Wednesday, July 22, 2015

TransJenner – The Bruce Jenner / Caitlyn Jenner Controversy and What We Need to Understand

We have a habit of assigning categories to people. The way we perceive them to be is the label we assign to them, whether or not we are correct in our presumptions. And they’d better fit our perceptions of them or we’ll cast those traitors aside, or even worse, crucify them!

How dare anybody fall outside what we believe to be reality! The way we grew up most likely defines us in our early years, whether we grew up Catholic, Muslim, atheist, agnostic, or some other way. And, as a result of our upbringing, too many people believe that anybody who doesn’t belong doesn’t deserve to exist on the same planet as they do. 

And though we supposedly mature, many of us never question our upbringing and we blindly pass on our beliefs to future generations. Why question anything, even if we feel our brows crossing in confusion, when questioning nothing is so much easier than having to think for ourselves? 

The divisiveness between this religion and that religion, between this political party and that political party, between this sexual preference and that sexual preference, has become so tiresome to me that I cannot understand why so many people hate so many other people, merely because they are different! I really am very tired of all the haters out there who hate either because they learned from their parents or teachers how to hate or because they were so used to having others think for them that they were – and are – incapable of thinking for themselves.

Ask some of these haters why they hate, and you’ll hear, “Because I just do.” Or you’ll hear, “That should be obvious.” The “I just do” groups will take you on an endless loop of “I just do”’s every time you ask why, and you’ll never learn the real reason (because they don’t really have one) why they “just do.” The “that should be obvious” groups, when you ask, “what’s so obvious?” taunt you with derisive comments to let you know that you are supremely stupid for even asking the question.

Well, here’s what I want to know. Upon what do you haters base your beliefs? Were your beliefs handed down from generation to generation and you adopted them because you felt you had to believe what your parents believed? Or were you too afraid to think for yourselves? Does anything in the history of you back up your reasons for your beliefs?

I’ll be honest, I had absolutely no understanding of transgenders. Nobody I knew was transgender and nobody I had ever met was transgender. As a matter of fact I never knew they existed until the mid-1970s. And the only way I learned about transgenders was because an endocrinologist from the hospital where I worked wanted to explain to those of us who made appointments for various clinics at the University of Chicago, how the transgender process worked. 

In addition to seeing an endocrinologist (for hormone therapy), future transgenders had to also see a psychiatrist and a surgeon, and transgender individuals had to convince all of those doctors that they firmly believed they were born into the wrong body. If the potential transgender individual could convince all doctors that he or she was in the wrong body, the doctors would begin the transition. 

Imagine looking at yourself in the mirror – every day – every day of your life – and seeing an image that feels foreign to you. Though your anatomy tells you that you belong to one sex, your mind and spirit feel that you are supposed to be the opposite sex. 

For a period of time, when I was around 11 or 12, I thought I looked like a boy and I hated myself (for more reasons than just looking like a boy). Though I didn’t know it at the time, I suffered from a type of body dysmorphic disorder that caused me to see myself in a very negative and disturbing light. Every time I looked in the mirror, I saw a boy looking back at me and I hated him. I thought that I looked masculine and ugly.

Nothing about my body looked feminine to me. I was flat-chested and I felt undeserving of affection or attention. I also didn’t feel loved. I was tall for my age, too, the tallest kid among all 6th graders in my school – yes, even taller than the tallest boy – and I was disproportionately skinny. At 5’3” I weighed only 63 pounds. Though my bones were tiny, and under my legs sat a pair of Barbie doll feet, the way I felt about the way I looked was so wracked with insecurity, I was depressed and suicidal all the time.

Like many insecure people, I hated myself. But don’t get me wrong – never once did I want to be a boy or feel that I was a boy – I just thought I looked too much like a boy that I thought I would never look feminine, and that was not the image of myself that I wanted to present to the world. 

Maybe that’s why I have so much compassion and empathy for Caitlyn Jenner. If I awoke each day feeling as if I was in the wrong body, I couldn’t imagine living a lie 365 days a year for 64 years – just to please everyone else. 

Depression and suicidal thoughts, though, are not reasons for changing sex. But feeling that you are a member of the opposite sex and having felt that way since you were a child might just be one of those things doctors look for when determining whether or not you might be a candidate for a sex change. 

But why is somebody else’s personal challenge any of our business? Why are we so consumed with what others do and why do we feel the need to mock people who don’t fit our definitions of what a “real man” or “real woman” is supposed to look like? I see so many people crying out to everyone who doesn’t fit their image of what everyone else should be like, look like, or act like, “DON’T be YOU! Be what WE want you to be!” 

