Where I’ve been

I haven’t been around much lately, I know.  I have had a lot going on over the past month.  I was taking a jewelry making class and it kept me super busy as we wrapped up the end of the semester.  Combine that with taking my little one to multiple PT/OT appointments per week; I felt like my head was spinning at times from running around.  We currently have out of state family visiting, so I am tied up with that.  And, sadly, we are losing our fur-baby, so I’ve been trying to savor the last bit of time we have left.

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Race, Identity, Politics, History, and misuse of ‘science’

I just finished reading an op-ed by Aaron Hanlon, Assistant Professor of English at Colby College, that was not only well written and relevant to what we are currently seeing take place in the United States, but is interesting and drives home an important message.  The article can be found here:   The use of dubious science to defend racism is as old as the Founding Fathers.

Over the years, I have had many conversations with racist people (in my case they were all from a much older generation), who always liked to throw up “well that’s how it was when I grew up and it was no big deal,” or some other nonsense about some pocket of society making all this up or trying to stir the pot, or political correctness, or it doesn’t happen where I live so it’s not true, etc.  The simple truth is that this manner of thinking, and continuing to raise the younger generations with this manner of thinking, is a huge part of the problem.  It perpetuates hatred towards others who don’t look or act the same or have the exact same beliefs.  Just because that is how people acted or thought years ago does not make it acceptable.  And continuing to go along with this thinking is most definitely not ok.

As someone who has an extensive background in the sciences – including biology, chemistry, genetics, medicine, and so on – and in the humanities, what I can tell you without a doubt is this:  we are all created equally; we all start out the same, we live, and we die.  Sure, we all have different outward physical characteristics, but by no means does this make anyone superior or inferior.  Genetically and medically speaking, we are comprised of the same building blocks, share the same genome (just in variation, which makes us each unique), and all look the same inside (trust me, I successfully completed gross anatomy and we dissected people from all across the board).  How someone looks on the outside is absolutely no indication of what they are capable of physically, intellectually, or creatively.

What make us different are our life experiences, what we “are born into,” our personalities, and our strengths and weaknesses.  Just because I’m not as good as you at something does not mean I am inferior, it just means that is not one of my strengths; in fact, I am pretty positive there is something I can do better than you.  This is what makes life interesting and brings us all together.  If we were all perfect at everything, then life would be pretty boring and it would be difficult to learn from each other, which is one of the great parts of life.  The sad truth is that there are many people who never have the opportunity to reach their full potential.  This is largely because of what some people are born into; whether it’s country, state, poverty, or lack of resources, unfortunately, some are stuck by consequence.  For various reasons, not everyone is able to break this cycle; only a few do.  Privilege makes it much easier to “succeed” in life.  Throughout history, we see the vicious cycles of poverty vs. privilege and that is the sole reason why some people do better and have more.

So, I guess what I’m trying to get at here is this – rather than going along with an idea that “well that’s how I was raised,” or “that’s how people around me act,” think for yourself, and look outside the box.  If the manner of thinking by those around you requires you to look down on others based on race/color, nationality, creed, sexuality, gender, or any other characteristic, start questioning why, and don’t stop.  Try to look beyond and understand that this is not alright.  Try to realize that maybe you have more “success” than someone else because maybe you were born into a better situation and were therefore better able to take advantage of opportunities.  Sure, some do get out of their circumstances, but not everyone is able to.  Try to educate yourself and know that oppression does still exist all over the world (including in America), and work towards a solution to finally get everyone on equal footing.  Use common sense – if you think we’re all equal, then question why large groups of people live so differently from one another.  Instead of judging, reach out your hand to help others realize and reach their full potential.  And help out those in need – you never know who may be the next Einstein, Mozart, Picasso, or great leader of the world, and they just need a little boost to get there.

Fall (Autumn)

The months of September through November are my favorite time of year; always have been.  There’s something invigorating about this time, an energized feeling in the air.  Everything outside becomes more beautiful as the leaves on the trees change color and the wind blows the fallen leaves around.  The air becomes crisp, and even chilly at night.  Light gives way to dark earlier, dusk takes on a different glow, and the sunsets seem more beautiful.  The awesome sounds of football play every Saturday, Halloween rolls around, and it’s time to break out the recipes for warm comfort foods.  I always want to try new things and explore, maybe even reinvent myself or start anew…  For some, they get this feeling in the Spring, but for me, it’s always in the Fall.

A Sober Halloween: Enjoying Halloween Celebrations While in Addiction Recovery

I love this write-up on ways to stay sober for Halloween.

800 Recovery Hub Blog

Children enjoy Halloween for many reasons. From candy to costumes to pumpkin carving, there are many fun activities. But none of those activities include consuming alcohol or using drugs. While you may have lost sight of the simple pleasures that embody the true Halloween spirit, you can make staying sober on Halloween a treat this year by following these tricks.

Sober Activities

Enjoy a night binging on scary movies with sober friends. In the weeks and days leading up to Halloween, many television networks air popular horror movies and Halloween-themed movies. Whether you love Halloweentown, The Nightmare Before Christmas, or Freddy Krueger, you’ll find something to watch. Make some popcorn in the microwave, bake some pumpkin cookies, and enjoy time with your friends.

