BIGOT

Bigot: a person who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices;especially :  one who regards or treats the members of a group (as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance.

I need to write this. Maybe not for you, or anyone else, maybe just for me. But I don’t care, I am going to write it. It has been cluttering my mind for days, weeks, maybe even years. I think if I write it, I will feel some of my stress alleviate.

I hate this word.

I hate how it sounds.

I hate how it is written.

I hate how it is shouted.

I hate how it is misunderstood.

I have yet to hear it from someone who is not exhibiting some form of bigotry themselves.

Since we have been married, Adrian and I have lived in Utah, South Carolina, Florida, Washington (state), Nevada, and Massachusetts.

We have interacted with and worked (often closely) with gay, lesbian, straight, black, white, hispanic, european, asian, jewish, republican, democrat, libertarian, socialist, atheist, muslim, mormon, and every single thing in between. We have even discussed politics with supporters of Trump, Clinton, Cruz, and Sanders.

In my opinion- bigotry has zero boundaries. In fact, bigotry is stabbing you in the back. It tells you to hate (or even be intolerant of) someone because they follow the status quo or because they are too extreme; but then will just turn around and be friends with very people you are spitting at. It goes around and around and just tells anyone who will listen to foster anger, disgust, and intolerance for someone, anyone. It tells you how much more important your cause is…it tells you that your vote will make history or that you are just protecting your family. It tells you that if you don’t play along, that you will be hurting someone close to you. Bigotry is the voice that is telling you that compromise is not possible or favorable in any way, and that if the other side won’t stop, then you must force them with laws, executive orders, revolutions, or simply just forced shame. I am sorry to be the one to tell you this, but, bigotry wants to make you its puppet.

I have heard a person in a homosexual relationship describe how polygamy makes his stomach churn, and someone who has mostly female family members affirm that all women should be tested before they can vote.

Like I said, no bounds.

So what do I suggest?

A first good step: listen. Talk to someone, ask them questions with the idea in mind that you really just want to know what it’s like before you make an opinion. Get to know someone’s experiences. Try to have a little faith that compromise can and will work. Validate their fears and then describe your fears and experiences, too. Find common ground.

You could also: do what we did and live in other places, get an idea of how policies, cultures, and experiences shape a person’s or a group of people’s ethics. Assume the good in people, even when they don’t assume the good in you.

Lastly: the golden rule. In a tense situation, be the first one to calm down and show them the same respect that you think you deserve. Whenever someone has done this with me, I always let me guard down and have a better and enlightened conversation in the end.

I know that a more peaceful society is possible. Why?

Because…

I have watched Trump supporters befriend Mexicans. I have experienced atheists try to truly, and kindly, understand my deep love for my religion. I have become extremely close friends with people who have polar opposite opinions that I do.

If you are sitting there, reading this, and thinking about how someone else you know should be doing these things- you’re probably the one who needs to do it. I’m sorry, but it’s true. Look inward and fix yourself, first. Then look outward and make a point of bettering the conversation.

 

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Daily Prompt/Freewrite: Buddy

Right now, my best buddies are my family. Which I am definitely fine with because they are the first people in my life that I really chose to be with. I didn’t choose my parents or my siblings, and I didn’t choose my classmates or peers (but, to be fair, I did choose my friends. Although, I think that was still a little less choosing than I have done with my husband and children.) I love my family. It’s not like any sort of special or perfect situation. As I write this, my toddler son is trying a hundred different ways to convince me to let him “watch a show.” I am pretty close to giving in, again. But I think that in spite of all of my current pursuits, I could never let go of the relationship and happiness that I feel when I am with my family. IMG_1266

About a year ago, I decided that I wanted to be a better friend. I still suck at it, but I feel like my intentions are at least improving. I think that if I could build on each little thing that I am doing right, maybe I will get to that point where I feel like it’s not difficult to serve my friends to the best of my capacity.

 

Buddy

Daily Underestimation

“Maybe next time, you’ll estimate me!” -Michael Scott, The Office

As I lay in my bed at the end of the week, I think about my aching legs and newly-discovered diastasis recti, which now explains the dull but insistent backache. Instead of feeling sorry for myself, this time I feel powerful. By many standards, my day was not necessarily busy or stressful. Compared to my former life, my life sans children, it was particularly taxing. I have long forgotten that life, and I wonder frequently if I will ever know it again. My every day is stressful.

