Tag Archives: respect

Vet-Life: why you should support them (and possibly get over yourself)

1920x450_1 I never offer up blogs about products… or rarely, because it’s pretty damn rare I believe in them. Let me tell you a story to preface my shameless plug for Vet-Life. Actually, let me tell you 23 million stories.

  • 23 million veterans since 2009.
  • 840,000 homeless.
  • 22 veteran suicides… a day.
  • 300,000 veterans on the streets on a given night.
  • Substance abuse and mental health issues from PTSD, with no hope and no help.
  • Inadequate shelter options.
  • Men and women abandoned by our people and our government after years of sacrifice.

Guess what… I don’t care if you don’t support the war. If you never supported it. If you have a negative opinion of the men and women who go to battle for you and your family. They don’t desert your safety because you don’t believe in them. They don’t return your derision simply because they don’t understand your perspective. We cannot understand what we have not experienced.

Many years alongside the Marine Corps allowed some intimate glances into the minds and hearts of men who serve, for me. I trained many of these men and women in the gym and I trained alongside them. These are real people, with real humanity and empathy. Very, very few – VERY FEW – went in “to kill”. Many never thought they really would. Were they willing to, for your safety? Yes. But they never craved that experience.

These people went to war – many because they and millions of others were convinced by our government during 9-11 that this was a dire need. They thought they were protecting us. Whatever your political affiliations or revelations or disturbing information about our government’s reasons for war that have since come to light, these people I knew… they went in because they cared about your freedom and thought to protect it. They had no other purpose or mission.

When you remember that you have never walked a mile in their fucking boots, many of you have never even known a military member – you would do well to stop and consider the empathy you may have neglected for the sacrifices they made in the name of freedom. Whatever you think of the war, remember that these are human beings. They served and serve out of a passion for your ability to walk, talk, breathe, pray, marry, speak up – without fear of oppression.

I love this community, and I support them with pride.

My friend Kevin works in the private sector now, but spent many years in service. He and his business partner, Corey Peters, are both veterans who started the company Vet-Life on September 11, 2014. Vet-Life takes an active role in the veteran community through the support of various veteran charities and their families throughout the United States, including:

  • Live to Tell Foundations
  • Student Veteran House
  • Homeless Veterans
  • Mission 22

Vet-Life’s mission is to support armed service members and veterans through a diverse line of in-demand apparel. The clothing is comfortable and fashion-forward. The company purposes to honor and represent ALL veterans from military branches, including police officers, firefighters, EMT’s, and other heroes of America who’ve risked their lives for people they’ve never met.

Vet-Life is ready to give back to those who have given so much to us.

Are you?

Click HERE to browse the apparel and provide your support to our veterans! vet      

Advertisements
Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Power of Experience

Day three  – in a row – of blogging. This has certainly never happened before, and it feels as good as my coffee tastes this morning. 

The older I get (as I approach the ripe age of 27, ripe being an apt adjective for this post), the more I realize that when people said “you won’t understand until you’re older”, what they’re really speaking of is experience. 

There are some things that you simply cannot learn without time and experience. 

This valued ingredient of maturity, experience, is also the reason why some people age and never mature. There are people so sheltered, who run and hide from the challenges, risks, successes and failures that life brings, and as a result fail to develop the depth of character that can come from experiencing more of the world. 

The majority of the unexperienced are narrow-minded, and lack empathy and respect. 

It is fairly impossible to be immature without being unexperienced. 

Here is the best illustration I have for you:

Growing up, I was quite sheltered, as has been previously discussed. This kept me from much pain, but also slowed my maturing, and kept me close-minded, arrogant, and self-righteous. 

I would hear about women who were married, unhappy, wanted a divorce, and I would be shocked, and make generalizations common to the church culture: “Well, she shouldn’t have gotten married if she didn’t realize marriage was work”. “Divorce is way too easy these days”. “They need counseling”. “She didn’t ever love him if she wants a divorce”. “If she prays more fervently and realizes her heart is deceitful, she will come around”. 

