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With A Little Help From My Friends

Friendship is a wonderful gift. I have great friends … specifically I have great girlfriends. It seems that my college girlfriends are the closest type of friendships – we became the people we are today because of those friendships. We grew together and became sisters, if I can get away with that much Southern gooey sweetness. We are blunt with each other, brutally honest at times, but never hurtful. We are honest and direct with each other, but they are the first to call me on my crazy. And I do the same. We love each other unconditionally but not blindly.

We often compare other friendships to the ones we share together, the one we all keep on a pedestal. We often tease that we feel bad for women who don’t have real friendships (read here about frenemies) like ours. And we are only half kidding, we are seriously unapologetic about our own awesomeness. Make no mistake my friends and I are not without our flaws. I think the key to our enduring relationship is that we don’t expect perfection, we don’t run at the first sign of discourse. We hold each other up during the hard times and laugh through the good times.

The bizarre part of this wonderfully perfect friendship? It was developed through forced “togetherness” of several young women who I, at the time, felt that we were all different from one another.

As a kid my family moved several times to accommodate my father’s employer which meant I ended up attending elementary, middle and high school in different states. All that moving really got in the way of long-term friendships.

Making friends was particularly difficult for me as I was shy and awkward around new people. Seriously, I threw up on my shoes my first day of middle school. I had a tendency to talk too much or laugh too loud when I was nervous and then chastise myself later for not acting appropriately. Like most wallflowers, I spent most of my time just trying to blend in. I became so good at blending in that I eventually became invisible. Or at least that’s how I felt.

I was eager to move on to college where I had this notion that I would finally get to be myself, finally be free of cliques and the insatiable loneliness that I had come to know. I would finally become visible.

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And in 1999 it happened. I was invited to become a part of a legendary club called The BlackList. There is no rush or recruitment for honorary clubs, no bid day or membership tea, invitations are extended only to the 13 best juniors on campus. I was thrilled that my school’s coolest and baddest bee-otches wanted me.

I vaguely remember those first meetings with my new “sisters,” I was still as awkward as I was that first day of middle school except with less vomit, which I counted as a win. They, however, all seemed like rare, exotic and graceful animals. I was smitten with the idea that these girls would be my long-lost forever friends. But, as we know, friendships don’t just happen because you are placed in a group together and encouraged to bond. There were many times when we couldn’t hold our group together because we didn’t know how to hold each other up. There were times when we couldn’t see past our own ambition. I won’t lie – we had our growing pains. We had our cliques. We had our catty moments. They were certainly some cat-fighting and tears.

But slowly and surely there was a shift. It was so subtle at first we hardly noticed it but there was a change in our perspective. Somewhere along the way we became less interested in reaching the end of a goal and more interested in encouraging each other and enjoying the ride. We began to bolster our strengths and smooth out our rough spots. We became each other’s cheerleaders, counselors and best friends.

And as for me, I’m no longer the wallflower trying to fit in and just get by. I laugh loudly and proudly whenever I get the chance and don’t apologize for who I am. These women helped me SEE myself when they began to SEE me. I’m no longer invisible.

This last week, I’ve spent a lot of time “liking” and “commenting” on Facebook photos with abandon. Seriously it’s been a problem, but a good problem that I have enjoyed immensely. This weekend many generations of women will celebrate 100 years of the BlackList Honorary Social Club, the club that brought them all together, just it did me and my friends. This once in a lifetime celebration has spurred a sort of countdown to the homecoming festivities this weekend, and alumni far and wide have been posting pictures from their college days. I have loved pouring over the baby faces and teased hair of women I knew only as grown-ups when I, myself, was a baby-faced college kid. Even as a 19-year-old naive kid, I knew that by joining this club I was becoming part of something bigger than myself, something that would change my life. And boy was I right.

In addition to the 100th birthday of our club, the women who joined this club with me celebrate a milestone of our own. This is our 15-year anniversary. 15 years, that’s longer than I’ve known my husband.

To close out our acknowledgement of Women’s History Month here at Am I Being Catty, I would like to honor the women, the friends, the sisters that have changed me for the better (and sometimes for the worse, but that’s a blog that has yet to be written!).

I noticed something today in those pictures from the club’s past and the friendships chronicled in them. These were not just pictures of college days and shenanigans, although those are fabulous. These were pictures that told stories of relationships that crossed ages and miles. They were pictures of friends dressed as bridesmaids, friends holding newborns, friends comforting in grief, friends visiting after significant illness, friends’ children playing together. They were pictures of women loving each other as true friends. They were pictures that showed the power of girlfriends.

I won’t lie. We still gossip, get our feelings hurt, have miscommunications … and yes, we can be catty with each other. But there’s something to be said for a friendship that survives through the good times and bad times. It may not be that our friendship is particularly more special than others, it may just be that we know how to survive the hard times better and can move on from them faster.

