we are letting the media spark racial war.

For the last five years, I have stopped watching the news. Why? It became blatantly obvious to me how the media will manipulate a situation to make it more scandalous, and I just couldn’t stomach it. The problem is that most Americans do not feel the same way, and their reaction to the stories on fuels the media outlets.

I do, however, pay attention to a lot of off-beat activist news sites and foreign news sites that cover the happenings here in the U.S. But even the sites I thought were unbiased and trustworthy held a similar headline when Michael Brown was shot: “White cop shoots unarmed Black teen.”

Before you get me wrong, I do not see that type of headline as biased for any reason other than every news outlet felt it was necessary to sensationalize the fact the the officer was White and the victim was Black. For every headline in any situation these days, it feels like race is always a factor. I long for a day when race will not matter at all, because I think that is what the Civil Rights leaders before my time had actually intended.

The purpose of the Civil Rights movement was not just to give one group of people the same rights as another group, but to erase color of skin and race as a factor at all. The problem with our society is that we constantly isolate ourselves into different groups based on our characteristics. We are Black, White, Hispanic, Male, Female, Straight, Gay, Bisexual, Democratic, Republican, Lower Class, Middle Class… and a million other labels that do not include the most important one: We are human.

I have been called naive for quoting the interview above multiple times when the topic of racism comes up. I am the “privileged white girl” or “racist ignorant” or something else just as equally hateful. But the truth is that people are uncomfortable with the idea of living without labels, because it is so much easier to place others in neat little manageable categories.

Here are some facts about the Ferguson case: In 2012, the city of Ferguson had higher violent crime rates and property crime rates than the national average (http://www.city-data.com/crime/crime-Ferguson-Missouri.html). It is more than likely that it was not a case of race at all. 

This is not to say that it is not an issue of bad judgment by a young officer. He was five years on the job in a crime-ridden area. From the number of shots fired, and his reaction to being punched, it could be surmised that he was entirely too nervous to be working as an officer at all. This means that he just didn’t have to courage needed to do the job correctly, which led to a very, very bad judgment call. His quick decision led to the death of a young man who, although engaging in criminal acts prior to his death, could have turned his life around in the future. Just because Wilson is White and Brown was Black does not mean that race was a factor in Wilson’s actions. Michael Brown’s death is tragic because he will never have a second chance to live a good life and this is what the media has swept under the rug to keep us manipulated.

The public outrage, however, may be one of the worst parts of all of this. The Ferguson riots brought untold damage, and the subsequent riots across the nation were just as destructive to the memory of Michael Brown. I cannot, for the life of me, figure out how burning down buildings, shooting into crowds, killing a witness, shutting down highways, destroying city property, and looting retail stores will bring any justice or peace for Michael Brown.

IMG_105820782314748

All these acts do is perpetuate bad stereotypes for Black people because that is exactly who is shown by the Media as being the aggressors. Black Lives Matter? Why do not all lives matter?

This video… he says a lot of important things about the situation.

What people fail to realize is that there are awful individuals on both sides of the law. Yes, there has been police brutality. But there are so many kind and brave acts of police officers on the opposition. There are also awful people on the civilian side; people that good, upstanding officers have to come into contact with all of the time.

And then there are these type of people. The type of people who will exploit a tragic death to gain anything that they can. This includes Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, who only work to incite more anger and hate between Blacks and Whites.

This entire thing is sad. Nothing is being fixed when the divide just continues to widen. We need to realize that our humanity is the most important characteristic to hold on to. We also need to stop allowing the media to dictate our response. As Blacks are featured as the most violent protesters, the views will only perpetuate stereotypes. Stop allowing the media to widen the racial divide. Stop the violence. Stop the genocide occurring within the race. And stop forgetting that ALL LIVES MATTER.

the things that own us.

‘Tis the season for gluttony and overabundance.

