Haters, This is Not Your Home

Note: I am sharing this content across all my personal & professional accounts tonight and I have begun the process of removing content and/or blocking fans/followers.

Nearly 20 years ago, someone told me that people will only say or do certain things if they think they have a home with you, meaning they will make offensive comments or act inappropriately because they think you are okay with it.

That concept has been on my mind a lot for the last 9 months. I guess you could say it’s fully gestated and ready to be birthed, because I’m writing this today to post across my online platform and clarify what does and does not have a home with me.

You do not have a home with me if you cannot understand why all lives don’t matter until black, brown, indigenous, women’s, and LGBTQIA lives matter.

You do not have a home with me if you think believing in Jesus absolves you from aligning yourself with a political party that has been complicit in allowing one man to encourage and enable hate crimes and sedition.

You do not have a home with me if you refuse to comprehend why there is a call to defund the police by communities of marginalized people who have experienced racial profiling, harassment, and police brutality, all of which have been well documented.

You do not have a home with me if you think it’s funny to mock mental health issues, or if you think anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, OCD or a host of other diagnoses are not real and can be overcome by willpower.

You do not have a home with me if you infantilize or mock people with disabilities, or don’t consider accessibility to be your concern.

You do not have a home with me if you say you “see both sides” and are unwilling to speak up when you bear witness to hateful, oppressive behavior.

You do not have a home with me if you are unwilling to carefully consider your thoughts, beliefs and actions towards people of a different race, gender identity, sexual preference, religion, ethnicity, or ability than your own AND determine whether those thoughts, beliefs and actions are in alignment with your highest, best self.

Who DOES have a home with me? People who are willing to be honest in their struggle to address their biases and prejudices. People who are willing to take a deep dive into their belief systems and say, “Hey, this belief is messed up, I need to replace it.” People who are willing to have conversations on hard topics and find resources that will help make them better allies.

If you saw yourself reflected in any of these statements, and you’re unwilling to work on these issues, then I expect you to show yourself out. If you think this content is up for debate, and decide you need to defend your behavior in the comments, or be hateful/oppressive, you will be blocked.

Love Me, Love My Blog: On Blogging, Boundaries and Privacy

One of my initial concerns about blogging was how private I wanted to be. If this was a place for me to share experiences and explore ideas – many of which would be frowned upon by long-time friends and family members – did I want anyone and everyone to know what I was writing about? Or did I want to keep my identity a secret?

Initially I kept everything as quiet as possible. But I am notoriously bad at keeping secrets about myself. When it comes to my life, I am a believer in “don’t ask, don’t tell.” I believe we all want to feel known and understood, and if our online personas are the way we let people know who we are, then sharing that content might bring us that much closer to feeling known and understood – and, ultimately, loved.

http://www.girlwithmoxie.com/2004/06/cyber-snooping/

Reading through this post from 15 years ago, I struggle to remember which coworker this was, though I have a pretty good idea. She left a few months after I started and later helped me get an interview with her new employer, but I decided it wasn’t a good fit as the job was a lateral move in many ways.

I also realize I was making a lot out of nothing. She gave me the link to her blog and that constituted permission for me to read it. If I had told our mutual supervisor about her blog, though, that would have been a bad idea. (That supervisor was a hot mess, but I had yet to discover this fact.)

I still struggle to practice detached compassion, whether with colleagues, friends or family. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in other people’s problems, especially when your own problems feel insurmountable or trivial. Solving their issues – or helping them find solutions – is extremely validating.

Then there’s the matter of codependency. For years I saw that word as being exclusive to alcohol and drug addiction, but I finally came to accept that codependency is ubiquitous. It’s the subtext in so many songs and TV show plotlines. It sneaks into every relationship, whether with a romantic partner or a parent. In short: codependency is a bitch.

At the heart of all of this is boundaries: setting and maintaining those lines of involvement, whether physical, mental, spiritual or emotional. Knowing when to call someone on their behavior because they have breached a boundary line and dealing with the potential fallout. I still struggle with this, too. But like this blog, I am a work in progress.

