Desperate Times Call For… Spiritual Outreach?

I’d consider myself a skeptic. Once I got old enough to think for myselffauxheavenly I realized that god probably isn’t real, and neither are ghosts, people who can talk to the dead, psychics… the list goes on. I’m not discounting religion. If it works for you–so be it. I’ve personally never been able to find faith or comfort in something I can’t physically see.

I mean, until this summer happened.

Five months ago on June 27th my life changed forever. It was a Tuesday evening and I was sitting at home in the exact spot I’m in now. Directly to my right was the wide-open front door because the three months of 70+ degree weather we get a year in Washington warrants a little bit of fresh air circulating through the house. I was waiting for my mom to come home with food and I saw her pull into the driveway from the door. Normally she would look over if the door was open to see if I was sitting at the desk nearby but this time she didn’t. When she finally came inside she said she wanted to talk to me. My first thought was that I was in trouble. Dad & Beth

I don’t know what I thought I did at 22 years old to believe my mom wanted to lecture me about something, but I did. Instead, she told me [my aunt] called. The last time my mom sat me down and told me she got a phone call from my aunt it wasn’t good news. My defense wall immediately came down, my face went straight, my mom was hesitating and “what???” just fell out of my mouth. All she had to say was “Your dad…” and my tone changed again. This time to hysterical.

I don’t really want to discuss the details of my father’s death here, but I will say he passed unexpectedly and the last time I ever saw him was almost a year ago, on Thanksgiving of 2016. Unfortunately it wasn’t out of the ordinary to go this long without seeing my dad but I had absolutely no idea it would be the last time I ever did. Before my dad died I thought I knew what it felt like to be heartbroken. I thought I had already endured immense pain. The reality is that I had no idea what any of that actually felt like until I found myself sobbing on the living room floor, helpless. The moment I found out is forever ingrained in my head. All the things I wish I got to say flooded to the forefront of my mind. I even remember thinking about how badly I wanted to see him so I could talk to him, even though I knew he was already gone. I didn’t know what it felt like before it happened and I don’t expect people who haven’t experienced something similar to fully understand.

Since my dad passed I’ve somewhat learned to better control my emotions. The hysterics only come out every once in a while, yet I still find myself wishing there was some way I could talk to my dad again. This feeling of desperation doesn’t go away.

I already mentioned my skepticism, especially in regards to any sort of paranormal entities. If I don’t believe in god or heaven it’s kind of hard to believe that there’s this place people go after they die where they can still communicate with us, right? That’s how I feel at my core… but I can’t help but WANT to believe that there’s a way to connect to my dad. I WANT these self-proclaimed mediums to work as vessels to a conversation between my dad and I. I am DESPERATE for someone with this supposed gift to help me find peace.

I’ve scoured the internet in search of local mediums and read countless reviews trying to find someone who would ease my skeptic mind. I even reached out to my facebook friends for guidance in a public post. And this is where I encountered more judgment than advice, hence my inspiration for writing this blog post. I said something along the lines of: “I’m interested in seeing a psychic or medium, does anyone have any experience or recommendations?” to which I received comments like:

“Only if you want to waste your money,”
“It’s all a giant scam,”
“Seriously? You actually believe in that?”
and so on…

Little did they know I didn’t believe in it but was desperately searching for any tool I could find to fill that that aching void in my heart. It was like being trapped in a pitch-black underground dungeon and seeing one beam of light in the distance, coming from a hole I knew was too small to escape from. I knew I was grabbing at straws with my idea to visit a medium but the chance of it being real and actually being able to connect with my dad again outweighed the doubts I had.

bigstock-father-and-child-in-tender-ges-16379474Instead of being uplifted by all the recommendations I thought I would get, I was even more discouraged by the negativity. I stopped searching, stopped reading reviews, almost gave up the idea entirely. All because of the opinions of people I hardly talk to. People who have no idea what it’s like to feel so desperate, who have yet to experience the pain of losing a parent. It’s been a month or so since this happened and luckily I’ve been able to re-process my thoughts on the subject. Now I know that contacting a medium is something I definitely want to pursue. The opinions of people who have not gone through what I’ve gone through are… well, irrelevant.

Humans will do outrageous things based on emotion. We’ve all been in situations where we felt helpless and would do almost anything to achieve that end result. Some ideas are even illegal or dangerous. And by all means, if you see someone wanting to hurt themselves or someone else or do something that could get them in trouble, say something. But please don’t offer unwanted, negative opinions on fragile subjects. I promise you’ll better understand once you’ve been in their position yourself.

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The F-Word

The F-Word

Nope, not the four letter  f-word. This one’s three letters. And, arguably, holds much more weight (pun not intended).

