a church in Florida:

pastor: who’s gunna wanna live in a barn if the owner won’t take the time to paint it red?

(on a message for women needing to wear make-up)

a church in Alabama:

worship pastor: cover your shoulder, the men in the front of the church who can see you well won’t be able to concentrate, you will cause them to lust when they should be able to focus in worship.

a church in Tennessee:

guest speaker: during worship I had to bounce my eyes. do you know what that means men? it’s where you bounce your eyes up and down so everything is blurred. i couldn’t be distracted by the women in front of me, they are just worshipping, but if i don’t bounce my eyes, my mind tends to wander.

  • we must stop teaching our women they are something that was created to be hidden. we must stop teaching our young girls that they should not be comfortable in their own skin. we must stop teaching our ladies that they are property to the point where when they need to say no, they don’t know how because they were never taught their bodies were their own in the first place.
  • we must stop teaching our men they are beasts. we must stop teaching our young boys they are hungry animals who were born with insatiable appetites and they have no self control. we must stop teaching our gentlemen that they aren’t capable of saying no when they need to, because shouldn’t they want this?
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As I have stated on my blog recently, I am taking a break from social work and nannying in this season.

A lot of people ask me when I am going back into social work, or how long I am going to nanny, or what I am going to do next. A lot of times, when I am asked, I can hear the disappointment and confusion in their voices. Of why someone would choose to quit a career to nanny, which is a huge pay cut and isn’t a “professional” choice. It isn’t moving up a social ladder, which is a foreign concept to a lot of people, esp. Americans.

I quit for self-care. I quit because I was stressed and angry and tired, and, as I told HR when I was putting in my resignation, because I was “no longer acting like myself.”

I don’t know what I am going to do next, but I know some of the things that I told myself I would do while I was on my break.

One of those things is to create and paint, and to sell what I have been working on. This is in progress, and last time I was home a couple of weeks ago, I formulated a tangible plan with a friend to make it happen and gave myself  a time frame.

Another was to learn to be content with where I was. This is something that is slowly getting easier, but as of late when someone asks me what I am going to do next, anxiety creeps up again and I feel this guilt at not doing something “professional” or “career-building” because someone else thinks I should, and I realize I am not quite there yet.

Another thing was to hang out with healthy family’s and around healthy marriages, and that is something I think I have excelled at. I have been hanging out with my friends with children and who are happy in their marriages or who are good parents, and I am learning what it looks like to believe in a healthy family again. I had lost a lot of that in the field. I had lost a lot of what beauty humanity holds. I caught glimpses in some of the families that I served, certainly, but I needed to be immersed in it.

So I am working on being content with where I am now. In being grateful for what I have. I am learning to be poor financially again while enjoying being rich in sound mind  for the first time in a long time.

So no, I do not know what I will do next. I do not know where I will attraversiamo or with whom I will cross over, if anyone. And I am perfectly okay with that. And honestly, it is my opinion that matters to me right now. It is between me and the Lord, and in that I think is wisdom, and that is what I am going to listen to. So thank you for your concern if you are one who thinks it is time I ‘move on’, but I choose my own voice over yours- and I’ve gotta say, I am pretty damn happy about it.

Iceland

This is in Iceland at the Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon.

Right before I took this picture, I was throwing up in the parking lot, and then again in the bathroom after spending about an hour in the hotel feeling awful and willing myself to leave and not ruin the day. Gus, my friend who accompanied me on the trip, pointed out reindeer- the only that we would see on the trip, and I missed them because I was too nauseous to raise my head. I felt terrible. I had eaten something bad the previous night and was suffering from food poisoning. But after I threw up and sweet Goose bought me some sprite and a water, I sucked it up and we hiked the lagoon. And took this picture, maybe within 10 min of me barfing ungracefully in the middle of a freaking public parking lot.

