Trump’s Transgender Ban: Opinion

By: Marissa

Hey y’all! I apologize for being so absent, it has been a whirlwind of a year! I have a lot of posts coming your way so be prepared, and stay tuned. Today’s post is very controversial, so if you don’t like reading politics, I wouldn’t continue to read… But, please come back later because I have other stuff on the way! :)

To get down to it, I should preface this with telling you, I don’t like talking politics. Usually it is because I feel like I don’t know enough about what is going on in the government, much less the world, and so I just don’t talk about it. That being said, I know I should pay more attention to it, and I am trying to. With social media the way it is today, I can easily look on Facebook and get the skinny about what is going on.

Over the past two days, the LGBTQ+ community, the military, and so many more are in an uproar because of President Trump’s ban on transgender individuals serving in the military. I get my information for this post off CNN, and here are the links…

Military Ban

US Joint Chief Blindsided

Like I said, I don’t like talking politics. But because I feel it is my duty to my community, the LGBTQ+ community, I feel like my opinions too should be heard.

You all know, if you have been following me, that I have had gender troubles in the past. There were times where I thought I was transgender, and I got bullied for that. Not for thinking I was, but for me not being sure that I was.

“Wishy-washy…”

“Fraud…”

You name it.

No, I am not transgender, but gender fluid. I express both sides of myself: masculine and feminine, and I am happy with that. It makes me feel whole. That being said, I did the research when I thought I was transgender. I talked to so many people, therapists, did readings online and in books. No, I do not know what it is really like to be trans, and I will never claim to truly understand, EXACTLY what it is like. I will forever love my transgender friends, trans individuals in my community, and will always support, and care for, each and everyone of them.

Unfortunately, there is another side to this. The force that is dealing with this issue: the military. No, I do not agree with the ban whatsoever. Although, I do not think it is a good idea to try and transition during active duty. After talking to my boyfriend, who is in the Army, I came to this conclusion. The reason is because, if your commitment is to your country, you need as much time as possible to serve. Dare I say it, but I almost agree with Tomi Lahren, former host of Tomi on TheBlaze. In order of what she says in her video that was posted to her Facebook page, here is what I think:

– The military is, yes, a “fighting force,”

– Not a social experiment? I don’t know if I agree or disagree but I will respect your opinion,

– No, I do not support Trump’s ban,

– Soldiers, and honestly anyone, who are comfortable and happy, have been proven to be more affective at their job (Oswald, “Happiness and Productivity”),

– I do agree with her that service members can lose active duty time for hormone treatments, surgeries, etc. Will it really impair their service ability? I have yet to see a case so far…

The video goes on, and of course, she has a lot more to say.

I believe anyone should be allowed to serve in the military. Hell, I wanted to do so myself because I felt like it was my duty for me to do so. A lot of transgendered individuals have served over the years. I do not know the exact statistics, or even their stories, but I am sure there must have been one person transitioning during active duty. Do I agree? Not completely. But as long as the job gets done. That is what matters… Along with each and every service member coming home safe, and each and every transperson feeling safe, happy, and comfortable with themselves. Whatever it takes for those two things to happen is all that matters to me.

How do you feel about politics? How does this ban make you feel?

Andrew J. Oswald, Eugenio Proto, and DanielSgroi, “Happiness and Productivity,” Journal of Labor Economics 33, no. 4 (October 2015): 789-822.

A Meditation That Shakes Things UP

By: Olivia 

Some people really aren’t the sit down and feel peaceful about the world sort of people. Sometimes, when I sit down to meditate I just want to roll my eyes and shout at the calming voice telling me to “breathe in and joy” and “breathe out hate”. Luckily, meditations come in all shapes and sizes. Today I want to share with you a mediation that never fails to make me laugh and settle down. It’s called “An honest meditation”.

WARNING:

This meditation uses bad words.

Don’t play it if foul language offends you.

Don’t play it around kids.

https://youtu.be/92i5m3tV5XY

Make Meditation a Part of Your Daily Routine

By: Olivia 
So, since the last time I posted about mindfulness, all you faithful readers out there have been relentlessly practicing mindfulness and meditation regularly…right? Right. Well what can I say? I haven’t exactly been able to build mindfulness or meditation into my everyday life either. That’s why I decided to build meditation into my daily routine and make it a habit. 

