The Art of Saying “no”

I think you’ll all like this post.

Love Life and Bella

So often in life, women find themselves in situations that they don’t necessarily want to be in, however, time and time again, comply and go along with it. In this particular post, I am referring to romantic/ intimate situations. My thoughts are based off of personal experiences and experiences that I have known friends and acquaintances to have found themselves in as well.

There are women out there who are strong-minded, strong willed and do not hesitate to say no. However, there are also many women that do not have that strength. How often do we hear about women who went along with an uncomfortable and undesirable sexual/intimate situation with a man when inside, that was the last place they wanted to be? Verbally, they say yes or maybe nothing at all. Inside, they are regretting putting themselves in that situation and just want it to be over.

I know…

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Huey, Dewey and Louie

When I was a child, we had a pair of ducklings called Donald and Daisy.

After some time, Daisy hatched out some little ducklings. There were about 10 or 11 and we gave them all names. We started out with Huey, Louie and Dewey, but from there, who knows? One day our father decided it was time we learned what farm life was like and marched us out to the yard. He grabbed one of the ducklings (now grown) and lopped off it’s head with an ax. We were aghast. What was worse is he let them go and they ran around the yard headless. This terrified us and we kids all scattered in tears, screaming and cursing him. (well, yelling at him – kids in those days didn’t use curse words like they do today, especially not around parents).  I was frozen, watching them go in circles. He thought it gruesomely hysterical and had a jolly good laugh on us. This of course, made us sick and angry. Over the next few days, we would have nightmares and to this day, that sight and feeling has never left my mind.

Later that evening mother sat the roasted duckling on the table but we all refused to eat. Instead, we left the table squalling and cried for days. Angrily, Dad ended up giving the plucked ducks to friends and neighbors because we wouldn’t eat them. We had no clue.

One day we went to our friends house and unbeknownst to us they had been recipients of our beloved deceased friends and proceeded to serve us the duckling. I had taken a leg as I recall and bitten into it, but my brother so much wiser (or perhaps less trusting) than I or maybe he’d caught a gleam in daddy’s eyes waiting for us to take a bite, realized what had been served and asked, “Is this our duck?”. When they replied in the affirmative, he then crossed his little arms across his chest and refused to eat. My little sisters joined him but I being the older sibling struggled with being polite and eating. It bears noting how as we get older we submit to peer pressure and will often make unethical compromises.

Dave and I
My brother and I

Many years later, my girl friend and I went in halfsies to buy a calf to raise and butcher. She considered me a city girl and would not let me name it or look at it. She probably suspected she’d get stuck with the whole cow if I’d named it. So I didn’t and I got through the experience fine. She pointed out that once you name it, it becomes a whole different ball game, so it is best not to give names to prospective food.  That, in of itself changes ones perspective.

I would in my later life, move to Alabama where Tyson and Pilgrim’s Pride (amongst others) have their chicken farms.  It was there I decided chicken would not be on the menu. I became aware of how they were raised, housed, fed and carried to be butchered.  I learned from personal experience that it took months for me to raise a chick to adulthood, whereas chicks delivered to chicken farms are harvested in approximately 9 weeks! That alone ought to tell you something.

Then there’s the delivery system. On the mountain above us was a chicken farm and every few weeks we’d hear the trucks go by late at night or early, early morning to deliver them to the processing plant in town.  If you happened to be behind one of these trucks, you would see all these slatted crates chock full of chickens crammed tightly within them.  On occasion I would see a dazed chicken on the side of the rode that had somehow escaped the cages and fallen out, or so I thought. I felt so bad because the chickens didn’t run off.  It was months later that I mention this to my vegetarian friend,  and she explained to me that those were the hobos.  When the cages get too full, they cram the extras in between the cages. They are listless because they have been raised in tight quarters and have never used their legs much, so there’s no strength in them.  Btw, it’s not permanent and not true everywhere. I’d heard tell of folks who have picked them up and taken them home and they grew to be fine.

IMG_0817

One day, one of these trucks somehow overturned and the chickens scattered.  Some died but most were easily retrieved. But, oh my, chickens went everywhere. It made the news of course, and it was funny to see people cheering the chickens on.  It was reminiscent of Jennie yelling “Run, Forrest, Run!” and that was pretty much the sentiment.

