Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Why I Love Erin.

Me and Erin at the Glass Cactus
Grapevine, TX
Erin and I have been best buds since our Hedrick Elementary days. Our parents carpooled from Indian Oaks Estates to Hedrick, Parkway, Hedrick MS, and LHS. Erin was the first of us to get her license and car, and I remember she drove us to school many times, too! 

One of my favorite memories with Erin was ironically one of the more upsetting times in my life. When my grandfather passed away suddenly, I had to cope with the death of a close family member for the first time. Erin was my only friend who truly knew the loss, having lost her grandparent within the same 6 month timespan. We really leaned on eachother in that time. I still remember that feeling of consolation, over ten years later. 

Band Nerds of Hedrick Middle School
Despite being involved in different school activities, Erin and I remained close friends throughout our time at LHS. She even threw a surprise party for Jessica and me our freshman year. Every kid deserves at least one surprise party. This was one of my favorite high school memories, ever, and I owe it all to Erin.

CJ, Ash, Kenna, Me, Tim (Jessica's dad), Ashley, Mandy, and Erin's ponytail (look at that long hair, girl!)
We have so many memories at the Stanton lakehouse. 
The carpool group at our senior prom!
I remember Erin coming to visit me at OU for a football game one weekend, and I instantly felt at home, despite being 2.5 hours away from "home." That's the thing about Erin-when she walks in a room, everybody feels more at ease. I have truly not met a person who doesn't like her. She is lovable, hilarious, and makes you feel comfortable. 

Moving back home (from Oklahoma) was the best decision I ever made. I always knew I wanted to come back, but it was a matter of finding a job. Being closer to my family, boyfriend, and life-long friends, has drastically increased my quality of life! Erin is a huge part of that equation. Even if it's just hearing about her through my mom (they are co-workers now; isn't that bizarre? And awesome??), it feels nice knowing she's right around the corner.

When I moved back to Texas from Oklahoma, THESE WOMEN took me back with open arms! Here's the gang at Shek's restaurant. I am so grateful for lifelong friends.  

Peggy Bundy and Peggy Hill
(classic, if I do say so myself)
A Troll and a Witch
(Still LMAO at this one, Erin! Those EARS!!)
At Kenna and Logan's wedding
At Kenna and Logan's wedding, being silly. 
At Andrea and Kyle's wedding
At Ashley and Kurtis' wedding.
AFTER Ashley and Kurtis' wedding (and one of my favorite photos of us).
Spoiling me in preparation for MY wedding!! LOVE ALL OF THESE LADIES!
Erin has found love recently, and I have to say, hearing her story has made my heart melt. I can't wait until it's her turn to indulge in all the wedding festivities. She has found a man who treats her with the respect she deserves. Erin's work ethic, loyal friendship, and dedication to family, will make her a fantastic wife. She's an amazing friend and person, and I'm so grateful for her major role in my life!!!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Why I Love Ashley.

Ashley Stanton is one of a kind.

She has been making me laugh since 3rd grade. We went to Camp 89er Village together (Go Pink Panthers!). We were part of a Candy Crew in middle school together. Being on drill team together brought us even closer. 
After making her way out of the trash can.
(Jessica Moore literally ROFL)
Left and Right End! Represent!
Ashley is so silly and yet, is one of the most contemplative friends I have. She has always been a great role model for me. My mom always felt good knowing I was going over to the Stanton house. On Monday nights in high school, I would go to the Stanton home for dinner, then go to Young Life with Ash at 7:47. I remember how happy I was in those days!! Life was simple.

