Summer of Health and Fitness Week 4

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From last Wednesday til yesterday, I was on vacation. My family and I went to Galveston for a day and Corpus Christi for 4 days.

Since I couldn’t cook, dieting came down to controlling how much I ate. I drank more Slurpees than I usually did and because of my allergies, I couldn’t just order a salad everywhere I went. (The problem with restaurant salads is that they put stuff there that I might be allergic to, like peanuts, croutons, or stuff I never ate before. #foodallergyproblems.) In spite of not really being in control of what I ate, I still managed to stick to my diet. 

Here’s a tip: If you’re eating out, don’t eat the whole plate. Eat a portion and share the rest or save some for later. 

If there’s anything I learned from my vacation, it’s that if you want to stick to your diet and exercise plan, have courage. Don’t be afraid to eat out! Just be smart about it. At the same time, don’t be anxious when you treat yourself to Slurpees or Italian Ices. When you get back home, you can return to your regular diet/exercise and everything will balance out.

If you’re planning on traveling this summer, make sure your hotel has a good gym. Even the smallest fitness room usually do fine. I worked out for 30 minutes on the elliptical machine 2x during my vacation. The rest of my exercise consisted of a lot of walking, whether it was on the beach or browsing around antique stores. Do a lot of walking on your vacation, but keep the weather in mind. Nothing wrong with doing a long walk inside a museum on a hot day! 

I’m gonna end this blog post with a recipe for my new favorite food: Tuna and guac tacos! This is perfect for anyone who’s gluten-free.

Ingredients:

  • 1 small haas avocado (or 3 if you’re cooking for 4 people)
  • 1 small (4″ diameter) corn tortilla. (I got a store brand.) 
  • 1/2-1 whole yellow onion, diced (Depends on the size of the onion and how many people you’re serving)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped (use 6 if cooking for 4 people) 
  • Lemon/lime juice
  • Salt and pepper (feel free to add your favorite spices here)
  • Starkist tuna in vegetable oil (Pouch, please. You can also use the EVOO version.)

Cooking Instructions

  1. Set a pan over medium/high heat and cook up the Starkist tuna
  2. Scoop the avocado meat once the tuna has been cooking for a few minutes. Add spices as you spread your avocado meat around the pan. Mix it all together.
  3. Add the onions and lime juice.
  4. In a separate pan or in your toaster oven, cook up your corn tortillas for a minute or two. The tortillas should be light and fluffy.
  5. Turn off the heat after cooking your guac/tuna/onion mixture for 10 minutes.
  6. Plate the tortillas and scoop the mixture by the tablespoon into the tortillas.

Summer of Health and Fitness Week 3

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There is a lot that can go wrong when dieting and exercising. You can swing back and forth between not eating enough or eating too much. You can exercise until your entire body is in pain. So with me down to 145 lbs as of now, here’s my piece of advice for the week:

DO IT FOR THE RIGHT REASONS

What do I mean when I say that?

I mean that when you start dieting and exercising, start from a place of love. Love yourself first. I know it’s hard to do that. I’m definitely certain that if you’re reading this, you can list off everything you hate about your body off the top of your head. I want you to STOP THAT NOW. Take a deep breath.

You are beautiful. You are fearfully and wonderfully made. You are enough.

The reason why I’m dieting and exercising is because I want to be healthy, plain and simple. I want to take care of myself and love myself.

If you want to have a healthier lifestyle, you need to start with having a healthy mind and heart. Instead of thinking of having a “revenge body” or wishing you could look like the cover of a magazine, think about being healthy. Start with loving yourself and wanting to be the best version of yourself.

Being healthy can include eating french fries and hamburgers. You just have to control the portion size and how often you eat these things. In the past, I used to eat two large fries more than once a week. I used to buy the frozen fries at the grocery store. Potato chips were my go-to comfort food.

A lot has changed in the past few weeks. I’m not just talking about my weight, either. Up until this summer, I never really exercised. I longed for the days when I had dance lessons or wished that I could take martial arts courses or join in on the exercise bike craze. I’m grateful that now I can work out at home and that I have a lot of fun in the process.

