How Non-Racist People Perpetuate Racism

I recently entered into a discussion on Facebook with a white man who commented on a public post I made in which I shared an article about Ohio residents greeting Obama by waving confederate flags. I commented on the article with only two words: heart broken.

The man responded by saying he was “tired” of the media exacerbating racial tension by pitting blacks and whites against one another. Does he count as “the media” since he posted publicly on Facebook? Aren’t we, the people, the media, now? Did “the media” invent police brutality and the segregation in communities and schools that persists today?

He cites his experience as a missionary in Southern black communities as evidence of his understanding. He says he didn’t experience racism in the projects. Does he think that associating with black people made him temporarily black? Does he think something doesn’t exist because he has not personally experienced it?

He claims that he is not a bigot, and I might believe him, yet his denial of the discrimination faced by people of color indirectly supports it.

I do not know this man at all, but I engaged with him because I felt it important to fight against the contagions in his message. I hoped that by speaking up, I could give others the tools to speak up. I let myself become intoxicated by the freedom of speech. I knew I couldn’t change his mind, but I felt empowered by disagreeing with him, openly, unapologetically.

I disagreed when he suggested that waving the confederate flag in the face of our black president was not a racist act but a political act. Then why not hold up signs with political statements as is the norm for such protests? I disagreed when he suggested the confederate flag to be a symbol of unity. The unity of whom? Certainly it was not for the unity of the human race. I disagreed when he said the treatment of blacks is not as bad as the media wants it to be. What if it’s worse?

America has a long hard history with race. This country is not going to heal beneath the pretense of equality. We must demand the real thing. We can start by bearing witness to people of color. The media has largely provided us this opportunity.

The first step to change is awareness, which is why this man and so many others perpetuate racism. By pretending it’s not there.

This is day 17 of 30 consecutive days of blogging. I’m glad you’re along for the ride. If you liked this post, please share using the buttons below. If you have something to add, feel free to comment openly or anonymously.

To read more of my thoughts on womanhood, mindfulness and the creative life, please follow the blog or subscribe via feedburner.

IMG_1562.JPG

Why We Must Heed Our Hormones

Hormones control every human body. Hormones tell us when to eat and when to stop eating. Hormones tell us when to sleep and when to wake. Hormones tell us when to fight and when to flee and when to procreate. We are conscious beings with free will, but we are also animals at the mercy of our hormones.

Through out every month, a women’s hormonal constitution shifts. We experience distinct cycles. We are not meant to be even. We are jagged. We must forgive ourself for our sharp points.

Because of my body and because I breastfed around the clock, I went without my period until Skyla was 15 months old. As if nature wanted to compensate for the long nights and short tether. And so I was spared from the dramatic hormonal dips and spikes associated with ovulation. After two years of not ovulating, I have become extra sensitive to the shifts. Furthermore, my body has not found its rhythm and I cannot predict what “time of the month” it is.

Recently I had a bad week. I came loose at the seams. I despaired. I felt aggressive and angry. I had no idea how I could get through another week. I didn’t have to. It was not all my fault nor was it my children’s fault. It was my hormones. I had PMS. I had no way of knowing because my body felt fine otherwise. No cramps no headaches no cravings. The symptoms completely manifested in my mental and emotional health.

No matter how you experience your hormonal shifts, don’t discount them, my fellow women. Just as the moon pulls on the ocean, your moon cycle pulls on the ocean inside of you. To ignore the tides is to throw yourself in the sea and swim against the tides.

It is our responsibility to keep track of our cycles, not only for the sake of family planning, but for sanity. Society teaches us to suck it up and pretend these shifts are not happening within us. But in reality, hiding our symptoms hides nothing. To track the cycle is to find the current and let it carry you home.

What if we took note of our sensitive times of the month and took extra time for ourselves? What if we soaked in the bathtub or got a massage? What if we got a babysitter? What if we forgave ourself quicker for crying? What if it was okay? What if we expected to feel this way? What if we were actually prepared?

