just be heard.

Why am I even writing? At first, it was a little bit just wanting to rant. My sarcasm got me a side-job. It was pleasant. But now that I’ve found a niche, it had become much more than that.

I just want to make people think.

You go through your ordinary day except suddenly you recall something I’ve said about the environment or society. You make the smallest change. Those changes add up.

And as far as native awareness goes…I began reposting and writing to spark awareness. It’s working. I’m getting friends posting to my Facebook wall about sports mascots and casinos and membership rights…. There are people liking statuses about racism and “red power” concepts who aren’t native. I know it sounds silly to rely on Facebook….but the reality is so many people are on it and so much information is circulating.

Seriously. I have friends reconsidering their outlooks. I have white and black and Asian friends sympathizing and de-Chiefing and raising awareness. I’m even encouraging a profoundly deaf friend to seek a way of medically assisting the disadvantaged through the IHS because I know she’s passionate about health rights and making a change.

Rag on me all you want for my writing random posts because it’s these little things that spark the mind that encourage the biggest changes. And it’s slowly working 😘

Dear Mister.

Dear Mister,

If you saw this, you would probably know who you are.

There are so many things I wanted to tell you this weekend, but I didn’t.  If I told you those things, they would sound like excuses.  If I told you how I felt, that would sound like persuasion.  No, I have to wait.  I have to wait until you ask the right questions, and then I can only hope that those answers will come as easily as they would when I withheld them previously.

Mister, there are so many things I wanted to tell you yesterday when I finished that book.  I couldn’t say them, though.  At first, I couldn’t say them because you asked and I was still a few pages away from finishing and I couldn’t possibly have gathered my thoughts by then.  Then I finished it, and you asked, but there was someone in the room and I couldn’t say the truth with him there.  And when it was all good and I was ready to tell you how, wow, a silly book has…proved me really wrong… well, you never asked.  And if I made you ask, it would seem too cunning.  I just hoped you would ask.  I really wish you would ask.  But I’m afraid to answer if you do.  I’m afraid to be that vulnerable, to have been that wrong, to say kind words and have you judge them whether deservingly or not, but I’m especially afraid of how it will change the future.  My future with those who have suppressed this kind of thing before, as well as my future relations with you, mister.  Because I don’t want to come off as ill-intentioned.

Today, mister, I had so many feelings.  So much anger.  I was so frustrated, I needed comfort, and I was still piling on hurt from yesterday and feeling sorry for myself.  There were so many things i wanted you to do, to say, to ask, to whatever…but you didn’t.  And so I now feel foolish, because I acted cruelly and you would never be so cruel but you let me be cruel anyway.  I wanted so many things, but I got nothing.  You left without saying goodbye, not in person at least.  I was hoping all week to see you after work, but I won’t have that either.  I always think, what if what if what if something goes wrong, with my road trip, with your– no, I won’t even think that.  But what if we never got to speak again?

This week I have wanted to start so many conversations.  But I think, because I know they’re the conversations that you long to hear, I am avoiding them at all costs.  Because I know they are the conversations you want, and that I want because you want, but I wanted them before you wanted them because I wanted to have what I couldn’t otherwise have.  And they never happened because I could never deceive or lie like that.  But then suddenly everything changed, like I got punched in the face in such a way that it almost felt like a caress.  And now I want to scream to you, “I understand!  I understand!  I was so wrong…I still don’t get it all, and I’m still scared, but I love this too much to let it go…” but I know you probably would rejoice to hear that, yet have skepticism that I’m doing it because I’m trying to get what I want…which is not true…but I would rather never tell you than have you believe that.

I’d rather loose everything than seem false.

Am I foolish?  I don’t know.  I’m so confused.  You’re probably the only one who could make sense of this, yet I doubt you’ll ever read this. Ever.  And so maybe an opportunity will slip by because I can’t find the courage to do this.  Maybe that’s the test.  I’ll probably fail. I usually find a way to fail…

Mister, all I want is some solid time alone with you to work this out.  Without feeling deceptive.  Without feeling confused.  But I think we also have to meet somewhere in the middle…

Love,
K.F.

Talking to Strangers.

I would say it took until I was about 20 to realize that all those “Don’t talk to strangers!” warnings mama gives you start to wear off and instead become a crutch if you continue to heed them.

I’m definitely a quiet person. I sit back and observe. Part of that is me naturally lacking confidence, the other part is just me fearing bad impressions or the misinterpretation of a situation. But I’m also a person who hates idleness and who wants to learn and grow now that all my physical growing has ended. It’s hard to just sit in a room if everyone’s just sitting in that room and no one is speaking. I start to form burning urges to say something – anything – that would take off the strain of silence. But lately I’ve been getting those urges in times that aren’t silent, in times that are totally foreign and uncomfortable. It sometimes frightens me, this uncontrolled adrenaline rush of opening my mouth and just saying something.

