Thursday, December 10, 2015

'Tis The Season

Oh yes, it's the most wonderful time of the year.  The time where we all come together to wish each other well and good cheer.  A time to spend with family and friends, and to count our blessings.  A time to share good food and good times with all.  So why all the stress?  Why all the arguing and bickering over who's holiday trumps who's?  Why all the animosity?  Where is it all coming from?

This is the time of year where I see so many posts online, and hear so many people talking about how everyone is taking the "Christ" out of Christmas.  And how everyone is getting too sensitive and they are going to say "Merry Christmas" to everyone whether they like it or not and they will be really offended if the person doesn't say "Merry Christmas" right back.  I see and hear all of "Jesus is the reason for the season" plastered everywhere.  And it seems to me like the majority of the strife is coming from some, not all, Christians who feel "their" holiday is being taken over.  So let's take a closer look at this, shall we?

What is Christmas all about anyway?  Well, the Christian celebration is the birth of Jesus in a manger, with three wise men, and some animals.  So basically the birth of Jesus.  This is celebrated on the 25th of December.  So this man, called Jesus, was presumably born on the 25th of December, right?  Actually, no.  Scholars and historians have calculated Jesus's birthdate to be some time in June.  Feel free to search for yourself or check out this link here for more information.  So why would the Christians start a false holiday?

Well, you see there were these pesky heathens running around worshipping all these other gods and goddesses, and the Christians very much wanted to convert them to Christianity.  In order to make the transition smoother the church created Christian celebrations that mirrored the Pagan ones.  One of them being Christmas.  Christmas was used to replace Yule also known as the Winter Solstice.  This is a time of year when the night is the longest and the Pagans are celebrating the birth of the Sun God who will return to the earth and brighten the days.  Hmmm, birth of the Sun God, birth of Jesus.  Trees, being male phallic symbols were decorated with edible treats for the birds and wildlife to help them through the last of Winter until the Sun God was strong enough to help the earth grow again. 

And to this day there are still people who celebrate the Winter Solstice and the birth of the Sun God.  Now, that doesn't make Christmas any less of a holiday.  After all it's been around long enough now to earn itself a place at the December holiday table right up there with Hanukkah and Kawanzaa. 

There is another pesky little thing I would like to address, the dreaded "X".  SO , so often through the holidays I get lectured on how I shouldn't use Xmas as an abbreviation for Christmas as it is disrespectful to Christ.  Guess what, it's not.  Please read up here for the full explanation.  For the short version, "X" has replaced Christ's name in Christianity for centuries because it is from the Greek alphabet.  It has nothing to do with disrespect.

One last thing, if someone wishes you a "Merry Christmas", "Happy Holidays", "Seasons Greetings", "Happy Hanukkah", "Happy Kawanzaa", "Merry Yule", or a "Merry Happy ChristmaKawanzHanuYule!", just remember they are all doing it with the same intention, to wish you and yours a well and a Happy New Year!

Next lesson, how to stop commercializing whatever you celebrate!

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Matter of Perspective

Now that marijuana has been legalized in Oregon, and even more recently can be sold in a retail setting, it has become a hot topic of conversation everywhere.  On one hand I think that's great.  We should be talking about it.  We should talk about its risks, its benefits, appropriate times to use it, legal age, and all the other important boundaries we would talk about with any other controlled substance like tobacco or alcohol.

The problem I am having is the media sensationalizing any and every negative experience that has happened here that may or may not involve marijuana.  For one thing, it gives the impression hat it only happened because marijuana was legalized, and for another it gives the impression that whatever the outcome was marijuana was the one and only cause.  Neither of these is always true.

For example there is this recent tragic event.  Notice how the headline boldly claims the driver allegedly was smoking pot.  Notice how they slipped in there that the accident comes just 5 days after retail sales of recreational marijuana is legal.  And also notice that all the way at the bottom they finally say that the driver was smoking "seconds" before the crash.

Don't get me wrong, I do not in any way shape or form condone any type of driving while under the influence.  However, for the sake of playing devil's advocate, let's say that this moron took his very first hit just seconds before the crash.  He would not have been high at that point, it takes a little time to get to that point.  Could he have been distracted?  Probably, but high?  Most likely not.

Also, the fact that retail sales just started has absolutely nothing to do with this story.  If the media and authorities think that just because it is legal it is all of a sudden easier to get your hands on marijuana then they are really delusional.  This area has to be one of the easiest to buy marijuana, even before it was legal.  I can think of about 5 people off of the top of my head I could go to and say hey, I want to get high, and they would gladly oblige.  This same tragic accident could have easily taken place last year, the year before, or even 4 years ago for that matter.  Making it legal doesn't make people smarter.  It just makes it so those who choose not to break the law can enjoy what is known to be a relatively safe drug when used in moderation like everything else.

So the next time you see a news article that makes you angry about a hot topic issue stop and ask yourself, is this just a matter of perspective?

