You Can Author Your Story But It Takes Privilege to Narrate

All of us can author our story but sadly, it is a privilege to also narrate one’s story as well.

Who Narrates Who Authors

#IfTheyGunnedMeDown with my own collage. An image or story is very powerful in the wrong context.

This is what immediately occurred to me in regards to reading about the recent tragedy involving Michael Brown in which the 18 year old was gunned down by police.  In response to this incident, many are bringing attention to something we have all recognized but continue to ignore–the reality of racial profiling and stereotyping within the context of media. #IfTheyGunnedMeDown is a part of a larger outcry illustrated on Twitter, Facebook, and various social media sites reminding us of our perceptions in regards to race in the media.  The hashtag/twitter dialogue includes individuals who have presented photos juxtaposing two different images:  one portraying the individual posing as the media accepted (and often presented) stereotype and another illustrating the way they live their lives as students, professionals, etc.

I won’t ignore the fact that there are certainly stories that are being presented by some individuals of color within media (for example, within many reality tv shows that I will not mention) who use stereotypes as the foundation that maintains the bridge of ignorance.  However, what happens in a situation which a person of color is killed and a snapshot of their life is depicted as a part of the evening news?  What story is presented, by whom, and how?  Do we get to see a full person, or a glimpse into a certain perception that is being offered?  Over the years I have asked these questions or swapped race and/or gender in all of these recent tragedies.  In this instance, when I imagine if Michael Brown were white instead of black, I notice that the storyline would either be different or we most likely would not be talking about a teen’s death because it probably would not have happened.

Thus, all of us pen our stories through the minutes, hours, days or the years we live our life.  Only few of us get a chance to maintain the ability to narrate what is presented.  For having such capabilities involves power and privilege.

 

 

 

 

 

Strangers? Friends? It Depends on Where or How You Are

imagesThere is not much difference between the people we call familiar either within the categories of friend/family member/partner and those who are unfamiliar or strangers.   We separate these categories based on many things such as the length of time we have known or not known someone (usually, we use time to measure depth in this instance), the details or facts we know or don’t know about an individual, etc.

These categories have become challenged in an age where many of us may accumulate “friends” that we have not physically met as we drift apart from the people that we call our friends, family, or partners but they may know very little about us.

Thus, I offer this-there are moments of knowing and not knowing someone, we are all either friends or we are all just mere strangers to each other.  We are all but mere individuals passing by at different points.  In other words, you can share an intimate moment and depth of knowing with a stranger in five minutes or become plunged into strangerhood with a friend that you have known for 10 years.  A friend can become a stranger and a stranger can feel like a lover, friend, partner, or family member.  It is just really where or how you happen to be,

The Importance of Misbehaving

 

imagesMore important than behaving is teaching our future adults how to properly misbehave.

Let me further explain.  We teach about a false system of opposites with a clear cause and effect–your good behavior or deeds are rewarded while you are punished for your misbehavior.  However, for most of us, we have experienced a number of options that unzip life in all sorts of directions making the connection between reward/good behavior and punishment/bad behavior murky.

In my personal experiences and general observations, I’ve learned that that there is no more or less glory for your reward than your punishment.  In other words, people are fickle  and the same public or group of people who  will praise you for your good will join the masses to chant for your hanging for misbehavior.  Also, as most of us have experienced, the definitions for so-called good or bad behavior changes like the climate and misbehavior is only considered as such because it does not fit into the norms or rules established by society (a.k.a. all of us).

In fact, good behavior or being good due to-the potential reward (either tangible or intangible) gained, fear of punishment,  “someone is watching” like the law, or because it is a certain type of rule to follow- is not good behavior at all.  Behaving for one or more of those reasons illustrates a larger fear.  So, I advocate for people to just be with no good or bad attached to it.  And the reward is the freedom to release any concerns with the praise or criticism you’ll receive from a fickle public (who will provide their own commentary without prompting!).

imagesNow, back to my initial thought, let’s properly misbehave and teach our children to do the same.  If we were all given the proper context of when and how we could engage in our impish delights as youth, perhaps it would not appear as such a grand garden of temptation in our adulthood.

 

Be Difficult & Say You Are A Lot

DealingWithDifficultProblems_620x348“You have nice packaging, great personality, but you are difficult” I was recently told.  I smiled wide and a conversation and some laughter ensued about all of the ways that one could include this fact on a dating profile.  Something that might look like this,

“Nice smile, great personality, but difficult.
Smart, fun, witty,  adventurous but…difficult”

This joking continued until the person I was conversing with said, “You might not want to include that on a dating profile.”   The laughing continued but my mind pondered on (no surprise).  Perhaps being difficult or saying that you are a lot is not something you want to advertise, but why not?

more-difficultLife is simple but whenever you engage with people on any level things automatically become complex and therefore a little difficult.  I don’t think being difficult or letting the world know to brace itself because you are a lot takes you out of the running for anything.  Instead, it might help to eliminate some of the individuals that you might not want to participate in your life.  I know of a number of individuals who like to say ‘I am simple’ but the very fact of simplicity begins and ends with that statement.  Here is why:

  • You have a plethora of experiences;
  • Many different selves that you have been (or will be) either in your career or just based upon the reality of human development;
  • You exist within the realms of culture, values, family, ethnicity, and so many other things that shape human existence.

