All posts by Marta

Sentimental Hoarder

I have a confession to make. I’m a hoarder. Kind of.

While I may not have piles and piles of stuff in my house, I do have a harder time than most getting rid of things. Sentimental things, like my grandpa’s old love seat. It was the only piece of furniture my grandma ever let him pick out. I remember sitting on with him as he read to me out of Reader’s Digest. 7 year old me didn’t care much for the content, but she loved the company.

So when my grandma said that it was time for the love seat to go, I jumped at the chance to save it. I was single at the time, with no one around to comment on the unusual design choice for a 20 -something young woman. The fabric is plaid, with images of fresh water fish and log cabins – all things my grandpa loved.

Fast-forward a decade and I’m still hanging on to that love seat. It’s not in the best shape anymore, but I’m not willing to part with it – no matter how hard my husband begs to me to. It’s no longer a featured piece in my living room, but my dogs appreciate having it as their bed in our room.

I’ve thought about making a slip cover for it. But where will I find plaid, fish, and cabin covered fabric? If you know, be sure to drop me a line!

I Stop, Won’t You?

Every day, I risk my life. I risk my life….by walking to my bus stop. To get to the bus that takes me to and from work, I must cross a busy road. I wait at an unmarked intersection for cars to either stop, or for traffic to let up completely. Most days I end up running to avoid getting hit since few drivers stop.

Motorist are legally obligated to “stop for crossing pedestrians at every intersection, even those without crosswalks or stop lights”.

MnDot

In the city of St. Paul, 148 pedestrians were struck by motor vehicles last year. 3 of them died, another 126 were injured, and only 19 walked away, unharmed. As of March 21, 2019, 3 people had already been killed this year, matching last year’s total.

So, for pete’s sake – STOP ALREADY! Keep an eye out for people waiting to cross the street. Even if the intersection does not have painted lines – it still qualifies as a crosswalk, and you are still legally obligated to stop.

Beyond the obligation, let’s stop to be better neighbors, better human beings to one another. We all have some place we’re trying to get to, and are likely in a hurry. So help me out, please. If you see me (or anyone else) waiting to cross the road, please slow down, come to a complete stop, and give me the few precious moments of your day to allow me to cross safely.

Join me by taking the “I stop for pedestrians” pledge now!

I shouldn’t talk about this but…

Trigger warning: abortion

Typically, I avoid talking about subjects like this outside of my close circle. Abortion is a topic that brings out the raw emotions in people and can tear relationships apart. I’m not hear to talk about my opinions on abortion. I’m here to talk about the importance of having factual information, ESPECIALLY when it comes to topics like abortion.

credit: Signe
https://www.mainepublic.org/post/fake-news

My cousin and I rarely see eye-to-eye. Wanting to see photos of his family, and keep in touch with him, I’ve maintained a Facebook connection. Typically, when he posts a news article, I quickly scroll away. He could care less if the “news” he reads is biased, or even if it’s factual. If it aligns with his beliefs, he’s happy.

The other day I wasn’t paying enough attention and clicked on the link before realizing who had posted it. It was too late. I forced myself to read through an incredibly biased article on New York’s Reproductive Health Act. I can handle opinion articles – as long as they use factual information. This one DID NOT.

Not only did this media source skew far right, but the author, Ben Marquis, made several inaccurate statements. His claim that:


“Say what you will about Trump, but he was dead-on accurate in calling out Clinton and the pro-abortion crowd for their “unacceptable” position that late-term abortions are “OK,” when the brutal and painful murder of fully-formed unborn babies that are viable outside the womb is most certainly “not OK” by any stretch of the imagination. ”

BEN MARQUIS

Ummm…no! That is NOT what is happening, and that is NOT what this law allows. If Ben had done any kind of responsible research on the topic, he would have learned that in the event of late-term abortion (preformed due to the risk of the mother’s life or the absence of fetal viability), a live birth is extremely unlikely. In the event that a live birth does occur:


“The RHA does not change standard medical practices. To reiterate, any baby born alive in New York State would be treated like any other live birth, and given appropriate medical care. This was the case before the RHA, and it remains the case now.”

