#noregretsaboutfood

Standard

I’ve been on this journey to becoming a more fulfilled person — not just physically, but mentally as well.

In August, I began working out with a personal trainer, and she has changed my relationship with exercise. I used to walk into the gym and I would gravitate to the cardio machines, and when it came to weights, I literally had no idea what I was doing. I felt like some sort of zombie on the weight machines. Enter Claudia, who is this petite, Italian, cross-fit monster. And when I say monster, I don’t mean that she yells at me all the time, it’s actually quite the opposite. She’s just a monster in that she’s jacked and she does cross-fit work outs and cross-fit competitions and makes them look like cake. (For the record, I do not do cross-fit all the time, but she does have me do some modified cross-fit work outs.) She sticks to a strict paleo diet and recommended the Whole 30 program for me.

Since I currently have a love/hate relationship with Weight Watchers, (it leans toward the side of love, mostly, but I still hate that they changed the plan on me) she told me to try it. My best friend did it with great success in January and I felt like if she could do it, I could do it, too. I was set to start the Whole 30 on March 1, and for the three weeks before that, I started slowly weeding out things that I’d give up on the plan, since I didn’t want to just quit cold turkey. I made a meal plan, and I went to four different grocery stores to stock up on everything I’d need. I even ordered chia seeds and vanilla bean powder from Amazon. I did a lot of reading on Whole 30, and I totally believed that this was going to change my entire relationship with food. I was ready to fix the stuff I didn’t know I had.

Day 1 wasn’t hard. I was full, and I liked the food I was eating. Days 2, 3, 4 and 5 passed by like a breeze. I didn’t suffer from any of those sugar withdrawal headaches that they said I’d get. According to the rules of the Whole 30, I’m not allowed to weight myself, but I said screw that and I weighed myself, just like I usually did. I was losing weight pretty rapidly, but I couldn’t tell if it was due to the Whole 30 or my increase of workouts due to the warmer weather we were having.

Days 6, 7, and 8 were also really easy. I didn’t experience the cramping or the bloating that I expected. I wasn’t angry, like the timeline said I’d be. I was pretty okay, and I was eating really delicious food. I was happy! But, as time went on in the Whole 30, the more I began to question it.

 

I grew up with a live-in grandmother who was a diabetic, so sugar was never readily available for me. I was never allowed to drink soda, and while I went through a soda period in high school and college, I would say I have soda maybe 4 times a year, if that. I do like sweets, but it isn’t like I go out of my way to get them, and I don’t go crazy if I don’t have them. I eat a pretty well balanced diet. I’m not eating pounds of pasta every night, or reaching for a whole baguette when I’m sad. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that I was unhappy on the Whole 30 and my relationship with food was turning from something positive to something negative. I began to scrutinize everything, not just for ingredients (I’m all for clean eating, by the way) but when I watched my co-workers eating donuts, or my kids eating candy, I’d sit and think, God. How incredibly disgusting. I bought into this whole 30 idea to fix things that I didn’t know existed, because they were so sure that I had some sort of problem with my gut that must need healing. I didn’t dream of pancakes or glasses of wine while I was on the program, I just dreamed of feeling happy and fulfilled again.

One of my other best friends is an RD who works at Center for Discovery in San Diego. I was discussing the Whole 30 in a group text we’re both in and she was relatively quiet about it, but I didn’t pay a lot of attention to the silence at first, because it isn’t uncommon for her to be really busy with something else, just like the rest of us. But when I initially mentioned that I felt like I was undoing all of my good habits that I had learned since recovering from my eating disorder in high school, Nichole immediately jumped in and gave me her two cents.

She told me her thoughts on cutting out entire food groups, and she told me her opinion on carbs. (Her clients call her White Bread because she preaches the benefits of carbs all the time.) She affirmed the things I had already thought: I had a really healthy relationship with food going into the Whole 30, and it was pretty clear that my relationship with food was changing.

Most importantly, she shared with me her own view on eating, and told me to read the book Intuitive Eating I haven’t finished the book just yet, but as soon as she directed me to the book, I got on the website and read their 10 Principles.

