A Bias

In anthropology, it is important to understand and work around your biases.They can stop you from being honest, from doing your best work and a whole host of other things. But I think it’s equally as important to understand your flaws. And I will admit: I found one of mine.

You see, I cannot seem to understand why there is so much aggression against people with spiritual beliefs other than your own. It makes no sense to me, and I obviously do not condone it. I have been on the receiving end of some heat, but that’s kinda my point.

If I were to classify myself under a spiritual belief system, I would pick first Paganism. I’m leaning towards Hoodoo currently, but I have lots to learn and miles to go before I sleep.Those two relate to each other in the same way that Baptists relate to Christianity as a whole: it’s just one facet of a bigger category. But that’s not really my point.

My point is that I have friends who are Pagan like me, Atheist, Agnostic, Lutheran, Catholic, Protestant and others. I have meaningful conversations with them, I encourage them and I value their insight. And when I was asked about it this week, I was really kind of…shocked.

I send encouragement to all my friends, if I see and am aware that they need it. It doesn’t matter if you think differently than I do, if you believe in a different story, a different way of life. If I am taking the time to seek you out and interact with you, it is because I value you as a person. That’s my bigger point.

So, when I say I have a bias I guess what I’m saying is that I have an inability to relate to people who are so convinced that they must isolate themselves into just one group of thought, one ethnicity, one place and never value the meaningful connections out there for them to tap into.

And for all of my friends who aren’t exactly copied from the same threads I am: thank you. Because if I speak only of my ability to have a relationship with each of you, it is only half of the story. You are there as well, giving an outsider a chance to be part of your connections.

Words like Vomit

Hi everyone! Thank you to all of you who tuned in for Metamorphosis Monday, and for looking at my analysis of the Kesha case. Today I want to get a little preachy, a little personal. So why did I title my blog “Words like Vomit”? I’m going to be blogging today about bodily autonomy. First, we need to get a couple definitions out of the way though. (This is where the title comes in. You all have ideals about their meaning, and the opposite belief is like bile in your mouth.)

  • Pro-Life: opposing abortion and euthanasia
  • Pro-Choice: believing that a pregnant woman has the right to have an abortion if she chooses
  • Pro-Abortion: in favor of the availability of medically induced abortion
  • Autonomy: freedom from external control or influence
  • Super Tuesday:  a day on which several US states hold primary elections.

A little note from me: I’ve done my best to keep myself respectful and neutral. But if I’m going to be honest with myself, I have to look at my biases, be sure to examine pitfalls in my argument and speak from my heart. Therefore, I will talk to you all as equals, and not as children (or AS a child). My beliefs are my own, and may not be yours. That doesn’t make them invalid, it just makes them different. Until the age of 19, I was extremely pro-life. And then I realized that I could be pro-life about my own actions without needing to be choosing the destiny of someone else. From the definitions above, you can see that you can be pro-choice without being pro-abortion. And that’s my stance. I cannot pick the life for someone else, and no one else can pick my life for me. So let’s get down to bodily autonomy: the living versus the dead. Also, my future blogs will feature other things, not just political ones, but you know what they say about passion: it’ll consume you.

As always:

jmo

What happens when a person dies? Apart from the very biological parts of what really happens, there is a lot that people often do not think about until they are forced to. Burial or cremation? If burial, what kind? Were they an organ donor? Did they have any religious beliefs which might determine their final wishes? What were their final wishes? How would they feel if someone from a different religion, different geographic location, different socioeconomic standpoint came in and told the family members what they could and could not do with the body of their loved one? How would the loved ones feel?

Let’s start someplace different. How do you know someone is alive? Is it what they do? A certain age? Or is it something else? According to the Encylopaedia Britannica, life is defined as matter that shows certain attributes such as responsiveness, growth, metabolism, energy transformation and reproduction. The Catholic Church defines life at conception (when sperm meets egg).

So already, we have an issue with science v. religion. Which is right? I’m not the one to tell you. Sorry. But while we’re on the subject, I’ll tell you about a class I once had, over that very thing. It was a philosophy of science and religion class, and in it the professor handed us a picture of the world’s leading religions. I’ll pass it on to you all, but I’ll also add in the numbers.

Religion_distribution

pf_15.04.02_projectionstables8

Do you want to know what those numbers mean? It means that no matter what religion ends up to be “right”, a majority of the people will be “wrong”. Think about that for a minute. Suppose you are a religion which preaches “eternal hell” for all non-believers. You are not only NOT the majority, but you have just sentenced millions (billions?) of people to die. Interesting, no?

So for the sake of morals, let’s say I choose science. That means that until much later in the cycle, an abortion is just a cleaning out of cells.(Michelle, that’s harsh! Don’t you know fetuses can feel and hear and stuff?) Lets break down this one, shall we? Most abortions happen before week 13 of pregnancy. What happens to fetal growth and development by week 13? Let’s look. It’s all just implantation and cell division until about week 6. Do you wanna know how big that fetus is? The size of a lentil. How big is that? It’s this big:

lentil (That’s a quarter.)

By week 10, the fetus has skin, has lost its tail and can move it’s little limbs around. By week 12, “brain” development has reached a point where reflexes are possible. The fetus is the size of a lime. How big is that? It’s this big:

lime

Okay, so now that that’s taken care of, let’s return to the dead. Three (or more!) states have what is called “Death with Dignity” laws. That means that, providing an individual meets the correct criteria, that individual may choose to die on their own terms with medical help.

