Anxiety, Be Kind, Being Strong, Change, Compassion, Courage, Empowerment, Insensitivity, Manners, Respect, Sexual Harassment, Support, Uncategorized, Understanding

A New Tomorrow

It seems that every day we are hearing of another famous person (man) being fired and/or accused of inappropriate behavior in the workplace.  Men disrespecting women in the workplace and other areas of life has been happening since the beginning of time, and happens worldwide.  Different countries and cultures have placed women in submissive roles for a very long time.  Thank goodness the tide is turning, and women are finally beginning to have the support to stand up for themselves, and hold these slime ball men accountable for their actions!  But we need to be careful, and make sure to look at each case individually.  This is where things could get cloudy and confusing.

I’m so proud of these women who are able to gather the strength for this battle.  I have been harassed in the work place and other places.  Like these victims, I was afraid to stand up.  I felt embarrassment, shame, and guilt.  Was it something I invited?  I’ve also had co-workers who have acknowledged a nice outfit I’m wearing, or have given me a compliment that I look nice.  I have taken it as just that.  A compliment…..and who doesn’t need a compliment every now and then?  Being able to tell the difference is key, but where do we draw that line?  How do we keep the violators from using that as a defense?  I realize that sexual assault and comments made about anatomy are different than compliments, but some may not as we face this new era of empowerment.  I’ve complimented the appearance of my colleagues.  I work with a friend who has GREAT legs, and looks fantastic in a dress.  I compliment her every time she’s in a dress, because I would love to have her killer legs!  I know she takes it as a compliment, but it would be inappropriate for a man to say the same things I have said.  I know she won’t accuse me of sexual harassment.  She knows that isn’t my intent, and she is level headed enough to know the difference.  Not everyone would get that.

My daughter worked in an environment with a lot of homosexual men for a few years.  A few of them made inappropriate sexual jokes and innuendos made in her presence that made her uncomfortable.  These things weren’t directed at her, but sex talk in the work place is inappropriate.  She was very upset a few times about how they laughed at her when it was brought to the attention of management.  After all, she couldn’t claim they were hitting on her, but she was uncomfortable.  I’m sure she would have had a legal case against them, but didn’t want to lose her job, which is exactly what would have happened.  With all of the awareness and training about sexual harassment in the workplace, they should have known better, even if they weren’t hitting on her.

I live in the South, where calling someone, “Honey,” “Sweetheart,” or “Baby,” isn’t meant in a condescending way.  These are terms of endearment.  They let someone know that they care about you.  Said in another part of the country, however, it could be taken in a completely different way.

I despise what these men have done, and how they have used their power to humiliate and abuse their victims.  My heart aches for the victims, who have had had to endure years of pain and suffering, sometimes sacrificing their careers or personal happiness because of these arrogant birdbrains.  However, I’m also afraid that a few women are going to take it too far, and try to ruin someone over something innocent.  This is the cloudy area I referred to earlier.

We are on a new horizon with all of this.  We don’t really know what to expect, except change.  This is GOOD! However, with change, we need to have guidelines, and use good judgement on all sides.  We all need to mind ourselves and speak and act carefully.  What is funny and acceptable to some may not be funny and acceptable to all.  It comes back to that word I’ve written about quite often……respect.  Respect and understanding for all should always be taken into consideration.  Then……..we may just make it through this.

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Uncategorized

Lose the Labels

Assumptions.  Generalizations.  Accusations.  “All men are like that.”  “All black people do that.”  “All white people…..”  “All Catholics…..”  “All Republicans…..”  “All Democrats…..” “All New Yorkers……” “All Southerners…..”  “All Americans…..”  “All Europeans…..”  No.  Not “ALL” of any gender, race, religious order, political party, or resident of any area are “ALL” of anything.  We are individuals.  Some of us are geared to think independently.

Recently, the Roy Moore (U.S. Senate Candidate) scandal(s) have been front and center in the news.  He’s being accused of inappropriate conduct with underage females over the course of several decades.  Some people in Alabama are still supporting him, and still planning on voting for him.  Not all.  Alabama does get a lot of heat because of it’s past political problems and race issues.  I get that.  However, not ALL residents of Alabama are horribly racist people.  My father was raised in Alabama (in the 1920’s to early 1940’s), and was one of the least racist people I ever knew.  And yet, I have heard so many people criticize the whole of Alabama as a negative, horribly backwards place.  Alabama…..the home of Harper Lee, Truman Capote, Coretta Scott King, Hank Aaron, Rosa Parks, Ralph Abernathy, Nat King Cole, Lionel Hampton, Joe Louis, Helen Keller, and Willie Mays…..all playing important roles in our nation’s history through their roles in music, literature, sports, civil rights, and human rights.  And let’s not forget the Tuskegee Airmen!