So my assignment for you today is to start loving yourself. List off five things that you feel are the most beautiful parts of yourself: your eyes, your smile, the way you laugh, etc. Keep telling yourself “I am beautiful.” Because you are.

Do it for all the right reasons. Do this for love of yourself. LOVE YOURSELF.

Vocations: Destiny or Free Will?

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As someone who grew up reading fairy tales and watching anime, I began to notice something in the way that people see vocations.

Many of my married friends believe in the idea of pre-determined “soul mate” love and how God planned for them to marry a specific person. The story of their love life is essentially like the chorus from Taylor Swift’s “Love Story”: “You’ll be the prince and I’ll be the princess. It’s a love story, baby. Just say ‘Yes.'”

People who discern religious life, on the other hand, have vocation stories that resemble the typical anime “destiny plot.” In a typical adventure anime, the main character goes on a long journey or goes to school while trying to figure out what their purpose in life is. Either way, the protagonist finds their destiny and the story focuses on them working towards becoming a priest or a nun, with the perfect gang of friends who accompany them on this journey.

I’m speaking in generalizations, of course. I know that every vocation story is different. But in the years I spent going to vocation-related events, it seems like people see marriage and religious life as a pre-determined destiny and all they have to do is “discern” which one is right for them. In reality, marriage and religious life are not as cut and dry as that.

Yes, God creates each and every person with a unique personality and skills, but he also gave us this strange thing called free will. We have the ability to choose what to do with our gifts, for better or for worse. Our lives are more like those video games where the choices you make effect the way that the game ends. (Just think of Mass Effect or Infamous.) It doesn’t mean that we can just do whatever we want. The power to choose comes with the responsibility of making sure we choose to do God’s will. In an ideal life, we work with God to help us to choose the right thing. Eventually, our choices help reveal what God wants us to do with our lives.

The best example of this can be seen in the movie Moana. Although Moana was chosen by the ocean to voyage out and return the heart of Te Fiti, her journey was not an easy one and at one point, she gave the heart of Te Fiti to the ocean, wanting to return home after Te Ka nearly killed her. The spirit of her grandmother was supportive of Moana’s decision to turn back, but at the same time, Moana was hesitant. She had to choose to take the heart back herself and not just because the ocean or her grandmother told her. She did that by remembering who she was, where she came from, and reflecting on how far she has come.

So how does free will play a role in discerning marriage or religious life?

When it comes to marriage, I have a bit of a bias. For one thing, I don’t believe in soul mates. Now before you clutch your pearls and start citing the examples of Tobias and Sarah as well as Mary and Joseph, know that I wrote a Bible study on Tobit and I have a great devotion to the Holy Family. Tobias was worried about having to marry Sarah. He was free to choose to fulfill the promise he made to his father. Thankfully, Raphael guided Tobias to understanding how they would save Sarah from the demon that killed her previous husbands. If Sarah and Tobias’s marriage was predetermined, God would’ve found a way to have Tobias marry Sarah first and also expel the demon from her house at the same time.

In a similar way, Mary and Joseph still had to choose to say “Yes” to what God was asking of them. And their life was anything but a fairy tale, with Mary having to deal with at least three months of pregnancy alone (even while she was helping her cousin Elizabeth) and Joseph almost choosing to divorce Mary when he heard about her having a child.

God creates each and every person with a unique set of personality traits and skills and in our lives, we find people who we’re compatible with and some that we don’t get along with. But everyone we meet teaches us a lesson. Every relationship we have is a unique experience because we fall in love in different ways, depending on the person. It’s not going to be an instant-love-at-first-sight kind of thing that we see in romantic comedies and fairy tales. We choose who we love and then, once we marry, we can choose to stay with them in good times and in bad.

On the flip side of things, I know people who are still waiting for their lives to start, who have an idea on what God is calling them to do, but still have to choose the path they need to take in order to get there. The good news about these people is that they’re not just waiting around waiting for an answer to come on a silver platter. These people might have to pave their own paths or consider options beyond the norm. Regardless of where they head, God will always be with them.

