SAVING FACE

SAVING FACE

Hello Darlings!

I’m around middle school students quite a bit lately and I’m reminded of that stage in life when we become hyper-aware of other people and often every choice we make is driven by how we perceive they will see us for it.  It’s a hell of a way to live. This is why so few people think of the middle school years with fondness. They are brutal because we give our power away to other people who have absolutely no business having it, no idea how to handle it and are completely obsessed with protecting their own fragile egos.

A few brave souls sail through this ordeal without it damaging their sense of self too badly,  but many people actually hold onto the scars they gained during that time and it makes them that much more apt to be safe and small in their future lives.

Oh, the amazing accomplishments we would all be capable of if we weren’t so bloody concerned with saving face.  Think about all the things you might have tried if you knew you couldn’t fail. Your life would probably be so much more colourful and exciting and joyful right now, right?  Have you created a safe little world for yourself and convinced yourself that you are perfectly content within it?  What makes you do that? Fear.  Fear of failure, fear of rejection. Fear of what others might think. Curiously enough we aren’t nearly as afraid of looking at ourselves in the mirror every day, knowing that we are living well beneath our potential as we are of the opinion of the unnamed “everyone” out there who we fear will judge us if we take a leap and fall.  And that is totally jacked up

I always tell my kids that other people are far too worried about themselves to worry about anyone else for more than a fleeting moment. Are you going to sell the riches of your infinite life potential which is truly only bound by what you can imagine, by your imagined opinion of what other’s opinions might be? People who barely give you a passing thought anyway? Doesn’t that sound juvenile and crazy?  That’s how most people function though.

Imagine going to a dear friend’s funeral and saying, “well he basically didn’t do one single remarkable thing with his life, but thank god nobody ever thought of him as crazy or ridiculous when he tried. That’s a huge comfort. I’m so glad we are going to lay this man to rest with him having lived a totally safe vanilla life, utterly under the radar. It’s so great that we are going to bury him with his untapped potential and his passions unexplored. Whew.”   When people come to my funeral I would absolutely rather they were laughing their asses off at all the crazy dreams and schemes I went after with all the energy of my heart and talents. I would rather they speak fondly of my spectacular failures in every possible area as I explored the edges of my world and capabilities than looking at each other wondering what could be said about me that might be remarkable or memorable in any way.

When I go on a training run 2 weeks before a ½ marathon I like to finish with a little gas in the tank. I don’t like to leave the training course completely and utterly spent. This gives me a psychological edge for the race. Knowing that I have achieved the distance with a little extra in me gives me the reassurance that on race day I have a cushion. I have extra to give on that day if conditions are bad or my body isn’t playing ball.  I don’t want to leave actual race feeling anything but completely exhausted though. I don’t want to leave wondering if I could have kicked it up a notch there at the end and improved my time by even a second. I want to be exhilarated by knowing that I left absolutely everything out there. And then my time can be anything. I can’t ask for more from my body than everything it had to give. If I have trained well and I run without ego and with grit and courage, I don’t care what time I get.  

Life should be that way. If you run your own race and you run it with courage and discipline and grit..then who the hell cares what the results are?   If you give it your all,  the results absolutely do not matter. What matters is that you used your life. You found out what you were capable of. You asked the universe for what you wanted, you took what it gave you, you expanded on it. You shared it. You developed your extraordinary talents and discovered ones you had no idea you had. You stretched, you grew. You experienced pain and fear and failure. You experienced a wide range of emotions. You left it all out there. You did not live for other people.  You did not live a tiny life with your entire goal that of being Saving Face but hating the one staring back at you in the mirror every morning and every evening.  You lived your life to see that face, bruised and bloodied, grey with fatigue, puffy from crying, incandescent with your joy, knowing that it had given it’s ALL that day and to be proud of it.

Go Slay Dahlings. Your face looks perfectly lovely.

#METOO

#METOO

by Rose Madder

Over the past 3 days, social media has been flooded with posts about rape culture in our society. Some women (and a few men) have been brave enough to share their personal experiences. Others have chosen to participate in “me too” to expose the prevalence of harassment and assault. I am inspired by the declarations intended to destigmatize traumatic events, but this social experiment has revealed a giant wound in the psyche of our society.

A few days ago, I was asked why people have become so sensitive and woke. What is the motivation for people who were mostly silent on political issues and matters of social justice to speak up now? In the simplest terms possible, these posts are the answer why. When a man who admitted sexually assaulting women got elected president because of a large voting block of women, there can be no truer reflection of the internalized misogyny many of us inflict upon ourselves. He has waged political and social warfare against many marginalized groups. Our silence breeds violence, and we must use our voices to speak out. He told us who he was during the election, but people supported his message or silently condoned it by ignoring it. The rights of rape and assault victims at colleges were stripped away only a month ago by the person who should have been protecting them. It was another blow to women from an administration headed by a predator in chief.

