I’m a Nasty Woman

Yesterday, I was proud to be a woman and an American. I watched as women all over the world protested, marched, and came together in solidarity for woman and equal rights all over the world. I don’t generally write about politics. In fact, I live in Montgomery, Alabama where most liberals are looked at like some scourge on the surface of the earth. But I’m tired of being quiet about my position and what I think is right and wrong. I think the only way to make change is to be vocal about it. Great change happens when we take action, not when we sit silently by.

Women marched together non-violently yesterday. And why did they march? They marched for all sorts of reasons: health care, abortion, diversity, and climate change. Women marched because they’re tired of being objects. Women marched because they believe that it’s the first step toward a united front in the face of hatred. They marched together in love. They’re tired of working hard only to earn a whopping 20% less than a man in the same position with the same qualifications as them. 

I was slayed by the people who said: Why are they marching? Women already have equal rights. This is absolutely not true. There is income disparity. Women are still sexually harassed daily. Women are raped. Men get off from charges so they don’t miss “the college experiment.” Since when is that fair?

But the march was about much more than that. It was a protest against hate, racism, bigotry. It was a reminder that Muslims are people too, and they’re not all terrorists, and they shouldn’t be registered. It was a reminder that we are all human beings and we are all guaranteed certain human rights. It was a reminder that we are capable of change, because there are a great number of us who want it. Power in numbers.

CNN, yes, yes, the liberal news outlet, posted an article entitled Moment or a Movement. I think it’s important for women and men all over the world not to let this moment pass us by. We need to make it a movement. We need to use the energy from the marches yesterday to get involved and initiate change. Show your daughters they have power by becoming politically involved. Call your senator. Get involved at Planned Parenthood or another nonprofit of your choice. Donate to a nonprofit (like Mercy Corps, NRDC , or SPLC, just to name a few) monthly. Start writing letters to your senators, even if you live in Alabama and they send you a letter back saying that they basically will never agree with you or take you seriously. Get involved in education that helps minorities and poverty-stricken students RISE UP and rise above their circumstances. The more people who get involved the more change we can make.We can do it at the grassroots level. It takes one person to make change.

Let’s make this a movement, not just a moment like in Hamilton’s My Shot:

 

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Begin Again

Self-sabotage. I think that little hyphenated word sums me up and a lot of other writers I know. I get into a funk, or I let busy get in the way, and I stop writing.

About a month ago, I started writing, yet another, novel. I wrote feverishly on it for about two weeks. I ended up with about 20,000 words. It was the most I’d written since Booktrope folded and The Devil Within went out of print. And then I stopped. I let the same old excuses stop me: I’ll never be good enough. I’ll never get published. I’ll never make writing my career. Self-sabotage.

The thing is: I will never be good enough if I don’t try. I have two hang-ups. The muddle in the middle where I think all my stories suck. And the end when I have to revise. I have a hard time revising effectively. It’s hard, in my busy schedule (excuses again) to find hour longs stretches where I can arrange, slash, and rewrite. But I’ve done it before. That should tell me that I have the capability. Still the human mind is completely adept at self-sabotage. I think it’s an innate fear or failure or success that makes me put the brakes on. Which is ridiculous. Fear can be a driver and a defeater. I’m ready to use it as a driver again.

So here I am. I promise I’ll blog at least once a month so you, the people, have something to read. Hopefully you get something out of it again. I’m going to stop defeating myself and start winning again.

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Discipline

Lately, the question I hate to hear is, “So how’s your writing going?” This question makes me cringe. This question reminds me that my writing is not going. Yes, I’ve started a hundred things. Like a monster, I leave my characters waiting to feel complete. Because that’s all we ever want, right? A feeling of completeness. But lately I’ve been feeling likeI lack the discipline to be a writer. I’ve been second guessing myself.