Every shade of skin color, from the palest white to the darkest black exists on this planet. The shapes of our faces, features, and body sizes differ. Our interests differ as well. But, unless we were born with body deformities, we all have two arms, two legs, two eyes, two ears, one nose, one mouth, and one heart. Some of our interests are similar, too. So in some ways, we are also the same.

Why do we feel the need to hurt people for being different? Does our incessant need to shame others result because we feel embarrassed by them or because we feel uncomfortable with them? Seems to me that our discomfort is based on things we don’t understand and don’t want to understand.

Macho dad has a son who prefers music to sports. Dainty mom has a little girl who would rather play baseball and basketball than Barbies. Mom and Dad feel uncomfortable with their offspring, so they do everything in their power to change their children, instead of learning how to appreciate the beautiful human beings they brought into this world. 

What many people don’t understand is that by pushing others to be someone he or she is not, we bully that little boy and that little girl. And by judging people who live their lives in accordance to the way they want to live their lives, we bully them with our condemnation of them through our words and the way we look at them. Our forceful bullying backs these kids into corners where the only way out is through denying who they really are and hating themselves because they’re not allowed to be themselves.

We can guide our children, and they will follow if we are leading them down the path to themselves, but if we bully them down a path that takes them so far away from themselves they feel lost and alone, we hurt their chances of ever being successful and happy. We should all want to experience joy in our own lives and we should want our sons and daughters to feel joyful too! By taking away parts of themselves they enjoy, we literally take the joy out of their lives.

So much of what goes on in this world is a mystery to me, but I won’t jump on any bandwagons to promote my beliefs just to be popular with others who agree with the common consensus (or more accurately common misperceptions). Why can’t we look beyond the little box we’ve placed ourselves into and really see the world, not as we want to see it, but as it really is.

What I think needs to happen is for all of us to develop compassion and empathy for whatever we don’t understand. And we need to understand that we don’t need to understand everything. But we do need to appreciate that our fellow human beings may be interested in things that differ from our own interests and that different isn’t code for dangerous, toxic, or evil.

One person erects buildings, another designs them, while another sells them, and still another repurposes them. One person creates fabric and yarn, while another designs patterns for using that fabric or yarn, and still another weaves that yarn or sews that fabric. We can’t possibly do everything ourselves, unless of course, we want to live so simply we are able to pitch a tent and we know how to live off the land.

For me, because I can’t do everything by myself and because I prefer to live indoors, I appreciate builders, plumbers, electricians, carpet layers, furniture makers, machinists, computer programers, herbalists, scientists, auto mechanics, crafters, artists, musicians, and writers, because most of them are different from me, and they know how to do things I don’t know how to do or don’t want to take the time to learn. And yet, in many ways, they are also the same.  

Over the many years I’ve lived, I’ve learned to appreciate – and embrace – differences. I’ve come to understand that we all come into this world with a variety of talents and abilities. And we all come into this world with a sense of ourselves. Though we may not be aware of what we bring with us into this life, I also firmly believe we all have a purpose. Some people make it their mission to destroy our souls, and, without them being aware of the destruction they cause, they also destroy themselves and the world in which we live.

How much better all of our lives would be if we would just learn to encourage and support each other in ways that would benefit each other and this Earth. We are often blind to truth because we’ve learned lies for so long, we embrace them out of habit. Over the centuries, many men and women have been tortured because their beliefs differed from what everyone expected them to believe. How many people tormented scientists who believed our Earth was round when everybody insisted it was flat? How much of what we are learning today will be proven to be incorrect in the future?

We are so bigoted and filled with so many prejudices. We think we are more intelligent than those who argue with us. We forget – or maybe we choose to ignore – what love really means. We need to open our minds to all the possibilities around us, and we need to learn how to truly love each other!

1 Corinthians 13:4-8 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.

Proverbs 26:12 Do you see a man who is wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.

Bible quotes came from Open Bible

UPDATE: Just read an amazing article entitled, Anti-Intellectualism and the "Dumbing Down" of America: There is a growing anti-intellectual dumbing down of our culture. Maybe our lack of intelligence is contributing to our lack of compassion and empathy. 


Monday, July 13, 2015

How to Get Rid of Annoying Habits

Developing habits doesn’t always have to be a negative experience. Showering every day, for instance, is a great habit to have, as long as you don’t shower compulsively all day long without a good reason for showering several times a day.

