Divorce Sucks but the Results Are Great

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Divorce Sucks but the Results Are Great

I stayed in a marriage for too long because of the frightening process of divorce. I had kids, so I was scared to hurt them. I was a woman, so I was scared to be financially screwed. However, as I was writing my book this morning, I realized that I focused a lot on the process and not the product. Most of the time, the process is more important than the product, but not in divorce. The product of divorce is freedom! Nearly nothing is better than freedom. I wish that the many times I had attempted to end my marriage I could have seen the freedom. I would have pushed through all the bullshit sooner so I could quit wasting my time.

I talk a lot about divorce in my book because it was a major turning point in my life. I was a different person before I got a divorce because I was trapped in a bad situation. Being free has allowed me to change in so many ways for the better. My health has improved, my financial situation has actually improved, and my confidence has improved. I am following my dreams (cheesy, yes, but true!) because I am no longer held back by a negative view of life. Divorce sucked. People got hurt; money was blown; things changed. But, at the end of the day, these struggles were invaluable learning experiences. And, the light at the end of the tunnel is amazing. It was truly worth it.

I am in the editing process of writing, so, fingers crossed, the book will be out soon. I’m self publishing for the first time and am super nervous and excited about it. I will be writing about the process as well. The book is going to be called, Evolving Through Bullshit. Maybe you’ll try it out.

Struggles Teach Us Something. Listen to Them.

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Struggle Meme

I was forced out of bed this morning by thoughts of writing. It’s amazing how passion can make us do things. As I was proofreading the second chapter, I decided to share my thoughts on struggle. I have struggled for years, no, decades, with wanting to write, but I have never followed through. I actually finished a book last year, but have not touched it sense. This struggle is one of self-doubt. However, as you’ll find in my book, I do not believe that we struggle for no reason. Our bodies physically try to protect us, so they get confused by our fears. When we fear something, the body turns away from it as a means of protection. Unfortunately, these fears are often irrational and reinforced by a false sense of security. My fear of writing is that I won’t be good enough. It is that someone will read it and think I’m stupid. Or, no one will read it. Why do we fear these things? Because we have struggled with something similar. Someone somewhere has put these thoughts in our heads, whether it is social media, television, friends, enemies, family…But, a cool thing can happen when you realize that this struggle was just meant to be a lesson, not a debilitating reality. This struggle was meant to prepare you for the possibility of rejection. But, this struggle is not permanent. No struggle is. That’s why it’s a struggle. It’s hard, you push through it, and you’re better on the other side. You can appreciate it more. With me, I’ve learned that I don’t care if I’m rejected. I have been there. I don’t care if someone thinks I’m stupid; I know plenty of stupid people. What I care about is finding my voice and letting it out. It’s been screaming at me for decades inside my head. It needs out. SO, if you are struggling with something, take a good step back and try to see what the lesson is within the struggle. Then, push past it. Get on the other side and remember it for future struggles may come, but they too can be lessons rather than realities. Happy Wednesday!

No More Bullshit?

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I’ve finally decided to jump in to my dream of writing and stick with it. I’ve always had a writing project in the works, but I’ve never felt so passionate about it as I do this new one. So, I’m going to share some of it with my audience in hopes of finding encouragement to keep up the momentum. I’m 20,000 words in, so I feel pretty confident about it. If you have any opinions, please share.

I’m still playing around with a title, but I like No More Bullshit: Life Lessons because it encompasses the premise of the book, which is ultimately about the changes I’ve made in my life after becoming more enlightened. The book also contains my real voice, which is a potty mouth accompanying my Southern accent and intellectualism. I want people to be aware that this is supposed to be a humorous look at the experiences that prompted me to change. It is not faith-based although I do incorporate some spirituality that has helped me, so I do not want the wrong audience to pick up the book and be offended.

So, if you have any feedback, I’d really appreciate it. Feel free to comment.

Sexual Harassment Training

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As a consultant, I identify problem areas, research best practices, put my own spin on these practices, and conduct training. With sexual harassment, it’s personal. I have been a victim of sexual harassment all too often. Unfortunately, the online training and video training that I have always been required to participate in has not helped me in any way know how to actually handle sexual harassment in the workplace.

