Return of the Well, Me.

Alrighty. I’ve been hard at work determining my life and reevaluating my choices. I’ve been working on a project proposal which might blow people’s minds and I’m so close. I’m so close to living the life I couldn’t have imagine when I was in high school. I’m so close to living the life that I doubted I’d ever lead when I entered college. And I have something to say. (But when don’t I?)

Ahem.Here goes.

“So. I am enough. And you are enough. And I wanted to really stress that. Sometimes even though I, I know I can keep fighting and I know I’m trying to love myself, it’s sometimes the feeling that you feel like you’re not enough, right? And so this message is helping me kind of understand that I am enough-just the way I was made. I’m trying to be the best person I can be. And you’re enough too. So I know sometimes you feel like you can’t fight, and I know sometimes you feel like you just can’t love yourself and when that happens I want you to remember that you’re enough. You’re enough as you are. And I’ll try to remember that I’m enough as I am.”

-Jared Padalecki, 20 June 2016

I am enough

(This is the shirt for his campaign-the proceeds go to OneOrlando and Equality Florida’s Pulse Victim Fund–straight to the people who need it most right now. Buy here: I Am Enough Campaign) I listened to that man speak those words probably fifteen times as I watched the video, trying to make sure I got every word right. (And then I watch it because I love it.) Because the message is more important than I think nearly anything else is. It doesn’t matter what religion (if any!) you partake in, your status in life, your geography, anything. These words are just right. (If you wanna watch the clip, I posted it on my tumblr: I Am Enough Mantra)

I’m a huge fan of Supernatural for more reasons than just the great writing and acting. Mr. Collins, Mr. Ackles and Mr. Padalecki are such fantastic role models (as well as many of the female costars) and they each have ties to the mental health struggles (social anxiety, depression and self-harm amongst them). This speech was given as part of a live stream on Facebook  and before I get away with myself, let me just say it is one of my aspirations to work with someone like him (and them) in the future.

I am enough.

Those words don’t get passed around enough. Especially to ourselves. I told my husband last night that I think two things each and every day.

  1. How am I possibly good enough to live the life I have planned?
  2. I got this. Let’s kick some ass.

And you know what? That’s not because of self-esteem. The second thought is a lifestyle choice. I have to tell it to myself because I sometimes forget. I don’t have to be the one who changes the world each day. I just have to try. I am enough.

I made a difference to that one.

And so, even though I haven’t started it *yet*, I wanted to let you all know that I’m going to start a YouTube channel about body positivity, body safety and empowerment. It’s going to be like a companion to this blog. This is where all my personal articles of news will occur, but if you want to see my sparkly teeth and sassy attitude in “person”, then look no further!

It’s Not Enough

I woke up this morning expecting the news of the day to be pretty standard: celebrity gossip, political drama and some updates about some orders I placed. What I did not expect to see was violence and death. It breaks my heart each time someone has let anger twist their thoughts and hearts to the point of lashing out against someone else. Here in the states there have been muggings, violent deaths (caused by Islamaphobia) and more awful things within the last month or so. 

People have been murdered for being different and suddenly I don’t see where assumption stops and reality begins. It’s so easy to disassociate from other countries which are not your own simply for the fact that they seem so distant. We come to associate certain countries with generalizations like “good” and “bad”, “peaceful” and “hateful”. We come to see places as desolate war-torn wastelands instead of places where people are suffering at the hands of a few tyrannical radicals. It’s easy to brush aside the dangers of war, the tragedies across the sea with a simple “Wow, that’s really sad. I hope that doesn’t happen anywhere else.” 

  

But what you’re really saying is: I hope that doesn’t happen to me. To my loved ones. To my commute home, my vacation plans, my place of work. What you’re really saying is that you aren’t part of the problem, so you can’t really be part of the solution. You’re a good person, you say. You care about others.

But that isn’t enough.

                                            

If one person is loud enough, with their anger, their hatred, then their actions need to be met with one thousand times the response in love. If one person can take away lives in the blink of an eye, then one hundred times more people must save a life. 

