That's right. If you're one of those people, I just said your white privilege is showing. If you deny that such a thing exists, you are illustrating that it does. Not seeing the plight of racially disadvantaged people reveals that you do not share their struggles. Because if you did, you would understand it perfectly.
Why don't you understand it? Because it doesn't impact you. Why doesn't it impact you? Because you are privileged. If you weren't, you would know exactly how it feels to be in the shoes of those fighting against this grave injustice that has been around for centuries.
Don't believe me? Here's something else privileged folks like to say. They like to say that they didn't have an issue with people of color until they started demanding justice. Is this what you are saying?
So, you were OK with these people until they stood up for themselves. It was OK with you that they existed when they just shut up and took being persecuted without protest. Sounds like you prefer them to be kept down where you think they belong. Sounds like you're promoting the very white privilege you deny the existence of, doesn't it?
After all, you admitted that you only got upset when they rose up to “your” level, looked you straight in the eye and demanded equality. How dare they take away your position at the top of the heap? They're supposed to remain submissive and uncomplaining, right?
Folks, I'm white and I'm privileged. I admit it. Oh, I've had my share of struggles, for sure. I have worked hard for every single thing that I have. I have been through the stuff of nightmares most of my life. Anyone who knows me well knows this is true.
But you know what? I still consider myself privileged because compared to people of color, I have had a strong advantage from the beginning. I started life off a step “above” them due to the color of my skin. I'm not any better than them. We have always been equal. However, we live in a society that places less value on them due to the color of their skin.
And by the way, just the fact that there is an “us” and a “them” reveals the truth. White privileged exists. It's very real. And whether you are a bigot or not, if you are white, you are privileged. It's not a personal insult. It's a fact of life.
If you don't like that, why not work to change it instead of denying it?
Some folks fear or avoid change. They're comforted by sameness. Some spend their lives in one place, surrounded by familiar faces and philosophies. Sometimes they go places. Still, they take their old beliefs with them and hang out with like minded people. When trying new things, a part of them remains guarded. They wax sentimental about the good old days, never noticing that the good old days were rife with problems.
When it comes to politics, they favor tradition over fact. New ideas are a threat to their security. You can't blame them, really. The world is a scary place. Traditions give them something to cling to when waters are rising.
They are the opposite of me.
I thrive on positive change. Without it, we just keep making the same mistakes over and over. Without it, hatred, separation and exclusion reign. Just like they did in the “good” old days. That's right, the good old days weren't so perfect, were they? Anyone who thinks they were, was a child at the time or wasn't paying attention.
Not all progress is an improvement. I'll agree with that. However, some is vital. You know, like making “All men are created equal” a true statement about our country's foundation instead of being lip service for slave owners to hide behind. Because some of us never have been treated equally, have we? Be honest. You know it's true.
There are other examples, of course. Politicians weren't any cleaner back in the day. Oh, there were a few decent men. There were evil men too. I say men because there were either no women or very few. Truthfully, that hasn't changed much either. Just enough to fool people into thinking it has.
There was violence and war in the “good” old days too. Violence was swept under the rug. War was painted up as patriotism. Poverty was toted as rugged individualism. All three false images were manufactured to boost profit for a select few, just like they are now. Don't like that idea? Don't hate the messenger. Hate the truth and work to change it for the better.
Change is good, you guys. Or it can be with a compassionate, caring mindset that isn't steeped in illusion or ulterior motives. Be careful, though. Rebellion can be deceiving as well. There is violence in revenge. And there are good traditions too. Just don't accept them at face value. Because some of them have two faces.
Seriously, folks, what's up with these bogus movies about city people moving to the country and being rehabilitated by country folk? Not all city people are lazy, stupid and inept. Not all country people are well versed in animal husbandry and wise about life. Not all have red necks and white socks either. Some actually have tv's and computers. Some absolutely hate country music. Some love it.
These are modern times, you guys. Country people vary just as much as city people. Some, like me, are even (gasp!) vegans. Not everyone has a huge farmhouse with plenty of extra bedrooms. And those handmade quilts? Ya, you guessed it. Not every country person goes to quilting bees, cans veggies or makes their own jam. Some are too busy being doctors, lawyers or rock stars.
Seriously? Who falls for this crap? Country life is great but we're not all cowboys or even farmers. We're not all riding around in beat up rusted pick up trucks, decked out in our cowboy hats and pointy boots, eating beans and rounding up cattle in the back 40. OK wait, I do eat a lot of beans. Vegan protein, you know? But I prefer comfortable clothing and vehicles that actually work.
