Maya Angelou ~ April 4, 1928, St. Louis, MO ~ May 28, 2014, Winston-Salem, NC

Maya Angelou ~ April 4, 1928, St. Louis, MO ~ May 28, 2014, Winston-Salem, NC

This week, one of my hero’s passed on.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Statement from Dr. Maya Angelou’s Family:

Dr. Maya Angelou passed quietly in her home before 8:00 a.m. EST. Her family is extremely grateful that her ascension was not belabored by a loss of acuity or comprehension. She lived a life as a teacher, activist, artist and human being. She was a warrior for equality, tolerance and peace. The family is extremely appreciative of the time we had with her and we know that she is looking down upon us with love.

Guy B. Johnson

My favorite F word

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 So, what are you studying?

Me: women’s studies

Oh…. does that mean your a feminist?

Me: yeah. I’d like to think so.

Oh.. (let the judgement begin).

  Angry.     Lesbians.     Hair legs.

Superiority over men.    Hating men.

Trying to
throw out every tradition.

Anti feminine.   Against lipstick.

Crazy.    Egotistical.   Excluding groups.

Anti stay at home mom.

Against dating chivalrous men.

Pointless, angry picketing.

Rejection of female characteristics.

Annihilation of gender.

Feminism: this is not actually what the word means for everyone.

I like men. I like men so much that I am dating one. And I even want to be married. I have come across so many people asking me why I am a feminist if I have a child and want to be married. Why would I want both?

I want to hit people with my textbooks sometimes. I hope that if I hit them hard enough, some influential advocates and writers words will imprint their brains.

Permanently.

But instead, I smile and explain what it means to me. What careers I aspire to go for. And what feminists have influenced me. If they want to walk away confused or in disbelief, so be it.

I find it interesting when the topic of feminism comes up among friends. They all want to give input but many don’t back anything up with real history or facts. Some don’t know my major or beliefs and so they crack jokes, looking to be for approval or fuel for the fire. They knock it or make fun of the way “feminists” act. Some do understand what the word means but dare not relate to it.

They don’t want to be identified with it.

Maybe its fear. Or ignorance.

I think a big problem is lack of education. And having too much privilege without understanding how they are able to live the way they do. For me, it seems that every day perspectives around me are narrow. My major and the education I’m being provided with allows me to see things in a whole. A large perspective.

I understand the struggles women deal with every day. Blindly.

I have struggled a lot when trying to be who I am in a society that is hell bent on narrow standards. As a young woman, I have to constantly adhere to a certain way of speaking, thinking, looking and appearing. I am supposed to as Adrienne Rich defined it, “play the part”.

I felt like a performer most of my life. I should behave the way a lady should. And abandon my strong will. Be quiet and obedient. Dress appropriate and never defy men. Not my father, my grandfather, nor my uncle or brother. I shall find a husband to obey too. Maybe get some education. A job in a woman’s field. That’s the life.

I have grown up on conflicting music lyrics and media messages, giving me a false sense of hope in the term modest. Why be modest or virtuous when men sing and obsess over my breasts. My ass cheeks in a tight skirt and leather thigh boots I will never afford but so desperately have wanted in order to fit in with those popular girls in high school. Fashion changes so much during adolescence because of a constant hunger to fit in.

I need to fit in.

I need to be sexy. And wanted. But not easy. I can be alluring but sexy too easily means loose. Floosy. A whore. Stay away from those whores. They are trouble. No, you have to be a middle girl. Someone who is not fake, but fake enough to have a click (popularity). I must be sexy but not too sexy (or else I’ll be the school whore or end up pregnant). Buy those expensive jeans that everyone has. Steal them if you have to. Too fat? Binge and purge. Don’t eat at all. Live off of gum. Do what you gotta do.

Or kiss your highschool life goodbye.

No matter what, I always felt trapped. I always felt like I was pressed to please but couldn’t. My breasts were too big. Or not big enough. I wanted to fit in one day and stand out the next.

My decision to have my baby at 16 was majorly life altering.  Even then, I saw sexism in the works. I was removed from finishing my junior year in my town high school. Being three months pregnant was deemed too dangerous for my (their) wellbeing (reputation). My own father could not handle being a father to her only daughter. My ex bailed shortly after learning I was carrying a girl.

The reality of how men and women are raised is more and more obvious to me every day. In raising a little girl, I see the struggles I faced sometimes repeating for her. What I am thankful for is my awareness.

Feminism to me, is advocating. Its having awareness. Using your education and resources in order to make life more equal for men and women. To stop the objectification of women. To give voice to the many girls that are abused, neglected, raped, or killed because they are not able to fight back. Because they are women.

