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take a walk

May 17, 2016

My primary form of exercise at the moment is walking.  Yes, I also have an elliptical machine, some resistance bands, balance balls and a yoga DVD I actually enjoy…but a big hang up for me when it comes to exercise is how much time it wastes.

Yeah, I realize it isn’t actually wasted.

Tell that to my brain.

Anyway, like I said I walk. Outside.  To get places.

I walk fairly slowly, I average about a 30 minute mile right now.  I walk from my house to the BART station, which is between a half mile and three quarters of a mile, depending on which route I take. At lunch, I walk about a mile. And of course, I walk home from the BART station.

On the days I’m not in the office, I try to get out and walk to run errands.  I used to have about a half mile radius I could walk, which would get me to Starbucks, Target, CVS, the movie theater, and a few places to eat.

This was mostly due to the ongoing back problem, which only escalated when I first got the job I’m currently in, due to a really badly set up chair. However, in the last few months, with getting the chair fixed, doing all of my exercises and increasing my nortriptyline dosage slightly, I have found an amazing new ability to walk longer and further.

Now I can walk to the grocery store and so much more.

Needless to say, this means that I am a fat woman out walking in public.  And I sweat.  One look at me and you know that this is work. More so as the season warms up and the sweat stains spread. Not that I’m embarrassed of my sweat.  No, I’m proud of it.  Sweat means I’m actively working to improve myself.

I do however sometimes fear something.  You know, as a fat person, I’m used to name calling, laughing and pointing, and shouted insults from moving cars when I’m out in public. Doesn’t mean they don’t hurt.  Sure, it bothers me.  But I’ve learned to tell myself that those narrow minded idiots don’t matter in the grand scheme of my life.

There are hundreds of blog posts and internet articles bemoaning these people and rallying for body acceptance and telling us to love ourselves. And I believe in loving myself.  Most of the time I do love myself and my body.

But I’ve noticed something in the last couple of months.  While I’m out walking, people actually meeting my eyes and smiling.  People who are out running doing the same.  When I’ve paused my walk to deal with one of my many body malfunctions (one knee or the other suddenly hurting, back pain, asthma, etc…) or the fact that I’m going to keel over from the heat, and I’ve sat to catch my breath, people don’t make jokes (that I can hear anyway).

Maybe I just live in a really polite town. Maybe the memo has finally been seen and read, the one that says shame doesn’t work, or maybe the one that says “Don’t be a dick”…or maybe my own confidence in someway instills a different attitude in the people around me.

I don’t know…but I’m enjoying it.

I’ve ordered a cart for shopping so that I can walk to get groceries.  We’ll see if that alters anything.  For now, I’ll just enjoy being treated like a person who happens to be fat, rather than like a fat person.

…be the light…

March 9, 2016

Not quite 3 years ago, when I was first working in the city, I met a young woman named Alice. We were waiting in line for food one lunch hour. I was in the flush of new job excitedness. The service was slow. She was in line in front of me, and I, emboldened by my flush of good fortune tossed out a comment meant to elicit a laugh. I got a small smile and we had slightly awkward conversation. Then it was her turn to order and I turned my mind to what I wanted.

As I got my lunch and turned to leave, determined to take my lunch back to my desk, I saw her sitting alone and there was something….I will never know why, but I stopped at her table and said something to the effect of “I was wonder….I’m just going off to eat by myself…if you’re not expecting someone, would you mind if I joined you for lunch?”

She kind of lit up and nodded and made room on the table for me. We talked for the best part of a half hour…not about anything in particular…just the sort of small talk strangers do when they meet. We exchanged names, discovered we both worked nearby and I discovered that she had an older sister who had a medical condition of some kind.

For some reason, I offered her my business card and told her that if she ever needed to talk she should give me a call or she could email me. Then I went back to work. Alice wasn’t a pretty girl and I got the impression that she’d been told so repeatedly. She had a beautiful smile that she hid behind her hand. Her voice was musical and she had a great laugh…but she did not fit conventional ideas of beauty.

It was almost two weeks later that I got an email from her. She asked if we could maybe have lunch together again. I agreed. Over the next little while, we had lunch once or twice a month. I learned a little more about her. Some of it she told me, some I deduced by her behavior. It was maybe 6 months into this friendship that I got a call from her just as I was going to bed. We talked for almost two hours about next to nothing.

It was only a few weeks later that she told me that she’d been planning to kill herself, that she called me with the knife in her hands and my laughter and warmth made her put it down.

Two more times in the last nearly 3 years, she called me as she was sitting with the means to end her life. The last time I wasn’t sure I had talked her down when we finally hung up after 5 hours. But I got an email later that day saying she was seeing her doctor, so I was relieved.