I’m sure to those who worship practice Paleo and preach advise people to do the Whole 30, this seems like the easy way out, and I’m just another carb-loving person who is unworthy quitter who couldn’t handle the intensity of the program. But the truth is that how I feel about food is more important to me. I can still eat clean while indulging every once in a while. After starving myself for so long in high school, it was important to me that I develop a healthy relationship with food, and I found that in Weight Watchers. Ice cream isn’t inherently evil. Cupcakes aren’t inherently either. And for the love of God, neither is pizza. I don’t feel guilty when I have a scoop or two of ice cream, and I don’t feel guilty when I have a single cupcake. I don’t feel guilty when I eat a slice or two of pizza. I do feel guilty when I overeat those types of things, but that occurs on a rare occasion. But when I was on the Whole 30, I felt guilty for even thinking about those things!

So, I made peace with my food choices. I exercise, and I continue to conspicuously check my ingredients in food to make sure I’m not eating processed foods. All in all, the Whole 30 (which turned out to be the Whole 9 for me) wasn’t a total waste. It gave me everything I was looking for, which was fulfillment in my food choices. It’s just that through the Whole 30, I found a way of eating that was better fit for me.

As for those feelings of guilt? I certainly didn’t feel guilty when I had a blood orange mimosa and some Jamaican french toast this morning. And I’m going to the gym this afternoon not because I feel guilty, but because I want to go. 

 

Dear Weight Watchers

Standard

Dear Weight Watchers,

Hi, it’s me. I’ve been using the Weight Watchers system for almost a decade now. That’s right. I’ve spent almost all of my twenties on the WW plan.

It all started in college when I started putting on weight – probably a combination of booze, dorm food, and late night pizza binges. I joined when I was at my heaviest: 148 pounds.

I’ve gone on and off with the plan. I hit my goal of 128 back in early 2014 and then didn’t maintain… I put on ten pounds by March 2015. I joined again and began going to meetings at the encouragement of one of my good friends, who also works for WW.

I loved my meetings, even though they were filled with people who weren’t really my age, and weren’t facing the same daily struggles as I was. (My struggle? Cocktails. All of the cocktails.) I became frustrated because those people in my meetings were dropping pounds like flies, and I was losing maybe half a pound a week.

By October 2015, I was three pounds away from my goal weight of 130. I found my groove using the Simply Filling plan, and I also increased my workouts. I lived for those activity points, and I attempted to get at least five a day through a combination of walking my daily 10,000 fitbit steps and working out for about 45 minutes daily. By the end of the day when I got those 5 extra points, I really felt like I had earned them, you know? So it didn’t bother me to eat 2 or 3 of those points at night, when I helped myself to some froyo. In fact, it felt good knowing that even though I was eating ice cream, I was still losing weight.

In the beginning, I barely touched my 49 weeklies, but it comforted me knowing that they were there, in case I really needed them. Even on my worst “cheat” days, I hardly went over my 26 Points Plus allowance. I think the most I ever had on a cheat day was 36, which left plenty of Points Plus left.

The week after Thanksgiving, I hit lifetime. Do you know how hard it was to maintain 130 pounds over Thanksgiving? I didn’t have a single Turkey Day leftover, and my sweet, sweet fiance would gently remind me that hitting lifetime would be more satisfying than a sliver of apple-pecan pie.

And then what happened? You went and you changed the whole plan. I mean, you changed everything. I had learned to eat and stay active for my body, and then you went and changed it. Smart Points now uses calories and sugar, which is great, because sugar is a huge problem. But a lot of things I was used to eating almost DOUBLED in points, while things that are actually good for you (almonds and avocados, being one two them) stayed the same (about 5 SPs for an ounce, which is asinine.)

Moreover, you changed the way people gain activity points. I was shocked the first time I looked at my activity points and it said that I earned 14 in one day. FOURTEEN. I didn’t know what to do. I thought it was a mistake. But day by day, it kept popping up that I had fourteen activity points. I could still swap them out, but I felt that even on days when I did nothing but convert oxygen and maybe take 7000 steps, I was still earning 3-4 Activity Points, and I did nothing to earn them. I used to feel like my activity points meant something, and now I feel like you’re just handing them out like trophies at a soccer tournament for millennials.

