Someone I know, a very spiritually oriented man, recently sent me this video via Instagram: (Warning: Don’t listen with little ones around. F’bombs are dropped.)
While I understand her perspective, as the me not-so-long ago would have been offering high fives and hell yeahs! all around, this video also embodies the fallacy of so many of new age vague spiritual and self-help doctrines. Notice where the attention and focus are. It’s on ME. It’s all about ME and my energy and my light and my clarity. It is rather self-serving and assumes that to be good and to do good in the world we need to be some perfect model of light and clarity rather than accept the fact that more times than not, we are anything but those things. That should not stop us from going out into our communities and serving those in need who may not be as clear or dare I say, privileged, as we are.
Let’s say, for argument’s sake, that, like this woman, I do embody such light and divine spirit. Is it not my job to spread that to the very people that need it the most? If I, as a Christian, am to embody the living spirit of God as Jesus did, who would I be if I only decided to hang out with people that matched my “vibration” and only when it was a resounding “Hell YES!” to do so? Jesus hung out with tax collectors and harlots and the lowest dregs of society. The broken. The desperate and despairing. Is it not my duty to be like him to the best of my ability? To be a light and example to others? To go out into the very messy world with all its sin and fallen people to set an example?
This is where new age spirituality failed for me. It was all about me and my perfection. I am much happier to serve the world, with all my flaws, and offer my time, talents, and treasures where they are most needed rather than to satisfy my personal desire for comfort and light. Of course, I find a lot of support in like-minded persons but now I find those persons who have a heart for service to be much more inspiring than the message in this video. I also acknowledge an idea like this served me at a certain point in my life. However, now, my life is of better use to do God’s work in the lives of those that need Him most.
As a Christian, the shift of the focus from me and my feelings to the service of others and dedication to be God’s servant is one of the primary changes in my life. Yes, I certainly have had to practice boundaries, particularly in personal relationships. I’ve been known to attach to energy suckers and can get easily drained. However, I do my best to discern between someone truly in need from someone who is a distraction from my purpose. This spirit of protecting oneself from the outer world and those who are less ‘clear’ or ‘light’ will not help the dire circumstances and need for God and His word in our current culture.
The first thing I now ask in the morning is how can I fortify and improve myself today so I can better serve God’s purpose for my life and demonstrate his glory? Rather than how can I fix myself to improve my situation? Every morning I pray to listen with the ears, see with the eyes and speak with the tongue of Jesus. Lord knows, I fail miserably most days. But I am more aware when I do, and I aim to be a better representation of his love.
Many people have tried to use the words of Christ and “love thy neighbor” against me when I go against the current narrative and say words that don’t seem to be very Jesus like. However, if I argue in defense of Christianity when it is vociferously attacked, as it so often seems to be in current culture, I will not hesitate to use sharp words to speak Truth. Yes, Jesus spoke of all the warm fuzzy things we like to hear – compassion, love, and hope. But God in Exodus 23:1 commanded: “You must not pass along false rumors. You must not cooperate with evil people by lying on the witness stand.” In Timothy Chapter 4 we are told to “preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.” Jesus warns that those who uphold and praise him as the Lord of all would be mocked and vilified and He gave comfort. “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matthew 5:11-5:12)
In a response to my friend’s Instagram message, I offered a summary of my points above and sent him a passage from the book of Matthew, 5:14-5:16:
“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead, they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”
May you find kinship with those who uplift and support you, but don’t hesitate to hang with those who challenge your comfort or when it may be a “F no.” In that very moment, they may be the ones that need you the most.
I’ve seen a couple of posts on social media this week alluding to the fact that we as a human race are better than the hate, divisiveness and intolerance that seems to be plaguing our culture not only here in the United States, but around the world. I have struggled with the concept of ‘evil’ the past few months – more specifically under the context of my new faith in Jesus – and wondered how humans can be capable of such maleficence, animosity, greed, and indefensible abuses of power. So, when I read a post on Instagram with a photo of a bag of trash collected from Venice Beach with the tag “We need to do better.” I thought to myself: Do we? Or when I viewed a story about a newborn baby abandoned in a plane bathroom after an alleged in flight birth with a caption decrying “Humanity we are better than this!” I couldn’t help but think: Are we?
The conclusion I’ve come to is no. No, we are not. I know this seems quite disheartening at best, nihilistic at worst. It took me a while to acknowledge the fact that evil does indeed exist and to wrap my head around how people could behave in alarmingly cruel and deceptive ways. Our current state of affairs, particularly here in California, deeply saddened me. I grieved and craved an exit from a state that seemed to be slowly tightening the noose around people’s necks. It was easy for me to conclude that our authorities in government simply don’t have God in their life. If they did, surely, they wouldn’t feel the need to exert unnecessary power over other humans. However, my own justification wasn’t enough and failed when I questioned: What if they do? What if these people claim to believe in God? One thing I’ve come to learn is when I ask, God always answers. In the past three months I’ve listened to sermons, read books for school, and listened to podcasts that have reaffirmed my belief in Christianity. My deep sadness has been transformed into joyful exuberance because of my faith in Christ.
