Sunday, June 28, 2015

Walk with Grace, and Other Shit to Say to Your Kids


Sometimes parenting is just what happens when you are doing other things. We snap "Put that down!" in the grocery store. We spell words for emerging writers while making dinner. We manage to squeeze in meaningful conversations while driving. But if we want to practice mindful parenting, it is good to have some phrases at the ready to convey our ideology. We may fuck-up a lot as parents, but my husband and I have collected some handy phrases to help out in tough moments. Feel free to borrow any you like.







Walk with grace.

This is a big one in our house. We say it a lot. In fact, we say it almost every time our kids are leaving to interact with the outside world. To be clear, this is not a phrase about polished manners. In our house, you can dance on the tables - but you can't be a jerk. Our kids know that when we say this we mean we want them to leave the world better than they found it.

Are you thinking about what you do have, or what you don’t have?

Classic. This one applies to pretty much every situation you can think of. If you are thinking about what you already have, you probably need very little. It is a beautiful concept.


All colors are for all people.

This one is more specific, and applies when kids get caught up in gender marketing. When your three-year-old refuses to ride a bike because it is blue and she is a girl, remind her of this truism. It is nice because it also encourages out-of-the-box thinking.


Pick up what you drop.

You can say this 100 times a day if you live in our house, but it is more than just for objects hitting the floor. Pick up what you drop; fix what you break; clean up your mess; throw empty containers in recycling; replace what you consume.

Treat people the way you want to be treated.

Ah, the old standby. But this one can be tricky because if you if you have clever kids as I do, who might say: "She was mean to me, so that must be how she wants to be treated. I am giving her what she wants!" You have to shut that down right away. It does not matter at all how someone else acts. It only matters that you treat people how you would like to be treated. Always be true to that. Which leads me to:

 

Our choices are independent of others’.

We act in a way that is right for us, regardless of what other people do. We can still choose to respond with calm in the face of an aggressor, if that is who we choose to be. This helps shut down the “he did it to me first,” and helps each child recognize the actions they own.

 

Take responsibility for your actions.

If you did it, own up to it. Getting a lot of practice hiding or sneaking around when breaking the rules will only lead to more, bigger problems later in life. In our house the consequence for breaking a rule is small compared to what happens when you break a rule and try to hide evidence or deny your part in it.

Flexibility leads to happiness.

It sure does. Use this little gem for every argument over where to sit, what cup to use, what activity to do... I like this because I think about them recalling this wisdom as grown ups why don't get upset over small things.

Sometimes it is okay not to talk.

Again, if you have clever kids who think they can talk their way out of anything (and often can) - it is nice to remind them that being silent and listening is a wonderful thing.

What is your part in this?

Yeah, this one is huge. Maybe the most important. I hear you saying your teacher hates you, but what is your part in that dynamic? Your friends are so mean to you when they come to your house? Huh. What is your part in that? If you want to throw in some math speak and you have more than one example, you can use this one: What are the constants and what are the variables?

We are here for experience, not acquisition.

A mantra you really need if you live in any civilization, especially one that holds the sacred well-placed gift shops. When you kids try to tell you the aquarium is not about how animals survive and co-exist in the water, it is about taking home a whale bracelet and a stuffed narwhal, shut that shit down right away with this pre-rehearsed phrase. Believe me, it will save you from having to have a yard sale in three years to thin out your stuffed animal herd. I like this because it will ultimately lead them to realize that stuff doesn't make you happy, memories do.

I am your MOTHER.

My husband/editor frequently sits in shocked disbelief when I use this one, especially because it works so well. You have to get the intonation right here. You have to both increase the intensity (the amount of air you’re exhaling) and lower the volume with each word. It’s the semantic equivalent of “how dare you!” The overall effect should be one that inspires reverence, as in: “I hold a sacred and powerful position in your life that must be honored. Nay, worshiped.” This works because I believe this to be true, so they do as well. You get the respect you think you deserve.
[Editor’s note: I’ve been practicing the “I am your father” version of this, but still getting a lot of eye-rolls from the kids]

Is that the kind of person you want to be?

