Monday, March 25, 2019

Friendship through Patreon


Patreon allows creative people to build a closer relationship with followers and receive monetary support from them. It's a way for vloggers and artists of all kinds to receive money from fans without record companies or publishers or YouTube getting in the way. It also allows a two-way relationship instead of just one person receiving the other's content. 

To anyone who's been reading my blog lately, you know that my last two businesses failed and I'm thousands of dollars in debt, so what better time to offer a way to send money in exchange for a closer relationship?

This is the link to my Patreon page. If you go there you'll see some options for patronage. In Patreon parlance, you're the Patron and I'm the Creator. In exchange for supporting me, we'll get to be in conversation with each other on an ongoing basis.


In the past week I've been posting short posts prompted by my Patrons. That's because when you become my Patron, you can pick any topic in the world and I'll devote a 150-word post to it. You can choose a question about human nature or ask me to write about a pet peeve of yours or use it to have me blog about an event or a social cause or your own business. And I'll thank you publicly for the prompt.


That's a benefit of the all the tiers. The top tier gets you the personalized blog post, some other benefits and a ballpoint pen enscribed with "You can't cure families. You can only prevent them." I can't wait to send one of those out!


Please go to my Patreon page to see what else you get when you join. I'm excited to find out who my readers are and to turn my blogging into a two-way flow. Let's be friends!

You can't cure familes.
You can only prevent them.

Monday, March 11, 2019

Please, American white women


The open letter technique is a tired and clich├ęd way to address a challenging topic and when I see a writer begin with "Dear Democratic Party" or "Dear President Trump" I think, "If you really want to address those people, why post your letter here?" But I'm doing it because many white women read this blog.

Dear American White Women:

When you feel criticized because you made a comment that turned out to be antagonizing to people of color, we don't hate you. We people of color who are disturbed by your comment appreciate when you're open enough to want to do better and you don't feel too embarassed to be open to self-examination.

We also know that it's very hard to get called out on your stuff. Maybe you feel humiliated. Maybe you feel picked on. Maybe you want your apology to quickly be accepted so everyone can forget you ever said what you said. That's understandable.

But if you've gone on the record as being genuinely interested in forming relationships with people of color and/or if you've said you want more women of color in your all-white organization, then there's more you need to do. After you've apologized and others have accepted it, you have three choices.

1. You do the work to educate yourself about the experiences of people of different cultural and racial backgrounds, so that in the future you hurt us less than you have been (and yes, you have been).

2. You stop all interaction with people of different cultural and racial backgrounds so you no longer personally, individually hurt us.

3. You don't do the work, you keep interacting with us, and you accept that you will occasionally (or frequently) come across as an insensitive white person who says and/or does things that hurt people of different cultural and racial backgrounds.

You pick one of those ways to live and if you don't make that choice consciously, you make it subconsciously. You might tell yourself you've learned from your mistake and will never make such a comment in front of people of color ever again. And you might believe that fixes the problem because you're a nice person and you trust yourself not to hurt anyone anymore, but it's not enough. 

You know how hard it is to get men to talk about sexism? Remember how difficult those conversations have been with your father, your boyfriend or husband, co-workers, or your male friends who call themselves feminists? I'm sure you know how badly men can respond when you point out some behavior of theirs that's damaging. They don't want to think of themselves as ignorant or destructive. Getting a man to do the work of really examining his inner beliefs and changing his sexist behavior is hard because no man wants to believe he hurts women, especially if he thinks he's already a supporter of women's rights.

That uncomfortable place men have been is where you are, regarding racism. Truly examining your inner beliefs about blacks, American Indians, Asians and Latinos might be some of the hardest work you've ever done. It will require you to see yourself in a different light. It takes bravery. It might even threaten some of your relationships. But it will allow you to have closer relationships with people of color, help hold safe spaces for us, and make you someone we feel more comfortable around.

My mother was active in the women's movement and she had a poster on our wall that had this quotation from a 1977 speech made by Jill Ruckelshaus, one of the founders of the National Women's Political Caucus. Ruckelshaus talked about working on the Equal Rights Amendment this way:

We are in for a very, very long haul...I am asking for everything you have to give. We will never give up...You will lose your youth, your sleep, your patience, your sense of humor and occasionally, the understanding and support of people who love you very much. In return, I have nothing to offer you but your pride in being a woman, and all your dreams you've ever had for your daughters and nieces and granddaughters...and the certain knowledge that at the end of your days you will be able to look back and say that once in your life you gave everything you had for justice.

This is the kind of long haul it will take for the United States to achieve racial equity, and the price will be similarly steep. You as white women don't have to do this. This is not a life or death question for you. You can choose the easy way and keep your environment completely white. You can click on some other article when your social media accounts show news of black Americans being killed for no reason, or Asian-Americans facing workplace discrimination, or American Indians being denied decent health care.

