Feminism Explained

OKAY. So this is me on a complete high (natural, non-herbal, non-narcotic kind). More like fired up because I just saw #FeministsAreUgly trending on Twitter. I’m literally giving you all my unfiltered, unedited thoughts on this because my emotions can’t take it. So, I apologize in advance for any horrendous grammar mistakes. Nevertheless, let’s get these thoughts out before my keyboard takes any further damage. But yes, this hashtag is causing my blood pressure to rise and some of the twatfaces who don’t know a single thing about feminism all of a sudden feel like they have the freakin’ presidential right to bash those who fight for equality.

First, let’s cool down a bit and define feminism.

Feminism is the advocacy of women’s economic, social, and political rights. It’s a movement to empower women and rid this Earth of its inherently misogynistic attitudes.  It is not an excuse for “man-hating,” it’s a conversation starter to a much bigger issue. Feminism is about EQUALITY.

I can’t believe the stuff that’s flooding my dashboard under this hashtag! Feminist are taking selfies and posting photos of Beyoncè and Emma Watson with captions like “if these are ugly feminist, then I don’t want to be beautiful.” I totally get it, let’s show the world how beautiful feminism can be in the most physical sense, because this hashtag is completely invalid in that argument. I agree! However, feminism is not about beauty.  The reason why Emma Watson is so successful in advocating for women’s rights is all thanks to her actions, NOT because she was the face of Burberry. This hashtag is (hopefully) satirical. Meaning, it’s used to actually deny the Western ideals of women’s beauty. If it’s to flip the switch, then it’s working. Feminism is used to uplift people, so I love that everyone is sharing their confidence and telling others they’re pretty. But lets not forget that feminism spreads a greater message: women are more than their physical features. This issue of women being sexualized and submissive is a tale as old as time. It’s a tale that sparked feminism in the  first place. It’s our way of giving misogyny the finger. We say screw the ideals placed upon us and show the world our power. If I have to fight crime in a little black dress, then I will. But just because I’m wearing a dress, doesn’t mean I won’t kick ass.

Then there are idiots who say, “there they go again, being a bunch of annoyingly angry feminists.” The amount of eye-rolling I’ve done while scrolling through the hashtag feed is insane. I feel like I’ve given myself a headache just by doing that. But then I realized it’s not the eye-rolling, it’s the ignorance that inflated these brain cells of mine. “Angry feminists” is such a common association to the movement. I’m not going to lie, I’ve witnessed a few “angry” feminists in my time but that’s because they are passionate. There is nothing wrong about being passionate! We need that kind of fuel to ignite conversations like this one. If Susan B. Anthony or Lucy Stone weren’t “angry” about the injustice being done to women, then our world would be a different place. There’s a fine line between complaining and informing. You must know the difference before you simply brush off what someone is saying or doing. Instead of calling out angry feminists, why don’t you search the web and give yourself a history lesson as to why what is being said is important. Think about it.

This bit is specifically to the men out there. You don’t have to be female to be a feminist! Like I said, this is about equal rights not “who gets what.” It’s a collaborative effort to put the rights of women in the forefront. Let’s face it, men have it better than women in this world. It’s proven. But let’s also compare the past to the present. We’ve come so far and things have changed. To pave the path to a more gender-equal society, men have to learn the art of sacrifice. Some of you need to let go of certain privileges, step alongside women, and realize that the throne you sit on isn’t perfect. I think that some men are great. But if anyone, was to abuse their power, know that I will call you out. Females argue better than men, remember that. 😉 Jokes aside, if you still believe women are less capable of doing a man’s task, I highly suggest you reevaluate your life. Have a conversation with your mother. Ask your sister how she feels. Maybe actually talking to a female would put things into perspective. To the men who have the balls to stand against injustice towards women and strongly believe in gender-equality, know I’m sending you a hug. We aren’t asking you to fight our battle, we are asking you to support us in it. I know that if men were being mistreated, I’d want to step in and show you that you are not alone.

