Friday, July 8, 2016

ENOUGH ALREADY. WE NEED TO GET OVER OURSELVES .



I am disgusted.

I wish I could say that I am saddened by the shootings that have become more and more common in this country because I am, but right now I am more disgusted than anything else. We need to get over ourselves. We are so obsessed with being mean that we don't even realize that collectively, we are the reason for the violence.

The world has evolved so much and in so many ways.

Phones are no longer just phones anymore, space is slowly becoming more of a destination and less a mystery, and we can print organs almost as easily as we print our tax returns. But when it comes to how we treat each other--one of the most basic functions that we perform every day--it seems that there is a percentage of people that cannot seem to evolve at all. And with all that we've been through, to become a country where freedom of speech is an inalienable right and should be cherished and treated as the privilege it is, we cut others down for expressing their opinion in growing numbers. Just look at memes, Facebook posts, Twitter feeds, and some blogs.

What does this have to do with shootings, #BlackLivesMatter, #AllLivesMatter, #Dallas, and all of the innocents that have suffered in the mix?

RESPECT.

Respect is not the same as agreeing to and going along with something you know to be wrong. It is allowing someone else their opinion before disagreeing without shaming or attacking his character. If you think you have the right to say what you think, remember that the other person believes the same. And if you think you stand a chance at changing this person's mind by yelling or coming at them hard, just remember how many times you tuned an angry parent out...

The other day someone posted this question on FaceBook: Is it ok for someone to buy lobster with food stamps?

I thought that maybe this person was using food stamps and wanted to know if lobsters was a product on the "authorized" list, but for half a day, this feed was like the trial of the century. And within two responses, I was sure that if the person on food stamps was really on trial, he was going to get the death penalty. Someone even created a list of what this person should be buying--without any knowledge of this person's family, background, special needs, etc.

Sure, lobster might be an unusual choice, but how does that choice warrant so much ridicule for such a large chunk of the day? Especially when you consider how many strives have been made on unusual choices. Without that strange looking thing that we screw into lamps, I'd be writing this post by candlelight, on paper with the more common inkwell, then nailing it to a pole for people to read.

We need to take a stand.

We do. But I think we also need to realize that there are many ways to take a stand. Throughout history, we have been shown different ways, we have been led via many paths, and we have made progress in so many areas. We are testing ourselves again--a sign that we are onto something great--but this time it's tougher because we have more resources with which to come at each other.

In my heart, I know this:

- If we take those resources and redirect them, we can be just as strong in a positive way as we are in the negative ways we ultimately wind up mourning over.

- Saying something to speak out against violence and hatred is fine in some instances, but in others, it fuels it.


Although your intentions may be good, arguing back and forth can escalate and perpetuate the nonsense. There are whens and wheres to debate the issues, but when we come at each other on social media, we appear disjointed as a nation. Deep down, that kind of disjointedness creates fear and anger, and we wind up shooting people we don't even know--and the whole time we don't even realize that the fear and anger came from such trivial FaceBook posts like the one about food stamps and lobster.

I have been ridiculed for not saying something.

But in my silence, I turn away from the negative and toward the positive. Imagine a toddler having a temper tantrum in a play group. The other toddlers turn their backs instead of telling him to shut up or instead of trying to calm him down.

That kid gets to express himself, and eventually, two things happen. It becomes obvious that the calmer toddlers outnumber the one loud, angry kid, and soon the yeller--without back up or support--grows tired and either falls asleep, or moves on to play nicely with others--because that's the only way they will interact with him.

Social media has the power to bring us together, but it can also rip us apart. Skimmers only read the headlines and those are skewed to attract readers. Opinions are often formed and expressed based on half read articles and the need to be right.

Why can't we all just be heard?

Progress is made via debate, not violence--if you kill everyone off, who will create the next best cronut? And yes, humor is great tool for when we get too serious or tense. Why are we here if we can't have fun? I am quite sure that our purpose is NOT to create bigger weapons so that we can kill more people--I have to believe that we were meant to do better than this.