I randomly applied to a flash fiction contest for a magazine. I was rejected. I didn’t flinch. I didn’t cry. I thought, “Well, there’s always next time.” But I know there won’t be a next time if I don’t write. I need to find direction. I love writing shorts, but I don’t think I can tell a whole story in a short story. I love writing long, but the muddle in the middle bogs me down and makes me want to stop. I have a love/hate relationship with writing. I need to do it, because it makes me feel complete, fulfilled, and most of all happy and content. But sometimes I hate to do it, or I hate how much it haunts me when I’m not doing it.

When I was writing, really writing, my brain filled up with so many ideas I could barely keep up. Now I don’t even have blog ideas. I had people telling me how I inspired them. Getting up at 4 in the morning to write, then dealing with kids, coming to a full time job, having a kid on a gymnastics team. Where was the time? But if I’ve learned anything about myself it’s that I’m a better writer when I’m busy. I’m a better writer when I have to squeeze it in. I’m also a better writer when I’m a runner.

Lately, I’ve been training for another half marathon. Yeah, I think I said I’d never do one again, but I changed my mind. The truth is, running helps me keep the weight off, even if it doesn’t help me lose weight (Lord—I wish it did—I feel like I will never get rid of this extra 15 lbs). And running helps center me. I listen to music, but it’s really just a beat, and my mind sorts out problems. Ideas come and go, and they don’t stick, but it does something to my brain. It makes my brain more creative. All the problem solving that comes while my feet are hitting the pavement shows up in the form of writing.

And running is a form of discipline. There are times when I’m running and I feel like stopping. Sometimes I do. Sometimes I stop, and I turn around, and I walk to the house. Sometimes when I do that I feel defeated by myself. Mad at myself. Sometimes I feel okay, because I listened to my body. And there are times when I’m running where I push through. I slow down and then I speed up again, and I achieve my goal of completing the run. These are the times I think I can apply to writing. Pushing through the times where the story feels like it’s going nowhere by just writing some crap-words on paper and getting to the next good part. I need to learn how to apply the discipline I have in my running to my writing. Because we all know that without hard work, we don’t get anywhere. Without the hours of sweat and toil, and manuscripts tossed aside, I would never be published.

So for the next few months, I’m going to work on bringing discipline back to my life, not only with my running but with my writing. I started by joining a MOOC over at www.novoed.com called How Writer’s Write Fiction: Storied Women Writers. I’m hoping this will get me started again and allow me to finish something, then revise, then submit, and then hopefully, one day, publish again.

Baby Doll

This is a short story I wrote for the MOOC I’m taking at http://www.novoed.com.

Baby Doll

1673 words

The first time I knew my daddy was a liar was when Shepherd dug up Pulley’s bones. At first, I pretended the newly unearthed bones were dinosaur bones. I told Spitzer that our backyard, next to the blooming blue hydrangeas, had once been the site of an ancient meteor shower that destroyed the dinosaurs and paved the way for us.

Spitzer called me an idiot, dug a little further into the soft black soil, and pulled out Pulley’s dusty, dirty red collar.

“Last I heard no dinosaur ever wore a collar.”

Spitzer chunked the collar at me and stomped up toward the cold air conditioned house to escape the hot thick summer Alabama air.

I wiped my face, smearing dirt under my eyes like the football players I’d seen on Daddy’s big screen. I didn’t cry. I just picked up the bones, the collar, placed it back into the hole and covered it up. Daddy had told me Pulley ran away, but now I knew the truth.

“Bad dog!” I shouted at Shepherd.

He lifted one ear, twitched his leg then laid his head back into the cool shade under the Oak tree as if he couldn’t be bothered with my scolding.

That night at the dinner table, Daddy smelled sticky-sweet. I didn’t confront him. He’d made some crockpot concoction that resembled mush and put canned LeSeur peas with the little mushrooms on the table in one of Mama’s old corning ware dishes. I made it my job to hide the peas under the mush and took one, maybe two bites. Spitzer talked a lot about his day. About the boys at school who he could beat up with one hand tied behind his back. About how he wanted to go hunting over the weekend and he knew he could peg a prize-winning deer.

Daddy interrupted him mid-sentence. “What’s wrong Baby Doll? You’re not eating much?”

