The Eye(lashe)s Have It

Few things haunt me more than my desire to have eyelashes that are actually visible to the outside world. Superficial? Maybe, but I don’t care. I love makeup and I love they way it can transform my entire outlook. Sometimes, all a girl needs to turn a crap day around is some bright lipstick (or lip stain, if you’re like me), a good mascara and a latte.

This look features:
Younique primer, liquid foundation in Organza, Moodstruck Addiction Palette 2, Moodstruck brow pencil & gel in Medium, 3D Fiber Lashes, lipstain in Skittish.
It Cosmetics: Bye Bye Redness & Bye Bye Undereye
Burberry: Effortless Eyeliner in black

Where Does This Leave Me?

I’ve never been one to surround myself with a gaggle of girlfriends.

I’ve never been good at making friends or keeping in touch.

I’ve always been better on my own.

I’ve always found peace in my own inner chaos.

These are the side effects of being an overly sensitive introvert. I thrive in the silence of a good book and feed my soul through music. I get lost in characters and, usually, my own thoughts. The time I spend in my car driving to and from work is more often than not the most relaxing part of my day. In those 45-60 minutes I am no one to no one. I am not an employee or a co-worker. I am not a wife or a mother. I am not a friend or a foe. I am just me. I can get lost in the road or a song or an audiobook. It’s the only time I am truly unplugged and able to recharge.

Since November 8 I feel as though I’ve slipped further and further into the introverted habits I find comfort in and am finding that they are providing less and less comfort as the world around me falls apart. I have found myself desperate for conversation with like-minded people – I crave it some days. There are days I don’t speak to anyone other than my husband and my toddler (this is partially a side effect of working in a small office with few employees and a total of zero that ever leave their caves). Those are the days I crave outside conversation the most.

Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, I have lost contact with the handful of friends I did have – some by choice, some by accident. Fortunate because many of these friends cast their vote for the POTUS causing the world around me to crumble and unfortunate because I’ve lost the few people I felt comfortable talking to, even if we didn’t agree. Some days, like today, I miss them and I miss having a safety net to share my thought with. Other days go by in a blur and I don’t notice their absence.

Lately I’ve found some solace in a few groups of like-minded people – the women of the Nasty Women Project and the voices of The Resistance on Twitter. But these conversations are typically limited to 140 characters or the other constraints of social media. They also tend to care a little less about my personal experience and they rarely know my backstory, nor do they care to.

Where does this leave little introverted me?

Gloria Steinem: My Life on the Road

Gloria Steinem’s name is one I’ve heard most of my life – from my mother, from the news, from other political leaders and activists – but, until I read , I didn’t really understand who she is. I knew she was a powerful voice and force during the women’s movement and I also knew she was still active in organizing and campaigning. What I didn’t know?

How powerful her words were.

In My Life on the Road, Steinem doesn’t just tell her story, but she also tells the stories of the people who influenced and impacted her throughout her life. She weaves these stories into lessons of American history, whether intentional or not. In this collection of life experiences and personal stories, she brings these often static moments to life – from Vietnam to Civil Rights to the assassinations of JFK and Bobby Kennedy.

These stories made me laugh out loud, but many brought me to tears. The courage and fight held in these pages showcases the very spirit of America … and they are just the words we need to hear right now. Steinem reminded me that We, The People, have the power to use our voices and our actions to enact real, impactful change.

It’s Not Guilt, It’s Humanity

Reducing my demand for equality to what you refer to as “white guilt” proves only one thing: you don’t understand what equality means.

e·qual·i·ty
əˈkwälədē/
noun
  1. the state of being equal, especially in status, rights, and opportunities.

By definition, equality itself removes the added barrier of so-called “white guilt.” In a society with true equality, which the United States has not achieved, the lines of race, sex, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation, etc. simply do not exist and nullify the argument that a desire for equality is caused by an underlying feeling of guilt. In reality, guilt exists in the absence of equality.

I don’t fight for and stand up for equality because of guilt, I do it because it is right. As human beings, we should all start with the same chances and our shot at success and happiness should not be tied to definitions beyond our control. Further, as human beings we should see beyond the physical characterizations as we look to our fellow persons. We shouldn’t use the things we see as a way to persecute or judge others.

