Wednesday, March 15, 2017

feminism

You speak at me, not to me. You use words without meaning.
The emphasis is clear, the respect is absent. 
You are part of a greater collective, yet you claim you stand alone.
No.
No, you are not unique.
You have existed since the beginning of time.
Claiming I am a witch for my thinking and knowledge, you burned me at the stake.
Claiming I was unstable because of my emotions, you institutionalized me.
You saw my body first, so you sold me or bought me and did as you pleased with my body.
I am beautiful, I am ugly. I am too thin, I am too fat. I am too tall, I am too short.
I am too pale or too dark or too loud or too strong or too too too...
No, you have always existed.
But you would not exist save my womb. My vagina that birthed you into this existence.
Perhaps one day you will overcome this and then truly dominate.
It is more likely that I will become stronger.
More resilient.
More capable of standing up for myself.
I will learn to fight...clean or dirty.
I will not back down, shut up, learn my place, close my mouth, quiet down, calm down, or anything else you think I should do simply to make YOU more comfortable.
I am not comfortable.
I am NOT ok.
I am not ok with the belittling. I am not ok with the abuse.
I am not ok with my sisters who are bought or sold, married too young, not permitted to be educated, beaten, raped, ignored, detested, mutilated, forgotten. I am not ok with the abuse on my sisters who may not have been born my sisters, but are now.
I am not ok with your disrespect heaped upon me in words or laws.
You are not new. Nor are you dominant.
You are stagnant.
You are dwindling.
Fading.
You fight louder and harder now for your last stand is near. 
You have lost. We all know it.
Do you?

Saturday, March 11, 2017

With love

The past couple of months have been a whirlwind. No, that's not quite right. Perhaps an F5 tornado is a more fitting description. I could probably write an entire book just on the past few months, but in many ways I cannot for the life of me think of why it would matter. Most of it I have dealt with, some I am still working to understand. But at the core of it all, my base support remains steady. I suppose that sometimes all you can hope for is a strong cellar door to block out the worst, and hope nothing comes crashing through. That door is beat to hell right now, but it held. And for that I am thankful. 

In brief - I ran my first marathon (freaking amazing), turned 34, had a lovely and quiet Christmas with my spouse/kiddos/dog. I missed my NASM cert by one point and I am currently studying to re-take...talk about an ego blow when you have a PhD. Cue eye roll. My tantrum about that lasted a day before I reminded myself that I can do better anyway. My daughter turned 2, where does the time go?  My husband sent me on a solo trip that changed my whole perspective on my role in our business. And while the hell of political turmoil and unrest spins all around I was able to find a small semblance of peace in myself. I am leaving out a lot, I suppose. Like the almost 2 months I have been not really running due to healing from an injury and being a bit burnt out. And the weekly therapy trips to help me find me amidst the rubble left by the roles others have tried to assign to me. 

Yea. Definitely an F5 rating.

I didn't know if I would find my way back to writing. Life overtakes me quite often. I crash into bed some nights thinking 'how will I ever get it all done,' only to wake the next morning and start all over again. Then I felt the pull tonight, and the words just poured out. 

I knew it was coming. I just wasn't sure if I was ready to write them down. 

So I didn't...they wrote themselves.


Loss is hard. Sometimes you just need to accept that, then move on.





with love

The words sit on the brink of my consciousness. 
Waiting. 
Waiting for me to pluck them and assign them as needed. Yet still slightly out of reach. 
They slip right beyond my grasp. Not quite ready, but close enough to feel. 

And how I feel. 

The emotional tidal waves have diminished to more of steady waves on a beach. The tide pools have gathered a few stragglers, and these trip me up every now and then. But more or less I have accepted what is, what will be. 
It is not anything I could ever have anticipated, but it is my truth. 
My reality. 
And ultimately my choice. 
I am no longer willing to accept intolerance, abusive assaults on me or my family, unsolicited and unhelpful advice from those who have painted a picture of me that I am not. I wish they knew me. 
I think I am worth really knowing. 
But I am told that it may be more about what can be accomplished than what is desired. I may have to settle for what is right now. But I shall only do so if I remain protected from the pain of the facade. 
So much pain so thinly veiled. Not my own, but pain that hurts me all the same. 

