Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Stitch Fix December Review!

OML, you guys, OML. I think I've gotten a Fix where I'll keep all five items! So loving this Fix thus far.
I worked on getting better quality photos for this review.
First, the dress. I got this dress in my last fix and loved everything except the fit. It was skintight below the waist, and that just isn't me. I mentioned that in my note to the stylist, and so she sent it again in this fix, in a bigger size!


As you can see, this size fits perfectly! You can still see my figure, but there's a little left to the imagination, just the way I like it.
In the last picture, you can see me putting on the sweater than came in my fix. Let me tell you, it is cuddly! Like wearing an oh so soft blanket. This sweater could not BE more me!

So yes, loving this sweater. It looks totally sophisticated and feels like comfort, so it's a winner.
Next up my stylist sent me boyfriend jeans. Normally, that's not a look I'm into. In the stores, "boyfriend jean" seems like code for "baggy crotch and skintight ankles." But these jeans, not so much. They do have tight ankles, but I finally figured out that the point of slim ankles is to make wearing boots OVER the jeans more convenient. Given that, I will probably keep the jeans, although normally I would run from jeans that are tight and ankle length.


And yes, I know it looks like they are long enough, but y'all, I am tall. I detest jeans that don't cover my ankles when I'm sitting down. These photos also don't show the cute wear and tear patches.
Next up is a great gray and black striped top with 3/4 sleeves. This looks like a great addition to my daily casual wardrobe - dressy enough with jewelry for a meeting, but casual enough to go to the playground with my daughter. I styled it with the infinity scarf the stylist included. Not sure really how to work with that yet, but it's cozy and I think I'll get the hang of it.


So, the scarf is $34, dress $78, sweater $78, jean $78, and top is $48. If I buy five, I'll get the 25%, which would effectively make the jeans free. Quite a deal!
What do you think? Keep it all? Tell me in the comments!

Want to try Stitch Fix yourself? Use MY link! I'll get a coupon if you do.
It's super fun. You take a style quiz, then schedule your first fix. There's a $20 styling fee, which is rolled into the price of any items you keep. You can also specify frequency of the Fix and the price range of clothes they'll send you. It's insanely fun.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Four Reasons Why Donald Trump is Working for the Democratic Party

I hate Donald Trump. I'm not going to be tactful about this. I think he's a nightmare, a racist, and a thoroughly despicable person.

I also think he's secretly employed by the Democratic party. Why?

1. He was originally registered as a Democrat. Despite his own claims to the contrary, Trump, (Or DonT as I'll be referring to him from here on out) used to be a Democrat.

2. He is going to split the Republican vote. If DonT doesn't get the Republican nomination, he's threatening to run as an independent. As we all know, this will result in the Democrats getting the biggest share of votes. Obviously, if DonT were actually a Republican, he wouldn't endanger their chances of getting into the White House this way.

3. He is so awful that he makes Jeb Bush seem OK. Before DonT came on the scene, people were already vocally dreading another Bush in the White House. But now Jeb actually seems like a reasonable choice. At least Jeb has some experience in politics, after all. Now, while this may seem like a Republican strategic move, it's also in the Democratic party's interest, because if Jeb were to be the nominee, they could move in with their "No more Bush" campaign pretty easily.

4. He's distracted the entire campaign from real issues. Healthcare, economic reform, climate change, privacy rights, educational funding: all these issues take a back seat when DonT takes the stage and vomits his racist hate speech publicly. BOTH parties benefit from this, as they can both avoid the hard questions and instead make easy soundbyte statements in response to DonT's absurd rhetoric.

Can you add any reasons why DonT is actually a Democratic agent?

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

5 Reasons to Love Supergirl: Red-Faced Episode!

I've been watching the Supergirl series on CBS and really enjoying it. I'm not a comic book reader, so I'm not qualified to talk about whether the show is lining up with the comic storylines, but as a feminist and a mom, I am qualified to say: this is a show I'd let my daughter watch if she were older! (She's 4).

I love Supergirl for a lot of reasons. Initially, it was for Calista Flockhart. I fell in love with her on Ally McBeal, and I'm LOVING her character on Supergirl. It's a pleasure to watch her steal scenes as Kara's super bitchy boss. She adds depth to the role, showing that beneath her stereotypical "successful bitch" she's actually an effective powerful career woman who struggles with the same issues us "regular janes" deal with.

I've stuck with the show in no small part to its blatantly feminist writing. They beat the issue of her name, Super GIRL instead of Super WOMAN, like a dead equine, but the point worked. They blew past the tired question of how a woman can "do it all" and gave a solid answer. And this week they dealt with the question of ANGER.
Warning: SPOILERS AHEAD


So without further ado, here are the top 5 awesome ways Supergirl, Red-faced, deals with anger.

5. They point out the double standard around anger. Cat recounts an anecdote about her boss breaking a window with a chair and explains that she never could've gotten away with that.

4. They don't just criticize anger. Now, initially, Kara is criticized for losing her temper, although her rage was amply justified. She is told simply to keep it under control, which is typically useless advice. But when Kara later explodes at Cat, the writers give us a wonderful montage where Cat actually mentors Kara, talking about WHY anger is damaging.

3. They talk about how to express anger. In Cat's mentoring scene, she talks to Kara about how to express her anger productively. As a former rage-aholic myself, I know that being repeatedly told to control my anger just led to me suppressing it, an incredibly toxic behavior. Kara ends up using a car as a punching bag, which is definitely an improvement over yelling at your boss or breaking a man's wrist.

2. They point out the truth that our anger is often masking something else. In an example of great writing, we are led to believe that Kara is just upset that her crush is dating someone else. But as Kara attacks the car, she uncovers the deeper root of her anger: the loss of her parents, planet, and any hope of a "normal" life at age 12, when she was sent to Earth as Superman's babysitter.

1. They portray the positive aspect of anger. People, especially women, are taught repeatedly that anger is bad. We are taught that anger is destructive, sinful, and just plain wrong. We are taught that there is no positive way to express anger. And yet, anger is a vital emotion. Without anger we wouldn't have the energy to defend ourselves. Anger can be a powerful catalyst for social justice. Anger can be used constructively, and that's exactly what Supergirl does in this episode. Not only is she encouraged to find a constructive way to express her anger, they actually SHOW her doing it. I mean, look at this image! This is not the normal face of a hero!
So, way to go Supergirl! Keep the awesomeness coming!

Friday, November 20, 2015

Why We Should Fear Syrian Refugees

They say that those who forget history are doomed to repeat it. And I see our great citizens forgetting history now, in the Syrian refugee crisis. So let me remind you of some history, so you can understand why it is perfectly reasonable to be afraid of the Syrian refugees.

Not so long ago, a group of refugees arrived here on the East Coast. Some were political refugees, some were religious refugees, and some were flat out criminals. These people didn't have the skills they needed, didn't speak the language, and were incapable of taking care of themselves. In a stunning show of generosity, a group of Americans took it upon themselves to help these refugees. They taught them necessary life skills. They helped them with their language skills. And, at the end of the harvest season, they prepared a huge feast for them, giving their own food for free.

And what happened? Those kind Americans were repaid with bio terrorism, gun massacres, forced religious conversions, and genocide.