While I was in college, I experienced assault. By the time my naive teenage self realized what was going on, I was so frozen that I didn’t use my greatest asset, my voice, to verbalize my dissent. I lost part of myself that day, and it took almost 2 decades for my voice to rise above that place of shame and fear. I have blocked almost all details from my memory now as a form of self-protection, but as soon as I heard the “grab her” tape, they started to resurface like a wave of intractable nausea. Seeing the way he tried to intimidate his opponent by his greater size and speaking over her like her voice meant nothing brought it all together. This is not a matter of political differences. This is about humanity and personal integrity. If you support this man, I feel you are lacking those qualities, and I suggest looking internally for reflection.

The exposure of a Hollywood mogul’s decades of harassment and abuse of women was major news last week. I was distinctly unimpressed by some supposed liberal actors who weakly denounced him by saying they support women because of their children, significant others, or mothers. That type of thinking is part of the problem. People should not care about rape and abuse because of how it impacts them personally, they should have empathy because it’s the right thing to do. Daughters are not pawns to be played in sad attempts at justifying a now popular opinion against rape culture. I reserve my kudos for all the women who courageously spoke out despite rampant attempts to silence them.

I choose to believe that the events of the past year happened for a reason. However indirectly, he who shall not be named brought a powerful group of people together. This movement is way beyond any political candidate. For the first time in several decades, a large segment of the population is rejecting the president and political establishment. Change is on the horizon, I see a glimmer of it periodically. Messages that brought emotional distress also tightened the bonds of friendship. Me, too.
LIVING IN TRUMP’S AMERICA: A 2017 HORROR STORY

LIVING IN TRUMP’S AMERICA: A 2017 HORROR STORY

story & art by Bella Thorne

Finding a word to describe Trump’s America is hard.

 

Words no longer mean what they have always meant 
and statements are both true and not at the same time.
It’s  Schrödinger’s Dictionary.
The word that best describes our lives is uncertainty.  
*
What will happen next?
Will it be something ridiculous that causes helpless, eyerolling laughter?
(Covfefe anyone?)
*
Will it be incredulity as those around you discard facts and reality
with no explanation but willful ignorance?
They sat next to you in history class. They know this isn’t true.
It’s like living through Invasion of the Body Snatchers.
(the original movie, of course – although Donald Sutherland was very good in the remake.)
You realize that they know it, but they choose to ignore the truth to grasp at something more sinister.
*

Like walking through Camp Crystal Lake in a bloodied white tank top, 

it’s saying goodbye to people you cared about because you can never see them quite the same way again.
*
It’s being a less preposterous version of Jigsaw despairing over humanity
in your disappointment when you realize that love, equality, and respect are viewed as weaknesses 
instead of the strengths that you were taught, and believe they are.
*

It’s having to face the reality that 4th graders have a greater grasp on our government than our sitting president —and that they certainly have more compassion.
*
It’s losing your ability to determine satire from the actual news because nothing that ridiculous and absurd

that ridiculous and absurd has ever before been uttered by

 “leaders” of our nation and that can’t have REALLY happened…..right? 
You must be lost in a Krugerian Nightmare.
It’s difficult — starring in our own collective horror movie —
helpless as other countries laugh, then stare, then gaze in horror at what HE has wrought.
*
It’s the spreading ache in the pit of your stomach as you accept that this is not just a nightmare,
racism, hatred, and fear have been given a home — yours.
*
It’s being told to respect your flag and watching the masses in their MAGA hats
put hands to heart in unison;
while YOU know that the stars and stripes
is tattered and torn.
Can she ever be put back together again?
*
It’s the dawning realization that you are afraid to fall asleep, 
not because of a monster in your closet, 
but because you don’t know what fresh hell
will be waiting to greet you when you open your eyes. 
 

THIS IS HOW WE SLAY

THIS IS HOW WE SLAY

Stop Waiting for the Mood, the Motivation, the Moment

by Kitty Slayer

Hello Darlings,

When last we spoke, we talked about how we need to start seeing our individual selves as Enforcers of Change and how that only happens when we take control of our own lives. No major influencer, no mover and shaker, no revolutionary made it happen by only acting when the mood struck her. That’s not how that works. That’s not how life works. That’s not how anything hard and good and remarkable happens.  

