It seems hard for me to believe but the next few weeks marks a milestone in my life. It will be 15 years since I graduated with my bachelors degree from Brigham Young University (BYU)! It really seems impossible that 15 years has come and gone.
One of the things I envy about those who have kids is they have more concrete evidence of their growth as people. This person didn’t exist and now they do. I have no such evidence. In many ways I feel the same as I did back in 2002 getting my degree. For all intensive purposes how different is my life? I work every day, go to church on Sunday and develop my hobbies just like I did back then.
Nevertheless, I will always look back at my time at BYU as the happiest time of my life. It was a time of great growth, soul searching and closeness to God that I will never forget. My mission was also an extreme learning experience but that was more polishing. The real grunt work happened at BYU.
After growing up with little church support it was so important to be surrounded by people with shared values. I remember when we said a prayer before my science class and I started to cry. Where else could you say a prayer before a science class? What a liberating and beautiful thing!
Most people probably have grand ideas of what they want to do coming out of college. Not me. I just wanted to finish and have a great life. I’ve never been much of a dreamer in that way. I remember my friend Raelene had this long list of the house she wanted and the other bucket list things she wanted to do in life. That was never me. I was just thrilled to have achieved my dream of going to BYU. I didn’t need anything more.
Since then I have served a mission and had a number of jobs including working as an accounting clerk for nearly 10 years. Now I work from home in marketing and I think that might surprise my former self as I was a very social person back then. Now that social life is mostly fulfilled by means like twitter and facebook. It’s hard to imagine I once didn’t have those tools and survived quite well. I believe 2002 was the first year I ever got a cell phone if that puts things in perspective.
If I could give my young self advice I’d say to be patient and that being single aint that bad. I’d say quit that horrible job in 2005 instead of hanging on until 2007 and being miserable. Don’t be afraid to take risks and make sure you are making memories instead of gliding through life. And I’d say ‘you just lost Grandpa and yep you still miss him all these years later’.
It’s funny because I really don’t use my degree much aside from basic writing, editing and reading skills. However, I am certainly grateful I had my college experience and can look back with nostalgia at such a happy time in my life. I am grateful for all I learned and the person it helped me to become.
I can’t believe it has been 15 years! How is that possible?
“If you’re not failing every now and then, it’s a sign you’re not doing anything very innovative” Woody Allen.
I don’t say this often but I completely agree with Woody Allen on this one! The last few weeks I’ve been thinking about grades and how we assess things and people in our culture. On my movie blog http://54disneyreviews.wordpress.com I give a grade at the end of the review. This can be anywhere from an A+ to an F. Up until this point I have only given 7 Fs out of close to 250 reviews I’ve done.
Since I’m sure you are curious the 7 Fs are- Chicken Little, Brother Bear, Dinosaur, Road to El Dorado, Maleficent, Ghost of Girlfriends Past, and The Lorax. These are movies which I think are complete failures. Ds on the other hand I didn’t like but I found some things to enjoy so it isn’t a total failure.
Most people are with me for this part of the grading system. It’s when we get into Cs that it is interesting. I have noticed many people treat a C grade like it is an F. To me a C is in the middle. It’s half way between an A and an F. It’s an average, ok movie. If I hated it I would give it an F.
If people actually read my reviews instead of just looking at the grade they would see on my C grades I say lots of nice things about said movie. Such a movie is not a failure but there are some problems that keep it from the masterpiece or good levels of A and B. That’s ok. Not every movie can be a masterpiece and I get a lot of enjoyment out of the C movies.
Anyway people kept treating Cs like Fs so frequently that it made me wonder if Fs weren’t a part of the cultural lexicon as much as when I was at school. I asked a friend and she said it is nearly impossible to get an F in school. If you do anything you will most likely get a C. So no wonder a C is seen as a failing grade if it takes the bare minimum of effort!
I have a problem with this. First of all, it leaves teachers with only 3 options for a student. 5 is hard enough but if every student is either Great, Good or Failure that isn’t good. C should be a place for a person who is in the middle of the pack. I guess those people are Bs now but what about those that are almost top of the class? That should be a B and a C should be for those that are right in between. That’s an important dilatation. Not everyone is going to be great or terrible at things. Some things we will be average at, even for the best students, and that’s ok. School was tough for me, especially college and I was more than happy to be a C earneron multiple occasions and if I had felt like that C was a failure forget it! We need that average score!
We also need the Fs for several reasons. First if there is no fear of actual failure with real consequences what motivation is there to try your hardest? In one of my favorite Simpsons episodes ‘Bart Gets an F’ Bart finds out if he doesn’t shape up academically he will need to repeat the 4th grade. This fear of the consequences of failure whips him into gear and he tries as hard as he can. And he gets a D which is a huge victory for him. If he had just been given a C because we don’t want to hurt his feelings than he wouldn’t have tried so hard and learned something.
