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Discovering My Story

This morning as I went about my morning routine in the office, replying to e-mails and returning phone calls, I had a moment, just what seemed like an odd moment, but still an important one, where I had an extreme urge to blog and get out a plethora of positive, excited emotions.  Ironically they were all emotions dealing with self-acceptance.  I have had brief moments where I see myself in the mirror and I say, “Wow, you’re gorgeous, how did you not see this in yourself before” and others, where all I see are flaws.

So today, I was particularly surprised when this little thought nagged at me all day to blog, and to talk about how proud I am of who I am and who I’ve become.  It started with a ritual I have in the morning where if I have a presentation or something that I have to orally prepare for, I talk out my thoughts and organize any concerns that are bothering me.  I have been thinking about an hour-long talk I’m giving in the summer about my ethnic background at a conference and what I am going to say.  Every day as I think things over, the content changes, I remember bits and pieces of my past I’d forgotten about, and ultimately I sometimes end up leaving for work feeling more confused about what I’m going to talk about, than when I first started getting the thoughts out as I’d gotten out of bed.  I’m really not sure how the conference talk is going to work out overall, but I can tell you that I just feel incredibly passionate about this upcoming experience because it’s a chance to tell my story.  And at this point in my life, I can comfortably say I’m proud of that story.

I did a lot of amazing things in college, and my alma mater truly opened the door for me to be creative and to be myself.  Faculty nurtured me, taught me, constructively criticized me and ultimately helped me break out of my very hard shell.  I struggled with this transition, this change, and I was terrified of myself.  I wrote a one-woman show about my experiences with racism because of the nudging of a persistent writing professor who taught me that writing about oneself is often the truest form of writing.  It’s real, and people like real.  It was the most difficult thing I’ve ever done, and despite it’s success, I found that for a long time, I struggled with people approaching me about it.  I didn’t know how to take praise for what I had done, because I did not see it as extraordinary.  I saw my uniqueness as a way for people to point me out and to pigeon-hole me.  I feared being different because I longed to be loved and thought that love somehow coincided with assimilation.

I got angry about prejudice and spoke out against it, but as strong as I was, there was a part of me that was always terrified.  A part that was always angry.  I didn’t feel like I belonged anywhere.  I wasn’t the white New England girl, but I wasn’t black either.  And here I was, being told I looked Spanish, so I should speak it, but I had chosen to speak German, in addition to my native English, because I fell in love with the culture, and the romanticism of both Austria and Germany, the Sound of Music, and the fact that my mother’s family had come from Germany.  And I was incredibly agitated that the vast majority of the public that I met in my retail job (customers typically) would regularly insist on putting me in a box and needing to label me.

I discovered that even moving to rural New Hampshire, that this was still a theme in a little New England town that, despite it’s remoteness and whiteness, I still love to call it home.  I didn’t grow up here, but I went to school here, and now I work here for the same institution that helped me find myself and encouraged me to embrace my diversity.

I have discovered many things over the years; I have discovered that I “pass” for white, but that people still want to identify me, and that they are always going to ask questions about my appearance, but I am starting to see something that I couldn’t see nearly ten years ago when I started college as a freshman:

I see that I have long brown curly hair, and though it struggles with humidity and frizz, and it isn’t the easiest to manage, I love it, and I wouldn’t change it for the world.  Sure, I don’t mind a trim here and there, and maybe I’ll cut it short again if I feel like it, but I don’t need to color it.  I don’t need to be blond or red or purple or whatever; I am happy with my natural brown locks.

I have hazel eyes and no, they are not the blue eyes I always felt I had to have, but I am okay with hazel.  They’re pretty, and a perfect mix of my mom and dad: I have bits of blue from my mother’s German side and bits of brown from my dad’s Caribbean side.  And I have skin that is olive.  I don’t have quite the awesome Italian or Greek tan, but my skin is beautiful, even if I still get acne as if I were a teenager ( though I’m close to thirty).

I have put on a few pounds, and definitely could stand to lose some weight, but the odd thing is, despite the need to lose weight for health reasons, I’m not unhappy with my size.  I’m a taller woman, and would definitely like to be a healthier weight, but I don’t look in the mirror and scowl anymore and stress excessively about wearing makeup or heels.  I don’t wear heels because of a bad back, and I don’t wear makeup for the most part unless it’s for theater, because I just don’t feel like it.  And no one says anything about it.  No one focuses on what I look like.  I dress professionally; I wear what I want, and when I want to dress up for a date with my boyfriend, I do that.  But I don’t need anyone’s approval to be happy and content with who I am.

