I challenge you to burn the machine.

I’m a teacher, right? Yeah. That’s right. I teach kids. Which is often considered hilarious because I kind of still look like a kid (even though my ever-multiplying grey hairs would disagree).

But I do. I teach high school kids.

I have a really unique opportunity with them, you know? Like I get to see and hear them in ways that few ever do. Sometimes they don’t know that I’m listening or looking. But I am.

And you know what I notice? Adults aren’t fair. A LOT. Like, as adults, we pass a lot of judgments and generalizations off on kids. We spend a lot of time telling them that their generation sucks or that they’re snowflakes for getting upset about something. We don’t ask them about themselves or what they’re going through or why they feel that way. We just decide how they are because we’re older and we can do that.

We were young once, too.

But when we were young, we wanted to be asked why we did things or why we felt a way. We wanted to be trusted. We didn’t like it when older people told us we sucked or that we were fragile because we took a stand for what we believed was right. It just made us rage.

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Young. Prettied up for our first real dance.

And here we are, perpetuating the cycle.

So recently, I’ve been seeing our kids catch a lot of crap for things that I think should be encouraged. I’ve been watching us old people (yeah, dude, we’re old already), tell young people that they should shut up and be quiet. That they shouldn’t question authority because the old people “said so” and that’s how it should be. That somehow speaking up about how the feel is “wrong and disrespectful”. And yeah, maybe the way kids say things sometimes could be…improved…but they’re kids for Christ’s sake. They don’t have the benefit of experience to know how to express themselves and they’re trying their best–shouldn’t we, as their “elders” or whatever, help them do that?

Dear Young Kid,

I think you’re doing a great job. I know exactly how hard it is to be a kid–you’re at a really weird place where you want to have a lot of responsibility and also no responsibility. You wanna be a grown up SO bad. You have a lot of feelings about the things going on around you but any time you express them, someone is telling you that they don’t matter because you’re “just a kid”.
Well you’re not.
And those feelings? They matter.
Because here’s the deal, kiddo, one day you won’t be so young anymore. You’ll be the old person writing this letter and you’re gonna have a choice about how you treat those youngins around you.
So I’ve got some advice for you: a challenge, if you will.
I challenge you to challenge things. Challenge the system. Ask questions. If you’re unsure about how something’s done, ask. I don’t care if the person you’re asking is annoyed or is rude to you. GET YOUR EXPLANATION. Don’t settle for “it’s just the way we’ve always done it” or “because I said so”.
Those are lazy answers from lazy people who don’t care enough about the question. Demand answers and if the answers don’t satisfy you, develop new ways.
Stand up for what’s right and trust your gut–if something FEELS wrong, it is. Don’t let the glamour of fun or popularity influence you to walk away from the right choice even if it’s the hard choice.
If you feel something, SAY something. So many of you walk alone in your lives. In your loneliness and fear. You think that no one understands you or what you’re going through. But so many do and they WANT to help you. Find the good ones and hold onto them, they’ll hold onto you back.
Do not be afraid to be wrong, but more importantly, do not be afraid to be told that you’re wrong. Sometimes, YOU will be the one with the outdated ideas and ways–AND THAT’S OKAY. But when someone brings you something new and different, consider it. Give them credit and say thank you. They are making you a BETTER person because you now know more than you did 5 minutes ago.
I challenge you to do things with love–all things. And love challenges. It challenges hate Challenges hearts. Challenges ideas. Love challenges because it wants things and people to reach their full potential. I challenge you to stand up for each other, stand with each other, encourage each other and know that you are the ones who have the capacity to change the hearts of the people around you.

I know that there are some old people (like me) who believe in you, have faith in you, and know that you’ll make yourself and everybody proud.

So let’s do that.

Love,
An Old Person

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Senior Year, 2006. New York. Yeah dude, we were freakin’ SENIORS doing this. But we still wanted to be taken seriously.

White Horses and Cruising

Remember being little and dreaming of your “one true love”?

I do.

I watched a lot of Disney movies as a kid. Sue me.