Do you remember this event? Or has the liberal media whitewashed it from your memory? Did your godless schooling teach you some alternate version?

Next Thursday, we will gather in family homes across our great nation to celebrate Thanksgiving. A feast shared by Americans with refugees and criminals who had no preparation and completely inadequate vetting for coming to this country. Those Americans paid a heavy price for their generosity. Are you willing to pay that price?

If you are crazy enough to think that we should welcome refugees to this country, maybe because you believe Jesus meant what he said in Matthew 25:40, or maybe because you are not so distantly related to a refugee, or maybe because you are just kind, make your voice heard: 

https://www.change.org/p/pat-mccrory-tell-governor-mccrory-that-nc-welcomes-syrian-refugees?recruiter=428365554&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=copylink

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Your Relationship is Not a Special Snowflake

Your relationship is not a special snowflake. You are unique, and so is your partner, but when abuse enters the picture, being unique will not save you.

When your partner injures you physically, he is not a kind man who made a mistake. He is a man who is willing to use violence to win a dispute.

When your partner calls you a fucking son of a bitch, she is not a loving woman dealing with PMS. She is a woman who uses contempt and name calling to avoid dealing with the real issues at hand.

When your partner handles ALL the money, and occasionally hides or lies about financial issues, he is not a control freak who just wants to protect you. He wants to control you via money.

When your partner with PTSD or anxiety or other mental illness uses violence of any kind against you, she is not "doing their best" to deal with it. She is failing to deal with mental illness and needs to adjust current treatment before regaining the privilege of access to you.

When your partner abuses a dependent child, your responsibility is NOT to do a better job of managing the interactions between the child and your partner. Your responsibility is to call the police and get the child away from the partner.

We all want to believe that our relationship is different: that our partner will not really "go so far." 

We all want to believe that our family will survive domestic violence because we have some secret ingredient (love, remorse, God, Jesus, Buddha, GMO-free diet, forgiveness). We want to believe our abuser when s/he apologizes and swears eternal love and devotion. But when your partner abuses you, s/he is sending you a very clear message.

This relationship is about me having power over you.

It takes a woman an average of seven attempts to permanently leave her abuser. We don't know how many attempts it takes a man to leave his abuser, because we often don't even acknowledge that women can abuse men.

If your relationship shows any signs of abuse, leave. Abusers can change. But they can only do so if they begin to suffer the consequences of their choices.

Check out the Power and Control Wheel for more insight into your relationship.

And please, don't wait to leave. Your relationship is not a special snowflake when it comes to abuse. Save your life and the lives of your children by getting out immediately. Abusers can change their ways, but they must do so alone so you are not a victim of a relapse.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

The Gift of the Strong Willed Child


 I have a strong willed daughter. Not like, oh, she’s stubborn. Not like, oh, she’s so strong willed. More like, cut off your nose to spite your face. More like, I will fail as hard as I can just so you’re wrong and I’m right. More like, I will get the last word if it’s the last thing I do. More like, we went to a family therapist and I’m pretty sure that’s the only reason we survived the Terrible Threes.

Now, some of this is my fault. I have chosen to use positive and conscious parenting styles with her. That means no spanking and extremely few time outs. That also means a LOT more talking. And picking my battles. And giving her choices. And spending a LOT more time on every single activity because I’m empowering her and guiding her. I don’t know if I would have been more “successful” using other methods. Maybe if I had spanked her and yelled at her and just plain forced her to do things more often she would be more obedient and more pliable now. Perhaps. But I believe that she also would be broken. I believe the experts who claim that breaking a child’s will is detrimental to the child. I follow the advice ofBecky Bailey and Laura Markham. At least, as much as possible. 

I’m not complaining. I’m glad that I have a strong daughter. I hope that she carries her strength forward into adolescence. I hope that her strength gives her courage to dump boys who don’t treat her right, and avoid using alcohol or drugs. I hope her strength gives her confidence in her career as she plunges into this strange new world that’s forming. There’s lots of posts out there about the great parts of having a strong willed child. And I believe them. 

The other day I saw another gift that her strength has given me. I was at Chick Fil A, watching other moms and kids interact. And, as one does, I was mentally evaluating how they acted. Don’t act surprised – you do it too! And something struck me. I saw lots of parents picking fights over what I consider small stuff. Yelling at the table. Crawling on the floor instead of walking. Spilling food on themselves. Burping at the table. 

Now, even if my daughter weren’t the most determined child I’ve ever met, a lot of that I just don’t care about. If we’re in a fast food restaurant, it’s ok for her to act like a child, because she IS a child. If she chooses to move to the door by laying down and pulling her body forward with her arms (which she has done), so what? She’s obeying me and coming along with me, and exercising her creativity while she does so. If she gets excited and yells at the table, so what? She doesn’t have perfect volume control, and we’re in a noisy environment. If she burps, who cares? It’s a natural body function. If she spills food on her dress, who cares? Why would anyone dress a child in clothing that can’t be washed? NOTHING about her appearance is more important than the work she has to do as a child: experimenting with how to sit still, how to eat, how to move, etc. 

But in addition to my own permissive views, I also have to really think about every single battle I pick. When I see a mom chiding her child for crawling on the filthy floor, or for dribbling food on his shirt, I think she’s lucky. She has the luxury of worrying about the small stuff. Her child is compliant enough for her to confront on a minor issue and know that it will be over and done in 5 minutes. I don’t have that luxury. At least, again, because of my choices.

I hate conflict. I hate confrontation. Setting aside the torture of listening to a child throw a tantrum, I don’t even like the initial correction phase. But my daughter is not conflict averse. When she hears a boundary, her first impulse is to test it, to find out just exactly how far it goes. She needs to know every single aspect of that boundary. Are there situations where the boundary doesn’t apply? Does the boundary apply to everyone? What happens if the boundary is violated? Are there any loopholes she can exploit? And, when she was well into her third year, she began to create conflict with me, making requests that she knew I wouldn’t say yes to. And so I grew more and more adept about conscious parenting. I created routines. I imposed consequences. I learned how to remove my emotions from the conflicts and be a strong boundary wall for my daughter. And that’s why I don’t have the luxury of confronting her over the small stuff. 

Is it worth the effort to fight with my child about whether she’s spilling mustard on a white shirt? In my case, absolutely not. Is it worth the effort to fight with my child about kicking me or another person? Absolutely. But the fight about kicking will take all my resources and use me and my daughter up emotionally for at least 2-3 hours. 

This is the gift of a strong willed child. We as parents are forced to not sweat the small stuff. We are also forced to redefine what really is small stuff. Refusing to eat food? Small stuff. Singing loudly in her bedroom for up to 2 hours each night? Small stuff. Pouting while doing a chore? Small stuff.

And a final note: My child is not a holy terror. Yes, she can be loud in restaurants and sometimes she will crawl or walk on her hands and feet instead of walking normally. But she is unfailingly polite, using Thank You and Please liberally. She is kind to other kids at the playground. She can sit at a table and make an effort to eat whatever food is set in front of her. In fact, even if she doesn’t like the food, she won’t come out and complain (unless she’s at home with mommy and daddy). Most people have no idea of how intense and strong she can be. The way we’re parenting is a lot of hard work. And I’m not sure it’s absolutely the best way. But it is working. And at the end of the day, that’s what matters.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

My first Stitch Fix!

