Suicide is not selfish.

This opinion piece in The Guardian more eloquently summarizes the message that I hope comes from the tragedy of Robin Williams’ death.  Clinical depression is not about being sad.  It’s not something that you can shake yourself out of through sheer force of will.  It’s a serious and sometimes life threatening medical condition that continues to be misunderstood and misrepresented.  It’s also very often difficult for someone who is depressed to get help, because the depression puts up walls between that person and the rest of the world.  A simple phone call to a doctor can seem like an insurmountable task.

  • If you think someone you love might be battling depression, learn how you can help.  
  • If you are feeling hopeless and think you may need help with depression, please try to reach out to someone.  If it’s hard to say the words out loud, write it down.  Talk to a doctor.  If you can, ask someone you love to go with you.  Most importantly, please know that it doesn’t have to be this way.  You don’t have to just live with the darkness.  Learn more about getting help.

  • And if you are having thoughts of harming or killing yourself, PLEASE REACH OUT.  The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline offers toll free phone numbers and web chat – whatever method you feel more comfortable with.  It might not seem like it in that moment, but you don’t deserve to feel this way and it will get better.  

Rape Culture in America. This has got to stop.

As a warning, this blog post is not for the faint of heart.  Trigger warnings in advance for discussion of sexual assault.  Still reading?  Good, because this is important.

I have a number of issues and causes about which I feel passionate.  And on those topics, I make a point to stay educated.  I’m ashamed to admit that the topic of sexual assault and “rape culture” has not been one of those topics.  It is not that I was apathetic – sexual assault is a horrific crime – but it was never a topic that seemed to need my urgent attention.

UV_RapeCulture_V4

Infographic by UltraViolet

Over the past few years, that perspective has changed.  I’ve never been the victim of sexual assault.  I’d like to say that no one in my close circle of friends and family has been the victim of sexual assault, but the numbers make that hard to believe.  I have to say that I don’t know of anyone in my close circle that has been the victim of sexual assault.

A study by the US Center of Disease Control found that 1 in 5 female college students had been raped or the victim of attempted rape at some point in their lives.  A similar study found the same number – 20% – of girls in high school had experienced “forced sex” or sexual assualt.  One in five.  Over half of the victims never told anyone.  Please note the language.  Over half never told anyone.  A much higher percentage was never reported to law enforcement.

One in Five.  20%.  The numbers are staggering.

(There are also studies regarding the sexual assault of men, finding 1 in 71 men are the victim of sexual assault during their lifetime.  That is also not a small number.)

What is Rape Culture?

If you’re not familiar with the term “Rape Culture”, this article on BuzzFeed is actually a really great overview of the term and the various areas that it covers.  I’ll sum it up for those that don’t have time to dig into the details – Rape Culture is an cultural atmosphere that makes sexual assault a societal norm.  Rape Culture provides an environment that is forgiving to – or understanding of – rapists, while judging victims for the circumstances of their assault.

And if you don’t think that we live in a Rape Culture, you haven’t been paying attention.

I’m certainly paying attention now.

For a long time, I wasn’t paying attention.  My awareness peaked with the now infamous Steubenville rape case in which high school football stars raped an unconscious girl after a night of heavy drinking.   There were so many things about that case in particular that represent the very worst of our society – the crime itself, the social media posts of the crime, and the cover ups after the crime occurred; but the treatment that the victim and the rapists received by many media outlets is the prime example of rape culture.  The rapists were portrayed as promising young men who were now facing convictions and a life ruined by being labelled as sex offenders.  Statements floated around to indicate that the tragic mistakes that they made will haunt them forever.  The victim was drunk and passed out at a party.  Why did she let that happen?  That is rape culture and if it doesn’t infuriate you, I question your humanity.