The court case of McFall v. Shrimp ruled that while you may not agree with someone’s actions over their own body, it is legally within that person’s rights to do with their own body what they choose-even at the expense of saving someone else’s life.

Medical doctors are not allowed to remove perfectly good organs from deceased people to use in patients who need transplants if the deceased did not agree (before dying) to be an organ donor. That means that a dead person has more legal rights to the organs the no longer need than the 4 year old who needs a heart, or the 30 year old dad with 3 kids who needs a set of kidneys. A living person must choose to lose their organs when they die, or they cannot be taken from them. A dead person’s wishes must also be acknowledged as far as “disposal”. If they state in writing that they wished to be cremated, then those among the living must comply.

So what does this have to do with women and pregnancy and abortion? (And more importantly, Michelle, I thought you said you weren’t pro-abortion!) It has everything to do with women and pregnancy and abortion, and yes, I am pro-choice.

sinner

If we afford protection to the members of our society who choose to keep the fully functioning, completely healthy organs the have with them when they die, and we cannot force someone to do something with their body that they do not want, then that has to be universal. THAT’S my point. It doesn’t matter if you are pro-anything. If you do not afford the right to have the choice to make decisions about your own body, then you cannot reasonably argue that a dead person should be allowed to keep their organs when they would be better used with those who are fighting to live.

And that also means that if a patient with a terminal illness, in a lot of pain, simply wants to be at ease, to die before they can no longer keep themselves alive, they would not be able to do so, because their choices would be stripped away.

Interesting how life and death have so much in common. And I’m not saying that religious people have everything wrong. What I am saying is that if people cared so much about life, perhaps they should try a little harder to protect and foster the life that is already fighting to hold on instead of being preoccupied trying to run the lives of women that they haven’t even met.

And for those of you on the fence about all this, let me provide some facts about the types of women who get abortions, to put to bed the stereotypes you have in your heads.

Half of all pregnancies are unplanned, and half of those end in abortion.

  • 57% had some college education;
  • 88% were from metropolitan areas; and
  • 57% percent were low-income

Women who obtain abortions represent every religious affiliation. 13% of abortion patients describe themselves as born-again or Evangelical Christians; while 22% of U.S. women are Catholic, 27% of abortion patients say they are Catholics.

Half of all women getting abortions report that contraception was used during the month they became pregnant.

Research indicates that relief is the most common emotional response following abortion, and that psychological distress appears to be greatest before, rather than after, an abortion.

Source: http://prochoice.org/education-and-advocacy/about-abortion/abortion-facts/

Here’s a chorus from the song “What It’s Like” by Everclear

God forbid you ever had to walk a mile in her shoes
‘Cause then you really might know what it’s like to have to choose.

And why did I bring up Super Tuesday? Because the only way to change the course of the country is to vote.

Role Models and Hope For A Messed Up World

I couldn’t find the words I wanted to say right away, so this post is coming almost a week after the incident, but the concept has been stuck in my head for quite some time. As an individual, I love being a singular version of myself. But I look often for someone else who is also a trailblazer. I wanted to write about why I look for and who I select as a role model for my life. I think it’s important for people, women especially, to have someone who is an upstanding, respectable example of the lives we want to lead. Now, I’m not saying that there aren’t people from older stories who could be role models (I frequently look to Joan of Arc, personally). The problem with using people from the past is that things were different. The world was not the same then as it is now, and we need people who are more like us than sword bearing warriors or queens from afar. 
  There is the social media factor, I suppose, which lends itself to a certain realm of role models, some good, some not. But it seems that the news represents best those who are not good role models for the young (and young-ish) people of today. I am of course talking about the celebrities like Nikki Minaj, Lindsey Lohan and to some extent even Katy Perry and Lady Gaga. They all represent the pandemonium of fame and the pit falls thereof. We could also examine outlets like Disney or Matel, who have presented the world with prestigious Barbie, Cinderella, and Ariel (just to name a few). It is these three which are both a great help and a hindrance to young women of today. I want to explore them and then propose my list of four individuals who are better role models for our generation. 

  Barbie: In almost every household you might find her, or a cousin or a friend. She is blonde, brunette, red headed, light skinned, dark skinned. She has had a plethora of jobs, donned an impressive collection of costumes and even manages quite a large variety of accessories. Over the years, people have yelled at her for being too skinny, too unrealistically proportioned and too shallow. I mean, there was even a brief moment in Toy Story 3 where she was introduced to public audiences as a complete and utter bimbo, followed by a weak attempt to reclaim her dignity. But the thing is, she’s too uniform. She has no individualized flaws. No scars, stretch marks, beauty marks, wrinkles, pimples, or really flaws of any kind. Her makeup is always done, she’s always smiling and there is nothing any of us can do about it.

  Cinderella: She’s Disney’s star princess. I mean, who didn’t want to be a princess because of her? She came from rags to riches, found a guy, married Royal and viola. She even had a set of killer shoes. But what does she have as far as personality? She’s got wishes, desire. But she lacks motivation and drive. She “asked for a dress, shoes and a night off”. I get it. But that’s not real life at all. And why do you need a man to provide you with everything? I mean, independence goes a long way. I know in the original story she was a teenager, but isn’t that kind of the point? In her time period, that made her basically an adult, and I know she would have been in need of a man, but this is the 21st century and we don’t need that anymore. Say it with me: I am a strong, independent woman who needs no man, but can have one if I so desire.

