It’s Complicated…

Gender. Masculinity & Femininity. These are complicated topics. I know that a lot of folks would like to see gender as black and white. You’re a boy or a girl. Male or female. Straight. No other option there. But that’s not how it is. Between Kinsey and Masters & Johnson starting the conversation in the otherwise Puritanical 50s and 60s, and then the sexual revolution, gay rights and feminist movements, Gloria Steinam, Betty Friedan and others, we now have a lot more information about human sexuality and its complexities. We’re not there by any stretch, but I’m glad we’re collectively moving to a more open view of gender and sexuality.

This week I got the news that I need to have a hysterectomy. It’s probably going to happen around Christmas, so look for your invitation to my Holiday Hysterectomy event. The first thing I thought about when I was discussing this with the doctor was a story arc on the TV show thirtysomething, which was a cultural touchstone amongst my friends in high school. We lived and died by the Tuesday night lineup and were often chastised for talking during chapel on Wednesday mornings because we had to talk about Hope & Michael, et al. The story line that came into my head was when Patricia Wettig’s character, Nancy, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and had to have a hysterectomy. It was very emotionally traumatic for her and she talked about feeling like she’d been “castrated.”

I just don’t feel that way. I am a slow emotional processor and so maybe I’ll have some negative reaction to this, but at this point, all I can think about is how much easier my life will be once I’ve gone through the recovery process. I’ve never associated the (theoretical) ability to reproduce with “femininity”. In fact, I’ve never seen motherhood as the ultimate expression of being a woman. It’s one of many. I have never wanted to have biological children, so not being able to has never been a big issue for me.

Gender fascinates me. What makes one “masculine” or “feminine”? Those are cultural constructs. They mean something different now than they did 50 years ago, and something different in India than Mexico. I took another one of those stupid internet quizzes and discovered that I’m “40% girly.” I have no idea what that means.

One of the more ridiculous arguments against marriage equality is that the purpose of marriage is procreation and since the gays can’t naturally reproduce then they shouldn’t get married. Ummm….I can’t naturally reproduce. Should I also not be allowed to to marry? Should anyone over the age of 50 not be allowed to marry? Gender, sex, and our bodies are complicated. It’s not just about whether or not one can reproduce, one “looks” like a certain gender or one “acts” in a way that conforms with the cultural gender norms at this point in history. People should be seen and received as individuals, with their own set of complicated identities and values.

In the next couple of months, I’m going to be slightly lighter on the lady parts but that’s got nothing to do with whether or not I’m a lady. Gender identity is complicated and fluid for many and it’s about time we recognize and respect our differences. I’m certain of my identity but I hope to offer compassionate support for those who aren’t.

Friday Five: Sweet or Salty

Deb writes:

sweet

Beggars Night.

Harvest Party.

Hallowe’en.

Trunk or Treat.

All Hallows Eve.

Call it what you want, there’s plenty of holiday love for sweet treats on October 31st. (Consider this your one week warm-up.)

Ain’t gonna lie… Even though there are no Trick-or-Treaters in our home, I still eye the candy aisle with undisguised lust.

(blushing)

What shall it be? Can I resist? Maybe you have a craving for a little something from time to time… join me for this week’s Friday Five!

1. First, Sweet or Salty? Or both? Describe that gotta-have-it treat. (It can be healthy or paleo-friendly, or decadent. We won’t judge!)

Totally depends on my mood. Lately, it’s been more salty, but I certainly don’t turn down a sweet. My favorite candies are Twix and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. Unfortunately, we’re entering endless candy season that begins with Halloween and goes through Easter. Whenever Reese’s does a jumbo version of the cup, like a pumpkin, a tree or an Easter egg, I have to indulge. And, not going to lie, I will jump over fire to get to a Cadbury Creme Egg. What were we talking about? *wipes chin*

2. Self-control: How do you help yourself stay strong with the temptation of All That Sugar?

The only way I can stay strong is if I don’t even have it in the house or near my desk. And if I stay away from the Target when I’m in an emotional tailspin, which is happening a lot lately. Vacation in 13 days.

3. Have you successfully cut (or decreased) sugar out of your diet? How did you do it?

I’ve done pretty well decreasing it but if I eliminate it completely, I’ll binge. It’s about setting up my environment. If it’s not available, I have to come up with something else to eat. Fruit helps.

4. What’s one sweet you won’t do without. Ever.

Chocolate. There will always be chocolate.

5. Just for fun: if you were a candy bar, which one would you be?

I’d be a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. Kinda sweet, kinda salty, all fabulous.

Change of Scenery

Yesterday I got out of town for a bit. I’ve been experiencing some personal unpleasantness, and when I have to deal with unpleasant feels I typically want to change something. Right now. While change is something that most people run from, change is my coping skill of choice. A haircut, a new outfit, even looking for new (internal) job opportunities. I just want to change something. I know. I’m in therapy.

I’ve got a big vacation coming up in just 25 days but that wasn’t soon enough. My Friday plans were cancelled and I stayed home watching recorded TV and was bored out of my mind and didn’t want to sit with some of my discomfort at home, so I decided to take it on the road. Fortunately, I live about an hour-ish from some pretty decent scenery and cooler weather so I filled up Fiona’s tank and we headed first to Jerome, then to Sedona.