How about those women who move to the country after their spouse runs off or dies? They meet that rough and tough handsome cowboy who gives them the hard slap in the face lesson they supposedly need, tames them like a wild pony, then rides off on them into the sunset? Yes, You heard that right. And why does he always have a crippled ex-wife he takes care of, out of the goodness of his heart? What a guy, right?
Oh, don't forget the barn dance. Gotta have one in every country movie so they can have that whispering moment where they finally fall for each other. And that old, abandoned house they renovate together, laughing madly with paint all over their blue jeans. Childhood memory flashbacks are also a must have. Gotta squeeze those in. Good grief, no wonder some women are so confused about what love is.
Now, don't get me wrong. All due respect. Some people do fit the stereotypes. And there's nothing wrong with that if that's who they really are. But even those people are neither wiser, nor more backwards than city people. Their country life isn't all pie eating contests and county fair ribbons. True, it's not fancy. It's not always peaceful, though. They're not all sitting around in their rocking chairs, drinking lemonade and shucking corn with Grandma.
As for me and Gary, we do look at the stars a lot. It's darker here so they shine more brightly. We have a garden. It's small but there's nothing like eating fresh veggies you grew yourself. It's nice to live where traffic jams aren't a thing. Everyone waves at you when they drive by, whether they know you or not. That's a for real thing that I love about country life. So there you go. See? Some things are appreciated by city slickers and country folks alike. We're not that much different.
Life is so much better when you find common ground instead of buying into ridiculous stereotypes, you guys. After all, most stereotypes are designed to cause animosity, not bring us together. I say to each his own as long as no harm is done. And that is no bullshit. Of course, I'm not a true city slicker. I grew up in the country. I know how to look out for the pies. Then again, I'm just a country bumpkin. What do I know?
I have a lot of unpublished blog posts in my queue. You see, when I write, I straight up bleed through the keyboard. Sometimes I bleed too heavily. Maybe I get overly preachy, passionate or angry. When that happens, I put things aside to tone them down. You know, make them more “readable” and less raw me. Today I realized what a huge mistake that is.
I've been editing out the parts of me I don't particularly like. Oh sure, a lot of that comes shining through. However, when I do those edits, my readers aren't getting all of me. And that's a damn shame because the real me has a lot to offer the world.
Ya, I know. I like myself. A lot. I mean, what's not to like? I've got faults for sure. Lots of them. But overall, I'm a well intended, intuitive, intelligent person. I'm OK with me. I'm just not sure everyone else is. Which is why I have been editing the “bad” parts out. I haven't been including my whole self.
You see, I've been an overly sensitive, caretaker type my whole life. Problem is that over the years, I've gotten so deep into it that I've forgotten to take care of, accept and embrace myself. So much so that now, even my writing is more about pleasing others and less about how I really feel about things.
While I've been steadily working on and admitting to my faults in real life, I've left them out of my writing for fear of being accepted by the masses.
This is the part where my readers might laugh because they think they have gotten to know me and my crazy care-giving, empathetic, yet somewhat narcissist self quite well. But, oh my, you don't know the half of it, you guys. That's not fair is it? You're getting the watered down version of my essence. So, from now on, I'm not filtering the rawness out of my writing or my life.
So ya, I'm going to sound preachy and/or genuinely insane at times now because I am. I won't hold back my dry sense of humor. Few people understand it. Most misinterpret it. That's their issue, not mine. I won't edit out my brutally honest sarcasm or even my intermittent bouts of insanity. My grammar, sentence structure, and choice of wording? Definitely not always professional. I may switch from first to third to second person in the same post. That's how I speak. Why write differently?
Everything I am will be coming out. No holds barred. The feelings of the unfeeling will not be spared. I deserve to be me. You deserve all of me. Brace yourselves. It won't be pretty sometimes but it will be real. If you don't like parts of me, remember, it's OK. You don't have to. Some of me isn't likeable. Some of you isn't likeable either. We're all human. We work on it. We move on. We do better. Or not.
Keep in mind that the things you don't like about me may be the things I love best about me. I won't be changing those to please you. That's huge. At least for me. I always strive to be kind to everyone. I'm simply including myself for a change.
