“There is a reason women were created, and it’s not just because Adam didn’t know how to do the dishes.”
-Blog comment that made me laugh
For some reason I can’t seem to stay away from my least favorite blogger’s page. (I’ve written about her twice before, on 6/30 and 7/7, but I refuse to name her or her webpage here because, in my opinion, she doesn’t need any more exposure!) I visit the blog on a regular basis even though her every post make me ill. Most mornings I find myself checking in to see what fresh monstrosity she has put out into with the world. Recently she wrote a post that “went viral” (as she will remind you at every opportunity) so her particularly narrow-minded “Christian” views got a lot more attention that usual. (Note: By putting the word Christian in quotations I mean no disrespect towards the religion in general, but I also don’t want to imply that this woman’s beliefs apply to all followers.) The post in question was regarding what essential traits a woman should have to make her marriage material. I’m sure everyone could come up with a reasonable list of characteristics, like kindness, maturity, loyalty, responsibility, etc. However, this blog post called out three particular qualities that “men prefer” in their potential spouse – namely her virginity, no accumulated debt, and a lack of tattoos. Pretty specific, huh? Taking this list at face value I don’t think any of these things are exactly groundbreaking concepts, especially since every man (and woman, for that matter) has their individual preferences when looking for a partner. But the way the post was written implied that women who had any past at all (like independence or ex-boyfriends) were damaged goods not worthy of a quality husband. What nonsense!
This may be way more personal that I should share here, but I was a virgin when I met my husband at age 22. I’m what most people would call a late bloomer in that regard. That label doesn’t bother me, but I know that most women in my peer group had sex for the first time much younger than I did. However, when my ex and I got married (on the 6th anniversary of our first date) I was no longer a virgin. Not surprising considering we had been dating for such a long time. We also lived together for a year and a half before the wedding in the house we bought a few weeks after getting engaged. Still, he was the only person I had ever been with. But rather than lauding my virginity at the beginning of our relationship, he was actually annoyed by it. Virgins have no idea what they’re doing in the bedroom and he didn’t want another inept lover. (He was my first but I was not his, which I was OK with.) And now that I’m older and have more life experience I don’t blame him! So while I understand that most religions value a woman’s purity when she weds, clearly not all men are exclusively looking for virgins to marry. (For the record, my ex-husband wasn’t any more religious than I am, but he was still interested in my morals, goals, and our mutual compatibility before choosing me as his wife.) So now that I am a divorced woman pushing 40, and obviously no longer a virgin, am I less worthy of a man who loves and respects me in my current state? Am I damaged goods because I am single after saving myself from an abusive marriage? No! Maybe no Prince Charming will ever make his way into my life, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to settle for less than what I deserve just so that I can have a man in my life. I’m doing just fine on my own!
Regarding the other two noted qualities of a marriageable female according to this “Christian” blogger – no debt and a lack of tattoos – I’ll have to tackle those in another post. It’s getting late and I have to get up and run the Cypress 5K in the morning. Just one of the things this single woman can do with her abundant freedom and independence!
That first week of the 6-week fat loss challenge I was 100% faithful to my plan and didn’t give in to even a single craving. (Except for my one allotted cheat meal, a turkey sub from Jersey Mike’s that I ate on Friday night as fuel for my Saturday morning 8-mile run.) I had almost no sugar at all, except for whatever amount that’s in my favorite salad dressing from the Greek restaurant that’s two blocks from my house. Their gyro salad is divine. This was undeniably a honeymoon period because the second week on the program I started to lose my resolve. I had some slip-ups in moments of weakness. My very first cheat was a pistachio-flavored Oreo Thin at work. Honestly, it wasn’t worth it. It was so overwhelmingly sweet that I didn’t enjoy it at all. It tasted like a mouthful of sugar and nothing else. At least I wasn’t tempted to have another one! The next day my diet transgression was a bit bigger. I was working late for a big event and we had dinner catered from Boudin Bakery. I had brought in food from home so I wasn’t tempted by the sandwiches, the tomato soup, or the underwhelming salad. However, when I made the mistake of glancing at the dessert tray I saw an iced shortbread cookie that was calling my name. It only took a split second for me to decide that I was absolutely going to eat it. And it was so perfect and delicious that I regret nothing. So by the time the end of the work week rolled around I had only had those two minor deviations, but then the weekend arrived and it didn’t go quite as smoothly.
