Friday, July 31, 2020

Those super insecure moments

So recently I've been going through a lot of up and down days with my depression/anxiety. 

I've never been diagnosed as being manic-depressive, but that's the closest thing I can think of to describe the past week. I had very low mood days, where I was insecure, lonely, and almost unable to function coupled with moments of high productivity, running around doing everything like a boss bitch, and back again. It started with an insecure moment I had with a Facebook friend last week and it only seemed to grow the more the week went on.

On a daily basis, even when I'm good at handling life, often times my anxiety takes over and I feel like 
Taken on a bad day, when I  retreated
upstairs to bed. Luckily the cat knew
and came to comfort me.

I'm a failure at life, 
I can't do anything right,
Nobody likes me. 


I know this is my inner sabator talking and I need to reassure myself.... 

I'm not failing at life-->I'm living. 

It's not that I can't do ANYTHING right-->I got up, got dressed, I'm a functioning human being so I did at least some things correctly today. 

And Saying NOBODY likes me is a bit overkill-->
at the very least I have a husband who loves me, a baby boy who will love me unconditionally, and in the words of Ru Paul "I'f you can't love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else? Can I get an Amen?"


Still, that aside, I can't help but feel down when I have 'friend interactions'. Certain interactions with people make me second guess where I fit into their world and if I'm accepted or just tolerated. And it's worse the closer I let myself get to people. That's why, based on my past track record, I take a very long time to warm up to people and very rarely do I let myself feel fully dependent upon friends in case I'm let down. I can't even begin to describe the overwhelming dread that washes over me when I think someone whom I deeply care about, just DGAFs about me. 


It's sending someone a huge long text message, then only getting a 1-2 word reply. 

It's making plans with someone and feeling like the only idiot who's excited to hang out. 
Or...alternatively,

It's seeing them with their other friends through social media posts and realizing "they never look this happy when we hang out" when every time you're super excited to be with them. 

It's seeing them hang out with a mutual friend and getting serious FOMO. 

It's feeling like they only talk to you when they need something. 

It's trying to make plans, and it keeps getting put on hold (without any particular reason just 'really busy this week, I'll get back to you later') and never following up. ...half a year later. Try again. 

It's the constant analyzing of expression: Is it resting bitch face? Are they tired? Stressed? Worried? Got a lot on their mind? Or do they just not like me?


All these little niggles, these sabotaging thoughts and feelings are a constant battle in my head that I have to shoo away like spiders with a blowtorch if I want to get anywhere in life. I need connections. I need people to be a part of my life and I get sad when I think about the connections with people I've made in the past, only to be wasted by someone deciding one day 'you know what..Nawwww, I'm out. Friendship done.'

I've been scorned by one too many people whom I've thought of as true friends. And now when I really connect with someone, I have a habit of building up walls faster than you can say 'friendship' because I fear I'll get speared through the heart with a javelin of betrayal, yet again. 

So I set my expectations low. If I don't build them up, then they can't let me down. Still, some days are harder than others. When I pour out my love for someone and they torch it like gasoline just to watch it burn: it hurts. 
Like unrequited love... only it's unrequited friendship that I fear the most. 

Something as tiny as a friend not messaging back can get me all worked up and make me spiral into a low mood if I let it. That coupled with over tiredness, looking after another human life, making big life decisions (we just got a loan to buy a second family car and we're trying to sort Nursery out at the moment), a global pandemic and just living day to day can get pretty overwhelming and sometimes I just snap.  And this week-I definitely snapped. 

Don't get my wrong, not every day was bad. I'm glad for the moments where I have good friends who are able to get me out of a slump for a little while. Not only is it great to be around people who genuinely seem to enjoy your company as much as you enjoy theirs, but it's a great distractions from the sabator whispering sinister thoughts in my ear. 

But, like all good things must come to an end, as soon as the interaction is over, and I'm back to being in my bubble alone with my thoughts, it can go one of two ways--I'm super low, or I'm super productive and there's no real way to detect which way the mood will swing.  

Most people only ever see the manic side of this. Super productive, super organized, getting stuff done, Crochet fiend, crafting extraordinaire, busy body, boss mom, friendly, outgoing, social butterfly Jennifer. In the main, that's because when I do have these super down days, I don't go anywhere, I don't do anything, I'm off social media, and I just either cry or sleep or cuddle my kitty to make me feel better. I mean, If I'm lucky, I get to sit in front of the TV(not crying) and binge watch TV to distract myself from the reality that I eventually have to get back to until I'm in a more functional mood. 

The picture above is from another bad day where I was just so exhausted, I face planted onto our new ottoman. I set up my camera to play with Henry cause he was doing something cute at the time. We played and I fained enthusiasm for so long, until he crawled away getting distracted by something else. I was on my knees, gathering up bits of toys in the living room and just sank my butt to my heels at some point. I remember being so tired that I didn't really want to pick up toys anymore and instead dropped the toys and just slumped forward and rested my body on to of the ottoman where we keep all his toys. 

Later, after Henry went to bed, I watched the video back, partially to see if there was any good footage to post on IG, and partially to see why it was SO LONG. I forgot that I had my phone camera still rolling and came across this little gem-so I screen grabbed it. Often times as mums on social media, the spotlight is always cast on the good, rather than the bad. So I thought I'd share this to let people see the other side of the coin--of momhood and of my depression. 

I'm feeling more myself, but I'm still under pressure with certain big life changes. I think it might be time for a mom stay-cation. (a "mom stay at home vacation": 24 hrs of uninterrupted me time to rest and recuperate). 