Drug and Alcohol-Free Creativity

If you want a little more action, host a pumpkin-carving party. You and your friends can carve pumpkins, play Halloween-themed music (such…

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#MeToo

I was back and forth about whether I should write about my personal experiences with sexual harassment and assault since I already mentioned it a while back in My Story II – The Downward Spiral, but after what I was seeing earlier today on Twitter, I decided I need to say something.  I am extremely pissed off about what I saw today – the incredible hate, ignorance, demoralization, and politicizing directed towards those who have been stepping forward.  What these people passing judgement do not seem to understand, is that this is a huge issue that has been going on for far too long.  This is NOT a political phenomena, quit accusing the brave people stepping forward of having a liberal political agenda – that is absolute bullshit.  Just because you have never experienced sexual harassment and/or assault does not mean it doesn’t happen.  This is something that happens on a daily basis around the world to all genders, and people of every color, creed, nationality, sexuality, etc.  I am well aware that there are other atrocities also taking place daily around the world, but that does not mean this issue should be trivialized.  Also, quit playing the blame game by saying accusers should have stepped forward immediately rather than waiting – there are many reasons why those who experience harassment and/or assault do not come forward straight away; one of the main reasons is because often the perpetrator is a person in power over the victim and the victim can’t just come forward.  Never mind the fact that the accuser is often treated as someone who is being ‘opportunistic’ or as someone who wants to intentionally harm the perpetrator.  This type of thinking is another reason why people do not come forward – that they won’t be taken seriously, in the case of harassment, it’s my words against yours, and guess who is typically going to win that argument?  Of course, the person in power; and if that person has enough money, they will use it to bribe the accuser to keep quiet or hire good lawyers who will help sweep it under the rug.  The reason you see what is currently going on – in this case, women in Hollywood – all of a sudden stepping out at once is because there is strength in numbers.  Once people start speaking up, it helps others who have had the same experiences have the strength and courage to say something.

As for me – I already went into as much detail as I will go into about my assaults (see above link), so I will discuss harassment here.  Roughly ten years ago, I held a job in an office ran by all men, with the exception of one woman.  We had four male bosses who ran what we all referred to as the old boys’ club because they were always working to cover for each other, and played a power game over the employees.  It is also worth noting that of the approximately 50 employees in this office who reported to these men, almost all were female who had similar physical characteristics (that the bosses deemed attractive).  The sexual harassment (and gestures from one in particular) from our supervisors was atrocious, and it went unchecked because they used fear to keep the staff quiet.  The very small handful of male employees also participated in this harassment.  I worked in this office/environment for three years and endured this because I was in a situation where my family depended on my income and there were few options for employment in the town we lived in.  At one point, it got to be too much and I even spoke with quite a few of the ladies in the office about us all going together to report what was going on, and they did not want to because they feared being blacklisted by the employer.  One woman even went so far as to say we needed to be very careful about accusations that could damage the men’s careers.  What the hell??  Why is it people continue to think about how the outcome will affect the perpetrator??  This is part of the reason this issue continues…this, plus creating fear is why this becomes a vicious cycle.  I asked this one woman in particular why she was so concerned about the men, even when she acknowledged that the behavior was unacceptable, and she replied that she just ignores the comments and gestures, and brushed it off as ‘boys being boys’.  The truth is, this type of thinking is beyond inexcusable and is a major factor in why this type of behavior has gone unchecked for so long.  Sexual misconduct often causes long lasting psychological scars in those on the receiving end.  Many people find themselves needing regular therapy and even prescriptions to be able to function from day to day.  Sadly, some turn to substances to help them escape the constant reminder of what happened to them.  There is also a sense of shame and guilt that is extremely difficult to grapple with, and many struggle with that for a very long time.  As I look back, I realize that it was during the time I worked in that office that my drinking started spiraling out of control, and I sank into a very deep depression.  Thankfully, with a lot of work, I am sober today and moving on, but nothing will erase these memories from my past.  So, to those disbelievers and others passing judgement, I hope you never have to experience or endure sexual harassment and/or assault, and I hope the same to those you love.  Please show some compassion to those who have come forward, and bravely shared their story, they have already been through enough, don’t add more negativity to it.

Countdown to #Halloween – #Fridaythe13th edition ☠️

Only 18 days until #Halloween2017!

It’s Friday the 13th!  Yay!  So, while I realize that horror/thriller/scary/slasher movies are not for everyone, for those who can’t get enough, I found a few websites that have put together awesome lists of the top horror movies of all time.  And I must admit, I both own and have seen almost every one on each list… 😱  I’m one of those who just can’t get enough, and I have spent many dreary Saturdays binge watching bad horror movies on Netflix.  So, if you need something to watch tonight, check out these lists and get your popcorn ready!

This list on Rotten Tomatoes is based on best-reviewed horror films of all time.