Comfort eating is a hard habit to curb when it’s been such a regular coping mechanism for so long. I was feeling hormonal over the weekend and not in the right frame of mind to make good choices. I decided to have my weekly cheat meal on Saturday night so I drove a half hour to Firehouse Subs and got my favorite sandwich. It’s always worth the extra time on the freeway. I enjoyed every bite of that Hook & Ladder sub (turkey and ham), but it wasn’t quite enough to curb my irrational cravings for junk food. On Friday afternoon at work someone left a bag of caramel M&M’s out and I foolishly tried a couple of them. Unfortunately they were delicious. I should have known better and avoided them altogether, but I just wasn’t thinking straight. So Saturday night, when I was slightly delirious and willing to do anything to get some sugar, I bought caramel M&M’s at Target. As it usually goes, I felt so happy and satisfied while eating the M&M’s, but I regretted my actions as soon as I was finished. I didn’t even make it through the whole bag before the guilt set in. I was mad at myself for being weak, especially since I felt like I’d been making progress already on this diet program. I vowed to do better on Sunday, but it ended up being another day of poor choices too. At the end of the weekend I was feeling pretty terrible, but I had to remind myself that a few slip-ups are not enough to undo two weeks of hard work. I have to remember to stop chastising myself because I’m an imperfect human with ups and downs just like everybody else. In the long-term these healthy changes I’ve been making will pay off!
“I’m calling it a clean-ish diet because I’m eating a wider variety of foods than Whole30 allows (like cheese and beans), while still keeping my focus on meat, fruit, and vegetables. And after two weeks I’m starting to see some real results. I wish I’d made this change sooner!”
4/15/18 webpage post
Remember in April when I said I had established a clean-ish eating routine? Well, I’m sorry to say that it only stuck for about three weeks. I was anticipating seeing the number on the scale drop dramatically while I was not only eating appropriately, but also exercising regularly. However, when I got on the scale after three weeks I had actually gained weight. It was infuriating. Shortly after that I went to Las Vegas with my running buddies for the Mt. Charleston Half Marathon and ate all sorts of unhealthy things while I was away from home. I had lost all motivation to continue my clean-ish eating and I went right back to my old ways, including fast food, sugary soda, and sweets. Comfort eating at its finest. Shockingly, this didn’t make me feel any better about myself. In hindsight it’s easy to see that only short-term satisfaction can be gained from comfort eating, being rational is not my strong suit when I have cravings. After falling off the wagon I wallowed for a couple of months, but then my workout buddy and I came up with a new plan of action. We decided to sign up for a 6-week fat loss challenge at our gym because both of us needed some structure to help us succeed. We had been working out very consistently since February, but the eating portion of our weight loss journey was much harder to figure out. We definitely needed both sides of the coin to make progress.
So I’ll be you’re wondering how it’s going so far, right? Well, the 6-week program started on July 9th. Today is July 22nd. That means I’ve been dieting for 14 days. Just 14 measly days, but it seems like much, much longer. This has already been a journey and a half and we’re only one third of the way through the program! I’ll write more about that later this week, but for now I’ll leave you with a few key points. On the plus side, I have significantly increased my protein and vegetable consumption which I know is good for my body. Also, I have ingested minimal sugar in the last two weeks and I feel pretty great about that. Unfortunately, my resolve fades a little with each passing day. Every evening I crave a dessert of some kind or another, and Larabars (my “healthy” sweet snack of choice) just aren’t cutting it on that front. Hopefully once I start seeing noticeable results of all this deprivation I will be more inclined to faithfully follow the rules. Until then I’ll continue doing my best (with a few stumbles here and there) and hope for the best!
Remember that Christian woman I mentioned a couple of posts ago who banned me from her Instagram? Well, here’s the story of how I was blocked from commenting on her Facebook page. On June 19th her blog post included an image of an excerpt from the 1st book of Timothy. Here it is in its entirety:
“8 I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling; 9 likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, 10 but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works. 11 Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. 12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet.”
