Be the good…

Since the election, there has been a lot of talk among progressives about us “going high when they go low” and taking this opportunity to show the world that we are good, we are caring, we are loving, welcoming and tolerant.

Judging from this blog in which I rant about a lot of topics, it might be hard to tell that I do consider myself to be a force for good in the lives of those around me. I am a big believer in putting out positive energy. That doesn’t always mean that I feel positive, but I try to be polite, non-confrontational, kind and generous to everyone. It just doesn’t serve anyone to be easily angered, offended or rude. There are plenty of those kind of people and I prefer to be the kind yin to their unkind yang.

If your own life is a mess, it can be difficult to see past yourself to be the good, and if you find that there is nothing left to give to others, that’s ok. Just move on. Hopefully someone will come along, have some extra to spare and fill your cup just a little bit.

I have a friend who always has time to give advice and just listen, even if she is going through her own crises, of which there seem to be many. Some people just have the capacity to give even when their own life is falling apart at the time. I want to be one of those people. I don’t have to like you or agree with you or carry your burdens, but I’m not going to let an encounter with me ruin your day if I can help it. Just imagine if everyone you came in contact with during the days really tried to act on that principle. What an amazing world we would live in.

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Let’s Get This Straight

It is NOBODY’S BUSINESS but your own, let me repeat NOBODY’S BUSINESS but your own, what you choose to do with your body.  Before anyone states the obvious, I’m not talking about using your body to commit a crime or to inflict pain on another person.  I’m talking about the skin, bones, blood, muscles, etc. that you claim as yours.  That’s right.  It is yours. It’s what people see when they look at you.  It’s almost always a canvas to be used to express who you are in one way or another.  It can reveal a lot about you or it might not.  You might not think a lot about your body, but I hope that you think enough of it to take care of it. If you don’t, well, that is unfortunate, but it’s not my place to tell you what I think of it.

At the old age of 52, my body has certainly been through a lot with three pregnancies, two childbirths, my rough and tumble childhood (and adulthood, lol), sexual pleasure, bruises, sprains, high blood pressure, and far too much abuse. I never set out to abuse my body, but I never loved it. I never loved the skin I’m in. What about the legs that have carried me so well for all of these years?  I’ve never had a broken bone. I really have never had a serious illness.  My breasts have fed a child.  My body has nurtured the growth of two children. Isn’t it funny how we, as mothers, seem to practice body love only when the life of another is at stake?  Why did I give up certain foods and drinks when I was pregnant?  Wasn’t MY health just as important as the health of the life inside of me?  I daresay many of us don’t love our bodies. We scrutinize and torture ourselves with thoughts of hatred and desires to be look like someone else.  How fucking insane is that??  Men generally don’t do that.

I’m writing this because of a conversation I had recently with one of my parents.  Rather than bore you with a long, woe is me post about my own body issues, I will tell you what was said and you can draw your own conclusions about my past and how those past issues continue to haunt me and affect me to this day.  At the age of 52!!!  Ok, here goes some snippets from the aforementioned conversation:

Me: “How was your dinner with J and his friend? What did you think of R?”

Parent: “He seemed nice enough.  Overweight, though, just like J.”

Me: “Heh, aren’t so many young people these days?”

—————————————————————–

Parent: “I looked up S’s fiance’ on on Facebook. Do you know what her last name is?”

Me: “Yes, we are friends on Facebook.  It’s **** .” (her last name is a synonym for fat)

Parent: “Kind of appropriate.”


S just recently got engaged.  His fiance’ is a young woman who is overweight.  S has exclusively dated larger women. I don’t know if he has a preference or not, but that’s his business.  Since S started dating, this parent (S’s grandparent) has made remarks about S’s girlfriends being fat. One time, a comment about one girlfriend was made in earshot of her parents.  Not cool.  J’s friend R is also overweight. I knew that, but of course, it had to be pointed out to me in a critical manner.

From a very young age, I was taught that it was not OK to be overweight. Of course, I inherited my curvaceous body type from my Italian grandmother and I have had to work hard to keep weight off.  I don’t want to be overweight, but I still am. No matter how I choose to “keep” my body, it’s not up to anyone else to pass judgements on it, but that has not been the story of my life.

I have been envious my whole life of girls who grew up feeling good about themselves.

Nowadays it’s called “body shaming.”  I just call it hate.  Hate your body, hate yourself, treat yourself poorly.  Let’s end this.

