Hush, Hush: A White Lives Lullaby

Hush, little baby, don’t say a word.

Just ignore the news you heard.

All those shootings, all the dead—

Need not upset your little head.

Don’t you fret about traffic stops.

You’re no threat to any cop.

When the blue men draw their guns,

You’ll be fine, my precious son.

And when the bullets pierce the night,

Just shut your eyes ‘til morning light.

Even when the riots break,

There’s no need for you to wake.

Ignore all inequality,

It’ll work out fine for you and me.

Your world is beautiful and bright.

As long as you have skin that’s white.

So hush, little baby, don’t you cry.

America cares if you live or die.

__

 

APTOPIX Million Man March Anniversary
 (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

This is America (A Tragedy)

This is America.

Land of the free. Home of the brave.

We eat burgers. We drink Bud Light.

We love Starbucks. And football. And ourselves.

This is America.

We’re outraged about dentists who hunt lions in Africa.

Gorillas shot to save small children.

And whatever Donald Trump has to say on Twitter.

This is America.

When we heard a gunman opened fire in a crowded movie theater, we gasped in disbelief.

When we saw babies slaughtered within the walls of their own elementary school, we wept in unison.

When we bore witness to a boy turn a bible study into a bloodbath, we lowered our heads in  uncomfortable shame.

Because this is America.

This is where we arm the destroyed, the desolate, the disturbed. The weak. The weary. The warlords. The misinformed. The tragically misled.

This is where—in the wake of violence and death—we scream “RIGHT TO BEAR ARMS” loud enough to drown out the wailing of the mourners, the agony of tortured survivors, the living witnesses to hate incarnate.

This is still America.

When we woke up on Sunday morning to the news of 50 more beautiful humans taken from our homeland, we fell silent. We went numb.

This is America. And what else is there to say?

Arm all the bartenders. And the teachers. And the preachers. Give bombs to the babies. Give glocks to the gays.

We shout, “DO NOT TAKE AWAY OUR FREEDOM!”

But overlook the 49 in Orlando. The 9 in Charleston. The 26 in Newtown. The 12 in Aurora.

Were they not free?

Were they not taken?

This is America.

We hold vigils. We pause with grace and dignity for moments of silence. We create supportive profile pictures on Facebook. Maybe we even write this blog post.

But the truth remains that this is America. So really, we do nothing.

The bullets buzz by our ears, and we pretend that we’re defending amendments. The blood soaks into our shoes, and we make believe that we’re fighting in the footsteps of our founding fathers.

We are too scared to be smart. Too scared to change. Too scared to be the home of the brave.

So we’ll settle simply for land of the free.

Unless, of course, we’re already dead.

 

Nothing Tastes as Bitter as a Cheat Day Feels

Years ago, when I tried to mentally motivate my way through another diet, I started a Pinterest board called Fitspiration. I pinned images of sports bra-wearing fitness models with the glistening abs, biceps, glutes, and more that I so desperately wanted.

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I pinned links to all the pump-you-up Nike commercials I could find.

Candid shots of celebrities in swimsuits.

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Inspirational blog posts about weight loss success—with the obligatory before-and-after photos.

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And quotes I wanted to pound in my head.

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One of those quotes was this gem:

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I looked at those words constantly. I looked at it before I ate something I thought I might regret: a cookie, a cocktail, a carrot dipped in a smidge too much peanut butter. I looked at it when I wanted to back out of my workouts.

Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.

Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.

Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.

I visualized skinny-me. I marveled at how good achieving my dream body must feel that it would inevitably trump the deliciousness that is French fries and biscuits and hot fudge sundaes.

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Now, having successfully lost the weight and kept it off—with no thanks to the Fitspiration board, by the way—I need someone, anyone, everyone to know this truth:

Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels is bullshit.

That’s not to say I’m not happy. I feel amazing. Shedding the fat, the shame, the guilt, the bulbous burden I carried on my body, in my head, on my spirit my entire adult life was absolutely worth the hard work, the sacrifices, and the sometimes-tough choices.

But Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels is still a bullshit philosophy that pins happiness against satisfaction in an unhealthy way. In an impossible way.

Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels says you’ll be happier if you don’t eat a slice of cake. Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels means that under no circumstances is enjoying what you eat acceptable. Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels tells you that when you lie awake at night with hunger pangs, you can take comfort in the fact that your thigh gap is widening. Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels teaches us not to enjoy food, but instead to enjoy the way our bodies look when we’re starved for it.

And that approach to health and weight loss and happiness is not sustainable.

So instead of “cheat days” when we’re allowed to indulge without feeling guilty—and still feel guilty anyway—why don’t we empower ourselves to make smart choices all day, every day based on what we know about our own bodies?

Instead of punishing our weekend indulgences during a Monday workout, let’s make fitness a sacred time and space where we take care of ourselves, where we invest in ourselves. Where we cut ties with everything that drags us down, sweat out stress, and celebrate every triumph.

Exercise is not a punishment any more than indulgent food is a reward. Because one day, after you’ve had an balanced breakfast and a healthy lunch and you plan to go for a run after work, cookies may show up in the break room at your office.

And you may decide to eat one. And it will taste good.

And that’s okay.

Because cookies do taste good. And bagels taste good. And heavy-handed pours of malbec taste good. And power foods like avocado and sweet potatoes and salmon and raspberries and almonds taste good.

But being healthy, putting healthy things into your body, investing in your health and happiness and well-being, that’s what feels good.

