Roles Redefined

I believe in roles — I’m just not a huge fan of rigid, gender-based ones (especially in relationships). Someone argued to me that these roles are nature. No, having a penis or a vagina is nature. What we learn about what people with those parts are able to/should do is nurture.

Little girls can play basketball and boys can be gymnasts. If my man is better at making a dish than me, he can cook it and if the trash is stankin’ up the house, I know how to get it up out of there. Simple enough, but many of us didn’t see it play out like this growing up.

Nowadays, though, the lifestyles of women in terms of career and other commitments outside of the home show that “communicate + collaborate” is much more practical than “girl jobs” and “boy jobs” around the house.

The notion of women staying home? Well, I’ll put it this way — if a man and woman agree it’s best for their family that the woman stays home, I fully support that. And vice versa. I hope when I have kids, my financial situation allows me to stay home for a while. I can’t see it being a lifelong thing, though.

I don’t understand why a woman who went to college, or is otherwise trained in a field or trade, would forego her God-given talents and skills to rear children and keep house. That screams “barefoot and pregnant” to me.

Now, if you’re working from home (entrepreneur, writer, etc.) that’s different. I just feel like I’d get fat and bored really fast if I wasn’t out and about making a living.

It may be some women’s dream to stay home while there man brings home the bacon. Excuse my cynicism, but I was always taught that whoever has the bacon, has the power.

I don’t even eat bacon anymore but I do enjoy money and no matter how much I love or trust someone, I don’t feel comfortable having no income as a grown woman.

Oh, I can picture the jabs made during arguments now. “You’re pissing me off — no allowance this week!” or “Chick, you don’t run nothing around here.” Nope, not having it!

Even if I have to check receipts at Wal-Mart or dress up like the Statue of Liberty and spin signs by the highway, ya girl has to have her own. Being disabled or on maternity leave, that’s one thing. A lifetime of being dependent “just because?” — no thanks. Maybe it’s the Leo in me but I expect so much more from myself. I like to get my shine on, too.

I know being a great mother and homemaker is hard work and deserves many accolades but my observations over the years indicate acclaim for these jobs typically only come one Sunday in May.

Yes, I know there is “something” in women that makes us more domestic and nurturing bu is there anything sexier than a man who can do everything for his kids that their mom can? Doubt it. Gotta love a man who can give a house a thorough cleaning. That means he takes pride in the place he calls home. Oh, yeah, push that broom baby 😉

The contrary has been suggested to me, though. Apparently if I don’t conform to gender roles, no decent man will want to marry me. Oh, word? Cause I’ve heard a song or two suggesting a woman who does her thing outside of the house was a hot commodity.

Drake NeYoStuck in a time-warp, are we? Much respect to the 1950s, but in a world where women work as hard outside of the house as men do, there needs to be more parity for household tasks.

I want my future daughters to know that they can bring home the bacon and cook it because they’re awesome like that. I also want them to know they should look for a partner who is both supportive and accommodating of whatever “roles” they choose to take on. Not to mention, all of their suitors should be comfortable rockin’ construction boots, a three-piece suit and an apron.

Golden Rule Reciprocity

I am a servant. I serve my students the best way I know how every day. I bring energy, love and knowledge. I offer these things freely, without condition or expectation of much in return. Sometimes, it’s a challenging role because all of my students aren’t open to these things, all the time.

Being rebuffed can hurt and is an uncomfortable feeling, but with my kids, that feeling never lasts long. I don’t hold grudges because I get that adolescents are moody, hormonal, and (unfortunately) have many of the same stressors we adults deal with. So, I roll with the punches, taking it all on the chin.

However, I get paid for those daily chin checks. Servant ≠ slave or idiot. I’m a professional, a salaried employee. Any other case of me giving my all (or even my “some”) and it not being respected or valued will not be tolerated. For too long, I’ve allowed people to undervalue or overlook the “gems” I’ve contributed to their lives.

For a long time, anytime someone close to me would say or do something out of line, I’d make the excuse for them that “no one is perfect,” “we’re all human,” or “he/she didn’t mean it.” While all of those things may be true, human nature doesn’t negate thoughtfulness or care.

Since I know people aren’t perfect, I am constantly work on becoming a better person. One of the reasons I even bother is so that I can treat others better and continue to be of service in any way I can — especially to those closest to me.

While I don’t require people in my life to go tic-for-tac with me in overall goodness or to hold the exact values I do, I expect The Golden Rule to be in their ‘Top 10.’ What I give is what I expect. I no longer feel awkward saying nothing less will be accepted. I’m worth it — and so are you!

To Thy Own Self Be True

I am a self-described people-pleaser. I love to make people feel happy, comfortable and proud. Contrary to what reality TV shows tell you, these aren’t bad things. That is to say, there is nothing cool about going out of your way to piss people off and constantly feel the need to make the point “I’m grown, so I’ll do whatever I want.”

