What I Buy and What I Buy Into
I have too much. My overwhelming feeling about my trip to Honduras, and one I did not expect is that I have too much, more than I need, and I am very lucky.
The thing is, I live my life in a decidedly simple way. Most of my clothes are hand-me-downs or purchased in second-hand stores. Many of the gifts I give are pieces of art made by myself or by local artists. I don't own or use a car. I don't own or watch a TV. I understand that voting with my dollars is far more powerful than voting ever will be. Still, I see how little people live on, and I can't help but put myself in that context. I can't help but wonder why there are people all over the world in this position. I can't help but feel ashamed that by my participation in the current system, I allow it.
I don't think it has to be this way. I don't believe that the world has to work so that some people have no access to clean water, operational infrastructure, or clothing. I don't believe that so many have to go without an education if they want it.
This is part of why I do what I do. I don't like the way the world operates. I don't like the way the powers that be have set up the system to overfeed the few and starve the many. I don't like that some people are crushed under the wheels of what we call progress. It is bullshit and it has to stop.
I personally believe that happy people, people who truly love themselves and are satisfied with their lives, would not participate in this type of economic system. It might be naive, but I know from my own history that when I am happy, I am kind. When I am confident, I help. When I feel love, I have endless compassion.
So why are all these people who run things doing this shit? Can they be that unhappy? Can they be that fearful? Can they be that out of touch with themselves? Can they be that unaware that what they do or allow, the shittiness they participate in or help to support fucks so many people over, so that they are so desperate they do desperate things? Can they be blind to this? Or do they want it this way? And why are we allowing it? Do we all really believe that this is just the way the world works?
I grew up just outside of Chicago, during a time when The Projects there consisted of tall, run-down buildings in the poorest, most desperate parts of town. These building had open-air hallways on the outside of the buildings, not the inside, as it is with most apartment complexes. Chain link fences were all that kept people from falling or being thrown to their deaths. My parents taught me that The Projects were created to marginalize, to keep a certain portion of the population down, so they would perpetrate crimes against each other, so the population there would eat itself alive.
This is what the people in charge do all over the world. This is what they have decided is best for our human society, to feed the military industrial complex with able bodies and the prison system with broken ones.
The endless wars, the dying world, the people going to schools and public places, blowing shit up and killing people, they are all a product of the desperation the people in charge want to create. These are all symptoms of a sickness called greed.
I have had enough of this. It just isn't the world I want to live in and I don't think I should have to. I don't think anyone should have to.
But there is help. There is hope. There is a way to not participate in this system, to starve it, to step on its neck and cut off its air. There is a way to help people instead of crush them. There is a way to stand with people, not on them, and like everything else in life, all it takes is a decision to not participate in the current system. A decision to go through your life considering what you do and how it affects others. How what you do affects your own life, your own body, your own soul.
People all over the world are starting to see that the system we have been told is normal, rational, and reasonable, is actually a violent form of lunacy. Some are responding violently, some are responding peacefully, and some are doing nothing.
I am doing what I can to change it. I am doing what I can to not be reliant upon the dominant paradigm. I am doing what I can to not participate and show that there is another way.
What are you doing? This is not meant to guilt or shame anyone, but to instill a sense of responsibility. We are all responsible. We can all do something to change this.
I am not sure if I will write as directly about this stuff in the future as I have today. But for those of you who follow me, for those of you who take the time to read my blog, I hope to communicate that I do it because I want the world to change. I want to inspire people to be greater than they thought they could be. I want the world to operate as if people matter.
People are not consumers.
Corporations are not people.
The Planet is not an endless resource from which we can take whatever we want without putting any care back into it.
You can be better. Do not let anyone convince you otherwise. You have been taught to think less of yourself by people who were also taught to think less of themselves. You have been taught to think little of yourself because you are more easily manipulated that way. But you are great. You are powerful. All you have to do is recognize that, to acknowledge it.
Then, do something about it.
Happy Black Friday.
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What My Clothes Have Always Told Me
"Your pants fit you so well. I wish I could put on a pair of pants and have them fit me that nicely." I was watching my boyfriend go through his pants drawer, literally tens of pairs of pants, which all fit him perfectly in the appropriate places. His pants cuffs falling just below the ankle, his waist band fitting perfectly against his torso. He looked at me like I was crazy. "You have a hard time finding pants that fit you?"