Each day is another step forward on my journey. 
Mine. 
I find that I am stronger than before, and while the tears came...they did not last. 
I cannot change anyone but myself, and what a magnificent job of that I have done/am doing. I am not ashamed of how I got here. I am not concerned at how long it has taken me to find the bits of me I am currently assembling. I am worth more than the misogyny and hate I have heard too recently directed at me. 
I don't state that as a record of my self-esteem but rather as a fact. 
We are all more deserving of respect from others. 

Now I am simply sad. Sad that others feel the need to project their pain. Sad that they are in such pain. Yet all I can do is bow out of their lives with love. Because it is not on me to heal them. True healing must be found within ourselves. In our decisions to seek help or guidance, in our choices to live better and stronger lives, in our determination to pursue our own dreams...no matter the time or cost. 

May you find your strong one day, as I have certainly found mine.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

I will cry, and that's ok

I don't want to write today. Or think. I want to cry and kick and scream. I want to beg people that I know and love...why? 

I could write so many things. But instead I will write to my children. My strong and funny daughter, my bright and active son. I met your father 11 years ago on Halloween. On October 31, 2016 I cast my vote with him in Athens, GA. I voted for the first woman presidential candidate. 
Things did not go as planned. 
I falsely believed my vote mattered. It did not. 
Not in this red state. 
That doesn't matter, always vote.
This is not the place to educate you on the electoral college, which I will be actively attempting to protest against in the future, but in time...I will educate you. 
You see, I was not educated about that or many other things. 
My history was white-washed. Gender-washed. Christian-washed. 
Sure, honey, you can be anything you want when you grow up...but they forgot to tell me that I would still be just a 'girl.' Even with a PhD, I am not equal to man.

I don't believe that shit anymore. I am not JUST anything. No one is. 
But we are ALL human.
We should ALL be equal.

I won't tear down your heroes, we must all learn the truth of them in our own time. 
Heroes are also only human, and often flawed mightily. It is sad to see them as such. 
You are best admiring without placing on a pedestal, then they don't fall and your heart doesn't break as badly. 

Take the high road. Michelle Obama said "They go low, we go high." Never forget those words. Love. Always respond with love. 
You may be called names. You may see or experience violence. 
Go high.

Your father and I will protect you both as long as we can. We will teach you to be safe. 
To be strong. To thrive. We will always believe in you. Love you. Support you. 
You will always have a safe haven with us. A place to rest, to cry, to laugh, to learn.
Always.

I promise you from this day forward, November 9, 2016...I will never stop growing and learning. Striving to be a better person, woman, friend, mother, spouse, daughter, sister, aunt. I will cry. I will get angry at times, and frustrated. 
This is not an overreaction or womanly response. 
It is the HUMAN response. And it is ok. 
But in the end, we must pick ourselves off, shake off the hate, and stand strong. 
Together.

Here is my hand, my children. Hold it for as long as you need.

I love you both so much.
~your mama, one helluva #nastywoman

Monday, September 12, 2016

When life happens


I'm training. Life has been happening...a lot. I don't even think I have really had time to process how I am doing lately. So here I sit, thinking. I finally registered for the Kiawah Island Marathon. We had to save up the money for it, it is not a cheap one. I selected it because it was a mild race, not too far from home, and right around my birthday. Unfortunately it also raises money and awareness for absolutely nothing. We typically do not run races such as this, but it is my first marathon, so we made an exception.

Then, as mentioned above, life happened.

My very amazing and funny brother-in-law, Craig, passed away. He had cystic fibrosis, and he was 43 years old. The current life expectancy is 37 years of age for individuals living with CF. Craig was a fighter. More importantly he was a human that inspired many others, championed for his friends with CF, loved with all he had, and always had a smile for you.

Life happened and it hurt.

I have not lost anyone in a little bit, and while this was not fully unexpected...'one day' showed up before I was ready. And so here I sit, still uncertain as to how I am doing.

The day he died I was actually out on a long-ish run. Early in the run I developed a side stitch. Something that never happens to me. From that moment until the end of my run I thought of Craig. It's as if my body was telling me to think what it must have been like to struggle to breathe. To fight for each breath. It was a really tough run. I thought how I wanted to be like Craig. How giving up should never be an option, to the very end. How he welcomed me into the family from day one, from teasing me about "my people" (I was majoring in Psychology at the time) to discussing Star Wars versus Star Trek. His jokes always helped ease tensions over holiday shenanigans, and he truly loved the kids. I wondered why he crossed my mind. If I focus on anything other than running it is usually work or kid related. Typically organizational, and sometimes a spontaneous blog idea (if I am lucky). But on that day all I thought about was him. Somehow I knew there was a reason...my husband will tell you I always know, but that is simply something my science driven mind has a hard time accepting. As I cooled down outside my house I told myself that when I walked in my husband was going to tell me Craig had passed, I was not wrong.

