I find myself sitting outside on a sunny afternoon a few days after Thanksgiving. Between the holiday and family and working and friends, this is the first time I've found a chance to sit down in front of this computer. Right now my view is the place where my coffee shop once was where I found who I was once again. Right now my view is the restaurant that is no longer where I met the love of my life. All around me sit memories of this life that I have lived, the good and the bad, the laughter and the heartbreaks. What sits with me today is everything I used to be, the good and the bad, the what was and what will be. And sitting in this chair is who I am. It is reasonable that this time of year we start to take stock of everything that we have. We remember everything, everyone we have lost. We dream of what will be. We sat around our family dinner tables, sat on those couches surrounded by our friends. For a moment our busy lives stopped and we all took a breath. Regardless of the hustle it took to make sure that turkey came out perfectly and all the planning to make sure we all made it to the dinner table on time, there was a moment when all our planning came together. We were able to reap our rewards, to remember what truly mattered most. Thanksgiving is an under rated holiday. There are no presents or fancy decorations or ideals to live up to. It's just a holiday to get together, to enjoy each other, to be grateful for every step we have taken. I didn't have a big family gathering this year. I didn't see my mother or my sister, my brothers, the nieces, the nephews. This was the second Thanksgiving we spent without our father. I think the sting of his chair being empty still hurts. No, this year we spent this holiday separately with our own individual families. Though I missed them as I am sure they missed me, I know that though we were not sitting around the same table, we were together just the same. Sitting here right now in this moment, I know that even though these memories have played themselves out, they still exist because I lived them. Sitting here right now at a table where my father once cried years ago, I know that he is still very much a part of me in the breath I take, in the smiles I shine, in the red that still peaks through my now blonde hair.
The holidays are a hard part of the year for those of us who have lost someone. You feel the joy and give the hugs and laugh about the old times but the reality of that loved one not being there is a hard pill to swallow regardless of how long it has been. I don't know how I will feel when it's been the tenth holiday without my father but I can't imagine it will hurt any less. I can't imagine I will stop wanting him to hear him telling me a horrible joke or stop missing the way he would correct our grammar. It used to be when I was younger that losing someone was a strange thought. It didn't really happen. Then, you get older and the people around you get older but it still doesn't click until someone passes away. My mother had a stroke years ago. It was one of the hardest moments in my life to walk into that room and see her hooked up to all those tubes. It was a hard look at what was inevitably going to happen one day to everyone I loved. My mother, the strong and stubborn woman she is, made it through that stroke and is as fabulous today as she ever was. Then, a few years after, my husband lost his father and it was heartbreaking to watch him go through that pain. I didn't know what to say. Pops was a beautiful, gentle spirit. There is so much of him I see in my husband but I know he still hurts. I didn't know what to say to help him because I never lost anyone that close to me. It's a helpless feeling to watch someone you love be in so much pain, to know the only thing that is going to make that person feel better is something you cannot do. And then a year later, I lost my own father and I finally empathized completely with my husband. I understood what I could not before. My husband didn't have magical words to make me feel better. There are no words but he held my hand and he stroked my back and he let me cry in his arms and I never had to say a word. He knew. Then the holidays come along and their absence is more prominent. You can remember how he used to cut the turkey or how delicious his MacNCheese was because he no longer is standing at the head of the table, because his casserole dish is not on the table... but here is what is at the table. We are at the table. The people that they loved, they invested in, they taught are all still sitting at that table. The people that they shared their laughter with, their stories, their tears, their dreams. And through us, we are very much keeping them alive.