Ladies, you should be thanking feminists. How can you smack-talk other women for fighting YOUR fight? Why can’t we just unite for once? Females are competitive. GREAT! But sometimes, other females just want to bring a sister down. Know your roots and realize that this negative energy you’re giving off isn’t helping.  We owe a lot to the past women movements and should want to keep that tradition alive. In moaning about feminism, you disregard your ability to even have access to education, own any kind of property, or even buy a Starbucks latte in the morning. Our lives could have been different. You could have been born in a time period where you didn’t have any rights. There are other countries to this day, where women are treated even more brutally than in the one you live in now. I urge you to shed selfish behavior and think about those less fortunate. If you don’t want to have these rights, at least allow the message of equality to spread to the countries who desperately seek it. Think, if you were stripped of your rights, how would you feel?  Would you even have a right to complain?  How can you accept being silenced? You wouldn’t be able to have social media accounts or post selfies. The little things you enjoy now wouldn’t exist if you weren’t given the right.

I could care less about who started this hashtag. What I’m more interested about is the action it sparked. It’s so important to have this conversation. As much as we’ve progressed from the past, we have a long way to go. The fight isn’t over. There’s still work to be done. The load would be a lot lighter if people would come together instead of tear each other apart on the Internet. Educate yourselves. Support one another for the good of all. To talk about feminism, also opens the conversation regarding other social issues and movements.

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My feels for The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Explained.

Someone call 911. I think I fangirled too hard and punctured a blood vessel!

I just watched the two trailers of The Second Best Marigold Hotel!

There are only two movies that I can call my ALL TIME FAVORITES, without hesitation:

1. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

2. Just Wright

Please don’t ask me why I numbered them because I actually don’t know why myself. They’re both number one! (Yes, it’s possible) Just Wright is a movie I can watch over and over again, and acquire the same set of emotions every time. It’s that good. I hear people feel differently about it, but hey; whatever! If you remember my tagline post, you’ll understand why TBEMH is very dear to my heart. I’m a sucker for chick flicks like all the Nicholas Sparks movies and Mean Girls, but these two movies are on a different level.

Anyways, I was at the movies with my best friend the other day and saw a familiar set of faces plastered on a huge poster. The Best Marigold Hotel? I immediately recommended the film, because well, to not do so is close to committing a social injustice. Then I wondered why it would just be hitting theaters now, if the movie has been out for like 3 years. My best friend brought it to my attention that it said “The SECOND Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.” I was confused, excited, and nearly falling apart inside. How could I have not known about this earlier?! My favorite movie has a part two!

Watching the trailers to this movie has got my emotions on high. IT LOOKS SO FREAKIN’ GOOD. I’m saving details for the time I see it in theaters (because waiting for it to come out on DVD would be torturous), so look out for a more in-depth review in the future. By just observing the trailer, I can already tell I will love it. I have high hopes and great expectations for the film. I’d be heartbroken if it lets me down. But, it would have to really suck to sway my emotions away.

I just absolutely love Sonny! The man cracks me up like no other, actually, they all have that effect on me. I am anxious to see him marry Sunaina because they’re a couple that I really admire. Ah! The feels I have as I write this post! I can’t wait to see the next journey the people of The Best Marigold Hotel will have. I’ll be sure to pack a box of tissues because the tears will flow and I hope they’ll be tears of pure laughter.

Sometimes it seems to me, that the difference between what we want and what we fear is a bit of an eyelash.

LET IT SPARKLE: Motto Explained

let it sparkle

IT’S 2015! HAPPY NEW YEAR! *que party music and confetti

I am overly excited to be writing my first blog post for the new year… or Taylor Swift’s 1989 album is just hitting the spot right now. Okay, it’s both!

After reading a bunch of FB statuses, tweets, and IG captions that generically say, “2015 will be time for change” or “new year, new me” I decided to have a different mantra. Firstly, I never believed in any of these resolutions or “better me” stuff. I mean if it works for you, why not? But not for this girl. Secondly, I like to be a bit more truthful and realistic. I want it to stick. The new year literally happened just a few hours ago. Actually, it’s less than a day old. So I have no freakin’ idea what it will bring or if I will suddenly transform into Beyoncè or something (it’s free to dream, guys. Let me have this moment). I don’t have a plan for every single day this year. But what I do know is, it’s a clean canvas and a brand new start. What we can all pretty much agree on is that a new year gives off a sense of relief. We get to feel excited about beginnings again. Of course we will always remember the years passed, but the new year makes us feel invincible. And in light of this superpower, I took it upon myself to develop my motto for 2015: Let it sparkle.