I have struggled for years with this battle.  I suffered anxiety and stress and worried about every possible outcome of a situation and other than creating sleeplessness or weight gain, the worry did nothing to benefit me.  I wanted so badly to be accepted, but at the same time feared so greatly facing my identity and being content with it.  Sure, some people are always going to alienate me, some are always going to say something racist, some are going to be gender-ist, and some are even going to tell me that I shouldn’t have been born, BUT, I know that I am truly content, truly happy with the beautiful woman I am.  I am black, I am white, I am German, I am French, I am Bermudian, I am American, I am a New Englander and an English major with passions for theater, reading, writing, and loving and healing other people.

And I am learning every day to accept compliments when I receive them, and to be thankful for them.  I am learning to celebrate my accomplishments and be excited for future possibilities.  I am learning that just because I was in pain for a long time, does not mean I have to stay there.  I do not have to be stuck, and though it will not be uncommon to experience race-related pain again in my life time, I will not let it define me, and I will not let it consume me as it had in the past.

A young freshman girl came up to me after a performance of my one-woman show about growing up biracial, and she approached me with such light and excitement because of my show; she was also of mixed heritage.  She told me that because I had done this show, she felt that she could do something like it some day.  In the memories I have of this time of my life, this is one of the few that I remember with fondness because so much anxiety had plagued me during my preparation for the show.  I remember approaching my theater director and telling him I didn’t think I could do the show because I thought someone would come after me and hurt me.  That they would be disgusted with my revelation of my background and want to kill me.  When I told him this, my director said, “That is exactly why you need to do this show.”

These memories are reminders of what potential I have always had in myself, and also about the importance of continuing to “let my light shine” for lack of a less cliche phrase.  I come from a family of teachers on my dad’s side, and though I never felt like getting up in front of a classroom, I always felt amazing on stage, and I think there is still some teaching in my blood that can be done, it just might not be in a classroom.  I think I might be a teacher, but not in the “traditional” sense.  I think I’m going to make a difference and influence the lives of others, and that sharing my personal story is a huge part of that.

I could say that I’m sad that it took me so long to realize these things about myself, about my inner and outer beauty, about my unique background and experiences.  No one else has these specific traits or stories, so how could I ever have wanted to be the same as others, when being different is honestly, so cool?  So I will not say I’m sad, because I am not.  Not anymore at least.  And I can’t beat myself up like I used to, because I no longer see the point.  I see beauty and love and truth in who I am, and that my palette of colors truly makes the world a better, more interesting place.  No need for assimilation, no need to blend in.  If people think I stand out, then let them get to know me and I can teach them all the cool things about myself.

Today is a good day to be happy.  Today and every day, and to love your own story.  And if you like, to share it with others.  :)

It’s been an interesting day.  The first sunny, snow-free day in ages.  It’s 12 degrees and it feels like spring is coming.  (this is because it’s been very cold the last few weeks, 12 FEELS warmer than it is)

I worked this morning and though it was a productive day, where I helped families in the college search process, I found my mind was a little distracted.  I typically go to a Saturday morning yoga class and though I don’t mind working the occasional Saturday, I greatly missed my routine this morning.  I also missed the class last weekend because of Valentine’s weekend, and though I asked, my boyfriend was not keen on going to a yoga class.  I didn’t mind though because we had such a wonderful weekend together, and I hardly get to see him since we are long distance.  And I went to the yoga class on Wednesday, I just like to do it as often as I can.

I suppose I also feel a bit cloudy and tired because I attended an international festival for the current students and, though I told myself, “I’m leaving at 7:30 or 8:00,” I still didn’t leave till 9:00.  I have a very Type A devotion to my work and the students that attend the college I work for.  It’s my alma mater and I’m very passionate about the school and what it offers its students.  And I have always loved supporting our students because I know how much it means to them when staff and faculty come to their events.  The community is amazing and I’m very happy with the work that I do.

I do, however, think I over-commit myself.  And then when I finally get time to myself, I don’t want to do a thing.  At least nothing productive.  I usually just want to sleep or play computer games.  And though I have always been an involved individual, I find myself spread very thin lately.  Longing for sleep is a recurring theme in my days, and even when I get to sleep, sometimes I can’t fall asleep.  My mind is always running with “What do I have to do tomorrow? How much time do I have for activities on the weekend? When do I get groceries? Will I have time to go see that event? Can I do one of my art projects or read a book?”

So in the midst of all of this, I recognize that I’m in need of some balance.  And due to some poor eating habits that I’ve developed over the years, I have put on a good amount a weight.  So my plan today, was to go to the gym, but I found I had started to doze off once I got home and sat on the couch to check facebook.  I wasn’t even on a pillow; I simply leaned against the wall, and found my eyes closed, and my breath starting to relax.

