When Good People Do Nothing

Warning: This post is about politics. 

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I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but there has been A LOT of political talk lately. In the last few months, it seems to me that all types of people have started to take an interest in our country’s upcoming election. Or am I the only person out there whose Facebook feed has been blowing up? I understand I am relatively young and have only been able to vote in three elections, but I can’t ever remember seeing this kind of response to our political climate. People are passionate. They are confused. And some are rightfully angry. But as I have seen the conversation surrounding politics in this country continue to grow louder, I can’t help but ask one burning question: where has all of this been?

Until recently, no one wanted to talk politics. In my experience, it was always one of the key things “polite” people just don’t discuss. I can’t tell you how many times I have stood as witness to a situation where one person in a group begins to journey down the road of political discussion and they are almost always silenced or diverted off course. Nobody ever seemed to care (or know) about what was going on and politics was seen as the quickest way to ruin most jovial social situations. Which, truthfully, isn’t completely incorrect. I know I have been guilty about worrying whether or not a heated conversation would “bring a party down”. Well, guess what, folks…the party is down. It is way down. And I can’t help but notice that all of my polite, level-headed friends who “never talk politics” are in a state of confusion. And honestly, I wish I could say I’m flabbergasted by our current situation, but the truth is that I can see how we may have gotten here. 18th-century Irish statesmen, Edmund Burke, spoke the famous words, “The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.” And from my perspective, many good men and women have been uninvolved in our political process for some time. As I mentioned earlier, we have created a society where, in many circles, the “polite” or “nice” thing to do is to stay out of the political conversation. So many polite, nice people have done just that and now they are confused as to why they have lost their voice. I have been guilty of this, as well. I don’t tend to shy away from political discussion. I actually enjoy it as long as people aren’t being disrespectful. But there are times I DEFINITELY could have been more vocal on issues I care about such as women’s or LGBT rights, but… I didn’t want people not to like me. And that makes me part of the problem. Shame on me.

It has been suggested over and over again that our current political situation is an indictment of our society, and I would venture to say that is correct. I know I’m not the only one to experience asking a person I respect if they’d ever consider a run for office just to hear them say, “No. I can’t stand politics.” Can you imagine if every good, respectful person reacted this way to such a proposal? Too many wonderful, kind, bright, level-headed, peaceful people have remained silent and uninvolved for too long. Now we find ourselves in a position from which many are hoping and praying we can be delivered. And when they ask the question – what happened to American politics? I would suggest that part of the answer may just be that people on the polar ends of the political spectrum (who do still deserve a voice, by the way) started making decisions for everyone because they were the only ones left doing the talking. Their loud voices were heard by the power-hungry who began to slither their way into positions of influence. Good people didn’t care or want to be involved, so the corrupt took over. But it’s ok. The rest of us can still enjoy politely socializing  while feeling satisfied by the fact that even though our situation is tumultuous, at least people still like us.

My favorite documentaries on Netflix summed up

Netflix: the black hole where productivity goes to die. But thanks to all the documentaries that are available, at least you can still learn a thing or two while you binge. And to help you out, I have listed some of the documentaries I especially like and the descriptions (and GIFs) that pretty much sum them up. If you have the time and want a break from New Girl or Friends, you should check them out!

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Miss Representation – Explores sexism in society and how the mainstream media contributes to the under-representation of women in influential positions through limited and often derogatory portrayals.

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Chef’s Table – Each episode of this series profiles a world-renowned chef and their phenomenal food creations.

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Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf’s – A 2013 documentary about the famed New York City luxury goods department store Bergdorf Goodman, situated on Fifth Avenue. 

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Cosmos: A Space Odyssey – Through stories of humankind’s quest for knowledge, this film travels across the universe. Scientific concepts are presented with both skepticism and wonder. 

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The True Cost – Exposes the dirty secrets of fast (and cheaply made) fashion mainly by exploring the lives of low-wage workers in developing countries as well as how the presence of the garment industry has led to river and soil pollution, pesticide contamination, and disease in these areas.

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SOMM – Four wine stewards prepare to take the Master Sommelier Exam, one of the world’s most difficult tests.

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The Queen of Versailles – The 2008 global economic crisis threatens the fortune of Florida billionaires David and Jackie Siegel just as they are in the middle of building a 90,000 square-foot home.

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Fed Up – Focuses on the causes of obesity in the US, presenting evidence showing that the large quantities of sugar in processed foods are an overlooked root of the problem.

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For the Bible Tells Me So – This documentary about homosexuality and its perceived conflict with Christianity brings to light various interpretations of what the Bible says about same-sex relationships as well as believers strong opinions on the subject.