Jordan, Ross, James, Matt, Justin, Ash, Me, and Sean, at Young Life. 
Ashley is still very active in her church. She's a girl who not only talks the talk...still, at 24 years old, she walks the walk...
We always had fun wrestling and spitting on one another. Real mature.
Roadtrips to the lakehouse!
Despite being a very "good girl," Ashley is always up for innocent mischief. Like, say, sneaking a "free to good home" dog in the backseat of her dad's car. And waiting until he slowly turned his head and said, "Put it back. Put it back." LONG LIVE, LANA FAE!!
One of my favorite things about Ashley is that we don't have to be drinking to have a good time. We can be playing games and it might be the best night we've had in months.
My favorite childhood and high school memories involve THIS GIRL. She was (and is) absolutely essential to forming who I am today. So much of my teenage identity was wrapped up in what we were doing, what we thought or felt. I still value her opinions, thoughts, and feelings, so much. 
We graduated! And the two of us moved up to Oklahoma. Though we didn't spend much time together in college, it was comforting knowing a familiar face as only a 45 minute drive away. Ashley went to OC and I went to OU. This was our high school graduation night. 
When I moved back to Texas, Ashley and I picked right up where we left off. About a month ago, she came over on a Friday night, and the two of us talked for hours. My favorite attribute about Ashley, and what I think is SO RARE (I've never met anybody like her), is that she clings tightly to her Church of Christ religion, yet not so tightly she excludes others. A lot of people assume that somebody who attends church twice a week, takes the message from the Bible literally, and lives out her values on a daily basis, would be judgmental, or close-minded. Not Ashley. Her whole family is similar in this aspect; they have very strong beliefs, and their actions live up to their beliefs...but I can have an honest conversation about what I think or feel (which might be different than what she thinks or feels) and I don't feel like she's going to try to change my mind about it or judge me for thinking differently. She is a beautiful example of what a southern Christian woman SHOULD be. She talks the talk. She walks the walk. And yet she'll never judge the path anybody else takes. Mrs. Stanton, you ought to be proud. You raised an amazing woman! And I love her to death!!!!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

The "F" Word

When I was in first grade I told on a boy for saying the "f" word (Sorry, Cole, wherever you are now). The teacher kept him after class and told him how that was a very bad word to say, and he was perplexed. He had said "fart".

These days, I feel like the "F' word is "feminist." Prior to learning about feminist theory or opening my eyes to the sexism that is alive even in 2012, I assumed a feminist was a woman with hairy armpits who was angry at the world.

"Feminist" is usually used as a way to dismiss a woman from sharing her point of view. "Oh, she's just a feminist," or "Well she IS a feminist," as if that makes her point less valid. The truth is, any person who thinks men and women should be treated equally IS a feminist...he or she just might not know it yet.

Rush Limbaugh has (rightfully so) received a lot of heat from his comments made this week about Sandra Fluke, graduate student from Georgetown University, in a political debate about birth control and insurance.  Since calling this woman a "slut" and "prostitute," AND requesting that her sex tapes be put up online for free, since his tax dollars are paying for her birth control, thus paying for her sex...seven companies have withdrawn advertising for his show. These include Quicken Loans, Sleep Train, Sleep Number, Citrix Systems Inc., Carbonite, LegalZoom, and ProFlowers. He also said that women up in arms about this issue were "Feminazis," a common term used to degrade women who support women's rights. How that term can be perceived as remotely acceptable, I have no idea...Regardless, Rush apologized yesterday, but now that this has become a mainstream issue, it is time for some serious discussion on the sexism that is alive today. I really hope that women, especially women MY age, open their eyes and realize that we HAVE to make this better.
(Source: http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/OTUS/rush-limbaugh-democrats-demonizing-sex-comments/story?id=15834374#.T1QhYJimLBQ)

Vote. For YOUR best interest.
Everybody has a right to their own opinion. Rush Limbaugh has a right to his opinion. But calling a woman a "slut" and a "prostitute" is NOT an opinion; it is defamation of character.  In all fairness, asking for insurance coverage on birth control pills is a sexist issue. When insurance companies cover Viagra (which they currently do!), there is NO excuse. Viagra is used for one reason and one reason only. It helps men in the sexual arena. Birth control has many purposes. My dermatologist prescribed me birth control for my face when I was fourteen and abstinent. I have friends with polycystic ovarian syndrome and other menstrual disorders that require this prescription for HEALTH reasons completely unrelated to SEXUAL reasons. It is obvious that the majority of our legislation is dictated by men, and it shows when you look at the law. If more women have more babies, more women will stay home with those babies (even if only for 8 weeks or so, though other women might have the option to stay home for a longer span of time), and as a result, there is less competition for men in the business world. 

When women went to work in the 60s, it was a threat to men. Most women played the secretarial role, and over the years, we have advanced to take on more powerful and more traditionally 'male' roles. There's a lot of work to be done...there are still more doctors that are male and nurses that are female, for instance (though I believe now in medical schools, there are slightly more females than males, so that is promising). But even when males and females have the SAME job, women still make 76 cents for every dollar a man makes. Most male nurses make more money than female nurses. I expect the surgeon I work for to make WAY more money than me, that is logical. However, if a male nurse and a female nurse are equally qualified and have the same amount of experience, there is no reason for the male to make more money. 

At the GOP hearing on birth control for women, there were five men present to discuss the issue. Where were the women? Only 17% of Congress is female. Isn't it obvious that this is not a left/right or conservative/liberal issue? It is a female issue, and all women, regardless of party, need to unite and get help from our government. Our government is run by men making decisions that are best for men. 