Some habits, though, are not good for you, and you need to know how to rid yourself of them.


You’ve been wanting to quit smoking for years, but pulling out a cigarette, lighting it, and then putting it in your mouth and smoking it has become a ritual you can’t seem to escape. That hand-to-mouth habit has become so unconscious that even the possibility of quitting could cause you to bite your nails, chomp on the skin around your nails, or exchange one bad habit for another – overeating, for instance.

Breaking habits is difficult. One year one of my daughters decided she wanted to quit sucking her thumb. (The Stress of a 6 Year Old Thumbsucker) She tried everything she could imagine to break her habit. What finally helped her? Read on. 


What’s the first thing you do when you come home from work? Grab a drink and then another and then another and still another? 

You know you need to quit, but the thought of breaking your habits causes you immediate stress. How can you stop drinking when alcohol soothes you so well? But does it really? Do you find yourself becoming more depressed as time goes on? You know that drinking isn’t the solution. Alcohol is a depressant, after all. But what else can you do? How can you find that peace you crave without drinking? Isn’t pseudo-peace better than no peace at all?

The really sad thing about drinking is that, even though you know you’re damaging your liver and other organs, you really don’t care enough about yourself to change your drinking habit. Maybe you don’t want to join Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), because you don’t want anybody else to know you’re an alcoholic (sorry – they already know). Or maybe you’re not ready to admit you’re an alcoholic. If you knew how many others struggled the same way you do, you might be more willing to join AA or at least to seek help.

Binge Eating and Overeating

One of the hardest habits to break is binge eating and overeating. You can avoid alcohol and cigarettes, but you can’t avoid food. However, you don’t have to eat more than your body needs for survival. You can learn to reduce your intake and curb your appetite with healthy options. That philosophy of reduction and replacement has already worked for many people, and you owe it to yourself to give it a try. 


When I was in my early 30s I started taking an asthma medication that required me to eat something before I took it. Unfortunately I had to take that medication at bedtime. So though previously I had never snacked before bedtime, I quickly developed a habit of eating late in the evening and it became a habit that lasted long after I needed the medication.

To alleviate my “need” for snacking, thanks to the inspiration I received from my youngest sister, I reduced the amount of food I ate. Reduction helped my sister lose 40 pounds of unwanted weight after the birth of her first baby. All she did was cut her portions and, with just that one technique, lost all the weight she wanted to lose.

Solutions for Getting Rid of Annoying Habits

Drinking, smoking, and especially eating are probably the most difficult habits to change. But substituting alcohol for something else isn’t as difficult as you might expect IF you can get the same high from another enjoyable drink or a different activity. Changing your drink of choice for juice, water, tea, or coffee with added flavorings, such as vanilla (for coffee and tea) or lemons (for water or juice), might at least tempt your taste buds into drinking something healthier. But if your need to get high outweighs your need to get healthy, you need to investigate alternatives for mind-altering activities – not substances.

If you have a drinking problem, avoid places of and occasions for drinking. If one of those places happens to be a wedding that serves alcohol, tell yourself beforehand that you won’t imbibe and value yourself enough to keep your own promise to yourself. Remember, if you give yourself permission to drink only one, and you know you can’t stop at one, you’re setting yourself up for failure by drinking “just one.” Value yourself! Don’t drink at all.

Teach yourself how to replace your old habits with healthy new habits. If you find yourself grabbing a handful of M&Ms before bedtime, first cut your portion to 2/3 of what you normally eat, then cut it down to 1/3. The point is to satisfy your craving without giving in to your habit.

Meditation and running are said to offer a kind of high that is more beneficial to your body than drinking or smoking could ever be. If you learn how to meditate, you might discover that you will receive a feeling of euphoria again and again without that nasty hangover. 

Engage in activities that you might never have considered. Instead of grabbing a glass of wine, investigate potential sources of joy. Where do your interests lie? Have you ever thought about taking a class on jewelry making or woodworking? Don’t just think about it. Investigate how you can DO it! 

What about online games (other than gambling games)? How about investing in an iPad to play other types of games or puzzles? Can’t afford it? Make a choice to quit your habit and at the end of a month, or however long it takes you to replace the money you normally spend on your habit, reward yourself with a new toy with the money you save!

