From “What Ifs?” to “What Now?”

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Last night I saw this tweet and it really resonated with me because it is a thought I’ve had so many times over the years sitting in various classrooms.

 

I sat in a classroom and learned about slavery and segregation and I thought about how if I were alive then I would be an abolitionist or marching with Dr. King Jr.

I sat in a classroom and learned about Women’s Suffrage and I thought about how if I were alive I would be fighting along aside Susan B. Anthony.

I sat in a classroom and learned about the Holocaust and I thought about how if I were alive I would have been sheltering Jews and punching the hell out of Nazis.

I sat in a classroom and learned about the fight for access to birth control and Roe v. Wade and I thought about how if I were alive I would have been handing out pamphlets with Margret Sanger (while questioning her belief in eugenics & other problematic behavior) and escorting women safely to clinics.

I sat in a classroom and learned about Stonewall, and the AIDS crisis, and Matthew Sheppard and I thought about how if I were alive (and in some cases more than just a child) I would be fighting with those people for equal rights.

I sat in a classroom and learned about how after 9/11 Muslim-Americans were being attacked just for existing and having their faith and I thought about how if I were around when I saw such an attack I would protect those individuals from this hatred.

 

So, so, many times I have sat in a desk in a classroom and thought about the “what if’s” and never did I really expect that I would eventually be living in a time when it became prevalent and a question of “what do I do NOW?” Even though I have heard the old adage about how if we don’t learn from history it is bound to repeat itself I naively didn’t expect any of these issues to be the history we were stupid and ignorant enough to repeat.

I knew racism wasn’t dead, but I didn’t think we would have to have movements of people asking others to remember their lives matter or to have the deaths of black people just brushed away. I knew that homophobia wasn’t dead, but I watched so much progress unfold (far before I thought we were actually going to have it) that I didn’t think that we would regress so quickly. I knew sexism wasn’t dead but I didn’t think it would go as far that we were still ignoring sexual assault and rape and still blaming the victim at every chance we got. I knew xenophobia wasn’t dead but I did not think that we would be actually banning people from entering our country when it’s a principle of our nation to welcome others.

However here we are, with a President who in just his first week in office has published so many disgusting and honestly unAmerican executive orders that there is no longer time to sit and dwell on those feelings from classrooms of the past. The classroom of now is the scary country we are currently living in and no longer can we ponder about “if I were alive then, I would’ve…” we have to conceptualize what we are going to do today, now, if we want to stand with our brothers and sisters who are under attack for simply existing.

There are many ways to help and be of assistance and to fight, and a lot of that starts by being vigilant and aware of what is going on. Hold this administration accountable for the awful things they are attempting to make common place. Call your representatives and senators and let them know that they are here to serve you and it is their duty to listen to you and all Americans who are being targeted.

Unfortunately we are already going to be in the history books because we allowed someone of this caliber to be elected to the highest, most powerful position in our country. But please, don’t let him and his administration expand our place in future textbooks as a country that rewound time and progress by allowing and advocating for hate and discrimination. We are better than that.

The time is now, you’re alive. What are you going to do?

Thanks Obama. Sincerely.

A little over eight years ago when I sat in my dorm room in Lincoln, Nebraska filling out my absentee ballot I could not have predicted all the emotions I would feel today, on Barack Obama’s last day as President of our country. I believed in him and had no hesitation voting for him (not once but twice), but I don’t think anything could have prepared me for how attached and proud I am when I think of the fact that I got to call him my President, my leader, for some pretty formative years of my life.

I’ll never presume to say that his presidency was prefect and that all his polices were without a single fault, but I am hard pressed to think any president will have a flawless tenure. However there are so many things that I have watched this man do that I thought would only happen much, much, later in my lifetime. To watch a sitting President declare his support of same-sex marriage and to throw his support behind the LGBTQ+ community still makes my heart beat fast and tears form in my eyes. To be able to have access to health care for the first time in years for not only me, but millions of Americans is a feeling of some weight being lifted away. To know that my President believes in equal payment and treatment for women makes me feel validated and hopeful that closing the pay gap is that much closer. To have an administration take on the issue of sexual assault with such passion as this one, it makes me so thankful.