We should expect respect. On all levels of government and civillian life. We should hold ourselves accountable for the good behavior we expect from others. When we work this way, the smaller, bad group is easily exposed. They can't hide behind the chaos we create, working against the greater good, while we are busy policing each other for being outraged at the smaller, bad group's actions. THAT is how change comes about--once we isolate the real issue we can truly determine its size and worth. We can more easily figure out how and where to focus our energies--and no one has to get hurt.

The consequences of where we are headed are eloquently laid out for us by John Kass, Contact Reporter for the ChicagoTribune: "If you read histories about great empires and how they lost their way — slowly, inexorably, the illness growing along the dull spine of what they once had been — then you already know what happens."

My disgust has melted away and I am replaced with hope. Hope that someone may agree with what I've said and change one thing about how they respect others more. And that by their example one more person may do the same. And so on, until respect spreads like the viral videos of senseless killings of fellow human beings that have no business in a place like the United States.

CF Winn is the award-winning author of The COFFEE BREAK SERIES, a quirky group of short stories meant to be read while on break or in the waiting room of the doctor’s office. Her first novella, SUKI, has been grabbing hearts and hugging souls all over the United States. 


You can now order SUKI in paperback at http://hopress-shorehousebooks.com/cf-winn/  or at BOOK REVUE, one of the nation’s largest independent bookstores, by email at info@bookrevue.com Learn more about SUKI at BOOK REVUE.  

Her blogs have been syndicated on multiple sites including The Masquerade Crew. More posts like these can be found at Humor Outcasts and The Patch where she is a regular contributor.  


FOLLOW me on TwitterFacebook, Google +, and CF_Winn on Instagram.



Sunday, July 3, 2016

AN OPEN LETTER TO MY INNER VOICES



To Whom It May Concern,  
   
I'm really good at lots of things

Well that's a formal opening. 

I know, right? It seems weird since we talk every day, all day long. But lately I've been thinking, and despite all the talking, I've realized that you don't know me at all. We are so different that it's actually disturbing.

What's really disturbing is that not only did you skip your workout this morning to write this, but you also ate that big muffin. It's packed with sugar and carbs and goes right to your stomach. That's why it's called a "muffin top." See how I did that? Yeah, I've got jokes. Wanna hear some more? 

For example, there's that thing between thoughts called silence. I like silence. But you don't, so I hardly ever get to experience it like the successful people who take time off to just be. They say it's where pure peace can be found, but for me, between my thoughts and your incessant shaming, the only peace I ever found was the pieces of  my shattered self esteem.

I just tell it like it is sister. I can't help it if you can't handle the truth. I make you better. How can you improve if you never know what needs to be fixed--like this blog. Stop writing and delete this immediately. Nobody's going to want to read it.

To be fair, I think I share some of the responsibility. At first you were like a new friend, the one who seems to be interested in everything about me and actively participates in whatever I'm thinking about. Whenever you'd go off on tangents, I was excited--happy to step out of my comfort zone and follow along.

And after a while, I got so used to it that I never noticed that the same voice who convinced me that trying lobster ice cream was a great idea--that I was the most boring person in the world if I didn't--wasn't there to hold back my hair and comfort me when the taste was awful and I vomited into a trash can on Martha's Vineyard.

Once considered unique, you relabelled what others called my realness, referring to it instead as my ridiculousness every chance you got. My shine dulled and dumbed itself down, like a smart girl afraid of intimidating the boy she likes.

You're a mess. You should really just--
I'm good enough

The turning point came for me when I realized I was lonely, even though because of you, I was never really alone. When I finally saw that I had stopped doing all of the things I loved out of fear of making a mistake and looking as stupid as you told me I was. And when everyone else continued doing them without me.

It was obvious that the incessant chatter and constant abuse had to end. I was exhausted from trying to change myself and I wasn't having any fun.

Abuse? I never hit you. What are you talking about? You are such a drama queen. I've done nothing but bend over backwards trying to look out for you. I just told you what you were already thinking, but as usual, you just don't get it. Hey. Are you listening? Can you hear me?

