I can’t help but wonder

I was reading an article about Meatless Mondays that is being “forced” on students in public schools. The article states animal rights activists are behind this movement. They are talking to students about the earth, the animals and what eating meat does to both.
Read the article here: http://news.yahoo.com/public-schools-forcibly-subject-students-meatless-monday-activism-021822637.html

I don’t have a problem with Meatless Mondays or Fish only Fridays. But I do wonder what life would look like if everybody minded their own business. What would the world look like if you were allowed to worship, eat, marry, learn, teach, dress they way you wanted to. Now don’t get me wrong, I understand we need rules and laws. I don’t support abuse of humans or cruelty to animals. Hhmmm I guess that’s the thing, my definition of abuse to animals is not the same as an animal rights activist’s view on abuse. Where is the common ground? If you don’t believe in eating meat then by all means, don’t eat meat. If you don’t want to wear clothes at the beach, there are places designated for that. If you dont’ want to worship a God then don’t go to church. If you don’t appreciate emissions from cars then walk. If you want to feed your children fast food every night and never give them a vegetable, I’m good with that as well. How much of life are we going to regulate, manipulate, and dictate?

Is it our duty as a society to push our agenda on others? Why do we insist on others living the way we live? Why must other’s worship your God? Let me throw this out here, how different is the ISIS from the Christian Crusades? How many lost their lives in the effort to advance the kingdom?

If I don’t vote the way you think I should, why can’t we still be friends? Why must we insult other people who vote, live and think differently? Why can’t I embrace your way of life and you embrace mine.

Again, I understand we need laws to deter crime. But we have a lot of laws on the books now and there is still quite a bit of crime going on daily. Is it because we don’t have enough laws? Is it because the thought of sitting in prison for life is not a deterrent? Perhaps it’s because we don’t love enough. If we put our differences aside and I look at you as a fellow human on this journey of life together and accept you where you are the way you are, would the heaviness of life appear a little lighter? If you could go to a neighbor and say, I am having a bad day and need to leave my kids with you for a day and not fear the state taking them away, would more children live or not experience abuse? If you could say to your partner, I need a break from you and have the option of taking a break, would more marriages survive? If a teen could say to a parent, teacher, friend, counselor I am having a tough time and have thoughts of committing suicide or killing people in mass and receive help instead of judgement or isolation, would they reach out?

I don’t have answers but I do have a lot of questions.

Meatless Mondays… Per the article, if you don’t support meatless Mondays, pack your kids a lunch. Don’t get me started on the number of kids that don’t have food at home to pack. That’s another topic for another day.

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Acceptance

How many times have you been in a situation be it job, home, school or an outing with friends and felt like you were not accepted?
There is a song out by Macklemore and Lewis. The title is Same Love. The song is about accepting gays but this post is about acceptance in general. One part of the song says, “I can’t change even it I tried, even I wanted to…” I have fallen in love with this song because of those 11 words. It’s an acceptance of my reality. It’s an acceptance of who I am and an acceptance of who you are. No, I’m not coming out of the proverbial closet, I am pulling out my soapbox and tapping the microphone. I have something to say.
One day I was sitting around with a group of stay at home mom friends, they were talking about being little girls thinking about what they wanted to do when they grew up. Almost all of them said they wanted to become mommies. When it was my turn to share, I said I wanted to be a Supreme Court Justice with a nanny. When I’m hanging with my core group of friends, they are all business majors, I am a psychology major. We don’t necessarily think the same or approach the a problem the same. I recently moved to a new department at work. I am surrounded by accountants. Again, I am a psychology major. Acceptance.
Is it just me? No it’s not. It’s you too. I’m not inviting people to a pity party. I am inviting you to become more aware of how your beliefs and actions affect those around you. I am asking you to pay attention to others and accept them where they are at this moment in time. How much fun would life be if everybody was the same? I never said we can’t grow or be flexible, I am learning about journal entries. But the core of who I am is who I am. To be perfectly honest, I love me. Acceptance.
My two youngest children attend a charter school. They wear uniforms and this year, the administrators are enforcing vague dress code policies that address hair styles. They are creating an atmosphere of sameness. Their thoughts are the more the children are the same, the fewer the distractions. Fewer distraction equal higher learning and test scores right? Not according to the school’s official records with the state. My thought is give the children an opportunity to be uniquely them. Education is not just academics it’s about the whole person.
If I walked up to you and said step into this box and remain in it for the rest of your life, would you? Okay, the rest of your life is along time, how about for six years? Six months? Would you survive six days? If I gave you some boxes and said your job is to recruit people to live in these boxes, would you? I hope not.
Let me ask you, why do you feel like your religion is better? Why do you spend your time attempting to condemn mine, recruit me into yours or kill me if I don’t convert? Why do you spend your day trying to force people to become your clone? What makes your way the best? Why do you care who somebody else loves? Why do I need to dress like you? What’s wrong with tattoos and non conforming hairdos? Why can’t my daughter wear mismatched socks and my son march to the beat of his own drum? Arrogance? Not acceptance.
One of the first classes I took, when I started my master’s degree journey, was about diversity in the classroom. The book said, we are no longer a melting pot where everybody jumps in, loses their identity, gives up their names, forgets their culture and denies their heritage in order to be the same. We are now or should be progressing toward becoming a salad bowl. Each person is unique and appreciated for what the bring individually. Together, we are no longer an unidentifiable soup but a vibrant, colorful, life giving source. Acceptance.
You see, “I can’t change even it I tried, even I wanted to…”

