m still learning.

Something I’ve learned over the last 2 weeks, as I’ve been delving deeper into my gratitude and positivity practices is that it is, it has to be, an every day thing.  When I start out the week doing my writing and practicing, I feel great!  And then as the stress builds and I get bogged down by having to do this and that later in the week, my practices fall by the wayside and either bad things happen, I feel worse, or both.  It just occurred to me that to practice gratitude and positivity 2-3 days out of the week and expect to feel great 7 days out of the week is like eating healthy and working out 2-3 days out of the week and expecting to be in peak physical condition.  It is a daily commitment and this is a lesson that I needed to learn.  Thank you.

When Keeping it Real Gets Shitty

Originally written on Feb. 5, 2014, but not posted until tonight, Feb. 23, 2014: 

I’m not sure if its just me, or if everyone else is feeling the same thing: but 2014 has really sucked so far.

What makes it all the more disappointing is that I went into this year with the utmost positivity and optimism.  One month has flown by and it was less than stellar to say the least.  I didn’t intend on making a post here just to complain – although, tonight I did have to put one of my dogs down so that was just the icing on my cake, but I guess that’s just what’s happening.

I went into 2014 thinking, feeling, and knowing in my bones: this is my year.  I thought that 2013 was an amazing year for learning and growth and that this was going to be the year for me to put all the lessons I’ve learned to use.  I had all these grand visions of yoga, money, good health, motivation, positivity, and its really been a struggle.  My healthy-eating habits were curtailed by appetite problems brought on by a new medication that I started to treat my ADD, my health suffered due to excruciating TMJ pain and my wallet suffered, also, as I paid hundreds of dollars out of pocket for a mouth guard to alleviate the TMJ pain – a process that’s taken an entire month from diagnosis up until I picked up my mouth guard a few days ago.  My motivation at work went from sky-high to barely there with the loss of business and money – largely due to the most horrible winter I’ve seen in my 24 years.  I’ve fallen apart; I’ve felt myself backsliding into major depression and used every ounce of my strength to claw myself out of the hole I’d felt myself falling into.  I’ve had problems in my relationship that almost made me end it, and tonight after work, I had to take my sick dog to the vet only to have to make the heartbreaking decision to put her down and end her suffering.  Needless to say, its been a fucking struggle.

Sexuality v. Sexualization

I’m mid-way through Miss Representation and I was lying on the couch, snuggled up with a blanket and my puppy, holding a heating pad to my jaw because I’m in quite a bit of pain due to TMJ problems, and I couldn’t sit still any longer.  I do really love this documentary, but there is one question that I wish I could jump through my TV screen and ask these ladies: “Where does a woman’s sexuality end and where does sexualization of that woman begin?”  

All I could think of was Beyonce`.  I mean, that’s normal for 10:30 in the morning, but in all seriousness, she was the first example that came to mind.  Up until a year or so ago, I was pretty much indifferent toward her, but more recently, I’ve grown to really respect her and her craft.  Now, with the release of her newest CD, I’d call myself a full-blown fan, mainly because I feel that she is more relatable now.  Yes, Beyonce` is relatable, because her openness about her femininity and feminism is something that I love.  She is unabashedly sexy and powerful, but relates to us because she is, in fact, not a mythical unicorn, but a female who faces the same challenges that I face or that the girl next door faces.  What I admire most about Beyonce` is how she balances power and sexuality.  She admits in a recent interview that in her video for “Partition”, she had a fantasy about just being sexy for her man.  She goes on to explain that she worked hard to get her “body back” after having Blu, saying: “You can have your child and you can still have fun and still be sexy and still have dreams and still live for yourself.”  Not only do I see nothing wrong with that, I see that as empowering for not only women who are mothers, but women in general.  When I look at women like Beyonce`, Nikki Minaj, Angelina Jolie, Lady Gaga, etc., I see power, femininity, and female sexuality.  But watching Miss Representation has lead me to wonder how the world sees these women and others like them. 