This past week, I read another article about a popular artist, David Choe, who admitted to “rapey behavior” on his podcast.  The podcast is still available – but I would suggest that you don’t listen to it.  The article I read was posted on xoxojane.com (written by Melissa Stetten), and the details shared there are plenty graphic and abhorrent.  Sharing as few graphic details as I can, the bottom line is that Mr. Choe talks about forcing a masseuse to perform oral sex.  She said no, but – according to him – she really wanted it.  He admits that it was “rapey behavior”, but he’s “not a rapist”.  The comments posted on his podcast have many questioning the validity of his story, because it sounds like an adolescent fantasy that few believe is really true.  And THAT is rape culture.  When a man admits to rape – and “rapey behavior” is forcing a women to perform a sexual act that she has not consented to – his audience is not appalled by the admission.  They simply don’t believe it is true.

These are two tiny examples of an epidemic.  And it IS an epidemic, despite a recent opinion piece in Time Magazine calling for the end of the “rape culture hysteria”.

What do we do about it?

The frustrating part is that the solution seems so obvious and so simple.  Actually, that’s a reductive conclusion.  The solution isn’t simple and changing cultural norms is a battle – but there are some obvious steps that we can take.

– Stop laughing at rape jokes and stop listening to songs, podcasts and media that glorify non-consensual sexual activity.

– Never use the phrase “boys will be boys” when referring to sexual behavior.

– Prosecute rapists.  Actually process the rape kits sitting in evidence.  Don’t accept that a rapist didn’t know what he was doing was wrong because he’s young or because “that’s just the way men behave.

– TEACH CONSENT IN HIGH SCHOOL SEX-ED – and teach it to BOYS as well as girls.  And it goes way beyond “no means no”.  Anything less than an enthusiastic “yes” means “no”.  If your partner isn’t coherent enough to consent, it’s rape.  If your partner isn’t sure, it’s rape.  If you classify something as “rapey behavior”, you are a rapist.

Here’s another great list of ways to battle rape culture from Marshall University.

I didn’t think I had to write that one down for you.

I read a quote somewhere – and I’m sorry for whomever I’m stealing this from – that expressed frustration at the people who say, “Think about your daughter, your sister, your mother…”  Because do you have to actually think about your own daughter, sister or mother to understand that rape isn’t okay?  Do you have to have a woman in your life to understand that one in five women being the victim of sexual assault is horrifying?  Think like a human being.

I’m going to leave this on a light-hearted note, which might be inappropriate.  (I’ve debated whether to include this.)  This is a song by comedian Bo Burnham from “God’s Perspective”.  This may be the only rape joke ever written that seems okay to laugh at.  And only because it makes you want to cry a little.

Social Media Done Right

socialmediaI am not difficult to find on social media.  If you know my name, you can find me on LinkedIn.  If you are my Facebook friend, you know how to find my blog.  If you find my blog, you can find my Pinterest and Twitter accounts.  If you find my Twitter account, it links to my Tumblr account.  If you find my Tumblr account… well, can you all just agree NOT to go exploring my Tumblr account?

When it comes to internet presence, mine is wide.  And consistent.  And not well hidden or secured.   Several things have happened recently that have made me consider whether my social media presence is appropriate and productive.  Some of the questions that I’ve been struggling with are…

  • Should I create more of a wall between real life and online life?
  • Should I separate my professional life from my personal life?
  • Is social activism vía social media just a waste of my time?
  • Would I be happier if I just walked away from social media and avoided the hate?
  • Is there is a right way to exist online in this day and age?

Those are a lot of big questions, and they spun off into a lot of smaller ones.  I’m not going to bore you with the details, but I’ve utilized a number of processing cycles in my brain on these questions.  And I’ve come to the following conclusion:  I am who I am wherever I am and in whatever medium I am.  And I have no interest in being anyone else.

Maybe that seems pretentious.  Maybe it’s arrogant.  Maybe it’s stupid.  It’s probably a little of all of those things, but it’s right for me.  My online personality is no different than my real life personality, which means sometimes I say dumb things.  I over-share.  I use humor inappropriately.  I am opinionated, have no patience for hate, and I love exploring perspectives that are different than my own.