I spent a lot of days imagining what that would be like; finding my one true love. He would probably ride a noble white horse and carry a sword. He would be tall. He would wear boots. He would be strong. He would slay a dragon and come wake me with true love’s kiss to save me from eternal sleep. (okay, maybe I watched Sleeping Beauty a lot more than I thought)

I still watch Disney movies but at some point, I grew up. And while I still love Disney movies, my idea about what my love is has changed–especially since I discovered that riding a horse everywhere in a city is wildly unrealistic. Also carrying a sword in public is generally frowned upon. Additionally, where the hell are you gonna find a dragon to slay? And why would I be stuck in an eternal sleep?? I mean, I have a lot of questions.

Either way, I hoped that he’d be funny–like laugh out loud, give me headaches funny. And smart. I hoped he’d be a nerd like me and know how to cook the things I don’t know how to. I hoped he’d be strong and handsome. I hoped he’d listen to country and rap. And metal. And 90’s pop radio. More than anything, I just hoped he’d be my best friend. I hoped that beyond being my “one true love”, we’d be friends. The kind of friends that take care of each other. That will hold my hair back if I’m sick and that would still kiss each other with morning breath.
Ultimately, I hoped he existed.

Somewhere along the way, I gave up looking. It was futile. And stupid. Prince Charming isn’t real. There are no white knights or dragons. I’m not a princess waiting to be saved.

But then, he was there. Not Prince Charming. My best friend. And he was always there.

Since we were 14, he’s been one that makes me laugh until I cry and will debate me on things that no one else will. Who knows how to make caldo de res and who nerds out to Star Wars. Who sings along to Breaking Benjamin and then to Intocable and then to Blake Shelton (don’t tell him I told you). He’s handsome and strong. He’s tall and wears boots. He isn’t so great with his words all the time and he isn’t perfect, but neither am I. He doesn’t slay dragons but he’s saved me from splinters in my feet, from having to get my hair wet in the rain, and from the most awkward, hurtful situations.

And while he isn’t a prince, and I’m not a princess, we are best friends.

Disney got it wrong, the whole Prince Charming thing (BECAUSE YOU CAN’T MARRY A GUY YOU JUST MET, ANNA). Because you don’t live happily ever after with some douche on a horse with a sword, dancing a waltz in a ballroom.

But if you’re lucky, you get a pretty legit life, rapping Dr. Dre and singing Evanescence, cruising around in a truck, holding hands with your best friend.

And that makes for a way better story.

 

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Left: 2004, Right: 2018

“I hope today is your worst day ever.”

My mom used to say that to me as a kid.

Before you get upset and think Mama Nancy is the worst mom ever, give me a second. When I was young and used to find myself in the middle of a breakdown, declaring that “TODAY IS THE WORST DAY EVER,” she used to say, “I hope today is the worst day ever, because if it is, you’ll never, ever have another day as bad as this one. And tomorrow is almost here.”

She’s smart, that one.
Without fail, I would look back on my “worst day ever” and, suddenly, it didn’t seem so bad. My mother is magic.

2017 has shown me a lot of “worst days ever”. Far more than I ever could have anticipated and certainly far more than I think I deserve. I won’t lie, this year (especially the last half of this year) has been more than trying to say the least. And at some point, I decided to stop fighting the storm and open my sails. To let life take me where it takes me and roll with it.

Nothing about that has been easy for someone who is a planner and needs control. But that’s the thing about “worst days”.

They’re uncontrollable and unpredictable.

But, if today is your worst day ever, then you’ll never, ever have a worse one than this one. And tomorrow is almost here.

Post Harvey
That’s pretty much everything I own on the curb in front of my house.

 

Don’t tell me what to do

Recently I started wearing red lipstick. Not like, sheer red lip gloss. Like, RED. LIPSTICK.

see?

And I feel pretty great about it. Not only does it make me feel awesome, my beloved grandma Nancy wore red lipstick all the time and it makes me feel like I’m channeling her. And she was amazing so that’s great news.

But I got mad yesterday.
And here’s why:

I’m minding my own business at the check out line at the HEB and a guy remarks to me, “a little dressed up?”
I’m looking at my outfit like, “um, no.”
He’s like, “it’s just that the lipstick you’re wearing. It’s a lot. You probably shouldn’t wear it. I don’t like it.”
Me: *flames flying out of my ears* That’s a good thing. Red doesn’t really seem like it’d be your color.

