My Biggest Announcement Ever…

Some of you may recognize the majority of this post because I originally wrote & shared it last January (2015, that is).  In any case, the post has come full circle now because I’M PREGNANT!  In case you’re wondering, yes, this was very much planned & thought out as much as humanly possible.  And no, I couldn’t be more excited!  🙂  pregnancy superpower

I had my first ultrasound on Friday.  I didn’t cry like I was told I would, but it was INCREDIBLE to not only hear the heartbeat but to actually SEE the heart beating on the screen.  Yes, I’m a nurse but I’m definitely NOT an OB nurse & I’ve forgotten most of what I learned in OB class, which is probably a blessing because it means I’m less likely to obsess over every little thing that could go wrong, but in any case I definitely didn’t realize I’d be able to actually SEE that tiny heart beating, especially this early (I’m due in December).  Anyway, immediately after the ultrasound & bloodwork, we drove up to VA to see my grandmother & my mom’s side of the family so we could give them the news in person.  The next day we visited my husband’s mom & sister (who already knew about the baby), & then on Sunday we had Mother’s Day lunch with my parents & sister & three of my dad’s siblings.  My parents & sister already knew about the baby of course, but it was so much fun to be able to share the news with my aunts & uncles in person & on Mother’s Day no less.  pregnancy cartoon

Also I feel inclined to explain why I’m sharing this exciting news “so early” (I’m 9 weeks today).  Yes, I realize it’s standard practice to wait till 11-12 weeks to tell everyone because of the risk of miscarriage, & I understand why many people do choose to wait.  However, for me I felt like I just couldn’t keep such big news a secret for so long.  Besides that, statistics show that if you can find a heartbeat on ultrasound at 8 weeks, you have a 97% chance of having a viable pregnancy (in other words NOT having a miscarriage).  I like those odds!  Perhaps most importantly, I think the standard rule of waiting 3 months is based on the idea that people shouldn’t talk about miscarriages, that it’s something shameful to be kept a secret at all costs.  Frankly I think that’s ridiculous, & if I did have a miscarriage I would rather people knew about it so they could grieve with me & understand why I was struggling.  I understand some people may feel differently & that’s fine, but I think I made the right choice for me, & that’s all that matters.

birth cartoon

Too funny not to share

Anyway, without further ado, here’s the original post that now feels even more relevant & poignant.

As some of you may know, for many years I was quite sure I never wanted to have children.  Deep down I knew I’d probably change my mind someday but I just couldn’t imagine that ever happening.  I’ve just never been one of those women who instantly connects with children or feels really comfortable with them.  Perhaps this is because I wasn’t the happiest child myself; indeed I was always in a hurry to grow up & I’ve never been happier than I have been since I reached adulthood.


Our corgi Chaucer running in the snow this winter

In any case, as it so happens, I’ve been thinking A LOT about becoming a mom lately.  It’s probably partly due to having Chaucer (my dog) & watching him grow up & how wonderful that is.  And it’s probably partly because I’m 26 so I’m hitting what might be considered a normal age to start having kids.  (Hell, where I grew up I’m already far behind!)

When I do decide to have kids, you can be sure I’ll have thought about all the possibilities & consequences.  I’ve read all the articles about how kids ruin your sleep, your appearance, your metabolism, your sex life, your marriage, your career, & everything else.  (May I just say my husband & I are determined to prove all those articles wrong?)  I’ve never been one of those “starry-eyed” women who see babies & only think of cuddles & love.  No indeed.  When I see babies I think about the pain of labor & breastfeeding & the sleepless nights.  Does this make me cold-hearted & unfeeling?  No, I think it just makes me realistic.  And as one of my dearest friends told me today, the fact that I’ve thought about all of these things & am taking this decision so seriously is probably evidence that I will actually be a good mom.  Her saying that means the world to me because whenever I express doubt about becoming a mom or admit that I’m not particularly fond of most young children, it seems that most people give me that look that implies something must be inherently wrong with me & say “Well, if you’re not sure, you better not do it.” blankie baby

In any case, as part of my pondering about becoming a mom, my mind keeps thinking of all the things I want to teach my children someday.  I know some people will probably think I’m really pretentious for writing out this list, but the way I see it is it’s better to have a lot of plans that I might never fully accomplish than to have no plans at all. 