And of course, the list goes on.  However, this may not be true if you were either (a) just born yesterday  (so you have yet to come into all of these things yet)  OR (b)  you are not a human but a robot and therefore some of these very things may not have been programmed or just don’t exist for you.

Okay, you don’t need to be convinced of these things.  And perhaps, you don’t want to openly admit to your difficult nature (which is also okay).  But if you are anything like me, embrace your difficult.  If someone has ever accused you of it, be brazen with it and own it.  In fact, take it as a declaration of the rhythm of your human pulse.

A Note About Your Wings

You know some of beautiful quotes about everyone being born with wings?  In fact, one of my favorite is by Rumi, “You were born with wings, why do you prefer to crawl through life?”   Well, I believe that is partly true. You see, I never thought that I was just given a pair of wings, I never thought that they were automatically mine for the keeping.

While it is our birthright to fly, I know that sometimes you have to hand stitch your wings or put them together using blades of grass, broken string, borrowed pieces, a little chance,
and a whole lot of audacity or daring that you will do it,  that you’ll eventually fly.

Many times you will flap wild and crazy against the air
Sometimes you will be Icarus,
actually I promise you, that you will be Icarus
and face plant a few times while you think you are flying.

But the rest? Well the rest involves the surprise
the gift that if you keep at it, you will take off in ways you’ve never imagined.

Now back to the issue of your wings….you have them.  But you have to dosome work to maintain them, keep them, and try to fly.

Responsibility By Any Other Name…

saltyinSometimes I like to share information form other sources, including written pieces.  This is piece was written by a dear friend who brought up a very good point in regards to individuals who move on to create new families without settling their affairs with existing familial obligations.  In most cases, one is not able to acquire new businesses or secure new loans without resolving previous accumulated debts.  Why shouldn’t this extend to
individuals seeking to start new families?  Well, don’t just read my paraphrasing of this, you can read the letter to the editor feature in the Deerfield Valley News:
A New Marriage Proposal 
To the Editor,

Here is a marriage proposal of a different sort: A new Vermont State law requiring that individuals be in a state of compliance with existing family court orders prior to being entitled to enter into the legal state of marriage. It is a fact that the Vermont Family Court and the Vermont Office of Child Support are overwhelmed with enforcement actions against individuals who choose not to pay their Court-ordered obligations. Most of these defendants claim they are without the ability to pay. However, some magically find the funds to marry again without regard to the obligations they’ve elected to leave unmet. While these individuals claim to be financially bankrupt, I submit that they are actually morally bankrupt.

I propose that to qualify for a Vermont marriage license, applicants be required to certify that they are in compliance with existing Vermont Family Court orders. TheKnot.com and WeddingChannel.com’s annual “Real Weddings Survey” reveals that the average cost of a wedding is $28,427. If, before spending funds on yet another wedding, repeat customers of the Vermont Family Court were required to bring their existing obligations current, many ex-spouses, Office of Child Support employees, and Family Court employees might find themselves in something akin to a state of bliss. It would be almost like being in love.

Andrea K. Shader
Brattleboro

 

Ponder of the moment: What is your sweet spot?

Desha Head Shot, Close up Finding one’s own rhythm  and creating that beat is important.  Over the past month, as a result of finding creating my own melodies I was lucky enough to become engaged with Desha Peacock’s book launching event taking place this coming Friday, June 6.  Her work has involved helping individuals tap in to their sweet spot and helping them to unzip their personal rhythm from the creation of physical space to helping individuals manifest their spirit’s desire.  Still confused about a sweet spot?  Desha defines the sweet spot as “…self-defined goodness. Self-defined, meaning you get to decide what makes your life, career, home or personal style feel good to you.”

quote1813challenge quoteThere is something different that happens when you start to live from a place of your own choosing rather than just taking the script that is hand to you.   There were various times in my own life where I have tried both.  Not so surprisingly, I failed miserably at trying to live from the authenticity that was created by others for me.  Most of the time, I found myself in spaces where I had no choice but to live from the sweet spot.  Whether it was creating a spiritual path, choosing to spend five months in India when I became unemployed, or other opportunities that I created, I my sweet spot was always my own.  If there was ever a moment where it was not, I made sure to find ways to get back to my self, to my own rhythm.

photo-754216Your sweet spot is whatever you want it to be.  One thing that it is not is created or defined by others. It may be many things or it may be a very long love affair with something that is your reason for existing.   It ranges from becoming the architect of creating your space to being the sculptor that is caring your soul out of the sludge and noise of what others tell you to do.  If you have lost your way to your sweet spot, take some time to reconnect with it.  

Don’t forget to come check out the Sweet Spot Style event happening this Friday, June 6, Brattleboro’s First Home Décor Pop Up Shop + Book Launch + Art Show