Sunday, August 13, 2017

Carrying On

Lately, I've been reading ebooks from the library system like it's going out of style. I found that I can, when we have down time, read like crazy and enjoy myself and I am re-finding my love of reading (that wasn't really lost, just slightly misplaced).

Currently, I am reading Carry On, Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton. It is beautiful and brutal. My heart soars and my heart aches with some of these stories.

And it's reminded me that I need to be my authentic self. People seem to like that person. She's nice and caring and admits mistakes and loves all sorts of things that make me so very happy. She's a bit of a mess, but she's trying. And she has opinions, which is something I've usually tried to avoid expressing unless I am sure about other people's opinions. So that I'm safe from arguments or disagreements or people yelling or just talking loudly.

I wish I knew what exactly started my hiding my opinions about things. I think it had to do with my mother. I don't want to make her a scapegoat for all my problems, but she did seem to cause quite a few of them. It wasn't safe to have opinions other than hers around her. She didn't like that, and I wanted her to like me so that maybe she might love me in a way I needed loving. But it didn't happen. That, of course, did not stop me from keeping up that habit, in case it might start working (and yes, I know that's insane, but you do insane things when dealing with insane situations).

And by the time I was around someone (Ace) who I could be completely free to share opinions with, I had stopped forming many opinions. What was the use, if they weren't going to be able to be expressed? (This terrible habit is one that annoys him still, because sometimes he wants an opinion, and I don't have one to give him. Some habits are harder to break than others.)

But, lately, I have been realizing that I need to start having opinions again. And expressing them. That I need to be able to express myself, even if I'm slightly broken and dented, because I do have opinions and I need to be okay with the fact that people aren't going to agree with me all the time. I need to be okay with the idea that I'm not supposed to please everyone.

I like Glennon's writing, because it pushes me to think about my faith. And to grow, mostly closer to God, but sometimes closer to myself. And it's nice to remember that I'm allowed to mess up and be messy and the world will still go on. I'm important to God, but I'm not the center of the universe. And that's good.

I don't really know where any of this rambling is going, just that I'm working on carrying on, forgiving myself, loving myself, and not just stalling out because things don't go how I expect them too. Life is messy, even when I'm together. And things have a way of working out, generally for the best.

So, I invite you to carry on too. And maybe if we practice the things we want to see in the world, it will get better.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Double Standards

I know that in my last post I was wondering what women were protesting on International Women's Day, (I never have found out.) and this post is probably part of the answer.

I am tired of the double standards for women. I am tired of the implication in the world that I am never enough if I try to please the masses. There is no right weight or clothing style or whatever to keep me from being a prude or a slut or at fault for being assaulted in some people's minds. I can't make people happy, and I am finding out that collar bones are somehow too sexy for schools these days (I would be completely lost at finding shirts that cover my collar bones, and I wear pretty plain t-shirts. Collar bones are pretty high up on the chest. Why are they supposed to be covered?).

Part of the problem, at least in some schools, is that teachers are probably finding their students attractive. I'm not saying that none of the boys might find shoulders attractive, but I doubt that teen boys are too distracted to focus in school because of girls wearing sleeveless shirts. And if girls should wear sleeves, so should boys. If the teachers are having problems focusing on teaching because the girls are showing shoulders, the teachers need to figure out how to be an adult.

But I am tired of the idea that women can only be extremes. They can only be prudes or sluts. They can be butch or girly. They can be too masculine or too feminine. They can't just be, well, themselves. That maybe my haircut (currently a pixie cut, which looks awesomely cute on me) is a reflection of my life and my preferences, rather than some other, random statement about me.

So, I am ignoring any opinions about my style (which is actually a pretty casual and conservative style) that isn't mine, my husband's, or God's. As long as we are all satisfied, you can worry about your own style. (This is not particularly a new thought process for me. I've been wearing what I want for years.) And I'll not say anything about your style (I might tell you if your zipper's unzipped or you have toilet paper on your shoe or your skirt is not lying flat.). After all, my opinion shouldn't matter to you (unless you are Ace).

And maybe, someday, society will stop trying to judge people based on what they choose to wear. Maybe school dress codes (which I somewhat understand the need for) will be less restrictive (after all, shoulders and collar bones should not be scandalous). And I look forward to that day.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

International Woman's Day

To start off, I want to proclaim that I am for women. I am for men. I am for equality among genders. And I'm happy to spend a day, a week, a month, a year, a lifetime dedicated to honoring women in history. We should honor all the people who have made advances in things and made our lives better. If they only made one life better, it's enough for us to celebrate their life.

Having said that, what was the point of women protesting today? That is a legitimate question. Why were they protesting?

As a woman in a male-dominated field (truck drivers are mostly male), I can honestly say that I have never been discriminated against because of my gender, except in one specific spot (and I don't know that gender is what caused the issue, so I can't fully feel comfortable blaming that). In fact, I've mostly had good reactions to me being a female who drives a truck. Probably because I don't seem to fit the stereotype of a female truck driver.