1 Timothy 2:8-12
The only portion that wasn’t highlighted in the blog post was the part about women not braiding their hair, or wearing gold and pearls or costly attire. This woman claims to adhere to a strict interpretation of the Bible, and scolds her readers when she thinks they are picking and choosing which verses to honor. So when she used this passage from 1st Timothy I commented on her associated Facebook post asking how she feels about braided hair, gold, and pearls in this day and age. I tried to ask the question as respectfully as possible because I wanted to get a sincere response without starting an argument. How do you think this situation played out? Not only did I not get a response, but my comment was very quickly deleted and I was banned from posting anything further. Why bother trying to answer simple queries when you can just avoid them altogether?
Now, I’d like to make it clear that I am not religious so I am not as familiar with the Bible as many others are. My general belief is that the Bible is an ancient book written exclusively by men back in the time when women were little more than property. While it undeniably contains a great deal of wisdom, not all of it is applicable to modern Christian life. Some of it even seems downright crazy. Simply considering this example from 1st Timothy, I most certainly disagree that women can’t teach men. Gender equality was not even a remote consideration thousands of years ago, but now women are employed in almost as many jobs as men. When numerous churches have female pastors and other leaders without feeling like they are going against the will of God, how can we possibly take the Bible as a whole in its strictest interpretation? All of this is just my opinion, of course. I don’t have a problem with anyone’s religious beliefs unless they advocate oppression, hate, or violence. As long as you don’t try to force me to conform to your moral code, or tell me I’m a horrible person because of how I live my life (more on that in another post), we’ll get along just fine.
“I am rediscovering my love of baking today. I used to use it as self-care, and now I remember how soothing it is for me. I’m headed to a friend’s house later to shoot off some fireworks and gorge on delicious food!”
7/4/18 Facebook comment
This past week I’ve been thinking about how in the heck I’m supposed to follow such a heavy post about feminism and rejecting limitations. I’ve recently started several other posts on meaningful topics that I want to expound on, but they need a lot more time before they’ll be ready to publish. So in the meantime, here’s something a bit lighter! (I would have added the word “literally” to that sentence, but one of the things I’m going to talk about is pound cake which is the opposite of light fare!)
With a few exceptions (mostly holidays like Halloween and Christmas), I haven’t done much baking in the last couple of years. Granted, I’ve done quite a bit of other cooking (chili, of course, plus a lot of Whole30 recipes), but it’s just not the same. Looking back at my archives, I’ve been partial to pumpkin bread in the fall, but the last chocolate chip cookie recipe I posted was in February 2016. (I high recommend those brown butter and molasses chocolate chip cookie bars.) Baking used to be a weekly activity that I truly enjoyed and soothed my soul. It was certainly a welcome distraction during Gator games in the college football season! There’s something calming about mixing ingredients in the right proportions and producing a delicious treat that I can share with my friends and co-workers. These days while focusing on my favorite forms of self-care I realized that baking was one of the ways I took care of myself. Not that eating a whole bunch of cookies is particularly healthy, but I relished the process more so than the finished product. So when I got an invite to the annual Fourth of July party I saw it as an opportunity to reinvigorate this pastime and also provide dessert for everyone.
With July 4th falling in the middle of the week I knew I wouldn’t have time to make anything complicated, so I chose two old, previously posted recipes that I knew would be delicious. Also, I figured there was some leeway in both of them for me to experiment a little. I love the creativity that baking allows me – within reason, of course! So in the berry buttermilk pound cake I used a mix of red raspberries, golden raspberries, and blueberries. The grocery store that I visited in a panic the morning of July 4th had only one package of red raspberries left so I improvised with other fruit. I also added more buttermilk than the original recipe called for – probably an extra 2 Tbsp. The end result was an amazing pound cake that I ate way too many slices of. My second cake was a blueberry upside down cake that I’d made for a Memorial Day get-together a number of years ago. This time I used 1/2 c brown sugar, 1/3 c white sugar, an extra 1/2 tsp cinnamon, and an extra 2 Tbsp buttermilk. I am so glad I made those changes because the cake was absolutely incredible! It was rich, flavorful, and tasted like blueberry cobbler. It’s the perfect summer dessert and everyone at the party loved it.
