My take on the world of ballet education.

It has been a while. I know. A lot has happened since I was here. Part of the problem is that I didn’t have a computer for a year. Being poor is not always easy. But this will be discussed later on.

Writing can really be an outlet for so much. It can be healing in so many ways. It is sad our kids these days don’t write anymore. I started writing really young. I would make up stories and even act some of them out with my dolls! Something happened to me which prompted me to come back here. Instead of being upset and angry, I figured, writing would be the best way to cope and if at the same time I could inform people, the better.

What I would like to address today is the world of ballet education.  As parents, we always want to tell our kids to do what they love, pursue their passion, follow their dreams and that if they work hard, they’ll make it. Mostly, it is true. But what no one wants to admit is how damn hard it is going to be to compete with those who are privileged. No one is admitting that no matter how hard you work, in America, the rich always get richer, the poor always struggle and you have to be a strong, 10 times better person to endure what it will take to make it.

If you’re offended by this, read on.  I’m not trying to blame you for being privilege or rich. I just want people to understand they are lucky and cannot ever understand what poor people go through to get where they want to be, if they even do manage to succeed indeed. The American dream is harsh. It’s a beautiful word, Utopian almost but reality is cruel.

My daughter was not the typical little girl who always wanted to become a dancer and who wore pink tutus all the time. She was never really into princesses and ballerinas. She liked horses. She liked books. But, she did like to dance. She started with Jazz. She had fun, going to class once a week. That’s all we could afford but it was enough. A couple of years later, she was told she had to start taking ballet which made completely sense. If she wanted to keep dancing, she needed the foundation. So, we added ballet. She fell in love with ballet. Suddenly, the girl, who you would never have picked to be a ballerina, wanted to be a professional ballerina. She didn’t care for the outfits and the bling, etc. She liked the discipline. She craved the hard work. After being told by a studio owner that she would be too talk to make it in the ballet world, she asked me to switch studio. That’s when we moved to a pre-professional ballet studio (the one before was more of a competition studio, a la dance moms show). There, she started taking more classes, 4 a week. She started doing more pointe. Slowly, I learned all the ballet lingo and what YAGP was, etc ( YAGP by the way stands for Youth American Grand Prix, if you’re curious go watch First Position on Netflix) That’s also when I started realizing that no one really makes it professionally unless they have money or are gifted like Misty Copeland and will be given opportunities because, well, they’re that good.

Another thing I started noticing was how studios only seem to pay attention ( real attention) to kids who have been there since they were in diapers. I know, I am exaggerating, although the idea of a baby in diaper doing fouettes is kind of amusing right now. In all seriousness though, if your kid has been at the same studio since they were in pre-ballet, most likely, they will get more attention, more respect, will be in better roles and be more pampered. If you are a new kid, well, get used to being in the background. Get used to only hanging out with whoever the new kid will be because the girls who have been there since birth won’t socialize with you. That is the truth. We’ve been to many studios and this observation never fails. No one likes the new kid. It’s the same everywhere isn’t it though? At work, at school, in society. Everything in this world is a reflection of how integrated we are as a society.
Even when we tried to ask for same opportunities ( i.e.doing YAGP ) as the girls who had been there forever we were given lame fake excused like, “oh you’re too young” ( even though younger girls who had been there for years were doing it).

But this leads me to another issue. Money. Even if you were allowed to participate in YAGP, you’d have to prepare for it. YAGP is a competition where a dancer presents a solo in classical ballet and contemporary if she or he wishes as well. In order to prepare for that solo, you need to get privates so you can learn the variation and perfect it. YAGP usually is in winter time, usually January or February depending on which city your audition is. Dancers start getting privates for YAGP in August or September and usually do not stop until the day of the competition. Now, let me break this down for you: depending on which studio you go to, privates will be between $75 and $150 an hour. They usually have one hour a week per solo. Most dancers do one classical and one contemporary. That comes to almost $300 a week just for privates. Add on top of that the tution you pay for classes (which if you are full-time pre professional is between $550 the cheapest to $800 a month or more). Ok. Now add to that shoes. On average, a pair of pointe shoes last 6 classes but most girls make them last longer. They have their ways. A pair of pointe shoes cost between $65 to $120 depending on the brand you get. But it’s not like you can just get the cheapest one. It has to be good for your feet. My dancer wore a $65 pair for 2 years but then realized she was getting bunions because of the shoe so now we spend $120 for one brand and $100 for another and alternate. So, did you have your calculator out this whole time? No. Ok, let me do the math for you. If your child wants to attend a pre professional ballet school that trains you well which requires you to come 4 to 5 times a week minimum, and she is on pointe and she wants to participate in YAGP ( and trust me, everyone wants to because it is exposure and a chance to win scholarship), you’ll end up spending about $2200 a month. You read right, average $1000 a month for classes, shoes and attire, accessories, gas to take your kid there, and if you have a kid who does 2 solos, privates can add up to $1200 a month. Sometimes, you will find studios that offer scholarships. They are rare but they do exist. Of course, scholarships are competitive. I’d love to share which studios I know help out families but I decided when I started this post that I would not name any studios. This blog is not about rating studios. It is a general opinion of the world of ballet education. My daughter was lucky enough to get scholarships twice from 2 good studios in our town. While it didn’t help with everything, it was a start and it is what enabled her to keep fighting for her dance future all these years.
Scholarships for summer intensive are extremely hard to get. After all, companies are in it to make money. We had teachers flat out tell us where NOT to go because of the reputation of the program. Some are really just taking advantage of their big famous name. One company that I will not name only offered 3 hours of training a day and charged an orrendous amount for their program. Most good summer programs will give you an intense training of at least 6hours a day. My daughter attended one where she trained for 8 hours 5 days a week and 4 on Saturday. Again, as a parent, you have to center your child and turn down the volume of the pressure talks. It’s more important to get the correct training than going to a big name intensive and get lost in the process and make yourself bankrupt.

All of this sounds pretty intimidating right? I certainly wish someone had warned me about all this when my daughter was 9 and decided she wanted to be a professional ballet dancer. But we learned as we went. I knew nothing about YAGP but then suddenly because everyone was doing it, we thought we had to do it in order to have a chance in this world. We were depressed when we couldn’t. I felt like a loser mother who couldn’t afford my kid to do something that would advance her and give her the same opportunities everyone else (or rather those with big wallets) had. Not doing YAGP alienates you even more because, everyone is doing it. Dancers show off about how many rehearsals they have and parade around their costumes. Teachers spend hours giving privates, often starting regular class LATE because they’re finishing up with the ones preparing for YAGP.