But taking the easy way will put you on the wrong side of history and you'll have to live with the knowledge -- however subconscious -- that you are a hindrance to achieving a society without racism. Whatever you choose -- and no matter if you choose actively or passively -- directly contributes to the racial dynamics of our country. Yes, you. You.

Please don't turn away from the chance to contribute to a place where everyone feels safe. I want to believe you have empathy for people of color because you have felt men diminish or erase you. Please prove wrong all the people of color who have told me that white women will not work against racism because you have too much to lose if people of color are treated as your equals. At the very least, think about what I've written here and then share this post with another white woman who also might think about it.

Patreon.com allows us closer communication, lets you support me with a monthly pledge of $3, $10 or $15 (that you can cancel at any time), and gets you rewards. Please visit my page to take a quick look.

Friday, March 08, 2019

Stop talking about INTENTION

When a white person apologizes for having been racially offensive, they often say it wasn't their intention to do that and they didn't intend it to come out that way and they had no intention of offending anyone and it wasn't their intention to upset people.

Why do they go on so much about their intention? I don't care about their intention. I care about the pain they caused and what they're going to do about it. I want them to change so that they no longer have that opinion and never hurt anyone like that again.

Let's say I'm carrying a ladder sideways and I hit someone in the head with it. 

"Hey! You just hit me!"

"I did? I'm sorry. I didn't mean to do that."

"Ow! And now I'm bleeding."

"Seriously, I had no intention of hitting you with that ladder."

"Yeah, yeah. I need medical help."

"I mean I did not get up this morning thinking I wanted to whap someone in the head with a ladder. That was absolutely not my intention."

"I get it. Can you help me?"

"You can be certain that..."

This is what it feels like when white people go on and on about their intention. For some annoying reason, they think it's the most important thing. Why?

Is it white guilt? Maybe "that was not my intention" is code for, "I feel guilty about this. I really feel guilty about this. Man, do I feel guilty."

Or are they trying to make sure we know they're actually a decent person? Maybe they're saying, "A real piece of shit would have meant that comment to be offensive, but I'm a nice person, so I did not mean that comment to be offensive. I'm nice. I swear I'm nice. Please believe that I'm nice."

Or are they simply making a distinction between northern racism and southern racism? Maybe they're saying, "In the south, people actually intend to make blacks and Mexicans uncomfortable, but I'm not that way. I am not a racist whose intention is to antagonize blacks and Mexicans. I do not have that southern racist intention."

I'd like to tell all American white people that they next time they find themselves apologizing for their racial blindspot, they get to refer to their intention once. Just once. Because we don't care so much about their intention. What's much more important is what action they're going to take to fix the problem.
ID 104259939 © Artinspiring | Dreamstime.com

Patreon.com
 allows us closer communication, lets you support me with a monthly pledge of $3, $10 or $15 (that you can cancel at any time), and gets you rewards. Please visit my page to take a quick look.

Wednesday, March 06, 2019

"Spiritual but not religious"

The phrase "spiritual but not religious" isn't new. It's been around for decades and when I first encountered it, I considered myself spiritual but not religious. It was the late 1990's and I was part of Unity in ChicagoThe Unity Church was co-founded by Charles Fillmore in the late 1800's and they believe in the power of meditation and prayer, that we all have Spirit within us, as we think so it shall be, etc. 

When I joined Unity in Chicago I was ripe to believe all of that and more. The place was full of people who called ourselves spiritual-but-not-religious. But you know what? It felt like a religion. We were a New Thought community, healing from our repressive religious upbringings, but it seemed like we simply replaced "Father" with "Spirit," "sin" with "not serving my Highest Good," and the ten commandments with "serving my Highest Good." Saints became guiding angels or spirits, and Sunday services were still Sunday services. I stayed at Unity in Chicago for several years before I decided that no faith whatsoever was right for me. In 2002 I embraced atheism.

Since then, the social and professional circles I inhabit bring me into contact again and again with people who call themselves spiritual-but-not-religious. I know they mean they aren't a part of any organized religion, but still believe in a spiritual power. I know them. 

But in the past year or so the words spiritual-but-not-religious have started to irk me. Why not just call yourself "spiritual?" Why include the dig at religion? It's not like you need to contrast your description with anyone who says "I'm spiritual and Christian" or "I'm spiritual and Jewish." 

I suspect many spiritual-but-not-religious people are like me: trying to overcome the emotional damage of a religious childhood. We embrace phrases like spiritual-but-not-religious because they convey not only our commitment to a new way of being, but resistance to the old way. It feels good to say spiritual-but-not-religious because it contains that snub and distances us from the religious garbage we have known.
This is my zafu.

