Sunday, September 28, 2014

Stuff vs. Human Worth

So Friday afternoon I spent about an hour at one of the local libraries. I had dropped my brother off at the college, and had a couple of hours to kill. After a brief foray into the local mall that left me more than slightly flabbergasted at society, I sat down with my notebook that I write ideas down in and started pouring my thoughts out. These are some of the thoughts in a, hopefully, more coherent form.

I started out jotting down thoughts about empowering women. I don't want it to be just about women helping women, it some how needs to be about empowering women and the world. Letting people see and become aware that they are capable of so much MORE.

Do most people really want to do/be more? Are people content with how life is? Spending their money on excess clothes, designer clothes, designer sunglasses, the latest gadgets, the shiniest car, on THINGS?

I mean, I guess "stuff" isn't really the problem. It is the love and pride in stuff that so many people have. Putting "stuff" above all else, making it your idol. Somehow we have become a prideful society, yet we seem to have no pride in ourselves. We walk about in our pajamas, or half naked, not actually comprehending our truly divine nature. Who of us isn't guilty of going to Wal-Mart, or any grocery store, in the same raiment we slept in? I know I have. I'm not ashamed to be seen that way, but at the same time am I really portraying who I really am in the most flattering light? I will tell you I am the last person to care what people think about me, but at the same time I do care what I think about myself, and how I feel. And I can tell you, I don't feel that great when I go out in my basketball shorts and baggy shirt. Sure, my body is physically comfortable, but my body is also physically comfortable clothing that doesn't look like I just rolled out of bed, because well I did just roll out of bed.

What happened to the days where people took pride in themselves and the things they did? Not boasting about it, but actually doing things that mattered. Today, we spend endless time, money, and effort on stuff, producing new stuff, buying new stuff, replacing our perfectly useful stuff with the newest, most updated version of that exact same stuff. And what do we do with that old stuff? We throw it away. We throw away perfectly useful stuff simply because there is a newer, slightly faster model.

And so it goes, an endless cycle of new stuff replacing the old. Already this mindset seems to be seeping deeper and deeper into our very beings. No longer do we take the time and effort to try and fix something that is broken. Instead we just get a new one. You broke your toy? That's okay, we will buy you a better one. Lost your favorite stuff animal? No worries, we will get you a bigger one! While this may not seem that disastrous, I believe it is seeping into how we view the sanctity of life. Your dog is not so young anymore? No big deal, take it to the pound and go get yourself a cute new puppy! Oh no, your puppy got hit by a car? Well, let's just replace it with a new one right now!

Even deeper it goes, until it seems that many are losing bits and pieces of their humanity. Since we only value the shiny new pretty stuff, who is going to stop and help that beggar when he is suddenly struck down? Who is going to take care of the elderly when they can no longer take care of themselves? Instead, we walk around these elderly and beggars with this attitude and belief that things that aren't shiny and pretty are just not worth are time to save. Somehow, we only value human life if it fits into the socially mandated acceptable criteria of being sparkly and important.

Lest you think I am some sort of fear monger, here is one such example of an experiment showing this very thing happening.

What was the difference here? It looks to be about the same location, presumably within the same time period, maybe not the same day, but probably the same week. The only visible difference is the appearance of the individual asking for help. The "shiny updated version" is saved, while the other is ignored and tossed out.

Parts of this probably seem slightly contradictory.Take pride in yourself, but don't buy fancy clothes? Don't wear your pajamas out in public, but help those who do? For me I think that we need to present ourselves in a manner that helps our natural self shine through. Wearing pajamas, to class, to the grocery store, etc. in my opinion distracts from that. I guess for me I feel like our society has come to the point where people's worth is judged more on the gadgets, technology, and "stuff" that they have, rather than the fact that we are all people and we all have worth. Since I believe that we all have divinely given worth and value, I believe that we should be aware of that and present ourselves in a way that shows we respect and appreciate that.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Real Women Have Power

Real Women Have POWER. That's what I said I believe at the end of my last post. For many people, power can have a negative connotation, people think of power hungry people, or people who abuse their power. However, if you look at the full definition of power you will see statements such as: "ability to act or produce an effect" or "physical might", "mental or moral efficacy", and "legal or official authority, capacity, or RIGHT". I think my favorite is the first statement, power is the ability to act or produce an effect. This is the type of power I am talking about. Not corporate power, not social power, but the ability to produce an effect.