OK, I think I love Stitch Fix...
I got my first fix today and had no idea what to expect. Well, my stylist got me and my style REALLY well! She had access to my Pinterest clothing board and my Style Fix quiz and that's all, and she did a great job. I got medium gray pants, a bracelet, dress, blouse, and sweater. Of the pieces, the only one I didn't instantly love was the green blouse.
 Here's the red sweater with the gray pants and bracelet. Love this. The sleeves on the sweater are LONG enough! My arms are 24" long, so this is not always the case. The pants fit perfectly and are boot cut, not tapered, which is a good look for the Danskos I wear all fall and winter long.

In the picture below you can see that I've unzipped the little sweater zipper details. I like that little feature!


The third photo is the cute dress. I loved it from the waist up. Sadly, while it fits perfectly on the top, it's too small on the bottom (story of my life). I'm going to have to tell my stylist to go up a size for dresses.  I know it doesn't look horrible, but honestly, it's too tight for me. If I were willing to wear Spanx and have a super tight skirt, I could pull it off. But 1. I don't do Spanx and 2. I don't show off my booty.

Finally here we have the green blouse. I'm hesitating on it for 2 reasons. First, it's not really one of my colors. I suppose it would go with jeans, but I don't have anything this color. You can't really tell how it looks on me because the lighting is terrible (I'll fix that in my next review). Second, the blouse is just a WEE bit tight across my chest. That weird area above my bust and below my shoulders. Final decision? I'm going to model it for my hubby. If he likes it, I'll probably keep it. 

Finally, the prices. The only item that I really don't like the price of is the bracelet. It's $34, which is more than I would spend on costume jewelry, unless it was fair trade or exquisitely breathtaking. This bracelet is neither. Now, there's a discount if you buy all 5 items, so if I were keeping the 4 clothing pieces, I would totally keep the bracelet b/c it would effectively be free. But I have to return the dress, so I'm not getting the discount, which means the bracelet will likely go back too. Overall, I'm thrilled. The pants are AMAZING, as are the sweater. The dress would be PERFECT if it were just a bit bigger in the hips and butt. And the total price for all 5 pieces is definitely less than I would spend at the mall, not to mention that I didn't invest any of my time shopping!

Think it sounds good? Go ahead and try it out! If you use this link, I'll get a discount on my next Fix. And then you'll get a referral link that you can use to get your own discount. We all win!

 https://www.stitchfix.com/referral/6057711

Monday, October 19, 2015

A Gift of a Day

Being a parent is brutally hard. And to be bluntly honest, being a parent to MY child is especially hard. All the advice, all the parenting rules, all the good old tricks - all of it fails with respect to her. She is strong willed, resourceful, perfectionist, intelligent, and willing to do WHATEVER it takes to be right.

My determination to be a good mother and to use primarily positive parenting tools is part of what makes parenting so difficult. If I were willing to spank and discipline using traditional punishments, I might have an easier time, but it certainly wouldn't be any more pleasant. Instead I've chosen the path of conscious, positive parenting, which means I'm always seeking to renew and strengthen our connection and our bond.

So being a parent is exhausting.  This past weekend, I thought I couldn't take it any more. If I had to fight one more battle over the simplest thing; if I had to listen to one more whining complaint; if I had to watch one more meal be treated like a plaything; well, I was just done.

And then today we went to the State Fair. My husband took the day off from work and the 3 of us arrived at the Fair right at 9:00 AM. It was a glorious, although chilly, day. We had a blast. We bought her whatever food she wanted. For breakfast she had hot chocolate. For second breakfast she had an ice cream cone. Yes, her hands got brutally cold, but we warmed them up and she was fine. We rode rides, we ate cotton candy, we watched a milking demonstration, we checked out the crafts, etc. She requested and got a whole cob of roasted corn, which she devoured. I was delighted that my child, offered every sugary treat under the sun, wanted a vegetable! We went to a pumpkin carving demonstration that was fascinating for me, but less so for her. Yet she quietly sat and watched. Sure, she was wiggling all over the place, but she was quiet. She very quietly asked if we could leave, and when I said no, she didn't object. What an amazing kid! She generously shared her cotton candy with us. We went to the pig races and had to sit and wait for 20 minutes, during which time she was delightfully patient. It was a gift of a day.

Today was the reassurance I needed that I'm not a total failure as a parent. That all the hard work I'm putting in day and night is paying off. I have a 4 year old who was sleep deprived (she normally naps) and high on sugar and yet did not misbehave or have a tantrum once, even when we said no to leaving the carving demonstration and no to more rides. She's a good kid. Our work is not in vain.


Wednesday, October 14, 2015

10 Minutes

I have 10 minutes before my daughter gets up, so here goes.
I'm feeling much better this morning. Still feel bruised and sore emotionally, but after a good night's sleep and my Reiki I have a much better mood overall.
Sleep gives so much resilience. The ability to bounce back. There's a reason that we say weeping endureth for a night but joy comes in the morning. The sunrise is a potent reminder that everything is reborn. There are always second chances.

What will happen to my business? I don't know. I'm at my wit's end, literally. I've given it over to God. Whatever God wants to happen will happen. I'm going to keep doing the parts I enjoy, but I'm not going to break my back marketing or trying new ideas, etc. I'm just going to quietly do what I'm called to do, whenever and however I can, and let the rest take care of itself. We shall see.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Writing as therapy

In my writing class, our assignment for the week is to write about either our favorite dessert or a spiritual experience. I've already written about my favorite dessert, and it made me hungry. So I'll tackle the divine.

I've had plenty of high points in my spiritual journey. My first was when I was just 9 years old, a mere 4th grader. I was sad, in bed, at night.

There I lay, alone in the darkness of my room, haunted by insomnia. I was crying to myself, feeling lonesome. It was a hard time for me. My parents were both very involved with work, and my brother was in his second year at a very demanding school, so I felt isolated from my family. My father was literally gone 4 days a week on business travel. My brother was at school an hour longer than me each day and stayed in his room to do homework all afternoon.

I prayed. I prayed a lot - praying every night was a habit of mine. I read my Bible, attended Sunday School, even attempted to memorize Bible verses. A year earlier, my mother had encouraged me to read Leviticus as a cure for insomnia. Surprisingly, I found the book absolutely fascinating, and so I was reading a lot of the Bible. It didn't cure my insomnia, but I suppose it was a good thing for my soul.

That night I prayed, crying out to God. I was sad and alone. In that dark room, I felt God's presence. The Holy Spirit told me I needed to give myself to God. How? It wasn't a voice. Not an audible one. It was just knowledge, a thought that emerged in my mind. I had not been baptized as a baby, and in Sunday School we had talked about baptism and "inviting God into your heart." The knowledge that it was time to give myself to God manifested in action as praying that prayer. I invited Jesus to live in my heart.