I’m not saying that God doesn’t have a hand in our lives, but when it comes to our vocations, we can’t make the idea of finding our calling the end all-be all. We are called to ask God to be the compass of our hearts and then we choose the paths we walk down. There is no grand destiny where we save the world from an apocalypse. Most of us are called to live our holiness in ordinary lives. But is there anything wrong with that? I don’t think so.

tl;dr: Our path towards our vocation, whatever we are called to be, is not a straight line. It’s a path we forge with God guiding us through each and every choice we make.

In Defense of the "Strong Independent Woman"

 

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I never thought there would come the day where I would disagree with Bishop Robert Barron on anything, but his latest article about the “You Go Girl” culture made me uneasy.

While I agree that parents in television, particularly dads, are usually portrayed as stupid at best and abusive at worst, I don’t agree with Bishop Robert Barron’s perspective that males are being made to appear weak in order to make women look stronger.

My friend Emily A. said

Men write these characters. In fact, I would claim that these are not elevations of women so much as parodies of both the male AND female characters.
These women aren’t smart, they are smart-asses. They are insufferably naggy women with impossible standards who don’t trust their spouse. And time and time again, the husband seems to prove them right.
The buffoon father is actually a stereotype perpetuated *by men* who want less responsibility.

Additionally, there is something to be said for stereotypes/archetypes: they exist because they *resonate* with people. Stereotypes are merely a compilation of common factors within a certain group. While they fail as a blanket statement, they are not altogether fictitious.
I think Father Barron is mixing up the concept of a caricature and a stereotype. They aren’t equivalent.

At the end of the day, though, we are all humans with failures, husband and wife alike. And we tolerate the worst on the bad days and sometimes have trouble recognizing and celebrating the best on good days. That’s human nature. It’s easier to laugh at those failings embodied in a character than dwell on them and get depressed.

I believe that when Bishop Robert Barron describes the “all conquering female,”  he is thinking of the “Mary Sue.” The best definition I can give of a “Mary Sue” is one I got from video blogger Tommy Oliver (no relation to the Power Rangers): “A character so perfect that they are never challenged by the events of the narrative.” Bella Swan from Twilight is a perfect example of a Mary Sue because the worst problem she ever had to deal with, according to her perspective, is when Edward Cullen dumped her in New Moon. She deals with having a baby and taking down an evil band of vampires way too easily and she gets rewarded for essentially doing nothing of substance. She gets the boyfriend she wanted, the perfect baby, a lavish lifestyle, and immortality, but she never earned or overcame anything in order to get those things.

Rey from The Force Awakens was cited as an example of the “all conquering female,” but she’s not a good example of what Bishop Barron is thinking about. It’s true that Rey is often mistaken for a Mary Sue because of how she was able to use the Force so easily. However, it’s shown throughout the movie that she has her own challenges and weaknesses to overcome. She fights toe-to-toe with Kylo Ren and also has to overcome her fears of abandoning her life in Jakku to become a Jedi. The male characters in The Force Awakens stand on equal ground with Rey. Finn especially is considered a deuteragonist because the movie focuses just as much on his character growth as it does Rey’s.

I think Bishop Robert Barron is trying to advocate for better role models for men in the movies and TV shows we watch. I think that the potential for good role models expands beyond Sully and Deepwater Horizon. Captain America, while not perfect, is a role model for any man because he’s willing to do anything for the ones that he loves.  The Flash has a few good male role models as well, including three characters who are fathers: Joe West, Henry Allen, and Harrison Wells from Earth 2. Barry Allen is also a good role model for young men because while he makes his share of mistakes, he does his best to learn from them in order to become a better person.

While I agree that women have been portrayed as weak in the past, the task of trying to make women strong and independent have led to a whole new kind of female stereotype: The Broken Bird. To quote the Nostalgia Critic:

“Women in the media for so long were always the emotional support, the damsels, the smiling pretty faces, so in the 90’s, there was a desperate need to change that. Oh, not by making them unpretty, we wouldn’t do that, but we suddenly made them cold, bitter, confrontational, and overly strong, to go out of their way to show that they’re not those old emotional stereotypes, and instead make way for new emotional stereotypes. For you see, in every 90’s film, the woman behind this strong independent wall that won’t let everybody in,  is a sad little bunny rabbit that will eventually let down her defences and reveal a tragic backstory. So you see, she wasn’t a strong, confident worker just because she was a strong, confident worker. Deep down she just wants to be held like any other fragile woman. Oh, I don’t want to think! I just want to be loved!”