It feels better than skinny. It feels better than fat. It feels better than over indulging or dieting or cheat days or juice cleanses. It even feels better than watching the numbers go down on the scale.

So if you want to be healthier, lose weight, or simply be the best version of yourself, here’s my advice: Forget Fitspiration. Forget cheat days. Forget what everyone else looks like in a bikini. Forget what society says you’re supposed to look like in a bikini. Forget how far you have to go. Forget how many times you’ve tried and failed. Forget the mantras. And definitely forget Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.

But please remember this:

Nothing feels as good as taking good care of yourself.

love conquers, all(ways)

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Seven years ago, if you had asked me whether or not my first love was worth the heartbreak, I would have shaken my head with ferocity and defiance. No, no, no. No, it absolutely was not.

Love was not worth having my confidence ripped out from beneath me like an ugly carpet. Love was not worth migraines born from a deluge of tears. Love was not worth becoming a jealous bitch. Love was not worth being trampled by lies. Or coming back to the man who ruined me again and again like some dumb cow. Love was not worth feeling guileless, gutless, gritless. Love was not worth becoming a shadow of myself.

Before my first love, forever was a place that existed. And he showed me that place was as real as glass slippers, as likely as a fairy tale.

Seven years ago, I would have said love was not worth it.

If you had asked me seven months ago, if my second love was worth the self-destruction, I would have screamed “Noooo!!!” until my voice gave out to just a whimper.

Love was not worth raising a monster. Love was not worth feeling my blood pressure spike as his tides of anger began to swell. Love was not worth becoming a callous bitch. Or drinking five glasses of wine a day just to settle my racing heart, just to calm my nerves. Love was not worth gaining 40 pounds and hating myself and not knowing why.

Before my second love, I was destined for happiness. And he built clouds around my sunshine. He made life itself a storm.

Seven months ago, I would have said love was not worth it.

But love is a transformative beauty with a feeble memory. She lives in the now, incapable of holding a grudge. She forges forward, head held high, somehow destined for triumph despite herself.

Love conquers all because she’s a fucking champion. And she simply doesn’t know how to accept, admit, or allow for defeat.

So here I am. Following that gallant warrior into battle like a goddamned fool.

And if you asked me today if I would do it all over again, I would nod my head with unquestioning resolve.

I would take every crushing blow and scarred memory and stained love story one hundred times over. I would date ten thousand more Davids. I would watch my self-esteem crumble and rebuild, just to crumble again. I would make all the same wrong choices. I would relive every last mistake.

I would do it all. Every flawed moment.

If the ending were the same.

My broken spirit. My bloated belly. I would embrace it.

If I wound up in this place.

Surrounded and surrendered by this love.

Your love.

You.

If you asked me today, I would tell you—hopefully, honestly, helplessly—that yes, love is absolutely worth it.

Image Credit: “Gentle Love” a watercolor painting by RoSaLia’s Art via Etsy.

I vote for the dead.

Whether you like it or not, we do not vote for politicians. We do not vote for parties. We do not vote for conservatives or liberals or left-wings or right-wings or donkeys or elephants or red or blue. We do not vote for good looks or smart policies or years of experience or spotless track records.

We vote for the causes that matter to us. We vote for the issues that impact our lives. That define our generations. That determine our futures.

We vote for the one thing that lights a fire in our lungs. That makes our voices quiver or shudder or shout. The one thing that brings out a passion and fervor and adamancy within ourselves that we did not even know existed.

This is an election year. And I cannot say what that one thing is for you. But I can tell you this is mine:

I vote for the dead.

The Spirituality of Raspberries

My dad once told me, while looking up at the tops of the Georgia pines in our front yard, that the green-on-blue combination of trees against sky is proof of God’s existence. He said it could not possibly have happened by coincidence.

It’s too thoughtful. Too beautiful. Too perfect.

Raspberries are my proof. If you’ve ever picked one off a wild bush in summertime and plucked it in your mouth, you know: something like that doesn’t just happen. It’s intended.

I’m sure my dad would agree.

From a young age, Dad raised me to experience the world around me. He showed me how to appreciate the smell of snowfall. To love the constricted feeling in my lungs when I breathe in my first blast of winter air each year. He offered me the bird names. The bird songs.

Because of him, I can tell you the difference between a blue jay and a bluebird and an indigo bunting. And what the temperature high is for Anchorage, Alaska on any given day.

As we chat on the phone during my commute, Dad asks how the jonquils he planted at my first home are doing. Have they come up yet? And he’ll make an extra call in the evening just to tell me to go outside and look at the full moon. Does it look as yellow in Charleston as it does here?

Because of him, I love the warmth of a fire. The sound of fat raindrops pounding a tool shed. The soul-cleansing that is wading chest-deep in a clear stream. The subtle sweetness of nectar from a honeysuckle flower. The intricacy and wonder of seashells.

Of his two daughters, I’m the baby. I’m the carefree spirit. I’m the keeper of the bird songs.

In my 30 years, he’s shaped the gentlest corners of my being. He’s molded me into someone who laments the passing of orchids. Someone who stops halfway through her run to take in a marsh view or a fading sunset or a grazing deer. Someone who’s thankful for every clear starry night, every low-hanging moon, every first frost, every last jonquil. Someone who can’t imagine seeing the world without her father’s eyes.

Someone who finds faith in the treetops. And raspberries fresh off the bush.

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