What was this like? I have layers of memory covering the original experience. There was the direct contact - the mystical communion between the Holy Spirit and my spirit. There was the layer of conscious thought - the encoding of the communion into words and action. There was the layer of theology - the proper response to God's call. The layer of narrative, when I chose to share the experience and come forward for public baptism. The layer of memory, as I encoded that moment into long term storage.

At the root was the mystical experience - the connection with the Divine. I heard God. I gave myself to Her.

So what, I'm a Failure

So here's the weird thing about being me. Yes, I'm sad and depressed. Yes, the thought of closing my business is heartbreaking and frustrating. Yes there's part of me that is lying on the ground crying and wailing.
But there's another part. A part that says, yeah, so what.
This is just drama. Me wailing and beating myself up about being a failure - it's just drama. I'm successful and accomplished, and I do amazing things. And that means that eventually, when this stretch of drama has played out, I'll get back to doing amazing things.
I don't know what they will be. I don't know when they will happen. I don't know anything, really, other than the fact that at my core, I am OK.

This is what all those motivational posters are talking about. This is inspiration in action. Allowing myself to feel depressed and sad. Allowing myself to cry over business failures. But also letting go of the drama because I know the TRUTH. The truth is that I am OK. I am God's daughter. As a failure, I am still beloved and precious. I have value. My life has value. Even my failures are valuable to God, because She will transform them into Her successes.

Does it give me comfort? Does it take away my tears? Does it give me the motivation to pick up and start doing stuff?
NO.

I still feel like shit.
I still feel like a failure.
I still feel sad over losing my business.
It still hurts.

BUT.

It's temporary.
I can give myself grace, I can allow myself to grieve, I can shrug off the pain and not try to inspire myself because I know this will pass. I can enjoy my day because I know this is all a bunch of drama and lies. Because I am OK. I have value. God can work with me, no matter what.

I'm not happy. I'm not determined to take up my bed and walk. I'm not ready to strategize for future success. But I am able to keep putting one foot ahead of the other. I am able to take good care of my self by eating healthily, sleeping well, and doing ONLY things I enjoy doing.

I'm a Failure

There comes a point when you just have to admit it. I'm a failure.
I write, but no one wants to read it.
I coach, but no one wants to receive it.
I offer fantastic programs at amazing prices, and no one wants to buy them.
I offer great free content, and no one wants to hear it.

It's time to give up and quit. All my business has done is generate losses. Sure, I've helped people. I've helped people a LOT. But that doesn't matter. I can't make a profit. And I can help people without spending my own damn money.

Why write? I guess just as a hobby. But forget any idea of publishing. My one published book was a financial loss too. I'm really good at generating financial losses. Maybe I should be an accountant.

But no one would pay for that either.

I have two Master's degrees. I have outstanding academic records. I have accomplished a crazy amount of great things.

But my bottom line says no one wants me.

I quit. I'm done. Me Zero, Big Bad World One. Thanks to Jonathon Coulton for the words.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Top 10 things I feel when I'm whatever...

Depression has hit me. Typing is kind of like swallowing wood dust with no water in sight, but what the hell.
Apparently, I'm not alone. I'm never alone. Someone else out there is feeling like a failure, so here it is. You and I, we can feel like crap together.

10. I have one client who won't pay me, and another client just quit me, and I'm pretty sure there's no reason to keep pretending that I own a business when I'm not making any money.

9. The only thing I want to do is coach and get paid for it, but apparently I can only coach for free - no one is willing to pay me. This is very sad for me.

8. When I think of quitting my business I want to curl up in a ball and cry.

7. I have no idea what I would do besides this, and that makes me even more depressed. And then I think it'll be impossible to get a job. And then I think maybe I should temp as a secretary and that depresses me even more, because why did I get two Master's degrees if I was just going to be a secretary. I could do that with a lot less education.

6. Then I think I should stay at home with my daughter, pull her out of preschool to save money, and then I realize I suck at being a stay at home mom and I look longingly at the corner where I'm going to cry.

5. Then I think I should be writing, and then I remember that I don't write every day, so clearly I'm not a real writer, and even considering trying to write for a living is total insanity.

4. I wonder what is wrong with me. I mean, my period isn't due for at least 2 more weeks and I'm taking my anti-depressant and using my anti-SAD light box, so why am I so sad?

3. I have made all the wrong choices in my career and there is no recovery.

2. I bought liquor and plan to drink some tonight while eating Oreos, because I have no self-control and I'm clearly a failure, so I might as well throw it all away.

1. Except I won't get drunk. I'll just get sad.

Welcome to the most depressing post ever. I hope that you feel better than me.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

4 Benefits of a "Cleanse"

I recently lost 20 pounds using the Take Shape for Life program. In this program, I eat 5 Medifast replacement meals and 1 Lean and Green meal daily. Once I reached my goal, I began transitioning to a whole foods diet, and that's where I am.

It's not a traditional cleanse or fast, but I'm not a big fan of those, frankly. I'm of the opinion that my digestive system detoxes my body perfectly well. However, it is similar to a cleanse in that I dramatically changed my diet for a few weeks.

I didn't give up dairy or gluten or soy, but I did alter the proportion and amounts. I ate more salads in those weeks than I did in the year prior.

Now that I'm at my "fighting weight" and I'm starting to eat "normally" again, I can see several benefits I gained through changing my diet so drastically.

4. Broken habits. I used to get hungry for lunch, but not know what to eat. So I wouldn't eat anything, and then my hunger would build, and then I would pig out on junk food. On Take Shape for Life, I eat every 3 hours, no matter what. Now I plan ahead and eat something even if I don't want to because I know that's the healthy choice.

3. No cravings. I didn't give up gluten or dairy or soy: those ingredients can be found in many of my meal replacements. But I didn't crave them either. If I wanted chocolate, I could eat a Medifast brownie as my meal. I didn't crave pizza at all, and I love pizza. Eating high quality food in balanced proportions (each meal replacement is high in protein) eliminated any messages of desperation or hunger.

2. Body awareness. I've always heard about insulin crashes after eating something sugary, but I'd never noticed it. After a couple of weeks, one day I cheated and ate a giant chocolate muffin. Within the hour, I crashed and I noticed it! I realized that cheating was truly not worth the bad physical consequences.

1. Emotional awareness. I've always been an emotional eater. And I've also been hungry most of the time. Since I am hungry two or three times a day, it's hard to tell if my desire to eat is purely emotional, or a mix of emotion and hunger. Being in control of my hunger meant when I got the urge to eat emotionally, I knew the desire was all in my head. I was able to identify even more clearly the stress points in my daily routines.

What benefits do you see in a cleanse or detox?

Friday, August 28, 2015

Fear


The fear licks at my stomach, a white hot flame. There is no greeting for me, no smile. Hope leaps that maybe this time she is not angry, but it falters, because she is always angry. I am always wrong. There is no chit chat, no inquiry about my day. Only the granite stare, the tight lips. I go upstairs to my room and shut the door.

I sit in my room, staring around me blankly. In this moment, all I want is to cease to exist. If only I could vanish for a time – if only I didn’t exist when she ignores me. The white spark of fear lands in my gut, a cold congealed lump of heavy grease. The diarrhea will come later.

I do not call a friend. If she hears me talking she might take away my phone. Texting is not an option, locked in the 90’s as I am. How might life be different for me today?

