Monthly Archives: August 2016

The Slippery Slope of Mockery

This week, I’m dipping my toe in politics (Gasp! I know, right?) based on a FB post I wrote last week in response to the Donald Trump statues. It’s actually not really a political post though, as I identify as an Independent (so don’t worry, and please read on, because I think it’s important, and I think you’ll like what you read.)

It’s perhaps from that non-partisan perspective that I can better see things that show up as red flags. In response to my post, I heard from friends on both sides of the fence (fiercely loyal Republicans and Democrats alike), and both agreed wholeheartedly with what I wrote, which caused me to pause and reflect on what’s truly going on, if two opposing sides can agree.

Here’s the original post.

So…can I just chime in for a second… Because this is funny and all, and it’s always a good joke to poke fun at someone we find insufferable, right? But… if it were the other way around, if naked Hillary statues were placed around the country, would it be as funny? Or would we be outraged? Because if it wouldn’t be funny to you, then maybe this is not actually funny.

I just want to make a tiny reminder that double standards are the breeding ground for things like racism and privilege. Just something to think about from the social worker in me. Thank you.

Followed by this, in the comments during an ongoing discussion:

The downfall of this election will not be (I fear) who wins or loses, it will be the American people more divided than ever. No matter which candidate wins, we all lose. Spreading division is a sure fire way to create the lowest morale and systemic emotional illness, from which it will take years to recover – which then means that neither candidate will win, because they will inherit an emotionally diseased country, of their own making. PS: It’s called the UNITED states, and they/we are making it the DIVIDED states.

Discussion ensued, and I started to see the pattern that initially gave me pause. Basically, the act of publicly degrading another human being feels like a violation of our core for the majority of people, regardless of party politics. Why? Because it is.

It’s a simple truth actually. If we witness someone acting out negatively toward another human being, we either a) become enraged, or b) become sensitized to it, and ultimately accept more “bad” behavior. How we then choose to act is dependent upon our initial reaction.

I had a real-life “example” in grad school with a friend when we were sitting in a coffee shop watching a mother disciplining her child, rather cruelly but without physical abuse. It was that very fine line of what is acceptable and what is not as a society. It lasted less than a minute, and neither of us wanted to step in, but both of us were angered and upset as we sat dumbfounded trying to figure out what to do. What was “right?”

Of course, we couldn’t come up with an acceptable answer, but our awareness had been heightened by the experience and ensuing discussion, which, for me, resulted in a greater sensitivity to seeing the forest from the trees. That basically means that when I see something go from individual to systemic a HUGE red flag rises in my mind’s eye, and that’s exactly what happened last week.

Back to the Trump statues. Let me be clear that I don’t agree with the divisiveness and hatred that Donald Trump has espoused this past year, so this article isn’t about defending Trump. Nor is this article about condoning Hillary, as the Democrats have historically also been responsible for divisiveness and mud-slinging. Neither party is innocent of this type of debasing behavior.

This article is about defending humanity and our civilization.

In one comment on the statues, it was suggested that it was “okay” to mock Trump with the statues because satire has always been a part of politics, and it’s our right. In another the mockery was justified as “deserving” because of Trump’s words over the past year.

This is where I took issue.

At what point does mockery become a threat to society? At what point do we stop and say, “no.” to that sort of behavior? This is where we have to guard against the slipper slope of mockery. Where I suggested the statues went too far for myriad reasons.

The responding comment suggested that this was not a time to take the “high road,” to which I wrote:

…for me it’s not about “the high road” – it’s about focusing on the bigger picture, which is that this type of behavior fuels more of this type of behavior, and if I condone it in one, I must condone it in all. No reason justifies it. That would be like saying, a person who was abused is ok to then abuse others. It’s not. It never is. It might explain why someone has abused someone else (as it often does), but it doesn’t make it ok on any level. Not for me, at least.

….And into that very dangerous ground we tread. The minute we can start rationalizing and justifying demoralizing behavior, we are losing. As a society and as humanity.

…If we start segregating people based on this thinking (they deserved it) we have reverted as a collective. Who is to be judge and jury? It’s all subjective. And the loser is always society.

The discussion ended there. Though a few days later, a friend had shared similar thoughts to my original post on her own timeline, and she received backlash. Again, those who would justify or rationalize (two major red flags, as I described in my book What if..?) the demoralizing statues as “deserving” voiced their opinions. My friend, courageously suggested that kindness should begin to rule our words – especially politically – to which one of her friends suggested civility, at least. I chimed in again:

…it’s more than kindness – it’s civility. But for me, it’s more than that – it’s humanity and civilization. As we lose our sensitivity to unacceptable behavior – that behavior becomes the “norm” and the threshold is moved. It’s one of the most slippery slopes we have actually, and if we don’t stem the tide, it will become a tsunami. And then all of humanity, civilization, loses. We ALL lose, regardless of party allegiance. I’m in the camp that we are already losing, but not in the camp of “beyond hope” for systemic change. But it has to start somewhere, and ideally it has to be bookended – from both above and below. Those in power, and those that elected them, both have to change how it’s done. Both have to have a fierce no-tolerance policy for degradation.

