For Shame

I like to pole dance. Gasp! Oh no! For Shame!!!

Let’s pull back here. We see shaming everywhere. We shame people for their bodies, for their habits, for their likes and dislikes, and the list could go on and on. It has gotten under my skin a lot. The most detrimental shame, though, is the self shame most of us fall into, for many of the same things other people shame us for.

Personal shame can be very educational. For instance, I am slightly ashamed that I have allowed myself to gain so much weight recently. The shame is not because I have new layers of fat, it is because I have made choices that have lead me to be unhealthy. So, I have started changing my behavior to be more healthy, such as eating better, going for walks, and pole dancing. A sense of personal shame that leads to better behaviors is okay. If my husband shamed me for my weight and I decided to lose it to better please him, that would not be okay.

Let me try to explain the difference here. I love myself and I want to do good things for me. This is all very egocentric mind you. The goal is for me to better myself simply because I love myself. If I love my self as Gabriel Iglesias considers “fluffy” (he is hilarious and you should Google him as soon as you are done here) then I have no reason to change. I love me and I am doing what I feel is best for me. Chocolate cake included.

Getting away from body specifications, this can apply to all areas of life. Education, job, hobbies, food, on and on. If, and only if, you feel ashamed for your preferences should you change them. Another person’s tastes a preferences should not impact your choices for you.

This is why I brought up pole dancing. I get mixed reactions when I tell people I dance. I have a professional career and people tend to get a bit dicey when it comes up. “You shouldn’t brag about that.” or “That’s wrong.” amid a few other things. I also get positive comments, which is great, but I am addressing the negatives.

I am not ashamed of my dancing and I like to tell people about it. The community of pole dancers is growing and growing and there is nothing shameful about it. It is also a fabulous workout. Can it be sexualized? Yes, but so can ballroom dancing. Seriously people, the tango!

So here it is. If you are ashamed of what you are doing, then you probably shouldn’t be doing it. Personal shame should change your behavior to make you better and happier. If you love what you are doing, even if it is a bit taboo, don’t let other people make you feel shamed for it. Love yourself and do you. It aint their life!

But, Julie, how will I know if I am feeling personal shame or someone is shaming me? Easy peasy lemon squeezy. If you are willing to talk about it then chances are you don’t feel personal shame, someone is making you feel ashamed. If you are hiding your behavior, avoiding letting people see you engaging in that behavior (here is to you secret brownie eater), then you are feeling personal shame. The question is why? If it is an internal thing, such as you know you want to be healthy and you ate the whole cheesecake anyway, let that be your guide to stopping bad behavior. If it is because your boyfriend said you need to lose some weight, feel free to drop the 180lbs of man meat dragging you down.

Side note, if you have asked people to keep you accountable, some of this doesn’t apply. People make suggestions all the time, especially if you have posted you are trying to lose weight, get healthy, learn a new skill, and everything in between. Only you can decide which shame you are feeling and change your behavior accordingly.

Do you beautiful person and let me know how it goes!

Higher Education

My Grandpa requested I write a post about education, specifically higher education and what it means in the real world. As I said in a previous post, I am highly educated. This is not tooting my own horn, though I am proud of my accomplishments, but more of a cautionary tale.

Let’s start with the typical education structure. Thirteen years spent in primary, four years in undergraduate school, and two to four years professional school. Simple math, nineteen to twenty one years of our lives are spent in school. The unfortunate part of this is that very few programs offer internships or any sort of practical application. Graduates have no experience!

I will use myself as an example of the typical college student. I started when I was 18, fresh out of high school and I dreamed of being a doctor. I am a pretty smart cookie, but I was home schooled and there was something new to my educational experience… boys! This is not to say I had been sheltered from the opposite sex, or the world. There are families that give home schoolers the creepy, shut in face. I don’t understand those families, unless they plan on locking their children in their homes for forever, but that is beside the point. Boys were everywhere! For students coming from a traditional high school setting, older, college men were everywhere! Most of my generation, and I suspect most generations, between the ages on fifteen and twenty five were distracted by the opposite sex. This is pure biology speaking.

This is important. When we graduate from high school we are expected to know what we want to do with our lives. At 18, with little experience in the real world and all that that entails, I was expected to know what career path I wanted to follow and to follow it with the zeal of Twilight Mom. My parents preached to focus on school, my professors preached to focus on school, my peers preached focus on me. It is a tough time to be an adult and do adult things. On top of this, 50-70% of undergrads change their majors at least once, some changing up to three times. Not only that, but a large chunk of undergrads have undecided majors when they enter the higher education realm. (Stats from here)

This is a major problem for several reasons. With our lack of focus on studying (boys) and our lack of experience in the real world, we are setting up for failure.