I am as guilty as the next person during the holiday season for overspending and buying crap that we don’t need. Unfortunately, this tendency has passed onto my kids. Leading up to the holiday season, I have not once heard what presents they would like to get other people. Not once have I been asked for money to get something for a family member or friend. Not once, until I informed them that they would get into the giving season.

How did I manage to raise ungrateful children? I mean, they have their basic manners and everything, but when did I forget to instill a sense of thoughtfulness for other people?

I have never been anywhere near a perfect parent, but I feel really disappointed in myself for this.

I just found that there is a campaign to create Giving Tuesday, a day of charitable actions to follow Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Why has this not been advertised in a more aggressive manner?

I live in a country that is known for its gluttony. We buy new cell phones each year. Our inability to make do with the old is clear after one visit to a local thrift shop. The amount of waste that we produce is unreal. So, how do we find a sense of humbleness and modesty in a world of abundance? How do we live a full life while still embracing a little reserve?

More importantly, how do we correct a generation of children that are only concerned with what the world is giving to them?

While I want my children to have nice things, to not know the struggle of living poor, I refuse to raise kids that do not understand the concept behind the giving season. I will not contribute to a generation of selfish humans.

How do I find the balance?

I challenge anyone who reads this to nurture a giving spirit in someone of a younger generation. This world is cold enough without a new line that only thinks about what they want without considering others. We cannot fix the problems in this world without people who have an innate and natural sense of helping others. Whether you simply “RAK” it, or you donate to a reputable charity, do something.

Personally, I a going to make #GivingTuesday into a new family event. We will donate old clothes and toys, and maybe even get a few things for Toys For Tots. I will also consider minimizing the amount of toys that the kids get this year, and opt for them to earn money to buy/create gifts for others.

not a feminist

I realized today just how “Debbie-downer” my blog posts have been thus far, and so, I am here now to correct that with a few laughs (hopefully) and something I find exciting.

I am not, in any way, a feminist. In fact, I would probably be considered a bad woman overall by those who are feminists.

-I don’t think women should be on the front lines of war with men. I think that it makes better sense to segregate military tactical teams by sex. It honestly just makes more sense to me because it seems like it would simplify things as a whole.
-I read cheesy, popular romance smut on a regular basis. I love a good story where a woman gets dominated and controlled, almost to the point where you question the ethics of the characters.
-When I’m driving, I frequently rationalize bad drivers with this phrase: “No wonder they can’t drive, it’s a fucking woman! I should’ve fucking known!” (My road rage is not lost on me, by the way).
-I am adamant that a woman cannot make as much money as a man without either going through a shit ton of schooling or showing some lady-bits.
-There are some jobs that I am pretty sure most women cannot do, myself included. For example, my husband has worked as an oil rig worker and is now a Lineman. There is no way in hell that I would ever be caught doing those jobs, and definitely not to the same standard that he does. I’m a wimp, I can admit that.
-I am part of a secret club on facebook full of bitches, and the things said on there really exemplify my point (although it is a secret club, so I can’t really share details, I’d have to kill you).
-I think that there are a lot of women who enjoy that whole “being viewed as an object” thing. I mean, not all strippers have to be doing what they are doing just because they have daddy issues… right??
-The last reason I’m an awful, horrible feminist is that I am completely cool with being the housewife. It’s traditional and looked down on by so many people, but hey, daycare is fucking expensive and my husband makes more money than I will be able to for a loooong while. i am also not willing to sacrifice time with him and the kids to work a different shift.

I like that^, don’t you?

Anyways, so we’ve established that I am awful woman.

This all aside, I am super excited about a few things I’ve noticed in television lately. There has been a lot of shows coming out that have strong female characters. This is totally a feminist thing for me to notice, but it excites me because I consider how these kind of shows and characters will affect my daughter (and my son’s views of women) in a positive way.

Take this clip for example (fan-edited, so ignore how they screwed it up). On ABC’s Scandal, Olivia lets all of her stress and worries go to dance to some Stevie Wonder. She tells Jake that she wants both him and Fitz. In this scene, she is sexy and powerful. She is strong and will not be subjected to the stereotypes that is set for women who embraces their sexuality.

