I love a law enforcement officer

I was born a white female in America. Because of the color of my skin, I am afforded privileges that others are not. I didn’t always believe this to be true, but it is. White privilege is a thing.

I don’t know what it’s like to be black in America, but I do know what it’s like to love a law enforcement officer. The more I think about this past week, and other weeks in our country, the more I believe that black people and law enforcement officers have much more in common than they think.

Both have added dangers in their lives because of one thing about them – what they look like, whether it’s skin color or a uniform. Both have added scrutiny for their actions. Both are blamed when bad things happen. Both must hold themselves to almost impossible standards to simply be taken seriously and respected. And, both are tired and fearful of their fellow brothers and sisters being killed.

Now before you write me hate mail, I know black people and law enforcement officers are not the same. Law enforcement officers get to take off their uniform and badge at the end of their shift; black people cannot take off their skin. Law enforcement officers choose their profession; black people do not choose to be born black. The prejudice is never-ending and I know that as a white female, I will never truly understand what non-white Americans have to face everyday. For that, I’m sorry.

But I have to go back to knowing what it’s like to love a law enforcement officer for a minute. Because this, this is something you cannot truly understand unless your love, your life, your future is tied up in someone who’s profession is regarded as one of the most dangerous in America today.

My officer chose this profession, after having been in it previously, because he felt a calling to return to the force. Yes, he chose this. I know that and he knows that. But for most officers, doing this work is far more than a job and a paycheck. They do it because they are drawn to helping, to protecting, to serving. This work is my officer’s calling. He is both a warrior and a helper wrapped up in blue.

You cannot know the sacrifice law enforcement officers and their families make for this kind of work, unless you’re in it. The process it takes to even be considered, and then the training, and the standards they must meet. It’s stressful, it’s time consuming and tedious. It’s hard on everyone involved.

My officer missed 18 weeks of his first child growing in my belly. The entire second trimester of my pregnancy. He missed the first kicks, the cravings, and numerous doctor’s appointments, because he had to commit 100% to his training. And he did.

My officer has spent hours reading about laws and codes to make sure he knows what he’s doing. Because he takes this work seriously. He knows it’s a huge responsibility and that he’s lucky to even be in blue. He gives a shit.

Last night, on his day off, my officer spent over an hour cleaning and pressing his uniform and shining his boots for his shift today. Because he knows that in doing this work, when you’re in the public eye, your appearance matters. Because he gives a shit.

My officer reads about issues affecting law enforcement today and takes his commands and criticisms from his superiors to heart. Because he wants to be effective and prepared. Because he gives a shit.

My officer spends time on his days off thinking about calls from the shift before, and he processes through how he responded. Because he knows that how the public views him is not only crucial for successful police work, but also how the community he serves treats him and his fellow officers.

All of it is sacrifice. It’s more than a job.

When I hear about law enforcement officers being villainized over a call and response gone public, it makes me angry. What is shown and heard in the media is never the full story, for either party involved. But people take it as fact and run with it. They divide onto separate sides and come up with slogans and hashtags to unite more people. They sit behind their screens and post memes that perpetuate hate.

When I see the level of disrespect toward our law enforcement officers that is becoming commonplace, it makes me angry and scared. No one wants to be judged simply because someone from their “group” did something bad. This is prejudice at its worst. There are officers who have abused their power and taken bad shots and killed people who didn’t deserve it. True. But this does not represent the profession as a whole. And it doesn’t represent the people underneath the uniforms.

Worst of all, when I see people actually encouraging hate and disrespect toward law enforcement officers, it leaves me confused. Because these are the same people who will preach about needing change and holding officers accountable for “senseless killings.” But you must understand, when you encourage the questioning of or resistance to law enforcement officers trying to do their jobs, you increase the likelihood of them having to use more force, which is the very thing you’re trying to prevent.

When you “Monday Morning Quarterback” the decisions they must make in split seconds, you aren’t taking into consideration the hours of training and practice they’ve undergone to make such life altering decisions. Law enforcement officers have great power, that is true, but it comes with huge responsibility. Most officers will tell you that any day in which they have to discharge their service weapon on a call, is not a good day. They don’t want to do it. It’s a precursor to investigations, being away from their work, and heavy burdens of guilt over injuring or killing another human being. They don’t want to do it. They have to.