Acceptance

I was a psychology major in school. I have to say at the time I believed everything I was taught. I believed that society created aggression in boys. I believed that we could gender neutralize our boys and take some of the fight out of them. I was against toy guns and had decided my boys would play with dolls if they wanted. I was not going to contribute to the violence that is already prevalent in society. I had also decided my daughter would not get sucked into gender roles. I would ensure she had the opportunity to be and become. She would get a toy push mower and have plastic tools. I would try to make her gender neutral as well. After all, if we reached this state of neutrality as a society and as a world, this would end violence and wars and we would all get along.
When I wrote my graduation invitations out to my married family members, I put the woman’s name first. I was taught by my professor to do the opposite of what society expected. Why couldn’t the woman’s name appear first on the invitation? Mrs. Aunt and Mr. Uncle. I was liberated, informed and educated. I was time to take on the world. Woman Power!
Then about 8 years after graduating from college, I had my first child. The teenager was born. He always wanted to be in my arms or siting next to me. He was cautious about going far from me. A couple of years after that, my Honeygirl was born. I would watch them play with toys and he was always more aggressive than she was. He wasn’t tear the head off the doll aggressive but he was more launch the doll into the air and make it fly aggressive. She always cuddled and coddled her dolls. She didn’t want to launch them into the air like her brother. She wanted to dress them and feed them and love them like they were her babies. She has always loved to color, draw and paint. She is an artist in the making. I have a picture of her when she was a year and a half. She is gripping a handful of crayons. Her dad sent me a picture recently. In the picture, she is gripping a hand full of crayons.
Then, the other two were born. Little dude came into the world and within minutes, opened his eyes and began looking around. He was trying to take it all in from the very start. He is still observant, sensitive and inquisitive. Then Stud Muffin was born. If I still had any doubts about babies being born with a defined personality, he brought the final clarity I needed. He as always been um, well, how can I put this? He came with a strong cry and a way of demanding what he wanted. As soon as he could hit, or throw something he would. As soon as he could stand and hold a ball he was bouncing the ball. As soon as he could stand up and hold a bat, he was swinging. He has always been opinionated and independent.
What I learned from watching them grow from infancy to now is we come here with certain personality traits. I can cultivate them and nurture them but they are who they are. I understand that as parents, we have the responsibility to nurture our kids and teach them to be productive citizens. I could have turned my head as the Stud threw his brother down and sat on his back but I stepped in and helped him learn how to express his frustrations with his words instead of his actions. I could have listened to the Honeygirl cry from exasperation and joined her pity party but instead I empower her to stand up for herself and speak out.
I bought her Hot Wheels every time I bought the boys one. I bought the boys stuffed animals every time I bought her one. But they did not gender neutralize. They had a toy kitchen that everyone cooked in. She had a baby stroller that the boys used as an excuse and run and race through the house.
I am no longer trying to create a generation of gender neutral children. I am trying to embrace their personalities and give them tools to help them navigate the world we live in. Each of them needs a different set of tools. One might need courage, another better communication, one definitely needs less carbs to help remain calm, and another hugs and kisses to make it through the day. What they get from me is the encouragement to be the best them. I love and accept them the way they were wonderfully created.

The Rudolph Syndrome

rudolph
I was listening to the radio this morning when Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer started playing. I hummed along for a few moments until it came to the part about Santa calling on Rudolph because of his nose and asked him to lead the sleigh. All of sudden the other reindeer weren’t calling him names anymore and they weren’t excluding him from the reindeer games. Now they loved him shouted and even shouted with glee that his name would go down in history.

Rewind to several years ago. I was with a room full of moms and each of them was saying how they had always wanted to get married and have babies. They reminisced about being young girls and dreaming this dream. They didn’t know it at the time but I felt out-of-place. I always wanted to be a supreme court justice and have a nanny. As I sat there, I could envision a grove full of trees. None of the trees were exactly alike. I realized I was created to be different, as were you.

Fast forward to this past spring. I was spending time alone to reflect on my life. I realized that my closest set of friends were business majors and could not understand my me fully. I was a psychology major.  I made decisions that were impractical or seemed silly but they made sense to me and usually worked out in the end. Even if they didn’t work out, I was okay with that.

Getting back to Rudolph, my point is he was not liked when he was seen as different. He was misunderstood and according to the movie, it was tough enough that he felt the need to run away to join the other misfits. In the end it worked out for him. Santa saw his value and gave him a position of honor. I say to my fellow Rudolphs it’s okay to be you. There is value in being uniquely you. It may not be easy and you may not get to lead the sleigh but you are valuable no matter where you are in the line up. The others can just go kick rocks. (I think that is the funniest saying)

I wonder, are you a person who looks at others’ uniqueness as a personal challenge to try to get them to conform or do you embrace those people who are different hoping to learn something new and experience something different? There is room in this world for all kinds. Where is the fun in everybody being the same?