In Defense Of Selective Outrage

Whenever there’s a big news story that makes people feel ALL OF THE ANGER! there are always people dismissing this type of tidal wave of social media outrage. And then those dismissive people wonder why that news story made you feel anger and not this one. I’ve done this myself and I see it a lot on Facebook because I have a selection of friends and family ranging all across political spectrums. I actually saw that argument used several times this week in the following forms:

How can you be outraged by Cecil’s murder but…

  • …not be outraged by Samuel Dubose’s murder?
  • …not be angry at the factory farming that tortures animals for their entire lives before killing them for our consumption? (This was my stance, and thinking about that is what motivated this post.)
  • …not be worried about the Veterans Accountability Act? (SIDENOTE: This is one of the examples of times this liberal does not side with Obama. I don’t think this bill is perfect, but it’s a start and if we wait for “perfect” we will never improve anything associated with the VA.) (SIDENOTE #2 – I have said time and time again, if you can not think of something you disagree with on your side of politics, or something you agree with on the other side, then you might be watching too much biased media. All officials from all sides of our government sometimes do stuff we like or dislike because they are all funded by lobbying and big corporations, and if you don’t see that, then you’re not getting your news from a wide enough variety of sources, in my humble opinion. You need to sometimes be angry with politicians on your side of the aisle or your being shielded too much by your selection of news sources.) (Sorry for all the parentheticals.)

And I get that…I do. Like I said, I was shocked at how many people were angry about it and really wanted just as many people to be angry about how our factory farmed animals are treated. BUT! I also know we all have our causes that are important to us and when we see people using their voices and their emotions to promote ideas that we don’t think are important, then it’s frustrating. I think about it all the time during Football Season here in the South. People have SO MUCH PASSION for football and since I don’t (I did in a previous life) I often wonder how the world would be different if that passion and money was directed elsewhere. Just like I’m sure people wonder how different life would be if those of us obsessed with Harry Potter would donate that $2,500 to charity instead of tickets and lodging to Harry Potter World.

But here’s the thing…these bursts of what people call “Selective Outrage” are usually not fruitless. People are usually driven to some sort of action. Maybe they stop eating at restaurants where CEOs frequently take their own Trophy/Canned Hunting safari trips. Maybe they donate to the Oxford program that was responsible for monitoring Cecil the Lion. Maybe they start thinking about how the animals they eat on their plates don’t even get the 13 years of free living that Cecil got before he was tortured and killed and they rethink their next egg sandwich? Usually that outrage eats at us until we do SOMETHING and to me, as long as it produces some kind of action towards a greater good then I’m not going to fret about it.

You also see this same kind of frustration from people every October when Susan B Komen colors everything pink. There will be articles and pleas all over the place from people to spread their money and their activism to other fund raisers and DUDE…I GET IT. No one has heard of the cancer that killed me Dad. (Until Tom Brokaw got it, I think more people know of it now.) And yes, Susan B Komen has had some issues lately with accusations of mismanaging funds etc but let’s look at the trend, if your passion or your anger pushes you to make changes or donations or promote causes or learn more about issues that trends us as humans towards better? Then I’m okay.

What I don’t like is when people get REALLY outraged but then do nothing. If someone posts angry Facebook posts but then reads nothing about canned hunting and how a lot of Americans hunt lions, or if they don’t make donations or changes in their own lifestyles, if the outrage doesn’t pan out to educating ourselves or changing habits or donating to causes…then I don’t like it. Then it’s just a piece of flair on our vest at TGiFridays.

But I think most of us read about horrible things…Sam Dubose, Cecil the Lion, Veteran wait lists, and we do something. Maybe we learn more about the popularity of exotic game hunting and make sure everyone in our circle of influences knows we hate it – even if it’s not a protected Lion. (Some hunt GIRAFFES…SLOW HERBIVORES…WHAT IS THE POINT?) Maybe we read about the Veterans Accountability Act and find our stance for or against, maybe we decide to pick up a book we wouldn’t normally read.

Hearing about something awful and then educating ourselves, is never a bad thing. Especially if it leads to action – whether it’s a call to a congressman, or a donation to a charitable organization – then the outrage is not wasted.

But…if you just share an article on Facebook and are just angry with no action, then it’s pointless. Read about how we actually allow the shipping of lions back home after trophy hunting adventures and learn about how listing the lion as an endangered species could help ban the imports after these hunts. Social media anger is a great thing and drives a lot of people to action and/or education, I refuse to dismiss it or roll my eyes at it. I love seeing people fired up about SOMETHING, I love when I am motivated to read up about an issue, that’s how I became an herbivore in the first place. Learning about issues and getting angry about them is never bad if it promotes education or change in any way.