I’m talking about the word “fat.” F-A-T. The word that a majority of the human population avoids using for the fear of offending someone else. But does it really offend most fat people?

Obviously, t130621-fat-is-not-a-bad-wordhere are reasons so many people attach such a negative meaning to the word. Elementary school bullies have been calling people fat to make them feel bad about themselves since the beginning of time. The media consistently portrays fat people in a negative light. “Fat = bad, ugly, unhealthy.” But at the end of the day, it’s just a word. An adjective used to describe things and people that are fat.

Being fat doesn’t mean you’re a bad person. Not all fat people are ugly and not all skinny people are beautiful. And yes, there are fat people with health problems but there is no direct correlation between being fat and being unhealthy. When I say “I’m fat,” I mean I have extra fat on my body. That’s it. It doesn’t mean I’m ugly or unhealthy. I’m just fat.

Most people’s automatic reaction to me calling myself fat is: “Stop it! No you’re not!” as if that’s what they think I need to hear when really, I’m stating facts, not searching for validation or positive reinforcement. You telling me that I’m not fat doesn’t make me feel better about myself. It tells me you’re a liar. We can all see that I’m fat. So why do we feel the need to tell people: “Oh no, you’re not fat. Don’t say that.”

Because we’ve let three letters completely consume us as a culture. “You’re looking fat” is seen as an insult while “You’re looking thin” is a compliment. How do we ever expect girls and boys to grow up loving their bodies instead of hating them when we put so much value into a three letter word? One whose definition has been drastically changed from a simple descriptive word to something almost as taboo as a racial slur?

Yes, there are people who would still be offended if someone called them ftumblr_lf2ck0q2sc1qfrak5o1_400at. But my point is that a lot of fat people–myself obviously included–no longer allow the stigma of the word to affect them negatively and instead use it as
yet another source of empowerment. My goal is to get all other fat people on the same page. Start using it as a way to describe yourself instead of feeling like you have to use more “tasteful” words like chubby, thick, big, etc. The more regularly and openly the word “fat” is used, the more likely that stigma is to just fade away. Think about it. Before you tell someone you love them for the first time, a lot of thought goes into saying it but eventually you tell them multiple times every single day. It gets easier the more you say it.

Fat is not a bad word. If you are fat, you are not bad. You are not ugly. You are not unhealthy. You are not less worthy than any other person on this planet. You are fat. And you are perfect. And those two CAN coexist.

**Photos are not mine. Credit goes to LoveThisPic and Tumblr.**

Alternative Facts

Alternative Facts

More commonly known as: LIES.

Because I don’t want this blog to become all about politics, I’m gonna keep this section of the post short and sweet.

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer was caught giving false, misleading information in his first briefing about i
nauguration attendance statistics.
First briefing.
Lying.
Actual numbers.

Anyway.
This isn’t the first time we’ve been lied to by the government. But if the director of communications at the White House will lie about something so frivolous during his first briefing, we have a lot to overcome in the next four years.

To top this all off, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway went on record during an interview to say that Spicer wasn’t lying. No, he was just giving “alternative facts.” Now, I don’t know about you guys but I’ve never heard the term “alternative facts” mentioned anywhere, let alone uttered by a representative of the White House. What was Conway thinking when she said “alternative facts”? That we would just hear it be like, “Oh, okay. He wasn’t lying. Guess they were just alternative facts.” No. Because we’re not stupid (despite the fact that almost half the populatalternative-factsion voted for DT).

This whole thing reminded me of something that happened a few weeks ago between myself and a friend. Without getting into too much detail, I called this friend out on some weird behavior and didn’t realize he was actually lying to me until about a week later when it was revealed by him over social media. He never told me the truth, I just had to figure it out on my own. When I brought it up to him, his words were: “I’m bummed we can’t still be friends” to which I responded: “For future reference, being dishonest isn’t really a good way to maintain friendships” and the last thing he ever said to me was “I’m sorry. My intention was never to lie to you.”

“My intention was never to lie to you.”lying

Now, I know it can be hard to form an opinion without having every detail to put all the pieces together but I think we can all agree on one thing: Lying is intentional. When someone says something “wasn’t their intention,” it’s usually because they did something to hurt someone else by accident. When you tell a lie, no matter how big or small, you are intentionally setting out to deceive another person. The decision to tell a lie is conscious. And you shouldn’t let anyone–friend or politician–convince you otherwise.

