Single, 45 and loving it

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I am a single woman. I love being single.  I’m a 45-year-old woman who is single and finds it to be more amazing than married life ever was.

But, a lot of people in society find that THEY have an issue with me being single, as well as other single women.   I remember when my divorce happened that my mother told me that I would find someone else and that I’d be happy.

Well, I love you, Mom; but, I’m perfectly happy being single.

I love the freedom of it. I love the fact that my house is mine and I don’t have to share with anyone.

Wait, maybe I’m a 45-year-old with the mentality of a two-year-old?  Hmmmm, nah!

The very idea that I love being single stumps a lot of people.  They will say something like, “You just haven’t found the right person, yet.”  True, Carol.  But I”m also not looking.

Being single is amazing.  I travel by myself, I eat out by myself, I go to movies by myself.  I have an autonomy that is liberating and empowering and allows me to make decisions that are not impinging on anyone else. I don’t have to ask for permission or justify why I do anything: why I’m late, why I’m not home at the usual time, why I spent whatever money I spent.  I support myself, I go to school, I do my thing.  And I love it.

I have come to a realization lately that is even more freeing:  I don’t want to be with anyone.  Do I miss cuddling or sex?  Well, the cuddling more than the sex.  Not that I don’t like sex. I definitely do.  But, there is no shortage of that in my life and if I had more time, I would be able to have more sex.  I sometimes miss the cuddling, but not enough to find someone to tie myself to for a relationship.

I recently went on a cruise by myself, a full week of hanging out in the East Caribbean.  I didn’t share a room with anyone, could watch whatever I wanted on the television and was able to take a whole week to recharge and do what I wanted, when I wanted. It was amazing.  I needed that week of being able to isolate myself, if I wanted to, or interact with who I wanted to interact with.  I can’t wait to go again.

I recently read an article about a documentary that was made about being single in the world.  The women that made the documentary pinpointed why they felt sad about being single and they said it came down to “messaging.”  They said, and I totally am summarizing here, that women get two messages.  The first is that they can do anything and the second is that they will not be complete until they have a partner and a family.

These were the messages that I was fed as I was growing up.  Society and, to some extent, my parents made it clear that I could be whatever I wanted to be, but I would never be a “complete woman” until I had married and had children.

My biggest regret is that I bought into the second part of that message.

Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love my boys. I worked hard to be the best mother I could be and they have grown into amazing young men.  I just wish that I had had the gumption to stand up and say, “I don’t want to be married and I’m on the fence about children.”  I know that sounds horrible and it’s even harder to write.  As much as I love my children, I wish I would have waited a little longer to have them.  To have gotten my life together a little bit before I embarked on the journey of forming little humans into productive members of society.

I think that it is high time that society, and individuals, stop telling women that they need to be partnered up and have children to be fulfilled and whole women.  Women are whole people all by themselves and single life can be incredibly fulfilling.  And, after my marriage, I can definitely attest to the fact that being single and making your way through the world is much better than being attached to a partner that doesn’t support you or your dreams.

So, for all of those young women out there, buck the system and make your way into the world that is best for you.  Don’t feel like you have to have children to be happy or fulfilled. If you are called to be a mother or a wife or a partner, then you do you and be happy.  But, if you feel that you are happier unattached or in an informal relationship or just want a fun smash every so often and you have FWBs that can fulfill that for you, then do you and be happy.

We women need to stop letting society dictate to us how we should live our lives to be happy.  These lives are ours and we are the only ones that should be defining how we are living our best lives.

Single, married, divorced, polyamorous, bisexual, lesbian, butch, trans – however you want to live your life, beautiful woman, live it.

You only get one life and it’s too damn short to live it to other people’s expectations.

Breaking: Fox News mad that an African-American student got accepted to college for something other than sports

What?  I must have misheard these three women speaking about a student that was accepted to all 20 colleges that he applied to, a feat that no one at Faux news has ever accomplished.  On top of this, he got a full ride to all of these schools.  Please understand, this is an extraordinary accomplishment and Michael Brown and his family are to be congratulated and celebrated.  Congratulations, Michael Brown!  You are amazing!

But, here are these three women who are saying that it was “obnoxious” that he should have applied to that many schools and causing other students to get waitlisted because he “took” their spot.

Exsqueeze me?

