Monday, July 25, 2016

Uninvited

I had the good fortune to preview Lysa TerKeurst's new book Uninvited: Living Loved When You Feel Less Than, Left Out, and Lonely. Lysa's writing goes straight to my heart. She's real. Transparent. She writes about losing her temper, yelling at her kids, fighting with her husband, drowning her sorrows in chips and queso and learning to say no. If you have heard her speak, you know she delivers all this wisdom in the most delightful sweet-as-pie-Southern-belle voice. I. Love. Her.

Her books Unglued, Made to Crave and The Best Yes address issues I regularly pretend to deal with and offer sound advice as well as the perfect amount of, "Me too, sister," to keep readers engaged.

When I heard about this latest book, I couldn't wait to hear what she had to say. I've written a time or two or 12 about my issues with feeling left out.

I'm not sure where it comes from. Being the youngest child and not getting to go along on adventures with my older siblings? Maybe. Being home-schooled and not having many friends? Possibly. Honestly, it doesn't even matter anymore where that feeling comes from. What matters is that I don't like feeling that way and don't want to anymore.

Here's the thing: In the past, if someone left me out, or I perceived that I was being left out, I immediately erected a big wall between my heart and the offending person. Not exactly an emotionally mature or responsible way of dealing with situations. Especially when the slight was more in my head than the other person's actions.

I'm still pretty gun-shy and keep my circle super-tight, but I've been trying. (#4 Always do your best.) And I realized the other day that sometimes in my haste to protect my own heart, I've been guilty of committing this detestable offense against others. Worse, I can't claim it was unintentional because it was totally my intention to keep people I perceived as disingenuous as far outside my circle as possible. I didn't engage with them. I didn't entertain them. I certainly didn't invite them. I left them out.

There's a face...more than a face...a posture that all three of my kids assume on occasion. I tried unsuccessfully to capture it. If you meld the three of them into one: Chloe's sassy face, and P's scowly face, and Lil's slumping body and disgusted face, then you kind of have an idea. Imagine they're melting, disgustedly, but somewhat at their own hand.
Sass. For. Days.
The untrained eye might not detect his scowl. Look closely.

She's melting. Literally.
In this moment of realization, that's how I felt. Kind of like melting into a puddle of self-loathing. Mind you, there are some colorful expressions I'd use to describe my demeanor upon hitting this moment of clarity head on, but Imma keep my language PG, when I talk about LT and her books.

Now, since I've also been practicing making positive changes rather than ruminating over my shortcomings, I simply decided to do better going forward. Stop taking things personally (#2), own my own behavior, step outside my tight little circle and be vulnerable. Let people in even when they chose to shut me out. Remember that the best antidote to meanness is kindness...even when the last thing you feel like being is kind. Be. Kind. Anyways. That's a good mantra.
So, back to Lysa's book--which will surely leap off the presses and onto the NY Times Bestsellers list--and feeling less than, left out, and lonely. Well, if you have ever felt like that, you'll definitely want to check it out. And please tell me: Do you ever feel left out? How do you deal with those feelings?




Tuesday, July 19, 2016

How's that taste?

For 8 years, I have not eaten meat after reading about the cruel practices of factory farming. Over the course of these years, people have told me, "I won't watch those movies about how animals are treated or I'd never be able to enjoy a hamburger again."

To state the obvious: That's kind of the point.

I've told people that I would eat deer that my brother, the hunter, killed and been told "hunting is cruel." Really? And what about veal? Google it. Let that shit settle in.

For years, I've smiled and nodded while people made excuses for contributing to the torture and murder of animals. That's their deal if they can claim to be animal lovers and still eat them.

Unfortunately, over the years, people have expressed the same desire to avoid acknowledging discrimination and racism.

A few days ago, an acquaintance expressed on Facebook that black people wouldn't get killed if they just listened to the cops.

My knee-jerk reaction was to scream. To explode. To block her. And to cry.

None of those things would be productive. I can only try to learn from her ignorance.

This statement might be shocking to some, but black people have been getting killed for hundreds of years for being black. For not knowing their "place." For daring to want equal treatment. For using the wrong door or sitting in the wrong seat or not calling someone "sir." For being black.

Pretending that isn't true might help some sleep at night, but it sure doesn't make the world a safer place.

Some of us can't wrap our minds around that kind of hate and intolerance. Some of us want to forget that during many of our lifetimes, black people weren't allowed to eat, drink, or use the same bathrooms with whites. Most want to forget that black people were treated like animals and in many cases worse because it's horrific. It. Is. Horrific.

Unfortunately, not thinking about it or talking about it won't change it. The fact that we don't or won't get it doesn't make it any less true. People get worked up about Black Lives Matter, but if black lives had mattered in this country for the last three hundred years, there would be no reason for a movement.

People want to believe in humanity's inherent goodness. I get it. I do too. I want a world that tolerates differences. I want a compassionate and accepting society. Wanting it to be that way doesn't make it so. Turning a blind eye to real problems won't fix anything. Might as well click your heels together and try to teleport.

My friend wrote, "If people don't get it by now, it's because they don't want to get it." Right? The information is available. We need to educate ourselves. We can't protect anyone from issues we won't admit exist. Reinforcing the opinions and beliefs we already hold isn't going to change the world. Changing the world requires acknowledging the problem first.

We don't make any progress by staying in our comfort zones. We have to listen to people with different views. We need to watch videos that make us uncomfortable. We need to question what we believe and why we believe it. We need to be less defensive and more inquisitive. Otherwise we're destined to keep grieving.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Black. Lives. Matter.

Each of the far-too-frequent times a black person has been killed under "questionable circumstances" recently, I have fought the urge to say something. Be quiet. You don't understand. What could you possibly say?

A few weeks ago when a lifelong friend told me that she and some of her friends were shunned at a popular local restaurant--for no reason other than their skin color--I struggled to find words to convey the outrage I felt on her behalf. Nothing seemed adequate. I hesitated to say anything for fear of offending my friend out of my own ignorance.

When that piece of shit rapist got a slap on the wrist a few weeks ago, I bit my tongue. What could I say that would make a bit of difference? If people couldn't see his whiteness and wealth got him that sentence, how could I make them see?

But this morning, I read something my daughter posted on instagram:

"it's time we atone & make haste to fix a broken system. Far too much blood has already been shed. That means you have to stop clogging the doorway to equity with your narcissism. That means you have to stop being defensive & start comprehending empathy. It's about comprehending privilege & deconstructing it. It's not about you, it's about the well-being of people of color in a country that assaults & scrutinizes their every movement. You can keep denying that, but know what your denial reflects."


And I realized it's not about what I say, it's about what I feel. How we act. No, I don't understand. Your son is not my son. Your husband is not my husband. I can't begin to understand. I am knee-deep in white, pretty, blonde, blue-eyed privilege. And I know that. Still...I feel.  

So, I recommend just doing this one thing: Walk across the bridge from sympathy to empathy. 

Stop looking at these atrocities as other people's problems and start feeling them as our own. Maybe then something would change. Maybe then we'll start holding the racists, the murderers, the rapists accountable for their actions. 

If we stand with each other, perhaps we can enact a change.

We can teach our children manners. We can raise them to respect authority. We can give them wisdom and tools and home-training to make them successful, but we can't protect them from the kind of pervasive evil that doesn't even view them as human. 

And that should matter to all of us.