I Miss Soul Train

From the time I was a kid, I remember watching Saturday morning cartoons, all the while anticipating the treat which would come after cartoons were over. The Soul Train theme song would play, and I would settle in for an hour of some of the best music around. I continued this pattern through my early 20’s, and would plan my Saturday around Soul Train, carving out time to watch like the faithful fan I always was. At the 45 minute mark, the Soul Train dance line would form, and I would be glued to the television set, watching all the moves, and looking at all the cool outfits. The Dance Line began as a couples line, then by the 1980’s, it morphed into singlets and the occasional group of dancers moving across the dance floor:

The first Soul Train episode aired on October 2, 1971, and the show ran through March of 2006. That’s 35 years and 1,117 soul, dance, R and B, and funk-filled episodes. Thanks to creator and host Don Cornelius, Soul Train brought black culture into America’s homes, broke down barriers, and wowed people like me. Don Cornelius would close out every episode with a sweeping thrown kiss and a wish to the viewers for “love, peace, and SOUUUUUUUULLLL”, a uniting and loving gesture which became a signature for the show.

For those of you who loved Soul Train as much as I did, you’ll get kick out of the following video, in which former Soul Train dancers share their experiences of being on the show:

Here are two video compilations, one which features the top ten female Soul Train dancers, and the other which showcases the top ten male Soul Train dancers:

I don’t want children — stop telling me I’ll change my mind | Christen Reighter

I absolutely love this TED Talk by Christen Reighter, who talks about the resistance she met with when attempting to obtain approval for tubal ligation. There are two statements in particular which struck me:

“I’ve always believed that having children was an extension of womanhood, not the definition.”

“I believe that a woman’s value should never be determined by whether or not she has a child, because that strips her of her entire identity as an adult unto herself.”

The resistance which Ms. Reighter encountered during her consultations for tubal ligation was unfounded in both my opinion as a woman, and also as a physician. It’s astonishing how medical colleagues refused to hear her argument for the ligation, and how her primary doctor kept insisting that she would change her mind at some point. What infuriates me even more was that the doctors abused medical paternalism, infusing their own beliefs about what a woman might be feeling about the idea of motherhood, and essentially stripping this woman of her rights.

Similar to what Christen Reighter believes, I have never bought into the lie that it has been my duty as a woman to have children. I have always bristled when people would try to pressure me to start a family. I have received this pressure from my family and feel that this is appropriate, but I have also been pressured by friends, patients, acquaintances and complete strangers. What is with the intense societal pressure to create progeny?

I have never experienced anything more than a brief and passing curiosity about the idea of having a child, and now that I am post-menopausal, I no longer have to concern myself with it. I don’t feel that I am incomplete or less of a woman because I chose not to have a mini-me. I essentially chose to be childless for a number of reasons, and I had the right to make that decision regardless of what anyone else thought.

Bravo to Christen Reighter for proclaiming her strong beliefs and standing her ground.

A Great TED Talk On Clutter

“Clutter is postponed decisions.” – Barbara Hemphill

I absolutely love this brilliant quote by Barbara Hemphill which Kerry Thomas mentions in this TED Talk video, because it is completely true. No matter what type of clutter plagues you, it may be impeding you in a profound way from living a free and peaceful life.

I hate physical clutter and fight it all the time by conducting purges throughout the year. But physical clutter is only one type of clutter, and Ms. Thomas breaks down the different types into the following:

Physical
Mental
Emotional
Digital
Spiritual

Although I feel that I have a good handle on physical clutter in my environment, the other categories are more challenging. I control digital clutter by going through my email inboxes on a daily basis, consolidating images and deleting old text messages on my phone. I also think I have a decent handle on spiritual clutter because I meditate daily, take meditation and yoga courses, and also practice breathwork. I try to forgive those who upset me, and I also make sure to avoid toxic people.

The areas where I get hung up (and I suspect many others do) is with mental and emotional clutter. Ms. Thomas states that mental clutter consists of fears one might have, and it also could stem from the judgmental words of others, while emotional clutter consists of negative thoughts and behaviors. The thing is, I have fears which keep my mind racing, and I also fall into the trap of negative thinking from time to time, especially when I am in the middle of a crisis. So by no means am I completely free of clutter. However, I constantly strive to clear up anything which is depressing me or slowing me down.

It’s incredibly liberating to get rid of items which are damaged, unused, or worn, and it’s also wonderful to let go of all the mental blockades to happiness and freedom. One thing I always try to remind myself is that worrying about things will never bring about a solution. The only thing worry ends up doing is eroding one’s demeanor and sparking anxiety.

I suggest that you think about the different areas in which clutter might be adversely affecting your life, and adopt behaviors which counteract such clutter.

