Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Big Girl's Take On Politics

The Big Girl Chronicles:  The Big Girl’s Take On Politics
Don’t get me wrong.  I’m no passionate political fanatic.  Yet, it boggles my mind each and every time I watch most candidates (not all) upon the arrival of campaign season give such harsh critiques of their opponent’s administration that it can seem more like a mudslinging contest than an actual petition for office.  I understand that it’s the nature of politics.  You have to have the debate.  You have to make an assessment of what’s been accomplished and where there were failures.  But sometimes it can seem unfair, especially when you have a leader who has made an effort to make significant changes but those proposed changes were thwarted by the congressional body.  Not only that, but my very limited view of politics and how government operates moves me to view the issues that are handed down from administration to administration as problems that have been ongoing for decades or more.  Each president takes his turn trying to rearrange or minimize those issues.  To achieve any amount of success, each president has to have cooperation from the congressional body.  The congressional body is brilliantly constructed in a way that all political parties are participants.  There is no complete autonomy.  Therefore, if there is any degree of failure, that failure was a collective effort.  So, preaching to me about why this leader failed when you used your office to guarantee his failure doesn’t make you a more suitable candidate.  I trusted you to operate in the best interest of all American citizens and not set yourself up at another’s expense. 

So I’ve learned to pay attention to what kind of leader I can expect a candidate to become by the campaign strategy.  If a candidate is more about pointing out what someone else didn’t do rather than what experience and plans for change can be expected from his or her bid for office, then you are trying to get me to vote against someone rather than convincing me why you would be the best person for the job. If this kind of candidate takes office, then you have someone there that you have no knowledge of – no qualifications, no record of accomplishments or successes, no proven leadership skills – preparing to lead the country.  But all you know is that the person you voted against tried to provide a reasonable solution to healthcare, or for that matter actually at least attempted to respond to citizens’ concerns about their taxes and what kind of future can be expected upon retirement.

Perhaps I have the wrong idea about how government is really supposed to work.  Instead of actually believing that I’m supposed to elect seasoned, mature leadership to represent me in office, maybe I’m only participating in some adolescent minded person fulfilling his or her childhood response to the teacher’s question of who he or she wants to be when they grown up.   

Monday, August 27, 2012

The Big Girl's Guide to Survival In A Racist Community

The “Big Girl’s” Guide to Survival in a Racist Community                       

It’s difficult to imagine that in the 21st century, with the appointment of Barack Hussein Obama as our 44th national president, there remains profound racism among us.  But why not?   Were we so caught up in this tremendously historic landmark that we mistook it for a dissipation of hatred?  The truth of the matter is that with this progression towards leveling the playing field for all human beings, there remained a quiet undertow of resentment, hatred and fear among those who wish to not only preserve the racial divide, but widen it.  The inauguration of a president of African descent posed a threat that came with a backlash of both overt and covert racism in those communities, leaving those targeted to deal with the consequences.
If you have found yourself in a community that harbors racist methods, practices and ideologies, the following are a few suggestions to help you remain undaunted in the face of opposition.
·         Don’t take ownership of other people’s problems. 

Racism is clearly a social cancer that impedes progress.  Racist attitudes and behavior are most often cultivated and bred from generation to generation.  It can be easy to meet the racist on his or her terms and attempt to return hatred for hatred.  Avoid this.  The racist often feeds off of your defensiveness.  Don’t engage.  Instead, simply acknowledge the attitude of the racist and his or her right to feel that way, and move on without giving more attention.  You have nothing to prove.

·         Don’t be intimidated by ill behavior.
Attempts to intimidate you can result in you withdrawing from your responsibilities as a productive member of society.  Don’t allow yourself to become socially withdrawn.  Continue to participate in social activities and events that interest you.   Maintain who you are.  Vote. 

·         Know your rights.

Keep abreast of local laws and your rights as a citizen.  If you feel your rights have been compromised or violated, be sure to keep documentation of everything and navigate the channels of government appropriately if the need arises. 

·         Be true to yourself.

Many times in difficult situations we find it easier to accept the ideals of the dominant society.  Guard against this.  Not every act is one of racism.  Not every person in the community is racist. 
Continue to present yourself in a manner that is easily approachable without compromising who you are as an individual. 
The challenge to make America its best is ongoing.  Some can seem more a snag in the very fabric that represents our great country rather than a thread holding its place alongside others to allow the beauty of it to show forth. Don’t allow your rights as a citizen to become overshadowed because of a minority of those who seek to preserve oppression and hatred.  Uphold America to its creed and responsibility to you handed down from your forefathers and accessible from sea to shining sea. 

