Shame

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Recently, I had a discussion with a Canadian lifting friend after she Twittered that America is a Shithole. I Twittered back that I love my country and she countered with something along the lines of, “You can still love your country and be ashamed of it.”

In general, I don’t shame. I hate the word quite honestly most likely due to the fact that I heard it a lot growing up. I remember dating a man when my twins were younger who grabbed Zac and said he was so ashamed of him for some type of behavior that while probably wasn’t awesome, was still toddler appropriate (toddlers can be dicks…change my mind.)  That happened once. And only once.

I have felt ashamed in life. Gawds know I deserved to feel ashamed. I’ve had moments of complete failure as a compassionate human being. I have had moments of complete failure as a mother and even with apologies, I’ll take those failures to my grave. There is no amount of external feedback that can make me feel worse than what I do to myself when I know I’ve fucked up. I don’t live on others shame meter, I have my own and anyone who knows me well understands that the standards I hold myself to are far more intense than what can come at me in a Twitter conversation.

That said, I do not feel shame for something I didn’t do. As hard as I can be on myself, I can be equally dismissive when people try to lay their shit at my feet and expect me to take it on. Nope. NoNoNo. Not gonna happen. Sorry not sorry. Because of that, it’s likely I can come off as cold or uncaring. Remember that time I said sorry not sorry? Yeah, same. I wasted way too many years of my young life worrying about what others thought (which is categorically different, by the way, than not caring about how my actions actually affect others. Fucking duh) to worry now. Besides that, so many people are void of logic and reason that I’d be playing the part of a pinball if I even tried to follow what others are caring about in a particular moment of a particular day. (Morals and values, try it sometime. They don’t tend to change so people know exactly what to expect.)

So here’s how this works, if President Trump tweets something, I don’t care. I don’t follow him. I don’t have an agonizing emotional reaction. Doesn’t affect me in any way whatsoever. If the current Administration enacts policy that I disagree with to the point that I feel strongly about it, I’ll write to Senator Ron Johnson (Tammy Baldwin is pretty busy with her cronies in California so I won’t bother her. Besides, if she throws Veterans under the bus, what the hell is she going to do for me?) I may tweet about it but I’m pretty busy on the Tweets following Minnesota sports teams that I can’t watch locally. That’s it.

Secondly, I love my country. I am a proud American. I’ve kind of felt like an outsider here in heavy liberal ‘Tosa where I’m bombarded with all the ways I should be put out by Trump and his nazi deplorables (uhhhh, I’m one I guess) but last month the hubs, Ozman, and I went to Texas for a wedding. The instant we left the airport (I’d still prefer to head out the North entrance instead of driving all around Ft. Worth to get back to the road heading to Wichita Falls but had we done that I’d have missed what I’m writing about here) it was clear that we were in the land of proud Americans and proud Texans. I rolled down the window and just took in the fresh smell of patriotism.

Texas sized American and Texas flags flying big and boldly. I tell ya what, there is something about Texans that I love (being one and all y’all) that I lost sight of when my Texas experience shortly turned so sour and unhealthy that I realized I’d just bunched up the whole ball of shit in my head and forgot about the good stuff of being Texan. To be in an entire state where folks (generally) seem to love their country was good for my soul. A little re-setting of standing as a proud American.

Anyways, back to the Shithole comment from my lovely Canadian friend. Now, I am not going to deny that America has shithole neighborhoods. I’ve seen some of them; have been lost in some of them; and live in a city where we’re close enough to one that we feel it’s crime spilling over to our driveway. Do I feel ashamed of those neighborhoods? Uhhhhh, no. Why would I? Am I disappointed they exist, uhhhh ya, I’m not a complete bitch. Do I blame Trump for them?Uhhhhhh, no, why would I? (My main argument to those who are outraged on a daily basis of Trump is that local politicians wield far more power over their daily lives than Washington, in general. Go be outraged at your city hall.)

Is America a shithole as a whole? I don’t know, I mean, I don’t believe that to be truthful but there could actually be people here who believe it so I don’t know if my opinion is more better than theirs, just different. Both of us could probably find a bunch of “facts” to argue on the internet for days. But I can’t do that, I’m busy loving my life with my hot hunky husband and my children and friends.

Shame. Back to the part where she wanted me to feel ashamed of my country. First off, why? I mean, really, who cares what I think or feel. Especially on the internet. Why? What have I done to feel ashamed about? I do support border control (at all costs really) and fully comprehend that puts me on the “other side” of an argument. So what? Is that enough to change what someone is having for lunch today? Gawds I doubt it. Why does someone else want me to feel shame for something? I can’t even get my head around that one.