That’s not to say that privileges don’t exist for those born looking and believing a certain way – until we have true equality, privilege is a reality. And, recognizing this privilege is a crucial component of achieving equality. Until we can see and admit to the injustices caused by this privilege and inequality, we cannot expect to ever move forward. Recognizing this isn’t symptom of guilt, it’s a side effect of being observant to the world around you.

We are all in this together, whether we like it (or each other) or not.

What are we Fighting for?

Reading through 45’s budget proposal is like taking a punch in the gut. Putting America first should be about putting Americans first and that isn’t done by cutting funding for programs that millions of our most vulnerable depend on.

My career is in restaurant marketing and much of my business and people experience is in this arena, so it’s nearly impossible for me not to draw parallels between what I see inside our four walls and the outside world. My reaction to this “America First” budget was no different.

In the restaurant industry, as with any other service-based industry that employs minimum wage workers, the best way to engage and motivate your employees to perform is by supporting them – you lift them up and encourage them. What doesn’t work? Overworking and underpaying them while taking away the few things that make their jobs enjoyable. Every company aims to provide a fun and safe work environment. Why? Because it improves morale, which in turn improves productivity. That’s how you drive the bottom line.

These proposed budget cuts would do exactly those things that don’t work – they take away programs aimed at providing Americans with the most basic of needs on Maslow’s hierarchy – food, shelter, security. Without these most basic physiological needs, humans cannot be productive members of society. If you’re hungry and worried about where your next meal is coming from, you cannot study or work. You cannot be productive at work or school if you don’t have proper shelter or a place to rest and feel safe.

There are certain people that will scream that these people in need should just pull themselves up by their bootstraps and work harder. But, these people lack a basic understanding of humanity – if you do not have boots, you cannot pull yourself up by your bootstraps.

When Intelligence Fails Them

Since November, I’ve become far more vocal and outspoken on social media. I’ve joined the millions of voices in The Resistance and I’ve not been shy about sharing my thoughts and opinions. With this newfound voice, I’ve also found myself on the receiving end of countless trolls and incessant personal attacks and insults.

As you can see from the screenshot, their favorite target for their insults: my eyebrows. Seriously. My eyebrows.  I’ll admit that at first it bothered me. Why the heck are these people who hide behind Twitter eggs and avatars so offended by my eyebrows? Then I realized why their first instinct is to insult. Well, one of two reasons – 1.) They’re own insecurities cause them to pick apart others, or, 2.) They don’t like what I have to say but have nothing intelligent to add.

Their second favorite “insult” is to call me a man in drag. Why? I am guessing it is because I wear makeup. But, here’s the problem with their insult – Drag Queens are phenomenal at makeup application and are typically flawless. As a makeup geek, this is more of a compliment than an insult.

Why do I share this?

Mainly to communicate that it’s not okay to personally attack others when you don’t agree with them. I do my best to not stoop to this level and, for the most part, I am don’t. When I get comments like this, I typically respond with a cute GIF and a “Thank you!” I do this for two reasons – to let them know their insults don’t bother me and to discourage negativity. If I can take their mean spirited comments and turn them into something positive, perhaps I can better spread the message I am trying to spread.

But, I also share this to show the world just how much shit women put up with. Our opinions, thoughts, ideas and value are often reduced to our appearance. As if we can’t have anything of value to add if the audience doesn’t appreciate our looks. Further, it is also assumed that any woman speaking her mind is fair game for attacks on her appearance or comments on what she is wearing. This is simply not true.

Under the platinum blonde hair (yes, it’s dyed and no, I don’t really care whether you like it or not), behind the makeup and contouring,  underneath the eyebrows and beyond the layer or two of fat lies a human being with a brain, an education, a career and a family. Those last things are what I’d rather be judged on … not the physical.