For about 3 years I felt like a loser for not being able to afford privates. I kept thinking, maybe next year, maybe your senior year. And one day, it stopped. It was a combination of my daughter not even caring anymore and me hearing moms telling me how the whole YAGP competition was rigged. They literally had stories about parents slipping hush hush “notes” to the judges and certain studios being favored. You’ll also once in a while bump into a successful dancer who had never done YAGP and we’d be reminded that things get blown out of proportion. You could put something terrible in the spotlight, hire a good marketing team, and everyone’d want it. Right? Do I need to give examples? I don’t think so. Not even thinking about doing YAGP just made things more bearable for me. But I must say, I give a lot of credit to my kid who has the amazing ability to brush things off. Trust me, if took years of practice and tears. But these experiences, the “no you can’t do this or that” speeches because she was too tall or didn’t have enough money, just made her stronger. Her attitude now is to show up in class, work her ass off, leave and ignore the noise around. It doesn’t mean things don’t get to her. She just handles it differently.

She’s had to practice that during Nutcracker time too. AH! Nutcracker! Oh you’ve heard of the Nutcracker mania. Every theater in town plays it around Christmas time. It can be a very magical show. If you attend a good studio, Nutcracker is a very elaborate production which requires months of preparation. The end result is magnificent. Be prepared, however, to have no life during the months leading to the magical nights. The first problem is the expense. Yes. You have to pay for it. You will have to pay the fee to participate, possibly a costume fee, then you will be asked to buy 10 to 15 tickets regardless of whether you can resell it or not. Most studios will also require parents to volunteer or you can pay a very high fee if you can afford to not volunteer. It’s a very thought-out thing. You can tell that most studios have done this for years and know how to justify their cost. They also know that parents have a hard time saying no to little Suzy who dreams to be a mouse or whatever role she will get (although there is no guarantee of what role you’ll get of course). So when you add up, depending on which studio you attend, you could be stuck with spending $2000 just to participate. Ok. So now, let’s move on to rehearsals and “tech” week ( the week of the show, you rehearse at the theater). Nutcracker rehearsals usually, at a minimum, will take up all your weekends from September to December. Forget about Thanksgiving vacation. Forget about birthday parties, soccer games, etc. Have fun juggling siblings’ commitments. Tech rehearsals are another problem because they are long, yet necessary. There is no doubt about it. If you are a good studio, you will make sure everything is perfect, and that means, rehearse, rehearse, rehearse. Remember, the studio pays the theater for the space so they usually ask cast members to arrive fairly early so they can get as much done as possible. The issue with this, however, is that most young dancers have school and missing school is not always a luxury for parents. Some schools are less forgiving than others. Younger kids might not be as worried as a high school junior or senior to miss a class. Then, there is the problem of getting to the theater. Some parents HAVE to work and cannot leave early to pick up their kid and transport them to rehearsals. Some parents CANNOT afford nannies or butler or car services or those not so safe apps.

So imagine all of this combined, the cost, the time, the stress, the school being missed, the transportation, the loss of income if you have no one to help you get your kid to rehearsal…. well you are out of luck.

Even if you are a hard working parent, when you are dealing with studio owners, they are so focused on their production that they completely lose empathy, if they even had it in the first place. They claim they understand but they can’t even make an exception for your kid who  can never  do what others do (YAGP, etc) to arrive late to a rehearsal so that her mom can make a living. The truth is that privilege and wealthy people who do not know what struggle is and won’t walk in your shoes only want to help their kind. It’s to their advantage. The ones at the top need to stay there. They can’t have “those guys” jeopardizing them ruling the world. Think about it, with the amount of wealth in this world (owned by only a handful of people) don’t you think we could have solved extreme starvation and poverty by now? There is no benefit for them to help the little guy. They claim they don’t want to give preferential treatment but in reality they give each other special treatment every single day.

This reminds me of another time when a teacher yelled at me and my kid for calling to let her know we were running late to a competition because I had gotten sick. But who cares about someone’s health right? The ONLY thing that matter is the competition.

Guess what? NO. Nothing matters more than someone’s well being, health and financial security. Nothing is worth jeopardizing someone’s grades when they count on full scholarship to even be able to attend college.

See, the problem with the world of ballet or competitive dance is that everyone seems to forget that kids started dancing because they loved it. They were not stressed about anything. Most likely, they started dancing in their living room or bedroom, at a family function on grandpa’s feet. Then fast forward a few years later, mom or dad takes them to a pre ballet or tap class and they laugh and have so much fun wearing tutus (if your kid is into that) and make noises with their happy feet. But slowly it becomes a competition in one way or another. It becomes a challenge. It becomes work. These kids turn into adults fighting for a job, sometimes being nasty to one another. The parents turn evil or because of peer pressure end up bankrupting themselves or lose focus and think their kid HAS to do what everyone else does. Less fortunate parents might become depressed because they can’t provide for their most precious offspring. Some dancers end up quitting ballet because they don’t love it anymore or because they do not like the politics of it. Who could blame them? Some end up turning into a different style of dance. Some make themselves sick, take drugs, start drinking, have body image problems, weight issues. THIS is a reality that no one talks about. This is hush hush. You might say, well this is the sacrifice to become a Prima ballerina but does it have to be this way? Why does getting anywhere have to be a nasty process. What happened to work hard but having pride, joy and compassion in the process?
We know dancers who work themselves so hard they have absolutely no balance. They live unhealthy lifestyles, drink coffee to stay up until 2 in the morning to finish a writing assignement due the next day at school. They are prone to injuries. No one can sustain this unhealthy lifestyle. Depression, lack of confidence, you name it, this world can create it. It takes a good support system, guidance and role models to have your head on your shoulder. There are, thankfully, programs that will help your dancer remain focus. Many art centers have education programs and offer seminars or free classes. You have to know where to look.

Awareness is very important in every aspect of our society. Every subcategory in our lives need to be looked at carefully and analyzed. Then, we need to talk about what we can do to change things and hold people responsible accountable. We do NOT have to accept these “NORMS”. No kid should be denied possible success and happiness in whatever he or she chooses just because he or she comes from a lower income family who works harder than anyone to provide food, shelter and security.

Society as a whole lets ITSELF down. We do not gain anything by bringing the same people or the same kids of the same rich families up to the top. Nothing improves or inspires by just letting the rich get richer and the privileged always getting ahead. Imagine a world where every kid had the same opportunities, where every child was given the same ballet training no matter how much money their parents had? For one thing, you’d see a lot more diversity. Things would start looking different. But here’s the root of the problem: no one wants that. Ballet is for skinny white girls. Yes, I know how it sounds and I think you all I know I disagree with this but that is what those on top believe and they want to keep it that way. That’s why some companies won’t even consider you unless you are a certain height or weight. It’s not a secret. It’s a catch 22. Of course, things are slowly changing but emphasis on slowly. Some companies welcome tall dancers or people of color but it’s not usually a melting pot, it’s more like segregation. But ok, it’s a step in the right direction. Like in history, eventually it will come to an end and blended companies will be accepted….I hope.

So, I am telling you. As with everything, what makes things change is your voice. Speaking up and exposing the unfairness and nastiness of anything is what creates or speeds upchange. So if you are a mom or dad with a kid in the ballet world and you are unhappy with the things you see and hear, speak up and get together with other who feel the same way. And in the meantime, protect your child and find other outlets. Your child’s health and mental well-being is more important than any grief you will experience. If you need recommendation, feel free to ask me. I’ve been there. I’m lucky because my dancer found ways to work around all of this and still be happy but I know it is not always easy.