First off, we have no idea what we want to do with our lives and yet somehow we are convinced to spend tens of thousands of dollars on an education that we haven’t the faintest idea what we want to do with. Even the site I linked says that a major is basically useless because it is the professional degree or your place of business that will define your career path now, not your undergrad. This is coupled with the fact that if you manage to make it out in the four year time frame (most go five years), you have no real experience in the workforce. If you do have experience, ’cause you were super smart and worked through college, how likely is it that your experience matches the field you want to go into?

Again, me as an example. I worked for FedEx Ground through most of my college career, with a sprinkling of construction and martial arts in there for good measure. Starting out, I wanted to be a doctor, then a writer, then I graduated and wanted to be a doctor again. Um… my jobs did zero to prepare me for either field I wanted to go into. Basically I spent two years after graduating, over educated for entry level jobs but under experienced for mid-level jobs (how could I be a manager 40h a week, go to school full time, and, you know, boys?). Not only that, it took me five years to graduate and I still didn’t know what I wanted to do, I just new I needed to go back for a professional degree.

I point this out because I doubt I am the only college graduate who went through this. I was 25 when I did figure out what I wanted to do, and worse, I didn’t follow it. I wonder if I had spent three or four years working different jobs, gaining experience, if I would have been better prepared to enter college with the knowledge of what I wanted to do and the gumption to follow through with it.

So I got my professional degree, and it isn’t what I want to to. I do my job, and I do it well, but my passion lays in chocolate. The texture, the flavor, the smell, and everything in between. Chocolate is my dream and I put it on hold to do the safe option. All for the low low cost of $170,000 in student loans!

There is currently the perception that education is the only way to move forward in this world, and I wholeheartedly agree. However, I challenge what people consider education. First, I challenge the idea that we need to send high school kids to college right away. Unless they are truly driven (my sister is like this) in a specific field, college serves as an expensive distraction.  Consider this following statistic. That’s right, nearly half of the students will drop out before completing their educations. It is why surveys have the option for “some college”. If the undergraduate degree is worthless for the most part, how much less is “some college” worth?

I am not saying that a Bachelor’s degree is actually worthless. I am well aware that it is not. However, many employers that pay well are looking for the mix of education and experience. Apparently not experience loading trucks though. Over and all, you have to work your way up the ladder in any job, whether you have your PhD or not.

It boils down to this, so you don’t make such a huge financial investment into something that you only feel meh about. If you don’t know what you want to do and are graduating from high school (or you know someone who is like this) don’t go to college right away. Bounce around a bit. Find what you like doing. Note I said like and not Love. If you like what you are doing you will be much more vested in educating yourself to continue in that field. You can do this by working a number of different jobs, volunteering your time, researching things you like to see if there are careers in that field, etc. Everyone gets wrapped up in the glamour of college, then finds out they didn’t want to do what they thought they wanted to do.

Education is not synonymous with college. Okay, so it is, but it is not the only thing synonymous with it. Trade school, experience, and certification are also synonymous. Don’t limit yourself to college if that isn’t where your heart or skills lay. If you like working on cars, go into the trades. If you like working on houses, go into the trades. If you want to work in healthcare, doctors are not the only ones necessary, but they are the only ones who require a professional degree. Nurses and respiratory therapists only need associates degrees. Nurses assistants only need to be certified, if that.

Options is the key here. You have options. You don’t have to go into debt to come out with no idea what you want to do. You can do that for free and gain experience in the workforce, figuring out what you do want to do. Don’t get sucked in, like 40 million of us have (who are floundering in student debt), just because ‘education is the way of the future’. A useful education is the way of the future.

Organics

“Before Wild Oats or Whole Foods Market decide to enter a new region, they want to see a high density of college-educated adults because such people are more likely to pay a premium for food made without pesticides or artificial preservatives, according to natural food industry analysts. The willingness to buy organic and natural food is closely linked with education levels, said Jay Jacobowitz, a Vermont-based consultant to the natural food industry. Wild Oats and Whole Foods prefer entering markets where at least 35 percent of the adult population (people 25 and older) have a bachelor’s degree or higher.” Tampa Tribune, April, 2006

Unfortunately I cannot find the exact article to trace this to its source. I snagged this bit from a lesson in my chocolate certification program. The biggest interest I have in this is the college-educated adults. I would like to know the demographic breakdown of this, as I am betting the biggest age range is 25-30 year-olds who are making these purchasing decisions.