If you know me or if you choose to reach out and connect with me via social media, you are going to get *Me*.  There isn’t an online version of Me.  There isn’t a business version of Me.  There isn’t a family friendly version of Me.  There isn’t a Me that I am with friends that is different than the Me that I am with colleagues.  There’s just me.

That’s not to say that I don’t apply certain filters based on the circumstances.  I do it in real life and online.  I don’t curse in meetings with clients.  I don’t use LinkedIn to post photos of my cats or to live blog the State of the Union.  I do use LinkedIn to post links to articles about being a force of positive change and actively acknowledge social issues that matter to me.  I don’t use Facebook to squee over Dylan O’Brien’s ridiculously beautiful face performance in last night’s episode of Teen Wolf.  That’s what Tumblr (aka Fangirl Paradise) is for.  (Don’t even pretend that you didn’t already go look up my Tumblr account after I explicitly told you not to.)  But while I choose the time and the place to share certain things, I’m not embarrassed by or ashamed of anything that I share in any of those places.

There is no right way to use social media.  Some people aren’t comfortable putting their lives out there on the internet for all to see.  A lot of people put up walls in their lives to separate different aspects of themselves, and they share only within the confines of those various rooms.  I guess I’m a little more “open floor plan” and all my rooms kind of blend into each other.

Hell freezes over and I defend Phil Robertson.

duckI’ll admit that my first reaction to hearing that Phil Robertson had been suspended from Duck Dynasty was glee.  Maybe now I would no longer have to hear about the antics of the Robertson family from virtually every person I meet.  I watched an episode.  I was amused.  And then I didn’t feel the need to ever watch it again.

So anyway, yes.  I was happy.  But confused.  Isn’t suspending Phil Robertson for anti-gay, anti-anything-not-Christian remarks kind of like suspending a Kardashian for filming a sex tape?  What, exactly, was A&E expecting?

To be fair to A&E, maybe there was a specific contractual obligation that precluded the Robertson family from that type of public comment.  I have a hard time believing that the Robertson family would have signed such an agreement.  They seem far too smart and far too committed to their faith to sign anything that restricts their ability to preach it.  So let’s assume that there was no such contractual breach.  It is certainly still within A&E’s rights to choose to cut ties, but again I ask – what were they expecting?

If you haven’t read the GQ article that sparked the controversy, I highly recommend that you do.  It’s a great piece.

Mr. Robertson was certainly within his rights to speak his mind.  Free speech and all.  You are within your rights to stop watching the show if you found the article offensive.  (Although I have to ask – what were YOU expecting?)

I, of course, fundamentally disagree with Mr. Robertson’s point of view.  I believe that the United States was founded on freedom of (or from) religion, and that we should be celebrating religious diversity.  I believe human sexuality – heterosexuality, homosexuality, bisexuality and asexuality – is also diverse and within the natural order of things.  I believe that plenty of violence has been committed in Jesus’ name, so assuming that it is a belief in Jesus that makes someone “right” or “moral” is ridiculous.  I also think that Phil is an interesting guy with a admirable commitment to his family and to making amends for his past.  I disagree with him, but I (holy crap I can’t believe I’m saying this) don’t dislike him.

Comments similar to those made by Phil Robertson are made every single day on Fox News, our venerable “Fair and Balanced” news source.  In the context of a network that purports to bring fair and balanced news, I would expect to see an on-air personality be suspended for outrageously contentious comments.  On a network that brings us Rodeo Girls and Storage Wars, I think Phil Robertson is exactly what he is intended to be.

The crazy conclusion to all of this is that I really hope that this doesn’t become the reason Duck Dynasty goes off the air.  I still hope it does go off the air so that I don’t have to hear about it any more, but not for this.