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Blackfish – Focuses on Tilikum, an orca living at SeaWorld and the controversy over keeping killer whales captive.

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Making a Murderer – (And in case you haven’t heard…) This very controversial ten-part documentary explores the story of Steven Avery, a Manitowoc County, Wisconsin man who served 18 years in prison for the sexual assault and attempted murder of Penny Beerntsen, and who was exonerated in 2003. In 2005, he was arrested and tried for the murder of Teresa Halbach.

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ALSO…Hot Girls Wanted and Sexy Baby are very good and raise important points, but aren’t listed above because it just didn’t feel right to put GIFs with them. While their messages are important for men to understand, I would only recommend them to women with a warning that the content is unsettling and very graphic. Look into them before you watch them.

Fear and the Path to the Dark Side

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I finally got to see The Force Awakens this weekend. FINALLY!!! I’d been looking forward to it for so long and in preparation for the newest episode, I decided to watch all six prequels. Yep, I am that person. Like many people my age, I’m no stranger to the Star Wars franchise. Thanks to parents who were teenagers in the 70s, they have long had a place in many of our hearts. But while watching the original films recently, I found myself thinking on some Yoda wisdom in a way I hadn’t before. As many fans might recall, while training Luke Skywalker as a Jedi, Yoda counsels him that “the fear of loss is the path to the dark side.” He then cautions him that attachment leads jealousy and the Jedi way is to learn to let go of everything you fear to lose. His words struck me because there are MANY things I fear to lose. And all of what I fear to lose, I do so because of love. If I love something, why on earth would I want to learn to let it go? I want to hold the things I love as close to me as possible! Then a horrible thought came to my mind: Does this mean I will never have what it takes to become a Jedi?!?
Of course, I couldn’t stand the thought. So I continued to process Yoda’s words further. And as I did, the truth in them became clearer. There is a level of irrationality that plagues our brains when we feel afraid. And just like Anakin Skywalker, if we sense we are in danger of losing something we love (or someone), many of us start making decisions out of fear and grasp at every option we can find that promises to save our love. Even if those options are dangerous. I can relate to this all too well. I have feared losing something I loved so much, I made bad decisions, threw out my integrity, and found myself moving into darkness. I clung, I rationalized, I begged, all in the name of love. But in the end, all I did was make a mess. I’m not a parent, but I could see how loving a child and the fear of losing them could cause parents to act overly-protective or anxious, even to the point of unintentionally harming themselves or the child. People in careers they love are guilty of finding themselves in these situations as well, sometimes comprising their morals just to keep moving toward their ambitions.
So given these scenarios, Yoda’s advice starts to make more sense, “Train yourself to let go of everything you fear to lose.” But taking that advice at face value isn’t quite complete. The answer isn’t to let go by stopping our love or losing our attachment, but instead recognize that the things and people we love are gifts from God and we must trust them to Him. We should never turn away from love just to remain fearless. King Arthur in the movie First Knight tells Lancelot that “a man who fears nothing, loves nothing; and if you love nothing what joy is there in your life?” So here is where I find wisdom in Jedi advice – let’s cherish the things we love, but hold onto them with relaxed arms instead of tight fists. Blessings will come in and out of our lives and we can love each of them tremendously while at the same time understand this world is flawed and we will experience loss. The fear of this loss can draw us to the dark side, but prayer and the power of God’s word can bring us back into the light. His perfect love drives out all fear. And when the time comes that we lose something we love (because all of us will), God is and will always be there reminding us that we will never lose him. He is the force that holds us together. And may that force always be with you.

Fad Diets and Thankfulness

Ever since they became “a thing”, I’ve been wanting to try a detox diet or cleanse. Their promises and reviews fascinated me and left me wondering if they actually did get results. So the week before last, I made the decision to try one! After doing some research, I picked the brain of my sister-in-law and she told me about the GM diet – a strict plan that supposedly flushed your system and helped you lose weight in a week. I spoke to her about her experience and after researching the plan on my own, I decided to go for it! After all, it was only a week, right? (LOL…)

The GM diet plan is much like the cabbage soup diet. Check out the details below:

The idea is that you stick to ONLY the foods outlined above, as well as supplementing with cabbage soup, and you could lose up to 10 lbs! I thought this seemed pretty unrealistic, but I was still curious about how this type of diet would make me feel. I wasn’t looking to lose much weight, but I did hope my clothes would fit better and I would feel less puffy after the week was over (my recent trip to Jamaica definitely took its toll on my body).