Ask yourself how much money you spend each month on your habits. If you buy a cheap bottle of wine every day, for instance, you’re spending about as much each month as an iPad would cost you. Translate that amount into something you can buy yourself that will replace your habit. Even Xboxes, Wiis, or PlayStations are worthwhile expenses if you enjoy playing games and you think you can quit your habit. You can even play online with friends who have the same game. Or you can dance or exercise using the Wii or a DVD!

Step out of your comfort zone. If you’re used to visiting the same casino or the same bar or the same restaurant, find a new place to haunt. Change is difficult for a lot of people, but if the change could ultimately result in your life moving in a positive direction, allow yourself the opportunity to change your life! Join a club you might be interested in joining. All kinds of clubs exist for all kinds of reasons. Or connect with people who share your interests and activities – aerobics, dance, Bingo, Bunco, golf, fishing, acting, writing, crafting, building, sculpting, painting, volleyball, soccer, cards, board games, and so many other interests could be shared with other people. If you’re drinking, smoking, or binge eating, you’re in a rut, and only you can get out of it!

Can’t find anybody to share activities with you? Look online. Ask your other friends if they know anybody who shares your interests. Open a group on Facebook or some other social networking site, and start your own club. Connect with like-minded individuals. But beware of scams and sites like craigslist; however, if you need to start there, make sure you guard yourself. (Related reading: How to Detect a Scammer When You Get a Reply from an ad You Placed on Craigslist

Exercise and Your Health

You don’t have to commit to an hour every day. Even five minutes a day can change your life and your attitude. When I was a kid I loved to cartwheel around the block. I loved to run. As I got older and my physical limitations prevented me from engaging in those activities, I had to change my ideas of exercise. I bought an exercise bike and a treadmill. But to be honest, I rarely use them.

I stretch, though. I use is a product called a Back Bridge that allows me to stretch my back. I call it my Chiropractor in a Box. Because of my back and other problems, the ability to stretch my back on the back bridge has allowed me to walk for extended periods of time without pain. I also occasionally lift weights for a few minutes several times a week.

The trick is not to look upon exercise as exercise, but to consider it fun. Stretching has benefits and when you exercise for even a short time, you’ll automatically feel better about yourself. If your knees are still working and you enjoyed jump roping as a kid, add jumping to your exercise routine. If you can afford a FitBit, invest in one. Or find a pedometer app for your phone that will allow you to keep track of your steps. You can challenge yourself every day to move! Bending, stretching, walking, dancing – all movement is beneficial.

Healthy Eating

As soon as somebody suggests eating healthy foods, the majority of individuals, especially those who indulge in sweets, think they must replace their meals with flat, tasteless, cardboard-tasting products. But something exists in one grocery aisle right now to help your food taste better – spices. Try adding them to your meals.

Fruits, vegetable, whole grains – yes, you’ve heard before about the health benefits of eating them, so if they are boring to you, spice them up! Unsure of which spice to use? Check out the Quick Guide to Every Herb and Spice in the Cupboard, located on the linked web site, and educate yourself about ways to improve the taste of your food. 

Another suggestion for healthy eating is to eat slowly so you can recognize when you’re full. Many of us continue eating long after we’re full just because everything looks so good. If you can’t stop, it’s because you are eating too quickly. Savor each bite!


Contacting friends through social media is not the only way to stay connected. BE with your friends. Meet in the middle if you must, but get together and communicate. You form relationships by RELATING! Read Want to Meet Some Online Friends? Use the Meet in the Middle Tool! for information on how to find the midpoint between your address and the address of the person you want to meet! I’ve used it and I’ve met some great people! 

Your Mind

Sometimes our focus is too often on our problems and not enough on solutions to fix those problems. We admit to ourselves, “I drink too much”; “I eat too much”; “I need to quit smoking.” But what we need to ask ourselves is HOW to quit our habits. What can we do TODAY to stop? What methods can we use to break our habits and employ healthier lifestyles? We need ACTION, not thought. “It’s the thought that counts,” doesn’t count when it comes to changing our habits!


Your habits are ruled and fueled by your behavior.  The way you conduct yourself, the way you behave is the image you present to others. Only YOU can change your behavior. Only YOU can find the right tool to fix your problem. What will it take for you to break your habits? How will you change your behavior to reflect those changes? Inspiration and help are everywhere. All you have to do is look for it.

Want to know how my daughter broke her thumb-sucking habit? She made a choice. She decided to quit. She resolved to quit. And she challenged herself to live up to her own expectations. 

Be your own hero! You can do it too!