It is a beautiful sight, and a fun picture, but social media is so deceptive. I thought about how I would take this picture and post it, and everyone would assume I had the most magical day and this was the most magical moment, but just minutes before I felt AWFUL. There are so many times where social media makes us feel that now-actual-phrase FOMO or jealousy, or the questioning of “why is everyone’s life better than mine?” When we are all out here struggling. Life isn’t always pretty, even if our pictures are. And we need to remember that, we need to remember to have empathy and to not look at a picture and feel like someone is better than us. We need to kill the urge to compare our lives to someone else’s and miss out on the beauty in our own lives.

Because a picture can be nice, but it doesn’t reflect the full reality. It isn’t about “likes” or if someone comments on our pictures, it’s about living our imperfect lives and seeking community and the not “instagramable” reality that our lives are.

Childish Gambino wrote this song: Open Letter on Instagram,describing some of these sentiments, and he is famous y’all. Own where you are. Be okay with not looking perfect, and don’t be so naïve that you think that everyone else is living a better life than you.

I have recently left the social work world and started nannying. I have been a nanny for six months and have been thinking a lot about what I want to do next.

The helping profession seems to make the most sense to me, in terms of things that I am passionate about, but I am having a really hard time determining what I should do next.

Thus far, my experience with non-profits and understanding the child welfare system and mental health agency’s have been grim. I am having a hard time with rectifying the fact that I think the system is overwhelmingly broken and ineffective to have much motivation to go back into it. There are obviously two perspectives to this- from inside the agency and the reality of working there, to the actual system and how it operates.

There is a lot of common ground between non-profits, typically, the persons who are employed to work in the non-profit world are vastly underpaid. This is true for private sectors in social work as well. The burnout is astronomical in many places of helping profession employment, and morale is typically depressingly low. It has always astounded me that persons who are passionate about going into the helping profession find that their job is to lift someone out of depression, debt, crisis of some sort, into a place of more stable mental health and overall well-being; but the way the employees themselves are commonly treated is typically of the opposite mentality.

The place I just left was emotionally abusive and the staff was treated appallingly, the leadership was a joke that left no one laughing, and the morale was so low that people were literally getting sick on a regular basis. I personally was throwing up from stress and nerves and the negative environment, and was having migraines (which I have not had at all in these six months of nannying, and did not even experience in my previous job, which was as a trauma counselor…so that is saying something). Since we are currently under the Trump administration, which is appalling on its own…I don’t see funding for helping professions improving, not that I saw it improving in the first place but…

However, I know that being paid pennies is a part of the burn out. People in helping professions typically work outrageous hours because we are to help people in crisis, and crisis knows no time frame. It can happen at any time, to anyone, and the persons in the helping professions are the ones to answer those calls. We are the ones who answer the phone when you are crying because your boyfriend just broke your arm, who hear the terrified four year old crying hysterically when they tell you they are hiding under the table and their dad is drunk again and beating their mom, we are the ones your children look into their eyes while they tell you that they have been raped again by (insert family name here) and no one believes them- will you? We are the ones who get the call when a house has burned down and nothing was salvaged, can we help with getting them back on their feet financially? I just found out I have AIDS and I am being discriminated against can you help me? I lost my son in a car accident and I want to slit my wrist can you help me? This list goes on forever. We answer those calls, all day, all night. We go to the hospitals and sit beside you- for comfort or for suicide watch. We do it because we think that people are worth it. That people are worth fighting for and loving, and that all persons deserve to be comforted- but within the agencies we work in? Our supervisors and leadership feel that pressure too, they are also being underpaid- and some of them do not respond well to pressure and financial distress, and being on leadership and not being able to take it out on their clients and not feeling like they have time for self-care because they are also working around the clock…they take it out on their employees at times.

When you are constantly putting out fires, you don’t have time to take a breath of clean air for yourself, and when leadership and agency directly above you have the same lack of resources, they can at times create negative and fear based environments. Obviously this is not true of every non-profit, but it is common enough that teachers are 80% more likely to be on anti-depressants than the average worker, and that the helping profession in general has outstanding numbers of compassion fatigue and burnout.