It’s also frustrating that so much emphasis to remain on lifetime is to weigh in within two pounds of your goal. Since January, I’ve gained two pounds of muscle, courtesy of my personal trainer, and lots of days spent at the gym. My body fat decreased, but that doesn’t matter to weight watchers. Just the number on the scale determined if I had to pay that month or not. It would have been nice if BMI was put into the equation, or body measurements!

When I went to my meeting on Tuesday night, there were plenty of people there who had lost weight. One lady lost 5 pounds in one week! But one thing stuck out to me the most. The newcomers were all seeing a lot of success with the new program. And everyone knows when you first start WW and you have a lot to lose, you lose it easily. But the several lifetime members in attendance at the meeting are struggling. We aren’t losing, and we aren’t maintaining. We’re unhappy, because we feel like we’re on diets.

Weight Watchers wasn’t supposed to be a diet. That’s the horn you tooted for so many years. It was a lifestyle change. It allowed you to eat what you wanted to eat, within means. I wasn’t cutting out any particular section of the food pyramid.

So, Weight Watchers, this is it. Even though I’m not paying anymore because I’m lifetime, I can’t say that I will be going back on plan, and I probably wouldn’t even go to the meetings if it weren’t for the fact that I love my leader. It’s not a plan for everyone. It’s a plan for people who have a lot to lose, which is great. But the old plan was for everyone. It helped people who had a lot to lose, or just a little.

Operation: Survive Deployment.

Standard
Dearest family and friends,
First off, I would like to thank you for your continued support and prayers! They are especially helpful and are always needed.
As many of you know, Andrew has gone on deployment. If you are the facebooking kind, you can follow the carrier’s facebook page, and Andrew’s squadron also has one. 🙂
I’ve decided to take the advice of several women in my squadron and send out an email in regards to how to best support me mentally and emotionally during deployment. As one can imagine, it is a very trying time, and I’ve been told that telling people up front is the easiest way to “survive” and have as few mental breakdowns as possible. No hard feelings, I’m just trying to keep it real and hold down the fort.
1. Length of deployment
Andrew is scheduled to return home sometime in the late fall/winter. I am not sure of the exact date, and things are always written in jello in the Navy. While the Navy strives to have everyone home on time, it is not always possible. Continually asking about homecoming or commenting on the uncertainty of it all will probably make me anxious.
2. Where is Andrew?
Andrew is probably right where you think he is. I’m sure the news will be covering that.
3. Speaking of news coverage…
I won’t be watching the news all that often, so please be mindful of that. Watching the news is an added stress, and thinking about those things doesn’t make it any easier on my end. So if you hear about certain events in certain places of the world, please don’t talk to me about them. Anything I need to know, Andrew will let me know.
Also, I’m just going to be upfront. No, I can’t tell you if Andrew is dropping or has dropped bombs. Nor can I tell you about any of his missions. It’s not because I don’t want to, it’s because I honestly don’t have access to that information.
4. In case of an emergency…
If you hear about an accident involving the military on the news/facebook/anywhere else, please do not tell me. If it involves Andrew, the Navy will come and go down the proper avenues to make sure I am told in the proper fashion. Please know that if I receive any information, I will pass it along to you as soon as possible.
In case you are wondering about what the proper protocols of notification are, here is a very brief rundown:
– In most cases, a squadron phone tree will be activated. I will get a call from my CO’s wife, and I will call the people below me on the list.
– If an accident involves Andrew, I will be notified by the Navy. In the paperwork we filled out, the Navy will notify me, and one of my friends (they know who they are) will likely be with me.
– The Navy will also notify Andrew’s family. I will notify my own family.
But in all seriousness, if you hear about an accident involving the military, please don’t tell me. I’ve had this happen before when there was a jet crash in Oceana on a day that Andrew was flying, and I was in pure agony trying to figure out if it was Andrew or not. The media frequently releases that information before the Navy can even notify family members, and it’s quite upsetting.
5. When you ask about Andrew…
If you ask me if I’ve heard from Andrew, odds are I might say, “I haven’t heard from him lately.” If you follow that up with, “Is Andrew okay?” I will have to answer you honestly, which is that I don’t know that he’s okay, but I trust that he is. You also probably don’t need to remind me that it sucks that I can’t talk to him every day. Believe me, I know.
6. Understand that this deployment is for me, too!
Deployment is going to be an amazing opportunity for me to be independent and travel and do all of these amazing things for myself. Please don’t be upset with me if I don’t call you back right away, or if I say I don’t want to hang out because I’d honestly rather eat Ben and Jerry’s and watch Netflix than go out to a bar.
7. I’m not upset… really.
This is Andrew’s job. I’m not upset that he’s gone, and being home by myself is really not that big of a deal to me. I’m lucky in that I was raised to be independent, and I have a wonderful fiancé who supports my independence. You don’t need to treat me like I’m going to break down at any minute, I promise.
8. But let me vent… sometimes.
Sometimes I might just want to share my feelings. You don’t need to offer advice… but you can offer me a tasty beverage!