“Nuthing,” I said, staring at the peas on my plate. I took the prongs of my fork and mashed, making pea-guts.

Daddy nudged me with the toe of his work boot. I thought about how Mama used to complain that he drug dirt all over the house, even on her Mama’s old Oriental rug. That rug was full of dog hair now and dirt clods were all grounded in. There weren’t anyone to prevent that from happening now. Lord knows, Daddy and Spitzer didn’t care about the finer things in life.

I slunk into my room after dinner. Shut the door and stared at the picture of Daddy and Mama with Spitzer and me, when we were all together. I fell onto my flower printed bedspread and into a fitful sleep.

The next time I found out Daddy was a liar was in November, two years later. I’d grown and was all legs and arms, Daddy always said. Spitzer wore braces, had broken out into a volcano of acne, and was obsessed with girls who somehow found his adolescent-pocked face endearing. Why anyone would like Spitzer was beyond me.

Alice Chambers came over on a Saturday. She brought Halloween candy with her. I couldn’t believe she still had some left, because when Halloween fell in our house, Spitzer and I made a mountain of candy on our living room floor, divided it out, traded, and then ate it until we were sick. Twenty-four hours after Halloween our pillowcases full of sugary delights held nothing but a few empty wrappers.

Alice Chambers had ringlet curls and freckles on the bridge of her nose. That day she wore a white dress with multi-colored polka dots. I grabbed the fabric with two fingers and let the slippery silk slide through my fingers. I loved Alice Chambers and hated her at the same time, because she had nice clothes and a mama.

Alice Chambers and I played dolls in my bedroom. Her doll had a dress identical to hers. My doll had one eye and just a scrap of hair left on her head. Alice and I sat the dolls on the floor on a checkered handkerchief I had borrowed from Spitzer’s room.

“They’re having a picnic,” I said.

“They need drinks and food.”

“I’ll get some.”

I went into the kitchen and opened the cabinets next to the mini-fridge. Daddy had all kinds of tiny cups in that cabinet next to big bottles of alcohol. He barely drank the alcohol, but sometimes when his hunting buddies came over they’d reek of the stuff by the end of the night. I pulled out a big bottle of amber colored liquid and a couple of the tiny glasses. I brought them to the bedroom. Alice Chambers giggled when she saw me struggling not to drop them, but then came to my rescue.

I opened the bottle and poured the tiny glasses full of the liquid.

“I have some food over here,” I said, taking plastic pieces of watermelon from the play fridge I had deserted in the corner of my room.

We sat down, behind our dolls.

“Let’s take a drink,” I said.

Alice nodded. I took a swig of the amber colored liquid, and when I started to swallow my throat burned and my eyes watered. Instead of swallowing it, I let it spill into the cavities of my mouth making my cheeks as big as a chipmunk saving for winter. Then when I couldn’t hold it in anymore I spit it out all over Alice Chamber’s beautiful party dress. All of this happened in a matter of seconds, but it felt like an eternity, and Alice still had her tiny glass full of that vile stuff that I couldn’t believe Daddy drank.

Alice stood up, dripping with alcohol, a big brown stain on the front of her dress. Her face turned red, she looked horrified, but she didn’t say anything at first.

“I’m so sorry,” I said, standing up and trying to pat her down.

“Well,” Alice said, trying to be lady-like. “I—I never. And just so you know, there’s no Santa Claus.”

She shouted it at me, grabbed her doll and ran out of the room, out of the house, and out of my life forever. I stood there in complete shock, feeling dizzy from the little bit of amber liquid I’d drank, then sat down on the floor amidst the ruined picnic. No Santa Claus. But Daddy had said Santa came down the chimney and brought toys. And if there was no Santa Claus how did I end up with a new bike last Christmas? I knew Daddy couldn’t afford that with his no-good damn beggar’s salary. But still, I didn’t ask Daddy. Instead, I marched into Spitzer’s room where he was sucking the face of some girl, and demanded to know the truth. He caved as always, told me the truth, and then told me to get the heck out of his room.