During this scene, I felt like yelling out “Hell yea!”. But, of course, then she was kidnapped and they completely ruined it for me.

Still, though, I felt like that was a powerful moment in TV that so many people failed to see.

Another show that presents strong female role models is CW’s Reign. If you haven’t watched it yet, do so now. RIGHT NOW. Binge the first season on Netflix! It’s a period piece, which I usually hate, but they have done it in a way that is amazing. Love the cast, love the story line, love the dresses (oooh the dresses!) and I love the fact that the women secretly hold all of the power. The women in the show use what they have, make tough decisions, and outsmart their enemies while keeping up the royal appearances. It’s worth the watch, and worth the commercials when you have to head over to Hulu for season 2 (some episodes are also on YouTube).

Anyways, I’m gushing. I’m sorry. It is just that I love the way some producers and writers are now portraying women. Game of Thrones, State of Affairs, the list goes on and on. The lesson: it’s a great time for women on TV.

Okay, so maybe I am a little bit of a feminist. Reading over this, I get that. But typically, I dislike any group that sets itself apart from others based on its characteristics, especially when they do this in pursuit of social or political power. NAACP? Nope. White supremacists? Definitely not. The rich and elite? Hell no. Scientologists? Never in a million effing years.

I was called naive in my Cultural Diversity course for maintaining that labeling ourselves and focusing on our differences is not embracing who we are. No, it is a means of divide that causes unrest.

So, maybe I’m a bad feminist. But I am a pretty decent humanist. I believe in equality and interconnection throughout all of humanity. I believe in empowering people who have been oppressed without isolating them from the rest of humanity. Maybe you think that is impossible, but I think it is the only way that we will find peace.

a battle with body image

There is something that almost no one knows about me; something that I have kept to myself for years and struggled with internally.

I have such a love/hate relationship with food that it borderlines on being an eating disorder. 

I have always fought with myself when it comes to food, but I didn’t realize the extent of my problem until we talked about eating disorders in my psychology classes.

skinny barbie

For as long as I can remember, I have obsessed over what I eat– and not in a way that urges me to eat healthy.

I love food, abso-fuckin-lutely love it. I love to cook, try new foods, indulge in desserts, pin recipes that look amazing but i never get around to making. But it is what happens in my mind afterwards that is unhealthy.

I berate myself for eating too much or for eating something that is not 100% healthy. I obsess over it, send myself into a downward spiral of depression just because of my food choices. Eventually, the thoughts subside because of other things going on in my life, but the cycle repeats itself at the next meal. Even as I eat something and know that I will punish myself later, I continue to indulge. It is a harsh, unrelenting, and punishing ritual that I put myself through each and every time.

The thing of it is, I am not overweight in any way. I have been between 140 and 150 since high school, and a large part of that is in my big boobs.

be nice

I cannot remember the exact moment that I decided to do this to myself, but it had to have been somewhere after being told that I needed to eat all of the adult-portioned-sized food on my plate and before being told that I was getting a little ‘pudgy’. Looking back, I don’t think that the remarks were meant to break something in me; they were said to me by people who loved me. They were concerned adults, and I hold no blame over them.

No, this was my own issue, and it has gone hand in hand with the depression and manic behavior that I am finally getting under control.

I remember at one time in my life that I would get a stomachache after every meal. I began to eat less and less, relying on the excuse that I just didn’t feel well. I’ve since learn that this was most likely psychosomatic, meaning that my mind created the symptom because of anxiety over eating.

This is my new mantra. I have to stop being at war with myself, not only for my own health, but for the little ones who watch my every move. I refuse to raise a daughter or son who feels as absolutely empty about their self image as I do.

So the question is, how do we break the cycle of negative body image in such a critical and mean world? How do I teach my kids to love themselves when I don’t love myself, and when the outside world only focuses on their flaws?

These questions are constantly on my mind. Growing up in a household with 3 other women, I was never really taught positive body image. We didn’t tear each other down (at least, not that I remember), but I don’t think we ever built each other up either.

