To All the Misfits, Nerds, Geeks, & Weirdos


First of all, you’re awesome.  Don’t ever believe anyone who tells you otherwise.  Second of all, I am writing to you today to say I feel your pain.  You’re not alone on this journey in life & knowing that can be a huge factor in realizing that being a misfit is actually not a bad lot in life.  In fact the second reason I’m writing to you today is to tell you why I believe being a misfit can actually be one of the greatest things you can experience in life.  But we’ll get to that later.  To begin, let me explain why I feel I have the right to speak on these matters.

weird awesome

I’ve been weird practically since birth.  My mom swears I said my first sentence at less than a year old (“It’s good, Mom!” while eating; so fitting that my first sentence would be about food.  Ha!), causing her to nearly fall over in shock.  Certainly I’ve been weird since at least pre-school.  I remember very distinctly being the only child in my pre-school class who would sit down with a book during our free-play periods.  It never much occurred to me at the time that this meant I was a bit “off.”  I was so busy doing my own thing that I never really noticed.  Then I went to kindergarten & discovered I was the only kid who hated nap time.  While everyone else was blissfully asleep, I would lie awake bored & wondering how much longer this torture would last.  I would also wear ridiculous brightly-colored headbands just about every single day.  With my hair in a pony-tail.  It never occurred to me that this wasn’t stylish or that no one else wore their hair this way.  I just did it because I liked it.

Well, as we all know, kids can be pretty cruel.  And my care-free “be weird & no one really cares” days didn’t last forever.  Before long, the other kids figured out I was pretty weird.  Certainly I had a few friends here & there; naturally they were the other weirdos & misfits of course.  There’s nothing to bring people together like a feeling of mutual exclusion from your peers.

So to the other misfits, nerds, geeks, & weirdos out there today:

I know what it’s like to be the only kid in class who doesn’t know what “gay” means.  Who answers the joke “Is it ‘I da hoe’ or ‘You da hoe’” with “Idaho” because I didn’t realize this was some stupid joke that had nothing to do with the name of a state.

I know what it’s like to be constantly out of the loop on popular culture & thus have very little to talk about with the majority of your classmates.

I know what it’s like to be picked last in gym class over & over again.   And what it’s like to be laughed at because your athletic skills leave a lot to be desired.

gym class

I know what it’s like to hide your grades from your classmates because you know they’ll tease you for being a “smarty pants” or at the least they’ll try to make you feel guilty for “wrecking the curve.”

I know what it’s like to be excited for school to start because you love learning but at the same time to dread the social aspect of school because you have so much anxiety over whether your fellow nerds will be in any of your classes or, most important of all, if they’ll share your lunch period.

I know what it’s like to try really hard to fit in with the cool kids & to think they’ve finally more or less accepted you only to find out the whole time they thought you were just a pain in the butt.

I know what it’s like to never be sure if a compliment is really a compliment or if people are secretly making fun of you when you’re not looking or listening because the latter has happened enough times to make you paranoid.

On a more adult level, I know what it’s like to feel “old before your time.”  To wonder when most of your cohorts will realize that getting drunk is only a minor milestone in life, not one to be revisited every single weekend.  And then further to wonder if making such statements makes you incredibly boring & “old.”

Speaking of being old, I know what it’s like to be called “old at heart,” sometimes as a compliment & sometimes not.

And I still know what it’s like to be out of the loop about much of popular culture.  Only this time I don’t give a crap.  Because now I know that I’m not missing anything worth missing.

Now that I’ve reiterated all the reasons why being a misfit, nerd, geek, or weirdo sucks or at least can be difficult, let me explain why I think being different than the norm is actually AWESOME.  Being a misfit from an early age taught me some very valuable lessons that I think everyone learns at some point in life but learning them at a young age can be even more beneficial.

Being weird taught me how to be happy on my own & to realize that being alone is ok sometimes.

Being weird taught me that having a few close friends is much more important than having a lot of acquaintances.

On a related note, being weird means it’s easier to know if people really like you.  Because if they didn’t, they wouldn’t stick around . . . After all, there are a lot more normal people out there.  So if you’re weird & someone keeps coming back to you (romantically or otherwise), there’s a reasonably good chance they’re actually serious about you.

Trust me when I say this one is still a big battle for me, but being weird has taught me not to care so much about what other people think about me.  As Kacey Musgraves so wisely wrote: “You’re damned if you do & damned if you don’t/So you might as well just do whatever you want.”  Truer words have never been spoken (or sung, in this case).  Being weird has taught me that trying to please everyone is always a losing battle.  And so I’m slowly learning to just live my life how I see fit, knowing that those who really matter will not forsake me.

damned if you do

Being weird has taught me that life is more fun “on the edge” so to speak.  For example, being weird has encouraged me to try out different kinds of music that aren’t exactly mainstream.  I’m now a huge fan of lots of European symphonic metal bands when just 10 years ago I didn’t even know such music existed.  A lot of my favorite rock bands don’t even have a Wikipedia page or have one with only a few short paragraphs; point being, a lot of the best music out there these days is not what’s being played on the radio 24/7.  Nowadays I’m the one introducing my friends & coworkers to new music.  And being a weirdo, I still collect actual CDs & I’m very happy to lend them to my friends so they too can enjoy my favorite bands.

