spotlight

Be Gentle With Yourself

Gentle

It took a few months but I dropped my 2-post per week goal for the year ha ha! It's okay, I won't beat myself up over it.  How have you been?

Now that I'm practicing yoga again, I've been going back and looking through my old issues of Yoga Journal. They're from several years ago but it's all still relevant today. I was reading an article that quoted Indra Devi which I titled this blog post after. The article was about trying to do TOO much all the time. The author, who had a super busy career, was going on a retreat only to find they were trying to do ALL THE THINGS instead of just relaxing. That's always been my problem.

I recently had to step down from an activist group I had just joined.  It was just way more involved than I thought it was going to be and I just couldn't bring myself to give them the type of commitment required. A Little Beacon Blog is getting busier and busier and I really need time for yoga and a day off every week, that's all I ask. I really burnt myself out following all the politics and craziness going on. I was hesitant to step down, I am super organized, why can't I handle this??? I hate saying I'll do something and then go back and flake out, because it makes me feel like a flake. But it was just too much. Once again, I had to say "no" to additional work

I like to help! I want to do my part! I want to be involved with things - this is especially important when you work from home, you start to feel disconnected from the world and the internet can only give you so much.  I think that's one of the reasons I've dove back into yoga as much as I have with possibly taking three classes a week.  While these classes aren't exactly a social call, it's a chance for me to say "Yes" to myself and allow myself to be out and just experience life outside of my four walls.

Do you overcommit? How do you keep yourself in check?

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Maybe Ignorance Is Bliss Sometimes

Bliss

I remember South Park once parodied one of the kid's mom being glued to the television for days after September 11th. She was laying on the couch watching 24 hour news for days - you just couldn't stop watching the coverage.  Hurricane Katrina had a similar impact, I know I watched A LOT of cable news. I didn't want to miss any updates of what was turning into Mad Max coming to life in Louisiana.  For the last few months, I found myself, once again, glued to current events but this time it was mostly on the internet.

As I have gotten more involved in politics and activism, the amount of information out there can be so overwhelming.  The number of local Facebook groups that I have joined is ridiculous.  But like all things, too much of something can wear you down. Keeping up with politics is no different, especially if so much of it is upsetting.  45 is signing Executive Orders faster than I can find out what they actually are about.  There was one day where my crazy busy brain just messed me up and I became really upset.  "Defeated" is a better word, my stomach remained in knots. It sucked. I can't keep feeling this way, do I throw in the towel? As luck would have it, I read Depressed by Politics? Just let it go, it was perfect timing. Yes, it was starting to depress me and I don't need that in my life.  

I'm learning how to manage the amount of time I spend keeping up-to-date with the news. My Pro-Wrestling podcast listening has been neglected because of this stupid President lol!  It's okay to check in on Facebook and other groups once a day.  I don't have to read the NY Times and Politico every single day (sometimes checking more than once). I spend time on Netflix and Amazon looking for something new to watch, it usually involves Bigfoot. I think this is another reason I started up yoga again - besides the physical benefits, it's an hour and 15 minutes twice a week where I am not thinking about any of those things and it's just me treating myself to something awesome. 

Have you been feeling overwhelmed with politics?  How do you shift your gears mentally?

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Where Is Your American Pride?

Where Is Your American Pride?Is America great again yet? It's only been two months but is it safe to ask this question?  I've been reading a lot about the rise of Nationalism in Europe since November, it's no coincidence.  Many say it started with Brexit vote last Summer. The latest is an article from The New York Times, How a Sleepy German Suburb Explains Europe's Rising Far-Right Movements.  This resonated with me because it kind of reminded me of where I live now, not my town specifically but in the mid-Hudson Valley.  

Growing up in New York City and then moving to a suburb is quite a change and has broaden my perspective.  The Hudson Valley has a history of artsy, liberal-minded "River Towns" with lots of older hippies who want to protect the Hudson River, the environment, shutting down Indian Point, and are down to protest just about anything related to the environment.  I get it. But there's another history not talked about much that involves the KKK....but they're gone now, I think??  I had no idea until I moved to Dutchess County that there was a thing going on in Putnam County up until the 80s with the KKK, whoa.