  

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

When is the right time to add to the family?

When IS the right time to add to the family? That is a very deep, serious question. And there is no right or wrong answer because everyone views things differently. Every couple has their own unique situation when they have to consider having a child. But the answer surrounding the aforementioned question in terms of getting pregnant is usually, "When it feels right". 

Sadly, my brain works off logical thinking, considering smaller and wider parameters of my life, thinking rationally about each one and often times weighing the pros and cons. I know I know....I'm a nightmare. How do you think I feel, I have to live with their irrational, rational thinking!

When Rob and I had Henry it was kind of a divine sign. I had just lost my dad, and we wanted to start  having kids before we turned 30 anyway, which was imminent. And it just sort of organically happened without 'actively trying'. Now, seeing how adorable Smushy is, Rob has been asking when we are going to have number 2 (teasing how we need to have a 'SmuSHE'). We both want to have another one and I can feel it...that need for Henry to have a sibling, and me to just go for it while I'm young enough to run around after 2 under the age of 2 by myself. But my brain just can't stop rationalizing every little thing, and it's hard to know what's me overthinking vs. me doing my due diligence to make sure we don't get in over our head. 

Larger considerations: 

Probably the largest consideration right now is to be bringing another child into this weird COVID-19 pandemic. Who knows how long it will last and if it will be gone before we have another child. If it isn't, there's the worry of being able to go in for midwife appointments, prenatal class, etc and experiencing the joy or prepping for a little one. Then on top of that, if Covid is still kicking around, I dread to think what it would be like to have a baby at hospital during a pandemic. 

The next life changing consideration is... do we have the room? do we have the stuff? Henry has graduated out of his baby carseat, and a new baby can sleep in the carrycot in our room for a few months, but that will only get us so far. At some point we will need to get another larger carseat, another cot or move smushy into a different toddler bed...which will go into the guest room. The one variable that we haven't got from the get go is a combi pushchair - one to hold a sitting toddler and a new born baby. 

Then we have the other factors that everyone has to consider: what's going to be a good age gap between the siblings? Can we afford two kids? Will Rob and I still be working in the same jobs, doing the same commute, earning the same amount of money? Will I have to go down to part time to be able to take care of both kids? Will I be able to handle a newborn and a toddler on my own this time without help from mum(who was visiting), and Rob (who was home more of the time due to lockdown)? 

Then there are the smaller, petty little things that don't actually matter in the long run, but they go in the pro and con lists all the same, just while we're at it.

Smaller Considerations: 

I had always envisioned that after we had Henry and when we got used to our status quo that Rob and I would be able to go on another holiday abroad, just the two of us, and we'd get someone to watch Henry while we're gone. Either that, or we'd be able to go back to America: either back east to visit my brother Jason, or home to California where the rest of my family is so that Henry can meet his American cousins (preferably while airfare for babies is free).But with Covid circling the globe, that certainly isn't on my to do list anytime soon. 

So then, do we wait to have these trips abroad after baby number two? Which means that if we are taking the kids, it could possibly be more money if Henry is older. Or if we need someone to look after them, it would have to be 2 kids instead of just Henry? Seems awfully cruel to inconvenience someone like that - not having looked after 1 child overnight, but being dumped with 2. 

Then there's the really stupid stuff that pops into my head....like I can't give blood if I get pregnant again...which I haven't been able to give blood for 2 years, since before dad died. Or the fact that I have an idea for another tattoo I was going to get...but then I got pregnant with Henry and I couldn't get it and there's rules about waiting so long until after you've given birth before you can get one. 

And then there's the fact that I love my Henry and that I don't know what its going to be like while I'm pregnant-will I be able to keep up with him. Will he be jealous of a new baby? Will I devote more time and attention to the next little one because they're only a baby. As stupid as it sounds I don't want anything getting in the way of the connection I have with my little man. I mean, Rob doesn't even get that much attention off me anymore (mostly because we're both doing metaphorical baby juggling).


I know that the decision to have another baby shouldn't be weighed against statistics or a pro/con list and that we should just know when the time is right, but I can't help having a very analytical brain. I mean, I am definitely a planner and the thing about kids is that you can NEVER and I mean NEVER account for all possible outcomes no matter how hard you try, so what's the point stressing over it? 

Just to be clear, I'm not looking for any advice, and this is not some big announcement or anything, this is just me, letting you inside the thought process of my brain as I try and work it out for myself. Right now my head is a jumble of anxiety, pre-planning, panicking, daydreaming, imagining, calculations, and considerations. So, when you ask me again, "Do you think you and Rob will have another one?" ... answer your own question after reading this and know that yes, we want to, but my mind hasn't even determined when that will be! Only time will tell....

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

#Mom Life

I'm beginning to realize that time moves differently when you have kids. 

Have you ever felt when you have a day off from work that it goes WAY too quickly? That you rush around all day trying to do stuff or get things done and find you either run out of time or by the time you finish there is no time to relax? 

That's parenting 24/7. I realize that this is the easy stage I'm in currently--not having to worry about balancing a job and childcare pick up/drop off-- and it helps that I have Rob to co-parent. When life goes 'back to normal' and both Rob and I are working we will have to balance both work lives, parenting life, and personal lives. That will be when the crazy hazy days will start coming in. 

For now everything is just new and slightly scary parenting wise, so everything i do is a new challenge. Having Rob back at work makes things a bit trickier; I feel like Single Mom sometimes taking care of Henry all day and even all evening.  Sadly there are times even when Rob does get home he's still 'off duty' because he's cooking, or mowing the law, or going for a run, or completing a personal errand and I'm still on 'mom duty' until Henry goes to bed. 