Wednesday, September 23, 2015


I am feeling very introspective today.  This is usually either a very good thing or a very bad thing that then ends up being a very good thing...either way I win it's just a matter of how rocky the road is ahead.

I am not really thinking about anything in particular, more like lots of things in particular that add up to the big picture.  If that makes any sense.  I am thinking a lot about journeys and paths taken and roads less traveled.  I am thinking about the forks in the road in front of me and the decisions I need to make soon. 

I am thinking about how much should I let my past journeys affect my new roads, and what baggage can I really afford to leave behind.  Because even though sometimes you really just want to get rid of that baggage, because it's old and tattered and painful, you also want to cling to it because it's all you've ever really known and if you get rid of it what will you pack your things in now?

I am thinking about the unknown and adventure and how much it used to thrill and excitement, and how that now that I have been burned so badly all I want to do is curl in a ball and hide from the world never to try again.  I think about how bold and brave I used to be, and how sometimes, just sometimes I see that glimmer of my former self in the mirror before my inner monologue squashes it like a parent telling a child too close to a hot stove "NO! Ouch! You'll hurt yourself!"

I am thinking about how to define the word "alone" as in "I feel so alone".  Because whenever I say it to someone I love they are always so helpful in listing off all the amazing people in my life.  And while it's true I do have an amazing support system I still feel "alone" and yet I can't explain it.

I think back looking for the happy days, and am grateful when I can find them, it's progress.  I am making progress.  I take some breaths.  I focus on a happy memory hoping to pull myself from this downward spiral.  Almost, for now I will settle for staying steady.  It's progress.

Monday, August 31, 2015

A Little Compassion

It's all well and good that organizations provide their employees with bereavement leave, and I understand not all do so this is a luxury and not necessarily a right.  But when they do provide it there are so many policies surrounding it that it is almost a hassle to use it, not what you need in a time of loss.  Those who don't have it, should, it provides piece of mind to their long as you pay attention to what I have to say here.

Most places only cover what they call "immediate family", but everyone has a different definition of "immediate family".  For some it is just spouse, parents, and children.  For others they extend it out to brothers and sisters, grandparents, aunts, uncles, even cousins.  For some it only covers your family, for others it covers your spouse's family as well.  Some cover step, some don't.

But here is what none of them take into account...Your relationship with the deceased.  Nobody cares that the person who died had a huge impact on you growing up, or that was the one person who inspired and helped you go to college, or that was the one person in your family you truly connected to.  Who cares if that one person was a second cousin, a great great aunt, a great grandmother, or some other "distant" relative.

It is assumed that people live in the 1950's nuclear family environment still.  Mom, dad, and kids live together in their little pod, and the rest of the families all live in their little pods and everyone gets together for Christmas, Easter, and maybe a Summer Reunion.  Guess what?  That's not the reality anymore, and hasn't been for a while.  Reality is more and more families are living together in multi-generational homes.  More and more people are seeing the benefits of spending time with their elders and gaining the knowledge of the past from them. 

And then you also have the other aspect, not every family has a nice, pretty, perfect family tree.  My family tree would look like a gnarly old oak tree if you were to map it out with two of  my great aunts being born just before my mom and being closer in age to her than her own younger sisters, so naturally she was closer to them and so was I.  My family tree also comes with trap doors, tree houses and zip lines, because you just never know what nut is going to shake loose whenever you start asking questions about family history.  The point is though there are some whose leaves are within poking distance that I have probably only spent hours with in my entire life, whereas there are others that I would have to scamper across the entire tree to get to that I spent so much time learning from and loving their company yet when the one I barely know passes I can get bereavement leave without a second glance, and the one who was the bigger influence on my life I have to find a way to get time off some other way.

Yes, I know there would probably be a couple who would abuse the system if it was opened up wider.  And honestly for those who family means so much, like me, it would make times of loss less stressful and more productive at work.  Instead of offering the 24 hours of leave being offered for "Immediate Family" perhaps they could offer just 8 hours for Extended Family, just so someone can attend the services.  It just seems so cold for this giant organism to decide who is most important to me based on dilution of blood.  If you are going to go by that then they are equally as unimportant because nobody has the same bloody parents!

Monday, July 6, 2015

Snake Oil Cure All?

I had an interesting conversation with one of my coworkers this morning.  Since I have been back to work from my leave of absence I have been much happier, much more positive, and I haven't missed a single day of work...which compared to before I took my time is a big deal.

She asked me, "What happened while you were off?  What did the doctor do?  What did he give you?  You are so different and you don't even seem like you are hurting much anymore!"

She was so incredulous and almost accusatory like she couldn't believe I was the same person that I almost had to laugh.  I explained to her that before I took my time off I was in a really bad headspace.  I told her that I was in a cycle of bad depression and I told her that depression is something I have struggled with for a great deal of my life.  I explained that I finally recognized that I was so bad off if I didn't do something to help myself things were going to get really bad and I didn't want that to happen.  I told her that by taking time off I was able to take time for me and it gave me a chance to breathe and sort of reset myself.  I said that because I was so depressed the pain would get worse and the worse the pain got the more depressed I would get so I would get in a vicious cycle.  I still have pain, and it's manageable now, and I can have a more positive attitude about it.