I've never had someone act like I couldn't do my job because I'm female. They've been impressed and surprised, but not demeaning. I've never been paid less than my husband, which is more impressive because he's got a longer history of driving than I do. (This is mainly because of the fact that I came in as an owner-operator, which got a set pay no matter how long you had been driving. And the truck we currently drive gets paid x per mile and we make y% of that amount.) This is an industry that does not care what your gender is, as long as you can drive. Most pay is based off of experience, unless the company pays a set amount per mile for anyone.

Trucking, while not exactly female friendly in terms of cleanliness, is an equal opportunity for all, regardless of race, gender, or religion.

If it has to do with the government not helping to support the purchase of birth control, I'm not personally overly concerned with that. I might be willing to protest about not being taxed at a higher amount for hygiene products, as that is not something women just buy for fun. (Seriously, most of us would be happy to skip having periods, if that were an option without removing the option of having kids. Periods are not fun, but should be at least minorly understood by all.) I have options besides pills for birth control (including condoms, an IUD, and abstinence). I don't have a lot of options about having a period.

Anyway. Congratulations on being a human! I hope you make things better in the world! And please, explain what women were protesting today by "not showing up to their jobs", because that would just get me in a world of trouble with several people if I had done that (the trucking company and my husband, at minimum).

Friday, January 27, 2017

Grieving Is Not a 5 Step Process

Today, I want to talk about grief. Not for any particular reason, other than it has been on my mind.

There has been some popular idea, put on tv and in movies, that grief is a 5 step process and once you go through those steps, you will have successfully grieved. And it's based on a misunderstanding of what that 5 step process was about. It is the steps someone who is dying goes through. After all, it's hard for me to argue that Carrie Fisher didn't die when it's obvious that she did. I may say to myself, "No, this isn't real," when I first read about a celebrity's death, but that's more shock than denying what is true.

Grief, from the side of the person who survives, does not come all at once. It doesn't hit you just once that you lost someone. It comes back to haunt you, over and over. And then the loss is new again. And slowly, there are less things that bring the pain back as badly. You find ways to deal with the hard times and life continues, as always.

And sometimes, you grieve the loss of things instead of people. I've been dealing with a potential loss of my dream of being a parent. I've been dealing with this idea for a while, but recently it hit much harder and at a terrible time for me to even try to deal with it emotionally. I have to face the truth, at 36 it is unlikely that I will get to have my own kids and adoption isn't an option right now, and may never be a viable one. And it hurts so bad. As much as I know that it's a good thing, as any children would not be able to be with us right now, it hurts.

I recognize that I haven't faced much loss in my life. Not really. Both of my parents are alive and in seemingly good health (for an odd definition of good). One of my grandmothers has died, but the other is still alive. My siblings are both healthy. I haven't lost many extended family members, and most of those were through divorce, not death.

But that doesn't mean that I've never grieved. My junior year of high school, I knew 4 people who died. One of them was a classmate, one was a teacher. The other two were relatives, both old enough that death was less surprising. A year ago, my grandmother died. And I couldn't go to her funeral, because by the time I knew when it was, I was not going to be able to change where I would be in time to do anything. I lost the relationship with my mother, as unhealthy for me as it was. And I had to mourn the loss of the relationship I wanted and deserved. I still mourn that loss. Not as much as I did, but the pain is still there.

Grief is not a 5 step process. And we insult the grieving every time we pretend like it is.

Now, if you need me, I'll be over here, mourning my losses and trying to find my equilibrium again.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

The Giver

A while back (earlier this year, I think, but my memory is being weirdly random about time right now), I read the book The Giver. I then read most of it to Ace out loud while he drove. And we had to keep stopping while I was reading to talk about the book.

If you haven't read it, I do recommend it. It's about a boy named Jonas who lives in a controlled community. He turns 12 and is given his job, which he will start to do right away and will be doing for the rest of his life. Most of the people in his community work in the fish hatchery, or take care of babies, or deliver food. Jonas gets a very different job. He's to be the keeper of memories.

Part of the reason I like rereading books (this is related, just give me a moment) is that I get to notice something I missed the first time around. Sometimes it's months later (like today).

For The Giver, I noticed this:

Jonas, who was getting the memories of all of civilization, suddenly had PTSD. And he had no one to talk to about it, except the Giver. Who would understand, but wouldn't be able to help fix it. He would have to live with the memories of war, starvation, broken bones, poverty, loss, hate, fear, and all the bad things until the next keeper of memories was chosen (sometime in his future). He would, of course, have all the memories of love, sunny days, peace, joy, riches, color, and all the good things as well.

The scene that really made me realize that he had PTSD was one where he, after experiencing war, saw his friends/the other children, playing a pretend war game. They pretended to shoot each other and die, and to them it was just a fun game. To Jonas, he was suddenly inundated with memories of a real war. And he froze up, caught in between both worlds.

This stark contrast between what the other children know and what Jonas knows is shocking. Jonas, as much as he wants to, can never regain his innocence. The reader, no matter how much they want to, can't give Jonas back his innocence. They just have to hope that Jonas can cope, because they are on the outside, looking in.