Good vs. evil is arguably the the oldest story ever told, has been witnessed many times throughout history, and is a tale that will continue until God restores His Kingdom. Through a radical acceptance of what is, we can move forward with ease and without fear knowing ultimately, the fate of our civilization is under His control. This is not to say we become passive and throw our hands up in futility or remain inactive in creating change. Although, from what I understand there is a doomsday form of Christianity that takes the “Fuck it, it’s all going to hell in a handbasket and I’m saved because I’m a Christian so it doesn’t really matter anyway” route. It is not the one to which I subscribe nor prescribe. Nor is it the faith that says the world ‘out there’ is evil so I will lock myself away, pray for all the heathens, make myself a better person and only convene with others committed to doing the same. I tried that route with a different type of vague spirituality, and believe me, it doesn’t work. It creates an isolated selfishness that can ultimately lead to depression. (If I had a dollar for every spiritual seeker still struggling with mental health issues …)
Faith in something that we will never see or comprehend is the source of true power – a power discovered when we give up control as opposed to attempt to gain it over other humans and ourselves. It has been my acceptance of the fact that the job of saving the world is not mine that I can even try to go out there and do it. I learned something very valuable in my first weeks’ pursuit of my master’s in public policy: policy is not the remedy to society’s ills. It was such a relief to reconcile that I am not in this program to force my beliefs or my will because I think I have the solution to the health crisis in this country. I am only here because I am, beyond a shadow of a doubt, certain this was God’s will for my life. He has given me every opportunity to act according to HIS will, not mine, and I start each day asking that His will be done through me. I don’t always succeed, but it is always my intent.
Thus, I have no good answer for why some people behave the way they do. As much as my feeble human mind shouts for solutions and understanding, in knowing that I don’t know and will never know, I have peace in my life. Although, I am not ignorant of the fact that some of the greatest atrocities in the world have been carried out and are likely still perpetuated in the name of Christianity, which always leads me to wonder, what version of the Bible are they reading?
While admittedly I am new to Jesus and the word of the Bible, I am beginning to understand why Christianity, despite the many power grabs for its control, and the word and spirit of Jesus, despite many attempts to pervert it, is the ultimate path to this peace and transformation. While I am convinced simply because I feel the difference in my own life, I realize that is not the most compelling argument. So, I will do my best to illustrate via the social media examples I cited above.
Many people pick up trash off the beach, because well, it’s just the right thing to do. They place plastic utensils, Doritos bags and cans of Bud Light they find walking miles of sand into a plastic, mind you, garbage bag because they are a “good person.” A Christian picks up the trash because they know they are not. No amount of good deeds or virtue signaling will win favor in the Lord’s eyes. Christians don’t do acts of kindness or generosity because it makes us a better human, or because we feel better when we do it. We do them as acts of service for the Creator of all life out of gratitude for all we’ve been given. The grace. The love. The acceptance. The abundance. The beauty. It’s not a guilt trip. Shame isn’t a motivating factor. Gratitude is. Reverence is. Worship is. Service to the Lord of life is.
The outcome – a cleaner beach – may be the same, but the motivations are different. This is the reason we don’t have the utopia everyone – particularly the radical Left – dreams so fervently about. If we are counting on man’s “goodness” to create paradise or even a better world as we think it should be, it will never happen. Man cannot do it. We fell from paradise a long time ago and no amount of science, virtue signaling, vaccinations, or posts about self-improvement will create perfect equality or a perfect world. Humans will never be able to do what God can do. This is not to say we should give up on striving to “be better” as many of the social media posts these days claim (I received a message from someone on Instagram after sharing Joe Rogan’s interview with Dr. Robert Malone admonishing me to “be better, Jennifer!”) but we should be aware of our motivations. If they are rooted in our belief that human nature is inherently good and we are diving into our essence to dig up good deeds, well, as Jordan Peterson often says – good luck with that. Sure, it’s a relatively inconsequential decision when it comes to whether to clean up the trash on the beach or pass by with indifference, because how much of an impact will one beer can thrown in the trash make? But what about when it comes to the tougher decisions in life say, whether or not to take another life in defense of your own or someone you love? Or save a mother’s life as opposed to her unborn baby’s? No amount of digging into our human bag of moral tricks will give you the right answer for that.
I’d also like to point out the danger of delving into indulgence and glorification of our weaknesses. I recently came across a video on TikTok proudly announcing everyone’s prescription and dosage for a variety of anti-depressant cocktails. Another well followed influencer promoted merchandise proclaiming “Hail, Satan!” “Live, Laugh, Love Evade Suicide,” “Cunt,” “Bag Of Dicks,” and “I Hate Myself.” This cries of an existence in pain and for the life of me, I don’t see how the solution to that pain comes from normalizing such attitudes or behavior while simultaneously admonishing others for their so-called ‘bad choices.’