You cannot hate law enforcement officers one day and then expect them to come protect you the next. Actually, I take that back. You can. Because when you’re a law enforcement officer, you don’t get to decide who calls in and who you have to go help. You just do it. Because that’s the job you chose.

My officer is out there in uniform today with an added layer of vigilance. Before he left early this morning, we extended our normal goodbye, with extra ‘I love you’s’ and kisses and rubs for my growing belly. It was an unspoken need that we both felt, just in case.

We don’t need more blame or more violence. It’s clearly not helping either side. We all have more in common than we think. Strip away our uniform, our skin color, our gender, and we’re all just people. Let me say that again. We’re all just people. And we all matter.

velcro

Take up space

Ever since I can remember, I’ve been trying not to take up space. At least not too much space. I don’t even think I knew that I was doing this. But it was real. And it’s wrong.

Do you remember the first time you were noticed for your size? Either for being big or small?

I don’t. But I do have many, many memories of all sorts of people placing value judgments about me based on how much space I took up. For most women, and let’s be fair, many men too, we receive so much input about our size and whether or not it’s acceptable. These experiences get filed away in our subconscious and we react to them, all the time.

My experiences with size judgement occurred in all kinds of ways. Sometimes it was a positive comment, which told my subconscious that my size was okay, acceptable, perfect. Other times it was a harmful comparison or just a downright negative comment, which told my subconscious that my size was not okay, unacceptable, shameful. My subconscious is stockpiled with these comments, looks, comparisons, judgments, and emotions.

Every time I was told to “sit here” or “stand there” or “go through here” because I could “fit,” my subconscious got sent a message that my size was acceptable. That I was regarded highly or liked enough because of how much space my body did and didn’t take up.

Every time I was called “tiny” or “too skinny” or “rail-thin” with eyes showing jealousy or disgust, my subconscious took some hits of shame and began to feel like maybe my body didn’t take up enough space.

Every time I was laughed at because of how certain clothes fit my body, my subconscious was jolted with pain, anger, and even more shame.

Every time I was told that my body needed to lose an inch, or firm up, or be something that it wasn’t, my subconscious took notes on the need for exercise and portion control.

Every time I was compared to a friend or a sister or a stranger, my subconscious became abuzz with resentment, because when body comparisons are made, someone always gets hurt.

Every time I was excluded from fun things because my friends didn’t want to be in bathing suits around me or were worried that I’d get the most attention from guys, my subconscious stored sadness and pain that would overstay its welcome.

Every time I was told I don’t eat enough, or I eat too much, or labeled anorexic, or told I had gained weight, my subconscious began to close her doors and retreat inward, because she knew there was no way to win this fight.

It wasn’t until I began exploring yoga that my idea and ideals for body size took a different path. I remember doing a particular yoga video in which the instructor was giving directions for body placement on the mat. And she specifically said, “Spread out. Take up space.”

There was a part of me that recoiled from her words, and immediately felt shame at the thought of “taking up space.” The messages from my subconscious came into view and reminded me that society says that I, as a female, should be small and tiny and barely there. How dare I take up space, as if I could use up too much space that there wouldn’t be enough left over for anyone else.

Well, how dare I let society, or anyone, dictate how I feel about my own body! After all, it is my body. And finally, there was a shift. Not only could I laugh at this ignorant notion, but as I spread out on my yoga mat, I felt something different. I felt pride. In my shape, in my body, in my person. I am a person, and I will take up as much space as I need because I matter.

Here’s me, taking up space and being proud of it. 🙂

Yoga

An open letter to the mother of a mentally ill daughter

Judging parenting styles is as old as time. It’s certainly not a novel idea. But it’s so easy. Even a tiny glimpse into how a parent is interacting with his/her child, may give you cause to silently or verbally ridicule them. They’re too harsh, too lenient, too controlling, too permissive, too out there, too boring, too nice, too mean, or too something else.  It’s so easy.

Not being a mother myself, I try my best to keep myself in check when it comes to judging parents. After all, they have the hardest job in the entire world. Props to all the parents out there. 