  Ariel: With a golden voice and perfect hair, who cares about anything else, right? Wrong. Again, you don’t need a man to be the best woman you can be. The thing is, Sebastian was right. Giving up everything, your soul and life included, just to get a man (or attempt to) is not the way to go. And by this point, wouldn’t you also need to make exceptions for finding the right partner-be it woman or man or just a good friend? As with Cindy, sorry Ariel, but there’s nothing that warrants me looking up to you if you’re going to change everything about yourself for someone else.

So I’ve given you a basic run down of my issues with the above, but I do want to mention that I know these characters are fake, but they are widely distributed and influential. I do not want to come across as impossible to reason with so the last person (it’s actually two people) are fictitious as well. And I also realize that the women I am looking at have flaws. But that’s exactly why I chose them. And I will go over them as well. These are, of course, my own personal opinions and you can take what I say with a grain of salt. I would love to hear your opinions in the comments, as always. So,without further adieu.

Michelle’s List of Role Models for Women of 2015.

  Judge Carolyn Walker-Diallo: You might not have heard of this woman, but she is the reason I’m doing this post. Seven days ago, she was sworn in as a judge in New York. She wore a headscarf, because she is Muslim and she was sworn in on the Qur’an. Now, none of this even really seems like anything out of the ordinary. But the amount of hate mail she received for being sworn in on the Qur’an is astounding. This woman vowed to uphold the law, as she has done her entire career. She is an upstanding citizen who was voted into office. I came across this story in my FaceBook news feed because of how many ignorant people are accessing social media to tear her down. You are permitted to swear into office on any holy book and even the constitution of the United States. She has done nothing above and beyond the average expectations I have for a law abiding citizen, but she is my candidate for a role model for the simple fact that she stuck by her faith, even when people threatened her and heckled her about it. She stayed true to herself, even though that path offered great resistance.

  Adele: Let me say that I am a huge fan of Adele. Her voice is so beautiful, and she’s gorgeous. She’s not stick thin, and I love her for it. She says what’s on her mind and once again, stays true to herself. She took time from her career to take care of her baby. We’re almost the same age and that means a great deal to me. Why, you ask? Because she’s proving that not all 20 year olds and 20-somethings are wild and crazy and awful. She’s a credit to our age group. She even works at a record shop. Her flaws? She’ so soulful in her music that she really only sings sad songs. Which isn’t like a huge flaw, but I don’t associate anything other than sad love songs and break up songs with her. 

  Angelina Jolie-Pitt: Did this one take you by surprise? I really thought that this spot would be occupied by many other people, and indeed it could have been, but there are lots of women who could have taken this spot who simply aren’t as well known. And while you are all entitled to have your own individual role modes, for the purposes of this blog, I needed someone visible. She adopts underprivileged kids, she works with charities and organizations, speaks on behalf of underprivileged people to the UN. And on top of that, she preventatively had a mastectomy so that she didn’t have to worry about breast cancer. I mean, that sounds like a very personal thing and she’s known for her body. I remember a lot of people were upset at her for taking charge of her own body, and that is why I commend her for doing it. She did what she had to do so that she could live her life to the fullest. Also in this spot, Emma Watson for similar reasons. 

  

  Molly Hooper/Buffy the Vampire Slayer: I told you I would bring in some fictitious characters. I chose one from my younger adult life and one from my current adult life. So I will start with Buffy. She was a kick-ass teenager who saved the world a lot. And the thing is, that was badk when TV series were filmed with people who looked like teenagers playing teenagers, and incorporated flaws and diversity of character types. Buffy had an attitude, she was impatient and made mistakes. She needed help and asked for it, she complained about life and then grew up and made sacrifices. She represented real teenage life, apart from vampire hunting. And her friends were just as painfully realistic. But they all had a moral code and they represent a lovely era of beautiful story telling.

   Molly Hooper. I have great aspirations to be Molly Hooper. For those of you who do not know who Molly Hooper is, allow me to tell you. The BBC produces a show called Sherlock, based off of Sherlock Homesfrom Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. In the BBC version, there is a medical examiner by the name of Molly Hooper.  She has an enormous crush on Sherlock, does everything dignified she can to get him to notice her including buy him a present at Christmas. He’s rude about it and she calls him out on his bad behavior. Later in the series, she also tells him he’s throwing away his gifts and that he should apologize for various actions. Sherlock comes to respect her. And she didn’t change herself. She stayed true to her personality and persona, all while being a valuable asset to a team. Honestly, I know that this is all fiction, but really, if I were ever to model myself after someone who never existed in real life, it would be Molly Hooper. If you haven’t watched Sherlock, I HIGHLY recommend it. I can discuss all manner of theories with you. I’m a true and devoted CumberCookie and Sherlockian.

Anyway, this has been my short list about female role models in modern society. I hope you’ve enjoyed it. 

Every Word’s The Same

I have to say

There seems to be a miscommunication

I thought secrets were for the living

But the only secrets are kept in death

If every second lasted just a second longer

Maybe the trust I thought I deserved 

Would shatter before my eyes

Instead of behind my back

My shoulder blades itch, 

Could you move the knife up and to the left?