Sound off.

Restrictions

It has been way too long since I wrote a post here.

I miss blogging, but my life has taken a different course the past 5 months and I have been having a hard time adjusting. I work full-time now, like many/ most people. Still, I am a full-time mom. I still run the household.

I can’t even remember if I mentioned this before but I have a couple auto immune diseases and the number one thing my doctors always recommend me is to rest, rest, rest and not push myself to hard. I have done the complete opposite for the past few months. I lost my somewhat good habits, gained at least 20 pounds, stopped exercising, am constantly tired, was total moody for 2 months when I started my new job and stopped doing almost everything that actually made me happy because I had no time to do them or was too exhausted to do them.

Some of the things I stopped doing was: well obviously, blogging. Sorry guys. Not sure you missed me but I surely missed YOU! I also stopped doing most things I love writing about on his blog. I stopped listening to music, watching movies, walking, taking photos, watching and reading news stories, checking Facebook for political humor posts to repost, and eating healthy to mention just a few. I figured that after a few months, I would adjust and find a way to reincorporate all those things I had to put on the back burner during the adjustment period. I have indeed been able to manage doing some of those things but I constantly feel rushed though. It just isn’t the same.

I had not worked full-time in quite a long-time. I always managed to work part-time so I could be a very involved mother. Being a mother is my number one priority. However, it was time and necessary to go back to work full-time to make things easier financially. Don’t get me wrong, I also went back to work full-time for me. I needed to be more validated as a person. It now sounds completely ridiculous, but I needed to feel like I was more “normal” ” be part of the society” “be like everyone else”– I know it sounds like the total opposite of what I am writing on this blog and who I am. But I guess, sometimes, you just want to feel validated. ( I had been looking for a full-time job for a while and after so many rejections, I started to feel like there was something wrong with me). I finally found a great job, that paid well, that was related to what I had gone to school for, etc. I felt like I fit in -at first. It was great, even though I was miserable at the same time (missing all I mentioned above), I was so happy to be like everyone else, skills recognized, remunerated, etc.

The only problem is: I am not like everyone else. I am not meant to work a 8-5 job. People do not appreciate me for who I am and they try to change me. In order for me to fit in, I need to drastically change my personality which in return makes me so unhappy, it is as if someone had crushed my spirit. I have been doing a fantastic job at my work. I have even at times been praised for it. However, I have been criticized for a few things that I can honestly not change, as they are just innate and part of ME. There is an unbelievable amount of double standard in my place of work and I will leave it at that as I am not interested in judging and commenting on it. Instead I want to talk about generally how it is pretty much the same everywhere. I have a huge problem with workplaces or people who have double standards. This is not a new occurrence.

In society, there are three groups: the ones who try to mold people in a certain way to control them and get what they want or need out of them/it (let’s call this GROUP A for the fun of it), the ones who fit in the mold and make themselves comfortable in it or the ones who are oblivious they are in it (GROUP B), and finally the ones who are resistant to being molded and want to burst out of the mold (GROUP Z).

Group A are employers, banks, those who hold political offices, pharmaceutical companies, teachers, doctors, the media, religious leaders, the Upper Class,etc. Group B are employees, patients, the average citizen, students, most kids, most religious people, for the most part the middle class and lower class. Group Z are activists, Anonymous and Occupy groups, people who follow those who question and expose Group A, some atheists, agnostics,  some scientific people, anyone who “doesn’t fit in”. Z people also often are B people with depression or substance abuse. They just haven’t realize yet that they are Z people, they still try to be B people. Once they realize it is ok to be who they are, they fall into the Z category.

Group A has been creating and perpetuating group B for centuries by putting restrictions on B people. I always like to go back as far as the feudal system because of it is the best, simplest and most obvious example. It must be the French in me that loves discussing this but it is not my purpose here. If you are interested in learning more about feudalism, go google it.

I have always been outspoken about the fact that I am not meant to work in a corporate environment. I do not do very well with rules. I can follow them. That is not the problem, but I become so miserable that it just ends up utterly miserable. Either I hurt myself, my being depressed or overeating, etc ( being a B person) or I end up speaking up and rebelling against the rules and resigning from my jobs. I have indeed quit  jobs because they felt unethical or because my superior had double standard or were dishonest. This unfortunately is so apparent at my current job, I am miserable. I find myself feeling sorry for humanity in a way, but then I realize it is more us, Americans. We work so hard, we make ourselves sick. We work so hard to make it. We work hard so our kids make it and don’t have to struggle. But while we are doing this, we barely see our kids, husband, families, ourselves. We lose touch with who we are.

Lately when I come home at night, I am so exhausted, I pass out on my couch and end up wasting my few hours with my kid. It makes me so sad that by the time it is bedtime, I cry. My bedroom has this collage I made a long time ago (with my kid). It is a collage that grounds me. It is all about nature, love, beauty and purity. I find myself staring at it and then I just burst out, feeling like I’m not being the being nature meant for me to be. I am upset about it too because I yearn for this being but it is seems impossible. I have so little time for fun now or just to breathe and reflect. So little time to enjoy life and my family. We all work so hard for the future or to not be homeless that we ending not enjoying the now. When will there be time? I am truly sad. And I feel stupid. Stupid that I can’t seem to figure out how to be happy in this society, how to make a living and do what I love. Isn’t it everyone’s problem? Pursuit of happiness?

It feels like my work just turns my brain off. Going to work every morning, being stuck in traffic, rushing home to rest just to do it again the next day. What a life! I knew I was never going to be happy in a cubicle. But I had to because I need to support my family. Now, I wonder if it is worth it? And I go back and forth….I do this for my kid can fulfill her dream, but at what price now? My child, like every parent is the most important thing to me in this universe. But it goes beyond the normal love between a mother and child. My child is my soul mate. I believe people have many soul mates.  My heart aches everyday when I have to be away from my kid for so long. It is truly the worst heartbreak I have ever had. Forget about boyfriends, etc. I think it is much worse because I am not happy at my work. If at least I felt joy during the day.

I know, I know. I just need to look for another job. Not so easy to do, in an economy like ours. But I do not give up. I need to get back to me. I have been saying that for years now. My favorite motto is ” When there is a will, there is a way” . So what is my problem? What is our problem? We all have dreams, aspirations, no one wants to work at a job we hate or don’t enjoy, a job that drains us and makes us feel like robots or zombie. We are all afraid. Of what? Everyone is different but we are all afraid of taking the leap. We are afraid of failure. But aren’t we failing ourselves already everyday by not being the way Nature/God intended us to be?

Happy.

 

 

 

Things we should be more thankful for: WATER

First I want to thank ,my loyal followers and readers for taking the time to read my blog posts. Secondly, I would like to apologize for being away for so long. I owe you an explanation.

I was deeply touched and truthfully, devastated by the tragedy of Newtown. Those who are closest to me know that when a tragedy occurs, it affects me to the very core of my being and soul. When Katrina happened, I cried and hurt for weeks. I felt useless. I did what I could from the state I lived in but I wish I was right there in the devastated area where I could offer my help, my hand, a shoulder to cry on.