What happens to organizations when sexual harassment training fails?

  • They are at risk of a lawsuit
    • Lawsuits are expensive, duh
    • Lawsuits are time-consuming
    • Lawsuits can be detrimental to an organization’s reputation
  • A hostile work environment is created
    • Even if there is no lawsuit, problems are still created
    • Employees need to feel safe and protected by the organization
    • When employees do not feel safe, they lose their loyalty, their enthusiasm, and their confidence in the organization

The misconception that you are safe if you are not involved is being torn down. If you are a leader and you do not practice due care to prevent sexual harassment, you can be held responsible for someone else’s actions. Look at Penn State. Leaders who had nothing to do with the charges are responsible for the lack of handling the situation.

It’s time to be pro-active and get proper training!

WHY CHOOSE ME?

I understand sexual harassment from the inside. I know that it is not easy to deal with sexual harassment at a job that you have worked hard to obtain. I know that people get backed into corners and file lawsuits out of desperation. But, I believe that lawsuits are not the answer. They do not help the situation. I want to help both victims and organizations avoid lawsuits and end sexual harassment. What has been done is not working, so it’s time to try something new.

My sessions will not only cover the legal and organizational needs, but they will also help to develop stronger employees. I have researched the problems with current training and developed solutions for better training. The sessions are fun and interactive, which means that they will last. I will continue to provide assistance as needed even after training.

OSHA says that online/video training is not sufficient for sexual harassment training. What does this mean? That if this is the only method of sexual harassment training an organization employs, and there is a sexual harassment incident at that organization, the organization can be held liable for not having proper training.

FOR VICTIMS:

Everyone knows what sexual harassment is, and everyone knows that it is illegal. However, you may not know how to deal with sexual harassment when dealing with it threatens your career and your livelihood. You are not alone in this.

For information on how to book my services go to my website: julietsmilesconsulting

 

Why I Will Continue to Support Black Lives Matter Even Though I’m White

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First ofblack-lives-matter all, I shouldn’t have to write “even though I’m white,” but I feel that it is necessary because I’m hoping that this will reach at least one white person who doesn’t think it’s okay to support the Black Lives Matter movement as if it will harm their white privilege in some way. Secondly, I will attempt to refrain my anger and sarcasm as much as possible, but I can’t make any promises. These are my disclaimers.

As a teacher, I have witnessed many forms of oppression in our society, especially against black people. I see that the public school system reinforces many of this oppression. What do I mean? Let’s look at desegregation. When black children were finally allowed to attend “white” schools, how much did the schools change to include their culture? Did the history books change to include positive attributes made by black people? No. Did literature books change to include a fair amount of black writers? No. The only thing that changed was that they were allowed to attend. When I look back on my education, I think about how much I did not know about black people as a child. I didn’t have the pleasure of reading Toni Morrison,  Langston Hughes, Eudora Welty, Richard Wright, etc. All that I was exposed to was the “norm.” So, looking at this from the perspective of a black child (if I may venture to do so), what would this tell me about my race? As a white child of a racist mother, I learned that white was normal, good, accepted. I was taught that black boys were rapists and violent. I was taught that black women were bitches. And, I was taught that all black people were stupid and did not belong in our society. My mother would say that she wished that black people would be sent back to Africa. I want to add here that I have long since departed from these teachings, but I’m afraid that many people still have this mentality. So, in 2016, has the public school system changed? No. They simply added a month to celebrate Black History–the shortest month of the year. Yes, they have included more black people in history and literature, but the narrative is ultimately the same. EXCLUSION OF BLACK PEOPLE BEGINS IN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL.

As a college English teacher, I emphasize the fact that we are all basically bilingual. When I’m at home, I sometimes say things like, “He done started something,” or “She gone get in trouble.” This is our dialect. I know that it is technically incorrect, but I do not dismiss dialect because it brings richness, culture and identity to people’s voices. My black students are not used to this. They are not used to their speech being accepted as a language. They look at me like I’m an alien. EXCLUSION OF BLACK PEOPLE CONTINUES THROUGHOUT HIGH SCHOOL AND COLLEGE.