My Latest Guilty Pleasures

Standard

You know what I hate about my job?

It isn’t the constant testing, it isn’t the students, it isn’t the parents. It isn’t even the fact that education is run by a bunch of old geezers in congress who haven’t done anything positive with education since they received their last diploma.

It’s the fact that if I even dare to “complain” about any of the above, people brush me off.

Oh yes, but at least you get the whole summer off, and you don’t do anything.

Don’t you get off at 4 every day?

You get two whole weeks off during the holidays, plus you get a week for spring break.

All you are is a glorified babysitter. It can’t be that difficult to watch 30 something kids all day. (yes, someone has said that to me before, and I wanted to punch them in the face.)

Let me refute these one by one.

To most, it may seem that teachers get the whole summer off. But what you don’t see, dear person who doesn’t work i n education, is the near constant lesson planning I do over the summer. You don’t see me devouring the files I’m given on your students so that I can better understand their learning profiles. You don’t see the barrage of textbooks I’m reading to make sure I’m teaching every possible standard.

Even though this is my first year of teaching, the last half of my summer (from July 3 when I was offered the job until September 2 when school started) was spent reading every novel I would have to teach in both honors and standard classes. I went through and did every grammar lesson in our grammar book so that I could better understand what I was teaching. (Teaching grammar doesn’t come naturally to someone like me) I spent hours reading IEPs and 504s and norming tests and familiarizing myself with state grading rubrics.

As far as winter break goes, winter break falls exactly a month before the end of our first semester. So yes, actually, I do have work to do over Christmas break. I have lessons to plan and books to read and papers to grade. There’s also this little thing called spring testing that puts teachers in the hot seat, so I have to make sure my students are prepped for that.

My contract states I must arrive at 8:40 every morning and I can leave no earlier than 4 PM every afternoon. On a typical day, I arrive at school by 7, and I leave anywhere between 5 and 5:30. Why do I have to stay so late when I have a planning block from 2 to 3:50 PM? Because during my planning block, I have students coming in and out of my classroom because they need individual help. I also have to make time for parent communication, because on average, I send 4 parent emails a day, and I make at least 2 parent phone calls per day. During this time, I also have meetings. Oh my gosh the meetings. IEPs, Professional Learning Communities, linear meetings, parent meetings, discipline meetings… the list goes on and on. I leave school anywhere between 5 and 5:30, and then I come home, play with the dog, make dinner, and then guess what? I pull out some grading. Or some lesson plans. Or I answer parent emails. I’m typically working until I shut my eyes at night. On really bad nights, I’ll wake up in the middle of the night really concerned about how that student is going to respond to the lesson tomorrow. Or I’ll wonder about how that other student will get her homework done, since she lives in a hotel because her family doesn’t have a home. Being a teacher is probably very similar to being a parent. I’m almost always thinking about my kids.

Think I’m a glorified babysitter? Go away. You’re not worth my breath or attention.

Okay, this post wasn’t meant to be a soapbox.

My original purpose was to discuss what guilty pleasures I take part in when I’m not thinking about school.

What I’m watching on Netflix: The Vampire Diaries. I know. Trashy television for teens. I can’t help it! It’s mindless, everybody is really, really, ridiculously good looking, and it’s filled with drama. (Sadly, I just caught up to the live episodes, so I’m going to have to find a new show to feed my binging habits.)