And that's where part of my problem is: people who call themselves spiritual-but-not-religious think they've left the ugly parts of organized religion behind when they haven't. Lots of spiritual-but-not-religious people are just as judgmental, fearful, prejudiced and defensive as any Catholic, Jew, Muslim or non-Catholic Christian. With Buddhist prayer beads, candles, incense or zafus they defend their beliefs and are sure they're living better lives than the religious.

The other part of my crititicism is that the very phrase itself sounds insecure and defensive. The person who uses it needs to get in that snub of religion and doesn't realize that the phrase undercuts her stance. Spiritual-but-not-religious invokes the very thing the person wants to distance herself from. Why mention religion at all?

When you are truly free from religion, you no longer need to invoke it.

What grates on me is the lack of self-awareness among a population that sees itself as extremely self-aware. They think that phrase conveys that they're free from religion when they're actually dragging it around with them. When you're truly free from religion, you no longer need to mention it.

I suspect the phrase is more angry American behavior. Saying, "I'm spiritual-but-not-religious" has the same resonance as "I love steak; I don't understand vegans," or "I'm a Democrat; I've never voted Republican." Such judgmental statements reveal how much energy the person spends disdaining those who hold the other opinion. We Americans simply aren't very good at spirituality: we try to be spiritual, but only manage spiritual-but-not-religious.

Who am I to criticize the spiritual-but-not-religious? My exasperation with them probably comes from how I used to be one of them. Don't we always judge more harshly those with whom we identify? As ex-smokers hate smoke and former sugar addicts glare at dessert-eaters, thus do I continue the tradition of judging those with whom I used to consort. I never said I wasn't a hypocrit, too.

Patreon.com allows us closer communication, lets you support me with a monthly pledge of $3, $10 or $15 (that you can cancel at any time), and gets you rewards. Please visit my page to take a quick look.

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Perseverance

When you become one of my Patreon patrons, you get to choose a topic for me to blog 150 (or so) words on. Thank you to David Parker for this topic: perseverance. 

I'd say there are two kinds of perseverance which is officially defined as "the continued effort to achieve despite difficulties." One kind is consciously refusing to give up because you believe you will succeed, as in "I won't quit! I will do this no matter what!" The other kind is simply plodding along. I've done more of the second kind. 

A friend described me as persevering with my entrepreneurial efforts, but I see them as simply trying to make a living. I don't have a choice about needing money to live. Trying to find the niche I can fill as a freelancer is a matter of economic survival. But apparently this counts as persevering.

I think persevere is just a fancy word for not stopping whatever you’re doing. People like to put it in speeches and sound bites, and use it when they’re talking about political resistance. But it just means you haven’t quit. Yet.

This is one Patreon reward

Patreon.com allows us closer communication, lets you support me with a monthly pledge of $3, $10 or $15 (that you can cancel at any time), and gets you rewards like the pen on the right. Please visit my page to take a quick look.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

A good racist story


If you want to hear about a racist situation I faced last week, what I did and how the white person I complained to responded, become one of my patrons on Patreon. This incident involved people I know professionally, so I don't want to blog publicly about it, but I can send private messages to my patrons about it!

Patreon allows creative people to build a closer relationship with followers and receive support from them. It's a way for bloggers and artists of all kinds to receive money from fans without record companies or publishers or YouTube getting in the way. It also allows a two-way relationship instead of just one person receiving the other's content. 


This is the link to my Patreon page. You'll see options for patronage at the $3, $10 and $15 levels (you can cancel at any time). There are
 benefits to all the tiers, and one is that all patrons get to see writing I don't post here. The top tier gets you various benefits and a ballpoint pen enscribed with "You can't cure families. You can only prevent them." I can't wait to send one of those out!


Please go to my Patreon page to see what else you get when you join. And find out about any private drama going on in my life that I can't put on this blog.


You can't cure families. You can only prevent them.

Friday, February 08, 2019

How to end a friendship


Sometimes -- even if you've been good friends in the past --  it's time to end a friendship. On TV friendships often end because one person stole the other person's lover, but in real life it could just be that you've grown apart and no longer feel like you have anything in common. Often two people can feel the change and they mutually drop the connection, but not always. 

1. Know when it's time to let go. Many articles describe the signs that you need to let go of a friend (such as thisthis and this), but only you can tell. Just know that it's perfectly all right to move someone from your "friend" category to your "used to be friends" category.

2. No ghosting. This is worth repeating and it really comes down to not treating someone as you wouldn't want to be treated (so only ghost if you enjoy being ghosted). Ghosting is when you suddenly stop responding to any communication, with no explanation (disappearing like a ghost). It's disrespectful, cowardly and humiliating for the person being ghosted. Never do it.