However, if a virtuous life is one spent striving towards values and higher principles as ordained by a higher power (as many of the great philosophers pre-Age of Enlightenment such as Aristotle claim) and not those created by man, ad hoc, then we have a shot at living a happy, and more important, fulfilling life. We may not always make the right decision, but if we choose the action we believe is best aligned with God’s word, then at least we can say we gave it a good shot and learn from the pain that will inevitably come from our misaligned decisions or habits inconsistent with His will for us. Therefore, a good life is not one that ultimately avoids all struggle, pain, or, yes, death to maintain safety and acceptance. A good life is one spent in accepting our own fallen nature and stretching our arms out as hard and as far as we can to receive the abundance of God’s grace and blessings, no matter the cost.
Why do you think, despite man – and government’s – best efforts, we are so far from the society we achingly long for? The one that treats all humans with dignity, respect, love, patience, and kindness? Because we as humans will never get there on our own. The quicker we realize that, the quicker we will indeed see Heaven here on Earth.
If we are honest, doing what is right or just doesn’t always feel good nor does it always carry the appearance to the outside world to be the right thing to do. Today’s culture rooted in liberalism often promotes doing what feels good to us as individuals and what is ‘right’ through the eyes of humans. How are we doing with that? Does that seem to be working? Denzel Washington has said “I’d rather stand with God and be condemned by the world than to stand with the world and be condemned by God.” I admit I saw this as a meme so cannot confirm Mr. Washington as the source, regardless, I stand by the sentiment. Our folly is in believing that “human capacity [can] ‘master’ or ‘control’ nature.” I can point to numerous examples of current events that demonstrate this false premise, but you don’t have to ruminate that hard to see them for yourselves.
In short, if we rely on man’s supposed morality and wisdom to change the world we are doomed to failure. The quicker we realize that the man tossing his Natty Light can in the sand or the woman tossing her baby in the toilet or (Gasp!) the person choosing to remain unvaccinated or not wear a mask represents a part of us, the closer we’ll be to realizing the kind, loving and unified world we so desperately crave. Stop seeking goodness in self-help books, “science” and the State. We will never see true equality, peace, and goodness until we appreciate the inevitably of inequality, destruction and evil both in the world and in ourselves. God is giving us every signal, every sign, every opportunity to turn to Him to accept our inevitable fallen nature and to allow Him to change our hearts and behaviors according to His wisdom. The question is, whose lead are we following: ours or His?
Deneen, P. J., Hunter, J. D., & Owen, J. M. (2019). Why liberalism failed. Yale University Press.
My body my choice. This statement seems to be populating social media posts everywhere with regards to two different current social issues – abortion and vaccinations.
I wonder if people really think through this statement before posting. I was particularly distressed – and saddened- about the former application today.
Leaving violent or forced intercourse out of the discussion (as this is not a pro vs. anti abortion argument) – how is abortion simply a woman’s choice? Yes, her physical body is the carrier for another human life but two other lives are involved. (Yes, I do consider an unborn child a life. I can listen to arguments about when the fetus has the ‘right to life’ but I know where I stand on that as a matter of opinion.) Unless the woman is the second coming of Mary, a man was involved in the creation of another life. You simply cannot take him out of the equation. My heart breaks for all the men single handedly removed from the discussion without their consult. I see many women saying it’s actually none of men’s business. None of their business? Was it their business when their penis was inside of you?
For the men that agree with the statement – do you really care that little for the women with whom you chose to have sex? In this statement we’ve relegated men to mere perpetrators of an act against women and sex to a transaction. I can’t think of anything more disempowering to women. Even if you aren’t having sex in the context of a loving exclusive relationship (which I don’t judge AT ALL) there are still two people – preferably adults – involved. Responsibility falls on both for potentially creating a life. Responsibility should fall on both for deciding to end that life. Spin it any way you want – abortion is terminating a life. So I am very disturbed by comments that men have no right to decide what a woman does with her body. It is one of the most selfish things I’ve seen. Because it’s not just about YOUR body. It’s about the life living INSIDE your body that you created with another human. Whether you meant to or not. Where is our sense of humanity?
As one of my favorite humans, Dave Chapelle (I can only imagine he would be one of my favorite humans if I met him) once said about abortion “Are you pro-choice or anti-consequence?”
I also can’t help but think about my LEEP procedure many years back. Nothing – and I mean nothing – felt more violating then having steel forced up my vagina and an electrical current sent through it to remove pre cancerous cells in my cervix. I cried for days. It certainly didn’t feel like “a routine procedure” as my ob-gyn often referred to it.
I can’t imagine having a fetus removed.