My ex-husband always claimed to hate people from New York, yet I don’t think he really knew anyone from there.  He just didn’t like the aggressive way they are portrayed on television and movies.  Now I am married to a native New Yorker, who is loud and rough around the edges, but a complete teddy bear.  All of his friends in New York who he grew up with, have been so nice to me, and are a ton of fun! The whole crew is hilarious.  There was nothing not to like.  They all treated me with respect, and acted as if they’d known me forever.

Not all Americans are close minded, naive, self-centered country bumpkins.  Not all small town residents are illiterate and backwards.  Not all Americans from cities are egotistical snobs.  Not all men are chauvinist pigs who disrespect women.  Not all women are gossipy, cliquey, and jealous.

I feel like I’m hearing stereotypes and generalizations more and more often.  I try not to do that, but I’m getting really tired of hearing it from some parts of our society.  I wasn’t raised that way.  Whether it’s our government officials, news outlets, one religious group against another religious group, or just individuals with preconceived notions….it isn’t fair. Give people a chance.  Don’t put people into groups you deem as negative if you really know nothing about them, or have never visited where they live. Don’t judge them if you don’t understand where they come from.

I’ve been fortunate to have lived in a lot of places, and have traveled a lot.  If I lived in a small town, I ventured to the nearest cities quite often.  I took some pretty cool vacations.  I read.  I talk to people.  I am open minded and give people a chance, no matter what their background.

Stop labeling people!  It just isn’t nice, and it isn’t fair.

Be Happy, Be Kind, Being Strong, Coping, Crying, Emotions, Family, Kindness, Laughter, Love, Mother, Passion for Living, Thankfulness, Uncategorized

My Mama

Eighty-six years ago, my grandmother was escorted to a hospital in Peiping, China (now Beijing) in an ambulance, by a military escort because the city was under martial law. No one was allowed to be on the streets because of fighting with the Japanese. She gave birth to my mother, Mary Joan Slater (Mary Jo) shortly after.  Yes, my mother was born in China.  My grandparents were medical missionaries in China in the 1930’s.  My mother’s first language was Chinese.  Her first “family” were the other missionaries and the Chinese people they knew.  Her first school was in Nantung.  Her first HOME was China.

On December 26, 1940, the family was evacuated on the last ship out of China, after the Japanese warned that if they did not leave, they would become prisoners of war.  It was hard to leave everything they knew and loved there, but the Slaters (now with my Uncle Bill and Aunt Joy added to the family) left for the United States.  My mother was painfully shy, and was so afraid to move not only to a new school, but to a new country.  My grandpa enlisted in the Army, and was gone for a few years, which was very hard on them, but so typical of a lot of families during WWII.

Meeting and marrying my father in college was the best decision she ever made.  She was barely 19, and they eloped because her parents wanted her to finish college first.  Fortunately, it all worked out, and my parents were married for 52 years before her death in 2002. I’m pretty sure both sides of the family were in a state of shock, but they soon realized the union was a perfect match.  Both sets of grandparents were very good to each of my parents.

Mama was the perfect minister’s wife.  She was so kind, sweet, smart, honest, and compassionate.  She truly was one of the nicest people I’ve ever known….even through my horrible teenage years, where we didn’t see eye to eye!  She was silly, a little spacey….I know where I get it…….and so much fun to be around.  She was always willing to let down her guard to have a good time, especially as she got older.  Tea parties and pretending with the grandchildren, “antiquing” and going out for tea with her five daughters, and playing with her dolls and her beautiful dollhouse (built by my Grandpa Penry and my father).  I’ve never known anyone who could claim “cleaning” as a hobby, but she could! Her younger brothers, Butch and Chuck, could talk her into anything, even though it was rarely in her best interest!  Rides on the back of motorcycles, and going down my grandparents’ driveway on a homemade go-cart (made from an old ironing board) were just two of the things they talked her into, and she regretted later.  On a few other occasions, she made crazy decisions all on her own……swinging on a vine or a tire swing, and jumping on a trampoline when she was well into her 60’s……..as embarrassed as she was later about these things, she always had the childlike innocence to look for fun.  As mature and composed as she usually was, she still had the ability and desire to look for fun.

My mother was also very strong.  She had to go to work after being a stay at home mom for years.  My father had been sick, and my sisters needed glasses and braces.  Bills were accumulating.  She learned to drive at the same time as my 16 year old sister.  Right after getting her drivers’ license (at the age of 38), she went to work as a social worker, where she had to commute (not easy for someone who had just learned to drive!).  Social work is a tough job, but she did it for a lot of years! She lost both of her parents and a younger brother, and even though she couldn’t talk about them without crying, she kept going, showing her love for them through her memories of them…..and her tears.