One woman left her husband, and weeks later was with another man. My brain processed: “Adulterer”. “Sinner”. “Slut”. 

My categories for right and wrong were limited simply to what I had heard was right. They were limited by my inexperience.

Years later, many years later, I left an abusive marriage. I was a shell of a human being. Destroyed emotionally, and terrified. I felt I had no value. I was lost and broken. If I had stayed in that marriage, I strongly believeI would have eventually killed myself (or been killed) from fear and depression. Very few people knew anything of that marriage but the happy exterior. The young me, the inexperienced me, looking in, would have been appalled that I left. Shocked that I wanted a divorce months after I left.

But it was right. 

Months after this, I was on the road to recovery in abuse counseling. I was dating. 

What. Dating? And still legally married. 

The young me, the inexperienced me, would have been stunned.

But it was right. 

Even more stunned when, after months of a few dates with various individuals, I met the love of my life, a gentle, amazing, kind, empathetic, patient, loving man, and he moved in with me, long after I left my ex-husband, but before the final processing date for the divorce. 

Technically, according to law, I was a married woman living with another man. Our separation paperwork agreement allowed for this, but my younger “conscience” would not have. Nor would the culture I grew up in, I’m sure. 

But it was right. 

Looking at every step of that journey, I regret none of it. I know exactly why every decision was made, and made in good conscience. Experience has taught me that many things which seem so very black and white are never so until you walk through them, alone, yourself; painfully, slowly, sincerely, with all of the emotional wrestling matches you will encounter on the way, and all of the incredible “AHA!” moments that experience brings with those painful struggles.

It is to my shame that I made so many harsh judgments of others growing up. The older I get, the more I learn to never judge what seems a certain way from the outside. Unless someone is hurting someone else or directly self-harming, no judgments are made. I cannot speak without walking in their shoes, and the likelihood is, because I haven’t had to, I wouldn’t be strong enough to understand the lessons they are learning, anyway.

Experience is the greatest teacher, and the most painful one. 

I note, painfully, the inexperience of people I know, as a reason for their judgment, arrogance, and self-righteous behavior. 

Purely and simply, people fear what they do not understand.

Put more clearly, they fear what they have not experienced. 

Fear drives people to judge, hate, and hurt.

Be slow to judge what you cannot understand, what you have not been called to experience. Respect the painful journeys of others, in their own uniqueness, with their own set of trials and understanding.

And pursue experience. Take risks, interact with people outside of your “experience circle”. Learn from them, learn to love and respect the differences, and release fears of the unknown. 

Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

Let’s Light the Fuse

So today, I’m sipping coffee (again) in Berkeley (again) before my fasted run (again), and not complaining (at all).

And today, my uncle Tim is marrying the love of his life, his partner, Bennie. 

Today, I’m attending my first gay wedding. 

And today, I’m going to discuss what I never branch into discussing, because it’s such a hot-button topic: gay marriage. 

I grew up in an incredibly conservative, restrictive, cult-like Christian culture. Gratefully, my parents moved away from that when I was 18, and started their own church, which helped me break out of a lot of brainwashing, lies, bigotry, distortion of scripture, and self-righteous, fear-driven, extra-biblical “law”.

I also grew up in a culture which was composed of at least 75% broken, miserable, unhappy, abusive, chauvenistic, fucked up marriages, with the other 25% being purely beautiful, full of respect and love (my parents’ is one of the amazing ones). 

But even after we left, I still would have told you that gay marriage was “sinful” and “wrong”.

Fast-forward 8 years. 

Fast-forward through 7 years of chronic illness, 3 years of a broken, abusive, unbiblical “christian” marriage, rape, two years of motherhood, several moves, unemployment, and many broken moments of single motherhood; fast forward through a shit ton of life experiences, and you’ll find ME.

Me, learning to redefine my religion from a basis of LOVE, open-mindedness, and experience with the “God” I KNOW. 

The “God” I pray to, talk to, still believe exists, who held me together and helped me find my feet and myself and my way through illness, abuse, and recovery, he LOVES. 