Hug your friends tight. Here’s to another 15 years, ladies. And another 50 after that.

Ashley

 

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Why I’m Not Thrilled With Women’s History Month

Before I begin this blog, please know that I’m already perfectly aware that I’m in the minority and that there are going to be plenty of people who think I’m an idiot.  Well, GUESS WHAT?!?!  I AM AN IDIOT!  But, I’m an idiot with an opinion and  a platform, so I’m going to use it.  As Flannery O’Connor once said, “I don’t deserve any credit for turning the other cheek as my tongue is always in it.”  So, fire away, ladies.  I can take it.

With that out of the way, I have to profess my aversion and mild condescension to the concept of Women’s History Month.  In fact, the entire concept kind of pisses me off.  I think that when Morgan Freeman was asked his opinions about Black History Month, he nailed why separating a certain group is wrong.

What he’s saying here is that all of us should celebrate all of us.  I don’t want a month set aside for women.  I want women AND men who impact the world in extraordinary ways to be celebrated.

Let’s put this a different way:

What I hate hearing people say:  Violence against women is wrong.
What I wish people said:  Violence against anyone is wrong.

What I hate hearing people say: Men shouldn’t rape women.
What I wish people said:  People shouldn’t rape people.

What I hate hearing people say:  Men should respect women.
What I wish people said: People should respect each other.

What I hate hearing people say:  I fight for women’s rights.
What I wish people said:  I fight for everybody’s rights.

What I hate hearing people say:  You really must hate women.
What I wish people said:  You really must hate logic.

What are we, as women, doing to forward this concept?  I’m pretty sure it’s not setting aside a single month to pat ourselves on the back.  Doesn’t that sound silly?

So, while I admire every woman who has helped shape, change, or impact the world in which we live, I really don’t think we’re honoring them by limiting the celebration of their contributions to the month of March.

NOT on behalf of the amibeingcatty.com Team,

Kara

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Flying high: Don’t be a menace in the skies

After yet another work trip, I’m reminded again of all the things people do that drive me crazy on a flight.

I don’t mind the crying babies. I usually don’t mind being delayed. I don’t mind the people who “spill over” their airline seat. I don’t battle for an armrest. I don’t start a fight with the person in front of me when they crush my legs by “reclining,” if that’s what you call it. I don’t mind the people who don’t have the security measures memorized.

Instead, I’d like to share a few pet peeves that, if followed, will make everyone’s trip more enjoyable, even yours.

First, airline flying has ceased to become a vacation. Unless you travel first class all the time, it’s not going to be fun and relaxing. Is a car trip fun? Well, neither is flying. And those people you see in first class – most of the time they’re not rich. They just fly a lot. Pity them. So, don’t complain about the leg room, the poor quality of the wine list, or the lines you have to wait in. I’m still surprised they offer free beverages and snacks at this point.

Flying is a lot of waiting. You wait in security. You wait to board the plane. And once you get your ticket checked, you stand in line to actually get to your seat. You wait to get off the plane. You wait to get your luggage from baggage claim. Once you mastered the virtue of patience, that’s really the biggest hurdle.

  1. You will probably have to wait in a security line. With that said, you will probably not miss your flight if you’re waiting in security. I’ve never missed a flight because I’m stuck in security. If by chance, you think you’re going to miss your flight, inform the ticket counter or a TSA officer. They may let you go through a priority line. If you just hate waiting in line, do NOT ask the people at the front of the line if you can cut in front because you may miss your flight. This happened to me once, and being the good person I was, I let a woman go ahead of me (and about 10 other people did the same who were in front of me). Let me tell you that that good deed feeling withered away when I saw the same woman drinking her coffee and reading a newspaper at my gate. Yes, we were on the same flight.
  2. If you’re at the gate, they’re probably not going to leave you. You will have a seat. Standing by the ticket counter when they’re calling first class passengers and you’re in Group 5, just means that people will either think you’re standing in line for first class (which means they’ll miss their boarding group) or they will have to step around you because you’re too eager to board the plane. Grab a chair in the terminal and enjoy your latte. You probably have another 10 minutes to wait.
  3. Again – you’re going to get off the plane. Promise. When the plane docks, there is no need for you to unbuckle your seatbelt, jump up, grab your overhead luggage … and then wait in the aisle for 20 minutes.
  4. These people who stand in the aisle for 20 minutes, you’ll see them rush off the plane. I’ve had people crawl over my luggage at this point. I’ve also had people crawl under my luggage as I’m in the process of taking it down from the overhead bins. It takes 10 seconds, but they just can’t wait that long. Maybe they have another flight to catch? Probably not. Just wait your turn to get off the plane. Again, if you’re worried about missing a connecting flight, inform the airline attendant. Don’t be one of those yahoos who trample over people because they have to get off the plane immediately. These are the same people you’ll see at baggage claim waiting for their luggage.
  5. Now that we’re at baggage claim, let’s all hover over the belt. You know, because it’s going so fast, you might miss that your luggage comes out of the window and whooshes right past you. Yes, I’m being sarcastic. If everyone would just take a few steps back, everyone would have a chance to grab their luggage without falling over people or hopping on the belt to avoid losing your bag on the first go-round. When you see your bag, you could simply step forward, grab it and then pull it back. I’ve seen people fall on the belt or race over people to grab their bags. Guess what? If you miss it, it’s coming back again in about 60 seconds. Patience.