And OHBYTHEWAY, addressing the giant bald eagle in the room, uhhhh, dude; you live in Canada. You, of course, can have the opinion that America is a shithole and then go right back to watching your CBC to see how your PM is embarrassing you around the world that particular day. I have been so curious these last two years why some Canadians have such intense hatred for Donald  Trump. Especially in regards to immigration and border control (Dear Cunucks: your border agents are some of the biggest assholes I’ve ever had to deal with while traveling in my life. I blame Trudeau. Heh, but not really.)

I’m okay with someone having an opinion about America, kind of the point of America in the first place. Yes? What I will react to (albeit 7 weeks later) is telling me I should feel ashamed of my country. For me, that crosses a line of decency among friendly acquaintances. Disagreement is fine, telling someone how to feel is manipulative and hateful. Those are two traits I don’t allow into my  life (ask any relative in Minnesota.) Telling me I should feel ashamed of my country ends that friendly acquaintance. Not because I disagree with you (I do that all the time and still manage to live a happy life) but because when you turn into someone who tried to virtue signal bully me, well, you’ll get the same result as Lynda and Pastor John (and a few asshole bosses in my past) got, silence. You’re out. I’m too busy over here surrounding myself with awesome people who are comfortable in disagreement without telling me how I should feel because their opinion is superior and the final say in life.

My son, Oscar, has already delay-enlisted in the US Army. He’s been sworn in (three times actually. He’s like the token swearing in kid who will jump at every chance to participate in a ceremony that means so much to him. Also, I’ve missed every swearing in. Bad mom) and has taken this job specifically because he wants to serve his country.  I did that. I instilled a love of country to my son. Good mom. All three of my children voted this year for the first time ever because they can and they all saw how important it was. I know it sounds as if I’m bragging about that because I am. I am proud as fuck of them and their rights to be a part of this democratic republic. One of our local elections came down to 21 votes and three came from this house (that is until our election official miraculously found an extra two boxes of votes and the other guy one. Funny how that happened all over Wisconsin and the country this year.)

I’m not going to be ashamed of America. Ever. Even if you want me to be.

The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.

Thomas Jefferson 

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Friday Jams: Girls

girls

This is my toxic, masculine husband. Just look how’s he trying to diminish my potential. Can you feel his overbearing and unfair energy at my femininity? You can see how he probably orders me around the house to go make him a sammich or he’ll unleash his toxic masculinity on me as I quiver in fear. I hate that he’s too old to have taken Toxic Masculinity 101 while he was working on his Chemical Engineering degree at Iowa. If he had, I’m sure he’d be the perfect man that no one needs to ever fear.

But wait, I need other people to fear my toxic, masculine husband! Why? Because there are bad people in the world, some even in Wisconsin. People who may intend me harm in one way or another. People who may be brought to their senses when they see this huge, toxic, masculine man standing behind me. People who may be trying to rip me off who immediately change their tone when Matt walks in (happens. A lot.) People who respond to the deep, booming voice on the telephone who instantly decide to work with us instead of against us (like a Step-daughters landlord.)

I feel so very concerned for so many of my friends who’ve also married toxic, masculine males: Liz; Olivia; Victoria; Yvonne; Eliane, to name just a few. I am so sorry they live within the confines of toxic masculinity every day of their lives, like me. I mean, I’m not gonna lie; toxic masculinity has it’s perks AMMIRIGHT girls? We get to spend our days watching our men work their asses off so we can all have better lives. We can watch and wait for them to return home for one of those amazing toxic, masculine hugs (and more;) We can sit back and be appreciated for who we are because our men believe in us and encourage us.

By the way, women can exhibit toxic masculinity. NO WAY! Yup. Really, you’re just talking about bullying added to the war on men. The new hashtag movement is to ensure that men are sensitive and cuddly and non-assertive and soft spoken. Down with the Alpha male, up with the Brookfield dad! (Brookfield is a neighboring community where Matt’s sis and family live. We used to go to his niece and nephew’s sports activities where I noticed that 95% of the Brookfield Dad’s were around 5’7 and 145 pounds with very skinny ankles following their legging’s and riding boots wearing wives around being barked at for not grabbing the right flavor fruit roll up for little jonny. By the way, skinny ankles on a man freaks me out.) Our neighbor is a Brookfield dad living in Tosa. When he get’s home with the kids, he whines at them. Whines. For all of his faults I can honestly say I’ve never heard Pastor John whine at us kids or our mother. I can’t imagine father-in-law Tom whining at any of his kids either. But then again, there was no Brookfield Dad syndrome in the 60’s and 70’s. Alpha males were encouraged back then. On the plus side, our neighbor’s wife never has to worry about toxic masculinity. Good for her.