Dear Sen. Corker & Sen. Alexander

This morning I awoke to the news that you voted to remove the protections of those with pre-existing conditions. As a woman with asthma, I spent much of my twenties without access to inhalers and preventative medicine. I’d often find myself scrounging change for OTC medicines that made my heart race and rarely solved the problem. Now, as a mother of an 18 month old son recently diagnosed with asthma, I am terrified for the future. Just last month, we spent two nights in the hospital watching him struggling to breath. We had to hold him down and force him to breath in albuterol from a nebulizer. We listened to his lungs fighting to breath – the wheezing loud enough to be heard over the noise of a busy hospital. His chest rising and falling with so much force as he struggled that the skin around his neck collapsed with every breath.

My son, 18 months old, doesn’t understand what is going on. But, he knows that Mama and Dada are there and they are going to make this all better. I fear with the removal of these protections, that we will not.

We are fortunate to have wonderful, affordable insurance through my husband’s employer and we have the financial means to purchase this insurance. A luxury we do not take for granted, but it is also a luxury that we could lose at any time. In the event that happens, my son and myself could be denied coverage or driven into a dire financial situation as we are gouged with insurance rates. Or worse, forced to chose between putting food on the table and buying an overpriced inhaler from American pharmacies at a rate 10 or 20 times what our Canadian family members pay. Why? So the cat can get fatter.

I’d love to send you a photo of my son and the millions of children just like him. Or the children who survived cancer or are diagnosed with diabetes. Or my photo or one of the millions of moms just like me. Or the mother fighting breast cancer. We fight every single day to provide the basic needs to our families only to watch wealthy businessmen and pork barreled senators laugh and gloat as the pull back the healthcare we so desperately need. We elected you into office so you could represent and protect us, and yet, you throw us to the wolves.

As you continue your fight to rip healthcare from millions of Americans, I ask that you think about the faces of the children of Tennessee – the ones you just told they don’t matter. Can you look them in the eyes and tell them their health isn’t worth a second thought? Can you look their mothers and fathers in the eye and tell them the lobbyists and their PACs loaded with campaign contributions are more valuable than the life of their child?

As you go to sleep tonight and close your eyes, I hope you see all of our faces. I hope you know that we are watching and paying attention. We see your votes and we are holding you accountable.

Paul Ryan: The Way Forward

I live in a self-created liberal bubble. I have intentionally surrounded myself with like minded or a-political friends, with few exceptions. Rarely do I seek out those with thoughts different from my own, unless I am looking to prove a point or start a debate.

After the disaster that was 2016, I realized I needed to expand my horizons and widen my thought bubble. In doing so, I sought out to find a book that was from a current thought leader on the Right. I chose Paul Ryan because I cannot stomach a Donald Trump book. While I know Ryan is not a true representation of Trump’s Republican party, he is a leader and one I would consider to be more representative of the Conservative way of thinking.

My goal was to listen to this book with an open mind to gain insight into Ryan and the Conservative agenda. I knew there would be liberal bashing and expected harsh words on President Obama. I was not disappointed. However, I was disappointed in the tone taken. The criticism of President Obama was done in a manner that appeared to be whining. He called POTUS a bully and a heartless politician pushing an agenda, which isn’t unique to POTUS. Ryan didn’t come across as a man offering constructive criticism of the president. Instead, he sounded like a child whose big brother didn’t let him ride along on his date.

Digging deeper into the book, Ryan did address the Conservative agenda and provide his ideas for solutions. A common theme, privatization. Rather than work to fix government institutions and alleviate the bureaucratic problems, his goal would be to have all government agencies and citizen safety nets outsourced to private companies – education, Social Security, Medicare, Healthcare, etc. I don’t disagree with his assessment of the issues we face, but I don’t agree with his shortsighted approach to solving them. We cannot, as a society, in good conscious send all of our public programs to private entities where profit will become the driving factor. Our citizens deserve better.

Herein lies the key difference in the Right and the Left. The Right focuses first on finances and second on people. The Left focuses first on people and second on finances. Which one is the correct way to run our country? The answer isn’t a clear cut right or left answer and we have to find balance. Ryan discusses this in his book, but in doing so he asserts that the Conservative agenda is the only clear choice to solving America’s issues. He doesn’t seek to understand the Left and he doesn’t care to incorporate its beliefs and values into his plans.