She was amazed by what I was telling her.  I don't think she, or a lot of other people, realize what a toll depression and other mental illnesses can take on a person.  I also don't think she realized what a difference it can make when that person takes the time to treat their illnesses.  I also told her that I don't know how long this good time will last, and that I plan to enjoy it and make it last as long as it can.  I know that the chemical imbalance of depression is a part of my brain and who I am.  I am okay with this.  I just have to be aware and try to catch it as early as I can.  This time I could have caught it earlier, and I caught it before it got any worse. 

Depression is like anything else in life, it's a journey.  Sure, it's a roller coaster of a journey, and after time you can learn to change it from the death defying, hang you upside down, send you in loop-de-loops, make you want to vomit ride into the little kiddie coasters with the cute little dragon heads that just go in circles and up and down soft, gentle hills.  The more you learn about your depression and your emotions the more prepared you are to hang with the ride.  Sure, meds help smooth it out, but there is no snake oil cure for depression.  It takes hard work to keep it under control.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

New and improved...?

Wow, I really took a hiatus...I didn't intend to, it kind of just happened.  Truth is, I fell.  I fell into a massive black hole of a deep depression.  I was in a pretty bad headspace for quite a while.  I wrestled with some nasty demons, and with the help of my amazing fiancé, wonderful friends and family, and of course my awesome therapist I was able to fight them off and thus I am here to soapbox another day!

In order to heal I had to take a bit of time off of work to give myself some space and time to work on me.  Time where I wasn't under even more pressure to perform every day under the scrutiny of others.  During this time I worked on making myself feel better on the inside by focusing on my outside.  Before anyone goes and gets the wrong idea, this isn't about being shallow or vain, it's about feeling beautiful inside and out.  It's about self care and doing the little things to make myself smile.

One of the first things I did was completely gut the bathroom and re-organize it.  But wait you say, I said I was focusing on MY outside, well my home is my outside.  It's part of my outside world, and quite honestly it has been a disaster.  We just never had the time or energy to make it a true home once we got moved in.  We received so many wonderful donated items when we moved in together and it became a mishmash of things that we never actually weeded through and put away properly.  I always felt like my home was closing in around me.  Now I have two sanctuaries, my bathroom and my kitchen.  My next project was to give the kitchen the same treatment.  With the help of one of my amazing friends we completely cleaned and reorganized the kitchen.  Now I have an amazing space to create beautiful meals in.

Ok, now back to of the things I have really let go due to my depression and other things is really truly taking care of myself and being a girl.  So during my time off I started a whole new skin care routine to start taking care of my face better, and began realizing I have lines and wrinkles oh my!  I also started playing with some make-up, which has been so much fun!  I love trying new looks and seeing what I come up with.  I have been watching YouTube videos to get ideas, and so I don't end up looking like Bozo the Clown or a lady of the night.  I have also been putting my nail polish collection to use and painting my nails fun and vibrant colors.

So what has been the result of all of this?  Did it work?  Honestly, yes.  Not only do I feel better about myself in general, but I actually feel stronger and more at peace.  I feel happier with life overall.  I know that life won't always be glitter and sunshine, and when it's not I can be okay with that because the doom and gloom won't last forever either.

I came back to work on Monday this week.  Everyone has been amazing.  They have all noticed a huge change in me and keep saying I am the new and improved me.  I appreciate the sentiment and understand what they mean, and I don't think that's quite right either.  I wouldn't say I am new as I am the same person that has always been here, nor am I improved as that may indicate I was once no good.  I am just me, not depressed.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Some things really do never change...

I took a big leap out of the broom closet at work.  We have this newsletter that comes out once a month, and the editor asked everyone in the agency to submit a statement about what diversity means to them or why diversity is important to them.  Since we are a government agency they are always touting how important diversity is to them and how proud they are of their sensitivity to diversity and their diverse being my ever ornery self I had to push the button.

I submitted my statement as "Diversity is important to me because I am Wiccan, which is still not always widely accepted.  I feel by being more open about my spiritual beliefs, and allowing others to ask respectful questions, I am opening a door to allow them the opportunity to see Wicca as another thread in society’s web of diversity".  I thought it was good, the editor really liked it, and it got printed in the latest newsletter.  I wasn't really sure what kind of responses I would get.  I figured on a bit of stupidity, but I mean come on we are all adults here, right?

Oh dear gods it's like junior high all over again!  Between the ones who are whispering behind my back, to the ones who are now flat out scared of me it is freaking ridiculous.  Grow up people, I didn't just announce I sacrifice babies or something!  The worst though are the ones who claimed to have known it because they "sensed" it...but they aren't Pagan or Wiccan...Or the ones who have a friend who is Wiccan, and do I know them?  You know because we all must know each other...because there aren't like hundreds of thousands of us out there or anything /sarcasm.  Or even better..."I know this girl and she wears lots of flowery jewelry and stuff, do you think she's Wiccan?  I asked her and she said no, but I don't believe her."  Really?  How dense can you people really be?