But now we need to let men know that their world-wide domination is OVER! Fffffffffuck Youuuuuuuuu! Oh by the way, another term for toxic masculinity is domestic violence. Yup. See, we assume that if a man is masculine, then he automatically has the potential to beat on his wife. Not even understanding that those whom beat on others actually have very low self-worth or self-esteem therefore submitting those around them gives them moments of worth. Fucking duh.

My daughter has a new boyfriend. He’s probably a toxic masculine. At 29 he owns his own business; hustles day and night to make sure he and his employees are working throughout the year; has owned his home for three years already and hired a housekeeper to ensure that any time his girlfriend’s mom drops in, his house is clean (actually that’s not true. He hired a housekeeper because he likes a clean home and the woman he hired needed money to help her family.) Yup, that dude just has the toxic masculine oozing out of him. OH, he also cans fruit and veggies with his dad during the weekends so they have a full pantry of food in the winter. He adores my daughter and encourages her to be the best version of herself. Poor Zandra.

Let’s see, if I were to name the battles in the last two years that Americans have fought they would be the wars on: conservatives (racists); white men (privileged racists); those who want border control (cold hearted racists), and now men in general (toxic racists.) At this point, I’m just really happy Matt has me to protect him from the hoards of feminists who wish him harm (or worse.) I mean, come one, we all know I’m the scary one anyway.

Motely Crue: Girls, Girls, Girls. To celebrate toxic masculinity, 80’s style!

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Monday Bacon: I Remember

grandpa

Me and my Grandpa on my Baptism day. I loved my Grandpa. Look at his hands. They were always strong and reaching for another hand to hold whether it be mine or my Grandma’s. I still have this dress. It speaks to a day I don’t remember but probably enjoyed. I hope cake was involved. I just really love cake.

One of the trickier aspects of sharing personal stories is that, while the writer has had a lifetime to process information, the reader is “hearing” it for the first time and it can be a bit shocking. I guess this is one of those times. Writing about dark events that happened in the past are just that, in the past. They do not speak to who I am today, but to paths crossed in the yesteryear.

I believe, or at the very least, my observation is that men and women don’t want to talk about sexual abuse because they are afraid that others will judge who they are today. See, when you are sexually abused, you generally don’t feel very good about yourself whether presently or in the past. Being sexually abused is dirty. It is painful. It is confusing. It rocks the entire foundation of your existence and I’m not even going to add the words, “especially in the case of…” Each case is horrible. Each story weaves a tale with few chances of Happily Ever After. 

I imagine that feelings may be somewhat similar after a sexual assault. It’s scary and dirty and how will people look at “me” because they can’t process that I’ve been sexually assaulted (or abused.) See, this is a difference between people who have been sexually abused or assaulted and people who haven’t. They don’t understand. Why would they? At the pits of their existence this evil does not dwell. It’s uncomfortable, gods it’s so uncomfortable.

We have come a long way in addressing sexual abuse. From the Catholic church “scandals” (imo, ‘scandal’ is too pretty a word for the rampant Pedophilia of the Catholic church. I am guessing, and I’m probably right, that the Catholic church is the largest Pedophilia racket in the history of the world. It is still happening today and the Pope claims that the “reporting” of these RAPES are the work of the devil. I literally hope hell has a special place waiting for him. He is the Big Daddy Pimp of them all. Rot, fucker.)

Back in 2002, the Boston Globe shined a big ‘ol spotlight on the Catholic RAPES and people started talking about it. At least, they started to talk about how others were raped and molested and in small ways began to open doors on talking more freely about personal sexual abuse. I am lucky enough to have married two men (one at a time, duh) who, when I shared that I had been sexually abused starting from the age of 9, were absolutely and unequivocally shocked. I mean, it’s shocking, I get it. See, they came from the other side. The side where ‘these types of things’ don’t happen. Ever. That’s a good thing. I’m glad they didn’t have to be exposed to something as ugly as sexual abuse. That they or someone they love don’t have those memories.

Because I remember. I remember every detail, even before I was raped for the first time. My brother wanted to play a game called baseball where each base was a sexual act and did I want to play? Uh, no. I’m not comfortable with that. In fact, I am so uncomfortable with that I’ll tell mom. Mom will make sure that doesn’t happen again. But no, Mom didn’t make sure. She said that was ridiculous and don’t ever talk like that again.

Shame strike 1, 2, and 3. Shut up Jules, no one here cares. It’s ugly and it’s dark and don’t ever bring it up again. That was a direct order, don’t ever talk about anything like this again. I was on my own. I was 9. On my own with a pedophile for a brother.