Being a misfit has given me a tremendous amount of self-confidence.  It’s still a difficult battle some days but I wouldn’t be the nurse or the person I am today if I hadn’t been a bit of a misfit all these years.  I wouldn’t have the confidence to deal with difficult patients, angry family members, & the life & death situations I’m presented on a frequent basis as a nurse.  Being weird requires confidence because you’re going “against the grain.”  At first you mightn’t realize it, as occurred with me as young child.  But at some point you & those around you realize you’re a bit different, & when that happens it requires a lot of confidence to continue being your good old weird self because of all the negative experiences I’ve detailed above.  This translates into a great deal of self-confidence as an adult which can push you to achieve a lot of things you might not otherwise have accomplished.

Being weird means that the older you get, the more your peers will recognize how awesome you are.  For example, when I went to college I had no idea that I’d make as many friends as I did.  I thought I was destined to always be a bit lonely.  Much to my great surprise & relief, I found that college was like heaven for nerds.  We might not have been the coolest kids on campus but we certainly weren’t teased anymore & on some level it was obvious that even the jocks & sorority girls (the stereotypical ones anyway) realized they really weren’t as cool as they thought they were & that we nerds were really the ones “running the show.”

Perhaps the greatest lesson I learned from being weird is that you should NEVER sacrifice who you are or what you believe (or don’t believe) for ANYONE.  If people don’t like you as you are, they’ll never like you because anything else you try to become will be fake.  And someone who is fake will always be discovered for what they really are.  Furthermore, being weird has taught me that being respected is more important, far more important, than being liked.  And that anyone who truly wants to be your friend (or romantic partner) WILL respect you first & foremost.

freak like me

To end my treatise to all of us misfits, nerds, geeks, & weirdos, let me introduce you to Freak Like Me by Halestorm, one of my all-time favorite rock bands.  If this isn’t an anthem for us, I don’t know what is. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4sXoA7B5yJo

To all of you freaks like me out there, keep being awesome, don’t let anyone get you down, & rock on with your bad selves.

Real Life Romance Is Better Than Fairy Tales


This past weekend I watched a British film called I Give It a Year which centered on a subject I’ve been pondering a lot lately: why some marriages/relationships last while others don’t.  A common theme I’ve come across in this regard is that real life ruins romance, that the nitty-gritty grind of daily life leaves even the most passionate relationships tasting stale after a couple of years.  The movie dealt with this very topic (quite good by the way, if you appreciate British humor).

Let me preface the rest of this post by saying that I’m no relationship genius . . . I don’t suppose anyone is really, but least of all someone under thirty.  But I have been with my husband for over a decade (married three years at the end of this month) & I can honestly say that our relationship has only gotten better over the years.

Sure, real life has changed our relationship over time, but we haven’t lost our passion because the foundation of our relationship (our friendship) has only grown stronger over time.  For example, yes, my husband doesn’t bring me flowers quite as often as he used to . . . But he doesn’t work at a florist anymore either!  And he still buys them for me on special occasions or even randomly when he knows I’ve had a bad day & just need a happy surprise to make me feel special.  (This happened recently when I woke up with a headache & broke the blender & he knew that I was upset by this turn of events.)  More importantly we both still take the time to do the simple little day-to-day things that show each other we really care & are invested in this relationship.

Living together does indeed open up a whole new can of worms so to speak.  For example, yes, my husband leaves empty toilet paper rolls in the bathroom all the time, & yes, there is a part of me that wants to scream “How hard is it to just change the roll?!”  But then I remember that I do little things that annoy him too . . . And he doesn’t scream at me about those things because we both have the presence of mind to realize that life is far too short to get angry over things that are of no real consequence.  So instead of getting angry, we just laugh, roll our eyes, & move on with life.  To us this is just the logical way to handle the everyday frustrations of life.

Some of my husband's gorgeous landscaping.  He's so talented!

Some of my husband’s gorgeous landscaping. He’s so talented!

This is not to say we don’t have arguments . . .  And, yes, they are usually in the car because we are both very strong-willed & proud & think we’re always right about everything  (I’m kidding . . . sort of), especially directions!  And, yes, there are definitely times when stress from work spills over into our relationship.  But when that happens we call each other out on it & we work to fix it quickly.  Furthermore, we’ve always had a “no holds barred” policy in which we can say anything & everything to each other.  Perhaps this means we say “mean things” to each other more often than we “should,” but it also means there is never an opportunity for resentment or bitterness to arise between us.  To put it simply, I don’t expect him to read my mind, nor does he expect that of me.  If something is bothering us, we don’t mince words; we just say it.  As my husband recently stated “If you can’t tell your partner to buzz off every once in a while, what kind of relationship is that?”  I heartily agree.  The important thing is that you get over it quickly & that the underlying anger/frustration isn’t allowed to fester & build into an explosion.