I wish I didn’t have to go through the LEEP procedure alone. I certainly would never want to go through an abortion without the support and presence of the man who conceived the child with me.
Some of this line of thinking may stem from the old feminist notion that “Yes! Women can ‘have it all’ just like men!” I’ve got two newsflashes for you. First – you can’t have it all. No one can. Even men. There are only so many hours in a day. You choose how to spend them – working, resting, tending to a home and children, or in my case tending to my spiritual life for ten years. I prioritized my well being, mental health and inner world (maybe under the false premise that I couldn’t truly be happy in any other area of my life until I “fixed myself” which is a completely different story) and sacrificed larger paychecks, and likely, a family. I don’t regret my choices as I’m on my own path and have lived a lot of life. However, I’d be lying if I didn’t, in my forties, lament the fact that I likely won’t have my own child of my flesh and blood. I hit the snooze button on my biological clock (or maybe it was out of batteries for a while) and my reproductive organs are on a different time table.
Men often sacrifice their desire for freedom for a career, to support a family or, serve their country, as has been a highlight for the last two weeks. Sure, they probably rather be drinking beers with their buds and playing ball, but duty calls and if they mature into actual men and don’t become perpetual Peter Pans, they heed the call and act accordingly. (For more on this topic, Google Jordan Peterson and “Peter pan” and you’ll find some interesting sound bites.)
I’m not saying abortion can never be an option but to say unequivocally say “My body my choice” in the case of abortion, seems immature to me, stemming from a childish notion that it’s all about me. God forbid if my pregnancy would cost me my life – I can’t imagine going through that decision – or the psychological aftermath – without my partner or the toll it would take on him. Especially if other children were involved.
I thought women fought to have equal rights to men – not cut them out of the equation completely. I worry about furthering the divide and dissent between men and women – amongst other polarizing lines – in our country and the world when what we need most is the recognition that, yes – males and females are biologically different, and the masculine and feminine qualities (however they may express themselves in gender) are both valuable and necessary for a stable, creative and thriving society. We need them both and more than ever, we need the union of the two.
Let the public stoning begin.
May as well whittle down my friends before I tackle “My Body My Choice” with regard to vaccination.
These days, at least a few times a week, I find myself mumbling the words “What the actual fuck?” With the fabric of society seeming to unravel at an alarming pace, I’m surprised that I am shocked anymore. But I am.
Earlier this week I participated in a focus group in which we were asked to give our response to a commercial concept from a large company. The commercial began innocent enough with a second grade teacher asking students what they wanted to be when they grew up. Classic.
The first student, a boy, said “I want to be a teacher, just like you!” to which the teacher responded, “That’s wonderful! I love my job! It’s very rewarding.” Then a little girl said “I want to be an astronaut!” “Amazing!” the teacher replied. “You can do anything you set your mind to.” Next, a young black boy answers that he wants to be an engineer. The teacher responds, “You know, black men are more likely to have criminal records that follow them wherever they go, so that’s unlikely.” I’m paraphrasing, as I don’t recall the exact vocation or the verbatim response, but you get the gist. Another, presumably white child offers another answer to which the teacher responds with more words of encouragement. Lastly, a little Latina girl says she wants to be a professor. The teacher states Latina women are less likely to graduate from a graduate program, therefore, she shouldn’t set her sights too high.
WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK?
The commercial then offers the statistics to support their narrative and of course, Company X is the solution with their commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. “Go to http://www.company.com to learn more about what we’re doing to create a more just and equal workforce.”
How about not telling second graders that they’re less likely to find jobs because of the color of their skin or suggesting a ceiling is placed on their level of achievement based on a bunch of numbers? I realize they were telling a story to make a point, but why don’t we try promoting a different story? How about we stop promoting a story of what is and start to encourage people to tell a story of what could be?
I’m not asking anyone to ignore reality or statistics. But numbers without investigation can be void of any in depth analysis or reasoning. Has anyone stopped to ask what other factors may contribute to these outcomes other than racism?
To me, this commercial sketch simply shines a light on what really needs fixing – our education system. Of course, this is a much bigger issue to tackle and requires real work on the part of our government, school boards and teachers, not to mention parents’ involvement in their children’s education. Wouldn’t it be better to level the playing field early on to erase any excuse of racial injustice as best we can? Wouldn’t it be nice if kids weren’t taught, as is so often the case these days, that the color of their skin makes them either the oppressed or the oppressor? Why are we teaching racism to children where it often doesn’t exist? These are the golden years of life when race truly means nothing to them. As long as you play nicely and share, kids are likely to get along.
Reforming education is an uphill battle, but it just might alleviate what we have now – people pointing the finger at everyone and everything for whatever unfortunate situation they find themselves in. Much easier to call it racism, slap a band aid on the problem, and continue on with people misunderstanding each other.