Don’t get me wrong, black people are strong. I admire them for their perseverance. They have made tremendous strides considering the lack of acceptance in our society. They don’t need my support. It’s the white people who need to know that it’s okay to support them.

In fact, white people could benefit majorly from true inclusion. Look at the school system again. Now tests are the ultimate basis of knowledge. If a student doesn’t pass the test, the student is judged, the teacher is judged, the school is judged. The problem with this is that not all student knowledge can be measured by a test. And, ultimately the tests do not reflect the differences in race. This is a difficult subject because it may sound bad, but hear me out. When black people were allowed to attend white schools, they had basically no education besides the little bit that other black people could teach them. They were not up to white people’s “standards.” So, instead of changing the system and letting the black students catch up, they just kept going in hopes that they would give up. Then, legislature is passed that says that all schools must be performing. These black students who couldn’t catch up were hurting the numbers. What happens? They lower the standards. Now middle and lower class white students are also suffering. And, this is pretty much where the education system is today.

Also, some black people did give up. They recognized that they couldn’t survive this system. This system NEVER really let them in. So, what do they do? Turn to ways to survive that don’t include getting an education.

Another form of oppression is the welfare system. The welfare system was set up initially to help people get back on their feet after the Great Depression. Now, it reinforces a cycle of slavery to poverty. I once overheard a conversation among a couple of black seventh graders (ages 13-14). They were talking about naming their babies. I heard one of them say that she hoped that she would have twins so that her grandmother would get two more checks. When a person only knows one way of life, it is difficult to break out of it. It is the norm. It is a cycle. I’m going out on a limb to say that I’d bet most of our politicians know this, which is why welfare continues. I’m not saying welfare should disappear because I understand its important in helping people in need, but it should be a means to an end, not the end. So many white people disagree with me on this point because they are jealous that the government gives black people money. This is so stupid because 1. white people get welfare too, and 2. a life depending on the government is not a good one. White people say “I wish I could drive a Cadillac and get on welfare,” but that Cadillac does not make up for other hardships, and this is just nasty ass stupid prejudice assumption. Think of it this way: Do I want my daughter at 13 to be thinking about naming her child, the child that she is having so that her grandmother can get another check? Nope.

I could go on and on about the systems of oppression (a.k.a. slavery) that are thriving in our society, but this is supposed to be about Black Lives Matter. I’m writing this in response to white people trying to diminish this movement by using the term Blue Lives Matter as a rebuttal. NO NO NO! This movement was not established as a blow against police officers. It was established as a cry for help. Mothers of victims. Mother of victims. They lost their children. They lost their children to the violence of our society. Our society excluded their children, and they ended up dead at young ages. This is the problem. Stop trying to stifle their voices. Stop ignoring the exclusion. Stop saying that they can’t speak up for themselves without taking away from white people. Do white people need black lives to not matter?

No one said that blue lives don’t matter. No one said that white lives don’t matter. When a police officer shoots a black man sitting in his car unarmed, he is saying that his life doesn’t matter. When a white man shoots a black teenager for wearing a hoody and playing loud music, he is saying that his life doesn’t matter. When a child is gunned down for having a toy gun, it shows that someone believed his life didn’t matter. There are methods for preventing this violence, but they are not exercised. Are all instances of police violence about race? No. Am I saying that police officers should not protect themselves? No. I am saying that racism and oppression exist and cannot be ignored. I am saying that black lives do matter, but that does not have to take away from others’ lives. I am saying that if there are instances where a black person is targeted, then there need to consequences and recognition.

I don’t worry that my son will get shot because of the color of his skin. I don’t worry that my son will be excluded in school because of the color of his skin. I don’t worry that my son will be profiled because of the color of his skin. I enjoy white privilege in this way. I do not want to have to worry, but I want to share those same privileges with my black neighbors. I want my students to feel accepted in my classroom. I want my students to succeed and become productive members of society. I want to live in a society where we stop lying and start fixing the problem. If you want to say ALL LIVES MATTER, fine. THEN ACT LIKE IT! Until then recognize that BLACK LIVES MATTER.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Modern Fairy Story Reveals Social Commentary

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a1ffac38-681f-48ff-8992-986c22d2c028-large16x9_PLT_Shrek_HeroLast night my wife and I took my kids and her niece to see Shrek: The Musical at the Pensacola Little Theater, and it was a treat! The costumes were fantastic, the setting was amazing, but what I loved the most were the hidden meanings that made me like this modern fairy story in the first place.