What I’m watching on TV: Aside from my staples The Mindy ProjectNew Girl, and Modern Family, I’ve been hooked on the new show Forever. It’s like Sherlock Holmes meets House meets something else… I can’t quite put my finger on it.

What I’m waking up to: Shake it Off by Taylor Swift. Haters gonna hate (hate, hate, hate, hate) but this song gives me the energy I need in the morning. It makes me want to dance, and it makes me shake off those “Ugh-it’s-morning-already?I’m-so-not-ready-to-get-out-of-bed-and-I-don’t-wanna-go-to-work-today” blues (granted, I pretty much always want to go to work because I love my kiddos.)

The app I can’t live without: Sleep Timer by Azumino. It tracks how much sleep you get per night, and it’s wonderfully strange to wake up and say, “YES! I aced my sleeping test last night!”

What I’m reading: When I’m not reading Freak the Mighty, The Giver, To Kill a Mockingbird, and Night (all at the same time.) I’ve been hooked on wife novels. The Paris Wife is currently on my nightstand and Mrs. Poe is up next.

What I’m eating: Tic Tacs… Fresh Mint flavor. We can’t chew gum in class, but I go through a pack of tic tacs a week. A week.

What I’m wearing: I hate, hate, hate wearing pants. They aren’t comfortable. But on days when I just want something easy (or my legs are stubbly) I reach for these Two by Vince Camuto Skinny Ponte Pants.   They’re skinny pants, which means I can wear them with my boots. They’re the most comfortable pants I own. Seriously, they’re more comfortable than any pair of yoga pants.

What I’m drinking: Aside from copious amounts of coffee, I’m still sipping on my Winter Jack stash from last year. It’s a great drink for when we’re sitting around the fire pit.

Where is Home?

Standard

Eighth graders can be incredibly intelligent. 

On Friday, a student asked me where my home was, and I said, “Here, in Virginia Beach.” And then he said, “But… like, where do your mom and dad live? Isn’t that home?”

This has been a question I’ve wrestled with since college. Leaving “the nest” was not particularly difficult for me, but then again, I was only two hours away in college. I struggled with the idea of home a lot, and I think most college freshman do. Was home my dorm room/sorority house/condo/apartment? Or was home back in St. Louis where my parents were? 

By the end of my freshman year of college, Columbia was my home. I hated leaving. I did the majority of my “growing up” there, in that I learned how to be independent. Don’t get me wrong, I still liked going to my childhood home, but part of me had bid the idea of St. Louis as my “home” goodbye. 

I suppose it had a lot to do with the fact that I always knew I was never going to live in St. Louis for my entire life. In high school, I longed to go East, preferably to UConn, UNC, or Boston University. My grandma has lived in Connecticut for the majority of my life, and I frequently spent my summers in Connecticut, where I felt like I belonged. In high school, my desire to escape St. Louis became even more apparent as I struggled to find things to do with my friends aside from hang out at home or loiter around the mall. (It finally occurred to me that this is a problem all high schoolers have in real life; however, when I was in high school, I was positive that living somewhere else would offer more things for teens to do.) 

I was so sure I was going to “escape” St. Louis and get out. It really wasn’t St. Louis as much as it was my quiet little suburb outside of St. Louis. People left, but they always seemed to come back… or they never really left at all. They’d go to college at a large University downtown, but they’d live with their parents, and they’d settle down in the same town where they grew up. This was not for me. I wanted to leave, and leave quickly. 

It was a Saturday early in my junior year when I found out I wouldn’t be able to venture to the East coast for college. I had my sights set on Boston University, and I had painstakingly memorized their admissions requirements. It was the perfect location, because I could hop on a train and be at my grandma’s within hours. We were at Applebee’s. I was going on and on about Boston University, and how I really needed to get out there to take a tour. My mom and dad looked at me and they told me that they had eaten through my college savings when my dad lost his job when I was in the fourth grade. They had intended on replenishing that once he got a new job; however, he got a new job for half the salary, and they weren’t able to replenish it as much as they had hoped. Mom and Dad basically told me in-state was my only option, unless I could get a sizable financial aid option. 

