Posted in Activism, advocate, badassery, CANCER, death, Equality, movies, pop culture

Goodbye, King

When news came late Friday night that Chadwick Boseman, the actor who played King T’Challa in the Black Panther and Avenger movies, had died at age 43, the news hit me harder than I thought it would.

Boseman had been battling, unbeknownst to most, colon cancer for four years. This time had included the time he was working on the Black Panther movie. If you haven’t had cancer or a serious, debilitating illness, it’s difficult to appreciate what I consider to be a truly heroic effort to portray a hero. Each time cancer takes someone young or inspirational, I’m reminded I need to embrace more of the remaining life I’ve been given to live. This death cut me to the core. I’ve so much left to do.

I remember when the Black Panther movie came out and so many people of all races and lifestyles came out of the theaters crossing their arms in the “Wakanda forever!” sign. People of color walked out of that movie changed and inspired. Young black children finally had a Marvel superhero on screen that looked like them, that they could identify with. Someone strong, caring, extraordinary and human.

I was also inspired by the Black Panther. The strong women of Wakanda, who were in charge of the technology and protecting the King, made me cheer. These depictions of strong, intelligent women (of any color) shouldn’t be so few and far between, but they are. Shuri is the smartest in the room. Any room. Okoye and her crew could kick any man’s ass. Nakia is brave, and convinces the King that sharing their knowledge and wealth for the good of all is an important enough idea to allow it to stand between her and her relationship with the King.

Heroes don’t have to be the same color as you are to be inspirational, but I’m white and I have plenty to choose from if that is what I seek. It was about time that people of color had an extraordinary hero and a slew of capable, ass-kicking heroines. I can only hope another hero can rise on the shoulders of Chadwick Boseman.

What I hope people learn from Boseman’s short, but well-lived, life is that people can be heroes both on and offscreen and be an inspiration beyond what they intended or hoped for. Heroism and quality of character goes more than skin deep, and that is one of the legacies that Boseman left behind for all of us.

Rest in Power, King.

Posted in Activism, advocate

Black Lives Matter

Let me preface all this with – I’m white. Grew up in an all white community in an all white church. I do not pretend to know what it’s like to be judged just because our skin tones are different and I won’t pretend to.

It’s so difficult to peel away a lifetime of white privilege. You have to be deliberate about it to find your way to a new perspective, to try and see a life from a different point of view.

People who haven’t peeled back their white privilege say things like, “but all lives matter,” or “but I’m not racist.” Like I said, it’s a difficult process.

Responding with “All Lives Matter,” when someone (especially if they are black) says “Black Lives Matter,” tells them you don’t think black people are hurting or persecuted. It invalidates them and their pain and struggle.

I know most people mean it out of love for all lives. But all lives aren’t being persecuted right now. All lives aren’t equal in the eyes of America, and unfortunately, the law.

Honor the struggle of our black brothers and sisters and say it out loud, “BLACK LIVES MATTER!” When you say that, you say to a black person that you care about them and their struggle. You would be shocked at how far that goes. When you are hurting and angry, don’t you wish someone would tell you that you matter?

Of course some say “All Lives Matter” defensively, as if Black Lives Matter means white ones don’t. I don’t have time for you right now.

When a person says, “Black Lives Matter,” they are saying that a black life matters JUST AS MUCH as anyone else’s. In this case, save the “All Lives” when all lives really do matter equally.

Posted in Activism, advocate, fearless, safe

THE TRAUMA OF ME TOO

Regardless of your political affiliation or personal feelings about sexual assault victims or trauma, please consider all the people whose abuse or trauma still hides in the shadows, in their traumatized hearts and minds.

You may not know you are standing next to a sexual assault victim, that you’ve known this person for decades and they’ve never summoned the courage to tell you their truth.

Sexual assault is more common than you might think. People are afraid to come forward for a myriad of reasons. It’s complicated.

You don’t know.

You may not know that you know their abuser and to you, he may appear to be the most faithful family man you’ve ever think you’ve known. You’d never believe it because that hasn’t been your experience with that person. But he, too, has a secret he won’t tell.

You don’t know.