There are several ways to approach this issue.

I could say that according to the Bible, God created marriage to be for a man and woman, but all of that was distorted and changed at “the fall”. Therefore, what matters is that these people, in this day and age, are loving and respectful of each other, and we shouldn’t expect everyone to have “straight” marriages anymore. 

I could say that biblical law is archaic, that banning gay marriage goes right up there with wondering if we should still stone people for adultery or lying. I could remind you that much of old testament and new testament scripture is ignored by church culture. 

I could point out the discrepancy between “christians” who get drunk, who have sex outside of marriage, who do many things you aren’t SUPPOSED to do, and still condemn another “sin” – the sin of gay marriage – despite their own transgressions. 

I could remind you that Jesus ate with tax collectors and prostitutes, so even if you don’t think gay people should be married, you have no right to condemn, abuse, malign, ostracize or disrespect them.

But what I find myself doing – as I struggle to pick up the pieces of a once seemingly rock-solid faith that was in truth completely untested by time, maturity, and the pain that life brings – is arguing simply and irrevocably from a position of LOVE. 

I have learned to love what I believe mirrors the characteristics of the God that I know. The Being that created a world that should’ve reflected love, respect, integrity, friendship, companionship, affection, joy, family, giving, community… “peace, patience, kindness, no record of wrongdoing, delighting not in evil, but rejoicing with truth”. 

Through all of the pain I have incurred, I have learned to simply and purely respect what is GOOD: what builds up and draws together and demonstrates LOVE, at it’s selfless, priceless, genuine essence, and to reject that which is EVIL: which pulls apart, which causes pain, which puts down and destroys, selfishly, fearfully, and without sincerity, full of hypocrisy. 

For this reason – because I love these two people, because they love each other, because I simply respect what they have built over many years with each other; the people they’ve drawn together, the community they’ve created, the respect and integrity they share – for this reason, I stand behind them today, and I delight in doing so. 

Happy wedding day, Tim and Bennie!

Thank you for unintentionally pushing me to grapple with yet another issue that leads me to a place of loving myself, and others. 

Screen shot 2014-08-31 at 12.19.07 PM

 

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

R-E-S-P-E-C-T

First of all, go listen to this:

Second, go read this:

http://jamesmsama.wordpress.com/2013/12/02/what-love-does-and-doesnt-look-like/

Finally, my turn.

Let’s talk about RESPECT.

The beautiful and classic Aretha sings:

Ain’t gonna do you wrong while you’re gone
Ain’t gonna do you wrong (oo) ’cause I don’t wanna (oo)
All I’m askin’ (oo)
Is for a little respect when you come home (just a little bit)
Baby (just a little bit) when you get home (just a little bit)
Yeah (just a little bit)

When I was a lass, early on in my first real relationship, with my skewed ideas of self-sacrifice and love and my juvenile grasp on self-sufficiency, my boyfriend (eventually fiance) told me progressively that he didn’t like:

– dangle earrings

– boots

-scarves

-hats

-heels

– eye makeup

– tattoos

– my playfullness

– my talking (politely and respectfully) to anyone of the opposite sex

– my affectionate behavior

– my talking in public.

Yes, you read that. There was more, but luckily it all escapes my memory.

My young self, with my stunted emotional independence and church mouse conformity, readily threw away or gave away every article of clothing, accessory, and personality trait he disliked. I worked my @ss off trying to be what he wanted me to be.

Lucky for him, and even luckier for me, things went downhill quickly and we broke things off. He went on to marry the exact opposite of me, and someone who by nature fit the criteria I was forcing on myself.

You would think I would’ve learned from this relationship, but I didn’t.

My next relationship was about 5 months long. This guy had me convinced that his unwillingness to touch me (in 5 months of dating he only ever gave me a side hug) for the sake of purity was normal. I changed my perspective on things that were or were not appropriate, and I took my standards way “up”, in a manner of speaking, so that he felt I could match his level of “purity” (i.e. drinking was a sin, even one drink, and secular music was a pitfall… things like that).