Took?  That young man EARNED every one of those spots.  He has a right to apply to as many schools as he wants to.  If he wants to shoot the moon and apply for 20 schools, then that is his right. Who cares what admissions offices say?  It’s a damn competitive world out there and this young man beat out thousands of students to get accepted to all the schools he applied to and to get a full ride to all of them.

Let’s be clear:  this young man wrote 20 essays, filled out 20 applications, and paid 20 application fees.  None of this was given to him. On top of this, he worked extraordinarily hard throughout his academic career to even get a look from these schools, much less accepted and given full scholarships to them.  This achievement should be celebrated by everyone for his courage in applying, his hard work and his commitment to excellence.

But not Faux News. Oh no.  They’re going to talk about how he’s “obnoxious” and “selfish.”

I’m surprised they didn’t find a place to throw in the word “thug” to describe him.

This is a clear case of racism if I’ve ever seen it.  Instead of celebrating this young man, they demean him, call him names, and characterize him as just another “selfish young person.”  If this had been a white student getting a full ride to all 20 colleges they were accepted to, I can guarantee that none of these anchors would have said that they were selfish or obnoxious.

And, let’s be honest, if he had gotten in for basketball or football, he would have been heralded as the “next big thing.”  Just goes to show where Faux News thinks young African-American men belong:  on a football field/basketball court or in jail.

A senior in high school getting accepted into college is an amazing feat.  It really is.  There are not enough spots at our institutions of higher education to give to everyone that wants to attend.  You have to start planning by the time you’re in 6th grade as to how you want to make an impression in middle and high school to get a coveted spot.  The fact that this young man made all the right decisions, worked hard and was able to achieve that 20 times is a success that should be celebrated.

This is just another example of how Faux News gets it wrong in so many ways.

Fox has never appreciated education, running segments like “Are College Professors Brainwashing Students?”  or  when host Laura Ingraham mocked David Hogg for not getting into UCLA.  Because, for Fox, critical thinking is “un-American” and not “patriotic.”  Questioning whether or not America is exceptional is, apparently, not okay.  For Faux, being educated is tantamount to treason and Michael Brown, being a young African-American man, is not someone that these folks feel is deserving of the same kinds of opportunities that they had because he is black.

And when this woman states that “The best part about this story is that 19 kids get to come off the wait list,” she’s not talking about 19 kids.  She’s talking about 19 WHITE kids that get to come off the wait list to accept a free ride to a great school; because, how DARE a white child’s education be in the hands of a young black man and his superior intellect and work ethic. They try to play it off like they would say this about any child who got accepted to this many schools; but, let’s be honest: Fox news is not a friend of those who do not look like Tomi Lahern, Bill O’Reily or the current occupant of the White House.

No matter what a child looks like, no matter their color or ethnicity or religion or sexual orientation, every single time a student gets accepted to college it should be celebrated.  And with the competition so fierce for spots at colleges, young people like Michael Brown should not only be celebrated but held up as an example of what can be accomplished with hard work and a drive to be successful.

Unless, of course, your final goal is to make sure that folks remain uneducated and unquestioning so that they accept whatever you say as gospel.  If that is your goal, Fox News, then keep on doing what you’re doing.  It’s working well.

Bodily Autonomy

Why is it that schools feel that shaming young girls for how they dress is acceptable?

Why is it that the common threads of “you’re distracting students,” or, even worse, “you’re distracting staff,” are reasons that are used to pull young women out of class and demand that they “cover up” or they will be sent home?

Why is it that prom dress codes are only aimed at young women, like this one, and not young men?

Where in the world is it acceptable to make a young girl “move around” to make sure her nipples are not showing when she goes braless because of a sunburn?

Apparently, that acceptable place is in Florida.

The story of Lizzy Martinez was covered by the NY Times, but it is absolutely indicative of what kind of ridiculousness is happening in high schools across the country.

This young lady had a sunburn.  (I have had sunburns that made it very painful to put on a bra, so I’m already right there with her.  There is nothing worse than having to strap something tight around your back and chest when you’ve burned yourself.)  She was in class for 15 minutes before she was pulled out for not wearing a bra.

No, please understand, that there is no requirement in their dress code that says that a young woman has to wear a bra.

The deans were saying that there were young men “looking and laughing” at her, even though she says that there were no issues until she was pulled out of class. She put on an undershirt and was told, by the dean, to “stand up and move around for her.”

Um, what?

