Monday, June 27, 2011

STFU Tea Party Bigots (That Means You, Ms. Bachman)

I love this - I don't know who made it originally, but I found it on one of my favorite blogs, STFU Conservatives.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Fear and Loathing and Sarah Palin.

Last election, I wrote the following about Sarah Palin.  I'm convinced that her narcissism will make her run again, and everything I wrote still stands in that case.

"What is it about Sarah Palin that inspires such rage in otherwise rational women? I turn into a red-faced, expletive-spewing demon when confronted with her name, much less her hateful voice. I can't stand Ann Coulter or Bill O'Reilly or Glenn Beck, either, but they don't make me as insane as Palin does. Her politics are diametrically opposed to mine, but plenty of Republicans believe the same stuff. She's a working mother, which should be a good thing. She...see? I can't even think of anything else to say about her that might be remotely construed as positive! I'm filled with the urge to type HATEFUL LYING BITCH instead!

I think it's the fact that women are expected to support her just because she has a vagina. Or that she's incapable of telling the truth or taking responsibility for anything. Or the fact that she's woefully uneducated or intellectually incurious. I don't think she's full-on stupid; in fact, she shows a malicious streak of wily manipulation. I think she's just completely uninterested in learning anything. Her education record tells quite a story - 5 colleges?? Really? Introspection is beyond her. In-depth analysis? Forget it. Her specialty is knee-jerk reactionism. She defines demagoguery in the worst sense.

When did it become a negative for a presidential candidate to be intelligent? When did "being one of the people" become the most important quality for the leader of the free world? I don't want my president to be "just another hockey mom", I want them to be smarter than me. Please, Sarah Palin - go away. Stay away. And leave the governing to responsible adults."

Another scary thought - Palin's supporters voted for her with no concept of her policies. And their votes count as much as yours do.

The GOP Hates Women.

Excellent round-up on Jezebel about Republican misogyny.

GOP: What War on Women?

It's hard to see how they can possibly deny their anti-women bent, especially when you consider their attack on Planned Parenthood.  Check out Irin Carmon's analysis of the cuts here.

I blame ignorant women like Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachman for feeding into this woman-on-woman hate.  Whatever happened to supporting all choices? Makes me feel all stabby.

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Joy of Failure

I've been thinking a lot about failure recently. I struggle with blaming myself for everything, seeing every misstep as a failure, and subsequently suffering from a paralysis to try again.  Leaving my job triggered a lot of these negative thoughts, and I've been trying hard to work through them.

We recently had two guest speakers in class, Peter Popovich and Tom Wright, who spoke with us about failure and its blessings.  While they were mostly focused on the business aspects of success and failure, their talk came at a fortuitous time for me.  Two points really stood out for me.  I love the following quote, as I tend to confuse being a failure with failing.

Notice the difference between what happens when a man says to himself, 
“I have failed three times,” and what happens when he says, “I am a 
– S.I. Hayakawa 

The second point that Peter made was avoiding fear - of failure, of losing, of things not working out perfectly.  Replacing the word "fear" with curiosity is an interesting mental trick, and one that I will definitely try to use.  

They also recommended The Creative Habit, by Twyla Tharpe, which discusses the inevitability of failure.  Again, this is something with which I really struggle.  I have such a hard time accepting any failure, however minor.  Small setbacks tend to send me into a tailspin, and I struggle against the temptation to label myself a failure.  

I wrote the above quote on a post-it note and stuck it to my mirror. It's my goal to see failure as an opportunity, not as the end of the world.  I didn't fail in leaving my job - I simply opened up a plethora of new opportunities.  

What does failure mean to you? Do you feel comfortable taking risks, even with the possibility of not succeeding?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

A Return to the Mat

David Swenson, Ashtanga teacher extraordinaire
I used to practice yoga almost every day. I attended weekend long workshops, which left me feeling like a stretchy, , sweaty noodle. I read everything I could find on David Swenson, John Friend, Bikram, and living the Yogi life.  I tried to meditate, but I really stunk at it. I owned a remarkable amount of yoga clothes made of organic bamboo fabrics.