Newtown was no different. What the families of those poor children went and are still going through is unimaginable. For days, I felt hopeless and helpless. I also felt angry and frustrated  at what I was hearing on the news, reading on Twitter and Facebook or anywhere else. To me, there was no explanation for what happened. I honestly did not turn on the TV much during that time. There was no point for me. I did read stories on the internet but I could not bear to listen to newscasters turn on their sad voices. I understand things have to be reported but there is nothing that will ever make us feel better. There is nothing that will ever give us peace of mind. I do agree that now is an opportunity of review gun laws, mental health and most importantly ourselves as a society. We need to take a good look at ourselves in the mirror and start fixing what is wrong.

Now on to this new topic which I have been so eager to write. Water.

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On Thanksgiving, it is custom to go around and say what we are thankful for. Obviously we are all familiar with the generic things being said. We are all thankful for our health, our jobs, our family, the food sitting on the table but we rarely talk about every little thing we use on a daily basis that makes our lives so much easier than it is in other countries or it was decades or centuries ago.

For me, the thing I am thankful for everyday (aside from my loved ones) is water. My time for giving my thanks is usually when I shower. I feel extremely thankful and humbled every night. There are people in the world who never felt water go all over their body in a shower. For some people, water is so scarce or unclean that accessing water alone is a luxury. There are nights when I am so lazy, I feel like taking a shower is a burden. Then I end up showering anyways and want to smack myself for even thinking of such a privilege as a burden. The minute the water hits my shoulder, I feel better. I feel like the luckiest person on the planet and then I take a few minutes to think of all the ways I am gifted throughout the day. We use water countless of times. We wash ourselves in the morning and night and through the day every time we wash our hands and go to the bathroom. We brush our teeth. We wash our clothes. Water helps us get rid of impurities. We all know the feeling when we are parched and someone hands us a glass of water that feels like the best thing on Earth. Water is a miracle. Water is life. Without water, we could not have evolved and be who we are. Without water and most importantly access to water, we could not thrive the way we do. When I think of how water gets to us in California, it is pretty amazing. States like California and Nevada are extra lucky and blessed. We are not meant to have water. We had to use our intelligence and technology to get water to us. This is not to be taken for granted.

 

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Water is so common, we use it so much that it becomes a basic thing and as every basic thing, we take it for granted. Without water, we couldn’t have our tea or coffee that makes such a difference in the way we start our day. Without water, cooking could be really difficult. Imagine making pasta or rice without clean water. If I go 48 hours without a shower, I feel so disgusting and uncomfortable, I have a hard time thinking and doing things straight. When my water gets cut off and I cannot wash my hands, I get a little panic even though I know I can wash my hands with the water I saved especially for emergencies. I am spoiled. like everyone else. I waste, like most of us. I feel guilty about it all the time. I picture people in Africa who have to walk so many miles to get just a couple of gallons of water. They have to walk in what would be unbearable heat to us, just to do it again the next day. Some people die from drinking unsafe water. That’s how lucky we are: we never have to worry about dying from the water we drink. We never have to really weigh the pros and cons and take risk every time we take a sip.

The good thing is that there are a lot of things we can do. First thing is to be aware. If we can be thankful for what we have and be aware of how precious water is, we are moving forward. We can try to conserve water in any way possible, take shorter shower, turn off the water when we are brushing our teeth or cooking, not wash our cars so often (enough vanity, who cares if our car is not so shiny), monitor when we water our lawn, follow our community and government regulations, etc. We can also become more active and join or/and support non-profit organization who provide solution to conserve water and/or bring water where it is actually needed like third world countries.

Below is a list of some organizations you should take time to look at.

The Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) is a policy institute that seeks sustainable solutions to the world’s escalating water crisis. SIWI manages projects, synthesizes research and publishes findings and recommendations on current and future water, environment, governance and human development issues

http://www.siwi.org/

Just a Drop is an international water aid charity, which builds wells, hand pumps and boreholes in 31 countries in the developing world.

http://www.justadrop.org/

Water.org is a nonprofit organization that has transformed hundreds of communities in Africa, South Asia, and Central America by providing access to safe water and sanitation.

http://water.org

Charitywater.org is bringing clean water to people in developing countries

http://www.charitywater.org/

Water Conserve is a Water Conservation Portal dedicated to protecting and conserving drinking water and ecosystems worldwide – with a genuine Internet water search engine, constant water news and link tracking, and biocentric commentary.

http://www.waterconserve.org/

Founded in 2000 by leading journalists and scientists, Circle of Blue provides relevant, reliable, and actionable on-the-ground information about the world’s resource crises.

http://www.circleofblue.org/waternews/about/
ClearWater Initiative is a U.S.-based 501(c)3 nongovernmental organization that strives to provide clean, potable water solutions to populations in need and educate the public about the importance of clean water.

http://www.clearwaterinitiative.org/

Do you feel forced to follow tradition? An epiphany on Epiphany!

After a few weeks of writer’s block, it finally hit me. Don’t you love that moment when something comes to you and all you want to do is grab a keyboard ( *smiles*) and write a blog post about it. Well here it comes. I had my epiphany, ironically enough on Epiphany!

One of my readers figured out some of my origins after reading my blog post about eating consciousness. No wonder, all that mention about eating rabbit and cow’s tongue and liver as a child gave it away. Yes I am partly French. My whole adult life, I have had issues with how to keep up with traditions. As I mentioned in previous posts, the first dilemma came when we had to figure out whether to celebrate Christmas or not. Well I figured that out. But there are so many other things. For me and my husband, a few issues come to mind. First, we’re not Catholic but both had at least one Catholic parent, then when it comes to me, I was raised in a home where food WAS a national TRADITION! I’m not joking. So, even after having figured out that we didn’t have to celebrate some religious holidays, food is always a reminder or even an excuse. Like today. Today is Epiphany. I grew up celebrating Epiphany. My mom was not really a practicing Catholic but in France, it was tradition to get the Galette with the fève inside. Whoever got the fève was crowned King or Queen. Also, every time you would visit someone during the whole month of January, you would have to bring a galette. Whoever got the fève was the next one to buy the galette. It went on until the end of the month. We also have until the end of the month to wish Happy New Year. Anytime afterwards was bad taste.

I continued all the traditions I grew up with (well most of them) because it is heart warming and I wanted share my culture with my family and kid.

After a few years, I now find those traditions more as chores and duties. I went to bed last night thinking, “oh shit, tomorrow is Epiphany, I have to go get a galette I guess” excuse my language but that is really what I thought. I started wondering where I would get it, where the best one is at, which store has the cheapest…. AND because of my new vegan diet, I honestly had no desire to even eat it. It was Christmas all over again. At Christmas, I bought a bûche de Noel but I wasn’t excited about eating it. I looked forward to my vegetables a lot more.  Traditions are legacies, I get it. But we change, people change, so why do I feel so guilty by just thinking about NOT getting a Bûche de Noel or a Galette? I think it is because all those things were fun for me as a child, but I am not a child anymore and I could care less if I eat a galette on a Holiday I don’t even believe in. I am a closeted double hypocrite. So here, I am out. I am not Catholic and I celebrate Catholic holidays just because I did when I was younger even though it was mostly because of the fun and for the food and now I force myself to do it for my kid.