  1. I will teach my children the importance of asking both “Why?” & “Why not?” If the subject is something to believe or trust, the appropriate question is “Why?”  If the subject is something fun to do, the appropriate question is “Why not?”
  2. I will teach my children to play in rain puddles, piles of leaves, & grassy meadows.
  3. I will teach my children to value people of different races, ethnicities, & cultures. I will teach them that no one is superior or inferior than anyone else but especially not because of something so superficial as race, gender, or nationality.diverse kids
  4. I will teach my children that love is love & it doesn’t matter who it’s between as long as they are two consenting adults who are not hurting each other.
  5. I will teach my kids the value of good nutrition & eating well.
  6. I will teach my kids to enjoy exercise, even if it’s just running around the yard chasing the dog.
  7. On that subject, I will teach my kids that dogs really are man’s (& woman’s) best friend.
  8. I will teach my kids to love rock & roll. I will take them to rock concerts when they are old enough (probably 10-12 or older).  I will be that crazy mom who is screaming to the music with my kids & I will not be ashamed or apologize for it.  In the car we will rock out to Halestorm, Godsmack, & Black Stone Cherry (among others).
  9. I will teach my children not to judge others based on appearance. I will teach them that some of the best people in the world are covered with tattoos & piercings while some of the most deceitful people in the world are dressed in suits & ties.
  10. I will teach my children that life isn’t all fun & games but it isn’t all misery & suffering either. It’s a little bit of everything & we have to learn to appreciate all of it.
  11. I will teach my children that life’s not fair & they better get used to that real fast.choices
  12. I will teach my kids that they alone are responsible for the choices they make; thus they better be ready to face the consequences of their actions, no matter what they are.
  13. I will teach my children that sex is wonderful & amazing . . . & because of that they better be careful who they do it with & when. But I will never make them feel that sex in & of itself is something dirty or something to be ashamed of.
  14. I will teach my children about birth control & how it works & why they had better use it until the day they (& their partner) are absolutely certain they are ready to be parents.
  15. I will teach my children that education is the key to success in life . . . but they better have a plan to go along with it because degrees alone are worthless these days.
  16. I will teach my kids that there is no job that is beneath them & working hard at everything they do is essential to success in life.
  17. I will teach my kids to show respect to everyone they meet, whether it’s their doctor, their teacher, or the janitor.self respect
  18. I will teach my children that “everything in moderation” is a really great motto in life, the only exceptions being things like heroin & cocaine. Just have some common sense!
  19. I will teach my kids that things in & of themselves are never evil; it’s how we use them that makes them good or bad. For example, the internet isn’t evil just because some creeps use it to prey on children or watch porn.  Books aren’t evil just because some of them say things you don’t like.  Music isn’t evil just because some of it contains lyrics that are rude or disparaging.
  20. I will teach my kids the importance of valuing every single day they’re alive because life is never guaranteed.
  21. I will teach my kids that they don’t have to be just like me for me to love them or be proud of them. There is more than one road to success in life & theirs might look very different than mine.  And that’s ok.Dalai lama quote
  22. I will teach my kids that in order to be successful in life they need to get off their ass & get moving. Success doesn’t come to those who wait for it.  It comes to those who set goals & work hard to meet them.
  23. I will teach my children that the exact words people say are far less important than the feelings behind them.
  24. On a similar token, I will teach my children that actions speak far louder than words.
  25. I will teach my children to always be honest about their intentions with others.
  26. I will teach my kids the value of empathy & how important it is to just listen to others when they are suffering.
  27. I will teach my children that the world doesn’t owe them anything. They will not be entitled brats if it kills me.
  28. I will teach my kids that the purpose of life is to live it, to soak up every experience life has to offer, & to revel in the love we have for each other.
  29. If I have daughters, I will make sure my husband teaches them how to check the oil in their car & how to change a tire because these are all things I’ve never learned & I want my daughters to be more independent than I am.
  30. If I have sons, I will teach them how to do laundry & basic cooking because I love that I never had to teach my husband any of these things.
  31. I will teach my children that society has various expectations of them based on gender but they need to choose their own path, regardless of what society says.


    Grayson Highlands in SW Virginia

  32. I will teach my kids to value the simple beauties of nature: the way the sky looks just before it rains, the sweet smell of honeysuckle in the spring time, the sound of the waves crashing on the shore, the feeling of snowflakes tickling your nose, & the way a little frost makes the whole world look magical.
  33. I will teach my children to love curry & all foods Indian & Mediterranean. If not, they might starve at our house . . .
  34. I will teach my kids that having an argument with someone doesn’t mean you don’t love them. It just means you disagreed about something & the worst thing you can do in such situations is to bottle up your emotions & hold them in until you explode.
  35. I will teach my kids to question everything & never believe something just because such & such person said it. I will teach them to judge everything based on its own merits.
  36. I will share with my kids the joy of reading & searching out used book stores in all corners of the city.
  37. I will take my children to visit their elders & teach them to appreciate all the things the elderly can teach us about life.weird awesome
  38. I will teach my children that being weird is awesome & following the crowd is for losers.
  39. I will teach my children that no one can make them feel inferior without their consent.
  40. I will teach my kids the difference between serving others & being a doormat. It’s a fine line but it’s one you have to find.
  41. I will teach my kids that in order to take care of others, they must first learn to take care of themselves. As hard as it will be to do so, I will role model this for them as best I can.
  42. I will teach my children that, like things, emotions are never evil. It’s what we do with them that matters.  I do not want them to grow up feeling guilty for experiencing anger, sadness, lust, or any other “sinful” emotion.  I just want to teach them healthy ways to express these feelings.
  43. I will teach my kids that nothing in life is perfect all the time. Life isn’t a fairytale but it’s still pretty damn good if we make good choices & chase our passions.
  44. I will teach my children that even though being a mom is immeasurably important I am still other things too: a wife, a sister, a daughter, a nurse, etc. Even though I know all children have a hard time thinking of their mothers as anything else, I hope they’ll learn to appreciate me as more than just “a mom” if that makes any sense.
  45. I will teach my children that we are all hypocrites sometimes & no matter how hard we try we all fail to live up to our own ideals at times. We just have to keep striving to do the best we can & stay humble when we make mistakes.
  46. And, perhaps greatest of all, I will kiss & hug my children every day & teach them to never doubt how much I love names