Why do I find this important all? I am well educated. I have two bachelors degrees, one in English and one in Biology, and my Master’s in Nursing. I might soon add a Master’s in Business to this list. I was also thinking of getting my personal trainer’s certification and my Registered Nutritionist license. Can you tell I love to learn and add notches to my belt? Guess who falls into the demographic laid out above? This might be a long post.

Organic food is expensive. Comparing apples to apples, you pay a dollar more for organic than you do non-organic. Not a big deal for apples, but beef to beef you can see the prices start to jump. My last food bill for two people for a week of food was close to $200. I am not stingy on my food budget, and we just moved so I am rebuying some of the staples we threw out before moving cross country. My normal budget is $150 a week, with normal amounts being around $120 or so. If everything on my list jumps to being an extra 33%, my bill goes from $120 average to $160 average. That is an additional $2000 a year in food. I have other bills to pay!

But, Julie, the money you spend now will decrease the money you spend later in healthcare costs. Maybe. Humans tend to be dubious about advancements in our understanding of science, relying much more heavily on anecdotal evidence. Science is scary and hard to understand and they use really big words! It is the boogyman of modern people and what scares us, intimidates us, and is confusing to us is obviously bad for us. AKA, there hasn’t been enough research done on certain aspects of current farming practices compared to organic farming practices that suggest organic is better.

For instance, GMO’s create large controversy for many, many people. I am not an expert in GMO’s, I have done little research into them, but when I do see articles on GMO’s most of the time their are negative and inflammatory without a lick of actual research to support them. This post could digress further and further into the minutiae of research and how it is handled, conducted, paid for, etc. but that discussion is for another post. Let’s all agree that, for the most part, scientists have a moral compass that they stand by that is devoid of bias, lest they be marked a fraud by their. This article deals with GMO’s risk to humans and/or the environment. It costs money to read and I only read the abstract. If you are in college, invest some time to use your University’s access to scholarly articles. This research article talks about the lack of risk assessment in GMO use and release. This is an abstract about consumer beliefs about GMO’s after a positive experience with them. This is an independent study on rats eating GM plants over three months. There is a ton of information out there on GMO’s. As far as research goes that I have seen, little indicates adverse effects on humans. With that being said, I do not avoid GMO’s.

All in all, it has less to do with organic for me, and more to do with sustainability. Our current system is proving to be unsustainable. Consider the recall recently on on Dole salads on Jan. 22. Suddenly the world was without salad! That is an exaggeration, but it is creepy to think so much of our salad comes from one place. A third of the US had their salad recalled. That is not sustainable. Diversity is what sustains a food chain. Diversity in product as well as manufacture (read grower here but principle applies elsewhere).

However, organics has not led to super sustainable systems either. The Wall Street Journal seems to think these systems are only for the rich. However The Cornucopia Institute disagrees with Wall Street, asserting that the article is misinformed. This research article found an environmental hazard from organic farming. Nature found that organic farming is rarely enough, as does a growing body of research. Worrisome to say the very least.

Even if the health benefits of ‘organic’ food increases my life expectancy an additional 5 years, it wouldn’t be enough to convince me to buy it at the cost of so many future generations. Somewhere in here there has to be a balance between modern research, sustainable farming practices with high-yield foods and low-impacting environmental concerns, married to living wages and desired lifestyles. Whew, what a tall order.

All in all, I suspect that the demographic of college-educated adults who sustain the ‘organic’ food industry are the high-moderate income to the rich and the fresh out of college adult. For those of us on a moderate to low income, there is no way we can buy organic consistently. It doesn’t make economical sense. For those of us not fresh off of our high from graduating (and forgetting the bills associated with our education), we have realized that ‘organic’ is not as socially or environmentally conscious as we assumed when we wore those rose colored glasses. Before I get smashed, this is a generalization. I am unwilling to give up certain things to make organic purchases feasible. Others might be willing to. There are a large chunk of college graduates that don’t have those rose colored glasses and I was one of them. I do know, and did know, a lot of graduates who were trying to make their mark through purchasing power. Then it got expensive, they did some research, and stopped. I could be wrong in my assumption of who buys organics. Intuition tells me I’m not, but I have nothing to back this up. Let me know if I am wrong and why you buy organics. I would love to know!

