Friday, June 24, 2016

A Country Divided

More and more it seems that the American people are divided. By race, religion, political views, and education. We seem to forget that we are all Americans. I have a habit of looking at controversial articles that friends post on social media, and it seems that the people are trying to keep the social divisions in place.

Let's talk about religion. We live in a country where religious freedom is our right. We can practice whatever religion we want and it is legal. So why is it that so many groups of people are against someone just because of their religion? Muslim people, for example, have just as much of a right to practice their religion as a Protestant. Just because some radicals have done some horrible things to the people in this world, doesn't mean that they are all like that. I'm a Mormon, and in certain parts of the country, it isn't a good thing. It has been around 150 years that the mobs drove the Mormons out west and assassinated the church leader at the time. And yet there are still huge prejudices and stereotypes against those who are Mormon. And why? Why can't we all accept one another's differences?

Political views are even worse. This election that is coming up has brought out the worst in everyone. People are not speaking to old friends because one is a Bernie supporter and the other is a Trump supporter. Well hate to break it to everyone but they both suck. So does Hillary. Any one of those three candidates will plunge our country into a black hole. But no matter which candidate someone is for, they are even more so against the other side. Trump has brought out the inner racist in the country, and on all sides (and yes non-white people can be racist, but we will get to that in a minute). Bernie on the other hand, has brought out all of the gullible leeches in the country. The ones that just want everything to be free and don't care how he does it, and believe him when he says that he can. And this has caused a HUGE divide in the nation. I can barely get online and see an article about any candidate without reading horrible things from people on both sides. Come on people, agree to disagree!

Now race....race is so stupid. Why do we even care what color someone is in this day and age? I have to tell you, it kind of drives me crazy how people still continue to say that they are African American. I don't go around saying that I am Irish, English, Scottish, Swish, German, and Native American American. Or to make it sorter, I also don't say that I am European American or Caucasian American. It is stupid. My Irish and English blood is the thickest. My great-great grandfather on my dad's side emigrated here from Ireland in the mid to late-1800's after his family converted to the "mormon" faith and moved here to be closer to the church. I'm only 150ish years removed from Ireland, or 5 generations removed. There are people who are 10 generations removed from Africa, couldn't even tell you where from Africa their ancestors are from (which isn't their fault, slavery and all), but the continue to call themselves African American. Why can't we all be Americans? If you were born here, you are an American. No ifs, ands, or buts about it. You are an American. If you have emigrated here, then you chose to become an American. You many still feel a connection to your mother country, but you are an American. Your kids will grow up Americans. And so on and so forth.

I read an article lately that talked about how reverse racism isn't a thing. That here in the U.S., or in any first world country where the 'ruling race' is white, anyone of color can't be racist. Well bull. That is a bunch of malarkey. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the simple definition of racism is: poor treatment of or violence against people because of their race. Can anyone say that a black person wasn't violent against someone because of their skin color? Attacking people because of "white privilege"? Can anyone say that someone who is Mexican can't be racist against an Arab? We put far too much stock in what a person can or cannot be based on what they look like.

Right now, the majority of people in power in the U.S. are white. But when you consider that an extremely large portion of the black population is under educated, is it any wonder? And why are they so uneducated? Every child in the States has to go to school from kindergarten to twelfth grade. The curriculum for the most part is the same. The government provides a certain amount to every school no matter where it is. I think that the biggest problem is the value of education. In my family and in my neighborhood, education was incredibly important. I COULD NOT skip class and live to tell the tale. My mom would have tanned my hide if I cut class. My parents would pay us for good grades, and we would have to pay them if we got bad grades. And it was the same with most of my friends as well. All of our parents were strict when it came to school. In poor income neighborhoods, parents and guardians aren't putting that same pressure on kids. So in turn, the kids don't take school seriously. And way too many of them end up dropping out. So if you take a child, who was raised in a poor income household, and grows up to be illiterate, with poor grammar, and a high school drop out, is it any wonder why he isn't some big CEO of a company?

As far as the differences in skin color, I think the education is the biggest issue. If all of the kids of poor income families worked hard in school, studied hard, read books instead of joining the local gang, actually went to class and graduated and went on to college, then the racial divide wouldn't be so big. But the divide is only going to get bigger. Race riots and shootings are becoming more and more common and are driving the people further apart. It makes me so mad to see all of the riots and protests and news articles when a white cop shoots a black kid when the kid is dumb enough to run, or pull something out of his pocket when cornered by police. Yet if a black gang member shoots a white kid, there is no national outrage. A few years ago three black kids were bored one summer day, saw a white kid walking on the street, shot him to death for fun. The kid was an Australian here going to school on a baseball scholarship. I mentioned him to my friends about a year after it happened, and no one knew what I was talking about.