But, there are also those times when a little judgment is needed. I encountered such a time last night.

My husband and I went out to dinner and were seated next to a mother and her daughter, who couldn’t have been older than 10. Upon sitting at our table and being handed the menus, we were witness to an emotionally distraught little girl withering under the scornful eyes and words of her mother. This little girl was sobbing, not the manipulative cry that 10-year-old girls do when they want their way, but a real, hurting, emotional cry. I immediately wanted to hug this little girl (I may not be a mother but I do have some maternal instincts).

For the next hour and a half, we listened to the mother berate and shame her daughter about her behavior, which became very clear to my husband and I was a result of full blown anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder. This little girl was struggling with mental illness, and her mother wasn’t having any of it. I cannot tell you how hard this was to watch.

Well, let me try. It made my skin crawl, my jaw clench, my heart hurt, and my hands want to strangle this mother. This, folks, is a parenting situation that I give myself clearance to judge the shit out of, because it should never fucking happen. Ever.

The following is an open letter to this mother, the words I couldn’t bring myself to say to her face, but words that will hopefully prevent other parents from committing the same detrimental mistakes she did.


 

Dear mother of a mentally ill daughter sitting at the table next to me,

I see you. I see your shifty eyes, your cold stare, and your need to control your child. I see the hurt in your daughter’s eyes as you tell her you’re disappointed that she’s done it again. I see her tears coming stronger as you tell her that you’re onto her “game,” that she has got to stop, that she has upset everybody (every single person) at her summer camp, and that she’s the reason you’ve had to come and get her, to talk some sense into her. I see her shoulders shake as you explain that you’re here to give her the “tough love” she needs, and that her father isn’t here because he isn’t capable of giving her this tough love.

I see your daughter’s self-worth crumbling as you pick apart every single thing she does – “Straighten your fingers,” “Hands on the table like mine,” “That’s not how you hold a crayon,” “You didn’t draw the line right,” “Do you want to order food? Then stop.” Every few seconds, your daughter was ripped from any resemblance of childhood by your commands.

I see you instilling further anxiety into your daughter as you shame her for feeling worried about germs. “There are germs everywhere in life. You can’t be afraid of germs. You can’t do this anymore. You’re upsetting people. Did the waitress pass her germs to you when she handed you your drink? There are germs everywhere, but they die. You can’t let germs bother you. Here, I just touched this crayon to my nose. Now it has my germs. Anyone else who touches the crayon will get some of my germs.” I watch in horror as you reach across the table and shove the crayon onto your daughter’s nose, on your quest to prove to her that germs are nothing to worry about. I cringe as you do this a second time, even when your daughter cries, “Stop!” and physically backs away from you.

I see you unwilling to let your daughter smile, even for a minute, without reminding her of her shortcomings. “See, this is the kid you used to be. You’re having fun. Why can’t you do that at camp? Why do you have to play your game with the camp counselors? They’ve been in contact with me and have told me how you freak out about nothing, over and over.”

Finally, I see you controlling every inch of her as she tries to enjoy her dinner – “Sit on this side,” “Hands on the table like mine,” “Straighten your fingers,” “Don’t crunch your fists like that, it upsets people,” “How do you hold a hamburger? Not like that.” And later, which really takes the cake, “You’ll have to take a break from eating to call your father. He’s really worried about you. Are you ready to call him? Wipe your hands. Are your hands clean? Are they CLEAN?!”

After observing you and your daughter for over an hour, I have a few things I’d like to say to you.

First and foremost, you have a beautiful daughter. She’s struggling and she needs you. This is a pivotal point in your job as a parent. You can be loving, caring, understanding, and supportive, or you can be cold, callous, judgmental, and cruel. Which kind of parent do you want to be?

Second, when you learn of your daughter’s struggles, the right thing to do is to be quiet and listen. Hear your daughter out. Learn why she’s feeling upset and what she needs. She can’t talk if you never shut up. And she certainly won’t open up to you if you judge her, blame her, and shame her for her feelings. Your daughter needs validation that her feelings are neither right or wrong, regardless of how they play out.