In other words, the “strong, independent woman” in a lot of movies and TV still needs all her problems solved by having a man in her life. To quote my friend Mary: “Closed off? Man will open you up. Insecure? Man will make you feel better. Lonely? Man got you covered.”

There’s one example in my life of a wonderful, strong, female heroine that doesn’t sacrifice her femininity in order to be badass. And the men in her life aren’t made weaker in order for her to be stronger. Ironically, she was created by someone who loved the atheist philosophers Sartre and Nietzsche.

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I can’t imagine my life without Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The overall theme of the show is dealing with things that come with growing up and becoming an adult. While Buffy, may appear to be a good example of what Bishop Robert Barron is talking about, she is actually a great example of a well written strong female character. She is strong, but she has her moments of vulnerability. She defeats evil on a weekly basis, but she also has friends and family that she loves unconditionally. She’s a force for good, but she also makes some mistakes that she has to learn from. And no male character is made weaker so that she can be stronger. All of Buffy’s male enemies were formidable opponents. Giles, Buffy’s mentor and father figure, contributed his intellect and wisdom. Xander, in spite of his flaws, was a young man with a good heart and has saved the day a couple times. And Spike goes through a lot of changes that kept his character interesting and complex without sacrificing his own strength and charisma.

I think that strong, female characters can be created without the women needing a man or without a man becoming weak at her expense. Men and women, fictional or nonfictional, need to be treated as equals. To quote my friend Jillian:

Male characters, particularly father types, shoud not be dumbed down to make way for “strong independent female”? But should female characters be written to be the worst qualities of men in order to be strong/independent (unless it’s some kind of well fleshed out redemption arc)? Heck no. Is it possible to have a realistic strong female character alongside a realistic non-dumbed-down male character? Yes, and there are a plethora of examples. Should we stop fighting for fair treatment of and well written female characters in movies/comics/tv because some male characters are written poorly? No, because the former does not cause the latter.

Tl;dr: Strong female characters are not the cause of the bumbling dad/emasculated male character.

Do You Really HAVE TO Vote?

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I’ve been quiet about the election because I don’t like politics. I’m what you would call a swing voter. Back when I was in college, I voted for Obama because I blindly believed in what he was promising the American people. Four years later, voted Republican because I didn’t agree with Obama’s policies.

Now here I am again four years later at another Presidential election. Voting for the lesser of two evils is sadly not an option for me anymore.

I don’t support Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. I never have and I never will.

Something I’ve been noticing since middle school is that whenever the current political sphere is undesirable, people from Hollywood start doing public service announcements that compel people to vote. You might remember the Vote or Die campaign during the 2004 elections or Lena Dunham’s infamous viral video during the 2012 presidential election.

Joss Whedon has now contributed to the current zeitgeist with this anti-Trump video:

Even the cast of Hamilton is getting on this:

It’s just too bad that Whedon and Lin-Manuel Miranda have also thrown their hats into Clinton’s ring. Bless your hearts, both of you. I love you, but I have to disagree here.

It’s gotten to the point that Blimey Cow has parodied the pro-voting bandwagon:

The problem with all the appeals to get people to vote is that it comes off sounding like voting is mandatory. I understand that voting is a necessity, but I also believe in preserving the right to opt out of voting for a few reasons, most of which are talked about in this awesome video:

So what’s my solution? If you really want to vote, do research on third parties. Look into the Libertarian Party or the American Solidarity Party. Look into any other party that’s not covered by the mainstream media. Inform yourself so that you don’t just vote blindly.

And before you start telling me that voting for a third party will just be a wasted vote, there are a couple of articles that say otherwise. There’s also a history of third party presidential nominees who were able to capture a considerable amount of votes. Not to mention that Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt represented what were considered third parties during the time of their elections. Lincoln can be considered the first Republican and Roosevelt was from the Bull Moose party.

