Some thoughts on normalization, narratives, and the importance of reality-testing

“This may not seem ordinary to you right now. But after a time it will.”

                 – The Handmaid’s Tale


I just started watching The Handmaid’s Tale on Hulu. It’s based on a book by Margaret Atwood that I remember reading in high school. It’s a profound allegory of religious and government control and the parallels to our current political climate are fascinating.

Over the past few months, I have also read two novels that tell stories of the lives of African slaves in the United States. One book was Homegoing, the other was The Underground Railroad. I will admit, it is hard to wrap my brain around the realities involved in the lives of slaves . .. the atrocities performed against them and the pure inhumanity of their treatment boggles my mind. But what is even more profound and difficult to understand is the complicit agreement of an entire society that this kind of treatment towards other human beings was okay. That this went on for so long with the approval of most white citizens of our country. It is a reminder to me of a scary truth of humanity: we can be convinced of almost anything when we create and believe a narrative that fits our agenda. Human beings are absolutely adept at normalizing the mistreatment of others. False narratives, groupthink, white supremacy, patriarchy, and government control have been used time and again to normalize horrible behavior, laws, and regimes.


(A collection of dirt from the lynching sites in Alabama on display at the Equal Justice Initiative. Public lynchings were held as community events to normalize the mistreatment of black people, and were treated as a public spectacle that people brought their families out to watch.)



It’s easy to think that injustices are performed by evil villains. It’s harder to come to terms with the fact that sometimes, injustices are performed by entire societies. It’s easy to read a book about slavery and think that I would have been one of the few white people to risk my life by assisting in rescue missions . . . it’s harder to come to terms with the truth that I might have been complicit. had I grown up in that society that trained children from birth to think a certain way about others.

This week, I’ve really been asking myself if there are ways I’ve slipped into injustice because it has been normalized. Buying clothing from companies that use and abuse children, turning a blind eye to poverty in my own community, or rationalizing my own privilege . .. these are just some of the convictions I’ve felt.

I’ve also been mindful of the human tendency to create narratives that excuse our bad behavior – which just might be at the root of most injustice. I’ve been trying to catch myself when I create a selfish narrative to excuse myself for even small things, and I notice how often I create stories that minimize or excuse my own selfishness. (I also notice my kids doing this, as kids are prone to do. I want to make sure I’m modeling some reality testing for them.) One tool I’ve found useful is asking myself, “Is this excuse true, or is it self-serving?”

Integrity is like an onion. Just when you think you’ve gotten it down, another layer reveals itself. I’m taking a hard look at the lies I tell myself to feel better about my own behavior, because I see how that small tendency can lead to systemic abuse when not kept in check.


Source Link: Some thoughts on normalization, narratives, and the importance of reality-testing


Original Source of this article: Ruth Davis’ OC Blog , https://ruthrdavisblog.wordpress.com

What I want you to know: Letter to a Pregnant Friend

What I Want You to Know is a series of reader submissions. It is an attempt to allow people to tell their personal stories, in the hopes of bringing greater compassion to the unique issues each of us face. If you would like to submit a story to this series, click here. Today’s guest post was submitted bMelissa Uhles.

Dear Soon-to-be-Mama,

I just read this book from the library called, “”The Mask of Motherhood””. I loved it and wished I had read it while I was pregnant. The premise is just that the whole journey from pregnancy onward, has joy but is also fraught with challenges that many mothers don’t talk honestly about. This was written in the 90’s and may be less true with the emergence of millions of mommy-bloggers but it got me thinking.

When it comes to making all of first time mom choices (birth-plans, breastfeeding or not, disposable or cloth diapers, organic baby food, pre-school and daycare) you just have to follow your gut instincts and do what works best for you.

I’m only telling you this because I think I spent too much time feeling guilty or working myself into a lather about all the choices I was making and then felt secretly judged in certain situations, maybe I wasn’t even being judged by anyone but myself. Instead I wish I’d had the confidence (that maybe second time moms have) not care what anyone thought.

If I had it to do over I would have wished for more confidence and strength. I wish I’d spoken up for myself more, with my midwife at appointments and with hospital staff when I was in labor. I felt so vulnerable being in charge of growing this human and keeping him safe, I just wanted to do everything “”right””, whatever that is.

Regarding birth, so much is truly out of our hands, I think the best birth is one that ends with a healthy baby and a healthy mama. And then the real work begins at home where I think the brightest and the darkest sides of ourselves are unearthed as we figure out how to do the best we can for this person we grew and then threw into the world.