Let’s talk about the myth of motivation. Many of us buy into the notion that at some point we are going to get that magical spark inside of us to ignite enough to create a steady burn that allows us to take control of our lives and fulfill our potential.  Maybe deep down we believe that it’s just one day going to strike like a lightning bolt and everything will change and we are going to heed its call.  In our bones, we just know we aren’t going to die without realizing our dreams, without figuring out how to keep our homes reasonably orderly. Surely we aren’t going to die before we figure out how to get fit and stay fit. Before we take that trip, write that book, run that marathon, start that business, tell that person how much we love them.  Certainly, our time won’t run out before we create the life we were meant to have?  Here’s what we don’t like to think about. That happens all the time to people.  Probably more often than it doesn’t. They die. They die with unmet potential.Unfulfilled dreams. Frustrated passions.  Look. I know this isn’t lovely to think about,  but it’s really necessary to acknowledge from time to time that we get one life and we don’t know how long it’s going to be. There really is no time to waste on getting on with it.

Motivation is nice. Here’s how I see it. Motivation gets us going fleetingly. It relies on outside stimuli. Motivation is like that fun friend that checks in from time to time and you have the best laughs and you are like, “we should totally do this more often this so great” and then you know, 6 years go by before you do.  Motivation and Mood are those fun buddies.  They show up At The Moment.  The Moment is a surprise party that the M & M buddies throw for you. You don’t know when it’s coming, you have no control over it and it’s awesome and spectacular and you will remember that night forever but if you are hinging your entire social life on waiting for Mood and Motivation to get it together to throw you a surprise party, you aren’t going to get out much.

Did you know that our brains are designed to keep us from doing anything new, risky, brave, hard? We might have the urge and if we don’t follow through within milliseconds, our brains will start to propose ways to talk us out of it.  This is Science. We decide we are going to do something a little bit out of our comfort zone. It might be cleaning the bathroom, it might be running a marathon,  it might be leaving an abusive relationship. We have the idea, the urge, the spark. Then. We hesitate. The Brain Brake activates: It’s going to be too hard, too tiring, too risky, too time-consuming, too expensive, too embarrassing if we fail. We can do it tomorrow. It directs us to other things to anesthetize the desire to move out of our comfort zone. Social media, TV,  food, sleep, easier tasks, and of course Valid Excuses as to why we can’t do hard things. Those things are for Other People to do. Those things are for us to do but only One Day. Ah yes, that one fine day when  Mood, the Moment, the Motivation really takes hold and gets us going.  Here’s the thing. We are basically hardwired to survive but not to reach our potential or even to explore what we are actually capable of. It all goes back to survival. When human survival was actually plenty challenging. Just staying alive back in the time of the T-Rex was pretty damn badass. Now that we have that more or less down, we get to evolve and do other amazing excellent things.

Except most of us don’t. We stay in caveman mode. We shut down the potential our imaginations dream up before they can become reality.

So: how do we overcome the survival/sabotage instinct? It’s actually so simple. Truly simple. But, oh honey, you aren’t going to love this. It’s a dirty word. Brace Darlings. Here it comes:

Discipline.. Ew. Yuck. So not sexy. STAY WITH ME THOUGH. Do not shut this down.

If you are busy saying, “oh well, I’m out then. I’m just not disciplined” I will say to you. That’s a pretty lame excuse. You are going to need a better one. Most people aren’t born disciplined. Discipline is a decision. You can build discipline, by practicing it and working on it. Like a muscle. Little by little. You can. And then discipline starts becoming who you are. And discipline gets you the results that you want. The life that you want. The body you want. The dreams you want. But how do you become a disciplined person? Well, first you decide that you want to be. That what you want is worth trading in your current situation for. Because you can’t have both.

Then you start with something you really want to accomplish. I’d’ start with something that’s easily achievable but still outside of your comfort zone… Something you just haven’t managed to get down but you think it would be cool if you did. Let’s say, making your bed. Leaving your room looking orderly every morning. There’s a reason every damn motivational speaker tells you to Make Your Bed. Because it’s a small achievable thing and it starts your day off right. puts you in a mode of taking control, and when you come home at the end of the day you are reminded that you accomplished something good that day even if the rest of the day went to hell. Yet most people don’t bother to do it.  So you start with making your bed. Even if you are late that day. You decide that making your bed is a non-negotiable like brushing your teeth. You do that for 3 weeks.  It gets easier. Then it’s a habit. Before you know it,  you are bed maker. That wasn’t so bad, was it? Let’s see… What else can you do? Can you start exercising every single day for 15 minutes before you are allowed to check your social media?. How about 30? Maybe you want to sign up for a 5k?  You follow a couch to 5k program. You print out the program, stick it on your mirror.  You check off every single box of that damn program with a red sharpie. You run the race. Before you know it, you are a runner. You run races on Saturdays which means you eat better on Thursdays and Fridays, you drink less, you save money by not going out.