If you really don’t want to vote, you don’t have to, at least when it comes to choosing the next President. We live in a country where we have the right to refuse things as a form of protest. When this election is over, the people will end up complaining about the President no matter who wins. You can rest easy knowing you refused to give your vote to them. You can still vote for candidates you feel would be acceptable, such as Senators, Representatives, and people who will run your state and city. Keep up with local issues as well. Something I learned in my sociology class is that we can’t expect the President to fix our problems. Voting local (on a state-wide and city level) has a better impact on changing our everyday lives than who we pick to run our country.

In the end, I hope that no matter what you do, your decision will be an informed and wise one.

Pray to St. Jude, St. Rita, and Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception for our country.

Dating and Other Things Catholic: Men of Christ Monday with John Antonio

 

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John Antonio is a single Catholic professional who runs a medical ethics and professionalism program for resident physicians in the Texas Medical Center. He is also a lifestyle writer Catholicsingles.com and Catholic speaker. His new book Dating and Other Things Catholic: What Seminary Taught Me About Single Life is a smart, witty guide that I recommend to all millennials who are just starting out or for anyone who needs to start over from a major setback.

1) Where did the inspiration to write Dating and Other Things Catholic come from?

4 years ago I was leaving seminary. I had spent almost my whole life there. I didn’t know anything about careers, dating, or the lifestyle of a single professional. I had never gotten a job. I had never gone on a date. I did not know a lot of things about the lifestyle of a single young professional. I did not know how to ask a young lady out nor how to get a job. I looked for Catholic books on this since I was a Catholic. I did not find one. So I decided to do research, gain new experiences, and write the book myself.

2) Tell me what it’s like to be single. How is that different from dating, marriage, and religious life?

The religious has the Church. The married have each other. The dating have each other to some degree but not in a stable form of life. Someone who is “single” could still be dating but generally not in a serious relationship. He/she makes many decisions alone and is very in control of their destiny. That adds a new opportunity to life. Single life is a huge opportunity.

3) One problem I personally have with being single is loneliness. How do you deal with that?
A single person needs 3 things: friends, a mission, and the right type of daily routine. I find that when singles have these 3 things they feel loneliness much less.

4) Who’s your go-to saint when it comes to living the single life and discerning your vocation?
St. Valentine. “Love is all you need” or is that the Beatles?

5) What advice would you give to young adults who are discerning vocations to marriage? What advice would you give to those discerning religious life? And for those who are indecisive?
There will always be a fork in the road at some point. You will have the choice to give your freedom away or hold on to it tightly. In my experience, giving it away is risky but it leads to more exciting things. If you give it away to something good, that is.

6) Where do you see yourself five years from now?

Subscribe to my blog and I’ll keep you up to date 🙂 …I already have another book in the works though for starters; the one that will tell all and tell things as they are.

The Limit of Labels

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There’s this saying that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. People put all sorts of labels and preconceptions on women and we have this tendency that being a woman or being of a certain race, ethnicity, or sexuality means that we have to look and act a certain way. Sometimes, we believe society and think that we have to act like everyone else who has the same labels as us in order to belong. But the worst thing we could do to ourselves is allow circumstances like family problems or relationship issues to define who we are.

God created us a certain way for a reason, but he didn’t create us so that we define ourselves according to other people’s preconceptions. So the question is “How do we choose to define ourselves?” There is nothing wrong with being a woman or being of a certain race or ethnicity or even being attracted to the same gender. The problem is when we choose to define ourselves by just these things. The things that are in our lives are just parts of who we are and not the sum or the whole of who we are. I choose to define myself by my faith because my faith is so much bigger than myself. And there are things about my faith that I still have to learn and understand.

Marc Barnes AKA “Bad Catholic” on Patheos wrote that: “A label allows us to subsume ourselves into an abstract, and thereby cease dealing with immense difficulties of being our unique, particular ourselves. When I am truly silent and truly alone, I am alone with an I who finds himself living with no immediately discernible purpose, alone with an I who — quite naturally — feels the difficult desire to do good and avoid evil, to love the beautiful, to know the truth, an I with a conscience that constantly reminds me of my own inability to do any of these things, an I that doesn’t age but still is and feels like the same eternal I that lived and breathed at 10 years old. This is the I I return to when I am stripped of every external — of my ideology, career, possessions, class, race, and status — the I that must simply be, approaching death. This is, of course, terrifying.