And these are just a start to the list of all the true good that Obama and his administration have accomplished in the last years. Which leaves out all the personal good he and his family have given to us as our leaders and as representations of our country in the eyes of other countries. My respect and gratitude is indescribable, I could not be more happy or proud that this is the first President I ever voted for. I’ll forever look back on the two times I got to fill in a circle beside the names Barack Obama and Joe Biden and feel an intense wave of emotion.

Tomorrow brings about a lot of fear and frustration, but if I allow myself just to think back on all the positive from these last four years and all the hope that it has built up in me and allowed me to believe I know that as a whole we can make it through. We will be vigilant, we will have our eyes and ears open and we will hold this new administration accountable. I have no doubt that we as a country not only can persevere but we will persevere.

So one final time I’d like to say with all the sincerity in my body, Thanks Obama. You’ve changed this country and the world by seeing and encouraging the kind and the good in us and giving us the hope that we can make a difference, can make a change.

Yes we can. Yes we did. Yes we can.

gaining small wisdoms

I learned something this week while watching people be unnecessary jerks.

The old saying is “treat others how you want to be treated” and that’s still a totally viable and logical way to life life. However I’ve come to think that another great way to proceed is to, “tread others how you see them treat others”.

Because treating others how you want to be treated is great and is cliche for a reason, but if you treat trash people like trash maybe they’ll stop and realize they can be better. And if they don’t well then they just are getting treated more appropriately.

This has been a message from #TeamPetty

Fat. Nerdy. Inspirational. Women. Memoirs.

One of my professors in college talked about how she had once challenged herself to read only women authors for an entire year and how it altered the way she choose books in the future. And from that moment I knew that at some point I wanted to try it as well and see if it changed my relationship with reading and authors and the content I seek out. So last January when I set my Goodreads Book Challenge goal for the year I made a conscious decision to read almost nothing but women authors. Out of the 35 books I read in 2016 just two of them were by male authors (and one of those was a book all about Lois Lane so still strongly female focused) and I feel great about it.

A big chunk of those 35 books were also memoirs or non-fiction and that is something new to me as well. I’ve lived in a bubble  of lots and lots of young adult fiction for a few years and I ain’t mad or sorry about it, but I did want to feel challenged to read something outside of that comfort zone. I started with a book I saw someone recommend on social media called ‘Find the Good’ by Heather Lende because it felt like a really great way to start the year. It is a collection of essays by a journalist from Alaska who writes obituaries and how it has helped her to find the good in life. I highly recommend it for both an easy and enjoyable read.

From there I just went on a binge of memoirs and “self-improvement” books and it’s been some of the most interesting and fun reading journeys I’ve been on in a while. I really enjoy hearing about peoples experiences and what they take away from simply living their life and what they can then share with people because of it all. I read a ton of books from and about fat women and let me tell you; it was amazing. To see more fat women characters in fiction that I would identify with and love to pieces makes my heart happy, growing up it was not all that often that I found those types of characters in books and I didn’t realize how much it hurt until I started seeing them more and getting to experience that feeling. Not to mention it was even more magical to hear experiences from real life fat women who have lived this life and know it better than anyone. Special shout to ‘Things No One Will Tell Fat Girls’ by Jes Baker because it was so many things; hilarious, heartbreaking, helpful, cathartic, and inspiring.

Other categories some of my books dived into where inspiration and creativity and just nerdy things that make my fangirl heart so dang happy. I can’t think of any of the books that I downright hated, a couple weren’t my favorites and were less enjoyable that I thought they might be, but I don’t regret reading any of these at all.

Now wither reading a majority of female authors changed life as I know it I can’t speak to. I do feel like it has altered the way that I search out new books and what the content of the books of those is. There was a connection I felt to the authors that I don’t think comes as naturally with male authors, but it doesn’t make me want to read nothing but female authors. I think this is a great challenge to put oneself through because it reminds you how saturated the literary world (among most worlds) is with male dominance. We take for granted how male is the default for so much and we just go with it without giving it too much thought. To stretch just a bit outside our usual haunts and the generic field we’ve been told is the norm is always good for us.

Most of all I am just proud of the fact that I met my reading challenge goal and that I have gotten back into a groove of reading a lot of books in a year. I grew up reading a ton and have always treated reading like an escape but I think with college and reading being required I got a little out of the habit. Being back in that realm makes me feel better and more at home in my own skin, so I am excited to keep it going into 2017.