I whole-heartedly agree with 90% of Miss Representation, and its not necessarily that I disagree with this point, but I’m confused by it.  The documentary spends quite a lot of time discussing how women are objectified and sexualized by the media, by men, and how detrimental that is to the generations of females growing up experiencing that objectification.  I agree with that.  But where is the line between sexuality and sexualization?  They mention, again, Angelina Jolie, and show her on a magazine cover wearing just a bed sheet.  The rhetoric is something like: “Even women like Angelina Jolie who appear powerful, are sexualized”.   Someone also said something about this leading women to believe that they should, or must, use their sexuality to gain power.  And once in that position of “power”, she is still a sex object.  So when is it okay for a woman to be sexual?  

When discussing the way female newscasters look, a clip of Jay Leno shows “Let’s play a game called, Newscaster or Hooters Waitress”, just one of the tools Miss Representation uses to point out that female journalists are largely young, beautiful, thin, with perfect hair, perfect white teeth, and tons of makeup.  They discuss the line between feminism and professionalism.  Lisa Ling says:  “There is so much pressure to look a certain way.  When I’m on television, I never try to explicitly dress sexy.  I don’t want to distract from the stories I’m telling.”  I see Lisa Ling’s point, but again, where do we draw the line?  And who’s job is it to draw the line?  It certainly isn’t a man’s job because he is the patriarchy, he is the objectifier.  So then is it up to other women?  

Who’s job is it to say whether a woman is comfortable in her sexuality or if a woman is using her sexuality to gain power, thereby falling into the trap of objectification?  And in order to objectify someone’s body, doesn’t there need to be some shame involved?  If a woman who is scantly clad seen as being objectified, her body is all at once revered and feared.  What is there to fear?  Why is there still so much shame involved with the naked female body?  Take away that shame, take away that fear of the nipple, of the navel, of the thighs, of the ass, and what do you have?  A naked woman sans controversy, sans sexualization, sans objectification.  

When you take shame away from the female body, what you’re left with is female sexuality.  And that’s okay.  

The Lessons I’ve Learned

Every January, I, along with many others, pledge: “this is my year”.   I did it in 2012, I did it in 2013, and I’m doing it again in 2014.  

What set 2013 apart from every other year of my life is how much I’ve learned.  Its like I took the ultimate crash course on life throughout the last 12 months and its set me up to have a productive, successful 2014.  So here are some of the most important lessons I’ve learned this year. 

1) The Law of Attraction – I learned about the LOA early on in 2013 and its changed my life.  The basis is simple:  what you put out into the universe is what you get.  Its not necessarily karma, but its as if you, your soul, or your energy (whichever you believe in) is a magnet.  If you put positivity out there, you’ll always get positivity back.  If you put negativity out there, you’ll always get negativity back.  Its easier said than done; if I wake up and find that I have a flat tire, its easier to be pissed off about it the rest of the day, in which case more “bad” things are likely to happen, but if I just change the tire, get to work late and move on with my day, the better the day will get.  I’ve started a LOA journal; I don’t write it it every day, or even every month, but when the mood strikes, I write and it helps to visualize my goals and what I want out of life that I know I can have if I just stay positive and keep believing that I deserve and can have anything/everything I want. 

2) Gratitude – this does tie in with the LOA, part of the whole positivity thing, but I never realized how helpful and important it was until recently.  If you think using your head and your heart, “thank you”, or “I’m thankful for…”, I can’t explain it, but you just start to feel better!  You can be grateful for the tiniest things: birds chirping, green lights, open doors, or for the largest things: the love of your life, your family, your job.  Anything and everything is something to be grateful for.  I also have a gratitude journal, but if I’m driving and think of something I’m thankful for, its kinda hard to write it down right then, so I find that while writing things down is very effective, if I put genuine feeling behind my thoughts of gratitude, I feel that works just as well.  

