Thursday, October 23, 2014
They were older women than myself...probably in their 50s. They had very plain, homely appearances, overweight with straw-like hair, and were dressed poorly in plain cotton...nightgowns? I can't be sure of the nature of the dresses, but they were old, faded, and not of a cut/material that would be considered appropriate public wear in most Southern households.
They had several items heaped onto the cashier's counter, and were apparently having some serious communication gaps regarding layaway. They had almost $300 worth of items, and were told they had to put about $73 down to hold the items. One woman looked at the other, a look of total incomprehension on her face and said, "Huh?" The other one practically shouted at her, "$73! You have to pay $73! You know, $60 more than you got! I ain't got it! You ain't got it! What we gone do?!" The manager, poor bloke, was apologizing for the wait, but he couldn't tear himself away long enough to open the other register or call back up, as they cashier had to constantly ask him to input his override code as the women would want to put this back or swap this item or that.
As it turns out, they still had a balance of $48 on a previous layaway that was due in September. "We gone pay that end of this month," said one of the women. The cashier tried to explain that they couldn't open a new layaway account with an old one still in the red. They were still arguing when I finally got checked out and left.
As I watched this display, I noticed what the women were putting on layaway -- Christmas gifts. "Awwww, how sweet," you might be thinking. More like totally unwise financial decisions. They didn't have clothes, boots, or even tools set aside. No, they had a cheaply made clock (full price), calendars ($20 each), and some other various things that certainly weren't worth the price they were...not paying? Paying later? However that works.
These women were clearly poor, perhaps not even operating on all cylinders, but this situation definitely served as some insight on how some people never dig themselves out of the financial hole they are in. Instead, they dig deeper.
These women could have found wonderful and personal gifts at Goodwill, the Salvation Army, thrift stores, consignment shops, the CLEARANCE aisle at Tractor Supply or like stores, yard sales...they could have even made something. Want a calendar? Dollar General, Dollar Tree, and Family Dollar has gorgeous calendars for $1-3 each, not $20. People love gifts, but they wouldn't love knowing you are suffering or facing a crazy debt just to get them a present.
It truly is about the thought you put into it. I know I have appreciated handmade goods, baked goods, and thrift store finds over the years because the item was something I loved and could use. I didn't care if the person spent 50 cents or $50.
Saturday, September 6, 2014
Some people argued that "If they didn't want them out there, they shouldn't have taken them" or "Well, they should have known better than to keep them in the Cloud." Really? I have many pictures of myself in various states of undress. They are personal, but a hacker could, if they really wanted to, get them off of my computer. No form of technology is truly secure. We all have the right to take whatever pictures we want. We also have a right to privacy, and a right to expect others to respect our privacy. These hackers violated these women's privacy, and those of you that have viewed the photos and/or shared them have furthered that violation.
What disgusts me even more is the commentary following the photo leak, especially on male-dominated talk shows. They rate these women's bodies like meat in the supermarket, calling them "hot" or "surprisingly fit for their age" or "ugh, too soft, she needs to put her clothes back on." I have news for you. These women did not take their clothes of for you. They did not take these photos for you. You are violating their privacy.
Some may make the argument, "Well, many of these celebrities pose in swimsuits or even star in magazines or movies in the buff. So what? That is what they choose to share with you.
These photos being leaked and the subsequent viewing and sharing is a direct violation of privacy, as these celebrities did not voluntarily share them with you.
So for those of you that have furthered these violations, please, go scrub your eyes out with soap. While you're crying bubbly tears, kindly pray that you will never have a daughter and that if you do, no one will ever treat her like these women were treated.
Friday, August 22, 2014
Science can neither prove nor disprove the existence of a being greater than ourselves. Although we have some indications of how we all came to be on this planet, there is no real answer as to what started the process or what started the process that started that process. The idea of nothingness is beyond our comprehension, as our world exists in the form of matter, energy, and space. Even "nothing" is full of "something" in our world. Therefore, it is not illogical to believe in a higher being, although I doubt it is as we have imagined. (I highly suggest watching Futurama Season 6, Ep 9 A Clockwork Origin.)
Some would argue that their holy book, their religious tome is the only Truth. Whether it's the Bible, the Book of Mormon (cue South Park), or the Qu' Ran, they are all flawed. Why? They were written by man. Each man claimed to have been inspired by a god, whether it was "God," whoever was around that tree for that Joseph dude, or "Allah." You know, the Mayans thought they had it right, too.