After my father died, my family all had different ways of dealing with his loss. Some were angry. Some kept themselves busy. Some checked out for a minute. I lost a part of myself with his passing but I didn't realize it until months later. I gained a courage I had as well that I didn't accept until recently. With his loss, I found my way back to me in a way. It was almost as if he had kept that fiery red haired little girl safe all these years for me. And when it was time for him to move on, he gave her back to me. In a strange way, I understood his death. I don't like it but I understand it now. I know so many people who have lost so many important people in their lives. We all have the right to deal with it the way they choose even if it is completely unhealthy (at least for a while). Our chemicals all come together in different ways. I went back to work two days after my father died. Was that the right way to deal? Then, yes. Now, no... but that was my healing method. Taking the time to mourn our loved ones is as important as remembering life goes on. Remembering them during the holidays is a beautiful thing, a bonding experience for the people they have left behind, an important celebration for a lovely life lived. We get lost in all the things we should have done, should have said, could have changed that we forget life has it's own plan for us. Are there things I wish I could say to my father, yes. Are there things that I wish I could have done differently? Absolutely. When my life is all said and done, it won't matter. I don't know what I necessarily believe about the after life but I do know that I will see my father again and all the things that happened on this earth won't carry on to the next. We never really lose the ones we love. We don't need trinkets to keep their memory alive. On my desk, my pup's old collar sits next to her ashes and a picture of her. I don't need those things to remember the way she used to jump on my bed to wake me up, the way she used to try to dig me out of a pile of blankets when I would hide my head because I didn't want to wake up. I don't need those things to remember the way her head would cock at me when I would sing to her, the way she would always be at the front door waiting for me when I got home. I don't need any of those things to remember the way should play at the top of the stairs when I snuck up on her, the way she would hide her accidents under a King of Hearts. She was with us Thursday because she is still so much alive in the memories we keep of her. I still cry about my father, still cry about my pup but I also feel them with me, too. In my heart, they stay, reminding me of their love when I need it the most. I didn't see my family for Thanksgiving. I may not see them until after Christmas. The holidays are no longer like the ones of my childhood but they haven't been that even when my father was alive. It's a lot of trying to put random schedules together with an equal amount of travel time since we are all in different places now. No, there won't be cousins running around or parents drinking tequila shots or mothers in the kitchen. And that's all right. Life goes on just as much as life changes.
Sometimes who sits at the table doesn't stay the same. People come and go in our lives. Some of their own choosing and some not. We can be angry and sad. We can torture ourselves with all the things we should have done differently but when all is said and done, we did what we thought was right at the time. Time has a way of blaming otherwise innocent intentions. We are quick to blame ourselves but it's all wasted energy at the end of the day. It played out the way it played out. My father's life happened the way it was supposed to happen, good and bad, success and failure, but what he left behind was a legacy in his children, in the life he shared with our mother, in the people he touched along the way. He may have not been waiting at the end of that table for his giant turkey to carve but he was shining in every smile that loved him Thursday regardless if we were sitting at the same table or not. Life goes on just like we go on. We can hold tight to our memories this time of year, let them warm our hearts. Close our eyes and imagine their laugh or the way they used to sing or bark even. We can give ourselves permission to celebrate their lives instead of mourn them. They are just as much alive in us as they were when they walked this earth. We can be sad that they are not here but we must never forget their joy. It is in their joy that they live on. For all those out there who are missing someone this holiday season, close your eyes and listen to your heart beat. That's where you'll feel them. Hug each other a little bit more. Love one another right now. Make memories together. Those are the things that keep.
Our lives are full of small epiphanies. We get lost in the mundane, in our routines that we forget to see the light at the end of the tunnel, the grander scheme of our life's meaning. I stopped by my local coffee shop this morning as I usually do. I ran into a coffee shop friend, the ones that are always there just like you, the ones that you say good morning to every day and you share in this coffee community life. I've known him for years but never have we had an interaction outside of those walls and that's all right. Last night I was at work and thoughts were bouncing around my head. Most the time, I live in this head of mine, observing the world around me, trying not to get wrapped up in all the things that don't matter. Sometimes I am able to keep myself away from the tiny, inconsequential affairs but other times I feel myself fall down that dark rabbit hole of pointless matters that hold me back. It wasn't until this morning that I was able to put into perspective the debate that I started with myself last night. Last night I saw my husband upset. Whenever he is upset, it vibrates inside me. I don't like seeing people upset even if the reason they are upset is trivial. All feelings, all emotions are valid and all of these feelings sometimes you just have to ride out. It's a tumultuous time in our lives, in this country. It's OK that right now everything seems like a big deal because it is... but all things shall pass. Sometimes we have to fight our way through the mud to find our blue waters. Talking to my friend this morning I was able to see clearly that right now I'm just fighting my way through the mud. Right now where I am is just a means to get where I am going. I have worked in the service industry for a long time in my life. I left one place because I was drowning. I came to this new place treading water. I know my value, what I offer and sometimes it is aggravating that I am not living to my full potential but I will shake off this mud eventually. Last night I saw my husband upset. I saw the empty pitchers. I saw the empty ice bin. I watched as perfectly capable people sat back and did nothing to help the next person out. I listened to tables complain about Ranch (it's just ranch) and heard the tiny little things they were appalled at. I sat back in my head and took note of my surroundings, realizing this is just a pit stop. We have to do the work to reap our rewards. We have to put in the time to achieve our greatness. Sure, I'm good at what I do but not because I like what I do. I am good at what I do because my heart longs to be somewhere else.