You see, historically (and even currently) I have always aligned with the policy of laissez-faire, or “let it do” (aka: let go). I don’t believe any one person has a right to impose their beliefs on any other person, myself included. I wish to be free to explore my beliefs, my thinking, my studying and change my mind/actions/presence accordingly. And I want the same for everyone else. Where beliefs overlap, I want those individuals to be able to form community and fellowship, celebrating the overlap and the joy in connection. This is my ideal society.

Overall, I think we have been living this way in America for a long time. It’s not perfect, but it has functioned, mostly well. The reason it functioned, I think, is because the majority had adopted a civil and moral code of conduct that was unwritten, but understood. Therefore, when I see the system sliding away from that invisible moral code and crossing a threshold into transforming unacceptable behavior into the “norm,” I get concerned. Red flags rise everywhere, and it becomes time to speak up and speak out against this type of behavior.

I think if you asked most citizens of this country if they believed in basic human rights, and the desire to be free to think as they choose without having their beliefs imposed upon, they would agree. Nobody wants to be scorned. Nobody wants to be shamed. Nobody wants to be mocked, ridiculed, or degraded. I doubt you would find one person willing to subject themselves to such behavior. Why then, do we do it to others?

Why is it ok to mock, shame, scorn and degrade another human being, when we don’t want it for ourselves?

The simple truth is: it’s not.

It’s not okay, and it never will be okay – but the more we do it, see it, witness it without speaking up, the more acceptable and “okay” it becomes through progressive rationalization, or desensitization. And that’s what we witnessed last week with the statues.

Yes, politics and satire have always been bedfellows to an extent, but at what point have we crossed the line from satire into degradation? At what point do we draw the line and choose to reverse the problems this type of behavior has created?

I would argue that that point is now, and it’s up to all of us to simply say “no, I don’t accept that behavior,” when we see it, and then offer a different way. The important distinction is to comment on the behavior, not the person. Behavior is something that can be changed. It’s not a statement about a person (ie: “I don’t accept that person,” which is problematic for myriad reasons), it’s a statement about something a person has done. That can then lead to discussion, relation, and connection – which ultimately leads to positive change for all.

Feeling Gratitude or Giving Thanks

Back to the shower for this week’s inspiration (I just love how the water amplifies everything for me and makes the flow so much easier).

So, last week I was in the shower after having a really good chat with a friend, and feeling an immense gratitude. I started to write on my glass shower wall (as I do):

I am grateful for…

And I paused.

I had a whole list of things to feel grateful for, and yet, it somehow wasn’t coming forth. It felt restrained, which meant it was time to step back and listen as I lathered up my hair with a new shampoo.

It wasn’t long before something started to shift within my mind, and my hand instinctively went to the wall once more:

Thank you…

I suddenly felt a charge running through me that surpassed anything I had felt previously. It was like gratitude on steroids.

Thank you.

Thank you for…

And I continued with my list. Once I finished I took a deep breath and reflected on what had just happened.

“Thank you…” is an ACT of gratitude; while “I’m grateful for…” is a STATEMENT of gratitude. Both are wonderful expressions of gratitude, but the former carries with it the vibration of action, which is thought manifested, and therefore infinitely more powerful. Very cool.

gratitude as act

Honestly, in looking back at all the times I tried to keep a gratitude journal and failed, I think I have finally hit on the reason why:

When something is passive for me, I tend to dabble with my toes in the water. When something is active for me, I tend to dive in and swim.

Shifting my gratitude from a statement to an act made it palpable, tangible and accessible – and it imbued me with a sense of empowered appreciation that I hadn’t felt previously. In other words, it changed everything. The shift was immediate, deep, and carried over into all of my days since.

Being in gratitude is the easiest and fastest way I know to stay in the flow of life and to stay present. Practicing gratitude as action instead of statement, makes it even easier.

Perspective, Fat-Shaming, and Truth

Well, this week I’m getting more personal. It’s a blog, though, isn’t it – so, in many ways it’s about being personal. For over seven years I have shared my thoughts and perspective on myriad things, usually from a place of having vetted the topic through many many filters of experience, knowledge, and teachings. This week, I’m getting a bit more personal, and you’ll see why when you read what I have to say.