Third, your daughter’s actions are not a game to her. A game is supposed to be fun for children. Does it look like your child is having fun? She is not playing you or anyone else. Mental illness is not a game. There are no rules. And your daughter doesn’t want to play; she doesn’t have control over her illness. Any amount of blame or shame you place onto her will not change that.

Fourth, in addition to my third point, if all it took to change someone’s behaviors or feelings that are rooted in mental illness, was to lecture it out of them, our world would be cured. Do you think your daughter wants to ruin her summer camp experience with meltdowns? At 10 years old, she is well aware of how her behavior looks to other people. If she could control her reactions to anxiety, she would. And by the way, she is not the embarrassment here.

Fifth, the appropriate reaction to learning that your daughter’s life is being affected by her fear of germs, is not to say the word “germs” 17 hundred times or to remind her that germs are everywhere. And you can bet that shoving a germy restaurant crayon into her face will not cure her. What you’re doing is building her anxiety and increasing her debilitating fear.

Sixth, mental illness is hereditary. Picking apart and correcting everything your daughter does is a clear sign of your need to control your environment. Take a look into your family history and your childhood. Explore your experiences with anxiety, obsessions, and compulsions, and then seek help. Immediately.

Seventh, the outside world can be cruel and can leave lasting marks, especially on those who struggle with mental illness. Your daughter doesn’t need tough love from her mother. Society will offer enough of that, trust me. What she needs is for you to hug her, hold her, listen to her, and love her, unconditionally. If not you, then who?

Eighth, if your ridicule and shaming doesn’t stop, your daughter is headed towards dangerous life paths. It won’t be long until she has her first suicide attempt, since her self-worth has been cut down to nothing. An eating disorder may enter the picture, since your daughter isn’t allowed to control anything else in her life. It won’t be surprising if she turns to alcohol and drug use to cope with her disorder(s), since she hasn’t been allowed to develop healthy coping skills. It’s inevitable that your daughter will be at greater risk for dating violence, teen pregnancy, and drop out, since children who are not validated or accepted at home so often seek out acceptance elsewhere, even when it comes with harmful and lifelong side effects.

I noticed your daughter didn’t look up very much during your meal. The reason I know this is because I wanted so badly to make eye contact with her, to lend a friendly smile or kind gaze, to shield her from your torment, even if only temporarily. I wanted to wrap my arms around your daughter and pull her close, to tell her that even in the short time I’ve been near her, I can tell that she is beautiful, poised, patient, and kind. I wanted her to know that she is worthy of love, acceptance, and happiness, even and especially when she’s struggling. I wanted to encourage her to be around people who help make her feel good, and that those kinds of people do exist.

And lastly, I wanted to tell her to stay strong and finish out her summer camp experience, so that she can be away from you as long as possible.

Sincerely,

The upset-by-you-and-not-by-your-daughter diner at the table next to you

Excuse me for not feeling bad

I know that my writing this will likely strike a chord in many of you. Some will do a silent or vocal cheer in agreement; others will scoff and judge. It’s all okay.

I’m writing this for the middle class, the working poor, and the ‘worker bees’ of the world. This is for the people who earn their pay, the people whose budgets never seem to stretch far enough, the people who are honest and serious about their work, and the people who, despite working as hard as they can, might fall behind but choose to keep their nose to the grindstone anyway. This is for you.

My words, however harsh they may seem, are not for those people who seek help when they need it, because those people should be commended. My words are not for the people who get assistance, monetary or otherwise, because their family has experienced a hardship, a break physically or mentally, or a tragedy that has shaken them from their norm. And my words are certainly not for those people who graciously accept the help and use it as a temporary stepping stone to something better.

My words are for the takers, the people who take and take and come back for more, never wondering or caring where it comes from. My words are for the ungrateful, the entitled, and the idle.

money-clipart-1

Excuse me for not feeling bad that you are poor, because while you might feel like you deserve more than what you’re getting, my husband and I are working hard for the income that barely covers our living expenses. Excuse me for not feeling bad that you can only afford one new video game this month instead of two, because while your priority is your Xbox or PS3, our priority is cutting out the excess, like basic cable, so we can pay our other bills.

