War on Your Intellect

War on Your Intellect | Sedruola Maruska

The war on your intellect is getting crazy!

You know what I’m talking about. The feeling of guilt you get when you talk about a topic intelligently and someone looks at you as if you’re speaking Greek.

The war that’s being waged on those who think by those who simply react. That intellect war.

Don’t cower! Never relent! Being smart and thinking with your analytical brain as well as your creative brain is important. You have knowledge for a reason. Don’t let anyone take that away from you because they’re not willing to get to where you are.

Pretending that you’re less smart than you actually are doesn’t do anyone any favors. We need thinking people around. We need creative people around. We need your intellect around.

I actually think I can do a better job verbally so here’s a video from the Left Thinking channel to help you grasp what I’m saying.

Be bold, be strong and be proud!

 


 

Old White Men in Wheelchairs Scare Me

Old White Men in Wheelchairs Scare Me | Sedruola Maruska

I’ve never told anyone that old white men in wheelchairs scare me . . . until now.

We moved back to New York City, after living in Salt Lake City for two years, when I was ten going on eleven. It was culturally shocking. . . but that’s another post.

I was in the sixth grade and everything was new. Instead of riding a school bus I rode the city bus. I needed a bus pass and I walked to and from the bus stop every day on my own. I was a big girl.

We lived with my grandfather while we were looking for our own home, so everyday on my walk I passed this beautiful house with a lovely manicured yard. I used to imagine what it would look like on the inside or what the people were like.

This was the first time I was living in a neighborhood with houses so I was really in awe. Some days I would see people around, but most days I would walk the quiet streets home and meet my grandfather waiting at home.

It wasn’t long before I started seeing an old white man in a wheelchair passing by in the streets. At first he rode by silently. Then he began to say hello. We’d moved from a predominantly white city so white men in wheelchairs were just like every other white man I’d ever met. It never crossed my mind that this man’s presence was odd or that I needed to be concerned.

One day on my walk home this man rolled up to me:

Man: Can you help me with something?
Me: Yes.
Man: I need to get to the door of that house (pointing to my dream house) but I can’t reach the doorbell, can you help me?
Me: Sure (excited to finally meet the people who lived in that beautiful house)

We went over to the house where I started to go to the front door

Man: No, we need to go to the back door, it’s easier for me

So we moved to the back door (which was really a side door) and I rang the doorbell. I stood waiting for an answer with this man right behind me.

Man: Wow, you have a lot of dirt on the back of your skirt (as he proceeds to wipe it off)
Me: Really? (trying to look back)
Man: Ring again I don’t think they heard

I turn to ring again. A hand goes on my skirt again, but this time to lift it

Man: How did you get this dirt on you, it’s on your panties too
Me: I don’t have any dirt on me
Man: Yes, you do (preparing to pull down my panties)
Me: No I don’t! I don’t think anyone’s home (moving to go)
Man: Oh, I’m sorry, I guess they aren’t here, thank you

As I walked quickly back to the sidewalk he followed. When I got to the sidewalk and began walking home, my grandfather came out of the house looking for me. I was a few minutes late and he wanted to make sure I was okay. He saw me with this man on my heels.

Grandpa: Hello Sedie, are you okay (looking at the man behind me)
Me: Yes, I’m fine
Grandpa: Who is that man, are you okay?
Me: He needed help, I’m fine

That was the last time I saw that pedophile. That was the last time I ever spoke about that pedophile. That wasn’t the last time an old white man in a wheelchair made me nervous.

From a very young age I learned to take responsibility for my actions. Doing that meant I took responsibility for what happened. I could have walked away and ignored the old white man in the wheelchair. . . As a good and respectful girl, that wasn’t an option.

Good and respectful girls don’t walk away when someone who is clearly your elder and needs your help asks you to help. You help.

I’m realizing how we as women are programmed to do the right thing and “boys will be boys”. Because of that many women repress feelings. We walk around with wounds and scars thinking we deserve them instead of seeing that they were inflicted without our consent. I wasn’t responsible for that pedophile’s actions, and yet I felt responsible.

Never seeing that man again doesn’t change the fact that for a long time I had a reaction to any old white man in a wheelchair that came in my vicinity, never a young man, never a man of any other race.

So when people take lightly assaults that happen and are brought to light I cringe. If what happened to me took years to reconcile, and I never uttered a word of it, how much bravery does it take to come forth after a sexual assault, harassment or rape happens? How devastating must it be to get shrugged off or to watch your assailant get a lenient sentence, no sentence at all or a pat on the back because “boys will be boys”?

We need to give our girls permission to be strong warrior women. We need to let them be loud, rambunctious, unruly and obnoxious just as we allow our boys. Using the phrase “boys will be boys” while restraining our girls does them a disservice. Girls need be assertive in their purpose.