Every woman has the ability to produce an effect. Think about that for a minute, you right now have the ability to produce some kind of an effect. It may be a grand effect, or it may be a small effect, either way you, on your own can produce an effect. You also have "legal or official authority, capacity, or right." It may not always seem like it, but women, in many countries, have great legal capacities and rights. Gone are the days where we are not allowed to vote. Gone are the days where are not allowed to hold property. Gone are the days where we can be abused simply because we are women. Women have fought long and hard to get where they are, and they many have taken hold of great POWER, the kind of power most people associate with those with real influence. This is the type of power that runs rampant in our society. The power to make other people jump when they say jump, the power to make others quiver in the paths when those with authority look at them. To me this is not true power.

True power is a woman realizing that she HAD to help a child who had been horribly injured and left with only one remaining leg after a land mine in Bosnia left him close to death. She found a way to help this child, going to Bosnia, flying he and his mother back to New York and finding doctors and companies to help him receive prosthetics. After helping this child she went on to help another child, and another, eventually founding the Global Medical Relief Fund, which has helped over 150 children since its beginning in 1997. And it all started with ONE woman realizing that she had the "ability to act or produce an effect". She had power.

Power demonstrates itself differently in different people. You may think that you cannot, or do not want to, start a nonprofit organization, but that does not mean you have power. Power can be overcoming addiction, poverty, fear, lack of education, health issues, and so many other things. I want to introduce the world to Real Women who Have Power. Women like my grandma who was told that she would never have children, so she went on to raise 11 wonderful children. Women like my mother who has been tossed through the storms of life, but has come out on the other side still standing. To me these are women who have power.

Book written by Elissa Montanti, founder of Global Medical Relief Fund about her life and her eventual mission "to Heal the Children of the World."

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Real Women Have....

As I said at the end of my previous post I hate the phrase "real women have.." or even just anything that starts with "real women....". You know that there is going to be some sort of demeaning, limited word/phrase that ends that statement. Real women have curves. Real women lift. Real women are strong. (Mean physically, lifting weights). It goes on. Here are some "pins"I have found on Pinterest showing this.

These are just a smattering of what I found on Pinterest in less than a minute. Now, I am aware these are all "in fun". And maybe I am just being overly sensitive or ridiculous, but I think we live in a time where there is so much harm being done through the media, when there is a potential to do so much GOOD. We live in a time where we have instant connections across the world.
Facebook connections across the world.

 Now, more than ever we have the ability and potential to meet, know, and IMPACT people that we never even would have dreamed existed in the past. Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, all of these social media venues give us the opportunity to share our stories, to empower others, do better the world, and to do good. Why, then, do we so often see people doing the opposite? Why are we sharing the message that Real Women Have Curves? Real Women Hunt? The truth is we are all different. Some of us have bodies that have more curves than a winding mountain road. Some of us have less curves than a ruler. Some of us have the same curves as an orange. Some of us can go out there and kill that deer, skin it, and bring it home. Others wear gloves when touching hamburger they bought at the grocery store. Some of us only wish they had a grocery store to buy food at to feed their children. 

In the end, I believe two things are true and that is this: "Real Women are Human and Real Women Have POWER."

Musings of a sticky Saturday evening jog

I don't know about you, but I seem to do my best thinking when I am doing something like driving on long trips, taking a hot bath, running (okay, walking with intermittent bursts of jogging with sweat rolling down my beet red face and drenching my back), or other similar endeavors. Or at least I feel like it is my best thinking, but really it could just be myself feeling like I am making some great thought process when it is really more along the lines of a Gilmore Girl conversation. For example, this evening's jog was something like the following....