The World is on Fire

It’s November 9, 2016. The day after Election Day. And the world (or America, at least) is most definitely on fire. Quite literally, when you look at the colors on this map.

election-map

Last week at work a coworker of mine walked past me and proclaimed: “The world is on fire.” As random as it was, this isn’t really out of character for him especially with Election Day right around the corner. He’s kind of known for having very outspoken, controversial opinions when it comes to politics and the government. Anyway, the only response I could think of came naturally: “It will be come next Tuesday.”

I’m not really one to get into politics much but this election felt different. I was a die-hard Bernie Sanders supporter in the beginning, as most of my millennial counterparts were, and was extremely lost when he didn’t win the Democratic nomination. I’ve never really been a fan of Hillary Clinton, the Donald Trump option still felt like a joke at this point, and Bernie Sanders just seemed to represent everything I wanted in a leader.

As Election Day started to get closer, the polls were showing Trump in an increasing lead despite the “locker room talk” scandal where he was caught claiming that he could just “grab women by the pussy” and it would be okay because he’s a celebrity.

**Before I go any further I want to make it VERY clear that I NEVER had ANY plans to vote for Donald Trump. Some of the things I’m going to say have the potential to make me sound like a Trump supporter but in reality I’d rather be catapulted off the face of the Earth than cast a vote in favor of that man.**

I didn’t fill out my ballot until November 7th. That was how long it took me to make a decision on who I’d be voting for. I can’t tell you how many articles I read, how much research I did, and how many debates I had with Hillary Clinton supporters, desperately searching for the right answer. There was a point in time where I actually considered voting for Clinton because I was afraid that Trump would win if I didn’t. Long story short–I just couldn’t find it within myself to vote for Clinton. I knew I was going to vote but I knew it wouldn’t be for either one of them.

I’m a strong believer in logical thinking. I am a Virgo after all. I understand the logic behind settling on Clinton in order to stop Trump from getting into the White House. I understand why Democrats were so strongly against third party voters because of how close the race was. I understand why so many people believed that a third party vote was a waste of a vote in a very dire circumstance. I understand all of that. But I also believe in gut feelings and not letting fear dictate our lives. This election was a prime example of how the system continues to fail us. The two most hated people in the whole race were our primary choices for President of the United States. The corruption has to stop. And the only way to do it is to change how we vote.

I’m proud to say I voted for Jill Stein. Out of all the candidates, I felt like her beliefs aligned with mine the most. And two days later from the time I dropped my ballot in the box, after the results of the election have already been confirmed, I don’t regret it. I voted with my heart for the person I felt would do the best job. That wasn’t Hillary Clinton. And it definitely wasn’t Donald Trump. In all honesty I knew Jill Stein wouldn’t win. She wasn’t even on the ballot in some states. But I feel good about my vote knowing that I stood up for change and what I believe in.

It wasn’t until last night in the midst of the election that I began to feel uneasy about my vote. I was following the results all night at work and on TV and social media once I got home. Trump was ahead the entire time and my nerves set in. Maybe I made a mistake. Maybe I should have voted for Hillary. Maybe I should’ve listened to everyone telling me not to vote third party. This was only my second chance to vote in the presidential election but it was my first experience on the receiving end of voter shaming. Trump was about to win Pennsylvania which would put him within six votes of winning the electoral vote and I was scrolling through Facebook on my phone when I saw a screenshot of a tweet that someone had shared.

tweet1

And as I was scrolling through this person’s Twitter page I found a plethora of others, all saying essentially the same thing:

So as a third party voter, I’m now placed in the same category as someone who’s not allowed to speak because they didn’t vote at all and, even worse, a person who voted for Trump? It’s wrong. On so many levels.

The original tweet I saw on Facebook really upset me. I’m not one to feel personally attacked by a Facebook post nor do I ever really get fired up enough to respond, but the person who shared it is someone I like and respect and I had just shared the fact that I voted third party a few hours prior.

First of all, I don’t know if Washington state has a history of ever going red in the election. The entire west coast is pretty much known for being extremely liberal. Our presidential voting system in this country goes by the Electoral College. The winner doesn’t necessarily have the most popular votes, but instead is the first one to get 270 electoral votes. I knew that all 12 of Washington’s electoral votes would go to Hillary Clinton so in reality, did it really matter if I voted for Jill Stein, Gary Johnson, or even Donald Trump for that matter? No. Why? Because Hillary Clinton won Washington 56% to 38%. If I lived in Florida or Pennsylvania or Michigan, maybe I would have reconsidered my vote for a third party.

But let’s think about this for a second. Gary Johnson is a Libertarian. His ideals lean more right than they do left. Do you really believe that those 200,000 votes that went to Johnson in Florida would have gone to Clinton had third party voters changed their minds last minute? Probably not. The reality is that those people most likely would have voted for the Republican candidate if it was anyone but Trump.