I think there's a little truth in every book. I think some people legitimately had visions and saw the future. I think they described it as best they knew how, and that usually meant giving it a supernatural twist, because what they saw was NOT natural for the time and place in which they were. Think about it. If you are living in the middle of the desert in say....82 A.D., and you have a vision of drones and nuclear warfare, my goodness, you have just seen the apocalypse. Better yet, if you lived in 200 BC and had a vision of modern fashion, you'd also have seen the apocalypse. It is the end of the world as you know it.
I believe you have to take those books with a grain of salt. There are many wonderful lessons and values in each of them, but they are not absolute.
I'll go on to say that I don't believe in heaven or hell as many think of it. Bear with me here.
See, I think we were given a gift. We were given a paradise. The Earth, many years ago, was beyond beautiful. We had so many interesting and wonderful (and sometimes deadly) creatures that roamed the Earth, and there was food aplenty. We were given a task -- don't screw it up.
When I see people sporting those "not of this world" stickers, I get mad. That is a delusional and destructive mindset. We ARE of this world. We are flesh and we are bone. When we die, we disintegrate back to dust and to ash. Our bodies should replenish the Earth with energy and matter that will cause other things to grow and flourish in our wake. Instead, we box our bodies in caskets and plastics and embalming fluid. We refuse to burn our dead for fear of "eternal damnation." We fill the Earth with cold boxes, depriving it of our nourishing wasted bodies.
Believing that we are not of this world means that we also can shed ourselves of guilt for using/tossing our plastics, littering, overusing, and wasting. Because, after all, this isn't OUR world, it's the world for the sinners, right? Wrong. This world is a gift. It is beautiful, and it can be paradise. We humans can do that. We were given the capability to make it a wonderful, peaceful place. Do we do that? No. We are making it hell. We are all guilty of making huge carbon footprints. We waste water, we use harsh chemicals, we overeat, overspend, and abuse the Earth.
Think of the places that are inhospitable to humans -- places covered in smog, places where you can't see the sun, places where it's unbearably hot or cold, where nothing grows...were they always that way, or can you trace their origin back to man's doing?
Our constant demand for more, our insatiable greed is destroying the air we breathe, poisoning the water we drink, and eroding the ground from beneath our feet.
If we could all make changes, no matter how small, and continue to grow and change to clean up our Earth, we could again have a paradise.
Think about it.
Earth could be our heaven, but only if we make it so.
Cue the quoting of religious texts in 5, 4, 3, 2....
Saturday, July 19, 2014
|Take a nice picture? Never.|
|We can hang.|
|All the "firsts" are wonderful.|
|For every tear, there's a hundred smiles.|
Monday, July 7, 2014
Sunday, June 29, 2014
I'm married to a smoker, and I'm convinced that my life would be much better if he quit.
1. You'll never get anywhere on time. Ever. When you get ready to leave, they still have to have a smoke for the road. Once you're past that, you more than likely have to stop by a store so they can buy another pack. Heaven forbid they should run out -- they'll be cranky as all get out. Never mind the face that their smoking makes everyone else around them cranky from the odor and inconvenience.
2. They're much more interested in when their next cigarette will be than they are enjoying your presence. You might think you're having a great time on the road trip, but they are just waiting for you to stop talking long enough so they can ask you to pull over so they can have a smoke.
3. They end up excluding you in their social life. This is especially true when you go to social gatherings. All the smokers seem to congregate together outside and exclude everyone else. If you are pregnant, have a baby, or a breathing condition, or just don't want to be around the cancerous stench, you better get used to enjoying your own company. The "cool" kids hang in the smoke clouds.
4. It costs a ridiculous amount of money. At around $5 a pack, my husband's habit costs him about $35-40 per week. If he didn't smoke, we could afford a date night. And believe me, we need a date night.
5. You stink. They stink. Everything they touch stinks. It's in their hair, your hair, their clothes, and deeply rooted in their fingers. It's disgusting. It yellows their teeth. Ew. Just ew. And cigarette plus coffee-breath? Just put your respirator on, NOW.
Tuesday, June 3, 2014
Believe it or not, there are still people in the US that feel unwed mothers are shameful beings. No matter the fact that they were having sex -- there is no evidence of their "shame" until they become pregnant. Then they must be forced to feel the full effect of their "shame."