My husband & I definitely talk to each other like this sometimes.  It makes for a lot of laughs!  :)

My husband & I definitely talk to each other like this sometimes. It makes for a lot of laughs! :)

Certainly real life can make romance a bit more “work.”  Sometimes my husband & I go days without having any real time together, especially since I work night shift & thus we can literally go days without even seeing each other sometimes . . . But instead of resenting each other for this, we allow the time apart to help us appreciate our time together all the more.  And we make the best of the time we do have.  We prioritize spending quality time together, knowing that nothing in our lives is more important than our relationship with each other.  We take care of each other in various ways, not so much because either of us is incapable of doing things for ourselves but because we realize that life is better together, & thus we take care of each other out of mutual love & affection.  We do not view each other as filling certain “roles,” rather we view each other as intellectual equals in a romantic friendship (otherwise known as marriage), each of us having unique but complementing traits.  Because we have such a comfort zone together, yes, sometimes we do become the worst version of ourselves around each other . . . But we also see the best version of each other a lot of times too.  And the best times are definitely worth all of the worst times.

I guess what I’m trying to say is we never went into our relationship (& thus our marriage, which is really just an extension of the relationship we had prior to marriage) with any fairy tale ideas.  Marriage isn’t a fairy tale because LIFE isn’t a fairy tale.  It never has been; it never will be.  Real life is mundane, stressful, & sometimes even dull.  But it’s also full of beauty, joy, & meaning if we look for it in the right places.  As someone who grew up watching Disney fairy tales over & over & over, amazingly enough I’ve always had the foresight to understand that no relationship is ever perfect.  Everyone fights at times.  I’ve said it before & I’ll say it again: if I can’t fight (I prefer the term argue actually) passionately with someone, I probably can’t do anything else passionately with them either.

cinderella marriage

[As an aside, I also think a lot of people have an unrealistic idea of what romance actually is.  A lot of people seem to confuse attraction, lust, or passing interest with romance when true romance is so much more.  Furthermore, I’ll be so bold as to say that romance isn’t having the proverbial butterflies in your stomach.  Real romantic relationships are built around a solid friendship, & real happiness is found with that person who makes you feel comfortable & “at home” when everyone else makes you feel nervous, afraid, or worse yet bored.  To me this is just logical & makes perfect sense but apparently it’s a bit more complicated because a lot of the world obviously hasn’t figured it out.]

I hope I haven’t come across as self-righteous or as if I think I have the perfect marriage.  I’m just trying to make sense of what I see in the world & to share a message of hope that real life doesn’t have to ruin romance.  I know a lot of people say my generation is clueless when it comes to relationships & that we don’t know how to handle marriage, but I want to prove those people wrong.  (And I like to think I’m off to a pretty good start.)

true love chickens

From the things I’ve observed in life thus far, I’ve deduced that a lot of people go into relationships & then marriage with the idea that everything is going to be perfect.  When real life creeps up on them & they realize that reality isn’t matching up with the fairy tale they imagined, suddenly they think they’ve failed.  I don’t know who or what is to blame for this phenomenon . . . I’m sure movies & TV feed into this scenario somehow.  But even as a kid I knew that the things I saw on TV weren’t real.  As adults we need to grow up & realize that real life is the nitty-gritty day-to-day grind & there’s no reason why that should spoil our fun.  I’m not at all suggesting anyone settle for someone with whom they don’t share real passion in all aspects of a mature relationship.  What I am saying is that real passion doesn’t have to be worn down by every-day life.

This is why I’m a huge proponent of living together before marriage because it allows you the opportunity to experience day-to-day life together.  In so doing, you can figure out whether seeing each other at both your best & worst, with all of the bad habits & general grossness that encompass everyday life, ruins the romance or whether it only makes it grow stronger.  (On the other hand I do not encourage rushing into moving in with a new significant other.  I am only talking about serious, long-term, committed relationships.)  It’s been my experience that when you have the basic ingredients for a sound relationship, a solid friendship combined with physical/romantic attraction, the daily grind of life will not ruin the romance at all.  It will only grease the wheels.

irritating love cartoon

**As an afterthought, I should disclose that my husband & I do not have kids yet so I have no idea how that tremendous variable will affect our marriage someday.  I can only hope that if we approach our relationship in the same logical but loving way we have for years now that the romance will continue to blossom despite the challenges that I know children can bring into a relationship.