From bad to worse.

Unfortunately, the orange asshole is now in charge and we the people are paying the price. There is not much that I can say that hasn’t been said already. The women’s marches on January 21 seemed to spark a movement and even I was surprised at the turnout around the world. It made me happy to see so many people standing up for what is right. Unfortunately, we are more divided than ever. Many of us are worried that our personal lives are going to be negatively affected by the actions of those in power.  Personally, I am afraid.  I am afraid that those of us with dissenting voices will be targeted.  I am afraid that I will no longer have health insurance.  I am afraid that my husband will lose his social security  disability and Medicare.  If that happens, he might die and that is not hyperbole. I am afraid that the economy will get so bad that jobs will be lost.  The apocalyptic vision with Trump in charge is nothing less than bleak. If you don’t believe that, you’re either crazy or blind to the truth.  Betsy DeVos is on tap to be the new Education Secretary.  A woman who knows absolutely NOTHING about education will be running our country’s educational system.  I pray that my son will not lose his teaching job. Don’t even get me started on Steve Bannon.  He is evil.

Friends, we are facing dark days ahead unless we act.

Post-election Bullshit

I didn’t vote for the orange asshole and if you did, don’t come here explaining why you did. I don’t give a flying fuck.  I don’t care if you have gay friends or family, or if your favorite co-worker is black.  It doesn’t matter one iota what you think of Muslims, Mexicans, women, gays, trans people, women who have had an abortion, liberals, progressives or the poor, down on their luck white lower class.  I’m sick to death of your excuses.  If you are proud of your vote and can respect the man, that’s your right in this (once) great country.

I have read more articles than I care to this week which attempts to explain how 50% of the United States felt that an arrogant, abusive, racist, shallow, UNQUALIFIED man was fit to be our leader.  By the way, I capitalized UNQUALIFIED because personality flaws aside, he is UNQUALIFIED.  I get it.  You don’t like Hillary Clinton.  She’s an easy scapegoat for the disgruntled masses and always has been. If you are a Christian and still thought DT was a better choice than any of the other choices, I have the least respect of all for you.  Case in point:  a friend of mine admitted she voted for him because Hillary Clinton is in favor of abortion.  This friend is not dumb.  She simply has been misled by DT, who claimed he would punish a woman who had an abortion.  I’m not going to debate my position on abortion here because it’s irrelevant.  One issue voters actually thought DT is opposed to abortion.

Oh, the poor misunderstood white working class.  They have seen their jobs go away and their quality of life has gone downhill.  Yes, that is true.  It has gotten bad in some small towns.  I actually read an article which implied that the white working class  hates the black poor because they have gotten “breaks” while they have not. Hey, it’s your own fault if you refuse government assistance.  If you choose not to get food stamps even though you’re qualified because you are too proud, that’s no one’s fault but your own, buddy. For years I have heard whites put down blacks, referring to “welfare queens” like they were somehow inferior to them. Well, as far as I can see, the playing field is not level and never has been. You do know why most of the inner cities are comprised of poor blacks, don’t you? http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/03/13/how-we-built-the-ghettos.html  Here is some reading if you don’t know.  It is not the fault of the black person that they are where they are just like it is not the fault of the poor or working class white that their factories are shut down and their communities are dying.  DT promised to bring back the jobs for those white people.  He is their savior.  He is the one who will once again turn the tide and magically get those jobs back.  Where are the jobs for the inner city blacks?  I’ll tell you where they are.  They are working at the McDonald’s for minimum wage or 3 bus rides away in a suburban Walmart.  Hey.. I’m starting to see some similarities here, aren’t you?  We know that poor whites are racists because they they like to see poor blacks (or blacks in general or Mexicans) as lower on the rung of social stature.

Little story for you.  My Dad’s parents were high school dropouts.  My Dad was the first one in the family to go to college.  He has white male privilege, but he was not brought up in wealth. Not by any stretch.  Even though he was brought up in a home of uneducated people who espoused racist views from time to time, he didn’t embrace those views himself.   He could have turned out just like his parents; however, he is a staunch liberal and raised us to be the same.  We were not rich and we could have easily become a family of white people who feared and even resented blacks.  Or gays.  I was taught to stand up for the little guy and fight with the underdog and this election means that I have to continue that fight for what is right.  What is right is not fear (because we all know that racism is a form of fear) of what is different, it’s sticking up for the marginalized.