So, come 2016 and I was surprised at how many Trump bumper stickers and lawn signs I would see.  Where the hell am I?? I had a discussion with a friend who moved out of NYC a few years ago and is now living some place that is less liberal-minded, not a total shift, but it gives you perspective, a broader perspective.  When people think of "New York", they think of this: 

New York City Skyline

This is just a very, very small (although heavily populated) snippet of New York state. New York has 62 counties, NYC is only 5 of them.  New York is also suburbs, picturesque small towns, mountains, rural farmlands, blue-collar towns, college towns, and straight up "Country."   It is so easy to live in a big city and think that since you are exposed to so much diversity, this is something that the rest of the country will welcome and is okay with.  Nope.  There is so much to New York that is not "Blue."  Our State Senate isn't even Blue, it may be on paper, but there is a thing called the Independent Democratic Conference kind of throwing a monkey wrench in things.  There are a few New Yorkers who want to set this country back 50 years and they're not even old enough to remember how it was the first time!

To bring this back around, I started writing this with the idea of Nationalism in this country. 45 was really pushing that message that we need to make America a country to be proud of again.  This is happening in other countries but it's being depicted as a bad thing. It's being seen as anti-Muslim, anti-foreigners.  Are Europeans talking about the rise of Nationalism in the United States and saying the same?   You are less likely to see USA pride in NYC.  You'll see Puerto Rican pride, Italian pride, Irish pride, Ethiopian pride, you get my drift.  You'll see more American flags displayed outside of houses the more outside the city you go.  

This country is not perfect, it's got a lot of messed up history it may not want to acknowledge and it still has problems with racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia and a bunch of isms and phobias. This country also has a serious problem keeping religion and state separate (someone forgot to tell them about that.) I would still rather live here than anywhere else.  I can write this blog, criticize the President, and not have to worry about someone knocking on my door (yet..maybe.). I can go out by myself where other countries require a man to be with you, I can drive a car by myself, I can wear whatever I want.  I'm fortunate to live here but I'm still aware enough to know that there are others, who live in the same country, that may not feel as comfortable, and that sucks. I'm not proud of that.  The last administration tried very hard to get us all past that and I'd hate to see all of that get erased.  I don't have a problem with national pride as long as it includes everyone who chooses to live there, even if they came from somewhere else. 

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Know Your History, Don't be a Tree Without Roots

Roots

A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.
Marcus Garvey

I came across this quote and it stuck with me. There is so much concern of history repeating itself with this current administration.  While there is more information available for everyone, there seems to be less education.  All this nonsense about "fake news" and "alternative facts."  Can history be made up? No, it happened, look it up!  Deny history as much as you want, it will bite you in the ass sooner or later.  The Holocaust happened!  Protesting can change things! Slaves were not immigrants who came here by choice!  

There's so much spinning, it's hard not to get dizzy.  I've been revisiting U.S and Global History.   I grew up in the New York public school system in the 80s and early 90s and honestly, I didn't learn much about our history (cue What a Wonderful World).  It was very safe - Lincoln freed the slaves, the US freed the Jews from Germany and got us out of the Depression, Blacks had to drink from different water fountains in the South until Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. came along, uh...there was a war Vietnam. It's embarrassing now that I look back.  I don't entirely blame my schools, I'm pretty sure I spaced out a lot during history. I remember taking a history class in high school which was all about Europe from like the 1500-1600s, I don't remember shit.

Now I love history, I want to absorb as much as possible - mostly in the form of documentaries.  I love what people like Ken Burns and Tom Hanks are doing to keep history alive and interesting in this world of super short attention spans (guilty). Oliver Stone has a great documentary series on Netflix, The Untold History of the United States, worth checking out.  I can understand why World War II isn't covered much because it was pretty fucking huge.  Vietnam War was a cluster fuck which made the U.S. look really, really bad so let's just gloss over that. I wish they talked more about WWII and Vietnam because I knew (from movies, of course) just how bad and ugly it was and felt it was important to learn more about.   I'm curious about what schools are teaching now about 9/11 and the never ending war in Afghanistan.  

I hope schools are more open and honest about how U.S. History is taught. It's not all great and moral and the bad stuff didn't only happen centuries ago. I know there are concerns about parents getting butt hurt worried about brainwashing their kids. Whatever. Maybe I'll save that for another time.  Is that what college is for?

