Tuesday, August 28, 2012

I'm Tired

There are days when I am full of energy and ready to take on the world.  I love those days, because I can face any problem, solve any issue, and just take apart any opponent without breaking a sweat.

And then there are days like today.  Days when I read about something like what happened to Ms. Ida Davidson.  You see, Ms. Davidson had started seeing a new primary care physician, and on the second visit Dr. Helen M. Carter of Worcester, Massachusetts told Ms. Davidson that at 200 pounds she is too fat to be a patient of Dr. Carter's and that she needs to look elsewhere for basic medical care.

As if this weren't heartbreaking enough, I made the mistake of reading the comments on the news story.  I know, I know, I should know better but I can't help hoping that THIS time will be the time when the public steps forward and acts like decent human beings.  It was foolish of me to hope, because what I got was another wave of Fat Shaming.

I am so tired of it all.  I truly am.  It exhausts me mentally, emotionally, and physically to constantly have to battle for my right to exist as a human being without being subjected to a constant barrage of messages about how I am worth less because I weigh more.  It is like a never-ending storm of hatred and shame, battering at myself and others who are fat, and like those storms it can wear defenses down over time.

I don't understand why people feel the need to shame others for what they look like.  Since when has teaching someone to hate themselves ever helped them achieve great things?  Since when did shaming someone push them to aspire to wonderful heights?  Grinding someone's self-worth to dust does NOT lead to glorious triumphs.  All that this kind of shaming and hatred does is break people into pieces that may never get put back together again.

Is that truly what we, as humans, want to do to our fellow citizens of the world?  Do we HONESTLY want to make as many as possible feel like they are worth nothing?  What kind of sick pleasure can someone get from treating people that way?  I don't understand it, and I hope that I never do because I don't EVER want to treat my fellow human beings like that, much less enjoy it.

I will continue to fight against Fat Hate and Body Shaming.  I will continue to work toward a day when it is what we do that defines us rather than how we look.  I will keep trying to teach people that everyone's life is their own business, everyone's health is their own business, and that no one has the right to tell others what to eat or how to look or even how healthy they should be.  As my friend Ragen says, "Everyone is the boss of their own underpants."  No one is the boss of anyone else's underpants.

I will continue to work toward the day when I can walk down the street without someone thinking that it is their right to comment on my body.

But that won't be today.  Today I am tired, so I am going to curl quietly up and cry for a while and wonder what Ida Davidson and I have done to make so many people hate us.

Today I cry.  Tomorrow I fight.  Someday I won't have to fight any more.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

All I needed to know, I learned from sports movies

I have a weakness for a good sports movie.  I really do.  There's just something about movies that have an underdog (person or team) striving to achieve goals when the rest of the world thinks that they'll fail.  I love watching the turnaround, when people start to realize that the underdog is really them, the underdog represents us all as we fight against odds that, at times, seem stacked against us every step of the way.  And really, everything you need to know in life you can learn from a few good (and not so good but still enjoyable) sports movies.

Bull Durham:  We gotta play 'em one day at a time.

Isn't that the way of it?  We can make plans, and have dreams, but in order to achieve those goals we have to take them one day at a time.  Heck, there are times when we're taking it one minute or one second at a time!  But if we keep pushing forward, if we keep working on overcoming the challenges in front of us and doing so bit by bit, then eventually we find ourselves further along the road than we ever thought we would go.  One day at a time, one moment at a time, that's how to get things done.

The beauty of this quote is that it has a second meaning, at least to me.  We have to take each day, each moment, and really BE in them.  Spending your whole life looking toward the horizon means that you miss the beauty and life that surrounds you at any given time.  It is good to look ahead, but life isn't just about the destination, it is about the journey.  The journey is what makes us into who we are.  The experiences that we have form our selves, our hearts, our minds, our lives.  If we spend the entirety of our existence focused on where we want to be, we miss the actual experience of living and all that we end up with is regret.

Like any traveler, we need to keep one eye on the road ahead, and one eye on where we are.  Then we get the best of everything because we have the hopes and dreams of the future, and the fullness of the now.

The Replacements:  Pain heals. Chicks dig scars. Glory... lasts forever.

I know that this has almost become a cliche, but as always that happens for a reason.  There is so much to this quote that it just amazes me sometimes.

Pain heals.  When you're in the midst of it, you forget that sometimes, or you think that it isn't possible in THIS case, but it is possible and it will happen.  Pain heals, we move on, and while there will always be grief and loss in the world, there will also always be life and love.  As human beings we experience pain, whether it is physical or emotional, or both.  As human beings, how we use that pain defines who we are.  We can choose to wallow in it, choose to forget that there is still laughter in the world.  That is a possibility that sometimes seems easier than moving forward.  But it is when we embrace the pain, let it move through us and past us, that we grow and become stronger for it.  As hard as it is when we're in the midst of things, we have to remember that pain heals.