I have to correct this. I have to end the cycle of self-hate and work toward loving myself. This also means that I need to stop trying to find validation in the things other people say about me. The other day, my husband mentioned that I am bony. Although I am a size 10 with a ‘mommy pooch’ and absolutely no thigh gap, my rib cage and hip bones are prominent. I actually felt joy in the fact that he said I was bony. It was close to that elation of being told that you look to have lost weight.

So, what is my first step?

I absolutely love Jennifer Lawrence, and I love her mission for a better body image. Robyn Lawley, the Australian model, inspires me in this too. So maybe that is where the inspiration lies– finding people who set a great example for myself and my kids. Although I hate diets, I am considering this whole Paleo thing. And I’ll be honest, people have heard me talk about exercising and getting healthier before, only to see when I fail miserably. The difference between all those times and now is that my mind is in a healthier state. I think that I am more likely to fight for myself, rather than fight with myself if I am mentally capable of sticking to it.

So, perhaps, finally getting treatment for my bipolar depression is the best thing I could have ever done for myself.

The lesson here is that self love may be a struggle, but it is something that needs to be taught to our children. Love of others can be just as important, which means that women really need to stop bashing on each other’s bodies!

our masks

masquerade

there is something that i have always found very provocative about masquerades. a group of people gather, all elegantly dressed, all seductively masked. it is sensual and beautiful in such a dark way that it appeals to our humanity in those secret ways that no one talks about.

the masks as delicately crafted, an effort to hide the truth behind them.

it is almost erotic.

eye_mask

it is beautiful, is it not?

as i was earning my psychology degree, i began to view the social world as a large masquerade. we wear our masks, present our best selves, and dance those rehearsed moves until it is all over.

the masks that we put on for the world hide our shame, our guilt, our deep dark secrets that we want no one else to be aware of.

what are the secrets that you are hiding behind your mask?

are you the guy that seems so cocky but is terribly insecure? are you the charismatic beauty who feels so absolutely alone? the smart woman who constantly feels stupid?

wouldn’t it be nice to lay it all out in the open? no more hiding behind the front you show others, but to show who you are completely and wholly.

wordsn on skin

i realize my own hypocrisy in this post. as much as i’d love to say that i am 100% upfront with everyone, i cannot. there are people in my life that really do not know me at all.

i hide my memories. i hide my experiences. i hide my opinions. i hide my aspirations.

and despite how much i hide, there is so much that i share, even when i shouldn’t.

venetian mask

i really wish that my mask was as beautiful as this, though.

all the parts of me

the plural inference of the title for this blog was not just because i think the word ‘elixir’ sounds cool.

i mean, that is part of the reason, but not the whole shebang.

i wanted to imply that there is more than one mind at work here, in the way that my personality is multi-faceted.

i tend to keep myself subdued in front of most people in my life, so my children and husband are the only ones who get anywhere near the full spectrum of personalities that i have going on.

storm with skin

lately, it seems like the free-spirited side of me has been the most present. she likes fleetwood mac and steve miller band. she wears lots of dresses and writes whenever and however she can. she craves to move and travel, for change to be a constant in life. gaudy rings, lace, and braids are an everyday thing.

this is the me that hits the gas when she drives down the curves of the mountain, holding to the wheel tight and refusing to brake. she holds her hand out the window, running her fingers through the wind just to feel connected. she is wild, and loving, and deep.

she is my gypsy soul.

boho

the girl who resembles a 16 year old me, pieced together with tape, chipped at the edges, and dipped in shadow- she worries me. she listens to korn, deftones, and slipknot as loud as it will go. she looks at the floor as she walks, hides from the world and hates it as a whole. she needs change as much as the gypsy, but in a desperate way that shouldn’t be indulged.

she grasps at whatever will pull her from the wreckage of her mind, but is willing to pull everyone else down on her way up.

