Wednesday, November 25, 2009

'Precious' Addresses Social Stigmas

'Precious' Addresses Social Stigmas
Author: aliciamilan / Published: November 24, 2009 at 4:01 pm

'Precious', a Sundance award winner, opened nationwide Friday November 20. The movie is based on Sapphire's novel Push and stars newcomer Gabourey Sidibe as the movie's namesake. Precious took three awards at the Sundance film festival and is being produced by Tyler Perry and Oprah Winfrey.

Gabourey "Gabby" Sidibe shines in a socially relevant must see role. She plays an obese, illiterate teenager sexually abused by her father and having her second child by him, as well as emotionally and physically abused by her mother and society in general.

In an interview conducted by Oprah with Ms. Sidibe, Oprah relayed a statement made by director Lee Daniels (who also produced Monsters Ball in 2002). Daniels said about Gabby, she is so confident that she is "either in denial about her physicality or from another planet." Her very gracious response to that statement was, "I learned to love myself no matter what my body looked like or what other people thought." It is my great hope, that this was just a poorly worded statement on Mr. Daniels part and not meant to come across as a put down, however, he does go on to say how evolved and special she is, so I will have to leave it open for individual interpretation.

All of that aside, 'Precious' is a movie very much worth seeing. It is a chilling reminder of the kind of inconceivable injustices which still exist in our society. It has a stellar, riveting performance by Ms. Sidibe and a supporting cast which includes, Mo'Nique, Mariah Carey, Lenny Kravitz, and Paula Patton.

Article Author: aliciamilan
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Monday, November 16, 2009

Early Morning

It is 4 a.m. and I am awake.

Mind already in overdrive.

Fleeting thoughts, momentary angers, constant worries.

Too early for this all.

My pillow, my reliable friend offers no comfort.

Out of bed for the first cup of coffee.

The house is blissfully quiet.

Turn on the fountains.

Soothing sounds that quiet the mind.

Process out the thoughts.

Thoughts so important that they prevent the wonderments of sleep.

Old hurts revisited, new hurts revisited.

Old ghosts visit, new ghosts visit.

Racing thoughts that like to dwell in places unwell.

The goal is peace.

Easy to intellectualize.

Harder to internalize.

Focus on compassion.

Focus on the the gifts in this life.

Focus on today.

Leave old hurts behind.

Leave old ghosts behind

Walk cleanly into the early morning light, and dwell there.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

A Storm Waiting to Happen

I saw his picture on the internet first. He was eighteen months old, in a medical foster home and released for adoption. His face melted my insides in a way nothing has before or since. I knew immediately that this was to be my son. My very first thought upon staring at his unsmiling picture, was that he looks like a storm waiting to happen. There was no question, no hesitation and I never turned back. I submitted my home study immediately and began a campaign to end all campaigns. I knew I had an advantage. He had some medical issues, and I was an RN with a strong pediatric back round. I used my humor, my intellect and my tenacity. There were hundreds of families that applied for him, and I had the very great fortune to be the one they chose.

On my first visit, his foster mom warned me that her sister had visited from Puerto Rico for a month and he never let her hug him or pick him up. She didn't want me to be discouraged if it took some time for him to warm up to me. On that visit, I sat on the floor, and after initially crying and hiding in his foster mother's arms, he made his way over to me. I gave him the Sesame Street sound board I bought for him and he LOVED that thing (that toy is still in my closet, I will never give it up). Then we started to play. He spent the next two hours in a baby drunk walk going in circles around the house and running into my arms for hugs over and over again. The family and foster care worker were in shock. I got a wet mushy kiss on the lips goodbye and I cried on and off most of the way home for having to leave him there. For me, it confirmed what I already knew instinctively. I knew this soul and he damn well knew me. It was a total of 4 months from first application for him to be on his way to his new permanent home. His room was ready and waiting and a stack of wrapped Holiday presents were awaiting his post holiday arrival. We drove the two hours in a bit of a rush trying to beat a winter storm that was supposed to have already begun. We came off of our exit to home when the snow began. I laughed and decided immediately that this storm waiting to happen that was buckled in his car seat, and the storm that waited to happen until we were home safely confirmed it. He was named Storm, an S name for my Grandfather Saul, and a name that suited him well.

Storm came home at 22 months old. In his foster home he had been receiving weekly; physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, feeding therapy and special education. He did not imitate sounds, he walked like he was drunk, and didn't chew food at all. He looked like a kwashkior kid. Sticks for arms and legs and a big empty pot belly from protein deprivation. He was used to eating corn meal glop with cheese. He would only eat mush from a spoon. I stopped all therapies. I worked with him like any mother would. He had free run of the house instead of spending most of his day in a high chair to keep him contained. We spent time on the enclosed trampoline to build muscles, and just talking to him every day like any mom would got him to start imitating. I very often needed his seven year old sister for interpretive data. "Shu Na" was Storm for fruit snack. You have the idea, but it was all in the right direction.