It was 15 years ago today…

…that I began the Girl with Moxie blog. To paraphrase another song, I started at Blogspot, now I’m here (on self-hosted WordPress).

A lot has changed for me in 15 years, both personally and professionally. I started the blog out of boredom and restlessness at my office job. One day while surfing the interwebz, I found a wealth of bloggers who were writing about music, movies, TV, books, their lives, their jobs, their kids. I was introduced to music I had never heard of, found recipes and ideas that intrigued me, made new friends. I decided to dive in and write about whatever was on my mind.

I miss that simplicity. Because while I enjoy Instagram and Twitter is good for breaking news and a laugh, and Facebook does occasionally have its merits, there was something very gratifying about seeking out blogs to read and connecting with fellow bloggers on a much more low-tech scale. Long-form writing is still around, but it is often drowned out by all the video content.

Even though I don’t blog like I used to, I refuse to give up this site for many reasons, the main one being that it’s still an avenue for me to explore ideas and share my experiences without the editorial process of querying, rewriting, editing and handling rejection. I still get some traffic here (seeing the Google searches that bring people to the GWM blog is often amusing), a good friend hosts the site for free, and it’s an archive of my cyberpresence in a way that other resources aren’t.

Here’s the plan: I’ll share content from that first year and add some updates. I’ll try to carve out the time to craft new posts (it ain’t easy these days, for reasons I will get into later).

Let’s do this, kids.

Been a Long Time Gone

Sheesh, it’s been over six months since I last blogged. I’m way more mouthy and active over on the Facebook page and Twitter, but the long-form blogging well is dry. That’s a bit embarrassing.

What’s funny is that I have plenty to write about – I always do – it’s more about making the time to write something. And when I blog, I like to write well-crafted copy with references and links where appropriate. When you write for a living – well, I don’t write long-form content for my day job, but I still call myself a writer – there are certain standards you want to uphold. At least I do.

There were a few years when I did the NaBloPoMo challenge, but apparently that rode off into the sunset of the interwebs. It was taken over by BlogHer, which was acquired by SheKnows. They now have something called the BlogHer Writing Lab for getting writing prompts. They want to offer more flexibility, it seems. I don’t need flexibility with my blog posting. I need structure so I get more content on here on the regular.

Bah. No matter. I will look for some other challenges that maybe I can do in December to get this party back in gear.

Gratitude, Updates and a Request

Thank you to everyone who responded to my last post on dealing with depression. It’s been nearly a month and while I don’t feel as awful as I did, I still have some bad days, interspersed with fair to middlin’ days. I continue to journal about all the feelings and honor my flow when it comes to socializing and interacting with the world.

After I wrote that last post, I noticed something that I think deserves mention. When those of us who struggle with depression are honest about how we are feeling, sometimes those who are “normal” (and by that I mean people who have never been formally diagnosed with depression) present the depressed person with what I’m going to call escape routes. Those may take the form of a trip somewhere, a meal out, a weekend adventure.

Sometimes no mention is made of the depressed person’s struggles. Sometimes it is. And while I’m sure their motives are coming from a genuinely compassionate place, and they may not know what else to do or say, I want to let them know what is the most helpful thing they can do: hold the space.

Holding the space for someone who is going through a difficult time in their life – whether it’s because they are grieving a loss, chronically depressed, physically ill, caring for someone who is ill, or a host of other reasons – can be the kindest, most compassionate thing you can do. It doesn’t require elaborate displays, big promises, witty words or clever memes. It doesn’t ask either party to do anything outside of their personal comfort zone. It just asks you to be present.

Holding the space looks like any or all of these things, at least to me:

  • a Like, heart or smile emoticon on a Facebook post or in a tweet
  • a virtual hug
  • a hug in person
  • a note in the mail that says “I am thinking of you”
  • a private message (email or social media) that says “I am thinking of you”

I know that asking people to do what may look like nothing of substance may fly in the face of what society deems helpful. I think most folks (myself included) want to contribute tangible items or experiences, because it’s measurable.