I started out thinking, "Man, I wish I was more creative. Even if I was only as creative as I used to FEEL like I was years ago. I played the piano, played the viola, danced, colored (with crayons, it is wonderful, you should try it sometime!), and I just felt so much more... witty! My conversations, via text, Facebook, whatever were wittier." At least... I thought they were witty, and that's all that counts right now! This led me to decide that I am going to Monday to the store and buy some crayons and find some good coloring pages. Seriously, even coloring opens up an artistic part of me that is just not being even remotely brushed at the moment.

This then made me think that I also need to go over to the Phoenix library Monday and look at the Foundation Center information for non profits. Which also made me think about the yoga class that I was told about that is Monday morning. I decided I also need to go get myself a new planner so that I can write down all of these new "appointments" I am giving myself. After all, you cannot write down things you are doing on certain days in your idea notebook, they need to be in something with a calendar!!

As I was thinking about the Foundation Center and non profits I was trying to figure out where to start with my one day non profit. I eventually want to have something similar to Westchester Jewish Community Services which is a non profit back east that has a multitude of other non profits under it. I am not exactly sure how it works, but I need to email them and see what I can learn from them. My issue/goal/problem/whatever, is that I want to save the world. I want to help animals, I want to help teens, veterans, women, moms, families, the homeless, children, etc. I want to help everyone. I just need to figure out where to start.

I started thinking about women who are, for whatever reason, starting a career, or trying to find a job, supporting their families, whatever the situation is. There was a story earlier this year here that keeps floating around in my brain. A single, homeless mother leaves her children in the car to go to a job interview, having nowhere else to take them. Later information says that she did in fact have a part time job and a residence "listed". I don't know enough of the details and am not going to go investigating, but I would say it was desperation, not child abuse that led her to leave her kids in the car. What if she had somewhere to take them? What if there was a place for women to get career counseling, job training, life skills, parenting skills, etc. that ALSO provided child care for her children while she was at her job interview? I know there is at least women's facility in the valley, but I had to do some searching for it, so I would say it is not well known.

By this point in my jog, yeah we are still on my "jog", I was actually.... jogging!! I needed to do some serious thinking, and that happens better when I am jogging, I concentrate on thinking and ideas and ignore the sweat and the deep, laborious breaths that are coming from my body. I am not sure how I got to this train of thought, but I think it had something to do with the car lights that I was seeing up ahead... Anyways, I started thinking about women that have been raped and sexually assaulted. According to statistics approximately 1 in 4 women are sexually assaulted at some point in their life. I believe this number is wrong, that it is too low. I won't go into the basis of this belief right now, but I believe the number is higher than that. So, I was thinking about these women and thinking about how/why/when/where/ women are raped and who rapes them. It seems like in our culture anything womanly/girly/feminine is either exploited or a bad thing. Our culture makes women not to be the victim of rape, but rather the rapist couldn't help himself. In court, the rapist isn't proving he/she is innocent, rather the victim is proving they actually had a crime committed against them. (I will probably rant and rave more about this one later on too.) It is all a bit upside down in my mind.

This then led me to think about the oh so common sayings we have of "You (blank) like a GIRL!" You throw like a girl, run like a girl, fight like a girl, etc. They are all considered insults. Why?? Have you ever seen a game of fastpitch softball? Yep, those women sure throw like girls! Anytime someone is said to do something "like a girl" it is insult. The following video found on youtube is a great one about turning this culture of "like a girl" into something new.

The other saying that is becoming more prevalent is "Real women (blank)." Real women have curves, real women lift weights, etc. And that, my imaginary friends, it the topic of my next post.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Careers vs J O B s

I mentioned earlier that I recently read a book called "The Renaissance Soul" by Margaret Lebonstine. I appreciated this book and plan on reading it again soon. Sometime after I read the several library books I have on my dresser and probably after I read the other career/self help books sitting on my hope chest my by bed. I may have a slight book obsession. Maybe. Slightly.

Anyways, this book set out the idea of the difference between a Career and a J O B. Basically a J O B is a job that you work at that while it is not your dream, passion, real career, etc. it is something that enables you to follow your passions and dreams outside of work and/or gives you access to tools that may help you in these passions. This job could be a basic 9-5 job that pays well, is low stress, low effort for your, etc. and/or it could provide you access to discounts on travel if travel is one of your passions, access to printers to make copies of brochures for your new business, etc.