No, you don’t earn cool points for being intentionally disagreeable (except among other social pariahs). Nonetheless, I envy people who naturally march to the beat of their own drum; people who do what they want without worrying about how others will react.

How freeing it must be to go about life thinking about what you want for yourself and not what others want for you. Ahhh, yes. Dare to dream. Sometimes, I still struggle to make small decisions (i.e. what to wear) and “medium” decisions (i.e. pursuing a professional opportunity) without stressing over what others will think. Meanwhile, most of my loved ones seem so unaffected by external opinion. I’m jealous.

I’m working on it, though. I realize I discover more about who I am, what drives me, and what I want when I turn down others’ perceptions, thoughts and expectations. Yes, these things are relevant and have their place. I’m not saying it’s OK to become your neighbor’s surrogate without consulting your husband or to move halfway across the world without talking to your family about it first.

I am saying that you are given one life and that life belongs to you — not the masses.

How much do you care about other people’s opinions?

Shot Down

Yesterday during my morning commute, Russ Parr’s voice came through the radio, announcing that the Senate had failed to pass a bipartisan bill that would require background checks for would-be gun owners. The purpose of the bill is basically to prevent convicted felons and mentally ill persons from getting their hands on firearms. Of course, lobbying groups such as the NRA spun the bill to look like some contra-Constitutional law and hypothesized that such a law would lead to a national registry of gun owners. I am not at all surprised by the NRA-led propaganda.

I am, however, surprised at how cowardly and selfishly our Senate voted on the bill. No, I was saddened and enraged. I burst into tears. I started seeing all the perfect little faces of the first-graders who loss their lives in Newtown, CT just before Christmas. I recalled the dread I felt as a child after the shootings at Columbine High. I remembered mourning my college neighbors at Virginia Tech during the tail-end of my sophomore year of undergrad. I quietly spoke to Hadiya Pendleton — the 15-year-old girl who was killed back home in Chicago days after performing in the Inaugural parade — through prayer.

Now forgive me if I didn’t add correctly, that’s 71 victims. Actually, that’s 75 victims. I can’t forget the perpetrators of these various incidents who took their own lives after their brief “reigns of terror.” Let’s be clear — their acts were reprehensible. But be clear about another thing — anyone who would let loose on a bunch of innocent people clearly has mental problems GALORE. Maybe it’s the special education teacher in me, but I can’t dismiss anyone who has mental illness — especially when said illness goes undiagnosed, untreated, and/or unnoticed. And the fact that three of the four killers associated with these acts were children themselves? Even sadder.

I’m appalled that the issues these young men had were noted by many but addressed by none. I’m pissed off that anyone who’s clearly missing a few sandwiches from their picnic basket can get their hands on guns. A couple of days ago, our leaders had a chance to curb things like that from happening. Rather, they decided to bend to the will of the gun-enthusiasts who fund their campaigns (and probably line their pockets on the side, too.) The fact that any dollar amount or political victory can trump innocent lives makes me sick to my stomach. How could they do this?

As I write this, I think of all the people I know who’ve been killed by guns. Without thinking hard, four come to mind — three family friends and one high school classmate. I’m tearfully thinking of one of my closest cousins, just a few months older than I am, who will probably be behind bars until he’s middle-aged because of a non-fatal shooting he was involved in. How does a 16-year-old get a gun again?

Former Rep. Gabby Giffords summed up how I feel quite nicely yesterday. So, I won’t say much more. I will add, though, that when Ms. Giffords runs into the 46 dissenting assholes (I mean, Senators) who know all about what she’s been through — she should smack the shit out of them.

When Lightning Hits The Plane: Testing Out “No Fear”

The strength of spirit and character required to stand up against any force — worldly or supernatural — is no easy task.

I’m sure if you were to take the most “fearless” leaders we’ve ever known, and dig into their psyches, you’d be able to find a fear or two.

Sure, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Jr., Gandhi, Joan of Arc and Ida B. Wells appeared fearless. At times, they may have even said, “I’m not afraid.” But I’m left wondering what led these extraordinary people to “no fear.”

MLK

Was it a burning desire to create lasting change in the world? Or, like Fannie Lou Hamer, was it just the result of “being sick and tired of being sick and tired?”

FannieLouHamer
When people say “no fear,” are they saying it to pump themselves up or to inspire others? Maybe both. Maybe that’s how they really feel, even if only for a moment.

Imagine your personal hero — beating the odds with nothing but sheer will, pummeling through adversity and opposition in every form. There’s no backing down, there’s no letting up. Victory has burned a permanent impression on the heart and soul. Nothing can put his or her purpose asunder.