No matter if they are 12, 15, 25, or 30, they must carry this "shame" to term, and then they will be judged on their ability (or lack thereof) to care for the child. They will be judged for working poor-paying jobs that have long hours, and for putting their child in a crowded daycare. They will be judged for accepting WIC and/or food stamps because the money they make barely covers the bills. They will be judged for feeding their child formula because their job doesn't provide support for nursing mothers. They will be judged for feeding their child cheap, canned baby foods because they can't afford organic whatever, and they don't have time to make their own. They will be judged for the way they dress their children. They will be JUDGED.
But they can't have an abortion. That is "MURDER". You know, because having a child you can't provide for and that society will judge you for having is the answer. (More on that another time.)
Before you pick this post apart, I'll give you a few disclaimers. There are many single moms that choose to be that way. There are many others that didn't but managed to do a better job than many two parent homes. But it's hard. It's really hard. And hardly anyone is going to support them.
"Well, they shouldn't have gotten pregnant."
"That's what they get for having sex outside of marriage."
We need a wake-up call, people.
We need better, more thorough sex education, starting at home and branching to the schools. Stop teaching children that their penises and vaginas are shameful parts of themselves. Private, perhaps, but certainly not shameful. (BTW, stop being afraid to call it a penis or a vagina. That's like being afraid to call your ear an ear or your breast a breast.)
We need more sexual health options available. Mail-order birth control, anyone? Not everyone has transportation to get to the health department every month for that free birth control. And we NEED birth control, and sex education. Why?
Because sex is a biological act. It is driven by primal impulses that are set in motion at the onset of puberty. I promise, no fireworks go off when you do it. No one hits you with a lightning bolt, either.
Ah, yes. That brings us to virginity.
You're not a virgin? Congratulations. You are? Good for you.
You see, virginity is really just a label. It doesn't change who YOU are. You are not "worthless" because you have had sex. You are not "worth more" because you haven't.
If you've ever read the Bible, there was little to no judgment put towards men for having sex. It's like a penis could be stuck in as many holes (so to speak) as it wanted to be, and the man was still "clean," unless, of course, he happened to do it with a woman on her period. THAT was, like, whoa, you're nasty now. Forever and ever nasty. A woman, on the other hand, was only worth as much as her virtue. Once she had lain with a man, it was all over.
Does anyone else see how crazy that is?
I have a daughter. I chose to have her. I was on birth control prior, and I'm back on it again since I don't want a second child right now. I hope to be upfront and honest with my daughter about sex, love, marriage, and all of the other relationship things that come up in life.
Do I hope she "saves herself?" Um...yes and no. I'd like for her to make her own decision, but I hope it's the same one I made. Sex is not just physical -- it's an emotional connection. It takes maturity to handle the feelings that come from it, as well as realizing possible consequences, such as pregnancy or disease. I hope she waits until she finds someone she has a connection with, someone she feels safe and secure with, and also feels that she loves. I hope she's listened to me and remembers potential consequences, and behaves responsibly. And I also hope she trusts me enough to talk to me if she needs someone to talk to.
Do I think she should wait until marriage? No. Marriage is a contract. It's a legally binding document that says you are two people willing to spend the rest of your lives (which none of us actually have any concept of) together, to incur debt together, and to be equally responsible for a household and/or children. A relationship, on the other hand, is two people committed to being together through thick and thin, etc etc. Many people identify marriage as a relationship, but it's not. The relationship should be before the marriage. Otherwise, we might as well go back to arranged marriages.
You truly can't know if you can spend the rest of your life with someone until you've crossed all of the barriers -- emotional, mental, spiritual, physical, and habitual.
Oi, it's time to stop all the judging nonsense and get back to living.
Monday, May 19, 2014
When something good happens in your life and you have exciting news, who's the first person you want to tell? Who's the first person you want to talk to when you wake up, the last before bed, and whose texts/calls do you look for the most? If the answer was not your significant other, you are not really in a relationship with them. Well, you are, but it's not one set up for success.
If the reason you are looking to others to share with your joys and life is because you are genuinely unhappy with your significant other, then you need to end the relationship. You're wasting your time and the other person's, and you're only postponing the inevitable.
If you're happy with your significant other, but you're still focusing your attention and all of your "good side" on other relationships, you need to reassess your priorities.