In the news today, there was much talk of Belgium and Brussels. Bombings. Pain and death. But where was the same coverage, the same source of mourning globally for Turkey, who just a few days prior had a bombing as well? We become so convinced that there are bad countries filled with bad people that we forget that they are just the same as you and I: countries full of people who suffer, who mourn, who are unfairly generalized and stereotyped because of a few people who don’t even represent the majority.

It’s important to feel outraged. To feel angry at the actions of someone who felt the need to puncture a hole in the lives of millions.

But that isn’t enough.

                                                                

If one person is forceful enough to take an entire country by storm, forcing them into masses of fear and xenophobia, millions more must open their arms and deny their biases. If one person is able to take their own lives in such a manner that innocent bystanders have no choice but to also end, then everyone who is left behind must find it in themselves to stand up for the future, to fight hatred with hope, to battle fear with peace. Hitting the “like” button, the “retweet” button or even the “reblog” button isn’t enough. Those things were never meant to replace the caring, face-to-face actions of things like donating blood, donating food, working in a food pantry, volunteering to teach English as a second language, offering to share your culture with others and have them share back. Technology was supposed to bring people together.

But that isn’t enough.

                                                                  

Why the Kesha Ruling Matters

This week has been one hellacious week, as far as my reaction to court cases and life in general. You could say my faith in humanity wavered for a moment in time. But I write to you today from the perspective from someone who found the passion to pull herself from the depths of a hell-like depression into a full blown fighter. I have always been a fighter and now I’ve found my purpose.

Pocahontus Compass

I can no longer sit idly by and let our society, which I have endeavored to learn about and discover seek to oppress me by legislation which forces me to conceal that which is most basic to my existence: my biological sex.

I was born a female, and that is what I will stay, as feels right for me. But for whatever reason, that has been enough to condemn me. Michelle, are you talking about yourself personally or as a generality? Well, reader, I have to say both. And I can think of no more a potent case than the one recently involving Kesha. Kesha is a pop singer signed to the Sony label. She is known for song like “Tik-Tok” and “Crazy Kids”. And earlier this past week, a judge (more specifically Justice Shirley Kornreich of the Manhattan-New York Supreme Court) ruled that Kesha would continue to be legally obligated to fulfill her contract with the man whom Kesha has accused of sexually assaulting and raping her.

Michelle, you don’t even KNOW Kesha, nor anyone even remotely close to that case. How could it POSSIBLY affect you? Well, reader, pull up a chair and let me tell you a story.

—-Before I begin, I actually started this post 4 days ago, and had to stop because it emotionally drained me to the point of insanity. I would now like to finish what I started.

Womens-rights-are-human-rights

If the law says that a woman must stand by her accused rapist (or alleged assaulter, or abuser) for the sake of upholding a piece of paper, on which words are printed and names were signed, you are doing two things. First, you are saying that a contract is more important than a woman’s safety. Second, you are saying that women are not to be respected or believed if they come forward with accusations of assault, abuse or rape. You are saying that a women is expected to be grateful for the opportunities she has and that any reason she may have to want to remove herself from that opportunity is not good enough, and that maybe she shouldn’t have brought it on herself.

I was in class yesterday, and as I usually get there a couple minutes early, I found myself in a super emotional conversation about this very topic. I promise I didn’t start it, but I can proudly say I did pitch in. But because it pertains, I will record the pertinent parts.

Person A: My theater class was talking about the Steubenville rape today and Kesha got brought up. There are 4 women including myself in that class and I’ve never been so emotional in a class before.

Person B: What happened?

Person A: The men in the class all grouped up to say that Kesha should have had the wherewithal to know that she was being given date rape drugs instead of sleeping pills and that she deserved to face the consequences. Then one of the 4 women took their side and said that Kesha getting raped was like a person standing in front of a mass shooter and asking to be shot.

Now, I’m gonna stop my relay of the conversation there, because Person A and the rest of the class were getting into the problems of rape culture (some of which I will bring up in a moment) and because I made my point. Person A was physically shaking, and by the end of the conversation, more than just them was of that same response.

So when I say “rape culture” what is it that I mean? According to the Women Against Violence Against Women, here’s the backstory:

“Rape culture is a term that was coined by feminists in the United States in the 1970’s. It was designed to show the ways in which society blamed victims of sexual assault and normalized male sexual violence.”

rapeculturegraphic

Uh-oh! Did I just say feminists? YES I DID. And the Google definition of feminism is:

Feminism: noun: the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men.