My problem isn’t in the situation. It never is. My childhood was riddled with the words, “You create your own experience.” I used to think my mom was just continuously in denial about my dad’s severe drug addiction, but I have long since learned that it is as true as the golden rule. There are some situations that we have no control over, so making the best of it is the only control we should relish.

You see, when I wake up in the morning to a cooing baby and a persistent 2-year old, I have to tell myself that I can do it. That I have done it up to this point, and I can do it again and again and again. I chose this life and I will continue to choose it, but that shouldn’t stop me from making the best of it. Just getting by isn’t a choice, anymore.

I recently starting writing articles for a drug rehab facility all the way across the country, a museum in my current town, and a marriage website started by a friend of mine. A year or two ago, I would have thought that wasn’t possible- particularly with two children and a husband whom I only get to see a few hours a week. But I make it happen’ cap’n and I am so glad I chose not to underestimate myself.  My mothering hasn’t changed, unless you count the computer being open more often (which, honestly, only replaced my phone apps being open). At least now I am doing something productive for other people (other than my children, of course) and, therefore, myself.

I will continue to tell myself that I can do it, but now I will remember to not underestimate what I can do.

Daily Prompt

 

 

A Series of Places Lived: Surfside Beach, South Carolina

800px-south_carolina_in_united_states-svgDuring college, Adrian and I decided to do internships at a resort in Surfside, South Carolina. If you’ve never heard of it, that’s probably because it’s a very small town that is shadowed by the (mind-bogglingly) consistent summer revival of Myrtle Beach just 4 miles north. I say mind-bogglingly because I still cannot bring myself to appreciate what is Myrtle Beach. It’s a strip of bars, mini-golf courses, and beach spots that are home to bikers and tourists. There are a few other very expensive “family” environments (aquarium, Ripley’s, etc.) but unless you are going for the Carolina-style southern food, then it’s just another beach.

Driving down King’s Highway, you will see many blinding store fronts. The lights are eternally blazing and difficult to comprehend. The cheap apparel on the inside is even worse. But, you go inside. You don’t know why. You just do.

The next thing you will notice is the numerous mini-golf courses. They adorn a number of theme: pirates, under the sea, etc. But the real kicker is the fact that you will almost always see large families there, day or night. They are never empty, even though you know it may seem ridiculous that you are passing yet ANOTHER course.

The beach in Surfside is nice, I will give it that. And maybe that is because it is considered the “family” beach spot, but there is always a place to lay out and enjoy the waves or sun. Since we were working at a resort with odd hours, we often went to the beach at night after all of the tourists left. We particularly loved going when it was stormy out since it was guaranteed to be vacant and the waves would be enormous and crashing against the shore like it was the end of the world.

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South Carolina Flag – The most aesthetically pleasing I’ve ever seen.

Another surprisingly pleasant thing about South Carolina is the history. We discovered a number of settings that had preserved canons and forts. It was beautiful and rich with discovery. Drive about 3 hours south and you will get to Charleston, SC where the Gullah women will make you something pretty with dried reeds and rubber bands; the restaurants serve Carolina bbq; and the street vendors sell unique specialty items. Take a walking tour if you must, but even just a walk around the town will satisfy your thirst for some deep religious history. I know I sound like I’m blogging for a tourism site, but that’s how much I enjoyed Charleston.

The people. The people of South Carolina (well, I can’t speak for all of it, but I can for our little niche) are about what you would expect from most southern states. They love sweet tea and will be highly offended if you choose not to dance to the country music with them. However, they are also forgiving. I met a lot of people of many races and nationalities, and enjoyed learning about all of them. They will treat you like family, good and bad, and I learned very much from those people. a0e2e2d081fa29e9cbfa8cf6c8d6354c

 

Are You Addicted to Romance?

Romance is the one unique thing associated with marriages. You may not think of romance when you think about other desirable things. Sure, we joke about it. I mean, when you were a kid didn’t your smart-aleck friends tell you, “If you love that candy bar so much, why don’t you marry it?” Well, unless you’re Erica Eiffel, I doubt you’ve ever experienced a romance that compares to the one in your marriage.

However, there are many of us who are addicted to what are something like “romances.” That rushing, happy feeling you get when you upgrade your phone, discover a new restaurant that you are excited to try everything on the menu, or when you move to a new city that you can’t wait to explore. That constant stimulation is even the reason why internet pornography is becoming so widespread. There is never an end to what you can see or experience. CMXweuOUcAAZ8YF

Now think of this in terms of marriage- what happens when these positive and exciting feelings fade?