When I was going to school there were many times I would leave the testing center in tears, having tried my hardest but still failed. But that was a good thing. I was forced to push beyond what I thought my limits are and actually learn the tough stuff or at least be average competency at it. If I knew I would get a C for just showing up and doing the bare minimum forget it.
And what are we trying to do with education anyway? What separates education from day care is the kids are supposed to be learning something in school. And with the exception of special education situations if they don’t learn the assigned topic than the education has been a failure. They deserve an F. It should not be this devastating humiliating thing. It should be a normal part of life that every once in a while, and sometimes a lot, we fail at things. What do we do with that failure and how do we make it into a success? Now that is where the true education comes into play!
The other thing is if a C has become the new F than you lose the ability to really differentiate problems in a sea of averageness. For example, I was bullied pretty badly from 4th and into 5th grade with it getting especially bad the latter Fall. I downplayed this at home telling my Mom about the incidents in a laughing silly kind of way. Like it was no big deal. Then I got a D in Math that Christmas. My parents knew there was a problem. It was a touchpoint that made them aware of other issues much more important than the math. As a result I was pulled from the school and went to private school for the rest of the year that changed my life.
I don’t think that would have happened without the D. The teacher could have thought it was harsh to give me a D because I did try but it was the grade I deserved and I’m glad she gave it to me. Very glad. Ds and Fs should be signs to parents, administrators, even children that there is something wrong and we need to look for solutions. To just whitewash everything with a vanilla C takes away that opportunity for introspection and growth.
You can say grades are stupid and we shouldn’t give them out anyway, and to a certain extent I agree with you. If a child is progressing that is the most important thing; however, I don’t think credit should be given for learning something if it wasn’t actually done. If we got rid of grades completely than again we lose that touchpoint to easily compare things. Not everything in life can have a long discourse or excuse. Sometimes you just need to be able to look at a few key figures and say ‘ok Sally is doing better at English than Math. Let’s focus on that”.
I’ve thought about not giving grades on my movie reviews because I think people sometimes don’t read the review but just go right to the grade. This is frustrating because I may explain something that you may say ‘she didn’t like that but it would be great for me’. Like I don’t like scary movies so I may say as a negative a movie is too scary for me but if you like scary movies than it might sound great to you! My grade is just that-my grade. It’s what I thought of the movie. I don’t try to imagine what others might think. It is just my opinion.
I also don’t use a rubric like some critics do because sometimes my feelings both good and bad can’t be quantified. It is just an overall experience with a film that deserves a certain grade. I feel sometimes my friends with rubrics are held back by them from giving a movie a grade they know it really deserves. I didn’t give grades for my Scrooge month series and I think people were a little more inclined to actually read the reviews, so I’m still considering it. What do you think? If you read reviews what do you like as far as ranking systems and scores?
Regardless, the changing in the American mind of a C from average to failure is not a good thing. People should be allowed to fail and it not be as big of a deal. It’s part of the learning experience. And if they fail I’m not going to sugarcoat it with a C. That’s doing a disservice to all the people/movies/whatever who worked so hard for that C.
Plus, how do you delineate what is truly special if there isn’t an equally strong opposite? Has an A also lost all of its meaning and value?
What do you think? Do you see this as a problem? Are we too afraid to let kids fail? What about how we grade or rank other things like movies or books? Did you ever get a D or F that whipped you into gear or helped you? What do you think the solution is?
Hi! It’s a ridiculous hour but I’ve been so engrossed in a project that I’ve been working through the night. For the last year I’ve been making youtube videos using just a webcam/phone and I enjoyed doing that but I felt I could learn so much more about photography, videography, youtube, creating an internet presence, video editing and so much more.
I’ve also yearned for a long time to do something more creative in my work, so maybe gaining new skillsets will help me in that regard. At the worst I am learning something new and having a good time along the way so win-win
It’s been a lot of work saving, purchasing and organizing but I’ve finally got almost all the pieces I need to make better videos and I set up a cool backdrop in my room.
One problem I have is my room gets very hot when I have the lights on and it is too dim even during the day to be a good spot for filming. There isn’t much of any space in the rest of the house to do the backdrop/tripod setup. The whole brilliance of my room is that it has total blackout but it does create problems for filming videos. I need to figure out a way to keep cool, so if anyone has any ideas let me know. I suppose I can just keep my videos short which is probably a win-win.