The third time I found out Daddy was a liar was when the letter came from Mama. To be fair, I was snooping. Spitzer always said my dirty snooping would lead to no-good. Daddy’s room had coins on the dresser, and sometimes I took these to buy pencil grips. I liked the way the pencil grips fit in my fingers. They made it so I didn’t get callouses, and I had quite a collection of them. Well that week, there was a rainbow grip on sale at school and I was determined to buy it, but I’d spent all my money on Necco wafers when I’d been in town with Spitzer that past weekend. So I was on a mission to find some loose change in Daddy’s room when I stumbled across the letter.

It was folded on his nightstand into a neat little square. When I opened it, the paper felt soft under my skin like it had been opened and closed a billion times.

James,

I’ve thought about coming home. I don’t know what you told the children when I left three years ago. For all I know, you told them I’m dead and gone. I deserve that after the way I left you. Now I know I wasn’t looking for love. I was looking for an escape. I couldn’t deal with the PTA meetings, the dinners on the table, and the demands of the kids. I didn’t know how to tell you, and when Sam came into my life I took it as an opportunity to move on.

Maybe this apology comes too little too late. I think of Baby Doll and Spitzer so much. I can’t even imagine how they’ve grown. Does Baby Doll still have curls? Is Spitzer still playing ball? I know this letter will hurt you. That’s not my intention. But I want you to know that I think about them. Often. And of you.I I still love you. My address is above. Please write back.

All my love,

Eileen

I traced the words with my fingers. Big fat tears fell from my eyes onto the paper, making it weaker than it’d been before. I sat it down on the shag carpet, and took a piece of my dress and wiped it dry, carefully, so as not to rip it. My mama was alive. Not dead like Pulley. Alive and well and living somewhere without us. Daddy had told Spitzer and I she was dead. Deader than a doornail, I’d thought because I’d been little then.

I didn’t hear Daddy walk in. I didn’t see his face. But the next thing I felt were his big bear arms around me. I smelled his Daddy smell, cologne mixed with sweat, that sticky-sweet smell that always comforted me, and I felt the scratchiness of his beard on my face.

“I’m so sorry, Baby Doll,” he said. “I’m so, so sorry.”

I felt the hotness of his tears on the back of my neck, and I turned around and wrapped myself into his arms and let him hold me and rock me like I was still his baby doll.

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Reflections on Death and Life

Recently I read an article about the importance of “me” time in everyone’s life. I also read an article about the importance of silence. I’ve been doing a lot of heavy thinking lately. I had a friend die suddenly about two weeks ago, and let’s face it when shocking events take place in our life it makes us look more closely at how we’re living.

I had a conversation with a co-worker at work about how I like to lock myself in the bathroom, take a bath, and read a book. This co-worker could not believe it, and it became the butt of all her jokes in regards to me. She’s probably reading this blog right now. But it griped me. Not because I don’t think I deserve the me-time (I do, and so do you), but because there is this perception in the United States that people don’t need, don’t deserve, or simply don’t have time for me-time. Well, this my friend, is a mistake, or even a travesty. Everyone needs alone time. Everyone needs me time. Everyone needs time to recharge. It doesn’t matter if you’re a working mother of three like me, a single parent, a non-parent, a man or woman. It’s simply a biological necessity. It’s as essential to humans as touch and love, but it’s something that we do not make time for in our chaotic world.

We’re constantly bombarded by information: cell phones, people, activities, kids. And because of that, sometimes we forget that we are connected human beings. When we feel overwhelmed or tired the best thing we can do for ourselves is stop and reflect. Stop and enjoy a little bit of solitude. Look for the inner peace that can keep us going.

Since my friend died I’ve been thinking a lot about the way we live. Our family lives are dictated by schedules and technology. I sit on the couch in the evening, and my kids stare at a television or their own handheld gadget. I write in the morning or at night, making the computer one of the main gadgets in my life. But we’re missing out on a huge part of human connection. As a mother, I want my children to remember that I took time to play UNO with them. I want them to remember that I laughed with them…and cried with them. I want them to remember my presence in their life, not that I was always staring at my phone, my computer, or that I was too busy to spend time with them.