On Gender Roles in the Modern Era

When it comes to gender roles, whether in relationships or society in general, I often find myself in a bit of quandary.  Despite the many negative connotations that the word tends to bring these days, I do still consider myself a feminist, mainly because there are countries & societies in our world in which women still have very few, if any, rights (e.g. Saudi Arabia).  However, much more importantly I consider myself a humanist because I see value in all people, regardless of gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, or any other such factor, & I truly believe in our ability to better ourselves as individuals & the human species as a whole (although I’ll admit we are woefully bad at this much of the time, but that’s a topic for another day).  I also have no difficulty recognizing & no problem admitting that men face their own unique challenges in this world in which we inhabit, particularly perhaps in modern America (& other similar societies).  I’ve touched on that subject before on this blog & will certainly revisit it again someday, hopefully in the not too distant future.gender scales

Anyway, one of my greatest strengths (& weaknesses, at times) in life is that I’m a great analyzer.  I’m constantly observing the world around me & the people in it.  Even as a kid, I quickly realized that I was considerably more analytical than the average person.  In any case, one of the many things I find fascinating to observe is how other couples handle gender roles in relationshipsgender role

For context, I grew up with parents who on the surface held fairly traditional gender roles in that my mom did most of the traditionally feminine housework like cooking & laundry while my dad did most of the traditionally masculine chores like mowing the yard & taking out the trash.  However, one of the things I’ve always admired about my parents is the flexibility they modeled in their relationship.  For example, my parents almost always did the dishes together every night (bizarrely, they to this day do not have an automatic dishwasher).  Furthermore, in some cases my mom actually took on a more traditionally masculine role; for example, she was more of the disciplinarian between the two of them, while my dad was the softer-spoken one who in some ways could be considered more nurturing, which is of course generally considered a more feminine trait.gender-marriage-couples

The other couple whose gender roles I observed a lot as a child/teen was of course my grandparents.  In their case, they had much more strictly defined gender roles, & even as a child I couldn’t help but notice that this seemed (to me) to create some friction between them at times.  I’m in no way questioning their love for each other; I’m just saying that like almost anything else in life, a lack of flexibility often leads to resentment & a lack of understanding between parties.  Hell, you can even observe this in old TV shows like I Love Lucy (a show I watched religiously growing up) in which the characters have very strict gender roles.I love Lucy

As it turns out, I intentionally married a man who has a very different personality than my dad (& is perhaps more similar to my grandfather, now that I stop & think about it) while still maintaining a strong work ethic & commitment to our relationship, like my dad has towards my mom.  This is not meant as any offense to my dad; I just knew even at a young age that I needed someone with a much “stronger” (for lack of a better word at the moment) personality than my dad.  I was a pretty damn insightful teenager, let me tell you that!

Now that I’ve tooted my own horn a bit, I can get down to the real point of this post, which is this:

When it comes to gender roles, particularly in romantic relationships, the best advice I can give anyone is just do what comes naturally to you.  If in 90% of relationships this means the woman does more of the cooking & laundry & the man does more of the yard-work & car maintenance, so be it. teamwork marriage

The point is that you work together as a TEAM to get the needed work done & that you have a flexible attitude so that no one ever says “I can’t do that.  That’s YOUR job.”  Yes, I do more dishes & laundry than my husband, while he mows the yard & handles the taxes, but the point is that none of this stuff is set in stone.  If I’m working three nights in a row (those are 12-hr shifts, mind you) & my husband sees that the dishes & laundry are piling up, he’ll start them without even being asked.  And you better believe I love & appreciate him so much for that, just as he appreciates when I take out the trash or pitch in with some of the other chores that he typically handles when he’s busy at work or out of town.dishes cartoon

When it comes to raising kids, I’m probably going to be a lot more traditionally feminine than perhaps I want to admit.  There is a part of me that cringes at the idea of being a stay at home mom, yet there is a larger part of me that cringes at the idea of trying to raise babies & toddlers while also working full time.  (I’m thinking working part time is the best solution to this dilemma.)  I just can’t wrap my brain around trying to stretch myself that thin, especially since our family is in another state.  Plus there is a huge part of me that feels like if I’m going to invest so much of myself into being pregnant & going through labor, then why the hell would I let a daycare raise that child?  To be even more blunt, why would I bring life into this world & then not spend as much time with it as humanly possible?