Also, very obviously, sometimes our clients don’t like us. Sometimes they hate us. Because we “took” their children, because we aren’t going to approve them to be a foster parent for some (valid) reason, because we called DCS on them even though their baby is “fine”- (the baby isn’t, the baby is covered in bruises in the shapes of your hands or where they were thrown against the wall, the baby is covered in burns the shapes of your cigarettes…) and if we don’t have the support, emotional or otherwise from our supervisors while we are getting cussed out by our clients? When they are too burned out to help because they are going by numbers or productivity clauses that are ridiculous and impossible because their bosses (who have never done field work and don’t have a damn clue what it is like) is calling the shots- how in the hell is burnout NOT going to happen??

When on top of all of this, we know the system is flawed, but it is the only system we currently have and we are the face of that system and have to uphold it because we know courts and judges sometimes rule unfavorably with decisions we don’t agree with but have to prepare you for, then you hate us even more.. How are we supposed to want to go back into that? But if we don’t, who is going to help?

So I have no idea what to do next. I don’t know if the only thing that I feel that I am called to and that I feel I am good at is ever going to allow me to take care of myself or be able to afford a home and food. I don’t know if that is okay. I know that I cannot and will not work for another place that treats its employees with a lack of support and disdain, but I don’t know how to find those places. So what do I do? And how can this system ever change?

I just finished watching the movie “The Incredible Jessica James” on Netflix.

It was amazing. I watched it because I am obsessed with the podcast 2 Dope Queens with Jessica Williams (who played Jessica James) and Phoebe Robinson (who also wrote a book I love- You Can’t Touch My Hair: And Other Things I Still Have to Explain and who does the podcast Sooo Many White Guys with Ilana Glazer- who I will be mentioning shortly) and they have been talking about it on the podcast. These two Queens, along with aforementioned Ilana Glazer who is on “Broad City” with Abbi Jacobson (who has another podcast called A Piece of Work) are four of my top modern heroes.

(To be clear, these ladies have soooo many other accomplishments, these are just the means by which I am familiar with them personally.)

These women are my heroes because they are brave, hilarious, and so true to themselves. They aren’t afraid to speak out against the patriarchy and to talk about politics and women’s rights publicly. They tell hilarious and embarrassing personal stories and they aren’t even afraid about their family’s and friends listening in- did I already say brave?! They are strong women who aren’t afraid to be unabashedly themselves and I LOVE IT. They inspire me in so many ways and I am so happy to have these types of women represented during my lifetime, women who are close to my age and who are making it!

I went to school and got my undergraduate and graduate degree in Social Work. I did numerous internships while I was in school and excluding a brief 6 month coffee shop job in between school and my first official social work job, have been doing social work for nine years straight. Specialty? Children and Adolescent Trauma Work- working as a therapist for kids who are underprivileged because society works that way, and working in foster care. Needless to say, burnout is real. There are many reasons, but that is another blog, ya’ll. So, before I got the point where I- to say it delicately- didn’t hate every single fucking person who crossed my path…I decided to take a year off. I took a hella pay cut and decided to nanny for the first time. Babies of all the ages I could work with, I mean?! And also dog sit here and there on the weekends for extra money. I only work four days a week and it is normal hours; 8:30-4:30. I NEEDED a break ya’ll, a mental health break. A break to rediscover who I am and what I love! I decided to start painting, and to try and sell some of my paintings. I said I will write more. I gave myself a summer slogan which I am pretty sure I will just keep for the rest of the year of “Be sexy and self-assess” and I have been working out, buying only clothes I love, and writing actual pro- con lists about what I think I do well and what I can improve in. I am giving myself permission to rest. And you guys, I am finding myself again, and it couldn’t be more worth it.