After lighting up a few sparklers to say good-bye to 2014, I knew I was really celebrating 2015. I want my year to be full of light. I want it to be beautiful. I want it to continue to leave me in awe, as if I was looking at a sparkler move like party lights in the night. More than anything, I want to be the one to ignite it. I can’t depend on anyone but myself to let my sparkler beam. I hold the matches. In everything I do, I have to remember it’s my move that counts… and actually moving is what matters the most. I’m not going to have moments come to me, I have to make them happen. The only difference between letting something sparkle than saying I’ll be a new and improved person in 2015 is that it includes everything, not just me. I’m sure I will be different. I want to grow and discover a new creative element in me, but I don’t want to “change” me. As egocentric as it may sound, I like me. I think I’m awesome. But what makes a great person is their ability to adapt as well as grow from whatever life-path we turn into. And the first sign of a great person, is knowing one already is. From time to time, we must spice it up a bit to inspire those around us to break out of their shell and light one up (a sparkler, I mean).

Now, let’s not deny the fact that we will always experience the lows in life. This world is not made up of cotton candy and rainbow sprinkles. There are real life struggles.  Which brings me to my next point: the spark will burn out. There comes a point where you can be left in the backyard while it’s pitch dark and you wish the street lights were working. It’s difficult because you’re yelling at the people inside the house to turn the yard lights on but there’s so much noise they can’t hear you. You’re coughing because of the smokey air. You’re cold because it’s like 20 degrees and you are in a skirt. In that moment you’re not so happy. As for my other point: just start a new one. You should never even be in the backyard with just one sparkler. If you are, then you set yourself up for a bad time already. But don’t freak out, just go inside and party it up with the people you love. Now, they are your sparklers. And like anything that flickers, know that they will be there no matter the beat of the music. Depending on the kind of sparkler you have, some burn longer than others. Some just have more light. Nonetheless, it is what you make of it.

The events in our life can be inconsistent. When you watch a sparkler notice how some sparks jump. See how it can glow brighter and then softer in a matter of seconds. But remember how much in awe you were. That’s the exact feeling I’m going to add to every moment this year. Whether good or bad, with people I love or alone, I’m going to have that moment. I’m going to laugh, cry, and live because whatever it is that’s happening, is happening for a reason. I might not know that reason, but to entertain the fact that there is one is pretty amazing. That’s what  being in awe is. It’s wonderment.

So this 2015, I want it to be special. I want it to be another year of lessons and lessons learned. I want to help people hold their sparklers high. I want to always be the person who lights their own. I will make sure I keep it burning bright. I’ll be humble in the moments when my light burns low. I am going to make it through, like always. This year will be the year of a firework spectacular, with a few technical difficulties I’m certain, but a spectacular nonetheless. We have to own it, make it, and shape it. And once it’s all over, I will look back and celebrate it. I’ll look forward to more. Because a year is not what defines us, but everything we do in each moment of our lives  that will.

Prepare to light the match and let that sparkler shine.

Cheers to 2015! May we all be healthy, productive, and great.

The Uproar on Cat-calling Explained.

I thought I could just sit back and keep my opinions to myself… but when does that ever work?

After the swarm of comments and rage about the 10 Hours of Walking in NYC as a Woman video has simmered down a bit, now is the best time to really go in on this topic. Now, this won’t be a research paper. I’m not going to break down any statistics, analyze race ratios, or break down the places she went to. However if you must, please refer to this. I want to talk about the underlying reason to why this video has caused so much controversy.