***Here’s a great article that I believe explains what the ultimate relationship should look like.  Notice I said ULTIMATE, not perfect.  I believe if you have the qualities listed here, the romance & passion will NOT die over time; they will only grow stronger.  http://jamesmsama.com/2014/07/09/10-qualities-of-the-ultimate-relationship/

18 Ways Modern Society Infuriates Me


This post is meant to be both humorous & thought-provoking.  I invite you to laugh with me.  But please think with me also . . .

  1. We create & consume porn by the truckload & watch Miley Cyrus twerk on TV, but we’re afraid to discuss real sexuality & issues that actually matter like birth control, teen pregnancy, breastfeeding, & rape/sexual abuse.
  2. We complain about the lack of decent guys (& girls) but we participate in a hook-up culture that promotes zero self-respect & commitment.  We say we want to keep things simple, not realizing that sex is never simple, yet relationships needn’t be half as complicated as we seem to make them.
  3. The two major political parties are a farce.  Anyone who says otherwise is kidding themselves.political parties
  4. Religious groups are becoming increasingly polarized.  As more & more people stray from mainstream religion, those who remain are becoming increasingly radical.
  5. The people who oppose abortion 100% of the time regardless of circumstances are very often the exact same people who oppose birth control or at least do not support the notion that easily accessible birth control would help reduce the incidence of abortion.
  6. Our economy sucks but the average wedding still costs upwards of $20,000.
  7. Skinny jeans are still in style.skinny jeans
  8. We’re still holding onto the idea that cholesterol is the main culprit behind heart disease when research has shown time & time again that this is absolutely false.
  9. The American school system foregoes teaching Spanish & other “foreign” languages until middle & high school, WELL past the prime age at which the brain is capable of learning new languages.
  10. Rock radio stations are increasingly hard to find.
  11. Bro country exists . . . And there is enough of it to warrant naming this god-awful phenomenon.bro country
  12. TV shows & movies almost NEVER get Southern accents right.  Apparently no one in Hollywood has ever actually been to the South.
  13. There is a large segment of the population who still believes homosexuality is wrong.  I just can’t compute that one at all.
  14. The average cashier in America hasn’t been instructed on the importance of handing customers their change with all the bills facing in the same direction.  The OCD/pseudo-OCD population of America, of which I am part, collectively cringes.
  15. Everyone seems to believe in separation of church & state for every religion except their own.
  16. Speaking of religion, you can believe anything you want in the name of religion, you can even exhibit prejudice & discrimination against certain groups of people, but if you object to traditional religion (at least parts of it anyway) because of logical fallacies, suddenly YOU’RE the crazy one.
  17. Jersey Shore existed.
  18. Kim Kardashian has a career.kardashian news

 

Peach & Cheese Quesadillas


I bought some peaches at the farmer’s market two weekends ago.  I originally thought I might make a cobbler but then I started thinking that it would be fun to make something a bit more unique so I did a google search on peach recipes.  I came across a number of intriguing ideas but many of them called for unusual ingredients that I did not have available, some of which were so obscure I didn’t know where I could find them at all.  Eventually I came stumbled upon this recipe & knew I had to try it:

http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/peach-brie-quesadillas-with-lime-honey-dipping-sauce-10000001065503/

As usual I couldn’t follow it EXACTLY, partly because I didn’t have brie cheese.  Here’s my version of the recipe below:

1.  Heat up a few tablespoons of coconut oil in a skillet (y’all know I never actually measure).  I use medium heat (setting 4-5).  I always use one of our iron skillets because they make everything taste even more delicious.  This is the coconut oil I use, which I get at Sam’s Club. P10801992. While the oil is heating, peel & slice 2 small peaches (or 1 large one).  I had small ones today so I used 2 this time.  Take it from me & do yourself the favor of buying locally grown peaches.  This weekend I got some at WalMart because we were already there getting some other things, & trust me these peaches don’t taste half as good as the ones I got at the farmer’s market the previous weekend.P10801953. Slice cheese into roughly 6 thin pieces.  I used this Dubliner Irish cheese we get at Sam’s Club.  It’s delicious but I think any mild-flavored cheese would work just fine.  P10801984. Cut or tear a tortilla down the middle & place each half in the skillet with the oil.  Place half of the peaches & half of the cheese on one piece of the tortilla & the other half on the other piece.  It works best if you place the peaches & cheese on only one half of each piece of the tortilla & then fold the tortilla over (like a taco).  These are the tortillas I used today but any kind, including whole wheat, ought to work. P10801965. Cook for roughly 2 minutes on one side of tortilla; then flip & cook 2 minutes on opposite side of tortilla.  The tortilla should be crispy & golden brown when you’re done.