Relationships are like gardens -- they must be watered, worked, and weeded to grow. Whatever relationship you tend is the one that will grow, and the most important one should be the one you forge with your significant other. They should be the first person you want to call, the first you want to talk to about your day.
If not...well, you've got a problem.
Turn It Off
How many times a day do you check your phone? Do you surf Facebook while you’re sitting with someone? Do you play games on your phone because you’re “bored,” because it’s easier to pull out your phone than it is to have meaningful conversation with the person next to you? Do you feel lonely without your phone, even if you’re in a group of friends?
Maybe it’s time to put the phone away. Turn it off, and pay attention to what’s in front of you. How many connections are you missing because you’re facing down, reading what’s scrolling on your screen? How many laughs, smiles, and stories did you miss because you were too busy watching a video to pay attention to what was really going on? While you may think you’re in tune with what’s going on in the real world, because you’re totally up to date on all of your friends’ statuses, you’ve seen the latest internet meme, you’ve read the headline news, and you’ve “liked” all of the latest pictures in your newsfeed, you’re actually completely lost. Moment after moment has happened without you.
Your brother just walked across the graduation stage, but you were looking down because you just got a text. Your baby laughed for the first time, but you missed it because you were too busy watching YouTube. You just rode by a beautiful farm with the sun shining over the freshly rolled hay, but you missed it because you had two Facebook notifications. Your spouse just went to bed after trying all night to get your attention, but you were too busy leveling up on the game on your phone. If that’s you, stop a minute and really think about where this is going.
Whatever you give your time and attention to is what flourishes. If you’re paying attention to the relationship you have with your phone and/or your online persona, that’s what will grow. The rest of your life will wilt and die. But don’t worry, there’s always a new battery for your phone and free WiFi at McDonald’s. So what does it really matter?
It matters a lot. Real relationships are forged with real people in real life. It doesn’t consist of “liking” their photos or following their posts. It’s about listening, talking, and touch. If you’re bored, don’t reach for the mindless phone game. Reach out to someone. If you’re in a relationship, reach out to your significant other. If you’re mny6Reach for a book, a magazine, or just go outside. Heck, do some housework. If you’re a homeowner, there’s no reason to ever be bored! If you’re desperate, come to my house. My kid is cute and loves attention. My grass is so many weeks overdue a cutting it’s ridiculous. My flower beds are in shambles. I have two leaky faucets, a light fixture falling out of my ceiling, and decorations that were supposed to be hung in my kid’s room months ago. I have a storage building that needs organizing, and I can always use household organizing! I have a dog that loves walks and tackling games, and I have a cat that loves to snuggle and “fetch.” I’ll even cook you some dinner!
Here’s some challenges for you to start living in the here and now rather than a virtual reality:
1. When you’re out to lunch or dinner with friends, put your cellphones in the middle of the table. The first person to check their phone before the check comes pays for everyone. (Exceptions: Emergencies and child/sick relative/etc-related calls/messages. These must be verified by the group to qualify.)
2. Make a “power down” time in your household. For example, at 8 PM, put your phone in sleep mode and don’t touch it again until the next day. (No considerate person will call you after 9 PM anyway, and if they do, you can call them back the next day. Eventually, they’ll start calling you earlier!)
3. Take one day out of the weekend and completely turn off all phones and computers. If you have to, change your voicemail to say, “I’m sorry, we are currently unavailable because it’s our technology-free day. We’re enjoying the fresh air and each other’s company, so please leave a message and we’ll call you back tomorrow! If it’s an emergency, please contact (insert emergency number).”
4. If you’re one of those people that has to take a picture of EVERY little thing you do and share it, take a day without a camera, a cellphone, or any other kind of recording device. Just let your eyes do the work. You’ll make more real memories that way! Think about it – we only save the 48 th of every 100 selfies, we toss out all of the moments where we look unhappy or the sun wasn’t shining. Real life is raw – the sun doesn’t always shine, our hair doesn’t always lay right, and sometimes we just have one of those days. Those are still memories, and you can’t make them if you’re too busy trying to crop out your back bacon or blur out that zit that showed up on your nose this morning.
5. Get to know yourself…and your friends/significant other again. Who are you when Facebook isn’t watching? Who are you when no one is snapping a picture or challenging you to outgrow their crops on Farmville? Real life is harder to live and takes work, but the rewards are so much sweeter than leveling up on Candy Crush or Pirate War
Tuesday, March 25, 2014
When I got pregnant with my first child, I fully intended to breastfeed. Our bodies are wonderful things. They are made to grow and nourish another human being, then birth that being, then feed them for the first year of their life.
