Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Dumbing Down

I have something to say. Shocking, I know.

I caught myself at work today telling all the little girls that they were "cute" or "gorgeous" or "pretty". Sure, I don't know them, so that's a pretty safe observation when you're dealing with mostly strangers, especially in a vulnerable situation. It's easy, superficial, and it doesn't make the conversation too serious. Parents with children with them at the Food Bank most likely don't want to get into it with them. And so, calling a girl cute or pretty is safe.....but I don't do the same thing with little boys. I call them "buddy" or "dude" I tell them they are "cool" or "neat"; true it's also harmless and light and safe, but it's different. I am not creating a commentary on them based on their physical looks and assuming that their physical looks somehow interpret their innate worth. Yes, my comments are harmless enough as they are simply meant to diffuse a tense situation, but this is something that bigger than just me at work. Why do we consistently comment on little girls and their physical appearance as somehow equating to their worth as a human? I don't go around telling little boys that they are "handsome" or "dapper" or "cute" nearly as much as I do with girls. Oh I know that all my textbooks from University have explanations in them. I know that this is a social construct that has been created because we judge a female's worth on her physical attractiveness whereas we allow judgement on men to be based on their intellect and ability to provide in some form or another. We sexualize young girls far more than we do boys, we encourage young girls to be thin, and conform to our ideal beauty at a far younger age than we do boys. If you want quantitative stats on this just go online. I guess what I find so interesting about this is that I know the damage this does to girls; I studied it for 4 years in University and yet I catch myself doing it. I know better than that! Why don't I talk to those girls about school, or about books, or about who their favourite woman is? Sure, I don't do that with the little boys either, but I am also not reinforcing their importance or notability on their physical appearance. I believe in raising strong, smart, funny, independent little children. I see a lot of the same children over and over and it does get to a point where they understand what is going on and that their family is somehow "lacking" (not my belief, but a general feeling that many of these children will internalize) because they are accessing assistance from a community agency. If I can somehow empower a little girl to see herself as worthy and smart and important based on her brain and person rather than her looks and perceived beauty.

So now I am conscious of this. Tomorrow at work, each little girl that I meet I will ask them how school was, I will ask them what their favourite book is, I will tell them that they are pretty rad for helping their parent(s) with getting groceries. Changing the way I address little girls in and out of work may not change the world, it may not even change how these girls see themselves and compare themselves to social standards of beauty, I may not even reach one little girl is having her understand her importance as a brilliant addition to our world, but all I can do is try. I hope that if (hopefully WHEN) I have a little girl she grows up understanding there are no limits for her based on her physical appearance. Rather, because she has a brain and uses it she will be good - not because she is "beautiful" or "cute" or "gorgeous".

So today go ahead and tell the girls and women in your life that they are beautiful, but tell them that they are smart too and that's just as awesome, because it is. Brains are cool.

Found these rad buttons that speak the truth here.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Be soft

Good reminder. Every now and then I feel myself getting a little bit harder, I think because sometimes being soft can take a lot out of a person. I felt myself doing this over the last little bit, and I don't like it. So today, I will try to peel off some of those layers and just love. See the good in people. See the good in humanity. And all the beauty in my little space.

I hope you all have a positive start to your week. I hope that you can become a little softer as it goes on. I hope you all tell the people around you that you love them, and you are told how loved you are in return. I hope that this week brings happiness to each of you.

Now go and be beautiful!


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

I love....

The bag my Valentine's book came in this year.

Valentine's day, oh we've had a tumultuous relationship!

As a kid, Valentine's Day was about love. My sister and I were always my dad's valentines. Rather than a stupid stuffed animal that we'd throw away, my dad would buy us each a book he thought we'd like and some expensive chocolate. It was one of his many ways of showing us how much he loved us. It also began a long tradition in our family of giving books. Books. Words. Stories. Knowledge. Valentine's wasn't about the commercial holiday, but actually about love. Love for and from my family. And love of reading and learning.

I have always hated the commercial part of Valentine's day, going out for an overpriced dinner, with overpriced wine, buying overpriced chocolate and overpriced jewelry. And so I did go through a brief time in my life where I hated Valentine's day. I suppose you could have classified me as on of the bitter singles! YIKES!!! That didn't last long though.

Now my sister and I continue the tradition my dad started with us and we give each other books and a card just reminding each other how much we love one another.

In University I became a supporter of Eve Ensler's organization V-Day which raised money and awareness to prevent violence against women.

This year I took part in the Memorial March for Missing and Murdered Women in Calgary. I walked and "held" Shirley, a 39 year old woman who is missing. I was in a room full of people who have lost someone, know someone who has, or, in my case, tired of these lives being ignored.