Don’t get me wrong. I do like traditions but after a while, it is time to move on. For example, we used to celebrate Easter, but now we no longer go for the Easter egg hunt. We graduated from that tradition. I never baked beignet on Mardi Gras like my grandmother used to. That’s ok. I don’t make crepes that often either which probably explain why I am not rich since the tradition is that if you make crepe on a certain day, you’re supposed to be rich all year. I think I have to stop being so hard on myself. Another reason why I kept those traditions for so long even when they annoyed me was because my mother would make me feel guilty about not being in France anymore. I think she was afraid my kid would not have enough reminders of where we came from. That could not be further from the truth. We all know where we come from and we cherish it. What is more important though to us is who we are today as people. Who we are is not defined by traditions. I love my origins and I will always cherish them but I see myself more as a part of the human race than as a National of a specific country or a follower of a specific faith. We did a great job raising our child that way. This might anger some people, but I find it wrong to force kids to say the pledge of Allegiance to the American Flag every day in school. We love our country very very much in our house. 9/11 was one of the worst days of our lives. We love our American People but we do not need to assert it that way because we feel we alienate the rest of the world. Traditions are like history to me. They have to be remembered and people choose to remember history in their own ways. Some express their opinions loudly, some join parades, some make movies about it, some light a candle quietly in the privacy of their home. The way we choose to honor our traditions is up to us and we shall not feel pressured by anyone, not our parents, not capitalism (hello Valentine’s day around the corner) or our government. So I am officially over the guilt.

The other very important thing to remember is to forever create new traditions. It is actually the most fun. I have countless ideas every year which turn into beautiful new memories and traditions and it makes me happy to know that I am continuing to write our history.

 

Now for all those of you who wonder what I ended up doing: well, I did it. I went out and bought a Galette des Rois. When I came home I wrote this post…out of frustration. Now I think I will actually enjoy it more but I will no longer do anything just because I have to follow some tradition.

 

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My thoughts exactly: what the problem really is.

I was going to finally sit down and write a post about the Newton massacre, our gun law discussion, video games, etc and the relationship between all of those things but everything I was going to say has already been written so, please click the link below.

 

http://www.michaelmoore.com/words/mike-friends-blog/celebrating-prince-peace-land-guns

Where are the angels in the City of Angels?

Here I am at home, sitting in my very uncomfortable 15-year-old couch, but warm and happy. I just came back from my job which I am lucky to say I love. A lot of things have changed since I first arrived here in Los Angeles. As I was driving home, I was talking to my family about the short conversation I had just had with a homeless man while I was waiting at the cross walk. I talked to him and gave him some money. He smelled and was obviously in need of help. He was holding a sign that said, “Happy Holidays”. He wasn’t really begging though. But his eyes caught mine and so I started to talk. I asked him if he slept outside and he said yes because there was no room in the shelter but he was waiting from friends in Jamaica to be help him. I asked him what his story was and he said, “oh it’s a long story”. It was my turn to walk and so I talked to him for a few more seconds and then crossed the street. I said, I hope things would turn for the better and wished him a Happy Holiday. He said the same and wished me a Happy New Year. I now regret not staying to talk longer. My family as usual was sweet to me when I told them the story and said I felt bad for him. They said to me, ” At least you were nice and you helped him”. It’s true. Most people pass them on the street and ignore them as if they were trash. I always smile to homeless people and talk to them if I can. Today reminded me of an essay I wrote after being in LA for just 5 months. My husband remembered it. So there it was. I decided I would go home, find what I had written back then, post it and see where I was today. I wanted to see if anything had changed.

So here it is and please read all the way to the end to see my comments about what I feel and think now!

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It’s been almost 5 months since I’ve arrived in this heartless, dysfunctional, delusional city. We came here because we thought it would be better for all of us. We were full of hope that we would fit in here better than where we came from. Perhaps our thought was the illusion. All I can seem to focus on since I have been here is how ugly, mean and sad things are around here. I see the ugliness in people’s face, in their behavior, in the way they drive, talk, and ignore each other. My soul has been aching for 5 months and I am not sure how to make it stop. I came to work one day, very distressed after having experienced a very disturbing chain of event. I attempted to explain to a coworker why my heart was in despair. I told her about the feeling of discomfort and misery I have had since January. She looked at me and said: “I used to be like that too, I used to cry everyday, but after a while I didn’t see it anymore. I don’t hear or see things anymore. It will get better, you will get used to it.” Then I looked at her and said: “if you knew me, you would know that I will never get used to it”. Indeed, I know that it is impossible for me to be numb to what is around me and that is exactly what she was trying to convince me would happen with time. This is the core of all problems. When people first come to this city, they most likely feel the same thing that I have been feeling but they only allow themselves to feel this way for a short amount of time. They become desensitized. Or rather, they desensitize themselves. A good example of this came from another coworker of mine who gave me an advice one day on how to be happy in this city. He told me to create a sort of cocoon, to create my own happiness with my family and just focus on that. Apparently, that’s what he did, and it undoubtedly works for him extremely well. In my opinion, the only way someone is able to live that way, is by desensitizing himself to the point that things don’t look the same anymore, or aren’t even there at all. Or is it that these people have made some kind of mental agreement with themselves that if they let themselves feel, they would lose their sanity or comfort? What has happen to human kind? Humans are “feeling” beings but at the same time, they have the need to protect themselves from what is hostile or unacceptable to them. Humans feel but they are also intelligent. At times, their intelligence takes over their senses and attracts them to selfish behavior. Some would say that the need to create a cocoon for themselves is simply a defense mechanism that every species has. But who says that it is impossible to protect ourselves and at the same time help each other? I, like everyone else in this world, feel the need to protect myself and my family from danger, but I also have this incredible feeling that I was put on this earth to make it better and to help people. I was born with this amazing ability to feel other people’s pain and rejecting this ability would be an insult to who I am and an insult to mankind. I am able to see, hear, taste, smell, touch and feel and yes sometimes, most of the times for the past 5 months, it is very unpleasant but what am I to do about it, just repress all those senses? Don’t get me wrong, I do look away, and walk away from uncomfortable situations, but every time I come out of it disturbed. I cannot just move on or forget about it or block it like my 2 co-workers were able to do. Instead, I go home and wonder how I can go on. How can I witness pain, suffering, chaos and insanity and sometimes evil, and just manage to go on. How can I be surrounded with all this everyday and just ignore it, pass it by and go home to my cocoon everyday? What kind of human would I be? My feelings overcome my intelligence and my ability to block things.