My favorite song was “Let Your Freak Flag Fly.” In the play, most of the characters are “outsiders”–the “Big Bad Wolf” is dressed in drag, witches are “not so wicked,” and many of the others are part of the B list fairy stories. What do they tell us? That we should celebrate our differences, and that being divided makes us weak and vulnerable to tyrants and society.

Of course, these characters are the side story, and Shrek and Fiona are the main protagonists. Shrek is definitely not the prince charming, although he rescues Fiona. He does so without violence. He is actually very logical. His whole analogy that ogres are like onions is hilarious yet meaningful. Fiona, as we soon find out, is also an ogre on the inside. She tries to be the typical princess. She shows us that little girls are given expectations based on fairy tales that do not come true. Shrek and Fiona are real life: reality.

One of the most evocative parts that I wish I could have recorded even though I know that’s not cool was when Shrek was mad and hurt and retreated to his swamp to build a wall. A giant green ogre dancing around on stage singing about how a wall was a solution to his problems was just too reminiscent of Donald Trump to go unnoticed.

However, the best example of irony was636053273925510881-Shrek-The-Musical-Farquaad-3 Lord Farquaad–the tyrant who wants to kick out all of the “freaks” so that he can have his perfect kingdom. His size is a realistic portrayal of his brain more than his body.

I appreciated this play, performed mostly for children, so much that I felt compelled to share. Please share your thoughts as well. 636053273954059064-Shrek-The-Musical-Shrek-Fiona-2

 

 

 

 

One White Feminist Who Wants to Talk about Racism in Feminism

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Let’s start a dialogue. I don’t want to be racist. I understand white privilege. I am a feminist. I recently read “Bad Feminist” by Roxane Gay, and I very much see her points. I agree. I will not be “free-bleeding” or whatever the fuck it’s called to not wear a tampon. I will shave my armpits, and my legs, and my vagina. I love some men–my father, my son, my girlfriend’s son, my friends, etc. So, I guess I too am a bad feminist. However, I’m not ashamed to call myself feminist in any situation. I’ve gotten over a lot of shame by coming out as a lesbian, so feminist is something that is low on the totem pole of shame. However, I do understand that there are negative connotations and associations with the term or label because of certain issues. We can’t just tuck our tails and run from these issues, though. Many feminists who fought for women’s rights and suffrage were working with black people to gain the same rights. Even those who weren’t should not carry the name of feminist into the mud. This is a new time, and it’s time that our views on feminism change. It is about empowering all people. Everyone can gain from feminism.

I am ashamed that some people are ashamed to call themselves feminists. While I’m writing this, I was thinking of comparing the idea of being ashamed of feminism to being ashamed of the white race because of the many fools in the white race that take things to the extreme and make me ashamed of my color. Then I thought, I would not be ashamed of anything that feminists do, even if I chose not to do those things, except for excluding people of color, and that’s something that apparently feminists share with white people, so I’m ashamed of racist feminists and white people.

 

 

But, not all white feminists are racist. Can I say that I’m not? I do see color. I think color should be embraced. It’s a part of what makes people who they are. It’s their heritage. Saying “I don’t see color” is an insult because it stifles the uniqueness of the people of color. It’s like saying “I don’t see gender.” I want you to see my gender. I love my gender. I get angry when people stick me in a box with all people of my gender (those who love making love to men) because that is not part of my gender identity, but I don’t want you to not see my gender. Asking, “Why do you have to make it about race?” is also ignorant. Because it is about race. It is personal.

I’m not going to claim to have black friends. I don’t. That doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t, it just means that I haven’t made friends with a black person that I hang out with (you’d have to understand the small-town lack of social gatherings, but that’s another blog). However, I have many black colleagues that I respect. I have many black students that I want to see succeed. I want to see equality for all. I want to see fairness for all. I want to see the liberty match the freedom that was granted. Isn’t that what feminism is supposed to be?