In the video, an actress by the name of Shoshana B. Roberts walked around the streets of New York where she was “cat-called” and “harassed” by various men. Before even clicking play, I knew where it was going. I knew the video was going to include men trying to catch a woman’s attention. I knew it was meant to go viral. I knew the kind of comments the video was going to receive. Every woman; intentionally or unintentionally, from New York or not, has experienced something similar to what Shoshana went through. Even if it wasn’t as open as “cat-calling”, you see the looks they give you. And as annotated in the video, there were various instances in which it did happen. But one of the main reasons so many are fussed about this clip is because of the terms associated to the situation: “Cat-calling” and “Harassment.” It’s a problem, because some people don’t believe what was said and done are actual issues or fit the terms stated.  In a sense, they are right. There is no problem with men calling a woman beautiful. There is no problem telling someone “God bless” or “have a nice day.” There is no problem giving someone a smile. There is no problem trying to start a conversation with people.

But to say there is absolutely nothing wrong with what’s going on in the video disturbs me, because you missed the message.

It is the intention that determines the action. Whether it was Shoshana, a blond-hair blue-eyed goddess, a plus-size beauty, or an oompa-loompa, it proves that your intention is not stimulated by the subject itself.  Whether she is fully clothed or half-naked, you have an image of what you want to see. You react to it. I get it though, certain situations will call for different stimulations. One might be more responsive to Adriana Lima in a bra and underwear than when she is in an oversized sweater, baggy sweatpants, and shades that hide half of her face.

Guys get a bad rep all the time when it comes to complimenting women because there’s this misconception that 100% of the time, they are just sweet-talking her to hit “Third Base.” It’s never going to be because they actually think someone is beautiful. When you watch the video and read the men-bashing comments, you see where it all comes from. Because if you just hear the statements said by the guys in the video, take it out of context and place it on a blank sheet of paper, they are just a set of words and simple phrases. They are harmless, positive statements. But how do we read the sentences in a book? How do we understand what someone is saying if we don’t get the sense in which they are coming from? How do you differentiate terms that have more than one meaning without a context? The context is found in the intention. So simply saying “hi” in its formal context of greeting someone is fine. Add some intent in getting their number to potentially stir up a steamy rendezvous to that simple “hi” and you get a whole different story.

Still don’t understand? Let me give you another example, in the form of sarcasm:

Your neighbor says, “Your mom’s cakes are delicious.”

What it means (the simple meaning): her baking skills are on point and she should put up her own bakery because her cakes are that good.

Sarcasm (with the intention of lying): your mom’s baking is complete trash and I want to barf up what I just ate. But we are friends and your home is literally right beside mine, so telling your mother the truth can potentially mean the end of our friendship… and death threats plastered on my door.

Sarcasm (with malicious, humorous intent): I don’t mean your mother’s baking skills. I’m not even talking about actual baked goods. I’m talking about her goods. Basically, your mom is really hot and I’d like a piece of her [body part].

Three different meanings, but the same phrase.

There are genuine men out there, but they are obviously not any of those in this video. A real man would know how to approach a female with respect. That one guy who says, “Somebody’s acknowledging you for being beautiful. You should say thank you more” did not respect her. He followed up with, “for real?” as if the woman owed him something and he deserved to be responded to. The next man says, “God bless you mami” and checks out her butt like she was a piece of meat. Even with his face blurred out, we all know he was checking her out. May he find the true meaning of a blessing and I hope he knows the God he mentions. Oh, and let’s not forget the man in purple! “Hey look it there! I just saw a thousand dollars.” Really? How dare you. He not only deserves a major slap to the face, but a whole entire lecture of how wrong it is to put a price on a woman (or any person for that matter).