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Seeking Solace In A T-Shirt Drawer

I sat down this morning and wrote this entry where I basically unloaded all of this build-up of anxiety and how I have SO MUCH TO DO and SO LITTLE TIME TO DO IT and then I stopped, I read the words and I said to myself is this really how we want to start your week?

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Let’s talk instead about my crazy-as-shit t-shirt drawer! And how I’ll be starring in the sequel to Sleeping With The Enemy any day now! (As the OCD bad guy, of course. Julia Roberts would not have appreciated my happy t-shirt drawer.)

I read about the KonMarie method of decluttering recently (along with the rest of the world) and it fit in very well with the whole DOWNSIZING adventure we’re embarking on. We got rid of about 15 bags of clothing and it has been AMAZING how good it has felt to open drawers and know that I enjoy every item in every drawer in some capacity.

I didn’t apply most of her folding techniques because the type of clothes I wear a lot aren’t conducive to folding. It’s hard to “fold” tech clothes. So, they’re just thrown in a drawer still. BUT! I got rid of all of the stuff I didn’t love so at least when I’m digging I know that everything I grab is good.

But my cotton t-shirts are perfect for her method. It took me awhile to find a good “fold” dimension that would maximize the space in the drawer, I ended up with more of a roll than a fold. But – what I love about this is the part I actually mock the most with her method.

She personifies everything. This method is not just about making you happy, it’s about making your stuff happy too. And everything is happier if it has a place to live and is enjoyed. My favorite thing about folding my shirts in this way is that when the shirt gets clean again, it has this one blank spot in my drawer waiting for it. And while I ridicule that part of her method all of the time, I can’t help but think to myself, My shirt is happy knowing that this spot is waiting for it to return.

I still ball up my socks (she’s against that because your socks are not happy all balled up like that) because my sock drawer is not really a problem area and I know that if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. And my pants/shorts and stuff…I haven’t really found a good fold/roll that works for that stuff and still maximizes the dimensions of the drawer. Your goal is to not have anything stacked, you need to be able to see everything when you open the drawer, and just the type of clothes I wear make that a little tricky. My shorts are short, they kinda only fold in one way. I rolled my pants/blue jeans and we’ll see if that’s effective come winter, but I haven’t really found a good system for my shorts yet. That drawer is not as nice as my t-shirt drawer. Each pair doesn’t have it’s own spot yet. MY SHORTS ARE NOT HAPPY.

But my t-shirts? They’re happy. So I thought I’d focus on my happy t-shirts this morning instead of my overwhelming anxiety regarding the upcoming week. I’ve gotten rid of enough t-shirts, and found the perfect fold/roll, that my t-shirt drawer is one of the happiest places in my house. Everything in that drawer is loved and everything has it’s place. I’m just going to use that as my meditation focal point today. That makes me happy.

That and my new bullet journal.

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I ordered the Leuchtturm1917 this time because their dotted versions come in hard cover, unlike Moleskine. And while it’s a little big for my Rickshaw bags folio which I love, it does fit into my old Fossil Kindle cover which was what I used for my bullet journal cover before I found the Rickshaw bags folios. I’m not sure yet if I would stick to this notebook if Moleskine announced tomorrow that they were offering hardcover versions of their dotted journals…I’ll offer a full review in the near future, but I definitely like it enough to use it until they do. And I kinda like switching back to my Fossil Kindle cover, I forgot how much I loved that thing. It’s just pretty.

SO! I’m not going to dump words about overwhelming anxiety today. I might still puke them out tomorrow, but I wanted to start this week instead with things making me happy. Things that actually help with my anxiety. Everything having a place and clutter removed so I can enjoy the things that make me happy…that is a huge tool in the battle against my stress. And my bullet journal? The place where I organize all of my overwhelming To Do lists? That is the #1 weapon in my arsenal. Otherwise it really would all be just too much to handle.

But. If you are one of the gagillion people I’ve let down the last few weeks as I’ve gotten more and more behind on life, please forgive me. I’m really going to try to catch up this week. I’m crossing my fingers that my kids are all better. (No fevers since Saturday morning!) And that this week will continue without conflict, and that way I can get caught up on life before school starts back up in 2 weeks.

But if I can’t get caught up? I’ll seek solace in my t-shirt drawer and my bullet journal.

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Perpetually Drowning In Tidal Waves Of Love.

(True Story: That blog title up there? Had a typo for awhile. It said “Wives” instead of “Waves” and I almost left it because it made me laugh but this entry is SERIOUS, y’all. So I corrected it.)