Some of you have been catering to yourselves all your lives. Or maybe you've found that perfect balance already. You may not understand how big this is for me. I'm happy for you. Really, I am. You go! But it's all new to me. This change is not about you. It's my moment, not yours. It's my life, not yours. It's my blog, not yours. It's huge for me to even think those things, let alone write them down! Oh boy.
Get ready, because ready or not, here I come. Yup.
True, I've never been a joiner type. However, I have supported many organizations. It's always a positive experience at first, then gradually disappointing. Eventually, there's a point at which I realize that because I don't agree with some of the principles the organization stands for, it's time for me to take leave of it.
No matter how well intended an organization is, some of the actions and stances it takes are bound to contradict those of individual members. This may be OK for some people, as long as the main principles of the organization are in agreement with their own. It's not OK with me. I just don't feel right belonging to or supporting organizations I don't fully agree with.
I have individual, not group beliefs and feelings. While I believe forming connections is a natural thing, I also believe that we need to connect as the individuals we are. Having our unique abilities, thoughts and strengths swallowed up and shaped by a collective defeats the purpose of completely fulfilling our intended purpose. We are all needed in different ways. Squelching our differences is counterproductive.
Even when the intended actions and principles of an organization are pure, organizations are made up of individuals, some of whom will act outside of the intent of the group. Therefore, the group image becomes very different than the original founders had envisioned. It becomes tainted, for lack of a better word. Individuals and groups mix like oil and water. It looks like a good pairing at first glance but the only way to make it last is to keep shaking things up.
Peaceful groups can turn militant when faced with violent opposition. A lot of the problems with organizations are caused by mob mentality. It's human nature to fight back when we feel threatened. It's a survival instinct. However, it's easier to control our instincts when not egged on by the angry reactions of others.
It's true there's power in numbers. However, power is not my goal. Peace and loving kindness are my goal. As for safety in numbers, I believe numbers provide a false sense of security. Real security comes from following my own peace, loving beliefs and well intended directives. The same place fulfillment comes from.
Anyway, from now on, I'll be following my own convictions and my own path. I know what I stand for and no matter the organization, none of them adhere to all the principles I agree with. Many of them stray from their intentions. Others resort to militant behavoirs in self defense. That's not what I stand for. I stand for peace. It's time for me to create some.
Truth is independent of opinion
The truth does not change because you refuse to believe in it. For instance, if there is a God, your belief or disbelief would not impact his existence either way. If climate chance is real, it will remain real even if all of mankind believed it to be a political conspiracy. So, why are we, as humans, so hell bent on convincing others that our opinion is the correct belief?
The need to be “right” stems from ego. However, there's much more to it than that, isn't there? Being perceived as “right” in our opinions and lifestyle choices is not just important to our ego. Feeling as if we are “right” impacts the decisions we make as to how we live, who we share our lives with and more. Whether or not we feel our opinions are valid shapes our lives.
What convinces us that our opinions are correct? More often than not, it's validation from other like minded people. Scientifically proven factual information would be a more accurate representation of the truth. However, the human ego sees agreement as validation. So we spend endless hours seeking that validation. Which is one reason we are more comfortable around those who agree with us.
Taking the thought further reveals the essence of herd mentality. Those who manipulate the truth to their advantage have been using herd mentality for centuries. Convincing large groups of people that their opinion is the truth serves them well. Label adherence to your creed as loyalty, faith or patriotism and people will follow blindly. Cults, religions and nations alike depend on this for their existence.
Still, it doesn't change the truth. The truth will remain accurate regardless of how many people believe it. Therefore, in some ways, convincing others of your opinion is pointless. Yet, we persist. Why? Because life is about connections. We are all connected. Hive/herd mentality has power over us because it's the basis for all life. We are drawn to it like moths to a flame.
Of course, that's just my opinion.
Waves crashing. Seagulls soaring. Sun baking. Me with my sand encrusted feet, lunging into the cool lake. There's nothing better for my heart and soul than a trip to the beach, you guys. Shhh! Don't tell, but when I get home, I don't even rinse off right away. The sand on my skin prolongs the experience.
I grew up in Northern NY. There was water everywhere. Summers were short and treasured. The beach was our entertainment and our solace. A summer without the beach was not just unheard of. It was a travesty! I literally lived for beach days.
Enter Colorado life. Don't get me wrong, you guys. I absolutely love it here. The mountains are breathtaking! Plus, there are some beaches. But they're man-made, crowded as all get out, have mind boggling weekend lines and there just aren't that many. Truth be told, there's really only one I like.