I listen to these ladies and I look at what they are doing and I am proud. I am proud for women, and especially women of color. I mean come onnnnnnn, we need a break ya’ll! Especially our gorgeous POC Queens!!! And I listen and I read and I pick up all kinds of books about fierce women like #Girlboss (my current read) and I think YES and then I think, what am I saying YES to? And how can I be more intentional about that? And you know what? I am watching this movie, and there comes a point where a group is at a theater writing retreat and Jessica goes to talk to a Tony award winning playwright and she is asking how she got there and you know how that dialogue goes?

Playwright Sarah: What does theater actually mean to you?

Jessica: I just love it.

Playwright Sarah: And you’re doing it, that’s why we are here, right? This is it! There’s kind of not more to it than that.

And I felt relief. Like an audible sigh of relief, because we make things sooooo complicated and it just isn’t. What do I love to do? Create! Be around people and love them! And you know what? I am doing that. Maybe it doesn’t look like something concrete, but that is just the thing- this quote is implying that it doesn’t HAVE TO. And my gosh is that a relief! I went into social work because I love people and I want to see family’s succeed, and whether in a direct field as a case worker, as a nanny, or even working in a coffee shop I can do that. I can be creative in and out of a ‘work’ setting. I can love people every time I encounter someone. I am ALREADY DOING IT. I am already living the life that I crave! How can I not find gratitude in that? How can that not be the greatest relief? My mindset is still absorbing this quote, this SIMPLE and profound statement.

There’s kind of not more to it than that.

 

 

Alabama,

You are so beautiful. You are full of life and creativity, of green and beaches and of sunburned tourists; of small towners sipping sweet tea in rocking chairs and fanning their faces. You are a sweet summer day and a cool winter night. But my gosh, how you tend to betray my heart again and again. Your history is rich with kindness and of simultaneous awful deeds. The history of racism is not history but present in so many areas, and you are strife with judgment. My heart was broken yet again in May of this year (!) when you chose to pass a bill that says that same sex marriages cannot foster or adopt children from religious agencies if that agency so chooses.

Sweet Alabama full of beautiful family’s of all different backgrounds, what a sad story you choose to tell so often. What a misguided view. How would you think that choosing the WANTS of a “religious” agency over the NEEDS of children was an opportunity to personify God? How do you choose to pass laws over and over again that do not seek to make the world a more loving place, but seeks to make small minded views ever present in time of need?

Dear Alabamians, do you not understand that children in your state are suffering? That they are being abused and molested, raped and tortured in your two parent mother father homes? That in your “christian” households are where so much of this pain and need for foster care is occurring? Do you not understand that while you may not agree with same sex marriages, two mothers or two fathers may be just what a child who has experienced extreme trauma and pain at the hand of a certain gender may need in that time? That love does not know gender, nationality, race or religion?? That any person has the ability to love a child and if they are a safe person, they should have the right to do so?

I love you, Alabama, and still choose to call you home because that is where my family resides. It is where I have experienced so many incredible memories and met so many fantastic, colorful, incredible people. Where the church has extended a hand of grace to me, even though it is not perfect. Alabama has a special place in my heart, but you wound with more regularity and choose to sleep through social issues of justice with ignorance and a stinging “bless your heart”.

This bill is not helping children, it is hurting them by denying them a potentially loving and safe home. It is hurting them by continuing to limit their options in ever increasing selfish ways and saying it’s in the name of the Lord.

Alabama, you are so beautiful, why are you choosing to believe you are ugly and acting accordingly?

Tonight, Nashville held another Black Lives Matter peaceful protest in front of the Mayor’s home with frustration on the fact that Officer Lippert had no charges pressed against him after the shooting and death of Jocques Clemmons on February 10. In a recent news report where interviews were released including different snippets from the interviews with Officer Lippert, Lippert and other members of the police force comments on how the Cayce public housing complex in East Nashville is more prone to violent crimes, and therefore has an increased presence in the area.

While this may be statistically accurate, this comment is just another example of how entrenched systemic racism and therefore justification is within our police force. IF the Cayce housing is more prone to violence and therefore there are more police in the area, that is only because we as a society have created a system in which this was encouraged to occur.