I like to use this one after summarizing what someone has just done - possibly with the slightest hint of hyperbole - encourages a reflection that we then hope changes their course. It is actually a phrase I think we all should use all the time. Lying about your kid's age for a cheaper ticket price? Is that the kind of person you want to be? Avoiding eye contact with destitute people asking for help? Is that the kind of person you want to be? Hiding chocolate behind the washing machine? Is that the kind of person you want to be? For me the answer to the last one is yes.
[Editor’s note: Thanks honey for revealing the secret location of that yummy treat!]

Give your body what it needs.

We use this one because it covers the most ground. Because “you have to eat veggies to be healthy” leaves room for debate. Tired parents often give the stupidest advice you can imagine: “Eat your pizza and you can have some frozen yogurt”. When we don't know what we are saying, it is good to cover the situation with a blanket statement and move on.

Are you being a gracious host?

It’s nice to remind everyone that it is a good idea to take care of others, especially when you have home court advantage. Make sure your guests feel comfortable and welcome. That is more important than having the first turn or the best seat or the biggest piece of cake.

More appreciation. Less expectation.

There it is, right there people. The key to happiness in one phrase. The more you appreciate life, the happier you are. The more you remove expectations about how you think others should act, the happier you are. This one is simple and beautiful and my husband and I use it as much as a reminder to ourselves as we do to the kids.

So what are you going to do about that?

Sometimes it is nice to just shift personal responsibility back onto the kid. This is especially useful for kids who use phrases like: “I don’t know how to ________”.

You’re smart. Figure it out. You Got this. 

My favorite reply to: “How am I supposed to _______?”

You can do anything you want. Except pull on the curtains.

I love this phrase, and say it all the time to the young ones. You are powerful, but take care of your world.

We love you no matter what.

You’re safe, and you’re cared for. Deeply. It doesn’t matter who you choose to be, you will always be loved. This is the only phrase anyone ever really needs. Say it loud; say it often. Even when – especially when – you are mad at those little fuckers.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Target - What the Fuck Were You Thinking?!?!?

Target, you know I love you, I really do. You manage to make shopping in a big box store fun and pretty, I can check a whole bunch of things off my list with one visit, and that dog with the eye-circle is super cute - but you really stepped in it this time. Like, you better throw those shoes away stepped in it.

This was in the girls section, size 7-14:


While I am relieved this atrocity is in the clearance section, meaning that consumers are not buying the bullshit your clothes-purchasers thought we should be wearing, I have to ask myself who thought this was a good idea? Which executive at Target was all like:
"Hey, when looking at girls age 7-14, I want to put thoughts of dating and availability in the heads of adults and other children."
It seems like your executive clothing buyers are lacking a little common sense at the decision table. Here are some things to consider as you move forward with the objective of selling adorable fashions to young people (letting go of the objective of setting women and girls back 50-100,000 years, which I am sure Target does not want to do.Well, pretty sure).

1. Young people do not benefit from sexual pressure.

Honestly, what Brainiac thought to themselves:
“Huh. You know what is funny? Little girls dating. What hook-up/courtship kind of attire would really get these girls in that seven-year-old age-appropriate ‘I need a man’ mindset? I just don't think the princess culture has done enough.
2. Young people are not defined by their dating status.

Who wears their dating status branded across their chest? I mean, a grown person looking for some immediate sexual attention, maybe (no judgment – do what you gotta do). But a first-through-eighth grader wearing a shirt with their hookup status branded across developing breasts, as if that is the most important thing they have to say about themselves? Get real.
3. Target seems like an odd place to advertise young girls.
That’s not a typo. I didn’t mean advertise TO young girls. I actually meant advertise the young girls themselves. What does this shirt say if not "Young girls in our community are available; make them an offer?"

That is just gross Target. Knock it off.

4. If it seems weird to put the same message on a boy’s shirt, then it’s weird to put it on a girl’s shirt.
It was one thing when we saw "Superhero" shirts for boys and "Super Sweetie" shirts for girls, or "Genius" shirts for boy and "Future Mrs. Bieber" shirts for girls, but advertising sexual or romantic availability on young, developing bodies is so super creepy. Target, you have to see that.
Let's just keep it simple. If you wouldn't do it for a boy, don't do it for a girl. While the issues of gender and identity are deep and layered, this rule is easy. Please use it.