Ryan is also a devout Catholic and he inserts his beliefs very heavily into the book. I feel he may have missed the separation of Church and State portion of the Constitution. And that whole First Amendment piece on freedom of religion. I can respect a man’s beliefs, but I cannot respect his desire to impose those beliefs on a free nation.

My final takeaway -Ryan is clear in his mission, push the Conservative agenda at all costs. He does not believe Liberals have anything to offer. He does clearly have a passion for his country, but falls short on compassion for people. He talks about the poor and minorities in an abstract way. He brags about going out on tours to visit poor cities and talk to the poor. His solutions are about bringing back the dignity of work and he does address the issues that for some, getting ahead isn’t as simple as pulling up your bootstraps. But those rare moments of understanding are overshadowed by his simplistic solution of privatization.

I still have a great deal of work to do on expanding my bubble. I often found myself arguing with the narrator. Listening to Ryan’s book was step one. Step two is researching some of the works he referenced as the guiding principles of the Conservative movement.

Cory Booker: United

My post election hangover/funk deepened a little as I dove into Bernie’s book. I wanted to continue my path down political awareness, but also wanted something inspiring and positive. Enter Cory Booker – the eternally positive US Senator from New Jersey. I’ve followed him on Facebook for a few years and his posts are always a bright spot in the sea of news and depression.

His book did not disappoint.

Booker grew up in a solid middle class family with both him mom and dad. They fought to buy a home in a white suburb in New Jersey so he and his brother could attend good schools and his parents could commute to their jobs at IBM. He went on to get an Ivy League education and became a lawyer. His faith and personal beliefs led him to a desire to work in an impoverished community where he could make a difference.

His book details the stories of his experiences living in Brick Towers in Newark, his journey into politics and to the US Senate. The stores, while originating in Newark, are not unique to the city. All across America, minorities and those living in poverty face these realities on a daily basis. Booker offers insights and hope through his passion for helping others. He weaves in some politics as he discusses his ideas for solutions, but the majority of the book is nonpartisan, as we can all relate to and see the need to address these struggles facing Americans of all walks of life.

At times, the stories brought me to tears. But, Booker always brought hope back into the fold, not matter how depressing or solemn the story. Booker is the kind of politician America needs – passionate but pragmatic. He is idealistic, but he also takes and calls for action – a thinker and a doer. He sees people for who they are and his desire to help isn’t just a facade, it is genuine.

One Sided Bias

As humans we have a vested interest in being right. It’s why we argue. We are willing to lose loved ones and friends in order to prove ourselves to be right. Wars are fought and people die over desires to be right. An extreme example, perhaps. But, when you boil every disagreement down to its most basic beginning the root cause is always right versus wrong. Opinion or fact doesn’t really matter because when someone so strongly believes they are right, they cannot see reason and there is little that can be done to persuade them otherwise.

This is one of my shortcomings. Much of my beliefs and opinions are ones I hold dear and will fight tooth and nail to defend. Many of these are based in science and proven facts, but many are also strictly opinions (like the fact that Pumpkin Spice is an abomination).

After this election I have come to see that this one-sided approach to life and politics is detrimental to our country and to myself. Why? Because we are slowly working our way towards divides and wounds that cannot be bridged or healed.

My fundamental understanding and perception of Right vs. Left is this … the Left has deep concern for human beings and the Right has deep concern for money. A simplistic view, absolutely. But, every disagreement on policy that I have had with the Right has boiled down to this: I would argue the benefits to mankind and Americans and they would argue the impact it had on their wallets.

I may be naive, but I truly want to believe that the Right is not as callous as this perception has led me to believe. So, my challenge to myself is to learn and to understand where the Right is coming from. To put aside my personal biases and listen to their core beliefs and values. I’ve taken the time to do this with the Left, but not with the Right. It is far easier to stomach beliefs you agree with than to digest those with which you do not.

The first step I am taking is to listen to Paul Ryan’s audio book, A Better Way. Once I wrap up Cory Booker’s United, I’ll be submitting my ears and time to Paul Ryan. The challenge will be to listen with an open mind.

Now, I know Paul Ryan isn’t the end all be all of the Right, but it’s a start and I am open to book recommendations. Leave yours in the comments.