 

 

All in the Crafting

I love to do crafts. It is one of my weaknesses. Crochet, papier mache, full figurines, cross stitch… the list could go on. I am one of those people who actually do the crafting pins they pin on Pintrest. That was a lot of pins. I had considered doing several other New Year’s Resolutions, including 52 new projects (seeing a pattern?) and 52,000 puzzle pieces, but I only have so many hours in a day. I still need to craft though! So instead of 52, as I finish a project, I plan on posting it. If it is a pin, I will link back to the original that I got it from.

Crocheting is a current passion. I have several different plans for this, as I would like to sell my items on Etsy or something. I have a dozen scarves sitting in my closet that need to move! I also have two containers that are full of yarn. All in all, I have forbidden myself from buying more yarn until I run out of stock.

Cross Stitch. I have stitched for the past fifteen years. My grandmother made beautiful mermaids with the medium and I wanted to as well. So I started my journey stitching a lighthouse. Through a lot of trial and error on that little piece of fabric I gained some really good insight on how to make my patterns look amazing. About seven years ago my grandma had to give up stitching because of her hands. I know have 16 patterns that need to be finished. I do have a goal of finishing three of these patterns this year.

Halloween Crafts. I love Halloween. It is probably my second favorite holiday, closely following Thanksgiving. Last year I mad a 7′ Reaper, seven papier mache pumpkins, a witches bookcase, apothecary bottles, spell books, and an assortment of other little projects to make my Halloween party super spooky. It took me two months and I wasn’t able to make everything I wanted. Now that I am in an apartment I am further limited with the amount of crafts I can make, but I plan on making several smaller things this year.

Soap and body products. This is a skill I taught myself last year and I love it. There is so much room for experimenting! My sister and I made spa baskets for our family Christmas presents and everyone loved them. It was a refreshing change from cookies and chocolate. It was so wonderful that my sister and I are thinking about making it an actual business. There is a lot of competition in this area, but if we make a good product we are part of that competition.

Last, but certainly not least, chocolate. This is my area of expertise. I have been working with chocolate for the past five years now. Until this spring everything I have done and learned has all been self taught. This is something I am very proud of as I have been told by multiple people (not related to me) that I compete with some of the professional chocolatiers they have tasted. Now I am in a certification program to take my chocolate crafting to the next level. Be aware that a large amount of my crafting posts will about chocolate.

I want to do crafting posts as I am in process and finished with different crafts. Somethings I will only post the finished project, as I am already in the middle of the project and can’t start from the beginning. Others, as I start, learn new skills, and finish, I will keep an update on it. Happy crafting!

The Start of a New Year

Yes, I know this is late, but I do what I can. In December 2015 I decided I wanted to make 2016 different. Instead of the usual New Year’s Resolution of losing weight, yada yada, I would do something meaningful. So I chose a few different things.

One: Watch 52 movies you have never seen. So far I have only seen three new movies; Jane Eyre, Pride and Prejudice, and Terminator. I need to get on it if I want to make 52 by the end of the year.

Two: read 52 books you haven’t read. At this point I am two in. Feverborn, by Karen M. Moning and a western romance, Defiant by Patricia Potter. If you are interested in a modern fantasy romance, look into the Fever series by Moning. The first book is Darkfever. Beware, the main character is 20-something and acts like a 20-something. I am currently reading Blogging for Dummies by Susan Gunelius, The True History of Chocolate by Sophia and Michael Coe, and Get It Done by Sam Bennet.

Three: Finish business plans for the two businesses I would like to develop. Both of those are in process right now and I will let you know how they progress. I don’t want to say much now since I don’t have enough in place to move forward with either of them.

Four: Reduce, reduce, REDUCE! Having just moved to Texas, away from all my family and friends, I realized we have way too much stuff and I have to many projects going. My biggest goal this year is to finish my projects and either display them or get rid of them. On top of that, I am not buying things we either do not need or add to my pile of projects. A month in and I have done pretty well. My only impulse buy were several polycarbonate chocolate molds. While I didn’t “need” them right now, I will in a few weeks. Other than that, its been food, cleaning things, and my new uniforms (why can’t we all wear the same colored scrubs?).

Five: Start a blog. Check! Actually it is start a second form of income, whether through Etsy or a blog of some sort. Along with my reducing, I needed a way to get rid of my finished projects and a creative way to outlet some of my thoughts that whirl away in my head. Etsy and blogging sound pretty good to me.

These five things were more meaningful to me than basic things like giving up soda or fast food, or trying to lose x amount of weight. While I do want to do healthier things my resolutions needed to be something I would be much more excited over. So, roll with me as I start this new journey into my New Year’s Resolutions.