23 June 2015
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Today on my walk to barre class (ridiculous, I know) from work, I overheard a phone conversation that at first made me angry and then, after I mulled it over, made me feel hurt. Not so much personally hurt, but a more societal hurt, if that is a thing. In any case, this simple conversation that I overheard made me think a lot more deeply about my community and society as a whole.

Let me set the scene: I'm walking by some office buildings through China Town, it's sunny outside, and I'm just trying to get to my class on time because not only is it rude to be late, but they won't let you in if you're too late. I hear a woman's voice behind me, probably mid-late twenties or so. The woman is talking to someone she knows on her cell phone. She is talking about why she did not want to give up her seat on public transportation. "She has a child, it does not make her disabled." I could not believe what I just heard. Someone validating their decision not to give up their seat on the bus or Max to a woman with a child. I waited a few moments to look behind me, to see if perhaps the woman speaking was disabled in any way. Nope. She was walking along just fine in her sundress, and definitely looked to be in her twenties. She continued to tell her friend why she should not have to give up her seat on public transportation just because a mother and her child boarded the bus or Max. All I really heard was, "I'm really, really selfish, and I need you to validate me in my selfishness." I wanted so bad to turn around and tell this woman just how entitled she sounded. I sped up instead.

As I marched on, I really hoped and prayed that the person this woman was speaking to would be a good friend and point out this woman's selfishness. "Hey, I know you may have been tired, but think about how tired that mom must be. It's not easy raising a kid, let alone taking them across town on the Max. Just think about the message you would be sending that kid by giving up your seat for him and his mom- showing that kid how to be a good citizen." In an ideal world, if we all did the right thing, that is how the other side of that conversation would have gone. Instead, I'm sure (and I only say this because I've heard, seen, and been expected to take part in it a thousand times) that the other side consisted of reassuring and commiserating statements like, "yeah, it's not your fault she chose to have kids," or, "yeah, having kids does not entitle you to someone else's seat on the bus."

Why is it that we allow people around us to behave like complete jerks? It has become socially acceptable to go along with bad behavior instead of calling it out. If someone makes a sexist joke, or uses misogynist vocabulary, the crowd is expected (and usually does) laugh it off. It takes a rare person to speak up and call out the bad language.

Some of my regrets in life are moments when I did not speak up. I remember one time when I went to a beer festival with a new friend. This friend made a mean comment about an obese woman sitting on a small fold-up chair. Instead of pointing out how mean and unacceptable that comment was, I tried to change the topic. Not only does fat-shaming upset me for personal reasons, but it is simply unacceptable and mean. I wish I had told my friend my true feelings on the matter, but instead, I simply stopped hanging out with her.

I know it's scary to take a stand and hold people accountable for their words and actions. Pretty much every day, I want to call cyclists out for violating traffic laws (guess what cyclists: you have to follow the same rules as moving vehicles) on my walk to work. Seriously: get off the sidewalk, and stop at stop signs. Instead, I mutter under my breath and hope that none of my pack gets run over (me, bf, dog). Why am I so afraid of how a cyclist would react if I called them out for riding like a complete jerk?

Part of it is that we live in a country where you never know who is carrying a gun. It's too hard to tell when you're dealing with someone who might completely lose their shit and seriously injure you, your dog, or your loved one. Confrontation is frightening. So how do we hold one another accountable?

It starts with choosing your friends wisely. You're not obligated to be friends with, or even get along with, everyone. Respect, yes. Like? No. If a friend says something that sounds selfish, respectfully tell them how their words and actions impact other people. If that friend wants to cut off the relationship because you called them out, then their friendship is not worth it- they clearly value themselves too much to be a good friend to you. I say this from experience: I have had a friendship end because I called out an extremely selfish action. Trust me, my life has been all the better for it.

TGIF: Ordinary Joy

19 June 2015

Today I am bringing you what I hope to be the first of a new series here at Tossing the Script. I've been reading Brene Brown's The Gifts of Imperfection and took great inspiration from Guidepost #4: Cultivating Gratitude and Joy. In this section, Brown talks about a series she writes on her blog called TGIF. These posts are focused on gratitude, and Brown shares what she's trusting, what she's grateful for, what inspires her, and how she practices her faith. In an effort to practice gratitude on a regular basis, and in order to hold myself accountable. today I will share my very own TGIF.

Before I do that, however, I want to share you some of my thoughts about this particular chapter in Brown's book. This particular Guidepost struck a vein with me because it rings very true for me. Brown discusses the difference between happiness (which is caused by outer circumstances) and joy (which is found within oneself). Brown says:
"Twinkle lights are the perfect metaphor for joy. Joy is not a constant. It comes to us in moments--often ordinary moments. Sometimes we miss out on the bursts of joy because we're too busy chasing down extraordinary moments. Other times we're so afraid of the dark that we don't dare let ourselves enjoy the light. 
A joyful life is not a floodlight of joy. That would eventually become unbearable.
I believe a joyful life is made up of joyful moments gracefully strung together by trust, gratitude, inspiration, and faith."
What I took from this is that joy is found in the ordinary parts of life. Seeking the extraordinary means seeking happiness, which is all well and good, but should not be our sole mission in life. Seeking joy means being grateful for the everyday things. Joy can be found in the daily cup of coffee, the smell of freshly-shampooed hair, and in singing along to our favorite songs. Joy is accessible to each one of us as long as we take a moment to recognize and savor it.