3. End it with dignityEven if they're someone you don't want to see again, make a good faith effort to ease them out of your life without being a jerk. This article called 3 Ways to End a Toxic Friendship is pretty good. Its first suggestion might sound like ghosting, but it's not. You're still answering messages, but you're delaying your responses and changing the tone of them.

Also the last suggestion in that article might sound like ghosting, but if you've given the person an explanation of why you no longer want to be friends and given them fair warning not to expect you to keep answering them, then it's not ghosting. It's setting the boundary of not letting this person back into your life.

I have ended friendships. Often it happens when we fade out of each other's lives mutually, but I've also had to spell it out clearly for people. Each time I've ended a friendship it wasn't in anger or woundedness. It was for such mundane reasons as not feeling like I could be myself around her or not sharing values and knowing that this hurt her. It's easier when the other person agrees and painful when they don't understand, but I've done my best to make the other person feel respected and valuable even though our bond no longer felt strong.

I did not want children, am not married, and have always lived far from my family, so the relationships I rely on the most are with my friends. There is nothing I take more seriously than friendship and I've spent most of my adult life learning the best practices of being a good friend. I hope my posts on friendship are helpful.

One Patreon reward
Patreon.com allows us closer communication, lets you support me with a monthly pledge of $3, $10 or $15 (that you can cancel at any time), and gets you rewards like the pen on the right. Please visit my page to take a quick look.

Thursday, February 07, 2019

How to maintain a friendship

Also: 
How to make friends, part 1
How to make friends, part 2 
How to make friends, part 3
How to end a friendship

Have you ever had a friend you felt great about, but then they stopped responding to your texts or other messages?  Don't be that person. Ever. Keep your friendships healthy and treat your friends with respect even when you don't want to be friends anymore.

1. Stay in contact (frequency). This varies, but find a rhythm that works for the two of you. It could be every day, or once a week or month. I need to see my good friends in person at least once every couple of months, but preferably every few weeks. Other not-so-close friends I'm content to see every couple months. What's important is that it feel like the friendship the two of you want.


2. Stay in contact (mode). Maybe one of you has to start texting or emailing more than usual in order to meet the other person where they are. I used to be in-person or email-only, but in the last several years I started texting because that's what my new friends preferred. If your new friend never returns your texts, but responds well to email, then you'll need to use email with them. Be flexible.


3. There are all kinds of friends. I need regular, personal, face-to-face chats with s
ome of my friends. Others I'm comfortable catching up with at social events every once in a while. Others I connect with infrequently online because they live in another part of the world. But I consider all of them friends. (This is a very American concept of friendship. The definition of friend varies throughout the world, but I'm blogging about what I know.)

4. If they fade out, check in. If you don't hear from a friend for a while, send them a message and ask how they are. Don't assume they've decided they don't like you anymore. Friendship requires a thick skin, so don't think silence means they're upset with you or don't like you anymore.


5. If they fade out for a long time, don't necessarily give up. We all have bad weeks or packed months when it's all we can do to read someone's message, let alone actually respond. Be patient and give people time to get back to you. 


Sure, it's possible they're ghosting you, but don't jump to that assumption. I had a friend who always came to my parties, but then she stopped responding to my invitations. I sent her a couple of emails asking what was going on. I got nothing back, but kept her on my guest list because we'd been friends for years. It took over a year, but she finally reached out and explained that there had been a death in the family and she'd gone incommunicado with many of her friends for the previous year. She told me she had been grateful to keep getting my invitations and I was glad I'd never given up on her. So you never know.


6. Work out differences as soon as possible. This is a hard one for Americans, but if you have a problem with a friend, don't assume that telling them will make them dislike you. If you approach it by saying how much the friendship means to you and that you want to move forward as friends, they should be mature enough to hear what bothers you without getting angry. Don't let problems pile up and then disappear with no explanation because you can't take it anymore. 


7. No ghosting. Ghosting is when you disappear with no explanation because you can't take it anymore. A ghoster suddenly stops responding to all communication with no warning whatsoever. It's disrespectful, cowardly and humiliating for the person being ghosted. Please, never do it.


If you can be a mature, respectful, supportive friend, you can draw into your life mature, respectful, supportive friends. I'm a demanding friend and I'm not easy to get along with, so I've definitely pissed friends off and they've pissed me off. Either way, we keep in mind how valuable our friendship is, communicate respectfully and work it out. And then we go on being friends. Yes, that's possible!


What if you don't want to be friends anymore? That's next in How to end a friendship.


One Patreon reward
Patreon.com allows us closer communication, lets you support me with a monthly pledge of $3, $10 or $15 (that you can cancel at any time), and gives you the chance to choose a topic for me to blog about. Visit my page to take a quick look!