So I've come to realize, that I love Valentines day. I love being able to openly spread love. I love being able to tell people that I love them without consequence. I love that I get to love like I do every other day of my life, but somehow because this day has a whole greeting card section dedicated to it, it is accepted. I love that it brings communities together. I love that I will always be my dad's Valentine. I love that Valentine's day is now being used to give a voice to women who did not have it in the past.

So, I love you. Whoever you are, where ever you are, whatever your circumstances are. I love you, today, tomorrow, and always.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

I am an emotional creature

Growing up I was a girl who let my emotions lead (what's changed? Those of you close to me are probably asking right now!) I remember crying myself to sleep some nights because I didn't understand how people allowed poverty to happen. I would cry for the kids in Africa who didn't have a chance,the kids on the Reserve next to me who didn't get to finish school. When I got upset, it wasn't just a rough day, it was the end of the world as I knew it. In turn, I loved harder than anyone, and when I was happy I thought anything was possible, I was sure. The way I explain it now that I have more words is that I felt every emotion as if it were touching a bare nerve, and really, I still do. As a child I thought everyone reacted the same way, I didn't know this was 'different'. But as an adolescent I was taught to feel ashamed for being emotional - it made me bad. When I got to university I found a discipline that empowered me with knowledge about society's perception of women's emotions and I read and learned about how this construct does not have to define me. I am an emotional creature. It is part of what makes me good at my jobs. It is part of what makes me a good friend. It is part of what makes me a good lover and partner. I feel things magnified. I do. Sad is devastating. Happy is elating. Looking back I hate that so-called "society" made me feel bad about being emotional, because what it was actually saying was that vulnerability is bad, weak, ugly. I don't think it is. If I didn't allow my vulnerability to dictate part of myself I would not be working in the not-for-profit sector helping those who are living in poverty. I would not be in the delivery room helping families welcome new members into their lives, I would not be up on stage peeling off layers and revealing myself. So to those of you who think that showing emotion is weak ask yourself why. When is the last time you felt so hard you couldn't contain it? When is the last time you told those around you how you wouldn't be without them? When is the last time you sat with your emotions and realized that you can make a difference. Being emotional is not bad. Being vulnerable is an art. This is what fuels empathy, compassion, and change.

I'm starting to learn that there are always going to be people telling me I am wrong for feeling, and that my emotional behaviour is a weakness. That's ok. I have also realized that all the tears I have cried are worth it. In turn I have smiled harder than I thought possible. I have felt love and loved bigger than so many people. The emotions that I have thought were a weakness for so so so long are slowly becoming something that I can embrace. Something that makes me a person whole believes she can change the world one person at the time. And I won't stop trying because I won't stop feeling.

Like the cool kids and rappers say these days, "hater's gonna hate!" Some people will never want to be a part of the way I feel. It may be that they don't understand how to feel, it may be that they have been hurt beyond belief, it may be they were taught to think a certain way, it may be that that emotion scares the hell out of them because it isn't controlled. Whatever it is, I will try my hardest not to judge them and make them feel poorly about that. It is just as much as what makes them them as emotions make me me.

It is really easy to write this and sound like I have it all figured out, and I just want to assure you, I don't. I have moments of clarity but I also have just as many moments where I feel like my emotions are still ugly and bad. It is a process for me. I'm quite certain it will be until the day I die. And in this tiny moment right now, I am going to put it out to the World Wide Web to be forever encrypted into the blogesphere that I am ok, even happy, with who I am becoming.

The video below is a bit long, but if you can spare 20 minutes check it out. In the very least watch the last 4 and a half minutes. I watch this every time I need a reminder that I am an emotional creature, and I am alright.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012


I work for a not-for-profit. I deal with the clients we serve on a daily basis. Though I love it, it is emotionally trying sometimes. It can become easy to see suffering and focus on that. I have days when I go home and need to cry. Today I felt the opposite. Well perhaps not opposite, because I still saw the suffering happening in our city, but I met some amazing people working really hard to change their situation. I love these days, and this is why I do what I do. Today I believe in people. Today I am happy. 

I found this here.


Friday, February 3, 2012

Type of girl

"She's not the type of girl to wait by the phone, she won't cry, she knows it'll get her nowhere, she'll laugh a lot and often, and she will live her own life. She would like you be a part of it, but she will do just fine without you." -unknown.

I found this here

This is the girl that I am becoming every day.

Interestingly enough, I was going to leave this post just so and carry on my day, but I stopped by Little Reminders of Love before I was done and I had to keep writing. Anna is a lovely woman who is the inspiration to a lot of what I have become, she gives me the space to love hard, love free, be wild, and to be me. When I started reading her blog it was like I didn't feel like I was the only one who felt the way I do. It was an awakening. Stop by her blog and say hi. She is divine.