But as of last Thursday, I hadn't done so much as a downward dog in almost 4 years. Why? It's complicated. What I loved about yoga, what originally drew me in, was the focus on the self. There's no competition or comparison, just you and your asanas. There's always work to be done on your form and perfection is (happily) unattainable. But I found that too many studios were encouraging a sort of clique-y environment, all about who had the cutest yoga rug and whose forward bend was the best. Mirrors in the studio are helpful for alignment, but aren't so great when you see everyone scanning and judging the group.

I struggled with an eating disorder for almost 15 years, and this sort of scrutiny was too much for me. I became disenchanted with yoga, as I realized that it was becoming unhealthy for me to engage in the body competition.  I also became frustrated with individuals proclaiming themselves as "gurus" and cultivating a rabid (and exclusive) following. That wasn't what yoga meant to me, so I quit.

Was quitting the best way? No, of course not. I could have searched for other studios or focused on practicing at home - but it felt like the best solution at the time.

I've missed practicing over the years, but was too damn stubborn to go back - until my Creativity and Innovation grad school class met at a studio last week. I can't tell you how good it felt to stretch my body and use forgotten muscles. I slept better that night than I had in a long time and I'm looking forward to going back.  What changed? Me, I guess. I'm in a better place mentally than I was 4 years ago. I'm less concerned by the judgement of others, and less inclined to participate in the competition.  Maybe I'll even succeed at meditation this time around...

For anyone looking to learn more about yoga, check out the following websites.
Ashtanga Basics

The Amazing John Friend

More on the Yogi Lifestyle

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

God is Not a Christian

I recently read the most amazing article by 1984 Nobel Peace Prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu.  He makes two main points about religion. One, religion and faith are primarily determined by the accident of birthplace.  If you're born in India, you're a Hindu. If you're born in the southern region of the US, you're a Southern Baptist.  This is one of the main issues I've had with organized religion - being born into a religion doesn't mean that that particular religion is somehow more valid than another. I believe every religion is equally 'correct', despite which higher power you pray to.

Second, he cautions against the dangers of proselytization. I've always struggled with Christian missions and the implied belief that becoming a Christian will make someone's life better.  Tutu eloquently argues that we need to expand our views on God, to accept a multitude of truths, and to respect the views of others.

God is Not a Christian

What are your thoughts? Christian missions have done amazing humanitarian work, but is it moral to convert the views of others?

Friday, June 3, 2011

I May Crochet This On a Pillow...

I recently attended the wedding of a good friend in small town Louisiana.  It was a very traditional, very Southern affair - except her wedding reading.  She used a quote from the movie Frida, which shocked the older crowd (most people thought the reader was drunk), but that I found absolutely perfect.

"I don’t believe in marriage. No, I really don’t. Let me be clear about that.

I think at worst it’s a hostile political act, a way for small-minded men to keep women in the house and out of the way, wrapped up in the guise of tradition and conservative religious nonsense.

At best, it’s a happy delusion. These two people, who truly love each other and have no idea how truly miserable they are about to make each other.

But, when two people know that, and they decide with eyes wide open to face each other and get married anyway, then I don’t think it’s conservative or delusional. I think it’s radical and courageous…and very romantic."

This sums up my feelings on marriage better than any traditional wedding reading (First Corinthians, anyone?).  I don't particularly believe in marriage.  In my opinion, too many people get married for the wrong reasons. Personally, I got married the first time because that was the next step - we'd dated all through college, and getting married was just what you did.  Breaking up would have been messy and difficult, and inertia is a powerful force.  I swore I would never get married again.  When you think about it, marriage really doesn't make a lot of sense anymore.  You can live together, open joint accounts, have kids, all without a formal paper. It's old-fashioned and frankly impractical in our society today.

But then I fell in love. And got married. I don't believe in marriage in general, but I do believe in my  marriage.  It's illogical and I can't explain this lapse in rationality on my part, other than to say that it feels vaguely radical to jump in with both feet. To throw away my cynicism. To be optimistic, even in the face of odds.  And to believe in my husband.