You better believe that I was pretty upset with the men in this video. I felt bad for the guys who are put into the same category as these idiots, just because they share the same anatomy! Some of you guys still give us hope. We know how it is to be generalized and ridiculed because of these horrible stereotypes. For the handful of us who still believe in things like chivalry and a good guy, we are cheering you on. And I urge you, on behalf of humanity, to teach these boys how to act like real men. As a female, I feel for Shoshana. Although she is an actress, she represents the women who are put in such situations (no matter one’s ethnicity, body size, or clothing choice). To be looked at or talked to in a particular way because you are a woman, is a problem that has been ongoing since before we were born. It is relevant and will always exist, because although the human mind has contributed to so many advances in our modern-day society, we cannot control the things that it creates. We don’t control someone’s mind. There is no flipping of the switch, but if there was, that person is responsible to exert any effort in making the light bulb work. As consumers, we are the decision makers. You have the freedom of choice in buying into a product (that is also the idea of its use and how you value it). Often times, we buy into the things we know isn’t particularly good. So, knowing that hollering at a woman is not a necessary good, but doing it anyway because of whatever reason, is a similar concept.

Now, let’s address the notion that “calling someone beautiful is not harassment.” You social media butterflies are right. But when you make someone uncomfortable, it is. Harassment Laws say that first degree harassment is “engaging in a course of conduct which places another person in reasonable fear of physical injury.” So, following a lady and trying to talk to her when she clearly doesn’t want to, is harassment. Since we can’t read each other’s mind, how the hell will you know that she isn’t in fear of physical injury? Exactly. To be seen as a threat is a close call to harassment. It’s best to just back off. Now, you can say it’s a kind of paranoia. We don’t know what you’re going to do, which is exactly why it is fear. If a woman engages you, and gives you the time of day, go for it. Maybe she is interested. But please ladies, make sure a ‘no’ means NO and don’t put these guys in a trap. If he violates you in any way, make it known that it is wrong; don’t wait until it escalates into something much bigger. Speak up and make sure that voice doesn’t go silent. Guys, respect a woman’s “NO” and don’t let it hurt your ego. If you were being a jerk, then you probably deserve it! But if she was being really weird, then it’s beneficial to you anyways. You’ll find someone better. Just give them the courtesy you would give the women in your family, because if a guy was to ever disrespect your mother or sister wouldn’t you be upset?  Let’s all practice what we preach.

Harassment is a major claim. It is not to be taken lightly, which is why others look at this video and roll their eyes. However, I think that the bigger message is to see the reality of harassment. It comes in so many forms and although it is not as serious as people think it is in this video, it expresses the gravity of much larger cases out there in the world. What about the cases where women are being pulled aside or groped? What about those who aren’t women, yet go through this? What about those who do go through severe cases of harassment? People can get ugly and most of the time a camera doesn’t capture it. A camera can’t reflect the actual fear a person feels. And here’s some food for thought: a camera shows you a certain thing it wants to reveal, where the person recording it has a choice of angle and subject. It’s a projection of already happened events, pre-recorded, edited, and uploaded for you to view. It is only one story, one point of view. Still, it allows you to question “what more?”

I’m a person who can come up with major come-backs. I’d like for everyone to know that if you catch me during the wrong time, my response could potentially hurt your feelings. So, let’s dive deeper to this notion of “silent” walking, because I definitely would have given some of these men a piece of my mind. Why couldn’t she have said something or the video be more responsive? Well, thanks to my analytical skills, I’ve come to a conclusion: Harassment is often put to the side. Not many report harassment, nor do people actually know they are victims of it. Harassment is silenced by our society. We don’t know what to do when it happens to us and we don’t know what it looks like when we are faced with it. It is tuned out, because “it’s not that bad” or is seen as a minor issue. There is simply not enough action being put forth to solving it. This video shows how insensitive people can be to an issue that is sensitive. I want to point out that I am not only talking about those in the video, but everyone commenting on it. It shows a wide array of people using words and action to target an individual who isn’t doing anything wrong. It makes you question how much longer until someone doesn’t have to feel like they are walking in silence? How much longer doesn’t it take for people to realize it is not just about women or the individual in this video, but those who are actually “cat-calling” or harassing them? Yes, Hollaback created a viral clip; but it isn’t just something you watch for entertainment… it’s to educate you. It is to provoke thought on the larger issue. It’s to help you realize that something is wrong. It makes you question everything else that the lens didn’t capture.

Final Reflection Explained

This is it. It’s the final days of this semester! And boy, it was one heck of a trip. Time really does fly by!  I can honestly say I’ve grown so much more this semester than any other in the past. With the help of some amazing professors and their classes , I was able to push my intellectual boundaries even further… and that’s what college is all about, right?