It is easy to get wrapped in where we are, to not see our goals as really what they are. We work jobs that we allow ourselves to fall into completely, making them become a part of our identity. We pride ourselves on our achievements as we should but we beat ourselves up entirely too much when we fail just the same. The place I used to work became a part of me completely. I identified myself as a server. My goal was to make people happy, to give them the best experience, to be the reason that the restaurant stayed afloat. I wanted to take care of all the people I worked with that I started to sacrifice my own happiness, my own well being, my own personal goals to make sure that everything was always perfect there... until I left to grieve my father, to grieve my puppy. And that's what I thought I was doing but last night walking around this new place I have found myself in I realized that's not why I left at all. I left to redefine who I was again as my own person. I realized that I had lost myself in a job that ultimately had nothing to do with where I wanted my shooting star to land. Do I miss them? Absolutely every day I do but I understand the direction my heart needs to go. And now I work at a place that I am not connected to, that aggravates me more than it should. I wait tables to people who act like they are entitled, work with people who sometimes act as if the world owes them something. I battle with myself quite often on the amount of effort I put in, knowing that the more I give, the less I will receive. Have I given my absolute 100 percent? I give my best because that is who I am. I don't half ass my life regardless of how trivial what is front of me may be but, no, I have not shined as bright as I could. I haven't shined as bright as I can because my heart no longer lies in keeping a place that is not mine afloat. But it is easy for us to put our jobs before ourselves, before our families and our friends. It is easy to think that our jobs are the only things that matter. A rave review by a customer doesn't mean that I am a good person just like someone calling my husband a piece of shit makes him a piece of shit. If we let these things define who we are, then we've lost any value that we've put into ourselves. My friend from the coffee shop is a Minister. We started talking about how jobs are just jobs. We talked about how hard it is to keep our actual dreams separate from the beautiful accomplishments that we really want to do. I am a Writer who waits tables to provide for my family. One day I will be able to say that I am a Writer who provides for my family but until then, here's your Ranch, sir. And I can't be mad at where I am right now. It is what it is but I can take inspiration from these moments when I can do what my heart truly desires, where my true talent lies.
I lose my temper at the smallest inconveniences just like everyone else. I want to throw the empty pitchers at people's heads after I've filled them for the fortieth time in ten minutes. I want to break the crap out of the ice bucket after refilling it ten times in a fifteen minute period. I want to scream at the common sense that seems to be lacking not just in the job I work but in the world around me. There are plenty of things in this life that drive me bananas but in my epiphany last night I realized these tiny annoyances matter very little. Sure, I will go into work tonight and be annoyed as usual but I have to remember it's just a job. It's just a simple job that does not reflect the complexity of who I really am. I know what customers see. I understand a server is often viewed upon as someone lesser than the person sitting in that seat. It's a job a monkey can do. In a way, they are as right as they are wrong. In my time working in this industry, I have met some truly inspirational people who work this type of job while they are trying to make a better life for themselves, for their families. I have these small moments when I remember I'm just a visitor where I stand. One day I will look back at my days in the service industry and be thankful for all the lessons I kept with me along the way just like I look back at my days working in an office right now. No matter what job you find yourself in, it's just a job if your heart isn't in it. I remember sitting in my cubicle, feeling claustrophobic, like just another number in that ocean of boxes that surrounded me. It was lonely and it made me feel lonely. It amplified my already introverted ways. That was just as unhealthy as being surrounded by anxious people running around, looking for tongs. I lost my temper there, too, just like I lose my temper where I am now. That's just part of being a human. Sometimes what's right there blocks what is really in front of us. Last night I laughed to myself because I realized I got what I wanted. I love the last place I worked but I was tired. I was burnt out, tapped out, deflated as I could be. I left to take a rest but what I found was something far more important, someone I hadn't thought about in much too long. I found the girl in the corner again, the one who kept my heart's desire beating. In her, I remembered what I truly wanted to be.