At some point in history, women would go into the “red tent” when they were bleeding. We took care of one another. These days, no one will look after you if you don’t look after yourself. We are grown-ups. We are women. We are complex. We are not even. We are not meant to be.

I am tired of stifling my feelings. I have high highs and low lows. I have feared myself. I have heard the clinical words. But deep down, I know there is nothing wrong with me. By my very nature, I experience life in cycles. I see and feel in vivid color. I will not dull my edges for the comfort of others. Just ask my neighbors.

This is day 16 of 30 consecutive days of blogging. I’m glad you’re along for the ride. If you liked this post, please share using the buttons below. If you have something to add, feel free to comment openly or anonymously.

To read more of my thoughts on womanhood, mindfulness and the creative life, please follow the blog or subscribe via feedburner.

IMG_9505-0.JPG

What I Learned When I Stopped Wearing Makeup

“You Don’t Have to Be Pretty. You don’t owe prettiness to anyone. Not to your boyfriend/spouse/partner, not to your co-workers, especially not to random men on the street. You don’t owe it to your mother, you don’t owe it to your children, you don’t owe it to civilization in general. Prettiness is not a rent you pay for occupying a space marked ‘female.'”
– Erin McKean (wrongly attributed to Diana Vreeland)

It happens to most women who become mothers. We forge a new relationship with our physicality. We don’t apply makeup or style our hair or accessorize for at least for a few months, maybe a year, maybe longer, maybe forever.

I still wear makeup now and again. I still like how it makes my features pop. Makeup is art. But do we need makeup as much as we are conditioned to believe we need it?

The less I wear makeup, the less I wear makeup. The less I wear it, the more comfortable I feel without it. And most notably, the less I wear it, the less beautiful I feel when I do wear it.

I used to think I needed makeup to fix parts of me. In middle school, my best friend and I were quite concerned with being beautiful. We loved spending hours together getting ready for special events, from Bar Mitzvahs to birthday parties, doing and redoing our hair, doing and redoing our eyeliner until it was “perfect.” When we had nothing left to do, we would ask one another, “what can I fix?”

We grew up watching movies like Clueless and Beauty and the Beast and television programs like Saved By The Bell and 90210, and reading books like the Sweet Valley High series. Stories in which the heroines were valued for their beauty and agreeable disposition. For many years, I believed I had to be pretty to be valuable and valued. Sometimes, I believed I could be pretty if I tried hard enough. Sometimes, I didn’t.

Implicit in the application of make up is the belief that a woman’s face is flawed and/or needs to be “flawless.” When we wear makeup daily, we learn to see our made up face as the “right” face. We stop seeing the beauty in our natural features. We invest time, money and thought into fixing ourselves under the erroneous belief that beauty can be achieved by the right product and method.

I did not notice the shape of my eyes until I stopped masking them with eyeliner. I did not see clarity in my skin until I let it breathe. I did not know the perfection of my God-given colors until I stopped dying my hair blonde (it’s true) and saturating every inch of my skin with self-tanner. And when I stopped wearing makeup, I started believing that I could be beautiful. Not conditionally beautiful, but unconditionally beautiful. 

I would like to encourage my fellow women to take a step back from the allure of cosmetics. I challenge you to run around a few blocks or pump some iron or take a dance class, and look in the mirror at your naked face. I would like you to see the real color in your cheeks, the unmasked sparkle in your eyes. I would like you to see all that goodness you stir up just by using your body. It’s inside of you. It has been there all along.

We already know where real beauty comes from. Sometimes we have to turn inside out to find it, sometimes we have to become vulnerable to show it, but it’s always in there. Because it cannot be bought, it cannot be stolen. And because it is limitless, it will not run out. Your beauty is real, and it is power, and it has nothing to do with being pretty.

This is day 15 of 30 consecutive days of blogging. I’m glad you’re along for the ride. If you liked this post, please share using the buttons below. If you have something to add, feel free to comment openly or anonymously.

To read more of my thoughts on motherhood, mindfulness and the creative life, please follow the blog or subscribe via feedburner.