I have thus become a person not afraid to talk to strangers. Correction: I am afraid, but I tremble with intimidation and do it anyway. What’s more is this is something I have chosen to become. Talking to strangers as a child can be a dangerous sport. I don’t just mean that because of the crazy people out there today who offer kids candy and drive white vans. It can be dangerous because, as a child, you’re too easily malleable and your parents need to have some control over who puts ideas into your head before you’re able to make your own experienced judgments. I say experienced and not educated because I’ve come to realize that so much more of life is learned by experience and not in a classroom. In fact, the best parts of life are learned that way. But when you grow up enough that you’re starting to get an idea of who you are and what questions to ask, you start to realize that your learning experience – with a mental filter in hand – comes much more rapidly when you engage with a complete stranger.

Just this past month, I started realizing how many strangers I had befriended by simply going to the same restaurant during the same times. Some of them are guests, some of them are employees, and some of them I still don’t know their names – but I know their stories. These befriended strangers made me realize how we can so subconsciously bond with people who may not have that much in common with us. It got me thinking to actively making friends when I go places, and so I began engaging with random people more regularly and became enthralled with the results.

Then, finally, it occurred to me: How much of my life has changed because of these strangers?

That’s when I realized how much solo traveling has opened my mind, thanks to talking with strangers. Imagine traveling the world alone – as I have this last year – and not daring to talk with a soul you don’t know. I would have been so lonely. But would I had chosen to talk to those people otherwise? Outside of that situation? I can guarantee you No. Most of those conversations I had weren’t even in English. But just because I’m bilingual doesn’t mean I didn’t have conversations outside of any of my languages, because I did. I spoke with a woman on a train from Hungary who knew nothing but German. She had taken a train all the way to Budapest to save a rescue dog and she asked me – the American stranger! – to watch her things as she walked the dog down the night train and doted on his lingering illnesses.

If I had not tried to talk to strangers, I would never have gotten to exchange my experiences in West Africa with people who have never left their village. I showed them pictures of home on my phone and they showed me their kitchens and how to cook my favorite local dishes. They told me about how wonderful they think America is and I told them of how Americans think of Africa. Then we exchanged truths about how the African life is all they know and many of them love it, and I told them how much suffering does exist even in America… I learned that poverty is sometimes a blessing when you’re not living up against things you can’t have, and they learned that not every person from America is really as lucky as outsiders dream they are.

But you don’t have to go to exotic places to gain such insight and perspective; you just have to seek out a person you would never normally choose to speak with. Someone who is a much different age, who dresses much differently, who looks really outgoing or really timid. Someone who clearly practices different religious beliefs, evidenced by their prayer mat in a public place, their symbols of faith, their burka. You might be amazed at what you will learn. You might begin to question everything you once knew, wonder what the purest truths are, see yourself in a much different light.

So, sorry mama, but I think it’s time we all start talking to strangers.

Embarrassment.

What a funny word. Did you know we haven’t had the word “embarrassment” in the English language for more than 300 years? It’s a relatively young word that actually comes from French meaning “to block” and which can be applied as “feeling awkward” of sorts…which is why the Spanish word for “pregnant” is quite the same. Yes, not only that but embarrassment can be a thing as well as a state with three different implications: confusion or disturbance of the mind, difficulty from wanting money to pay debts, and difficulty from a cardiac disease. Embarrassment encompasses a heck of a lot of spectra, much like my face when I’m red from an embarrassing situation.

I’m a firm believer that the greatest flaw in humanity is emotion. I think emotion too often overrules our natural responses and instincts. It causes us rage that goes beyond adrenaline and necessity and assists evil doings. It causes us to make hasty and improper decisions, then saddles us with regret shortly thereafter. Regret. That’s a pretty bad one, too. But regret lets us feel like we have room for improvement. Embarrassment on the other hand… sometimes I wonder if that’s the worst emotion ever. Grief and regret are things that hopeful pass or inspire, but embarrassment is like a memory branded in your mind and you can replay those moments so vividly that you inadvertently relive them.

But why do we get embarrassed? What causes people to feel embarrassment?

For me, it can be a slow process. It could be an article I spent a long time writing and poured my heart into only to have it torn apart grammatically and ridiculed for its silly content. That’s embarrassing; I was proud of that now mangled mess.