The book has an ambiguous ending. I'm not going to put it here, as there are many details I left out and you should really go read the book. And while some people have been disappointed by the ending, I liked it. It's okay to not tell the readers everything. (That ending becomes less ambiguous if you read the sequels to The Giver, but they are well worth the read too.)

The best thing about the book is that it should make you ask questions. Questions like: How much freedom are you willing to give up to feel like your life is safe? Would you give up your chance to choose? Would you give up your sense of color? Would you give up on trying to find your passion as a job to work a government mandated job that hopefully fulfilled you?

And how much of that safety would you give up to get those things back if you lost them without knowing you had lost them?

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

With Regards to the Future President

I am not a particularly political person. Not because I don't see the importance, but I can only devote so much of my time to things that I have little to no influence over. Since I have very little influence in politics, it tends to be something I mostly ignore when it's not affecting me personally. I just have too many other things (that are more important to me) to do.

That said, here are my unsolicited thoughts on this election.

Just about everything I've seen on FaceBook (because I don't spend a lot of time elsewhere getting news) seems to be divided into two thoughts on Donald Trump. Either he's going to give everyone every thing they've been day dreaming about politically or he's going to personally come and lock up anyone who he disagrees with (such as Muslims, the LGBT community, and people of Latin descent) while assaulting the women. There seems to be almost no middle ground.

I don't really agree with either camp. I hope that he does get to do at least some of the things on his 100 day list. Changing how we fund education and how many bureaucrats involved in it would be great. Not granting asylum to any illegal immigrant just because they are here would be great (INS would probably prefer to actually be able to do something more than having drug dogs sniffing for drugs at the border control check points). Trying to figure out a way to actually confirm that people seeking asylum are really needing asylum would be nice. I want to trust people, but I recognize that verifying things is important in some situations.

I think that putting a non-politician in office might not be the worst thing for this country (I make no promises that it will be the best thing we've ever done, but it might not be as bad as people think). I did not prefer either candidate (I preferred none of the candidates, to be honest), but I did have some serious concerns about Hillary Clinton possibly being in charge. Which does not mean that I think Trump is necessarily going to be great at being president. But he has been elected. So, we must go forward and figure out what that means for our country.

If you are nervous about Trump as president, I understand. He's an unknown right now. But remember, he has over 2 months before he takes office. And he seems to be trying to figure out practical things that might fix some of the problems this country has. He's apparently paid enough attention to how schools work in Europe, and realized that European students do better on actually showing that they've learned something by the time they graduate High School. His education reform is based off of proven European techniques (money following the student, less bureaucrats and standardized testing) and seems to be trying to get rid of programs that were intended for good, but don't really seem to be helping.

So, I am not advocating that Trump is the right choice. I don't think that all my political hopes will be met. But, I recognize that we've made a choice as a country. And since we've made that choice, we should all grow up enough to remember that the President does not act as supreme. He's got checks in place to keep him from being a dictator. He can't do everything on his own, and Congress and the Supreme Court have a say as well.

Lets stop panicking/rejoicing as if everything will be different tomorrow.

And maybe, lets give him a chance. Maybe he'll surprise us all.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Representation

I was looking at an article earlier about the importance of representation (of any group beyond just white people, specifically white males). And it was interesting, because the latest Star Wars movie was mentioned multiple times. There was a picture of a boy holding a Finn doll. There was a mention of the fact that they didn't write Finn or Rey as any specific skin color, but they were careful while casting.

And it occurs to me that while representation (especially of minorities) in media is important, we also need to not ignore the importance of representing all the main characters when it comes to merchandise.

I know that there are plenty of tags on twitter asking about where Rey (Star Wars), Black Widow (Avengers), and Gamora (Guardians of the Galaxy) are. And that is a good question. Why do manufacturers seem to ignore the female characters (All three of whom actually stayed clothed for the movies they have been in and were all major characters in the movies. Rey was pretty much the star of Star Wars:The Force Awakens.) when creating merchandise for children/collectors?

The sad reality is that the manufacturers are not the ones skipping characters. Or at least, not the ones physically making the merchandise. It's some executive somewhere who decided that they didn't need to represent all the characters in the toys, because they were marketing them to boys and why would boys want to play with a female character? (A flawed thought process, as I'm sure many of those boys would want all the characters, even if some of them happen to be female)

We do need to have more representation of minorities in movies and on TV shows. We need to not shy away from casting someone who may not be Hollywood's version of pretty, but who brings the character to life. We need writers to write strong characters and casting to cast the best actor or actress, regardless of the color of their skin. We should be ashamed that in 2016 we are uncomfortable with the idea of seeing people on TV or in movies who aren't pretty (whether they can act or not).

But we also need those executives to be held accountable for the lack of representation in merchandising. Why are they randomly comfortable with cutting their revenues sharply by not offering the merchandise that all children (and most collectors, I'm sure) want to have.

(I will admit that on my most recent walk around a Walmart, I did see some superhero shirts in the women's section and not just female superheroes. That was awesome, and a step towards understanding that women are interested in buying clothes that represent their interest in traditionally masculine things.)

Come on, random executives. I thought you wanted to make as much money as possible! Make some female action figures/merchandise to go with the males of the cast. Do it as a test, if nothing else.