You may not know that when you roll over at night and put your arm around the person you love, that they’ve pushed their pain down so far they can’t even put to words what happened to them, so it remains buried, at least until the triggering event comes along to where everything explodes like a messy science fair volcano.

You don’t know.

All I ask is that you consider your words when speaking of this kind of trauma. You never know who is listening and what they’ve had to, or still are dealing with. I know one too many sexual assault survivors and the last couple of years have been traumatic for them, and this past week has been especially tough.

You don’t know.

To any sexual assault survivors out there still hiding in the shadows, if you need a safe place, let me know, because…I know.

Posted in Activism, advocate, commentary, community, Equality, fearless, feminism, Uncategorized, World

NEVERTHELESS, I PERSIST

Yesterday was another day of political upheaval here in the United States. I am 48 years young but I’ve never seen (or was too young to really remember) anything like the baffling regression of the American spirit like I’ve witnessed over the past 18 months or so.

I will say this and leave it right here: I believe in equality for everyone. Everyone. Progress has been made the past decade to close many gaps for many different people groups and I refuse to let any group in this country try to drag us back to the dark ages of closed-minded thinking.

With that out in the ether I’ll add this: I’m ashamed of the president and what he’s stirred up in this country and continues to allow with no intelligent comment or rebuke. I have a great admiration for presidents past, and I hope to have a president I can admire and be proud of and respect again, but 45 is not that president. I have great respect for the office of the president, but I do not respect the current president. I can and will make that distinction for the duration of his term. If you voted for him, that is your right, but please don’t try to defend him or your choice. I am tired of that conversation. It’s done.

My heart hurts for the family that lost a sweet daughter yesterday. All she was doing was protesting a hate group. Peacefully. She believed in the diversity and love of all in America and she was marching to show this hate group that she still believed we could all get along, that there was room enough at her table for all. This hate group cannot stand that thought, and one man from that group took it upon himself to violently end her life and injure many others because people like her are trying to put other beliefs, thoughts and color into his whitewashed world.

I believe I am fortunate to be surrounded by a wondrously varied group of people every day. I work for an international company in the most diverse city in America. I work with people who were not born in this country who came here for freedom and chose the US and became citizens. Some are just here for a few years or months, others’ parents or grandparents came here and brought their rich cultures to the greatest melting pot in the world.

I navigate a number of cultures, religions, belief systems, biases and dissimilarities every single day. Harmony, even when there are notable differences, can be achieved if everyone allows their worldview to be wide enough to consider that not everyone was raised the same, believes the same, or wants the same outcomes for their lives.

I still don’t understand the notion of making America great again (MAGA), as if America wasn’t already great. It seems to me that the MAGA directive for the 45 supporter is to regress back to the idea that one way is the only way, which is anchored in ignorance and fear.

I wholeheartedly believe that America’s diversity is its strength. When hate groups march (which is their right as long as they are peaceful) and preach that they want to keep America the way it is or was (for them) they miss the point. America has always been diverse. America has always been a haven for all. These groups have just isolated themselves so much that they are afraid of what and whom they don’t know or understand. Rather than build a bridge, they want to vote everyone else off their very small-minded island.

I’ve lived in Houston 23 years now. I went from a small town in Indiana where most people looked, talked and thought like me to the most diverse and culture rich city in America. I am all the better for it. I understand so much more of the world because the world is here all around me and it is a wondrous assortment of people. If MAGA means isolation, hatred, racism, and a white’s only attitude, I want no part of it.

After the events yesterday in Charlottesville, I was a bit disheartened to say the least. America feels like it is sliding backward, and I feel like a small minority of hatred is going to suck me down with it. I can’t let that happen, but I don’t always know what I can do.

I become overwhelmed with the vastness of the pervasive hatred that some humans have against other humans simply because they are not disciples of the same ethos or they have a different color of skin. What can one person do to turn the tide?

I was reminded today to do something I already try to do – reach one person at a time. Learn as much as I can about our differences and use every opportunity to lift that person up. If that person needs an ally, I will stand with them. I will celebrate everything that makes them unique, because I also thrive when my uniqueness is noted and celebrated.

It really does boil down to treating others as you yourself want to be treated.

Nevertheless, I persist.