But what about you guys? What did you read in 2016? What do you look forward to reading in the new year?

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My 35 books of 2016.

 

 

 

Simplicity

I think it goes without saying that 2016 was…a year. I mean objectively good things did happen, both personal to me and to the world at large, but it’s really hard to ignore the glaringly obvious bad that we had to withstand as well. But all-in-all the most important thing is that we survived and made it to the other side, an accomplishment no matter how small.

And with that being said I don’t feel like talking about 2016 or my resolutions from that year all that much. I didn’t meet the majority of them and some I just down right failed. I don’t know when or how but I just sort of shut down for a large portion of the year and operated on auto-pilot, making sure I completed the important day-to-day tasks that moved me along to the next day so I could do it all over again. But I am adamant that I won’t repeat that pattern this year and so I am moving right along to my 2017 resolutions.

 

Resolutions for 2017

  1. Travel some place I’ve never been. //  outside the country would be even better
  2. Write daily. // doesn’t matter what; anything is something
  3. Spend money better. //  less frivolous things & more necessities & investments
  4. Learn to focus better. //  meditate and try to block out the negative better & focus on uplifting/positive things as much as possible
  5. Be relentless. //  go hard, don’t give up, don’t be quiet about things that need attention & vigilance.

i tried to claim 2016 was going to be “The Selfish Year” where I took time for me and to focus on things that would make me a better person both inside and outside, provide me with the growth I started to find in 2015. However the Universe was like, “Nah girl not this during this shit-show.” and maybe that was the Universe being a dick, but I like to think it was the Universe saving me and knowing things I could not about the upcoming year. Either way I want to make 2017 not necessarily a re-do for “The Selfish Year” but, an attempt at commitment and follow through. Maybe making that my focus will allow me to learn how to better take care of myself in ways I’ve neglected before. I am usually better under pressure and with a deadline or major goal in mind, so while some of these things seem simple and not well defined I have an idea of what the ultimate end goal looks like to me and working towards accomplishing that will hopefully light a fire under my ass.

Priority number one is starting fresh, clearing out the old and refocusing on the road ahead. 2017 isn’t going to be dedicated to any kind of year, it’s just…a new year.

 

 Annual signed document proof. ;)

Let’s Get to Work

You know how occasionally from where you stand the view is comprehensible, but a little fuzzy? That if you just take a step forward or a step back it’s like small details have shifted into their right places and the picture becomes much clearer and focused?

That’s how I feel I have responded to the election and all its fallout.

Initially I could see what had happened,what we had done. But I was blinded a bit by my exact location in shame and rage. So my first reaction was to hit fast and hard with my thoughts and feelings, and I don’t regret it, however now that I’ve had time to take a step back I can see that it’s important to put all my passion and feelings behind being proactive versus just simply being angry.

The way I see it right now is that Donald may have won but he is not my President just yet. I have a couple of months left with President Obama and until Donald is sworn in I have the opportunity to do what I can to be vocal or call for change. The Electoral College itself has not voted yet and the petition asking them to vote for Hillary has been going around and making waves. It is a highly unprecedented thing to occur, but this election in and of itself has been highly unprecedented in so many ways so what’s it hurt to try. If we just sit back and do nothing the sting of her loss, the sting that we have let her and our country down only hurts worse in my opinion.

Now in the event no shake ups happen and Donald is sworn in, he becomes our actual President what comes next is vigilance. People seem to think that even if we oppose him we need to “sit back and accept it and have some respect” which for starters is ironic after the heap tons of crap most of these people have thrown at Obama in the last eight years, but also is simply not accurate. Accepting and normalizing Donald and his actions and his words and his promises is not what this country needs. It’s one thing to manage and deal with the fact that a man like him is our President and will be a representation of us, but that doesn’t mean we shut up and stop fighting.

All these protests are a great example of people using their voices and their rights to express how they are feeling. I think it’s wonderful to see so many people coming together and using a process that has moved forward countless moments and issues in our country. Of course we need to acknowledge that protesting peacefully is different from rioting, the destruction of property and throwing of things at law enforcement or people opposing what you’re saying isn’t right. But ultimately I think it’s a fantastic way for people to band together and make it known that we don’t accept the normalization of racism, homophobia, xenophobia, sexism, white supremacy, etc. That we aren’t going anywhere and we will hold this administration accountable for any attempts to turn our nation into some backwards version of the country we have become.