Feminists are simply people who think that all people should be equal, and have equal rights. That’s it. Not men-hating crazy people. Just equality. It says nothing about what job is “appropriate” or what fashion a person wears or beliefs or anything. Just equality. Seriously. SO MANY people use it the wrong way and have no idea what it is. Educate yourselves!

gender_balance

Anyway, back to my point.

If we as a society are telling one young woman that she cannot escape her alleged attacker, then we are telling ALL women that they are stuck in the cycles of inferiority because of the sex they were born as. We are saying that women do not have the right to feel safe, or to expect to be protected by the laws which seek to govern them. We are telling women that their voice is to be muted, so that no one is to ever pay attention to it because all women are doing is seeking attention without having anything worthwhile to say.

And yes, it IS possible for women to be awful people and just make stuff up for attention. But one bad person is NOT justification enough to punish all women and oppress their needs just as it is not justification enough to punish all of MANkind for the actions of Hitler or John Wilkes Booth.

I try to keep my blogs from being overrun by politics. My husband is the political one and in fact, I think he may eventually come around to the idea of going into politics as a career. I’ve always seen myself as the justice keeper type. But I want to also welcome discussion. I don’t want to exclude views just because they are not my own. I want to know why people think what they think.

This topic is so personal for me. Not because of who is involved, or what happened, but because I am a woman. My husband and I have decided that kids would be great-one day in the distant future. The thought of having a kid now TERRIFIES me. I’m not ready, I’m not financially stable enough, I still go to college and that’s reason enough for me.

Why am I bringing up kids in my blog about the Kesha case? Because I need you all to see the pressures on women. And part of being a woman is being pressured about your biological clock.

I had a professor who told me that my experiences were not correct because they seemed to him to be wrong. He had asked about the pressures of having children on married women. I offered my story because I thought it would help the class understand. Here’s the transcript.

Him: I don’t know. Do any of you married women feel that there is pressure on you to have children?

Me: I had people asking me if I was ready to have a kid five minutes after I got married. And some of the congratulatory Facebook posts also contained questions about it.

Him: I don’t think that happens.

Another woman came to my defense, saying that it does happen and that people also force their ideas of how many children you are supposed to have on you. But the point is, I was told that my experiences were invalid because he didn’t believe them. How am I supposed to combat that?

The CDC recently released a report about women drinking and pregnancy. If you took health class seriously, you know that alcohol and babies do not mix. It’s bad for the babies. But I personally think the CDC is taking it a little too far. Yes, I think that baby health should be at utmost priority. But I also think that if women who are of “sexually reproductive” age and not on birth control have to have their alcohol consumption monitored, then maybe so should men. After all, men are more likely to become alcoholics and if we’re really so concerned about baby health, then why would we want to be unconcerned about alcoholic dads?

The state of Ohio (in which I live) has recently passed a bill stating that abortions will not be funded unless it is necessary for health or in instances of reported rape or incest. Michelle, you just said you weren’t going to get political-what’s this? This is me showing you why Kesha matters.

So let me list this out for you.

ALL THE THINGS WRONG ABOUT THE KESHA RULING AND RAPE CULTURE IN AMERICAN SOCIETY

(The consequences spelled out for you by: a woman.)*

-Women are not to be believed in the event that they accuse someone of rape or assault because they are probably just seeking a better opportunity.

-Women are not to be believed about their experiences because they are probably lying.

-Women are not to consume alcohol because they are going to damage their unplanned children. (There is, to-date, no regulation on men though.)

-Women are not allowed to get an abortion (in several states now, not just my own) unless they have poor health, have been the victim of incest or have been the victim of a rape that they probably just want because they had the opportunity to have “consensual” sex and not worry about the consequences (and they probably lied about being raped anyway).

