The Open Mind Policy : 30 Days of Truth

Day 2: Something you love about yourself.

Following up on the subject of self-love, I embody some admirable qualities.

The Open Mind Policy
“I’ll try anything once.”

Truthfully, that was once my motto.  Except, I found myself in too great of a number of undesirable situations that I would have preferred to not experience.  We live – we learn.

This is the basis of my Open Mind Policy.  It is truth when it is generalized that all humans have certain biases.  That is part of the human condition, and not exactly shameful.  It functioned as a survival mechanism in primal humans.  Hence, we are fearful of unfamiliarity.  Unfortunately, this fear typically turns to hate, and that is one emotion I tend to keep at bay.

Throughout my last year at my job, I have noticed different attitudes in the African American community.  Much of their community is now highly diverse.  These divisions are no longer even regarded as anything.  They’ve helped me understand a world and a culture beyond my own.  And they’ve really opened my mind.

Through my eyes, people are people. Divisions of race, gender, sexual orientation, nationality, religion, political orientation, socioeconomic status, mental and physical health, age, and lifestyle do not matter to me. Those differences have no bearing on how I view a person.

- Eminem

A person is who they are, not how they are labelled.  Humans have a particular penchant for categorizing everything within their world.  While this organization is important for cognitive function and development, it does not function as segregation of people.  It is not meant to emphasize differences among peoples, their behaviors, and their cultures.

In recent years, I have noticed that racial tolerance has become the norm. Tolerance is not acceptance, and is by no means synonymous. Acceptance is when those divisions dissolve into an unrecognizable remnants of past prejudices.  I have learned that by working in a community of people unlike any I have ever been exposed to.  I see children and adults alike regarding people as just another person, another friend.  Despite color, culture, heritage, quirkiness, and what-have-you, we act as if we are in a family system.

I am proud to say that I have rid myself of religious biases. I am personally weary of claiming my own religious affiliation, though very interested in the religions of the world. However foreign, and however devout, I am accepting of others who may not share the same sentiments on spirituality.  I realize that everyone has their own interpretation.  At this point, I refuse to make a statement at this point in time concerning my own spiritual beliefs. There is no better way to lose friends and alienate people.  So, I mostly avoid the subject anyhow.

The same goes politics. In past years, I groaned when a person started in on the opposing side of a subject I felt passionately about.  This created a serious schism in interpersonal relations.  Many friends were lost in the heat of debate.

I’ve learned that it’s not worth it.  I may disagree with where another person stands, but I refuse to judge their character by it. Different lifestyles and socioeconomic standings create different opinions.  I promote unity and balance, without digging my heels in too much.  I’ve never walked a mile in many people’s shoes.  I cannot know their journey and where they are coming from.

As for my own journey, I am not one to set my own choices up as the standard in which everyone strives. My own lifestyle choice is likely not fitting for everyone else. There is no such thing as “one size fits all”.  People are more content when they don’t feel societal pressure to live a certain way.

Therefore, I am not exclusively friends with the population that is married with children.  Marriage and children are not a lifestyle choice for everyone.  As a matter of fact, I applaud those that resist the societal pressure, when they know that is not what they want for themselves.  Many recognize that they have a preference for living solo.  Some have a different sexual orientation, and that’s fine with me.  I’m not homosexual (I can’t say I didn’t try in college).  But attraction and love are beyond anyone’s control.  It’s not up to me to decide.  It’s up to the individual.

Individuals have different biology, right down to the molecular level.  We are unique, atom by atom.  We look uniquely, function uniquely, think uniquely, and behave uniquely.  I have a special place in my heart for those that suffer debilitating physical and mental debilitating disease and disorder.  I find a certain kinship within the group of people with unique mental health concerns.

This is a preference, and I’m now careful to not reverse a discrimination against those who do not carry a diagnosis, or norms, Non-Dx, as I may refer to them.  I sometimes use norm(s) as a derogatory term to refer to people who are especially ignorant to the topic of mental health.  Although I am still outraged, I have come to understand that these people are victims.  They are victims of widespread ignorance and fear.  I cannot wage war when my ultimate goal is to bring education to the general population.

I am also guilty of occasional gender discrimination or man-bashing, as it’s typical referred to in the female community.  In all honesty, I do not mean it.  I am not a feminist man-hater pushing the female agenda.  In fact, quite the opposite.  However, I am aware that it perpetuates a stereotype that others could buy into.