Many of you know me and/or know much of my story. Many of you don’t. Either way, you’ll get a glimpse into how I became who I am today from this week’s piece. I hope you enjoy it, and if you’ve experienced anything similar for any reason – know you are not alone. (For those of you who follow me on Facebook, you may have already seen this as a post earlier this week.)

I just made the mistake of reading the comments on a beautiful story of a discriminated segment of the population standing proud and doing something that goes against stigma… And the majority of comments were horrible. I had hoped that they wouldn’t be on such a lovely piece. I was wrong.

It made me pause and think. I haven’t mentioned what “segment” this is. Did you have an idea in your head when reading my above paragraph? What if I’m referring to disabled individuals? Or African-Americans? Or LGBT? What if I’m referring to the elderly, or the poor? To immigrants?

I’ve seen many posts in recent times about all of these groups doing something against the stigma, and the majority of comments have been “you go girl!” or “well done,” or even “about time!” But because I’m NOT speaking about any of these or similar groups, I see a different trend in the commentary.

Would it surprise you to know I’m speaking about plus-sized women? More specifically, Plus-sized women dancers who have more flexibility and strength in their bodies than many other people on the planet? And still…they are demeaned as nothing more than a number on a scale, or a size on a label.

These strong women are dancing beautifully, breaking a stereotype and a stigma, and attacked for doing so. They are called “fat” and “obese” and told that they shouldn’t be dancing because it “glorifies” being fat, when they should be hiding it away and working harder to be thin. (Because “thin” = “healthy” apparently.)

This makes me mad. Nobody – NOBODY – has a right to judge another. Unless you can walk in the other person’s shoes, you simply don’t know (and you can’t, and even if you could, there’s still no place to judge). If these comments were directed at any other discriminated population, the perpetrators would be called “racist” and “bigots.” But for some reason it’s still ok to fat-shame. An entire segment of the population is routinely put down (negated, attacked, dismissed, shamed) because of their appearance and the social stigma attached to it, and it’s simply wrong.

I speak from experience on this. I’ve been thin(ner), and I’ve been fat. I currently carry an extra 60lbs of ’emotional scar tissue’ from my marriage. But I’m alive. It’s increasingly harder for me to shift the weight, but I’m working on it with a team of experts. And I’m alive. Unless you’ve walked in my shoes, you have no right to judge me and how I look – and yet…I’ve been judged. I’ve received comments, and stares, and messages (unsolicited offerings of advice and help), because people “care” for me or (in actuality) are uncomfortable with my weight. Well, luckily, they don’t have to be the one carrying it.

And I smile and nod in “appreciation” because it’s easier that way. It’s easier to seem grateful for the thoughtful/less suggestions than it is to say, “f**k off!” And I build a story around it: “…but I’m alive,” to justify others’ discomfort at my appearance.

Well, no more. I’m tired. I’m tired of being looked at as ‘lesser-than’ because I have a ‘bit-more’ than others. Because here’s the truth of the matter:

I’m fat. I gained 60lbs during a (mostly) dysfunctional marriage, and I’m having a hard time getting it off, because of an injury. But…I’m alive. In the last year of my marriage I was certain I wouldn’t be for long, either at my own hand, or his. So, I’m alive, and I’m fat. And I have some health concerns that I am working on with professionals – (mostly the result of my silly toe that stopped bending – the rest of me is healthy by the numbers). And I’ve had relationships since my divorce with (attractive/slim) men – should I not have, because I’m fat? Because I’ve been told that, too. Yes.

And…

And I’m SO MUCH MORE than all of that. It’s just one ~ one ~ piece of my story. A story that is always evolving and growing, and includes:

I’m alive. I survived. I’m beautiful, smart, funny, creative, and strong. I’m fat and flexible, happy and whole. I’m intuitive and blessed, grateful and living my life with purpose and passion – I’m living, because I’m alive, and I survived. And I’m everything I ever was and will yet be, because of that.

People are more than their bodies. #Stopfatshaming

Post-Note: Unless we learn to regularly take perspective, how can we invite compassion into our lives, or expect it from others? The key to creating change in humanity includes this very crucial first step: taking perspective.

Look At Your Wake

How many of us struggle with feeling “good enough” or staying motivated to keep going when we face a seemingly long array of obstacles? I know I’m not alone when I share this thought. Not only have I seen it in my clients and colleagues, but I’ve also witnessed it in my personal life among friends and family. It’s that feeling of looking forward to the next rung on the ladder, and finding the motivation within to keep going, keep striving, keep climbing, as we look ahead at those who have already “done it” – whatever “it” is.