Careers are the work we do that we enjoy, that challenge us, that teach us more about ourselves every day. Careers are what we train for, what we strive for, what we work hard for. Jobs? They are just the things we do to pay the bills, to keep a roof over our heads and gas in our cars. I've worked in a lot of different fields in my life. My resume shows that I am a jack of all trades. In a way, I guess I was searching for that one thing that would fulfill me because I thought writing was just a pipe dream. But in all those jobs, I never once felt satisfied. The coffee shop made me happy but it wasn't mine, not in the way I wanted it to be. And one day when I have the money, I will light that fire but for now writing is my passion, the one thing that truly makes me happy. This morning as I was talking to my friend, I realized how easy it was to push what I really wanted to do aside because I had been doing it for years. I needed money for something, so I picked up a shift which meant I no longer had that time to write. My lights were about to be turned off so what then? I guess I'll get a second job to make up the difference. We get sidetracked because there are things we must take care of and that's just life. Sometimes we get so side tracked we start believing our worth is based in a job that will never truly honor the beauty of who we really are. I smile at the tables who treat me with kindness. There is value in doing a job like waiting tables. A woman came in this weekend who brought me to tears. She had just finished her last round of Chemotherapy and they were celebrating her good news. I bought her doughnuts to be kind. Her winning that battle made me think of my father who lost his own. I was happy that her family got to hold onto her, that they didn't have to look at that empty chair at the dinner table like mine does. She told me that if she ever won the lottery, she would come back and take care of me. I gave her a hug on their way out and I told her I knew that she was going to be fine and we both started to cry. In a strange way, this woman woke me up. I watched her walk away, laughing and smiling with her family, and I thought about my father. I thought about the dreams he once had for me and I knew it was time dig deep in this mud so I could move on up. I am not the nameless girl with all the tattoos and red glasses that brings you Sweet Tea with a ridiculous amount of extra lemons. I am my father's daughter, a dreamer and a doer. I am kind and giving and a joy. At the end of the day, what I do is just a job that pays the bills. It's the love I give to the people around me that define who I am. It's these words that that inspire me, that make that girl in the corner come to life in the way we she deserves every day.
The last few days have been interesting to observe. From the protests, the name calling, the back and forth banter about whether or not Trump is the devil incarnate. Among all of these heavily negative loaded things, I've realized that the only thing that we can ever possibly change is ourselves. We have every right to be angry at other people's actions especially when they affect ourselves, our children, our families but with that being said the only thing we can change is how we behave. I think people are now seeing what a good man President Obama was in comparison to the four years of what we're about to step into. I think we've realized the history we made (whether some want to admit or not) when he took the Oval office. And I think people have realized what a step back (whether they want to it admit or not) we've taken by putting a TV Reality star as his replacement. I've observed the behavior around me. I've scrolled through Facebook and seen otherwise good people post including family articles, memes they support that don't necessarily represent the best of human kind. I admit. I did some unfriending. Was that right? Was that petty? I fully believe in everyone's right to believe, to stand behind what they believe but I can't stand by and let ignorance be a part of my life. It's like having a toxic friend. Sometimes people aren't good for you. We can disagree and we can debate but there is a line if you are supporting the demise of innocent people who have done no wrong. I can't speak on what it feels like to be an African American or a Muslim or an undocumented immigrant. I cannot step into their shoes and know what they face on a daily basis but I am a woman. And while I can't change how that man over there in the blue jacket views me, I can certainly hold myself up with honor and pride, respect and love.