The way I can best be there for my children is to be there for myself. I know that I don’t have a traditional family life. My husband works from home, so he’s capable of making dinner and picking up the kids, dealing with homework and doing most of the “traditional” housewife jobs. Since my job is away from home, I come home and get to be the “fun” parent, traditionally assigned to the “Dad” role. My husband and I both value our alone time, our rest and recoup time, as a time that we can sort out our feelings on life and come back to our children more well-prepared to handle them and all their idiosyncrasies.

As I process the emotions regarding my friend’s life and death, and help his wife—one of my good friends—find her new normal, I need my silence. I need the time in the evening when I lie in bed and try to figure it all out. Some people can put all their faith in God. But in times like this questions arise. Silence helps me sort through those tough questions. My alone time helps me come to terms with decisions I’ve made in the past and what decisions I need to make in the future. We all have a finite time on this earth, and we don’t know when our time is up. I want to live my life the best way possible and leave an impression on my children that I was there for them, because we never know when our time is up.

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To Be

Shakespeare__Cobbe_portrait

There’s a famous author named Shakespeare (ever heard of him?) who wrote the words, “To be, or not to be; that is the question?” And maybe Shakespeare, in his famous play  Hamlet had it right when it came to happiness and emotions all those years ago.

This week, I read an article that Harvard psychologists think the more one tries to be happy the less satisfied or happy they are. This seems counter-intuitive, because in life we are told the harder we try the more successful we are. We see these results over and over again. If we study, we do well on a test. If we work hard and bring in business, we get a promotion. If we set a goal and work hard to achieve it we’ll succeed. Following the same formula, it would make sense to think, if we try to be happy then we will be happy.

Instead of trying to be happy, the psychologists argue that “showing up” to your emotions and allowing yourself to feel produces a happier and more fulfilled person overall. When we allow ourselves to feel our emotions without judging them, even our negative emotions, we receive important information about why we’re feeling that way. This information can help us make necessary changes for a happier life. It can help us become more assertive. It can help us get rid of negative people in our life. It can serve as a signal that something in our life needs to be changed. When we sweep our emotions under the rug, they come back to haunt us, so to speak.

One of the parts of the article that really resonated with me was the part about stopping judgment. The author states, we should stop labeling whether our emotions and thoughts are good or bad. When we have thoughts they are just thoughts, and we should let the thoughts come and go. When we have emotions, they are just emotions, and we should let those emotions come and go. The article ended with the following quote, “Ultimately, the goal is to be — rather than to be happy, which is somewhat freeing.”

The thought is freeing. Instead of struggling to find elusive happiness, just be. Feel emotions: sadness, happiness, joy, cowardice, anger. Allow your brain to receive the information that your body is trying to give you so you can make changes that will lead to a more fulfilled life. As someone who suffers from depression, I’ve struggled with my down times. I’ve told myself to snap out of it before. I’ve swept feelings under the rug. I’ve done everything. But through the years, I’ve learned that my down times come in a cycle. And they usually are there to remind me of what my up times feel life. Without sadness, we would never know what joy feels like, right? This analogy was described perfectly in the movie Inside Out. If you have not seen it, rent it. I’ve started to let myself experience those down times without further negating myself and without trying to artificially drag myself out of the deep dark ditches of depression before my body and mind are ready. And since I started realizing my feelings and thoughts are valid and not good or bad, my depressive periods have lessened. Plus, on the upside after I go through a depressive period I generally have a great period of creativity. The darkness leads to the light.

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Recommit

This weekend, I started recommitting. I go through up and down periods as I’m sure everyone else does too. I haven’t been writing. I haven’t been editing. I haven’t been running. I decided a week ago I needed to do all of the above.

First, I created an exercise schedule to get my butt in gear to run. I’m signing up for a 5k to run at the end of October. I’m hoping this will help me stick to it again. After the half, I felt burnt out on running. I’m glad I took a break and focused on strength training. My body needed it. But it’s time to begin again. Plus, cooler weather will be coming in the next few months. I love running in the cooler weather much more than hot weather. The timing works out.