After blogging about the various American women writers, we were assigned to come up with a website for a particular one we were interested in. Without any hesitation, I joined the group for Zitkala-sa. Out of all the authors we read in class, she was the one I connected to most. She had such a different writing style and came from a background I was less familiar with, which stirred up my interest. When any professor mentions group work, I already know there would be eyes rolling around in classrooms. However, my group was such a pleasure to work with. Creating a website was no easy task!

It was my first time ever using the Wix platform and took a while to get familiar with it. I’m a techy kind of person and love trying to figure out the mechanics of sites, so the frustration was definitely a choice. Once I got the hang of it; adding pages choosing the theme, and all the general elements, putting the content together was easier.

Each section was split by the members of my group, and I was in charge of assembling most of the contents of the site. Besides site building, I was responsible for the sections: Zitkala-sa 101, Bright Feathers, and a scholarly work critique entitled A Fixation of the Native Identity, as well as a contributor in our quotes section. What surprised me most about this project was the amount of content we were all so eager to add. In doing our research for Zitkala-sa, we saw that she didn’t have a huge presence on the web. It was either small glimpses of her or only one section on a large-scale site. Our goal was to give Zitkala-sa her own home, where anything you can possibly know about Zitkala-sa was visible. We also wanted to leave our personalized touch with our quote analysis and scholarly critiques. This project helped me realize how important it is for our authors to have a presence to the public eye. Nowadays, everyone does their research on the internet, and the main purpose of it is to get instantaneous answers. It is important to let the audience know about the overall demographics of a writer, but to also enlighten them with ideas they cannot find on a simple “About Author” section.

I cannot take all the credit for this website. It was truly a group effort and I appreciate their cooperation and patience. We didn’t want to leave one person in charge of adding each content, so we tried to log in and add our own. However, we figured out that because there was more than one person logging on and saving… another member trying to save would have their content deleted. It was frustrating but we pulled through. Not one person’s section was any more important than the other. We saw how each tab was significant in knowing Zitkala-sa more. I think I speak for us all when I say we wanted to make the best website possible for Zitkala-sa. Adding the little extra artwork and transitions were time-consuming, but definitely worth it. I was very impressed with the work my group put in. They had thought-provoking content and completely poured their heart out on each section.

Writing for the public audience was scary. Just the simple fact that typing in Zitkala-sa’s name and having our site be one of the options they can click on sparks my adrenaline. It is a responsibility. Are we giving them what they are looking for? Is our content good enough? Are we giving Zitkala-sa justice? These are some of the questions that popped into my mind during this project. We needed to make sure our sources were credible. There must be more facts than mere opinion. At the end of the day, we are trying to shine light on the author and not only us. It was interesting to switch the mentality of research a bit. Was this something I would be looking for when conducting research? If the answer was yes to every section our group made, then our purpose was well served. I believe that our website is the best web presence out there for Zitkala-sa. That’s not because I am biased, but because I know that the work contributed by my fellow group-mates is noteworthy. All aspects of Zitkala-sa has been covered. Zitkala-sa was very passionate about preserving her traditions and ensuring the voice of her people be heard. We wanted to be the ones who allowed her voice to resonate. It was finally Zitkala-sa’s turn to be heard.