I’m so tired of this negative programming. I’m so tired of politicians and companies pitting us against one another. I’m tired of hearing about the problems with no real solutions. Aren’t you?
What was most interesting to me was my comrade in the breakout group. She was as upset by the commercial as I was. Here she was – a successful, kind, intelligent (this girl took diligent notes and put my academic skills to shame), proud Latina – the younger version of herself being portrayed as a victim of the system. I found it highly insulting. So did she.
In the short time we worked together, I instantly took a liking to her. I respected her for no other reason than we were supposed to be a team and she was generous and kind with me. Because I felt a certain fondness for her, I’d sit down with her and listen with an open heart and mind despite the fact we likely would have disagreed on certain issues.
Furthermore, she pointed out, Company X didn’t offer any real solutions. She wasn’t even sure what Company X did and had to Google them.
I agreed. Company X appeases the social justice warriors and hires P.O.C and minorities. Fabulous. Now what? What are they doing once they meet their quotas? Are they fostering a culture of compassion? Are they offering courses to their employees to improve communication skills? I’m not talking about a specific course in race. I’m talking about courses in how to human better. How to listen to each other. How to create an environment with a priority on personal development and responsibility. There can be no corporate growth without individual personal growth. Period.
I can smell virtue signaling bullshit a mile away. And this. Was. It.
This is no different than MLB’s Rob Manfred moving the All-Star game out of Atlanta to protest the new voter legislation in Georgia which requires identification to vote. Great. You’ve done your virtue signaling at the expense of $100 million lost revenue in a city with the largest percentage of black people and moved the game to a city with stricter voter laws and a black population hovering around 10% – and that’s being generous. All the while you get to drive around in your limo ignoring the real issues that you are doing absolutely nothing to resolve. Well done, commissioner.
Neither of these are long term solutions to the real problems of racial inequity. True racism springs from a dislike of self. When you like yourself, are proud of yourself and the work you do in the world, there is no reason to hate another person, no matter the color of their skin. You can call it systemic all day long. But systems are made up of individual people so while companies can make some grand gesture in the name of solidarity, how many are really doing things to heal this divide in our country? None that I see. So stop sounding off with some politically correct bullhorn and start creating environments that promote individual growth and encourage people to listen to each other with grace and generosity of spirit.
“Man, I think most white people and black people are great people. I really believe that in my heart, but I think our system is set up where our politicians, whether they’re Republicans or Democrats, are designed to make us not like each other so they can keep their grasp of money and power. They divide and conquer.”
I recently made a comment on Facebook (my first mistake) that sparked some curious responses. So I am doing what I do best. Not responding on Facebook in a comment, but writing an entire blog arguing my point. Because I still value critical thinking skills, especially in today’s age. Having an opinion and using logic and informed decisions to defend that opinion is crucial to understanding opinion can co-exist with respect. So, as I was taught so well as a public policy major, I present my case.
Here is the very comment I posted on Facebook: Are fitness leggings and sports bra / crop top a new airport attire trend I am not aware of?
While some people supported my statement whole heartedly (mostly those over the age of 40 — shit now I’m an ageist!), others immediately got defensive and made their case for why they wore leggings to the airport or dressed as if they immediately walked out of a gym to step on the plane. Others commented that my statement was body shaming and judgmental — that I was tearing down other women and contributing to a culture that shames victims (I assume of rape and sexual harassment) and slut shames.
There are several points to make here.
First, there is a difference between an opinion or a judgment and shaming. I said nothing about the size, shape, or appearance of the women’s bodies themselves. I didn’t go up to any of the women at the airport and tell them they shouldn’t dress like that. Or that they looked terrible. Or that they should be ashamed of their bodies and request they cover them up. I made an observation. This observation led to yes, I admit it, an unspoken opinion: that gym wear is not appropriate to wear to the airport. Of course there are extenuating circumstances, however, as I mentioned, this seemed to be a trend.
If these women were comfortable in that outfit, God bless them. I don’t care if Giselle cruised by me in Terminal 4 with a sports bra and leggings. I’d still think it was inappropriate to wear in the airport.
If you’re my friend and you wear a sports bra and leggings to the airport, I will think that you could have made a better choice. You still have a right to make that choice regardless of my opinion. I’ll still love you. Your personal choices have nothing to do with our friendship. (Unless you are choosing murder or cocaine or wearing Birkenstocks out in public . . . then we’d have to talk.) Lord knows what my friends have thought of my choice of men over the past twenty years. And honestly, they probably were right and I should have listened to them.
It also depends on the friendship. Is this a friendship built on years of trust and mutual respect? Or is it a Facebook friendship? There is a difference.
Which brings me to my next point. Why does everyone take an opinion as a personal affront these days? I think people are taking Brene Brown’s famous TED Talk a little too far. Yes, it’s terrible to grow up with constant shame from a parent or being bullied when you’re little. This leads to developmental trauma, which, if remains unexamined, can spark unconscious reactions that may not be warranted as an adult. And yes, shaming also occurs as a method to keep victims silent.