In addition to patience, let’s examine common sense. We are going to back up and examine the security line. No lie, this past week, I followed a woman through the security gate who had metal studs on the shoulders of her shirt and all down her blue jeans. Seriously? Yes, you’re going to get a pat down. I’ve heard of a woman who had half a gun fused to her purse. Did she just “randomly selected” for further screening. Yes, ma’am.

Are you going to put your entire life in the overhead compartment when you board the plane? Did you not hear the flight attendant explicitly say how to load your luggage … like, five times? Large bag on top, smaller bag under the seat. If I board the plane and you have crammed your bag, purse, coat, shopping bag in the overhead compartment, I will rearrange your stuff. I may even be nice enough to ask whose it is and then hand it to you so you don’t have to get up. Don’t be an overhead compartment hog. If anything, wait until everyone has boarded the plane, then add your items overhead.

It may seem as if I have a lot of gripes, but flying can be so much more enjoyable if you have patience and common sense, and just a touch of courtesy and self-awareness.

You’re welcome,

CattyLiz

Vote: Who is the Cattiest Character on Downton Abbey?

After a long, long week of waiting, it’s finally Downton Day! So we want to know — who is the cattiest character at Downton? The competition is stiff, but can you pick just one?

The cast of Downton Abbey (as if they need an introduction)

The cast of Downton Abbey (as if they need an introduction)

Namaste Y’all.

Never ones to shy away from tough topics here at Am I Being Catty, we’d like to invite you to buckle in ladies, because this post may be a bumpy ride.

As a person raised in the Deep South, I am aware of the inflammatory and provocative nature of race and ethnicity. I am a child of the 80’s and 90’s when the popular race-relation strategy was to be “colorblind.” In other words, “let me pretend not to notice the difference in your skin tone and ignore the cultural differences that probably go along with it.” I adhered to this “colorblind” philosophy for many years because I didn’t understand that while we, as humans, share a common human experience that does not mean that I, as a white woman, share the same life experiences as a woman of color.

This brings me to current events. Recently a former (and much loved and respected) professor shared an article from XOJane that was actually a response to this original article.  Here are some excerpts of Yoga Girl’s article for those of you who don’t have the time or inclination to read the whole original piece:

A few weeks ago, as I settled into an exceptionally crowded midday class, a young, fairly heavy black woman put her mat down directly behind mine. It appeared she had never set foot in a yoga studio—she was glancing around anxiously, adjusting her clothes, looking wide-eyed and nervous. Within the first few minutes of gentle warm-up stretches, I saw the fear in her eyes snowball, turning into panic and then despair. Before we made it into our first downward dog, she had crouched down on her elbows and knees, head lowered close to the ground, trapped and vulnerable. She stayed there, staring, for the rest of the class.

Because I was directly in front of her, I had no choice but to look straight at her every time my head was upside down (roughly once a minute). I’ve seen people freeze or give up in yoga classes many times, and it’s a sad thing, but as a student there’s nothing you can do about it. At that moment, though, I found it impossible to stop thinking about this woman. Even when I wasn’t positioned to stare directly at her, I knew she was still staring directly at me. Over the course of the next hour, I watched as her despair turned into resentment and then contempt. I felt it all directed toward me and my body.
 
I was completely unable to focus on my practice, instead feeling hyper-aware of my high-waisted bike shorts, my tastefully tacky sports bra, my well-versedness in these poses that I have been in hundreds of times. My skinny white girl body. Surely this woman was noticing all of these things and judging me for them, stereotyping me, resenting me—or so I imagined.
I thought about how that must feel: to be a heavyset black woman entering for the first time a system that by all accounts seems unable to accommodate her body. What could I do to help her? If I were her, I thought, I would want as little attention to be drawn to my despair as possible—I would not want anyone to look at me or notice me. And so I tried to very deliberately avoid looking in her direction each time I was in downward dog, but I could feel her hostility just the same. Trying to ignore it only made it worse. 
I got home from that class and promptly broke down crying. Yoga, a beloved safe space that has helped me through many dark moments in over six years of practice, suddenly felt deeply suspect. Knowing fully well that one hour of perhaps self-importantly believing myself to be the deserving target of a racially charged anger is nothing, is largely my own psychological projection, is a drop in the bucket, is the tip of the iceberg in American race relations, I was shaken by it all the same.