I get overwhelmed some days that I'm having to juggle what I want to do, what Henry needs, and household tasks in a day, when Rob has a singular focus approach-- he can either look after Henry or take a shower. There is no way to do both. Whereas if I need to take a shower, I simple place Henry in his cot (before he was crawling I placed on a towel on the bathroom floor and we played intermittent Peek-a-boo while mommy cleaned herself up). Maybe I'm just a better multitasker than my husband but it still riles me up and I end up having an emotional overload where I'm unable to adult some days.

Luckily, Rob is learning slowly how to multitask and also I think he recognizes when I've 'had enough' and has to tell me (several times before I will listen) to go away...go take a bath, go out for a walk, etc. I guess I'm just used to the idea of 'I have free hands so I need to DO something.' Sometimes the DOing things makes me super productive. Sometimes it's a super mom kind of day and I feel like a multitasking boss instead of wanting to cry my eyes out by the end of the day. 

Occasionally, I do wonder if I'm not Manic-Depressive, but then again I don't feel like my depression dips are low enough to be diagnosed as such, I just happen to have really manic episodes of productivity....but I digress. 

Very rarely do I have a 'mommy day' or a 'mommy evening'. I kind of have to fight for these in and among the craziness, but it's really important to have a zero responsibility day(or majority of the day) to reset myself. I probably get one of these every couple of months if not once a month. A set block of hours where mommy is off-duty completely and I get to do whatever I want (read, craft, relax, spa day, shopping day) without having to juggle baby watch or household tasks. I had one of these today whilst Rob took Henry to visit his Granny. I had in mind that I would sit and crochet and finish reading one of my books, but I read for a bit until I couldn't keep my eyes open anymore and ended up having a 2 hour nap, which I obviously needed. 

Still, i'm grateful for these 'reset' days where Rob knows I need a break from full time mummy duties. And for those days where I feel like there's not enough time to do everything I want and everything that is required of me AND relax, I have to remind myself that productivity is not always getting stuff done. Sometimes it's okay to skip the laundry, leave the dishes for hubby to do when he gets home and just have a cuddle with my little man. 

A happy mum makes for a happy baby and self care is just as important a task as anything else. 


Friday, July 10, 2020

21 Day Antiracist Challenge - Part 2

Here is the second part of the journal entries from the antiracist challenge on Mehcad Brook's Instagram.Again, not every day was a journal day, so there might be days missing. 



Day 13 Prompt- WRITE A LETTER

                Write a letter to America using ALL 12 words you wrote down from the past 2 exercises. At the end of the letter, reflect on how you feel. The juxtaposition between love and disappointment is just the tip of the iceberg of how Black Americans relationship with America is.

VAST.    NEW.     OPPORTUNISTIC.     FREE.    OUTSPOKEN.    PASSIONATE.    TRAGIC.    BRUTAL.    MISINFORMED.     INHUMANE.     MALICIOUS.      DECEITFUL.

 

Dear America,

                When Christopher Columbus ‘discovered’ America it was so new and exciting. It was an uninhabited land that British colonials would migrate to and make their home on behalf of the crown. Yet, it wasn’t uninhabited….it wasn’t yours to discover. There was a free indigenous people  already occupying that vast open space and you took it from them. You slaughtered those people or drove them out to make way for your colonies until there was nothing left but the lands you stole. You then passed it off in American History as a national holiday of ‘peace’, breaking bread with the natives.

                Fast forward to a time where the American colonies were being established and they needed a workforce to carry out the labours the rich upper class needed doing. The poor people who were shipped over from England and Ireland were indentured servants to the rich upper class, working off debts, until the rich found a more opportunistic work force. The white lower class became free and put in charge of plantations to police the new coloured workforce-plucked straight from their homes in Africa, India, etc and sent to this new land to be slaves.

                That was the founding of the police: The white, once indentured servants, who now policed property of the rich and prosperous. Unlike indentured servants, who were still seen as human, these new slaves were only seen as possessions or property and that has trickled down over the years and never was corrected. The American people are misinformed-The police are, and never were, here to ‘protect and serve’ the people of the United States. They are here to protect property and serve the white upper class. That is how it has always been and it’s beyond tragic that it’s never been corrected.

                Throughout the years of American history, despite the deceitful lies told to us in the history books, black people have always been seen as less than and have been treated in such disregard, as if the whole population of black Americans were expendable. The Tulsa Massacre was brutal-all steaming from a misunderstanding between a black boy and a white girl, fueled by those trying to stand up for what is right, and escalated by malicious racial actions that resulted in an entire black community destroyed. The Tuskegee Syphilis Experiments that went unnoticed for 40 years! were malicious and inhumane- hundreds of poor black men being lied to that they were getting free medical treatment, when in reality they were being injected with disease and gone untreated, spreading it to their families too, all for the sake of a useless scientific study.

                America, you are unapologetically outspoken in your talk about being the land of freedom and opportunity. You breed a passionate people who would die to protect you and everything you stand for, but they do so blindly. They do so ignorantly. They do so, knowing or unknowing, that there is a whole population of people within your borders that are still oppressed after 500 years of injustice. Your pledge of “with liberty and justice for all” is a lie.  It seems that it’s only the case for those you deem fit by the collective white population and that does not include ALL.

                Signed, an ex-patriot,   
                                Jenny Vidler

 

 

Day 14 – JOURNAL/THOUGHT EXERCISE

                Look up an unarmed black person dying at the hands of a white person in the last 20 years. Look at it with new awareness, now knowing how black atrocities were hidden from history. As a thought exercise, read the story disbelieving the facts that make the black person look bad. Write down your thoughts.