As far as writing, I just haven’t had the bug. Ideas haven’t been sticking. I’ve started a few works then dropped them. I’ve written a few shorter pieces. But nothing has seemed inspiring. This weekend, I went to a Creative Writer’s Group. I’d been once before, and it was something I had intended to commit myself to, but it just didn’t happen with our busy schedule. Well not, I’m going to start going. I need the accountability. I need to have a prompt. I need to set goals. Creativity is my purpose. I’m sure of that. Without it I often feel lost. When I’m writing, I’m my happiest. I know this. I’ve said it before. It’s just putting it into action and fitting everything into an already tight schedule.

I’m taking baby steps now.

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Going Ons

Hello Lovelies! I’ve been busy lately, and I’ve neglected my blog again. I’m sorry about that. Here’s a little bit of what’s been going on in my life.

I got a Fitbit HR Charge. It was a present to myself. I’ve been obsessively trying to beat a co-worker in steps each week. He’s short, so I think he must take about five or six strides to my one. At least that’s what I’m telling myself. The Fitbit has been motivating me to exercise more again, which is great because I had fallen off the wagon. Now, I’ve been doing Glide about three times during the week, and running about 2 times. I’m still running short distances and mostly running on the treadmill. I went out for a morning run the other day, and I had forgotten how much I liked the solitude and peace of the outdoors in the morning–not to mention the coolness, as opposed to 90+ degrees days.

My son found an Eastern Fence lizard in my parent’s yard, and he decided he had to have her as a pet. Her name’s Spikey.

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I spent about $100 getting this lizard set up in a cage with a thermometer, sand, water, a fake tree and a rock hiding place. I do hope she lives for a bit. We bought crickets to feed her, and we put them in a little critter keeper. They are the loudest things in the world. As I’m sitting here they are chirping and driving me nuts. At first, I felt bad that we were feeding the crickets to Spikey. But this morning, I woke up and went to get my coffee. I noticed the crickets were low on food, so I put some in their critter creeper. One of the crickets was cannibalizing the other. I had no idea they did that. Plus, the poor victim was still alive even though half his body had been eaten. Gross. I found this article about them, so I’m guessing these guys are really katydids and the lack of food in their cage led them to eat each other.

I’ve been writing again. Putting my energy into a story that is flowing better than anything I’ve written in awhile. Plus, reading. I read Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff over the weekend. I highly recommend this book, and I’m going to write a review about it a little bit later this week.

And my oldest has middle school orientation this week. Where did the time go? I thought he was still just this little baby.

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But no. Here he is, a tween, and looking more and more grown up every day.

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Being a parent is so much about loving, teaching, and learning to let go. I hope I’m giving him the right tools to succeed in life. Parenting is the hardest, and every day I question myself. I used to have so much guilt in everything I did. I felt guilty for leaving him at daycare while I went to work. I felt guilty for disciplining him. I almost felt guilty for breathing. I was driving home from work the other day, and I realized that guilt is gone. Why? Because we, parents, are human and we’re doing the best we can. Because I know I am a good parent to him even on his hardest days. I know he’ll look back at his childhood and know he was loved. And that’s the most important thing, right? I also know, that he’ll blame me for a thousand wrongs. But that’s human nature. Boy–do I love this big kid more and more every day. It’s amazing to see him blossom into a young man, full of his own ideas, and to see him making his way in this amazing world of ours. Love you kiddo!

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Thinking Errors

Blame Game

Every once in a while I start to question my ability as a writer. When this happens, I usually take a break from writing. Or I procrastinate. I put my writing on the backburner as if this will solve the confidence problem I have when it comes to my writing instead of just making my confidence plummet more.

This week, my husband went out of town. He works from home. As such, he also does the majority of making dinner and cleaning the house, and he picks up the kids from camp, etc. He is basically Mr. Mom. I’m not sure what I would do without him, because he LOVES doing that sort of stuff and I don’t. I was lucky, because my niece and nephew were in town so we went over to my parent’s house most nights. Taking care of the kids and making dinner became a collaborative effort. Single parents: I have the utmost respect for you. I could not do it.