But I wasn’t talking about sexual assault or even something I considered remotely serious. (Please take everything I say on Facebook with a grain of salt. Have you seen my last two videos?) I assume if you are reading this you are a grown adult. Get a backbone. Not everyone is pointing a finger. Even if they are — who cares? Do you know the person making the comment? Do you love them or care about what they think? If the answer is no, move on. Is it a Facebook post? If the answer is yes, move on.
This is called critical thinking. Being able to discern thoughts from behavior. To potentially have a judgment and in the moment know that you’re having a judgment and choose to not react in the moment is called discernment.
(It’s also called using social media for what it’s worth which is frivolous opinion and not important issues, but I’m old school.)
Even if I did have the audacity to go up to one of these lovely young women and say Excuse me, I feel like your outfit is totally inappropriate for airport travel, she would be well within her right to say Piss off old lady. My reaction to that is up to me. Would I throw down and start a fight? Hell, no. I’d walk away and say fair enough. Her life.
And why are we so afraid of shame? Wouldn’t you want Derek Chauvin to feel a smidge of shame? How about a cheating husband? Shame, like every other emotion in the range of humanness is valid and it belongs to no one else but ourselves. It’s how we process it that counts. Can our shame be used as a force for good and move us to positive action? Or do we allow others to leverage it against us and defeat us? That is a choice.
I’d also like to address the comment saying “I’m surprised coming from you . . .” Why? Because I have an opinion? Or because I’ve promoted body positivity and been candid about my struggles with my own f’d up body image? Yes, absolutely — I am sensitive to women’s emotions and attitudes towards their bodies. Very sensitive. But I also believe there should be some set of decorum in airport attire when traveling. One has nothing to do with the other.
Isn’t this, by the way reverse shaming? Shaming me for having an opinion? Now you want to silence how I feel? Shame on you.
When does anyone comment on men’s airport attire? one comment asked. Right now. I am an equal opportunity judge. Find me a guy walking around the airport in a tank top, basketball shorts and Adidas pool flip flops with socks underneath and I’ll say the same thing — inappropriate. Will I go up to him and tell him he’s wrong or to get his shit together? No. But you can’t stop me from thinking it. He’s still free to wear them but if he asked me out on a date I would say no.
This is called human decency and it’s why we don’t all go around telling people what we think. But if you’re one of those people who let everything roll from their brain out their mouth — God bless you. Doesn’t bother me either way. Unless you’re my mother. And then my shit gets triggered.
If you think you carry no judgment let me ask you how you feel about people who vote for Trump? Or Biden? Or a pro-lifer? Or a pro-choicer?
Hold up a mirror. We all do it. How you handle your judgment is up to you.
There is no Utopia. Humans are messy, sloppy, feeling, wrong-doing, right-doing people, opinionated and God bless us, judgmental people.
We are all swimming in vomit of shame and blame. From where I stand, as long as you clean up your own puke, you’re good by me.
I had one of those “Ah-HA!” moments in my morning meditation last week. At one point I could physically sense the difference between ‘being in my head’ and ‘being in my heart.’ The transition was palpable. Something that had been a high concept esoteric principle became very real for me. It’s always difficult to accurately portray a subtle body experience. After all, the most sublime sensations and experiences can rarely be encapsulated into words. At least that has been my reality.
It seems there are two very different ways of seeing and experiencing this world, each with their benefits, each with their drawback. We can perceive the world through the lens of the heart or the head. We also have a choice in the matter.
What I’ve come to realize however, is the heart is not limited, where the head is. The heart has unlimited capacity for love – for forgiveness and compassion. Our heads will try to rationalize all of the reasons these things should be withheld. Our heads will say things like:
It’s not fair.
They don’t deserve it.
What about me?
He/She/ can’t get away
It’s not right.
The heart has no need for right and wrong because from the
heart’s point of view, there is no difference. Only in the head do we separate
the two. And only in the head does separateness exist at all.
I believe some of us are more inclined to operate in a certain mode over another. You either love working on a MacBook or a PC. One feels inherently intuitive, the other, rather clumsy. Some cannot fathom life without rationality, pro and con lists, and a careful scrutiny of all the options. Others find it painful to ignore the loud whispers from the heart.
Like many, I was trained to lead from my head and I’ve become quite adept operating in the world this way. However, I believe I was born to lead from the heart.
It feels so damn good to be out of my head and in my heart. When I get there in meditation or even in the daily activity of life, I don’t want to leave. It doesn’t feel as good to operate in my head anymore – all the figuring out and thinking and analyzing and trying to make sense of it all – but old habits die hard. It’s a consistent practice for me right now to drop down from top to center.