Although I vowed not to eat chicken, I do.  Since those days of driving behind the chicken trucks, I learned that more companies are going “organic”.  What that means, I’m really not sure.  Are their conditions now more humane?  I don’t know. Chicken is still one of the least expensive forms of protein.  I still look for free range though.  They are pricier, but I’m guessing that’s because free range chickens take longer to mature and have a higher mortality rate due to predators… if they are truly free range, that is.

I say this because of my own personal experience. I know when I tried raising my own, I had to contend with snakes, coyotes, dogs, raccoons, opossums, hawks and drownings.  Yes, drownings.  Chickens are not too bright.  It was there we had a duck we called Chuck because he was hatched out by a hen. You know, Ch(icken) (d)uck? Chuck was never to be destined for the table, so he was named. Alas, we didn’t have him long.

Ducks, we discovered require lots of water to stay hydrated and… because ducks require lots of water we made him a small pond of water nearby and… I think because Chuck was the bigger of the brood, his little brothers would follow him in and drown.  So we removed the pond and then Chuck died of dehydration… I’m guessing. We were new to farming. It haunted me for some time until I learned that Chucks mortality may not have been the issue of water alone.  My cousin Jack explained when we found his rooster drowning in a 1/2 to 1 inches  of water because he didn’t have sense enough to pull his head out! We were glad we found him and resuscitated him and sent him on his way. Jack said, “they’re just plain stupid.”  So, take it from me there’s a reason free range chickens cost more.

Bottom line?  Don’t name your food and don’t complain about the high price of organically grown, free range anything.

And… if you have the will power to eat vegan or vegetarian, more power to you!

PS – If you look up chicken transporting, you will see videos of how more high tech farms do it and for sure you will not want to eat another chicken for the rest of your life! The farms near us used men to catch the chickens for loading.  I’m afraid the site I found was so disturbing, I screamed and clicked out of it so fast that I forgot to snag the link to share. I couldn’t find it again.

 

 

Death and Condolences

DEATH

Death and how we deal with it can be different for each of us.

The truth of my situation is that my parents were both suffering, so it was a relief when they left. Mother didn’t even know us any longer and dad lost his ability to communicate or walk, which for him, as independent as he was, was a fate worse than death. It doesn’t mean I don’t miss them, and interestingly enough even though we’d had a challenging childhood, I  remember mostly the good with the occasional bad along with their redeeming virtues, such as they were. I see their passing as their chance to be made whole again. For example, mother loved to garden, so I have visions of her ambling through a beautiful garden helping to prune and nurture it. I see her feeling privileged  and  fulfilled at God having given her hands something to do. Dad on the other hand, I picture challenging God, cracking his jokes and playing devil’s advocate for some of God’s questionable decisions over the millenniums and/or, he could very well be just picking his brain.  I can see God either dodging him,  maybe smiling at his questions or perhaps giving him to someone “else” to deal with. LOL You don’t know my dad.
I think how we mourn is personal and every individual does so differently and we should grant them consideration, without judgement.

I remember a woman I worked with, who lost her son in a horrible traffic accident while her mother in law was driving. She never cried or seemed sad and was her usual self the very next day! We were all shocked she would even come to work. We all thought differently of her from then on, most assuming she was a heartless you-know-what, like how could she do that?  We all knew the boy was adopted, but he was still their child. I would personally hate to lose my step siblings, of whom I am greatly fond of,  but we are all different. I heard from other sources that from that point onward she would not speak to her mother in law again. Her birth child had survived and the grandmother was unhurt. It made me question whether or not to drive my own grand kids around and I would always take extra precautions knowing I would not want the weight of that guilt.   Later this woman and I would talk about it years later and I learned that there were so many things she had to process. Hate, anger, grief and so much more.  It wasn’t that it didn’t weigh heavily on her, she just wasn’t ready to face it, much less deal with all of them. She segregated her emotions to another part of her psyche to work through later and yes, her relationship with her mother in law was never the same and she admitted that she couldn’t stand to even look at her. That’s a lot of anger.  Being a grandmother,  I couldn’t help but feel bad for the grandmother. For them both really.