Justin Flagg, spokesman for Reproductive health act

Spreading outright lies is not only a bad practice for journalists, it’s dangerous. Misinformation is spreading like wildfire in today’s world. I hear quite a bit about attempts to unify our country. The only thing fake news is going to accomplish is create a bigger rift.

Where America’s Day Begins

When you think about colonization, I’m guessing that the historical context is what comes to mind. White Europeans invading exotic foreign lands, forcing the local inhabitants to give up their way of life and become more civilized. Drawings of Christopher Columbus and Hernán Cortés in textbooks, navigating their ships onto deserted beaches. Definitely something of years long past.

Let’s shift gears for a moment and think about vacation spots. I don’t know about you, but when I think of vacation, I picture a tropical paradise. The Mariana Islands, in the west Pacific Ocean, are beautiful and very tropical. White sandy beaches, coconut trees, and coral reefs that make for great snorkeling/scuba diving. One of my favorite places for a relaxing vacation.

So where am I going with this? What does colonization have to do with my favorite vacation spot? My hashtag above may have given it away. The Mariana Islands are a colony of our very own, U.S. of A.

“Saipan, where America’s Day Begins”

The slogan above is used for marketing to tourists of the islands. As the capital, Saipan is the 2nd most recognized island in the chain, next to Guam. It’s a part of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (or the CNMI for short). They are a remnant of America’s strategic colonization, well positioned in close proximity to Asia.

Residents of the CNMI have U.S. citizenship and a representative in Congress. That sounds great, right? But even as US citizens, residents on these islands cannot vote in federal elections, like the president. And those reps in congress? They can speak during debate but again, they have no vote.

So, why does the US want to keep hold of these tiny island, on the other side of the world?

Strategic position. During WWII, the US invaded these islands with the hopes of gaining a stronghold in a location that would allow them to attack Japan with more ease. Planes could make a round-trip flight from the islands to Japan and back, on one tank of fuel. For this very reason, the atomic bombs, that would later be dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, were launched from the island of Tinian, in the CNMI.

Even though advancements have been made to allow for planes to fly much further distances, the US still maintains a military presence in the CNMI. This presence puts residents of these islands at risk of attacks, like the recent threats from North Korea.

I love these islands. Not just for vacation (but I would recommend that), but for my family and friends that still live there. These are islands of beauty, although tainted by the blood shed by American and Japanese forces. I maintain hope that one day, these islands will find peace.

Reclaiming My Health

I talked about the various ways that I manage stress in my last post, Stressed: the New Normal. I’ve allowed stress to take over my life in the past, to the point where my health noticeably began failing. Two years ago I decided to take my life back and made some drastic changes.

I kept telling myself that being a workaholic is necessary to getting ahead in your career. That people commute long distances to work all the time, it’s no big deal. I just needed to believe in myself and things would fall into place.

I love this card and have had it posted up at every home I’ve lived in for years. But a while back, I started thinking more about my limitations. No matter what I’d like to believe, I’m not super woman, and I cannot handle everything. I do have a breaking point.

I had taken on too much at work, spending close to 70 hours each week attempting to complete everything that had been put on my plate. My health started to decline and my relationships suffered. At first, I thought I was a failure. I thought that I should be able to handle anything, and more, that it was necessary to be successful in life.

Finally, I broke down and went to see my doctor. She calmly explained that the high level of stress I was enduring was causing my migraines, rashes, digestive issues, and erratic mood swings. My body was screaming at me to “STOP! SLOW DOWN!” but I wasn’t listening.

I needed to prioritize my health.

I quit my job and found a company that would allow me to find some kind of balance in my life. During my interviews I was open about my need to cut back. I let them know that I was not willing to be a workaholic, and that – honestly – I didn’t really have the ambition anymore to work my way up the ladder. I wanted a career that I enjoyed, at a company that allowed for lateral movement if I so desired.