I cannot read; the words swarm my eyes like a cloud of gnats and I read the same paragraph over and over.

I cannot listen to music. Any sound risks confrontation, and though I know it is coming, is unavoidable, I cannot provoke it. I must simply be still and quiet.

I crouch on the floor, between my bed and the wall. How small can 110 pounds get? I focus on breathing, in and out. The breaths are shallow, my heart is racing, and I am frozen. Why can’t I just cease to exist?

And then, footsteps. The door opens and she enters. A lump forms in my throat. I stand up to face her. Rest my fingertips on my bed for support. She begins to speak, to outline my crime. I detach from my body. I feel my spirit tied into my physical form at the throat, almost as though I could use words to escape, but there are no words. My mouth is parched, my breathing minimal. I keep my eyes locked on hers, but there are no tears. Crying makes her angrier. The room around and behind her goes blurry and my eyes focus intently on her face, her flat eyes, her tight mouth.

I have given up deciphering the words. I have given up trying to discover my crime. It seems that simply existing is the trigger. Later on I might realize that there is no pattern because I actually have done nothing wrong: this is not about me. But right now I only know that at any moment, my world will come crashing down, and there is no protection for me. I cannot escape it. I can only survive it, wait it out, take up as little space as possible until the rage has passed. Then I must soak up the sun, must smile and love and appreciate and play act until the next tantrum.

This is what verbal abuse looks like.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Echos of Criticism, Within and Without

I had post partum depression after the birth of my baby. I am not alone, or even unusual in this. It happens to many women.
For me, the worst aspect of my PPD was the inner voice that lied to me. That voice, the voice of my disease, told me that I did not love my child. It told me that I was an unfit mother. It told me that my daughter would always know that I was incapable of loving her healthily and well.
In recent months, I have been criticized as a mother. It wasn't constructive criticism: that is, it wasn't helpful advice that offered practical action steps to correct specific flaws. It was a blanket condemnation of me as a mother.
What makes this so particularly painful for me is the memory of my post partum depression. Although I have fully recovered from PPD, the echoes still sound in my mind. When my child cries, no matter what the reason, my PPD pokes me, wondering if I am capable of responding properly to her tears. And now another voice rears its head, poking me a second time. Perhaps, it whispers, even though you are recovered from PPD, you are still an unfit mother. All the harsh lies that my PPD told me are repeated in this new voice, doubling my efforts to stay sane and centered.
The thing is, I'm not a bad mother. It may not be in good taste to admit it, but I am a good mom. I've spent hours with a family therapist for the last 8 months. She repeatedly affirmed me as a mother. My daughter's godmothers tell me I'm a good mother. My husband believes I am a good mother. And in the final analysis, my daughter believes I am a good mother. She trusts me. She confides in me. She shares her fears and angers and joys with me.
It's so easy to remember the criticisms we hear, both from ourselves and others. And it's so difficult to remember the praise. Mothering is the hardest task in the world, and our tendency to only hear the criticisms makes it even harder.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Don't Forget THIS Clobber Verse...


Have you heard of the so called "clobber" passages in the Bible? These are typically the verses which strongly condemn homosexuality. Lists of these passages generally include Leviticus 18:22, Deuteronomy 23:17-18, Romans 1:26-27, 1 Corinthians 6:9, 1 Timothy 1:10, and sometimes Jude 1:7. These are used to condemn any kind of sex that doesn’t occur between a married man and woman. I’d like to add another “clobber” verse to this list. 

“Speaking the truth in love.” Ephesians 4:15a

When I talk to other Christians, this verse is commonly cited as their justification for quoting a clobber passage. And when someone tells me they are about to “speak the truth in love” to me, it’s a very clear warning. They are about to attack me, and they are justifying the attack with this Bible verse. Verbal abusers use this verse to keep their victims in line and to camouflage their abuse as moral correction. Anti-LGBTQ people use this verse to justify their bigotry. Sexists use this verse to justify telling women to shut up in church. Some Christians use this verse to keep women trapped in situations of domestic violence by arguing against divorce.

But what does it really mean to speak the truth in love?

I can tell you, I have friends who do this for me. I am blessed to have a husband who speaks the truth in love to me. When you truly speak the truth in love, the person you address feels that love and concern. When you try (and fail) to speak the truth in love, the person you address feels angry, wounded, offended, humiliated, confused, and/or fearful.

If you feel the need to “speak the truth in love” to someone, here are some tips to make sure you are doing it right.
1.     Make sure you have a relationship based in love. Have you made sacrifices for this person? Is there mutual affection and respect? Have you shared a meal, or even just coffee, with this person? If the answers are no, then STOP. There is no love context for the truth to be spoken into.
2.     Get the log out of your own eye. Look, I firmly believe that the point of Jesus’ parable (Matthew 7:1-5) is that we aren’t suppose to judge one another at all: that when we think we see a splinter in someone else’s eye, we probably have a log in our own eye. But some people believe that the point of this parable is that once the log is gone from your own eye, you are free to “help” others with their splinters. OK, fine. Is the log really gone from your own eye? What is driving your desire to speak?
a.     Is it that when you see a gay man, you picture sodomy and are personally disgusted? (Yes, I heard someone use this reason) That, my friend, is a log in your own eye – you are incapable of looking at another human without picturing that human as a sexual object.
b.     Are you personally angered by the other person’s sin? Quite often, the sins we find most upsetting in others are the sins we ourselves commit. That, my friend, is a log in your own eye: you haven’t dealt with your own pride, anger, sloth, sexual sin, gluttony, etc.
c.      Are you afraid? Do you fear that your child will become: feminist, LGBTQ, Democrat, Republican, artistic, sexually active, alcoholic, Muslim, smoker? That, my friend, is your own log. True love drives out fear.
3.     Pray. If you have a love relationship and the issue you “must” speak the truth about isn’t your own log, then pray to the Holy Spirit and ask if YOU are the person who should speak. Just because you recognize a problem doesn't mean you are the best person to speak up.
4.     Put your words to the 1 Corinthians test. Write out what you are going to say and then ask yourself the following questions.
a.     Are these words patient?
b.     Are these words kind?
c.      Are these words jealous? (they shouldn’t be)
d.     Are these words boastful? (they shouldn’t be)
e.     Are these words arrogant? (they shouldn’t be)
f.      Do these words honor the person you are addressing?
g.     Are these words self-seeking? (they shouldn’t be)
h.     Are these words angry? (they shouldn’t be)
i.       Are these words evidence of score-keeping? (they shouldn’t be)
j.       Are these words joyful?
k.     Are these words protective of the person you are addressing?
l.       Do these words trust the person you are addressing?
m.   Do these words show hope for the person you are addressing?
n.     Are these words relevant for the long term?

And in the final analysis: if you speak the truth in love to someone, and that person is wounded or harmed by your words, you failed. You were only a clanging cymbal. I suggest you apologize and tend to your own logs. I make that suggestion in love, of course.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

7 Things Everyone Gets Wrong About Mary Magdalene

Our church celebrated the Feast of Mary Magdalene on Sunday, and it was wonderful. I have always found Mary to be fascinating, an unmarried woman, singled out by name in all four Gospels. I am certainly not alone in my fascination - there is quite a mythology around Mary Magdalene.