Everything Else Has Failed by Sharon Hayes; My MoMa Experience CoNtInUeD

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As we emerged from the Jaar exhibit, tears streamed down my face. Alisa, realizing I was crying, stopped me, astounded and asked if I was okay. All I could do was smile at her. These were not sad tears, though I was feeling pain for the thoughts of war and destruction brought to life by my realization, but they were tears of verisimilitude–my thoughts and feelings were realized by another–they were truth for me. This art was my truth.

As I stood with my lover, my partner, my girlfriend, my fiance, and she wiped my tears, the sounds of Sharon Hayes’ voice emerged from a set of speakers. I listened to the words. They spoke to my heart. Tears are in my eyes now as I write.

Here’s an explanation:

Everything Else has Failed! Don’t you Think It’s Time for Love (2007), a sound installation with framed posters, documents the period from September 17 to 21, 2007, when Hayes emerged each day at lunchtime from the corporate headquarters of UBS in midtown Manhattan to speak to an anonymous lover. Beginning “My dear lover” or “My sweet lover,” the texts Hayes spoke were addressed to an unnamed “you” from whom the speaker was separated for some unexplained reason. Woven in between comments on and about personal longing and desire were observations about politics and the trauma and dislocation of living in a time of war. By inserting “private correspondence” into a scene of public speech, Everything Else Has Failed! Don’t You Think It’s Time for Love? provokes questions about the territory of the space of the “political“ and the “unspeakable” as it relates to love and the notion of “free speech.”

This was taken from: http://whitney.org/file_columns/0003/1662/sharon_hayes_press_release.pdf.

I cannot remember the words. I cannot find them online. I wish I could. All I know is that I need this connection in my life. I need to stop being silenced from the lack of understanding.

I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you.

Another One Bites the Dust, and I Found Fairy Dust

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My brother has detached himself from my life. He was preceded by my mother, my aunts on my mother’s side, recently my grandmother and many cousins. I’m writing this to forgive them. I understand that my coming out as a lesbian at 33 is something that is difficult to understand. I also understand that my relationship with Alisa is hard to comprehend because it is not typical. I wish that they could hear me when I say that I love her. I wish that that was all that mattered to them, but it’s simply not. They cannot get past their own perspectives and see mine.

Many people say it’s the little things that count, and I agree, but Alisa gives me both little things and big things. I was lonely for a long time. I was miserable for a long time. I had discredited all the fairy tales and stories of true love. I had settled into the life I thought I deserved. I covered up my unhappiness, but people do not see what happens behind closed doors. They do not want to see. My closed door with my husband hid many things. It hid me sleeping alone, crying myself to sleep, and emotional abuse. Every time my husband disrespected me, I blamed myself. I paid for my previous relationship with Alisa for many years in my marriage to David. I am now so far removed from that dark time that I have forgotten a lot of it, but it no longer matters. It made me stronger to suffer. And, it made the little things matter so much more now. I have felt the guilt that my family would put on me about leaving David, but I say to that guilt: I cannot live my life in suffering to make someone else happy; I cannot show my children that abuse is okay; I cannot suppress my natural instincts in order to please my family. I tried. I gave it 13 years. 13 years is a long time to devote to something. That should be the testament that people need to show that I tried being straight. IT DIDN’T WORK. However, people still say that I’m not all the way gay because I was with a man. To that I say: I was with a man because it is what society wanted. I never wanted it. IT DIDN’T WORK. Some people say that we are going to hell. To that I say: See you there you judgmental fool.

What my brother said was that I was a coward who doesn’t stand up for my beliefs and a bitch, and he called Alisa a bitch too. This stemmed from a party where I had too much to drink and Alisa took me inside and helped me to bed. Apparently (I don’t remember) I didn’t say goodbye to him. And, Alisa made a comment about having to go to work the next morning. I write this to show that my brother does not know me at all. I am far from a coward. I stand up for what I believe in on a regular basis. I teach English and try to show people how to use Rhetoric and make connections in the world. I help my friends when they are in need. I support Hillary Clinton as presidential elect because SHE IS A WOMAN, and in 95 years of having the right to vote I think we should VOTE FOR A WOMAN. Of course, I also agree with Hillary on many of her standpoints, including education reform, which definitely affects me and gay marriage. I am stubborn and willful, so I can take the bitch comment, BUT COWARD? I am far from a coward. No one tells me what to do. My mother tried to force me to be straight. I’m gay. My ex-husband tried to force me, with physical force, to stay married to him. We’re divorced. Alisa tries on a regular basis to get me to go to bed earlier. We always go to bed late. I’ve taken my kids to New York by myself, which isn’t a big deal except to people in this small town who will never board a plane. There isn’t much that scares me except for heights, which just make me sick and dizzy.