I can hear you, but somehow you seem smaller. And now there's another voice talking over you--one who loves me and wants to see me do great things. It's louder than you are, and your cowardly, obnoxious, self-centered cries for attention are quickly becoming background noise against the roar of applause I hear when I don't second guess myself and go with the flow.

That voice, the one who cheers me on, is the one that saved you from being drowned out altogether you know. It was early, a rare day of rest, and I really wanted to watch Super Soul Sunday...

But reality TV is so much fun. What are you trying to be? Some kind of spiritual guru? You should have been mowing the lawn any--

That voice kept me straight, stroking my hand as I pressed the buttons on the TV remote, reminding me that I matter and that I didn't have to give in to you. I turned on the episode where Steven Pressfield told Oprah that "resistance is a negative force that arises whenever we try to move from a lower level to a higher level." 

And suddenly you had a name, an identity, and a purpose. I smiled, forgave you, and allowed myself to love not only me, but you.

Wait. What??

Fear and Resistance. Once upon a time I wanted to hate you--for interrupting me when I tried to meditate, or for telling me that I was too fat to exercise anyway-- but now I appreciate you.

It all makes sense--that just as we can't really know the light without the dark, or love without hate, without you, I couldn't possibly know when I am really onto something.

For just like the jealous person who works to keep others down, you are the loudest when I am on my truest path.

I'm right here! *throwing random, nasty thoughts*

Consider this my notice. I am terminating our dysfunctional relationship in order to move onto bigger and better things. You will no longer be an annoying stop sign at every corner--interrupting my flow and disturbing my journey. Instead, when you get loud, you will be like a green light, and I will continue, knowing that I am headed in the right direction.

Oh you don't like what I'm doing? Then I must be doing it right.

And now, when I enjoy the silence between my thoughts, I will relax and enjoy the ride with my truest self next to me in the front seat--the one who supports what's best for me.

When we do talk, it'll sound like:

Me: "All is well. You are loved."
Me: "Thanks girl. Back at you."


So peace, love, and power trips,
The One Who Got Away





CF Winn is the award-winning author of The COFFEE BREAK SERIES, a quirky group of short stories meant to be read while on break or in the waiting room of the doctor’s office. Her first novella, SUKI, has been grabbing hearts and hugging souls all over the United States. 

You can now order SUKI in paperback at http://hopress-shorehousebooks.com/cf-winn/  or at BOOK REVUE, one of the nation’s largest independent bookstores, by email at info@bookrevue.com Learn more about SUKI at BOOK REVUE.  

Her blogs have been syndicated on multiple sites including The Masquerade Crew. More posts like these can be found at Humor Outcasts and The Patch where she is a regular contributor.  


FOLLOW me on TwitterFacebook, Google +, and CF_Winn on Instagram.












Friday, March 4, 2016

Canada: Land of the Shiny and New

I just got back from Canada. After seeing the falls from the Buffalo side, I had to plan a trip to see it from our neighbor's perspective. It would be my kids' first time out of the country, we could break in our new passports, and according to the Groupon ads, everything is shiny and new in Canada.

In the distance is the promised land!


The last time I had been to the Falls, I had squirmed uncomfortably as I rode through the ghetto that surrounded our national treasure. Instead of feeling like there was a permanent red carpet rolled out for one of Nature's most amazing creations, it looked like someone had tried to tidy up the foyer, but then let the dog in--the one with the muddy feet and weak bladder who was constantly chewing on everything.

There were throngs of tourists walking over the Rainbow Bridge. We watched them, our noses and cheeks pressed against the dirty glass of the observation deck as bodies elbowed us on all sides. But without a passport or enhanced ID, my family could not join them in the promised land of the grass is always greener in Canada.


The NY Falls are beautiful!

Still on the NY side.



Finally, after five years, we loaded up the car for an overnight trip, sure that we'd be there in time for breakfast--waffles and eggs that were fluffier and more delicious than ours because everything is better in Canada!