So will I keep up with my baking as a regular form of self-care? Well, as I mentioned, it’s not exactly the most healthy pastime, but I foresee myself mixing up some sweet treats more often during the second half of 2018. Especially in the fall when Gator football returns! I certainly need to remember that it’s a therapeutic activity that I can easily perform at a moments notice in the comfort of my own home. That is very comforting.
When I was growing up my parents always told me that I could do anything I wanted to with my life. In fact, I wholeheartedly believed that women were smarter than men. I’m not sure where I got that idea, but I defended it to my male friends on more than one occasion. Also, I was encouraged by my teachers to pursue the subjects I enjoyed and excelled in – specifically, math and science. In spite of the fact that these subjects have always been traditionally dominated by men, none of my elementary school teachers (all women) ever gave me any indication that I didn’t have the ability to follow my dream of becoming an engineer. I had nothing but cheerleaders in my family and in the academic arena throughout my young life. This gave me the confidence I needed to pursue my chosen career as an aerospace engineer. I never once doubted that I had the competence and intelligence to fulfill this ambition. Unfortunately society compels females to hide their intelligence in order to gain the favor of the opposite sex. We are systematically taught that boys don’t like girls who are smarter than they are. Lucky for me I never bought into that ridiculousness. Throughout my childhood and adolescence I was always a little odd, and by the time I was about fifteen I finally stopped trying to fit into society’s mold. It was so liberating! So how did everything ultimately turn out? Well, In December I will celebrate 15 years of employment at Boeing as a spacecraft systems engineer, so I’d call that a success!
A while back I discovered a website maintained by a self-proclaimed fundamentalist Christian woman who basically believes the opposite of the way I do on just about everything. For some reason, in spite of her hypocritical writings and harsh judgements on anyone who disagrees with her, I keep typing in her URL every day to see what fresh nonsense she has posted. This probably isn’t the smartest thing to do if you are trying to keep your mental health stable or your blood pressure low, but I’ve discovered that it’s like watching an internet train wreck. I just can’t look away! On 6/24, upon reading something this lady posted to her Instagram account about women’s career limitations I got extremely irritated and I was compelled to leave a comment. She claimed that, “One of the stupidest things mothers can say to their daughters: ‘You can be anything you want to be!’ This comes from a feminist mindset and is a lie.” Excuse me??? Besides the fact that in the 21st century girls thankfully have almost as many options as boys (thank you, feminists!), but I imagine having your parent discourage you at a young age would severely cripple your self-confidence. And females already have enough hurdles placed in front of us simply due to our gender. How about you don’t limit your daughter’s possibilities before you even know what she’s capable of? Trust you have loved her and raised her well enough that she can make choices based on her interests and abilities that will lead her in the right direction as she grows up.
Later in her post this “Christian” woman asked, “How about teaching your daughters that they should seek to be what God calls them to be instead?” She can’t even fathom that God would call a woman to a career that requires a higher education, like a doctor, a lawyer, or (heaven forbid) an aerospace engineer. At this point I had already been banned from commenting on her Facebook wall (a funny, yet disturbing story for another post), but I hadn’t yet used my “get out of jail free” card on her Instagram. Here is how I chose to play it – “Believe it or not, I am a rocket scientist. Luckily my parents did tell me I could be anything I wanted. Women shouldn’t be limited!” Even though I got a couple of replies (which lacked significant substance), it wasn’t long before my comment was deleted and I was banned from viewing her account. So because I disagreed with this “Godly” woman (her God is most certainly not my God) I was removed from the conversation. That’s one way to avoid having to back up your claims! Fortunately I am a modern woman with an established career, money in the bank, and a pretty comfortable life (except for the ex-husband who is thankfully in my past) who cares very little what other people think of me. Especially not crazy internet strangers. So I’ll go back to happily living my life, constantly rejecting limitations placed on me because I’m a female. Nothing is going to hold me back!
