What we say about ourselves….

blog beautiful old


A friend on facebook posted a link to an article about fashion models and their working conditions… and it got me thinking.. about what we say about ourselves.

I’ve recently heard a beautiful friend of mine complaining that she has wrinkles etc.. she’s quite attractive, but she’s also over 40 and has some lines on her face.  She’s kind, funny, and sometimes a little absent minded — and she’s a wonderful person who makes an honest effort every day to make the world a better place.  In short, she’s a beautiful human being inside and out — She’d never criticize anybody else the way she criticizes herself.

That’s what really made me think about womens’ expectations.  She communicates her internalized ideals of beauty every time she criticizes herself for not meeting them.  The thing is, those ideals are simply not realistic.  When we age, things sag — I’ll be 44 next weekend, I know a bit about sagging.

If we, as women, are serious about changing society’s expectations that we all be walking clothes racks with perfect faces, 160 IQs, a challenging job that is also rewarding and well paid, and the perfect set of kids and a devoted spouse, we need to start with ourselves.  We need to stop criticizing how we look, we need to stop talking down how our lives are going and we need to start appreciating who and where we are in our lives.

Nobody has enough money, nobody is the “perfect” body shape, nobody has “perfect” kids and a “perfect” spouse — why do we expect that we need those things to be satisfied with who we are?

What we say about ourselves matters, to the people who love us, to the daughters who learn from us and to ourselves because it reinforces the negative things we think…

I’ve been thinking about this since my “Of Scars” photo shoot..

of scars, me..


That’s me… the Of Scars folks don’t use photoshop to “fix” our images… that’s how I looked that day — without a shirt on.  It’s me, all of mea and I’m beautiful…. or, at least not ugly — and I know I’m smart and brave.  I know I’m a loyal person who tries hard to do the right thing and to be a good person.



That’s my mom… If, in 26 years, I can be as wonderful as she is… I’ll be blessed.

Try, just for today — to avoid saying negative things about yourself.


How I spent election night…

While I would have rather been at home, celebrating with Andy (we had a long phone call afterward… ), I spent election night in a wonderful way…

My Great Aunt Hil is 90… and a passionate Democrat.  She wanted Obama to win, she is in support of all gay rights and she’s generally a smart, compassionate and wonderful woman who is concerned about the future of her country — not for herself, but for her family.

L and R are a wonderful couple from across the street… they live there because Hil’s soul mate (J) is R’s ex-husband.  R and J are good friends.  Their marriage dissolved when R figured out that she’s a lesbian… J is a man and L is a woman.

L & R are a fun, loving, and compassionate couple.  L cooks — bakes, to be precise, and takes photos… in many ways she’s similar to Andy.  R is a mail carrier, more outgoing than R.  Both have a love of life and one another that’s infectious.

The evening began with tacos (made by me, inspired by Andy) and R’s guacamole.  We worried when Mittens was ahead and cheered every time Obama gained some electoral college votes.  Every Democratic House or Senate win was good news…

All of us were really hoping Baldwin would beat Thompson in the Wisconsin race.  We hoped Baldwin would be the first openly gay woman in the Senate — and we got our wish… when it was announced, there were cheers, hugs and kisses and a sense that things might be ok.

L & R were worried about the anti-gay marriage amendments on the ballot — so when it became clear that Minnesota hadn’t fallen to bigotry, there were more cheers… and, when same-sex marriage was made legal in two more states — it was wonderful… but, we were still sweating the big race… would Mittens beat our guy, Obama??

Eventually, Obama won too… and we felt we could go to bed and not worry about the country.

Spending the night with L & R made me think — no sane person who spent any time with this sweet, affectionate and compassionate couple could say that they shouldn’t be able to get married if they wanted to… nobody in their right mind, at least.  Their personalities mesh nicely, they work well as a team and are supportive of their partners’ goals, dreams, ambitions and values.  Isn’t that what a marriage is supposed to be about?  To deny that they are already a family would be preposterous… just, plain silly — and to deny them the legal benefits and protections granted to hetero couples on a daily basis is just plain wrong.  period.