That is the reaction that most men give me when I lament shopping for pants. You see, I was blessed with short legs, a beautifully rounded and full ass and a very narrow waistline. All through high school, looking for women's pants was horrifying. Even seeing a woman's dressing room gave me the willies for years after my teenage life. I could never find any pants that were the correct length that would also be the correct girth. Oh...how I wish I was talking about penises right now... but alas.
So I settled for men's Levis. These gave me the option to choose the girth of my waist AND the length of my inseam. For a very long time, decades, actually, I was a solid 30 x 30. It was the easiest way for me to buy jeans. Otherwise I would just wear sweats. Those were easy too. And comfy. Not super attractive, but hey, ya really can't have everything.
My wasband hated that I wore men's Levi's. He bugged me about it incessantly. One year for my birthday he boldly presented me a pair of women's Levis. I knew when I pulled them out of the paper bag that he wrapped them in that I was in trouble. I tried them on and low and behold...yes! The crotchal area was so tight I thought I might be in danger of spraining my vagina. Thank goodness I only had to put them on once to prove to him how stupid they were. Evidently they even looked uncomfortable.
A bit later on in the day that I expressed my jealousy of my boyfriend's pants utopia, he and I were at REI looking for, of all things, women's pants for our upcoming trip. We picked out about 15 pairs before finally settling on a pair that was a bit too long in the leg, though they were petites. They also had a bit of a gap around the waist, but they fit well around my hips and bodacious ass, so I was happy. But I only found one pair. In REI. Where they sell tons of pants.
This got me to thinking about what my clothes have told me all my life, and what I have done to counter that horrifying message. For most of my adult life, clothes have told me that I am wrong in some way. That some how, nature got it wrong with me. That I am not of the group of people that mass marketing and production can readily serve. For a long time, this ate away at me. This was back when I believed that fitting in was the easiest way to get through life. That I needed bigger boobs and slimmer hips to really be a part of humanity.
Sounds stupid, doesn't it? That you need to look a certain way in order to get along better...the sad truth is, this is actually correct. This is the damnedable misery of this crazy western culture in which we live. So I decided to adopt a whole different attitude. I decided that it was not me who had the problem, but society. I decided that I had been created as a vision of loveliness and perfection, and that any institution which gave me the message that I was in some way wrong, was most likely just after my money and my desperation. This decision freed me, not only from women's jeans, but from a littany of other ridiculous things that never quite suited me:
Not to say that I don't occasionally partake in these (except for the underwire bras and diets) but as a general rule, these things do not play a major role in my life. And you know what? I am still a woman! I still have a vagina, and hips, and breasts and all of the none-physical things that make me such. AND I like myself more, have more confidence, and have friends who love me for who I am. (I also found stretch jeans, which I have to say, have revolutionized my life.)
All of that said, it is not like this was easy. This took years of mental anguish and then, preparation to pull off. The world is constantly sending me messages that tell me that I am not enough, or too much, or not right. It takes cultivating a pretty strong filter in order to take in what feeds me and simultaneously reject the garbage. It takes constant vigilance. It takes focus.
But you know what? It is worth it. Because now, I am not feeding the monster that would consume me. I am not playing into the man's plan to bring me down. Instead, I am sticking it to him.
And to quote a great human, if sticking it to the man is wrong, I don't want to be right.
What do you do to cultivate the filter which feeds you and protects you? How do you stick it to the man? Leave a comment below or email me. I would love to hear about it. After all , there is nothing like a good old fashioned sticking it to the man story.
Sharing is caring, yo. And if you share, you might just be showing someone that you care. And ain't that what life is about, in the end?
The Practice of The Mind
The words on my iPhone screen cut into me like a quick, dull blade: "When I saw how little body fat you have, I was worried that you would not be able to please me."
Fuck. Ouch. I felt my heart in my throat one moment, and in the very next, it was ablaze. All the hostile and shitty things that people had said to me about my body replayed in my mind, filling me with sadness one moment and rage the next.
In that instant there was nothing but the emptiness of not being enough. My fears spread across my chest and I could feel my weak, skinny knees want to buckle.
Part of me wanted to cry, the other wanted to reach through the phone and do severe damage to this man's body. This man who I had met on Tinder moments before. A man, I had in fact, never laid eyes on. I wanted him to hurt like he had hurt me. But that passed. Instead, I sent him a sarcastic message about my concern that his shoulders would not be broad enough, his cock not big enough, his tongue not strong enough. It was only after his follow-up message regarding my curves that I had the mindset to be more precise. But he had gotten to me, and that felt almost as bad as the initial insult. I had lost control. I had lost control over a meaningless individual who I had decided, in that moment, had power over me.