From 1934-1962 the government put forth millions in the backing of home loans, but only to Caucasian persons; excluding both African Americans and persons who lived near African Americans. This became known as Red Lining, and its affects are still costing us today, as it served to effectively force African Americans into poor urban centers; which are frequently referred to as “ghettos” and “the hood” today.

Property taxes also were funding (and continue to do so in most areas) schools, which means that if you are in a poor area, aka within the red lines of where money was denied allocation of mortgage opportunities, then the schools in those areas were automatically poorly funded. This affects educational opportunities through lack of funding and support in these neighborhoods (we created) and essentially eradicating the ability to provide a higher education also inhibits the persons attending these low income schools in low income neighborhoods from being able to even get a job in a higher income bracket. This forces many persons of lower socio-economic status and of African American descent into more manual labor jobs in the area. This makes it much harder to gain economic freedom and to be able to escape from the oppressive poverty mentality that already plagues lower income housing and educational areas.

Creating a prison system that is privatized as for profit organizations according to how fast we can fill our prison cells and make that money created an even more oppressive atmosphere. This was exacerbated when the “War on Drugs” became a catch phrase in 1971 with Nixon. He created a fear phenomenon while American soldiers were fighting in Vietnam and becoming addicted to heroin, then it becoming a problem in the United States, and sold marijuana as a hippie issue and heroin as an African American issue.

And yes, he did know what he was doing:

“The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. You understand what I’m saying? We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.”
John Ehrlichman, to Dan Baum for Harpers Magazine in 1994, about President Nixon’s war on drugs, declared in 1971.

This escalated with laws that Bush, Reagan, and Clinton all created and passed while they served their own terms in the Presidential seat- subjecting one-third of African American men to a form of imprisonment in their lifetime. The sentencing just got more creative throughout the years, expanding to create a further targeting of African American communities by making the sentencing for crack (typically distributed in low income areas) 100x more punitive that the sentencing for cocaine (a more pure form more often sold and consumed in wealthier neighborhoods).

This racial profiling, coupled with the already defined housing, banking, and educational opportunities blockading communities of color in a discriminatory way- provided legal standing for police communities to incorporate racial profiling into their practices. Protecting the police for what Lippert and the police community call “the need for more policing due to the increased violence in these areas” for increased traffic stops ending in unnecessary deaths as they are twice as likely to be pulled over in the first place (just as an example…) Our police forces are also being trained to be more “wary” of these areas and this can result in fear-based training that leaves our officers ill-equipped to be truly non-biased in the way they manage their emotions in the field, which greatly increases the option of police brutality in the first place.

So yes, Lippert, maybe there is an increased violence in the Cayce home district- but if there is, who is really to blame? Because we for damn sure need to stop saying our communities of color.

Postsecret

Saw this secret on Postsecret this week, and felt the type of empathy that only comes from experience. This took me back to when I was a graduate student at the University of Alabama and I made the (brave, hard, scary, intimidating) decision to report the supervisor who I was interning for regarding him being inappropriate towards me. It pains me soooo much to read this secret; because I too lost friends and was portrayed as the asshole, and not only did he get to keep his job while I was shuffled out in a quiet shame, but they replaced me with ANOTHER female intern(!). I am sad about this secret because the person who wrote it says coming forward wasn’t worth it, but I say IT WAS WORTH IT (all the while completely understanding why this person could come to the conclusion that it wasn’t).

Which completely SUCKS that this is still so true.

It sucks that a lot of these men get to keep their jobs, while we are pushed out and seen as “troublemakers” or are shunned for standing up for ourselves. Yet, this seems to happen again and again. It was worth it for so many reasons: because I BY FAR was not the only intern that was being sexually harassed, just the only one who reported it that year. Initially, a lot of other girls were inspired and they wanted to report their harassment too, but when they saw the way I was treated by the University and the place I was interning for, they saw the risk and chose not to come forward. It did give them the peace of mind and courage to speak to the person harassing them though, and many of them did and threatened to report if they didn’t stop. Some persons did stop, some didn’t, but many of the girls said “thank you for taking the first step” anyway.