I’m back for surprising reasons.

It wasn’t my intention to abandon my blog for more than five months.  Hey, I’ve been busy.  And the world has been too f***ed up to even try to comment on.  And, perhaps most honestly, I’m still a little uncomfortable with my blog post on George Zimmerman.  I don’t think I made the point that I wanted to make, which was: George Zimmerman is a deplorable human being who committed a despicable act, and yet was correctly found not guilty because the law is terrifyingly flawed.

In any case, I didn’t intend to be absent for five months.  The fact that Duck Dynasty is the reason that I’ve returned is virtually inconceivable.

Stay tuned.

Community Protector or Vigilante?

ImageWe all know the basic story of the shooting of Trayvon Martin.  (If you don’t know anything about the case already, you’ve been living under a rock and I can’t rehash everything.  Wikipedia has an amazingly detailed post with cited references.)  Here’s my best efforts at an unbiased nutshell:

George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch coordinator for a gated community, fatally shot Trayvon Martin on the streets of that community.  Zimmerman cited self-defense; it was later confirmed that Martin was unarmed.  Zimmerman was tried on second degree murder charges, but found not guilty under Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” defense.

It’s never quite that simple.

Trayvon Martin was a young, black man walking alone in a multi-ethnic gated community.  George Zimmerman, having noticed Martin during a drive in the neighborhood, thought that he looked “suspicious”.  He called the police.  On that phone call, he told police that the young man looked like he was “up to no good” and “on drugs or something” and seemed concerned that Martin was looking at the houses in the community.  Martin started to run away during the course of Zimmerman’s call to the police (per the transcripts) and the dispatcher told Zimmerman not to follow him.  Police were on their way.

If the story ends there, it is unlikely that it ends in tragedy.  Zimmerman did his job as a community watch coordinator.  The story, of course, does not end there.

Zimmerman got out of his car and followed Martin.

From this point, we only have Zimmerman’s statements to police to go on when it comes to what happened next.  It does seem clear that there was an altercation – which Zimmerman claims was provoked by Martin.  (Read his statement to police.)  During that altercation, Zimmerman fatally shot Martin in the chest.

Community Protector or Vigilante?

In the months and weeks leading up to the shooting, the community had experienced a number of break-ins, with suspects identified as young, black men.  From the descriptions that I have read, the entire area sounds like a powder keg ready to go off – and George Zimmerman had taken the role of leading the community protection.  Neighbors overwhelmingly describe him in a positive light – as someone who offered security.  For a man who was finishing up a degree in criminal justice with hopes of one day becoming a judge, that must have been a pretty powerful feeling.

After months of home invasions and vandalism, it isn’t hard to understand why Zimmerman took to the streets.

Where did it all go wrong?

You could argue that it went wrong when George Zimmerman decided that Trayvon Martin was suspicious based on the color of his skin.  You could argue that it went wrong when a community chose to create an armed community watch program.  I personally would argue that it went wrong when George Zimmerman got out of his car with a gun to follow a “suspicious” young man after police had already been dispatched.

Was it criminal?

At the end of the day, that’s the question.  I want to say that there’s a simple answer, but course there never is.  If George Zimmerman felt remorse for his actions, I would feel some degree of sympathy.  He made a tragic mistake and an unarmed teenager died.  Being a “mistake”, though, doesn’t mean that it isn’t still a crime.

Yes, I believe it was criminal.  Manslaughter, at the very least.  Unfortunately, in Florida, the laws are extremely forgiving when it comes to self-defense, due to the now-infamous “Stand Your Ground” law.  The law allows for an individual to use deadly force without the necessity of attempting a safe retreat if he/she feels their safety threatened.  “Stand Your Ground” laws exist in many states; in Florida it does not only apply to crimes committed in your home (as many states limit), but extends to any other location.

This post feels far too balanced.