3) Presence – One of my biggest faults and biggest struggles has been: “When xxxxx happens, I’ll he happy.”  I mean, this has been since the dawn of time: “When I get to high school, things will be better.”, “When I get to college, I’ll be happy.”, “When I get a real job, things will be better.”  “When I move out of my house, everything will be better.”  Not only is it EXHAUSTING, but its NOT TRUE!!  Stopping and smelling the roses, again, easier said than done.  I’ve been a control freak all of my life, a habit that I picked up from my mother, and I’ve always made these plans for far, far in the future.  And its great to have goals, but these were not goals, they were set-in-stone plans that I not only wanted to control the outcome of, but the process of.  Its not at all enjoyable to live that way.  Again, this has been a more recent development, but to focus on one thing at a time rather than the one thing that’s going on now and the 10 things that may or may not occur afterward, is so much more enjoyable, rewarding, and less stressful. 

4) Self-Love – I’ve always thought of myself as an awesome person, often saying when I was younger that I would date myself.  I still feel that way, until I look in the mirror.  I’ve bullied myself my whole life for my appearance and I haven’t been able to better my physical self because that push for change has never come from a place of love, but from a place of disappointment and self-hatred.  Getting in shape is a great thing; its not something that should be done because you hate yourself, it should be done because you LOVE yourself; its a form of self-care and thin, small, big, heavy, built, wiry, there’s always room to improve and make yourself the best version of yourself.  There’s no shame in that.  I believe any self-improvement journey (spiritual, mental, or physical) is possible if you love that part of yourself and nurture it.  Bullying yourself is counterproductive and I’m not going to do it to myself anymore.

5) Be Open – About two months ago, I was in a place where I felt stuck.  I felt like I was standing at the center of a fork in the road, stagnant because I couldn’t decide if I should go right or left, so I sat down in the middle of the road.  I didn’t know where to turn; I considered a life coach but they seemed too expensive, so I remembered my friend’s cousin saying that she had a psychic reading and it helped her through a similar situation.  Its not that I didn’t believe in psychics, but I was always afraid of finding out something I didn’t want to know.  So another friend of mine referred me to someone who practices Santeria and he game me a reading.  This reading not only made me feel GREAT, but it opened my eyes, heart, and mind to the next steps I should take.  I don’t know what I would have done had I not opened myself up to the unknown and put my faith into something I’d never even heard of before.  When you open yourself up, you find answers in some of the most unexpected places.  

6) Say No – I’ve always been a yes person.  I think a lot of people are, to a fault.  One thing my reading told me was that I say yes to doing someone a favor, and then complain about it because I don’t really want to do it, but I feel bad saying no.  Well, this is going to be the year of “no”.  I’ve already begun to put it into practice and it feels good, and then it makes all the times that you do say yes, even better because you’re genuine about it.  

7) Stop Cursing Myself – another thing my reading said was to stop cursing myself.  I’m hard on myself: if I make a mistake or screw something up, I get mad at myself and beat myself up about it.  I’ve begun to be more aware of the negative thoughts I have of myself in those kind of situations and made an effort to say to myself: “its okay, its not a big deal” or “you’ll get it right next time. its okay”.   Its a big help to be kinder to myself.  

I think I could continue on for a while, but those are the most important things I’ve learned in the last 12 months.  Not to discredit the things I’ve learned in past years, like overcoming mental illness and things like that, but there is a difference between learning to overcome and learning to grow.  To overcome something makes you stronger, and I’m so grateful to have had the opportunity and the fortune to learn to overcome something that seemed like an impossibly high mountain to climb, because it made me an incredibly strong and resilient human being.  But when you learn lessons that help you grow, equally important as the former, you set yourself up for evolution.  2013 was my year to learn, and 2014 is my year to evolve.  Bring it on :)

Masters of Sex

I started watching the first season of this show, Masters of Sex, on Showtime on Demand and needless to say, I’m hooked.  Of course, what got me interested were the commercials advertising the taboo and scandal of the first study on how the body responds to sex.  But as I watch it, I realize how smart the show is and all the little nuances that speak volumes about sexual and social issues that are, sadly, not only relevant in the 1940′s-1950′s, but in today’s “modern” world.  