Anyway, I’ve been wanting to do a video on my blu-ray collection for a while and it seemed like this would be a perfect testing ground for the new equipment. I still have to get editing software and a better camera microphone but that’s around $500 so will do that when I can. Plus, I figure master one thing at a time. (Took me 6 years to get a handle on twitter, facebook, blogging, so I’ve got time).
It’s not a perfect video but I’m learning and I’m proud of it. If you watch the whole video I am giving away DVD copies of Gravity, Les Miserables and Captain Phillips. Also there is a BLU Ray 3D of Gravity if you are interested in that. Simply subscribe to my blog, follow me on twitter (or facebook) and subscribe to my youtube channel and email me your address. First come first served. If you already follow me on those mediums just share it with your followers. THANKS!!!
Thanks so much for reading my blog, watching my videos, and helping to give me the confidence to keep trying and learning new things. I’m so grateful for this blog- more than you all know and I hope maybe I inspire you to go learn something new. in your life.
What blu-ray’s do you have? What do you think of mine? Any you dislike or like? Let me know. Take care friends!
So I learned a lesson in the last few days, one about standing up for my writing in a new way and that by trying to please everyone I pleased no one, least of all myself.
A few days ago I wrote a post I was very proud of about the commonly believed myth that weight has anything to do with finding a life partner. This is something I have been told all my life and never really believed. I see too much to argue against it everywhere I look. As I mentioned in the post, even in Hollywood we see the movie The Heat has 2 actresses, one skinny, one plus size. It is not the skinny one that is currently married.
Anyway, I used a framing device for this piece a horrible date I had been on where I was told I was fat, needed to diet and exercise in order to attract a suitable spouse. While I felt hurt I felt the piece was fair as it disclosed no personal information and it could have easily been John Doe for all anyone knew. He also had every right to write his side on his blog, get his friends to defend him. I also had given him more of my personal information than he had of me so if anything the power play was in his hand.
Nevertheless, the post sprouted a wide array of opinions- most of the positive and I will admit many of them coming on my request, as I asked for defense (my friends are the best and so loyal). There was a small minority that felt I had been a bully and unchristlike.
This was hard for me to hear because as a bullying victim I take that type of behavior very personally. I sincerely didn’t believe that was what I had done but the idea that anyone, especially one very close person, thought that was what I had done bothered me.
So, in a moment of weakness I took the post down but this didn’t feel right either. I saw the positive effect it was having and one girl even said “I needed to read this today! Thanks for posting, sometimes I feel like the only women dealing with this. You rock!” If for this woman alone I felt the information needed to be out there. What to do? Again in a weak moment I decided to edit it to not include the date and just the weight discussion. This was a much weaker post but i figured it was better than nothing.
Unfortunately when I did this the comments made no sense so I tried to change them in nominal ways, keeping their core content but a friend rightly pointed out this was censorship and not ethical. I knew it wasn’t right when I was doing it but was down the rabbit hole at that point.
Eventually I reached a status where nobody was happy with me and for good cause. Worst of all I risked alienating readers and especially hurting my friends who had come to my defense so quickly. I reluctantly decided I’d made such a mess of things that I erased the post and moved on.
I would like to apologize for this whole episode and for deleting the comments you took time to craft. My only defense is that I learned a lot from the experience. I learned to trust my voice and trust my readers who overwhelmingly agreed with me and liked the post. If I had just let it be and not worried about it everything would have blown over and been fine.
Writing is a bold endeavor and I am very proud of the fact that I have never held anything back on this blog. It is the proudest thing I do. It is the best part of my life. In a way it is my life. I need to honor my voice and writing and feel confident in what it tells me to produce. Lesson learned.
If I can end with a plea. If you were offended on either side I am sorry. Please continue read (and thank you for the nearly uniform understanding and support I have felt in the last 2 days), share, comment and ponder. I have written 720 posts over 6 years, what I conservatively estimate is 400,000 words. If one post was handled poorly please give me a second chance. I know what I have to say is important. I have no editor but I do the best I can and I believe in my voice, now more than ever.
The greatest thing we can do in life is to be true to ourselves and serve God. Sure love ya! To 400,000 more words and 6 more years. I will keep writing. Thanks! Now on to Nanowrimo!
I think everyone should watch this movie and discuss it. I’m not saying it is right about everything but I do think it brings up some important points. And yes, I realize this will ruffle some feathers but I think it is worth it to start a discussion. (It is a long feature film but very compelling)
In my high school they closed down all the bathrooms during lunch hours, which with 3 lunch hours was most the day, and had 2 teachers in front of the 2 open bathrooms checking you in. If that isn’t prisonlike I don’t know what is.