Eight hours, three pee stops, and some over-salted Roy Rogers chicken later, we rolled into the edge of New York. First, I pissed off Border Patrol by planting myself way over the designated stop line. It was like a pharmacy, where every visitor was given his own private consultation and the rest of us were supposed to keep our distance while they discussed embarrassing things like incontinence and excessive gas.

I was told to back up, and by the time my front tires were behind the white line, I was beckoned impatiently to come forward. I knew I had been bad and that made me nervous, so I forgot to change gears and almost rammed into the person behind me--an elderly couple who I was sure was Canadian and therefore nicer than us Americans. Until they beeped aggressively and gave me the finger.

Finally, I pulled up to the booth and tried to explain myself to a completely uninterested border patrol guard who frowned and demanded that I take off my glasses and roll down the back window--because I obviously was hiding my son--who had passed out with his mouth open and had drool flowing from his new braces like the Niagara River.

When he asked me what I did for a living, I launched into a full job description like I was in the most important interview of my life. Halfway through my second sentence, he waved me off as if saying, I'm done with you, please get out of my face before I punch you in the throat.

We drove over the border, windows still open. Crisp, clean air filled the car, pushing out the stench of stale french fries and hours old coffee. The rush of The Falls greeted us like new neighbors, and we all smiled, lost in our own thoughts:

- Me: I can't wait to see the Buddhist Temple!
- Bella: Maybe there's a place to hike all the way down to the Niagara River!
- Max: I wonder if they use Canadian bacon in the Crunchwraps at their Taco Bells?

Fry Coma








CF Winn is the award-winning author of The COFFEE BREAK SERIES, a quirky group of short stories meant to be read while on break or in the waiting room of the doctor’s office. Her first novella, SUKI, has been grabbing hearts and hugging souls all over the United States. 


You can now order SUKI in paperback at http://hopress-shorehousebooks.com/cf-winn/  or at BOOK REVUE, one of the nation’s largest independent bookstores, by email at info@bookrevue.com Learn more about SUKI at BOOK REVUE.  

Her blogs have been syndicated on multiple sites including The Masquerade Crew. More posts like these can be found at Humor Outcasts and The Patch where she is a regular contributor.  


FOLLOW me on TwitterFacebook, Google +, and CF_Winn on Instagram.







Thursday, December 31, 2015

Hawaii Changed My Life

Two Decembers ago, as I read Toby Neal's Christmas newsletter my breathing slowed. I was completely focused on the computer screen in front of me, but I also felt strangely disconnected from my body and somehow that made me feel more alive than ever.


Toby lives in Hawaii and she not only keeps us up to date on life outside the mainland, but she also writes mysteries set on the islands. In this particular newsletter, she had included pictures that reflected the beauty of Maui in such a way that for a moment or two, I was there with her family, smiling up at the sun and breathing in the salty air. My messy life with all of its problems dropped away, and my soul was free to wander through paradise. When I returned to my bedroom in New York, I ignored the howling wind tossing the snow around outside my window. I stared at my laptop screen and thought, It looks so peaceful in Hawaii. I'd really like to go there one day.   
 
It's as beautiful as it seems. Even more so.



And just like that, I let the thought go. I went back to enjoying Toby's pictures and musings, all the while appreciating that she had shared her experience. Two weeks later, when I saw a Facebook post about a timeshare that was available, my heart skipped a beat, but I wasn’t surprised. A quiet ding went off inside of me as if I were checking off a task I had every intention of completing. The timeshare in the post was cheap and close to the beach. In Hawaii.


It belonged to a friend of a friend, so I reached out to my friend and she put us in touch with each other. After hearing the particulars, I jumped on the opportunity and while we worked out the details, I made a new friend. 

This was the view from my room!


But as the vacation approached, life happened. I ran into a few snags and had to cancel my initial plans. I was disappointed on the surface, but strangely, underneath, I was also calm. Sad or not, something told me that I needed to ride this wave wherever it took me.

Unfortunately, it didn't take me to anywhere like Hawaii, but I visited a life lesson or two and licked a few ego wounds. In the meantime, my new friend refused to give up. She worked behind the scenes to reschedule my trip, keeping my dream of visiting Hawaii alive, even though neither of us was sure that I could pull it off.