So, without further ado, here is my inaugural TGIF:

This week, I am trusting that whatever happens is for the best, and that when things don't work out, they open me up to better opportunities. I tend to get very attached to ideas and things that I want, but in the end, there are always things beyond my control. Letting go of my desire opens me up to new possibilities.
This week, I am grateful for my team at work. By luck or by design, I have the fortune of working with a group of sensitive, thoughtful, introverted and passionate individuals. This week we had a wellness session where we shared some common frustrations with our working environment, and it felt good to hear everyone's perspective and see how comfortable we all were with sharing our thoughts with one another. We might not always agree, but we value and respect one another's opinions and feelings, and for that, I'm grateful.
This week I have obviously been inspired by Brene Brown's work. I read her book Daring Greatly a couple years ago, and it is one of the few books that I can honestly say has changed the way I think. Brown's work is humanizing and real, and inspires me to be true to myself.
This week I have practiced my faith by praying/holding people in my thoughts. I'm not one for telling people that I'm thinking of them or praying for them, as I much prefer to simply do those things. By telling someone that I wish blessings upon them, I feel it draws attention to myself, which is not what I want at all. I simply want that person to feel a moment of peace. Faith, to me, is not something we talk about doing, it's something we do. So this week I practiced my faith the best way I know how: silently, on my own.

Thank you for reading today. I hope that you feel inspired to take a moment and reflect on your own TGIF, and if you'd like, you can share them in the comments below.

Getting Out: Falls Creek Falls, or, A Tale of Two Hikes

10 June 2015

This portion of the post was written last August, but was never published.

One thing that has always helped me get to my roots, to remember who I am at my core, is time spent in nature. I can breathe more fully, relax a little, and let my mind slow down. When I am out in nature, I tend to be a bit more present to the moment. I take in my surroundings, noticing the colors, the smells, the sounds. Nature is my sanctuary.

On Sunday I went out for my second-ever solo hike. I drove for what felt like ages out in the middle of nowhere, took a turn onto a wrong forest service road, found the right forest service road, and parked in a mostly empty gravel lot. I was so far into nature that I hadn't had cell phone service for at least ten miles. Normally, such circumstances would make me a little nervous (what if I get abducted? what if Lucy and I get eaten by wild animals?), but I felt completely at home among the trees.

I set off down a dirt path along the Falls Creek trail. I soon came to a peaceful creek where Lucy dragged me down to the water so she could sniff out all of the wonderful smells. It's times like these I wish I knew what was going on in her little brain. I took in all the scenery, not believing the bright shades of green that were before me. I couldn't wait to see what came next.

Lucy and I trekked along for another mile and a half. We walked over dried up creek beds covered in mossy rocks and past many a fallen tree. I found myself imagining what sorts of fairytale creatures inhabited these woods, as I often do. I could see water sprites playing in the pools of the creek, and small trolls hiding behind fallen trees. 

Eventually the trail became a constant incline, wending around corner after corner. I began to wonder if I'd taken a wrong turn when I could hear it. It's what I came for. Falls Creek Falls.

I can be a fairly excitable person at times, and the anticipation of seeing a waterfall is one such time. I love waterfalls. I live for them. They are absolutely my favorite natural feature. One of the things I really love in life, is that feeling I get when I am walking a trail and I can feel the waterfall before I even hear it. It's like a faint drum pounding, and I feel it in my gut. Pretty soon I will hear the light pounding of the falls, and it grows louder until I am standing before something that is terrifyingly beautiful. I love that feeling.

On this hike, I relished that feeling. Which was great, because it was a while before I rounded a corner and was afforded a glimpse of the falls through the trees. I'm not exaggerating when I say it took my breath away. Was this waterfall for real? My anticipation grew as I approached the waterfall. I finally came to a rocky overlook where I could stop and stare at one of the most beautiful scenes I've ever seen.

Call me a nerd, but I felt like I'd stumbled into Rivendell. I could just imagine all the elves living in cliffside dwellings on the other side of the falls. I also began to ponder my love of waterfalls, something that feels so deeply rooted within me. Perhaps it is my Swiss blood, the memories of my ancestors, that makes me feel so at home with waterfalls.

This portion of the post was written today, June 2015.

This past weekend, my bf and I ventured out for one of my favorite hikes- the one I posted about above. I haven't hiked since last October, and I hadn't worked out in just about as long. Folks, I'm out of shape.

Bf doesn't care much for hiking, but I convinced him this would be an easy hike. I told him it was mostly flat, it was roughly three miles, and I would buy him a beer for every mile we completed. I also wanted him to see how much fun Lucy has in the woods.

Unfortunately, I chose a very hot day for a hike (it was around 90 degrees F). The air along the creek was noticeably cooler than in the sun, but we had a rough time most of the way to the waterfall. Oh, and did I mention I'm out of shape?

That "easy" hike proved to be challenging for this body that has a few more pounds of fluff and less muscle than the last time she hiked. Funny enough, my bf was the one who was always a few paces ahead of me when I'm normally the one speeding along. In short, my bf found this hike to be easier than he thought it would be, whereas I found it harder than I'd remembered. 

One thing that remained the same was the beauty of the waterfall itself. It was at least ten degrees cooler by the waterfall, which provided a nice respite from the heat. I was still amazed by the grandeur of the falls, and still felt lucky to have found them. Even luckier was sharing this beautiful place with someone who makes me incredibly happy.

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