The difference between junior high and now is I can totally laugh at the ignorance of people.  I think what makes it even more humorous though is with as much information is available at our fingertips it would take almost no effort for these individuals to become just a tiny bit informed before opening their mouths and sounding like complete dumb asses.  At least when a topic comes up that I am not informed enough to discuss I either research first or politely decline to comment.  Especially when it concerns something as important as someone's religion. 

The thing is not one person has asked me an intelligent question about my beliefs, and I would be more than happy to answer those.  So much for promoting a culture of diversity.  I think somebody has blinders on to what's really going on around here.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

If a tree falls in a forest...

Does it make a sound if there's nobody around to hear it?  That's always been an interesting question to me.  The answer to me has always been obvious, of course it does.  The same holds true for bullying and discrimination.  Just because the person it is directed at isn't around to hear it doesn't mean it doesn't matter or that it doesn't hurt.  There is always the possibility of the ripple effect, and words and attitude have a tendency to leak out into actions.

The reason I bring this up is I deal with a lot of people in my workplace, both internally and externally.  Externally the people I work with come from very diverse backgrounds.  This includes many people from the LGBTQ community.  The people I work with internally tend to be pretty conservative.  As you can imagine this makes for an interesting mix.  Now I understand that there are some people out there who still have very narrow-minded opinions on the LGBTQ community.  Some may eventually change their minds and some may not.  However, in a professional environment where the organization has made it clear that diversity is a priority it doesn't matter.  Everyone is to be treated with respect.

The issue comes in when it is learned one of our external customers is part of the LGBTQ community and my coworkers make inappropriate comments.  Now the comments are never made to the person in questions, but that doesn't matter.  Some examples of comments made are:

In reference to a person who is transgender and has transitioned from male to female: "what am I supposed to call them? he, she, it?"

In reference to a person who was in a heterosexual marriage and had children then divorced and entered a same sex marriage: "Wow! I bet those family gatherings are awkward" or "I feel sorry for those kids!"

I don't believe these comments are made maliciously, but rather out of ignorance.  The problem becomes whether they realize it or not it then can affect their interaction with them.  They may be more awkward on the phone, or more reluctant to provide the same level of customer service they provide to other people.  Again, it's not intentional, it's a subconscious thing based on the comments made.

And yes, this has been brought to the attention of management and human resources and additional sensitivity training is being designed as I type this up.  But I wanted to call this out in case you are seeing this in your own work environment and ask you to take the stand as well and bring it to the attention of your management and human resources.  Just because the discrimination and insults aren't said to the face of the person they are against doesn't mean it doesn't cause harm. 

Friday, February 13, 2015

Stop Blaming the Innocent

As many of my friends and family know I was bullied relentlessly in school.  For those who are new to me and this blog I won't go into the gory details, but let's just say it was brutal and daily.  To the point where suicide was a very real option for me, one I tried and luckily didn't succeed.  But because of my experience I have become very loud about anti-bullying, especially in our schools.  I never want another child to go through the hell that I experienced day after day and year after year. 

To be treated as less than human and then be told by teachers and administrators to grow a thicker skin or ignore them was never acceptable, and it still isn't.  That puts the work on the victim to make their situation better when in reality they never did anything to make it bad to begin with.  My favorite was always "You must have done something to make them dislike you", oh yeah that was a good one.  Because no, I didn't.  I was the new kid all the time, and we didn't have a lot of money for new clothes so I wore a lot of thrift store finds.  Guess what?  Instant target.  The other good one was "If you don't react they will stop." Oh yeah, like you can just ignore having glue put in your hair or ignore being shoved to the ground every day, or ignore having rubber bands flung at you, or even better ignore a group of older kids beating you black and blue with their books...Yep I will just walk away and pretend that never happened.

See all of this is blaming the victim, and that has got to stop.  Our society loves to do this, and not just with bullies.  Rape victims get blamed all the time.  If she hadn't of dressed so provocatively, if she hadn't have drank so much or taken that drug.  If she hadn't have gone with that guy.  What the hell does that have to do with anything?  If there is no consent, or if there is no mental capacity to give consent then it is rape and the perpetrator is the one at fault.

Even certain murders society will look at and blame the victim based on that person's past.  Were they a sex worker, oh well then they led a risky lifestyle so it was bound to happen.  NO!  That does no excuse on person taking another person's life.  A person's life is not more valuable based on what choices they make in life.  Just because they are a gang member doesn't mean they aren't somebody's son, or brother, or even father.  We may not agree with their choices, but it doesn't mean a life wasn't lost.