The term for marital romance is called limerence. Limerence encompasses sexual attraction, adoration, and sometimes even obsessiveness. John Gottman, one of the foremost authorities on all things marriage, suggests that this feeling of limerence lasts only 2 years. 2 years. When most people get married, rarely do they think, “Well, in 2 years, when this feeling is over, I will just get divorced and find a new spouse.” Most people assume that this strong loving feeling is something they will experience the rest of their lives with their spouse. Gottman suggests otherwise. He says this strong attraction is a phase. While this phase is very important when choosing your mate, it is not something that should be viewed as a permanent stage of marriage.

So what happens when it goes away?

Hello, reality check.

You start to notice that your spouse’s cute grinding noise they make when they sleep actually bothers you- like, a lot.

You notice that your spouse is always late. You used to joke about it, but now it’s just starting to get annoying and inconsiderate.

You start to wonder if your spouse is really as good as you thought, like maybe you were just tricked into this marriage, or that you were naïve and young and now you know better.

So then, you start looking around.

I think you know where I am going with this.

Before you get down in the dumps about the inevitable decline of your constant and strong attraction to your spouse, consider this: if it’s just a phase, maybe that’s because the next phases will be even better, if you work hard to get there.

I mean, it took work to date your spouse before you got married, right? Maybe not hard work, and most likely really enjoyable work. But it was still an effort, sometimes even at the expense of other important friendships and commitments.

If you want to transition smoothly into future marital phases, then build a strong foundation that you can always go back to when times get difficult.

Here are some suggestions inspired by the John Gottman blog:

Share the Why

Share your fondness beyond the words “I love you” or “I admire you.” Actually tell them why you love them and why you admire them. Use specific situations like, “I love it when you hold my hand in public. It makes me feel like you are happy for other people to see how in love we are.”

Don’t Underestimate the Value of Appreciation

Tell your spouse that you appreciate them for specific things they have done. One instance might be, “I noticed yesterday that you did the dishes for me when I was stressed out, and that made me feel really good. Thank you.” But, additionally, thank them for things that they are. Saying something like, “I appreciate that you are relaxed about the traffic jam,” is something that could go a long way.

Some other suggestions that we have are:

Validate Your Partner’s Feelings

Okay, okay, you’ve heard this A LOT. But really, it does wonders on your partner’s and your mood. By acknowledging that they are upset or sad shows that you care about their feelings and combats contempt- which is a huge marriage killer. Contempt is not something you feel often in that honeymoon stage of marriage, but it gets its way when you start to notice all of the imperfections in your partner. Making a habit of validation will be a stronghold when things get tough.

Learn to Speak Your Partner’s Love Language

Part of nurturing your marriage involves concentrating on the things that benefit you and your spouse. You may love it when your spouse gives you a massage, but does your spouse love it, too? What speaks to him or her? Making a consistent routine out of giving your partner more of what they want will make it easier when the cloud of limerence starts to lift.

If you think that you might be starting to lose sight of the honeymoon, don’t forget that this doesn’t have to be a bad thing if you are willing to make positive choices that will perpetuate your deep love for one another. Apply these principles and strategies to your marriage starting today and you will not regret it.

A Series of Places Lived: Utah

Since I married my husband over 6 years ago, we have lived in 7 different places. I have felt very inspired to document these experiences. I think, ultimately, it will benefit my children to know what I have learned.

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Utah: My husband and I met in our apartment complex, off-campus, at Brigham Young University. He had a friend who was dating my roommate, and he was interested in me, so we spent a lot of time around each other. I may get into that in a different post, but basically, we dated for 3 months, were engaged for 3 months and were married on August 1st, 2009.

When we first married, we lived in an older basement apartment just about a half mile from campus. We had a backyard and a garage, along with a beautiful and delicious plum tree right outside our door.

We attended class and each worked part-time on campus. Because it was our first real experience of relinquishing any financial dependence on our parents, we chose not to pay for internet in our apartment and instead we would stay on campus, doing homework, until they closed the buildings at 11:00pm. That was one of the biggest mistakes we have made. Both of us suffered in our studies, since our homework was extremely dependent on our ability to do research and take care of other business online.