I was crushed, but not too crushed, because BU became a fleeting memory once I laid my eyes on Mizzou. Columbia had everything St. Louis didn’t. Culture was the word I used. (I thought I was so cosmopolitan.) 

I made Columbia my home, and St. Louis was just the place where I grew up… my roots. By the time I was ready to graduate, I was looking at graduate schools out East. Again, BU, UConn and Penn State. When I got my financial aid packages, I gawked at how little they offered me. I decided I didn’t really know what I wanted to do, and Grad school was just an avoidance tactic. I got a job back in St. Louis and moved back in with my parents. But it was not home. Home was Columbia, because I had independence there. I felt smothered (although, extremely cared for) while I was living there. I had gone from having all the freedom in the world to having to report back to mom and dad on my whereabouts. Being an adult in St. Louis wasn’t so bad… I could go out, and my friends and I frequently took advantage of some of the more “adult” things St. Louis had to offer (Food Truck Friday, can I get an amen??)

When I met Andrew, I knew St. Louis was a done deal. I knew I’d be leaving, and I knew my home was going to change frequently. By the time Andrew had moved to Virginia Beach, I was so mentally over St. Louis, it was pathetic. I had all but changed my address. Andrew’s home was my home, and I referred to it as such. 

Andrew’s home was not my home. Rather, Andrew was my home. And by that, I really mean that I was at my absolute happiest when I was with Andrew. I was enamored with Virginia Beach, yes. But I had also been enamored with Meridian, MS. (For the record, I still love Meridian.) I was in love with the feelings I had whenever I was with Andrew. 

So, where is home? I think home is where you feel like the best version of yourself. Home is where you feel confident, and you’re surrounded by love. Home might be in the house where you grew up. Home might be a bookstore, or a beach, or a bar, or a church. 

My home is temporarily in Virginia Beach, because that’s where Andrew and I share our lives together. Our address will change, but home will always be with him. 

 

What We Need Now is a Restoration of Faith

Standard

I’m sure that you’ve read/seen/heard about Michael Brown and the fact that he was shot down in the middle of broad daylight in Ferguson, Missouri. And I’m sure you’ve heard of the riots that occurred after the incident. 

Thus far, I have kept quiet about the issue, because I get too upset to even put my thoughts into words. 

But now, I feel that I can put my feelings into words, and I’m going to write them here. 

I am not from Ferguson, Missouri. But I am from Florissant, Missouri, which is a city that shares a border with Ferguson. In fact, Ferguson and Florissant share a school district… The Ferguson-Florissant School District. I know a lot of people in Ferguson. I’ve spent a lot of time in Ferguson. This matter does hit close to home. 

I was raised in a family of police officers. Just about every single one of my uncles and male cousins on my mom’s side of the family was or is a police officer. If I so much as bad-mouthed police officers or State Troopers when I was younger, I got popped in the mouth. 

For a long time, my Uncle Ted was Captain of St. Louis County Police Department. He was eventually promoted to a higher position within the County, then he retired. He and his brother started off as “Beat Cops” (their words, not mine.) And worked closely with the drug lords and gang members of St. Louis. During that time, my Uncle Johnny was known as the Gila Monster, because of his large presence… and because he was heavy and slow moving. Both of my uncles lost partners to shoot-outs when I was young. I remember going to their funerals, and seeing all of the people who were there. The thing I remember the most was not all of the police officers in attendance. Instead, it was the large amount of African-American people there, who had grown close to these officers because they were always in the neighborhood. I remember one young man, who had to have been between the age of 18 and 25 coming up to my Uncle Ted and saying, “He was a good guy. A good cop. He didn’t deserve to go down like that.” My uncle Ted told me that the kid was involved in a gang that worked closely with the County to wipe out drugs in their neighborhoods.

That all happened probably 10-15 years ago. A lot has changed since then.

What happened this weekend is deplorable in so many ways. It disgusts me to think that a young man was cut down in his prime. It disgusts me to think that a police officer shot him “more than several times” in cold blood. I don’t care what Michael Brown did, or didn’t, do. Whatever it was, he did not deserve to be shot down by a one-man firing squad.  

