Archive for the 'judging' Category

17
Nov
14

the right to be you

the right to be youI have been on a hiatus of sorts.  It’s not because I haven’t had any thoughts, concerns or opinions about life.  I guess I just found myself coming up against the same roadblocks, questioning the source, perhaps a common one, of these consistent struggles.

Just the other night I was out with a beautiful artist.  I have seen her work many times and she is a kind-hearted, loving individual.  Yet I hear her say the very words which plague my own heart: can I do it?  Do I have any talent?  Am I beautiful?  I know the answer to all of these questions, but when we are alone with ourselves, we tend to create a comparison which always leaves us feeling less than.  Our society, especially American society, thrives on doing and results.  The expectations placed on us, especially women, make it almost impossible to find satisfaction and pride in oneself.

Society tells women that they must achieve an idyllic beauty which requires youth.  Obviously, this is impossible as we all age, but because so many others strive to reach this imposed rule, we do everything in our power to fulfill it.  Countless, beautiful, brilliant women of all ages with whom I’ve had the pleasure to know, have shared their fear of aging and remaining physically attractive.  The constant fear of gaining even a few pounds or showing signs of a wrinkle plagues their existence.

Then there’s the expectation that women should have it all; if they don’t have both a successful career and children, they disappoint someone.  Many women work hard to obtain an education and use it to compete in an unequal marketplace which not only expects them to give as much, but for less compensation.  Simultaneously, society also places pressure on women to have children whilst making it virtually impossible to maintain the same level of job performance.  Meanwhile, if they do give attention to their work, they may feel guilt or anxiety over their parental role.

As a result, society continues to place women in positions which inevitably cause them to seemingly fall short of its expectations in one area or another.  Personally, I’m tired of never feeling like enough.  No matter how much personal fulfillment I may find apart from society, as soon as I step off my island, I am reminded of my failures.

So how do we break this pattern?  How do we defy these expectations and create ones which build us up rather than tear each other down?  It is hard to walk this path against the grain alone and I don’t believe we are meant to go it alone.  Life is short.  Can we come together and simply claim the right to be ourselves?

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04
Sep
14

It’s what we do that defines us?

it's what you do that defines youAre we what we do?

A few days ago I was watching Batman Begins (yes I am a comic book/superhero movie junky).  Something that stuck out to me more than usual was this theme of, “It’s not who I am on the inside, but what I do that defines me.”  Originally, this quote came from Jane Austen whom I adore.  So I was surprised when it rubbed me the wrong way and got me to thinking…(Shamefully, I confess that I have not read Sense and Sensibility, so I do not know the context in which Austen was using this quote.  However, I can speculate that what she is referring to is far from the direction my thoughts took me.)

If we were stripped of everything- all of our capabilities of “doing,” would we still be ourselves and considered valuable?  As we grow older, and that’s something we all share as human beings, we become more restricted in what we can do and at what pace.  This is just a reality.  If we revolve our lives around what we do, the inevitability that one day we may not be able to do all that we do now can be frightening and even devastating.

Part of my struggle with starting a new career later in life was the issue of time.  Would I have enough time to fully pursue my dreams or was I too late?  Recently a friend shared about someone he knew who went to medical school and became a doctor in his late forties!  This was extremely encouraging to me and helped me to see that it is never too late to follow your heart.  However, it brought me back to the question of how I define myself – by what I do or who I am?

There are so many things I want to do but realize that I do not have the resources to do them right now – rescue animals, travel the world, live on the beach- but just because I cannot do them does not undermine the characteristics which make me have those desires.  Those dreams are what make me, me; not whether I accomplish them or not.  Many of us search for a purpose in life; something to contribute that no one else can or at least giving of ourselves in a productive way.  As a society we’ve created a measurement of human value based on what we do instead of simply who we are.

So how can we value one another and ourselves at any age no matter what we can or cannot do?  When can being ourselves be enough?

06
May
14

looking for an escape

looking for an escape050514The death penalty.