I entered the house slowly. At first my husband did not say anything. Then our eyes met. And before he could get the words out my heart sank into my stomach. I stepped back outside for a few minutes. I could not believe it. How had I known?

I do not have an answer to that question. I am not spiritual or religious. But I do not need to be.
I understand that I needed to be prepared, and I was.

I didn't just sign up for a marathon. I created a memorial fund for my brother-in-law. I want to run in his memory. I want to challenge my own breath. I want to raise awareness for cystic fibrosis. I want you all to think about a fighter in your life, or maybe you are the fighter. Or maybe you want to become a fighter. A champion. Someone who faces a challenge head on and allows the fear to wash over you and continues on. Many years ago I learned that fear had no hold on me, and it should not on any of us. I can tell you that Craig was never afraid of living life to its fullest. Every. Single. Day.

I hope I can live up to half of that type of life legacy.

#irun4craig


Tuesday, July 19, 2016

I interrupt your day for a message about BODIES

Wow, you look really thin. (Is this even a compliment?)
If I had your body I would... (Really?! Why not try not objectifying me and take a look in the mirror.)
You are so lucky. (Because I choose to run A LOT and eat healthy?!)
I don't know how you do it. (I choose to.)
I hate running. (That's great, I love it.)
I just don't have the time. (You think I do? I get up at the butt crack of dawn.)
I wish I could look like you. (I wish I had a million dollars. You will never look like anyone but you.)
I wish I had your strength/dedication/determination. (It is a daily effort, get to work.)
Do you need to eat something? (I eat all the time. Didn't your mama teach you manners?)
I have bad knees. (No you don't, unless you injured them recently. Running is great for knees.)
It's just too hot. (Or too cold. There will always be an excuse if you make one.)
I can't run. (Are you human? Do you have legs that work for walking? You can run...with practice.)

What is it about taking on a new life activity, particularly a healthy one, that people feel the need to excuse their own behavior or make comments about your choices? These are just some of the statements I hear quite frequently. Some seem harmless enough, but mostly they are remarks that are either intrusive or not really complimentary. Definitely not encouraging or supportive.
The body comments are the worst.
Why people think it is ok to ever speak to someone about their physical appearance is a mystery to me.
Are you a physician?
Am I seeking care from you?
No...then back off please.
Thankfully my mama taught me well enough that most days I just take it in stride.
Sometimes, though, I go home and cry about it.
Because that is what my brain does with not quite compliments and unwarranted commentary about my behavior and my body.
I mull it over.
I wonder why you said it.
Do you not like me?
Did I do something to offend you?
Did you mean it as a compliment or an insult?
The body comments always stand out. Always.
And not because I am insecure. I have no qualms with my body.
It's just that it is...

MY body.

As a woman society continues to attempt to tell me it is not really mine. My 3 year old asked about bras the other day, because mommy never runs completely shirtless like daddy. He accepted the explanation that the babas (his word from when he used to breastfeed) bounce when mommy runs, and this is uncomfortable. Then daddy went on to explain that mommy would not run without being covered up anyway, because it was a law. This completely confused my toddler, who sees human bodies as nothing more than completely normal extensions of what makes us...human. We are not shy about nudity. The body is the body. We name things correctly, we teach about body autonomy. There is no shame that is needed. Our bodies are to be cared for and we do this by moving and fueling healthfully. Male and female bodies may be different, but this is all completely ok.

But mommy's body is shameful. At least that is what I must teach my son apparently.
And eventually what my daughter will learn...from society.
Cover up, don't cover up.
Shame on you for having a woman's body.

Would you ask my husband that?
Is he too thin?
Are you concerned with whether he is eating too much or too little?
Do you tell him to cover up? Or to stop being a prude?

I know he doesn't leave the house to run without a shirt on and think about it like I do.
Wondering if someone will think that just because I am only in a sports bra I am inviting unwanted attention. Not that it is simply too hot and humid to wear so many layers...
Anticipating honks or catcalls. Or worse, some asshole yelling out his car window at me.
Because clearly I am just some sexual object.