Judge Not, etc.

As I noted in my last blog post, I have been in and out of churches for a very long time. I have longed for the community of a good church.  I have joined my local Secular Humanist group and attended my first meeting this past Sunday.  The topic of discussion piqued my interest.  A local church group, along with the local police department (in conjunction with the police department? I really don’t know…) held a prayer walk and vigil on the streets where the local prostitutes work. The humanists were appalled by this for a number of reasons, which I’ll get to later.  The last line of the information that was provided for the group meeting was, “Humanists have a better plan.”  Well, OK!  As a woman, I am concerned about this topic.  Too many women are using their bodies to pay for drug habits. Admittedly, I don’t know much about the profession, but I have a heart for the women who feel that this is their only option, for whatever reason.

The group meeting began with introductions and then the facilitator passed out copies of the church’s flyer advertising the prayer walk and vigil, which took place on a recent Saturday morning.  Next, the facilitator read us a personal anecdote about his own experience as a young military man who was approached, along with his buddies, by ladies looking for a “good time”, or has he called it, a “date.”  The only reason he did not partake was that he couldn’t afford it.  I listened and tried to understand where he was coming from.  He preached about the “victim-less” crime and how it should be legalized, blah, blah.  Fortunately, many of the group participants spoke up and took him to task for condoning the exploitation of women (and men).  The talk then turned to how we, as Humanists, could do better.  More on that later.

The group was starting to sound pretty judgy.  The judged the supposed white, middle-class women at the church preaching to mostly women of color.  I shook my head in agreement, but still wondered how we could do better.  Unfortunately, I spent the 60 minutes in the group attempting to explain to these people that church groups do offer a lot to those who are in the midst of crisis.  They want you in church, they invite you to their groups and they can be very hospitable and caring.  I have seen this in my own life with people I have known and not every Christian is judgmental.  Still no good answers to how Humanists could do a better job.  No one really wanted to meet the prostitutes where they were and offer them comfort, a meal or some coffee.  With all the bitching that atheists do about Christians being judgmental, these people were just as bad, if not worse.  At least the Christians they complain about actually do try to help others.  I’m sure there are good Humanist and Atheist groups that help, but this was not it.

I decided to do further research into this church and their ministry and found that the leader is a recovering addict herself, who was welcomed into the church while she was in jail.  The people from the church came to visit her while she was in jail and cared about her in a way that she had never known before.  I also viewed pictures of the event on their Facebook page and saw much diversity in the participants.

No answers or solutions were given during the group time, except that drugs and prostitution should be legalized, thus subjecting them to regulation. I suppose that is one way to look at the problem, but these are people with real issues and they need a lot more than governmental interference.

Religiosity

Religiosity, in its broadest sense, is a comprehensive sociological term used to refer to the numerous aspects of religious activity, dedication, and belief (religious doctrine). Another term less often used is “religiousness”.

I was not brought up in church. I was christened as a baby (no doubt due to family pressure, as my parents, especially my father, were opposed to religious indoctrination), and until the age of 12, never stepped foot in a church.  Our family didn’t pray.  Even the extended family didn’t participate in outward signs of faith, such as saying grace, etc. My parents are both highly intelligent and well-educated.  They had their faults, but were good parents who raised their children to have morals and manners.

I eventually did find my way into the world of religion and church.  40 years later, I still cannot wrap my head around that foreign world.  I am fascinated by the christian culture, yet repulsed by it.  This dichotomy has been plaguing me and hampering my spiritual growth.   Why can’t I sit in church on Sunday and feel content?  I am challenged when I go to church.  I am challenged by my deep desire to believe that the christian god and his son, Jesus Christ, were/are real.  When the pastor speaks of the love that Jesus had for the broken, I am convinced that this time, my doubts and lingering negativity will be replaced by the power of the holy spirit living inside of me.  So, what is it that makes believing in a higher power so difficult?

All of my doubts and my negative thoughts are echoed and sometimes shared by other christians.  I temporarily  no longer felt alone, wracked by my inability to have “good enough” faith.  I wanted to be like Jesus, but the christian faith requires the belief of the omnipotent god that created this world.  The explanations by the faithful for the condition of the world and the people that god created seem hollow.  It’s a fallen world.  Heaven is our real destination, if you are a christian.  Christians are told that in order to experience this afterlife, one must be a chrisitan.  No Jews, Buddhists, etc.  will be going to heaven.  I scratched my head and wondered and then another pat answer was given to me in an attempt to explain this.  I didn’t like the answer, but I still struggled to believe.  I continued to pray, read the bible, go to church.  I did these things because I want to do the right things.