Thanks Target. I am sure this will never happen again, and this little guide I’ve created for you will be put to good use. Please hurry because I am in need of some stylish yet affordable fashion, without having to prostitute my daughter.

Friday, December 5, 2014

My Five-year-old Wants to be a Single Mother

My five-year-old daughter and I were discussing weddings and dance parties. I was feeling good about my open-minded parenting skills when I turned to her and said: "Well, if you choose to get married some day, you can have a disco ball at your wedding, too."

I am careful to never mention gender when I talk about partnering. I am always clear that there are no expectations on who they may couple with when they become adults, or if they choose to couple at all. I use inclusive language, I let them know I love them no matter what. I am a supportive and a great mom.

Or so I thought.
Because in that moment, I got blindsided with a response that totally took me by surprise.


"Actually," my sweet little girl looked me in the eye, ever-so-matter-of-factly, "I am going to be a single mom."

Zoinks!
I did not see that coming. And I am not proud of my first thoughts:
"No one wants to be a single mother."
Followed by…
"You are not allowed to want that."
Yes, that is right. I thought that last one too.
Me. The girl driven by the prime directive to live and let live. To love and accept all people for exactly who they are; and as long as who they are and what they do brings harm to no one, then my judgment-free acceptance is limitless.

Or so I thought.
Then this dangerous little antiquated gem popped into my head without permission. This little echo of all the times I cringed and had mean thoughts when relatives said, after I had my first child as a single mother:
"Oh, Karen…. Congratulations on the new baby, I guess. I just wish it was under better circumstances."
When people treated my "situation" (um, my brand new baby) like it was distasteful at best and tragic at worst, I wanted to scream:
"Are you fucking kidding me? Have you seen this beautiful boy? He is unbelievably precious and I have never known such an intense feeling of love! How dare you associate regret with this majestic being!"
And yet, here I was. Judging my young daughter for mindfully dreaming of being a single mother. It is crazy because, for me, being a single mother was one of the best times of my life. Sure, I could have done without the eating-only-rice-and-beans-for-months-on-end part, but the rest was pure magic.
I worked (often with my baby in a front pack) and I mothered, and that was it. When the weekend came it was a glorious montage of free-feeling, little-person-centered fun and love. No house projects and no mate to suck up all of our time. It was beautiful.

Why, then, was I horrified at the thought of my daughter asking for this life?
Because I have baggage. Stupid, unwanted, limiting, mind-closing baggage. I have it and so might you. Luckily, we also have our super speedy, kindness-minded, progressive brains that can help us recognize that baggage – and then send it packing (he he he).

What happens in our brains we can't help, but what comes out of our mouths we can.

So after I told my inner rule-prisoner to zip it, I told my daughter out loud:
"I think you would be a wonderful single mother. Maybe Daddy and I can come babysit sometimes."
She thought that was a great idea, and I hope I have given her a little less baggage to unpack as she grows.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Build a Better Police Force and Peace will Follow

Folks are talking about how "ignorant" and "stupid" people are for riot-protesting in Ferguson. Some are casting judgment on citizens who "have no respect for their own communities" and are participating in "senseless destruction". And while I understand the desire for peace, rational thought, and non-violence, I have to ask myself: "What would it take to get me to burn down a building?"
 
What would it take for any of us to feel trapped in a world of injustice, so let down by the system, so ultimately frustrated, that we would resort to horrific acts of destruction?
 
Let's all take a giant leap here and assume that people in the Ferguson community are wise, rational, and reasonable people. Let's assume those participating in the riots are just like you and me. What brought them here? What would it take to bring you there?
 
Would it be an institutionalized system that routinely encourages you to fear for your life? One that demands you demonstrate subservience in the presence of police, and teaches your children to do the same? Would it be a lack of faith in the system that is meant to protect you? Would it take a lifetime of witnessing extreme violence executed by those entrusted to protect and serve? Would it be a system that encourages you to believe you are powerless when you try to hold its people accountable for their actions? Would it be someone killing your unarmed child and walking free, without ever being cross-examined by a prosecutor?