 

There are so many infamous murders of innocent black people and many more that go unreported every day. I’ve just jotted down my thoughts of a FEW of them that I’m outraged by and included a video/news clipping in case you have never seen it and want to witness the atrocity for yourself.

 

TAMIR RICE- 12 years old, is playing with a pellet gun outside a rec centre. Shot within 2 SECONDS of police pulling up.

BBC News- Tamir Rice Footage <--Watch it

My initial reaction is that whenever it comes to ‘suspicious black activity’ cops always Shoot first and ask questions later (asking questioned being… ‘How do we cover this up so we don’t look bad?’ It’s messed up. It’s never like you see on TV where officers are there shouting at a potential suspect, “Get on the ground” or “drop the gun” repeatedly for a good minute. Yes a 12 year old had a toy gun in public, but police should have tried to ‘deescalate’ the situation instead of knee jerk reacting.

 

BREONNA TAYLOR – An EMT(in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic) was in her home, in her bed, & shot 8 times because of a drug raid on the wrong house.

Breonna's story -- WATCH IT 

My thoughts… unorganized as they are: that’s one less medical professional on the front lines. Why didn’t they knock? Why were they in civilian clothes? Why was she shot 8 times-isn’t one enough? How did they get the wrong effing house?!? Why were the reports filled out incorrectly? All of this is very suspicious and a good woman lost her life because either officers were negligent idiots or had malicious intentions.

 

TRAYVON MARTIN- Unarmed teenager walking home from the store, followed and killed. FOLLOWED AND KILLED. George Zimmerman called 911 to report Trayvon walking and looking around his neighbourhood ‘suspiciously’. The dispatcher asked if George was following Trayvon, and when he said yes, the dispatcher SPECIFICALLY SAID ‘We Don’t Need you to do that’, yet he continued to pursue Trayvon.

Minute by Minute account of Trayvon's case

The only reason why Zimmerman is allowed to roam free is because of the bullshit “stand your ground” law which states you have the right to defend yourself even with lethal force if you feel threatened instead of retreating. I have no words for this… he stalked, confronted and shot someone who was non-threatening and he gets to walk free? Unbelievable.

 

ELIJIAH MCCLAIN- Walking home from the store, wearing a mask to keep his face warm, unarmed and yet was manhandled, put into a chokehold, and injected with Ketamine.

Minute by Minute account of Cops 'arresting' Elijah

They violated his personal space. Instead of stepping in his way to make him stop walking and calmly talking to him, investigating where he has been, where he was going, etc. they grabbed his arm to stop him and that made him visibly uncomfortable and nervous. Elijah seemed like a special kid, like he is somewhere on the autism spectrum(that’s just my opinion) and to be placed in an aggressive situation where he felt trapped, I’m not surprised he reacted by babbling. I don’t believe for a second he tried to grab an officer’s gun. I don’t believe he was struggling hard enough to warrant the officers giving him Ketamine because he was ‘super strong’. There were also multiple officers on sight that could have held him down to calm him if need be. No need to sedate him. 

 

Day 16 Prompt-

                Write down 5 words that privilege means to me.

Opportunity.  Benefit.   Positive.   Reward. Advantage.

 

Day 17 Prompt-JOURNAL ENTRY

                Do your own research on Special Field Order 15: aka “40 acres and a mule” and then write in your Journal how black people must have felt knowing that the US government was finally going to take care of them, and how they must have felt when 2 years later the US government reneged on the deal.  Write down where America could possibly be right now if the deal had gone through. Heal the collective by sharing your thoughts on Social media. A FINAL THOUGHT: Are we Americans or are we White Supremacists?

 

                I imagine that to get a meeting with the president to begin with to discuss moving forward after the war must have seemed unreal to those black leaders. I can imagine that they would have been in disbelief that the government cared enough to sit down and negotiate terms of ‘what would help you’. Then to have it agreed upon that black Americans were not only free, but would be granted 40 acres of land, ways to till the soil and buy back that land, protection from the US government against their former oppressors and most importantly HOPE of a completely autonomous future.. I can only imagine the overwhelming joy saying ‘FINALLY’ free at last.

                I can picture that when President Lincoln was shot that these black leaders would have been in shock, thinking ‘But, we still have a deal right?’ The deal was with the US government, not specifically Abe Lincoln. At that point word probably spread to all the free African Americans that they would be given a safe community to prosper in and the news of Lincoln’s death would have stirred up mass confusion. When President Johnson ordered a proclamation that the land would NOT be used for it’s intended purpose, but instead given back to their white traitorous owners, the people must have been absolutely furious. They went from being stolen from their homes, enslaved, their children enslaved, being forced into a war, being brutalized, raped, killed and after all of that a glimmer of hope was given to black American people…. Only to have their oppressors take it from them once again. I would have been absolutely fuming, but then immediately that fury would turn into fear for my life. I imagine that is what some people would have felt, like going straight back to square one.

                If Special Field Order No. 15 would have gone ahead, there’s no telling what life in the United States would be like now, but it couldn’t be any worse than what it is now. If I had to hazard a guess, I think that those given the land to work on would have easily been able to sell what they reaped and make money to buy back the land from the US government making them official free, black, land owners. I would say that the rights of citizenship would have been granted to ALL those born or naturalized in the US when the 14th amendment was issued 3 years later. They wouldn’t feel the need to stipulate citizenship to ‘free WHITE persons’ in the document because there might have by that time been BLACK land owners which would have carried more weight in society and therefore those would need to be included in the amendment.     