I was having this discussion with a friend the other day. I had stopped in to feed my daily addiction to coffee. We started talking about the election, about the travesty of this man winning (#notmypresident), why Hilary Clinton was so hated. 54% of white women voted for Trump, a number that astonishes me. While Hilary Clinton had her problems, she certainly was a better human being than her counterpart. As a woman, I just can't understand how any woman could vote for a man who cares so little about their rights. While the Republican party may have beliefs that you are for, this man surely did not. In my observations, this is what I noticed when women were talking about voting for Hilary Clinton. It was something that should have been so much clearer early on the election. I went to a Catholic school where I was taught that a woman should be docile. We, as a collective, succeed but we do not succeed alone. You do not surpass your fellow women but men should man up, one should take the lead. What this environment did was foster resentment when a girl stood out from the bunch. If you were a girl good at sports, the other girls didn't like you very much. If you were a girl who was an excellent student, the other girls thought you were an ass kisser. This environment I was raised in told me that I grow up and I get married and I have the babies. I keep a clean house, a happy husband, well behaved children, and no aspirations for myself. Thankfully I had a mother who encouraged my individuality, who wanted me to go out there and prove all these boys wrong. She wanted me to find my own path. Because I danced to my own beat, I didn't have many friends who were girls growing up. I found them to be catty for lack of a better word. So, I sit here, listen to women who voted for Trump talk about Hilary Clinton and I realize that playground politics are still alive today. Was she the ideal woman to be the first woman president? I don't know. We all have our own faults and she is no exception but this is what we can say about Hilary Clinton. She is tough as nails and that, in this man's world, should be applauded. Instead so many of almost demonized her for her strength. When, as women even if you don't like her, should support what she was trying to accomplish. I was talking with some friends and this number 54% was flabbergasting to us all but then I thought about it. I am a white woman who has faced many struggles that I've been able to conquer. I was a single mother for seven years of my child's life, robbing Peter to pay Paul, finding creative ways just to keep treading water. I had government assistance and lived in a not so appealing apartment complex but I made us work. I've had men look at me like I was nothing more than an object here for their pleasure. I've had other women look at me like I was just a dumb whore who didn't know how to keep her legs closed. I've had a man think so little of me he took what he wanted and laughed at the shattered person he made me as he walked away without remorse. This world has given me plenty of battles to fight and maybe not all women have had to fight as hard as me, as hard as so many beautiful women I know. I can have compassion for that 54% because they haven't been in our shoes. I just may have a hard time understanding it. In the same breath, this world has given me so many more things to be thankful for, to look forward to. As a woman, I stand tall and in support of anyone who finds the courage to keep on fighting because, ladies, we still got a fight on our hands.
My daughter gets closer and closer to being out on her own every day. I remember when she was younger, I told her that she should always stand up for herself. She should never let anyone take advantage of her or belittle her because she was a wonderful person. No one had the right to snuff out her light. Sometimes I don't know if my words stick with her. She's a teenager so there are a lot of times right now I just shake my head at her. But she surprises me when I least expect it. She's so much stronger than I was, than I am sometimes. A few weeks ago she asked me why I was so much nicer now than I was when she was little. It made me laugh. She's right. My corners aren't so sharp these days. I smiled at her and told her sometimes time makes you see things a little bit more clearly. I had a boyfriend in high school. He was a good guy but I was a stubborn, proud girl who fought the establishment as hard as I could including him. Today is his birthday, a fact that I should probably forget but is one of those things that I randomly remember. He was a good kid. He treated me much better than I treated him. I was terrified that my identity would be lost in him which is completely absurd now that I'm a million years older. Blame it on the Spice Girls for ramping up my Girl Power but really it was just me being an insecure teenage girl who thought I had something to prove. But now? Yes, now I know that I don't have anything to prove as a woman, as a person. I watch my daughter puff up her chest like I once did and I wish I could save her some of the heart ache that I caused myself but I know can't. That kind boy finally had enough of me and walked away. Stomping my feet didn't get me much of anywhere. It was when I learned how to be still, how to be firm in where I stood that I realized truly what being a woman was. My husband is a brilliant man who stands beside me, who supports me, who never fails to appreciate my quiet strength. Even though my stubbornness drives him crazy sometimes, I see the pride in his eyes when he looks at me when I stand strong in my convictions. He may not always agree but he knows better than to stand in my way. My daughter will be on her own one day. She will have learned which battles are important for her to fight, which ones are best to walk away from but with every day that passes I see a beautiful strength blossoming inside her (whether she knows it or not).