6. While the quesadilla is cooling, squeeze a few drops of lime juice over each half.  Then spread some honey over each side as well.  The original recipe calls for a dipping sauce but I think it works just as well to simply spread the lime juice & honey directly onto the quesadilla.  I don’t think the lime juice is absolutely essential if you want to make this & don’t have any around, but I do think it adds a nice citrusy flavor.  My favorite honey is pictured below.  I get it at Kroger.P1080200Here’s the final product!  I wasn’t sure at first if peaches & cheese would really go together but they do.  I can’t claims that this is a truly healthy recipe as there is quite a bit of sugar in it, but at least the sugar is all natural (from fresh fruit & honey).  It’s definitely a super quick recipe as it takes me 15 minutes at most to make it.  I think this works well as both a dessert and an appetizer.  Or even as breakfast.  If you’ve got some peaches lying around that you need to use up, give this a try.  If not, go buy some peaches & see if this might become a new favorite summer-time treat.  I know it has for me.

P1080197

I Am Not Mrs. John Doe


Twice in the past week or so I have received mail from my alma mater (as in my college) addressed to me in the following format: Mrs. My Husband’s Name, e.g. Mrs. John Doe.  (I don’t like using my or my husband’s full name on this blog so I’ll just stick with the John/Jane Doe format for the purposes of this blog post.)  Receiving mail in such a format from family members wouldn’t be too surprising.  But I for one found it odd that my college addressed mail to me using my husband’s name.  Being the analytical sort, this turn of events led me to think about what it means to be referred to as Mrs. John Doe & why this entire idea has always struck me as a bit odd.

To preface, it would behoove me to address the first issue: taking my husband’s last name.  When I got married, I was at first quite determined not to change my last name.  I wasn’t doing it out of “feminist protest” or anything as dramatic as all that.  I just frankly didn’t want to deal with the hassle of the paperwork involved in changing my name especially since I had just received my nursing license a mere two months (probably less) before the wedding.  In all honesty, I just didn’t feel like dealing with it.  My husband being the wonderful supportive man that he is left the decision entirely up to me.  He confessed that he would be flattered if I chose to take his last name & we both agreed that for the sake of simplicity, especially if we had children in the future, it would probably be wise to have the same last name.  But he felt that this was a decision I should make on my own & he told me many times that he would not be offended if I waited a few months or years to take his name or even if I chose to never take it at all.  My husband isn’t the type to say things just to please or appease me (I couldn’t abide a man who did) so I knew he absolutely meant it when he said he’d support me in any decision I made regarding the name change.  That meant the world to me then & still does.

Wedding Cartoon Name Change

For months I pondered the idea, trying to decide if the hassle was worth it & if taking my husband’s last name was indeed some kind of surrender to the patriarchy.  Eventually after about four or five months I decided to go ahead & adopt my husband’s last name, one reason being I really liked the flow of how my name sounded with my original middle name dropped & my maiden name substituted as my new middle name.  I thought it sounded more professional & succinct.  On a less superficial level, I decided that as my husband had so wisely pointed out, this decisions is an individual one for every couple.  Essentially it means different things to different people.  To me taking on his last name was not giving up an important part of my identity, so in the end I decided that FOR ME adopting his last name was NOT surrendering to the patriarchy.  It was simply me admitting that I don’t want to give our future children a hyphenated name that will become even more ridiculous if they get married & try to combine it with their spouse’s name some day.  Could you argue that my husband could just as simply have taken my last name?  Sure.  Is it sexist that I know he wouldn’t have considered that?  Maybe.  But at the end of the day I think we have MUCH more important issues to worry about, so that’s a post for another day, if ever.

What I am trying to say is I think it is each woman’s (or man’s) individual decision if she wants to change her name or not when getting married.  No one should be judged based solely on their decision to adopt or not adopt their husband’s (or wife’s) last name.  I fully understand that some women see changing their name as an affront to their identity & humanity & I respect that completely.  I also realize that there are plenty of women who are/were so incredibly excited to take on their husband’s name that the idea of not doing so has either never crossed their minds or strikes them as totally ludicrous.  I respect that mindset as well even though I admittedly do not understand it.  The point is society should be open to & tolerant of both choices as well as the  more radical choice that a husband take his wife’s name if he so chooses.

woman+deciding

 

All of this brings me to the point of this entire post.  Though it took me some time & thorough deliberation to actually change my name, I do not mind having my husband’s last name.  In fact I rather enjoy it now.  HOWEVER, long before I even met my husband, when I was just a child, I always found it odd that women could be referred to as Mrs. John Doe.  Even as a child I understood the subtle implications of such references.  Referring to a woman as Mrs. John Does implies that her only, or at least greatest, identity is in being John’s wife.  Furthermore it implies that a wife is interchangeable because Mrs. John Doe could be anyone, literally ANY WOMAN ON THE PLANET.  I take no issue with Mrs. Jane Doe because it is specific to me & thus addresses my own unique identity.  But Mrs. John Doe annoys me greatly for the reasons I’ve just listed.