With her in my corner, I learned how much individuals can gain from having a strong support system. I felt like my happiness mattered, and after years of pushing my own wants and needs to the side for my kids, it was nice. I kept slogging along, determined to see the light (and hopefully the beach!) at the end of this dark time.

It was almost a year later, and only a month before we were supposed to go, when finally, and without any effort on my part, everything fell into place. In April, during one of the longest, coldest winters New York has seen in a long time, Max, Bella, and I got on a plane and took the thirteen hour flight to Honolulu.

Max made sure we'd find our bags easily

It wasn't until we were there for a two days that it really hit me. Each morning, I got up at 5 am without an alarm and walked around the corner to Starbucks. I enjoyed the sunrise and my coffee on the outside patio and said a silent thanks to the Universe for making that warm, beautiful vacation possible. But on Day Two, I realized that there was more at play here than a getaway in paradise.

Some of my favorite things

If I had taken the trip when we originally planned, I wouldn't have bonded as much with my new friend. And I don't think I would have appreciated the gift of waking up each morning because I wanted to--not because I had to. At home I was a single mother of three, working multiple jobs to get by. Trips like this were considered impossible. Not having to be tied to a schedule or my usual responsibilities meant more to me, especially after the dark period I had just come out of.

My relaxed face

We made sure to venture outside of the pretty tourist area of Waikiki and hiked through the rural area of Honolulu. We passed small schools and crowded yards with barking dogs. We saw signs pleading with developers to stop destroying the land. And in the urban areas, just outside blocks and blocks of upscale chains like Coach and Cheesecake Factory, there was homelessness and poverty that made me wonder what the locals really thought about us being there.

Someone's bed and belongings
 The contrast was so profound, I'd have to be in a coma not to feel grateful for the opportunity to be spending time with my kids in one of the most beautiful places in the world. And when it was over, I was grateful to return home to a life that wasn't as hard as I had imagined it was before I left.

Fireworks on the beach. Sorry about the flash!
Since the trip, I have relaxed more and worried less. Things have gotten easier for me, and I am more excited about what is in store for me each day. I still have problems, but now they are just another piece of the path I am traveling on--one that always seems to lead to something better.


Paddle boarding in the lagoon


I often look back on my time in Hawaii and the magic that led me to it. I inhale love and exhale gratitude, and look forward to making more memories and seeing what other amazing experiences the Universe has in store for me. And I wish you all the same.


I'd do it again in a minute

CF Winn is the award-winning author of The COFFEE BREAK SERIES, a quirky group of short stories meant to be read while on break or in the waiting room of the doctor’s office. Her first novella, SUKI, has been grabbing hearts and hugging souls all over the United States. 


You can now order SUKI in paperback at http://hopress-shorehousebooks.com/cf-winn/  or at BOOK REVUE, one of the nation’s largest independent bookstores, by email at info@bookrevue.com Learn more about SUKI at BOOK REVUE.  

Her blogs have been syndicated on multiple sites including The Masquerade Crew. More posts like these can be found at Humor Outcasts and The Patch where she is a regular contributor.  


FOLLOW me on TwitterFacebook, Google +, and CF_Winn on Instagram.


Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Raise Your GrAPPtitude

Life is unpredictable. 

It's full of trial and error and good and bad chemistry. Living fully means testing boundaries - like the time you wanted to see if you could eat thirty White Castle burgers in five minutes. You cheered when you did it, but as Newton's Law states, for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Unfortunately, your joy and the joy of those who encouraged you to do it was short lived. 


Caution: Some experiments may cause an explosion

I don't know everything, but there are three things I'm sure of:

1. Most people are addicted to their phones, computers, and/or social media
2. The loudest members of society are crazy oversensitive
3. Our level of gratitude is at an all time low - we complain about everything

If White Castle doesn't get us first...

We're going to stall our own development and progress and eventually kill each other, leaving the cockroaches to feast on all of the wine and fast food we left behind.