Girl, you’ve got this! Hugs to you and your baby bump.

-Melissa


Source Link: What I want you to know: Letter to a Pregnant Friend


Original Source of this article: Ruth Davis’ OC Blog , https://ruthrdavisblog.wordpress.com

That’s what SHE said: how one family’s devastating loss is changing lives, the impact on just one black teacher in a child’s life, the ins and outs of maximalist design and more….

Here are some things I read this week that made me think. (These are just snippets – click on the title to read the whole thing.)

“And when Wal-Mart opened stores in Germany, the company also had to tweak its chipper ways to better suit the sober local mores, as The New York Times reported in 2006:

Wal-Mart stopped requiring sales clerks to smile at customers—a practice that some male shoppers interpreted as flirting—and scrapped the morning Wal-Mart chant by staff members.

“People found these things strange; Germans just don’t behave that way,” said Hans-Martin Poschmann, the secretary of the Verdi union, which represents 5,000 Wal-Mart employees here.”

“On Sunday, April 16, the day Keri officially hit full-term at 37 weeks, suddenly, we were in the two-week window. In two weeks, we’d be prepping to welcome our baby girl into the world, and preparing to say goodbye to her. I planned on sitting down that day to write Eva a letter, like I did before Harrison was born, to give him on his 18th birthday. She’d never read it, but I was going to read it to her. Keri didn’t feel Eva move much that morning, but we both brushed it off and went to lunch. We came home, put Harrison down for a nap, and Keri sat down in her favorite spot and prodded Eva to move. She wouldn’t.
We started to worry. Keri got up, walked around, drank cold water, ate some sugary stuff. She sat back down and waited. Maybe that was something? We decided to go to the hospital.

“This is going to be bad, isn’t it?” I said.

Keri erupted into tears and her body shook. I had my answer.”

A few of my favorites:

Having Just One Black Teacher Can Keep Black Kids In School from Anya with NPREd

“In future research, Papageorge hopes to replicate the study and unpack the powerful and long-lasting effects observed. But based on the evidence he already has, he has an immediate policy recommendation. Having just one black teacher in his study made all the difference to students; having two or three didn’t increase the effect significantly. Therefore, schools could work to change student groupings so that every black student gets at least one black teacher by the end of elementary school.

“Should we hire more black teachers?” he asks. “Yeah, probably, but it requires more black college graduates … We could push around rosters tomorrow, change the way we assign kids, and have some effects next school year, not 10 years from now.”

A Letter of Apology to a Son Graduating from College from Kristin via Time

“Years ago I read a parenting book that included this advice: When your child does something amazing, do not say, “I am so proud of you.” Instead say, “You should feel so proud of yourself.” That is a hard habit to break, inserting the parental I and confusing your child’s identity with your own. Forgetting that it’s not about you. Stepping in when you should be stepping back.”

This Is the Worst Way to Clean Before Company Comes Over by Ayn-Monique at Kitchn

“Besides not actually being a cleaning or organizing technique — as I’m just moving the clutter around and not putting it away — my stashing habit, or as Marrero calls it, “The Sweep,” means that junk I’ve tucked away will most likely stay hidden and accumulate.

“Neat does not equal organized,” explains Marrero. “Your space may look better, but behind that pretty facade is a nest of delayed decisions and delayed actions. Your clutter is manifested procrastination!”

Design Dilemma: How to do Maximalism from P. Reynolds on HDF

“According to design enthusiasts, 2017 is the year of the maximalist. It is perhaps an appropriate sign of the times, after all, exaggeration and braggadocio seem to rule the day. Or perhaps maximalism reflects a desire to retreat from the bitter acrimony out in the cold, hard cruel world to our own safe, insulated, highly-curated cocoon. Or then again, perhaps the turn toward maximalism is simply a response to years and years of bland beige. Whatever the reason, maximalism is the word of the moment.

How to do it right? There are just a few basic tenets to keep in mind if you are dipping your toe into maximalism for the first time.”

One great tip: “Use Color. Explosively bright color is a secret weapon in Maximalism. Feel free to paint walls in vibrant hues, to buy jewel tone furniture, or to otherwise indulge in color where you can.”

tropical living room how to tips advice

traditional entry how to tips advice

eclectic living room how to tips advice

modern family room how to tips advice


Source Link: That’s what SHE said: how one family’s devastating loss is changing lives, the impact on just one black teacher in a child’s life, the ins and outs of maximalist design and more….