Stop blaming the victims people.  Start placing the blame where it belongs, on the people committing the acts that make these people victims.  Nobody deserves to be bullied, nobody deserves to be raped, and nobody deserves to be murdered.  Let's get our priorities right here and stop blaming the innocent.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Mind Your Beeswax

Yeah, I get it, I call in sick a lot and I leave work early unexpectedly a lot.  But you know what?  That’s between me, my manager, and my doctors.  That’s right I said doctors with an “s” on the end.  You see that happy face I put on all the time is a carefully crafted mask.  It’s a mask designed to hide the physical and mental pain I endure every day.  Every once in a while it slips because I just can’t hold it anymore.  Those are the days you label me a bitch.

You think you know my struggle through observation and then you deign to tell me what I should do based on your keen powers of observation.  The reality is you only know the little bit I let the outside world see.  You don't see my pain, you don't see my anguish, and you don't see my tears because I don't let you.  I don't let you because it really is none of your business, and honestly I have too much pride to let you know that I am that far beaten.  Not beaten by you, but beaten by my own body and mind.  Beaten by the pain that rips through my joints and muscles and beaten by the angry and horrible thoughts that race through my mind day after day, hour after hour, minute by minute.  Thoughts that have been with me for years and now feel like an old companion that I will never be free of.  But that's none of your business either.
Yet you have decided it is your business.  You think it's okay to speak up and tell me what I can and can't do.  How I should live my life, when I should give up and roll over and play dead.  You think you know me better than I know myself.  You think you can tell me when I have had enough.  Well guess what, you don't know shit.  Yeah, you see the mask slipping so you think you are seeing me at my worst.  You think that's my breaking point.  The point where I am going to call it quits and go home.  You ain't seen nothin' yet toots.  For all I have been through and all I carry every day I am a hell of a lot stronger than you will ever know.  You would be amazed what I can push through.
Those times when I do go home, or even call in sick, those are the times when I just can't lift that mask up anymore.  Where the weight of it has gotten so heavy and the pain of carrying it around so great that I just can't muster up a smile to face the day.  Maybe the physical pain is so great that I can barely crawl to the bathroom and back, or maybe the mental anguish has gotten so bad that I am at the point of hysterical anxiety.  Either way, that's none of your business either.
So the next time you think you know what's best for me.  Or you think you have my life figured out based on your observations.  Just don't.  The best thing you can do for yourself and me is to close your mouth before you open it and mind your own beeswax.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Can't we all just get along?

I believe that when you have a specific issue you should seek the support of others going through a similar experience.  The camaraderie and feeling of not being alone can really help when you feel isolated and helpless.  Since I have what I consider to be more than my fair share of issues, or what my fiancé and I fondly refer to as subscriptions, I have reached out to various online support groups for, well, support. 

Some of these groups are quite large, tens of thousands of peoples, and when you get that many people together from various backgrounds you are bound to have differing opinions from time to time.  Now one would like to think that since we are all together for a common cause that we could set these differences aside and support one another regardless of race, gender, sexual preference, religion, etc.  And one would be oh so wrong.

The biggest hot button?  Religion.  In fact in some groups the discussion of religion is banned all together and anytime it is brought up the posts get deleted immediately.  In other groups they ask you to be respectful, and unfortunately that doesn't always work out so well.  Such was the case last night.

In one of the groups I belong to a person posted offering to pray for anyone who needed it.  A very sweet and generous offer.  It was quite simple, if you wanted prayers you posted and if you didn't you just moved along.  Then, someone else decided that this post offended them and replied with a message saying they were offended because it was a decidedly Christian post and they were not Christian.  The original poster then was upset because they didn't intend to offend anyone and so as not to upset anyone else deleted their own post.

And oh dear gods did this cause a tizzy.  Now half the group is jumping all over the admins because they assumed the admins removed the post because the one person was offended.  Then it turned to an us against them discussion about Christian vs. Non-Christian.  Everyone was weighing in, including me. 

I tried to remain neutral by saying that I am Wiccan, and that if someone offers to pray for me I simply say thank you.  Because to me a prayer is simply another way to send good energy and karma into the universe for someone.  Apparently that was the wrong thing to say because then this Southern Baptist from Georgia started ranting and raving about how we were all going to hell in a hand basket and they couldn't be around us godless creatures so they were leaving the group.  Aye aye aye!

Then the group's owner, who lives in the UK, was asking me what a Southern Baptist was and what the South and Georgia had to do with anything.  I was trying to explain it and I got screamed at for bashing all Southerners, which I was not doing if they had read all my words and not skipped over the important ones like the qualifiers of "some" and "most" and "many" and "a few".  But you know hey they look exactly like "all" and "every" so I can see the confusion.

The point was though, and I think more Non-Christians were trying to get this across than anything, it shouldn't matter.  We are all there to support each other, and we should just respect each other's beliefs or non-beliefs.  If you don't like a post because of its religious undertones then just move on to the next one.  There are always plenty more to read.  I think it is so sad that our society is still so stuck on who has to be right about which religion is the correct one.  What if we are all right?