I wouldn’t say I knew her well. I never met her family, though I knew that she felt as though she was a burden to them, especially her mother, because she knew her sister needed their mother more. I knew how she liked her coffee and that she loved chocolate and caramel, that like me she loved getting postcards and snail mail. I have dropped a postcard to her in the mail often, and sometimes I’ll write a little note on a post it, stick it in an envelope and send it to her.

I wouldn’t say we were good friends. I never spent more than an hour in her company in person, our conversations were never very deep or meaningful in content and we often went more than a month without even an email.

The day after I had learned that Alison Jessop had passed from this world, I got a phone call from her phone number, but it wasn’t her voice on the other end. It was her mother. She asked who I was and why my number was one of the five her daughter kept in her phone. I learned that Alice had left a note for her mother, apologizing for being such a problem and that now Delia (her sister) could get all of her mother’s attention…and then she had taken a bottle of pills and gone to sleep.

She hadn’t called, and believe me, I checked. She had just decided she was done hurting, done hunting for the light in the vast darkness that swallowed her.

Yesterday, when I got home from work, there was a card in my mailbox from her mother. The note inside said that she had found a box in her daughter’s closet labeled “Box of Happy” and inside it was every postcard and post it note I had ever sent her, along with odds and ends of other things. There was also something Alice had left and asked her mother to send to me.

In the card was an envelope. In the envelope was a post it note. It said, “Thank you. Goodbye.”

Kindness Matters. It matters so very much.

the year that begins with endings

January 14, 2016

My 2016 did not start out on the foot I expected, or wanted it to.  Three days into the new work year, I was laid off from a job that I loved more than I thought a person could love a regular 9to5 day job.

I don’t hold any grudges.  I realize that there are reasons for the lay off.  I get that choices are hard in times like these.  As much as I don’t like the uncertainty of being out of work, I would never wish it on any of the amazing people I worked with either.

It does, however, put me back in that place I always flounder a bit:  the dreaded job search.  I am not very good at tooting my own horn.  I’ve always let me work speak for itself.  However, when you are coming into a situation with no work to show, that can be problematic.

I know I’m good at what I do.  I’m a good editor and writer.  I’m great at managing projects large and small.  I am pretty good with some data analysis. I’ve even learned a bit of code along the way.

The problem is, how do you reflect that in a resume? How do you show the hiring manager of the next great job that you can do the job?  How do you convince them to give you the opportunity to prove yourself? Especially when all of your writing samples are company confidential.

I’m really hoping that this is one of those cases where a door is closed and somewhere new a door opens.  In the meantime, I apply to as many jobs as I can find in the world of writing, and hope that someone sees past the lines on a resume to recognize the talent I possess while working on the next novel.

 

 

unconditional love

December 31, 2015

I was looking back at posts I’ve made on Facebook for the last few New Year’s eves and there is a resounding theme through them, a theme of love.

Being Pagan, I do my planning for the new year, my working of will to affect change in my own life at Samhain.  I don’t do resolutions, as such, because all too often we make big promises to ourselves that we can not even begin to keep and then wallow in our failure.  I review all the things I didn’t like about the current year and I make a plan for minimizing those things in the coming year.

At New Years, instead of making resolutions, I choose then to make wishes for others.  And for the last three I have wished for love.  Not a new relationship.  Not a rekindled affair.  Not that kind of love. Not the small minded, jealous of others, possessive sort of love.  I wish for the kind of love that changed me for the better.

I wish for all to feel the touch of unconditional, unfettered, unstoppable love.  The kind you give to yourself first.  Let it begin in your heart and burn away your self-doubt, your self-loathing, your fear of inadequacy, your fear of intimacy, your fear of being bold.  Let it blossom within you and change the way you see yourself and from there it will change the way you see others, the way you see the world.

Let me pause a moment to address what I mean by unconditional love.  It means love without conditions.  It does not mean that there are no boundaries on behavior.  It does not mean anything goes. It means loving yourself through it all, never letting go of that love.  And it applies outward too.  Unconditional love for another doesn’t mean you have to allow them to hurt themselves or others. It doesn’t mean approving of everything they do. It doesn’t mean putting yourself in harm’s way.

It means loving them anyway.  It means never giving up, never letting go of that love.

When you can embrace that love for yourself, it will drive out the fear and the hate. It will bring you a freedom unlike anything you have ever known.

My wish for you as we head into 2016 is that you find this love, that you share this love, that you give love, that you accept love, that you love yourself.  Beyond that, I wish that you do one thing you don’t think you can do, that you face your fears, embrace your faults, that you challenge yourself everyday to be a better version of yourself, that you do something that scares you, do the things that you love, that you help someone who can never repay you and that you care for your body and mind.

May 2016 bring you joy and blessings.