That’s not to say there weren’t great teachers. It’s the system that is the problem. Too quick to medicate, too afraid to listen to children’s needs, too quick to thwart individual opinions and thought. Many of the good teachers are frustrated like this teacher in Rhode Island
Last year I sat down with my sister and helped her with her math homework and was amazed at how much of it she had to do. Surely the concepts could be taught with a few problems thoughtfully done, not page after page of mindless reading and then sheets of figures. I was bored and I’m an adult.
My friend Megan is a wonderful teacher and I was blown away at how she integrated plays, science projects and other creative activities into her curriculum. Sadly I fear she is the exception not the rule and many teachers want to be like Megan but are repeatedly discouraged. I had one teacher in middle school who taught science with his guitar through songs and other creative measures and he was a constant annoyance to the administration, eventually being fired after a few years.
I was bullied as a kid and the teacher’s refused to do anything. This was not just mental bullying but physical abuse such as being shoved into water fountains and my underwear exposed to all the students. This was done with teachers supervising. Finally my parents had to take me to a private school to save me from the ‘little angels’ the teachers defended. Its ridiculous.
And yes, I’m single and can have a strong opinion on this topic. So there.
Yesterday I sold my kindle. Yes that bastion of convenient reading and downloadable novels is gone. The truth is I’m glad to be rid of it! Now don’t get me wrong- I’m not some kind of luddite but the fact is I just didn’t use it. I went into the purchase with high hopes (and amazon immediately lowered it’s value by putting out the fire 2 weeks after my purchase. Sigh…) but I still thought it was going to be great!
Then I read my first book on it and I didn’t enjoy the experience. Here’s why:
1. I’m a note-writer when I read, partly because it’s the only way I remember from day to day the details of a story, and partly because I like to add my two cents to what the writer is saying. While this is possible to do on the kindle I found it very laborious.
2. If I wanted to go back and re-read a section, something I am prone to do, I couldn’t just flip through until I found the spot (usually with my accompanying note which makes it easier).
3. I read in long stretches and I found it annoying to have to worry about whether I had battery power. I don’t want limitations on my reading. Last year at a lecture by a favorite author Haven Kimmel she claimed she’d never seen anyone read a kindle for more than 15 minute stretches. While this may have been a bit of an exaggeration I do think there is something about using an electronic device like that which encourages distraction and a less-leisurely reading experience.
4. I thought it would be great for travel but since you can’t use handheld electronics on the plane for most of the time I ended up bringing a book anyways so it ended up being another thing to carry around.
5. Once I finish a book I get a lot of satisfaction out of putting it in my library so I can re-read to my hearts content. Literally 2 weeks after I got my kindle it was already out of date. The only way I want my books to be out of date is content-wise not because I can’t read them a few years down the road. Plus, I don’t want to invite myself into the expensive web of constant upgrading, downloading and transferring. Reading is supposed to be simple and accessible.
6. I’m a book loaner. Meaning I find a book I love and pass it on to friends and family. For instance, Edenbrooke I loved this year and I’ve given my copy to half a dozen people. My sister has it at the moment. Can’t really pass around a kindle like that. It also limits my friends from loaning me books they’ve liked, which is no fun.
7. I worry about the e-reader’s future socio-economic impact. Books and free libraries have always been an equalizing force in our society. Most anyone could go to a library, get a book, and read no matter their income level. With e-books some of those children are excluded from a type of reading and that concerns me. Suddenly the most fundamental act of learning has become a status symbol instead of an equalizer. Kid’s from poor families already feel they fall short in so many areas of their life, do we really have to add reading to the list. It is not good!
8. The last reason is probably debatable by some but it seems to me the e-reader has had a negative effect on the quality of many recent modern books. Haven Kimmel agreed. She said when she wrote her first book there were 4 editors involved. Her most recent had 1 part-time editor. Her husband was her main editor. Has anyone else noticed the sloppiness in books lately? Typos, grammatical errors, sections missing etc? (I’m sorry but the Twilight books were terrible examples of this). I think the e-reader has perhaps made it too easy to publish books. In the past it was such an investment they had to get it right on the first printing.
So there you go, my reasons for selling my kindle. I should never have bought it in the first place but my friends all loved it so much I finally gave in. I’m glad to be rid of it!
So, you’all enjoy your e-readers and I’ll continue to read the ‘old fashioned way’. (That statement is so sad…)
First, I have walked in my house! The framing is up, no sheet-rock yet but I’ve gone over all the floors and I’m so excited about it! I also think I might have found the right fit for my basement apartment. I had tons of interest but have narrowed it down to 2 great choices. Tough call. Will be checking references and doing some careful thought but either would be terrific. The whole thing is so thrilling!