Hey, there is a lot of truth in this . . .

Hey, there is a lot of truth in this . . .

Believe me, I understand that most families cannot afford to have a stay at home mom (or dad).  And I fully anticipate that I will end up working part time when we do start a family because, if for no other reason, I don’t want to lose my nursing skills by leaving the workforce entirely, even just for a few years.  I also think all adults need a certain amount of adult interaction to maintain their sanity . . . Anyway, what I’m trying to say is that while I’ve only in the past year or two really embraced the idea of motherhood, I’ve quickly found myself anticipating a more traditional mom role than perhaps I’d have predicted in years past.

And the greater point is that while many, if not most, women will agree with me on this subject, some may not, & that’s ok.  On the same token, most men will not want to be stay at home dads, no matter how much they love their kids.  But some may.  And that’s ok too.labels

The final point here is that while we can make generalities about both genders & the roles each tends to fulfill & the personalities each tends to model, at the end of the day we are all human beings & as such our commonalities are much greater than our differences.  Furthermore each person, regardless of gender, should be evaluated on his or her own merits & not forced to fit any particular mold, whatever that may be.  I’m a bit of a rebel myself in some ways so there is a part of me that always loves those who buck trends & say “screw you” to stereotypes, but I’m also smart enough to realize that there is nothing wrong with fulfilling traditional gender roles, as long as you’re doing so out of your own natural desire & inclination.

Lzzy Hale is definitely a role model for me in some ways. She's gorgeous & feminine in some ways but also a total badass.

Lzzy Hale is definitely a role model for me as a modern woman. She’s gorgeous & feminine in some ways but also a total badass.

In conclusion, I’ll never be the girl who wears a lot of pink, frilly dresses, stilettos, or tons of makeup.  Hell, at 26 I still can’t even put on eyeliner competently.  I swear too much & talk too loud to be lady-like, & I listen to lots of heavy music that could definitely be considered masculine.  When it comes to exercise, I hate running, yet I love lifting weights.  But I also play the flute & piano, perhaps the two most quintessentially feminine instruments on Earth, & I chose to become a nurse, one of the most quintessentially feminine careers on the planet.  Even as an adult I collect stuffed animals, & if/when I become a mom someday I sincerely hope I’ll always place my children above my career.  The point is I like to think I embody a fair amount of both traditionally feminine & traditionally masculine ideals, & I also like to think I’m better off because of it. gender bird

And the greater point is that regardless of our gender it shouldn’t define us or enslave us.  If we choose to embrace the more traditional roles of our given gender, that’s fine.  And if we choose to do the opposite, that’s fine too.  Neither choice is right or wrong, only different.  When it comes to gender roles & relationships, each couple just needs to figure out what works for them & make the best of it.  As I’ve stated many times before, there is no one prescription for success in life.  If someone else’s journey looks different than yours, that doesn’t mean theirs is wrong & yours is right or vice versa.  Dalai lama quote

As my final conclusion, if there’s anything I hope to convey in this post today, it’s this:

Be real.  Be human.  Be you. 

And walk away from anyone who can’t handle any or all of the above.

The Curse of Masculinity

*In case the title has put you off, this isn’t a rant against men.  If anything it’s a plea on their behalf.*

I’ve written quite a few posts lately about the struggles women face in modern society & how feminism still has quite a bit of work to do in this world.  However, today I’ve been thinking about how, in the Western world anyway, women actually have a lot of advantages that make me quite grateful to be a woman, despite some of the other problems faced by my gender.  I started thinking about this when my husband was playing a video game this past weekend & getting really frustrated with it.  I asked him, as I have many times before, why he plays games that just seem to make him angry & annoyed.  His response was “Well, this is how men relax.  For thousands of years we went around killing our enemies, or at least our food, with axes & other such weapons.  Those aren’t accepted civilized activities anymore, so we play violent video games.”  This led me to think about the different ways in which women & men choose to spend their free time, the hobbies we tend to pursue, & the seemingly greater freedom women have in such areas of life.

For most of recorded history women were very restricted in all manner of things, but in the modern  world women can do basically anything we want.  I don’t just mean legally; I mean it is societally more or less acceptable for women to pursue almost any career or hobby they desire.  While it is true that women in traditionally male-dominated fields such as police work, finance, or law often face greater obstacles than do their male counterparts in those roles, in general women who choose a career that is traditionally outside the “feminine scope” receive far more praise & encouragement than men who choose more traditionally feminine careers such as nursing, teaching, or working with young children in any capacity.  Stay-at-home moms certainly face a fair amount of prejudice in our society (perhaps most from other women), but consider how much greater prejudice stay-at-home dads must face.  While one could certainly argue that most men would never even contemplate such a choice, consider how much harder that makes it for a man who truly desires that role?