I have my amazing Hil to thank for bringing these great women into my life.. She was at J and R’s wedding… J is, in many ways, Hil’s life partner –it’s not a romantic relationship, but it’s a relationship filled with love, laughter, compassion and support. When R and J broke up, Hil could have held a grudge against R for breaking J’s heart — but she didn’t.  She saw that life and love don’t always follow an easy or predictable path.  I have Hil to thank for being wise enough to see that and letting R into her life, and thus mine.

The most wonderful thing about last night was being with three women who care deeply about equality — and one another.  I can’t adequately describe the expressions of joy on L & R’s faces as it became clear to them that the country is more accepting of their relationship…. and it’s about dammed time.

L said something that sums it all up, “in the future, people will look back on when gay couples couldn’t get married and wonder what the hell — what were they thinking back then?”  L hit it on the head.

It’s a good day today, and the future looks better than it has in a long time..

On those who refuse to vote…

This guy isn’t going to vote, even though he can….

and.. I’m stunned by this attitude every time I encounter it.

Just the other day I had a discussion with someone like this — his attitude is that “they’re all crooks, I can’t vote for a crook”… wow.  Yes, it may be true that all politicians are dishonest in some way or another — but, the thing is that it’s important to pick the candidate who at least SAYS they align with your values.

If you don’t have an opinion on many of the important social issues, then develop one — read, listen, talk to both sides and figure out what YOU think.  It’s probably the most important thing you can do as a citizen.

I spent a week making phone calls to take down this woman:

And, once in a while I’d get an amazing response to my opening spiel…

“My husband takes care of the voting in this house”… or “I’m not political, I don’t vote”…

I usually had to go walk those off… because, frankly, that’s what some folks WANT you to do — and they don’t have your best interests at heart… they’re “crooks” after all, right?

We were generally calling women, so in my head I’d say things like “well, when crazy eyes cuts your medicare and social security, don’t come crying to me” (if they were older) or — to the young women “when the Republicans want to control your uterus, don’t whine to me”…

In more reasonable times, I think about all of the folks living here and contributing to the country that aren’t permitted to vote — immigrants (with or without legal status) — if they aren’t citizens, no vote… and felons.  In this country 5.8 million citizens can’t legally vote — because they’re felons, 4 million are out of prison and/or even off of “paper” (parole or probation).  Most of these folks are trying like hell to get their lives back in order after a terrible period in their lives — they have problems finding jobs and apartments due to criminal background checks (another rant all together, but — fyi, if a felony is more than 4 years old the person is no more likely to commit another crime than someone with a clean record) — and many states are making it quite difficult for them to vote.

There’s a demographic reason states don’t want felons to vote, it’s called racism.  Felons are disproportionately African American… So, one mistake as a young adult means no voting for life… (see stories about Florida’s process for an example).  My state is quite civilized, once a felon is off of probation/parole their civil rights are automatically restored… thus, they can vote without having to do extensive legal paperwork to do so.  More states should be like Minnesota…

And — Everyone who CAN vote, should — if only because your felon brothers and sisters can’t…


A raise would be nice…

… I suppose, I don’t remember what it looks like in my bank account.

Clearly, I‘m not on Social Security...

I teach at a community college in Minnesota.  We’re unionized, so our health benefits and working conditions are pretty darned good — BUT, and this is a big one… we haven’t had an actual raise in at least two, maybe three contracts — that’s a minimum of 6 years of steady (sometimes good, once in a while brilliant) work for the same money.

Yep, I know I’m “lucky” to have a job at all — especially as a philosopher.  I’m also lucky my class sizes haven’t increased, although — to be fair — 50 students in an Ethics class is all my allotted classroom will hold… and it’s plenty.