At one point, I needed all the head skills. But my mind keeps
me small and limited. Thus the term small – minded. Not that a particular way
of thinking is small, but primarily using the mind as a source of guidance can
trap us in a box. It’s restrictive. We are so much more than our heads. There
is so much more we are capable of beyond the space of the mind.
I would, however, like to say thank you to my head. Thank you for keeping me safe. For helping me grasp concepts and knowledge. For teaching me how to remember so I don’t have to re-learn things every day like how to talk, write, walk, etc. You have your purpose. But you will no longer guide my ship. I trust my heart more than my head. More and more every day. And the more I practice it, the more tangible it becomes. I can feel a difference in my body as opposed to having it be some out there woo-hoo spiritual teaching. I literally feel more expansive, supported and just, well – GOOD. It’s me. There I am. The person I was meant to be.
Have you ever driven head first into a relationship you knew would ultimately hurt you? Why do we do this? Do we think somewhere along the way we’ll be able to alter the outcome? Is the draw to certain people too intense to resist? Maybe karma is so keen that she renders you helpless so you can work your shit through with some people. It’s like a car wreck – you can’t seem to pull yourself away no matter how much you want to.
Maybe there’s something inside saying “NO” but you’re desire to feel good – to have companionship, joy, sex – that desire overrides any logic you may have left.
Or maybe it’s hope. Hope that this time – this guy – will be different. This guy won’t abandon you after sleeping with you. Not this guy. This guy had done his WORK. This guy is older. This guy is a MAN. This guy is honest. Upfront. Trustworthy.
Or at least he makes you believe he’s all those things.
So you give it over. Your body. Your heart. Your passion. Your care. Your vulnerability. Your trust.
And then you realize this guy is no different than most guys you’ve been with. This guy turns away. This guy leaves.
And you do your best to convince yourself it’s not you. You’re not broken. There’s not some faulty part. But out of all the guys, there’s only one common denominator – YOU.
You’re aware of your patterns and what you attract. But you really thought this guy was different and that you’d FINALLY started to change. To heal those old wounds.
But the wounds are still there. And nothing has changed. And you feel stuck. Hopeless. Like maybe it’s going to be this way forever.
Because this guy wasn’t different. You are left with your hope and your heart in your hand. And all you really want to do is share it with someone. Someone who will say “Here. Let me hold that and take care of that the way you take care of it.” Not drop it on the floor like a banana peel.
And you cry. Not so much for this guy. You barely knew this guy. You cry because you’re tired of doing the work. Tired of being lonely. Tired of waiting for THAT guy.
Listen for the NO. No matter how enchanting and persuasive and magnetic and amazing that YES feels. LISTEN TO THE NO.
Recently, I touted an article on Facebook from a hot young author named Jessica Knoll (author of the best selling book “Luckiest Girl Alive“) who wrote about smart women falling for the pseudoscientific claims of the “wellness” industry. She wrapped up everything I’ve been feeling and saying for the past couple years in a wonderful op-ed piece in the New York Times. That all these trends – keto, Paleo, the Whole 30, you name it – are eating disorders in prettier boxes. All of them espouse a comparative model of eating, claiming certain foods are ‘bad’ for you while others are ‘good’. And while we could all use a kick start plan to eat healthier every once and a while as bad habits can be difficult to break without a good strong dose of discipline, the diet as lifestyle has been the norm since the 80s.
I wholeheartedly agree with almost everything Ms. Knoll wrote, but something keeps nagging at me: the idea that we still label what is women’s inherent nature (because, as Ms. Knoll points out, not many guys are sitting around the table talking about their thighs as they scarf down their burgers) as yet another methodology called “Intuitive Eating.”
Intuitive eating implies we need to learn a specific way to eat. We don’t need to learn anything else about food. We need to forget about everything that society has told us is right or wrong with our bodies. We need to un-learn all the ways we’ve dishonored, shamed and hurt our bodies whether that be through diets or abusive language or comparing ourselves to other women. We simply need to return to the inherent wisdom that was granted us at conception. The wisdom of our Divine Feminine. She knows why she eats. She knows what her body likes. She knows how to nurture and nourish herself whether that is with a kale salad or a chocolate chip cookie.
Women, we’ve been brainwashed. By advertising, magazines, celebrity culture and heaven help us, social media. And while it’s all around us, it’s been a covert operation, as Ms. Knoll points out, hiding under the alias of ‘wellness’ and ‘balance’. Slowly but surely, our patriarchal society has turned us against ourselves. Convinced us that we need products and expensive tonics and potions to live a fulfilling life and convinced men that we’re not worthy of praise, attention or love unless we look a certain way. Our capitalistic and consumer driven culture has made us question and distrust ourselves.
As I’ve written before, I’ve struggled with being in the ‘wellness’ industry, as I promote and write about workouts and food and nutritional supplements. I’ve done the best I can to strike a chord of balance between what’s absolutely necessary to maintain a healthy lifestyle and what could be considered indulgent luxuries. Before I put anything out to the public I try to assess why I am doing so and will it help someone more than it will harm them?