Posted in advocate, badassery, fearless, Push, Uncategorized

A CALL TO BADASSERY

The flood of New Year’s Resolution posts has begun. Every year, people pledge to lose weight, get a better job, etc. Resolutions are usually made to strive toward a better quality of life.

I stopped making resolutions (that I would usually not keep) and have instead resolved to make a better life for myself, period.

My resolve boils down to this single truth – life is what I make of it. I choose, every day, to make my life the best life I can, no matter what that entails.

Some days my best life requires more exercise or better eating, or down time or creative time. Other days, my best life requires me to rise above myself and my self-imposed limitations.

Every day, my best life requires me to be a Badass, regardless if I feel like I am or not.

Instead of making resolutions or goals that will fall by the wayside before the last Valentine’s Day chocolate has been eaten, why not choose to heed your call to badassery and live your best life every day?

Following a call to badassery is both as easy and as difficult as you may think.  A call to badassery can be as free as a pursuit as any and it can cost you everything.  Stressful? Sometimes. Worth it? You bet.

My bestie, during our Badassery Advocate planning session when I was on vacation in California, looked me square in the eye and said, “First you have to find your ‘why’.”

My ‘why’ at least as it pertains to Badassery Advocate, is every person out there who feels stuck, complacent, unchallenged, weak, hopeless, on the brink, or lost.  I see so many potential Badasses, people who are Badasses deep inside, are about to realize their badassery, and I want to help anyone who wants to find, expose and live as the badass they are.

You are my ‘why.’

Badassery Advocate is still taking shape and will continue to do so.  There is no separation of who I am personally vs. who I am on Badassery Advocate. This fact has made it difficult for me to keep up with the separate Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts for BA, but I will do better – because I am a Badass!

I look forward to journeying with you as you heed your call to badassery!

Find me on Facebook at Badassery Advocate, Twitter at @badasseryadvo and Instagram at BadasseryAdvocate.

Posted in advocate, badassery, commentary, community, fearless, politics, Uncategorized

I WANT TO KNOW WHAT, OR RATHER, THAT YOU THINK

Politics, tragedy, religion, guns, nationality and so many more subjects are polarizing, especially in America. I’ve seen families, friends, and communities torn apart because of deeply held beliefs.  Rarely, but thankfully, I have found a few people in my life who can hold deeply held beliefs and still have conversations about the aforementioned subjects and still remain civil and friendly afterward.

I know I’ve been unfollowed, unfriended, branded, and abandoned because of my deeply held beliefs, and I know I’ve unfollowed, unfriended, branded and abandoned others for the same reasons.

Lately, I’ve even been branded as dangerous.  Dangerous? For having different beliefs?  For challenging long-held, deeply-entrenched beliefs and opinions?  Yes.

If I am being labeled dangerous for challenging the status quo of beliefs and thoughts and a lifetime of opinion, know that I relish it. I’d rather be known as someone who examines, inspects, interrogates, and thinks her way through life rather than accepting everything I’m told, skimming over issues to promote an opinion that’s only mine because I carry it forward for someone else.  I’ve lived a lifetime of promoting other agendas because of a sense of duty to what I’ve been told and indoctrinated to believe. I’m finished with that part of my life.

The extraordinary state of thinking for myself was a hard-fought battle. I’d go so far as calling the battle for my own beliefs and opinions a war.  Not only did I have to figure out what I truly believed, I had to fight for my right to express that belief and opinion freely. That’s a war I’m still fighting, because I’m dangerous, you see.

Throughout history, the people in the masses who think for themselves have been labeled as dangerous, especially women.  The awakening of owning a thought or idea that is truly mine is intoxicating, I’ll admit.  The further I pursue my own thoughts and beliefs, the further away from blind obedience to an idea I get, the freer I feel.

I don’t care, really, what a person thinks or believes if I know that they truly have thought, examined, challenged and formed their own thoughts and opinions. All I really care to challenge in a person is that they think for themselves and not follow the masses just because it’s easier and more comfortable to follow the crowd.

A staggering number of people will follow a man in a pulpit, a person on a political soapbox, a person with a certain philosophy – anyone with a message or agenda – without challenging, investigating, examining what the person in charge is saying. If, after study and query, a person agrees with a different ideology than mine, I can respect that.