Then Friday I had my 10 year reunion at BYU. I still can’t believe its been 10 years. I’m not goona lie it was an introspective moment for me. Thinking about the last 10 years, what I’ve done, what I wish I could have done, the pains, the triumphs, everything. Sometimes I worry that I peaked at 21. That I had my happiest years then and have never quite been able to duplicate it. I’ve had great times and moments but as far as whole years that was one of the best. Do any of you feel that way looking back at your life? I guess the older you get the more muddy your life gets. I envy the simplicity of that year.
Anyway, grateful for a moment to think about my life and all that I have accomplished and the great memories. I was in charge of creating a video entitled ‘Then and Now’ for the reunion. It was more challenging than I expected but here is what I came up with.
The reunion was a lot of fun. I enjoyed chatting with fellow graduates and hearing from Setema Gali, former Super Bowl champion for New England Patriots. I was very moved by his heart felt words. I was expecting just a pep talk but it was very raw. He said ‘be prepared’ for whatever God wants you to do and look out for ‘compensating blessings’. That last concept really struck home with me. There are usually compensating blessings whenever God gives us a trial. Hard to see it sometimes but true.
I will include the group photos when I get them but here I am with my friend Shawn. I am honored to be able to participate in the reunion committee and will forever be grateful for my BYU experience. If I am any good as a human being today it is because of my BYU experience.
I don’t know how you go to a reunion without wondering- what do the next 10 years hold? What does God have in store for me? We will see… 🙂
Next up yesterday I went to the wedding of my dear friend Camille. She married Tom Griego and while I haven’t had a chance to get to know him he seems like a wonderful person (just loving Camille means he’s a smart guy!). Camille was my roommate for nearly 3 years and we grew up together. I went to Hawaii twice with her and our relationship has always been dear to me. She is a great listener and has always given to others more than focusing on her own needs. I’m glad she has someone who can focus on giving to her.
More than anything it makes me happy to see my friends happy! I have always been blessed with good friends, the best. I got to visit with a bunch of friends I haven’t seen for a while in addition to seeing Camille, which made the whole wedding a lot of fun. I don’t know what I did in the previous life to deserve such wonderful friends.
Anyway, it was a great weekend! I feel so blessed. Blessed for new starts with my home. Blessed for the memories of the past at my reunion and blessed for the comfort and happiness of friendship at the wedding. God is certainly good to me and I know that He has a path for me that if I am faithful my life will keep being an amazing journey. In truth, I know I have not peaked. What is to come? I’m excited for Him to show me. More than anything I know that I am loved by God and my friends and family. Who can ask for more?
I’ve mentioned the infamous Maura Kelly op-ed in Marie Claire many times on this blog . The one where she compares fat people to heroine addicts
“”I find it aesthetically displeasing to watch a very, very fat person simply walk across a room — just like I’d find it distressing if I saw a very drunk person stumbling across a bar or a heroine [sic] addict slumping in a chair.”
“I think I’d be grossed out if I had to watch two characters with rolls and rolls of fat kissing each other… because I’d be grossed out if I had to watch them doing anything.”
It is hate speech of the worst kind and the fact that a major fashion magazine would publish and then defend the smut is unbelievable.
Anyway, I came across an article by Josh Shahryar for the Huffington Post refuted each of Kelly’s claims and her subsequent apology. It is so awesome!
I was particularly moved by his last segment called The Conclusion.
I don’t normally share whole articles on this blog but I was so moved I wanted all of you to read it. Being on a new diet this last week I think I needed to read this article. So beautiful and moving:
5. The Conclusion
I’m not a personal issues expert. But I’m a human being living in the West who knows what’s going on. And what I see is this: there is an incredible amount of bias perpetuated against overweight people in the media. They are almost never the central character — always neatly tucked in as a secretary, the nurse or a character who’s too old to rouse romance. The last time I saw overweight people in a movie as the central character was in Paul Blart: Mall Cop and recently in Precious. Both the movies had a bit to do with weight.
When they appear on TV shows, it’s about weight. Guess who the loser in The Biggest Loser is… Guess who’s huge on Huge (by the way, a very witty show that got canceled). And when it comes to commercials, There’re always those damn ‘fatties’ that can’t seem to lose their weight without this or that new magical drug or diet.
Criminals can and do get central characters, otherwise. Druggies do. Even rapists and child abusers get more frequently featured. Fat people just aren’t good enough. (And to come to this realization right now just truly, deeply and profoundly upset me.)
The only shows, commercials or movies in which they get treated as normal people are those oriented towards the African-American population. Kudos to them for having the empathy. Only the oppressed can feel the pain of the oppressed.