I don't know what it would take for me, but I do know that unless I am actually living that life, I don't really have a right to cast judgment on those who are. 

I also know that I have never really had much dealing with the legal system and so I always simply assumed that it has everyone's best interest at heart and strives to be fair and just. But I recently had a run-in with the law, and while the excessiveness of police power I experienced was comparatively small, I learned just how incredibly difficult it is to get the police department to take responsibility for the actions of their officers.
 
The feeling of people in authority having so much unbridled power over you, making it very clear they can make your life a living hell (which is, at least, still living), is terrifying. I am not exaggerating here. My one-time experience frightened me to the core and yet it is an infinitesimally small piece of what many folks deal with every moment of their life. This may be the only reality some people know.
 
Is rioting the best, most enlightened path to change? No, I don't think so. Should those breaking the law be prosecuted? Yes, I think so. Do I understand the intense frustration that could lead to those choices? I think I do. At the very least, I think we should be thinking about it, talking about it, and working to inspire change around it. You know things are bad when the only way we feel we can be heard is to start lighting fires in the streets.
 
So many layers. So many questions. I thought I would address just one part right now, and that is how to develop a system of checks and balances for the police who are in this everyday. I am the daughter of a cop and I have deep respect for this unfathomably difficult job - but we need a system capable of holding everyone accountable for their actions - everyone.

Five Easy Steps to Creating a Kinder, Gentler Police "Force"
 
 
1. Chill the Fuck Out
 
Things have changed for police. They have become extremely overly-militarized and they are not just bringing guns to a knife fight - they are bringing riot gear and TANKS to peaceful protests.
 
Dress like Rambo and you start acting like Rambo. Stop it.
 
 
2. More Transparency Please
 
Currently, you are unable to request the police report that is about you (at least this was my experience – I asked to see it and was flatly denied). Police can store and share their assertions about you in a permanent, ominous "file" (that other police officers can see) without notifying you or even giving you a chance to offer your own testimony. This information can influence decisions that have real consequences. What the hot shit is that all about? Why so secret, my friends?
 
Let’s make it so that anyone can go to the police station and see their arrest records. Let's have a website where pictures, names, and badge numbers of these public servants are available. In fact, why not have something like Angie's List for police officers? When you have an encounter with an officer, positive or negative, you could share it with others. Like a Yelp review for cops. The voting record of politicians is public, why not the arrest records and public feedback on cops? Is there a bad cop on the force? How prevalent is the problem? Who are the good cops? Having a system of accountability makes sense.
 
 
3. Stop Pretending Race Doesn't Matter

In the United States, we have a lot of white people:
 
RacialDistributionUnitedStates2012
 
And percentage-wise, we have even more white police officers:
 
PoliceOfficersByRace
 
And even more white judges:
 
JudgesByRace

And when it comes to enforcing the laws, this very white world seems to lead to an imprisoned community filled with minorities.
 
Who’s in jail, in the United States, by race:
 
IncarcerationByRace
 
 
If you live in the United States, your likelihood of going to jail, by race:

ChanceOfGoingToJailByRace
 
Here’s another way of looking at it:
 
The chances a white person is going to jail are 1 in 935.
 
Those odds look like this (each circle represents one person – the red dot is the one going to jail):
 
1in935
 
The chances a black person is going to jail: 1 in 34.
 
1in34
 
As a black person, you are 27 times more likely to go to jail than your white compatriots.
 
Race. Clearly. Matters.
 
 

4. Can We Get Some Sensitivity Training Up in Here?

Seriously, is this even a thing? It kind of feels like it should be Police Academy 101. If black people, even unarmed ones, make you nervous and volatile, don't be a cop. If you think women should be seen and not heard, don't be a cop. If you think Mexicans should all be deported, don't be a cop.
 
Racism & sexism have no place in Cop-land - get enlightened or get the fuck out.

Let's start incentivizing and recruiting people of diversity to be police officers. It is hard to dehumanize someone because of their color if your partner is the same color.

You know those young people with pants down to their knees and hoodies and apparent “attitude problems”? Go meet their moms, or little siblings, or grandfathers, or whoever cares about these young people - start seeing them as real people, just kids trying to find their identity and maybe trying to find a way to stand up to bullies, even ones with badges. Each one of those "Thugs" has worth and should be treated with dignity.