 

 

equal in the eyes of the law

September 4, 2015
wedding rings

Yes, this is yet another blog about Kim Davis.  I realize that the headline grabbing, anti-gay county clerk from Kentucky is being talked about everywhere and there are lots of great points being made.  There are also an awful lot of people who are gleeful over the outcome or spewing hate filled rhetoric about how religious freedom has been usurped.  In all of the hoopla, I had a couple of things I wanted to say.

  1. Anyone who feels the need to denigrate this woman for her past sins, for her choice of clothing, for the way she looks or anything else other than the fact that she has refused to do her job and refused to follow a court order are, in many ways no better than those who bully the kid with glasses or hand-me down-clothes.  If it’s wrong to body-shame fat people, or to call people with learning disabilities the R word, or judge a person’s worth by their physical attractiveness alone, then it’s wrong to make fun of this woman’s appearance as well.  (there is a caveat here in that the past sins being touted are those that have direct bearing on her discrimination, but we all have a past and we’ve all been stupid, so let’s just leave it where it belongs).
  2. Anyone who feels glee that this woman is now behind bars and will suffer whatever may befall her there, has forgotten that this woman is a human being, who by all indications really, truly believes that she is right.  I’ve never spent a night in jail, but I can’t imagine that this is easy for her and some compassion is in order.
  3. Now, before you go thinking that I don’t believe that she belongs right where she is, hear me out. Kim Davis broke the law. Kim Davis indicated her intention to continue to break the law.  Kim Davis belongs in jail.
  4. No, Kim Davis has not had her religious freedom revoked or violated or any of the other words I’ve seen thrown about.  The first amendment (which guarantees our religious freedom) states:  Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.  No law has been made respecting an establishment of religion. No law has been made prohibiting the free exercise of religion.  What HAS happened is that a government employee who was elected to do a job that is governed by law has refused to follow the law.  What HAS happened is that a government employee has taken it upon herself to prohibit others from exercising THEIR religion (in some cases) and interfered with the constitutional rights of others as was decided by the Supreme Court.
  5. I’m no expert, but it seems to me that Kim Davis is still a little young in her fauith and hasn’t done nearly enough study because it seems to me that “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” comes into play here, as well as “Love your neighbors” and “love your enemies and do good to those who hate you” and, lest we forget, “Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”
  6. If we apply her logic, that she can not sign those licenses because she would be held responsible by god to other licenses, we open up a whole other box of worms. What about gun licenses?  Does the clerk who signs them get held accountable for any crimes committed with that gun? Do the people at DMV who give out permits and driver’s licenses and car registrations get held accountable for the DUIs and auto deaths that happen?  No. Of course not.  It’s a piece of paper that says a couple has met all the legal requirements for marriage. That’s all she’s signing to, that these two people are legally entitled to marriage.  She isn’t signing off on the morality of the marriage.
  7. If she wants to hold out moral authority over marriage and base it on her book of choice, should she not also be issuing marriage licenses for one man and his many brides? No?  Why?  Because it’s against the law.  And her job is bound by the law. Marriage in the bible is not as cut and dry as modern Christians want us to believe.
  8. Again, I’m no expert, but it seems to me that if she was trying to live her new (for whatever value that holds, I honestly don’t know how long she’s claimed the title Christian) faith faithfully, Kim Davis would either a) resign from the position so that she doesn’t have to violate her beliefs to follow the law, or b) designate one of her deputy clerks to process any LGBT marriage licenses so she won’t have to.  Not only does this seem like the RIGHT thing to do, it also seems like the CHRISTIAN thing to do.
  9. Just to reiterate, Kim Davis is not in jail because she is a Christian. Kim Davis is not in jail because she is not being allowed to be a Christian, or exercise her faith.  Kim Davis is in jail because she broke the law and defied a court order.  She broke the law. She defied a court order from the Supreme Court.  She vowed in court under oath that she would continue to do so.

I know, there goes that Pagan woman quoting the bible again.  But I was starting to feel like somebody needed to, since there hasn’t been a single quote from Kim Davis’ side to support her stand…likely because there isn’t one within the bible.  Regardless of what is and isn’t in the bible, deciding who is allowed to get married to whom is not in the job description of a county clerk.  The highest court in our land has determined that everyone, regardless of gender or race or religion or orientation has the constitutionally protected right to be married. That means that someone in that clerk’s office needs to be able and willing to hand out the licenses.  It has nothing to do with anyone’s faith and everything to do with everyone’s rights to be equal in the eyes of the law.

…there once was a planet called pluto…

July 15, 2015

Once upon a time, there was a planet that we named Pluto, and no, it wasn’t named after Mickey Mouse’s pet dog. No, Pluto, in ancient classical Greek mythology was the god of the Underworld, the keeper and ruler of the dead.  He was portrayed as a stern lover who stole his love, Persephone, from the land of the living.

pluto

The Greek idea of the next world differs quite a bit from our Westernized Judeo-Christian construct. It has many different places within it for the dead to dwell in, from places of torment, to places of everlasting pleasure, and where you ended up was based on how you lived your life.