The point is, one bad apple does not ruin the whole bunch.  The gender war has been present since the beginning of time.  Only now, in the 20th and 21st centuries are we progressing toward equality for both genders.  That does not mean that stereotypes and biases are erased from existence, much like that in race.

Everyone has heard about the “crazy bitch” or the “pigheaded jerk”.  Women are moody largely in part of a constant cycle of ever changing body chemistry.  Men think sexually because testosterone is essentially the hormone responsible for sexual impulses.  (It’s also responsible for aggression).  That’s fact.  Again, because of the extreme individuality that humans have through by nature and nurture, this can be more or less prevalent.  Accept the fact that it’s possible.  Learn to live together.

And most of all, socioeconomic status. I share in the plight of the working poor. Although I am an avid Occupy supporter, it’s less about the 1% and more about the abuse of power through corruption. That is about justice.

I’m not saying I don’t judge at all. I am human after all. We all judge. However, I will only judge a person when they have proven to commit heinous acts.

I greatly detest people with hate and malice in their heart.  With those two emotions, people have waged unnecessary wars (what war is necessary?), committed vile acts such as genocide, and perpetuated more hate and malice through organizations such as the KKK.  If these people would stop for one moment, think of The Golden Rule, and open their minds to the possibilities, the world would be a much better place.

Just A Little Short

“Just got out walked by someone twice my age. Rawr surgery #FML”.

(Shameless self-promotion alert).

All over my Facebook and Twitter. I’ve been relying on these social media outlets recently because I’m honestly too bushed to piece together something resembling a coherent post. Besides, I already have plenty of intoxicated ramblings on the internet if you know what username to look for.

Life during a recovery from a surgery is complicated. I’m not used to following doctor’s orders down the letter. And I’m especially unaccustomed to restrictions.

Restriction #1: No lifting.
The conundrum: I’m a mobile teacher. I have one storage closet and multiple classrooms with varying duties. Typically, I’m a one woman gypsy wagon. I carry everything but the kitchen sink. Maybe that too, I’m not sure what’s inside the void more commonly known as my purse, anymore.

Challenge: Make my purse and my teaching bag lighter and more functional.

Solution: My mother was gifted one of those infomercial purses with dozens of compartments. I shed anything with excess weight. Then, I was able to combine both my purse and teaching bag into one functional bag. And, I think it is under 10 lbs.

Restriction #2: No aerobic exercise.
This is actually a more difficult order to follow than imagined. When they say aerobic exercise, they mean nothing strenuous enough to increase heart rate and blood pressure. Only because that means the activity is too hard on the body.

I already knew that I’d have to leave early so I could halve my speed. The walk was more strenuous than I imagined, and it was all downhill. I felt inadequate. Normally, I tore down those streets and played frogger while jaywalking across four lane roads. You know, jaywalking is a Pittsburghian birthright. (Although I wasn’t born here, I still cash in on that!)

And then, a woman who was easily twice my age power walked past, leaving me completely in her dust.

Sigh.

And when I got to the stop, I was relieved to settle onto a bench to ease the soreness.

Restriction #3: Restricted use of stairs
The conundrum: My typical classroom is on the third floor.

Challenge: I had to make copies in the third floor office. This office is not connected to the other third floor, nor is it accessible by elevator.

Solution: Typically, I am hesitant to ask for help. I am self-sufficient. But, not right now. I considered just sucking it up and doing it myself. However, I am terrified of hemorrhage or further damage in that area.

My boss is a wonderful woman. I approached her and explained I had some limitations and errands to run. The elevator is key operated only, and she was much obliged to send me up to my classroom. She even sent a couple of teen workers to check in on me and do my errands.

Restriction #4: No standing for prolonged periods of time.
The conundrum: I’m a vocal teacher in the middle of putting together a musical.

The solution: I sat with a CD player next to me. I assigned children to pass out certain music. And I conducted from a hard chair.

The other conundrum: I have cafeteria duty. Standing provides maximum visual observation. And I am solely responsible for seventeen fifth graders, two of which apparently had a fight during school. Ugh…

The solution: I repositioned myself between the kids with hot-heads. Still nearly maximum visual. I explained to the kids that I had surgery and I was feeling poorly. And I warned them that if I were to be antagonized, that they would face my full wrath.

Oh kids!

I’ve had other shortcomings. I can’t lift T.D. It’s made caring for him and disciplining him much more difficult. Dressing him is a task.

I came home sore today. I do know one silver lining. It will be easier in future days as I heal. The more I sleep, the more I heal.

Good night!