After writing this post, I feel like my viewpoint sounds far too balanced.  The reasonable side of my brain recognizes that this case is complicated.  The truth is that I’m horrified that as a nation, we continue to kill innocent people because we make a decision based on the color of their skin.  The details are complicated, but that truth is simple.

And here’s another simple truth – we’ve set a precedent.  We’ve said that it is okay to take the law into your own hands.  We’ve okayed racial profiling (although in fairness, we okayed that centuries ago).  We’ve okayed the use of deadly force if you feel threatened.

The worst part?  Zimmerman will continue to have a permit to carry a concealed weapon, despite a history of poor decisions leading to a fatal shooting.

Side note about media bias:  It is absolutely clear that the profiles of George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin were subject to extreme media bias.  In media outlets sympathetic to Martin, the photo most often used of Zimmerman showed him wearing the standard orange jumpsuit worn by those held in detention centers; while Martin was show as a fresh faced teen.  For those sympathetic to Zimmerman, photos of Martin with facial hair using obscene gestures (and sometimes photos of OTHER young black men, because apparently accuracy doesn’t matter) and Zimmerman in a suit and tie dominated the visuals.  The saddest part of that, though, is that it matters – that by changing what photo we share, our perception of who Trayvon or George are changed.

Lucky 36 – My Favorite Birthday Tradition

My favorite birthday tradition is the creation of my birthday playlist.  This year I need 36 (36!) songs to help me to reflect on the year.  I wish I could say that these all have some deeper meaning and represent something that happened over the past 365 days; the truth is that these are just the songs that I want to be listening to as I move into my 37th year.  In absolutely no particular order.

1. The Phoenix, Fall Out Boy

I’m gonna change you like a remix and raise you like phoenix.  I don’t always love Fall Out Boy, but when they write a great song I can’t get enough of it.

2. Purple Sky, Kid Rock

Kid Rock’s Born Free album is the one of the best road trip albums ever written.

3. Still Into You, Paramore

After all this time, I’m still into you.

4. Bruises (feat. Ashley Monroe), Train

First of all, I love Train.  Their last two albums have been amazing.  And I love the lyrics.  I think I’ve had this conversation with old high school friends.  These bruises make for better conversation.

5. When They Come for Me, Linkin Park

Picking just one Linkin Park song for my birthday playlist is torture, but I forced myself to do it.  This song has the most amazing sound.  Try to catch up, motherfucker.

6. When I Was Your Man, Bruno Mars

I still confuse Bruno Mars and Sacha Baron Cohen and I haven’t got a clue why.  They are definitely not the same person.

7. Cups, Anna Kendrick

I did not love Pitch Perfect, but I fell in love with Anna Kendrick.  And this song.  I listen to it on repeat for much longer than I’m comfortable admitting.

8. Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right, Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan is going to be a theme in this playlist.  This is the most passive-aggressive break-up song ever written, and I love it.

I ain’t saying you treated me unkind; you could’ve done better, but I don’t mind.  You just kinda wasted my precious time, but don’t think twice, it’s alright.

9. We’ve Got Tonight, Bob Seger

JJ and Ava’s dinner serenade:  I know it’s late.  I know you’re hungry.  I know your plans include Fancy Feast.  Still here you are.  Both of you whining.  Longing for grilled beef to be put on your plate…  

10. Girl On Fire (Inferno Version) [feat. Nicki Minaj], Alicia Keys

This is my favorite song to listen to with the top down in my car.  Alicia Keys is, as always, amazing.  Also, I kind of think Nicki Minaj is seriously bad-ass and awesome, even if I mostly dislike everything she does.

11. Good Riddance, Green Day

I don’t even feel the need to justify adding this to a playlist.  Kick ass song.  Full stop.

12. Everybody Hurts, R.E.M.

I put this song on a playlist earlier in the year and remembered why I love it.

13. Hero, The Makepeace Brothers

There are days when I just need this song to exist in my life.