Original Source of this article: Ruth Davis’ OC Blog , https://ruthrdavisblog.wordpress.com

Friday Finds: Outdoor Lanterns

1. Minimalist Teakwood Lantern | Anthropologie 
2. Large White & Gold Accent Metal Weave Flameless Lantern | Zulily 
3. Monstera Leaf Lanterns | CB2
4.  Edison Indoor/Outdoor LED Lantern | Zulily
5. Pierced Porcelain Hurricanes – Constellation | West Elm
6. Outdoor Metal Lantern with Candle Black -Threshold | Target 
7. Modi Pierced Outdoor Lanterns (Set of 3) | Overstock
8. Metal and Glass Lantern (Set of 2) | All Modern 
9. Eldridge Black Metal Lanterns | Pier 1


Source Link: Friday Finds: Outdoor Lanterns


Original Source of this article: Ruth Davis’ OC Blog , https://ruthrdavisblog.wordpress.com

What I want you to know: Happy to be child-free

What I Want You to Know is a series of reader submissions. It is an attempt to allow people to tell their personal stories, in the hopes of bringing greater compassion to the unique issues each of us face. If you would like to submit a story to this series, click here. Today’s guest post was submitted by Brittany.


We had big news to share with my parents, so we invited them over for dinner. I was nervous, but obviously excited. They were too. As they pulled off the highway my dad turned to Debbi and said, “”I have a feeling they are going to tell us something. Either they’re getting married or having a baby. I just feel it.””
“WHAT?!?” Debbi exclaimed. “They aren’t getting married! OH MY GOD! They’re having a baby!!”
My dad was right. He usually is.
After 7 years of dating, everyone thought we were just passing up the whole marriage thing and going straight to rearing a family. When they told me that story, I burst into laughter. I still chuckle about it. The funny thing is, we had no intentions of having a child-filled family – and we still don’t. The trouble is, I still have a hard time admitting this to people. It’s not because I am ashamed of our decision, or that I’m even apprehensive about that decision. It’s that so many people get offended when I say it. Oddly, they get offended when we say we don’t want children, yet completely disregard how offensive they are being when they scoff at us and say one of 3 things…
  1. That We Will Change Our Minds. This one I get, I suppose. I mean, how many people do we all know who at one point claimed they didn’t want any and now have 2.5 kids, a freshly built house in the suburbs, and a graham cracker encrusted mini van? People frequently say one thing and do the opposite – it’s simply human nature. With that said, as for us, the smaller our child bearing window gets, the more content we are with a child free existence.
  2. That We Are Selfish. This is the one that, I must admit, I still feel a little guilty about. Let me rephrase that, I don’t feel guilty about not wanting kids, and I certainly don’t think it is a selfish act. I do, however, feel selfish in that I actively seek to prevent having a child, while my brother and his wife are desperately trying to have one. I feel selfish in that I take my reproductive system for granted – assuming I could even have a child if I wanted one. On the other hand, it is my reproductive system and I may do with it as I please. Which I have decided to tuck it high up on a shelf and pray that it never needs to be used. As for actually being selfish on this manner, don’t even get me started. Maybe that is a post for a later time.
  3. That We Will Lead Empty, Pointless Lives. This was actually said directly to me at one point, by someone I am incredibly close to. I don’t think she meant it directly at me, but she meant what she said about people without children and she simply didn’t believe that I meant what I said about not wanting them. The furry that boiled in my brain for the entire next week! But I got over it and now find the statement quite comical. And I really don’t mean to sound harsh when I say, what an empty and pointless life one must have when they must create another being to acknowledge any self worth.
I will be honest, however, that when I was much younger, I thought the saddest thing that could ever happen to me would be to not be able to have them (I have several aunts and uncles who never had children). As I got older, I realized how naive I was in assuming that all of those without children couldn’t have them, rather making that conscious decision. Time has certainly passed, and the idea of children has become less and less appealing. Don’t get me wrong, I love kids – I adore my nieces and nephews and would love to welcome more. I worked as a full time nanny for several years and still maintain a strong relationship with those children. But as for us and our own personal family, we are happy to fill our home with the pitter patter of four legged creatures (of which there are many) and leave it at that.


Source Link: What I want you to know: Happy to be child-free


Original Source of this article: Ruth Davis’ OC Blog , https://ruthrdavisblog.wordpress.com