It is an interesting juxtaposition, to be in a place where I want to inspire people to love their bodies just as they are, but also to put myself in the position to have people make observations about my body that are less than charitable. To have to deal with the pain and the doubt that I feel when I get anything short of accolades.
But I can't be free if I am hiding. I can't feel powerful if I am keeping any part of myself protected. The inevitability of this is a fact of my life. I know that if I go into a mode to shield myself from bad experiences, a lot less of the good experiences come through, and I lose a part of the world that feeds me. I also lose a part of myself. This is the part that holds the space where I am my best. This is the part of me that is curious, playful, and easy to laugh. This is the part of me that I enjoy the most. I don't want to lose her, especially not because I am busy protecting her from inconsiderate or insensitive people.
I balance this against the critique I often get that my body is too toned, too strong, too healthy to really inspire. It is a narrow place to reside: between people who expect more and people who expect less. That is why I remind myself that either way, I lose if I try to cater to any of them. I know that some day, I will get the criticism and it won't hurt. I will get the criticism, and I will understand immediately that it is more about the person giving it than it is about me.
The best I can do is work to feel good about myself; my body, my decisions, my life. I know, in the end, it is not about how I look, because I have looked much better and felt much worse. It is only now, when I have made the decision to accept and love my body, to forgive myself my momentary losses of control, and put myself into a position to actively engage in my life as often as possible, that I understand that I could look like anyone, like anything, and be profoundly happy or unhappy.
It is my choice, and I must train my mind to get there. My heart waits. I can feel it, in this place of easy laughter and curiosity. This place of strength and quiet will. This is my practice. It will always be a movement forward, or back, but as long as there is movement, I can live with that. As long as I can accept this as a practice, I give myself permission to mess up, to momentarily lose control, or lose my ability to forgive. If my mind is engaged in this training, there is hope in my heart. In the end, I know I am working for the woman with the heart that wants to engage.
And I know that she is worthy of this work.
Do you know this of yourself? The first step is waking up to this. Take it.
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I started to become the person who annoys me. She complains constantly about her job. She is easily agitated. She has no patience for the little things that happen, the things that must happen, throughout the day in any position in any operation.
I wasn't doing these things outwardly necessarily...well, not all the time....but in my head...the voices in my head were becoming angrier and angrier. I could not get any break from them...even at home. They kept me awake at night, they were even with me in the bathroom. That was when I knew it was time to leave.
I quit my job. I had no other plan but to rely on myself through writing and other endeavors to support myself, but I knew I couldn't stay. I knew this because in the past, I had stayed too long in other places and had become a horrible, angry person. I had become a person who most people grew tired of because she complained about the same stuff over and over...even after she left her job...for years, she would continue to complain about this scenario or that inept person or that ridiculous process.
So I know better. I know that my life is worth more than any position I could ever hold. I know that when I stay anywhere, in a relationship, a job, a home, or even a class that in some way communicates to me that I am less than, that I make myself a door mat, and this is dangerous. It is dangerous because at some point, I just might start believing it, I might even start acting like it.
And you know what happens to people who act like doormats? They get walked on. All because they thought that staying in the relationship, job, or home was safer than taking a risk on themselves. They thought that being where they were was much better than delving into the unknown. They believe it is easier to blame others for their unhappiness. After all, they are being walked on. They don't stop to realize that if they got up off the floor, that wouldn't be happening.
Taking myself out of bad situations and putting myself in the position where I have to rely on me is scary, but it is always the right thing to do. The message that sends is clearly different. This message is one of expectation, support, and love. It is a message of belief. Belief in my strength, in my ability to make it work, in my ability to land on my feet. It is one I want to send to myself as often as possible, because I know that if I keep sending it, eventually, I will believe it.
And you know what happens to people who act like they they believe in themselves? The world opens up and opportunities and experiences they had never perceived as possible present themselves. Those people understand that the more they risk, the more they can perceivably gain.
The person who stays in her job, relationship, or home and is satisfied to blame the world for her unhappiness misses out on a lot of what life can be. She misses out on what she can be.
I would rather be the person who takes the risk and bets on herself.
How about you? How are you risking? How are you betting on yourself?
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