Overweight people have become marginalized by the media simply because they’re overweight. Just like African Americans were marginalized because they were black and more recently, gay people because they’re gay. I understand fully that unlike the color of someone’s skin or someone’s sexual orientation obesity is a medical condition and a problem, but obese people aren’t. That is the issue. That is the problem. That is what both overweight, “normal” weight and underweight people need to come together and fight against.
The first step towards losing weight is not putting your mind to it. It is not making a list of things you will absolutely not do. It is not locking up the fridge. It is knowing that even if you fail at losing weight, people will still love you for who you are and not the number of pounds you’re packing. That people will judge you by your character and not because you are unhealthy weight-wise (and some people are perfectly healthy even when they are overweight). It is that feeling that you are doing this for yourself not because you have to fit a mold created for you.
That cannot be accomplished as long as Western culture continues to brand people who weigh more than what it deems aesthetically pleasing as unacceptable. It’s gotten so bad that even a few people who’re skinny live in constant fear that they might add a few pounds and not look beautiful enough to not be judged by people. And since media plays a huge part in formulating our cultural perceptions, it needs to change immediately — whether people like Ms. Kelly like it or not.
To that end, I urge everyone who finds size-ism in the media as a menace to view this as a watershed moment. It’s time to come together and fight this bigotry to the bitter end. Change does not come without someone pushing for it. If we want this to change, if we want for us, overweight or not, to not be judged by our BMI, we need to not let this fire die down.
We need to stand up and demand change. Even if it means we need to force the issue daily on social networking sites. Even if it means we have to boycott media that continue to practice this bigotry. Even if it means we have to hold peaceful demonstrations for the end of this practice. If media does not change, we cannot change this culture that seems to have been forever marginalizing overweight people.
It’s not just people judging you on the street. It’s about losing job opportunities. It is about equal treatment in the health care system. It is about being able to breathe, knowing everything’s gonna be alright.
The media’s side-stepping the issue and pretending all’s well reminds me of a scene from the movie Good Luck Chuck. Chuck is hexed so any girl who sleeps with him ends up meeting the love of her life in the next few days. His overweight secretary finds out about this and like any woman, she wants to find the lover of her life. She corners him one night and begs him to have sex with her, but he won’t. It goes on for a couple of minutes. Then, finally when he’s on the ground and she’s on top of him and he refuses, she tears up and says, “It’s okay. Close your eyes and pretend I’m someone beautiful.” He looks up, visibly moved, and says, “I’ll pretend it’s you.”
Well, pretending is just not good enough anymore.
(So awesome! I hope I can keep the discussion going and show people a different version of what a fat American can do. I bet Maura Kelly couldn’t swim a 5k!)
This may be the post I am the most proud of. I hope it comes across the way I intend. I hope it inspires someone.
Today for Family Home Evening I decided to see the controversial documentary Bully. This has been something I’ve been a bit anxious for but knew I needed to do because of my own experience being bullied. The odd part about the movie is I wasn’t that emotional while watching but then as soon as I got in my car I started to bawl. I felt all emotions of anger, frustration, despair and a little bit of hope.
Some have criticized the movie because it doesn’t go into the mindset of the bullies themselves. My response is that every story cannot tell every story. This is a movie about the victims and how futile the school system is in helping deal with these problems. Granted their task is daunting but the attitude of ‘kids will be kids’ is far too present.
There is one scene in the movie where a principal actually forces a little boy to shake hands with his tormentor (a valid concept until you find out this has happened again and again with the bully feigning an apology each time).
The victim has the courage to not shake hands and the teacher says
“You’re just like him”.
The boy says “Except I don’t hurt people”.
Can you imagine if we expected such things of adults? Do we expect rape victims to shake hands with their accusers and if they don’t are they ‘just like him.”? It made me so mad I wanted to throw something at the screen. I actually said ‘unbelievable’ out loud and then 2 girls in the theater looked at me.
One of my favorite moments was the Mom of a boy named Alex meeting with a principal that despite proof of abuse on a bus claimed ‘I’ve ridden that bus and they are good as gold’. The Mother says ‘When I was a child that bus would have been pulled over until the bad behavior stopped’. That’s what we have lost. Now I’m not advocating physical discipline for children but to pretend like adults have to sway over the behavior of children is just wrong.
Children should be safe and protected at home and school- in fact sometimes they need to be safer at school than in some homes. I know in my case little was done to stop bullying that lasted for nearly 2 years despite repeated requests from my parents.
It is a complicated problem but a couple things I suggest:
1. CHANGE SCHOOLS– My parents changing schools literally changed my life. I was fortunate enough to be able to go to private school and then my family moved but there are always other options. There are charter schools, online schools, homeschool, tutors, whatever. Anything is better than someone being a in situation where they are tormented. Its like sending an abused women into a closed building with their abuser 8 hours a day. Be open-minded, pray for direction and you will find something else that works.