CHEERS! *clink*
Train them while they're young.

Let's take the teen who is punished and has his phone taken away from him. Because we are of the mindset that everything should be done in real-time and with the least amount of clicks and keystrokes, the grieving process has changed slightly. This teen will not go through seven stages of grief. Instead, he will go through several abbreviated stages of grief.

1. Denial and Anger - "You can't do this to me! It's my phone! I won't be able to get up on time or do my homework! What? I have no idea how to set the alarm clock, and there is no way you are getting me to use a pencil!"

2. Bargaining - "If you give me another chance, I won't run away. But if you don't, I swear I'm going to take off. If I don't have my phone, then Netflix, X-Box, meals cooked by mom, my own personal chauffeur, and a warm bed with a roof over my head mean nothing to me anyway..."

3. Noisy, Angry Acceptance - "Fine. Don't give me my phone. You all hate me anyway. My life sucks and this family is totally dysfunctional, but fine. Nothing goes right for me, so why should this be any different?" *slams door to bedroom where he stays, isolated, and in a teen induced coma until the punishment is over*


You can't escape your demons

He learns to sleep away his problems, still unable to form a sentence without a hashtag or emoji to get his point across. His anger at how unfair the world is never dissipates, and after he gets his phone back, he spends the next twenty minutes Instagramming and Snap Chatting unhappy selfies---so his friends can really feel his pain. Black and white filters and skeleton face apps are his minions and his mission to spread negativity is successful.

 I don't claim to have all of the answers.

But I do remember a time when gratitude was that feeling I got any time my brother hid the wooden spoon. Because of him, all disciplining would be postponed till my mom figured out where I stashed the belt. And the feeling grew, because I knew that if she suspected either of us, we'd alibi for each other all day long. #FamilyBondingDoneOldSchool

No matter how we used to do it, I stand by my ability to ebb and flow with the times, and I'm a problem solver. Plus, after a few drinks, some consider me creative.

One evening, I spiraled when I was home, surfing the internet. It was clear after reading just a few posts, that if negativity was a vaccine, no one would ever get sick again. Instead, the reality is that negativity is a disease---a quick acting, contagious disease that spreads to the masses, like those viral videos of cats. Or people walking into glass doors.

My brain went right into grab that carafe and fix-it mode. Three cocktails later, I knew that GrAPPtitude was the answer.

It came to me when I realized that even though my insides were soaked with alcohol from at least three different countries, I was breathing, thinking, and typing away---I was alive and functioning.

My kids were downstairs, and I could barely hear their screams as they ripped the hair from each other's heads.

I called out to them, "Stop licking each other's faces and shut the hell up! Mommy's working!", completely aware that the tingly feeling in my chest was not the vodka repeating on me. I was filled with an appreciation for my kids. They're such a blessing.

And with miraculous epiphanies like these, GrAPPtitude was born. As I downed the last drop of liquid in my glass, I stopped myself from slipping into the abyss with everyone else. For I knew that eventually, one survivor would climb the stairs and appear. That child would be the one to get me the bottle that now seemed so far away, and all would be right again.

In the zone

Lost in my positivity, I began to outline the terms of GrAPPtitude:

This app will use keywords to identify negative posts. Then your phone will physically shock you so that you stop typing. At that point, a message will be created, one that will be unique and appropriate to whatever you were trying to put out into the world.

For example:

You were going to complain publicly about no one liking your last Facebook post. After you regain feeling in your legs, Siri, or whatever you've named your phone voice will yell:
"You feel ignored?! You want to talk about being ignored? Let's call your mother. I know you've forgotten her number, but I've got it right here!"

or

You start to tweet about how horrible your cramps are. Once you're able to bend your fingers again, the app screams at you:
"It's just your period! You think you know pain? That slipped disc in Aunt Jessie's back doesn't know what a day off is! Now click on the coupon for free chocolate and shut the hell up!"

Caution: Excessive Negativity Is Bad For Your Health

And so much more:

OMG it's Monday: "Are you complaining about having to put down the wine so you can go to the job that pays for your blackouts every weekend?"