Excuse me for not feeling bad that you didn’t get as much financial assistance to go back to school at your leisure, because while you’re contemplating the easiest classes to take to build a résumé or to fill your free time, my income is almost cut in half each month to pay my student loans, which total almost $70,000. Student loans, by the way, which I needed to get to earn the degree; the degree that I needed to land the job that I have (can you see the vicious cycle?). Student loans, by the way, that when I tried multiple times to get the monthly payment lowered, just for a little while, just for a little break to save and not feel so confined by them, each time I was told, “Sorry ma’am, you make too much money.”

Excuse me for not feeling bad that you could only buy a medium-sized flat screen TV with your tax return, because while you’re bumming hard that you didn’t have enough to get the large-sized TV, my husband and I are stressed over paying INTO the state and federal government come April 15th. Excuse me for not feeling bad that you couldn’t get a bigger refund check, because we have paid taxes all year but it isn’t enough and we owe more. Because while you collect for your growing number of dependents, we’ve made the conscious choice not to have children, but instead are paying for yours.

Excuse me for not feeling bad that you can’t get the brand name cereal for your kids because your food stamps wouldn’t stretch that far. Because while you’re stocking your cupboards with food you didn’t pay for, I am eating crackers and an apple for lunch during a week in which my husband and I hit a tight spot and our budget couldn’t quite cover groceries, so I ate what we had in our house. Because while you might think it’s unfair that you can’t get what you want with your EBT card, I view my days eating a ‘light lunch’ as a necessary part of life that will get better the harder I work.

Excuse me for not feeling bad that your healthcare services are not up to your standards. Because while you can frequent the ER or doctor free of charge, my husband and I pay hundreds each month for our healthcare plan. Excuse me for not feeling bad that your dentist pulled your rotting tooth instead of filling it because it’s cheaper, because while you got that service for free or almost free, I cannot afford to have necessary dental work done, because even though I pay for a dental plan myself, it doesn’t cover everything. Because while you can have babies and walk out of the hospital with no bill, I save five dollar bills, to have enough in my pile to cover what my medical and dental plan will not.

Excuse me for not feeling bad that your local church only offers mediocre snack options on food pantry days, because while you’re boxing up free food to bring home, you’re somehow managing to talk to your friends on a smart phone that is newer than mine. Because while you will be sure to get up in time to be first in line when a new phone or video game is released, I’m on my way to work.

Excuse me for not feeling bad that you have to be careful not to have ‘too much’ in your savings account or your services will be cut, because while you’re spending your savings on another new toy so you’ll still receive heating oil assistance, my husband and I aren’t able to keep money in savings because our oil tank needs to be filled, again.

Excuse me for not feeling bad that the local holiday gift program didn’t purchase the right pair of boots for your kid. Because while your children’s Christmas presents get delivered to your house, wrapped and free of charge (there must be a Santa Claus!), my husband and I had to make the painful decision not to purchase Christmas gifts for our own families this year, due to lack of finances. We did, however, purchase a few items for a family in need because despite being working poor, we still find a way to give to others who truly need it and appreciate it.

Excuse me for not feeling bad that your family can’t afford a vacation other than the local beach, because while you’re trying to find something to do with your kids during their summer vacation, I’m trying to find summer work, to earn extra income between school years.

Excuse me for not feeling bad that you wish to get more assistance, because while you’re pocketing or spending money, I’m dishing money out to support the assistance programs from which you receive. Excuse me for not feeling bad if your budget is a little tight, because while your rent/oil/cable/food/healthcare is covered or partially covered, my husband and I cannot afford to pay for anymore of your expenses.

And excuse me for not feeling bad if my words offend you. Because while you collect and hold your hand out for more, the resources are drying up. The worker bees are tired and need a rest. So excuse me, because this needs to be said.

I will not apologize

Something is happening with women. Something is shifting, changing, rising up within them. Women are looking a little longer at themselves and are liking what they see. They are recognizing a strength, a power, a life force deep within themselves and are using it to light a fire in their eyes. They are showing the world that they are women, they are beautiful, and they are valuable.

Well, the feminist fire within me is certainly lit, and I welcome the warmth.