14. Street Corner Preacher, Amos Lee

I had to narrow down my Amos Lee choices to just one.  This man’s voice can change my mood in just a few minutes.

15. Imagine, John Lennon

One of the best songs ever written.  Also, listening to it makes me think of David Archuleta and that makes me smile.

16. Rollin’ and Tumblin’, Buddy Guy & Junior Wells

I had the chance to see Buddy Guy live again this past year.  Despite his “grandpa on a bus trip” attire, he was amazing.

17. Backwater Blues, Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band

The thing is, I don’t actually listen to KWS Band very often – but they are my favorite live music experience.  You can listen to them play for three solid hours and when it is over, you just want to go back and do it all over again.

18. Kiss Me, Ed Sheeran

I don’t even know where I first heard this song, but it was one of my best musical discoveries of this year.  If you have any use for a make-out song, do yourself a favor and download this one.

19. Livin’ the Dream, Uncle Kracker

Take iconic Whitesnake lyrics and combine it with the chill out Uncle Kracker vibe, and you end up with an amazing road trip song.

20. Love is a Verb, John Mayer

Oh John Mayer.  I have such conflicting feelings for you.  Whatever I might feel about you, the fact remains that you are a kick ass songwriter and a damn good guitar player.

21. Everything Is Sound, Jason Mraz

I don’t make playlists without Jason Mraz.  This one hits the b-day list because it’s Sammie’s favorite.

22. Love Interruption, Jack White

This song creeps me out in the best possible way.

23. Times Are Not Changing, Will Hoge

Best musical discovery of the year was Will Hoge.  (My cousins have been trying to get me to love him for years, but until Modern American Protest Music, I just didn’t connect.)  This is NOT a Bob Dylan song, but it certainly could be.

24. Jar of Hearts, Christina Perri

This chick opened for Jason Mraz last summer. I had no idea who she was until then, but she was amazing live.  Her recorded stuff is a little too polished for me, but this song is beautiful.

25. Bring It On Home to Me, Sam Cooke

I have been listening to a lot of Sam Cooke this year.  I blame Gavin Degraw.

26. Our Song, Matchbox Twenty

The new Matchbox Twenty album was probably one of the best things to happen in the past year.

27. You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go, Miley Cyrus

Yes, Miley Cyrus covered a Bob Dylan song.  And it is amazing.  (She did a cover of Jolene that deserves to be on this list, but I don’t have an audio track of it.)

28. Subterranean Homesick Blues, Michael Franti

Another Bob Dylan cover from the Chimes of Freedom album.  Michael Franti with a little Subterranean Homesick Blues.

29. With God On Our Side, K’naan

Okay – my last Bob Dylan-related entry.  K’naan covering Dylan feels right.

30. Demons, Imagine Dragons

Another great musical discovery from this year.  Look into my eyes; it’s where my demons hide.

31. Home, Phillip Phillips

Despite hearing this song way too flippin’ often on HGTV, I still love this song.

32. Life Is Beautiful, Vega4

I will listen to this song regularly for months, and then decide that it is the most annoying song in the world.  I’m currently in a “listening to it regularly” mode.

33. Dark Side, Kelly Clarkson

Okay, don’t judge me.  I first heard this song covered on Glee and I may still like the Glee cover a little better.  But Kelly gets the b-day playlist spot because this is an incredible song.

34. Red Red Wine, UB40

I dunno.  I put this on a playlist in October and it’s been carried forward to every playlist this year.  Admit it – you love this song, too.

35. Hey There Delilah, Plain White T’s

I just discovered this song this year.  I’ve owned it for years, but I don’t know that I ever really listened to it.  This may be the most romantic song ever written.

36. Love Me Like a Man, Bonnie Raitt

The older I get, the more I want to be Bonnie Raitt when I grow up.

My therapist thinks I’m normal. Clearly she can’t be trusted.