this is the me that is gone now, at least for now. hidden deep in the recesses of my mind, she waits to come out again, to pull me back again.

black

there is another side of me. the one that tries to fit in. the one that goes to play dates with moms she has nothing in common with to try to find a clique. she wears nice, subdued, preppy clothes, she holds her head high, she flaunts her education. she is the know-it-all, a therapist for others, but she will let everyone walk all over her just to keep them happy. she wants to be trendy, she wants to be the connected parent, she wants to have the beautiful home with white picket fence.

this side of me can be so suffocating, so monotonous.

there is the book worm, the science geek, the hateful wench, the judgmental prude, the health nut, the day dreamer, the entrepreneur.

these aren’t just characteristics of my personality. they each have their own space in my mind. they appear when they see fit, they crowd the space in my head.

strangeness

for now, i’ll enjoy where the gypsy soul takes me. the winds can take me where they please, and the rains can wash me clean. the other parts can peak out, make small appearances, but the gypsy can have this life as long as she wants.

the words we say…

stfu

this week, i earned myself an asshole award, at least, that’s what it feels like.

on a day that i called someone a douche bag (several times over, mind you), he was about 20 minutes away fighting for his life.

needless to say, i feel incredibly guilty, like somehow i cursed him with my secret powers of voodoo that i didn’t know about.

now, the things i said about him were not exactly undeserved, and they certainly were not anything that i wouldn’t tell him to his face. so, logically, i cannot be blamed for this sick cosmic joke.

still, when his wife, who is one of my very favorite people in the world, called me crying about his accident, i felt like i needed to confess my sins of the voice.

it wasn’t and still isn’t appropriate, however.

even if i think the guy pulled some asshole moves, my heart has felt very heavy over the last 36 hours. he is a lineman, like my husband, and when men in this job field get hurt, every lineman and his family feels it. we are all affected. we all cry for him. we all cry for his family.

you see, as wives of linemen, we are always prepared to get the call. linemen are the unsung heroes, the ones who are constantly at risk. when they get injured, the injuries are either fatal or so severe that you wish they were fatal.

here’s a secret… even as an atheist, i wish that i could’ve found comfort in prayer this week. i wish that i could’ve asked put my burdens onto some higher entity. i wish that asking for his health could have helped his family.

prayer1

i just wanted to help, and as they flew him to the burn center several hundred miles away, i was left to do nothing but think…

it’s never supposed to be someone we know. it’s never supposed to be someone that has sat at my dinner table. it’s never supposed to be someone that i have vacationed with. his face is in pictures on my wall. his children have a place in my home and heart forever.

if an accident happens, it shouldn’t be someone that has a face for me.

in the end, he has been a miracle of science. he is doing as well as can be expected for someone who had 14k volts go through him. and the lineman community in the area is breathing a little easier.

still, i have learned that my big mouth may bring bad karma. or maybe, that is just a narcissistic thought and it’s a small world with big coincidences.

i still feel like an ass though.

an unspoken truth

IMG_20141113_111551[1]

you don’t know this, but this cup of chai tea with honey is my reward for a productive morning.

i got up when the alarm went off this morning, without waiting for the four alarms afterward to drag me from the warmth of bed. i brushed my teeth, made my husband his bottle of tea for work, ran his work shirt through the dryer to warm it up, and started getting ready for the day. i found clothes quickly, helped my husband out the door and kissed him goodbye. got the kids up, got them breakfast, took my daily vitamins, and helped the kids find clothes.

i talked with my son about the legos he wants for christmas. i not only made the effort to do my hair, but also tamed my daughter’s wild mane as well. i took my son to school without having to yell at everyone to get in gear because we were late. i got starbucks for me and my daughter before going to walmart. i went through the store leisurely, all while playing with my daughter and smiling a lot. our smiles made others smile as well.

so? you are probably asking yourself why these things matter. these actions are not major feats. millions upon millions of people do these types of thing every day, all day.

but all of these things are a big deal, especially for someone who has battled with depression and anxiety for the last decade.