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I started the diet on a Monday and, with determination in my heart, made it through Day 1 eating only fruit. Sure, I was a little hungry, but I believed I could handle feeling this way for a for week. But as Day 3 drug on (fruits and veggies only), something I wasn’t expecting started to happen: I became incredibly aware of how blessed I am. Like, REALLY REALLY blessed.  Not only do I not experience hunger (like 800 million people do EVERY DAY), but I have the resources, both in terms of finances and availability, to have all different kinds of wonderful meals on a daily basis.  I am very close to several good supermarkets and have the time to research recipes, shop, and cook delicious meals for my husband and I. If I want something more convenient, I’m 5-10 minutes away from dozens of different types of restaurants. Or if all else fails, I can always order pizza from one of ten pizza places less than ten minutes away. Intellectually-speaking, this isn’t a shocking revelation, but it’s still a very easy fact to forget. When it comes to the issue of hunger, most of the time I usually think about how I don’t ever experience it. But I almost never take it a step further to recognize all the options and resources I have when it comes to food. I don’t have to stick to one type of meal because I have what seems like limitless variety available to me. And although this wasn’t what I was expecting to get out of it, the limiting restrictions of the GM diet helped me see that in a very real way. I’m just a little ashamed it took something as vain as a fad diet in order for me to see that.

It wasn’t easy, but I did end up finishing the seven-day diet. And even though my clothes do fit better, that wasn’t the best thing I got out of the experience. I appreciate the concept of focusing on your health, disciplining yourself, and trying new things, but this diet actually turned out to be better for my soul than it was for my body. So in the wake of this experience and with a renewed spirit of thanksgiving in my heart, I thought it would be appropriate to make a donation to the Midwest Food Bank this week. Everyone feels moved to give in different ways to different organizations, but if you have an interest in making a donation as well, you can find the link to their site below! If you’d like to donate to a local food bank, but don’t live in Indianapolis, check out foodpantries.org (link also below) and see what is available in your area. Thanks so much for reading and have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Midwest Food Bank

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A prayer from a heavy heart

Lord,
I often feel in these moments as though I am unworthy to come to You. But in Your grace, You still accept me and my prayers with all their sort-comings and fears. This week has been difficult, Lord. On many different spectrums, I am hurting for people. Some of whom I have never met and some who I love very dearly. You are always showing me what beauty there is in this world, but sometimes it is hard to see it through a curtain of pain. How is it that on this earth we can find ourselves experiencing both heaven and hell in a single day? God, I pray that we find a way to use our hurt to push us toward unity. Tragedy and pain are strangers to no one and we are all connected through their experience. I have no answers and I ask for none. I’m not sure I would understand them even if they were given to me. I simply ask for grace and peace, both virtues to which You can breath into the hearts of Your people in a way we would never experience otherwise. Your love in this world is what we need on both a personal and global level. Help me bring heaven to earth by teaching me to love those closest to me to the best of my ability and then practice that love further by showing it to all people. Thank you for who You are, who You have been and who You will always be: our refuge, strength, and ever-present help in times of trouble.

Twas The Night Before Grace

To celebrate her first birthday (which happened on Sunday), I’m posting the little poem I wrote for Gracie Green right after she was born 🙂 Enjoy!

Twas The Night Before Grace

‘twas the night before Grace

And all through the city

Your uncles were in bed

Your aunts, sleeping pretty

When all of a sudden

Our phones rang up a clatter

Auntie Lysie knew the time had come

Uncle Nick said, “Chris, what’s the matter?”

Your daddy told us you were on your way

Shouts of excitement were heard all around

While mommy grabbed her phone and texted,

“Lys and Lo, it’s about to go down!”

Your aunts and uncles went back to bed

So we could all get some good rest

Grandpa asked Grandma “Should we head on down?”

And Grandma said, “I think that’d be best”

Your parents made it to the hospital

Cause daddy drove real fast

Your mommy wasn’t feeling so great

And asked dad, “How long will this last?”

Mommy was up all through the night

Daddy waited as dark turned to day

Grandma was keeping it together best that she could

Grammy and Gramps were on their way

Then the morning of the 18th arrived

And to the hospital, all of us made it

Your grandparents, aunts and uncles sat by

And until evening simply just waited

When all of a sudden

Through the waiting room doors

Dad quickly burst into the room

And we couldn’t take it any more

You had been born! So we assumed

Your dad was beaming bright with pride

And with a smile on his face

He said, mom was doing very well

And did we finally want to meet Grace?

Cheers of joy rang throughout the hall

For you were the most beautiful sight

And as Auntie Lo held you close she whispered,

“Happy Birthday, dear Grace

And to all a good night”

I Woke Up Like This

I’m a pretty positive person. I like to think about and focus on the areas of life that, as a culture, we have made progress in. However, this doesn’t mean that I can ignore the places where we’ve gotten totally out of whack. And while there are a few, the expectations put on women is an area particularly close to my heart. I mean, I am a woman.

