Friday, August 29, 2014

Inside Story: My Tattoos Part 1

So way back when, almost a year ago, I got my sixth tattoo and shared the story behind it with you all.

Here's a refresher for you.

I realized that I haven't shared anything of my others with you or why I chose to have them done. So, in the next few posts, I'll open my personal world with you and share some stories.

Since my first post was about my most recent tattoo, I'll go backwards from the fifth to the first.

Pardon the bad photo quality. Taking a pic of your own ankle is a tad difficult.

Spirit. What does it mean and where does it come from?

Well, let me give you some background information. There's a book series that I love. Not many people know about it; it's kind of got one of those cult followings. It is called the Sword of Truth Series. The author, Terry Goodkind, is an amazing writer. Detailed, emotional, complicated plot lines, character development (even for the minor ones), love, war, death, life, celebrations, magic, dragons, wizards, witches, sorceresses, philosophy, religion, etc. It's wonderful. Look into it.

If these books are of interest to you, caution! There will be some spoilers!!

At the very end of the fifth book, Soul of the Fire, one of the main characters that you follow from the first few pages of the series is in trouble. She's a powerful woman who's above kings and queens, and people of magic, and regular folk. She is also a being of magic,not a witch or anything, but a living weapon created from powerful magic many years ago (that's summing it up a Lot). Anyway, a negative part of her lineage is that she cannot bear a male child. If so, he will become evil. In an earlier book, a witch predicts that if she ever becomes pregnant, the child will be male. So, to prevent this from happening, she tries not to become pregnant. Due to a failed magical item, she becomes pregnant, but doesn't tell her husband right away because she knows she has to abort the child to save the future.

She gets a potion that will do the trick, and walking back to the place she's been staying at, she decides she's not going to do it, that it's her kid and she's going to try to raise him so he doesn't become evil. So she dumps out the liquid, ready to tell her husband the amazing news, and she's attacked. Jumped by a group of men willing to do anything to kill her. They beat her senselessly, to a bloody pulp, so much so that she's on the brink of death and once discovered is no longer recognizable - by her husband. He's a nice guy though, takes care of her for a bit, and after a few weeks, realizes it's her. (Crazy!)

In the sixth book,  The Faith of the Fallen, he takes her away to a secluded area to care for her until she's better again. This spans the time of about 6-8 months (about 18 chapters). At one point she wakes and asks if the baby's okay. It died in the beating and that's how her husband finds out that he was almost a father. (How sad is that?) Anyway, she's been in pain for so long that once she's actually better, she doesn't believe it and feels absolutely worthless; she wants to die and stop being a burden. She's afraid that if she tried to move or get up, she'll be in pain again. While she's feeling sorry for herself, her husband widdles out a wooden statuette for her. He tricks her into getting up one day by leaving a glass of water out of reach for her. Afterwards, he gives the statuette to her, she connects with it immediately.

He names the statuette Spirit. In the book, it says, "it invoked in her some visceral response, a tension that was startlingly familiar. Something about the woman in the carving, some quality it conveyed, made Kahlan hunger to be well, to be fully alive, to be strong and independent again." From there, she committed herself to gaining her strength and muscles back, to be 100% again and take back her life.

This book, especially that chapter, was just so inspirational that I was taken aback by it. The name of the carving held so much meaning and power it just resided in me ever-so-strongly. I had to get it.

The reason for putting it on the bottom of my ankle was for symbolic purposes.

"Kahlan could see Spirit standing in the bedroom window, looking out at the world, 
her robes flowing in the wind, her head thrown back, her back arched, 
her fists at here sides in defiance of anything that would think to bridle her."

To stand your ground, to fight for your life and what you believe; it starts with putting your foot down. Feet have to move forward in order to carry the rest of you with (for the most part), so Spirit starts from the sole of your feet and moves through the rest of the body, hence why I chose to place it there.

Thanks for reading today!

<3 Tawny

Monday, August 18, 2014

Lessons in Religion

If you were to tell me three years ago, or really anytime in the past, that I would find and become a part of a church community, I would probably laugh in your face. But that has been the case for me as of late. I actually look forward to Sunday mornings. I've talked about the basics of the church in a past post here, so I won't go over that again.