Will all the politics going around, I can say that I am proud of what is happening. I am proud of the new found awareness that people are starting to have. I am proud that people are having open conversations about what is really happening in this country. I am happy that we are redefining what we stand for. And I am happy that the things we are standing up for are kindness, acceptance, tolerance. This country is only two hundred years old, still quite young when compared to the rest of the world. My daughter's generation will be the generation to do better. With each generation, we have taken steps forward and I know that if we teach our children love, kindness, acceptance, tolerance, compassion now, tomorrow will be a much brighter day. As a woman with the current mindset that is out there, I don't feel defeated. I feel like an awakening is about to happen not just for my sex but for all of the oppressed out there. There is hope for all of us. In the midst of this chaos, we can redefine our order. I was in the shower and I was thinking about that boy from high school. I was thinking about how impossible I was to him and I couldn't help but to laugh at myself. It's been fifteen years since I last set eyes on him but he's still a life lesson that I keep with me. Because I was once so hard, I learned the importance of being soft. Because I was once so cruel, I understood the value of being kind. Because I was once so inconsiderate of his feelings, I realized what compassion truly meant. As a woman, as a person, I still have my battles ahead of me. Life doesn't stop challenging you. It just finds new ways to make you better. Maybe right now because of this election, things look bleak but this is just a footnote in the history we are going to make. I'll sit back and I'll watch as this world spins. When it stops, we will all come out the stronger for it.
It's been four days since President Obama's replacement was chosen. I've been vocal on Facebook about my disappointment, my shock, my anger about the outcome but it's been a few days. I didn't want to write a blog the day after because, like anything traumatic, you want to take a few days to digest what just happened. So, that's what I've done. I've thought about it. I looked at it from both sides as much as I can. I talked about this election with my family and my friends, a few strangers a long the way that went both ways. I've looked at the facts, imagined the best case scenarios because the worst case scenarios have been too frightening to fathom. I've watched the news and seen people write horrible things on the side of buildings. I've read the horrible tweets people seem to think it is OK to post now since Trump won. I've teared at people I know, scared out of their minds to what this will mean for them and their family. I saw the tears fall down my daughter's cheeks, my bright and smart and wonderful daughter who can and will do anything she puts her mind to, when she saw who won this election. I listened in bewilderment at women who stood up for this man who has said so many deprecating comments about women. I shook my head at people who laughed and said, "He's better than Hilary," and "I like what he stands for," and "At least he's not a criminal," and "He's going to make America great again." I shook my head at each and every one of these very absurd things. So, four days later, where did I land? I am still as disappointed, still as confused, still as angry as I was four days ago. But, that being said, time may have not healed this wound just yet, it has given perspective on what kind of America I do want to live in.
I won't make this a political rant. I think enough of those have been posted in the last few days. My support was for Bernie Sanders. That was my candidate. That is my President. It didn't shake out that he took that seat but what he stood for can still be very much alive in this country. Since the election, it seems the ugliest parts of this country have reared their heads. Perhaps the man himself is not to be feared, it's the message he conveyed, the permission he seem to give people across this country that they could behave in horrible ways. His irresponsible words led people to believe that they can call people derogatory names. They could tell people to get out of this country because they don't belong here. I've heard the argument that this behavior has been around even before Trump made a joke out of political system. True but his careless actions, his temper tantrums have jump started an idle engine that should have never been revved. This country under President Obama was making great strives to learn tolerance and acceptance. With the marriage law being passed and the steps forward that women were taking to earn equal pay, it seemed as if we were heading in the right direction. What went so terribly wrong that we put a man like Trump in that office? Because I guess I didn't see it. I guess I just didn't see the inner workings as much because the humanity of this country had started to shine a little bit brighter.