        With that, black Americans would be looked upon with all the rights of Citizenship and could have been treated with more respect. Black Americans could have been granted the right to vote earlier. And I reckon that the systems the US have in place today that suppress the voices of BIPOC would be far less, or at least more exposed so the injustices could be seen and squashed more openly instead of indiscretions being hidden away.

                On the flip side I’m sure that Special Field Order No. 15 and all the terms of conditions would have been looked upon by White Supremacists/Southern former slave owners  in contempt. There may have been more hate crimes done in secret, but again, with Black land owners in society this would have been frowned upon a lot more because society would have been forced to see Black land owners as citizens who matter. There might have been more open debates, or even more war over these issues, but the land given to ‘negros’ to till, and buy back, would have given them a better standing in society and so any oppression they would have faced would have been dealt with more effectively and out in the open.

                The question of… “Are we Americans or are we White Supremacists?” is an excellent existential question. In my opinion America is not filled with Americans, nor is America filled with White Supremacists. It SHOULD be that everyone in America is an American Citizen(if they have naturalized), but this is not true. On a surface level, there are illegal immigrants that have snuck through boarders and are not citizens. More than that though, to be an American Citizen, you have to be granted all the liberties of a citizen, and BIPOC do not have all of the liberties that American Citizens have. So if Americans are not all Americans.  And Americans are not all Supremacists… what are they?

                It is widely seen that there are two type of people in America: White Supremacist Racist Bigots and Bleeding Heart Liberals/Traitors.  You must be one or the other apparently. And for those who think they are somewhere in between, there is no in-between. If you are accepting of the way things are and are not fighting against the system, then you have accepted a White Supremacist system is governing you and it doesn’t affect you so you choose to do nothing. I find it funny that anyone acting out against the oppression must be seen as traitors, yet to those who think this…they are descendants of the white supremacists who took this land away from Black people… and those  colonials were the ones who fought against their country in the first place. They are the traitors. So, therefore it seems that there is a great deal of white guilt wrapped up in this.  If you think that liberals fighting against the injustice of the system built on oppression is ‘traitorous’, you might want to examine your own guilt because your descendants did the exact same thing when they went to war with their country to oppress the freedoms of other people.

 

Day 21 Prompt-JOURNAL ENTRY

        Go back and review your journal entries & note your shortcomings. Write down what you learned about yourself in the last 3 weeks- who you were, who you are now, and who you’d like to be going forward. Also, listen to the podcast Mehcad did with Duncan Trussell- (it’s an honest conversation between a black man and a white man).


            What I have learned about myself is that my past is not free from inherent racial bias. I added some things to my previous journal entries that sprang to mind—for example, listing off all of the things I’ve done with a ‘policing mentality’ that I could think of… I’ve thought of a few more rereading it and it makes me ashamed of how I asked before. I also noticed in some of the adjective exercises that not only do I have some racist unconscious bias, but I also have done rather anti-feminine unconscious bias. For some reason when I think ‘athletic’ in my head, my unconscious response is Young White Men are good at athletics…no one else? Why not people of colour? Why not women? What are all the Olympic athletes if not athletic and they are not all young white dudes.

                I used to think that I ‘didn’t see colour’-now I know that is a ridiculous argument. Of course I DO see colour; I know the difference between a red car and a white car. What I meant to say is that I don’t judge people based on their race, and for the most part I didn’t. I didn’t sneer at anyone or commit any hate crimes, or call people racial slurs, however I was thinking somewhat like a racist with my unconscious bias. I have been mentally programmed from TV, movies, my growing environment—family, home, work, school, friends, etc—books, the news… all of these things have fueled the way I see people based on the colour of their skin. 

                I grew up in California where there are a lot of Mexican immigrants, illegal and legal. One of the biggest racist thoughts I had growing up was the misconception that all Mexicans can’t or won’t speak English and if they do it’s broken span-glish in a weird(to me) accent. That’s offensive and I want to slap myself. Yes, you do find a lot of Mexican migrants in California who only speak Spanish. Yes, speaking Spanish does come with a certain vocal cadence, but that is not to say that EVERY Mexican person is like that. There are people who have assimilated to life in the United States and I probably wouldn’t ever have thought they were from Mexico because of the perfect English they speak. But does it matter—hell no. So why was my mind putting them into a box like that? Because I was programmed to by everything that I had previously picked up subconsciously.

I also used to think that I was a good person and I wasn’t racist because I didn’t outwardly act on my racist thoughts. I stayed silent and complicit, and I know now that that is almost as bad as actively participating in racial violence. It’s the psychological theory of mob mentality and it can be very damaging overall. For instance, if loads of people were to witness a crime-say a mugging in an alleyway between apartments, most of the people watching out of windows from their flats (if not all of them) will say, “I don’t have to report this, someone else will do it”. IF everyone has that mentality, the crime goes unreported; each and every one of those people who witnessed the mugging did nothing about it and the cycle of crime continues unpunished because no one acted. Not speaking up, is allowing it to happen… again, and again, and again. It’s a selfish way of thinking that it’s not an immediate problem because it’s not happening to me.

Through this challenge I have realized that I have been complicit and condoning the actions of openly racist individuals. I have not been playing my part in ending systemic racism. I have been blind to the truth of my country and my adopted country up until now. Every day I am learning new things about perpetual racism in the media, historic injustices, and systems that have been built on foundations of oppression. I understand that my past and the past of my ancestors do not prevent me from taking action now. I must push past accepting who I was for  fear of ‘sounding/being racist’ and strive now to be better. What we did in the past does not matter as much as what we do now going forward.  