I got back from my trip super-late (1am. I realized I should be specific because you all know me too well and may think “super-late” was 10pm) on Monday evening and have spent my only free time since then (not at work or sleeping) frantically getting my life back in order. Not having my daily blogging has made me slightly insane so I’m happy to finally have some time this morning to get my word therapy in.

I have SO many things to write about. How wonderful and energizing Breckenridge was…How my brother and sister-in-law inspire me to be a better Mom…How I lost weight on my trip because I was active and healthy but gained it back 48 hours after I returned home because all of my stress and anxiety returned…How I had an epic Mom Fail last night and yelled at my daughter even though she was helping me get the house ready for a showing…How I discovered Daylight Donuts and I like them better than Krispy Kreme…

SO MANY THINGS TO WRITE ABOUT. But then yesterday I heard a stay-at-home Mom of 3 elementary school children reference the SCOTUS gay marriage ruling and Caitlyn Jenner and use those two things as proof that (and notice the quotes) the world is, “full of sin and we just have to keep praying for God’s forgiveness and hope these people find salvation in Jesus.”

If this was a one time thing I’d probably just let it slide and not do a blog entry about it, but I live in the heart of bible country where a lot of Christians build their faith around a fundamentalist interpretation of the bible and that lends itself to this type of attitude, so I see it often. This idea that the world is “full of sin” and that the “devil is all around us” and we have to have constant vigilance because everyone is bound for the fires of Hell without accepting Jesus as their Lord and Savior.

I am not mocking this belief, I’m just explaining it in case you don’t life in a community with this prevalent form of Christianity. This phrasing, these words, I hear and see these every day.

Y’all? This makes me SO VERY SAD.

I know I’m just a very privileged white cisgender married woman, but I feel like I’m surrounded by beauty and love and compassion and that this world around me is full of people who want to make it better with their love and their sweat and their tears. I look at people like Malala Yousafzai who have seen the darkest of evil as she fights for something as simple as an education and yet she stills find beauty and hope in the world around her. I look at activists who fight for their causes – ending systemic racism, saving mistreated animals, fighting for legal status of the transgender community – they fight with their words and their rallies and even they see hope in small changes that their communities bring to them.

I am blessed to hear voices every day preaching about hope and community and love; and those voices inspire me to do the same and yet…YET…there are still these pockets of people around me who see nothing but sin and the Devil and I just don’t understand…how does someone live like that? How does someone only see a bright future if people are joining their Faith? How can someone look at my community and see all of the sin instead of all of the love?

This is probably a rant only a few people will nod their heads at because most of you all don’t live in communities with this type of religious dominance, but every time I see a reference to “all of the sin” and how our only hope is “with Jesus” and how our world is going to keep seeing “dark days” if we don’t “trust in the Lord” – I just want to cry because that means – in that narrative – someone like me adds no light to their world as long as I’m without Jesus. That means that they look at their world and see darkness and sin and the Devil and only see light and hope within their religious communities or their ministries. They don’t see the hope that someone like Malala Yousafzai brings because her goal is to get children educated, not rid them of the Devil and of Sin. She doesn’t work to bring people to Jesus, she works to bring education to poor communities and that’s not light without their God.

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I just am always blown away by the beauty of people around me. I don’t know what kind of person Caitlyn Jenner is, I don’t know her heart, but I’ve seen an outpouring of love and support for her and I see that love and it makes the world better, I guarantee it. I saw dozens of cisgendered people in heterosexual relationships (I don’t assume someone is straight just because they’re in a heterosexual marriage) change their profile pictures to rainbows after the SCOTUS ruling basically showing their support for my kid, albeit indirectly. My kid who saw those profile pictures too and told me how many he was shocked by many and how happy it made him. I have friends who came up to me after that ruling, friends of different religions and backgrounds, friends who said, “I was happy too!” They know how much that meant to me and my family and they wanted me to know they’re happy too.

Love. Love. Love. Everywhere I saw love. I didn’t see sin or the devil or a need for global salvation. I saw love. And maybe I’m just blessed to be surrounded by that kind of community, but for whatever the reason, I’m glad to have it. I’m glad you all inspire me every day to be better, even if I live outside of your Faith or your Church. I’m inspired by people from all walks of life and I’m sad that others can’t see that beauty and that love and that support around them. I’m sad that many are just praying for our community and that we all find the salvation that Jesus’ death brought them. I’m sad because they’re so busy praying for people like me to be saved that they are missing out on the life-changing tidal wives of love that are washing over people like me every day.

Don’t pray that I find Jesus. Instead, offer prayers of gratitude to your God that I found the Love of community and family and friendship and that I am inspired by the people around me every day to be happier, to make the world better, and to add my light to any darkness I find.