I was taught that we all must take responsibility of our actions. If I hurt someone's feelings, I needed to apologize and make it right. If I took something that wasn't mine, then I needed to give it back and come clean with what I did. I was taught that if I did something wrong, it was my responsibility to admit what I did was not right. I learned that words should be chosen carefully with great thought because what I said could hurt someone else even if I was just joking. Sometimes we say harmful words without thinking about the effect they may have on the people around us. Being conscience of your actions is part of being a good person. You take care with the people around you because we all live in this world together. What we put out in this world is what we get back. I think of these lessons as I sit and watch the news, watch Trump say the most horrific things about everyone really. I hear people say, "Oh he doesn't mean it." I hear people say, "Oh he won't do those things that he's talking about." That's not the point. The point is he said the words, words that have been recorded, words that even if they were not recorded could never be taken back. And when he is called out on these horrible things he has said? He takes no responsibility for the damage he has done. He starts huffing and puffing and crying about how everyone is being mean to him. He behaves like a three year old child. The thing he doesn't care what I think. He doesn't care what you think. He's a business man who just won the biggest business deal of his life... but he won't know what to do with it and it will be at the cost of this country. Why? Because we wanted to make America great again, right? We wanted to make America great again by putting a man who has a rape of child against him pending, a man who has another lawsuit for Trump University pending, who told people that they should have beaten the protester holding up the Black Lives Matter sign up a little bit more. The silver lining here is that America didn't put this man in that seat. A very broken system did. This man is not my president. That's where I will continue to stand for the next four years. I don't owe this man anything. This country doesn't owe this man anything at least not until he takes responsibility for what he's done in this campaign, for what he has done in the years before. Even if the sky falls and he does have some sort of revelation, I will never trust a syllable that comes out of his mouth. Like the poster I saw Kevin Smith's daughter holding in a peaceful protest yesterday, "This pussy ain't for grabbing." Vulgar. I apologize but that's what we've been given. You reap what you sow.
Here is what I also see in this great big mess of poo that we've found ourselves in. I see hope. For as many horrible, tragic things I have seen on Facebook and Twitter or whatever you're on, I've seen beautiful moments of support. I've seen love come through this computer screen and it is touching. People reaching out to Immigrants, to the LGBTQ communities expressing their support, African Americans standing up and starting open conversations about racism, women claiming the right to their own bodies, Muslims standing their ground even when people on subways and so many other places say horrible things about them for no reason. I've seen other countries send messages of hope to all of us that we are not alone, that we will survive. The question was asked after Trump was announced the winner about what we were going to tell our children. How do we explain how a man so hateful got into a position that should be looked up to? The best response was from a friend of mine. We teach them about Rosa Parks, Susan B. Anthony, Martin Luther King Jr., President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama. We teach them about our ancestors. We lead by example and don't give Trump a second thought. Because while being the president is certainly a prestigious position, it's about who sits in that seat that makes the President what it is. In these last four days, I've seen a wide spectrum of behavior, from the very worst to our very best. We, the people, are what makes the communities around us beautiful. Let's not forget. We can stand against the hate. We can stand against the racism, the sexism, the bigotry, the hypocrisy. The world may have made us cry over the last few days but tears dry. Teach love, never hate. Always teach love. In our darkest hours, it is love that shines us through.
Someone said something to me a few weeks ago that has resided with me. I think we are all aware at this point of my life my aspirations are not to be a server. It has not been my life goal to bring otherwise grumpy individuals Sweet Tea with extra lemons. Sure, I want to make the world smile but this kind of job can take the wind right from under you if you don't have a strong disposition. Hey, I need to make a living and people need to eat. Now, once I find my feet in this writing world, I can walk away but it's an uphill hike that I will continue to walk no matter what. I have worked places in my life that weren't always the best environment for me. You do what you have to do, however, because we are adults with bills to pay, mouths to feed, obligations to fulfill. I've never shied away from hard work. I've never refused to get dirty. I've never backed away from a challenge. The Walking Dead just came back on and as Rick stared down Negan refusing to break, it is what was said to me that resounded back in my head. You get put into situations where you can do nothing. There is absolutely nothing that you can do to make that situation better. You have to suck it up. You have to throw your hands in the air and say whatever. You have to sit there and watch your friends get hit in the head with a baseball bat while some dumb ass makes callous jokes. Sometimes in life you can't control what goes on around you. You can't change what doesn't want to be changed. So what do you do? Do you get used to it? Do you just sit back and forget who you are because you can't change anything? True, we saw Rick break when he was forced to almost cut his son's arm off but Rick didn't break because Rick will never truly break. This isn't about Rick Grimes, just an example of a fictional character that I just happen to be obsessed with currently. This is about standing strong in your convictions, in your own ethics, in everything you believe. We can compromise. We can bend but we never have to break, not if that means losing who you are.