I'm so broke. I never have money: "I'm sure that Netflix, your service provider, manicurist, and latte dealer will be very disappointed."

There are worse things than Starbucks taking the snowflakes off of their red holiday cups, or Christmas trees missing from the Santa backdrop at the mall.

When you consider what others gave up to give you the life you so freely complain about, stop to ponder where you'd be if George Washington had decided that he couldn't lead this nation because dentures really didn't reflect his brand. Or if he and his men felt it was only fair that they should be off on Christmas Day. And besides, it was just too cold to cross the Delaware River with no shoes on anyway....

#OMGICantFeelMyFeet


Tonight I will make a gratitude list before bed.

I'll make sure to include how grateful I am that I had three kids instead of only two. Someone's gotta get me the TV remote and paint my nails while the other two fix me something to eat....




CF Winn is the award-winning author of The COFFEE BREAK SERIES, a quirky group of short stories meant to be read while on break or in the waiting room of the doctor’s office. Her first novella, SUKI, has been grabbing hearts and hugging souls all over the United States. 


You can now order SUKI in paperback at http://hopress-shorehousebooks.com/cf-winn/  or at BOOK REVUE, one of the nation’s largest independent bookstores, by email at info@bookrevue.com Learn more about SUKI at BOOK REVUE.  

Her blogs have been syndicated on multiple sites including The Masquerade Crew. More posts like these can be found at Humor Outcasts and The Patch where she is a regular contributor.  


FOLLOW me on TwitterFacebook, Google +, and CF_Winn on Instagram.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Terrorists: They're Just Like Us

When I grow up, I wanna be just like....

As kids, we were read fairy tales and watched Disney movies. Heroes were worshiped and children were told that they should grow up and "be just like the good guys" - brave, kind, of service to others, and talented enough to spontaneously break out into song. No matter their struggles, the heroes always won in the end, and the message was that love triumphs over evil.

About a minute after we grew out of cartoon hunks and sass talking damsels riding in on white horses to save their betrothed, we set our sights on movie stars. Who wouldn't want to be like them? They wore fancy clothes and painted smiles for the cameras. As tweens, fun loving, photoshopped poses were enough to make us to wish, When I grow up, I want to be rich and famous. Their lives are perfect!


Thanks Google Images and Disney
Then Reality TV and Social Media arrived to the party, and they grabbed our attention in one fell swoop, inviting us to come play, like those twins in The Shining. Suddenly, we got a glimpse into what goes on when "there's no script", and the battle of the hot messes began.

All sense of self respect went out the window with the idea that wearing underwear for the camera was good form. Beating each other up, both physically and verbally, became a hashtag - #fightgoals - and like verbal diarrhea, every badly spelled thought, feeling, and opinion we had was let loose on the internet.

No matter which phase we were in, fingers were wagged and behavior was insisted upon: Be nice! No bullying allowed! If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all!

The message was certainly loud, but was it really clear??

There's a reason why The Housewives reality franchise is so popular, but (Spoiler Alert!) it's not because anyone kisses, makes up, and means it. Audiences love the drama. And the fights. Especially the ones that involve hair pulling and secret telling. Viewers root for their favorites and judge how strong or weak the players are.

At home, when kids are shushed because Bethany and Kristen are about to throw down at a fancy restaurant in Tribeca, I have to wonder what kind of life lessons they are learning.

Twitter, Twitter, post on my wall, who's the toughest one of all?

A few weeks ago, the NY Times posted an article on the front page of the Saturday paper. The headline read: Supporters of Al Qaeda and ISIS Tangle Over Who Is The Deadliest


Find the NY Times article here: http://nytimes.newspaperdirect.com/epaper/viewer.aspx


The piece described how followers of each group were tweeting at each other about who was more righteous and prominent. The Times reported that one outspoken supporter's profile suggested that he could be a fighter affiliated with one of the groups, and it got me thinking about reality TV and how these shows gain momentum.