This list was created by a panel of self-proclaimed horror geeks for the UK’s Mirror.

This list from Esquire is their take on the 50 scariest movies of all time.

Here’s a short top 25 list from IGN.

And one more list, here are the 50 best horror films according to Empire.

Quote

Today’s Quote – several quotes from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

I find myself today in a very sad, heartbroken place; the senseless violence from the mass shooting in Las Vegas, how Trump hatefully spoke out on Twitter about the people of Puerto Rico over the weekend, people being angry, nasty, and spiteful about others utilizing their right to peacefully protest in the U.S., and the injustices going on in other countries, where people are trying to be peaceful and live out their lives but are being oppressed, murdered, and enslaved.  I think what saddens me the most is when I see hate and ignorance spreading like wildfire all over social media, and people jumping on ideas and ‘news’ that may or may not be accurate, simply because it fits their idea of what is right and true and they have no desire to seek out the truth about whatever is going on.  It hurts me deeply to see members of my own family posting some of these things, and they refuse to listen or learn the truth (I plan on writing more on this later).  I so desperately wish that the lines of communication would open for all sides so that we can all come together and start moving forward.  So, in light of all of this, I am sharing a handful of quotes from the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who bravely gave his life fighting for justice, love, equality, and peace, and worked hard to make the world a better place.  I know this is a bit lengthy, but there is so much to Dr. King’s legacy that needs to be shared and remembered, especially now.  My heart goes out to everyone who has been affected by recent events.

“It is no longer a choice between violence and nonviolence in this world; it’s nonviolence or nonexistence.”

“Men often hate each other because they fear each other; they fear each other because they don’t know each other; they don’t know each other because they cannot communicate; they cannot communicate because they are separated.”

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”

“An individual has not begun to live until he can rise above the narrow horizons of his particular individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity. And this is one of the big problems of life, that so many people never quite get to the point of rising above self. And so they end up the tragic victims of self-centeredness. They end up the victims of distorted and disrupted personality.”

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: ‘What are you doing for others?'”

“Man is man because he is free to operate within the framework of his destiny. He is free to deliberate, to make decisions, and to choose between alternatives. He is distinguished from animals by his freedom to do evil or to do good and to walk the high road of beauty or tread the low road of ugly degeneracy.”

“It is not enough to know that two and two makes four, but we’ve got to know somehow that it’s right to be honest and just with our brothers. It’s not enough to know all about our philosophical and mathematical disciplines, but we’ve got to know the simple disciplines of being honest and loving and just with all humanity. If we don’t learn it, we will destroy ourselves by the misuse of our own powers.”

“We must meet hate with love. We must meet physical force with soul force. There is still a voice crying out through the vista of time, saying: “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, pray for them that despitefully use you.” Then, and only then, can you matriculate into the university of eternal life. That same voice cries out in terms lifted to cosmic proportions: “He who lives by the sword will perish by the sword.” And history is replete with the bleached bones of nations that failed to follow this command. We must follow nonviolence and love.”

“True peace is not merely the absence of tension: it is the presence of justice.”

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”

“There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must do it because Conscience tells him it is right.”

“There is little hope for us until we become toughminded enough to break loose from the shackles of prejudice, half-truths, and downright ignorance. The shape of the world today does not permit us the luxury of softmindedness. A nation or a civilization that continues to produce softminded men purchases its own spiritual death on an installment plan.”

“…violence never brings permanent peace. It solves no social problem: it merely creates new and more complicated ones. Violence is impractical because it is a descending spiral ending in destruction for all. It is immoral because it seeks to humiliate the opponent rather than win his understanding: it seeks to annihilate rather than convert. Violence is immoral because it thrives on hatred rather than love. It destroys community and makes brotherhood impossible. It leaves society in monologue rather than dialogue. Violence ends up defeating itself. It creates bitterness in the survivors and brutality in the destroyers.”

“We should never forget that everything Adolf Hitler did in Germany was “legal” and everything the Hungarian freedom fighters did in Hungary was “illegal.””

“There is a sort of poverty of the spirit which stands in glaring contrast to our scientific and technological abundance. The richer we have become materially, the poorer we have become morally and spiritually. We have learned to fly the air like birds and swim the sea like fish, but we have not learned the simple art of living together as brothers.”

“The time has come for an all-out world war against poverty. The rich nations must use their vast resources of wealth to develop the underdeveloped, school the unschooled, and feed the unfed. Ultimately a great nation is a compassionate nation. No individual or nation can be great if it does not have a concern for “the least of these”.”

“Together we can and should unite our strength for the wise preservation, not of races in general, but of the one race we all constitute – the human race.”

“We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for the victims of our nation and for those it calls “enemy,” for no document from human hands can make these humans any less our brothers.”

“Here is the true meaning and value of compassion and nonviolence, when it helps us to see the enemy’s point of view, to hear his questions, to know his assessment of ourselves. For from his view we may indeed see the basic weaknesses of our own condition, and if we are mature, we may learn and grow and profit from the wisdom of the brothers who are called the opposition.”

“A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.”

~Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., 1929 – 1968