For years now I have been looking for my purpose in life, just like everyone else has. I have been aching inside for a long time. I have this strong feeling of sadness and pain inside of me. I cannot watch the news without feeling personally touched by what I see. So many times, I just want to go help people personally, but I have no plan. When Katrina happened, I sat there watching the horror on TV, crying most of the time. I wanted to scream at the TV and then pack my bags and go help those people. But I couldn’t because of my own family who needed me and because me leaving to help those poor people would jeopardize our financial stability.

When I arrived in LA, the aching feeling resurfaced almost immediately. How can a city have come this far? What happened? How can this be possible here in America? This question sounded so familiar, the same question everyone had been asking for days when Hurricane Katrina happened? People in L.A seem to have lost touch with reality; many have created a life of disillusion for themselves. They live in a fantasy. The entire city seems to be out of touch with the rest of the country. L.A is a selfish, rough, desensitized city and so are many people who live here. I do understand it is a way for them to survive here. A good majority of people come here to follow their dream and in their journey to attain their dream, they simply forget to be sensitive to others. They walk on a straight line and force themselves to not look aside by fear it would destroy them.

Well, just like I was telling my coworker that day, if I do not look, if I let myself be desensitized, I will be destroyed. How can I create a cocoon for myself, go home at night and not be touched by how many homeless people I saw on my way back to my cocoon?

Sometimes, I do envy those who can pass by the ugliness and chaos and just not feel. Sometimes I wish I was numb. Perhaps my life would be easier, perhaps, it would be meaningless. Perhaps, I would have a job that interests me today if I was numb. I have a college degree, I speak 3 languages; everyone was so sure I would have a good job by now that pays well but look at me today. Every job that I have had seem so meaningless to me. Working in a store, working at a hotel, this is not what I want but it’s all I can get. Everyday I wake up with deep sadness and I feel as if I am wasting time. I wish I could use the hours of my precious life, doing something that matters, help people, tell stories of the people who are passed by everyday by those who go home to their cocoon. Sometimes I wish I could start a revolution. I wish I could expose the world’s misery because I do believe that exposing the truth and misery in a major way is the key to re-sensitizing people. Remember during Katrina, how much people were affected by what they saw. How many people donated to the Red Cross, made in kind contributions, drove to New Orleans to help. That is I believe because of the dramatic impact the media had on people. Of course many turned their TV off after a few days but those who didn’t are the ones who made a difference. Those who allowed themselves to bring the tragedy into their home allowed themselves to suffer as well. Accepting the pain and suffering and allowing it into their homes is the first step to become compassionate. Turning off the TV, ignoring the homeless person on the way home, is unfortunately a way of keeping the status quo. As hard as it can be to feel other people’s pain, it makes us better people. It makes us think more and eventually find a way to make life a little more bearable for all of us, not just us as individuals.

Finding my peace will be finding a way to everyday make a difference for someone who is suffering. My heart and soul will not be content until I find a job that lets me be who I am. I wish I could afford to drop my meaningless job and go do what I want to do but the status quo prevents me from doing that right now. I moved to L.A and now I have to settle here and beat the monster. After 5 months of searching for a place to live and hundreds of people denying us because all they rely on is a piece of paper called a credit report, I must have faith that I was brought here to finally find a way to everyday make a difference to the world. My husband, daughter and I have been victims of people’s stereotype, blindness and fear and I truly hope we soon find a place to settle before we find ourselves on the street like nearly 90,000 people in the city.  If we make it here or even if we don’t, it would definitely have made my conviction stronger and will have brought me closer to making a difference. I just hope I find the strength to keep going and I hope one day someone gives me the chance to make a difference at a broader level.

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It’s been almost 7 years since I wrote this. I am still the same person and still believe everything I said. I think what has changed is that I have become stronger from everything I have encountered and found a way to ease the pain I experience by being such a sensitive human being. I am sensitive to pain and suffering. That has not changed. I am a very aware and conscious being. I always side with the less fortunate, the poor, the struggling class, the minorities. I somehow have found a way to deal with my sadness and sometimes anger towards the system. First of all, I am not afraid of speaking my mind. If I see something disturbing, I will denounce it. If I see I can do something, I will do it and encourage other people to do it too. I also decided to volunteer my time. I joined the American Red Cross and did hours of training. So basically, the way for me to deal with the suffering was to be there first hand where suffering was. I am part of the Disaster Team. I stay locally because I do not have the luxury and finances to be dispatched to out-of-state but I am always asked and will go when I can. This gave me more power over my feelings. It gave me purpose.

As I said back then, I always felt like I had a bigger purpose in life, that I needed to help people and so I found a way to do just that and I do whenever I can. I am sort of a good Samaritan in so many ways. I help people stranded on the road, I find myself in weird situations where I end up being the one giving someone CPR, etc. It is quite odd sometimes. I still think it is horrific how many homeless people live in Los Angeles and how a few blocks down, there are stores and shops with products costing an unnecessary arm and a leg.  Social equality has always been important to me and I personally think we do it all wrong in America. I think social equality goes hand in hand with racial equality as well. I think we need to educate our children better in school. We need to bring everything back to basic humanity. Teaching humanity and compassion should be the most important subject and very first thing taught in school. Instead we desensitize our kids. That is a whole different topic which I will gladly discuss.

Caring makes us vulnerable, it’s true but as a society, I think we would definitely benefit from having more caring people. Strength and compassion can go hand in hand. It does not have to be one or the other. Strong caring people can lead and change the world. Real change happens in the heart first. I know it sounds so cliché but “Be the change you want to see in the world” is a good line. If you want to see more happiness and compassion, you need to do be compassionate yourself. Avoidance never leads to anywhere. Just because your little cocoon is comfortable does not mean it is safe. Putting yourself in someone’s shoes will make you realize that there is a lack of understanding and love in this world. I recently watched a documentary called the Human Experience which I highly recommend watching. These two young men went around the world and put themselves in the shoes of many different people, the first ones being homeless people. This taught them so much. It made them better. It transformed them, brought back humility. We all need to feel discomfort and feel pain that others feel, otherwise, we become no better than what we use on a daily basis, ROBOTS.

SOUND OFF

Doctors and their puppeteers

This post is more than an opinion. It is personal.

Yesterday, I asked my husband to give me some ideas about what I should write next in my blog. I told him, “Think of things that I always talk about”. He started by saying things like, “The way people drive”, etc and I thought, nah, only people in L.A. will care about reading that. (I am now however thinking about writing something about it later, just for my LA peeps). I needed something bigger. Then he said the magic word: doctors.  Just this week, I had just had a long conversation with a lady who explained to me her and her family’s experience with doctors. It was such a sad story and I felt so much sympathy for her. We both agreed that doctors just don’t listen. Below, you will see what else I think doctors do and do not do.

Let me start by saying that I believe that anyone who has the privilege to be a doctor, should do whatever in his power to use his position and skills to better people, not make them worse. As a general rule, if you decide to get a degree or train for a particular job, it should be because you want to contribute to our society in a positive way, not because you want to make a lot of money. I get very frustrated when I hear young people say they want to be lawyers or doctors because it makes a lot of money. I believe that their good income is deserved, yes, as a reward for their long course of study and their special skills, but it should also be because they are bringing the PEOPLE relief or help. Do not get me wrong, I know that many people want to become doctors because they want to help people. I do not doubt that their initial intentions are good. The problem we have here is the way our medical and pharmaceutical industries function.