Ok, so there are lots of things I could say in response to this article for instance I could comment on Yoga girl’s unbelievable mind reading skills, or her co-opting of the experience of another human being (with whom she NEVER SPOKE) but those comments have already been eloquently covered here by another XOJane contributor.

I could also comment on how Yoga girl takes a narcissistic and biased view of her own body as not only the yoga ideal but also apparently the ideal of the unnamed heavy black woman (again, with whom she NEVER SPOKE). But again that view has been very powerfully expressed here.

Or maybe I could comment on how Yoga girl may need to re-boot her yoga practice by looking at her own mind and heart rather than worrying about who is or isn’t giving her the stink eye, but once again this has been beautifully stated here (this is my personal favorite).

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So you may be asking what’s left for me, a white woman, to add to this conversation about race, body types, privilege and yoga?  Well, as a matter of fact, not much.  The truth is I can only truly speak to my own experience as a middle class white woman.  I am not naive enough to believe that I have not benefited from my skin color and class.  I have been privy to plenty of conversations with others who share my white skin (and believe I share their “values”) to know that racism is not a relic of days gone by.  I am also not so idealistic (or pompous) to believe that my skin color and class have not influenced my view of others in good and bad ways.

I think the lesson in Yoga girl’s unfortunate online debut is remembering that everyone’s life experiences, culture, and racial and ethnic identities color their perspective.  And that perspective is probably very different from yours.

Welcome the diversity, embrace the differences and never assume that the craziness going on in your head (which is influenced by your own life, culture etc.) is also going on in someone else’s head.  Trust me, everyone has their own crazy.

And maybe next time there is a new person (of any color or body size) in your yoga, kickboxing or weightlifting class just say “hello.”

Peace and love ladies,

Ashley

#yogaisforposers #namasteyall #xojane

AIBC’s Super Bowl Poll

Everybody’s a Comedian

Have you ever noticed there’s always that friend that fancies himself/herself a comedian?    People can be so eager to be today’s funny man/woman that he or she may do it at the expense of being insensitive to others’ real and raw emotions.   I used to be that friend.  I have always reveled in the inappropriate and love the shock factor, but have since learned knowing your audience and use of appropriate timing is of utmost importance.  I’m not talking about comedic timing, either.  I have actually isolated friends by being insensitive at the worst of times for them and I have serious regrets.  Fortunately, I learned those hard lessons before social media came into existence.  You see, Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites can really suck.  Especially when your want-to-be comedian friends seem to make perfect strangers hate them by expressing their would-be humor all over YOUR wall.  As a friend to all parties involved, this can put you in a very uncomfortable position.

Here are a few tips to help you keep your friendships.

The first step is realizing not everything should be funny.  Sure, this is your way of coping with awkward or uncomfortable situations, but sometimes your humor doesn’t remotely translate and will backfire terribly.  And sometimes there are moments when humor should be excluded altogether.

Don’t be desperate for attention; it’s not about you.  Yes, your intentions may be to cheer a friend up and make them laugh,  but sometimes when people reach out they are in need of compassion.  Making a joke or providing humor can undermine a serious message.  And quite possibly, you may come across as an attention hound.

Additionally, remember that you may know your friend very well, but you don’t know your friend’s friends.  What your friend may take lightly because they know and accept your sense of humor may be highly upsetting to their friends.  You never know what battles or demons people are fighting and to make an off color joke about depression, divorce, etc. is just in poor taste.

Finally, if you post something and everyone completely ignores you – or worse, crickets ensue because you’ve completely killed the thread then it might be okay to just go ahead and delete your comment and let the thread owner know.

We all feel a touch more bold about what we share on our friends’ pages because we don’t know their friends personally.  To avoid offending people I have always chosen my words carefully on Facebook.  Sometimes people drop profanity or worse things on my Facebook statuses because they are sheltered from ever knowing the people they’ve offended, but I am the one stuck dealing with that backlash or upset from an aunt or former teacher.  We add people on Facebook because we actually like them as friends, but that shouldn’t mean we have to justify peoples’ behaviors to prove they are decent human beings to the friends they insult.  Think before you post and don’t put your friends in that position to explain you aren’t really as callous as you came across.

It’s really a simple concept, actually.  If you wouldn’t proclaim it on a street corner then don’t proclaim it on your friends’ statuses.  Save those funnies for intimate one-on-one conversations.  This way you can really enjoy the look of amusement/shock/whatever on your (real life and not just Facebook) friend’s face.

No trolling here,

Shelly

#internettroll #Facebook #theresarightandwrongtimetobefunny