I have huge issues with people just accepting what another person says without thinking it all through for themselves.  That, to me, is a truly dangerous way to live. It’s why certain pastors and politicians have power – they tap into those minds who will follow without question.

People want to belong to something greater than themselves so much, they turn off their mind’s alarm systems: that doesn’t sound/feel right. I don’t think I agree with that, but if I challenge it, I won’t belong anymore. I believe that’s dangerous.

I wanted to belong to something so badly it turned me into a mindless sheep, and I became so judgmental and hurtful as I followed other people’s agenda.  I stopped thinking for myself at the cost of losing myself.  I put what I wanted/thought/believed over relationships and I believed it was what I should do and because I wanted to belong.

When I started sorting through what I believed and wanted for my life, I know I lost friends.  I lost certain membership in communities that don’t like dangerous thinkers in their midst.  I’ve actually been old-school shunned for challenging the status quo and asking questions.

Ironically, thinking for myself has opened up my mind enough to allow others to think for themselves. I gladly accept differences in opinions and sometimes challenge people with what they believe to be a differing opinion so I can see their resolve and commitment to their belief. Some would call that devil’s advocate, but I call it investigation.

Personally, I don’t care what a person believes, as long as it is truly a belief that is theirs, forged in thought and investigation and fire.  I care more that people think than what they think.  I wish that notion went both ways, but it often doesn’t.  It’s easier to label me a danger than a free-thinker.

I value the discussions I have with people. I enjoy hearing what other people think, and challenging them to own those beliefs and thoughts. If that labels me as dangerous, know that I don’t mind.

 

Posted in advocate, badassery

THE BIRTH OF BADASSERY ADVOCATE

I love humanity.  I love their responses and preconceived notions. When I refer to myself as a “badass,” I get mixed responses. Some are inspired by that word, others are offended by it. Badass insinuates, for some people, arrogance (which walks a fine line with confidence), being full of myself, irreverent, and some other words I won’t share.

I think their insinuations are supposed to offend me, when, in my reality, their insinuations inspire me to more badassery.

I used to believe my job in life was to shut up, take orders, and wait for a man to tell me what to do, think and be. I lived, steeped in this belief, for a few decades too long. My true awakening started when I was 39, when I was sitting in a Good Friday service and I felt the compulsion to leave the service and get my first tattoo – “Sassy,” on my back.

That next year I wrote poems like “Forgiveness” and this one:

Screen Shot 2015-10-10 at 11.27.35

Those are beginning glimpses of Sassy. I was nowhere near badassery then, but I knew I wanted to be stronger and have more courage.  I had no plan. I had no idea one day I’d be telling people I wanted to help them find their roar.

Recently, I’ve had some issues with Tamoxifen (you can read all about it) and other issues in my life. Instead of cowering, I set my mind and went about the task of advocating for myself.  Yesterday, after processing a post-advocate victory, I realized that I wanted to, somehow, focus my efforts into helping others feel the way I felt after the validation of having my efforts rewarded.

Screen Shot 2015-10-10 at 11.15.31

I received an immediate and numerous response on my Facebook page. People were truly asking how to make that happen for themselves. When i woke up this morning, I knew I had to do something, even if it was small.

I started a Facebook Page called, “Badassery Advocate” this morning, and have a Twitter handle (@BadasseryAdvo) and an Instagram (BadasseryAdvocate).

My plan is to create a space for universal encouragement. All are welcome – and by all I mean ALL. I do not want to just encourage one particular group of people.  I desire to encourage all regardless of religious affiliation, political ideology, race, gender, or sexuality.  Badassery is for all.

That being said, posts may have “language” or ideas or concepts a person might not agree with. That’s fine. My new space is a place for being uplifted, not torn down.  I will encourage someone to find their badassery even if, especially if, I do not agree with a person philosophically or ideologically. I am not here to judge, convert, or sway. I am here to help people be the best, bravest, badassiest they can be, period.

Not everyone who visits or posts at Badassery Advocate will share the same religion, notions, political ideology, gender, belief, upbringing or truth. That fits with my worldview. I hope to see this idea grow into something bigger than any idea I currently have.

Thank you for journeying with me. On to the new phase!