In the old days, things were much simpler and revolved more about being healthy than money. I still remember how our family doctor took care of everything. We rarely went to see specialist. General practitioners were so much better than they are now. They also made house calls which of course now does not exist anymore for obvious reasons (more money is made from calling 911 or going to the ER: hospitals, doctors, EMT, so many fees). Let’s be honest here and come out and say it, the problem is money. Think about it. In the old days, yes we waited a long time at the doctor’s office, but that was because doctors took their time. It wasn’t really abnormal to spend more than 30mn, going through a thorough check and then discussing options with our trusted doctor. He always remembered who we were, didn’t need to look at his chart and never rushed us out because he was running behind.  People waiting were understanding because they knew they were going to get their problem resolved and get the best care they could get.

Pharmaceutical companies and insurance companies are probably the main reason why things are so much more complicated, less efficient, less personal, more costly, and honestly not as good as what they once were. It’s not just about convenience, it’s about quality. While, there are some doctors who only care about money, most doctors want to try to do what is best for their patients but often cannot because of the 2 evil giants that control them (make that 3 if you include restriction and guidelines from medical boards). I have a doctor like that. She apologizes every time I see her because she cannot spend a lot of time talking to me. She times her visits and I therefore often leave with questions unanswered, making my visit unsatisfying. She, however, pockets my money everytime, regardless of how satisfied I am. Very often, there will be a pharmaceutical representative sitting in the waiting room, patiently sitting there, their suitcase at his feet, ready to give his sales pitch about some new drugs they want my doctor to prescribe me. This is all a very elaborate plan. They give samples to the doctors. Doctors give samples to the patients. Patients agree because, well, samples are free (and we all know how expensive prescription drugs are). If they like the sample, then they will most likely ask their doctor for more. Who will profit from this? Everyone? No, wait, if you think that patients are actually benefiting too because they end up having a good drug that will take care of their problem, think again. First of all, medicine exist to treat symptoms. It is not a cure. Let me repeat that. IT IS NOT A CURE. It covers symptoms, make them disappear for a while maybe but the minute you stop taking it, whatever your problem was often comes back, sometimes right away, sometimes months or years later. Yes, that includes antibiotics too. Doctors prescribe antibiotics as if it was Halloween candy. Antibiotics do not kill viruses and yet most doctors will prescribe them anyways. Sometimes it is just to please the patient. People need to realize how useless it is to go to the doctor when they have a cold or the flu (flu shots are another way for pharmaceutical companies to make money). We need to realize and re-learn that our body are well capable of healing itself for most problems. One of the many benefits of letting the body do its magic is that symptoms will not return.

Watch this movie, it’s funny and is a pretty accurate portrayal of pharmaceutical rep:

I was lucky. I had an amazing doctor when I was a kid. He saved my life once, came to my bedside when I could not breathe, giving me a lifesaving shot and rushing me to the hospital. He was caring, loving and to this day, I am so thankful for everything he did for me and my family. My husband also had an amazing doctor. I know some of you probably remember your childhood doctor too. I have yet to meet anyone with the same compassion and listening skills. See, doctors do not listen anymore. They might hear us, but they do not listen. I have way too many stories about doctors missing or ignoring important symptoms, thinking they already have the answer. “Here, take this pill and be on your way”, they say, only for you to return a few weeks later with the same problem or a new problem which might have been caused by the first pill you were prescribed. Again, the fact that doctors are on a deadline because of the pressure they feel from the Two Giants is a reason but what they learned in medical school is actually probably more to blame. As I started to discuss before, medical students learn to treat symptoms, not the root of the problem. Western medicine is not our friend. I sincerely believe it is one of our worst enemies. Rarely a doctor will tell you to eat healthier, etc (they might even recommend bad food, ie scolding kids who do not drink milk or vegetarian because of protein). It is much easier for them to prescribe a pill for your cholesterol than to sit and explain and try to convince you that if you would just stop eating junk, your body might have a chance to regulate itself. Doctors of course have huge liability. I can understand why doctors take the easy route. Doctors are not all to blame. Our media, our modern society driven by capitalism, having more and more things, eating more (do we really need the portions that provide us our daily recommended amount of calories in one meal??), sleeping less (overworked society), stressing more ( failing economy, etc) are only a few examples of things that just drive us to take the easy way out, take the pill the doctor prescribed or worst yet, self-medicate, drink a glass of wine, smoke a cigarette, etc.  Medical school today I am sure is not what it is used to be 50 or 100 years ago. Progress and technology bring us better ways to diagnose and treat but it does not bring us any more wisdom. 

Chinese medicine and other alternative medicine, such as homeopathy, Ayurvedic, naturopathy focuses more on healing the body naturally, meaning that it supports our system in a healthy way while it is doing its work to bring us back to health. For thousands of years, people have used many methods to rid themselves of colds, aches and pains, viruses, and even worst illnesses. Animals heal themselves naturally by retrieving into a remote location, protecting themselves from predators, and stop eating. They follow their instinct and fast until they feel better. Our mothers and grandmothers usually have the best remedies and often cure problems a lot faster and for a lot less money than conventional medicine. Alternative medicine practitioners have a tremendous amount of patience and a great love and respect for the human body. While a conventional doctor rushes you to get to his next patient for example, a certified homeopath will sit down with you between 1 to 3 hours and ask you all sorts of questions, let you speak, and listen carefully to any clue that will help him or her find the best way to bring you back to health.

About ten years ago, I went through a very frustrated time where I was in excruciating pain for 8 months before someone realized I had a tumor growing inside of me. My doctor ignored me for months, giving me some absurd reasons for my pain and suffering. She also refused to administer tests on me, because she was convinced she knew there was nothing wrong with me. It pretty much took a scream of extreme pain for her to give in. A tumor the size of a grapefruit was discovered. I was rushed to the hospital, my doctors fearing it would cut my blood flow. That was only the beginning of years of struggles with doctors until I took things in my own health. I unfortunately hear too many stories like mine, or even worse, people dying because doctors just won’t listen. If you are a woman, you probably have a story of a doctor telling you it is all “in your head”, only to realize later than you were right all along. Women, men have to be advocate for their own health. Parents need not to listen to doctors about what is best for their child, they need to do their homework and do what is best. Children need to be advocates for their elderly parents. While at the hospital, I witnessed first hand what happened when no one is there to check on nurses and doctors. They tried to remove additional organs from me. Thankfully, I was awake enough to speak up and say no. I was however discharged from the hospital with an infection. I had been complaining of pain but they discharged me anyways, only to call me 2 days later to say they had made a mistake and to put me on antibiotics right away (I had already gone to the doctor by then). Sadly, it takes unfortunate events like this to wake people up and make them realize that the best doctor sometimes is yourself. It is YOUR VOICE. Elderly people, left all alone in a hospital in a geriatric wing will often die prematurely because of the lack of care, or resistant bacteria lurking in most hospitals.