Being a minister’s wife was not always easy either, but she loved and supported Daddy through every difficult situation (including the Civil Rights Movement in Arkansas in the 1960’s). She always taught Sunday School, and I know she impacted hundreds of young lives through her own ministry.  She and Daddy were definitely each other’s biggest supporter and the best of friends.  They made a great team!

So Mama has been gone for nearly 15 years now, and today would have been her 86th birthday.  It’s not easy for me, but I always celebrate her birthday by eating Chinese food, and usually go to an antique store and drink a cup of tea.  Tonight, Al came home with roses for me, in Mama’s honor……..

I know I will never be as good as she was, but I can always strive to be better than I am.  She had a way of saying my name, or giving me a look, or poking her finger in my side to get me to behave! Sometimes I swear I can feel that same poke, or hear her say my name…….you know, when your middle name gets tacked on the end when you’re in trouble…..”Lauri Ann!”  I know I inherited her sense of fun, and I am grateful to her for that, along with so many other things.  I know when I do something that seems a bit….airheaded……it’s her way of getting back at me for laughing at her for doing similar things!  My sisters and I refer to these times as “Mary Jo moments.”

My mama was a pretty special lady.  She led a fascinating life from her beginnings in China to her years as a minister’s wife, a mother, and a grandmother.  I miss her every day.  But today, I celebrate her, and the time I had with her.  I’m very lucky.  I love you, Mama.

 

Acceptance, Anger, Anxiety, Be Happy, Being Strong, Crying, Emotions, Happiness, Laughter, Uncategorized

Healthy Crying

I’m a crier.  I cry when I’m happy.  I cry when I’m sad. I cry when I’m tired.  I cry when I’m in pain. I cry when I worry.  I cry when I’m angry.  I cry when I miss someone.  I cry when I feel sentimental.  I can’t help it.  Sometimes it makes me mad!  I wish I could control it better, especially when I’m angry.  It can get embarrassing at times, but when I’m mad, it really just makes it even worse!  My mother was a crier, and my sisters and I used to tease her about it, or get embarrassed.  I’m convinced I jinxed myself because I’m 1000 times worse than she was (I think).

When I’m mad and crying, the person I’m angry with either thinks it’s funny, or feels superior, as if they’ve conquered me, and that I’m weak.  Of course, those types of people are really just bullies, and their motives are to make people feel weak and helpless.  I am not weak and helpless.  In fact, I”m a pretty strong woman, as was my mother.  I have learned that tears are not a sign of weakness.  Tears are merely a sign of being able to feel completely.  To be able to shut that off would have helped me in a lot of situations, but it also would be the end of me being able to feel every emotion as intensely as I do.  I’m not sure I want that.  If I stopped crying when I’m angry, I may not laugh as heartily, with my silly snorts and not being able to catch my breath.  If I didn’t cry when I’m angry, I may not feel the same compassion I feel now for others.  Or, I may have a cold personality, and not be able to express myself with any warmth at all.

People who antagonize someone, or try to push someone to the point of being angry are nothing but bullies…..or assholes……take your pick!  They find it fun to upset someone, and make them feel embarrassed when they start to cry, or attempt to fight back tears.  Yes, they are bullies, and have no feelings or compassion for anyone else.  I’ve been in that situation a few times.  It’s hard, and my voice shakes, and I cry. I’m not afraid…..I’m just feeling that emotion with great intensity! It isn’t easy at all to deal with, but I feel sorry for them in that they don’t really feel anything at all.  How can they enjoy or appreciate life?

Tears and emotions are okay.  It is sometimes embarrassing, and we end up spending a lot of money on tissues!  When I laugh so hard I cry (and snort), it’s a wonderful feeling!  My kids will make me laugh at something, and I laugh harder and harder…..becoming  silent, to where I can’t catch my breath.  Then they say, “Oh no!  She’s going to snort!” And sure enough, I always do!  Through my tears, I snort like a pig, which makes everyone laugh harder!  That’s embarrassing too, but at least I get a good belly laugh!

I have decided that I will not feel ashamed of this trait I inherited.  It’s me.  It’s real.  It’s sincere.  It’s who I am.  I feel with great intensity, and I’m thankful for that.  Life is too short to have to try to hide who we really are.  I should feel thankful that my mother and father taught me how to express emotions, and communicate my feelings in a healthy way.

Tears are okay.  Tears are not a sign of weakness.  Tears are a sign of a healthy spirit.  Criers unite!  Stand up to jerks who see you as weak, with your healthy tears.  Have a good healthy cry today!  And those of you who may look at us as though we are too emotional or weak……I’m sorry you see us that way, and if it makes you feel superior to us, you are wrong.  I’m sorry you are not able to feel as deeply as some of the rest of us.