You want to know why women don’t come forward more often when they are being abused? First of all, they might not realize are in an abusive relationship. I didn’t until after I left my marriage. I knew that my ex-husband didn’t treat me very well, but I didn’t see the whole terrible picture until I removed myself from the situation. Take a look at the above photo from December 2011. My ex-husband and I were given a huge container full of glass bulb Christmas ornaments from his grandmother when she moved to Texas. Unfortunately every year we lost two or three of them when they fell off the tree and shattered on our hardwood floor. Real Christmas trees don’t always have the strongest branches! It was never anyone’s fault if the ornaments fell, but this picture depicts what the aftermath usually looked like. (Minus the finger-pointing, generally. That was specifically for the photo.) This picture was amusing at the time, but looking back it feels like a perfect and unsettling illustration of our marriage. Me cleaning up some mess, whether or not I actually caused it, while also taking the blame for the situation.
Everything was my fault. Everything was my problem to fix. Eventually my entire life consisted of keeping my ex-husband happy. Attempting to foresee and mitigate potential issues and smoothing over ones I couldn’t prevent. I spent all of my time catering to his needs, trying to keep him from being upset with me, but it was never enough. I was always judged and found wanting. It was exhausting and soul-crushing. So why didn’t I leave earlier? Especially after he cheated on me less than three years after we got married? Because I wasn’t strong enough at the time. My self-worth had taken such a beating during our time together that I didn’t think I was worthy of better treatment. I had been groomed into such a state of submission that I couldn’t contemplate breaking free, even when he violated the vows we made on our wedding day. Honestly, I should have ended it long before I actually did. I have so many stories I could tell to back that statement up. Don’t get me wrong, I loved my husband, but I tolerated lines being crossed that should never be crossed in a relationship. It took me a long time to come to my senses, gather my strength, and save myself from my abusive marriage. It was such a difficult road to walk, but I have not regretted it for one moment. So if you’re a woman reading this, I truly hope that you do not allow your partners to take advantage of you that way I did. Do not accept poor treatment, especially from someone who claims to love you more than anyone else. You are absolutely worthy of love and respect!
P.S. I know that my blog readership is almost nonexistent, and I’m OK with that. I’ve always maintained this website (in all of its forms) for myself and not for anyone else. But I want to make sure that if any woman does happen upon this post that she reads something that empowers her to make her life better!
So Captain Archer ran into the Borg. And after the encounter was over he knew perfectly well that some two hundred years in the future these cybernetic beings were going to threaten Earth. And we, as viewers who are certainly tough critics, if not experts on the topic, are supposed to buy that he did nothing to prevent this disaster? That he didn’t even attempt to pass this information into the future where it could be useful? That the apathetic Q was more helpful in arming humans against the Borg? No sale. I’ve been quite disappointed in “Enterprise” this season. This complaint isn’t the first one I’ve written about either. Several weeks ago I noted one in my Palm Pilot. “I would have thought the ‘Enterprise’ writers were more creative. Last night’s episode was pretty much a condensed version of Star Trek VI. I think the sentencing was actually taken directly from the movie.” I admit that I’m too much of a Trekkie to ever abandon the show, no matter how outlandish or annoying it gets, but that doesn’t mean I can’t complain about it.
5/13/03 webpage post
I’ve been binge re-watching the amazing first season of “Star Trek: Discovery” recently because I’m suspending my CBS All Access subscription until season 2 is available. It’s so much better than just about everything else on television these says. Then today I ran across this excerpt from a webpage post from over 15 years ago when season 2 of “Enterprise” was on the air. First of all, I can’t believe there was no Star Trek on TV for over 12 years. (And it’s only streaming now, not actually on broadcast TV.) Second, does anyone remember Palm Pilots? I had one in grad school and it was awesome, but smart phones very quickly made them obsolete. Third, the above rant about “Enterprise” is much different from the rave I wrote about “Discovery” when it premiered last fall. Looking back, I have vaguely positive memories of “Enterprise,” but I can’t find any written proof to back that up. Maybe nostalgia has altered my recollection. I would like to say that upon revisiting, “Discovery” is still fantastic. I can’t wait for season 2.