This is how you get shit done. This is how you become a powerful person. A badass. This is how you start believing in yourself and trusting yourself to get things done. This is how you fix your own life and become an enforcer of change in your family, in your community and then in the world. This is how we change history. We start with making our own beds.  And if you don’t believe in making your bed because of that study (do not quote that study at me, I read that study, thanks)  or you already make your bed, or if you are tempted to find another excuse as to why this would never work for you. Find your figurative bed. Make it. Make it every day. Start seeing yourself as a bed maker. A thing doer. Then expand upon it. When you have an urge to do the hard thing that’s going to get you closer to you having the life you want:  Do not hesitate. Do it immediately. Do not let the brain safety brake engage. Just do it. Then do it again. Every day. This my darlings, this is how we slay.

A DIFFERENCE IN VALUES

A DIFFERENCE IN VALUES

by The Lady Eve

Psychology tells us that there are five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. I went through all five stages on Election Night. Repeatedly. As the map started turning red, I tried to coax myself to sleep by saying it would be better in the morning. But sleep eluded me for most of the night. Instead, I tossed and turned in my bed, wondering how this could possibly be real.

I know it seems hyperbolic, but that restless night was a turning point in my life. I felt like my country let me down. But it wasn’t just faceless and nameless strangers who voted for this man; my own family was filled with Trump supporters, and I found myself wondering how I would ever be able to look any of them in the eye again. How can I look at my father the same way knowing that he voted for a man who bragged about being able to grab a woman by the pussy without reprimand? How can I look at relatives who posted one fake news piece after another? As the Russia investigation unfolds, how can I respect people who were deceived by propaganda planted by a foreign nation?

Sadly, even after all of these months, I don’t have any more answers now than I did in November. I’m torn between holding fast to my beliefs and attempting to maintain relationships with family and friends. I don’t want to be that person who cuts people out of their life over politics. I want to go high instead of going low. I want to build bridges instead of walls. But I’m finding it more and more difficult to reconcile these conflicting ideals.

In August, Jennifer Wright wrote a piece for Harper’s Bazaar titled, “If You are Married to a Trump Supporter, Divorce Them.” I cringed at the harsh words, but this author managed to perfectly articulate exactly why I feel like I’m struggling so much with making peace with Trump supporters in my life. I had an epiphany when I read these words:

“Supporting Trump at this point does not indicate a difference of opinions. It indicates a difference of values.”

There it was. This was really what all of my agonizing boiled down to. I’d been dancing around this kernel of truth from the moment Trump entered the race in 2015. As Trump called Mexicans racists, insulted former POW Senator McCain, mocked a disabled reporter, and criticized a Gold Star mother, I kept waiting for people I knew to say that enough was enough. I sat with bated breath, hoping to hear all the self-proclaimed Christians in my life speak up and say that Trump obviously lacks the moral character and basic human decency to hold the most powerful office in, the world.

I often struggled to find the right words to express my frustration and disappointment in the people around me but felt the need to speak up after the Access Hollywood tape. About a month before the election, I posted the following on Facebook:

While I’ve shared plenty of other people’s words, I’ve been generally hesitant to add my own, but I think it’s time to change that.

For those of you who missed my post a few years ago, I am a rape survivor. What most people do not know is that I was also sexually assaulted when I was 16.

Let me be very clear- I’m not offended by the fact that Trump used the word “pussy. I don’t care if he’s caught on tape using the word “fuck” or any other obscenity. What does offend me is the context in which the word was used. Make no mistakes, what this man was describing was sexual assault. Whether it’s walking up to a woman and kissing her (which he said that he did), or grabbing her by the pussy (based on transcript this was more of a hypothetical), this is unwanted contact of a sexual nature, and it is a crime. And if this is truly what all locker room talk is like (which I already know is not the case), all that does is explain why we have this ridiculous ingrained rape culture where men like Donald Trump or Brock Turner believe that they have a God-given right to take what they want from a woman, regardless of her own wants.

Do you really still think that this is okay? Because I don’t.

But it didn’t matter because, in the end, not one Trump supporter that I knew personally was swayed by any of it. In the end, character didn’t matter to any of them. And this is just the tip of the iceberg. In the months since Trump has taken office, the affronts to basic human decency just continue to pile up, and between 30 and 35% of Americans seem to be completely okay with that.