I want my daughter to feel value and self worth. Not to define it by the length of her denim skirt or the color hair she desires to have. Not by the size of her bra or the amount of guys that want her. I want her to understand her body. To not feel ashamed of her anatomy or what can be done/not done to it. To understand the dangers of assault and rape as well as how to defend herself. I want her to not just feel like she is strong and able but to learn about many people around the world who aren’t. To be educated in how other countries live and behave. Modesty means appreciating your privileges, not exploiting others for what they lack.
 

feministingmama

Steady heartbeats

Nothing ever made more sense
Than to imagine the leaves blow
To feel the rush in the wind
And let all my worries go

Nothing ever felt more right
Than dreaming of the seas
Thinking of a better place
Of where I’m meant to be

Tossing and turning in my sleep
I was pressed for time
And eager to leave
Muffling out the noises of screams
As she sank deeper and heavier
Into disease

Clock was ticking
Night was falling
And the footsteps got lighter
As she fell to her knees
My escape was drawing nearer
My anticipation peaked

Shuffling through the darkened hall
Finding ways to cheat the creaks
Hoping my heartbeat would silence
Enough to tame the beast
Holding breathe and streaming tears
Almost found the light

And just like rebirth
Out of the cage
The pavement led me
Far away
Knowing anywhere is
Safe to hide
Rather to be alone
Than stuck inside

Fly away doll
Fly far away from home
She can no longer hurt you
Your out on your own.

feministingmama

Lunchtime success!

  I am really proud of my planning and research of recipes for my daughters kindergarten lunches. Although I had a lot of things to get done, I am glad i was able to get the Tupperware and groceries needed to make the ideas I found off pinterest and recipes.com. I can now say I followed through on my own plans, rather than spitting out ideas and never bothering there after. Its very easy to do that!

  I was able to get the silicone cups for her lunches as well as a thermos and containers she can open herself (thankgod I thought of that). I love how her lunches look all sectioned out. I have been trying to make smaller portions with bigger selection to help watch her diet and nutrition. Of course I have to pack fun snacks but I like to add a variety of fruits and veggies to her diet. Kids are so darn picky and she’s getting to the age where other kids influence her thought on her once favorite things. (We all know what that’s like).

  I have been sneaky and creative by getting her to eat foods with hidden veggies. It actually works. We are pretty plain eaters. I do not like to put syrup, dressings or heavy cream on or in anything. We eat plain waffles with fruit or plain pancakes because I put peanutbutter or chocolate chips inside. We also do not use ketchup or mustard ever. (Gasp). We don’t add much salt or pepper to things.

  I’m kind of boring in the condiment department. But I do love adding a few ingredients to everything. I love almonds, honey and vanilla extract. I also love cinnamon and nutmeg. I add those things to many common recipes to add variety. I am excited because I tried out a new mini muffin recipe that is really good so far. Introducing the newest flavor combo:

   Chocolate chip squash muffins!

1 Gerber baby food squash container.
1 mix of Betty crocker muffins
1/2 cup water (just add a tad less water)
1 teaspoon honey
1 sprinkle of cinnamon

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I thought about adding some other types of vegetable puree but squash seemed like a good experimental flavor. You can use a whole grain or oatmeal muffin mix as well. Also, honey is just a favorite of ours and it makes it sweet enough to hide the veggie flavor. I couldn’t get my daughter away from the batter.

  

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   I am excited to try more veggie muffins this week. I have decided to use paper cups and then freeze four or six at a time in Tupperware. I originally tried zip lock which was stupid because they stick together. By freezing it, I can defrost small amounts and stick one or two in her lunch box to add some variety.

  

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  So far I am creative and on a roll! She loved her lunch today and helped me pack tomorrows! Ideas are always welcome so please post to me if you have awesome recipe suggestions!

       

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Yum!

feministingmama

Pushing yourself

  We have all been there. That point where we wonder what went wrong. We blame actions and events of others. And don’t want to take responsibility for our wrongs.. its easier to not account for your actions, right? Its easier to push people who oppose to your choices away, and ignore seeing what you have done wrong. The more we become used to not fixing small problems, the bigger trenches we dig into the major issues.

  How is it that we sometimes choose the wrong things, even knowing the consequences could be awful? Do we owe ignorance to curiosity or a lack of guilt of failure? Why do some people choose to be in relationships or positions where they will end up like others predicted? Sometimes we are so stubborn we want to learn for ourselves, right?

  Well go ahead. Make some mistakes. Make some bad choices. Stick with some bad people. And refuse to fix your bad habits. What will that lead to? They say if you do something twenty one times in a row, it becomes a habit. How many things do you do a day, for years even, that attribute to your failures?

  I am thankful that I had addict parents. I am thankful some of the people I knew growing up that struggled with addictions and deep seeded problems as well. I was lucky to not go down the same road. People remind me of that all the time. Especially after hearing how I was raised. It is true that education sets you free. Examples do as well. After seeing someone deteriorate from the inside out, someone I loved and looked up to, I wanted no connection to alcohol or drugs. I wanted to be informed and understand the way bad choices affected health and well being. The more I understood, the more I moved away from those things.

I see people make bad choices a lot even after being educated about the truth. After seeing how men are in past relationships, women still choose to pursue relations hoping to change them. I have seen adult children choose to pursue redemption for their parents and try to build relationships with broken people who are incapable of having a healthy relationship. It also happens in friendships. Trying to fix trust is like building a bridge out of shredded wood. The bond becomes weak and the foundation is forever changed.