But my tween seemed to be having a hard time this week. And he was blaming everyone else besides himself. This is common among kids, tweens, and teens. I was upset by my tween’s behavior. I went to the internet to search why he always deflected blame, and why when I addressed it the whole thing blew up into a huge fight between us, ultimately ending with me feeling guilty. And then I read this great article and realized: It’s a classic thinking error. I found out from reading this article, how to challenge thinking errors when dealing with my tween. His classic thinking error is in thinking the whole world is against him. He has painted himself as the victim, instead of the aggressor. He has done this over and over again, because he has limited problem solving skills, probably because his parents (aka me and his dad) have not modeled correct problem solving skills when faced with certain issues, or we’ve been inconsistent in addressing issues when he’s in the wrong. In his way of thinking, when he hits a kid or gets into a fight it’s the other kid’s fault because that kid was “bothering” him. I challenged him yesterday. And I think it hit home. I’m trying to change the dialogue between us so he can start growing up and realizing that making himself the victim is a thinking error and won’t help him in the long run.

And in thinking about this, I started thinking about my own thinking errors. I have no time to write. I’m not a good writer. If only, I didn’t have a full time job, three kids, and 5,000 activities. I’m laying the blame for my failure to write everywhere else besides in myself.  I’m not taking responsibility for the fact that I’m ceasing to create. I’m making excuses. I’m procrastinating, when in reality I have the ability to change the dialogue. I have the ability to tell myself I can write. And I know this, because I’ve done it before even when I was busy. I made the time. I stopped making excuses.

Overcoming thinking errors is hard, because thinking errors aren’t just mistakes. Thinking errors occur over and over again, because we’ve learned to use them as coping mechanism so we don’t have to face the reality of our actions or the intensity of our emotions. People use thinking errors to try to protect themselves from getting hurt. Thinking errors are justification to ourselves when we’re doing something wrong. They serve a purpose of trying to keep our self esteem intact when our self esteem is plummeting. When we don’t take the blame, we perceive an injustice to us that’s not there. When we procrastinate, we tell ourselves that everything else is more important than what we’re meant to be working on. These are all ways to protect our ego and to protect our identity as we see it. But the problem with thinking errors is that they’re destructive. Do we really want to go through life feeling like we’re a victim of our circumstances? Do we want to make excuses or procrastinate until the opportunity doesn’t exist or we feel so hopeless about our own destiny that we throw up our hands and we cease to create, cease to strive for better? I don’t want to be that person.

I’m rewiring my thinking error about writing today. I’m telling myself that I do have time to write. I have time to blog, even if it is 5 words a day. I’m going to stop using procrastination as an excuse not to face my fears where writing is concerned. I’m going to do what I’m called to do even if I suck at it (which I don’t think I do). When we overcome thinking errors, we become more emotionally aware. We also become more capable of being happy, self-confident, and achieving success.

Do you have a thinking error that’s holding you back from achieving success, establishing friendships, or facing your own demons?

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Seeking Understanding and Peace

I haven’t blogged in three weeks. I’m sure you noticed my silence. At first, there was no blog because I was in Mexico. Then I wanted to write about Mexico and July 4th, but I was getting back into the swing of things with work and simply didn’t have the time. Plus, I was using my mornings to read Bel Canto by Ann Patchett (must read!) and my lunches to workout. I gained some weight in Mexico. That story is for another time.

Then this week, two black men were killed at the hands of trigger-happy cops. Again. One man was approached because he was selling CDs illegally out of a parking lot. Another man was pulled over because his taillight was out. Both men were murdered.