From the Real Beauty Campaign, body positive photography, girl power songs from Alicia Keys and Katy Perry, the #yesallwomen movement, and most recently, the #ShineStrong Pantene commercial Not Sorry, women are getting the message: It’s time to stop bashing ourselves and others for what makes us women, to stop apologizing for our qualities and quirks, and to start loving ALL of ourselves. Basically, we are women hear us roar!

Here’s my roar:

I’m pretty sure I’ve been a feminist since before I knew that I lived in a man’s world. I was a girl who didn’t much care for gender stereotypes and how I was supposed to look, act, and talk (or not talk). However, as I grew up, I learned what being a woman in a man’s world meant, and I, as so many of us do, developed the apologies deeply rooted in shame simply for being born female.

Lately I’ve been wondering, how much of myself have I felt sorry and shame for? The answer is, too much. And I’m done apologizing for being a woman.

I will not apologize for wearing pink, blue, pants, skirts, or shirts that show too much or too little.

I will not apologize for wearing my hair long, short, up, down, straight, or curly.

I will not apologize for not putting makeup on my face to cover my flaws.

I will not apologize for the dark circles that appear under my eyes.

I will not apologize for my thin smile that decorates my eyes with little lines.

I will not apologize for having arm flab that waves back and thighs that rub.

I will not apologize for having hips and a butt that sway when I walk.

I will not apologize for having a swell in my belly and a bounce in my breasts.

I will not apologize for having rolls, dimples, or cellulite when I move my body.

I will not apologize for wearing clothes that show my figure.

I will not apologize for having skin that’s too white, too tan, or too something else.

I will not apologize for liking the way that I look.

I will not apologize for eating too much or too little.

I will not apologize for belching or farting.

I will not apologize for having hair under my arms or between my legs.

I will not apologize for being a sexual being.

I will not apologize for having sexual fantasies and sexual experiences.

I will not apologize for saying or writing the word sex, vulva, vagina, penis, or anything related to such words.

I will not apologize for sacrificing parts of my life to achieve my goals.

I will not apologize for being successful.

I will not apologize for being educated and intelligent.

I will not apologize for being too quiet or too loud.

I will not apologize for speaking my mind.

I will not apologize for having an opinion and sharing it.

I will not apologize for raising a hand and saying, “Let me finish” when you interrupt me.

I will not apologize for being honest.

I will not apologize for having thoughts, feelings, and needs.

I will not apologize for your reaction to my thoughts, feelings, and needs.

I will not apologize for being an emotional being.

I will not apologize for crying at home, at work, or in public.

I will not apologize for saying no.

I will not apologize for saying yes.

I will not apologize for having a career that fulfills me.

I will not apologize for not having children.

I will not apologize for being independent.

I will not apologize for needing someone to depend on now and then.

I will not apologize for having feminine and masculine traits.

I will not apologize for my power, my strength, and my worth.

I will not apologize for loving myself.

I will not apologize for not apologizing.

I will not apologize for being a woman.

I will not apologize.

I will not.

 

#YesAllWomen

Honest answers to unspoken questions. A beautiful read.

in transit

#YesAllWomen

Because all women have walked to their car in the dark, keys clutched tight in hand, one poking out between two fingers.

Because when I go out to bars or clubs, I have to think about whether what I’m wearing is too suggestive, instead of putting on whatever I please.

Because I feel the need to apologize when I’m not wearing makeup or my hair hasn’t been washed, or when I’m generally looking anything other than flawless.

Because there was nothing I could do about the man who touched me inappropriately in the middle of Gillette Stadium as I waited for my then-boyfriend to come out of the bathroom. IN THE MIDDLE OF THE STADIUM.

Because there was also nothing I could do when a man touched me inappropriately in the middle of a crowded street, his arm around his girlfriend. Because retaliating in the way I wanted to…

View original post 471 more words

Guy, gal, both, or neither?

Yesterday, while perusing clothing stores in and around the Maine Mall, I noticed something. The diversity among the other shoppers was quite intriguing. The stores and sidewalks were busy, and among the customers and cashiers, I observed variety, everywhere. Variety in mood, skin color, style, sexual orientation, and gender expression, to name a few.