Another troubling topic that has been in the news lately is abuse. Specifically, the allegations that were recently made against Chris Hardwick. (Briefly I want to say that I’ve been a big fan of the Nerdist/ID10T podcast, plus a lot of his other work, so the stories I read made me immensely sad. But objectively I still stand with the accuser because charismatic people can be abusers too.) The #metoo movement that spread like wildfire last fall brought light to widespread sexual harassment and assault that is usually hushed up before it becomes public. It was eye-opening for a lot of people, but for most women this was information that we already knew. Just about every female has experienced harassment or abuse of some kind in her lifetime. It was a relief to finally talk openly about such a taboo topic and bring heightened awareness where usually we are told to keep quiet. I’ve written about this before, but reading the allegations against Chris Hardwick last week brought back bad memories of my marriage.
“I believed that, to borrow an analogy from a friend, if I kept digging I would find water. And sometimes I did. Just enough to sustain me. And when you’re dying of thirst, that water is the best water you’ll ever drink. When you’re alienated from your friends, there’s no one to tell you that there’s a drinking fountain 20 feet away. And when your self-worth reaches such depths after years of being treated like you’re worthless, you might find you think you deserve that sort of treatment, and no one else will love you.”
Rose-Colored Glasses: A Confession by Chloe Dykstra
When I read this excerpt from the article about Chris Hardwick it sounded so familiar that I went back and reviewed my post about emotional abuse from a few years ago. Isn’t this almost the same thing I wrote nearly four years ago?
“Even if you can dismiss 99% of his subtle insults, that last 1% slowly builds up, day after day, until you’re completely crushed under the weight of the chides, tsks, and sighs. Until one day you wake up and discover that you believe him. You’re not worthy of his love. You’re not worthy of having a partner who doesn’t expect you to walk one step behind him.”
9/23/14 webpage post
Emotional abuse is real, and it is often invisible outside of the relationship. You never know what someone might be going through, and the scars last long after the abuse is over. I have more to say on this subject, but this post is already getting really long. I will follow-up later this week.
I haven’t written about this before because it is such a difficult topic, but in light of recent events I think it needs to be said. I actually wrote an email to a podcast on this subject a while back because I was looking to spread the word about reaching out for help if you need it. Funny enough, I was willing to have this personal information read on a public podcast, but I wasn’t yet ready to publish it on my own blog. Things are different now. There have been a number of high visibility suicides that have left the world reeling. It is tremendously sad and we’re all left asking, “Why?” There is no satisfactory answer to that question. Depression is a formidable foe. You never really know what someone is thinking or feeling, or how much they’re struggling – sometimes until it’s too late. Here is my story as I described it in my email in May.
“At the beginning of the year I wasn’t taking care of myself. I didn’t eat right and I didn’t exercise for a long time. Finally, at the end of January, I called my doctor and told her I was depressed and admitted that I needed help. To her practice’s credit they got me an appointment that same day and I started taking Lexapro immediately. A few weeks later I felt like a new person. It hasn’t been all sunshine and roses since then, and I have some other subsequent medical issues that I’m dealing with, but I am doing so much better now. After fighting this battle and finally finding myself on the path to recovery I wanted to send this message to your listeners – if any of you are feeling depressed and thinking that you might need help, DO IT! Call your doctor ASAP. Don’t be ashamed. You don’t have to feel this way. You can be happy again. I hope this helps someone out there who is struggling like I was.”
I waited longer than I should have before asking for help. Unfortunately society teaches women that we are supposed to be invulnerable. We must be strong, silent, efficient, and most of all, uncomplaining. I thought I needed to power through the sadness and hopelessness because that’s just what everyone else does. But when I started talking to my friends and colleagues about my difficulties I discovered that almost every one of them has been in the same situation at one point or another. Nearly every woman I know has experienced depression and benefited from medical intervention. But before I started this conversation I had no idea! This is why we need to have an open dialogue about mental health – to normalize it enough that people know that there are readily available resources when they’re fighting depression. So if you are reading this and you’re feeling low and contemplating hurting yourself, please reach out to someone, anyone for help. Also, do not hesitate to call your doctor. You don’t have to feel this way. The world is better with you happy, healthy, and still alive.