And though everyone is entitled to relax, I found I was beating myself up over not going to the gym, or vacuuming and chewing bubble gum or eating a cookie.  On some level I think I have this fear I’m going to miss out on everything or that I’m not up to speed on the goals I have set.  But in talking to friends, I find I have to remember the quote, “You are not Atlas, carrying the world on your shoulder.  It is good to remember that the planet is carrying you.”  -Vandana Shiva

So I suppose, again, I have to remember that if I take things one day at a time and it will be much easier.  I don’t want to jump ahead on anything that I’m not ready for, but I also don’t want to waste time and not start things like establishing healthy habits of exercise and eating right.  So it’s not 100% scheduled to a T yet, but at least it’s a start.  And I have supportive friends and family and loving boyfriend. :) It took me a long time to get here; I think right now I’ll just give myself a metaphorical pat on the back and continue to think positively.

…And maybe put the Dubble Bubble away.

I have realized through various experiences I have had in the last year, health scares of my own and people I know, an injury I had, people coming in and out of my life, etc., to keep those I love and care about close.

If someone is a priority in your life, you let them know as often as you can.  It’s that simple.  Every day if you are able!  If you have friends you care about but don’t see every day, still keep in touch as often as you can, if they truly matter to you, for if you are to put them on the back burner, how are they to know over time that they are still important to you?

And personal energy is important.  There needs to be balance.  You need to take care of yourself.  If you are the one giving all the time, learn to step back.  If the person really wants to be in your life, friend, family member, significant other, etc., they will let you know, and remind you of your importance in their life as well and give back, because they will WANT to be there and have you be a part of their lives.

I bring this up because I have had loved ones, both friends and family struggling with this stress, and after seeing various posts on facebook, and knowing my own experiences,  I want them to know and understand that it is okay to step back.

In some cases, for example in my own various relationships where I have felt this pain, I might step back as well.  I have felt mentally burnt out because of a number of events in the last year, and for my own sanity, I might retreat, but it doesn’t mean I don’t care; I simply am making the choice to take better care of myself.

I am also hoping these people I care about, will see the need to reevaluate how they treat other people, because in my heart, I know they are good people, they just might not see how they hurt.  Or they don’t feel they have to give or need to give, that a person will continue to hand them love on a silver platter and expect an obedient friend or romantic companion who will give until they have nothing left to continue to act in that manner towards them (because they believe or desire this type of relationship to be acceptable.)  And then, if that person cannot give what the non-understanding person expects, they might move onto another person, or go back to that person they initially drained when they have recovered (if that person allows that behavior back in their life).  I don’t need to tell you that that is not an example of a healthy relationship.  Eventually someone will give up or experience emotional distress from the behavior.

For those who give and forget to give to themselves, a little self-love is very healthy.  If you are afraid of giving, but you want someone to be in your life, (a lover, a close friend, family member, etc.), think about giving a little more, and you will get amazing things back.  If you care more about material things, that will become evident over time, and you will lose the person you care about.  Be proactive, and make a change to better your mind and your heart.

That being said, I might need the occasional reminder to let go of what I can’t control and let go of those people and practices that no longer serve the path of a positive life experience.  I needed to get this out for a long time, and I struggled with the wording, so if this seems a little rough around the edges, that is why.  The biggest piece I want people to take away from this is that I’m not trying to attack anyone, I simply am explaining an awareness I’ve gained and if it is beneficial to others who might be going through a similar experience, I hope it can help.

Thank you for listening! :)

Peace, Love and Blessings! <3

Exotic = a parrot, not me.

The term “Mulatto” sounds like a cookie, not an “identity.” It’s roots are in slavery and are often associated with “mules.” (offspring of a horse and a donkey, hints that if you’re of mixed race that you can’t reproduce. Still think it’s acceptable now? It sounds extremely offensive.)

I don’t like the word, please don’t use it to describe me. Use words like, “nice, sweet, theatrical, creative, great writer, etc.” or if you think I’m mean or a horrible writer, you can say so, but don’t be offensive.   And at least back it up with some supportive analysis if you think I’m truly a horrible writer.

Also, if you insist on using a racial term, use biracial, or multi-ethnic. My mom is white and my dad is black. It’s 2013, please be educated. And if you aren’t sure, ASK what’s acceptable. Or try, “Do you mind me asking about your background? I love to learn about new cultures.” It’s less offensive than trying to pin a label on me. Asking is great. It really doesn’t hurt to ask nicely.