marraige name change

If you’re a family member or friend reading this & you’ve ever addressed mail to me as Mrs. John Doe or know that you may do so in the future, please don’t worry.  I won’t write you off or be PERSONALLY offended in any way.  Trust me.  I am just interested in questioning the status quo & why as a society we still find it ok to address women in this fashion.  (I find it particularly ironic that my COLLEGE has addressed mail to me in this manner.  Anyone else find that a bit odd?)  I’m sure some people reading this will think I’m wasting my breath going on about issues that don’t amount to a hill of beans.  (Which is a countrified way of saying they don’t matter, if you’re unfamiliar with that phraseology.  I have to show my roots every once in a while, right?)  I know there are far more important “women’s issues” on the table today.  But this is a subject that I’ve pondered for literally years.  As previously stated, even as a child I found the Mrs. John Doe concept to be a bit disconcerting.  Keep in mind I was a child who played with globes, maps, & encyclopedias for fun, but nonetheless it begs the question that if even a child can see that something is a bit off with this terminology, perhaps we ought to at least question it a little?

question marks

To the ladies out there who are reading this (married or not), how do you feel about this matter?  Does being referred to as Mrs. John Doe bother you?  (If you’re not married, does the idea of it bother you?)  Why or why not?  To the males reading this, what do you think about this subject?  If you think I’m an incontrovertible bore for writing about such matters, that might be fair enough but I think this is something worth at least discussing.  (Hint: sarcasm.  I could never be boring, don’t you know?)  And I’d love to hear my readers’ opinions on the matter.

Raising Discerning Daughters (& Sons)


I read a truly inspiring article last night, the kind that had me nodding along with every word because the author was literally saying the exact same things that have run through my mind a million times.  I’m not even sure why I’m writing anything today because I don’t think I can possibly say this any better than this author already has.  But I’m a writer & this is what I do, so I’m going to add a few of my own thoughts too.  Here’s the link to the original article: http://thoughtcatalog.com/jamie-varon/2014/06/10-ways-all-dads-can-raise-strong-daughters/

With Father’s Day around the corner, this topic seems particularly fitting this week.  Disclaimer: the feelings I have toward this topic do NOT imply any ill will towards how I was raised.  Though I hope my kids will not be as naïve as I was because that can be dangerous too, as I read this article last night I actually found myself thinking, “my parents did a great job raising me.”  It’s the society around us that still managed to instill some of these hurtful, negative ideas into my brain, & sadly I see these ideas around me all the time, in both more “traditional,” conservative cultures as well as in more “liberal” cultures.  Some of these ideas have become so ingrained in our heads that we laugh & joke about them & don’t even realize how harmful they are.  For example, how many times have you heard someone say “Oh, man, she’s a beautiful little girl; you’re going to have to lock her up when she’s a teenager”?  Too many times to count, right?  I’ll never forget the first time I heard something like that.  I was so naïve that I didn’t understand the meaning behind the comment.  As I got older, I figured it out & found it incredibly offensive.  I don’t know about the rest of you ladies, but I know that just because I am a woman & therefore the physically weaker sex, I’m not something to be locked up or protected from the “big, bad world of men.”  I’m an intelligent woman who is capable of making my own wise decisions.  And I have been for a long time.

lock up daughters

Here are some radical thoughts.

What if we raised our daughters so that they understood the dangers of the world but also how to fend them off?

What if we taught our daughters to discern the difference between a man who really respects, loves, & cares for them & a man who is just trying to use them?

What if fathers role-modeled this good behavior by treating their daughters’ moms in the way they’d want their daughters to be treated by a man someday?

What if we raised our daughters to be independent & ambitious & set goals for their lives & to value men who do the same?  (Maybe then they wouldn’t date so many losers . . . Crazy, I know.)

What if we raised our daughters in such a way that we could actually TRUST them to make good decisions for themselves instead of constantly worrying that they’ll screw up & need our protection?

What if we taught our daughters to never say yes when they mean no or no when they mean yes?  There is no excuse for bad behavior on the part of a man as far as sexual abuse & rape go, but there is no reason to add confusion to what really should be a very simple issue.

On a similar token, what if we taught our daughters to be assertive in all aspects of life instead of passive little girls waiting for someone to tell them what to do?

In the twenty-first century with relatively easy access to safe & effective birth control, what if we realized that the idea that sex is inherently bad & dangerous for women is truly quite antiquated?

What if we raised our daughters to value themselves as more than sexual objects but also to understand that it is perfectly NORMAL & WONDERFUL for them to have sexual needs & desires?

And this is exactly where the topic gets dicey & why these ideas have not taken hold in our society like they should.  Because deep down our society still believes sex is bad for women & that is the underlying reason for such comments I referenced earlier about “locking up our daughters.”  As Kacey Musgraves so cleverly stated in her song Follow Your Arrow, “If you save yourself for marriage, you’re a bore/If you don’t save yourself for marriage, you’re a whorable person” (seehttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kQ8xqyoZXCc).  In America we have this strange dichotomy where on the one hand our society throws around highly sexualized images of women in ads & media like it’s nothing.  And on the other hand there is a great underlying current that says that women really aren’t supposed to want or need sex, & if we do, we’re sluts.

follow your arrow 2

Here are some more radical thoughts.  (I’m just full of them today.)