So for the end of my not so eloquent rant, we should really just love one another and try to get along and make this country a better place. We are free to practice our religion. We have the right to the pursuit of happiness. We live in a country, where if we all worked together and were proud to be who we are with all of our differences, we would be unstoppable. So hug it out America. Join forces to make this country a better place. Let it be the place our fore-fathers envisioned. A place of peace and prosperity where all men are created equal. We can only do it together. A country united cannot fall.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Those Canaan Days

About four and a half months ago, I auditioned for a part in a musical. I was at a pretty low point in my life and wasn't sure how to get out of my slump. So this post is going to be more diary than anything, but hopefully if anyone is reading this, you can relate in part to me and this part of my life.

As I have gotten older, my self-esteem has gone down hill. The pressure on girls and what they look like is way too intense, and this was true in my case. My mom was always a little chubby as a child, and she feared that her children would go through the same thing she did. And as a good mother, she tried to keep us from feeling the same pain and struggle that she did when she was young. However, the road to hell is paved with good intentions, and in my case, the way my mom approached it didn't help me, but it hurt me. Now I need to say that I love my mom, and I'm not writing any of this to say that she is a horrible mother, because she isn't. She is an amazing woman and mother. I'm just explaining my side of things and how I felt about it.

Right around the time I started puberty was when my mom started being a little more involved with how I looked. She started out with telling me that I needed to start sucking in my stomach. Keep in mind that I had always been a very thin child. But as all children do, their stomachs poke out a bit. And while it is cute on a 4 year old, it isn't so becoming on an 11 year old. She would tell me that if I didn't learn to suck in my stomach, she would put me in a corset to suck it in for me. She never had to do that because I learned to suck it in. And as I got older, the comments on my body became more and more intense. She would comment on the size of my thighs, slap me on the bum and tell me that I've been eating good, and would tell me at least once a week about how she was worried about me and my body and about her struggle with her weight when she was my age. (In high school I was 110-115 lbs, which is where doctors said I should be according to my height and age). I was dancing 3-4 times a week, playing soccer at the park with friends, walking around the neighborhoods with friends, gym class 2-3 times every week, etc. But the worry my mom had never dampened.

After years of being told that my body wasn't good enough, I became very insecure. It also didn't help that all of my friends were 5'6"-5'9", really thin, able to tan, and were very well endowed in the breast area. I was 5'3", 110ish lbs, pasty white no matter what, and an a-cup. I was the 'D.U.F.F.' of my friend group. All of my friends would be asked to dances, and I would constantly be left behind. And it just reinforced in my mind that I wasn't pretty enough or thin enough for anyone.

As a dumb high schooler, I decided that there was only one solution. Become anorexic. I tried 3 different times to starve myself to the "perfect" body. The longest I went was two weeks before I cracked and gave up. Even though I am a picky eater, I still like food. And I caved. Which I am now so grateful for.

But high school was the true start of the downfall of my self esteem. I had two boyfriends in high school. One dumped me for a girl that would put out, and the other constantly put me down and basically told me that I wasn't thin enough. In front of all of his friends he told me I looked pregnant. (again I was the weight that nutritionists and doctors said I should be. I did NOT look pregnant). It all just pushed me further down the rabbit hole.

To move a few years later, I had gained a few pounds with the start of college and moving out, breaking up with my boyfriend, the stress of adult life, and losing all of the exercise I got in high school. I wasn't dancing in college and I never got into the habit of going to the gym. So with weight gain, my self worth went down further. And living in Utah, girls get married young. By the time I turned 21, all of my high school and new college friends, except two, were married. Of those two, one was in school in Arizona, and the other had another group of friends that she would hang out with that didn't care for me.

Right before one of my best friends got married, I was talking to her about how sick I was of being single and how I didn't understand why I couldn't get the guys I was dating to stick around, and instead of being the good friend who listens and offers helpful advice, she decided to tell me that I deserve to spend my life alone. I'm still not sure what I did to offend her, but she also decided to tell a group of guys that we were hanging out with that I was scary and vindictive and cruel. (we aren't friends anymore if you are wondering). The words of my best friend pushed me even further down the rabbit hole of self loathing.

Anyway, to get to the part of my audition, I was at my lowest point. I'm not one to share my feelings out loud, so I keep them bottled up which is really not healthy. And the longer they got bottled up, the worse I felt about myself. Then back in February of this year, I saw a message from the YSA singles stake that I belong to. They announced that they were going to put on a production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolored Dream Coat. It said that the auditions would be on the Tuesday and Wednesday Feb. 16 and 17, for dancers and narrators. I saw the message on the 14, which was the Sunday right before the auditions. In my mind I told my self that I would just join the ensemble (which you didn't have to audition for) since I wasn't a good enough singer or dancer to get anywhere in my audition.