What I appreciate most about this American Women Writers course is how personal it was. My blog up to this point has been dedicated to the authors we’ve read and how influential each were to topics relevant today. We’ve read stories that revolve around identity, strength, and finding a voice. I don’t think I can capture how significant this class was to my life with a single post. But I think it’s safe to say that it did empower me. Hannah Crafts taught me about freedom. Harriet E. Wilson shared ideals about the role of men. Harriet Jacobs gave importance to my childhood. Zitkala-sa reestablished the power of education. Nella Larsen showed me the importance of identity. Zora Neale Hurston helps me cope with falling out of love. I’ve learned a lot about these authors, but I know I’ve learned even more about myself. In previous classes, I was consumed with getting good grades and writing papers that were all about the structure. For so long I’ve written things that were never to satisfy me, by my professors. Suddenly, I have lost my voice in the sea of reasearch papers, strict MLA citations, and thesis statements that I could care less about. Like the authors I’ve read this semester, I was stripped of the one thing I valued most: my voice. Blogging holds a very personal place in my heart. I’ve done it before it was a “trend,” or before sites like Tumblr had gotten famous. It was my outlet. To have the opportunity to blog again was so refreshing. I fell in love with writing all over again. I actually wanted to read the books that were assigned. I remembered why I became an English major in the first place. Dr. Travis, I know you are reading this and I want to say thank you! Thank you for introducing me to such amazing writers and allowing me to connect to them through blogging. Thank you for letting my mind roam free, yet staying grounded on the importance of content. If there is one thing I will walk away with from of this class, it is to be fearless. I have to take the strength and lessons expressed by these women and remember to never forget my self-worth.

It’s okay to write a preface in a book. It’s okay to have your work hidden for a while. It’s okay to lose yourself sometimes.

My work might be forgotten. Maybe not even be found.

But it’s still mine. It’s my story. It was explained by me.

Falling Out of Love Explained

I wish I knew how to start this one. I wish I had some smart catchphrase or witty joke, but today, I can’t find the exact words. The topic at hand is something that I find pretty hard to tackle and that is probably because it’s all too familiar. It’s the art of falling out of love.

Now, this is for the broken-hearted. Not just those who are coming out of romantic relationships, but friendships as well. Because, let’s face it… love is a powerful component that makes any relationship what it is. So after all the great memories and loving each other until your heart feels like it will explode, you’re hit by an unexpected emotion that leaves you almost paralyzed. You look at the person you love and the unthinkable comes to mind: you don’t feel the same way as before. You don’t love them anymore. It’s like a solid snowball to the face during a snowball fight. It will hurt. It’s cold. You will feel numb. And for a good ten minutes, you just want to curl up in a warm corner and cry.

While reading Zora Neale Hurtson’s Their Eyes Were Watching God, I wanted to hug Janie and eat tubs of ice-cream with her (Vanilla ice-cream, to be specific. With loads of fudge and whipped cream) as Sam Smith plays in the background. She goes into these relationships thinking it would be for the best. In the beginning, it would always seem to feel right; and at a point I did see Janie love the men she was with. Maybe not the extravagant, “till death do us part” kind of love, but a love that was worth something. Even if the first two husbands were good-for-nothings in my book, Janie chose to stay for as long as she could. But then, she had that falling out of love phase, especially with her second husband Joe Starks. The man she married was not the same man who she fell for in the early stage of the relationship. The snowball had hit her pretty hard in the face.

Janie stood where he left her for unmeasured time and thought. She stood there until something fell off the shelf inside her. Then she went inside there to see what it was. It was her image of Jody tumbled down and shattered. But looking at it she saw that it never was the flesh and blood figure of her dreams. Just something she had grabbed up to drape her dreams over. In a way she turned her back upon the image where it lay and looked further. She had no more blossomy openings dusting pollen over her man, neither any glistening young fruit where the petals used to be. She found that she had a host of thoughts she had never expressed to him, and numerous emotions she had never let Jody know about. Things packed up and put away in parts of her heart where he could never find them. She was saving up feelings for some man she had never seen. She had an inside and an outside now and suddenly she knew how not to mix them. (Chapter 6)

How heartbreaking was it to read that? Now, imagine experiencing it.

We tend to put the people we love on a pedestal, well at least that’s what I and Janie did. There’s this picture-perfect image of them inside us that we are completely connected to, but then when the snowball comes flying towards you, expect that image to shatter. Whether it was something they said, something they did, or often times, something they didn’t do or say, your love for them shifts. You start to reevaluate the relationship, look for answers that are impossible to find, and try to trace back to the starting line that’s miles away.

But when you’re falling out of love, you don’t push the re-play button. It doesn’t exit. Instead you have to look past the shattered pieces and accept that the picture will never be the same. It wasn’t the photograph you envisioned. You realize the love you were experiencing was a one-way street. And relationships are never supposed to be a one-way street. You are supposed to grow, express yourself, and learn to accept another person as a part of you; not as a separate component.

