Enough is Enough


Yesterday, I did not go into a rant about gun control in this country. Today, after the shock of the Orlando nightclub mass shooting has worn off, reality has paved a path of extreme sadness and anger. What happened is unacceptable on so many levels. My heart goes out to the LGBT community, you are all invaluable members of this society and deserve to be treated as such. I am outraged that any civilian in this country is still able to obtain and possess an automatic assault weapon. How many more innocent people have to be senselessly killed? When do we finally say enough is enough?

When the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting took place I was running an after school program for children in Pre-K, kindergarten, and 1st grade. I heard about the tragedy just before picking the kids up from school. The relief I felt upon seeing each child, safe, at the end of the school day, laughing, running, and playing on the playground overwhelmed me. I remember thinking, “This! This is going to change gun control laws in this country forever!” I was wrong. Congress and the senate have declared that the money they receive from the NRA is more valuable than the lives of innocent Americans, as demonstrated by the lack of gun control policy change after every mass shooting in this country over the last decade. This is America, where the freedom to receive an education, worship as you please, go to the movies, go to nightclubs, and love whomever you choose can all be taken from you by someone firing an automatic weapon in the places we have been taught are safe.

I am not anti-gun. I know many people who grew up with guns, who hunt, who enjoy going to firing ranges in their spare time. While I do not care to ever own or fire a gun, I do not believe they should be banned. I do not agree that those with mental illnesses should be banned from obtaining fire arms if they so choose. I have worked in the mental health field and we cannot take away the rights of a large portion of our population because of a few very sick individuals. I do believe that the current laws in place do not keep the citizens of this country safe. And more guns is not the answer because no armed civilian has stopped or prevented a mass shooting thus far.

Our thoughts and prayers are not enough. Candlelight vigils are not enough. I do not say this to be crass. I lit a candle last night and am holding all those affected by the tragedy in my thoughts and prayers, but that is not enough. As one of my friend’s eloquently posted on Facebook, this is a, Jesus take the wheel time. Jesus is whatever you believe in, it is not limited to the Christian interpretation of Jesus. Jesus is not, however, judgmental or bigoted. Nor does Jesus believe fallible humans have a right to impose their beliefs on others. Jesus is love and compassionate social action to ensure that all humans are safely protected. Jesus is opening our hearts and our minds to stretch beyond what is comfortable…to include everyone.

 

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We Need More Love


This morning I woke up to the devastating news of the largest mass shooting in the U.S., to date. I don’t want to go into a rant about my beliefs on guns in this country. When we, as a country, fail to take drastic action when small children are killed at school, I hold no hope that this event will turn the tides. I would love to be proven wrong, though. I also don’t want to singularly address any specific communities or religious sects, the mass media is doing enough of that. Something much larger surfaced for me upon hearing the tragic news of the shooting at the Orlando nightclub.

How do we come together as a society? How do we peacefully coexist as humans with different beliefs, religions, political viewpoints, etc.? Have we become too entitled and self-righteous about our own stances to keep humanity at the forefront of all we do? Has violence become the norm that we are now numb to it and able to simply shrug it off as one more tragedy?

Who we love, the ways we choose to worship, who we vote for, the colors of our skin, the languages we speak do not make us good or bad people. Using any of those things to justify actions of cruelty is inhumane. What is ultimately important is how we treat others, especially those we do not agree with. What is important is that we love people for who they are and allow their authentic voices to be heard, because that is when the best in people comes out, which is ultimately what is best for our individual communities, and our society as a whole. Taking away people’s rights and silencing their voices only breeds hate, fear, and anger. We have got to do better as a society.

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Monday Morning Commute (Or Things I Will Not Miss While Away)

One of the only good things about the G train is that it has one of the lowest annoying tourist populations in comparison to other subway lines (at least in June). One of the bad things about the G train is that it is packed with overly tired and stressed out New Yorkers who will push past a 5 year old on the way to school just to get a coveted seat. We New Yorkers really are kind people at heart; just don’t mess with us during morning rush hour, especially not after we’ve been waiting for the notoriously unreliable G train.

As I settle into my spot holding a pole toward the middle of the car I find myself next to a normal enough looking guy in jeans and a T-shirt who pulls out the latest New Yorker. Then he yawns…his halitosis is so bad I gag. Then I catch a whiff of his under arm odor. Seriously?!? If you can afford a New Yorker subscription (Or did you just steal that out of your neighbor’s mailbox?) you can certainly afford a toothbrush, toothpaste, and deodorant.

A few stops later a large, squat Caribbean woman wielding a prayer book settles in on my other side. She looks unassuming enough until she opens her mouth to say, “excuse me,” to someone she bumped with her bag. The overpowering smell of garlic coming from her mouth could only be accomplished by gnawing on a whole, raw head of garlic prior to boarding the train. It’s only 8:30am. How is that smell possible at any hour, let alone now?

Just when I think it can’t get any worse, a very large man pushes through the crowd of people to sit in the seat attached to the pole I am holding and pulls out a bag of Doritos. The smell of Doritos makes me want to vomit. I cannot explain it, but the extreme need to throw up upon smelling Doritos is what I like to believe is a trait of evolutionary superiority. Seriously, those things are toxic – no one should be eating them. I unintentionally give him a look, because at this pint my olfactory system has been pushed to the limit. Now I am the skinny, white woman silently judging the overweight minority for his poor diet choices. Great.