Or should I just fall on my face

The beauty of the fall is my disgrace

Is that your heartbeat

Or is it just the echo of a chest that’s hollow

Because you’ve been a tin man your whole life

And I guess that makes me the one without courage.

It takes a tribe to raise a kid, but 

Maybe it was a village of idiots.

You thought you were so clever, so sweet

That I could save you from your own disasters 

You should have looked for a parachute

Because this plane’s about to go down.

I never thought it’d come down to this

A thief and a liar, oh but the twist,

We are the same, you and I

Connected by the handcuffed scars on our wrist.

  (Photo from Pinterest!) 

What’s My Age Again?

9 December 1992. It was a cold day in December, flurries and snowflakes abounded and as the sun disappeared, a lunar eclipse kissed the moon. In the chill, the bitter cold of night, there was a silence. A single snowflake fell to the ground, having caught the light of the blood red moon, and the world held its breath. Seconds passed, each one bringing the moon closer to the culmination of the eclipse, the tint caressing the moon with no inclination of saying goodbye. And right as the moon shone brightest, a scream rippled through the stark white hospital. The lights were dim, the sounds of Christmas carols humming through the radio and in a flurried rush, as the snowflakes outside the window, a baby was wrapped in a blanket, the jam-like innards having been sucked from her nose, her bottom having been smacked. That child, covered in goop, being rapidly wiped off and swaddled, was me. I came home in a Mickey Mouse shirt, which my mother graciously lets me keep in my clothes drawer with my socks.
My mother was told she could never have kids. I was both a surprise and a blessing (or so my parents tell me). I’m sure they really had no idea just how many surprises were to come to them on my behalf. I’ve been through every emotion and hair color, I’ve grown fond of coffee (if you couldn’t tell), I fell in love with music. I learned to play almost a dozen instruments, I even thought about being a music major in college, even auditioned. We always put the Christmas tree up after (or on) my birthday). And now, I live with my husband and life has changed so much since my earliest memories.

Last year on my birthday, I anxiously awaited the minute I turned 22 so that I could buy the Taylor Swift song. But as I approached this birthday, I realized that finding a “23” song would be much harder. So I began my search. As the title suggests, I found Blink-182 first and then Jimmy Eats World. But that song just wasn’t enough for me. I’m sure my sister would love for me to claim the R5 song “Wishing I Was 23” but I just can’t connect to it either. Next to reach the chopping block was “23” by Shakira. I’m a huge fan of Shak, and I really thought maybe this song would be it. But I kept looking-just in case. And then I landed on “Waiting” by Jamie Campbell Bower. And I think I have my song. 

Being 23 is already pretty stressful. I have another year just gone. I spent it being sucked down by my cowardice and anxiety, I found myself changing my mind-a lot, and I picked myself up after tons of times being metaphorically beaten down. But it’s gone, for better or worse and I can’t get it back. That’s really something to think about. It’s a scary world out there and I’ve missed another year. Or am I just another year closer to the best me I may ever be?

So my goals for year 23, are personal,more so than they have ever been. I want to break my shell once and for all. I want to get out and meet people, make eye contact and not be afraid of everyone. I want to work out more. Not so I can be skinny, but so I can be healthy. I want to be able to go into the next parts of my life in the best shape I can. I want to do something-like get my book published, or sell a song to a famous person, or even just go somewhere. And more importantly, I want to succeed. Less thana year from now, I’m applying to grad schools and law schools. I want more than anything to get in. I want to smile at the acceptance letter and realize I did it. I want to not be scared to drive. I have a CRAZY story to tell you all sometime about why I have worries driving, but today I shall not get into it. And I want to enjoy life. I don’t need to have “everything”-the perfect body, makeup, hair, and material goods. I just want to spend more mornings looking at the sunrise, more evenings staring up at the heavens and maybe, just maybe, finally learn how to play guitar.

All that I need is to be true to myself. And that is my favorite reason why I’m 23.

So come close, and I’ll scream

Oh just let me be me

And I fail to see

The dark skies aren’t all that dwell inside me

-Jamie Campbell Bower, Waiting

  

The Song with The Beatles (War is Over)

I haven’t blogged in a couple days partially because this is the end of the semester and I’ve hardly had time and the other part is that I’ve been watching too much news and just feeling more emotive than responsive. But today, I have everything collected, I have coffee on its way to being perked and I have things to say. You are never required to, but my oerspective cries out to be heard.

I read an article (which is how all of my conversations seem to go these days) about the curent generation of teenagers being entitled and whiny. (https://theoxytocinchronicle.wordpress.com/2015/12/02/generation-cry-baby-why-millennials-are-a-fking-joke/) How they feel that they are special snowflakes, with no flaws and a sense of deserving things which they did nothing for. I would like to expand on this and say that there are many of the current population, regardless of age who feel that way. As someone with student loan debt, I would love if university were free, but it isn’t and therefore I have to plan for that. If it’s what you want, you’ll find a way, if not, you’ll find excuses. And so I’m dragging myself across the metaphorical coals to pay for my education because I want to help people and that’s what it costs. I’m not entitled to free college, I’m entitled to working hard. And it bothers me that there are so many people who would rather just sit back and let other people worry about the chaose they cause in their laziness than there are people who want everyone to do their share. We are all special, but that doesnt’t mean that some specials are privileged or more valuable than others. It means that our uniqueness is the key to making the world better. SO I’m vehemently against entitlement. And as I will discuss later, I am against children* having children.