IMG_9130.JPG

Hustling, Podcasts and the Ultimate Diet

My perfect Sunday allows plenty of quiet time for reading. In this spirit, I would like to share three online reads I found valuable this week.

The first is a piece about the right way to hustle. It’s not what you think.

If you haven’t started listening to podcasts yet, start with this list of nine podcasts for a fuller life. You will want to bookmark this one. (Or if you’re like me, leave it open on your phone for weeks.)

And finally, you must read this body-positive essay by my friend, Gail, where she reveals the only diet you’ll ever need.

This is day 14 of 30 consecutive days of blogging. I’m glad you’re along for the ride. If you liked this post, please share using the buttons below. If you have something to add, feel free to comment openly or anonymously.

To read more of my thoughts on motherhood, mindfulness and the creative life, please follow the blog or subscribe via feedburner.

IMG_1353.JPG

The Purpose of Envy

Nobody enjoys this feeling. This distance between you and who you think you are meant to be. The people and places who show up to remind you of the gap. The sickness in your heart when you come close because you still cannot cross the space between here and there. You feel stuck in the quicksands of Now.

I know all about it, my friends. Do you?

I passed through San Francisco three years ago this month. July 2012. I was here without being here. I felt intense longing for more of the city. I sensed something beneath the surface that vibrated on my frequency. It didn’t really occur to me that I could live here, too. In retrospect, the envious longing I felt for San Francisco was the first hint that my path would bring me here.

Envy acts like a hint from the universe. Envy tells us about our heart’s deepest desires. Envy helps us reach beyond what we thought could be possible. Because we see someone else doing it or we see another place achieving it and we realize that anything, anything is possible. We realize we miss big things by thinking small.

Envy can also dampen our spirits and break our resolve. Envy can throw us off track. Envy can trick us into thinking we need something to be happy when truly nothing can bring us happiness, because happiness is not a destination. Happiness is the way.

I hope we can be happy enough Now to cast aside fear of envy, so that we may pay attention to it and explore where it’s coming from and why. There’s no use in numbing the tinge because chances are good that it will never go away. We can drink and forget, but when we wake up, it will be there. Waiting with a Cheshire grin.

The universe tickles our respective fancies in mysterious but purposeful ways. We can spend our lives running, or we can spend our lives chasing. What will it be?

This is day 13 of 30 consecutive days of blogging. I’m glad you’re along for the ride. If you liked this post, please share using the buttons below. If you have something to add, feel free to comment openly or anonymously.

To read more of my thoughts on motherhood, mindfulness and the creative life, please follow the blog or subscribe via feedburner.

IMG_9265.JPG

Intention Scripts Experience

“We script intention into our designs, and in turn, our intention scripts our subjective experience.” – Jason Silva

I look around my home at what I’ve designed for my family and I see three children who enjoy one another. Who want for nothing. (Except for maybe a Baby Alive doll.) Who spent the morning at the community center and are sitting on the floor in the living room, playing pretend. Who will go to the library in the afternoon and to bed with nourished bodies and clean teeth. Children who travel and know their extended family and love to watch YouTube videos.

In a city with hair and nail salons on every block, in a culture where women generally wait much longer to have kids than I did, in a neighborhood where you don’t see school-aged children at the playground (unless they are with a summer camp), I am the women with unshaved legs and a toddling baby and a boy who looks bigger than his 9 years and a girl in the middle. People love to ask me, “are they all yours?” A question I cannot answer gracefully without doubting myself.

I end up feeling self-conscious. Not because of the question nor the hair on my legs (which is less of a statement and more of a symptom of busy-ness), but because I see no others mothers trying to entertain three children with an 8 year age range. Who do I think I am? I am most certainly not good at this. I most certainly lose my composure on a near-daily basis.

So I return to my intention. My intention was to be their teacher this summer. To take them on adventures around this fair city. To build memories together. But there was a learning curve. It took time to get into the groove of leaving the house every chance we got. It took time to figure out the right activities and schedules and techniques for conflict resolution. It took time to figure out how much food I would need to carry with me at all times. It took time to realize what I am attempting with my daughters and my stepson–summer camp plus home school plus school break plus sibling bonding.