OKAY, HERE’S THE THING: if you don’t like bright red lipstick, guy, then don’t wear it.
It is absolutely not your place nor any of your business what I, or anyone else, chooses to put on their body.  I am not here for your viewing pleasure.

And then I started thinking about it. And about how many times people have told me that I should/shouldn’t do something because THEY like/don’t like it.

How many times someone has said,
“you shouldn’t wear that dress”
“you shouldn’t be blonde”
“red isn’t your color”
“don’t get too muscular”
“don’t lift too much”

And the thing is, I’m not asking for their opinion.
I’m not saying, “hey, I’m thinking about wearing red lipstick, what do you think?” I’M WEARING IT ALREADY.
This is not an invitation for your unsolicited opinion about what you prefer me to do/wear/look like.
I’m wearing it/doing it because IIIIIII like it and IIIIIIII want to.
And if I had always listened to the people who told me “you shouldn’t” or “don’t”, I’d probably never accomplish anything I wanted to.

After talking it over with Mama Nancy, I’ve decided that there’s only one good response to people who tell me, “don’t…” or “you shouldn’t…”, etc.

So the next time someone tells me “you shouldn’t wear red lipstick”,
my only response will be a big smile and then to say “or else, what?”

A Word About Feminism

Feminism is getting a really bad rep these days. 

For some reason, I keep seeing women talking about being “anti-feminists” because “they don’t believe they should have to hate men” or “they don’t think women deserve special rights to put them above men” or because they “don’t think it’s okay to be a hate mongering asshole”.

Weird. Because I agree with all those things and I am, indeed, a feminist. 


1. I would love and respect my boyfriend, too. 2. I make my own decisions without being pressured. 3. I enjoy makeup and like feeling pretty. Also, I don’t need to be superior to men. I want to be equal.
“I need to be partnered”–Which is exactly why we should be equal.


So when people say this ridiculous shit, I channel my inner Inigo and say “I do not think that word means what you think it means.”

Imagine a world where there was actually a whole movement dedicated to equality of the sexes…oh wait.
Rights that you would, quite literally, not have without the feminist movement.



So here’s the skinny (strong?) about feminism:
It just means being equal. It means believing that a woman’s life is worth the same as a man’s life. 
I mean, I think we should all agree to that, right?

What feminism doesn’t mean:
Feminism DOESN’T MEAN you hate men. (uh, obvs, I’m a man lover over here).
Feminism DOESN’T MEAN you get special consideration. (Uh, because if you got special consideration, you’re not equal. See?)
Feminism DOESN’T MEAN you’re a hate mongering asshole. (I mean, you might be. But that doesn’t make you a feminist.)

IT JUST MEANS YOU WANT THE SEXES TO BE EQUAL. 

Herein lies the problem. A lot of women (and men) have become so accustomed to today’s lifestyle, they don’t really realize the part that feminism has played in where we are socially. 

Like, without strong women and men who supported equality of the sexes, a woman would still be considered a man’s property.

Without strong women and men who supported equality of the sexes, women would not be allowed to go to school.

Without strong women and men who supported equality of the sexes, women would not be so much as CLOSE to a computer, much less able to create a meme of their own image holding a sign declaring why they’re “anti-feminist”. 

See where I’m going with this?

So stop it. Stop holding women back and telling us to get back in the kitchen, take off our shoes and get knocked up already. 

Stop telling little girls that they can’t be strong or that they can’t be whatever-the-hell they want to be-whether it’s an astronaut, a stay at home mama, or a crossfit affiliate owner– because they freakin’ can. 

Stop telling girls that when men mistreat them on the street they should just “ignore it” or when a man yells some obscene thing at them that they should “take it as a compliment”. 

STOP. 

Your girls and your women are worth more. They are worth every bit as much as everyone else. And they should know it. 
Because you should tell them. 
You should encourage them to be strong.

Encourage women AND men to love each other.
And protect EACH OTHER.
And lift EACH OTHER up. 

Because the only way our society gets any stronger is if we all get stronger together.

CrossFit Doesn’t Work

It doesn’t. 

I got a message from an acquaintance a few days ago in which she expressly told me that CrossFit doesn’t work. It just doesn’t.