For further discussion, contemplate the following scenarios:

tony porter quote boy girl

A little girl wants to take piano lessons.  Assuming her parents can afford it, almost all parents would agree that this is a lovely activity for their daughter to pursue.  Plenty of parents would encourage their son to do the same, but as he gets older, consider the societal pressure a boy will face to choose a more “masculine” activity such as football or basketball over band, drama, or anything at all “artsy.”  Girls may face this pressure too, as athletics are always “cooler” than the arts, but I think most of us will agree that the pressure is greater on boys in this arena.  Furthermore, a girl can choose to play most any instrument without fear of embarrassment, but a boy who chooses to play something more “feminine” like the flute is basically asking to be ridiculed.  While women who seek to be rock stars may have a harder time in some ways than their male counterparts, consider that plenty of guys will find them ridiculously hot for choosing such an activity, & more importantly the novelty of a female rock star can actually work in a woman’s favor.

I think it’s safe to say that almost all straight-A students & other “nerdy” kids have a hard time being socially accepted in school, but in general I think smart girls are considered far more acceptable than smart boys.  I know that the girls in my advanced placement classes from elementary all the way through high school fared much better socially than the few boys in those classes.  Many of us girls were still nerdy for sure, but I’m quite certain we all had boyfriends at some point & were generally much less likely to be true pariahs than the boys.  Overall it appears that boys who make good grades & think ahead to college are far more likely to be made fun of than girls who do the same.  Neither gender is going to win any popularity points for being a bookworm, but the fact that college admission & graduation rates are now considerably higher for women than men tells us something is wrong here.  I’m not advocating for the reverse of course.  I’m just saying that a successful society needs leaders & scholars of both genders, & there’s something fundamentally wrong with a society that degrades anyone for a love of learning, regardless of gender.

On a lighter note, say a woman decides to play video games.  While plenty of other women may find this odd, the average man is probably going to think it’s hot.  But say a man decides to get regular manicures (with actual painted nails); the average woman is NOT going to find this hot.

On a similar note, say a woman chooses to dress in a more masculine fashion, maybe even wear men’s clothes from time to time.   This may not be their preferred look, but most guys probably won’t be truly offended by it.  However, if  a man chooses to wear women’s clothes even occasionally, most people, of both genders, will find this quite offensive & weird.  I’m not arguing that men should wear women’s clothes, though if they want to, that’s certainly their prerogative.  I’m just trying to show how women really do have greater freedom in some areas.


If a woman does something that makes her look silly or weak, for better or worse she probably won’t be viewed much differently because of it, provided it doesn’t become a habit.  For example, say a woman can’t remember where she parked her car.  While men & women alike may laugh at her forgetfulness, they’re unlikely to really think less of her as a human being unless this is something she does on a regular basis.  A woman who is klutzy like me may never be able to wear stilettos but it’s unlikely to make men actually consider her unattractive.  If a woman is struggling to pick up a weight at the gym or a heavy box while moving into a dorm room or new apartment, you can be reasonably sure that someone of the male persuasion will be happy to help her out without thinking any less of her for needing his assistance.  On the other hand, if a man is struggling to carry something heavy, not only does he have to worry about hurting himself physically but furthermore he has to worry that both men & women may view him as weak & therefore less “manly.”  On a similar token, if a woman cries at a movie, so what?  More than likely no one will think twice about it, but not so for a man.

While everyone has their preferences, women in the modern world can choose to be as traditionally feminine as we desire- or not.  No matter what we choose we are quite likely to be generally accepted by society as more or less normal or at least “ok.”  And for better or worse we will probably attract a fair amount of the male species regardless of what choices we make.

While I’ll be the first to admit that I’m naturally attracted to a fairly traditional type of masculinity (broad shoulders, capable of working on basic machinery/cars, disinterest in clothes & fashion), I’m smart enough to realize that the qualities that define a good man are essentially identical to the qualities that define a good woman: honesty, respect, a strong work ethic, intelligence, a thirst for knowledge, & an open mind.  Furthermore I am comfortable enough with myself & my relationship to understand that not all men will fit my “ideal,” nor should they, just as I will certainly not fit every man’s “ideal,” nor should I.  Just because I prefer a certain type of man doesn’t make that the only type of man worth celebrating in this world.  I think far too many people in this world are threatened by “gender-benders” or by those who don’t fit their own stereotypes about how men or women should behave because they aren’t secure in their own humanity.

gender bird

In my sociology class freshman year of college, we watched a documentary that discussed the ways in which boys are societally trained to suppress their emotions & generally be “manly,” & how in many ways this is ultimately damaging to both men & women in our society.  I for one know that if my husband & I have sons & daughters some day, we’ll be raising both genders to be well-rounded & self-sufficient individuals who know how to take care of themselves (everything from doing their own laundry & basic cooking to mowing the yard & changing the oil in the car) as well as how to express themselves emotionally in healthy, mature ways.  We’ll encourage both genders to play sports as well as to play music or be involved with other artistic endeavors.  If our son wants to play with dolls, we’re not going to stop him (yes, this is something we’ve actually discussed).  If our daughter wants to play in the dirt & hunt for worms, we won’t stop that either.  In case anyone thinks I’m saying traditionally masculine play, such as little boys wrestling or playing with toy guns, is bad, I’m not.  I think those are perfectly normal activities for both genders, though I certainly acknowledge that more boys will participate in them than girls, & I don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong with that.  The point is that we will try not to impress upon our children that they need to fit a certain mold just because of their anatomy.