If you look at the news at all, really since the big terrorist attacks in the Middle East and Europe this past month, you aren’t seeing too many happy-faith-in-humanity-restored moments. In fact, here in the states we just completed something like our 29th (or 36th-depending on which definition you use) mass shooting since January 1. (http://truthinmedia.com/fact-check-355-mass-shootings-far-2015/) People get killed because of the worst reasons, and these shootings are one of them. You know what I want to see? Someone bringing a whole truck of flowers to the graves of these people. Seriously. Hearts are broken everywhere. I’m so tired of people being able to do this and have their messed up reasons why it’s okay. Taking someone’s life isn’t okay and it should never be used to get people’s attention.

  Speaking of getting people’s attention, the news companies are not as innocent as they would like to believe. Of course we all know that there are some stations which lean heavily politically but I’m specifically talking racism here. If you look at my above definition, expertly taken from Google, there is no skin color listed. The pigment you have is not a requirement for the terror scale, ranging from disturbed to terrorist. The man who shot up the Planned Parenthood, he was a terrorist based on this definition. The news reported him as, wait for it, a “calm, but crazy”(NBC) “stand-up guy”(USA TODAY). WHAT? This man shot three people so that he could shut down the PP of his neighborhood. That, because of what I will address in one moment, is complete bullshit. The man is a domestic terrorist, treat him as such. Holy smokes!

I have two things I want to role up into one here and they’re both entwined in the same subject matter: Planned Parenthood and the Tampon Tax. I’m not sure how far (if at all) Planned Parenthood goes outside the United States, but it’s basically this huge network of women’s health and sexual health clinics offering anything from STD screenings and birth control to abortions. There are a lot of controversies as you can imagine (or have seen) over the latter. Here’s where I will bring in that little (*) from above. I do not necessarily have a problem with teenage pregnancy on the sole basis that they are teenagers. WhatI am talking about here is maturity age. If you are 45 and you still can’t pay your bills or fix yourself food and you leech off of everyone else, you are a child in this scenario. I have a BIG problem with children (maturity age) having children (age). If you are not ready, DO NOT HAVE KIDS. (That’s why I’m not having any right now. I’m not financially ready.) And the thing is, people make mistakes, but if we remove all manner of health awareness and screening clinics, we’re going to have an excessive rise in not only teen pregnancy, but pregnancies that are unwelcome, unable to be cared for or otherwise unexpected. We already have enough children without homes. We need someone to talk seriously with us about sex-and not just abstinance. We need (as a whole population) someone to explain what sex means, the value of waiting until you are ready (maturationally) and the consequences. 
But the thing is, there are people reading that who will completely blow off what I’ve said because I didn’t say “Until after you’re married”. I did that on purpose and I will leave that conversation for a different day. A small section (or maybe large) of readers may also have stopped and wondered why I didn’t mention the Tampon Tax above. The simple answer: if youlook at how big that paragraph is, we needed to move on.So what is the Tampon Tax? I want you to skip ahead for a moment and look at the picture below. If you live in the U.S. here is a picture of all the places which impose a tax on your bodily function. Which one? Your menstruation. In health, we are taught that having a period for women is a completely biological thing which prepares your body for pregnancy. It also cleans out your uterus if no such pregnancy occurs. And yet, here we are. 

 
You know why I have a problem with this? Because in the last few years, people have had no idea what they’re talking about when it comes to women’s reproductive issues. We had Todd Akins talk about “legitimate rape”, Ken Buck said rape victims had “buyer’s remorse”, and a whole slew of other politicians who felt that they could speak as medical professionals about the likelihood of pregnancy accompanying rape. Lisa Brown was banned from speaking because she said “vagina”, women’s bodies have been under regulatory proposals 468 times (mic.com). We have an ongoing issue trying to shut down the biggest provider of reproductive services because of a doctored video (meaning edited) put out on a smear campaign and women are going to suffer once again. 

In conclusion, people need to stop being bad and learn how to grow up, not kill people, leave women’s bodies as the individual decisions of the individual and respect all people-regardless ofskin color, orientation, religion or any other arbitrary categorization we want to self-impose. Holy crow. People make my heart sad.

It Isn’t Like They Say

Yesterday I started my job, and it was just swell. But by the time I got home and got finished with my homework, I barely had enough time to eat before I fell asleep. Thank goodness my husband understands and just let me sleep. Today I’m back at the grind, but also, I’m back to posting about things that mean worlds to me. I wanted my first post in this last month to be about something I hold very dear to my heart: beliefs. And before I jump right in, I’m going to preface by saying that these truths are my truths. Everyone has different experiences and that leads them down different paths. These are the ones for me. And therefore, you are free to make your own conclusions, but it will not affect mine because I have lived them, I have experienced and grown as an individual.

As you can see, I changed my blog title to To Be An Equal. I got to thinking, isn’t that what my point is anyway? Pointing out reasons why we should all be accepting and help foster the levels of equality amongst all peoples? So I wanted something that reflected that. Also, I want to open up the option of suggestions. If you have something that you wish to see me rant about from an anthropology student with a deep love of people and bring in facts and whatever, let me know. I’m always up for a greeat discussion. So anyway, back to my story.