I think what struck me the most was the gender non-conformity, meaning people expressing themselves in ways that do not conform to the gender norms of male and female. After exiting the fitting rooms at a Target, I handed the “number of items” tag back to a strikingly beautiful person, of whose gender I couldn’t tell. What I could tell was this person had shiny skin, pearly white teeth, bright eyes, a cute hair flip cut which I could never pull off, and a friendly smile showing on hot pink lips. As I walked away, I had only one thought: Wow, what a beautiful person! I didn’t know if he was a he who identified as a she, or if he liked to wear make-up and nail polish, or if she was a she who dressed more like a he, or any other number of possibilities. Does it matter?

Yes. It matters, not because it’s mine or anyone else’s business which biological gender someone is. It matters because gender is not simply male or female. It is not binary, only two rigidly fixed options of masculine or feminine. If we hold the belief that men are only masculine and women are only feminine, it is because it’s been taught to us by someone else who holds that limited view of gender.

The reality is that gender is far more than the sex we are born as. Having a penis or a vagina does not determine what kind of man or woman we’ll become. Gender exists along a spectrum. Each of us is a mixed bag of masculine and feminine traits, and how we choose to express ourselves may show that, or not.

The gender non-conformity that I observed yesterday was a thing of beauty and bravery. I admired the few people I saw who expressed themselves along the spectrum and did so comfortably, in a society which is still very much “catching up” when it comes to learning about and accepting gender diversity.

To be different in an obvious way, such as wearing what you like despite what’s between your legs, is to put yourself out there, for judgment and possible ridicule. But there are also people who think you’re beautiful, just the way you are.

Gender spectrum

For more information on gender diversity and expression, please check out these websites:

The Gender Spectrum

 Gender Diversity

The Guardian: Mind Your Language

Trans Youth Equality

5 reasons why enough is enough

I don’t care about the Joneses, or the Kardashians, or keeping up with either. They may have perfect picket fences, 2.5 blonde-haired, blue-eyed kids, and family portraits covering the walls of their HGTV-inspired house (Joneses), or millions of dollars, big butts, and bright, glossy faces (Kardashians). I don’t care. They have more than enough already, and will probably get more, because, why not? They can. Here’s why “more” may not be everything it’s cracked up to be:

  1. “Too much of a good thing” is not just a saying. A good thing is good, but it can also be bad. Take alcohol for example. Your drink of choice is most likely stellar to you – you like the taste, you like the way it makes you feel, it’s fun to drink it, etc. You like it too much, however, and you’re either an annoying drunk who embarrasses your friends, you’re sick and praying for death, or you’re far more than a social drinker, perhaps entering alcoholic territory. Good things are good, unless you can’t control yourself.
  2. Competition can be unhealthy. If it’s used to set you up to fail, then it sucks. Consumerism is basically a big, fat competition that you will never, ever win. Ever. If you’re trying to keep up with the Joneses, Kardashians, or some other whack-a-doo family, you will most likely never feel like a winner. A bigger house, faster car, pricier designer dresses, cuter children, sexier spouse, higher paying job, or lower number on the scale will not mean anything after a while. Someone will always have more money or power than you do. Get over it. Stop competing.
  3. Do you really want a house full of stuff you don’t use? You cannot possibly ride more than one bicycle at a time. You can only wear one pair of glasses at a time. And how many lawn mowers, computers, or handbags do you really need? If enough is never enough, then you might end up with more piles of stuff around you than people in your life.
  4. It’s okay to say no. In fact, you might want to practice it so you’re ready. You don’t need to donate a dollar to every charity that the salesperson at the counter asks you about. You don’t need to add extra items to your cart just because it’s buy 2, get 1 free. You don’t need to attend every party you’re invited to. It’s okay to say no.
  5. Find what you like and stick with it. Hopping from thing to thing can make you restless. It’s certainly good to try new things, learn new things, meet new people, but it’s also good to know what you like, what you care about, and what you need to feel happy. It’s not settling; it’s being settled.

I love being in the presence of non-competitive, confident, fulfilled from the inside people. There’s an easy grace and simplicity to their company that extends to others. If there’s anything more that I would want, it’s to become one of these people. That would be enough for me.