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The Neighborly Thing To Do

I’ve been mulling over several things regarding current events and I hadn’t finished mulling so I didn’t post this morning.

BUT I AM DONE MULLING!

Not really. But I’ve reached a good stopping point regarding one issue. A mulling rest area, so to speak.

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This time of year it’s common to see these notices posted from Combat Veterans regarding their hatred of fireworks and their request for neighbors to honor that around Independence Day. This is always very favorably received and I notice images like this are shared out by my liberal AND conservative friends and family. This is one of those issues that everyone can seem to stand behind. I love those issues. I don’t like fighting so when everyone agrees my heart is happy.

AND I AGREE TOO. I hate loud noises and I don’t have any combat induced PTSD. So I can’t imagine how much more awful fireworks would be if I did. I hope the neighborhoods respect those requests by these heroes.

But you know what I don’t see? People getting pissed off and declaring anger that “Fireworks have been banned!” I don’t see groups rallying in protest and shooting off fireworks ANYWAY because they LOVE FIREWORKS and there’s no triggering for them! Just excitement and awe! I don’t see any kind of responses like that from anyone. On the contrary it’s always just support.

Could you imagine if I stood outside my neighbor’s house, my neighbor the combat vet, and just shot fireworks from the sidewalk and said, “This is a free country! I can do what I want! I love fireworks! WOOOO!” Do you think people would rally behind me?

Jeezus, I hope not. I hope they would tackle me to the ground and apologize to my neighbor on my behalf.

To me, refraining from shooting fireworks when you live near a combat veteran is the same type of gesture as removing a Confederate Flag from the state grounds, even if it means nothing more to you than a symbol of your Southern Family history. Governor Bentley may not see Jim Crow laws or Desegregation Protests or the KKK when he looks at a confederate flag, but he knows others in our state do – MANY do – so he decides, as a state official – to not fly it on state grounds. It’s a gesture of kindness and empathy. He’s not necessarily saying, “I see the flag as a symbol of hate!” – but he’s recognizing members of his community DO see it that way and he’s trying to be respectful of that, even if he doesn’t feel the same way.

Just like when you see the sign in your neighbors yard requesting that you refrain from shooting fireworks since he/she is a combat veteran. You may not be triggered by loud sounds, you may LIKE fireworks, but because you do not like the idea of your combat vet neighbor suffering with PTSD episodes, you avoid buying the fireworks. The fireworks may not mean the same thing to you as they do to your neighbor, but you respect his viewpoint and refrain anyway. Because it’s the neighborly thing to do.

Removing something that is a symbol of hate to MANY; and refraining from something that is a PTSD trigger to your neighbor…these are steps we take to be neighborly. To strengthen our community. To say, “I do not feel the same way about this thing as you do, but I do not want to cause you to have ill feelings, so I will avoid that thing that causes you those ill feelings.”

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Last year there was a billboard like this that popped up around Christmas. (SIDENOTE: The image is not showing up on phones, it’s a picture of me running through the woods instead (WTH?) so if you’re seeing that it SHOULD be a billboard that says “You KNOW it’s a MYTH, Celebrate REASON this SEASON!” and it has a graphic of the Shepherds going towards Bethlehem.) I’m not a Christian but this billboard upset me because it is one of the many attitudes atheists take towards Christians that implies their faith and religion is stupid. I DO NOT LIKE THAT. It’s not a neighborly thing to do. Even though this billboard is basically one that speaks for MY people, I was upset by it. If someone said, “Do you agree?” I would have to say yes, because I’m not a Christian then Christians stories are myths to me. But – if you ever hear me speak condescendingly like that about my neighbors? Slap me. Because I deserve it.

On the other hand, this billboard?

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This one is much better. It’s basically just seeking out like-minded people. This one also speaks for people like me but does it in a way that doesn’t alienate other members of the community. Both billboards serve the same purpose, but one alienates our neighbors in our community, one does not.

One more example: Election Season. You know what I can get behind? Stickers and shirts and magnets supporting your candidate. Go for it! It’s great! Support your peeps, yo!

You know what I don’t like? Stickers/Magnets/Bumper Stickers that attack the other candidate. Because then everyone in your community who might vote for that person takes that attack personally. I hated the “Anyone but Bush” stickers even though I am a bleeding heart, baby killing, tree hugging, godless liberal. I HATED THOSE STICKERS. If we support our issues instead of attacking the issues of others? Then we can relay our stance without alienating our neighbor.