J_belushi_college

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Isn't Everyday International Women's Day?

IWD

Yesterday was International Women's Day, did you do anything?  I must admit I didn't do much, except work - yes I worked.  Honestly, it was not a date I had engraved in my mind as a plan of action, it never was.  I shared some tweets, that's about it.  It's not that I don't care, of course I do!  There are just SO many calls to action now, my head is spinning.  It's kind of like "Earth Day", I don't need a day to remind me that the planet is changing and we all need to do our part to take care of it, it's a part of who I am.  

I do want to acknowledge those of you who did take a stand, marched, wore red, and made a statement. It's great to see the momentum of the Women's March still going strong.  It's important to keep pushing for equality for women and non-binary people in the workforce, education, and right to life.   I guess my problem is wishing we didn't need annual dates as a reminder to be better people, you know?   But I get it, some people are hard to educate or they'll say something stupid like "When is International Men's Day?"  Ignorant people can try to blow it off as fluff, but they can't ignore the issue forever.

So the answer to my question in this blog post is - no, not every day is International Women's Day. We need dates like International Women's Day as a reminder, a history lesson in progress and a measuring stick of how far we still need to go.

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Small Business: Do you get Political on Social Media?

Sm_bus_pol

When I had my jewelry business, I avoided talking about religion and politics online.  I did not want to have separate accounts for such issues so I left it alone.  Now I'm free to write and say what I want - I kinda love it.  It got me thinking, with this change in political climate, what should a business person do who strongly opposes what is going on in our government and their online presence?  I'm not talking about big businesses like Nordstrom or LL Bean.  I mean small business, mom & pop shops, etc. who can't turn a blind eye - especially if legislation changes may impact their business (ie: who they hire, where they get their materials, obtaining a loan). 

You don't want to scare customers away or turn off new ones because they don't agree with you.  When I had Pulp Sushi, I would not have written An Open Apology or You're Not A Feminist? on that blog.  As a business/brand, you have to think twice before shooting off online.  Ask yourself what you think could happen when you post something?  Let's say you sell knitted kids hats, your customer base is mostly moms.  Are you going to share a link to an article is against increasing paid maternity leave because you believe that maternity leave is generous enough as it is?  What if you share a anti-Hillary Clinton meme?  Do these things reflect what your business is about? Is there a chance that there may be a backlash? I said I wasn't going to talk about big business, but it's okay for Anheuser-Busch to make a political statement about immigration during the Super Bowl.  They have been around since 1852 and made the commitment to use their products to promote a better world.  For the most part, they keep the politics off their Twitter and Facebook.  

Let's flip this around. You're a handmade soap seller who locally sources their ingredients and rely on local farmers who employs immigrants, you announce in your shop that a percentage of all sales goes toward the ACLU and Sierra Club, you market your soap as a way to "Wash off 2016 election FILTH!!" (go ahead soapers, you can use that). How about you make cards that say "Orange you glad I didn't grab your pussy?" It is CLEAR that you promote your activism through your products and you are catering to specific group of people, more power to you, your social media can be a part of that branding for your business easy-peasy.  

Perhaps you're ready to make that change and you want to bring more social awareness in to your business. You can introduce issues into your business slowly, maybe donations for sales of one specific item goes towards a cause, and as you promote that item, you can share additional information on social media about the charity or the general cause.  Raise awareness without coming across as preachy. People don't like to be preached too. Just look at the backlash celebrities get when they get political.   While the "experts" say you may be killing your business, I think there is a way this can be done smart and tactfully. You may lose some followers, but you can gain so many more once you provide more meaning to your business.

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Where Do You Get Your News?

Fake news. Alternative facts. Our President is belittling reporters during press conferences.  The press is the enemy!! Now that Trump doesn't have to fight against Clinton to win an election, he needs to go after SOMETHING, why not the Press? 

News_Coffee

I know President Trump is not the first President to go after the media.  The media that he needs SO badly to stroke his ego. 