For me, it can also be a split second of failure. The first thought that comes to mind is when I try to run in lovely Shaker Heights and catch my toe on its splendidly uneven slate sidewalks. In front of traffic. Country bumpkin over here running, sorry. Don’t mind me. I don’t often wear shoes and sidewalks are kind of a new thing for me…

Yet why do I care? Who cares if I make a lot of mistakes in my work if no one gets hurt by it? Who cares if I think differently than other people or they just don’t get something I’m trying to say? Who. Cares. If. I. Trip. But really? So what? I’m running, I fall, I get back up, whoop-de-doo. Oh, you were driving your car when I fell? You were NOT exercising and I was? Who should be embarrassed? Alas, it’s still me. I’m embarrassed. But I don’t want to be embarrassed. And I can remember my moments of embarrassment better than any moments of success – or a dynamics equation.

Since embarrassment is such a personal and intrinsic feeling, I try to think about what spiritual leaders would be telling their followers. They always seem to have good advice on handling others and keeping your cool, so what would they tell me about embarrassment? If I had to guess, it’d be something like this: None of us are flawless. God/Allah/some other spiritual being has made us the way we are, all unique, and has provided us with these moments to remember our imperfections. It’s grounding, it’s humiliating. Humiliation is how you learn to be humble.

In fact, thinking of humility, shame, and moments that cause us to reflect as such reminds me of a sermon I visited this fall when my friend invited me to his church. To confirm my speculation that a spiritualist would tell me that my embarrassment is a humbling eye-opener, I have rediscovered this passage from that sermon:

“When the scribes of the Pharisees saw that He was eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they said to His disciples, ‘Why is He eating and drinking with the tax collectors and sinners?’ And hearing this, Jesus said to them, ‘It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick; I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.’”
-Mark 2:16-17

It doesn’t matter what religion you are or aren’t, I think all holy scriptures are like additional Aesop’s Fables to life and I love to use them to reflect. This quote from the book of Mark, one of the many brought up in the sermon, makes me realize that I feel embarrassment because I am able to be humbled. I am not so righteous that I am perfect or in my own Nirvana; I have flaws that I need reminding of. And what’s better yet is those moments when I fall – whether figuratively or literally – are always those moments when I am overconfident. I am embarrassed because I realize maybe my writing isn’t as fantastic as I thought it was. I am embarrassed because, for a moment, I was caught up in thinking about myself too much that I tripped and realized how feeble I am.

In conclusion, I have decided that embarrassment is really just a blessing. Without it, we would be blinded by overconfidence and not realize how foolish we are being at times. Embarrassment does give us a chance for redemption, but only if we actively seek it.

Fear and Starting.

One thing that has got me wrapped up a lot in thoughts lately is committing to something, to starting. I write and will continue to write a lot about change, about fear, and about decisions. But what about when you combine change, fear, and decisions into a single moment? What does that become? Well, it may not seem obvious, but doesn’t it just become a new beginning?

Starting over, starting fresh, starting anew – that all sounds fantastic. But starting one thing often means replacing or ending another, if not simply stressing yourself out and spreading yourself too thin. Starting can mean a lot of unknown territory. Therefore, starting involves a lot of change, put into effect by cue of a decision, and constantly provoked by fear. Fear of the unknown. Fear of having made that wrong choice. Fear of the consequences of that change.

So “starting” is deeply rooted in fear, no matter how wonderful and ambitious starting something might feel. I think what I fear the most about starting is my inability to endure and the probability (or sometimes inevitable reality) that I will fail. If I’m starting a new crocheting project, failure seems habitual. (If only you realized how many times I’ve forgotten a project, or set it aside and lost count of my stitches, or even left it somewhere for my cats to half-unravel. What’s worse is when I try to knit because, no matter how rectangular my piece should be, it always turns into a 45-45-90 triangle… ineptitude FTW!) If I’m starting a book, failure seems unlikely but not at all dangerous (bookmarks are easily forgotten and books re-shelved). But what if that failure involves other people?

I’m always fearful of starting anything involving another person. And I don’t just mean a friendship or relationship; I mean anything that might come with it an unspoken expectancy of consistency and repetition. I’m terrified of letting people down and being remembered for it. I’m also fearful of starting any kind of group or inspirational movement. It’s a silly fear, because my goal in life is to make a change in the world that will last longer than I will. You have to jump to kick-start such strides. But what if I jump and there was nowhere I could’ve gone? Something I missed? No one to follow me? What if everyone will stand at the top and just laugh at me and not help me back up?