I want to end this by suggesting that those who believe third party voters are the reason Trump won the election point fingers at the 59 million people who actually voted for him instead of blaming and bullying those who refused to.

**Photos are not mine. Credit goes to Google and Twitter.**

The Straightedge Stigma

Straightedge: (especially among fans of hardcore punk music) having an ascetic or abstinent lifestyle.

This is the actual definition that Google gave me.
Right behind “a bar with one accurately straight edge, used for testing whether something else is straight,” of course.straightedge 2

Admittedly, I had to look up what the word “ascetic” meant as well because I don’t even know how to pronounce it, let alone know the definition. It’s described as the practice of severe self-discipline and abstention from all forms of indulgence, usually for religious reasons.

So by definition and technical terms, someone who is straightedge is an uptight (“severe”) bible thumper who doesn’t smoke, do drugs, drink alcohol, have premarital sex, or masturbate (“all forms of indulgence”–I’m probably missing some, let’s be honest) and just so happens to like hardcore punk music.

Fair enough. Except not at all.

I can’t speak directly about being straightedge because I’ve never given myself that label and have definitely indulged in my fair share of gluttony. But what I can speak about is the fact that I’ve become some sort of a “straightedge magnet,” if you will.

Let’s start with some background stories: I was 16 when I got my first boyfriend. He was a year older (17, in case you’re bad at math) and partook in smoking, drinking, partying, all of that. I was never into it.

I was 17-20 when I was dating my second boyfriend. He happened to be straightedge. I really had no idea what this was as a 17 year old but he basically just explained it as “I don’t drink, I don’t do drugs, I don’t party.” I thought it was the coolest thing ever because like I said, I just wasn’t into that whole scene in high school. I knew I could’ve been a lot cooler and probably would’ve had a lot more friends had I decided to drink at that age but I just didn’t care. And the fact that he was intentionally not doing it made it easier for me to refrain from participating in that lifestyle. But I still never considered myself straightedge because I always straightedgehad the thought in the back of my mind like, “Well, what if I want to drink at dinner with my friends when I get older?”

When we broke up I took the opportunity to “experiment” with things I felt like I should have tried as a teenager. I drank twice and also may have smoked weed a couple times before I turned 21. After I turned 21 was a whole different story and I went a little crazy because I actually found drinking and partying fun. I enjoyed myself. At this point in my life, a mere 9 months later, my perspective on all of that has completely changed. But we’ll talk about that in more detail another time.

The “straightedge stigma” I speak of is the association between straightedge people and judgment and negativity. People who label themselves as straightedge generally get put into a box with these negative mentalities. The idea is that all straightedge people think they’re better than those who drink, party, and engage in lifestyle choices they don’t necessarily agree with for themselves. Don’t get me wrong, I definitely think those people are out there and that sucks but the majority of straightedge people (at least the ones I’ve met) honestly aren’t concerned with and don’t really care about what other people are doing. And that’s the way it should be for every kind of lifestyle choice. Here’s some friendly cliché advice: Don’t judge people. Worry about yourself. Other people’s choices do not affect you.

I feel like straightedge people are few and far between. In all of my online dating experience (see Tinder and Lightning) I’d say that 9/10 guys suggest meeting at a bar for the first date (so maybe I’m exaggerating a LITTLE BIT, but seriously, it’s a large percentage.) Yet, since my last real relationship, I’ve come across two more straightedge guys and they’ve ended up being some of my favorite pestraightedge 3ople.

I try not to be the kind of person who says “OMG it must be a sign!” but I truly feel as though these people have come into my life as inspiration. One recent morning I woke up and was kind of just like “I don’t feel like drinking anymore.” Maybe these inspirations had something to do with it and maybe they didn’t but either way I received a sign that made me aware of the fact that maybe the drinking/partying/doing drugs lifestyle just isn’t for me.

Next time you’re thinking about judging someone based on whether they’ve chosen to drink alcohol or not, think about all the more important things you could be focusing your attention on. People who drink are not bad people and people who don’t aren’t losers. At the end of the day, we’re all just humans.

**Photos are not mine. Credit goes to: www.pinterest.com.**

“You look great!”

My interest in this topic was sparked a while ago when a family member posted a weight loss progress photo on Facebook. The comments of this post were filled with words of encouragement and motivation but mostly: “Wow! You look great!” This actually happened again the other day with another one of my Facebook friends who posted about his weight loss accomplishments.