Know why I like it? White sand. Plus, it has a secret. There's a nice sandy beach there, aside from the highly trafficked swim beach that not many know about,. And if you think I'm blabbing about where it is or what it's called, you're nuts.
I'm just not myself in warm weather if I don't get to the beach on a regular basis. It touches my soul in a way I can't describe. So yesterday, when, after no beach all summer, my daughter and future son-in-law scooped me up and took me there, I was ecstatic.
I didn't even swim. Just did a little wading. Still, I came home cleansed, renewed and determined to enjoy the rest of my life. It's hard to put in words how much the beach does for me, mentally and physically. All I know is that I should never go without it for very long.
Which I had. I was way overdue.
The beach is not just my happy place. Its my refuge, my psychologist and my energy source. My essential needs are food, clothing, shelter and the beach. If only they were all in one place!
PS- Honestly, I could almost live without the others as long as I have the beach. Just not for very long. I'm OK with that. Getting old anyway. LOL
It's OK to be sad
This weekend I connected personally with the fact that you can't always be positive and that's OK. I knew that. I've walked this road before. Things do get better. Positivity helps. But this weekend was the camels back straw. It sucked big time. Anyway, I had to remind myself that it's OK to be sad. It's OK to have regrets. It's even OK to feel guilty and miserable and downright awful sometimes.
In fact, it's not just OK. Grief and sadness can be very healing. Especially if you cry your eyes out. That's a physical cleansing as well. Negativity is a necessary part of life. It prompts us to do better. Even when we've done nothing wrong, it inspires us to appreciate the good times, spend more time with those we love and not knitpick their faults or ours.
Sads can come all together in a horrid bunch of bad news. This weekend we not only lost Bobo. Ya, that's him in the picture. We also got another huge bit of bad news concerning a family member. After everything we've gone through this year with Covid, politics causing friends to leave us in the dust, people bad mouthing us for various things from supporting BLM to going vegan, it's been a real kicker.
We're broke. We're sad. We're grieving. All I want to do is put my toes in the sand and listen to the waves crash while the smell of the water permeates my soul. So, of course, yesterday, for the third time, lines were hours long at the reservoir. It figures, right? Even if we had waited in the long lines, we'd be risking our health with all the crowd on the beach. UGH!
I don't want to sound cliché' but 2020 can take a flying leap into oblivion.
Also, I've had about all the cleansing lessons that I can stand.
So today, my awesome daughter and her equally awesome boyfriend are driving out here to the boonies, picking me up and taking me to my happy place. It won't bring Bobo back. It won't change anything. However, this morning, we will hopefully beat the lines, crowds and throngs, head for the semi-secret portion of the reservoir and enjoy a different kind of cleansing.
I'm glad I'm sad. I'll never be glad about the reasons. But now I have a chance to pause, reflect and move on to better things, however slowly. Because of the sadness, I'll try to be more diligent and observant with everything. I'll treasure my loved ones a little more. I'll be more willing to accept their imperfections, as well as my own.
I will let myself cry, pout and feel guilty just for a bit. Then I'll take that hard lesson and use it to live a better life.
It's not just OK to be sad, it's necessary.
I know your guru told you to inhale the good stuff and exhale the bad stuff. Your guru was wrong. If you're constantly hoarding all the good for yourself and polluting the world with the noxious fumes, the world's going to become a pretty nasty place.
It's like tossing all your trash in a heap in your backyard. It never really goes away. The pile just gets bigger and smellier. Pretty soon, people start stepping in it, sliding around and spreading it everywhere.
Negative energy released into the world multiplies. So what the heck do you do? Inhale the negative, exhale the positive? Well, not exactly. Taking in all that negativity and letting it fester inside you is equally counter-productive.
Luckily, there's a better way. You have the power to create so much positivity within yourself that it smothers any negativity you might take in from the outside world. In fact, you can create your own super positive aura that not only heals you, but everyone around you.
We all know people who seem to emit positivity. Their enthusiasm for life is contagious, isn't it? They make your day brighter just by being present, don't they? How do they do it? It's actually quite simple.You can do it too, even if you're not an especially happy person.
Start by focusing on all the good you encounter. Find the bright side. Seek out the small things like the sound of laughter. Good is everywhere. If you can't find any, look to your happy memories.
Let those positive feelings wash over you until you're literally bursting with joy. Then, instead of pumping out negativity, you actually emit waves of virtual sunshine into the world around you.