My favorite place to work was Newsweek Magazine. I worked there from 2002 to 2008. I was not in Editorial, I worked in Human Resources, but it was a great environment to work in.  Frustrating at times, but now I look back at that job more fondly than any other job.  I used to also work at DK & Penguin Publishing. My first real job was at a Legal Publisher, it sounds boring but it was still a publisher. The point is, I love publishing whether it's on paper or viewing on a tablet - literature, essays, commentaries, news coverage, are all necessary. I hate seeing what is happening with the media right now. I know it's not perfect, and there are biases on both sides, but they are not the enemy and not what is wrong with this country.  I try to use sound judgement before I share a link on Facebook or Twitter.  I see some pretty far-fetched stuff being shared that I don't even click on.

All politicians lie.  He's not a politician. He is the outsider. He is suppose to shake up the system. He's shaking things up alright, and leaving a big mess with no plan of clean up.

Where do I go for news? 

I read the "failing" New York Times (whose digital subscriptions have increased since the election) Politico, BBC News, and I just started reading The Intercept. I have a subscription to The New Yorker but not renewing (I'm just not too into it). I watch MSNBC for breaking news (even though I can't stand Rachel Maddow and Brian Williams), and BBC or Euro News for an outsider point of view.  I don't like CNN. I was turned off by CNN after the Sandy Hook school shooting and CNN was the first to name the gunman, using the wrong name - because the shooter had his brother's ID on him.  Instead of fact-checking, they jumped the gun. CNN has shown a few times that they care more about being first than being accurate, so screw 'em.  I do enjoy their documentaries though, I'll just leave it at that.  I have tried to watch Fox News but they are just as bad at fellating the current President as the other networks were with the President Obama. 

As a Blogger, I love the written word. I love reading it and I love writing it.  There is a lot of garbage online and on TV.  I respect freedom of press, even if it's crap.  But what do we do when people just won't accept facts and believe falsehoods? How do you get through someone who does not accept that the Earth is getting warmer? Who think it's okay to quote Trump's false crime rate statistics or having the most Electoral College votes?  If they are willing to believe trivial lies, what about when he lies about something YUGE - because it's coming.  

Where do you like to get your news from? 

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Don't Worry, Your 40s Will Be Awesome!

Don't worry, your 40s will be awesome

I remember when turning 40 seemed way off.  When my mom turned 40, it was the first time I thought "Oh no, my mom is getting old!" Mind you, she's still alive and kicking 34 years later. 

I have friends in their 30s and are like "Aaaaaah!!! I'll be 40 soon!" I even had a friend who did not want to tell me their age at first, only to find out I'm older than them!  What is it about 40 that freaks people out so much anyway? I will be 42 later this year so I've had some time to let this settle and I'm here to tell you, it's okay, it's actually pretty cool!  

I didn't freak out too much when I turned 40 and I'm totally cool sharing my age. Maybe it helps that I started to go gray in High School?  The only thing I really reflected on was how I let my 30s pass me by. I wrote about that in my old blog.  I just worked too damn much and didn't enjoy myself as much as I should have, it was all just work, work, work. When I turned 40, it was a good time to change my thinking and do things I want and enjoy the little things that make me happy. I don't want to think about how much time I have left. I'm pretty sure I suffer from Thanatophobia so to quote Return of the Living Dead, "I try not to think about dying too much."

ROTLD

When you're younger, you swear that you'll never become lame like older folks. You are gonna party, stay out late, and always be super cool.  I was never gonna be uncool.  What did The Who sing? Hope I die before I get old.   How did that work out for them?

I stopped being cool before I even got to 40. =/

Things started to turn when the Warped Tour would come around and I had no idea who these bands were. Then all these newer bands started to suck.  There is so much bad music out there now! It was so much better when I was younger, I'll just stick to listening to MY bands.  Holy crap, it happened! I got "old." 

  • I traded hanging out at a bar to being at a coffee shop.  
  • I've turned into a morning person - I never thought that would happen!  
  • I don't need to go out Friday or Saturday night - I'm content staying in and watching a movie and have a nice meal.
  • I'm listening to "older" music (depending on what's old to you). I don't know much "new" music.
  • There are a shit ton of apps and internet acronyms I know nothing about.
  • I listen to my music now at a respectable volume because I can't handle loud volume, I like loud music, just not played loud lol!
  • I can't eat what I want, when I want and not expect to feel like garbage the next day.  You can slow down your body aging but you can't deny that the older you get, the less reckless you should be with your body.