I don’t know how it happened, ladies, but one of those expectations has come to be that, in reference to beauty, not only are we expected to look like this:

but we must achieve Barbie dream girl status while putting forth ZERO effort. It’s kind of amazing isn’t it? We feel the need to paint ourselves as being naturally beautiful while looking so…unnatural.

The first time I experienced this phenomena was as a young middle schooler. I remember having conversations that involved admitting that a few older, popular girls were in fact “pretty”, but then my friends and I would turn around and immediately say that they were “totally high maintenance”. This was to imply that while their beauty was definitely present, there was something about it that wasn’t real. It was an unfair illusion. I was critical of these girls in the same way many people are critical of ad campaigns for brands like Victoria’s Secret where the models are retouched. The criticism is that no “real woman” could ever achieve this ideal look without help so therefore, it is unfair. While the latter is fact (no woman looks like an retouched model, even the model), this line of thinking is completely unfair when gone to extreme and pushed on a 14-year old girl for using makeup. Yes, retouching and putting out unrealistic images isn’t fair to women as a whole, but that doesn’t mean it’s bad for women to involve a little maintenance in their overall look. Because here’s the thing, people: When it comes to modern standards of beauty, there is such a thing as low maintenance. There is NO such thing as NO maintenance.

I hope this doesn’t surprise you, gentlemen, but no one wakes up every day with naturally glowing perfection. Even the most lovely, low maintenance ladies will often still have habits that support their looks. For example, a girl with great legs might have them due to her fierce running habit. The legs are a bi-product of something she loves doing. Another girl might be great at washing her face every night before bed, which leads to sparkling skin. A svelte beauty might be a vegan or eat super clean which has been suggested to have tremendous skin and body benefits. All of these habits are wonderful and looking good will be a result whether that was the reason they are doing them or not.

But beyond that level of maintenance, I would venture to say most women put more effort into their looks than just eating well or being active. Some primp, prime, blow their hair out, shop for clothes and beauty products that compliment their body and skin tone and spend hours a week trying to look lovely. But can they admit to this? No! Again, somewhere along the way, it became taboo to discuss how even our good habits of eating well, exercising and taking care of our appearance contribute to our beauty. Should you want a little proof, just pick up a magazine or read any web article where celebrities are interviewed about their beauty routines. Most likely you’ll find them chatting about how they “just like to drink water” or how their “mother always had a great body”. After a quick study, you will see that according to Hollywood, the road to perfection actually isn’t that complicated. You are simply born perfect and living your life is what helps maintain that perfection. Gag me.

Speaking of Hollywood, say what you want you want about the Kardashian clan, but one of the reasons I like those girls is because they are fairly honest about what it takes for them to look good. They don’t hide their workouts, diets, facials, plastic surgery visits, etc… They have even put out into the universe how much it costs to purchase all the products involved in their daily routines. So you know, Kim’s beauty products total into the thousands of dollars. And whether that annoys you, makes you angry or even relieved, the point is that they are real about it. My granny used to tell me when I was a little girl that, “beauty is pain”. But not only is that, it is work.

It’s hard for me to imagine guys having this same issue.  Now, obviously I’m not a guy, but I try to picture them having a conversation about their looks and I imagine it going something like this: “Bro, you’re arms are lookin’ huge today!” -“Thanks, Bro! Been doin’ P90X twice a day and eating super clean, pumping myself with whey protein and yeah! This is what you get.”

Now picture the conversation between two girls: One girl is all, “Hey girl! You are looking amazing lately!” While the other girl just smiles and says, “Thanks!” and then nothing. I’m guilty of this as well! I was a culprit of maintenance-shaming as a middle-schooler and, in my own way, I still am! Somebody tells me my hair looks good and what do I say? “Oh, thanks! I showered today…(smile)” No mention of the products I used or the 30 minutes it took to dry/brush/curl/ect…

So maybe we need to start being a little more honest with each other. Now please understand me, I’m not suggesting everyone try to achieve the retouched Victoria’s Secret model/Barbie dream girl look and then fess up to it. But enhancing the natural beauty that all women have is a way of being proud of who we are and will result in higher self esteem. I wonder what it would do for our confidence levels if it was OK to admit that we put effort into our looks. Because it’s not a secret, everybody works at it. At least a little bit. As women, we should be supporting one another, not using this as another way to tear ourselves and others down. And while it’s hard to change bad habits, I’m gonna give it a try. Because let’s face it, after about an hour of showering, blowdrying, hair-straightening, make-up doing, and wardrobing, I may look pretty good, but I sure as heck could NEVER claim #IWokeUpLikeThis.

Click here for the article that was the inspiration behind this post. It’s a great read!