Our rector's sermon about Mary Magdalene was excellent, and some of my material is derived from it.

Without further ado, here are some myths about Mary Magdalene!

1. Mary Magdalene is a prostitute. There is no evidence that Mary Magdalene was a prostitute. (If you are Catholic, I understand that you evaluate certain evidence differently. I respectfully disagree with you on this point).

2. Mary Magdalene was Jesus' wife. There is no evidence that Jesus was married, or that He was married to Mary Magdalene in particular.

3. Mary Magdalene had a child with Jesus. Let me just say it: Dan Brown is intellectually dishonest. This myth has no support. 

I'd like to pause here and point out that these myths are very concerned with Mary Magdalene's sex life. It seems that we very much want to know who Mary Magdalene was having sex with. Is this because the idea of a celibate woman drives men mad with frustration - the ultimate forbidden fruit? Is it because a celibate single woman exercising power and agency is threatening to men?

4. Mary Magdalene was the sister of Lazarus. Mary, Martha, and Lazarus lived in Bethany, not Magdala.

5. Mary Magdalene was the woman who washed Jesus' feet with perfume and wiped his feet with her hair. It's likely that the woman who did this was named Mary. The evidence supports that. But given that Mary Magdalene in every other instance is introduced with her identifier, Magdalene, it is highly unlikely that she was the woman with the perfume.

6. Mary Magdalene had hair all over her body. Part of the myth of Mary is that she fled to Gaul to escape persecution and lived in a cave. While there, her clothing disintegrated, but her natural modesty caused her to sprout thick hair all over her body.

7. Mary Magdalene was not a disciple. We like to focus on the chosen Twelve, the men. But the Gospel accounts are extremely clear on two points: There were many disciples with Jesus who weren't part of the Twelve; some of those people were women. In Acts, we learn that not only were there many more than the Twelve, there were many who had been with Jesus from the beginning of His ministry and witnessed his resurrection: enough that the Twelve felt comfortable choosing a replacement for Judas.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Feminism and Sunday Shoes, II

We can all agree that the practice of foot binding is horrific, inhumane, and barbaric. The very idea that we should deliberately break the toes and footbones of a 5 year old girl in order to reshape the foot into an entirely impractical and artificial form for the purpose of beauty is awful. It’s important to note that foot binding also effectively crippled women, restricting them to upper rooms and sedan chairs. Chinese women who had to work outside used a form of false binding because their families couldn’t afford to lose that labor.
  
And yet, in the 21st century we have invented our own form of foot binding. We don’t inflict it on unwilling 5 year olds, but it is a sign of sexual maturity, economic prosperity, and a desire to please others at the expense of comfort. Of course I mean high heels. 

High heels are notoriously uncomfortable. Just watch any fashion show and you’ll hear someone say, “Oh, and these heels are actually comfortable.” No one says that about a fleece Snuggie or oversized sweatshirt. And if you’ve ever worn heels, you know this to be true. Why else would so many women wear socks and tennis shoes on their commute, changing into their foot bindings once at the office?
 

High heels are also extremely bad for your body, specifically your posture and spine. They can cause bunions, hammertoe, plantar fasciitis, and pain. Men’s shoes don’t deform their feet, why should women’s?

High heels are also impractical for walking. Not only do they impair a woman’s balance, they distort her posture by shortening the back calf muscle, thrusting out her buttocks, and shortening the amount of contact her foot has with the ground. Go ahead - Google walking in high heels and you'll find these 2 articles. I really can't decide which one is more insulting! 

There’s a reason we applaud Ginger Rogers for doing everything Fred Astaire did, “backwards and in heels.” Doing anything in heels is difficult. Even models, whose expertise includes walking in heels, fall flat at times!
  
How does this rant relate to feminism and Sunday shoes? Well, the feminism connection should be obvious. 
Why would we wear shoes that impair our ability to walk to a workplace? 
Why don’t we have enough self-esteem to say, “No, I’m not going to purchase an item that harms me no matter how pretty it is!”?

I have a four year old daughter. And I love to dress her up on Sundays for church. When she was an infant, I adored the classic gowns her grandparents gave her. I dressed her in pastels with lacy ruffled socks and lacy bonnets. I even put useless little Sunday shoes on her tiny feet, little soft black or white Mary Janes with no structure at all. As she started walking, I made sure to buy her a good sturdy pair of every day shoes, spending as much as $50 to make sure her feet were properly supported and there was no risk of blisters, but then I would buy cheap dress shoes. Who can spend $50 on shoes that only get worn once a week?

And now I wonder, what am I teaching her? She’s old enough to know that she wears special shoes on Sunday, shoes that are “dressy” and go with her outfit better. She has learned that shoes transcend function. I have my limits. I don’t buy anything with any kind of heel (and yes, they have heel shoes that would fit a 4 year old). 
The Payless website I just linked to actually states: "For girls, mastering the art of wearing heels is an important part of growing up." 

Excuse me, I have to go barf now.
 
When will we stop binding our feet? When will we accept that wide toes and long feet are beautiful exactly as they are? 

For now, I'm focused on making sure my daughter knows that her clothes must function well first and foremost. That if she chooses to wear her rainboots on a Sunday, that's OK with me.

So I may not continue to buy her Sunday shoes. Or I might.

But one thing I will do: I will make sure her shoes and her Sunday clothes are appropriate for running, playing, jumping, AND going to church.

Monday, July 13, 2015

The Top 7 Things Picky Eaters Don't Want to Hear (Again)

I'm a picky eater. I was born that way. For a long time, I accepted it. I never challenged myself to try new foods or consider other options. And then, after college, I decided to branch out. I grew bold. I tried salad dressings, Chinese food, Moroccan food, Mexican food, Korean food, condiments, and new meats, fruits, and vegetables.

I discovered that I am still a picky eater. I dislike most salad dressings, Mexican food, anything spicy, all condiments, bitter vegetables, and some fruits.

I am not alone, however! Picky eaters (toddlers as well as adults) are legion, and we are tired of hearing the same old thing over and over! So here are the top 7 statements that we picky eaters don't like hearing!

7. You just haven't had any GOOD _____.
Look, I've been to more Mexican restaurants than I can count, and I don't like Mexican food. Just because it's authentic or high quality doesn't mean it appeals to my tastebuds.

6. Have you ever tried _____?
Yes, yes I have. But you know what, even if I haven't, that's not really relevant. Until we are in some kind of famine situation, I have a right to decide what I will and won't eat. I ain't never gonna eat sushi, and I refuse to feel bad about that!

5. Oh, this version isn't spicy/fatty/bland.
When I say I can't eat spicy food, I mean it. If there's too much black pepper in a meal, I break a sweat. I get that you want to share this culinary experience with me, but can we share something else instead?

4. But it's SO GOOD!
I'm sure it is. If it were disgusting, it probably wouldn't be available. But it really just isn't so good to me!