It’s surprising to me what you learn from people when they walk out of your life. I learned that my brother was a coward because he didn’t have the nerve to tell me that he wasn’t okay with my relationship, which is what I think was really the problem. He also didn’t amount to much in my life when I considered it. Brothers are supposed to support you and have your back. When David put his hands on me, I expected my brother to defend me. He didn’t. I got what I deserved. Also, brothers are supposed to be good uncles to their nieces and nephews. Mine just criticized my daughter for liking “the black boys” (I put this in quotation marks with a sarcastic tone). He recently told my sister that she has never helped him do anything. He’s 27, still working on a bachelor’s degree in history and unemployed, so I guess he wants her to help my mother (or egg donor) to pay his bills. He doesn’t work because he can’t stop smoking pot long enough to pass a drug test, and he “doesn’t want to work for anyone dumber than he is.” He’s too good to work at a restaurant. So, when I examine the loss, I wonder why I valued him in the first place. Is it because “blood is thicker than water”? No longer a valid argument for me.

I’ve also seen the toxicity of my mother seeping through his veins. I’ve seen her evil nature causing my sister pain because my sister refuses to disown me. But, I fully expect her to go soon too. She doesn’t want to raise her daughters with a lesbian aunt. She doesn’t know how to explain our relationship to them. And, I don’t believe my sister can take the pressure of the rest of the family hating her because she doesn’t join them in their walkout.

However, despite the negativity, I’m on top of the world. My relationship with Alisa is a fairy tale, a real-life fairy tale. No, we can’t be seen riding a carriage to a ball through shimmering light or frolicking in a meadow surrounded by lavender and talking birds, but I feel loved. I think that is what we all want. Unconditional love. Every morning she wakes me up with a kiss. When something happens at work, it’s her I want to tell. We have deep conversations, but I just enjoy talking to her even if it’s just about her job or the kids. We rarely argue, and when we do, it is usually small and repairable. When we argue, I think the difference lies in the fact that I do not want to fight with her. It hurts me to be angry with her, so we get it out, fix it and get over it quickly. She goes out of her way to make me happy. She recently looked for pumpkin spice creamer for me, but it’s not out yet. Once, when I was sick, she drove me to work, and while I was teaching, she went and bought me a heating pad because mine had broken. She takes care of things around the house when I can’t. SHE DOES LAUNDRY. She plans awesome date nights. She just researched our trip to Vegas and found out that they have a plethora of IPA, which is my favorite. I could go on and on about all the little things that she does for me, but now for the fairy dust….On August 26, 2015, Alisa had planned a date night. I got dressed, and she told me she had a surprise for me. She had gotten me flowers, which was unusual because I don’t like store-bought flowers since they’re expensive and they die. She had packed a picnic. Driving to the beach in Pensacola, one of our favorite spots, she asked me about work, and we talked about the literature that I’m teaching. When we got to the beach, we listened to Kristy Lee while we ate our picnic of cheese, grapes, pepperoni and wine. Then, Alisa took out our story that she had written and read it to me. As I lay there listening to her talk about our relationship and her love for me, tears trickled down my cheeks. Then, she told me to close my eyes. When I opened them, she was holding a ring. I jumped up and grabbed her. It was perfection. I could not have asked for a better experience of romance. The sun was setting, the waves were in the background, and I thought to myself that I was so lucky. She did all this for me. Not many people get to experience being in love with their best friend and having such a connection.

There are now only a few people who have not turned their backs on me, and I’m thankful for them. My kids are happy. My daughter has come around. I could not be happier. I just don’t understand the hatred that makes people so blind that they cannot see that I’m happy and in love and that’s all that should matter.

So, as another one bites the dust, I’m swimming in my fairy dust and I don’t care who doesn’t like it.