Listening when they speak and acting on what they say gives them the power they need to be strong. Not shrugging them off as “too emotional” or “girls”. Don’t overfeed the caretaker within ignoring the warrior. Let’s appropriately feed both the caretaker and the warrior. They are not mutually exclusive. They co-exist within her, society kills the warrior.

“Let girls be girls” should be said often and mean the same as it does for boys. Let girls own their bodies so they can choose to experience pleasure and report pain. Don’t push them into uncomfortable situations so they look “polite”, respect their feelings. Believe them when they say they’ve been hurt, don’t shrug off tears. Stop fearing the power within but allow that power to grow.

Throw out the double standard used in raising girls and empower them to know their feelings are valid. A woman’s natural instincts will always come into play but to be whole she needs to listen to the inner voice that says “yes” and the one that says “no”. We need to understand that those instincts are for her protection and should always be honored.

In my marriage, what makes me powerful is what makes my husband powerful. Mutual love, respect and the belief that the other is capable.

We need to let our girls know, too, that we love, respect and believe in their capabilities instead of molding them to play out parts imposed by society. Only then will there be true strength in society. Only then will the scales be balanced when it comes to our views about assault. Only then will we freely voice our opinions, show our feelings and build something remarkable together.

I’ve grown since I was ten. I’ve allowed myself the opportunity to be who I am and so have those who truly love me. Old white men in wheelchairs no longer scare me. . .


“Mommy, can I change my color?”

Mommy Can I Change My Color? | Sedruola Maruska

“Mommy, can I change my color?”

From the moment my kids came into this world they have challenged and helped me grow the views I hold about myself, the confidence I have as a mother, as a woman and as a woman of color.

If you read the post on my worst conversation with my daughter you already know she’s wise beyond her five years. This is no different, especially since it took place when she was two.

I don’t remember where we were going, but we needed to get ready quickly. I jumped into the shower and took my baby girl with me. As we showered she noticed that I had hair in places she didn’t so, true to her nature she spoke up.

Sia:    Mommy, why do you have hair there?
Mommy:    Because all women have hair there, it’s something that happens when you grow up and become a woman
Sia:    Will I have hair there too?
Mommy:    Yes, when you grow up you’ll have hair there too

I enjoy answering my kids questions no matter what they are. I think if they ask me and I answer truthfully, without judgement, they’ll keep asking and we’ll be able to teach them a few things before the world does.

The conversation continued and I was not quite ready. . .

Sia:    Does that mean when I grow up I’ll be able to change my color too?

*Pause*

The commitment I have to being open with my children in a loving and calm way has been challenged often. At the very moment she asked that question I felt an overwhelming sadness and fear in my heart. No matter what, I need to continue this conversation and deal with myself later.

The first questions I wanted to ask was “Change your color? Why would you want to do that?”. But instead I decided to seek her view instead of coming from mine.

Oh God, where are we going? Please help me remain composed?

Mommy:    What do you mean baby?
Sia:    When I grow up and have hair there like you, then can I change my color to look like you?
Mommy:    Oh. . . no baby, we can’t choose our color. Maybe your color will look more like mommy, but we can’t choose.

As a black woman married to a white man I have insecurities about a few things (I won’t get into them all here, now) one being how my babies will react to what the world will throw at them as mixed humans.

To be honest, one thing I never expected in this journey of motherhood to mixed babies is the momentary sadness I feel, at times, knowing it’s my blood that will bring them their greatest challenges. So this conversation flooded me with hope.

Yes, I fully expected my daughter to want to change her color to white, but I failed to see that she was already a little cocoa with a lot of milk. When I look at my children I don’t see color, I see my babies. Just like when I look at my husband I don’t see a white man, I see my husband. I see the core of my life. But in that short moment, I thought my daughter did see the negativity that the world saw in my color and wanted no part of it. . . .

There’s always more growing to do.

My fear stemmed from my personal conditioning and not from reality. Daughters want to look like their mamas (even secretly) and instead of thinking that’s where my two year old was going I thought the worst. How would I handle her NOT wanting to look like me? Could I bear that pain?

But just like I love my babies unconditionally, they love me. They aren’t caught up in the world’s ideas about race. They look at us, my husband and me, and see people they’ve known all their lives who’ve been here protecting, feeding, playing, teaching and housing them (I’m not sure they realize all that goes on either 🙂 ) for better or for worst.

Letting my kids feel and speak freely has been a lesson in life for me. The conversation we had in the shower that day sticks with me. Not because of my daughter, but because of what I felt my knee-jerk reaction was and the reasoning behind it.