Doctors are not your best friends. Doctors is just a profession. Some take their job seriously, some stress at work and make mistakes, some just don’t care, some do not know how to handle the pressure of the medical, insurance and pharmaceutical industries. You have to learn not to trust anyone but your own instinct. I am in no way saying that you should never go to the doctor. What I am saying is that your body and your mind have the ability to do a lot more than you can imagine. Use your intelligence. Take a stand for your health or your loved ones. Do your research. Then listen to your gut. If you have a life threatening condition, you will know to go to the E.R or to seek treatment so you do not die of course. Some conditions require drastic measures. Even if you must have surgery, there are many things you can do to prepare yourself, and recover quicker. You are the boss. Your body is yours and yours only. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise, do not let anyone step on you and intimidate you because of the degrees hanging on their wall. Do not take a pill just because that same guy with the degree on the wall say you should take it. I have had doctors give me pills they should not have given me (because they were not even aware of all the side effects). Overdose of prescription drugs is on the rise and the number one cause for accidental death in young people in the United States. Pharmaceutical companies are evil. They do not want us to get healthier. They make their money from us being sick. This is not  a conspiracy, this is how it works. It is simply about money and profit. They do not want you to hear about some natural remedy (that could very well be the cure for your problem) Companies are not people. If they go our of business, no one will die. You, however, could die if you do not take the appropriate steps to be your own advocate. Learn to say NO. Learn to say, let me read about it and I will get back to you. Learn to say, I will get a second opinion, or three or four!! You know very well that when a commercial for a new drugs ends with the warning, this maybe cause…..fill in the blank (death sometimes), it means you should stay away, so just don’t do it. There is always an alternative out there. There is always a solution. I am lucky. 2 or 3 years ago, I was diagnosed with yet another tumor, with 30% chance it was cancerous and 70% non cancerous. I was obviously recommended to have my thyroid removed right away. I said no. I did my homework. I also (that’s the lucky part) have a great surgeon who was on my side and agreed to just “watch it”.  Sleep on it is a great advice.

I leave you with that. I will be back to discuss fantastic ways to heal our body, good doctors or alternative healing advocates.

Peace, Health and Love, always.

School uniforms

This is not the first time it happens, but this is the first time since I started this blog. I am glad I can come home and finally share my views on school uniforms.

As I was driving down the street today, I saw 3 girls walking to school in what I would call very inappropriate outfits. The problem really was the length of their skirts. They were walking to their Catholic High School, just a normal day for them. For me, however, it was another moment of outrage. Why do school uniform have to be so short for girls?

I feel like I have some experience regarding this issue so I can comment on it without reservation. So let me start by saying that I used to teach in a Catholic school. Of course, like most, if not all, catholic schools, girls and boys had to wear uniforms. Girls wear skirts, usually khaki (sometimes navy blue) color skirts. They are also almost always unbelievably short. Back in the day, when I first took the training to teach at a Catholic school, we were also trained to enforce the dress code (which I hated doing by the way). We had to make sure that everyone was wearing their uniforms but most importantly, we had to make sure that the girls’ skirts were not too short. We were actually taught to take a ruler and measure the length of the skirt and to reprimand anyone who had skirts which length didn’t fit the standard. What comes next might shock you a bit. One day, I noticed that one of my students, a junior, had an unbelievably short skirt. I told her that she needed to get a new one as soon as possible. A few days later, while she was sitting in front of my desk (first row), not only did I notice that the poor girl had not followed my instructions but on top of that, I could clearly see what was under her skirt. She obviously did not have her legs crossed. After class, I asked her to come to my desk. I told her that she had to be more careful, cross her legs because it was not appropriate and that she was lucky I was a female teacher. The next day, her mom came barging into my classroom, yelling at me, telling me I had embarrassed her daughter and that she had had that skirt for 2 years and had never got dress coded. I said to her, ” I am shocked that you would not want me to warn your daughter about this and also, you child has grown in 2 years and her skirt obviously is too short”. I was completely baffled at the mom’s reaction. But really what is the most worrisome is how no one ever questions the decency of those uniforms.

I understand the reasoning behind uniforms. It supposedly prevents bullying. You cannot tell someone’s socio-economic status by looking at them because they are all looking uniform. They also represent tradition which is obviously a big deal in many religious or private schools. What I do not understand is why uniforms have to be so explicit. It is obvious that, regardless whether a kid breaks some dress code rules or not (that is really a whole other topic), skirts are too short anyways. Why can’t school require girls to wear skirts just at the knee? I figure that this way, hopefully we’d see girls walking around with skirts just above the knees since no one seems to follow any rules anymore. Why would a catholic school not take more effective steps to prevent leg exposure which I am sorry to say but sexualize girls more. Doesn’t anyone remember Britney Spears video, Baby Hit Me One More Time? Well, I am sorry to say but the girls I saw this morning had skirts as short as Britney Spears, if not shorter. I cannot even imagine how awkward it must be to be sitting down. Also, I would never let my child go out with such a short skirt on. So what are the parents thinking? It’s OK because they are going to school? It’s OK because it’s a uniform? It’s OK because it is a Catholic school? I have arguments to rebut every single of these arguments.

Instead, I’d like to focus on what I think is the answer: eradicate the idea of uniforms in schools all together, ESPECIALLY private schools. I think we live in an era where kids need to express themselves. It’s not going to hurt them to express themselves even if it means they want to dye their hair pink or wear all black. It is part of life, part of discovering oneself. We’ve all gone through some crazy phase, we’ve all experienced and most of us are no longer stuck or doing these things we experimented. I once dyed my hair black in high school. I wore a LOT of black. I didn’t go as far as some people who painted their nails black or had tongue piercings, etc. But my point is, it is a healthy thing to let our kids be weird, or just be creative. Guys might not care, but there is some sort of pleasure in being able to pick your own clothes in the morning. You check the temperature, whether it is rainy or sunny, what you’ll be doing, who you want to impress if you have a crush on a boy in your class. Why take these things away? Because it is a distraction? I wholeheartedly disagree. I was always a straight A student and God knows I am weird. I know many people who were considered out of “the ordinary” in high school or college who are now very successful.

Another thing, kids who go to schools that do not impose uniforms on them actually dress more appropriately if you ask me. Public schools actually have strict dress code. I know for a fact that the three girls I saw this morning would be sent home in most schools because their skirts were too short. Most schools do not let you show a bra strap or wear spaghetti tank tops. They don’t even let you wear tights or leggings! However, you can wear whatever you want, logos (as long as it is not offensive), colors, and I don’t think they care what color hair you have.

So it’s an easy choice for me. I vote for removing uniforms from schools entirely. I’m sick of seeing slutty  looking girls walking around. Think about how happy child molesters must be. Parents don’t think of that? Girls are vulnerable. Why put them more at risk? Why expose them to the world in this manner? Doesn’t it just perpetuate the stereotypes we are trying to eradicate? Women are not just some piece of ass or breasts or legs.

Sound off.