I remember the first time I was raped. I remember exactly where and when. I remember the smells; the pain; the shame; the confusion, and most of all the overwhelming sadness that I was no longer a little girl. I knew I wasn’t an adult or a teen or anything else but I for sure was no longer a little girl. That was the end of my childhood. In one night at 9 years old. I was dirty and no longer a good girl and I was alone. I have many pictures of my childhood and maybe I’m the only one who can see how sad 9 year old Juli’s eyes looked after that summer. But I know when I look at those pictures how much I changed. I remember.

Those feelings lasted for many years of my life. I would look at the High School football quarterback (he was a cutie. Black hair and bright blue eyes and pretty nice to everyone) and think, I am not worthy of a nice boy like that. I’m dirty. I’m not a good girl. I don’t even get a popular bad boy who probably wasn’t even that bad. I’m only worthy of crappy boys who don’t treat girls well but that’s okay because I’m not worthy of being treated well. What a fookin’ mess. I am very fortunate I stepped out of that fog and was even to do it fairly early in life. I didn’t waste one more day thinking I wasn’t worthy of a good man. I raised the bar for those around me and especially myself. I’m lucky. I healed. There’s scar tissue of course, but my mind is clear and I mostly love who looks back at me in the mirror (I have a scalp thing going on from frying my melon to the point of blistering at a Games last June. It’s not awesome. I don’t like seeing that in the mirror. Other than that, I’m good.)

I have viewed the openess of many actors and actresses who have felt free enough to share their past assaults against women and men in power who for so long felt that their jobs depended on keeping their mouths shut. That is an abuse of power and I’m glad for them that they were able to free themselves. However, an increasingly disturbing trend is gaining steam much like a tsunami wave we may be powerless to stop when we want it to stop. That is, men and women can suddenly accuse another of abuse and it is assumed to be true. Jobs lost in an instant. Families blown apart. Public humiliation. The #metoo train has gained enough speed that it can’t be stopped for one of the most important American rights, due process.

Feminism has become more about white male bashing than equality and equity. The white male is our enemy. They are the plantation owners of present time and they are evil. Now, I don’t buy into this. First off, I mean, many of you have met my white, male husband. So you understand how I believe him to be the greatest of all men who walk the planet. Evil comes in all shapes and sizes. It comes form of men wearing robes at Sunday mass; it comes in the form of a brother; it comes in the form of a female teacher; a boss; a stranger; a friend. Evil lurks and we are so quick to turn on each other than no one is stopping to ask, “Does this have anything to do with my life today?” or “Am I qualified to have an opinion on whether or not this is true?” or “Does this affect me or someone I love?” We jump. We ask one accused to be crucified while make excuses for another.

It is one of the most dangerous games we can play against each other and it terrifies me. I have watched the ever increasing trend of sexual abuse and sexual assault become political and I am concerned that the progress we’ve made in bringing it out in the open will be lost among the political hatred towards an opposing group screaming, “BURN HER!” We minimize the strength and fortitude shown when putting abuse behind us and living our best lives with a hashtag. A fucking hashtag. Have we become so simple fucking minded that we can’t use our words so we think putting a hashtag in front of some trend is going to give it power?

No. At least, we’re not here.

Believe an accuser. Believe the accused. Be happy that sexual abuse hasn’t touched your life or if it has, be proud that you’ve overcome the pain of it. If you haven’t overcome the pain of it, get help. Very few of the hashtag warrior have YOUR best interest at heart rather, they want to make some type of social media statement. Fill your life with peace. Gawds we need peace these days. Peace and kindness and if you’re really lucky, deep fried cheese curds at Lakefront Brewery.

See how lucky I am.

Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them.

The Dalai Lama

 

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Execute

execute

One of the more frustrating aspects of a competitive athlete is the failure to execute. A weightlifter can train for 6 months for one meet and bomb out on the snatch (ask me how I know.) Done. Out of there. No total for you (said in the best Soup Nazi bark.) You can practice the Scottish hammer for months and finally find a flow and once you step into the trig, blank. You forget everything and throw the same old lackluster number you haven’t been able to move on from for the last two years (ask me how I know.)

It can be incredibly depressing and make you question everything you’ve done leading up to that point; your mental strength; your abilities, everything. I like to compete. I love the sounds of both the Highland Games and the Weightlifting (I kinda don’t understand when people bitch about Bagpipes at Highland Games. I mean, dude, this is your sport. You chose this, you knew Bagpipes would be here and yet you showed up. Stop.) I love the warm-up room at a Weightlifting meet. The sounds of plates being loaded; bars being dropped; noises from the main platform and the crowd, coaches barking at their athletes. I love it!