What if we raised our sons to respect women & treat them like the intellectual equals they are?

What if we stopped saying birth control & “safe sex” & rape are “women’s issues” & realized these are actually HUMANITY’S issues because they wouldn’t exist without both genders?

What if we raised our sons to understand that no really does mean no & that having sex with a woman when she truly can’t agree to it is not only wrong & illegal but also disgusting, shameful, & a discredit to their manliness?  (I don’t like the word consent because to me it implies that sex is again inherently bad for women; after all, the only other times we use the word consent are in consenting to a police search, surgery, or something else inherently demeaning, dangerous, or generally unpleasant.)

On a similar token, what if we raised our sons to understand that a real man can find a woman who actually WANTS to have sex with him?  (Maybe then there would be less rape, including date/acquaintance rape.)

What if we taught our sons that being attracted to a girl & being able to respect a girl intellectually are NOT mutually exclusive?  Furthermore, what if we taught our sons that the latter ought to actually be a prerequisite for the former for anything more than a passing whim?

What if we stopped making disparaging comments to our sons such as “Stop being such a pussy!” or “You hit like a girl” as if being female were some horrible lot in life?

What if we raised both our sons & daughters to value each other not so much for their gender but for their shared HUMANITY?  On the inside we’re really all the same.  We all experience the same emotions, the same fears, the same doubts, the same hopes, the same dreams, & the same desire to love & be loved.

father and daughter

I know I’m guilty of over-analyzing things, but I truly believe the way we raise our daughters (& sons) in this country (hell, in this world) needs to change if we ever want to see a decrease in things like rape, sexual violence, teen pregnancy, & general distrust between men & women.  And the next time I hear someone say something that implies that girls need to be sheltered & protected from boys, I might just throw a book across the room.  Just kidding.  But I do hope I’ll have the courage to explain why such ideas are truly so dangerous, not to mention demeaning to women (& to humanity in general, actually).  I know it’s radical but maybe, just maybe, if we raised our children a little differently we could all be so much more than we think we can.  And to my readers, I hope you will have the courage to speak up against these ideas as well.

To end this post I would like to thank my father & all the other fathers out there who have had the courage to raise discerning daughters & sons.  You rock.  We need more of you in this world.

10 Reasons Why Night Shift Rocks


Today is a special day for me because it marks three years that I’ve been working as an RN.  It is simply amazing to think of all of the things I’ve learned & experienced in just three years.  It feels like just yesterday I was that super-anxious new grad nurse, so excited to learn but so afraid to try so many new things.  Now I’m a charge nurse & preceptor; my, how things have changed!!

Three years ago I was also absolutely PETRIFIED to start night shift.  I was sure I’d never sleep again & that my whole life was basically ending.  I didn’t fall in love with night shift immediately, though I never hated it as much as I thought I would.  After six months or so at my first nursing job, I started rotating shifts so I could experience day shift as well & eventually went to straight day shifts.  However, when we moved to NC two summers ago, night shift was all that was available so I took it.  At first I told my manager I wanted to switch to day shift ASAP but after a while I changed my mind.  I found that the night shift routine had grown on me & for right now I’m not even thinking about going “back” to day shift any time soon.  With all of the negative things associated with night shift, I thought it would be fun to compile a list of all the reasons why night shift is actually AWESOME.

1. This is a generalization for sure, but I have found that IN GENERAL night shift nurses are the most fun to work with because they tend to be more laid-back & relaxed.  For someone like me who has her fair share of anxiety issues, it’s great to work with people who are more relaxed because that helps combat my own anxious tendencies.  I think part of the reason night shift nurses tend to be more relaxed is because the doctors are not quite as available to us, so we have learned to handle situations on our own.  This isn’t to say we don’t keep the doctors informed about what’s going on with our patients.  It’s just that we realize that every time our patient has a BP of 180/90 it isn’t the end of the world & if the doctor is busy & doesn’t call us back for an hour or more, it’s ok.  If you work day shift, please don’t be offended by what I’m saying here.  As I said, this is a GENERALIZATION & it probably has more to do with the way the shift itself flows than the actual people who are working it.