Obviously a J O B is not for everyone, some people want to have a career where they also incorporate their passion. However, there may be points in your life where you need or could benefit from a J O B. How do you decide which one is for you? That is something that ultimately is in your hands to decide. Obviously we all need money to pay our bills, buy food, that sort of thing. Unless of course you somehow have an unlimited supply of money, in which case, share the wealth! ;) This idea of a J O B was not something that was entirely new to me, I have had the same thought before reading the book. Maybe I should get a job that is not my dream, but that pays well and has benefits, something that I could use to save up money and be able to pursue my dream of travel. I may end up doing this. I could get a job in dispatch, something that I did for a brief period before, it pays well in this area, and ultimately I think I would be fairly good at it. On the other hand it is not exactly a low stress job. Answering 911 calls is not always a pleasant thing to do.

I have had the train of thought of getting a job in dispatch, earning that $40,000 ish a year and being able to still live if I was making a little more than half that. If I were able to sell my house and then use the access money to pay off my student loans, I would be able to save up enough in a few years to buy a vacation apartment in Italy. My first (yes first!!) would be in Turin, Italy, close to the northern border of Italy it is centrally located in western Europe and looks charming.

 Sadly, I have never been there. I am accepting donations to my Megan needs to see the world fund, feel free to donate! (Kidding, there is no such fund, but wouldn't that be nice?) I have a plan for this little imaginary future apartment, rent it out to tourists most of the year, reserving a couple weeks for myself to go over and enjoy. With this new found extra income on top of what I save from my J O B, purchase another small apartment somewhere in Europe and rent that one out too. After many years one could have several apartments across Europe and rent them all out for most of the year!! Then you (I) could travel across the world living off the income of these rental apartments. Sigh. Sounds nice doesn't it? At least one or two would have to be in England, I completely fell in love with the U.K. when I was there six years ago, I am dying to go back!

                                                                    Chatsworth in England

Renaissance Soul

So it has been about a month and a half since I quit my job, moved out of my house and moved in with my mom. During this time I have been unemployed (GASP!) and have found other ways to spend my time. Have I been terribly productive? Not in the traditional sense. Rather, I have been reading books, taking some much needed relaxation, spent time with friends, read more books, gotten sick with a cold, gone to a my great uncle's funeral, purchased a round trip ticket to Hawaii that leaves in a month!! etc. I am no closer to finding a job, but I have felt for awhile that I would be jobless for at least a few months.

Several of the books I have read during this time have been about finding your passion (not THAT kind of passion), discovering you calling, getting on the path to leading your authentic life, that sort of stuff. I keep asking myself, what is my passion??? What do I want to do with the rest of my life? I have realized that I am what is called a "Renaissance Soul". Renaissance souls are those individuals who do not have just one passion, we have multiples. As the author says, we are not the Mozarts who know early one what their one true passion is, we are the Benjamin Franklins and the Leonardo Da Vincis of the world.  I am not the sort that could ever be happy picking one career and sticking to it my whole life. I have always been a bit jealous of you people who decide when you are little, or in high school, whenever, that you want to be a lawyer, so you go to college and get your degree in whatever you think will work with law, then you go to law school, graduate and then become a lawyer for the rest of your lives. Voila! Mission accomplished. Obviously, you work hard at this and it doesn't just HAPPEN, but for those of us who couldn't sooner pick a favorite start in the sky this seems simply miraculous.

I have realized that I have always had the same theme to my career goals and they have always included at least one of the three following: helping people, incorporating animals, and traveling. I want to save the world, using animals to assist, and travel to the parts of the world I am saving. That isn't too much to ask is it? I have thought about being a substance abuse counselor, starting an equine therapy program, juvenile probation officer, social worker, starting an animal rescue, travel writer, airline attendant, etc. I feel that somehow I AM going to find a career that allows me to incorporate these three things. It i just a matter of figuring out HOW.