Maybe some think this is our country becoming “Too PC!” for our own good. But I think both instances (the fireworks and the confederate flag…I’ve rambled a bit since then) are simply examples of people being neighborly. Of people wanting to strengthen their community. Of people taking a moment to stand in the shoes of their neighbor and making a decision based on how THEY feel. We can all still believe what we want to believe and even vocalize it, but maybe we could do it in a way that remembers our neighbors may feel differently. Maybe we can still show respect, and maybe even kindness to those different from us.

That’s the kind of community I want to live in.

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Pandora’s Box Of Donuts

I stumbled upon this comic last week. I’d love to embed it here so you can read it but the owner doesn’t provide an easy way to do that and I don’t want to include it if he doesn’t make it easy to do so. If you have time? Go read it. If not? I’m touching on the important parts here.

He draws pictures showing examples of how other people stop their own version of self-harm. The pictures really make the content better – but here’s the transcript from part of it:

Harm reduction is a way of managing behaviour that is potentially risky, damaging, or unhealthy by putting in place plans and techniques to reduce the harm of those behaviours.

Harm reduction is an alternative approach from suddenly stopping a behaviour (‘cold turkey’ or abstinence). Suddenly stopping a habit can be really hard, and some people find that it just sets them up for failure, which makes them feel powerless.

Person: Every time I self harm I say ‘never again, that was the last time’, and then I feel like such a f*ck-up when it happens again. It’s a vicious cycle.

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Harmful behaviours are often coping mechanisms – things that help you process difficult emotions, or stressful events. Suddenly removing a coping mechanism, even a harmful one, can deprive someone of the very thing they need to survive a rough period.

Harm reduction is a way to gain some control over something you feel you don’t really have a grip on. Successfully controlling a bit of what happens around ‘uncontrollable’ feelings can help it feel more manageable, instead of a big scary thing you can’t do anything about.

I think there’s a lot of wisdom in that, especially as it relates to my stress/emotional binge eating. That is MOST DEFINITELY a harmful behavior, and I most DEFINITELY “feel like such a f*ck-up” when I fall off the wagon so-to-speak. I’ve definitely been applying some of the theory to this in my life lately, especially finding ways to gain control before the harm begins.

One of the examples one of his readers gave was this one:

I’m Rashaad, and I sometimes have manic episodes. I’ve had problems with money when I’m manic – I impulse-buy things online that I can’t really afford. Once I gave away hundreds of dollars to charities online, and then I didn’t have enough money for rent.
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What I do now, if I feel like things might be slipping into a manic episode, is to make sure I have enough food and necessities for a few days, and freeze my credit and debit cards in a block of water. That way I can’t just impulsively buy something, and if I do feel like I really really need something I have to wait for my cards to melt out. That extra time often gives me a second to consider what I’m doing and decide whether it’s really necessary.

dunkin-donuts-dozen-boxWell! I found myself doing JUST THIS last week. I mean, I didn’t freeze my credit cards because that wouldn’t help with the binge eating, but I did something similar.

Someone brought donuts into the office early last week. This happens often and WITHOUT FAIL, one morning I’ll come in to a quiet office and eat 2-4 of the donuts in the boxes sitting around. I’m never hungry, I bring breakfast with me. But because they’re there, and because I love donuts, I eat them. And there’s no such thing as a “stale donut” if you have a microwave.

So – you know what I didn’t do? I never opened the box. They were there ALL WEEK And I walked by and thought about how much I’d love whatever was in the box, but the box was closed. And as long as I didn’t open it, I could convince myself it was full of gross donuts. (LIKE THERE IS SUCH A THING.) Or that it was empty. I looked at that box and considered opening it 100 times, but I never let myself. That was the way I was giving myself control. I was NOT going to open that box. And I didn’t.

I did allow myself a few extra pieces of chocolate last week, but still…NO DONUTS.

Some days I would fantasize about the box. What if there were just 6 glazed donuts waiting for my face. Or chocolate covered. Or blueberry. And how delicious would those all be heated up in the microwave for 10 seconds and then stuffed in my mouth. DELICIOUS. And sometimes I walked toward the box, “Just to see…” BUT I DID NOT OPEN IT.

It feels weird to be proud of something so silly, but there it is. Me figuring out how to gain control during a week that should have featured several nights of binging. Between my over-packed schedule and my anxiety and my scary bike rides and open water swims, I had TONS to push me to the fridge. But I somehow let that box be symbolic to me for something and I just thought about that box all week and how, yeah, I ate some chocolate here and there. I ate a late night peanut butter sandwich. I ate TWO burritos instead of one. But none of that is out of control and the box of donuts was NEVER OPENED.

Victory in the small things, my friends.