Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Swimming: weirdly good.

For the last 4 years, I've participated in a triathlon in my local area.  While, I'm not much of a triathlete in general, I really enjoy participating in this particular event.  Here's what I wrote about it on my facebook wall a couple years ago:

Today I saw women who were considered 'too' by societies standard. Too old, too fat, too poor, too boyish, too bossy... but luckily they were all too strong to let that stop them. I saw women dog paddle all 500 m of an open water swim. I saw women her 70s biking 15.5 miles on a dated looking huffy. I saw a visibly pregnant woman running the last leg (a 5K) in. I spoke to a women who had recently dealt with an abusive relationship, and then I saw her pass me on the bike. 
My participation in the YWCA tri has always been a positive one, but today I felt shaken by the influence of these people who weren't living up the expectations that society had chosen for them, and were simply being 'too' awesome! 

Anyway, back to me, myself and I... So Swimming.  Here's the thing, I like to run, and every year a toss in a little time to swim and bike so I can do this tri.  On the bike, I'm as you would expect, mediocre.  However, for the swim, I rank into the top third, which doesn't make me ultra competitive or anything, but that's really pretty good considering the level of effort I put in.

Again, let's compare.  Biking, I hardly do at all, and wind up towards the back.  Running, I pour my heart and soul into and it is a dire fight for mid pack standing.  Swimming, I approach with even more lethargy than biking, and I'm in the top third.  This is such a confounding result that I didn't even notice until late last year, when my dear friend kept mentioning how strong I look out there (thanks J!).  Anyway, I riffled through old results, and yes, I always place the best during the swim.  Even in the year I was running my fastest.

I share all this because I have a theory on it.  My parents weren't real into signing us up for sports, we did between zero and very little of that.  However, we did swimming lessons all the time.  My susceptibility to colds with wet hair in MN winter encouraged us to skip the winter months, but I recall taking swimming lessons at least twice per year most years between the ages of 3ish and if you include school lessons, probably 15.  After that, I didn't do anything serious, but was still spending a lot time in the water at the lake or community pool.  When I signed up for the first triathlon, I didn't think much of knowing how to swim.  My theory is this:  all those early years of swimming ingrained some skill in me that I was easily able to tap back into when I was 26 and looking to try a tri.

The larger point.  I loved swimming lessons as a kid, but I obviously didn't sign up or take myself.  However, I ,quite possibly, am benefiting now.  It's seems like many things are this way, we get rewarded or punished for decisions that were never made by us.  This encourages me to withhold judgement for the performance of myself and others.

It also encourages me to swim more!  hah!

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Letting "We are equal" be the beginning, not the end of the conversation.

Growing up, I lived in a community that was incredibly white and wealthy.  I guess that same neighborhood has diversified up a bit in recent years, but in my elementary class I remember one black kid.  This is out of 4, 30 person classes for the entire 1st grade.  I don't think he stayed with us for the whole 6 years of elementary either, which means we were probably down to 0 at one point.

I read the Addy books, and I was taught about the civil rights movement and we honored MLK day and I knew there was a history of poor treatment of black people, but I figured it was all in the past and hardly anyone did stuff like that anymore.

I was pretty darn ignorant, and I stayed with this belief system for quite sometime.

I remember a conversation in high school about interracial marriage, where someone pointed out that there can be a lot of cultural challenges?  What?  This was news to me, because I never knew there were any cultural differences to begin with.

For all of my life, I was taught to believe that black people are equal, the community I grew up fostered this belief the best they knew how.  I don't know anyone I would have to convince that this is true. I think people exist like that out there, but for good or for bad they are not in my sphere of influence.  However, this belief system came from white people with similar experiences is to mine, so naturally it missed a big part of the story.

I missed the experiences that black people have today.

This is to say that the only experiences I saw were the black people I knew on TV.  One was a cop, and one was a doctor and they had families that seemed very similar to ours.  Other than the color of their skin, I figured their lives were exactly the same as mine.  I didn't think about why, if that was the case, were none of them living in my community.  

I wasn't taught about generational poverty, culture, ethnocentrism, oppression.  I wasn't given role models of color, I didn't celebrate traditions that included other histories besides my own.

I think a lot of people are in the boat I use to be in.  They believe all people are equal.  This a great thing to believe, but quite simply not enough.  We need to remove ourselves as much as possible from our own bubble.  We need to hear other people's stories.

It took years and time for me to do that.  I made friends outside my social circle, I listened, I read, and I still have a lot to learn.