My mom has this really amazing way of explaining religion, and I would like to leave you all with this.  Religion is like a giant wheel, and each type is just a spoke on the wheel.  They are all a different path, but they all lead to the same place in the universe.  The center.  It doesn't matter how you worship, or what you call your divine.  We are all heading to the same destination in the end.  So really, what is there to fight over?

Thursday, February 5, 2015

That one word I can never remember

I feel like sometimes I get too serious here, and sometimes I may not show all the facets of who I really am.  I am one of those types that has so many different sides that every day with me is a new adventure, just ask my parents and my fiancé.  And it's not that I am two-faced or untrue, it's just that I am a very complex person.  My last post was about taking the high road in situations when dealing with a bully, and I am not contradicting that at all.  I am going to focus on another aspect of me though, my mischievous side. 

There is this person in my life who is making it pretty much miserable, and unfortunately I am stuck with them.  Much like the person in my last post, but a different person.  This person is making my life miserable through a complete and total lack of competence and common sense.  It is to the point where most days the thought of homicide crosses my mind only to be replaced by the realization that I love my nice fluffy bed too much.

Now, normally and up until recently, I would be as patient as possible on the outside and only suffer silently on the inside while venting to others not related to the situation.  This worked for several months, until one fateful day.  This person in question decided to do the unthinkable, they said something so offensively stupid that I just couldn't let it go.  Sorry, I am only human after all.  So what could they have possibly said?

Well, to make a very long story as short as possible.  A grown-up version of show and tell took place concerning holiday traditions.  A discussion between myself and another was taking place about Wicca, and this moron decides to ask "So, ds you sacrifice animals?".  I think my eyebrows peeled off my face and hit the ceiling.  My reply, a classic if I do say so myself, was "No, and we don't sacrifice babies either."  Apparently this freaked them out even more.  Perfect!

I began to notice that they were starting to keep their distance now.  And the "Witch is In/Out" sign I had kept up since Halloween was no longer a topic of conversation.  Muwhahaha.  Time to have some fun.  I began to repay all the times they had quietly walked up behind me and scared the crap out of me.  Apparently, the subject startles easily.  I bought a magnet of the Wicked Witch of the West from the Wizard of Oz for my file cabinet.  That bought me a whole lot of space and we have now resorted to email only communication unless forced otherwise.  I am highly amused by this.

Of course when I reported this to my therapist he said there is a word for it, shadenfreude.  It is a German word that translates to harm-joy.  It means that you derive pleasure from someone else's misfortune.  Problem is, I can never remember the blasted thing.  I even had to Google it for this post.  But I like that there is a word for it.

Is it probably wrong for me to be this happy over this person being so freaked out by me?  Probably.  Still isn't going to stop it from happening.  Not sorry, I have put up with too much of their BS and cleaned up too many of their messes to be sorry.  So, until that changes I say shadenfreude on!

Thursday, January 29, 2015

The Higher Road

Sometimes in life you have to take the higher road, even if it is the road less traveled and you have to blaze the trail yourself.  I often find myself trying to take this road because in the end I believe it makes me a stronger and better person.  Sometimes it leads to a dead end, and sometimes it leads to one of the most magnificent views in the world.  Either way, I have never once regretted this decision.

When I was a kid I was bullied, a lot.  I have talked about this before so I won't go into too much detail here.  But suffice to say it made a huge impact on me and I vowed never to stoop to that level and bully someone, even if they bullied me first.  I still stick by this even as an adult, and even though I could often win a battle of wits.  Instead, I choose to take the high road.  Now that doesn't mean I let them walk all over me.  No, I take actions to stop the abuse either by removing myself from the situation, or if that's not possible making changes to the situation.

But I also try to understand the person, and where they may be coming from.  Some people are just plain mean, but a wise person once told me "Kill 'em with kindness.", thanks Mom.  That's what I do, and you know what, it works, a lot.  You would be amazed at how many people who are miserable and out to make other people miserable respond to someone going out of their way to smile and make them happy.  Especially when that person is someone they have been mean to.  Once they know their behavior is not acceptable, and that I am still accepting of them, they usually soften up quite a bit.

Now I am not saying this is the case all the time, like I said before, some people are just plain mean.  See above for the dead ends I was talking about.  In those cases it's best to just walk away and/or put your foot down and let them know their behavior is not acceptable.

For an example, I have someone in my life that I have no choice but to be in contact with on an almost daily basis.  This person has, at times, gone out of their way to make my life miserable both in big and little ways.  Sometimes intentionally hurting my feelings.  I have others try to intercede on my behalf as well as trying to confront this individual on my own.  To my credit through it all I have maintained a positive attitude towards this person where others would most likely retaliate or turn sour.  I continued to greet this person daily with a cheerful smile, and I was usually ignored.