I don’t know if at five years old my baby girl still wants to change her color, but she doesn’t need to. I want the inquisitive, fierce and amazing young lady she is to stick around no matter what her shell looks like. She’s amazingly beautiful from the inside out and I want her to know and embrace that always.

As for me, I continue to grow in the knowledge that many stories the world has told me, as a black woman, need to be re-written. My personal narrative is strong, rooted in a family and history that is fierce, but it can always be stronger. Who I am and what I project into the world is what my babies will see. It’s important that they see a strong, confident woman of color who is fiercely fighting for all that she believes. That way, they too can confidently join the fights that mean something to them.

No baby, you can’t change your color. You’re okay no matter how you look. I love you. . . go get em’!


 

Left Thinking: Journey to a new channel

Left Thinking: Journey to a new channel | Sedruola Maruska

It was November 2016 when I was left thinking about how far from decent we’d fallen.

The days were a blur of sadness, anger, fear, confusion and hopelessness. How were we going to recover from this?

As I usually do, I decided something needed to be done. I needed to do something. We couldn’t wallow, we needed to take action. I needed to take action.

The solution came quickly and easily: I’d start a new teaching channel on YouTube to help educate people on the meaning of words.

Education is what failed us. No one understood the words that were thrown around. They didn’t understand that picking up a word, without knowing its meaning, then using it willy nilly was not acceptable. They needed the meaning first. So that’s where I came in I was going to give them the meaning of words.

Words that were hateful, biting, cutting and mean were first on my list. Those were the ones I would tackle first because those were the ones being hurled like daggers. Yes, I was taking up arms with hateful words to fight hate. . . Thankfully, I had to take a bit of time between my idea and implementation.

It’s never a good idea to make decisions in the heat of emotion (that’s just a great general rule for life) so it certainly wasn’t a good idea to start my channel in the heat of anger.

Later came Thanksgiving, my favorite holiday. Through all the haze, sadness and hate I couldn’t find a good reason not to be Thankful. We gathered family and friends in our new home, created a couple of “mannequin challenge” videos, laughed and danced our woes away.

Thankfully I was also infused with more ideas for my new channel. The idea was still fresh and ready in my mind.

In December I had the privilege of attending The Massachusetts Conference for Women and the door to my soul flew open! I knew I was on the right track after listening to amazing women tell their stories and feeling their authenticity, I was almost ready!

The name “Left Thinking”  was chosen right before Christmas. I didn’t choose a release date. I still felt raw instead of rational.  Anger still bubbled up like a backed up toilet and I didn’t want that to be the foundation. It wouldn’t be sustainable.

Then I went to a 6 year old’s birthday party. Isn’t it funny how life throws people, places and situations at you once your intent is set? If you’ve ever had to endure a 6 year old’s birthday party you know there isn’t much to look forward to. But, my baby girl was excited to party with her classmates/friends so off I went.

Not long after arriving I saw a mom sitting over by the window, away from the adrenal rushed children, so I went over to sit with her. I said hello and we began to chat. Before long were were talking like old college buddies and sharing our dreams for the upcoming year.

We’d both been at the women’s conference, we both had simmering ideas and we both hadn’t wanted to engage in chit chat for the duration of the party. Turns out, we spoke the whole time then made plans to meet to chat some more.

She’s now my cheer buddy. She’s doing her new thing and I’m doing mine. We meet monthly to check-in and motivate each other forward.

I was on the right track.

On December 31st I released this blog in preparation for the YouTube channel release. I wanted a place to talk to you. A place where I could not only post the videos, but also other articles of note to challenge me and you to our best selves.

My second post was about a very real and raw conversation I had with my daughter. The response was awesome! I told my story and you responded kindly, openly and lovingly. You gave me the courage to push forward. The Facebook page came and in late January, early February I recorded my first videos.

Then we went on a family vacation.

We had an incredible time! That was the final signal to me that now was the time. We experienced time with family, but we also bonded in our own unit. We enjoyed being together and having the freedom to live our best lives. After our vacation I was again left thinking about why I wanted to create this new  channel. This was the do or “kill the project” moment.

The answer was simple.

I knew it all along.

I’m called to teach, love and support.

It’s my destiny.

So this week, I threw fear aside once again, and released the introduction video for the new channel “Left Thinking“.

 

The “Left Thinking” journey is about putting myself, who I am and what I think, out there completely and authentically. Then letting it go and moving on. It may anger, sadden or leave you confused, but ultimately I want you to be left thinking about who you are, what you think and what you put out into the world.

My superpower is teaching, supporting and loving positively. That’s what Left Thinking is all about. Won’t you join me?


I was at the women’s march for you

Women's March | Sedruola Maruska

I live in a sleepy New England town with a population of about 8 thousand.