Who I am now… I am an ally. I will not stay silent anymore. If I see injustice in the world I will speak out and encourage others to open their eyes to the truth that has been going on underneath our noses for centuries. I will try to make my friends and family see the atrocities and encourage them to openly take a stand so that we can end this cycle and begin anew. My hope is that at least everyone I love I will be able to touch in some way and be able to wake them to the truth of the world, which I hope will inspire them to act and change the future for my children. There is a lot of work to be done.

It starts with unraveling the inherent racial bias that we unconsciously use every day. Recognizing racist behavior within ourselves and moving on from it is the first step. Learning about history and about the world we live in—the TRUE world we live in—with all of its ugly and shameful parts is the next step. We tell our children that it’s important to learn about our past so that “History Doesn’t Repeat Itself” but if the truth is being hidden…how can we learn from those mistakes and move on? Seek answers. Read. Listen to podcasts. Watch documentaries that uncover the truths that have been brushed under the rug for so long. I have always been the very studious type of person who is addicted to learning and getting to the bottom of things. I’m also someone who enjoys the complexities of the human psyche and so my biggest thing is to recognize who I’ve been, how I’ve acted, learn from it, learn from others, learn all that I can and change my attitude towards these old outlooks.

Part of the reason I love the Musical Hamilton so much is that there are so many powerful phrases in the show that relate to this exact topic. I’ll leave you with my favorite lyrics & a note on each for you to ponder:


“History has its eyes on YOU.”

History is watching. What are you going to be known for?

 

“I’d rather be divisive than indecisive.”     &
“If you stand for nothing[Burr] what will you fall for."

Openly take and fight for your stance. Don’t just stay on the side-lines.

 

“We will never be truly free until those in bondage have the same rights as you and me.”

   All are NOT equal. There is so much inequality still in the world and that needs to change, or else freedom means nothing.

 

“I imagine death so much it feels more like a memory. When’s it gonna get me, in my sleep, seven feet ahead of me? If I see it coming do I run or do I let it be? ….I never thought I’d live past 20, where I come from some get half as many.”

                For those of darker skin, being hunted, having to give their children ‘the talk’, death at an early age is always an option… and never knowing when it could happen is scary.


“I’m past patiently waiting, I’m passionately smashing every expectation, every action’s an act of creation…. For the first time I’m thinking past tomorrow. And I am not throwing away my shot.”

                THIS-The passion that fuels people to fight for a better tomorrow.



 “And when our children tell our story. They’ll tell the story of tonight”

                I think of all the protestors…people taking a stand, getting injured, getting killed for a cause they believe in. And how these stories and the outcomes will be told and retold through generations.


Sunday, July 5, 2020

Crochet Commissions!

So after a few months of people mentioning to me that I should open my own online craft store for my crochet pieces, I've given in and started an Instagram account for selling my handmade items. 

Quite a few years ago I made this logo for a different enterprise of mine--Cali Cat Cupcakes. I held a market stall for a little while selling american baked goods.especially my famous (or rather mum's famous) buttercream icing cupcakes. Sadly, that venture died a horrible lonely death ( small town → people unwilling to try anything new → perishable items → loss of revenue → not worth it in the end), but I;m resurrecting my logo for Cali Cat Creations. I thought I'd include all of my craft ventures, not just the crochet stuff, but I'm thinking that crochet might by my specialty-what I'd sell most. 

I've only been doing crochet less than a year, but when my mom was here she said that I picked it up real fast. She was rather impressed with how well I adapted from being frustrated to then going on and wanting to crochet more and more and eventually modify patterns to suit what I wanted! She told me that back in the day when she used to teach workshops at a craft store in town, it was SUPER hard to teach people crochet. Either they had a knack for it, or they didn't and it was frustrating to teach someone how to 'find their rhythm' with holding the hook when crocheting. 

I'm not the best, but I quite enjoy crocheting for the time that I've been doing it. It's nice to be able to crate something with my own hands and see it all finished saying 'I made this'. It also helps me concentrate on something productive so my anxiety doesn't go out of control. And if I can sell my creations, then all the better! 
Sofa/Armchair Organizer
Sofa/Armchair Organizer 








So why Instagram? I looked at places like Redbubble and Etsy, but they all ask for a cut of the money. Etsy wanted a renewable listing fee each month AND a percentage of the sale. 

So....if I put something up and it didn't sell, I'd have to keep paying to keep it visible online for someone TO buy. Since I'm an occasional crafter and I'm not doing this as a full time job, I wasn't going to bother with those type of sites. Instead I'm happy to sell things through Instagram to family, friends, and by word of mouth. 

I've already received a few commissions and it looks like more are coming in, so I have my work cut out for me! But at least its something I can do that I enjoy. Maybe I'm on my way to finding out that this is my Ikigai. 



Monday, June 29, 2020

21 Day Antiracist Challenge - Part 1

I've been taking part in this 21 day Anti-racist challenge on IG and I'm half way through it. Mehcad Brooks, whom I know as James Olson/Guardian on the TV show Supergirl, has been giving daily prompts for people to take part in this challenge. Some are quite simple, some are hard truths to swallow, and some can be taxing to do, but all are necessary to 'heal the collective consciousness' as Mehcad always says. 

I've never known myself to be an active racist-shouting slurs or thinking down upon anyone based on the colour of their skin, but I'm seeing through these prompts and by what I read and discover everyday that although not malicious, subconsciously I was racist. Through these prompts I've been able to recognize certain behaviors I've never noticed before. I know my silence about about the suffering of the oppressed is wrong and that I need to actively be anti-racist from here on out. Being anti-racist starts from within and taking those years of ignorance, inherent bias, and generational racism, and learning to build a new foundation of understanding, acceptance, and love upon it. 