Upon articulating motivations, we can better understand the process and the outcomes. Rather unconsciously, I decided to let my bohemian hippie self run the show this summer, keeping my children out of conventional structured activities and close to my side. This was the experience we needed Now. Nothing happens on accident. Including the resulting isolation and unease that pushed me back into this online world, head first. Where I have no one to answer to but myself. Where I can speak to adults. Where I can do something beyond washing and feeding and disciplining.

I see positive changes in my children, too. I see them listening better. I see them excited to get out of the house. I see them exercising their imaginations. I see them reading books, enamored by the local library. I see them making things. I see them learning at the California Academy of Sciences and engaging with nature at the Botanical Gardens and building forts in the Presidio. I see them sticking up for one another.

We engineer our experiences. Next summer, I may release control of my older children. I may maintain smooth legs. I may paint my toes. I may do more work. I may be different. But now that I understand the intentions that shaped this time, my head has cleared. I understand how I got here. I understand why it is right and important and so, so good.

This is day 12 of 30 consecutive days of blogging. I’m glad you’re along for the ride. If you liked this post, please share using the buttons below. If you have something to add, feel free to comment openly or anonymously.

To read more of my thoughts on motherhood, mindfulness and the creative life, please follow the blog or subscribe via feedburner.

IMG_1280.JPGIMG_0985-0.JPGIMG_1093.JPG

 

 

Finding Presence As A Work-At-Home Mother

When I got pregnant over 6 years ago, I knew I wanted to try for the best of both worlds. I wanted to work, and I wanted to be the primary caregiver for my daughter. I figured I could do this by starting my own business and working from home.

I was wrong.

While I may have been home, I was not always there. I had tea to mix and invoices to bill. I had marketing to do. I had a website to manage. I tried to run the business alongside raising my kids. Literally. Which meant I did neither at full speed and I always felt spent.

Possibly my greatest regret as a mother so far is that I have not always been present for my children.

But, there’s a light and a shadow side to everything. I was able to breastfeed my daughter on demand through her toddler years. We spent copious amounts of time together. We still do. She received plenty of unstructured undirected play time. Now, she has a wild imagination and she can play “pretend” like no body’s business.

I had high hopes for working at home. I thought my daughter could learn a strong work ethic by seeing me work. I planned to automate most of the business so I could make money and still be at home with her AND have time (and money) to write. I thought Timothy Ferris’ book, “The Four Hour Work Week,” offered the perfect blueprint. I just needed to fill in the blanks. Reality proved far more complex.

When my second daughter was born, my attention became divided once again. My older one came up against a brick wall of jealousy, and I struggled to carry her over it. I could not physically care for everything and everyone. Running the tea business became a burden that ceased to pull its weight. I learned the lesson we all learn sooner or later, sometimes more than once: I needed to do what I loved most. I couldn’t divide my attention into so many pieces. I needed to edit and discard.

I continue to grapple with presence. I carry around books and notebooks, hungry to read and write at every opportunity. Though the books mostly remain unopened, I like to have them close by. They bring comfort. As I mentioned in my post about winning, you never know when a thought may strike or the children may become so absorbed in their play that I can read a few lines.

Modern humans have a billion different things to do and watch and read and be. Meanwhile, a bit of undivided attention goes a long way, whether it’s applied to a child or a website or a novel or a movement. When faced with a gamut of opportunity, how do we prioritize? Ideally, we do it according to love. Not prestige. Not expired ideals. Not outside expectations. Not habits. Not other people’s passion. But our love and our passion.

When my daughter erupts with emotion, what she needs is my full and honest presence, with a side of snuggles. In those tender moments, I see how motherhood can be simple. But this simplicity requires, without exception, presence.

This is day 11 of 30 consecutive days of blogging. I’m glad you’re along for the ride. If you liked this post, please share using the buttons below. If you have something to add, feel free to comment openly or anonymously.

To read more of my thoughts on motherhood, mindfulness and the creative life, please follow the blog or subscribe via feedburner. IMG_0779.JPG IMG_0704.JPG

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset