Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Today's Quote

"You can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world, and there's still going to be somebody who hates peaches."
― Dita Von Teese

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Saturday, May 30, 2015

From Mrs. to Ms: My name change

“If I am going to tell a real story, I am going to start with my name”-Kendrick Lamar

 Almost three years ago, I became divorced. Last month I changed my last name back to my maiden name. This was the last move in my transition away from my identity as a married woman and then as a woman who had been married. Now I am "just" a woman. My identity is no longer tied to my relationship status and I do not have to explain to people where my last name comes from. On a side note, I learned the phrase, "Mi nombre es de mi ex-meido" so I could reply in Spanish, “My name is from my ex-husband.” My ex-husband has moved on and so have I. We are a parenting unit to our son, but we are no longer a Mr. and Mrs. 

I do not know of one single woman who has gotten a divorce and has changed her name back to her maiden name. Whether or not they have a kid, every woman that I know who has went from a Mrs. to a Ms. has chosen to keep the name of her ex-husband. My mother, other family members, several friends, famous ex-wives, and associates. So why did I decide to not follow that path?

To be honest for two out of the past three years I was planning on keeping my last name. I wanted to have the same last name of my son and I had a fear that if we did not have the same last names, I would somehow lose my identity as his mother. I also told myself that I had built this life under my married name and I did not want to do all the work that I felt that I would have to do to change it. Also I has spent two years rebuilding myself physical, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally after my divorce, that my name was the last thing on my mind.

But about a year ago my maiden name had started to call me. Maybe I was getting tired of explaining my name. I had been divorced for 2 years and yet I still had to talk about my ex-husband almost weekly. I bet he did not have to explain that he had been married before every time he told someone his name.  Also the universe had started sending me signals. All of a sudden different people would ask me why I didn’t change my name back and I started to read about other woman who had gone back to their maiden names.

I had started to think that this would be the best time to do it. I am in grad school and having my maiden name on both my Bachelors and Masters degrees would be awesome. I have started to do more writing and anything that I am going to have published I would like to have my name on it. I also wanted to get a new passport and it would be such a pain to get one and then have to have it updated if I decided to change my last name later.

The one thing that constantly prevented me from moving forward was this fear of loss of my identity as a mother. I realized that that fear wasn’t really valid. If I went back to my maiden name, my son wouldn’t all of a sudden forget who I was. Also he is only 5 and he just started to realize that my name wasn’t really “Mommy”. I even stated to think about the single mothers who I knew who had never been married. Some of their children had their fathers last name and there was a never an issue. This fear was so big that I even consulted a lawyer. I asked, “Could you think of any negative consequences that could happened if I did not have the same last name of my children”. She answered, “No”.

Great! So I had made the decision to change my name. I told very few friends or family, I didn’t even tell my parents, so I could keep myself from hearing their opinions. My decision is my decision. I am not looking for validation or criticism from others. My last hurdle was thinking about the cost and time that it would take for me to change my name. I was truly wrong about this as well. In my divorce decree I was given the option to go back to my maiden name if I wanted too. I found out that even though my divorce happened 3 years ago, all I had to do was take my divorce decree to the Secretary of State and they would change it on my license. I could then take it and my new license to the Social Security office and change it there. With those 2 IDs I could update my name anywhere else. In an hour the last chapter on my old life was written.

This was the perfect time in my life to do this. During my divorce the pain was too raw. It would have been too hard to repeatedly tell strangers that I changed my last name because I had gotten divorced. They say that time heals all wounds and in this situation that is true. There has been enough distance, time, and self-work done so that I could get to a place where I am strong enough reclaim my own name.

This decision may not be for everyone and I am in no way judging women who decide to keep their husbands name. This is just what is best for me and maybe through my story women will know that there is another option.

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Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Today's Quote

"I think the that reward for conformity is that everyone likes you except for yourself."

  -Rita Mae Brown

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Sunday, March 29, 2015

Women rights are human rights

        I never though much of women rights outside of equal pay and the abortion question. In America in general as a woman, I can attend school, have a safe birth, speak my voice, wear what I want, get married, get divorced and get married again. I can walk outside by myself without having the permission of my father, son or brother. I can drive, I can have sex without shame (and be the one to bring the condoms), and I can have a daughter whom I love and care for as much as a son. An assignment for my Human Rights class, shockingly opened my eyes to the reality that not all women around the world share these same benefits. In fact, extreme poverty, human trafficking and sex trade, lack of education and health care, sexual and physical abuse, genital mutilation and a threat to life due to gender continues to plague women globally in staggering numbers.

            Freethe Children: A young man fights against child labor and proves that childrencan change the world and Half theSky: Turning oppression into opportunity for women worldwide are the two books that I recently read for my human rights class. I was asked to write about what ideas come to mind to address and help solve the issues raised in these books. Not an easy or small task! As the book Half the Sky shows, sometimes the obvious solution does not always work. For example, in an example in the book, HIV mothers in Africa were provided formula so they do not breastfeed and pass the disease to their babies. The mothers then threw the formula away outside of the hospital because if they did not breastfeed the other people in their village would then know that they were HIV positive.

            So what solution can I offer that could help solve the large and often complex problems represented in these books? Global awareness. If I was not aware of these large, complex, and horrifying injustices that are occurring, I can assume that there are other people who do not know as well. Different non profits who are working with these issues (several of them are mentioned in both books) can sponsor billboards around the US with simple phrases such as, “What if your 5 year old had to work 12 hours a day in a factory?”, “What if your husband could hit you for disobeying?”, “What if by law you could only have 1 child. Would you pick your son or daughter?”, “If you only made $2 a day what would you buy?” with a picture of house and food or a picture of medicine and school books, or “Does being born a woman make your life less valuable?”. Short phrases like these could spark the thought process as people read them and each billboard could have a website where people could find out more about these issues and find ways they can help. Each billboard could also include the phrase, “Women’s rights/Children’s rights are human rights”.

            If we do not know that there is a problem than how can we do anything about it? Seeing PETA’s messages all over the media led me to one day visit their website, watch a video and become vegan so hopefully these messages displayed around the country can spark the same awareness and call to action.

            I encourage you to read these books I mentioned here and learn more about the global human rights issues that are still occurring around the world, including the US, find out what you can do to help. There are many great organizations that are working to end human rights injustices around the world. Whether your passion is ending violence against women, extreme poverty, or you are passionate about educating girls there is organization that is working to provide the assistance needed to make a difference.

            For more information, visit the website “A Path Appearsby the authors of Half the Sky. There you can read about their new book and documentary that offers readers and viewers a roadmap to become a more conscientious global citizen.

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Monday, March 9, 2015

Fear is a choice

"Fear is not real. The only place that fear can exist is in our thoughts of the future. It is a product of our imagination, causing us to fear things that do not at present and may never ever exist. That is near insanity Kitai. Do not misunderstand me, danger is very real, but fear is a choice."-After Earth

During one family vacation before I gave up zoos I attend an exhibit at Disney World in which you were able to swim with baby tiger sharks. You would wear goggles and swim from one side of "lagoon" to the other with your face in the water and you could see the baby tiger sharks swimming at the bottom. I am not a strong swimmer in general, but the lagoon was not the big and I figured with the life jacket I had on I could make it. I started swimming and halfway across I looked in the water, saw the strips on the back of the sharks and FREAKED out! I became so scared, my heart started racing and I had shortness of breath. The only thing that keep me from crying was pride because there were kids younger than me in the water who were not scared. I decided to try to catch my breath and hall ass across the lagoon. When I got out of the water I realized that I was being a little irrational and I had let my fear get the best of me. This was pre-Blackfish so I figured that Disney World would not have an exhibit with animals that would hurt people. Also no one else was scared and these sharks were all the way at the bottom of the "lagoon" (looking back I wonder it there was a glass at the bottom that separated the sharks from us). I had let my fear stop me from enjoying a new experience and if I gave into this fear I would probably continue to let fear do so. I tried it again and made it across!

Fear is a very tricky and unproductive emotion. If you look up the word fear most of the definitions have to deal with the idea of  the anticipation of something. If I fear being eaten by a baby tiger shark it means that at the present moment I am safe. Don't get me wrong not all fear is bad. Some fear is actually good. In Gavin de Becker's book The Gift of Fear: and other survival signals that protect us from violence, Becker talks about fear in terms of of an instinct or "gut feeling" that alerts us to danger. He talks about the signals that women (men have these signals too but he focuses on violence against women in this book) often receive that they ignore, but that if paid attention to could have taken them out of a situation that would have resulted in violence. For example, those "red flags" that a boyfriend has violent tendencies tends to get brushed off because "he would NEVER hit me". But even Becker makes the point that if you have the fear signal it is because that dangerous situation has not happened yet and you have time to do something about it. 

What I have found out most about my fears is that (1) mostly likely what I fear does not happen ( I did not get eaten), (2) if it does happen it is not as bad as I thought it would be and I am able to handle the situation better than I thought and (3) fear prevents me from making positive rational choices. 

So when the author of the book The Cinderella Complex that I wrote about my last post "Getting over my Cinderella Complex" said that women need to "recognize the degree to which fear rules your life because real emancipation will come when you begin the process of working through the anxieties that prevent you from feeling competent and whole" I sat back and asked myself "What do I fear?","how has that fear prevented me from reaching the independence that I seek?" and "how have I allowed fear to lead me react to a situation instead of acting in a manner that is authentic to me?".

This exploration will be a continual process, but one thing that has already came up is that I have a fear of losing control and because of that fear I tend to hold onto to things too tightly. I have held onto people that should I have let go, I have held onto beliefs that no longer served me, and I have held onto situations that did nothing to move me toward the life that I want. 

You can not live in fear and live an authentic life. Authenticity depends on your ability to live outside what is safe and safety rests in the path of least resistance.

Remember fear is a choice so what you do choose to feel today?

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Sunday, February 22, 2015

Getting over my Cinderella Complex

Charlotte: It's because women really just want to be rescued.

Carrie: (voiceover) There it was. The sentence independent single women in their thirties are never supposed to think, let alone say out loud.

Charlotte: I'm sorry but it's true. I've been dating since I was fifteen. I'm exhausted. Where is he?
Miranda: Who? The white knight?
Samantha: That only happens in fairy tales.

Have you ever had the feeling that you should be farther in life or your journey than you currently are? You are doing all the right things, but there is something, some obstacle that is holding you back. You do not consciously know what this obstacle is, but you know that its there?

Yeah well I had been feeling that very strongly during all of 2014. I had been divorced for over a year, I was accepted into Graduate school, I re-structured my inner circle and have nothing but smart business driven people around me, and I have done a lot of work to explore and work towards becoming my authentic self. Financially and emotionally though it seems as though nothing has changed. I have made some positive steps towards a more financially and emotionally strong life, but I am no where near where I feel like I should be. WTF is going on?!?!

I call her Cinderella. The side of my personality that expects someone to come in and rescue me. If I am unhappy I don't have to cheer myself up because someone else will do it. If I am in debt I don't have to work to get out of it because someone else will come along and pay it off. Largely though she tells me that I am not strong enough to take control of my life so just wait because someone else will do it.

 At the end of 2014 I self-diagnosed myself with having a Cinderella complex (I thought this this was an original idea but after I Googled it I found out on Wikipedia that the term Cinderella complex was first described by Colette Dowling, who wrote a book on women's fear of independence – an unconscious desire to be taken care of by others.) I am a smart educated woman who is healthy physically and mentally, I have great friends, and a great family, but yet financially and emotionally I have never been solely responsible for myself and unconsciously I continued to expect someone else to take care of me. 

This makes complete sense! As a child my favorite movie was Cinderella. I have literally watched that move over 30 times (I know because I kept track of it in my journal).Cinderella was intelligentbeautifulfeisty, an animal over (all of which I could relate to), but she was trapped in a life that was unhealthy and the only way that she was able to escape from it was because Prince Charming decided that he loved her and swept her away to his castle. 

Without going into too much Psychoanalysis about my childhood, in many ways I was always taught that it was a man's job to take care of me. I never learned how to be a whole person myself and I was always looking for a partner to "complete me". When I found myself single again, I had to confront some deeply rooted beliefs that I had about myself and my responsibility for my life and I realized that I have never 100% fully taken charge of my money, my thoughts, my emotions and my choices. Because of this I have not progressed as much as I could have. 

I am on currently on the road to recovery. I have realized that the stick my head the in sand approach to my life was not working. No one was coming to my door trying to stick my foot into a glass slipper. I have to become my own Prince Charming. 

I have taken an inventory in the ways that I have let others control my life. I have begun to internalize the message that "I am worthy, I am strong, and I am in control of my life". Good or bad I need to be honest about where I am currently and where I want to be and then have the courage to take the steps to get there. I have learned to be confident enough to say no to the people, beliefs, and situations that do not serve me and to say "Yes!" to the one's that do. My happiness is no one else's responsibility but my own.

Thanks Prince Charming, but I can put on my own damn shoes ;-)

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Friday, February 13, 2015

My Life Outside the Box

In life sometimes you think that you are on the right path. You then look up to realize that you ended up somewhere completely different. It can be scary and it can be frustrating, but it is in these moments that you learn more and grow more than you would have ever imagined.

So it is time for me to do the same. When I started this blog (Beauty Shouldn't Hurt) I was in such a different space in my life. Thinking about that time almost feels like I am looking at the life of a different person. I was living a "perfect" life, but I was not living a life that was authentic to me. I didn't even realize this until the rug was pulled out from under me and I had a very rude and painful awakening about the person that I had become.

As a result of that pain and brokenness, I made the decision to work step by step at figuring out who I was and what I wanted my life to be. I had spent so much time in my life living for others that I completely forgot who I was. So this new blog direction is aimed at that journey.

Recently I have begun to think about all the ways in which I have lived inside of the box. Limited myself based on what I or others have thought it meant to be a women, a mother, a wife, now an ex-wife, a person in their 30's, a friend, a lover, a relative, an African-American, a vegan and any other way that I am labeled. From that exploration I have decided that I wanted this blog to be more about living my authentic self. Living my life based on what makes me happy and what feels true to who I am. Hopefully from my journey you can gain the courage to do the same. If you are already doing so I hope that you will share your stories with me and we can have a wild ride together.

So join me in my journey to develop My Life Outside the Box.

“The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are.” ― C.G. Jung

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