We live in a nice home, drive a van and the kids are part of a very good school system.

We go on vacation, travel to see family & enjoy a nice life in our sleepy town.

On Saturday, January 21, 2017 I went on my first protest march. The women’s march was a beautiful experience of unity & love.

I’m done having babies, so I didn’t march for my reproductive rights. I marched for my daughter, nieces & friends who don’t need to have their choice taken away by men in suits with no clue about a woman’s body.

Women's March | Sedruola Maruska

I have insurance so I can go get checked out as needed without feeling that I’ll need to ransom an ovary to do it. But there was a time when Planned Parenthood was my only option as a temporary worker with no insurance and very little money.

College for me was almost 30 years ago so assault on campus is not a personal concern. . . but it is if I consider that my nieces and their friends are currently in college and should be heard when they say they were assaulted. My son will one day be in college and he needs to know assault is not acceptable. My daughter will also one day be in college and she needs to feel safe going and being there. I can’t always be there to protect, guide and defend them.

I do not encounter the daily trials of hunger, abuse, gender discrimination or even racial discrimination that many do, so I could sit home and choose to believe “If it’s not my reality, it’s not really happening.” I chose not to do that. Why? Because I know that many that came before me marched, fought were beaten and died so I could have what I have today.

I want my children, and yours, to have tomorrow.

So, on Saturday, January 21, 2016 I went on my first march and became an activist! The Women’s March created in me an activist for women of color, lesbians, disabled women, aging women, young women, poor women & rich women. Because no matter how “safe”, “heard” or “privileged” you feel, you’re not.

I didn’t know what to expect. Having seen many “Protests gone wrong” I knew there was a slight chance of mayhem. I went anyway.

I knew my intentions, and the intentions of those with me, were to make our voices heard. There was no hate, just a sense of love and needing to do right for the coming generations.

So I marched and joined my voice with millions around the world:

  • For my son. He’s learning to respect those who respect him, stop when told “no” and stand up to bullies. He’s learning to be a good man by watching the men around him and aspiring to greatness by watching our leaders . . . I cannot let him watch a “leader” who undermines all that he’s learning to become.
  • For my daughter. She needs to know that there are no limits to what she can accomplish. She needs to know that her body is her own and no one she dates or votes for has the right to tell her what she should do with it. She needs to see and know that leaders are leaders because they hold high ideals. She needs to be safe on campus or on the streets.
  • For women of color who wake up every day to face this world with love & grace even though this world greets us with resistance. We know we and our children are targets for hate, yet we still rise, work and contribute to society.
  • For our right to have equal pay for equal work. We don’t need to be judged by the color of our skin, we need to be judged by the skills we bring to the table.
  • For my LGBT family and friends. They deserve to live their lives free from bias, full of love and free of violence. They deserve marriage, babies and all the same access as any of us do.
  • For women around the world. Because when our rights as women are eroded anywhere it weakens the rights of women everywhere. We are a wave rising together, and the number of women, who in their own countries joined the march, shows an understanding of the moral wrongs that need to be right.
  • For all women. Because human rights around the world are women’s rights and to have a man & cabinet that do not respect our rights is not okay.
  • For me. Because I needed to connect with others, men & women, who felt as strongly as I do that a racist, misogynistic person in the highest post in the land was not okay.

I marched for all women, even those who opposed the march, because in the end we will all benefit.

What good will it do?

If marching did no good, why would we keep exercising our right to do it? The march wasn’t the whole wad, it was only the beginning of a movement. The march was to galvanize and send a message, the real work comes after the march. It comes in the form of taking 10 actions in the next 100 days and doing our part in our worlds once we leave the march.

So, on Saturday, January 21, 2017 I marched because I believe that being a woman doesn’t mean second class, it means life. I marched to solidify my determination to do my part to have conversations, teach, love & support all women.

Ways to make a difference

  1. Call your representatives. You can email or contact on social media, but nothing makes an impact as much as calling and having their phones ring off the hook. You can easily find your representatives number by Going To This Website  and entering your zip code! They do listen.
  2. Join an organization that’s already working for you. Here are a few suggestions: Women’s March, ACLU, SwingLeft, Action Network , Injustice Boycott
  3. Learn as much as you can about what’s happening on major issues: Climate Change, Women’s Health, Healthcare, National Security
  4. Learn about your upcoming mid-term elections and who your candidate is. Help them by spreading the word
  5. Start an action group in your area by just banding with others and deciding what your main cause will be.

There are many ways to make sure your voice is heard that are easy but effective. Learn what they are and take action.

I feel a lot of frustration, but I’ve decided that channeling my frustration into action keeps me from feeling sick, useless and a victim to circumstance.

We cast our vote so we have all the right to work so our votes counts. How will you join the movement?