*  As soon as a show makes its debut, alliances, rivalries, and branding abound. - "Once united under the Qaeda brand, they (Al Qaeda and ISIS) split over differing strategies in Syria."

 Lines are drawn quickly, and the drama begins. - "... it was also clear that the hostage-taking played into the growing rivalry between the two groups."

*  Favorites are decided upon and we create opinions based on what is shown to us, rather than what really is. And along the way, images become more distorted as even the characters have to live up to the brand they've created for themselves. - "The Islamic State has since emerged as the most dynamic , popular force among radicalized Muslims, fueling a competition for recruits, cash, and bragging rights among extremists who see bloodletting as the best way to advance an Islamist agenda."

*Quotes are taken from the NY Times article



"Those who live in glass houses..."

We all have opinions and we are lucky enough to live in a country where we have the freedom to express them, but how it's done is what marry us regular folk to the terrorists and reality TV.

Social Media is full of posts, pictures, and memes that bully, shame, and criticize others for almost everything they say, do, and are. We rally supporters while retweeting, reposting, and sharing negativity in alarming numbers.

Because you never make a mistake behind the wheel


How sad that we all don't blindly follow you.

http://mashable.com/2015/11/30/overweight-haters-ltd-cards-tube/#F7nmdd30nPqr #fatshamingisuncool 

And so many times, mothers, like Kim Kardashian-West - who are creating tiny humans - are targeted. How disappointing it must be for the parents of the cruelly outspoken - having children that are so unkind that they forget that their own mothers gained some weight and ate a little more while pregnant.

So oblivious are some that for those who have breastfed publicly, like Ashley Kaidel, the statement that goes unsaid is, Her body is so amazing that it instinctively makes enough nourishing, life sustaining food so that our generation and future ones can live on - even if the rest of us kill each other via disrespect, hatred, and a disregard for the contrasts that brought enough change to get us to where we are in terms of knowledge, technology, finance, medicine, etc.

"What is an adult? A child puffed with age." Simone de Beauvoir

Despite all of the development and awareness that has brought us iPhones, Netflix, and 3D Organ Bioprinting, so many are still stuck in the past. They behave as immature individuals fighting over things (like land and money), refusing to listen to or to respect the perspectives of others, and needing to be heard over everyone else. They can be food service workers, teachers, CEO's, or organized groups with self serving agendas - acting like children who have still not grown up enough to realize that it is not in our best interest to always agree, but it is in our best interest to stop fighting long enough to listen and consider other's ideas and feelings.

And it's not just on social media. Bullying happens on the roads, in the stores, and in the workplace. Just this morning, I saw two middle aged men fighting over a handicap parking spot at Walmart. Although there were two empty spots about twenty feet from the one they were arguing over, as I watched them climb out of their cars to get in each other's faces, it became clear that the fight was not really about where to park. It was about dominance, being right, and winning. And since it was 7:30 on a Saturday morning in December, how much do you want to bet that at least one of them was there to shop for gifts for the holidays? #holidayspiritfails

The only thing that separates us from the terrorists is our firepower, although some may argue that words hurt more than guns do.

Who are you?

Are you the person who will attack my opinions in the comments, or are you the person who discusses things in the name of progress and/or understanding? Can you be the one who will bring your thoughts to the table without anger or the expectation that we should all agree with you?

It may sound crazy, but a girl can dream, right?





CF Winn is the award-winning author of The COFFEE BREAK SERIES, a quirky group of short stories meant to be read while on break or in the waiting room of the doctor’s office. Her first novella, SUKI, has been grabbing hearts and hugging souls all over the United States. 


You can now order SUKI in paperback at http://hopress-shorehousebooks.com/cf-winn/  or at BOOK REVUE, one of the nation’s largest independent bookstores, by email at info@bookrevue.com Learn more about SUKI at BOOK REVUE.  

Her blogs have been syndicated on multiple sites including The Masquerade Crew. More posts like these can be found at Humor Outcasts and The Patch where she is a regular contributor.  


FOLLOW me on TwitterFacebook, Google +, and CF_Winn on Instagram.