_________________________________________________________________

And now, you maybe see why the Kesha case is so important. It isn’t about Dr. Luke, Kesha or even Sony. It isn’t about Hollywood’s biases, intolerance, injustice (well, it kinda is) or anything like that. It is about the implications of a ruling based on sexism and oppression in a land where being a woman is already treated like a bad thing. I’ll be graduating Spring 2017 with a degree in Anthropology and then in 2020 with a degree in law. And I’m aiming for the laws which limit women’s rights. That will be my legacy.

female-power-anyn-rand.jpg*This explanation does NOT reflect my personal beliefs. I believe that the scenario I have explained is how the facts are being interpreted. I believe that ALL accusations of rape and assault should be looked into with respect and integrity, and am looking into a career in rape prosecution. The explanation I give is NOT how I believe the world should work and is in fact, just the opposite of how I want society to  be.

Enough

I’ve been unable to find words lately,and that seems to be a pretty common trend. I have ideas floating around in my head, but to tie them to words, sentences and blogs is a little hard. It isn’t that I have nothing to say, it is that I have too much, I feel too deeply and I have thoughts which maybe should be best felt not said. But, I also know that for some things, it is better to break your silence, and that is why I write today.

You are enough.

You are enough to change the world.

You are enough to make your own voice be the one that is heard.

You are enough of a reason to continue going, even when it sucks so bad.

You are enough to remind the world that each person, each problem deserves a chance to be loved, a chance to be solved.

You are enough to be pleasantly surprised.

You are enough to be respected, to be accepted.

You are enough of a reminder that there is still hope.

You are enough.

You are enough to be worthy of value.

You are enough to keep our head held high in the face of adversity.

You are enough of a reason to keep going.

You are enough to be happy.

You are enough to make wishes come true.

You are enough to dream dreams and smile.

You are enough.

Thankfulness, Day 16

Today I am thankful. That’s what I set out to do, afterall. I wanted to change my attitude about the way I saw the world, just as I vow to do every year. And whether I’m thankful for abstract concepts or things which are very much concrete, I try to keep those ideals in my head, remembering the reasons why I’m thankful for them in the first place. Today, I could not find a concrete thing, so I went for the abstract. But before I get to what it is exactly, I think I want to share a story.

When I was a child and the all powerful “they” asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, my answer was a coroner. I was reprimanded for that answer, and was told that being a doctor was something I should want to focus on instead. I was five.

When I was in elementary school, I told people that I could heal them with leaves and would go around placing frsh picked leaves on any scrapes and injuries there were. I was then informed about germs and germ theory, and how there were things in motion about the way the body healed itself that I didn’t understand. I was 9. 

When I was in middle school, I thought I wanted to play volleyball. Although the season was tough, I lasted through it. I even become a valued player. I was told that quitters will never succeed and that even if I was completely miserable, I was not supposed to give up. I was supposed to suffer through it. (This advice did NOT come from my parents, but rather from the mother of another player.) I was 13.

When I was in high school, I assumed I could change the world and save everyone in it. I lost countless hours of sleep, cried with other people, uplifted spirits who were torn to shreds. It is then that I learned that if you really want to help someone, they have to want to hep themselves. I had been a pawn in the lives of people who soon forgot about my efforts, even though I never forgot about them. I was 15.

When I went to college, I thought it would be just like high school-something I could easily succeed at if I just paid attention. How wrong I again was. College broke through my assumptions an pinned me to the wall, beating me for my metaphorical lunch money. It was then that I learned that sometimes I will just know nothing. I was 18.

When I got married, I thought it would be just like dating, only my private life would become, you know-private. But it was then that I learned the true power of gossip. I was 21.

I’ve never fit into the mold neatly, or even altogether willingly. I’ve been too much of some things and not enough of others. People have used me as a way to see their own ends, just as I have done so to others. I have been to the depths of my soul, broken down by the hurtful words of bullies, who didn’t understand that the number on the scale, or the one which represented my bank account were not the things which defined me as a person. I have heard the hateful words of wellwishers, pushing me down paths that were more acceptable because it wasn’t right for “someone so gifted to be so morbid”. I have heard the lessons, felt the sting and have risen from my past, more alive than before.

Today, I am thankful that I was never quite right. I was always too much, or not enough. My heart came too big, just like my waistline and my bank account was never full enough. That I spent too much time hearing the cries of others and not enough time quelling slander directed at tearing me down. Am I perfect? Hardly! Am I bulletproof? Not a chance! I’m not a robot and words do hurt. But what I am is myself, and in then end, all that happened simply led me to be who I wanted to be-for all the exactly right reasons.