You may have noticed that many of the objects in near space have names based on mythology.  Jupiter, who was the Roman King of the Gods, Mars was the Roman god of war, etc. If you dig a little, you find that Pluto’s moons are also named after people and places associated with or located in the Greek underworld. Charon was the name of the ferryman who took the dead from the land of the living into Hades and his mother was Nix. Kerberos is the Greek spelling of Cerberus, the three headed dog who stands guard at the gates of Hades to prevent the dead from leaving and the living from entering. Hydra, the remaining moon is a sibling to Cerberus. And no, Hydra didn’t start as the villains in a comic book either. The Hydra was the offspring of Echidna, who was half woman and half serpent, and Typhon, who even the gods feared. Like Cerberus, the Hydra defended a gate to the Underworld, one that was underwater.

Interestingly enough, Pluto was thought to be the ninth planet in our solar system until the planet Eris was discovered, Eris being the goddess of chaos. Eris is said to have tossed a golden apple into the midst of the goddesses Hera, Athena and Aphrodite with an inscription stating that it was for “the most beautiful one” causing an uproar as each sought to claim it.  Fitting she’d come along to upset the apple cart again, no?

Pluto, the god, lived apart from his fellow gods for the most part, with mostly the dead for company.  Fittingly, Pluto, the planet (or dwarf-planet, if you prefer) lives out of sync with the rest of us, it’s orbit off kilter, higher and more elliptical than circular.  Of course, we couldn’t have known that when we first found it, just like we couldn’t know most of the details we’ll be finding out as the New Horizons probe sends more data and our earth bound scientists can sort through it all.

It’s a little bit awe inspiring to think about it, about this little man made probe we hurled out into the darkness of space, and it’s nine year journey to get to Pluto, the data and images it has sent back, and will continue to send back providing nothing breaks it or throws it back at us.  It’s a little like we’re connecting two dots, the distant, ancient past and the distant, unknowable future, drawing them in a circle around us and trying to tell the story.

Or I’m just a mythology geek and a lover of science and space and couldn’t resist the chance to trot them out for your perusal.

…We hold these truths…

June 20, 2015

Here’s the thing…there is nothing wrong with being proud of who you are, your heritage, your history, your skin color, your culture, no matter who you are (well, unless that history/culture/etc gives you reason to not be proud, as much of America is doing now). I don’t care what color you are, what gender, what orientation, gender expression, religion, nationality, etc you happen to be. Go ahead, be proud. Go you.

However, when you translate that pride into needing to put all others (or any others really) down in order to maintain that pride, you overstep, you needlessly create the climate of Us vs THEM.

You can be proud of who you are without denigrating others. You can be a proud, straight, white, Christian man without stepping on the proud, gay, black Atheist man. You can be a proud, married Christian woman without denying the same pride to the single mother of mixed race children.

Your happiness, your success, your pride is NOT reliant on someone else’s misery, or failure or abject terror to simply walk out the door. We have to stop casting ourselves in a conflict that shouldn’t exist. That wouldn’t exist if we would walk away from it.

We have real problems right now. We have a race problem. We have a class problem. We have an equality problem. I believe in equality for all. Without exception. I believe we all have a right to be who we are, to not be afraid to go to the pool on a hot summer day or walk through a neighborhood or go to church, to marry whomever we love, to raise our families according to what we believe.

The Declaration of Independence, the document that launched our fight to become the nation we have become says, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that ALL men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

All men. It doesn’t say only straight, white Christian men with money. It doesn’t say just the men we like. It doesn’t even say just our citizens or just free men or just anything. It says all. All men are created equal. ALL.

So, go ahead, be proud all you want. But don’t be a racist. Don’t be religionist. Don’t be genderist. Don’t use your pride like a weapon. Your pride is for you. Your pride supports you. It doesn’t have to tear everyone else down.

I want to challenge you to try something new.  I challenge you to stop attacking, put down the sword you’ve carved out of fear and hatred and set aside your pride for a moment.  Sit down with someone different, someone you feel is attacking your right to pride in who you are.  Talk to them, listen to them. Live as they live, feel what they feel. You might discover that what you’ve been mistaking as an attack on you is nothing more than someone trying to stand up under the weight of your pride dressed in bigotry and suppression.

There is room for all of us.  Rather than using your pride in who you are to keep others down, use it to create a platform, use it to pull those others up, Remember, we are all created equal at birth.  It sin’t birth that divides us, it’s us.  And only together can we find our way back to equal.

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