MalcolmX

Now, imagine that same hero — leaping onto a chair in a single bound as his or her peripheral vision catches a mouse running across the floor.

mouse_scared

I’m not scared to be held in contempt in the court of public opinion and I really don’t concern myself with my own death, but if a centipede walks on my wall, a cockroach crosses my path, or a bee buzzes by my ear –> Usain Bolt.

Usain_Bolt

Some things you just don’t play with! Does this mean I have little faith in God? No, it means I’m a human being with moments of uncertainty. Sometimes, I feel unprepared, inadequate and unworthy. In those moments of self-doubt, fear may creep in.

I’m not proud of this, especially since I know fear is a bigger illusion that the greatest magician could ever conjure up.

But that’s my practical side speaking. That’s me at my best. That’s me when every single thing in life doesn’t seem to be going wrong. There are times, though, when I have to go beyond this human form to channel that resolute “no fear.”

You see, when I scream “no fear,” I’m proclaiming to the universe that I’ll do whatever is required. No fear doesn’t mean be foolish. I don’t need to go around blowing up beehives to prove I’m not afraid, but if a bee were to chase one of my toddling cousins, homie would be swatted with a vengeance — no questions asked.

Funny how we overcome our “fears” as necessary. That right there is the higher power empowering us to do what is required despite perceived constraints.

Is that not where our greatest heroes drew their strength from?

Gandhi

 

 

 

Survey Says…(Part II): Power

A couple of weeks ago, I reflected on a survey I’d taken with the girls in my advisory. At first, the survey was taking me down Obvious Avenue but ultimately routed me to “Oh Really?” Road. Talk about things that make you say “hmmm.”

I would swear up and down to anyone that security is a top priority for me — I need a job with benefits and money in my savings account just in case something goes awry. Yet, the survey said I am more of a “take it as it comes” person.

In contradiction, I also scored low on ‘adventure.’ And here I was thinking I was a wild child. Goes to show — just because you like ziplining, doesn’t necessarily mean you’re adventurous. Is this my wake-up call to take more risks? Look for excitement at every turn? Welcome the unusual? 

Don’t give me that look. I’m not going to rob any banks or turn into some kind of freak (probably) but I’m reminded to constantly welcome new and unique things into my life. It’s either that or start rockin’ bloomers under my mini-skirts.

On the other hand, I’m glad I’m no longer hung up on stability. With that, though, came the revelation that family isn’t my highest priority. This is the biggest upset of them all. I’m outraged! I love family! I’m all about the family!

Then again, the survey questions associated with family were a little biased. Just because I said I don’t think you always have to choose staying at home over going out with friends, I’m not all about family? Just because I said one shouldn’t avoid high-powered jobs to keep a marriage strong, I’m not all about family? Just because I said I might testify in court against a loved one, I’m not all about family?!?

Was this survey written in the 1950’s? Is this an episode of “The First 48?” Look, I’m a woman of the millennium (we can have it ALL) and if you do something egregious, I’m NOT going down for you. Love you, though 🙂

Moving on from that nonsense, I discovered power is important. I don’t see that in me. I think of myself as being pretty laid back and content with personal success. I suppose a part of success is having power. Cool.

Whatever you envision for yourself is fine. We’re all individuals with diverse desires and drives. Survey or not, figure you out. What do you value and what does that mean for your life? Let whatever you believe in move you towards your own version of fulfillment. Whether it’s beauty, brains or a bountiful income, be you. You have the power.

Survey Says… (Part I)

On Wednesday, the girls in my advisory filled out a survey to figure out what they value in life. A good idea, we thought, because it may be a challenge to articulate those sorts of things in the tenth grade. As they whipped out their pencils, I thought, “At 25, I’m not the best at articulating what I value either.” So, I decided to join in on the fun.

The survey was a whopping 104 statements on a Likert scale (very true, sometimes true, not sure, not true). Afterwards, you assign a different point value to your level of agreement with each statement. Once I tallied my points, I began to reflect.

Some of the results didn’t surprise me. According to the survey, I really value helping others, independence & freedom, and knowledge & truth. Ahhh, yes. This explains why I’m a special education teacher who prides herself on being self-sufficient.

The survey says I value friendship & companionship, as well as creativity. OK, little survey, you got me. Literature, music, theatre, fashion — I’m there. Mix with good company? All the better.

That’s where the obvious ended.

I’ll admit, I was a little embarrassed by how proud I felt when I found out I didn’t value recognition, money, or beauty and aesthetics as much as I thought I did. Way to be humble, Mercia. On the other hand, I’d like to think I highly value personal integrity and moral courage. No fear, right? However, the survey said otherwise. Oh well, you can’t win them all. No worries, though. I won’t pickpocket you or drown any kittens. I love kittens.

Pleasantries aside, the results got a little more intense from there. Stay tuned.