If you ask me, “What are you?” however, I will only respond “I’m human.”

If you assume I speak Spanish, or think that I should because you think I “look” Spanish, go jump in a lake. I grew up speaking English and I learned German because I wanted to, not because it was “expected,” or because it was considered “practical.”

This is America, you should be able to study whatever language you want to study. And your looks should have nothing to do with your decision.  I am clearly not blond haired and blue-eyed.  (A stereotype, I should point out) but I have a significant amount of German heritage in addition to my Bermudian heritage.  I also speak more German than most members of my family.  And I’m quite proud of all of these facts.)

On an another ironic and almost comical note, today I’m wearing a Daisy Fuentes shirt from Kohl’s. It’s the only one I own and I got it on clearance. It’s possible someone might say I look very “Latina” or Hispanic. I truly have no problem with other cultures and initially thought it was cool years ago, until people almost were disappointed or irritated that they weren’t “correct” in “figuring me out.”  Some Hispanics even accused me of lying about my background or about not knowing Spanish.

Seriously?  If I knew Spanish, I would speak it.  Seriously I would, but I don’t want to take time to learn a new language when I haven’t perfected the first foreign language I know.  I speak with a great accent in German, but my grammar has never been the best.  And honestly, it makes me uncomfortable when people think I HAVE to know a specific language based on my appearance. It feels like they are trying to discount my actual heritage. It gets frustrating because people are making assumptions. If you can imagine, it’s almost a similar feeling to when I put on a little weight and an old woman asked me “Oh, do you have a BABY in there???” (I didn’t) and if you frequently got that question or something similar, it would really bother you too.

That’s how I feel. Normally I wouldn’t go on about this, but for some reason, everyone I met last week wanted to put me in a box, analyze me and break me down into parts.

I’m not an experiment or a circus animal. I am a young woman, with a career and dreams and a desire to live my life without playing 20 milliion questions every day. You’d think I was a celebrity or the president. Oh wait, he’s like me too.

And while I’m continuing to be PC and informationally correct, he’s really the first HALF-BLACK/biracial president.

And I’d like to point out. DO YOU EVER HEAR ANYONE CALLING HIM MULATTO? I don’t think so. People generalize and say “African-American,” but he does have a white mother, and therefore is biracial by “definition.”  If one MUST be defined by race.  I don’t think people should be, but that is a whole other blog entry entirely.

So there you go. Thank you very much ladies and gents, I stand PC, biracial/multi-ethnic and proud.

Any haters out there can go cool off in a lake.  Or do some research.  Personally I find the comedy constructed about this sort of thing is the most informative.

Peace and Blessings.

Anonymous…

So I took on a new project, of my own volition and though it has completely good intent, I am discovering that people are insisting on breaking it down and analyzing it, rather than just an opportunity to uplift people’s spirits. 

I have been sending anonymous notes to coworkers after some difficult news was released at work.  Just compliments and positivity and yet somehow instead of just taking it for what it is, I feel like I’m getting attacked to reveal that it is me.  I would rather not have them know and just enjoy it, and not think that I did it to make them thank me.  So I have denied any claim to the notes.  People still don’t believe me.  I mentioned that sometimes it is more important to look at the message rather than the messenger, but people are having difficulty grasping that idea.  They are more interested in revealing a mystery.

And I never realized that something that was meant to be so positive, could make me feel so down.  I wanted to bring out the best in humanity, not the worst.  I think I will still continue the project, but I will continue to measure the reaction and see if it is worthwhile pursuing in the next few days. 

I wanted to change the negativity brought about by this change to positivity, not bring about more negativity.  I am trying not to feel like my heart is heavy, but I suppose it is what it is.  People will make what they want of it, and I’ll just continue to do what I do, to be what I am, and to do my best to remain in positive spirits and not think it was a mistake.

And now on to the next task…LUNCH!

So I’m on the road occasionally for my job and tonight I was asked by a server if I wanted a straw for my orange juice.  I know I probably looked a little disheveled.  The day was hectic, insanely wearing on the nerves for a variety of reasons, and my hair was likely frizzy, perhaps I even looked frazzled.  But I must ask, did I really look like I was a kid?

Granted, I DO understand that looking young is a blessing, but it’s a little weird in my opinion to be asked if I want a straw at 28…if I’m going to be asked if I want a straw, I’d like other kid privileges to be extended as well, i.e. playing in the balls at the McDonald’s Fun Room and getting discounts on food and tickets to events.  It’s not fair to grow so much in your youth that you exceed the height limit for all the activities that your friends are doing, especially at birthday parties or get togethers, and you end up having to stand with the moms because they won’t let you in. People don’t get that you actually are within the age range of playing in the fun room and just because you’re tall you’re excluded.   (youthful looking and tall, if I tweeted my hashtag would be “thingsicomplainedaboutgrowingup.”)