I’ll be the first to tell you I got into this industry because I didn’t feel ‘enough’. Pretty enough. Thin enough. Successful enough. I was able to hide my insecurities in the name of health. I learned a lot on this journey, but my biggest lessons have come from unlearning everything I thought I knew about who I was. It has come from tearing down the facade I built to make myself okay. It came from questioning and continuing to question everything I know to be ‘true’ or ‘good’ or ‘right’.
While the wellness industry has done an amazing job convincing us we can never eat gluten again and be happy, we must not abdicate personal responsibility. As women, we need to take back our power and stop being so willing to buy whatever anyone is selling us. We must do whatever we need to return to that inexhaustible well of confidence, grace, trust, compassion, tenderness and yes, strength, that we were endowed with when we were conceived as females. And we must continue to fill it over and over and over and over again. With food. With friendships. With intimacy. With laughter. With joy. With vulnerability. With whatever fills up not only our bellies but our hearts as well. We must feed our souls.
We can begin this process by asking ourselves one simple question not only with food, but with all of our decisions. Why? Why am I eating this donut or this piece of fish or this broccoli? Why am I buying this potion or supplement? Why am I getting botox? (A question, yes, I recently asked myself.) And then, be brutally honest in our answers. Sometimes we may like what we hear, sometimes not. Decide accordingly.
Your answers may lead you down a rabbit hole that may uncover a root unresolved issue for you. While not always pleasant, these moments can be transformative and healing. If you have the resources and feel you need to, seek outside help like a therapist. Counseling can be helpful, but so can writing, reading, talking with trusted friends and committing to our own happiness and well being.
I don’t need L’Oreal to tell me I’m worth it. And neither do you.
And Jessica Knoll, if you read this – I’d love to lunch with you and discuss how to take up more space.
Could I be any more blessed? I say that truly meaning it and not just writing the words to pretend that all is wonderful and perfect. But seriously, I am sitting on a sandy beach on a warm sunny windy day able to marvel at the wonder of the vast Atlantic Ocean in front of me, listening to the waves crash against the shore. I realize I have been somewhat taking my week here for granter. When I think about the minutes, hours, time wasted on bickering with my mother, being angry, etc. This time may not come again but so often I lose recognition of that fact in the moments where I find myself annoyed, bothered, angry, etc. I don’t beat myself up for it because I am a highly reactive, emotional and feeling individual. however, the better I am at replacing those negative feelings with ones of compassion and love, the happier I will be. Sure, I don’t doubt that I will continue to be an opinionated person, but that’s why I have the stage, Jennifer. Use those where they will be most appreciated. And try to come to terms with your family, that they aren’t going to change. I know I write this all the time, but realize that the more you try, the more you set yourself up for disappointment and hurt. Turn to other relationships for support in yourcraft and day to day struggles. Cultivate those realtionships that will make you grow – stronger, better. You just re-connected with Laura to find you have so much in common. Doug is another. YiaYia, too. She is most supportive. I think you know, in your heart though, moving to NYC is not for you right now. Right now you need to embark on your own path – whatever it may be, with the confidence that you and only you know what is right for you. Talking it over with your friends, family, lovers (?), teddy bears (!), whatever, may help you discover these things for yourself by verbalizing what is in your heart – but only you know ad only you can make your decisions based on what is in your heart.
And please don’t berate or belittle yourself if things aren’t going as you think they should or as fast as you think they should. You are where you are meant to be. Remember that. This next year’s endeavors may be tough, but your rewards will be great. And you will be happy. Continue not to lose the love and light in your heart and treat every single person you meet as an opportunity to share your light and bright personality. And your gifts. Sure, there will be some dog days when you’d like to say “Fuck You” to the world. So go ahead. Do it. And then let it go and be done with it.
Monitor your ambition. Keep it focused and don’t allow it to run you ragged. Go after the things you are most fearful of – a successful relationship, career whatever. Just do it.
Connect, Jennifer. That is your strength. No matter how you do it, whatever your medium, connect with people. You are so good at it. As you were walking down the beach just now, something Patty said to you resonated in your head . . . “Look up. Don’t look down or at the floor when you dance.” that is a good metaphor for life, Jennifer. Don’t look down or avoid that opportunity for a connection with people. That’s how you affect people, Jennifer. Communicate with them. Don’t be afraid to reveal or show yourself. Who you are. What’s inside of you. Believe that what you have to express will better people’s lives. Either make them happy or force them to explore parts of themselves and emotions they never knew were there. That is your purpose. Your charge, your calling. That is what I am challenging you to do, to accomplish.
Don’t fear. I will be here – there – in all ways to guide you if you move ahead with courage, conviction and fortitude.