Her message went something like this:
“I was so inspired by you and all the stories you share that I decided to try CrossFit out. I found a Groupon and did the first month. It was so hard and I was so sore. I was hurting all the time–Aislinn, I could barely walk. I went once a week and nothing even changed for me. I’m not any closer to looking like any of the girls on TV. I don’t know how it works for everyone else, but CrossFit just doesn’t work for me.”

I wanted to scream. 
And yell.
And throw all of the things.

But I didn’t. I responded: 
“I’m really sorry to hear that it didn’t work out for you. Sometimes, CrossFit isn’t for everyone. I hope you find something that you’ll enjoy better and maybe one day, you’ll head on back to a box.”

Honestly, I wanted to punch the shit out of her because she was so wrong. I mean, hello, I am a walking testament to the fact that this crap WORKS.

SEE?!


And then I realized, she’s right.
CrossFit doesn’t work.

I don’t know how many times I have to say this but being fit is not freakin’ easy. I always refer back to what Coach Lauren said to me the very first day I tried CrossFit: “if you come once a week, you’re gonna look like you come once a week. 

Girls like Camille and Julie don’t just happen. They didn’t wake up like that (sorry, Beyonce). They take the time to train everyday, multiple times a day. They take the time to analyze eating for performance and be athletes. 
Hell, those of us who aren’t elite still don’t just wake up and say “oh, I think I’ll look like a crossfit athlete today!”

Anyone who really knows me knows that I didn’t just faith away 30 pounds, okay? I worked REAL hard and worked my ass off (literally) and I’m STILL working on it. 
It is never, ever easy. And it really shouldn’t be.
Because if you’re getting better everyday, you’re supposed to be finding your limits to surpass them.

So you could join some box somewhere and just half ass some workouts every blue moon, but you sure as shit can’t get better if you’re only trying things out every once in awhile. 

So my friend is right.
Crossfit doesn’t work…
…unless you do. 

"You should just say ‘thank you’"

Growing up, I was taught to say “thank you”. When is it appropriate to say “thank you”? 
When someone does something that you appreciate.

I find myself saying “thank you” a lot. 

“Thank you for holding the door.”
“Thank you for posting that today, I needed it.”
“Thank you for inviting me to lunch.”

The other day, I was talking with a male friend about how much I hate going to the gas station. I hate it. Not because I hate getting gas (even though it puts a huge dent in my wallet) or because I hate going inside to grab whatever. 

I hate it because I almost always get unwanted attention. 

Recounting my last gas station experience, some man felt like it was appropriate to make some kind of suggestive comment about how I look/how my body looks/how he’d love to take me home. And then he looked me up and down like I was a steak.
That happens a lot of times to a lot of women.
It makes me cringe. 

I am not a thing. I’m not some item that he can just buy and take home with him because he purchased it. It is not okay to just say whatever the hell he–or anyone else–wants to me.
And then, when I reject him via ignoring him, he gets mad. 
“You don’t have to be a bitch about it. I was just saying I like how you look.”

To this story, my male friend said, “You should just say ‘thank you’, he just wanted you to know you’re attractive.”

WHAT THE HELL.

This is wrong. 
I should not have to be subjected to inappropriate comments and then say “thank you” like it’s okay. Like I appreciate being talked to like that. Because I don’t.
There’s a difference in being complimentary and being disrespectful.
“You are lovely” does not equal “aye, girl, I like that ass”.

Gender roles suck.
As a woman, I’m expected to just say thank you because women are demure and genteel. Where if a man were receiving unwanted attention, it would be perfectly fine for him to aggressively reject that attention. 
If I reject that attention, I’m labeled a bitch.

I will not say “thank you”.
I will not let anyone think it’s okay to touch my body without my permission or talk to me in a way that is derogatory or demeaning.

I am not a thing. I am a person who is deserving of being treated like a person. 

I will not say “thank you” because I don’t appreciate what you’re doing.
I will not say “thank you” because I strongly suspect that people would change their behavior if they realized that #YesAllWomen deal with this treatment. Even your sisters, daughters, mothers, aunts and friends.

I will not say “thank you” because I don’t owe a thank you, much less any of myself to you.