To compound the theological questions, there is the christian culture that gnaws away at my desire for religious maturity.  I didn’t  want to be an immature christian, so I worked very hard at not associating with those people who call themselves christians but don’t practice what they preach.  I know, christians are only human and can be just as horrible as non-christians.  I practiced forgiveness and grace as I try to do with most people.  We are all struggling, we should hold each other accountable.  I think there is a scripture about iron sharpening iron and bearing each other’s burdens.  I’ve done that.  Check.

So, what is lacking?  Is it that I didn’t have a relationship with god?  Well, I can’t say I haven’t tried.  Many, many prayers have been said and I have listened. I thought that relationships involved two-way communication, but I’m not hearing anyone answering.

I wanted to start another paragraph here and rant about the horrible, unspeakable suffering in this world, but I’m not going to.  Everyone already knows this.  Personally, I see it every day in the deteriorating health of a man who has thousands of people praying for him daily.  So-called god is not answering the prayers of his own mother, the epitome of religious goodness.  God, the deity that created the entire world, has either chosen not to intervene in the lives of his flock, is intervening in ways that are mysterious and unfathomable, or does not exist at all.  Of course, most believers choose the second answer and they will find all kinds of ways to back up that belief.  Paul suffered.  Ok, I can buy that (if you believe in biblical stories). So, why continue to pray for anything, at all?  God already knows how fucked up the world is and every day babies get raped and murdered, good people suffer horribly in the worst ways imaginable and yet the god who answers prayers allows these atrocities.  I don’t hate him.  I merely have no use for him anymore.  I still want to have a religious epiphany, but I am no longer seeking it.  Praying does not hold a place anymore in my life. Church is fine when it does good, but I can do good without it.  I never did find a church community that embraced me, uplifted me and carried me through the hard times, like it was supposed to do, so I won’t be losing that.  I will just be losing the 40 year quest for that that has left me bitter and angry.  Bitterness and angry will be replaced by contentment, acceptance and I will finally put my searching to rest.  And I will rest.

Helpless, Woe is Me

I want to preface this post by saying that I have been through shit in my life.  Divorce, abuse, familial estrangement, mental illness, job loss, health issues, etc.  I could go on but I’ll just leave that there.   I have never asked for help or cried out to friends and family about my situation.  There have been rough financial times in my past when my children were small. I have always found ways to make it through by cutting back expenses, or by making difficult choices such as going back to work when my children were small.  Our home was never large and sometimes we shared a car.  Many cold mornings I bundled my son, put him in his car seat and drove my ex husband to work.  I made the heart wrenching decision to work when my kids were small so that we could afford the bare necessities and some extras for them, such as rec sports, music lessons, and even private school when we had to.  It’s what grown ups do.  Put on our big girl or big boy pants and make hard decisions that aren’t necessarily our first choice.

My own parents got married young and had two children 16 months apart.  From what I’ve been told, we lived in a shack while my father finished his degree and my mother took care of us.  After that, we moved out of state (from all family) for my father’s job.  Our childhood home was small and my parents rented it until they could afford something else.  (still not a mansion)  I don’t ever remember my parents burdening us with the struggles they had to endure.  Life was simpler then, I suppose.

I had to use WIC.  I’ve used food stamps and food banks in my adult life. I have worked when I could barely get out of bed due to the worst depression anyone could have had.  I was pregnant at the time, by the way.  I have had an abortion when my ex and I found out I was pregnant before we were ready for a child.

I was in a shitty marriage with two children, but I never once ran back to my parents like a child.

When you are an adult, you don’t make bad financial decisions over and over again and then expect your parents and friends to bail you out.  I have a friend who has done this and I am finding it very hard to respect her.  I feel that an adult friendship requires some level of respect and I don’t respect her anymore.  I even called her therapist’s office to pay for her therapy sessions a few months ago.  Then, bam, a month later she is posting on Facebook how sad and depressed she is because her parents aren’t alive anymore to bail her out financially or emotionally.  Sooner or later, you must grow up.She can’t even bring herself to help out with the selling of her parents’ house.  I guess her brother and sister will have to take on that burden.   I won’t be friends with people who are so foolish and immature. I just can’t do it.