On the other hand, my rent increases outpaced my non-existent raises, so I had to move.  I’m quite glad I wasn’t trying to sell a house — I just had to wait out my lease.  The last time I suspect I got a raise, gas was about $1.50 / gallon less.  My cell phone, internet, electricity and grocery bill was lower too.  Due to my divorce, my tax bill increased quite a bit… so, even the IRS is squeezing more out of this stone.

I don’t keep close track of my union dues, but I suspect they’re among the only bill of mine that hasn’t increased.

And.. Mittens wants to break my union… ummm.. why? I don’t see my union putting pressure on the state to increase my wages — and, since I make a fraction of the $250K / year of the folks he’s concerned with, I doubt my well-being is his concern.

So — the folks on Social Security shouldn’t complain too much about their small COLA… at least it’s an increase, don’t blow it all on one package of chicken breasts — wait for a two-fer like the rest of us.

Thanks Mom!


This is my mom… a few years ago :).

Go read this article from the NYT… go, read it!

The story discusses a study that says that the number of words a child is exposed to by the age of 4 makes a huge difference in overall vocabulary and academic achievement.  The most astounding difference was that children of poor/undereducated parents are exposed to 1,500 FEWER words PER HOUR than children of affluent / educated parents. By the time the child is 4 years old, the word gap is 32 MILLION words.

I think it’s important to note that I adjusted the paraphrasing above to make a distinction between wealth and education — because my parents were educated but not affluent.

To say that I was “exposed to words” by my articulate mom is quite the understatement.  Growing up, I was read to — until I could read.  Then I was taken to the library and told that I could only check out as many books as I could carry :).

Thanks to mom I have an outstanding verbal SAT score (if only the math had kept up… le sigh).  Before I finished by BA, a former boss at a phone center job told me that I “use a lot of words”…  and  I ended up as a Ph.D. using words to make a living.  I’m guessing I didn’t suffer from a word gap.

Thanks mom!

I think the bigger point to be made here is that improving education starts from the earliest times in a child’s life.  Breaking the cycle of poverty takes generations.  Improving early childhood education is one huge step — which would include paying childcare workers a decent salary so unemployed folks with a good education — like recent law school graduates — would be able to work with low-income kids who aren’t exposed to lots of words at home.  When they grow up, their children will be exposed to more words because their parents won’t have a word deficit that started when they were very young.

This also makes me hopeful for the children of my students — because many of my students are the first in their families to go to college… and their kids won’t have a word deficit if I can help it :).


A Blog I love…


Writing as jo(e) is one of my favorite blogs... the link is to one of her series of naked friends.

The thing about “jo(e)” is that she takes beautiful photographs of her friends, none of which are explicit or weird — but, they have no clothes on.  Her models aren’t young hot things — rather, they’re her friends, colleagues, and family members.  Their bodies are realistic and beautiful… each new naked friend post reminds me a lot of my “Of Scars” photo shoot..

Thanks to “jo(e)” for reminding me that an older, imperfect body can be beautiful too.

Political Ads..

In the Minnesota 8th district 2,168 political ads were run — each at a cost of about 808.00.

Andy and I have our best ideas on the porch — last night, the idea was to give the money paid for political advertising to poor people instead… and run a very short (therefore, inexpensive) ad about it… run it a few times, see what you can do to make it go “viral”, thus get it for free…

The image we’d present would be a crude split screen — on one side, a very plain man — camera close up on his face.. on the other, as he speaks, images of people in need getting help (clothes, coats, books etc..).

The text of the ad would be very simple:

“Every political ad costs 808.00 to run ONCE.  Instead of smearing our opponent, we thought we should do something for people who need it.  So, we gave the money for one ad to a single mom who was about to be evicted.  She’s caught up on her rent.  We gave the money for another ad to a charity that collects coats for poor kids, 50 poor kids in Minnesota have coats.  We declined to run 1,000 ads, you do the math.  We support Obama.”

Of course — it won’t happen… but, if we ran the world from our porch, it would…