Food was our biggest issue. He was determined not to chew, and I was unrelenting. It became a test of wills and my goal was to find something that he liked enough to want to chew. Cheerios were a start, very little work and easy success. Then came the two discoveries that changed it all. McDonald's french fries and Dunkin Donuts french crullers. You see the french connection here. Now before the health nuts get on me, let me explain. My goal was getting him to start to chew. The nutrition part would come. I didn't care what it was. And both of these took little jaw strength and were obviously tastes that appealed to him. We made the trip to McDonald's and Dunkin Donuts daily and slowly but surely we made headway. My daughter loves to tell my son of the hour long meals we had consisting of me saying chew, chew, chew, and moving his jaw for him at times. He would pocket food and it was damn hard work but a labor of love.

We never did need those therapies again. When I had him tested for the public school 4 year old pre-school program he was rejected because he had no deficits. He was rejected because he had no deficits. The teacher who tested him said, "you know he's very bright". Damn well I knew. I knew all along the treasure I had. His sense of humor (he gets that from his Mom I must admit, sarcastic as all get out, in a very funny non-offensive way!) was right out there during the testing. I was never so proud of a rejection in my life.

Storm is now 7 years old and as I like to say, he was grossly under named. Tornado or hurricane would have been more appropriate. He puts the energizer bunny to shame. He is tall, slim and very muscular. He is at the top of his class, is bright, verbal and an amazing athlete. He plays the violin, and loves to write in his journal. His favorite food is steak and he has an obsession with bubble gum. OK, I will admit the 5 foot tall professional Seaga spiral gum ball machine in his room may have contributed to that obsession, but maybe not! And we have a bond like I have never experienced in my life.
I call him the child of my soul. I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt that I knew his soul before this life, and it is obvious that this is quite mutual. He is sensitive and tuned in and intuitive, and he is mine. I am not sure what I have done right in this lifetime to be honored with raising this person, not to mention being lucky enough to have a son that I love more then life itself. All I know is that I am grateful. I am grateful each morning and every night and all of the time in between. I am awed that this Storm waited to happen.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Spandex: An Unwanted View From The Dark Side.

I am revisiting a subject that I thought had been said and done in the 80's and 90's. I can remember back then being in the gym, working out and seeing people wearing spandex in every hue of the rainbow. Many of those people had no business in anything that tight and revealing. It was unsettling and I was uncomfortable for them. Why, not one kind soul, a friend, a parent, any loved one, did not gently guide them away from this unsightly trend, I will never understand.

It is apparent that spandex has entered the realm of every day wear. It is not limited to the gym or working out as it once was. It is in the supermarkets, the malls and nightclubs. I am not sure whether this trend grew naturally out of the gym wear back then, or whether it has taken on an unnatural life of it's own. For the good of mankind it must be stopped. We must all do our parts to end this blight on society.

This is a not so gentle reminder to all. I know I should not have to say it, it should be common sense, but here it is: SPANDEX IS NOT A RIGHT, IT IS A PRIVILEGE. I said it back then, and sadly, and with much regret I must say it again today.

I was walking into Lowe's food store yesterday and exiting directly in front of me was a middle aged woman (age not being a factor here in any form), dressed in pale grey spandex capri's and a midriff t-shirt. I am all for self love. I am all for positive body image. I am all for accepting yourself just as you are. I must say, from the bottom of my heart and with compassion and love, I am not, all for spandex for everyone. There was physical terrain, uncharted, somewhat bizarre, and definitely over exposed in those capri's. My head pulled back of it's own accord in a bit of shock and avoidance, and I quickened my step into the store.

There are some things in life, that need not be put on display for all to see. I (or any other unsuspecting soul), should not have to desperately attempt to avert my eyes to keep an unwanted image from being burned permanently into my retinas.

In the spirit of good will, and wanting to help in an area that obviously still needs work, here are a few rules of thumb that may work for the spandex impaired: If there are lumps and bumps where they were never intended to be on human anatomy, or greatly disproportionate body parts being displayed, reconsider the outfit. If wearing the garment becomes more of a true test of the durability of the fabric, reconsider the outfit. If it appears that people are averting their eyes, or attempting to hide a shocked expression, or in some unspecified discomfort, you may want to reconsider the outfit.

Last but not least, repeat after me; the mirror is my friend, the mirror is my friend, the mirror is my friend. While there are many times I may feel the mirror is my enemy, it always tells the truth. It is a sad fact of life that husbands, boyfriends, wives, girlfriends, friends and family members will very often lie when asked the all too terrifying question, "How do I look?". They may lie out of fear of the possible reaction, or out of some sort of misguided attempt at kindness. Whether viewed as a friend or an enemy, the mirror never lies. Use it, believe it, respect it's truth.

We must band together to help put an end to this unwanted view from the dark side. Work with me people here. Lets look in our own closets and be honest with ourselves. Let's be as kind as possible but truthful when asked, "How do I look?". And most important of all, before a spandex purchase ask yourself; Have I earned this privilege?

I will end this here, hoping that it is taken in the spirit in which it was intended. I will not enter into low cut jeans, muffin top territory, I will leave that for another time, another self help episode.