Today I will be applying the advice from the 99u’s article by Greogory Ciotti 5 Scientific Ways to Build Habits That Stick to meditation and suggesting specific ways that you can make meditation a part of your everyday. 

#1 Think big. Do little. 

Facing a big challenge can be intimidating. Instead of charging head on into oncoming goals that you’ve set, try breaking up the big goal into small bite-sized pieces. For a big goal like: Be a Mindfulness Guru, small steps might look like: 

Day 1: read Olivia’s article about how to make meditation a habit

Day 2: Set up a relaxing space in my home where I can meditate

Day 3: Meditate for 5 minutes

….etc…

#2 Build it into your regular routine. 

There is no reason to re-invent the wheel. If you already have a daily routine, just add a 5 minute meditation to the end of it. Maybe you get up early and do some exercise before you go to work…do 5 minutes of mediations after you exercise. Maybe you read your kids a bedtime story every night…do 5 minutes of meditation after you read to your kids. What if you don’t have a daily routine? I assume you brush your teeth every day. Meditate after you brush your teeth.

#3 Delete decisions. 

The more options we have, the more difficult it is to make a decision. This can be built in to step #2. Instead of deciding during what part of your day you should meditate, build it into your already existing routine. This eliminates a lot of the stress of decision making. 

#4 Focus on why you’re doing this.

Instead of thinking to yourself “I brushed my teeth. Now I have to do that stupid meditation thing because I do it every day” try instead thinking “I brushed my teeth. Now I have to do that stupid meditation thing because I am committed to decreasing my stress levels and living more in the present moment”. By adding meaning to the activity you make it harder to guiltlessly skip a task you may find monotonous. 

#5 Just because you messed up doesn’t mean you stop. 

If you slip up and decide to throw meditation down the drain (probably with your toothpaste) for the day, get back to it tomorrow! Getting back on track and persevering is more important than being perfect. Try to find out WHY you skipped meditation that day. Was it because you tied meditation to your evening routine and you always fall asleep halfway through your meditation? Then maybe change your strategy and meditate during your morning routine. Examining exactly what happened and how you can change the outcomes for next time is one of the most important steps to succeeding in your endeavors.

From now until next time, happy meditating! 

You can read the full 99u article here: 

http://99u.com/articles/17123/5-scientific-ways-to-build-habits-that-stick 

Iggy Azalea: Philosophical?

By: Marissa

While Iggy Azalea has faced her fair share of backlash for being a woman in the rap industry, I have always viewed her as just what she is, whether others choose to agree or not: an artist. Now, I don’t know if it was because I was very tired or really felt something, but I really resonated with the beginning line in one of her songs, Work.

“Walked a mile in these Louis Vuittons”

After a full year of rigorous attention to detail and analyzing difficult concepts in religious books, I have been able to find things that other people don’t. While this line may be simple, just a hardworking girl showing off her success, I personally find that to be empowering.

Let’s look at Iggy’s backstory. Amethyst Amelia Kelly, known professionally as Iggy Azalea, was born and raised in Australia. At a young age, which she outlines in most of her songs, she worked extremely hard to be able to leave Australia at 16, to come to America in pursuit of a career in hip-hop. Low and behold, she made it. While she, to some, exhumes the persona of just another rapper conforming to what the world wants to hear, just like anyone else, she has a history. A hard working one nonetheless. Through all that hard work, she has made it to a point in her life where she has achieved things some have only dreamed of. Twerking and all. However, I think we all have something to learn from Iggy: whether you like it or not.

A lot of people now a days are scared of hard work. I know a lot of people that have goals, dreams in fact, that have shaped their entire life and what they want out of life. But, they don’t want to put in the work to get there. Scared of failure. Scared of the unknown. It’s all out of fear that people don’t do the things they dream of. I fall privy to this too; I know I am not perfect. I have this crazy dream of going to graduate school, or another odd dream of becoming a professional bodybuilder. Sometimes I don’t focus on these dreams because I am too scared of the failure that could come.