Now, I am LDS (aka Mormon), and I believe very strongly in the Holy Spirit speaking to us when it is needed. On Monday morning I woke up with this very strong feeling that I needed to audition for the musical as a wife. I dismissed it as nothing and went on with my day. A few hours later I got the feeling again that I needed to audition. As I was about to dismiss it again, I was over come with this sensation of being smacked on the back of the head and had this pop into my head: "get over to your computer, sign up for an audition TOMORROW, pick your song and get ready. Suck it up buttercup and do as I say". So I did. I told myself that if I didn't get the part or a call back that I wouldn't be too disappointed because I didn't even want to audition in the first place. I went to the Tuesday audition, and while my singing wasn't the best it could have been, my dancing was. We were all told that if we were going to get a call back we would find out the following night.

I hadn't heard anything from the production team by eleven that night and felt a bit deflated. I was almost numb. Not happy or sad, just there. But then, as I was settling into bed, the email came saying that I got a call back. I immediately burst into tears. I was so happy that I couldn't stop crying. And that was when I realized how much I needed that confidence boost. I needed that confirmation that I was good enough to be called back. And I did end up getting a dancing part. It wasn't the exact one that I had come to want, but it was still really good.

Through these past four and a half months, I have come to love myself more. I made friends and found some self worth that I forgot that I had. And I had a ton of fun doing it. It is amazing how well God knows us and the struggles we go through. He knew how much I needed to be in the musical, and not just in the musical, but a dancer to boot, and he made sure I made it happen. I am so glad that I listened to the Spirit and auditioned. I have been happier these last few months than I have the past seven years. While it doesn't seem like much, it has been everything to me.

If there is anyone reading this, and if you are down on yourselves, I would advise you to have a prayer in your heart for help. No matter your religion or lack there of, your prayer will be answered. For me I asked for friendship, and I got it in a way that I wasn't expecting. Put yourself out there and listen to the voice deep inside you. Let it guide you, and I promise that it will be worth it. It might take some time and hard work, but in the end, you'll be so so so happy that you did.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

A World of Hate

As I was writing my little opening post, I mentioned how I didn't want hate mail if you disagree with my opinions. But as I think about it more, it is sad that I have to ask for no hate mail. What has happened to our world? When did it become acceptable for people to be so nasty to one another? A former co-worker of mine recently posted on her facebook, that if any of her online friends were Trump supporters, that she wanted them to unfriend her (she is a die hard Bernie supporter). As I was looking at the comments to her post, I was shocked by what I was reading. A friend of hers was saying how intolerant he thought that was of her. Which I agree. I think that everyone should be allowed to have their opinions and still respect others as well, but that is a different post. In response to this friends comment, the comments from others exploded. It went from a simple, 'that is really close minded of you to stop being friends with someone just because of political opinion differences', to people saying 'how dare you, you "blank blankin" white privileged racist male". And of course the initial comment poster, and two or three additional people, went back and forth bashing on one another, calling each other horrible names, and just being cruel. And this was all from one girl saying that she didn't want to be online friends with someone who has different political views that she does.

This is happening all the time in our world now. It seems that ever since social media boomed, so did the idea that manners and etiquette towards our fellow man no longer matter. It is one thing to disagree with someone. But it is another entirely to be cruel. It is no wonder that the world and our country is falling down around us. We can't be civil with one another long enough to fix the problems.

With this election coming up, the hate meter seems to be turning up even more. Personally I think that all of the candidates are horrible. I'm writing in a name for president as of right now. However, most people that you see talking about the coming election are complete fanatics and are blinded to the good of the other side. There are always pro's and con's to every candidate, but these fanatics are disregarding the other side completely. And not only that, they are going out of their way to be harsh and mean to those who disagree with them. Which is absolutely ridiculous. I don't like Obama, but you don't see me going out of my way to tell anyone who does like him that they are wrong and going to hell, bla bla bla.

I don't know if there is anyway to fix this anger we have for one another, other than being more conscious of how we are treating others. We need to keep in mind those childhood sayings. If I may quote Thumper from the disney movie Bambi, 'if you can't say nothin' nice, don't say anythin' at all'. And the sayings such as 'treat those as you would want to be treated', and 'love thy neighbor as thyself'. It may just be a dream, but I for one would like to see less bashing and more loving of our fellow man. Maybe one day it will happen, but it is up to all of us to change our mindset in order for that to happen. If you are reading this, then start with yourself and spread the love. We will change this world one person at a time.