For me, I am just coming off my first year as a published author, and my seventh year as a certified life coach, not to mention all the other things in between. I look at other people in my industry who have “succeeded” and I wonder why I haven’t reached the same level of success as they have…or appear to have. (<– always a good reminder.)

There are many answers to this, of course, but the two most obvious are:

  • They’ve been doing it a LOT longer than I have (in many cases around 2 decades for the authors/speakers I admire the most), and
  • They’ve had a LOT of help to get where they are.

So, first, let me say that I have had wonderful help with my first book and its subsequent tour, as well as various other projects I’ve created. Additionally, I know I’m successful in what I do and have done, which I am especially reminded of when I receive unexpected messages of gratitude for my work. (Thank you, again, by the way, I love hearing from you!) My challenge has been in making it scalable, which is a new focus for me this fall. But what I’m talking about goes deeper. It’s more than that.

When someone has a fire burning in their belly to walk the path they’ve been given, it can sometimes be frustrating when the path seems slow or strewn with obstacles. Part of the reason for that is because we are always looking ahead. Guilty as charged.

As a Visionary, it’s my job to constantly be flying between the forest and the trees, to understand the ever-changing perspective and digest it in a meaningful way. As a Writer and Coach, it’s my job to then relate that information in an accessible and actionable manner. This is my path, and I love and accept it. It means that I am always looking around, assessing and monitoring the universal energies and shifts I see to understand what they mean for humanity, from both a divine and human perspective. As I’ve said before, I write from my soul to understand my humanity. It’s from this space that I then help people to (re)connect and understand their souls (and their humanity) better. It’s cool work, and I love it.

And… I’m human. Sometimes I get lost in it. I get mired in the feeling of not being good enough, because I’m

  1. looking at the others who have done it
  2. trying to figure out how they did it, then
  3. going back to my work to do it, meeting an obstacle, and again
  4. looking at the others who have done it… and the cycle continues.

Until, one day, at 39,000 feet in the air, I was given the key to breaking the cycle.

Last week I spent 38 hours trying to get home. I was in Virginia flying with my family back to the Midwest, and everything was canceled or delayed. Everything. We handled it rather graciously I think, as we never lost our humor or kindness throughout the ordeal. In the end, it would have been faster to drive, but there were a lot of logistical issues, so we stayed the course and finally made it home about 26 hours after our original ETA.

On the final flight home my humor was beginning to wane, so I chose to meditate a bit. I put on some good music, plugged myself into my headphones, and started to breathe.

Previously, I have mentioned that showers have been one of the easiest places I have ever found in which to receive clear messages from Spirit. Well, it turns out that 39,000 feet, surrounded by strangers, inside a metal tube was surprisingly easy too.

As I breathed, I felt myself drop into a deeply relaxed state, and then the images and visions started coming, followed by the words. There was a lot of information for me (I hadn’t actively “connected” in almost 2 weeks – yikes), and I allowed myself to be present to it all, knowing I wouldn’t “remember” it all but that I would ingest it all. One thing stood out, however, and I burned it into my mind’s eye, because of its simplicity and power.

“Look at Your Wake.”

In that moment, I was meditating on the future (asking questions and receiving guidance on how to move forward), and I started to feel a wee bit overwhelmed in my breath. Then I heard those words.

Look at Your Wake.

In my vision, I energetically turned around from where I was standing and saw my wake behind me. It trailed off into infinity like a peacock tail of golden white stardust. It was breathtaking. Humbling. And then my heart filled with gratitude, awe, and love, and any sense of frustration or overwhelm dissipated immediately.

You see, many of us spend so much time striving ahead that we forget to pause, look behind us, and honor what we’ve already done. The lives we’ve touched. The art we’ve created. The joy we’ve given. The love we’ve shared. It’s all there. Every last instance of that which we’ve created is in our wake. Some of it we know about and a lot of it we don’t. Looking at our wake is the key to breaking the cycle of frustration and overwhelm when we are feeling ‘lesser than’ or unmotivated. Looking at our wake keeps us grounded in who we are, what we’re doing, and why.

I took it a step further, too. As I reveled in my vision of a shimmering wake, I remembered that I had a fire in me to keep moving forward. It was then that I wrote this:

To make ripples of change – to create a wake – keep moving forward.

look at your wake

It’s true, and especially helpful when we are feeling stuck, discouraged or overwhelmed. If we wish to create positive change in the world, or in our lives, it’s not about the milestones – it’s about the movement between the milestones. The milestones allow us to pause and look back at our wake and smile, which then recharges us for what lies ahead on our journeys.

xoxo,
Martina