Thursday, October 27, 2011

Have a Heart

Girl Scouts has been in the news. There is a girl in Colorado who wants to join, only technically she's a he. I'm on a national leader's forum where they are debating the issue. A lot of the comments have been so negative and show a complete lack of understanding and compassion. I explained it to my kids like this- there are girl brains and boy brains, and they are different. (Neither is better than the other, they are just different.) There are also girl bodies and boy bodies. Most of the time, the boy brains go to the boy bodies and the girl brains go to girl bodies, but some times the girl brains get in the boy body and the boy brain goes in a girl body. That's what happened to this child; she's got a girl brain but a boy body.

My kids were able to understand the concept. A lot of the leaders, sad to say, don't. You are what your parts say you are, pure and simple. No room at all for understanding that there are differences in people.

Why does every single group have to fight for acceptance? Why was the civil rights movement necessary? Why do gays have to fight for the right to marry? Just live and let live- it's no skin off your nose if two men or two women fall in love and want to live their lives together. It's no skin off your nose if some child who is living as a girl, because that's who she feels she is regardless of the "parts", wants to be a part of a girls' organization.

Now, I understand that there are boys who would take advantage of this to be around their girlfriends, or find a girlfriend, or otherwise get up to mischief. I am not talking about those boys. Here's the statement released by the Girl Scout council in question:

"Girl Scouts is an inclusive organization, and we accept all girls in kindergarten through 12th grade as members. If a child lives life as a girl and the family brings the child to us to participate in Girl Scouts, Girl Scouts of Colorado welcomes her. Girl Scouts of Colorado respects the privacy of all girls and families we work with. When a family requests membership for their daughter, we do not require proof of gender, we respect the decisions of families."

The key part of the statement is "If a child lives life as a girl". This would rule out boys looking for trouble. The child must live as a girl all the time, not just to join Girl Scouts. Of course there will be issues to be dealt with. The child has special needs; the other girls in this child's troop would also have to have their needs respected. Bathroom and sleeping arrangements would need to be worked out to the satisfaction of girls, leaders, and parents before any over night field trips. It's do-able as long as everyone involved acts with care, compassion, and understanding, as we all should in all aspects of our lives.

In conclusion, here is the post I sent to the leader's group. (In the first paragraph, I am responding to a post that equates Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, when they are not the same at all.)

Excuse me, but Boy Scouts is NOT for all boys. They are a discriminatory organization that would NEVER allow a transgendered child into their ranks. They do not even allow boys who are gay or the children of gay or atheist parents to join. (Technically- I will allow that there are probably some leaders who are OK with it, but as an organization they do not. One Greenblood-er sent in a quote from their bylaws a few years ago so it is on the books.) That means that there is only one inclusive scouting organization out there, only not so inclusive since they gender-discriminate. This is something I was OK with for my first two children, both girls, but now I have a son who wants to be involved in a scouting program like his sisters (he's secure in his gender, he just wants to go camping and attend all the cool field trips) but he can't. (We don't meet the Boy Scout criteria.) So the statement "there is one for girls and one for boys" is incorrect. They are not equivalent organizations; Boy Scouts is not for all boys.

As for this one child, I am so sorry to hear all of the negative comments from women who are supposed to know better and live by the Girl Scout Law. How can we judge? This is a child who is one sex in her brain, another in his body. This is a real condition, it's not "in the child's head". It has nothing to do with how much counseling is available to the family or having men around. (If that were the case every boy raised by a single mom would have gender identity issues, and such is not the case.) As a teacher for emotionally troubled kids, I beg you all to have a heart. Please don't be so judgmental. This is a child struggling in our world, a child who is not going to go out and intimidate the girls into pretending they are bad at math and all of those other things that happen when boys mix with girls. I agree with the council's statement- if the child presents as a girl, is living as a girl, has parents who are open minded and loving enough to accept that this child is a girl in spite of the "parts", then there should be a place in Girl Scouts for this child and other transgendered girls. I would take this child in my troop in a heartbeat- it's the only thing to do, according to our law, especially the parts about fair, friendly, respecting others, and making the world a better place.

The Girl Scout Law

I will do my best to be
honest and fair,
friendly and helpful,
considerate and caring,
courageous and strong, and
responsible for what I say and do,
and to
respect myself and others,
respect authority,
use resources wisely,
make the world a better place, and
be a sister to every Girl Scout.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Yer Doin It Wrong

I was in a buffet line yesterday behind two lovely plus sized women. I couldn't help but see what they were choosing to eat, and yes, I passed judgment, horrible as that is. They were doing it wrong. Well, one of them was, I didn't really see what the second woman chose to eat. What I saw was a plate LOADED with lettuce from the "salad" they served at the buffet. (Which was really just a big bunch of romaine lettuce with a few bits of shredded carrot and the odd crouton.) That was topped with a HUGE scoop of ranch dressing. All that was fine, but what killed me was what they were saying to each other. The gist of it was that they were making a sacrifice by eating only lettuce this time (topped with a huge scoop of a high fat, high calorie dressing), then they would get all skinny and be able to eat whatever they wanted the next time. Oh, that spoke volumes. I know from personal experience, having walked in their shoes, that this strategy won't work.

Where to begin? First of all, you have to make peace with food, but still be able to control portions. There were some good, healthy options at that buffet that they ignored. (Or not, I didn't follow them to see what else they may have chosen; I'm assuming, for the sake of argument, that they only chose the salad.) I had a little bit of everything I was interested in. As a vegetarian, I avoided the meat and went with beans and rice. I also chose one small plantain, a small half scoop of a noodle dish, a decent serving of the salad with just a tiny bit of vinaigrette, (I even scored a crouton- ha!) and followed it all up with two very small bites of dessert. (And it was a very sweet, rich dessert- I didn't want any more than that.) I am far from perfect, but I think my odds and my attitude toward food are much healthier and will lead to long term success in the end because I have changed the way I eat. While I don't diet, I do watch my portions and I try to make healthy choices. I also understand that this is something I will have to do for the rest of my life, because if I don't I will gain and gain and suffer all of the consequences that go with obesity. I rebel sometimes, but I usually come to my senses and realize this is the choice I make, the choice to be as fit and healthy as I possibly can be.