Our breasts are amazing. There is no shame in finding them attractive, and there is also nothing perverted about feeding your child with them. That is what they were made for. Men find them attractive because they are part of the child bearing big picture. It's simply biological.
It's consumerism that has twisted breasts into purely sexual objects. In fact, consumerism has turned women as a whole into nothing but sexual objects to be desired and obtained. This objectification doesn't result in confident women. Instead, it breeds insecurity and dissatisfaction, especially when the ideal woman is airbrushed. This translates into shame.
This lack of confidence and shame is further exacerbated by the medical field and well-meaning advisors when they question women's ability to feed their child with the means nature provided and by those that insist a breastfeeding mother cover herself and her child as though it's a naughty act.
What's worse is how hard formula is pushed. It's as if no one wants to even discuss breastfeeding, much less support it. Consumerism doesn't like breastfeeding. It doesn't make money. Sure, you have to get a pump and supplies, but you can buy most of what you need secondhand. Formula is a constant cash flow.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not knocking formula. It's made for babies and for some it's the only way they can eat. I do, however, have a problem with those that don't even attempt to breastfeed. It's what's best for a baby -- why would anyone deny their child that? It offers closeness and comfort a bottle can't, and it's made specially for your baby.
Our country has gotten baby feeding so backwards that even veteran parents like mine lack an understanding of breastfeeding. Here's some basics:
1. Your milk is made from your bloodstream, so it contains the vitamins and minerals that your baby needs. You should eat a healthy diet so that you are maintaining your own health as well -- like in pregnancy, the baby gets what it needs from your body. You have to consume enough vitamins and minerals to share or your body will suffer.
2. Breastfeeding does not cause sagging breasts. Pregnancy is the criminal here. The weight gain and strain on the weakened ligaments cause sagging, as well as improper support. Wear a supportive bra and exercise your chest muscles to prevent major sagging. Some is inevitable -- that's age and gravity.
3. Your milk is easy to digest. Because it's made from your bloodstream, your milk is the easiest food for your baby to digest. Yes, this means more frequent feedings, but that does NOT mean your milk is insufficient. Instead, it's doing exactly what it's supposed to do. Formula takes longer to digest, so a formula fed baby will go longer between feedings.
4. Your body responds to your baby's needs. If your baby hits a growth spurt, your milk will increase as necessary. Bottles are slaves to the ounce marker and offer a steady flow of milk, meaning a baby may not realize they are full and overeat, leading to tummyaches and spit up. Breasts respond differently. It's not a steady flow of milk...instead it's more like a little here, a lot there, a few drops there. This gives your baby's body more time to register fullness.
5. What you pump isn't indicative of what you produce. Not everyone responds to the pump the same. Some women can pump multiple ounces and others struggle to get one. A baby gets milk by using multiple motions. Your body naturally responds to your baby. A pump is a mindless robot. Enough said.
6. You have a right to breastfeed your child anywhere. Why did they even have to make a law about this? There is nothing lewd about a baby nursing. You don't have to use a cover, either. Do you want to eat under a blanket, especially in summer? I don't. Consumerism and the sexualization/shame it entails has created a stigma around breasts and breastfeeding. It's worsened by other women looking at breastfeeding mothers and calling them gross, immodest, and rude.
I never realized this was even an issue until I had my child. I looked around at other new moms and realized I was the one of only ones not holding a bottle. It should be the other way around, with bottle feeding being the rarity. Our culture is twisted. I'll admit, I use a cover when breastfeeding in public. I'm new to it, so it's always a little awkward until she's latched. Plus there are so many perves out there....and the honest truth is I feel ashamed. And that's just sad. It's not shame brought on by a moral standard; it's society-induced shame.
It's also funny that people get so squirelly when it comes to breastmilk or talking about breastfeeding, yet they take no issue in DRINKING milk from another SPECIES. How's that for putting it in perspective?
Do you think anyone ever asks the cow if she'd switch to formula because her milk may not be "enough?" Has anyone told a goat she should supplement because her kid isn't gaining weight as fast as the others? Who tells the mare when it's time for her foal to wean?
It's not about health; it's about consumerism. Stop buying in.
Utilize your body. It's made that way for a reason, and it's pretty amazing.