Immediately it got me thinking about the phrase, “You look great.” I personally can’t remember a time where I’ve ever used this compliment but I notice that it’s primarily used in regards to weight loss. Seriously, if you can think of an example where you’d say “You look great” to someone who hasn’t just lost a ton of weight or didn’t just have a baby, let me know. But why do we do this?

Someone who hasn’t just lost a ton of weight can still look great and someone who didn’t just have a baby can look great too. It’s almost like we’re saying you can’t look “great” if you’re still fat.

I don’t think peoyou look greatple do this on purpose. It’s not like we sit behind our computers carefully thinking about the comments we post.

Hmmm, I’m gonna tell Debra that she looks great because she’s celebrating her 50 pound weight loss but I’m gonna tell Ashley that she looks SO cute because I love her outfit… but she’s still fat so I can’t say “great.”

I highly doubt that this is the case with most people. Certain words are just so ingrained in our society to mean something specific and be used only under certain circumstances. To get my point across, I found some comments from posts that were celebrating some sort of weight loss, as well as some comments from random profile pictures.

These were some of the random profile picture comments:
Screen Shot 2016-05-22 at 10.30.16 AMScreen Shot 2016-05-22 at 10.35.36 AMScreen Shot 2016-05-22 at 10.35.45 AM copy

And these were some of the comments posted on the weight loss progress photo:
Screen Shot 2016-05-22 at 10.33.25 AMScreen Shot 2016-05-22 at 10.32.35 AMScreen Shot 2016-05-22 at 10.32.10 AMScreen Shot 2016-05-22 at 10.31.38 AM

As you can see, there’s a pretty obvious difference in word choice depending on the situation.

Maybe I’m overthinking all of this. They say that 2016 is the year to be offended by everything, (actually I don’t know who ‘they’ is or if anyone really says that, but ya know) so maybe I’m just overreacting and blowing this out of proportion. I’m not “offended” by it but I have noticed it on more than one occasion and I’m just curious to see what everyone else thinks.

**Photo is not mine. Credit goes to www.locomoco.com.**

Music Discovery: Hotel Books

**Bear with me while I write my first music review… As I was writing I realized it’s a lot harder than it seems.

I take a lot of music recommhotel booksendations. I love all kinds of music and all suggestions are welcome because there isn’t much I won’t listen to. Recently my friend introduced me to the “band” Hotel Books. I put band in quotes because Wikipedia refers to it as a “spoken-word project” instead of band. (Yes, I’m way too trusting of Wikipedia but it should be alright in this case.) Immediately I saved their entire Spotify discography (which in this case is every album, thanks Spotify) and listened to each album all the way through. Since my first impression, I’ve listened to every album at least one more time.

Now, usually, I like music that I can sing or at least bob my head to. But when the lyrics are spoken word as they are in every Hotel Books song, that’s kind of hard to do. Wikipedia also classifies the genres for this music as: spoken word, emo, post-hardcore, indie rock, and ambient. So it’s not like there’s no music in the background. The background music is actually very good and something I’d listen to regardless. But with Hotel Books’ songs, the focus is primarily on the “lyrics” or poetry that vocalist Cam Smith is reciting.

Cam Smith, a 23 year old guy from Porterville, CA is the genius behind all of this. Apparently the lyrics are actual poetry that he’s written. And let me just tell you, this is deep stuff.

And I was afraid to change
but I was afraid of not changing

And I remember the moment I destroyed everything I loved
just to find out that I had no idea what love was

While we spend our time alone
On our cellular phones
Not connecting with each other’s minds
And definitely not connection with each other’s souls

As I was listening to the album “Everything We Could Have Done Differently” at work yesterday, I noticed a religious theme I hadn’t before. Which is weird, because looking through the lyrics I see so many references to God, sinning, spirituality, etc. I’m not a religious person in the least but this didn’t really turn me off. To make sure, I looked up an interview with Cam Smith where he confirmed that his band is indeed a “Christian band,” but went on to explain that he “believes in love and believes in God but also believes that people who don’t believe in God deserve love.” He talked about the fact that some people are turned off by Christian bands because they don’t want to be converted, but the goal of Hotel Books is to spread love, not religion.

Watching this interview made me like the project even more. I already knew this guy was something else and I’d already experienced goosebumps from his music but hearing him talk in a non-performance kind of way proved just how well-spoken and genuine he is.

This music isn’t going to be for everyone. The style is much different from anything any other band is doing and if you’re not one to broaden your musical horizons, that’s totally understandable. However I highly recommend checking Hotel Books out. Maybe you’ll get a new favorite band out of it. Maybe you’ll absolutely hate the music and never want to listen to it again. No worries either way, but don’t knock it till you try it.

**Photo is not mine. Credit goes to: www.genius.com.**