Rapunzels Are In Vogue

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Copyright : subbotina

Super long hair is in fashion these days, so much so that ladies who are unable to grow their hair as long as they want have been sporting extensions to produce the desired long locks. It’s been interesting hearing people comment on my hair, which I had decided to grow out again, because people who haven’t known me for long think it’s a new thing. Well, it’s not. I have always sported extremely long hair past my waist since I was a young child, and at one point in my 20’s, my hair was so long that not only would I sit on the ends, but other people sitting next to me would accidentally pin me down, and I would have to ask them to release my hair.

The longest my hair ever got was in 1991…

I know it sounds strange, but to me, my hair at this point almost seems short,compared to that time in the early 90’s when my hair was at its longest. Here’s where my hair was length-wise in June, and then in August of this year:

My hair in June 2019

By August 2019, my hair was this long, and this was even after a trim!

I still look at images of women with crazy long hair (past the gluteal fold), and find some appeal in it, but I honestly don’t know if it would drive me nuts to carry around such a long span of keratin everywhere. Let’s face it, long hair gets in the way, it’s heavy, it makes the nape of the neck hot during the summer, and caring for long hair requires some extra effort to keep it looking its healthiest. I’m not even sure my hair would reach the same length where I had it in 1991, but I suspect I’d get so sick and tired of the maintenance that I would opt for a shorter, more manageable length.

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I will say that women with very long hair do stand out. Long hair is special, it’s beautiful, and not everyone can rock a Rapunzel-length mane. I think anyone with beautiful, healthy hair who wants to grow it out should do it, even if they later decide that sporting a scarf of hair isn’t for them.

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There is also a fair amount of versatility with long hair. It can be coiled into an elegant updo, crafted into a half-up, half-down hairstyle which is fashionable and pretty, swept up into a ponytail, braided, or left loose and free. In addition, long hair makes a handy shawl or scarf if one is caught in brisk weather without a sweater or coat. Believe me, I have used my hair as insulation from cold air many times over the years!

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Lastly, there is something so romantic about very long hair. Women with uber long hair aren’t afraid to express themselves as women. A sharp contrast to pixie hair styles, long hair evokes tremendous femininity. What’s strange, though, is how oppressed the literary character Rapunzel was. She was held captive by a witch in a tower, and her only hope of escape was to find a rescuer who would have to climb up her incredibly long hair to rescue her. Eventually Rapunzel cuts her hair, which apparently symbolizes cutting ties with a maternal figure. Wow, heavy stuff.

I suspect that I will sport extremely long hair, at least waist-length, for as long as I live. I’ve spent the majority of my life with long hair as part of my signature style, and I don’t plan to change that style by chopping my strands.

Seated Stretches To Energize You

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If you work at a desk job, you probably don’t think much about stretching your body and recharging it, but it’s one of the best things you can do for your body and your spirit.

Though I think it’s always best to step away from your desk to increase circulation, stretch, and reset your mind, I know that isn’t always an option. So here are a few stretches which you can do while sitting at your desk. I challenge you to perform these stretches right now as you read this blog post so you can see how easy and quick they are.

NECK CIRCLES:
Inhale, then exhale while dropping your chin to your chest.
As you slowly inhale, rotate your head to the right, bringing your right ear near your right shoulder and stretching the muscles on the left side of your neck.
Keep rotating until your neck is fully extended and pause, then rotate your head while slowly exhaling so that your left ear is now near your left shoulder and you feel a stretch in the muscles on the right side of your neck.
As your chin reaches your chest, finish your exhalation and pause.
Continue in this manner for 5 complete revolutions, then switch directions and perform 5 complete revolutions. Bring head to neutral and take a deep inhale, then slowly exhale.

SHOULDER SHRUGS
With arms at sides, inhale, then raise both shoulders near ears and hold for a count of 5.
Forcibly exhale through open mouth while quickly dropping shoulders.
Repeat 4 more times.

GRIP AND RELEASE
Make fists with both hands, holding for a count of 10.
Spread fingers out wide, holding for a count of 10.
Repeat sequence 2 more times, then shake hands out for several seconds.

OPEN HEART
With bent elbows, reach behind your lower back and clasp your hands together.
Aim to keep your palms together at all times.
Move the shoulder blades together.
Then straighten the elbows.
See if you can lift your arms up, away from your back.

NOTE: If this move is too difficult for you, hold onto a towel or belt, then pull arms outwards to add tension, then lift your arms.

Are There Really 52 Genders?

Back in the day, the topic of gender boiled down to biology, defined by one’s sex chromosomes. XX, and you were female, XY, and you were male. Chromosomal disorders such as XO,XXX, XXXX, XXXXX resulted in individuals who possessed female genitalia, while XXY, XXXY, XY/XXY, XYY aberrations resulted in the expression of male genitalia. True hermaphroditism (1), in which both female and male genitals or a hybrid of them exist, is exceedingly rare, so much so that there has never really been a pressing need for a third gender box.