I was browsing my YouTube subscriptions when I came across a video that talked about forming identity. The person in the video said that identity is always fluid and changing and that only the individual has any control over his or her identity. While I agree that a person’s identity can change over time (growing from child to teen to adult, for example) I think that there are some parts about identity that never change.

I shared this video with my friend Marguerite, who said, “Our primary identity is as beloved children of God and that one cannot change and we do not control it. God will always love us no matter what we do. I agree with staying curious and exploring (within the limits of morality) and knowing that labels are flexible and that we change as time goes on. But the one point about who we are that is most important is the one that never changes from our birth to our death: it is who we are in the eyes of God.”

The difference between finding out your identity based on the world and letting God be the one to guide you in forming your identity is that the world always changes, but God never does. The beautiful paradox of letting God help us figure out who we are is that we become the best versions of ourselves through His help.  Like Saint Paul said in Galatians 2:19-20: “I have been crucified with Christ; yet I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me; insofar as I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God who has loved me and given himself up for me.”

So no matter how you choose to define yourself, remember to put God at the center of your life and He will be there to help you when you need to define yourself. Before anything else, remember that you are God’s creation, a child of the One True King, adopted into the family, and a part of the mystical body of Christ. You are loved, you are cherished, and you are not alone.

What Defines Gender?

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I have a legitimate question for anyone and everyone who is arguing about bathroom policies and similar issues relating to the transgender movement:

How do you define gender?

All the other questions in relation to this topic are founded on this. How exactly is gender defined? Is it by how we feel we are or how we should be? How we perceive ourselves to be? What do we compare ourselves to when it comes to who we think we are and what we’re not?

Can gender be defined by science? What does science have to say about gender? Do you figure out the gender you perceive yourself as by the gender roles society dictates? Is it psychological? Is is sociological?

The point of this blog post is this: I want to know how you define whatever gender you perceive yourself to be. If we’re gonna argue about what bathrooms we think we should use, we have to have a better foundation for our arguments than whatever we feel like we are. Feelings are very fickle. Whatever arguments you have about gender need to be grounded in reason and logic.

While I have my own way of defining what gender is, I don’t want to say that right now. All I can say is there are some ways in which I do not define myself. I do not define myself by what my current society dictates a woman should be like because society has a lot of contradictory gender roles when it comes to women. I also don’t define myself just on my biological sex alone because it’s only part of who I am. I also don’t let other people who don’t really know me try to define who or what I am either because only those who are closest to me can help me with whatever I need.

So feel free to comment and answer me this: What is “gender” according to your standards?

The Other Side of Recovery

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When I shared my commentary about Kesha’s struggle to break free of her contract and desire to be free of her alleged abuser, a friend of mine reminded me that I had to include compassion towards those who have been raped and sexually assaulted. So this follow-up post isn’t just a letter to Kesha, but to all victims of rape, assault, and abusive relationships (physical, verbal, psychological, sexual, etc.).

My dearest sisters and brothers,

If you’re reading this, you probably feel broken. The world is not the same anymore. There were times that you felt like your mind and your body were not your own. You want to blame yourself for what happened. Why didn’t you see the red flags? Why are people blaming your behaviors? For a time, you were completely helpless. You probably still feel helpless right now.

You are not alone.

Just because there is a lack of evidence of this trauma does not negate the fact that this happened to you. The pain will not go away overnight. It’s a process, but believe me when I say that you will find your way out of the dark.

What’s most important right now is protecting yourself and finding a way to let this traumatic experience make you into a stronger person. It’s so easy to cut yourself off from the world, to build a giant wall around your heart and not let anyone in. But the first step to recovery is to find people who will support you. Reach out to a friend who will listen. Go to counseling or some kind of support group. It’s important to have a sense of community because pain and misery grow from constant isolation.

Once you’ve regained some strength from your support community, pay it forward and start helping your local community through volunteer work. Reach out to the less fortunate, offer to tutor your neighbor’s kids, or work for a blood drive. If you feel strong enough to help others who were in your situation, start training to work those crisis hotlines. Through serving others, you’ll find that you get a better sense of self and a sense of purpose as well.