 

Attitude Adjustments, Childhood Innocence, Commercialism, Holiday Spirit, Holidays, Innocence, Materialism, Season's Greetings, Thankfulness, Togetherness, Uncategorized

Stop With the Commercialism!

Well, I noticed it happening about a month ago……that dreaded event that sends many people on both sides of the debate into a frenzy…..some even getting hysterical and violent.  Yes, I’m talking about the Christmas decorations in stores……BEFORE Halloween or Thanksgiving! Enough, already!

Don’t get me wrong.  I LOVE Christmas, and the spirit of Christmas.  My mother loved that time of year, and made sure to instill the spirit of giving and spending time with family into my sisters and me.  She never once told us that Santa wasn’t real, and I have never once said that to my children or anyone else.  Santa, or the spirit of St. Nicholas and giving, IS real. Without turning this into a religious debate, or theme, the Christmas SPIRIT is about love, family, friends, food, giving and sharing, time to be together, etc.  Christians celebrate the birth of Christ, but I have friends and family who are not religious, or follow a different religion. They can still celebrate this season because they appreciate that spirit. Yet, when we have the commercialism of the season thrust in our faces well before the season is upon us, it does make some of us want to boycott.

I understand kicking off the season during the Thanksgiving holidays.  I used to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade every year, as I could smell the turkey roasting in the oven.  As soon as it was over, with Santa making his first appearance of the season, I would help my mother and sisters with the preparations for our family meal.  We began putting up our tree during this week because my sisters would be home from college, and wanted to participate.  My mother decorated the whole house beautifully with lights, greenery, decorations, and the tree with our treasured ornaments on it……some we made when we were little, some belonged to my grandparents, and a lot were given to my parents by church members.  I have a lot of those ornaments on my tree now.  My tree definitely doesn’t belong in a department store, and doesn’t have a color scheme or particular theme, but it is FULL of love and memories of people I love, and places I have lived or visited.  I think it’s beautiful!  It represents our family, and the love we share.  It always makes me a little sad to take it down.  I look forward to putting it up every year, and decorating the whole house, but not before Thanksgiving, and don’t even talk to me about it before Halloween!

Thanksgiving deserves to be recognized more.  It does go hand in hand with Christmas, and the love of family and gathering together, but why do we skip straight to Christmas without being thankful for all we have?  My husband spent a long time living out of the country, so he missed out on Thanksgiving for thirty years.  He loves Thanksgiving! He really gets upset to see the Christmas decorations out in stores too early!  Now that he’s back in the United States, he wants to enjoy this holiday as it should be enjoyed……being thankful for EVERYTHING…….family, friends, love, good health, food, a roof over our heads, jobs, freedom, and having each other.

The commercialism of Christmas is greedy, and is killing the happiness that some of us feel about it.  Am I sounding a bit like Charlie Brown here?  When I say I love Christmas, some have misunderstood, thinking I love the commercialism.  Nope!  Nope! Nope!  Absolutely not! I’ve never been to a Black Friday sale.  I’ve never bought into having to have the latest trendy toy for my children, risking my life to get it! I put my tree up during the Thanksgiving holiday, and leave it up until New Year’s.  I’ve never felt like I have to compete with someone to make sure we have the best toys, clothes, gadgets, electronics, or furniture.  I hate going into stores during the holiday season because of the crowds. I hate seeing the Black Friday (or even Thursday) crowds trampling each other for material things, or hearing of people shooting each other for merchandise.  That’s not what it’s about, folks!  Fortunately, some stores are starting to at least stay closed on Thanksgiving, but it isn’t enough.

We have to stop buying into the corporate greed and forgetting the true meanings of these cherished holidays.  Stop buying into the greed and meaningless newer customs of having to have more and more materialistic things! If you want to keep your tree up year round, decorating for different seasons, go for it.  A lot of people do this.  But don’t shove fake spirit down our throats.  Commercialism and greed disguised as spirit isn’t spirit.  Look around you.  Be thankful for all you have.  Stop buying crap you don’t need just because some talk show host or magazine article says you need it.  Better yet…..why not carry the true spirit of Christmas with you year round?  Why not be in the holiday spirit every day, giving the gifts of love, time, patience, tolerance, generosity, thankfulness, togetherness, and compassion for each other?

Yeah…..I don’t have much faith in that either…..but I can at least try to set that example.  In the meantime, I guess Al and I will just stay out of those businesses that insist on blasting us with their phony corporate “spirit” and greed.  And no one better ever tackle me for a holiday air freshener just because Oprah said to buy one!  Call me Scrooge or the Grinch, but I’m pretty sure I have a better handle on this than those who insist on rushing the season, and forgetting what is truly important in life!  Corporate America, and American consumers need to stop making it about money and materialism. That’s not what it’s all about.