To be clear, I’m not saying that all gender roles are bad.  My husband certainly takes on a fair amount of the traditionally masculine roles in our relationship (mowing the yard & filing taxes for example) while I take on a fair amount of the traditionally feminine roles (sending Christmas cards, buying birthday gifts for our families, doing laundry, etc), & I have no problem with that.  The wonderful thing about our relationship is that we are very comfortable taking turns with the roles we play.  For example, while I do more of the laundry, dishes, & other housework than he does, he is more than willing to help out, especially when I’m working several nights in a row.  When the dishes start to pile up in the sink, he’ll take care of them without me even asking.  Additionally, we split the bills & take turns paying for groceries, meals, & other expenses.  The point is that our roles are not rigid & unchangeable like those of many relationships of previous generations.  I for one firmly believe that this engenders a higher level of respect, friendship, & camaraderie between us than if we stuck to rigid gender roles.  Furthermore, we understand & respect that not all couples will approach their relationships like ours; many will have different variations on gender roles, & as long as both parties are happy, that is totally ok.  

self comfort

Overall, when I think about how society views gender roles nowadays, I can’t help but feel that women are now afforded greater freedom than men in many ways, as I’ve listed above.  I’m not saying this to lessen the argument that feminism still has its place in modern society.  If anything perhaps this lends greater credence to the notion that feminism is still relevant today.  In my view, feminism promotes the acceptance of both genders as intellectual equals & the equality of opportunity for all people irrespective of gender.  While men may still experience greater success/freedom in the career world, at least in certain fields, I for one wish men experienced more freedom to express themselves emotionally & artistically.  I’m not saying I wish the average man spent his leisure time getting manicures or shopping for new suede boots.  (Frankly I think those are pretty inane activities for either gender.)  What I am saying is perhaps we women should celebrate the freedom we have nowadays to be just about anything without the fear of “losing our woman card” because no such thing really exists.  I just know I am grateful that I don’t constantly have to evaluate whether my life decisions are “manly enough.”  Yes, I realize that “real men” don’t cave to societal pressure & will choose to do whatever makes them happy even if it isn’t societally accepted, but even so I wish the pressure wasn’t so great for men to always protect their “man card.”

 I think in the end this kind of thinking is ultimately limiting & hurtful for both genders because it denies the underlying humanity & sameness that connects us all.  One of the greatest things I’ve learned in life is that people are people regardless of gender.  For example, the friendships I’ve had with guys haven’t been that different than the friendships I’ve had with girls.  Because at heart we are all really the same.  We all have strengths & weaknesses, likes & dislikes, dreams & goals.  And someday I hope we’ll all experience even greater freedom to express & pursue all of our hopes & dreams without worrying about how we’ll be perceived because of the chromosomes we happen to carry in our DNA.


Why the World Still Needs Feminism

Recently I’ve encountered the argument that the world, especially the Western/American world, no longer needs Feminism.  Or worse yet that Feminism is actually working AGAINST the interests of women.  I’m ashamed to say that these are thoughts that actually crossed my mind many years ago as a misguided teen.  I thought that since women can now vote, own property, run for public office, own a business, & get divorced without ruining their entire lives/reputations, then Feminism had accomplished its goals & was no longer needed.  Ah, how short-sighted & naive I was.  Growing up I got the idea that Feminism had its place decades ago but had outlived any real purpose, so that modern day Feminists were just crazy man-haters whose only goals were tearing down men & families, relishing in abortion, & generally promoting evil.

Somewhere along the line I realized this was a grossly exaggerated stereotype of what is actually a small minority of Feminists.  As I’ve grown up I’ve also realized there are numerous reasons why the world still needs Feminism.  For the purposes of this blog post (as well as my blog in general), Feminism means the promotion of equal RIGHTS for both genders with a particular focus on achieving equal RESPECT between the genders.  I’m in no way arguing that men & women are identical or that all “gender roles” are wrong.  And I’m not here to throw a pity party because I was born female.  (There are days when that is tempting but it would be an unproductive activity anyway & thus a waste of time.)

Here are, in my mind, the greatest reasons why the world still needs Feminism.  Notice I said the WORLD, which includes both genders, not just women.  I say this because I believe Feminism seeks to empower & promote the betterment of all people of all genders not BECAUSE of their gender but because of their shared HUMANITY.


The world still needs Feminism . . .