On a personal level I know that this has awoken a part of me that refuses to be silent, or even quiet. In the past I have taken my privilege for granted and not said things because I didn’t want to stir the pot or upset anyone. I’ve been scared to fight back in some cases because people I disagreed with were family or friends and so I choose not to have difficult or uncomfortable conversations, but no more. I won’t stop talking about this election and what it means, what it represents, and what or who it can affect in extremes. I know some people have already moved on, it’s back to their regularly scheduled programming of life. But it’s just not that easy for me, every morning it’s one of the first things I think of when I wake up and I continue to think about it on and off all day. This has crashed into my life (and so, so, many others) and altered it dramatically, so it isn’t something I can just quietly accept and move on.

And I am so thankful that so many people are on the same page, getting to see people so engaged and ready for action is inspiring. Knowing so many other people are ready to hold Donald accountable and fight for what is right is a light that helps keep me focused and feel less alone. This last week has seemed exceptionally long  and draining, but the strength to go on, to dig my heels in and fight is restored with each tweet, Facebook status, news article, and yes even silly memes.

I took a step back and it became clear that the path I needed to take is one where I don’t give up, we don’t give up. We don’t allow these things to become normal and commonplace, we stay vigilant and on top of things.

Let’s get to work.

This is Where I am at

It’s 11:35 a.m. on the day after election day and our next President has been chosen. Donald Trump will be the 45th President of the United States of America, and it’s a nightmare become a reality for many people. I can’t change it no matter how much I wish I could.

Currently I am sad, I am hurt, and I am mad as hell. The worst part isn’t even that my preferred candidate has lost. The worst part isn’t really that he preformed well beyond what anyone truly expected of him. No the worst part is that I am now aware that nearly half of my fellow American citizens that bothered to show up & vote voted in favor of hate.

Donald has said and done the most disgusting of things in the last two years of his campaign and for decades before that. He is racist. He is xenophobic. He is homophobic. He is sexist and misogynist. He has vilified immigrants and talked about loving war. He has mocked those living with disabilities. And now we have made him President-elect.

Now the scariest thing is that we know he has supporters. He has found the people in this country that see those actions and grew happy and excited a candidate finally represented them. He has drawn out the worst qualities in us as human beings and made them the pillars he ran part of his campaign on. This is an invitation to those people that they too can be racist, homophobic, sexist, divisive and cruel and get away with it. Because if we not only allowed him to get away with it all then why can’t they?

Donald himself will have to shape up at least in some sort of fashion, he will have tighter reins and more restrictions than he ever has. But his supporters are out in the real world with none of that, they will be able to invoke his hateful rhetoric in the public sphere and think they are being the model citizen crafted after their leader. And that’s what truly scares me.

As a bisexual woman in this country I am waking up actually worried about my well-being in my home. And I’m still a white cis-gendered woman in the Midwest. My friends and loved ones who are POC, LGBT+, women, immigrant, and disabled face a stronger fear than I can likely imagine. I can’t help but feel that if you’re in my life and you voted for Donald Trump you don’t care about me, and I’m sure other people who belong to those communities feel the same. Particularly if you voted for him because you liked his running mate. Mike Pence is a monster. He believes that conversion therapy is not just an option but something that LGBT+ people should endure to “fix” them. Your vote for that man says you think I need electroshock therapy and a complete break down of my character to be considered “right” and “normal”. Screw you very much.

That being said, Donald Trump is still our President-elect. I am with Hillary and President Obama in the sense we have to give him an open mind. I would love to be surprised or proven wrong by him, but I am not holding my breath. It’s very much going to be a ‘one day at a time’ experience for the next four years.

But at the end of the day I know that sitting down & letting things happen is not the style of the marginalized. We have faced a set back with this vote, but it is also a challenge for us to work harder and be more vigilant for each other and the future of our country. We will look out for each other and do whatever it takes to not actually let our country regress from the immense progress we have made in the recent past. Hillary rallied us, built a strong support and love system between all of us. She helped us see what we can do and what a future that has our strong faith and support can look like. It’s been postponed for now but it’s not canceled or forgotten.

We can be a better country and we can’t lose that hope. We’ve got a lot of work to do and all that fight and energy starts today Wednesday, November 9th, 2016.