This one ended when I began to realize how unhealthy the pattern was, and I stood up for myself.

My next serious relationship was my marriage. I flew through the process because of the passion, and looking back I wish I hadn’t, but at the same time, I know I would’ve made the same decisions with the maturity I had at the time, so I do not regret it. Life is a learning curve.

Compromise to me, in this relationship, meant a heavy adjustment of goals and priorities both for the sake of military life, and for the comfort of my partner. If my goals and dreams and likes and dislikes upset him, I backed off, suppressed, changed.

I’ve learned this can only last so long.

In each of these relationships, the other person was threatened in some way by my differences, opinions, personality, and dreams. Not only did they each have their own issues, but they were not secure enough to accept the respect I offered, and to offer the same.

I can legitimately, honestly, with integrity say that in my relationships, I am never the one to make demands. I want, beyond a shadow of a doubt, and clearly to an extreme, the happiness of my partner. I will sacrifice everything to secure that. In some ways, this is not healthy. In other ways, I am very proud of how secure I am in of myself to be happiest when my partner is happy, even if things the like, want, do, or change are not my preference.

Here’s the not healthy, and how I’m learning to address it.

1. Respect is a two-way street.

Only boys will project their insecurities onto you. If you have done nothing but honor, care, respect, and love, and they decide to be cagey, jealous, angry, possessive, controlling, and demanding, that is not respect, and it is an undeserved projection of insecurities.

2. Compromise requires constant redefinition.

We like to say relationships require compromise. In a situation, for instance, where I wanted my Master’s degree and was offered an amazing opportunity, was told to turn it down, and did, that was not compromise. Compromise would’ve looked like patiently and lovingly evaluating the situation and making a healthy, adult decision of my own out of a desire to both pursue my dreams and honor my relationships. Compromise is also a two-way street. If there’s something that you don’t like or that makes you uncomfortable, you discuss it openly (you don’t sit on it for months), immediately, and from a heart of love and support, and you do this on a regular basis.

3. Respect requires communication.

When I was deeply hurt or confused by the actions of my partners, I would internalize because I didn’t want to be “that girl”: the bitch that makes a big deal out of emotional, physical, or mental hurt. WRONG. When you respect yourself, you are open with hurt in a mature way so the other person can know they’ve disrespected you. You may be forgiving, but those little hurts, over time, will undermine a relationship.

4. Changing the things you really want, and the way you really are, is only temporary.

If you go with your gut and you choose to recognize who you really are, what you really believe, and what your own standards are; the core values, the personality, the strong preferences and the things that hurt you or bring you down; when you own those things, you recognize you cannot change them. If you try, and many, many people try, it will eventually wear you down or wear off, and the other person will feel hurt and disillusioned and angry because you’re being yourself.

5. The deepest and most beautiful relationships have mutual respect.

Respect that also includes an autonomy: a value of self. Respect that says I love you for your ESSENCE. If you want purple hair and a butt tattoo, I might not like it, but that’s on you. Respect that also says I want to be attractive to and to encourage and uplift my partner, so there are things I can recognize as trivial and can give up or change because they aren’t a part of my essence, I’m not changing who I am. Respect that values the other person’s dreams, goals, ambitions, personality, differences, and delights in them. Respect that cares enough to go deep, to push someone further, to see their potential and help them realize it, even when that means challenging them in difficult ways. Respect that does not lose the value of self in being fully absorbed in someone else, but still wants and desires and longs for the companionship and partnership of the other person.

Next time around,

I want to know I’m valued for the deepest parts of who I am. I want to feel honored and supported. I want to know I have the liberty to do what I like, so that I can make conscious choices to compromise from a place of independent self-assessment and not oppressive control. There are very few things I want so badly (VERY few) that I will not give them up for someone else, but there are now a few things I value so deeply that I will not sacrifice them.

Like respect.

xoxoxo

-sportyspice

IMG_6706Watermark

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,