So, stop exhaling your negativity all over everyone. Instead, create a little happiness. Exhale that. Don't worry. You can always make more. You have the power to make the world brighter! Use it!
I realize this is a touchy subject. So, right up front, let me say that I would never attack anyone's personal beliefs. The following is my opinion based on my own personal journey and experiences that I'm sharing here. I don't expect everyone to agree with me. Just hoping it might help some folks.
Humans have spent centuries searching the reason for our very existence. Thousands upon thousands of religions and dynasties have risen and fallen in search of the truth. And still, some are searching with no way of knowing they're on the right path until they leave this existence behind.
I have come to understand that there is no eternity. The evidence is clear. We are just beautiful animals, like all the other beings we share this wondrous planet with. I have accepted that there is no after-life paradise where all my deceased loved ones will be waiting for me. Rather than “Letting go and Letting God” I have placed my burdens and consequences squarely on my own shoulders where they belong.
I believe that this is the only life I will have. It is limited, not eternal. As a result, I have embarked on a journey toward a more compassionate, truth filled existence. I don't have all the time in the world. So, I'm making better use of the time I do have.
Here's what has happened to me on a spiritual level as a result of these beliefs:
I feel at complete peace with my current life choices.
I have accepted my own faults and work on them daily.
I have forgiven myself for past mistakes and re-focused on the present.
I have stopped worrying about inconsequential disputes and material things.
Life has become more precious.
Time has become more precious.
Loved ones have become more precious.
Everything in my life has become sacred.
I have become even more focused on living life to the fullest in the kindest manner possible. Connecting with the truth, rather than living a comforting lie or waiting for a savior to rescue me has brought me true peace.
Once again, I only have so much time. I plan to use it well. I'm human and imperfect but my intent is to live a life of understanding and kindness. I'm learning to stifle my ego and think with my heart. I'm rejecting any behaviors that do not come from a place of unconditional love.
For me, the ultimate peace came when I saw myself and others in all our glorious human imperfection. I accepted reality and started living a life filled with humble compassion. Being at peace inside myself enables me to get through just about anything.
I would never be so egotistical as to suggest everyone believe as I do. I'm just a flawed human who has found some answers. Still, I hope you live a compassionate life that brings you joy and contentment.
Even 2020 is no match for a soul at peace.
by Jeanne Frost; Featured Contributor
Oh my gosh, you guys. Some vegan junk food is absolutely delicious. For instance, vegan ice cream is so much tastier than dairy ice cream. Vegan hot dogs are so scrumptiously guilt free. Plus, I get to slather them in relish, mustard or whatever. The list goes on. However, if I'm honest, vegan junk is still junk in most cases. I have to disconnect with the bad stuff.
Hey, I gave up cheese, you guys. If I can do that, as integrated as it was in my life, I got this.
Wait! If vegan junk food is so delicious and it doesn't harm animals, why give it up? Argh, because I know the truth, of course. Darn truth, always tripping me up. Why must I be so conscientious? It's a curse, I tell you.
I'm vegan for the other animals, the planet and my own health. Processed vegan junk food signifies lost connections, no matter which of those I focus on. It isn't good for me, other animals or the planet. It's slightly better than “regular” junk food, in that it was never a living being. Otherwise, it's not much different. Processed vegan junk food is just another disconnect in my opinion.
Eating whole, unaltered foods in their natural state will always be healthier than any diet. Nature knows best.
Processed food is processed food. Vegan or otherwise, it's not good for my health or anyone else's. Even when all the ingredients are natural, the process of combining them creates waste and uses more natural resources than simply eating the ingredients themselves.
Some processed vegan food contains added ingredients to make it sweeter, saltier, more flavorful, creamier or a certain texture. Sometimes those ingredients are just as healthy as the main ingredients. Still, most of the time, these fillers are decidedly unhealthy.
Plus, processing food takes longer, uses more resources and increases pollution. Eating local, whole foods is so much less wasteful. A healthier environment means healthier animals, human or otherwise.
I'm not a perfect vegan you guys. It took me a long time just to get this far. I'll likely indulge in vegan ice cream from time to time. I might even have a smothered vegan hot dog on the 4th of July. Maybe I'll make a vegan birthday cake once a year.
Still, I'm giving up eating vegan junk food on the daily. It's a step above “normal” junk food. However, it's not entirely good for my health, the planet and consequently, other beings I share it with.
Wish me luck on this next step up the sustainable life mountain!
Jeanne Frost writes about her naturally connected life journey, passions, views and interests.