It’s really easy to be frustrated by a friend who can’t pull himself away from the things he has grown to know best. He doesn’t want to abandon his old ring of friends, his family, his hometown, his high school memories. He wants to replay, relive, and continue to stay in the life he has always known. With me becoming such a reckless wanderer over the past year who invites nothing but chaos and unknowns as a way to get through the rough times, I tend to forget that he hasn’t experienced any new personal growth in a while. He doesn’t understand the inspiration in starting a new path.

It’s really hard to see that and then to step back and realize I can’t blame him for not taking that leap. I might not see leaving home or friends or an old relationship as a challenge the way it was two years ago, but I am afraid to speak my mind at times when I know he would stand up for himself. Those times are the latter of which I was speaking, the times that involve other people to start a movement. My friend is eager to get people onboard, to provoke their minds and create his own bandwagon. I, however, am afraid to do that; and it’s what I want to do the most.

That is when I got a fortune cookie that changed me: “Act boldly and unseen forces will come to your aid.”

When I got back from Colorado at the start of November, I sent out a survey to a lot of people whom I knew and didn’t know so well. It was a survey asking for feedback on the movement I wish to begin in my community. It was outlandish in ways and definitely provoking. I had some hateful responses from people who clearly are not personally involved. As much as I wanted to cave and let them defeat me, I remembered why I was doing this for the first place and realized it was not for me but for the people I care about. That’s when I started to let the positive feedback sink in and I realized how much praise I was being given.

“You’re an inspiration to me; your ideas are radical, but if they work this will be life-changing for so many people. Even if it doesn’t work, this will still change our lives by your inspiration.”

I’m not in it for the recognition, but that sentiment was exactly what I needed to make me realize this is why I’m here. I can’t sit back and let these desires burn; I’d burn up from anxiety. Instead, I have to let it catch me on fire and just go running off that cliff. I’ve gotten over my fear of changes in work, friends, and hometown, but now I’m going to get through this too and decide that I’ve got to put my armor down. People might hurt me from time to time, but I’ve got to act like a martyr for my cause before I even have a reason to be acknowledged. Confidence is enough to convince people you are not one to be questioned or taken lightly. And so I act boldly. And those forces have come to my aid from unseen places. The ball is rolling.

And that fortune is still sitting next to my stapler.

Inspiration for Change.

Quote

It’s been too long since I posted something.  I guess that’s what you get for not having Internet or any other connection to the “real world”.  As much as I love my satire and ruthless criticism of both irrelevant and current issues, it’s nice to take a break from something I get paid to do and just write something that’s a bit of a reflection.  Today’s break is a reflection on something I dislike entirely: confrontation.

The quote is “You can’t change what you refuse to confront.”  I see this in two lights.

The first light is me being caught up on that word, confront.  I hate confrontations.  I will go completely out of my way to avoid people and conversations about things that make me uncomfortable, which is a lot of things…  I take this feeling to a whole new level; the conversation doesn’t even need to be hostile for me to fear addressing someone on an issue.  In fact, today I had a spark plug go bad in my new car and I almost walked 3 hours after sunset in the snow because I was unwilling to ask my friend for a ride.  That’s not even a confrontation, that’s just asking for help.  But it meant admitting I had a problem and asking for resolution.  I finally wised up and called, and the friend is even offering to drive me to work in the morning instead of me biking (as I had planned to do… in the snow).  But, no, what about real confrontations?  Those conversations that you know are just going to go bad, whether they will start bad or end by blowing up in your face.  Someone isn’t living up to someone else’s expectations.  Someone failed to follow directions at work or on a test.  Or even someone noticing I skipped dinner and then making me feel like a criminal for it.  Things that I’ll see coming from a million miles away that make me swerve so far out of the way that it becomes absurd.  I hate confrontations.

The second light in which I see this quote is a much more simplistic view: I focus on the change.  If there’s something wrong in the world, you’ve gotta go fix it!  It won’t fix itself.  Sometimes things need someone standing there, saying they’re broken before anyone will acknowledge the fact that something does indeed need to be fixed.  That’s kind of how I view the work I want to do for the reservations; just because I’m native doesn’t mean I’m obligated to care about it, it’s just something that every American should have in the back of his or her mind.  I’ve realized, in some situations, maybe I’ve gotta be the one to put it there.

So whether you’re worried about making that change or having that confrontation, we can see now how the two come hand-in-hand.  In my efforts to acknowledge this fact and to better myself, I’m making strides to fear confrontations less – to realize that I have the right to speak out against things that aren’t as I think they should be.  And, as always, I will continue to volunteer my time to the causes that are nearest and dearest to my heart: indigenous cultures and rights, hard work, virtuous living, local food, protecting the planet, animal rights, and respect.

Namaste.