That dean (female, by the way) was watching how this student’s tatas moved under her shirt to observe if this student’s nipples were still visible after putting on the undershirt.

Pedophilia/Voyeurism anyone?

That is just creepy and gross.  Like, “I think I need a shower after reading that” disgusting.

When the dean stated that she could still see her nipples (ew!), she demanded that she put band aids on them so they could not be seen.

Ok, you may be thinking, why is that a big deal?  Ever put on a band aid? Ever taken it off and had it hurt or even pull off the first layer of skin?  Now, imagine doing that on a super sensitive part of your body.

Or, hey, you don’t have to.  Because Ladylike did a whole video on it:

Now, before you go thinking that this is an isolated incident, I can assure you that it is not.  If you want just an inkling of what is happening to young women around the country, you can go here, here, and here.

Why is this a big deal?  You may be thinking, “Hey, just dress right and all will be fine.”

Ok, I get that and I don’t necessarily disagree.  There is a time and place for certain clothes, whether in the club or at school.  But, demanding that a young woman cover up or change her clothes because she “is distracting male students/administrators” is not the same thing as saying, “that outfit would be more appropriate for home,” or “we’re trying to encourage you to dress professionally so that you know how to dress in a professional environment.”

By making this about other people, rather than about the young woman herself, you are teaching her that her worth lies in how she is dressed and that how she is dressed is more important than her education.  By extension, you are telling her that her education is less important than the education of her male classmates and that she should be ashamed of “distracting” them.

This stance also perpetuates the “she dressed like a slut” mindset of a rape culture that continually values men and their wants, needs and desires over those of women and tacitly gives men licence to leer and stare at women because of how they are dressed.

In summary, it teaches young women that they have no right to dress how they are most comfortable because their body is not their own and they will be judged by others for how they dress and present themselves.

While some of this is expected in societal circles – you wouldn’t wear an unnecessarily revealing shirt to Wall Street – high schools seem to be going the extra mile to make sure that young women are shamed for wearing things that are culturally and socially appropriate for them to wear in school.  These are not young women dressing to head out for a night on the town in their daily classes.  They are young women wearing yoga pants for gym, shorts for gym, clothes that are comfortable on a 99 degree day.  These are young women doing what is right, not breaking any rules and being called out for being “provocative” and “distracting.”

This needs to end.

One school in Illinois is doing this the right way with their new dress code.  My favorite line is this one:  All students and staff should understand that they are responsible for managing their own personal ‘distractions’ without regulating individual students’ clothing/self expression.

And that’s how you do a dress code right.

Mensez, Periods, and Shame

Why is it that men think that they can create products for women without a basic understanding of female anatomy?  Why do they think that they can comment on things that they have no clue about?

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Take for instance this guy who felt that women should not get free feminine hygiene products because they should “learn to control their bladders.”

Then we have this guy who has created a new product called Mensez.  What does Mensez do, you ask?  Well, let’s see what the website says:

Mensez is a new patented IDEA!!! For feminine health. Mensez is a proprietary cleaning formula that is designed to clean and freshen without removing natural glandular secretions that are natural mucoadhesives. Those mucoadhesives cause the labia to hold together and retain menstrual fluids and vaginal secretions inside in the same location that a tampon would retain them. The mucoadhesive seal releases when you urinate or bath. Mensez will keep you cleaner and fresher on the outside so nothing feels damp sticky on your skin, hair or clothing, so there is no sensation of stretching or pulling with normal active lifestyle.

So after bathing or urinating wipe with Mensez Feminine Wipes and you are done, safe and secure, never be surprised at the worst possible time, and it’s better for the environment….

So, let me get this straight.  You have created a product that will allow our labia to stick together to act as a kind of cup for menstrual blood?  I know that this is crazy and would not work for everyone; but, when this was brought up to the male creator, he had this to say:

…in a response to one visitor’s comment on the Mensez Facebook page, in which he explained that “[Y]ou as a woman should have come up with a better solution than diapers and plugs, but you didn’t. Reason being women are focused on and distracted by your period 25% of the time, making them far less productive than they could be. Women tend to be far more creative than men, but their periods that [sic] stifle them and play with their heads.” 

Yes, he actually said that and you can find the full article from Forbes right here.

Can anyone here say “misogyny?”

Do men think that women like dealing with bleeding at least 12 weeks a year?  That we enjoy having to remember to bring along “plugs and diapers” so that we don’t bleed all over our clothes?  That we enjoy cramps and bloating and sensitive boobs and hormones getting all whacked out EVERY. SINGLE. MONTH?