Today I noticed this person was in a really bad mood, not just the usual sour mood either, but actually sad and depressed like something was really wrong.  I reached out to this person in an email offering my support if needed.  Now I don't know where this high road will go, and whether it is a dead end or a beautiful sunset I will feel good about myself for having set foot down it.  I will know that no matter how hard it may have been to not lash out at this person I didn't, in fact I did the opposite, I reached out instead.

In the immortal words of The Beatles "All You Need Is Love..."

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Oh No You Didn't!

So this morning my wonderful and loving fiancé posted the image below to me on Facebook and invited me to get out my soapbox.  After reading the article on the image the challenge was accepted.

The picture is an advice column from a Christian website where a father is asking for advice about his son who came to him saying he was transgendered and felt that he was born in the wrong body and was actually gendered as female.  The father states that his child says they still believe in God in keeping with the family's obvious faith.  The father is asking for guidance in how to talk with his child.
The advice given by the columnist is not only ludicrous, it is downright dangerous.  She says the father should tell his child that the child is flat out wrong for feeling this way therefore totally invalidating the child's feelings.  She says that the father should tell the child that the child's thoughts and feelings are even "disgusting".  This is bad enough, but then she makes the leap from transgendered to homosexual.  I am not sure how that leap was made since not all transgendered people are actually homosexual.
She blames the kid's desires one homosexuality in the media and exposure to it at school, which I would have thought was pretty funny if she weren't serious.  I really think the icing on the cake though was when she compared being transgendered to doing drugs.  Again, not sure on how that logical leap happens, but in her warped head it did.
So other than being sickly amusing to those of us who know better; this is also highly dangerous.  This right her has the potential of being the beginning of another transgendered teens suicide.  Here you have a vulnerable teenager, we all remember our teen years they suck to begin with, struggling to come to terms with feelings that are obviously conflicting with how they was raised.  This teen then goes to their father looking for help and instead of support they are about to get, if the father follows this advice, invalidated at best and humiliated at worst. 
This is the type of action from parents and the religious communities that leads to depression and suicide in our LGBTQ teens.  It needs to stop.  We need to find a way to reach out to these young people and offer them the support they need when their parents and religious communities fail them.  In some communities, like here in Portland Oregon, where there are stronger LGBTQ communities there are some resources available.  But usually you have to seek them out.  In smaller communities, and especially in the Bible Belt, resources can be scarce.
We have been making some powerful strides in equality for the members of our community.  Marriage equality has had great gains in the last few years.  The transgendered community is seeing equality in the ability to use their preferred gender facilities in public places as well as reassignment medical expenses now being covered by Medicare.  These are all great advances, and I know there have been more I have missed. 
We still have a ways to go, and we need to start focusing on our youth.  That's a hard one too.  You have legal issues there because you don't want to get in the way of the legal parents or guardians, but on the other hand we want what's best for these kids who are struggling to find their place in this crazy and ever changing world.  I don't have the answer, but I'm putting it out in the universe that we need one and maybe somebody somewhere reading this will be more brilliant than me and come up with it.  I just know that the answer given by Amber on is definitely not it. 

Monday, January 12, 2015

The Anti-Diet D…Nope not going to say it

I have struggled with my weight all my life.  This is not news to anyone who knows me.  Some very well-meaning people in my life have also made this struggle a whole lot worse.  I am not going to use this space to talk about that or re-hash the past.  What’s done is done.  Suffice to say my weight is still an issue, and because of the things in the past I have struggled to take it off and keep it off.  There are a lot of emotions attached to weight and weight loss for me, and my number one enemy is the scale.

Over the years I have tried so many diets, too many to even count.  I have tried low carb, no carb, low fat, no fat, don’t eat any of this, eat all of that, the grapefruit diet ( I still hate grapefruits), and every other stupid diet you can think of.  I’ve tried the programs like Weight Watchers, did I mention I have social anxiety and seriously dislike scales let alone being weighed in front of a group of people.  But in every one of them I fail, or as I have figured out, they failed me.  They were too restrictive, too controlling, and too rigid.  All things I don’t respond well too, just ask my parents.  I need flexibility, options, and more importantly I need to be in control.

So I gave up.  For years I gave up.  I dreaded going to the doctor and being weighed because the scale is not my friend.  I hate that number.  I hated hearing these well-meaning people in my life commenting on how much better I would feel if I lost the weight and how I would be oh so much healthier.  I hated the doctors’ silent disapproving stares when I tried to explain my anxieties and issues around diets and weight loss.  I was stuck at an impasse.  I knew I needed to lose the weight, but every time I think about weight loss I freak.  I get sick to my stomach and I want to cry.  It’s that bad.  I knew my health was suffering, but what could I do.  Then it happened, what I knew was coming for years.  My blood work came back that I was diabetic, Type II.  I had been borderline diabetic for a few years so it was not a real shock.  But it still stung.  I did what I do best; I ignored it and hoped it would just go away.