The most obvious example is female sexuality.  The first episode shows Dr. Masters discovering that women fake orgasms, and upon further investigation, he comes to the revelation that sex was more of a chore to women than pleasure, whereas it was pure pleasure for men.  He states that his study is important for many in the scientific community, but especially women.  One female character, her name escapes me now, says something along the lines of the study being the most important thing to happen to women since the right to vote.  

I’d say the second most obvious thing is feminism and sexism.  Its obvious that in the mid-late 1940′s women were second class citizens, but the things that the show highlighted are not so farfetched from things that happen today, things that I’ve seen and heard myself.  For example, Ginny – she is Dr. Masters’ assistant/partner in his study, and for all intents and purposes, in this show, she is feminism personified.  She is a single mother of two, a two-time divorce`, someone who would be classified as a “working girl” in that time, working at the hospital under a doctor and on a study with no medical degree or higher education herself, and not only a healthy sexual appetite, but a self-assurance and confidence in herself as a woman and a sexual being.  She creates the contrast in the show, a dark shadowy figure on a pristine, white background.  So there you have, Ginny.  She is described in the show by one of her ex-husbands as “outside of the norm”, and then again as “pure magic”.  Ginny represents all the women who are outliers, who are confident, sexual, hard-working, and independent.  Something that should be normal in today’s society, but still, the majority of us Ginnys exist far front he bell curve.  

In contrast to Ginny, there are a plethora of characters who blend in nicely with the pristine, white background that is sexism.  It is expected that we witness men who PLACE women in the seat of the second class citizen, and there is no shortage of that in Masters of Sex: from Ethan backhanding Ginny for rejecting him, to Dr. Masters having her do his dry cleaning when she is meant to be his partner in his study, always reminding her that no matter who she is, what she does or who she knows, she is still and always will be a woman.  The examples are innumerable, but what really gets me, what really stood out to me was the second episode when a female doctor joins rank in the hospital.  She is everything you’d expect a female doctor to be in that time: cold, rigid, and trite.  A “necessary evil”, I think, seeing as no matter how many PhDs she held or how many surgeries she performed, she’d still be a step or two below the men in her field, even those less-qualified than her, and a total outcast among women.  Talk about far from the bell curve.  Not only does the hospital place her desk among the desks of the secretaries, another one of those “you’re still a woman” reminders, but the secretaries want nothing to do with her – openly mocking her style or lack thereof.  And that’s what we do today, as women.  We see women who are, let’s face it, more successful, and rather than praise and/or appreciate their intelligence and strength, we pick at them.  “Sure, she may be the first female doctor in this hospital in 1945, but have you seen what she is wearing under her lab coat?!”  So, men place(d) women in these positions, no matter how high you climb your vagina will never allow you to take the top spot, and then we, other women, REINFORCE that!  And then turn around and complain about what men do to us, we poor victims of the falice, but we fight one another just the same, just with a different weapon.  A man can point his finger at us and say “I am the man.  I am in charge.  I am the breadwinner.  I am the head of this household/facility/office/company.”  And we, point our fingers at each other and say “Look at her shoes.  Has she heard of brushing her hair.  She’s a slut.  She slept her way to the top.  She’ll never get married.”  We reinforce.  So that a woman who is intelligent, successful, and confident not only battles with the opposite sex, but with her own sex.  Rather than support, we demean.  Masters of Sex shows it happening in the 1940s and it happens now.  Not a damn thing has changed.  And we still fight the same battles.  Don’t you think something has got to give?  Women have tried for decades to overthrow or undermine the patriarchy, and obviously that hasn’t worked.  Maybe we should start with ourselves, fight the enemy at home before we throw on our armor and cross the sea to fight the enemy abroad, if you catch my drift.  We’d have a bigger army that way.  