I would be more understanding if these men were open to discussing abortion, natural birth, or welfare. Even gay rights. Because what if a woman does become pregnant and has an abortion? The same people against contraceptive coverage will do their best to prevent her from having an abortion. Okay, let's say the woman herself is against abortion and has the baby. If she wants a natural birth (the way women birthed babies for the past tens of thousands of years), they will block insurance coverage. If she even has a medical birth in the hospital, but couldn't afford that baby in the first place, they are the first to complain about her welfare status. What if the woman CAN afford a baby, HAS the baby "the right way" (in the hospital, covered by her own insurance), and raises a contributing member of society...but that baby turns out to be gay? They don't want equal rights for that baby anymore. I have a hard time standing back and hearing this debate, when there is no support for the woman at any point in the process.

Thanks, Ryan. I'll go on, then.
Men don't have this problem. Sure they might get it handed to them at court for child support, but that's about the extent that the government mingles. Just in men's pocketbooks. Our government literally rapes women by requiring the insertion of dopplers trans-vaginally to show a woman the fetus prior to an abortion, even if she asks not to have this done. It's not an option in Texas. 

Jean Kilbourne thinks that sexism is even worse now than in the earlier days, because of the subconscious messages women receive now through media. We are exposed to so many more advertisements, be it online, billboards, magazines, or television...and the messages are all the same. Beauty is expected of women, and beauty is limited to a certain 'look' that few have. Women constantly feel a need to look different and better, and most women stop at nothing to attain that beauty.

You would not believe the ads that use to run in magazines. The sexism was in your face.

Now, it's more subliminal. When you flip through a magazine, you're exposed to hundreds of images, and those images stick in your head whether you're aware of it or not. Ever look in the mirror and think there's something you want to change? You weren't BORN THAT WAY. Society MADE YOU THAT WAY. Nothing is wrong with you. The images we see on TV and in magazines aren't even real...the models have gobs of make up and have been airbrushed. But our minds tell us that the images are real, and we are failing at attaining that image. Constant exposure to such images is detrimental to our self esteem. 

Plastic surgery continues to increase, despite the poor economy. I know this first-hand as a plastic surgery RN in the operating room! We are constantly busy. Today in our meeting, I shared with the women, I feel there are 3 categories we can place our patients.

(a) People who want to look different (ie: rhinoplasty patients, young females without children seeking breast augmentation, liposuction patients, etc...)
(b) Mothers who want to look how they once did before having/nursing their children (ie: breast lifts, tummy tucks)
(c) Reconstructive patients (burn victims/dog bites/breast cancer patients)

Overall, I think a woman has the right to modify her body, and do with her body, whatever she wants. I feel conflicted at times, feeling the way I do about women's issues, but I remind myself that my job as a nurse is to get that woman through her surgery safely, and to help her feel supported before and after. I am interested from a sociological standpoint, however, why our patient population is 90% female. Why is it that men do not feel the need to go under the knife like women do? Is it because they don't birth children, so there's nothing to "fix" back to pre-baby? What about the women we work on who never had children? It's a complex topic, and I'm sure I'll blog about it again in the future...

Real Person (ABOVE) and What We See In Media (BELOW)

Real Person (left) and What We See In Media (right...they tapered her waist, as if she needed it!)

Heidi Klum pre- and post- breast augmentation

Gisele pre- and post- breast augmentation

If any of these topics interest you, please consider attending a Denton Women's Collective meeting. At the very least, you can click on that link and "like" us on Facebook. Keep up with what we're doing, when we're meeting, and what we're discussing.

We will be at Marcus High School on March 19th and 20th presenting "Finding Kind" and couldn't be more excited! We had a turnout of about 1200 girls at Flower Mound High School at the end of last year, and hope to make a similar impact this month at MHS. This program is not political in nature; the message is universal, and teaches girls the importance of kindness. We have to start treating eachother better (as women!) if we hope to be treated better by men or society. This program focuses on kindness, and is a great antidote for the bullying that we have seen in schools today. The film and discussion are specifically for girls, and the way that girls tend to bully one another (less physical violence and more rumors/gossiping/back-stabbing). It's a fantastic program and I hope we have another great turn out!

I'm including a few more pictures that motivate and inspire me, and I hope to make that impact on others as well. You can see my entire female inspiration board (thanks to the wonderful Pinterest) here.

And finally, one of my favorites...