2. Teach your children about differences and expose them to a variety of people. Talk to them about bullying and what they can do if they see someone who is being treated unkindly or most importantly being ignored. Teach them to look for people that seem a little different and try to befriend them. When they don’t like someone try to discuss what it is and how if possible they can learn to love that person. I’m not saying they have to be friends with everyone, that isn’t realistic but each kid that tries is one less bully.
One of the Mom’s who lost her son to a bullying related suicide said ‘He cried and then it got to the point where he didn’t cry and then it became difficult to know what’s going on’. Watch for those early tears…
3. Find something your child is good at and nourish that skill. Everyone is good at something (or at least enjoys something) and usually you can find someone else who shares that interest.
4. Make sure your children have one person in their life who is an uncompromising cheerleader. Parents have to discipline their children and say things they may not like but I was immeasurably benefited by several people who loved me unfailingly including my Grandpa Richards and my young women’s leader Sister Potter. They never gave me ‘constructive criticism’. I was always beautiful and perfect. Everyone needs that kind of cheerleader. Whether its a boys or girls club or a mentor look for that for your children.
5. Speak out about your history being bullied. Each of us that speaks adds another voice to the world, one more voice that says ‘It gets better’. ‘It will be OK’. ‘Don’t give up’. ‘God loves you’.
6. This is just my opinion but I think rough housing and mean joking should be avoided. A lot of the bullying in the movie starts out as rough housing and honestly may be viewed by the bullies as just fun but it turns so fast. One of the kids in the movie has a sister that teases him a little bit. At one point she says ‘LOSER spells Alex’. Things like this are not helpful and should be disciplined when possible. Again, I’m not a Mom so its just my opinion as an observer.
Recently a Time magazine piece and NPR broadcast caught my attention. Both featured the author Liza Mundy who has written a book on the topic of the recent trend of ‘women…overtaking men as America’s breadwinners’. In the article she gives an example of the Hawkins family in Detroit, Michigan. Despite growing up in traditional families with a working father, the Hawkins father, Danny, left the ‘crushing’ corporate world to be a stay at home Dad.
“He is a master of the shopping list, appointment calendar and household budget; he has served as treasurer of the PTA and the HOA; and on Halloween he did a statistical analysis of trick-or-treaters to gauge how much candy to buy next year. ”
“I told Susie several times that my job is to make her life easier, and I like doing it.”
Susie, the Mom says “We both have made sacrifices but your priority is to provide for your family- the love, the affection, the nurturing. For us, its about what’s best for the family”.
The article then says “Assuming present trends continue by the next generation, more families will be supported by women than by men…In 2009 4 in 10 working wives out-earned their husbands- an increase of 50% from 20 years before”. I found this to be an amazing statistic!
“Think about what this portends. The primary role men have played since they departed the cave…to earn paychecks in the Mad Men era will be passed to women. The impact will be felt everywhere, from the classroom to the boardroom to the bedroom, in how men and women work, play, shop, vote, save and share, and court and even love each other”.
I have to say I feel mostly positive about these changes. While still a gap women have been working for decades to reduce the wage gap and be treated fairly for their hard earned labor. Also, the work of a stay at home provider, traditionally a woman, was downgraded (even still can be downgraded today- Hillary Rosen!) and treated as nothing but watching soap operas and cleaning after kids. As I’ve mentioned before on this blog despite having a wonderful stay at home Mom I didn’t see its value until I was an adult. I wanted to do something important and in my young naivety that could only be done outside of the home, out in the big world.
Now hopefully men are getting a more appreciation for what women have been doing for years. Also, the work in 2 income households is more shared than it ever was before. It used to be that a woman would work full time and then still be expected to contribute more than her husband to the house/family responsibilities. Now with more men learning domestic skills such as cooking and cleaning, these tasks are shared across sexes more than ever before.
“As for child rearing, men have become significantly more hands-on over the past generation, and that trend will only accelerate as more families let earning power rather than gender determine who is the primary parent. While some women will struggle to adapt to more distant mothering, they may also relish seeing their children enjoying intimate relationships with their fathers”.
This seems like a good thing to me? I grew up in a culture that is always talking about the nurturing gifts of women to the point where men can feel ostracized and less capable of bonding with their children. I think both sexes are equally capable of loving and raising children.
I was discussing the ‘marriage crisis‘ with a friend the other day, and he said he felt pressure ‘to provide for a family’. This surprised, even amazed me. In the modern world I think most women see marriage as a team endeavor where both parties work to make a budget effective for a family. For me I am not looking for the traditional male protector and provider role in a prospective partner. I figure if I get married we will be a team and conquer any challenges that come our way together, not a husband guiding me through perilous waters to safety!