So where to begin? The beginning, of course.

I went to church in an exceptionally small town, so small I won’t even name it because you wouldn’t know it. It had, in its hayday, 100 people,  but most of the times that I remembered were 40-50. As a small child (of 4 or so), I was unfamiliar with the ways of the church, and my parents took me there. I remember one Sunday the teacher brought in a Qur’an and told us that in order to defeat the devil, we had to know who he was and told us to rip up the book. This also happened with the Book of Mormon, I believe. Later the papers were lit on fire. I was told what behavior was acceptable, including the need to squash down questions. When I was a preteen, I had several questions. Now, I was not asking these questions to be a delinquent. I thought that the questions I had would aid me in being a better Christian. (If women in the Bible have their heads covered, is hair enough, or should I have a covering? If anger is a sin, how can God be without sin if he got angry at the Jews…a lot? andan assortment of those questions.) I went to the pastor, because I assumed that he would have the most answers. He told me I shouldn’t ask questions and just accept God on faith alone, because that’s what true Christians did.

  Obviously that didn’t jive with me. I was an inquisitive person, with feelings and concerns who got shot down. I didn’t like hurting books. Books couldn’t harm people, could they? They were just words. (I admit, that was naive of me. But really, there is no reason to be murderous towards a book of peace.) And on top of that, the people there judged you on what you wore to service, and I witnessed one girl get removed for wearing a tank top and shorts (It was the only pair of clothes she had without holes or stains.) So by the time I was 17, I was out of church, I didn’t really want to return, but I went occasionally for my mother, although we did switch churches. I was saved, baptised, I was a member of the first church and everything. 

I entered college soon after and began to find something missing in my life. I wasn’t sure I was okay with the church stereotype I’d been given, and needed to find something else. I took a lot of quizzes, looked online and decided maybe I belonged to a UU (Universal Unitarianism) church. But I would find out that I didn’t belong there really either. I just didn’t like the way that everyone seemed to need a scape goat. SO I didn’t stay.

I stumbled onto Wicca through a series of bizarre recollections. I’d come across an article in the 90s about paganism from like 17 magazine! And I remembered reading it and relating, so I looked into it one my laptop. I alomst immediately loved what I read. It was a transition period, mind you. I had gone from one supreme deity with (as had been taught to me) a sexist attitude, a vengeful anger problem and jealousy issues to many deities and a connection to the energy of the earth, as well as the loss of a need for forgiveness. I could be whatever person I wanted to be. And the pat that made the most sense was theline in the rede (the “bible-like belief code) that said “And it harm none, do as ye will.” I had a whole new world open up to me, and I could still have a moral ground to thrive on.

  But as all good things do, this phase came to an end. I felt the pressure to be a supply hoarder: candles, books, incense, herbs, everything. It soon began taking over my life and I felt suffocated by it, just as I had with Christianity. There was also a reverse sexism that I understood much later: against men. We spent so much time focusing on the feminine that the masculine became marginalized. So I began my search once more. But where would I end up? It turns out, as a druid. Well, with hoodoo tendencies, anyway.

So what do I believe now? Well, let me explain it to you.

According to the teachings of druidry, there are three aspects of your life that are of utmost importance: wisdom, creativity and love. I think that describes my life perfectly. I shift between the acceptance of many deities and the focus on just my personal one: Danu. I found her through the Morrigan. Danu is the three aspect mother goddess. I can go into all that more if you’d like, but for today I will leave it there. I can also talk about after death, before life, and really all the other spiritual things in a different post, if anyone wants to know, but I think I’ve gone on quite long enough so I’m going to use the rest of this post to dispell some stereotypes about witches and magick folk, as well as hopefully answer some questions.

  Do I work magick? Doesn’t everybody? Have you ever made a wish on a birthday candle, a star or a dandelion? But yes, I do personally do so. I pray to my ancestors, I speak with the great mother, I use tarot cards and crystals, I have a juju bag for protection. How often? Every single day.

Do I curse people? No. That’s a personal choice, but I still hold by the “do not harm” rule. Do I have the capacity? Yes. Do I? No. I just don’t feel right about it.

Do I have a religious book? No. Not really. Although I do have in possession two bibles, one qur’an, a book of shadows and a cook book (that one I use most)

Would I ever go into a church? I do. Not regularly, but before I moved out of my parents’ house, I would go to functions held in churches. It doesn’t bother me. I like to think that the Christian God would approve of my attempts to be a good human being. I do, however, make jokes while I’m there about being struck by lightning or spontaneous combustion. It’s just to relieve the stress.

Do I face any discrimination? Well, yea. Doesn’t everybody? I’ve had people give me judgey looks and glares while wearing religious symbols, as well as the occassional ignorant comment. Mostly it’s just people who don’t understand that worshipping nature is my fact, just as Jesus is theirs. 

Anyway, I hope this has been an informative look into the beliefs of a religious dabbler. I’m sure it will come up more again. Thanks for reading!

   (This is my favorite picture of Danu. She is fierce, she is the great mother goddess, and a wonderful symbol for mother earth). Also, the artist, who I do not know, is fabulous.