Some people grieve passionately, wailing and carrying on for days, months and years sometimes. Some are quiet and private. Some never get over the death of a loved one. Some erect shrines and shut out everything and everyone around them, focusing only on those they lost.

movie funeral
Me, (black hat) as a wailing woman at a funeral,  waiting for my cue to  “Action”.

One of my sisters is a case in point.  When her daughter died, she created a shrine with pictures and candles all around and that was her entire focus.  Her other two daughters were being sorely neglected. It broke my heart.  Her infant daughter, born severely brain damaged, due to a delivery issue, having been without oxygen off and on for parts of an hour, was blind, deaf and had little sense of touch.  For two years she tube fed her and cared for her.  The child had not been expected to live beyond a week with all her issues.  When she did, the doctors told her it wasn’t likely the child would grow but instead remain an infant.  In part that was true.  Her features did mature but her body didn’t.  After faithfully caring for her and loving on her, the child began to respond to the resonance of her family’s voices and constant stroking.  The doctors were amazed. The long and short of it is that after two years and several surgeries, she caught pneumonia and expired. My sister was especially devastated.

She resented anyone that said her baby girl was “better off” or “in a better place”. She mourned her this way for over a year. I finally sat down with her and reasoned with her, pointing out that if she truly believed in God’s promises, then she will see her little girl again some day.  In the meantime, she needs to get back to being a mom to the two she still had.  I pointed out that continued neglect of her daughters like she had been doing could easily result in them resenting their sisters memory.  I said a whole lot more, but that was the gist.  I didn’t tell her she couldn’t mourn her or talk about her but she needed to get back to loving and caring for those still with her.  The wonderful thing is she did just that and to this day she and her girls are very close.

I have heard people deify family members that were horrid, or that they treated horribly while alive.  Especially widowed spouses or the remaining parent with children.  I understand it, but at some point in time an honest appraisal may be necessary.  My husband and I have had that talk since he was 8 or so when his father died and I think his mom elevated him to sainthood when he passed, so we sometimes speculate at what he may have been truly like. The reality being that no one is perfect and it’s okay to share that. How adults and children grieve is often different with elements of the same. Theirs can be more intense. Children can sometimes show their sadness through blaming, anger, alienating themselves from others, disinterest and sometimes resentment to the remaining parent and/or worse guilt.  One never knows how they will be.

CONDOLENCES

Some have no emotion whatsoever, others rejoice and for some, it brings peace. Because of that when it comes to condolences, one never knows the perfect thing to say.

My aunt, (my step fathers sister) came to my mothers funeral and said, at her graveside that she wanted to make sure the bitch was dead.  It, of course offended a great many people there.  She never got it that mother was mental, so whatever you do, don’t do that.

At my father’s funeral, people brought in newspaper clippings of all the amazing things my dad had done.  Never was there a mention in any of them that he had any children. (He’d left mother when I was 15 and never paid child support or acknowledged our existence)   Because we lived clear across the country, we were no longer a part of his life, not until we were adults and only because we sought him out. Until I moved back there to care for him, most people in the community were shocked he had other children besides my one sister who lived near him, because he never spoke of us. That was painful and added another level of sadness.

The reverse can also be true though, you may learn a side about someone you never knew before, like my step dad.  My step dad who was droll and generally humorless was a cut up at work.  I remember my step sisters being shocked that his coworkers were talking about their father.  He had once won an award for employee of the month.  Because he has such a sour countenance, we learned that someone had submitted his mug (picture) to some show, either Jay Leno’s or David Letterman’s, where they displayed unlikely winners of “employee of the month”. His was aired!!!  None the less, my siblings would have given anything to have known that person they were hearing about, yet overall they were glad to learn he wasn’t always a stick in the mud.

I think discernment and situational awareness is essential. Sometimes it pays to check out the tone and expressions of the bereaved before saying too much.

When it comes to condolences, choose your words wisely.  It is probably one of the hardest things to do tactfully and often, the less said, the better.  You can’t always know a family’s back story and you can add to a person’s grief by exposing something unnecessarily.  Unless of course, that is your intention.