When your ‘insides and outsides’ don’t mix, you fall out of love.

Sometimes, it just has to happen. It’s the only time you learn to fall in love with yourself and feel how great it is.

Once you’ve finished crying over the pain of a frozen snowball to the face, you’ll see that you’re still alive. You can pick up a patch of snow for yourself, form it into a ball with no one else’s help, and throw like a pro.

You learn a lot by being hurt, but grow by being smart enough to know that you have to dust off your skirt and move forward. Falling out of love sucks, but you can’t fall forever.

A Grandmother’s Love Explained

Family is everything to me.

My parents were my first teachers and my brother was my first best friend (besides my teddy bear named… Teddy). But my grandma was different. She’s my rock. I told myself that if ever she leaves our home, I was to move in with her. Can’t nobody take my grandmama away from me! I could go on forever about the sacrifices, love, and care that she has exerted throughout her life, but my words wouldn’t do her justice. If there is one thing you should know about my grandma, it’s that she takes so much pride in her grandchildren (all nine of us).  As her first granddaughter, she doesn’t shy away from talking about relationships and who she believes I should be with; especially now that I am older.

Here are some qualities my dear grandmother expects from my future husband:

  • He has to have a good job. Or as she likes to repeat, “Marry a doctor or a lawyer.” 
  • He has to come from a good family.
  • Loves me unconditionally.
  • He needs to be a man of faith.
  • He must be respectful.
  • HANDSOME (oh, grandma).

This list doesn’t even sound that bad. Actually, I like it. But to put a man through such a list can be a task, because it sounds pretty much perfect. And perfect just doesn’t exist. However, I ask myself why she is so worked up about me having this ideal man. Her answer to me once went a little something like this, “because my granddaughter is worth it.” Of course I wanted to flip my hair and smile in agreement… and I did. But thinking about it now causes my heart to break a little. My worth stands next to a man with a law degree, whose family name is on the Forbes 100, and has a body hot enough to kick Adam Levine off of the “Sexiest Man Alive” throne? My worth is reflected on a person other than myself? I don’t think so.

In Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God, Janie’s grandmother (Nanny) has given her a similar list as mine. Nanny wants her granddaughter to marry quick, to a man who is of quality, but Jeanie was confused. She was still so young and saw marriage as a love-relationship, not something that is produced out of a mere list. So when Jeanie did marry she said this, “Husbands and wives always loved each other, and that was what marriage meant” (Chapter 3). Despite rushing into her relationship with Logan and doubting her feelings for him, she believed that a marriage built on love can be learned. Marriage ideals take the couple out of the situation and views it as only institutional, perhaps just necessity. It is often seen that women are expected to be housewives and mothers. That because they are given such roles, their companions must also be a certain way. I think that Nanny was aware that these gender roles are inescapable, but what could make it better is having a good partner. Then the goal of getting into a marriage is not for love, but a title.

However, let’s try not to criticize our grandmothers too much. I know they mean well.

My grandmother wants me to be my own person. She wants me to grow. She wants me to grab every opportunity thrown at me. She wants to see me succeed in life. She wants me to be happy. I think her main purpose in giving me her list of expectations is to teach me to aim high. It was never about the ideals, but the reason why we form them. As long as I don’t settle for someone who can pass as a good guy and be with someone who actually is, I know she can live with that. So, she won’t disown me if I marry a writer than a doctor. 

Grandmothers have this wisdom that us grandkids can’t always understand, but need to trust that it’s fruitful. Sometimes they go about expressing themselves to us wrongly, but it is all because they are one of the few people on this planet that have our best interest in mind. We are their successors, whether you feel like you are obligated or not. It’s a component in being family. My grandmother has taught me so many life lessons, that I am forever thankful. But the best gift she gave me is her love. It overflows. Like Nanny, her soul is strong. Because she has been through so much, she wants her grandchild to know that the world will give you choices. It’s about weeding out the bad and picking the one that suits you.