Wait a minute . . .

It occurs to me that I’ve never publicly answer the question I ask everyone, “What makes you whole?”

Uh, well . . . I don’t know.

My first thought is writing. It always centers me even when it frustrates the shit out of me. But self-expression is part of my core, and I do it best in writing.

My second thought is helping people understand themselves. I’ve long advocated for self-awareness, as I’m convinced it makes life easier even if the process is hard.

My third thought is music. I have a neon yellow/green index card on my pinboard in my office that I wrote this on: “Music is always the answer.” When my mental health spirals, I put on one of three playlists: Peter Gabriel, Mumford and Sons, or my Anxiety Soothers playlist that heavily features Marconi Union. It’s comfort and grounding. But I also almost always have music on in some way. Right now, I’m listening to my ’80s and ’90s playlist, and sometimes, I drive around aimlessly just to listen to music because I seem to absorb it best in my car.

I think my last thought is connections particularly family and loved ones. My brain does this neat (sarcasm font) thing where I imagine the deaths of my loved ones, and I end up bringing myself to tears. It’s brutal to do to myself, but it also serves as a reminder not to take them for granted. I would be *shattered* if I lost my husband, parents, siblings, nieces, nephews, or closest friends. I don’t feel human without them.

So, yeah. I imagine there are more things (chai), but those are the things that come to mind immediately.

I always turn the question back to you. What makes you whole?

Strike a Pose: Who Are You When You’re Alone?

When I’m alone, I’m a model, an actress, a celebrity, an interviewer and interviewee. I’m the lover of an endless line of famous men. I have millions of dollars at my disposal. I’m thin. I’m in shape. I’m pretty. I say whatever I want without fear. I have witty comebacks. I’m devastating in all ways especially as a dancer and singer. I’m who I want to be, but I’m pretending to be someone I’m not.

It begs the question: What if that’s the real me, and I’m simply not letting her out (sans the lover of an endless line of famous men because, in reality, that sounds exhausting)?

The commonality among my imaginary roles is confidence. Yet none of us need to be any of those things to be confident. I need not be thin or in shape to feel like I own the space around me. I need not be a model (for anyone but myself) to feel like I can be self-assured.

I don’t feel that way at all. The divide still exists. I’m terrified of singing around anyone (I’m not a great singer; I just enjoy it). I do not dance with any measure of seriousness in front of anyone because I’m physically awkward. I’ve had people in the community refer to me as a “celebrity” when they meet me, and I instantly cringe because it feels incongruous. It reminds me of how much lesser I feel compared to who I am when I’m alone.

Wholeness is to be the same inside and out, to be one’s self when alone or with others. It is the part of wholeness I find the hardest to embrace. The opinions of others weigh too heavily on my ego if I put myself out there in new ways.

This is not who I want to be. I am always the clever, talented woman in the mirror. I need to shatter the glass.

Incivility and Attention Whores

Bowling shoes. Food. Beer pitchers.

Those are the items people have thrown at other people or windows at two businesses in the Des Moines area. Why? Because adults aren’t getting what they want, so they’re throwing adult tantrums, which aren’t a thing. A tantrum is a tantrum. If you’re throwing one, you’re an adult in numbers only.

I remember throwing a tantrum as a kid in the middle of the meat department at Dahl’s (R.I.P.). My mother leaned over to me & whispered that I would NEVER do that to her again. It was terrifying. She was right. I didn’t.

Maybe the person who threw bowling shoes didn’t have a mom who was scary when she got quiet. Maybe folks got away with throwing food when they were kids & were never told it’s wrong. But I doubt that. I suspect these folks know exactly what they’re doing. They know they’re immature & cruel. They just don’t care.

I say that because, this past Sunday, My family & I attended my niece’s graduation. It was held outdoors with no restrictions, no social distancing, & no mask mandates because our governor banned such mandates schools & local governments. The graduating class had over 500 students, which meant there were literally thousands of people in attendance at this one function. I’m confident there were less than 200 masks among the crowd.

In other news, it’s considered “divisive” & an incivility to teach, talk about, & call out racism. Political leaders called for “civility” in protests. And so on & so forth with the standard nonsense that is White supremacy.

None of this should surprise me, but I have this flaw in thinking people will do the right thing. Strangely, it’s the same flaw Iowa’s governor has. Except mine is believing people will care about other people.

It leaves me asking the same question time & time again: Why isn’t everyone talking about this? Why do we let the people in the wrong have the say, make the rules, & control the narrative? This is why we need to talk about it.

The derision of calling people of color “uncivilized” is not new in America. It was encoded in one of our country’s founding documents. In our Declaration of Independence, among the complaints listed against King George III is this: “He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.” Ironically, the Founding Fathers (a.k.a. European Colonizers) considered this to be “oppression” and “tyranny.”

(I’ll leave the phrase “domestic insurrections” for another post.)

So, there it is, right? Written into our nation’s history is the belief that the colonizer is the one being oppressed, the ones bringing harm think they are the victims, the ones throwing the food think they are in the right.

But they know full well they aren’t because they have to disparage the so-called uncivilized “savage” in order to look like the victim. And they couldn’t easily defeat the Natives, so they . . . threw a tantrum.

I return to this question too: Why do you think people throw food at those in the service industry? Why do you think a misnomer like “wage slave” exists? Why do you think people get so mad when minimum wage workers don’t bend to the whims of the customer? Why do you think people continue to throw tantrums when they don’t get what they want, then try to disparage anyone who tries to say, “Hey, you’re in the wrong”?

It’s because of the innate right to attention from others, one of the most important factors in feeling whole.

The desire to be a victim, to get sympathy, to get attention is what we aren’t talking about here. It is the cause of so many social symptoms. We shame people who seek attention as attention whores, as if attention is a bad thing, but it is the thing we all crave from birth. We literally need food, sleep, and attention to survive.

And when people don’t get attention in a loving, nurturing way, they will ALWAYS seek it where they can get it. Some will seek it in healthy ways, but others–especially if they’ve not had healthy behaviors modeled for them–will do things like throw food, hurl beer pitchers at windows, harm others, and . . . well, colonize whole countries. It might seem like an exaggeration, but the behavior doesn’t change, only the scale of the person’s impact does.

And if you don’t believe me, look at Donald J. Trump. How many times do you think his parents told him they loved him?