  • Because there are places in the world where women still cannot vote, drive cars, own property, run a business, or get divorced, even from abusive husbands
  • Because there are places in the world where women are stoned for having sex outside of marriage, even if they were victims of rape or abuse
  • Because even in the “enlightened West” there are still way too many men who think it’s ok to make sexist remarks in the work place
  • And because many women still don’t have the courage to stand up to these jerks
  • Because rape apologists still exist; because even in the most blatant  horrific cases, there are still idiots who seek to blame the victim
  • Because there are places in the world where female babies are preferentially aborted simply for their gender
  • And because the people who do this have serious REASONS for doing it . . . because those societies have structures that make it such that having a female baby really is putting the family at a disadvantage
  • Because even in America many people treat daughters as more work or more difficult (See:
  •  Because maternity leave in America is quite possibly the worst in the industrialized world
  • Because the majority of workplaces do almost nothing to cater to women (& men) with young children
  • Because women still spend entirely too much time tearing each other apart & judging each other for every little thing, not realizing that we are all sisters on this Earth
  • Because abstinence-only education still exists despite the research that shows how ineffective it is & how it contributes to a high rate of teen pregnancy
  • Because way too many girls are still growing up with the idea that their bodies are something to be ashamed of &/or something to be hidden for fear of tempting men

feminism is for men too

  • Because way too many women expect men to pay for everything on dates
  • Because it’s still acceptable for boys/men to insult each other by calling each other “pussy,” “sissy,” “little girl,” etc as if being female were the worst possible scenario in life
  • Because women still have to “be careful” at night & never walk alone in a dark place
  • Because if you do any of these things & God forbid something happens, people will say “What was she thinking?  She should have been more careful” as if that excuses bad behavior on the part of the offending male
  • Because there are women in the world who still have no access to birth control, sexual education, or even school
  • Because a Google image search of Feminism still produces memes that say Feminism encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, become lesbians, & practice witchcraft
  • And because there are still people who believe such nonsense
  •  And because there is a need for posts like this

10 Steps to a Healthier, Happier Life in 2014

Since it’s the beginning of a new year, naturally I have been spending some time thinking about how to make this a happier, healthier year than the last.  It’s cliché of course, but it’s important to think about these things because positive change isn’t something that just happens.  It has to be deliberate.  After some consideration I’ve come up with what I believe are the ten most important things for living a healthier, happier life in 2014.  Since physical health is only one component of overall health, I’ve included measures regarding emotional and spiritual health as well.

  1. If you’re trying to lose weight or eat/be healthier in 2014, be sure to set small, measurable, attainable goals.  It’s fine to have your overall big goal of losing 50 pounds or running a marathon or whatever it may be, but if you don’t set small realistically attainable goals along the way, you will never achieve your larger goal.  It will always remain some unreachable pie in the sky and you’ll end the year depressed and wondering why you never accomplish what you set out to accomplish.  Here are some good examples of small goals you can set:
    1. This week I will drink at least 4 glasses of water each day (instead of sodas).
    2. This week I will eat at least one vegetable and one fruit every day.
    3. This week I will walk one mile 3 days a week.  Next week I’ll do it 4 days a week.

The point is to make SMALL changes every day because if you try to drastically change your lifestyle you are almost certain to fail.  But if you take small steps every day, eventually you will be amazed to find that you have truly changed your life!  Indeed, this theory is true for so much more than just weight loss, so you can apply it to all kinds of goals you might have for 2014.  I can tell you from personal experience that this is how I gradually lost 15 lbs over the course of late 2012 into early 2013.  I was only trying to lose 10 lbs but by making small realistic changes every day, I ended up losing more weight than I even hoped to lose!  And I’ve consistently kept it all off, minus 2-3 lbs that I regained over the holidays, but I know I can lose that again quickly by making the same small changes for better health every day.

2. Find those people who you really love and hold them close.  Some of them might be hundreds or even thousands of miles away, but in today’s technology age that no longer means you can’t stay in regular contact (with some exceptions for the military or people in areas without consistent internet access, of course).  For example, one of my best friends is in England.  I have only met her once in real life and it wasn’t until a year or more after that that we actually became close.  But we have managed to BECOME and STAY close via Facebook chat & Skype, and I am now planning a trip to see her in England sometime this year.  As a nurse I am constantly reminded that what really matters in life more than anything is the relationships you build with your family and friends.  If there’s a relationship in your life that is broken or just isn’t as strong as you wish it was, make 2014 the year you try to repair and rebuild it.  Not every relationship can or even should be saved.  (For example a woman whose ex-husband beat her probably shouldn’t try to reignite that relationship in any way.  It just wouldn’t be safe.)  But if you have a relationship you think should be salvaged, don’t let pride stop you.  Stay in regular contact with those you love as much as you can, and never forego a chance to say “I love you.