ImageEveryone has anxiety.  It’s just a part of life.  I’m told that anxiety has some positive impacts on our lives – such as teaching us how not to die.  For example, if we’re driving and we think, “Hey look, that truck is coming right at me at a high rate of speed,” that thought is much more effective if it incites some degree of anxiety.  Anxiety that will, we hope, cause us to get the f*** out of the way.

I have Anxiety.  With a capital A.  With Anxiety, you see a truck coming toward you – safely on the other side of the highway driving at a normal rate of speed – and your brain is helpfully supplying all of the possible scenarios in which that truck might cross the massive median, flip over for 30 yards and land on top of your tiny car, paralyzing you from the neck down and requiring years of relearning how to communicate which you are far too old to relearn, forcing you to move in with your parents, and OMG who will take care of your cats, and OMFG how will you pay the medical bills, and JFC how are you going to pee?  (Go ahead and laugh.  That was an actual inner monologue of mine recently.  Except it was more detailed about the peeing thing.  I don’t think you need those details.)

So yeah.  That kind of Anxiety.

I’m lucky. My Anxiety doesn’t prevent me from living my life – admittedly with a happy dose of anti-Anxiety medication and the occasional text to a friend to give them a heads up that the bruise on my leg might be a blood clot that will kill me by morning.  (Go ahead and laugh.  I actually did that once.  Sorry, Lara.)  I have friends who can’t drive because of Anxiety.  Can’t go out into social situations.  Won’t meet new people.

Occasionally, however, Anxiety does like to remind me who is in charge.  Recently, I had a few panic attacks.  Don’t get me wrong, I can go without breathing for a minute or so at a time without dying, but it isn’t really fun.  And that ticking in my head?  Yeah, it kind of feels like an old friend sometimes.  But for reals, it was a bit out of control.

ImageSo I went to my doctor.  I cried like the stupidly stressed out crazy person that I clearly was at the time, but it wasn’t until I mentioned that I have regular nightmares and night terrors – something that I’ve dealt with since I was a kid – that my doctor suggested I try therapy.  I have to admit that I’ve always secretly liked the idea of needing a therapist.  It sounds kind of romantic and eccentric to be in therapy.  I wanted to have some sort of cool disorder that made me super unique.  My therapist would probably write a paper about my brain and win a Nobel Prize in… well, anyway.  Therapy?  Bring. It. On.

My therapist’s opinion?  I’m normal.  It seems like I have a great family, a well-rounded and happy childhood, and a happily independent, reasonably successful life.  I put too much pressure on myself.  I don’t know how to say no.  I’m an over-achiever who has gotten to a place where I can’t quite meet those high expectations I’ve set for myself.  Oh, and I should cut down on the caffeine and make an effort to sleep 8 hours a night.  And exercise. And eat better.

But it is still early in my therapy experience.  I’m going to go back next week, still holding out hope that I am, in fact, as batshit crazy as I feel sometimes.

Transgender Day of Remembrance: An opportunity to learn

Today is the Transgender Day of Remembrance, established to remember transgender individuals who have been killed by hate crimes.  This is the first year that I’ve heard about this particular day of remembrance (established in 1999), and I’m ashamed to admit that I know very little about transgender issues.  So I took to the internet to learn more.

I would typically aim to only write a blog post if I felt as though I’d come away with a particularly compelling point to make or a story to tell, but after a couple of hours of reading up on transgender issues, I still have more to learn.  There are a lot of compelling stories to tell – and it was hard to focus on just one.  From the complexities of raising children whose gender identity does not match their physical gender, to facing discrimination in the workforce, to health care, to voting, to the persistent threat of physical violence – the transgender community faces extremely complicated issues.

Today is a day of remembrance for those who lost their lives due to hate crimes against transgendered individuals.  If passing this along prompts just one other person to type “transgender issues” into their search engine to seek out information and gain a better understanding of an often misunderstood community, I hope that contributes to the memorial in some small way.