There is a lot of talk about bodies these days, particularly women's bodies.
I wonder just how much of that talk is being heard.
Because my kids are listening, are you?

#mamastrong
#strongbodieshealthybodies



Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Where will you be?

8.1 miles

I made it. I set a goal of 8 miles before July, when marathon training begins, and though it took monumental dedication t get here again...I freaking made it.

Anxiety be damned.
Poverty?  Running is free.

I came home and there was no whining or crying for mommy, just a delicious plate of food made for me by my husband. My biggest support. My coach. My partner.
And smiling kiddos.

WE made it.

Today's run was brutal. As any long run around here goes there were more than enough hills. And I even braved running on the road in long stretches without sidewalks. I typically avoid this, but there will come a time in my future distances where it will be unavoidable.
I trudged on mightily. I talked out loud to myself.
I am a runner.

The real moment of the run today came at about 2 miles in. I passed an elderly woman jogging a long, she beamed at me and I smiled back and said hello. Seemingly no big deal...

Except by elderly I mean she was easily 85+. And JOGGING.
Shit, let's give it to her...she was running.
She was amazing.
I smiled for a while after that, thinking of how awesome it is that she was out there.
Big ass headphones, bright white sneakers.
Running.
Living.

How many 85+ year olds do you know that could come close to that?
I know of none.

I realized then that I know how she feels. There she was breaking the mold. Seemingly oblivious to the constraints society places on elderly humans. The long list of should nots and cannots.
I know what that is like, I have heard those naysayers too.
These days most of the naysaying originates in my own negative self-talk, fueled by anxiety and self-doubt. But it is still a constant battle of mine. Even after overcoming and accomplishing so much. Some days are simply a test of will, who wins today?
Negative Jess or I Got This Shit Jess?

I want to be like her when I am beautifully wrinkled and aging with great grand-babies. I want to be moving, oblivious to what I am supposed to be doing. I want to climb on the playground with those great grand-babies and show the world why moving is essential to life.

"...an object in motion stays in motions..." Thanks Sir Isaac Newton

Yea, I will carry that moment. Humans are capable of so many amazing things. Even telling the naysaying in my head to take a hike becomes possible. One breath at a time, one step at a time.

One short 8.1 mile run at a time.

#runstrong friends, #runstrong

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Part 3: Fuck it...There are just too many parts

There is no grand finale.  I left off with us moving back, right?  Well, it has been a roller coaster. It has been hard. Each day we move forward, but many days it feels like we move back. But we don't stop.

It took me a while to get back here. I endured two really rough bouts with anxiety over the last week and finally got in to see my therapist today. That almost seems sugar coated.
Let me scrape off the sprinkles for you.
IT WAS HELL.
And that is just from my angle.
I don't want to try and view it from my husband's perspective.
Please do not make me think of my babies.
Everyone is safe. I am ok. I have a plan and I am on trajectory to keep moving forward.
No one has thrown in the towel yet.
Me included.
But it was bad.
Really, really bad.

So what happens when it gets bad? Typically I hole away, close off, play pretend in public, cry in private. Life doesn't stop, even though I wish it would give me a damn break. No dice. We keep spinning. I immediately sought help. From my mother, from my husband (he tries so very hard), from my therapist. I went to yoga and found my breath. And then found it again in therapy.

Yes. My breath.

Did you know that breathing is one of the first things people claim changes during massive bouts of anxiety? For my therapist I will refrain from labeling these as "attacks" from this point forward. Anxiety is not an entity.  It does not exist in its own right.
Breathing, then heart rate.
Now, did you know they are linked?
Of course, you smart cookie. But did you know you could control BOTH?
Yup. You can control them.
Don't believe me?
Grab a pulse oximeter, plop it on your finger.
Now breathe in and slowly breathe out. Do this a few times.
Notice anything? It works better if the damned thing beeps...loudly.
Did your beeps change?
Awesome, huh?
I thought so.

Breathe in. Breathe out.

Best therapy session ever. Yoga also gave me that. Funny how something so simple can have such big effects. As simple as finding your breath.

I don't breathe enough, particularly slow exhales. It only takes a few to reset our systems.

Try it.

Go breathe.