My Favorite Holiday

Today is the day that I wait for all year long. The day that I count down to, hold in high regards and count as my very favorite holiday. It is of course, Halloween.

  
Not.

Today, although it is known by that name here in the States, it is known by a far older, more sacred name. Today is Samhain (pronounced Sow-en). So today, I would like to explain what this holiday actually means.

Mainstream media has shown that Halloween is a holiday about candy, costumes and blood and gore. In fact, some of the first images we are taught to associate with this holiday are candy corn, green bumpy skinned witches and little red devils with red plastic pitchforks. We see the Wicked Witch of the West, evil and cackling. We see the TV shows like Salem and American Horror Story which perpetuate the stereotypes. We see the Sanderson sisters, the Bennett line, people who could be just scary enough or sexy enough to fit the ticket. There is pumpkin carving, apple cider and a whole gambit of goblins, ghosts and ghouls. 

What I know this holiday to be is a new year celebration. It is an ending of the harvest season and the beginning of the earth’s slumber. Soon enough, the skies will turn grey and little diamonds will fall from the sky, placing all things green in a state of rest. But more than that, it is a time of rememberance. Those who have been lost to this earth, those who have left lasting impressions on their posterity. It is a time to honor your ancestors and reimmerse yourself in becoming the best person you can be. Samhain is a time of reverence and recollection, as well as a time to prepare for the upcoming year. It is a time that the veil is open.

  
But what do I mean by that? What veil? As I mentioned earlier, it is a time for thankfulness and ancestor rememberance. But the thing is, it is also a time to connect with that ancestral line. Personally, I offer my ancestors a memorial. I pull out some potatoes, some apples and some wine and leave a little offering, honoring their spirits (I’m Russo-Irish, and wine is a nice compromise for the English blood within). The thing is, I know that I am a product of their choices. Their choices to immigrate to America, their choices to work hard and produce the best life they could for their children, and thusly me. I am incredibly proud that my grandfather was a first generation American. I honor those decisions and am thankful for their bravery. It is this day that is believed to be the closest the spiritual realm can come to the physical one, a day when ancestors can communicate with us. I find this incredibly comforting.

Samhain is a celtic holiday and there is an astounding history there within. And although I could go on and on about the history and the meaning, I want to bring in an explanation about the whole concept. I think it provides a great history and a readable explanation.

http://www.paganspath.com/magik/samhain-history.htm

Anyway, the important message I want to share is that there are plenty of people out in the great wide world who do not see this holiday as a joke, a big Trick-or-Treat bonanza that involves werewolves and vampires and children-eating-green-skinned-witches. We see this as a holy day, a day to honor those who came before us and a day to enable a precious connection between who we are and who we have become. So the next time you think about taking your kids out in a costume, just remember that although Hollywood may have given you the idea that “sexy” costumes and stereotypical symbolism is acceptable, perhaps there is another way of thinking.

Have a wonderful Halloween, All Hallow’s Eve, Samhain (Beltane if you are in the Southern Hemisphere) and the wide plethora of holidays coming up: All Saint’s Day, All Soul’s Day and Dia de Los Muertos (plus any I may have forgotten).

Opinionated

When I was young, I was stubborn. My dad knew that one of the best ways to get me motivated was to make me mad. Once I moved half a ton of gravel by myself in an afternoon, because he’d made me so mad. But the thing is, I learned how to use my frustration in beneficial ways. I harness that energy into two things: proving someone wrong, and being productive. And that’s been one of life’s most valuable lessons.

You see, I don’t have everything figured out. I barely have my day-to-day figured out. But that doesn’t stop me from having opinions and ideals about it all. In fact, if anything, I have more opinions than I know what to do with. Some of them are completely harmless (like my pumpkin spice latte obsession that only lasts two months and then I think it’s ludicrous to have one) and some of them are educational (like how I think that history of religion-all religions- should be taught in public school) and some of them are down right political (like my stance on pro life-pro choice, or how I feel about vaccinations). They don’t agree with other people’s, they aren’t the exact same as everyone else’s and they don’t have precise boundaries.

And that’s okay. 

  
I haven’t got everything all figured out. I’m going to be 23 in a matter of weeks. I have a great many years before I become a crone and I know that life has quite a few more lessons for me. But what I do have is passion. And a voice. And that’s why I started this blog, to get the best out of both. 

So if what I say offends you, that’s really unfortunate. I try to be polite in all my interactions, try to be considerate in all things. If I’m genuinely being unreasonable, call me out on it. If what I say causes you to reevaluate your position in the world, I am doing my job. I don’t have to have the same opinions as you, nor the same beliefs and values and for you to demand that of me is both offensive and it shows how immature you are. I’m sure, though, we have some common ground somewhere. We cannot progress as a human collective if we have the same mindset for hundreds of years. We cannot progress if noone ever asks the hard questions and waits for actual answers.  So here’s to progress.

For the past several weeks I have been focusing on mental health. Not only has it been awareness month and prevention, but because it is a big button for me. However, I also have other buttons: feminism, poverty, religion, culture, anti-20 something behavior and beliefs and a whole host of other things. So, if you’ve grown tired of me being on my mental health soap box, I’m getting ready to unveil a new one. I just haven’t decided which one it is yet. Although, I have a feeling it will be domestic abuse for a while, as that is what my NaNoWriMo novel is about and I really need ot express some thoughts. But we shall see.