Not that we should need a reminder to re-evaluate the death penalty, but the “botched” lethal injection in Oklahoma is a not so subtle reminder that this whole death thing is not humane.  In fact, it should make us question our whole system of incarceration.

Several weeks ago I had the opportunity to sit in on a seminar with a man who takes theatre into prisons.  It was very compelling and inspiring to hear how so many people were touched by the works of Shakespeare in very personal ways that transformed their lives.  What stood out to me most though was the fact that he learned a whole new language from his work at the prisons.  One word he refused to use was “rehabilitate.”  He explained that human beings do not need rehabilitating to be human.  What he discovered was that most of the men in jail were never habilitated in the first place which is why they were where they were.  Instead, he preferred using the word habilitate for what he was helping to do for others in need.

This perspective brings a whole new light to our way of approaching those who break the law.  We cannot view them as merely projects that need fixing.  The fact that there are so many incarcerated reflects issues in the society which need attention.  But instead of overhauling the system, we want to do what has been deemed as easier:  giving an injection.  How this can be easier or what more people are willing to do than helping protect the lives of their fellow man is beyond me.

Don’t we all need to be habilitated?  Aren’t we all suffering from the social ills which influence our lives every day?  Some more than others may be exposed to these ills and respond in the only way they know how in order to survive or escape.  Perhaps the death penalty is their ultimate escape from society rather than the other way around.

For more information see:

Botched Oklahoma Execution Prompts Questions About Lethal Injection

 

31
Mar
14

strength of diversity

strength of diversityFamilies.  It’s amazing how within one family exists so much diversity.

Genetics may make us all look similar, but many times our life experiences and ways of thinking can be totally different; even within one family.  This can bring conflict or growth.  We can challenge one another while still loving each other.

Too many times we get caught up trying to make others see things from our point of view.  For years my husband and I tried to change each other.  Opposites attract; this is true for my husband and me.  My husband is extremely logical while I am very emotionally driven.  A counselor once used a story to illustrate our differences and also affirm the value of our perspectives.  He asked us to imagine that we are driving and come upon an accident that just happened.  Because of how we each view the world, my husband would immediately stop traffic and call 911.  On the other hand, I would be attending to the people in the car and sympathizing and comforting the victims.  Both actions are important; one sees the big picture, looking at the accident from the outside while the other hones in on the details, putting themselves in the place of the victims.  This lesson allowed us to appreciate our differences and see it as a strength rather than something which separates us.

Now we know that communicating and sharing our perspective, no matter how dissimilar, helps each of us to grow.  The key is to be open and listen.  It can be difficult to talk about certain things with anyone, let alone family.  But when we can have the respect and love for one another to share our thoughts and feelings about anything, we may find that though we may not agree, we can see things from a different perspective, learn more about each other and appreciate our diversity.

Diversity can draw us together if we let it.

21
Mar
14

what a bitch looks like

what a bitch looks likeWhat does a bitch look like?

I had a lovely day today getting my hair done by a wonderful hair stylist.  She is truly an artist and has a great flair for bold choices (though I’m not one of her clients who makes any).  Professional in all respects, she treats her clients with care and concern and is a great listener.  There are no awkward silences – she is very comfortable to be around; easy to talk to, attentive, thoughtful, funny and smart.  And yet, she told me that based on her appearance, people, especially women, tell her that she looks like, and I quote, an “intimidating bitch even though she’s so nice.”

This leads me to the question, what does a bitch look like?  Did we as a society vote on this and I missed out?  Is there a certain style that one needs to follow in order to achieve the “bitch” look?  Here all along I was getting the wrong impression from society.  I thought they only labelled bitches based on behavior (usually what would normally be perceived as self-assurance in a man).  Now we’re denoting bitchdom simply based on looks?