My mother spelled my name differently. My entire life I've had to correct people when spelling my name. My mother who carried me in her womb for nine months sat and thought and gave great care in what she was going to name her third child, her second daughter. Now I was born in era when everyone was naming their daughters Jessica. The way she spelled my name set me apart from all those other Jessica's. Sure, when I was a kid it was annoying but I held strong to my mother's spelling. To me, it was special. This name was something she gave me, a very special gift she gave me and to only me. I didn't have to share this name with my siblings or even with the three other girls of the same name in the class with me. When I was pregnant with my daughter, I thought of my mother and the time she took to get to my name, to the spelling of my name. I wanted to give my daughter the same. I wanted her to have something that was all her own. So, I chose the name (which I admit I took from my mother) and I created a spelling that was made just for her. Years later, the child is now fifteen years old and no longer spells her name the way I spelled it. It hurt my feelings, sure, but I will never spell her name any other way then the way I gave to her. When I asked her why she changed the spelling? She says to me everyone spells it wrong anyway so why not just spell it the way they do, right? I shook my head as I continue to shake my head at that statement. She had a choice. She could stand her ground or she could just get used to it and follow along with how the world told her it was. I'd like to think that when she gets older she will come back around to the gift I gave her. I'd like to think that she will understand that she doesn't have to be what the world, how the world tells her to be. She can make a stand without causing a fight. She can hold her fists in the air without ever throwing a punch. When we fall in line, we don't have to become like the people we're sandwiched in between. Sometimes the mold that we've found ourselves in doesn't always have to be the mold that sticks. When we allow our environment to tell us who we are, to dictate what we're about we lose all the precious gifts that were given to us along the way.
I've never been the type to roll over. I've never had someone say to me this is how it is and this is how you are going to be and that's what I became. I may have not said anything. I may have walked away. I may have even gone along with their reindeer games for a minute but I've never lost who I was to please someone else, to make it easier for someone else to behave poorly. I can accept the way things are. I can accept that I won't be the one to change those things, too. What I can't accept is my behavior changing in a way that disrespects who I am. I will always work too hard. I will always try too much. I will always help even when it hurts me. And I will continue to be frustrated when people don't understand the simple concept of kindness. I will never stop expecting the best out of people. I will never stop being disappointed at the laziness that I sometimes find myself surrounded by. I will never stop hoping that these people who are cruel to others will change, that people who find it easy to judge will change, that people who behave poorly will change but I accept that I cannot be the catalyst to them. As much as I want my example to be something they can follow, I know that much of me will go unnoticed. She said to me that I haven't gotten used to it and I didn't reply at the time. I didn't reply because what was there to be said? Weeks later that statement still repeats in my head. Weeks later after we've had to deal with life stuff, I think about that statement and it makes me realize I never want to get used to it when it means I lose parts of myself. Sure, I can bend and compromise. I can acclimate to whatever environment I find myself in. I can observe the people around, deduce the qualities they possess and make conclusions based on what is in front of me. I can put my head down and get by, no problem. I can smile and I can laugh and I can cry along with the best of them but I can't change who I am. I can't change the way I work, the amount of pride I have in myself, the quality of person that I am. I won't. I refuse. Some things are the way they are, I get it. Sometimes just like Rick I will have to sit there and watch my morals, my ethics get the shit kicked out of them. I will have to sit back and watch my ideals get smashed. I can accept that but I will always pick them back up. I will always refuse to break.
We are who we are. Over time who we are changes but the foundation of what we built never falters. I am proud of my strange spelled name. I am proud of all this life I have lived. Every part of it, every minute of it has made me who I am. Every part of your life has made you, too. You should never be ashamed of the paths taken, the failures you've felt, the successes you've accomplished. Sometimes things are not going to go your way. You'll be down on your knees while your life crashes around you. Don't let that break you. Don't ever let that break you completely. In my life, I have shattered but I always found my pieces because even in the broken pieces I was I was still too strong to ever be destroyed. We find ourselves in situations we can't change but that doesn't always mean you have to. You can still be as brilliant as you are. You don't have to get used to something that doesn't fit. You don't have to rearrange your pieces to fit into their puzzle. Since that conversation, I've had a new outlook in a way. What was made clear is that sometimes change isn't really what someone or something wants and that's fine. Sometimes all the wonderful things you can inspire aren't received the way you thought they would be and that's all right, too. I have realized in that statement is that I'm not interested in changing, either. I want to work hard. I want to do the right thing. I want to treat people with kindness and understanding. And if they don't reciprocate? Well, I can't change that and that I accept. We are who we are and we should all accept that.