Chicks dig scars.  People have an empathy for others who have gone through pain.  We all have it in our lives in some form or another, and we all admire those who have overcome and gone on to achieve great things.  Nelson Mandela, Oscar Pistorius, Chen Guangcheng, people such as these surmount incredible obstacles to accomplish wonderful things, and they give us hope that we can face the obstacles in our own lives with such grace and wisdom, with such determination.  It doesn't matter that our obstacles are not as extreme to outside observers, because every challenge is important to the one facing it.  What matters is that there are examples like this in the world who reinforce for us that anything is possible if we believe in ourselves and others.  Those scars will still be there, but they will stand for something, and those around us who observe them and understand where they come from will honor where they have come from and what we have done despite them.

Glory lasts forever.  Someday we will all be gone.  Nothing will remain of us.  The words on the screen will have disappeared into Internet Heaven, paper journals and letters will have decayed and gone to dust, just as our bodies do.  The people who knew us will also be gone, and eventually only a bare handful of the people alive right now will be remembered by name or face.  The rest of us will die among the faceless mass.  But while some would say that this means nothing we do matters, I say that they are wrong.  Glory lasts forever.  The marks that we make on the world around us echo down through time, reverberating through the life threads of people who will never know where that vibration started.  Every action that we take has an effect on others, every kindness, every moment of spite, it all carries through and influences actions and reactions.  Buying the coffee of the guy behind you in line doesn't seem like much, but it could be the simple act of kindness that brightens an otherwise horrible day.  Donating to a charity is just a moment of time on the internet or writing a check, but it could mean the world to the recipients of the services offered because of those funds.  Cutting someone off in traffic could be the action that creates an anger that causes them to snap at their children when they get home.  Leaving a dish of water out on 100+ degree days could mean survival for a bird or stray pet.

So many choices are made by us in the space of a day, and every choice has the potential to be a legacy.  Glory lasts forever, as does infamy.  We get to choose which one will be ours.

A League of Their Own:  It's supposed to be hard. If it wasn't hard, everyone would do it. The hard... is what makes it great.

This is one of my favorite quotes of all time.  It can be applied to so many situations, so many states of being.  Life is hard.  Love is hard.  Growth is hard.  If they weren't hard, they wouldn't be worth doing.  The hard is what makes them great.  The hard is what makes all of us great.  We face it every day, we overcome it, we continue on.  The hard builds us into the people we are.  It teaches us to face challenges, sometimes with fear and sometimes with hesitation, but always moving forward.  We look it straight in the eye and we take that next step, because we know that we can't give in to the hard, and when that step is done, and we're taking a moment before the next one, in that moment was greatness.  We have tapped into the greatness that is our selves, and the greatness that is our world, and the euphoria of that moment of greatness carries us forward to face the next moment of hard.

I can't imagine a life without the hard or the great.  I can't imagine a life without the scars, the pain, or the glory.  I can't imagine life without the challenge of the next day, and the now.  And all of these things have been summed up by the joy that is the sports movie.  There is meaning there, and that meaning doesn't have to be wrapped in some existentialist, deep-thought kind of wrapper (though there's something to be said for those too!).  We find our own meanings, and sometimes great meaning can come in the form of an underdog striving to achieve a goal while the crowd roars.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Technology doesn't replace face time

I find myself getting frustrated by technology.  More and more I notice that things are replacing people in our lives.  Yes, it is ironic to be posting this on my blog, I get that, but right now I don't find it to be amusing.  I find it to be frustrating.

When I am sitting at a table with someone, I cannot express how insulting and annoying it is to have them constantly check their cellular phone for texts, Facebook updates, e-mails or Twitters.  It gives the message that my company is not nearly stimulating enough for them, that I am boring or uninteresting, and that they would rather be elsewhere.  That may not be what they MEAN to tell me, but that is what their actions say.

I make a strong effort not to do that to anyone else.  If I have to check my phone for some reason when spending time with someone else, I try to let them know why and I only do so if it is important (waiting to hear that a family member has arrived safely somewhere or someone who is having a medical procedure is all right), but there are very few things that are important enough to pull my attention from the person who I have chosen to spend time with.

When did we start becoming so dependent upon being "connected" that we started losing touch with the reality of being connected with the people that we care about?  Electronic connections are a great tool, they allow us to make plans and to keep up on day to day happenings, but they were never meant to completely replace the personal touch.  E-mail has replaced letter writing.  Facebook has replaced having coffee together.  Twitter has replaced a quick phone call to chat about nothing important.

I think that it is time to slow the tide a bit and to bring back the personal touch.  When you're at dinner with your friends, or even sitting in the living room with your significant other while watching a DVD, just turn off your phone.  Take a few minutes and write a card or letter to someone that you care about.  Set up a time to just hang out with a friend without a laptop or tablet in sight.  Hang onto those personal moments, because they are becoming more and more rare and they need to be cherished.

Be real, be respectful, be human.  Put away the cellphone and really pay attention.  You never know what you'll learn about the people that you care about.  I CAN tell you that they will learn that they really mean something to you, and that is one of the best things that can ever be learned.