So let me tell you what a bitch looks like since I evidently have had one doing my hair for the past couple of years.  She’s medium height, average to slender build, long straight jet black hair with kickass blue streaks at the ends, a clear olive complexion, wears glasses, dark and defined make up, earrings and a nose ring, perfectly straight bright teeth resulting in a beautiful smile, gorgeous almond eyes and a great fashion sense.  Do you look like that at all?  If you do, sorry, I’ve got bad news, you’re a bitch.

What are we thinking?  What are we doing to ourselves with these meaningless labels which prevent us from seeing the “nice person” behind the bitch?  Who would have thought that I’d long for the days when only assertive women earned the “b-word”?  Do we not have the time to even say hello to someone before departmentalizing and classifying someone in our minds?  Perhaps those who don’t, need to take a look in the mirror and see if they fit their own image of a —–!

06
Mar
14

a project in ending projection

project of ending projectionWhy is projection so dangerous?

Throughout my life I’ve had the habit of anticipating or believing that I can tell what others are thinking.  “They said this, but what they really meant was this.”  Though that can be the case at times, it is most healthy to take people at face value, especially the people we love.

I can remember during my depression when my paranoia was heightened, I tried to overhear my boss’s conversation on the phone in his office next door to mine.  Despite the fact that he gave no signs or implications of dissatisfaction with my work, I was convinced that he was talking about me.  Projection can make you do crazy things including putting your ear against a wall.

During that time I had the privilege and gift of being part of a ladies group.  We met weekly and shared our journey through life together; giving comfort, insight, encouragement and advice.  Another woman in the group was also struggling with depression and projecting feelings about herself onto others.  One of the other ladies encouraged her to look outside of herself more by getting involved in an activity which gave more social interaction.

At first I thought that was bad advice as I had come from a background which taught women to always put everyone else before themselves and what partly contributed to my depression in the first place.  But that was not what this suggestion intended.  She wanted her to stop seeing herself from her own unhealthy perspective and look through the lens of others in order to see the truth about herself.

It was this advice that I came to my mind yesterday evening after we had picked up Sam’s ashes.  Grief can be so consuming that you project your feelings on others, even those you love.  I found myself getting defensive with my husband when he was trying to understand my feelings.  Once again, I assumed that he felt a certain way about me which was wrong and incorrect.  Too many times I make wrong assumptions or interpret things that are not based on the truth.

Projection is dangerous.  I’m discovering that my pattern with it is a result of looking too much inside myself that I can’t see from another’s perspective and completely miss the truth.  It’s all about balance.  I can look outside myself without feeling obligated to put everyone before myself.  This change in view is a process; a project in ending projection.

05
Feb
14

the ideal woman?

the ideal womanIs it easy for you to look past the mistakes of others, but not your own?  Why does it seem that we don’t use the same set of rules when it comes to judging ourselves as we do with others?

In my Images of Women in Literature class, we’ve been reading “Little Women” by Louisa May Alcott.  The author paints many different pictures of what women should look like.  One of these idyllic images is that of Marmee or Mrs. March; the angelic mother.  She represents the perfect mother who is always self-sacrificing, patient, nurturing while still managing to help the poor and needy outside her home.  Do we still use this image as the standard for women today?

Many of my friends have shared their struggle with never feeling like enough.  They feel like they are trying to do it all but can never quite reach that ideal expectation which both society and they themselves have placed on their shoulders.  Women can have it all, but in order to feel like it they must do it all well.  Over the years I have had moments of guilt that I do not cook every night or keep the house spic and span – in fact, I can’t remember the last time I dusted!

So why is this image from decades ago still plaguing us today?  Do we still believe that women’s lot remains only in the domestic circle?  Is there only one way of being a “good” mother or girlfriend or wife?  Will we continue to berate ourselves for falling short of a fictional and unobtainable ideal?  We have the power to redefine femininity and womanhood.  By continuing to uphold these standards in our own hearts, we defeat ourselves before even giving ourselves a chance.  And comparing ourselves to others is a dangerous and pointless game because no one knows each person’s situation but they themselves.

Let’s stop seeing our shortfalls and remind ourselves of how far we’ve come.  And then let’s take another step together.




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