alice

with manic depression, this was me most days. my moods flipped so much, i lost track of who i was.

at the end of august, i made the call that i have needed to make for so long now. i cried after making that appointment, those loud and torturous type of sobs. i chewed my nails until they were raw in anticipation of that day. he was going to laugh at me. he was going to ask that dreadful question “what in the world do you have to be depressed about?” that doctor was going to dismiss me, just like so many people before.

but he didn’t. that 80-something man sat me in his office like i was a real person and he told me what i already knew. he said that i am manic depressive, and that he was going to help me.

he started me on a low dose of paxil for the first month, a slightly higher dose the next month once we figured that it was not working in the way that i wanted. the higher dose was still not giving the desired result, so he placed me on citalopram two weeks ago.

and now, i feel good. i feel happy. i appreciate my kids and husband in a way that i haven’t in a long time, if ever. i’m writing again, which fills me in a way that cannot be described. i don’t hate my body and everything about myself. i can accept compliments without having to bite back my harsh denial. i can sleep through the night without waking up in killer panic attacks. lastly, i cannot remember the last time that i cried in the shower.

IMG_20141113_104624[1]

i even took my picture today, which is a big deal, since i have avoided taking pictures of myself for the last six months.

i am not sharing all of this out of some cry for attention, but rather, to shine some light on an issue that is so often considered taboo.

stay at home moms are supposed to be thrilled to be at home. we are supposed to love absolutely every moment with our children, and we are supposed to be overfilling with an absurd amount of patience. because, after all, we are bad mothers if we aren’t these things.

the truth? most moms i know are only homemakers because daycare is too expensive and we don’t trust strangers with our preciously wild little ones. these factors aside, we could really do without the monotony of being at home with kids. we would be out in the world, rather than running errands and driving kids back and forth. we do this because we have, not necessarily because we want to.

you will probably think to yourself a few examples of moms that are rockin’ this ‘at-home’ thing. i can too. but a part of me wonders if they are faking it on any level. do they zone out on their books or smart phones at any point, mindlessly removing themselves from the world? do they ever binge on netflix and put aside their chores until the very last moment? do they ever feel inconsolably alone, especially among the chaos that is their family?

you are not alone

it will probably take a long time before people begin to recognize, accept, and attempt to treat depression in themselves and others in a comfortable manner. depression just isn’t something that is found appropriate to discuss, and the stiff conversation surrounding the topic only continues to drive the stigma behind the illness.

it took nearly 8 years for my husband to accept the truth about my struggle with depression. i am not sure that i could have handled his denial for much longer. this last year began to hurt entirely too much.

but now… now, my soul feels so much lighter.

perpetuating hatred

i suppose this place is as good as any to rant.

i abso-fuckin-lutely hate the phrase “privileged white girl”.

at some point (without my knowledge and permission, mind you), it became socially acceptable to label a person as a “privileged white girl” with the same malice and hatred used for any other derogatory remark. any time i give my opinion in a forum, those words are sloshed at me like a poisonous stew.

when will people realize that hate begets hate?

granted, the phrase does not have the history of atrocity that other derogatory terms do. i know this, i am not trying to belittle the pain behind those words. but i don’t think that means people should be able to freely marginalize me and others for something that we have no power over.

i think that the thing i hate most about it is that i have never experienced what it is like to be privileged. i am white, but i also grew up poor in a single parent household among a culture that is primarily Hispanic. i was teased relentlessly, referred to as poor white trash. at one point, i even embraced that phrase, feeling more power in accepting it than having it thrown at me.

i have overcome heartache, abuse, personal demons, and mental illness. i may be in debt up to my eyeballs for it, but i am educated and still furthering that venture. i cuss like a sailor, but i have the mind that shines of brilliance. i am artsy and loving and funny, loyal and passionate about all things beautiful in life.

so, for all of this, i refuse to let “privileged white girl” have any control over me.

so, random guy who was trolling on a random site i commented on today, fuck you and your “privileged white girl” accusations.

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