3. Do something at work that scares you.  As a nurse for me this often means trying an IV on someone who seems to be an impossible stick.  If I didn’t try everyone I thought was going to be a hard stick I’d have started a LOT less IV’s than I have in my career.  In 2013 I also trained for and starting working as a charge nurse on my unit.  It was scary at first (and still is occasionally), but I’ve learned to really enjoy this new role because I see it as a way to help my fellow nurses.  So whatever it is at work that scares you, make a real effort to tackle that this year.  You might not succeed 100% at everything (I certainly don’t get every IV I try), but you will probably succeed more often than you think.  And your greatest confidence is built in doing those things you thought you couldn’t do.

4. Building on number three, don’t be afraid to speak your mind about things that really matter to you.  I started this blog as a way to share my ideas and observations about life, largely in an effort to clear my own mind but also to hopefully encourage and inspire others.  However, it has taken a lot of courage for me to write some of the things I’ve written, being unsure of what kind of reaction I might get even from those close to me.  For example my post The Purity Myth garnered a fair amount of disagreement and criticism (of the idea, not me personally) even from some people close to me.  That is totally fine of course because everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but writing that post was scary for me.  The ideas in it were so important to me but I knew they contradicted a lot of what my family believes, so it was difficult to share something that I knew many would not like.  But I did it anyway.  As it turns out The Purity Myth has been my most popular post to date (I guess sex really does sell, huh?  HA!), and no one has disowned me for having more “liberal” ideas.  I was also afraid to share a lot of my posts about anxiety, but those have all been fairly popular and I have received quite a few messages and comments from people (strangers & friends alike) thanking me for my honesty in writing about such issues.  Knowing that I have not only helped myself but also helped others through my writing is one of the greatest feelings I’ve ever known in life.  Yes, I may have offended a few people from time to time by speaking my mind about something (whether on this blog or in “real life”) but that is somewhat inevitable in life anyway.  What I’m slowly learning is that as long as you have a loving, compassionate attitude towards others that will come through to your audience no matter what your actual message is.  The greatest regrets in life are often of what is left unsaid rather than what is said anyway.

5. Listen to music that isn’t on pop radio.  I’m fully aware that I’m a bit of a music snob in some ways, but I’m a former band geek so I can’t help it.  But in all seriousness, do explore music beyond the Top 40.  There is so much more out there with so much more to say about life, love, and everything in between than Justin Beiber, Miley Cyrus, and One Direction.  If you don’t think you like country music, try Kacey Musgraves.  You might be pleasantly surprised.  If you don’t think you like rock, try Stone Sour, especially their latest two-part album The House of Gold and Bones.  Again I think you might be pleasantly surprised.  The point is music can be such a huge source of inspiration in life.  I know it is for me in too many ways to count.  So explore it.  Nowadays with YouTube, Pandora, Spotify, and iTunes we have greater instant access to every kind of music in the world than anyone ever has before, so take advantage of it.

6. Do something for someone who can never repay you.  Whether it’s giving food to a homeless person or volunteering with disadvantaged children or something else entirely, just do it.  You will feel great and the world will be a better place because of it.

7. Don’t let strict gender roles define you.  But on the same token, if you find yourself fitting some gender role stereotypes, as long as you’re happy, don’t feel like you need to change things.  This is the 21st century.  If a man wants to be a stay-at-home dad, great.  But if you can’t imagine doing that as a man, that’s fine too.  If you have a master’s degree but want to be a stay-at-home mom, don’t let anyone tell you you’ve sold yourself short.  At the end of the day, you answer to yourself.  Don’t let other voices run your life when yours are the ones you have to sleep with at night.

8. Be honest about your emotions, with yourself and others.  Don’t bottle things up or try to deny how you’re feeling out of guilt or anything else.  If you’re sad, allow yourself to be sad.  If you’re angry, allow yourself to be angry.  Be an adult and learn how to have strong emotions while not ACTING on them in negative ways.  That’s the key.

9. Find what makes you tick in life.  In other words, the things you are really passionate about.  For me it’s music and writing.  For others it might be photography, dance, art, cooking, interior design, sports, or marketing.   Whatever it is, just find it and do it as much as you can.  Consider making a career out of your passions, but also remember that sometimes your passions can be just as therapeutic as hobbies.  The point is that you find out what they are and seek them out as much as you can.

10. As a follow up to number nine, remember that having fun and making good memories is what life is all about.  The world needs people who are passionate about life because these are the people who inspire others and inevitably make a positive difference wherever they go.  Try not to obsess over little things by asking yourself something like this: “In the course of a lifetime, what will this matter?”  It may sound morbid, but think about what will be important to you at the end of your life and remember that could be any time because none of us is promised tomorrow.  Make decisions and choices in life that align with your values, goals, and dreams.  Learn to cherish the little things because when you look back on your life you will find those were the things that mattered the most.  Take time to smell the roses, to cherish a beautiful sunset, to listen to the sound of the waves on the seashore, and to share it all with those you love.

I wrote this as much to myself as to anyone, but I hope this was of some inspiration to you as readers as well.  I hope 2014 will be a great year for all of us.  Just remember, life is what you make it.  No excuses, no exceptions.  This is both terrifying and exciting, but don’t let the fear of striking out keep you out of the game.