3. Oh, your poor spouse.
Yes, my poor unfortunate husband. He never gets to eat Mexican food or sushi (except for lunch, or dinner when I'm out of town). I'm sure that given the choice, he'd rather be alone and eat Mexican food every night. Husbands and wives are capable of eating independently of each other. I mean, it would be one thing if I married a sushi chef (is that what they're called?), but I married a regular guy who has tastes different from mine.

2. You're eating THAT?
I like my burgers plain - meat and bun. And people stare at my delicious, simple burgers as though I have loaded them down with dead leaves and centipedes!

1. Oh, can we go to [insert name of least favorite restaurant here]? I've got a coupon.
If I don't offer guidance as to what I like and dislike when discussing meal plans, my least favorite foods invariably get picked as options! It's totally my fault for being so picky, but it's just so awkward - I hate to sound like a prima donna when someone asks me what I like to eat.

Obviously, this post is meant in fun - this is NOT a big problem.
And I bet that people on special diets hear the same comments - what do you say, vegetarians, vegans, gluten-free people, allergy-ridden people? What do you hear all the time about food?

Friday, July 10, 2015

Deacon?


I’m thinking about ordination again. Haven’t I learned my lesson? I’ve been scrutinized and found wanting by two churches now, and yet I’m thinking about ordination again.

Is this a calling? Is that what it means? It’s not a desire for personal glory, to stand at the front of a church and be seen as some kind of holy person. It’s not a desire to consecrate the sacraments. It’s pastoral, shepherd like in nature. I don’t want to consecrate the bread and wine, but I do want to be able to perform marriages. I don’t want to preach, but I do want to go into the world and teach non Christians about my faith – to show them that the ignorant hateful nonsense that is spewed in the name of my beloved Jesus is NOT Christianity.

I just read through the ordination process to become a Deacon in the Episcopal church. It’s not a light thing. It will take a few years. It requires a 10 month internship at a church that is not my home church. Ten months attending church away from my family? That gives me pause. At least three times during the process, I have to earn the approval of my church’s parish committee and vestry. Did I mention I’ve already been found wanting by two churches? Found wanting in secret meetings where I was not allowed to speak or explain myself?

Why would I even consider this? I have my ministry, in the form of my business. I have my evangelism, in a form that is authentic for me. I am among people who have rejected God, pouring God’s love on them without saying the name of Jesus who gives it. I have no need for letters after my name or a title. And yet, I want to be affiliated with the Episcopal church. I want to represent something concrete and beautiful.

Do I want to pursue ordination?

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Feminism and Sunday Shoes

I was thinking about my daughter's Sunday shoes the other day. When it comes to church clothes, I'm a pretty traditional southern mom. I break out the white mary janes each Easter, and replace them with black ones in September. This year, I broke with my own tradition and bought her some adorable Lelli Kelly shoes for church - beautiful canvas mary jane style tennis shoes covered with beading. Still just for church, and still dressy.
As I was thinking about her upcoming birthday, I realized that she would very likely want to wear her brand new galoshes this Sunday. At first I thought, "darn, I'll have to talk her out of that." But then I questioned myself.
After all, women's shoes are incredibly unhealthy, on the whole. Whenever I shop, I'm forced to choose between wearability or fashion. It's the 21st century, people! Why should I cripple myself to look "good"? And what are my daughter's Sunday shoes teaching her about shoes and fashion?
By upgrading her dress shoes to a particular pair, am I teaching her that to look good, you must wear different shoes from every day? Yes, but I'm OK with that. But are the shoes I pick out comfortable? Do they stay on her feet and allow her to run and play? Because if not, then what am I teaching her? I'm pretty sure I'm teaching her that fashion restricts her activity and movement, and that I'm OK with that.
Am I overthinking? Sure! As a mom, I'm pretty sure that's part of my job description. Will it be the end of the world if she wears stillettos to her prom? Nope.
Just my random musings on how feminism affects not only my clothing decisions, but how I clothe my daughter as well.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

What is the Source of Dignity?

What is dignity? According to Merriam-Webster it is:
: a way of appearing or behaving that suggests seriousness and self-control
: the quality of being worthy of honor or respect
 
I pondered this question after the Supreme Court's historic ruling on marriage equality. As I was reading through all the social media buzz, I saw a tweet which mentioned part of Justice Thomas' dissent. Specifically, this part:
The corollary of that principle is that human dignity cannot be taken away by the government. Slaves did not lose their dignity (any more than they lost their humanity) because the government allowed them to be enslaved. Those held in internment camps did not lose their dignity because the government confined them. And those denied governmental benefits certainly do not lose their dignity because the government denies them those benefits. The government cannot bestow dignity, and it cannot take it away.
Many people are in disagreement on this point, but as I thought about it, I found myself in conflict. I am in no way a Justice Thomas apologist, or even a fan. I want to be totally clear on that point. 

But.

I agree with this idea - that dignity cannot be granted or removed by any external authority or power. If the US government granted my husband the right to physically discipline me, it would not remove my dignity. My dignity is inherent, just like my value.

This is where Justice Thomas' opinion actually falls apart in my completely NON legal, uneducated view.

If all humans carry innate dignity, then that is precisely the reason they must be granted civil rights. If Justice Thomas is correct, as I think this one paragraph is, then he is obligated to grant marriage equality, which he didn't. FAIL.
The inherent value, worth, and yes, dignity, of each human being demands civil rights and equality, regardless of DNA variables.

I believe my view on dignity is influenced by my gender and my religion. As a woman, I know full well that my dignity (my way of behaving, my worthiness of respect) is not affected by sexist pigs who treat me like a sex object. Having worked in a male dominated field and attended churches with sexist Christians, I know this from personal experience. Yes, it hurts to be dismissed. Yes, it removes my rights and my freedoms. Yes, it can be a violation. But it does not ever take away my dignity.

As for religion, as a Christian, I worship a man who was despised and devastated by his community and his government. Jesus was stripped naked, whipped, and nailed to a cross. His dignity was not lost. The Bible teaches me repeatedly that external authority serves the rich and the evil, and that God is on the side of the oppressed and poor. It demonstrates again and again that God turns the story upside down, using people considered the least worthy of respect or dignity to implement change and new life.

Was Justice Thomas right? I believe so. Did his correct opinion lead to the right action? I think not.

Monday, June 22, 2015

I am Angry

I am angry. I shouldn't be, because I know that I, along with everyone else, always look for the easy way out. But I am still angry, because for some reason, we have decided that removing the Confederate flag from the capitol of SC will solve our racism problem.

Look, I understand why that flag needs to come down. But it was there when I was in college, 20 years ago. And when I was in college, a KKK store, where you could buy your KKK robes and materials, was opened in a SC town near my school.

The problem will not be solved by taking down a flag. The problem will be solved when the citizens of SC, a majority of them, take down that flag by force. When the citizens no longer tolerate KKK stores and riot and protest until the store is closed. Not black citizens, ALL citizens. As long as individuals fly the flag, taking it down at the capitol is a easy gesture that solves nothing.

How many black friends do you have, dear reader? How many black friends do you connect with on a weekly basis? Look, I grew up a privileged white kid in East Tennessee, attending a private college prep school, going to a Baptist university in SC, joining a sorority. But I had black friends. Not because I'm noble, because I'm blessed.