This culture, esp. with the new President, is still not kind towards women who are trying to find safety in the workplace; but we MUST continue to stand up for ourselves and report when we are being harassed or threatened! Even if we are so backwards that we lose friends, we are seen as an “asshole” and “troublemaker” and any other number of unkind labels that are simply not true. Even when he gets to keep his job. Even when they tell you to leave the internship or the job under the guise of “being sick” or even being fired.

We have to keep reporting and defending ourselves, because we are worth it, and we must fight for change.

“I want to be known for championing people” is a thought I had tonight.

Then I realized, I don’t champion myself well.

I’ve had the worst self image these past two years than I have my whole life. I’m at my heaviest and I have let that consume my life and allowed my mouth to speak unspeakable things over it. Ugly, nasty things I would never say aloud to another person. I haven’t supported my own dreams or been positive. I haven’t been a fan on the sidelines of my own life.

How can I champion another well when I don’t know how to champion myself? And how can I champion myself when I have been hiding a part of myself in so many different ways and in so many different places?

I am my worst self at work. Like. The worst. (Which is hilarious even saying that, because that is also speaking ill of myself which was part of the point I was just making.) I act as if the God I love doesn’t exist on so many days. Like I haven’t seen people healed and people delivered from demons. Like I haven’t heard Gods voice as He tells me the future in my dreams and in my thoughts. Like I haven’t heard Him in the darkest times when nothing is working out and He hasn’t given me the hope that got me through it when nothing else could. I deny my heart and I become ugly on the inside so often when I am working.

I want to say I am sorry. I want to say it to myself first. I want to love even those ugly parts of me and of my life and of my shame and my embarrassment-which is really just pride in costume. I want to be vulnerable and real and be me, even when that feels silly.

I want to be known for championing others well, and I want to champion myself by being all of me.

I was listening to Sway in the Morning (per usual-as my goal is to become a citizen in the future) and they played Drake’s Summer Sixteen, which started a sarcastic; and significant, conversation.

Sway began by clapping for good music and lyrics and for people who excel in what they are good at and aren’t afraid to speak their truth, then Sway started singing things in a mumbling, unintelligible manner. His coworkers started laughing and asking what he was saying. He said that was the way music was made these days. You don’t even have to finish sentences, be intelligible, or make sense. Add a little “trap” to your music and people will listen. Forget about diction, forget about saying anything anymore- just trap it, don’t rap it!

Which is true of more than music.

Most of my favorite artists are rich in lyrics: Kendrick, Lupe, Biggie, Nas, Drake, Eminem, to name a few. They spit truth so real it hurts at times, and a part of me wonders if that is why trap music has become so popular. Because I can guarantee that I use Netflix and social media at times to just “dumb” down. To take time away from reality and the real world to just recuperate and check out for a little bit- recharge. So is this what is happening in an extent to our music? A chance to tune out, not have to engage,think, or form an opinion about something that matters?

To an extent- this really isn’t bad. But as an escape mechanism on a regular basis? Detrimental. There is REAL SHIT going on in this world and people can “trap” their way through it as much as they want, Trump being proof of that…but to sustain that type of mentality and to refuse to accept reality? Nah. We need real words. Diction. We need to SAY something every once in a while. Maybe hip hop isn’t your jam, maybe it isn’t human trafficking or helping children in need or helping people out of addiction, maybe it isn’t working against gang/violence and maybe it isn’t clothing the homeless or fighting for racial and gender equality- and maybe it is. But whatever IT is, whatever makes you feel something, gets you passionate, has you on a soap box before you even know you got there- talk about it. Be informed. Be aware. Stop slurring trap all the time and spit YOUR truth.