5. Costume Change!

In addition to sensitivity training, how about some practical policy change? Let's make non-lethal weapons like Tasers a mandatory part of police equipment, so if a cop in a car feels threatened and it doesn't occur to him to roll up the windows or drive away, he could simply use a Taser - BAM! Revolution avoided.

There are also technological advancements like mace and rubber bullets. It feels like designing the uniform to make non-lethal options easier to get to than lethal ones makes sense and may save lives.

Body cameras worn by police are effective because all of us behave better under scrutiny. An objective recording of events protects both suspects and police officers alike.

There are lots of things police could carry, including empathy, and respect for all human life, that would make the world a little bit safer for all of us.

PS – If you are wondering why you have not seen charts like the ones above before, it is because they are not easily available. Information on racial breakdown across the United States seems to only be available through careful analysis of data deeply buried. These charts were created by my amazing husband/editor (deep gratitude for his abilities and his prioritization of this issue). We should continue to ask questions, especially ones like “why is this information so hard to find?”

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Women in Tech have a New Role Model!

(just kidding - same old shit...)

 
I am a feminist who usually considers Barbie to be a pretty good role model. Sure, she has proportions that in real life would not allow her tiny neck to hold up her enormous head, or accommodate full sized organs - but aren't we in favor of representing unique body shapes? I know that her permanently tip-toed, child-size-three feet and fragile thinness would, in reality, only allow her to walk on all fours.
 
Side note: In the past when my children insisted we play with her, I would have Barbie walk on all fours and make her head droop down sideways because you have to follow the rules of physics, people! My kids don’t ask to play with Barbie any more.
 
But come on! We should be proud that despite Barbie’s severe physical limitations, the woman has held 78 careers in her lifetime, probably due to that giant oversized brain she must be holding in her giant oversized head. Past occupations include oncologist, fire fighter, paratrooper, street rapper, and football coach.
 
Barbie, in spite of having breasts so freakishly large for her disproportionate frame that it is a wonder anyone looks at her face, never mind her accomplishments, has bucked stereotypes and succeeded in male-dominated fields. All the while, Barbie has never compromised her meticulous make up routine or attention to her extensive, if questionably professional, wardrobe.
 
Hasn't Barbie done enough for feminism already?
 
Well, it turns out she is still at it. Recently, Barbie's turn as a computer engineer has hit the news. This may be a poor choice for Barbie, considering her wrists are so tiny only 1 in 19 people suffering from Anorexia ever reach that level of fragility, so early-onset carpal tunnel syndrome seems inevitable.
 
Nonetheless, she begins the book Barbie: I Can be a Computer Engineer by saying to her little sister Skipper: "I am designing a game that shows kids how computers work." That is so cool!
 
BarbieIntro
While she turns out to be a designer, not an engineer, as the book promises, I am thrilled to see a woman like Barbie take on the task of simplifying the complex inner workings of computers so it is easy for children to understand. But there is one problem: no one has simplified the complex inner workings of computers so it is easy for Barbie to understand.
 
Barbie has no idea how to detect or remove a computer virus, is unable to reboot her computer, and uses a pink necklace flash drive to back up her work (and unknowingly transmit viruses), because the story takes place in 1991 and version control and offline backup have yet to be invented in My Little Pony Land.
 
Look, I don't begrudge Barbie her pink (although I worry about the resale value of Barbie’s mansion with those pink and purple cabinets in the kitchen), and I don't even begrudge her ineptitude in the world of technology - but I am shocked and confused that she took on computer engineering without actually taking on computer engineering. Wasn't it enough for you to be the UNICEF summit diplomat? Did you have to have a book titled "I can be a computer engineer" when it is very clear to everyone, especially your friends Steven and Brian, who had to bail you out by page three, that you most certainly can NOT?
 
I am not a woman from the world of tech, but I have a husband and friends (even girl ones!) who are. And I have been to enough tech conferences where attendees say things like: "You don't look like a woman in tech" or “You must be in marketing”, later heading in packs to strip clubs after dinner. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know that the rocket science industry is an old boys club and there are some seriously brilliant, articulate women swimming upstream in a Madmen kind of world.
 