However; I don’t like it when I don’t compete well. Masters Nationals in April was one of those days. I had a rough meet, not a bad meet, just a rough day. A bad meet is when you bomb out on one of your lifts, I’ve done that. I didn’t bomb out, but I didn’t do what I went to do and that doesn’t sit well with my personality. I’ve thought a lot about that the last few months. Not doing what I went to do. The frustration of still being a fierce competitor but not doing what you know you can do. Barfy.

In late June, after a rough day on the field at my 2nd Highland Games of the season, it hit me; I’m not executing the throws. I’m not applying my training. Too much of me is shutting down. Not good. That needs to change. My practices became 3 part: warm up, “x” number of practice throws, 3 competition throws still held around 90%. Begin to execute what I practiced right there, right then. Get into the mindset that every practice will include throws where I needed to apply my training. Execute.

hammer

LV Camera Girl takes the best pictures. Usually I’m bitching about being out of position but not this time. This time I had that hammer exactly where I wanted it which is why I executed a decent throw. Actually, it was the first time I hit over 80′ on the light hammer in two years. 

I had two major Games coming up out west. I had no opportunity to do poorly on my weaker events. In Portland, I was competing with the Womens A group. I had my hands full to have a chance to get on the podium at the end of the day and if I didn’t execute my practice, I’m screwed. And I did it. Both Hammers were season bests and while I still believe I have more room to improve for my last Games, I’m happy. It is not uncommon for me to take on three or even four points per hammer. It’s nearly impossible to come back from that deficit and in Portland I took 2nd place on both. I was ecstatic!

Even the 48# Portland stone went exactly as planned. I gained nearly 2 feet from last year and STILL took 4th place in the event. You know what? Didn’t care. I did what I came to do in that event and everything else was out of my control. I’ll take it. On to Open Stone and I hit a season high and again, 2nd place. Last year in this event I took 3rd and jeopardized my overall win. How did I do this? I executed the event. I did what I came to do.

Now, I did pout a bit because my two strongest events, the heavy weight for distance and weight over bar, didn’t go as planned. I actually did NOT do what I came to do and it took me all week to finally recognize that I did what I NEEDED to do and there is strength in that. Be happy when you do what you NEED to do even it’s not what you wanted.

At the end of the day, 2nd place!!! While I was hoping to be one of the top 3, a second place to an amazing collegiate track athlete and now throws coach who is in her late 20’s with other very strong competitors in the class was an incredible honor.  I like to joke with the hashtag ’51harderthanme’, but really, try. Heh. Also, I’m going to toot my horn on this one. Look, often times people expect me to do well. That’s good, I’ve worked hard for that expectation. So when I DO do well (doo doo), it’s very anti-climactic. We don’t even celebrate around here, just move on to the next thing. Well gawdsdammit, I want to celebrate. I don’t know how often it happens that a 51 year old women places so well in an A group at a stacked Games like Portland but I did that. I. Did. That. Give me two claps and a Ric Flair!!

Basically, I executed my plan. I did what I went to do and honestly, I have rarely felt more satisfied at a competition. Now we get to have fun for a week in the PNW with so many wonderful friends and my most favorite Peterson’s before doing what I needed to do at The Claw, where, again…

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My amazing fellow Masters competitors Tishia and Michelle.

…I did what I came to do. I executed my plan. I re-set my standing weights world records and won a Masters National Championship. Again, I did not do want I wanted to do in my height events but I did what I NEEDED to do. I did not execute my light hammer but I’m giving myself a pass on that one. We had just hit four events in less than 2 hours and I had 6 extra throws on those two events with about 10 minutes to prepare for the hammer. Overall, I executed the plan.

I did what I went to do. I did well over two very tough Games in a week’s time and had an absolute blast in the Pacific North West. I ate ALL the carbs; laughed ALL the laughs; drank MOST of the wine (I even brought some home. I’m such a good girl) and accomplished my goals. Again, can I get two claps and a

ric

Heh.

I believe that a different mindset of the same situation can pay in dividends. It has for me. I still have more work to do and most likely only one more Games to execute. I’ll try and whatever I don’t do will have to wait for next season. I know I’m on the right path and I’m very excited to see where it takes me in Weightlifting. Because that failure from Nationals is still there. I didn’t execute. That won’t happen again. I may not win; I may have a rough day, hell, I may even have a bad day…but I’ll execute to my very best ability and walk away knowing I brought what I could.

The best training program in the world is absolutely worthless without the will to execute it properly, consistently, and with intensity.

John Romaniello 

 

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