But, about a week or two ago, we watched a UU minister perform a sermon about spreading the word of Unitarian Universalism. (His name is Aaron White and I've linked this sermon a few times for you here.) The main takeaways I want to point out to you are centered in italics.

In the past when someone has told me about their religion and their church, they would tell me why it's the best and why I needed to convert that very moment. Because, you know, if I didn't then I would go to Hell. Telling someone you'll go to Hell because they don't believe what you were raised to believe is not an effective way to sell your religion. The same goes for telling someone they'll be denied admission to Heaven. If you're talking to someone, for example, who doesn't believe in God to do so, talk to them in a way they can understand you, not the way they already don't believe.

If you want people to learn about your religion, you have to speak in their language.

The minister said that religion should be about bringing Heaven to Earth (something I've always tried to achieve in other words). Why can't we make the world we live in now the best possible world?

Everyday I see people making choices that will hurt others, just so they can succeed, so they can have a better life, and so they can go to Heaven. From what I've always understood, the first rule of just about every religion is LOVE. He reminded me about that rule.

Religion is about love and building a world that loves.

In order to love each other, we have to understand each other. I've quickly grown to hold dear the community I found here. It's a nice escape from the close-minded world of living in West Texas.

I know it may not be the place for everyone, but I want to share my community with others. I enjoy discussing it, but I also enjoy learning about others' religions and I respect the multitude of things people believe in. We should be sharing our beliefs with each other. But when you share, you should never condemn others for sharing. We are all individuals and as individuals we have differences. It is inevitable. That's part of what makes life awesome.

The UU church cam to be by people who believed in building a better world. Our roots actually stem from Christianity. Thomas Jefferson was a Christian (later a Unitarian) who believed in love, science, and the future. He even believed that by this day and age, everyone would be a Unitarian Universalist.

Unitarian Universalism is a liberal religion.
(Not to be confused with liberal politics.) And we are not the only ones. There are plenty of religious congregations that have more liberal beliefs as well. Most UUs do not find the church until after being raised Baptist, Methodist, Catholic, etc. and come in with a lot of religious baggage. I was not raised with religion and even I carry some baggage - perceptions of religion that I either didn't understand or only knew negative stereotypes about. But I'm learning now that not all religion is as bad as I once thought. :) I am at a comfortable point of knowing that I can never know the truth for sure. My new religion let's me hold this untruth as my truth (if that makes sense).
God is not fully known to us.

Each member sees God in a different way. Whether one of our members are Atheist, Agnostic, or non-denominational, we're all just searching for the truth. For some, that truth is science. For others, that truth may lie in the secrets of nature. For me, it's science and love. And yes, I struggle sometimes, but that's why I've started on this journey; why I decided to join the church.

I want to be a better person. I want to love as many people as possible. I want that love to spread to others as well.

"God is too big for any one religion to own," said the minister we listened to that day.

He reminded us that our religion is not a creedal church. We do not require our members to believe in the same things in order to remain members. The only thing we require is openness and acceptance. We may not verbally express God in everyday practice, but this is how we see Him in relation to us and our world.

I've been going to this church since February(ish). I didn't realize how much I actually enjoyed going until recently. I find myself talking about it any chance I get. It's like falling in love. You want to tell as many people as possible. And trust me, the more I learn about, the more I plan on sharing.

It's difficult to share everything in one post, and he says everything a lot more eloquently than I've just done here, which is why I've linked the video throughout this post. Listen to it while you're sending emails or sweeping at home. It's a nice listen.

Thanks for reading at least,

<3 Tawny

Monday, July 7, 2014

What's Wrong With Femininity?

Okay, I've been refraining from positing this for a while. It's been in my draft box for a long time and in my mind even longer. I have to warn you, this post goes everywhere, because my mind is kind of everywhere. So I'm sorry if some parts don't flow.

Women can do what men do, but not the other way around:
Now, don't get me wrong, I'm all about girl power and if a woman wants to be CEO then by all means, go for it. If you want to be a female president, shoot for the stars.

But if you want to be a stay at home mom... well, then you're just not aiming high enough.
Why do we say this kind of stuff? A woman should be able to have her own goals, dreams, and aspirations. Feminism claims this to be the ultimate truth but I see contradictions everywhere I turn.