Why Barbie, why? Why do you have to add insult to injury to these women who actually can be computer engineers? You were a popular aerobics instructor for 25 years even though your limbs are not wide enough to actually accommodate muscle. Why not stay with that instead of telling the story of how you can giggle and hair flip your way into pretending you’re a computer engineer? It is insulting; it is inaccurate; and it is exploiting a field where women are working hard, every day, to be taken seriously and compensated fairly.
 
Come on Barbie, I try to defend you - but you are making it so difficult.
 
Here’s my version of the book (original on the left, mine on the right):
BarbieRedesign
Can you spot the differences?
 

Thursday, November 13, 2014

#Breaking the Internet

(of the negativity cycle surrounding women and their sexuality)


When J.Law and company had their private, nude photos hacked and leaked onto the internet a few months ago, there was some serious anger. Not so much anger at the criminals who hacked into these women’s accounts, violating their basic rights - that’s actually the kind of anger I can get behind. No, the anger that surfaced was toward the victims. Oh sure, it was couched in “concern about internet safety”, but the more honest criticism sounded like: "If you don't want nude photos leaked, don't take nude photos." Right. Like if you don't want to be strangled, don't have a neck.

Interestingly, criticism was mostly a by women, about women kind of thing. Women don't like it when naked ladies go mainstream.

And now, we have Kim Kardashian, and the full frontal heard round the world. Oh yeah, panties are in a tightly wound bunch, so to speak. It is hard to consume any social media without hearing how "Nasty" and "Disgusting" Kim Kardashian is. Again, most of the anger coming from women.

I am not a fan of KK, but I found the picture both interesting and funny. Naked women don't make me angry, but with all the hoo-hah I thought maybe I was missing something, so I considered the criticism....

"She needs to respect her body."

First of all, she doesn't NEED to do anything. She is a grown woman, not breaking any laws. Secondly, I think she is respecting her body. She is not talking smack about it, she is not harming it, and she seems to be celebrating it with pride. Hiding under a hoodie and self-hate doesn't mean you respect your body.

"What about the children!!?"

Yes, with the prevalence of this photo, it is very possibly going to be seen by young eyes. Then again. it is just a woman without clothes. This should really not be scarring. I also heard a mother angry because Kim Kardashian was now a terrible role model. I can honestly say this photo did nothing to change Kim Kardashian's status as a role model in my eyes. If you want a role model for the little ones you love, try Eleanor Roosevelt or Malala Yousafzai.

"She is a mom!!!"

Right, because when you become a mom - that is all you are. Not a celebrity, entrepreneur, lover, or owner of an ass. Again, the picture is not one of KK ripping the wings off bugs; she is not doing anything harmful in these photos. When her kid sees these one day, he will likely roll his eyes and say "Mommmm!" And end of scene.

"It's plastic!"

There is a lot of speculation about surgical enhancements that may have contributed to the striking nature of the photo. I don't know if it is the case or not, and it is really none of my business. People have uniquely shaped bodies and some chose to sculpt their bodies with silicone. Again, no puppies are dying here.

"It is Photoshopped!"

Yes, I am sure it is. That is how magazine art is created. The lighting and make-up are also part of the art of the picture. Kim wasn't just walking around in a sequined gown in her kitchen when she noticed a plain brown backdrop and thought "Hmmm…. I am going to pour myself a glass of champagne!"
It is an illusion; a fantasy. Photoshop is a creative tool. Let's assume all magazine covers are Photoshopped and move on.

"She is doing it for attention!"

Yes, that is what celebrities do.

"It is not classy. It is just trashy."

I get that you feel that way, so you should certainly not pose nude for magazines or balance things on your butt - but please, just zip it. Is it classy to make negative comments about a person’s body or her choice?

"She is just doing it for money. Like she needs it!"

I don't know what Kim Kardashian needs or does not need, but I do know that I would rather pose for pictures where I was compensated and had a choice than have photos stolen from me and published without my consent.

"She is a vapid, no-talent reflection of society's celebrity-mongering."

Maybe. But here we all are - talking about her.