I’m just saying.  It’s not that I appreciate these qualities. You have to understand my reasoning—-I would love to have kid privileges again, but all of them please, not just a straw in my orange juice.  And also, kids’ meals with the toy.  You should not charge the extra so many cents or whatever it is for the toy.  That’s just stealing.  Preying on poor parents who are trying to quiet their kid down with the gift/lure of a toy.  Or the method my parents used, “You can open and play with the toy when you have finished your meal.” (toys were not an extra cost in those days)

That’s just good parenting.  Again, in my opinion.  Tease me if you like.  But I bring up a good point.  These fast food places just want more money, and are realizing they might be a dying industry in a growing world of health nuts.  So they charge extra money for a toy….it makes SO much sense!!! (Not.)

On another completely unrelated note, I saw an elderly gentleman in the hotel lounge, sitting in nearly the same spot as he was the year before when I was eating dinner at this hotel LAST year.  I decided to ask this year if he was an employee or a regular.  I didn’t ask him directly because he was in mid-conversation, but the very nice barista who asked me if I wanted a straw, also let me know that this older man in a leather jacket and a straw hat is actually the man that drives the shuttle to the Casino.  It is a ten minute ride to the Casino, but you’d have to pay me a good sum to make me go.  I am not a fan of gambling.  I would much rather save my money or spend it on something where I know I’m getting something out of it.  Giving up my money for chance? Sounds like a ponzi scheme to me…

Another familiar face in the lounge was an admissions counselor from another school who is probably in his 60s or 70s.  He is nice, but his demeanor makes me wonder if he has a life outside of his work.  Work is important, but when you get drained just hearing about what someone does in their day you either feel like you aren’t doing enough (despite knowing you work very hard) or that the person who is telling you about their day is running on accelerants.

I think I’d rather achieve success in a natural fashion, without stimulants, thank you.

And now, I think perhaps because of a lack of stimulants and a three hour drive to my destination, that my journal entry topic has taken on a mind of its own.

Ah well, I might just go with it.  I think I’m going to tell you about my morning and about St. Paddy’s Day weekend.

This morning, the reason everything was so harrowing, was because the college car got stuck in the snow and a safety officer and the director of campus safety had to help guide me out of the snow filled spot.  Then I had trouble finding a spot that was plowed and the bottoms of my pants and socks were wet.  I hadn’t worn my higher boots because I didn’t intend to be making deep treks through the snow.  Just was hoping to get through the slush in the parking lot and not ruin my regular shoes.  Then somehow, I ended up having to get a coworker to pick me up from a distant parking lot so I could actually avoid a ticket from leaving my car on main street overnight while being away.  But on the plus side, my diligence in getting this all taken care of early allowed me to get down to my destination before evening traffic got to its worst.

And St. Paddy’s Day Weekend.  It was a GREAT weekend.  I spent it with my wonderful boyfriend and we visited a local pub near where I live, watched a Bruins game into the afternoon and ate good Irish food for an early dinner.  We also visited a few of his friends in Nashua, played an entertaining card game called “Cards Against Humanity” and watched a terrible, but terribly funny horror movie called “Rubber,” about a tire that is possessed and has telepathic powers that he uses to kill his victims.

It’s just as silly as it sounds.  And we made tire jokes the entire movie.  (Pun fully intended.)

Well, I’m having difficulty staying awake, so I think I might retire early before my fair in the morning…

…Okay, I promise that’s the LAST tire joke I will use in this entry.  But I could also mention that it really has been a GoodYear since my very first college fair nearly a year ago.

Okay seriously, I’m quitting the tire jokes before I get numerous angry comments on my blog, lol, (though it might be worth it for a laugh)

Good night world! And as always, Be well! :)

Tonight I was at the grocery store and asked for $10 cash back in quarters, and the guy behind me said, “Super pinball player aren’t ya?” And I said, “Yeah, but I tell everyone I just need the quarters for my laundry, you can keep that under wraps, can’t you?” And he laughed. 

Little did he know, I am not a very skilled pinball player, but I am excellent laundry folder.  I once got asked if I went to school to know how to fold so neatly. 

I remember the moment well, and the puzzlement I felt in thinking someone would actually consider paying money to go to school learn how to fold. 

The irony was too much.  I loved my college, but I never would have paid to take a class on folding. 

And then, it was my turn to laugh.

 
 
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