Part of these daily prompts are journal entries, so I've decided to pop them here on my blog as a way of keeping me accountable, anytime I need reminding; and to encourage others to take part, even if it's just one exercise, to help do their part in healing the collective. To change actions and policies, you must first change hearts and minds. 💗

Not every day was a Journal exercise, so it does skip around a bit, and I'm only on day 11, so there will be a part two of this in 2ish weeks. 
If you want to take part/see Mehcad's original videos, then follow him on Instagram @MehcadBrooks He has some very enlightening videos and posts outside of this challenge so please follow him and open your heart to what he has to say! These videos are also posted on @antiracism_collective , all in one convenient place if you want to jump straight in. 

#21dayantiracistchallenge

Day 2 Prompt- JOURNAL ENTRY

Think of your loved one(children, spouse, etc)-whom you love more than anything else in the world and think of a statement you would say to that person to describe that at any point in time they could go missing or be killed because of racism.
Next paragraph, after hearing Mehcad's story about what he witnessed at 12 years old, explain to him(a 12 year old) that this is what happens to black men.

 

We have to be safe, we have to be smart, and we have to always ALWAYS look out for one another. How you deal with certain people might mean the difference between coming home to me safe, or not coming home at all. Baby boy, you are my everything. I don’t ever want to lose you. So we have to stay alert and never let our guard down. There are bad people in this world who will want to harm you for no good reason at all. //

                This is one of many reasons why you as a black man have to be on guard ALL the time. Some people are out for blood and they will get it, without any repercussions. Until everyone and I mean EVERYONE is seen as equal across the board, then this and many things like it will continue to happen. People are blinded by unconscious bias, so they don’t always think what they are doing is wrong, but you know. You know in your heart that this is wrong. All you can do is be on your guard and be smart about what you say or do.

 

Day 3 Prompt –JOURNAL ENTRY

                Imagine you have a black child and be specific about what you would say to them in ‘The Talk’—The talk that every black family has to have with their loved ones about how to protect themselves by police, to make sure they stay safe and alive.  If you're brave enough, post this to your feed/Story. 

 


 

Day 4  Prompt–JOURNAL ENTRY

                Write down every time that you can remember that you had that ‘policing mentality’-any time you policed someone’s tone, their presence, their proximity to yourself or someone else you love, their speech, thought process, etc (by 'policing mentality'…this could mean anything from getting bored of what they have to say, to moving to the other side of the street or clutching your purse tightly, etc). If it minimized their freedom in ANY way (even if you just thought it), write it down.

Then, Draw a circle next to your list with your initials inside it. Anytime one of those assumptions were PROVEN right (you clutched your purse tighter because YES that person WAS going to steal your purse, etc) draw a line from that point, cross the line, into the circle. This is your Inherent Racial bias. Every time one of the assumptions could NOT be proved….These are missed opportunities/relationships/interactions you could have had if it weren’t for your racial bias.



·       
 
Day 5 Prompt 

        Loving.  Intelligent. Athletic. Truthful. Patient. Dishonest. Guilty. Toxic. Transcendent.  

    Next to each one of these attributes, write down the group of people you think is best suited to that word. Then make your own list of 5-7 words, and write down the group of people that best describe those new attributes, examining any bias you may have had in the first part.


Loving - Family

Intelligent –Scholars

Athletic –Young Men

Truthful – Kids

Patient – Childminders/ People who work with kids/Mothers

Dishonest – Government officials/Politicians/lawmakers/lawyers

Guilty – Criminals

Toxic – Narcissists

Transcendent – Yoginis/Wanderers/Travelers

My Words:

Giving— Humanitarians/Those who care for Community

Friendly – Children

Trustworthy— People who are transparent

Intuitive – Empaths

Vain— Social Media Influencers

Hostile – People who know they are in the wrong, but carry on

Pessimistic – Those with low self confidence

 

Day 6 Prompt—JOURNAL ENTRY

    Write down your feelings about ‘The Doll Test’ after watching the 5-10 min video. Then, make a 1-4 minute video of your own explaining how you felt while watching it and also what we can do to help heal that bias in society.

    It was upsetting to watch. It makes me sad that these children have this preconceived notion in their head about certain people. I’m disturbed at how traits like ‘nice’ or ‘mean’ or ‘smart’ are pointed out based on a doll’s appearance.


 

Day 10 Prompt—JOURNAL ENTRY

                Hand write a letter to yourself, to your ancestors, to society and set forth new agreements with the collective consciousness.


Day 11 Prompt

                Write down 6 positive words to describe America. Look up a moment from black history-The Tulsa Massacre and do as much research/learning on the event as you want. At the very least, read what it was and what generally happened there. Then write three words to describe the Tulsa Massacre.


SIX POSITIVE WORDS TO DESCRIBE AMERICA:
Vast.
New.
Opportunistic.
Free.
Outspoken.
Passionate.

THREE WORDS TO DESCRIBE THE TULSA MASSACRE:
Tragic.
Brutal.
Miscommunicative.


Sunday, June 21, 2020

Daddy

It's a weird mix of emotions now... on father's day. 