So, since I have not heard a compelling argument about why I should be grossed-out by a naked woman with a big ass in a magazine, I am left to speculate about why many women find this so unsettling.

KarenPoursCoffee2
Is it because we feel insecure when we look at perfectly lit, stunning bodies? Is it because we get jealous when others – maybe our partners - covet them? Are we resentful because we have to play within the confines of decorum, while the likes of Kim Kardashian do as they please under perfect Hollywood lighting? Do we hate "sluts", or anyone who gives "slutty messages"? It this because sexual freedom is not something we think we can achieve? Do we think women who seek attention are dangerous?

I don't know the answers to any of these questions. All I know is that balancing cups on your ass is hard, and I need another coffee.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

How to lose 10 lbs. in 10 days!

Faked you out again with the picture,
no diet tips in this blog. 
Last week was really hard for me. I was kind of a wreck. My stomach and head hurt, I was unreasonably hot or cold, and using the phrase "emotional roller coaster" would be an understatement unless you have a roller coaster that actually leaves earth's orbit and then plummets into earth's core in less than 30 seconds.

I yelled at my kids, I was a jerk to my husband, and I was unproductive and lethargic when I was taking breaks from being mean. I recognized my behavior as crazy town, I did. But there was also nothing I could do about it, I just could not figure out why I was feeling this way.

But...here is what else happened to me.

I received several online threats - nasty ones. Ones talking about my kids. Ones saying I look "easy to rape". Horrific threats. Curl-your-toes atrocious. From strangers.

I also received menacing comments from my husband's ex sister-in-law. This is not a woman who has ever met me, or even spoken to me, but has still found it in her heart to say terrible things about me to anyone who will listen. This woman actually called my minister to make threatening remarks and defame my character. She is teeming with rage against me. Apparently, she is also an online follower of mine and left a comment on social media that was just odd enough, and threatening enough, to make me wonder about her sanity and her intentions. It scared me.

Then, my neighbor and I had an exchange where he ended up hitting me hard with his shoulder and I hit him back. Inexplicably, only I was arrested and taken away. The police took me in without ever taking a statement from me. I was confused, I was powerless, I was treated like a second class citizen in this situation. The police took action before knowing the whole situation.

I felt unsafe. I felt unjustly persecuted. I felt targeted, and I felt powerless.

I felt a small piece of what it means to live in a world where you are marginalized and vulnerable. I tasted a bit of what it might be like to be a woman in the middle east, or a Mexican in a border state, or a black person in Ferguson, MO.

As a white privileged woman in America, I rarely have the opportunity for this kind of perspective.

It sucks. A lot.

It sucks for me and everyone I came in contact with.

The stress and anxiety also prevented me from eating and I lost 10lbs.

Then the comments started. "You look great! So skinny! What have you been doing?"

?!?!?

Losing my mind. That is what I had been doing. The comment "You look great" shocked me. I am as raw and distressed as I have ever been. Nothing about me felt great, but that apparently does not matter. I was manipulating my body to be small, and whatever price I was paying was irrelevant. Hooray or me!

When things like this happen, it is time to reevaluate. Is losing weight the most praiseworthy thing I can do? When we encounter someone, do we always evaluate their size status? Are we so entrenched in the thin ideal that we notice it above all else?

I had a very special teacher in high school, her name was Dr. Cote. She seemed to know me very well. I don't know how, but she did. I kept a relationship with her after high school and she always seemed to notice that for me, losing weight usually meant feeling kind of sad. Not always - she looked closely enough to know the difference between me feeling great and fit - and me getting small inexplicably. She noticed and she cared. She stands out in my mind because she is the only one who looked deeper than simply just me losing weight. When everyone else congratulated me, she looked further.  She is no longer living, and a woman like that is a huge loss to the world.

Maybe the 'end all/be all' is not about shedding pounds. Maybe rapid weight loss is not the holy grail we think it is; maybe it is sign that something is not going well - in our bodies, in our minds, in our society.

I am making my way back to strength and well-being. I am consciously eating foods that will give my body what it needs. I am getting it together and trying to be healthy, if not thin. When I get there, I will more genuinely appreciate the compliment "You look great".