Our neighbors were Ukranian. A man and woman in their forties and their 14 year old son. We were friendly, though not friends with them. I imagine that they thought we were young and interested in things other than getting to know them. Which was probably true.

Provo is unlike any other college town I have known. When my husband and I were dating, we lived in an apartment complex among several other apartment complexes. In it, there were Nepalese, Indian, and Asian students, as well as a few from the Ivory Coast; other than, of course, the traditional student who typically hailed from Utah, California, Idaho, and Arizona. Provo is the kind of place that you can get anything you want, but it’s not shoved in your face. None of my friends drank or experimented with drugs. Typically, we watched movies on the weekend and drove out through Provo Canyon to watch the leaves turn in the fall.

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USA, Utah, La Sal Mountains from Arches National Park
There is a beauty in Utah. Besides the mountains in which all civilization resides, there are ever-changing trees and plants, plenty of animals in spite of the ever-growing human population, and  a lot of lively, local restaurants and recreational spots. It wasn’t more than a 10 minute drive to the canyon where you could camp, fish, hike, or just drive through and have a look. Within 45 minutes you could drive up to Salt Lake City and enjoy the more eclectic group of people that live there, while checking out concerts, art, history, and an unsightly amount of inversion.

We loved Utah. Maybe because it was where we met. Maybe because we love having four seasons, being poor, and studying in school. Maybe we love it because it’s easy to love.

salt_lake_city_3.jpgHowever, we don’t know if we could raise our children there. I mean, we could, but would we want to? We are members of the Mormon church, and we refer to this particular sect of our faith as Utah Mormons, because they can be very different from the rest of the church (did you know that the majority of our members don’t even live in the U.S.?) Some of my very favorite people and best friends were raised in Utah. But, still, there remains a competitive attitude, a sense of comparison that I don’t ever feel happy to indulge. Though, I suppose that if we had to move there to live, we woulddo it happily.

 

MCM

 

Stay Calm and Be Vulnerable

Aside from the typical Webster definition* of vulnerability, it can be difficult to fully comprehend what vulnerability is and how it affects relationships. In some ways, it is painted as an abstract concept that carries negative connotations and consequences. Confidence is often the pinnacle of success by most American standards. However, vulnerability can play a very important part in many relationships, particularly marriages.

What is it, really? Vulnerability is the complete opening of oneself to another person or situation, thus being exposed to potential damage or harm. In the context of marriage, vulnerability particularly exposes feelings that are close to each individual’s heart. These are often feelings of sadness, fear, or pain.

How does it affect marriage? It is rare in marriage that a spouse doesn’t expose emotional, mental, or physical pain in front of or to the other spouse. However, the act of telling a spouse about unseen feelings can be difficult. When feelings are verbally and physically shared among a married couple, there are two potential outcomes. The first occurs when these feelings are validated, and the listening spouse shows respect and love toward the vulnerable spouse; in this situation, the consequences are positive and the couple experiences a strengthening bond. The second occurs when these feelings are degraded, invalidated, or “brushed off.” Alternative to the more positive situation, there tends to be a loss of trust, security, and predictability. This erodes the relationship to shallow interactions and covered emotions, rather than provide the depth that accompanies a stable relationship.relationship-issues-having-dead-emotional-intimacy

 

How do we become more vulnerable? Terry Gaspard wrote in her article “Vulnerability: The Secret to Divorce-Proofing Your Relationship” about ways to allow yourself to be more vulnerable. She is a licensed social worker and contributor to the Huffington Post who suggests practicing “self-disclosing thoughts, feelings, and desires without self-blame.” This is the all-too-famous “I feel…” statements when discussing things that matter to you. If you find yourself getting irritable at something with your spouse, pinpoint the problem to how the behavior makes you feel and discuss that. With this, you and your spouse can explore the situation deeply and come to a solution together; which will strengthen your marriage. Gaspard’s other suggestion is to avoid allowing past hurt to direct your actions now. It can be difficult to want to open up yourself when you are still feeling hurt from past circumstances, so starting a little at a time doesn’t hurt. Acknowledge the little efforts your spouse makes to understand you, even if they don’t completely. This may take time, but the ultimate goal is to create a sustainable, predictable bond with your spouse that will carry with you for the rest of your marriage.

*vulnerable: adjective,  vul·ner·a·ble  \ˈvəl-n(ə-)rə-bəl, ˈvəl-nər-bəl\ : easily hurt or harmed physically, mentally, or emotionally : open to attack, harm, or damage