Then recently I got sick, really sick, like I stopped eating sick, which for me is super sick.  It turned out to be a simple bladder infection that was easily treatable, but in the course being sick I lost almost 20 pounds.  I thought ok, this is it.  I can make some changes here and make a difference in my life.  BUT, I am going to do it on my terms.  So I created my own anti-diet.

It’s pretty simple actually.  The first thing I am going to do is get rid of my bathroom scale, yes you heard me, there will be no weighing myself and no tracking of my weight.  It’s not like I have actually used it, but its presence has haunted me every time I go in there.  My unit of measurement will not be a number on a scale, nor will it be a dress size.  I am not doing this to be thinner or to weigh less.  I am doing it to be healthier.  Instead, every three months I will go to my doctor and have my blood drawn and have my fasting blood sugar panels run.  The goal is to bring them down. not by a certain percentage or number, just down.  Every 6 months I will have my cholesterol checked; again the goal is for healthier numbers.  I will only be weighed when the doctor’s office requests it, and I will ask not to know.  I am serious, the scale numbers mess me up in the head.  The goal here is just a healthier me, not a skinnier me.

So how am I going to achieve this?  Well that part is a little bit trickier.  It starts in my head, and it’s something that everyone has to figure out for themselves.  First off, I refuse to weigh, measure, or count anything.  I will not be documenting every bite I put in my mouth, and nothing will be off-limits.  I am making this about choices and moderation.  I am going to make a conscious effort to change my relationship with food one bite at a time.  It won’t be easy, and I know I will have slip ups, and that’s okay.

You see, food for me is a comfort thing.  It’s not just about fuel for the body, it’s fuel for the soul.  I need to learn to balance that, and I need to find other things to fill the gaps and holes in myself other than comfort eating.  So it starts from within.  I need to ask myself each time I am eating; why am I eating?  Am I eating because I am hungry, because it tastes good, because I am bored, or because I need something else?  If it’s because I am hungry then I need to pay attention to my body and stop when I am full.  If it is because it tastes good, like a treat, then I need to allow myself to indulge and eat slow and mindfully so I really enjoy it and then eat less than I used to.  If it is for one of the other two reasons then I should look into what else is going on around me and find another way to fill my time or that void, whatever it may be.

Again, without measuring or weighing, I am also making my portions a little smaller than they would have been previously.  The key here is I am making the portions smaller than they used to be for me.  This means that while I may have used to eaten a cup of something before maybe now I have cut it down to 2/3 of a cup, whereas a typical diet would have cut it back to ½ or even 1/3 of a cup.  I find that most diets tend to cut the portions too far back too fast for most people, especially those like me who are very heavy, and we end up feeling like we are starving and miserable.  By slowly cutting back my portions and eating just until I feel full, I feel like I am more in control of my food instead of food being in control of me.

The last piece of this is the food itself.  I am not only trying to change how I view food, but also the foods that I choose to eat.  This is a difficult one because I am probably one of the pickiest eaters you will ever encounter.  And this is one of the reasons most diets fail me.  Because of their rigidity in what you can and can’t have, and because of what I will and won’t eat my list of acceptable foods was usually pretty short and I would get bored with my menu options really fast.  With my anti-diet though nothing is off-limits so I am free to make up my own combinations and menus.  I am making a conscious effort to add more whole grains, fruits, and vegetables and to eliminate as many prepared foods as possible.  It’s all about being mindful of the choices I make each day and each meal.  I am also trying to work in more meals so that I am maintaining my energy and blood sugars throughout the day.

Will this work?  I don’t know, honestly, but it sure beats doing nothing.  And for the first time I feel confident about food choices and not ashamed of what I am doing for myself.  In the past going on diets always made me feel ashamed of myself for some reason.  This time I feel good, like I am making a positive change in my life, not just a fly by night attempt to shed pounds.  Who knows, maybe if it works I will write a book and become a millionaire peddling the next diet fad with my anti-diet, HA!  I will just be happy if I can finally change my relationship with food and become a healthier me.
So I am asking all my friends and family who read this to help me out here.  If you see me and you see that I am looking better because you think I have lost weight please don't comment on the weight loss.  Comment on how much healthier I seem to be.  Tell me I look happy.  Tell me I look healthy.  Tell me anything but I look smaller, or that I have lost weight.  Don't tell me you are proud of me because I am not doing it for your approval.  I am doing it for me.  If you see me eating something you don't think fits in my above philosophy don't comment on it and don't give me any disapproving looks.  Maybe I'm having a bad day and I am going to pick myself up later, or maybe I am allowing myself to indulge because I know I have balanced it out earlier or will later.  Also, if I say I don't want something or I am done don't push it.  No matter how little I have eaten or how good whatever it is tastes.  I have to listen to my body now and give it what it needs when it needs it.  Don't judge, just let me figure it out.  I know you all mean well, and I know you love me, and I need to do this myself.  I know this is a lot to ask, and I am asking it anyway.  Please.  If I have tagged you in this and you think someone else should see it feel free to forward it on to them.  I love you all so much, and right now I need to love myself like I never have.