With a renewed focus on being my best self I started working on a lifestyle focused on feeling good – every day. I don’t think about calories or weight loss. I’m not in it for a short-term fix. These are the three things I prioritize:

  • Start moving more. I walk and take the stairs when practical. I found workouts that I actually enjoyed, rather than ones I felt that I “should do”.
  • Focus on REAL FOOD. I’m not perfect, but I strive for 75/25 – 75% of the time I stay away from processed foods and refined sugar. 25% of the time I allow myself to relax. And whenever possible, I add more veggies – you can never have enough veggies.
  • Invest in your health. Going to the chiropractor on a weekly basis, buying high quality foods, and memberships to workout facilities are expensive. But they’re worth it. I’M WORTH IT.

Stressed: the New Normal

 

When did stress become an acceptable constant state of being? Oh, you’re a student/mother/father/employee/human being? Of course you’re stressed out. Of course you have high anxiety. What do you expect?

What do I expect? I expect to be able to breathe. I expect to be able to live a life that allows for more calm than chaotic. So I fight for it. I fight to give myself the permission to take a moment, an hour, a day – to find my calm. To remind myself that I need to take care of my mental health.

I have come to believe that caring for myself is not self indulgent. Caring for myself is an act of survival.

~Audre Lorde

Audre Lorde was not talking about taking a bubble bath or getting a massage (not to say that either of those is a bad thing), she was talking about self-care as an act of political warfare, as a MUST for activists fighting against racism in our society. Now I could go on and on about the complex issues that minorities in this country face, and why Black women are stressed at a level that the rest of us will likely never experience. But I’ll let you go down that rabbit hole on your own. This is a good article to get started:
https://www.bitchmedia.org/article/audre-lorde-thought-self-care-act-political-warfare

I’m going to take a step back. Inhale deeply. And exhale.

Ok. Let’s talk about managing stress instead. As a full-time student, with a full-time career (plus a husband and dogs), finding a way to relax is difficult. Not impossible, but difficult. I struggled for years to balance school, work, and a personal life (there’s a reason I’ve been in college off and on for 16 years). I wouldn’t say that I’ve figured it all out, but I’ve found a recipe that works for me today. So what do I do to decrease my stress levels?

  • I meditate
  • I let go
  • I embrace
  • I take care of my health

Meditation for me was an easy addition, I sort of cheated in this category. As a fortune baby (a child born into a family that practices Buddhism) I already knew one form of meditation. But meditation is not strictly religious. There are tons of tips , videos and apps out there to help you get started on your meditation practice.

Letting go. Easier said than done.

I had to start allowing myself to let go of my stress and to relax. I’m not saying to ignore your responsibilities or to pretend that nothing in the world is going wrong. Instead, I allow myself to take a break from things. Even when there’s another paper to write, another load of laundry that needs to be washed, another client project to do – I give myself the permission to put it away for a while. Sometimes I can let go completely. Does it seem like an indulgence to pay someone to shovel my sidewalk or buy those veggies pre-cut? Maybe, but it takes something off my plate so it’s worth it to me. If I can’t remove the stress completely, I take step away for a bit. I allow myself to watch a tv show, sit on my deck with a glass of wine, play with my dogs. Which leads me to…

Embracing the moment.

My brain is constantly going a mile a minute (which you can probably tell from this rambling post). That’s great at work when I’m trying to juggle a dozen different tasks at one time. But when my head is filled with everything that stresses me out, it’s important that I find a way to “stay out of my mind” from time to time. If I can focus on the present moment, and actually enjoy it, I’m calmer when I need to face my anxiety again. I take a walk with my dogs. If I’m thinking about everything that causes me anxiety I’m likely to grow frustrated when they stop to sniff for 5 min at the same spot. When I embrace the moment, I can laugh and share their enjoyment of our journey.

Finally, I take care of my health. Since this is a large topic all together I’ll share it in another post.

What do you do to cope with stress?