Quitting is for losers

Giving up on your goal because of one setback is like slashing your other three tires because you got one flat.  

-Chris Meloni

 

I don’t know how credible the source of that quote is because it came from Tumblr, but that’s not the point.  I never really thought of giving up in that way.  I mean, we all know how it goes – push through, don’t give up, but its way easier said than done.  Sometimes, it takes someone wording that kind of thing in a different way for it to just click for you.  And reading that really made it click for me.  Staying motivated to achieve a goal, especially in the face of adversity or when you’ve hit a bump in the road is really hard; its hard for me, anyway.  So this kind of thing is something that I will try to keep in the back of my mind for the next time I feel like quitting, I really should just pull over and put my spare tire on and then continue rather than slashing the rest of my tires and staying stuck.

Merry Christmas

Christmas comes and goes seemingly quicker with each passing year.  Stores pack in their inventory, trees and lights go up all before the Thanksgiving Tofurky is put on the table.  Black Fridays get longer, more hectic, and in recent years, more violent.  Shopping becomes a blitz, spending money a sport.  Christmas music is irritating; the same songs every year, maybe a new waif-y pop star is singing it this year, but its all the same.  Before you know it, its December 23rd and you’re scrambling to plan menus, go food shopping, wrap gifts, pick up more gifts, mail cards, ect.   And you wake up on Christmas morning to find that the last 30+ days have lead to this, and let’s be honest, the preparation is far greater than the resulting culmination.  All in all, you finish opening gifts and you find yourself, after stuffing your face and stomach to the brim, at the end of the night thinking, “that’s it?”  Another year gone, another Christmas whizzed by.  And the old you get, the quicker they go; stress and meaning are inversely related, the former skyrocketing with every year that passes as responsibilities at home and work grow larger, many times money growing tighter.

2013 has been a very educational year for me; I’ve learned more and grown more as a person in this one year alone than I have in many years prior.  I’ll get into that more in a later post, but one of the things that I’ve learned is how important it is to be present and to be grateful.  Being present and being grateful are things that I work on every day, but it took me nearly 24 years to realize that those were things that I had to learn.

Cliche as it may be, you have to stop and smell the roses, around the holidays mores than ever.  Just try to get outside your body and look down on yourself sitting next to the people you love, with an abundance of food and love and gifts, more than most people on this Earth could even dream of having, and you have it all – all in one day!  Maybe you don’t get along with your parents, maybe your cousins just rub you the wrong way, maybe family gatherings bore the hell out of you, but how much worse off would you feel if you were not surrounded by those people?  Maybe you didn’t get the gift that you asked for, but how many children can only dream of having one present under the tree?

My point is, if you slow it down and really take a look around and think for a minute of how fortunate you are, the craziness, the consumerism, the greed, the stress, all of the negative things that the holiday season has become over time, falls away.  By being present and by being grateful, you can almost literally slow down time and truly enjoy where you are at this moment.  Everything feels and looks better when you give thanks for it.  You can thank a god, you can thank a creator, you can thank the universe (my personal preference), you can thank those around you, you can thank your imaginary friend, no matter your belief or preference, gratitude is universal and we can all practice it.  Just try it and see how much better your holiday, and every day, gets.

That being said, my mom and dad are in the kitchen prepping tonight’s dinner, my brother and my boyfriend are upstairs sleeping (not together lol), my beagle, Nikki, is snoring her life away in the living room, and my baby Cosmo is right here next to me.  Last night, at Christmas Eve dinner, my mom announced that she was granted a promotion at work and she is now a VP of whatever it is that she does, so that was an amazing Christmas gift for her and all of us.  I’m so proud of her; she’s the hardest working person I know and to say that she deserves this is an understatement.  I’m just looking forward to the rest of the day and being with my 4 favorite people.

Merry Christmas, bitches :)