The hardest part of recovering, I think, is finding a way to let go of the past. While there is a time and a place for catharsis, the feeling can only carry you so far. This is probably gonna sound impossible. Unimaginable even. But at some point, you need to forgive the person who has hurt you. I’m not asking to forget that it ever happened. I’m not asking for you to try and make amends with them. I’m not even asking you to contact that person again.

Forgiveness means letting go of all the anger and hurt. It means no longer plotting revenge or wishing that the worst will happen to the people who’ve hurt you. And yes, it’s really, really, really hard.

But here’s something I learned. The people who’ve hurt me in the past were all broken in some way. They suffered a traumatic childhood or had their own set of problems that I had no idea about, or grew up without any sense of direction in their lives at all. The people who have broken you have been broken themselves. And instead of choosing to try and get past all the hurt, they instead chose to hurt someone else. Misery loves company, after all. And misery may be all that they know.

So when I ask you to forgive the person who has hurt you, I am asking that you hope that the also find their way out of the dark. That they are no longer broken or defined by their circumstances. They may all seem like monsters right now, but there is still humanity within them, just as there is humanity within all of us. Let go of your resentment and anger and one day, you’ll find that the pain will soften to the point of being nonexistent.

The emotional growth you will receive will come when you least expect it. And trust me when I say you will not see it coming. Something good always comes out of something bad. Just know that you are already finding your way out of the dark. You are not alone.

 

An Open Letter About #FreeKesha

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I am not a big fan of Kesha. I liked a couple of her songs and thought that she was doing well with her latest album.

But given the latest controversy surrounding Kesha trying to get out of her contract,I feel like I need to give my 2 cents about this.

As we all know, in the criminal justice system, people who are charged with a crime are innocent until proven guilty. This means that it’s up to Kesha and her lawyers to provide evidence of Dr. Luke allegedly assaulting her. Unfortunately, it’s hard to get hard evidence of assault and abuse.

One thing that I liked about Jessica Jones is that it captured the issues that lie behind rape and abusive relationships. It’s not just about non-consensual sex, but about the effects of manipulation and living with the fear of your mind and your body no longer being your own. The people of America pride themselves on being independent and free to do whatever they want. But the flip side of that mentality is a sense of entitlement, that they can have whatever they want as well.

Regardless of whatever you may think of Kesha’s music, she is still a person. If she wants to get out of working with Dr. Luke, she should be free to do so. She is not something people can use to make a profit. As a person, she should have the dignity to no longer associate with someone she doesn’t want to be around. In the very small chance that you are reading this Kesha, go work with those other producers who are making their offers. Don’t be afraid of Dr. Luke overshadowing you. I hate that Zayn got out of his contract so easily, but his contract is probably different from Keshas. A friend of mine said that Prince made a way out of his contract issued by releasing albums under “The Artist Fomerly Known as Prince.”

Sometimes, freeing yourself from abuse does not mean calling that person out on their actions, but just getting out of that situation altogether. I give Kesha applause for being brave enough to take action against the person who assaulted her. Very few people have that courage. On the other hand, it’s important to have proof. It’s hard to make a case when there is no evidence.

In spite of the ambiguity of this situation, I always believe that something good always comes out of something bad. No matter how far we fall into the darkness, a light shines through and it’s through that light that we start making our way out of the dark. On her Facebook page, Kesha said this:

I think about young girls today – I don’t want my future daughter – or your daughter – or any person to be afraid that they will be punished if they speak out about being abused, especially if their abuser is in a position of power.

Unfortunately I don’t think that my case is giving people who have
been abused confidence that they can speak out, and that’s a problem.

But I just want to say that if you have been abused, please don’t be afraid to speak out. There are places that will make you feel safe. There are people who will help you. I for one, will stand beside you and behind you. I know now how this all feels and will forever fight for you the way perfect strangers have been fighting for me.

Yes, I am very much a feminist, but more than that, I am a humanist. I believe in supporting my fellow human beings in being SAFE.

We’re all in this together. You are not alone.

I love you and thank you.

Now that kind of feminism, I can get behind.

#FreeKesha