When I was in high school, I thought the Confederate flag was cool. I didn't wear it, but I had no objections to it. And then, one day, a black friend of mine told me it was offensive. He educated me. And I listened. I didn't understand, but knowing that that flag hurt my friends was enough. I was done with it. I would never consider using it or wearing it again. My personal convictions about the symbol were irrelevant - it hurt another human.

I am extremely blessed in that, as a white middle class woman, I have been friends with people of all races, nationalities, and religions. I have broken bread with Muslims, Jews, Hindus, blacks, Asians, and members of the LGBTQ community. I consider that a huge blessing, because it has taught me compassion. And THAT is the way forward.

  • Are you opposed to homosexuality? Find someone who is not straight and befriend him/her*

  • Are you suspicious of Islam? Befriend a Muslim.

  • Are you not sure if you're racist or not? Befriend a black person. 

  • Are you convinced that doctors who perform abortions are evil? Befriend an obstetrician and ask her about abortion. 

  • Are you not sure if there are any Jewish people living in your town? Look up the synagogue (because yes, there are Jewish people in your town) and attend a service there.


Because while the Confederate flag is an undeniably important and oppressive symbol, taking it down will change nothing in YOUR life. If you are upset by the massacre in Charleston, then find a new friend, someone who disagrees with you on some major issue. Don't argue: do something fun, like have coffee or watch a TV show you both like.

The process of racial reconciliation begins with YOU.






* If you are friends with someone who has left homosexuality and become straight, that doesn't count. Mainly because s/he doesn't disagree with you any more. Find someone who is proud of her sexuality and not interested in changing to please you or God or anyone.

Friday, June 19, 2015

The Charleston shooting

I wish I could say I'm surprised at the tragedy. I wish I could say I'm surprised by the fact that, yet again, one person has entered a peaceful community and violated its safety with hatred and bullets. I wish I could be shocked and saddened at the racism exhibited. I wish I weren't so sure of what will be spoken on the news for the next month or so. But I am.

The news will give us in depth coverage on the shooter and very little information about the martyrs. The "Christian" right, which announces its persecution every November, will be devastatingly silent at this evidence of actual persecution. Gun activists will announce that if more guns had been in that church, fewer people would have died. Gun control activists will dredge up every mass shooting in the last 12 months and demand change. Mental health advocates will announce that we need more access to mental health resources (because we all know that the shooter will be found to be mentally ill in some kind of way).

But the real problem lies within. It is within me, when I yell or honk at a driver I feel threatened by. When I condemn a group of politicians or organization wholesale for their different opinions and policies. Jesus taught me that my words are bullets.

The problem is within my communities. When we declare our own anger justified. When we refuse to accept responsibility for our actions because someone else "made" us feel an emotion. When we get in shouting matches on social media, forgetting that the group we are demeaning is composed of beings created in the image of God. When we refuse to engage in the hard work of relationship and instead throw money and objects at a problem, hoping that will resolve it. 

The problem is within us, Americans. It is within our entertainment, where shooting and crime is a given. It is within our movies, when violence is given lower ratings than consensual sexuality. It is within our lobby groups, when a person's individual rights are given precedence over the other. It is within our history, when we embraced the man made concept of "race" and used it to deny humanity to a group of people. It is when we believe that externally imposed morality will solve our inner problem.

What is our problem? We still do not believe or accept God's grace and love. We think we must earn it, by some application of Torah or Fundamentalist Law. We think we must hold the right beliefs to be accepted by God, and so we question each other about theories of creation, evolution, abortion, gun control, feminism, birth control, Viagra, smoking, drinking, dancing, worship style, communion, race, politics, the Trinity, God's gender, the role of the Bible, money, child discipline styles, diet, warfare, self-defense, tattoos, hair length, clothing, modesty, sexuality, mental illness, drug abuse, alcoholism, swearing, etc.

I look for the sin within myself and then I repent, because that is how I deepen my love for God (Luke 7:36-50). I mourn for the church in Charleston because it reminds me that I shoot people with my anger and my mouth every day. And I know that despite all that, I am infinitely precious in God's eyes, today, in this moment and in the next.


Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Primary and Secondary Foods

I just started the Take Shape for Life program. I'm on Day 2 of eating 5 Medifast meal replacements and 1 Lean and Green meal daily. So far I've been pleasantly surprised: although my daily calorie count is extremely low, I'm not much more hungry than I normally am in a day (and yes, I'm pretty much ravenous every single day).

One thing that's helping is something I learned recently from a Health Coach, Shelley Churchill. It's the concept of primary and secondary foods, courtesy of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. The primary foods of a person's life, according to IIN, are not food at all: they are relationships, faith, and meaningful activities.

Now, whether you believe that or not, what I know for sure (Thanks, Oprah!) is that the more I focus on the intangibles of life, the less I worry about food. As I indulge my senses, deepen my relationships, pray, and do meaningful work, I am less concerned about what goes in my mouth. And that has made a huge difference for me in this program thus far!

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Naked Parenting


This is not a blog post about my daughter. This is not about her behavior, or her flaws, or her strengths. This is about me as a parent.
Parenting is hard. I’m at an especially challenging point right now, and it’s tempting to believe I’m alone. That I’m the only parent who worries that I’ve lost my authority. That I’m the only parent who worries that I have failed, already, in 4 short years, and I have ruined her future. Because I do worry that. I feel like, as a parent, I have already failed in two significant tasks, and I’m not going to say what they are because this is not about her.
I pray for myself and for my daughter. I read books. I discuss options and strategies with my husband. I ask for help. I’m seeing a family therapist. I follow the advice of her preschool teacher. I don’t spank. I don’t threaten. I don’t say no and then say yes. I am doing the best I can, and it doesn’t seem like enough.

Why? Because when I do let down my guard and talk with people, I see their eyes widen. I see their mouths open with unformed words, shocked at what I am saying. Are they faking it? Are they truly not facing the same challenges? Or are they simply shocked that I’m being so open and honest about it?

I’m a pretty open person. I’m not particularly interested in maintaining some picture perfect façade. I’ve been told most of my life that a façade is important. That by being open and refusing to wear masks, I’m hurting myself and my career. But I persist in my openness. Whenever I do put a mask on, it’s so painful that I can only maintain it for an hour or two before I collapse in tears.


So here I am, standing tall on my blog, admitting it all to the world. Because I KNOW I am not alone. There are other parents like me. Maybe one of you is reading this. Maybe you are nodding your head, because you understand. You know what it’s like to hear about how “this method” works for 99% of children and to conclude, sadly, that you are in the 1%. You know what it’s like to second guess your every choice. You know how isolating it feels when you are with other parents and their “challenges” sound like a walk in the park. You know what it feels like to gather up your courage and admit something and see judgment in the other parents’ eyes.

We are not alone. That is a lie, designed to mire us in depression and resignation. I’m here, telling you, you and I are in this together. Our hard work is paying off. Seeing a family therapist or getting other professional help doesn’t mean we are failures – it means we are successes. We refuse to let pride get in the way of creating the best world for us and our kids. Stay strong. Comment here if you want to share. If not, send me a DM on Twitter, @elainefbayless You can be naked with me. I won’t judge you.