Will Smith did a motivational talk on fear and how it affects our lives. My favorite line from the talk was when he said, “God placed the best things in life on the otherside of terror.” I cannot express how true this is, much less how important it is to take that concept and live by it. I am sure Iggy had her doubts. I am sure anyone who aspires to do anything great in their life, has doubts. Hell, I have doubts too. But nothing can beat those doubts like actually putting in the work, KNOWING that you are working hard, and then achieving your goals.

Sometimes, things don’t work out. As I said before, Iggy got her share of backlash from many people for doing what she does. But because of all that hard work, dedication, and unwillingness to settle for less than what she wanted, she is where she is now. You can also apply this to any musician, any actor, anyone higher up on the “food-chain.” Just know, they put in the work… and so can you.

So Work hard, and be Fancy

WHY.

By: Marissa

That is always the question we as humans have. Why? Why does it rain? Why does this animal do this thing? Why are there no cookies left? I too am subject to always wanting to know why. My questioning stems mainly from my depression. Why does this happen to me? Why am I sad again? Why are there no cookies left? The cookie part then just triggers non-stop crying. Nevertheless, the important part here is the WHY.

As humans, we want to know why things happen. However, for a healthy mental state, I have been taught recently, not to ask why. Why, you may ask?

When I ask myself why, it tumbles me into more of a depressed state. Lets use the cookie as an example. First it starts as noticing that there is no more cookies. In order, these are the questions you will probably ask…

Why are there no more cookies?
Was I not good enough for the cookies?
Was I not eating the cookies in a moderate way?

In the end, while you are sitting on the floor crying because there are no more cookies, you find out that your SO (significant other) ate the last one, and has returned home with a whole new pack just for you. The moral of the story is, if you let yourself be consumed by one bad moment, the moments leading up to you feeling better will be worse. Asking why makes it worse as well. It tumbles you into worse feelings. However, if you just ride out that one bad moment, you know you will end up feeling better either way.

Imposter Syndrome

By: Marissa

Spring Break is over, and now it’s back to getting serious! Got to focus on getting this year done and out of the way, and getting ready for next year. I won’t lie, I am very nervous for next year, as I will, hopefully, be writing my thesis and getting the Hell out of here. I’m not saying that I don’t love it here, cause oh my God I do. I have not had more a glorious experience at a school, than I have had here. However, there are things that keep the majority of students from having a really great time here, especially academically. The biggest thing that does that to us, is this thing called Imposter Syndrome.

Imposter Syndrome is where you, a high-achieving individual, feels as if you are a fraud, a sham, a failure. It is where you feel as if you don’t deserve the success you have achieved, or where you can’t even accept the successes you have achieved. The thing is, with Imposter Syndrome, you don’t really discuss your feelings on the subject with others. For the fear of being discovered or seen as a fraud is more important than seeking validation, or even better, help.

I think what gives me the confidence to be able to write this is the fact that I have dealt with Imposter Syndrome for a very long time, not just in my years here at New College of Florida. When I was in elementary school and middle school, I was a very bright student. I still like to think I am, but back then, I felt like I actually knew it and I was confident in my abilities. Around the halfway mark of middle school, I transferred schools to a more demanding charter school on a college campus. I was surrounded by students that were brilliant! Even though I was lopped into that group through the eyes of my peers and mentors, taking high school level math courses in eighth grade, then transferring a year early to the college campus to take math courses.

Needless to say, I have had a lot of accomplishments to be proud of.  The part that freezes all that for me, and makes me feel useless, is I feel that because of my depression and anxiety, I don’t deserve to be at the level I am.

Last semester was a perfect example. I took a class with one of my favorite professors, titled “Religion & Gender.” I passed with flying colors, as my evaluations say, however, going through that class day to day was extremely difficult. Everyday I would walk into class, having something I wanted to discuss from the reading from the night before. I would sit and listen to everyone else first, then toss my ideas out the window. My papers in that class always received a satisfactory, and I always got good comments, but I always felt like a fraud being in that class.

I was the only first year in that class, and of course, the youngest. My peers had more time to really research and read more than I had been able to. There was one girl in the class who I looked up to the most, but made me feel the most insecure about myself. For sake of conversation, let’s call this person Joy.