On a purely selfish perspective I love this change. I love being able to go into commerce and experience both women and men in almost every situation. I have had much better experiences with women doctors (more on that in a bit) and am grateful for the sacrifice they make to serve me in their chosen field.
In the article Mundy goes over the history of male/female relationships and even says ‘Evolutionary psychologists argued that dependence was women’s desired condition- that women were genetically driven to seek providers who could support their offspring. ”
But now “‘the deal is off. High paying industrial jobs that once enabled a man with a high school education to bring home a family wage are disappearing and as women become co-breadwinners or primary breadwinners in more households, all kinds of assumptions about how the household works are changing such as the domestic division of labor and women’s ‘economic influence at both home and in public’.”
“A study found that in households where the husband brings in more income, buying decisions are made equally, but in households where the wife earns more, she typically makes twice as many buying decisions as the man”
Does this not put additional pressure on already over-burdened women? Could that not be a negative? Even if it isn’t, could women still feel a self-imposed pressure to do everything at home and work, despite a husbands efforts?
The fluid nature of the role of manhood has changed. While I abhor any notion of chauvinism there was an aspect to a traditional male role that is appealing. A sense that man knew who he was and what he was supposed to do with his life. Will Ferrell and Seth Rogan have made careers out of playing lovable louts who don’t know what to do with their lives. Traditionally men didn’t have the choices they now have because of the pressures of providing for a family. Now so many seem to amble about waiting for the perfect job, perfect school, perfect woman.
Also, the desire of women to date and get married reduces when it is difficult to meet a true and equal partner. Why get married if you know you will have to provide for a family? That’s the decision men have shouldered for centuries and women sometimes find it harder to answer than they might have expected. Also, why get married when you can live a happy life by yourself? Characters such as Robin on HIMYM are facing this dilemma. She doesn’t want to get married but the eager-to-have-a-family Ted is dying to. Do you see this change amongst your friends and family?
There is also the issue of women still making less money, particularly in certain fields, as men. We’ve made huge improvements but still careers that are viewed as feminine such as teaching are vastly underpaid. In addition, women still have a ways to go with entering leadership positions and running for public office. As I mentioned in an earlier post, it is still difficult for most people to envision a woman as president. I wonder if that will change as these trends change?
And then there is the delicate issue of pregnancy (the age old female problem that women can’t pass on to men!). Many jobs still make maternity leave a difficult prospect and the idea of being gone for a vacation let alone months of leave can be very scary. As a breadwinner, can a woman sacrifice such time for her family and will the work-force tolerate it? Naturally this causes people to put off having children, have less children or have no children at all (All 3 decisions which I support, it is just an interesting societal change).
Last year in the New York Times a doctor named Karen Sibert made huge waves with her article Don’t Quit This Day Job. She argued that women who have so much invested in their education to become doctors and don’t work in the field full time are denying society of the investment it has made in their services and from the services they can provide for the greater good:
“Medical education is supported by federal and state tax money both at the university level — student tuition doesn’t come close to covering the schools’ costs — and at the teaching hospitals where residents are trained. So if doctors aren’t making full use of their training, taxpayers are losing their investment. With a growing shortage of doctors in America, we can no longer afford to continue training doctors who don’t spend their careers in the full-time practice of medicine.”
I’m not saying I agree with the doctor (in fact, I think her assumption of an all-or-nothing deal is a bit crazy) but it is a conversation we need to have. Women need to acknowledge that they may be asked to give up their career full time or that their husband may make this sacrifice (or that you are comfortable with outside childcare, or having no children) Before you are married or have children it is good to ask yourself the question of what you are going to do and what you want your family to look like?
Whatever choice you make there will be sacrifices for both spouses and their children. As a society we need to be aware of these choices and encourage a discussion.
We also need to make sure that both men and women are educated in domestic skills. That they both know how to cook, clean and live on a budget. I have known so many girls that can barely toast a bagel let alone cook for their families.
Part of these psychological adjustments in femininity and masculinity will go away in time as the differences between the sexes becomes smaller and smaller. I know a lot of people that would see such a change as a very sad thing. What do you think? What do you think of stay-at-home-Dads and the new female breadwinners? Do you think this is a mostly a good or bad thing?
The article ends with this thought:
“It would be nice to imagine a world where employers make it possible for all mothers and fathers to work reasonable hours. But some jobs will always require more than the eight hours a day. For a woman, like a man, reaching the highest levels of achievement may depend on a sp0use willing to downshift. What’s new is that the decisions about who dials back will be based on personal aptitude and what works best for each couple rather than outdated n0tions of which sex is better fitted to what”