Last fall, I remember getting pretty riled up about threats to protest a marathon last fall, but I listened to what people had to say and I realized a marathon cut short is much different than a life cut short.  (Also, only fair to say, they did not do what they threatened)

The BLM tactics don't always make sense to me, but I'm willing to ask myself why that is. I have not lived that oppression, I do not have my own life to fear, I have a lot of resources and education to make change that others may not.  It is my belief that those who have those experiences don't deserve to be evaluate from afar by the mainstream media.  I encourage you to ask these questions.

What are the stories of people involved?  
Alton Sterling and When Black Lives Stop Mattering by Roxane Gay (super awesome and smart lady)
The problem we all live with (2 part series on This American Life Podcast)
A Letter from Black America.

What are the actual goals of the movement?  
The actual demands of the movement may be things you can support.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Not yet 40

I've got over 8 years before I'm 40, but a friend of mine shared this list of facebook of things to do before you are (Sourcing The LIST!).   She seemed to think I was well on my way, so let's evaluate. Also, I tend to think these things are a little silly, and I'm treating it much the same way here!   

1. Fall in love.
Well, I don't really think love is something you fall into, but have I had the whirlwind romance experience and did it mature into some I care about deeply and hope to spend my life with... ?  Yes, I did, and yeah, I'm super fortunate.  
2. Get her heart broken.
Oh yeah, that too.  
3. Find a gyno that doesn’t make her feel like a seventh-grader in sex ed.
Growing up fundamentalist, I skipped sex ed in 7th grade, so really, I have no idea.  
4. Take a solo vacation.
I've gone to places alone, but when I got there I was a part of a group... or visiting someone.  
5. Skinny-dip.
I haven't and I don't honestly know what's in the way of that happening.  I did change in the Y bathroom without holding a up a towel... so that was a step in the right direction.   
6. Try a short haircut (it’s OK if “short” means shoulder-length).
My senior year of highschool... and DONE! 
7. Cook Thanksgiving dinner.
I know all the dishes now, but I've never done them all together by myself.  

8. Perform karaoke.

9. Read Jane Austen.
ehh.. I've tried.  

10. Own a dress she feels stunning in.
Many!  ... Because I always feel stunning, but seriously I have this purple one.  

11. Own a handbag she’s proud to bring to a job interview.
I did recently upgrade my 10 year-old laptop bag, because I began to realize it wasn't super professional.  That said... was I not proud before? Gawd-damnit! I'm proud that bag lasted so long! 
12. Own a toiletries bag that’s more than a Ziploc sack streaked with sunscreen.
yes!  (and honestly, way too many!)
13. Understand her color palette.
Not knowing if there's anything more to understand beyond, I'm pretty Scandinavian but tan well, but I have no confusion there... so DONE! 
14. Have a stance on organized religion.
so so so so DONE! 
15. Have an orgasm. 
Let's just say I'm happily married.  ;) 

16. Operate a power drill.
... and own.  

17. Ride a roller-coaster.
Now I'm sad for everyone who hasn't done this.  

18. Ride a motorcycle (yes, on the back, going six miles an hour counts).
yes... but I'm currently a bit phobic.

19. Sleep outside, in a tent.
Every summer! 

20. Make a presentation in front of 20 people or more.
That is my job.  

21. Tell off a stranger.
maybe... certainly a telemarketer.  

22. Apologize to a stranger.
I've apologized to everyone.  It's a way of life.  

23. Accidentally send an email to the wrong person and then realize that life goes on
Probably, certainly I've made worse mistakes, and came to the same conclusion.  

24. Learn how to knit.

25. Forget how to knit.
not yet... but I've got 8 years! 

26. Decide she’s comfortable with her crafting skills, whatever they may be.
Skills yes, projection completion, maybe not.  

27. Host a dinner party.

28. Know how to order a bottle of wine.
Very comfortable here.  

29. Do something big and selfless for the planet or the people living on it. 
I try... 
30. Vote for a winning president.
Twice!   I also have the distinction of voting for three different parties.  

31. Play the lottery.
yes *sigh* silly math major.  

32. Negotiate a raise.
I've spent the last 7 years working as a part of a union... and it has done that.  so yes! 

33. Start a 401(k).
As in enrolled, but no, I have yet to start a large tax shielded long-term investment fund.  
34. Tell her mother/grandmother/favorite lady mentor just how influential she’s been.
...that's a lot of emoting, but certainly a nice idea.    

35. Help a friend through a difficult time.
I hope so... 
36. Accept a friend’s help during a difficult time.
37. Figure out how to make a house a home.
I got a husband for that!  
38. Grow something green.
See 37.  
39. Salvage something broken.
If by salvage, you mean use, then yes! 
40. Dance like no one’s watching (bonus points if it’s the moonwalk).
Yes, and also, no one was watching.