I don't consider myself a feminist, only because to me, the term is not very inclusive. But I do believe in equal rights among all. Without putting a label on myself, I would consider myself to be an egalitarian. It's not just about girl power for me, it's about allowing men to show a bit of femininity. I don't think that many realize that men aren't always given equal opportunities themselves. But before you lash out on me, know that I'm Not talking about the pay gap or workforce inequality among genders. That's an entirely different topic.

I work in very female dominated  field. I also have a bachelor's degree in a very female dominated field. Coincidence? I don't know. I don't really believe in them. This just happened to be the path I chose. But let me try to find a way to break this down.

Men become engineers. Women become teachers.
Can/should women become engineers? Most definitely! Can men become teachers? Yes. Should they become teachers? Maybe? Do many people find it odd to see a male elementary school teacher? Yeah, just a bit. Why though?

Contradictions: I've noticed this happen a few times in the area that I work in. For example, when we're required to dress professionally, the men wear suits and the women are excited to break out their power suits. Power. Suits.

Why, tell me, can't they be power suits for men, or just suits for women? Yes, this is a very small matter, but if you think about it. This makes it seem like women can only get power from dressing like men. (That statement is a bit over-exaggerated, but I'm trying to get you to think.)

Or when trying to hire people, if a woman appears to be bossy, well, that's just not what we're looking for. Or a guy is really shy, well, he's not going to be successful. Why? How do you know? You're judging someone on preconceived ideas of how a (fe)male's personality should be. How dare you? Hire people on the skills they have and will be able to pick up through training and experience.

Feminine aspirations:
I feel that in today's society, traditional feminine aspirations among women are scoffed at sometimes. Yes, we're encouraged to wear the dress that highlights our curves and make-up that highlights our natural beauty. But we're also expected to climb that ladder, break that glass ceiling, over and over and over. In my field, getting a PhD is expected - especially if you're female. But if you don't, well then why would you go into the career? Or if you do, then you might want to get your PhD before you have kids, because then it becomes exponentially more difficult to reach that goal. Personally, I  just don't want a PhD. I don't really ever want to be a VPSA (Vice President for Student Affairs). That's just never been an aspiration of mine.

But Tawny, you have so much potential and skill. Why wouldn't you want to climb the ladder? We need more women at the top. Don't you want to make more money?

- Well, readers. Potential, skill, and the need to fill a gap just isn't enough motivation for me to put more stress and responsibility on my shoulders. Money's a good motivator, but I would rather live a simpler life if that meant spending more time with my future family. I want babies. I want to spend time with them. I don't want to be the mom who brushes off little Timmy because I have a dissertation chapter to write. I don't want to be the person sending emails late at night to keep up on work. That's just never been an aspiration of mine.

Here's the Truth:
I finally decided to touch on this topic (trust me, this is only skimming the surface. I could talk about it for days.) because of an article I read about Kirsten Dunst. In the article, she talks about how she personally feels that being a mom is the highest honor and "sometimes you need your night and shining armor". I loved this, but other people were outraged. Why? These are her values. If you were really a feminist, you would appreciate her for sticking to what she believes is right for her. She's not ruining anything for you. She's not making a law declaring we go back to the 40s lifestyle. She's making the choice that all of you are fighting for her to be able to do.

You can knock Disney all you want but you know what? Snow White came out in the 30s. That was a much different time. Also, Cinderella is allowed to wear glass high heels if she wants. If you're afraid your child will fall into the gender binary because of a movie, then you might want to rethink your parenting. Just because Legos come in a blue box doesn't mean your daughter can't play with it. And just because a doll has pink clothes, doesn't mean your son can't learn how to care for another. Get over yourselves and stop picking fights over things that don't matter.

So what's wrong with feminitiy?:There shouldn't be anything wrong with it. If you want to take over the world, do it. If you want to be a model, do it. We need to just stop knocking down people for wanting to do what they want to do. We shouldn't be knocking people down for voicing opinions. We shouldn't be blaming all of our failed relationship ideas on Disney princesses. We shouldn't scoff at people who don't want to be CEOs. If you're a feminist, or call yourself something else, and you truly want us to have equal rights, then you have to start acting like it. A suit isn't going to make you any more or less powerful just because you're a woman. You don't even have to wear a suit to dress professionally anyway. Stop it. I think you just want attention.

Thanks for trying to follow along with this mini, scattered, post,
<3 Tawny