Thanks for reading!

The One With All The Problems

I’ve been trying to come up with a blog that isn’t preachy or condescending or depressing or overly critical, and I’ve come short almost every time. I know that my interests and passions are not those of others, and I respect that there are people out there with different opinions. I try to be understanding and accommodating of those differences. We all have different backgrounds, different vantage points and different futures. Each of them is valid and it is something of a marvel, truly. 

And then I remembered that this is my blog, and if I want to complain or preach or whatever else it is that I so choose, I can. I do not live in a country where I feel the need to be afraid of my words and ideas, and for that I will always be thankful. And it is with that in mind, that I would like to engage in a soapbox rant. But first, a little side note: I chose the title, because I’ve been binge watching F.R.I.E.N.D.S. in my spare time (when I have some) and I have a little bit of a nostaliga problem. Anyway.

If you say you are going to do something, do it. If you claim to be an adult, act like it. If you live in the apartment below ours and you feel like having a party in the middle of the night in the middle of the week, grow up!

But I guess that’s all besides the point, isn’t it? I mean, my real frustration right now isn’t necessarily the lack of responsibility shown by a lot of people, it’s the general lack of respect and common decency.

My parents were not perfect, are not perfect. But I know that. And as an adult, I know that they gave it their very best, every day. But the one thing I am exceptionally grateful for is the fact that no matter what they tried to teach me (I was a stubborn child), the lesson that stuck was respect. So naturally, growing up in a small town, with small town values and settings and friends, I grew a little too fond of the way we all knew each other’s parents and values. Some got a little rebellious, and that, I suppose you could say happens. There are also the people from that small town who never understood what it meant to be considerate and respectful.

I’m not perfect, and I will always be the very first person to admit that. The stubborn streak I had as a child, it only grew and with it, little spurts of anger accompanied by a large amount of ranting. But I know that when someone asks me to keep a secret, I do. When someone needs a hand, I lend one. When someone needs an ear to bend, a kind word or a healthy dose of reality, I am there 100%. Sometimes I need those things too. But I’ve found that outside of some of those lasting friendships I made in the small town I grew up in, not too many people understand that.

It’s all take and no give. And I can’t seem to wrap my head around that. 

 You see, the thing is that of all the things I listed up top about “understanding”, not having a code of conduct which follows a general “Don’t be a dick.” guidelines doesn’t make sense to me. How is it that you cannot seem to understnad that being an adult means being responsible, but also so much more than that. It means understanding that you aren’t the only person in the whole wide world who matters. It means working toward a compromise instead of calling in someone older or bigger than you to solve your problems for you. It means helping out, even when you think you are better than the task at hand (In which case you NEED to be helping out). Being an adult was never about a show for power-that’s being a child. Being an adult means taking the hard way every time so that you will be refined into a success story.

I also don’t understand people who leech off of their parents even though they are “adults”. My parents, whom I love, were not exceptionally wealthy while I was growing up. They worked hard for everything we had, and I saw that. I may not have always understood, but I do now. When I was an only child, I remember Christmases where presents stacked almost higher than the tree. When I turned 4, my brother had just been born and I was still well-gifted. By the time I was 8, my sister had been born, and there was a slight change in Christmas. By the time my brother and I were teenagers, Christmas was more intimate, more family oriented. And you know what? I knew at the age of 15 that my parents were working harder than ever to make sure we had everything we needed, let alone what we wanted. I understood. 

And when I went to college, I moved out on my own. I understood why life was so hard. Money comes from 16 hour shifts three days in a row, followed by a full day of classes, homework and then more work. It doesn’t just appear, it (like respect) has to be earned. When someone who didn’t understand that got in between my boyfriend (who is now my husband) and I from moving to a new apartment, I spent my  21st and 22nd birthdays back with my parents. It just so happened that my husband and I needed to move closer to campus and found two other college students who did as well and we all became roommates.

I’ve met people since then who need their parents for just one thing-money. They go out to eat every day, buy things they don’t need and have no time for, waste resources that could be conserved. I watch people, you see. And it greatly influences my perception on the world. Or maybe it just increases how confused I am by it. And there continues to be more confusion.

I spent my first year of undergrad thinking I wanted to be a pediatric oncologist. I had the grades, the study habits and the desire. A year later, I thought I wanted to be a nurse, because that was who I felt would help the most people. A year later, I settled into anthropology. I didn’t pick it for the fame or the recognition or the reasons I wanted to be a doctor or nurse. I picked it because, well, it picked me. And now, I get to look at cultures-but more specifically, I get to look at religious hate crimes and religious extremism (as well as the occult and all things mythological and religion based).

But why am I telling you all this? Because I have come across quite a few kinds of people in my short time on this planet, and I have only ever found three types I didn’t understand.

1. The ones who don’t know how to respect someone else, have some decency and responsibilty.

2. The ones who use thier parents for money, and cannot stand on their own.

3. The ones who are so filled with hate that they cannot fathom each other as equals.

When I look around, I see huan beings, filled with potential, open to the world. And it hurts my heart to see people hate so much that they do not see it too. It hurts my heart that there are people who only look out for themselves, their own best interests. I don’t understand, and I feel like maybe that’s okay.