As I was brainstorming for this piece, the word that kept coming to mind was “empathy,” because that seems to be the key difference between those who support this President and those who resist. Empathy is the ability to relate to the feelings of others. In many ways, it’s the opposite of narcissism or greed. For example, even though I have a good job, I empathize with the working poor and firmly believe that anyone who works a full-time job deserves a livable wage. The self-absorbed person only cares if it’s his problem; the empathetic person cares that it’s anyone’s problem.

Many of the issues that I see with Donald Trump and his agenda hinge on empathy, whether it’s threatening to deport Dreamers or to strip health insurance from millions. It relates to proposing tax cuts for the wealthy while cutting the social safety net for the poor. Prior to the election, one of my relatives said he was voting for Trump because he was hoping for a tax cut. What about the fact that this nation has one of the highest childhood poverty rates in the world? But how do you teach someone empathy? How do you teach someone to care about their neighbor? If you know the answer, please share it, as too many of my personal relationships depend on it.

CROSSING THE BORDER

CROSSING THE BORDER

by Liberty Laine

This August I found myself doing something extraordinarily bizarre, and once you read through, you’ll understand why it was weird.

I was going through my laptop files, deleting and backing things up I wanted to keep to a backup hard drive. I had already done this exercise on my phone – going through pictures and deleting them on my device, assured they were backed up and not showing in the cloud.

You see, I was getting ready for a trip. Where? Why delete things off of your devices? you might ask.

This is the bizarre part – I wasn’t heading to Egypt, or the Sudan, or even the Philippines or China. I was going to the United States of America.

Canadians have, since last November’s election, heard stories and news accounts of Canadians being denied entry into the USA at the border for not handing over their cell phones and passwords to their social media accounts. This is “terrorist safety” rhetoric which has flourished since 9/11 run amok.

I didn’t think I was travelling to a dictatorship, and yet I was concerned that my Facebook profile, belonging to Pantsuit Nation, Strong Women’s Action Group and even ExPat Resistance might mean that a Border Patrol agent could look at my phone and a) demand my passwords or b) go through my photos and decide that one JoeBama meme was treason against the incumbent President, or tantamount to a plot.

Anyone else think this is insane? Let’s unpack this a bit.

In 1783 when the Treaty of  Paris of 1783 was signed, the United States and the Provinces of Quebec, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, and St. John’s Island (Canada would not become a country until 1867) have enjoyed a mostly harmonious relationship along the border, excepting of course the War of 1812, and the Fenian Raids from 1866-1871. It was argued then that the British were very generous with the terms of the treaty towards the United States, likely with a view to establishing close economic ties and diplomacy.

As technology and fear have made its way into the international psyche, new border measures were implemented for “improved safety”. As a child, I remember piling into the car to go to upstate New York or Michigan for a day of shopping, or leisure, and my parents having a drivers license and saying “yes those are our kids”, and being allowed to cross into the USA. During prohibition, the City where I am from was renowned for rum running and bringing booze to guys like Al Capone.

Let me stop there – I think the right measures and the requirement of a passport was absolutely the right move. That I have to prove that yes, that is my son to cross into a different country or to prove that I am not on an international database of criminals and truly just want to get on my plane to go visit friends.

Why then was I so worried about the JoeBama memes on my phone? Over 200 years of mostly peaceful border coexistence on the longest “undefended” border in the world? 5.525 million miles, 119 crossings, nearly $1 billion USD per day in daily trade between our countries, and 65% of US exports going to Canada alone?

Simply put – America, you’ve changed.

Okay, maybe not changed, but you’ve allowed the worst parts of yourself to succumb to fear, division, bigotry, and hate. Why else would your border agents be seeking to detain in Canadian airports, claiming that area is considered “American land”? Why else would you want our Government to agree that its citizens must give you our passwords and social media handles “for safety”. We are being told that we must hand them over, and that is not illegal search and seizure. Patrol officers do not need to have any reason. So there I was, deleting things off my devices, thinking I was not traveling to “the land of the free” anymore. Thinking about how much worse it would be if I were not white and English speaking.

Now I know some are going to argue about the radicalization of people from ISIS and this is how you fight terrorism. But is it really? The goal of a terrorist is to disrupt your way of life and make you afraid where you live. And America – I love you – but you’ve been running for nearly 20 years, with a  bit of a glimmer of hope in there that you allowed to be thoroughly squashed.

You can do better. Promise.