I’ve thought a lot about this. I’ve listened to people say things like, “All life matters.” “This wouldn’t be news if it was a white man.” “If you do something illegal you deserve to be shot.” “If he hadn’t had a gun, he wouldn’t be shot.” (The gun one gets me, because these are some of the same people who said in Orlando, ‘If they’d only had guns…’” And the majority of these people are not for gun control). And I can tell you, that there are those that seek to blame the victim to deflect the real problem here which is racism. Those statements come from a place of white privilege. White privilege exists. Even if you’re poor and white you have white privilege, because of your history and because of the way our society caters to white people. Read Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack, and you will get it. I have white privilege and I know it. My children do too. I’m not in the position to understand how the black community feels about this happening. I have never been in their shoes, but I know that this type of careless regard for people of color (POC) is not right. Racism is taught and passed down generation by generation. Often people who are racist don’t see themselves as such.

Covert racism is still racism, even if it isn’t seen as such.  Saying that Alton Sterling had a record, or he was selling CDs illegally is besides the point. If a white man was doing that, would he be held down, shot and killed or would he have a chance to be arrested and go to trial? And Philando Castile? He told the officer he had a gun in the car, reached for his license and was shot in the arm—for what? For being truthful? In front of his wife and child. If you have seen that video, or if you have seen the video of Sterling’s son sobbing and did not feel that what happened was wrong then something is very wrong with you.

Look at the numbers of the percentage of unarmed black people being killed in the US: http://mappingpoliceviolence.org/unarmed/. If you can look at these numbers and still tell me that this is not a problem then you don’t need to read any further, because nothing I write will make a difference to you.

I believe there are good cops. I know some. I believe there are cops who aren’t going to walk up to a man like Alton Sterling or a man like Philando Castile and shoot them. I believe the cops who did used their prejudices to harm people who they shouldn’t have. They let their racist views affect their judgment and that’s not okay. Those cops were ill prepared for the job that they signed up for.

I also believe it’s time to change the mentality in the US that violence is okay. In the wake of the deaths of Sterling and Castile, more violence came in the shooting of innocent cops at what was supposed to be a peaceful protest for #BlackLivesMatter in Dallas. This is not okay! Seeing this violence over social media has desensitized us to what actually is happening. These are not movies. Real, innocent people are losing their lives: POC and cops. Real children, wives, girlfriends, husbands, mothers and fathers are mourning their fathers, husbands, sons, wives, daughters TODAY. 

I have to ask you this question. Do you want your child growing up in a world where they see hate and violence every day? My children have good friends of color, and I feel for them and their parents. They live in fear that something will happen to them, their sons, their cousins, their brothers. As a white person, I speak from privilege and a place of not having to fear that for my sons. My boys won’t be looked at with a wary eye if they’re wearing a hoodie and walking down the road at night, but my friend’s son might, just because of the color of his skin.

I have friends who are cops, and I live in fear for them that now that these incidents have happened vigilantes will take it into their own hands to prove a point by killing more innocent people. It has got to stop. Gun violence doesn’t help. Hate doesn’t help. Protecting our brothers and sisters does. We can make a change when we start standing up for POC when we become vocal in saying what is happening is not okay; when we tell people we know and that we love that their racist comments are not helpful, but indeed they serve to drive a wedge between us and our brothers and sisters; when cops start turning in bad cops; when we find a way to control gun violence in this country. That change starts at home.

If you’re white, then talk to your children about the privilege they have in being white. Tell them that their friends who aren’t white don’t have that same privilege. Let them know that racism does still exist and that they will be taxed with fighting against it in the future. Tell them to stand up for their friends who are POC. Tell them not to accept overt or covert racism from people they know. Tell them that the solution to violence is never more violence. Ask the US to seek gun control. Provide mental health services for cops who have seen violence and tragedy in the field. I’m sure there’s a system in which cops can report other cops who they deem are misusing their power. Use those systems so that all Americans can feel safe when they’re pulled over for something as minor as a broken taillight. I don’t want to see anymore POC killed for being in the wrong place at the wrong time at the wrong side of a barrel. I don’t want to see any more cops senselessly killed for trying to do their duty and protect people. Let’s change America and bring back a sense of pride in the fact that we are different but that we are all US citizens who seek freedom and the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Let’s show our children that we can live peacefully together, love one another and they don’t need to fear someone just because their skin is a different color.

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