night shift humor

2. For someone like me who is mildly claustrophobic & despises crowds, day shift can be a little challenging because it is a CONSTANT CROWD.  A lot of the people who make up this crowd are tremendously helpful & often at nights we wish we had those folks around.  If your patient needs to leave the floor for a test any later than say 9:00 p.m., guess whose job it is to take them to the test (& possibly stay there to monitor them, depending on the test): yours!  There is no transport at night.  No PT/OT to help get the heavy or difficult-to-move patients out of bed.  No case manager to call when your patient’s wife is refusing the oxygen that is absolutely vital for him to go home.  No wound care nurse to assist with the crazy complicated dressing that you suddenly have to change at midnight when it gets soiled for various & sundry reasons.  No IV team to help with the impossible-stick patient who needs two different IV antibiotics, IV fluids, & K/MG replacement.  Basically there are a ton of great resources that simply aren’t available at night.  This isn’t to say we can’t provide the same level of care.  It’s just that as a night shift nurse you’re required to be extremely resourceful & figure out a lot of things yourself.  The upside though is that for someone like me who gets anxious in crowds, it’s really nice to feel like we “own the hospital” at night.  We definitely interact with other depts & certainly with patients’ families, but night shift is just not the same constant crowd, & for a socially anxious person like me, that is wonderful.

3. As I discussed above, night shift has a lot fewer ancillary depts to help the nursing staff which can definitely be challenging at times.  However, another upside to this is that night shift nurses of necessity build really great teamwork.  It’s not that day shift nurses can’t or don’t help each other.  They definitely do.  But on nights it’s just the bedside nurses running the show, for the most part.  Because we are less distracted by the various other depts constantly coming in & out of the rooms, we are better able to sense who’s struggling & step up to help each other, often without even being asked.  Nursing is definitely a team effort & on nights that is especially true.  Additionally, having great teamwork I believe builds greater job satisfaction which for me is definitely an added bonus.

4. Financially night shift is clearly the better option.  Night shift is hard on the body & mind without a doubt so there’s a reason we get paid more.  Of course the trouble is once you get used to that extra money, you don’t want to leave it.

5. You will definitely sacrifice sleep at times, but if you can learn not to sleep all day on your days off (which has never been a problem for me because I am not a night owl by nature), you can have a lot more “free time” to catch up on housework, doctor’s appointments, grocery shopping, & just life in general.  When I worked day shift I realized that I was almost as tired as when I worked nights & I felt like I had a lot less time to get things done outside of work.  And I was making less money!

6. Because there are fewer ancillary depts going in & out of the rooms & less chance of patients leaving the unit for tests & procedures, it is considerably more likely that you will have time to actually TALK TO YOUR PATIENTS with fewer interruptions on night shift.  Trust me, my phone still rings way more than I wish it did & inevitably that seems to happen when I’m starting an IV or having a crucial conversation with a patient, but in general I do feel that I have more time to get to know my patients on night shift.   Sometimes this happens at 0200 when they can’t sleep & just need someone to listen to them.  I do think night shift nurses are less likely to be remembered by patients (at least our names) because hopefully they do sleep for at least part of our shift, but I also know that being there for a patient in the middle of the night when they are tired, lonely, & afraid can be a truly rewarding experience.

nurse pic

7. It is true that it is very easy to gain weight on night shift.  (There have even been research studies showing all of the health dangers of night shift.  They’re very depressing so I try not to read them!)  I’ll confess that I gained about ten lbs my first year as a nurse, but at last half that time I was working day shift so maybe it wasn’t totally night shift’s fault.  Anyway, I managed to lose all the weight & more, & I’ve kept it off for almost two years now, all of which has been while working night shift.  The upside to this is that when you do learn to manage your weight on night shift, you will feel like an absolute rock star for proving all the statistics wrong!

8. There is a certain level of constant fatigue that accompanies working night shift.  Actually I think it might just accompany being a nurse in general.  (Or maybe just being an ADULT!)  Anyway, for me that background level of fatigue is actually a good thing because believe it or not, it calms my brain a little bit.  I’ve spoken to my therapist about this & she says it’s actually quite logical.  For someone like me whose mind is constantly GOING, GOING, GOING like the Energizer Bunny, having a certain level of background fatigue can slow the “wheels” down just enough so that I can actually focus better & function optimally.  It sounds totally backwards I know.  But I swear it is true for me.

9. As I’ve mentioned previously, there are a lot less people around on nights.  One of the positives to this is that night shift nurses can (& do) talk about anything & everything.  This leads to some seriously hilarious conversations that are probably not fit to post here.  ;)  But trust me when I say we have a lot of fun.  Of course nurses of necessity have a very twisted sense of humor so our idea of what is funny is often a bit “off” anyway.

sense of humor nursing

10. As I mentioned at the beginning, I DREADED night shift.  I had serious anxiety about it for MONTHS before I even graduated because I knew as a new grad nurse it was inevitable.  However, realizing that I can not only handle working nights but actually ENJOY it has brought me a tremendous sense of accomplishment.  Furthermore, it has reinforced to me that often the things we dread in life can actually be blessings in disguise.  I guess what I’m trying to say is, never say never.  I never thought I’d be happy working as a night shift nurse but here I am doing it & loving it.  :)