As for the far from perfect part, I continue to struggle with some weight I gained back after going veg, which I've written about so I won't rehash it again. I keep track of my weight every day; I find it easier than tracking my food. I thought I was hanging in there right around my "red flag" (RF) weight, a little under some days, a little over other days, but, ummm, no. I finally went back through my weight journal and realized I haven't really been under my RF weight since the beginning of the year. That woke me up. I've gotten back on track and I've been working at getting back down under the RF weight consistently once again. I'm doing it not by eating lettuce for every meal, but by limiting and measuring my carbs, planning low fat/healthy fat meals, and eating healthfully over all. Carbs are my weakness; I'll take a bag of salty tortilla chips over dessert any day of the week. The low/healthy fats thing isn't a sacrifice at all for me, nor is giving up sweets for the most part. I find a good piece of fruit satisfies my need for sweetness as well as any candy or cake ever could.

The second place where the women in the buffet line were fooling themselves has to do with their long range plans- "we'll eat like this now then when we're thin we can eat whatever we want". Well, no. Once you lose the weight you can't go back to your old eating habits, I mean, HELLO, that's how you got heavy in the first place! Once you lose the weight you still have to eat the same way as when you were losing. You can't go and just eat everything in sight. You're setting yourself up for failure if you think that's how it's going to be. Maintenance is the hard part because it's for the rest of your life. It's hard to keep it up unless you have, and here it comes again, CHANGED THE WAY YOU EAT. My failures, the times when I gained, had to do with slipping from the patterns I established as I was losing. I gained on a long vacation and I gained again when I radically changed my diet to cut out meat. (And subsequently used that as an excuse to OD on carbs.)

Now I feel like I'm finally re-adjusting. I've gotten a grip on how I have to eat as a vegetarian and it's basically the same as when I ate meat. I have to measure bread, pasta, rice, and all of those starchy, carb-y things I love to munch on, I have to eat lots of fruit and veggies, and I have to keep up with walking for exercise. It's so simple, yet so hard at the same time. It's hard to pass on the bag of tortilla chips sitting open on the counter every time I walk by. (I have kids; they like the organic tortilla chips with salsa. It's not a bad choice for them, it is a bad choice for me.) It's hard not to dip into the crouton container, also sitting on the counter when I walk by, but I can't do it and maintain my weight loss. I can have a few croutons on a salad, I can't eat them like chips the rest of the afternoon. Sometimes it's hard to keep fresh fruit around the house, wash it up, and eat that instead of those tempting, oh so easy and always at the ready carbs. But I know it's what I have to do. I want to live a long, healthy, vital, vibrant life, so that's the cost. It's worth it. I'm worth it. :)

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Pet Adoptions

I didn't think I was a dog person but now that we have two of them... I AM a dog person after all. I am amazed at how much I enjoy these two goofy creatures who are sharing our home with us. We never had dogs before because our lifestyle as a young married couple was more suited to cats. Our last cat, a stray I took in as a kitten before we had kids, died in June at the age of 21. Once he went that made room in our home for a dog. See, I think we humans owe it to companion animals to give as many of them homes as we can.

We made the world they have to live in. We shaped them to what we wanted through selective breeding and made them dependent on us, we took away many of the skills they need to survive on their own, we changed the environment they have to survive in, and now we allow them to over populate and over breed. We tolerate puppy mills and other forms of irresponsible breeding. We don't adopt when we can. We don't spay and neuter when we should. It's a problem we created and the animals suffer for it. The most obvious way we can make a difference is one animal at a time. Adopt from shelters or rescue groups or take in a stray. Have your pets spayed or neutered; do not breed them. Support legislation to prevent puppy mills.

To make even more of a difference, volunteer with a rescue group or shelter. Take in foster animals. Donate to animal causes.

It's our responsibility as part of the human race who created the problem to take part in making life better for the animals who so adore us. Dogs especially are owed a debt. They work for us in countless ways, they pay attention to us, and they bond with us in a way no other animal is capable of. My Queen Bee is a sweetheart of a dog and I can't imagine not having her in my life now. Sure there's some work involved; she continues to have occasional accidents in the house, she can be a pain in the neck on walks, and we have to figure out how to schedule our lives so that we aren't away from home for too long at the time. It's worth it though because she brings love and laughter and devotion. She follows me around from room to room in the house. She gets excited that she might get to go with me whenever I leave. She gets restless and lets me know when it's time to go out on my daily walk. (Which keeps me motivated and healthy!) She plays with the kids. She's amazing and she's giving us so much more than we can ever repay.

So, if you think you aren't a dog person, give it a try. Research the breed you are considering or work with a reputable positive trainer before you select a dog. (A trainer can help you make a good choice for your family.) A mutt from the pound can be the best dog of all, but do choose carefully. Open your heart to strays you encounter. There is a perfect dog for everyone out there, but it can take some time to find it. Once you have your dog, make sure he or she is a good canine citizen. Teach your dog manners. One of the reasons I thought I wasn't a dog person was because I HATE it when dogs jump on me. Hate it, hate it, hate it. That's because it's rude dog behavior and the owners need to teach the dog better. (Which is something we've worked on with The Queen Bee; she's getting there.) Be responsible for messes and scoop the poop. But most of all, love your dog. They'll love you right back.