Joy was very intelligent in this field. She would come to class everyday having something to say about the reading that was so detailed and backed up with information, that it blew my basic comprehension out of the water. I envied Joy for the longest time. One day my professor for that class, Dr. Marks, pulled me aside, realizing that I had issues speaking up in class. She gave me the best academic advice I feel like I have ever received, and that was to set lower expectations for myself, so when I achieve them, I will feel far better about myself, and will eventually be able to reach those higher goals with ease. Dr. Marks, when I told her how I felt about discussing things in class, how I felt about Joy and the other students, told me that basic is just fine. If I wanted to discuss how something made me feel or what I thought right off the bat after reading the first two paragraphs, that was perfectly fine. As long as I try.

As the next semester rolls around, I had the opprotunity to become closer with Joy, and we saw each other more often. One day I told her how I felt about having class with her the semester before, and how I felt being in that class. I told her how I thought she was very smart, but because of that I felt incompetent. She was taken aback, and visually shocked. She told me that she had felt the exact same way about me and what I had to say in that class, and she felt like she wasn’t good enough.

Needless to say, it was a funny encounter.

Imposter Syndrome affects probably every student at my school. I know for me, it really hits hard because I am moving twice the speed through the program, compared to the other first years. Instead of finishing the program in 4 years, I will be done in 2.

I’m already halfway through.

That being said, I feel as if I don’t deserve these achievements I have scored, and I could never be as good as other upper-years. But sometimes I have to take a step back and realized, I have kicked my own ass millions of times to get where I am, and I won’t let those ass kickings be for nothing. Not only that, but I will not let all those years of my mothers motivation be wasted on me failing because I didn’t feel good enough. Because dammit I am good enough, and so are you.

What makes you feel the most insecure? Work? School? Relationships?

Shoutout to New College of Florida for a great first year!


If you would like to read more in detail about Imposter Syndrome click here, to visit the American Psychological Association that has a great outline on what it means to have Imposter Syndrome.

Where Have You Been?

By: Marissa

As of late, I have been looking at myself in the mirror, and seeing a happier, more centered, me. I have to look at myself and question, ‘Where have you been?’ I ask myself that almost every day. Where has this person been in the past few years? Where have you been hiding? Lately, I have been in a really dark place. Things have happened that have kept me from doing the things I love. Things that honestly, I am afraid to post on social media. Maybe one day I will, but now, the wounds are too fresh.

I can’t express though how grateful I am for the people I have found in my life. Even during the dark times. In the past few weeks, despite the depression, I have found new friends, and even found people who I thought disliked me. Through all of that, I have realized how loved I truly am, how much people actually care, regardless of how I thought they viewed me. Because of recent events, I have been able to find these people and form new friendships and new bonds. I have the strongest support system I have ever seen, and I can’t explain how happy I am.

I can’t truly explain what it is like to live with depression. I can tell you the symptoms and the feelings I have, but I can’t really explain the darkness in my head. It happens to a lot of people, and I have realized that with each person that approaches me and tells me their story, offering their help. Suddenly I don’t feel so alone, so isolated. It took me to be alone in the darkness, just to realize that one the light comes on, there were hundreds of others standing right with me.

That is something I can explain though. As someone suffering with Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), I have the tendency to feel as if I was alone. But once a light comes on, once someone comes to me and tells me their story, I realize I am not as alone as I think, and that is an amazing feeling.

I promise I will try harder to present more to you all. While there will be days that I don’t post for awhile, I promise you guys are always on my mind. Even if I don’t know you, you are a community that I can come to when I can’t stand for myself. While there will be bad days, while there will be times where I can’t control the tears, I just have to look in the mirror and say, ‘by God it’s great to be back.’

My Top Apps for Mindfulness

By: Olivia

Phones can beep, ding, ring, and do all sorts of useful, yet distracting things. For most people, phones are integral to a well-running day, but sometimes they can be a reminder of how overwhelming life is. Luckily, they can also offer a great many tools that can help in an everyday mindfulness practice. The only way I manage to keep myself on a steady and consistent mindfulness practice schedule is by using an app to help me chart my progress. Some of my favorite apps are:

Headspace

  • This is such a fantastic place to begin learning about mindfulness in a visually friendly and time efficient way. Headspace begins with 10 basic 10 minute mindfulness meditations interspaced with short videos that explains concepts that will help you find your best state of mind to meditate in. After these first 10 meditations, Headspace then expands and provides different types of meditations for various aspects of your life.
  • The catch? It’s a bit pricy. After the first 10 meditations, a subscription costs anywhere from $6.42/month (for a 2 year subscription) to $12.95/month (for a month bymonth subscription). Still, this is an excellent resource. More info at: https://www.headspace.com/

Aware

  • This is the app I rely on the most for daily mindfulness practice. The first 7 meditations are free, and then to buy the total package it’s only around $5. After an intro foundation course, there are other courses available specialized for different things like sleep, stress, anxiety, focus, and happiness. For the foundation course, meditations start out at 10 minutes for the first 7 days, then 15 minutes for the next 7 days, and finally 20 minutes for the last 7 days. This app encourages practicing mindfulness throughout the course of the  day by prompting you to schedule “energizers”. These are extremely short meditations that you can schedule at your convenience throughout the day. More info at: http://awaremeditationapp.com/

Chill

  • Free, and super low maintenance. The Chill app has a daily quote that inspires thought and reflection as well as messages that pop up on your phone to remind you to be present -even for just a moment. More info at: http://www.chill-app.com/

Here are a list of some other apps that I’m planning to check out in the future:

  • Wildflowers Mindfulness
  • Stop Breathe and Think: Meditate
  • Mindful Check-In
  • Smiling Mind
  • Daily Mindfulness

I’ll be doing a follow up post later on their pros and cons when I’ve tried some of them.

 

Have you ever tried any of these apps? Which one did you like best and why?

Time to Think About Thoughts

By: Olivia

“The meeting of two eternities, the past and future…is precisely the present moment.”

–Henry David Thoreau

There are a lot of different ways to think about mindfulness and no one way is better than any other. It helps some people to think of their mind as the sky and of their thoughts as clouds drifting across it, impermanent, transitory, present and then gone. Other people like to think of their thoughts as an excited puppy, constantly peeing on trees and sniffing things it probably shouldn’t be. If the sky analogy helps you, then use it. If the puppy analogy helps you, then use it. Today I’d like to share my favorite way of thinking about my thoughts. Something that really helps me is thinking about thinking in the context of time.

Past Thoughts

It is so easy to get caught up in past thoughts- the good, the bad, and the ugly. If you ever find yourself reminiscing about that awesome date you went on, fuming over how unfair your teacher was, or trying really hard to forget about that embarrassing thing you said to your in laws, then you do this too. Another easy way to get stuck in past thoughts is to hold on to feelings from the past. If someone gets you really angry, and a week later you’re still angry, then you are not experiencing the present moment, you’re experiencing the past.

Future Thoughts

I once heard that the center of your life is what you end up thinking about while you brush your teeth at night. When I brush my teeth, I always find myself thinking about what I’m going to do next. Whenever I have a spare moment it’s always devoted to planning and thinking about the future. This is where anxiety can be a real pain. You can’t control the future, so it’s easy to get caught up in a world of “what ifs”. Yes, it can be extremely useful to think about the future, but if you can’t appreciate the present moment because you’re too busy thinking about what you’re going to buy at the grocery store tomorrow, it’s time to rethink how you’re thinking.

Present Thoughts

I find that for myself, present thoughts actually occur rather rarely. Present thoughts are thoughts like “That cookie smells delicious” and “This hug makes me so happy”. Present thoughts can also be things like “This dentist’s office is striking fear into my soul” or “My heart is beating much faster than usual, I think I might be panicking”. Present thoughts come in all shapes and sizes. They’re important to experience because once they happen, they immediately turn into past thoughts. They’re here, and then they’re gone. And then you have another one, and another one, and another one, and….

Whenever I’m having difficulty with feelings from the past, or anxiety about things in the future, I take a minute to evaluate: am I in any danger right now? If I take five minutes to be present right now, will anything bad happen to me? Almost always, the answer is no. Taking five minutes to only experience present thoughts, to disregard past or future thoughts, is a great way to give yourself a break and I always find that when I do this, I am better able to deal with whatever situation I am having difficulty with.

Forward, Road, Away, Straight, Road Sign

What do you do when you’re overwhelmed with past and future thoughts? Is it difficult for you to be present?