It's Henry & Rob's first father's day so it's a cause for celebration. As Henry's not old enough to appreciate his daddy with gifts just yet, it's been up to mommy to find a suitable present 'from Smushy' for daddy to open (I think I've done alright and I'm glad I'm a forward planner, because it's been tough getting out and getting something lately). As well as it being Rob's first father's day as a father, and getting to spend time lavishing in the thought that 'oh crap.... I'm someone's dad now' Rob also gets to celebrate the day with his dad, while I'm not so lucky.

This will be my 2nd father's day without my dad. Last year was worst (obviously) but not just cause it was the first year after losing my dad to Cancer. Last year, while trying to maintain my cool at work all week, I also had a very unfortunate conversation with an ex-work colleague of mine - She thought it prevalent to tell me to cut her some slack because she was having a bad day (she had a leaky roof or something); meanwhile, I'm trying not to have a visible mental breakdown as I cried silently at my desk nearly every day the week leading up to Father's day. (The fun bit was when she interrupted me trying to explain that to her, as if she was trying to say 'yeah yeah yeah but my thing is more important'. Rude.)

Last year was definitely a harder year to manage, especially around fathers day and Dad's birthday in November. My mom was visiting us then, so on daddy's birthday mom took me (and Henry in his Pushchair) out to a local restaurant to have SUSHI in honor of my dad. My dad loved to go to All-you-can-eat sushi bars. Many times we had family meals at Kyoto Sushi in my hometown and I had quite a few daddy daughter lunch dates with him there. He was the one who taught me all I know about ordering sushi at a sushi bar. :) 

My dad loved to water ski. Often times I was rousted out of my bed to leave the house at 5am! in order to be on the lake when it 'opened'. We had to go early for 'glass' (the term used to describe the yet undisturbed, not choppy water in the lake) and I was always needed to be flag girl- a coveted position on daddy's Sanger. 

He loved Woodworking, basketball and photography. There would hardly be a time he was without his Canon Camera, taking pictures at family get together, work events, vacations...He loved taking candid shots of people and often times, I was the only one paying attention to when he was pointing his camera at them. He was a proud member of the Carrie Underwood fan club and even got a picture with her that's framed in the living room. He could speak a little Spanish; although, this came more out of necessity to understand my brothers Greg and Steven who spoke fluent Spanish to each other in front of my parents to wind them up. He quoted movie lines so much that I hardly know if it was a frequent catch phrase of his he said, or a line from somewhere that he'd used over and over again.  

My dad was a handy man, like most dads...but I didn't know one thing that my dad couldn't do. He tried his hand at everything. I remember taking frequent trips with him to home depot on the weekends to get supplies for various projects he had around the house. I don't think I can pass through a Garden Centre/DIY store without thinking of those trips to Home Depot with him.

There's lots more I could say about my dad's hobbies and passions... things that make me think of him whenever I come across them. There's loads. As much as they do make me sad to be reminded that he's no longer with us, they also make me happy to be able to reminisce about him. I love my dad and every time a memory or thought of him pops up, it makes me simultaneously smile and turn melancholy.  It's that weird dichotomy of feeling sad for losing a loved one, but happy at the memories you got to share with them.

I have some great memories of my dad to hold on to. I remember during my teenage years my dad once mused that he wished I wore more 'bright' or girly colors. I was in my punk/gothy/grunge phase where I dressed nearly in all black...and when I wasn't, I dressed like a boy. I remember coming home from shopping with my mom when I was a teenager and putting on a mini fashion show for him of the outfits that I'd gotten. I wanted him to be proud of me for dressing in more girly fashion, or at least in colors... not just black. 

I'm glad I was able to make 1 last trip home before he died so that I could see him. That week felt like the longest and the shortest week I've spent at home, there was lots of crying and plenty of 'comfort cups of tea'. Although it was horrible to see my dad the way he was on hospice, I've been told that the week I and my brother Jason visited home was dad's last 'good' week. I can't imagine it. 


When I visited him, he was still sharp, although his speech was slow. I cried as I told him that I didn't want him to go before meeting any of my children -- he had 7 grandchildren already, plus I wasn't even pregnant at the time -- and I ended with, "Is that selfish?" He point blank said, "Yes." ... He didn't need to say anything else; I could tell the humor behind his deadpan response, but also the fact that he was 100% serious. Of course that was a selfish thing to say. I laughed it off. 

One of the sweetest things that happened that week that I'll never forget... Dad asked me to get a blanket, lay it on his lap, then bring in the cat for him to pet. My dad didn't particularly like my cat Twister (he would shed fur all over the place, jump up on/destroy the window screens, and meow incessantly for no reason), but he had his moments of  letting the cat in, petting Twister and calling him 'bitter'. It was his term of endearment for my annoying cat. So when he asked to 'hold' the kitty, although it felt really suspiciously wrong, it was sweet that Twister became his comfort cat in the end. This picture is really hard for me to look at because it reminds me of how frail he got. But I can't bring myself to get rid of it because of the memory of him asking for the cat...and the fact that he looks better in this picture than when I remember sitting and talking with him that last week.

Dad left us in December, I got pregnant shortly after (we had been trying, but I'm pretty sure when we conceived it was during 'grief sex') and Henry was born the following October. My mom has this nice religious notion that in heaven my son and my dad got to meet each other in passing. So by that logic, at least somewhere, Henry knows his papa McClellan whom he's named after. 



Henry Scott McClellan. 

It was always the plan to name one of our children Henry (we had baby names picked out for 2 boys and 2 girls, and just decided when the time came), but when he was born I knew. It had to be Henry Scott. Something my mom said as well linked the date of Henry's birth to my dad, so it was a sure sign to me that he had to be Henry Scott. 

My little man will always be a reminder of my dad, but at least he's one of those happy reminders.