As the train starts to pull into the last stop I begin to sigh out of relief. Sure, there will be a mob of people to shuffle through as I climb the steps and walk to my connecting train, but at least I am free from the chamber of torturous scents. Oh right, I forgot, summer internship season has begun. There is a large number of young men and women dressed in their finest suits, which they will soon discover in this city of extreme wealth and poverty, while perfectly acceptable in their Midwestern towns are paltry when toe to toe with the custom-made suits and shoes their supervisors will be donning. I appreciate their bright-eyed and bushy-tailed energy, so lacking from everyone else on the train, but I wish they would look up from their phones as they attempt to exit the train. And I really wish that when they do look up and realize they have no idea what direction to keep walking in they would step aside instead of stopping dead in their tracks at the top of the stairs like deer in headlights.

Alas, it is Monday.

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Sifting Through the Past


I spent the weekend going through boxes of old journals, letters, cards, and photos. I came face to face with me at 18, 20, 25, 30, 32, 33. There were things I had forgotten that I was pleasantly surprised to be reminded of. There were things I had hoped to never think about again staring me in the face. There were reminders of people no longer in my life. There were reminders of a shared past with people still in my life. I had some good laughs and some hard cries.

As I reflected back on the last 16 years of my life I came to some very hard realizations. I have spent most of my life believing I did not deserve to be happy or loved. I spent a lot of time dodging happiness and love, allowing people into my life who were not so good for me, fucking things up to prevent myself from being loved fully. It took being left, as opposed to the one always doing the leaving, to crack me open, break down the walls, and soften the hardened edges.

While there is sadness, for all the people lost and hurt, opportunities missed, and unnecessary suffering, there is an overwhelming sense of relief and lightness. I am no longer that person. I get to make different choices from here on out. I get to be happy and loved.

I wound up getting rid of 90% of the stuff I went through. It was incredibly healing. A dear friend reminded me that it is not necessary to hold on to the pieces of our past that are toxic to the present. My head is still spinning from all of the memories, revelations, and letting go that occurred in the last few days. Or maybe that’s just the hangover from all the cocktails and wine it took to actually open some of those boxes and go through their contents. The mementos I did keep bring a smile to my face when I think of them. They fill me with gratitude for the people and experiences that have helped shape me into who I am today.

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A Little Poetry

This is one of the best things I have come across in a long time.

Remember…

you are marvelous

the gods wait to delight

in you.

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Letting Go

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My life has felt like one ginormous transition over the last six months. A transition into living my life authentically, not holding myself back, going for the scary stuff I never let myself even dream about, taking care of myself, and doing more than just entertaining the idea that I deserve to be happy. There was a lot holding me back, but most importantly was the fact that I, and my old thought patterns and ways of being were holding me back. I spent way too much of my life looking at myself though a lens of not being good enough or worthy enough, and I allowed people into my life who also viewed me through that lens. Letting go of that and focusing on relationships with people who view me as good enough just as I am, and continually remind me to do the same, has felt like a magical revelation.

And while I have felt happier, freer, and healthier over the last few months than I have in a long time, there has been a lot of pain too. There is a tremendous amount of loss and letting go required for change to occur – and with that, grieving. Just because a relationship or situation was unhealthy does not mean that we do not miss it and grieve it as we move into healthier ways of being. There are holes left, along with sadness and confusion.

Over the weekend I came face to face with a piece of my past, a former identity, that it is time to fully let go of. A no longer healthy relationship that has run its course and immersion in work that connect me to this past shone light on things I was content to keep tucked away, safely out of sight. And then…the floodgates opened. I thought I could hold on to these little bits and pieces, but the truth is, I cannot. And so, instead of trying to pick up the remaining broken pieces of what was, I am choosing to clean up what is left and walk away. A skill I am still fumblingly new at employing. And while I feel lighter already, it is because there is a new hole and new grief to process. There is also space for new joy and new adventures now.

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Positive Changes


I am really good at freaking out, getting overly anxious and stressed, and planning for the worst case scenario. (I had a therapist once tell me I imagined the worst worst case scenarios of anyone she had very worked with.) What I’ve realized recently is that, I am not so good at simply being when things are going well. I tend to reside in a place of constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop. What if there is no proverbial other shoe? What if both shoes are on my feet just waiting for me to walk, run, skip, and stop worrying about it all?

My mantra for the last several months has been: “I am enough. I have enough.” I silently repeat this every time I catch myself worrying about something, real or imagined; every time I find myself slipping into the old broken record mantra of: “Can I really do this? Do I deserve this?”For too long I kept people in my life who fed into my feelings of not being good enough or deserving enough. As those people have been weeded out I’ve been able to clearly see the people in my life who have always believed I was good enough and deserving enough. They were just waiting for me to see it too.

Things in my life were bad on multiple levels for a long time. Now that the tides have changed, it feels scary. Am I ready for what lies ahead? Can I handle everything going well? Can I stay out of my own way long enough for everything to go the way it is meant to? The answer to all these questions is, I sure hope so.

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