In recent years, however, there has been so much debate and confusion regarding gender versus sexual orientation and identity, that surveys are jumping on the bandwagon to appease to this new crop of outspoken individuals. Biology has abruptly taken a backseat to sexual identity, with all its permutations and definitions. And don’t you dare try to argue biology with the new sexual order, either.

Call me old school, but if we are talking about biology, then there are MALES and FEMALES. For the purposes of the general human population, such genetic definitions accommodate the vast majority of individuals. So if a questionnaire or survey asks someone to check off a GENDER box, it shouldn’t be an insult to a person to mark one of those two boxes. Yet the new millennial order has eschewed biology, turning the query into a chance to declare specific social-sexual preferences. I have never been offended by the standard gender question, and cannot understand how some people insist on applying flawed logic and getting bent out of shape over it.

If gender is such a difficult issue in today’s society, then why do so many couples post gender reveals on social media? It’s either a boy, or a girl, period. Traditionally, when a survey asked for your gender for classification purposes, it wasn’t asking about your bedroom habits. Now it’s a wide open door for people to declare their defiance and independence from a staid society which has been sexually repressed for far too long. It’s suddenly cool when gathering demographic information to inquire about a person’s whole social identity.

I was prompted to write about this topic when I was asked to complete a profile for a social influencer platform. When I reached the gender section, I saw that it was FIVE PAGES LONG. There were 52 different gender choices. I was stunned. This wasn’t a gender question. This was a social-sexual labels question. And it truly annoyed me. It’s not like I have a problem with the labels, I just have a problem with them being referred to as genders. I also don’t quite understand how transgender people suddenly became so ANGRY at the world.

Honestly, many of the labels are redundant, and one in particular should not be used by the majority of the nonbinary public. Say someone identifies as the following:

AFAB (assigned female at birth)
Female to male
FTM
Trans male
Trans man
Transgender male
Transgender man
Transmasculine
Transsexual male
Transsexual man

Guess what? They all (except for AFAB, which already implies that the individual has rejected their biological origin) say the SAME THING.

Also, anyone who refers to themselves as Two-spirit has no right to use that label unless they truly are members of the indigenous Native American community from which the phrase originated. Here’s the description of “Two-spirit”:

Two-Spirit (also two spirit or, occasionally, twospirited) is a modern, pan-Indian, umbrella term used by some Indigenous North Americans to describe Native people in their communities who fulfill a traditional third-gender (or other gender-variant) ceremonial role in their cultures.

The term two-spirit was created in 1990 at the Indigenous lesbian and gay international gathering in Winnipeg, and “specifically chosen to distinguish and distance Native American/First Nations people from non-Native peoples.” The primary purpose of coining a new term was to encourage the replacement of the outdated and considered offensive, anthropological term, berdache. While this new term has not been universally accepted—it has been criticized by traditional communities who already have their own terms for the people being grouped under this new term, and by those who reject what they call the “western” binary implications, such as implying that Natives believe these individuals are “both male and female”—it has generally received more acceptance and use than the anthropological term it replaced.

“Two Spirit” is not interchangeable with “LGBT Native American” or “Gay Indian”; rather, it was intended, despite being in English, to carry on the traditional meanings of the terms in Indigenous languages for the culturally-specific ceremonial roles that are recognized and confirmed by the Elders of the two-spirit’s ceremonial community. Opinions vary as to whether or not this objective has succeeded. Often incorrectly used as a synonym for “LGBT Native”, the term and identity of two-spirit “does not make sense” unless it is contextualized within a Native American or First Nations framework and traditional cultural understanding. However, the gender-nonconforming, LGBT, or third and fourth gender, ceremonial roles traditionally embodied by Native American and FNIM people, intended to be under the modern umbrella of two-spirit, can vary widely, even among the Indigenous people who accept the English-language term. No one Native American/First Nations’ culture’s gender or sexuality categories apply to all, or even a majority of, these cultures.

Oh, and Two-spirit is NOT a gender per biological standards either.

It’s fine if someone doesn’t want to be pigeonholed into a stereotypical gender description, and identifies as being transgender. In fact, there is legislation which aims to designate X as a gender marker for nonbinary and transgender individuals, and apparently, this option is available on birth certificates issued in the Canadian province of Ontario. However, I rail against the idea that the standard gender question on surveys and other forms must add a whole mess of redundant descriptions of sexual and social behavior.

REFERENCES:

1. A Human Intersex (“True Hermaphrodite”) with XX/XXY/XXYYY Sex Chromosomes
Fraccaro M.a · Taylor A.I.b · Bodian M.b · Newns G.H.b. Cytogenetics 1962;1:104–112
https://doi.org/10.1159/000129719