But here’s the thing: it’s the little moments of grace and goodness, the one-sentence messages of love and support that grow bigger and brighter in the heart of the person who receives AND in the heart of the person who gave. It’s the heart emojis that show we are willing to spread love in a world full of fear, anger and hate. It’s the intangible work of holding the space that, in time, presents tangible results – ones that foster hope, faith and love in the world and shine a light into the darkest of places, no matter where those dark places may be.

Je Suis Fatiguée*

After the events of last night and all the news coverage and Internet posts on Ferguson, I am emotionally drained. I ended up watching Sleepless in Seattle for the umpteenth time just to shut off my brain for a couple hours. Doesn’t change the fact that the system sucks, that there is injustice in the world and I’m still unsure what I can do to help make things better.

Yesterday’s post about T-Wizzle and Junior generated a lot of traffic and positive response, for which I say thank you. I am hesitant to go back to writing my usual wackiness after that, but then this blog is about having the moxie to say what is on my mind and not second guessing myself or feeling self-conscious about it. So there will continue to be pop culture commentary in between more thoughtful, vulnerable missives.

In the meantime, let’s all do our best to be kind and patient with each other, and take time out to rest. Lord knows we all need it right now.

*French for “I am tired” or “I am fatigued.”

Site is fixed!

I finally fixed my site today. I still am not completely sure how I figured it out, but it involved using SSH on PuTTY and WP CLI and a bunch of other acronyms I can’t remember. The end result is that my plugins & themes are updated.
I am so relieved & happy.
Now back to laying about and relaxing.

Fixing All the Things – or Trying to, Anyway

Originally my post for today was going to be about my mad love for Moulin Rouge, as I watched it for the umpteenth time last night. Instead I will write about my day of attempted fixes.

First up, the blog. I had to do a manual update of WordPress, which in and of itself wasn’t too difficult, but when you haven’t done something the not-easy-but-not-all-that-hard way for a long time, it takes a while to figure out how to do it without screwing up a bunch of other stuff. I spent a lot of time searching the help forums, emailing back and forth with a friend who knows WordPress well, and fiddling with PHP files. I still cannot get it to create directories so that I can update my plugins, or even switch to a new theme, but that’s an issue for tomorrow or later in the week.

Second, my car. Agnes Lincoln has served me well for 5 years to the point I’ve gotten spoiled. Working from home means I don’t drive as much, so maintenance costs have been minimal. But tonight that all changed, as she wouldn’t start after I went to get tacos for dinner. A jumpstart didn’t work, so I had the car towed to a service station. The tow truck guy predicted a fuel pump issue, based on what he saw and what I told him. We shall see. I know enough about cars to know that I want someone else to deal with every aspect of their maintenance.

In true child-of-the-70s-and-80s fashion, I always think of Schneider from “One Day at a Time” whenever I have to be in fixit mode. He may have been a bit of a pest, and not the most skilled handyman, but he was funny and had a good heart. Here’s hoping the person who works on my car has excellent skills AND is as nice as Schneider, and has reasonable rates, too.

Schneider was THE fixit guy of the 70s and 80s.

NaBloPoMo 2014: Let’s Do This Despite a Raging Headache

I’m poking around on HootSuite, reading through tweets on my 4 different accounts, and I see something about NaBloPoMo. I’ve done it before, and I like deadlines and discipline when it comes to writing, so I go sign up, choosing to ignore the headache I’ve had since returning home from a writing session at Starbucks. (Soy peppermint mocha induced? A reaction to my cinnamon apple candle that I fired up once I got home? Who the hell knows.)

Then I start digging in to the WordPress issue I’ve been having since dealing with login attack issues a few weeks ago: it won’t let me update anything AT ALL. Not WordPress itself, not my plugins, nothing. Of course, as many bloggers know, a raging headache is the perfect time to troubleshoot your blog and go through the codex trying to figure out how  this got all shades of f***ed up.

I’ve downloaded WordPress and the plugin that will keep people from trying to access my site, I’ve poked around on the FTP site changing a few settings, and I’ve come to the conclusion that I need help figuring this shit out. Tomorrow I’ll reach out to my WordPress savvy friends. For now I’m gonna go lay down.