I do not claim to be perfect nor do I know the formula for world peace. I will say that from wanting to be educated and make better choices, I have made better relationships and become a better person. I have put focus on the important things in my life and shed the things that held me down. I have chosen to erase certain people from my life that were not able to progress. It was a lost cause to expect anything different from people who did not want to change.

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over but expecting different results.

I have lived with real crazy people. I choose to move forward and meet my own expectations, not become what everyone’s low expectations wanted me to be.

feministingmama

Diving into feminism and kindergarten!

  Today went as magically as could be imagined. My daughter loved school and cannot wait to get back tomorrow to her classroom. I was so proud that she ran onto the bus, until she gave me no hug and left like I was invisible. One point for independence. I so needed the tissues more than her. Independence is good though. It means I did everything right. Being a single mother for the past five and a half years has served me right. She needs me a little less. That’s what parents should be. Support and encouragement towards becoming self sufficient. Although I will never be able to imagine a time when we have to part, I am so proud at the reality of my daughter having to move forward with her life. Every tiny step she takes on her own, from her first steps to the steps onto the bus today, she is becoming herself. A person with dreams, inspirations and a desire to grow.

  I am so inspired by the feminists I am reading currently into in all of my courses. It is really amazing to be able to apply my studies to my life. To actually use what I am learning to shape my own life and experiences. No thanks to square dancing or calculus, I am not earning a relative career in those topics. I am not earning a degree in applied math or science. I will not be studying anything mind numbing like some of the courses I was forced to take in early public school. I am proud to have hand selected and earned my position in my field. I hope to luck out and find my career after becoming a graduate student. I truly believe that through praying and focusing, I have been led to the best directions for myself. So far, all my courses have further educated me to a direct interest. I have almost solved the age old question, “what do I want to be when I grow up?”

  I think that writers like Wollstonecraft and Beauvoir had great points about how women were treated as an “other” or “unbeing” in society. What’s worrisome to me are the many women around me who choose to be inferior and grounded in their lives. I feel like women are so afraid of taking on the responsibility to become more.

  Although I am proud to be a mother as well as a sole provider for my household, I know that it is a hard to juggle and keep up. Not many girls are willing to juggle a child along with their studies and a job. I also think a current problem that is digressing the progress of women is many uneducated people choose to hold their own success back. I do not think that becoming a mother is a setback by any means. My motherhood journey is what launched my success and my drive grew stronger with becoming responsible for another person. I grew into my multiple roles. It is never easy and I do have times where I feel the weight of my juggle act. But its liberating. I enjoy that I am able to have all the experiences and benefits that I do. I have them because I chose to pursue everything. I get scholarships and aid because I have learned how to form relationships with colleagues and professors enough to get recommendations. I have also learned to apply my skills and better my weaknesses. As I mature, I continue to grow and expand my knowledge of the world around me. I am not the same person I would have been had I not had my daughter.

What bothers me are the people who choose to do nothing. No mental stimulation or personal growth. People who choose to be stuck how they are. For years or sometimes forever. What the problem with doing nothing is, is that those who do nothing change nothing. You do not help out your peers in any struggle when attributing to the causes. When you ignore problems or live in cycles of oppression, you encourage it to exist. When you do nothing to support your peers as humankind, you cause gender divide. Society is structured with dichotomies of relationships, caused by resistance to change. It becomes a problem when we raise our children to be racist, sexist and ignorant out of a lack of desire to change our ways. Its selfish. And lazy.

  One thing I do to support changing the way I was raised is to reinforce equality and positive images in the lessons I teach my child. I make sure I explain family structures and love in a variety of ways. I teach her that love is love, regardless of sexual orientation. I teach her that gender differences is nothing but the difference of genitalia, not in her looks or ability to succeed. I highlight all of her characteristics. Without telling her she is boyish or girlish. Its a constant effort on my part to watch my language, verbal and non verbal, as well as what I choose to give her. I select what films we view and I think about the kind of stories I tell her. I care about how she feels. What she thinks. And I support her to progress in whatever she loves. (Unless its something like destroying my homework). I take pride in my choices. Seriously. Because those choices are making my child who she is.

I have taken my daughter on my campus many times as well as to my classes. We have also been attending different organizations since she was a year old. I have been involved I. Student government, the school paper and have worked hard to help change my colleges to be more family (kid) friendly. I have been stared at. I have pushed limits. I have asked questions others dared to. And pressed for changes others never bothered to ask for. Out of their comfort or ignorance. I have taken a few years to realize I am so made for my field that I was meant to be where I am.

Its pretty great to feel like you belong. Like something in you just feels at home with your choices. When I am in my classrooms, although anxiety of homework rattles my brain, I am excited to learn. I do not take for granted any of the privledges I have in my life. Its important to be thankful. Above all, I am tired of people blaming others for their short comings or failures.

I’ll let you in on a little secret. If you aren’t happy with your life, change it. You can shape your life based on your choices.

When you feel something is not right or you work so hard to make something wrong feel right, it may be time to move on. And when you choose to give up on your dreams, you are to blame.

If you wont even try, you lack ambition, not options.

feministingmama