The day was all about seeing things differently and letting things go that don’t belong to me. I have a hard time letting go. I’m a control freak anyway, but when I want something, I cling to all hope like grim death before conceding defeat. I hate conceding. I had to concede something this week and it pissed me off. So I went into the woods because I wished to concede deliberately, and I feel like I did. Mostly. It’s a process.

When I arrived in Sedona, I passed a sign advertising a Taize service at 7pm that evening at a local Episcopal church. I felt like I needed to attend, but it wasn’t for a few hours so I kept driving down into Oak Creek Canyon and stopped off to sit outside and listen to the water and just be for a bit. The traffic heading back into Sedona was horrendous so I wasn’t sure I’d make it, but wouldn’t you know it – I rolled into the church parking lot at 6:59.

It was a really nice service. There was a small but diverse collection of parishioners there who genuinely seemed to care for each other. It’s a church I might attend if I lived there. (side note: why are all the churches – and men –  that seem to suit me located hundreds of miles away?). I didn’t have a life-altering experience, didn’t see a light, hear an audible voice, but was quietly reminded, both during the service and all day, of God’s bigger plan.

I don’t know what’s up for me, on most, if not all, fronts. I’ve never felt that my move to Phoenix was permanent, and I still don’t, but I’m here for now. I don’t know what career opportunities are going to come up for me, but I’m grateful to work for a global company so I could theoretically go anywhere. As I said, I don’t like conceding, especially when I feel like I have a positive vision of what the future could be, but that’s what I’m doing. So I left town. And it was a very good day.

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Friday Five: Random

revkarla writes:

Hello gals and pals,
It’s the second Friday of the month, and you know what that is~~~Random Friday Five! Have fun, and enjoy! (as always, let us know that you played in the comments–whether you play in the comments, link to your blog, or on Facebook!)

1. How do you sign off in your emails, professional and personally? For example, you say “Blessings”,
“Take Care”, “Remember, the Devil is watching you” (o.k. just kidding on that one.) Let us know and why…

I just say “Thanks,” which is kinda lame. I might adopt the devil watching you thing, though. I’m a big fan of shame as a motivator

2. If you were an animal TODAY, what is it and why?

I’m not an animal person. But, clearly, if I were going to be an animal, I’d be a honey badger (NSFW).

3. If you get snarky, what triggers it? If you don’t get snarky, please, what is the secret?

IF I get snarky? That’s cute. It’s sort of my M.O. I can’t think of a time when I wasn’t in a place of inner snark. However, with age, I have learned to situationally limit the snark to the inside.

4. Look up from your computer/tablet/phone screen. What is the first favorite thing your eyes land on. Describe it. (For example, I just did this, and my eyes landed on a little angel made out of multicolored wires whose head and wings are quite askew because of being chewed upon by my puppy. That aside, I love it because it was a gift from two little girls who came often to my office in my last call to play with all the tshotke on my table. They wanted to add to it.)

IMG_3161

There are a number of things I like from this view. First, the fact that I am (once again) watching Pitch Perfect. This is kind of a current favorite. Also, love my SF map picture that was  a going away gift when I moved back. My Dali clock from PDX also makes me very happy.

5. Do you have a favorite pair of socks? Tell us about them!

No. I live in the desert. It’s still in the 90s. I have always been a barefoot girl. Shoes and socks come off first. I avoid footwear as much as possible.

Islam and Shalom

I posted a bit of a conversation that I had this weekend with one of our employees as I discussed his observation of Eid. I know the basics of the holiday but I was asking about some of the particulars, like if there are specific foods or traditions. He was telling me that some people fast the day before, some several days, and some a week. There’s not really a particular food that’s eaten, but it’s just a big party. You go to the mosque to pray in the morning and then you just follow the crowd and have a good time. Here’s the basics of what he said: “I fast because I need help. Everybody needs help. God is very big & religion is about prayer & worship. You don’t need to worry about all the other stuff. Just worship God.”

This weekend was a confluence of holidays or events in the 3 Abrahamic faiths: Eid for Islam, Yom Kippur for Judaism, World Communion Sunday for Christians. I read a beautiful piece on the similarities between Eid and Yom Kippur over at the Velveteen Rabbi, and got a lot of this from her. If you don’t read her, I highly recommend that you do.

Eid al-Adha is a celebration that commemorates the near-sacrifice of Abraham’s son. Islamic scholars are mixed on whether or not it’s Ishmael or Isaac, as the Qur’an doesn’t actually say. Either way, it’s seen as an example of the gracious submission to God’s will. In fact, the Arabic word for this peaceful submission is islam, which is where the faith got its name. The word connotes peace and wholeness, which is very similar in meaning to the Hebrew word shalom. In other words, peace and wholeness are found when we submit to God.

World Communion Sunday is always the first Sunday of October, but this year I almost forgot about it. I loved WCS at Mission Bay because, while we rarely had any dearly held traditions, the one we did have was Hawaiian bread for communion. On this Sunday when we had breads from various cultures we always got several, “Ummm..this is cool and everything, but where’s the Hawaiian bread?” People are funny.

The observance of communion varies between communities and denominations, but the root meaning is the same: Jesus’ model of submission to God is a model for how we ought to live – graciously submitting to God’s will, even though it seems to really suck in the moment. Submitting to God is the only way to peace and wholeness.

God is very big, and religion is about prayer and worship. You don’t need to worry about all the other stuff. Just worship God.