Despite what I said earlier, I'm not old.  Some days I feel old physically, especially when I first wake up, ugh. Here's what's cool though...  

Being in your 40s now is not the same as it was forty years ago.  You can still be silly, go to concerts, play video games, read comic books, wear ironic t-shirts, get tattoos and piercings, color your hair crazy colors, and have quirky interests.  Most of my friends are quirky and unique and I love them for that.  We're all smarter now to make better decisions on how to have fun, enjoy that fun, and remember how much fun we had the following morning.  You may even finding yourself appreciating the smaller things more than you have before - like treating yourself to flowers, drinking coffee and reading the newspaper Sunday morning, or listening to some records over dinner <---this has becoming a thing in my home. :)

Since you're in your 40s, you can also say FUCK ALL to anyone who tries to make fun of you because by now, you should feel comfortable enough with yourself to not have to worry about peer pressure. Let's face it, peer pressure continues way after high school.  It becomes easier to cut people out of your life who just suck energy out of you.  You don't need to impress anyone anymore.  Sure, 40 is a big number and you can view it as a turning point, but it doesn't have to be the start of the second-half of your life. 

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An Open Apology

This is in response to reading The Washington Post article Trump backers like his early moves: 'Its what executives are suppose to be' 

Sorry

I'm sorry I was born into a Puerto Rican family in the South Bronx of New York City and there weren't any white people in my neighborhood growing up.

I'm sorry that I went to school with mostly blacks & hispanics and the first white friend I made was in High School. 

I'm sorry you grew up in a small town of only white people and never got to meet a person like me.

I'm sorry if you think my boyfriend should be with someone else because I'm not white.

I'm sorry I live in a Blue State and seeing people from different countries, different colors, different cultures is normal and not something I give a second thought to. 

I'm sorry I don't know what it's like to live in a town like Accident, MD where life is nice and everyone looks and feels the same about almost everything.

I'm sorry if you think I don't care about bringing jobs to the U.S. and keeping terrorist out.  I do care about these things, but they're not the ONLY things I care about.  What else do you care about besides America becoming less white??

I'm sorry that people like you, in your safe, small, quiet bubble town are sooooooooo threatened by Muslims yet you find it offensive that black people think police officers want to kill them. You've probably never seen a Muslim person in your life and never will.

I'm sorry you want to #BoycottStarbucks, you might as well boycott gas stations and convenience stores too, oh wait, that might just be a city thing.

I'm sorry you think the Homeless are being overlooked by Refugees.  Why can't we take care of both? When was the last time YOU gave a Homeless person money? Sit your ass down.

I'm sorry if you think that I THINK you're dumb. I don't think you're dumb, I think living in your little throwback town, as nice as it may be, has shielded you and made you ignorant.  I would LOVE to be blinded by ignorance but it's too late for me. 

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Let's Talk About Snowflakes

Snow2

Snowflake.

That word is being used a lot lately.  Not because it's Winter and there's snow.  It is what Trump supporters call people who disagree with him, grouping them in with Liberals. "Snowflakes" are defined as an overly sensitive person, incapable of dealing with any opinions that differ from their own. These people can often be seen congregating in "safe zones" on college campuses.  

That's cute.  

"An overly sensitive person, incapable of dealing with any opinions that differ from their own."  I don't know about you, but this sounds like Donald Trump to me.  He can't be told "no", he has to bitch about SNL every time they make of him, if you disagree with him, you will face his Twitter wrath!  The leader of the free world is the biggest fucking Snowflake there is right? By definition, yes, but honestly he's just an immature, spoiled brat, man-child.

How is being angry at the establishment turn into you an overly sensitive person?  Does this mean members of The Tea Party were Snowflakes too? Seriously, someone please explain that to me.  

It's empowering to find out that you're not alone, that there are millions who support you and share your views.  We're thinkers, we're rationalizers, we look beyond our own needs, and see the bigger picture, the world beyond our problems (if I can quote "The Ref"). 

George Takei shared the following tweet a couple of weeks ago: 

Another thing about Snowflakes, they don't go away so quickly. Some snow can stick around for a long time, it can get dirty, get slushy, but it's still there.  Honestly, it's a stupid name and it's too bad that these folks couldn't come up with a better name to call half the country.

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