(For Heaven’s sakes. We can keep the Boston Bomber alive **and give him a fair trial, at that** and we can keep the guy who killed all of those people in Aurora, Colorado alive, so he can have the right to a fair trial… but we can’t keep Michael Brown alive, so he could have his chance to tell his side of the story.)

It disgusts me to think that there are police officers out there who tarnish the name of good cops. It makes me sick that the people of Ferguson probably have little-to-no faith left in their police officers and might take things into their own hands. It upsets me that these are issues that should have been put to rest long ago. History books say that we have come so far… but have we really?  

It disgusts me that the riots that broke out have tarnished the view of Ferguson and Saint Louis. It disgusts me that people, outside of Ferguson, came in and made a mess of things and broke into businesses, and burned a QuickTrip down. 

It disgusts me even more that Michael’s memory will forever be partnered with the riots that ensued after his death. It disgusts me that shots broke out during his memorial service. It breaks my heart that Michael’s mother said herself that Michael wouldn’t have wanted riots. 

It disgusts me that people are so divided over the issue. I have seen so many, “He probably deserved to get shot” updates on my facebook newsfeed that it makes me want to throw up. On the other hand, I’ve seen so many, “Too bad more cops weren’t injured in the riots, because they deserve it.” updates on my newsfeed. To those that think Michael deserved to get shot: What warrants getting shot at eight times? Seriously. I’d love to hear your answers. To those that think it’s too bad that more cops weren’t injured: Why? Not every cop is a “twisted” cop. Not every cop has it in for minorities. I’m not blind, or stupid, or ignorant, or dumb. I know that there are cops out there who DO racially profile. I know that there are entire precincts out there who do just that. But making generalizations about police officers is similar to the people who are making generalizations about the African-American community and the riots that broke out. Not every black person in St. Louis took part in, or believed in, the riots. 

Who, or what, do the riots benefit? Looting for material objects seems senseless… what good is a television from Walmart or a pair of shoes going to do in the fight for justice, or the preservation of Michael’s memory? 

I know it is easy to make generalizations. But I think it is also just as easy to stop making generalizations. Does our legal and justice system need to be dramatically overhauled? Yes, oh absolutely it does. 

I know St. Louis is a racially segregated city. It doesn’t take a scientist to figure that one out. 

Sadly, nothing is going to bring Michael Brown back to life. Nothing is going to undo the events that happened this weekend. The question is not really, “What can we do to make things right?” because, in my opinion, nothing is going to make this right. A young man is dead, and even if that cop is found guilty and given the death sentence… it still won’t make it right. Making it right would mean that nothing wrong happened in the first place. 

I think the real question is, what can we do to make things better? What can the community of St. Louis do to banish the racism that so obviously divides us all? What can the United States do to help get rid of racism? I think it’s time that we really stop and think about our actions, and how they impact others. I think it’s time to have the difficult conversations, the ones that have been swept under the rug, the ones about our differences, the ones about our problems, the ones about lack of justice. 

I don’t think it’s time to set aside our differences. Setting aside our differences has only gotten us here. I think it’s time to embrace our differences. 

And, most importantly, I think it’s time for everybody to pray for peace. 

The Macaroni and Cheese Clause

Standard

The reception venue has been booked. It’s been my dream reception venue since I was little. I had first laid eyes on it when I was in about fifth or sixth grade, and I was a junior bridesmaid in a wedding. I remember twirling around the hardwood dance floor in my dress feeling absolutely beautiful, even though I was awkward and had yet to grow into my body. And I remember thinking to myself, One day, there will be someone who loves me more than anything else in the world. And I will be beautiful. And he will be perfect. And we’ll live happily ever after.  

It’s a good thing that I didn’t say, “One day, there will be someone who loves me as much as the groom loves the bride.” Because they got divorced a few years later because he cheated on her. 

I digress. 

Anyway, the reception venue and church are both booked. 

Do you want to know what my Fiancé’s one request was? (Actually he had more requests than that, but the one that relates to the reception.) 

He wanted Macaroni and Cheese. And guess what? Our reception venue didn’t have mac and cheese on the list of options. 

So I quite literally had to have a macaroni & cheese clause written into my contract, so he could have his blessed macaroni and cheese. 

So, there’s that. The first step in a successful marriage is compromise, right?