Monday, August 20, 2012

The Big Girl's Guide to Dating

The Big Girl Chronicles:  The Big Girl’s Guide to Dating

Calling Mr. Right!  Calling Mr. Right!  I’ve been waiting for you!  Instead of Mr. Right I’ve gotten Mr. Unemployed.  Mr. Weed Head.  Mr. Immature.  Mr. Momma’s Boy.  Mr. Vain.  Mr. Baby Mama Drama…  The list is endless.  The sum total of all the above equals Mr. WRONG.  What am I doing wrong?  Let’s make a checklist.
Who to date?
Let’s see.  I want a man with the body of a greek god and a bank account that rivals the wealthiest of the wealthy.  He must be at least 6’3 and five pounds within his ideal weight.  Absolutely no preexisting health conditions.  No outstanding debt.  Gainfully employed.  College graduate.  Upwardly mobile and owns his own home.  Has all his teeth.  A gentleman and irresistibly handsome.  Hmmm... I’ve just excluded two thirds of the male population.  I think my first problem is that I’m not being realistic about who I should date.  This list is pretty ideal, but it’s highly unlikely that I’m going to get all these wonderful qualities in one man and still be young enough to enjoy his company.  The phrase “stay within your own dating pool” strangely seems to come to mind.  And a little give and take could be helpful, too.
How soon do we date?
Okay, I went on a date once with this really obnoxious guy.  I remember the entire date I felt as though my time were being held hostage.  All I wanted to do was end it as soon as possible.   I think I could’ve avoided wasting my time had I taken more time having a conversation with this guy before we went out.  So definitely more emails and phone calls before we go out.  As much time as it takes to get a good feel for who I’m going out with should I decide he’s worthy of that privilege.
What’s a date?
There are so many creative ways to date and get to know someone better.  I think a “new” date should be something like breakfast or coffee.  Meet up at a library, bookstore or museum.  Spend as little money as possible until you’re sure the company is worth the value.  That way I’m not lulled into the monotony of the traditional dinner and a movie.  I’ve spent time learning more about this person’s mind and we’ve entertained each other.
This seems like a pretty fair start to begin my search for Mr. Right (again…for the umpteenth time).  If nothing else, I’ll have a lot more to share about the disasters…or possible success…in the awesome world of single life. 

Monday, August 6, 2012

The Big Girl's Guide to Falling In Love...With YOU!

The Big Girl Chronicles:  The Big Girl’s Guide to Falling In Love…With YOU!

I imagine that just as I have had personal battles with self acceptance, so have others.  The feeling that you’re not good enough.  Too much of one thing.  Not enough of the other.  Poor self-image.  Whether it’s weight or scars, whatever imperfection or other physical characteristics, how one feels about themselves on the inside becomes what the world sees on the outside.   And if that’s what the world sees on the outside, that’s how the world responds to you.  The more the world responds to your poor self image, the more you internalize and validate.  Do you see where this is leading?  It becomes a cycle of behavior where you are feeding off of what’s feeding off of you.  Before you realize it, you are completely consumed and surrounded by your own feelings about yourself.  Just as you set the ball rolling to create this cycle, you’ve got to interject the change you want to have happen to break it.  The starting point is in managing your feelings about who you are.
The first question you may want to ask yourself is “what is the source of the negative feelings I have about myself?”  That’s what I had to ask myself.  Why do I feel so bad about who I am?  Where is this coming from?  Often times we learn that we are somehow not good enough because of what we’re taught or where our basis for comparison lies.  This is the risk I took when I allowed someone else to define who I am rather than to become who it is I desired to be.   I was told that I was a mess.  So that’s how I dressed myself.  That’s how I responded to myself.  I believed what someone else told me more than I believed myself.   
If you have internalized negative information about who you are from others, beginning to unlearn all the harmful things you have accepted and believed seems near impossible.  But it can be done.  What worked for me was to make a list of all the things that I didn’t like about myself.  My list was ENORMOUS.  Honestly, to look at all the negative things I felt were true about myself was overwhelming.  And I believed these things to the depths of my very soul.  To counter that, I made a list of all the things I liked about myself.  Uh Oh!  That list was pathetically dismal.  Minuscule.  Embarrassing.  What did I do?  I opened my eyes and took a second look.  And this is one time when I’ll tell you it’s perfectly ok to cheat.  Because as I looked over the negative things that I thought were true about myself I realized that I had negatively described some actually desirable qualities.  I cheated myself out of some good stuff by putting a negative spin on it!  I had to begin to reverse the damage.  What I thought of as being blunt was actually a straightforwardness that would be appreciated when you want to know the truth.  Or what I describe as impetuous could be a spontaneity that would be appreciated where appropriately applied.  And guess what?  Thinking about these qualities differently helped me to manage them more effectively.    
Now, don’t get me wrong.  There are some qualities that needed to be extracted.  There was simply no place for them in my idea of who I want to be.  So once I separate the mess from what’s worth keeping, I’m closer to changing my perception of who I am.  I reinforced those things that I want to remain a part of who I am.  I’m beginning to like who I am.  People begin to respond to my attitude about myself with the same enthusiasm.  And there you go! 
I wish I could say it was just that easy…but it’s not.  The process is ongoing.  The more I learn about myself and why I frankly didn’t like me very much was more than just that I believed what someone told me about myself.  It was more than me cheating myself by how I described myself.  I realized also that I took myself entirely too seriously!  I needed to lighten up on myself or how else could I come to love myself?  Remember those physically unattractive qualities from earlier?  How about I drew a picture of myself emphasizing what I think of as unattractive attributes!  I drew a funny picture of myself.  And then…I laughed!  The cartoon version of myself was actually quite adorable and humorous!  But guess what else?  It was actually worse than the reality!  The way I look wasn’t nearly as bad as I had drawn!
Now comes the really fun stuff!  Because after I developed a healthier, more balanced attitude about myself and got more desirable responses from others… after I began to laugh at my imperfections and not take myself so seriously… I realized that I could better love myself by spending more time getting to know myself.  That meant paying attention to the things I like and spending time doing those things.  Doing my own manicure and pedicure. Fixing myself a special dinner.  Visiting the beach and enjoying some jazz.  Things that I didn’t make time to do before that now help create the person I want to be.
Once that momentum gets going and you start to fall in love with who you are, you will continue to find ways to love yourself.  Like deciding to practice healthier eating habits.  Deciding to exercise to create a better you now rather because of some illness.  Taking a class to learn something new.  The list becomes endless.

You are the person who has to live with you the rest of your life.  Why waste those precious moments of life unhappy with yourself?  Begin to make the most of life and your role in the world around you today! Love you!  And enjoy learning about you along the way!