Do you think that we enjoy working when we don’t feel well?  Or that we enjoy being shamed, like this woman was, for being at work on her period?

Last, but not least, do you think we women give a damn if you men think that our periods are gross or that we should be cast to a yurt and treated as unclean during our periods?

Let me answer that question for you, because I don’t really give a damn about your answer.  Our answer is “no.”  A resounding “no,” full of the voices of the women that came before us that were taught that we were unclean and should be ashamed of having our periods.  A resounding “no” for every young girl who has started her period at school, unprepared, and been made to feel embarrassed about it. A resounding “no” for every woman who has been accused of being on her period and “moody” when she dared to stand up for what she believed in.

Our periods are what enable us to create life in our bodies, if we should choose to do so.  Without that, we don’t have children, which it seems that many men put a lot of stock in so that their genes can be carried on to the next generation.  Guess what, guys who are squeamish?  You can’t do that without a woman that has a period and all of the anatomy that goes with that.

Women have a period.  Period.

It’s time to stop letting men define how we have our periods or how we deal with them. It’s time to stop allowing ourselves to be shamed for a period when this is just how evolution has made us. It’s time for us to stop feeling like we need to apologize for something that we can’t control.  It’s time for women to stand up to people who want to shame us for these things, man or woman, and tell them to STFU.

There is no shame in being a woman and we should not allow anyone to shame us for standing up for ourselves and what we need and want.

Do you, boo, however that looks and whatever it means for you.  Be your true and honest self. Do whatever you want.

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The Show Must Go On

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When I was younger, my mother put me in a number of dance classes: tap, ballet, jazz.  I loved the dancing.  I’ve always loved dancing and this was a place where I could hone that love and then show off on stage – something else I loved.

This picture is from a dance recital when I was about 5 or 6. I remember this one very well for two reasons:  1) I still have one of the outfits from this recital; and, 2) I lost my tap shoe in one of the dances.

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I remember being upset that I had lost the shoe but equally determined to keep dancing and going through the routine that I had worked so hard to learn and remember for this recital.

And here I am, nearly 40 years later, still dancing with only one shoe.

My life has not turned out the way I thought it would. Not by a long shot.  And I’ve done a lot of soul searching since my divorce 6 years ago.  I’ve come to realize that we’re all dancing with one shoe.  Very few people are in a place they imagined they would be when they were 5 or 6, or even where they thought they would be when they were 16 or 17, or….on and on.

What happens when we are hit with the unexpected?  How do we respond?  How do we handle the challenges that we are given?

In social work circles this is called “resilience.”  Resilience is defined as “the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties.”  Resilience looks different for each and every person.  Sometimes, quickly is a couple of weeks. For others, it’s a couple of years.  And for even others, it is the capacity to move on while not ever fully recovering from a trauma or traumatic event.

Now, losing a shoe in a dance recital is not really that big of a challenge for many folks.  For little me, it wasn’t that big of a deal, either.  But, the failure of my marriage has defined me in many different ways.  I spent the first year doing some soul searching and learning myself, defining myself in ways that I wanted to be defined. I challenged myself in different ways and I weathered the ups and downs of losing jobs and figuring out how best to work through those times.

Then, I started school.  I went back to college for my graduate degree and really found out who I wanted to be through the love and support of my mentor and my students.  I found my family in them and discovered how I wanted to be defined for myself, rather than by anyone else.  I learned and expanded my horizons, accepting challenges that I never would have accepted before. I finally feel like I’m becoming the woman that I always wanted to be and wasn’t allowed to be because of restrictions placed on me by the one person who was supposed to love and support me unconditionally.

So, who am I?  Well, I’m a 45-year-old woman who is learning how to go through life with one shoe missing and still doing the steps necessary to reach the place I want to be, to become the woman I know that I can be.

The lesson?  Dance with one shoe missing and love every minute of it.  Your journey will take you places you never expected and your dreams with change and evolve with you.  And while you may step on a rock or thorn, don’t let that deter you from your journey.

Because your journey is yours, defined by only you.

No matter how you take your journey, no matter where you’re walking or the shoes you chose to walk in, the show must always go on.  Never let anyone deter you from your dreams and don’t be afraid to walk to places that you never considered before.  You might be pleasantly surprised.