Where is True Love’s Kiss?

Where Is True Love's Kiss? | Sedruola Maruska

I, like you, am of the Disney generations.

Starting with “Snow White”, Disney started defining “true love” and “true love’s kiss” for us.

Disney wove certain ideas into our fabric that have shaped our perceptions of love and what it means.

Today is Valentine’s Day (a made up holiday, but nonetheless) so lots of people are focused on Love. So it’s the perfect time to talk about love and where to find true love’s kiss.

Where Is True Love's Kiss? | Sedruola Maruska

A Story

When I was nine and ten we lived in Salt Lake City, Utah. Why, you may ask? Because my dad received a scholarship from the University Of Utah. So we packed up our stuff in New York City, and moved to a foreign land.

My brother and I never had a hard time making friends, but I think certain experiences we had in Salt Lake City shaped certain ideas for us. Living in Salt Lake City was the first time I knew I was different.

One day I was out with a group of friends playing, when someone suggested we play “run, catch & kiss”. If you’ve never played, let me explain. Run, catch and kiss is like tag except you have to kiss the person you catch then they have to kiss the next person to make them it. . . .

Mommy Can I change my color

At nine it seemed like a good idea since we were somewhere between “yeah, I want to be kissed” and “YUCK”! Anyway, we started this game and something interesting happened.

I say interesting now, with the luxury of distance, but it was hurtful.

As we’re running around playing this game I noticed something that soon descended like a fog on each of my friends . . . no one was running, catching or kissing Sedie, me. So, one of my friends went over and had a “chat” with the boys letting them know someone had to kiss me.

In 1977 & 1978 Salt Lake City I was the only person of color in the group. As a matter of fact, my brother and I were the only black kids in our entire elementary school for a whole year. There were about 300-400 students in the school.

But, I digress. The game resumed with the “new rules” and a very brave soul stepped up, chased me, reluctantly kissed me on my cheek (others were getting kissed on the lips), and that was the end of the game.

Disney. . . Will true love’s kiss ever come for me?

Friends

The year we moved to Salt Lake City was the first, and probably only, time we received neighbor gifts.

A lovely lady that lived downstairs brought us a cake of welcome. At the time she had four children and the eldest two were mine and my brother’s age. They became our best friends.

We were such good friends that someone asked if the boy was my boyfriend. . . not knowing much about what that meant, I asked him, he said yes and that was the extent of our romantic relationship. We were friends, we loved each other, and that was that.

After those two years we moved back to New York and left our friends behind. We lost touch because time and distance but I never forgot them.

Years later, when the internet was a baby, I realized I could probably find my long lost “boyfriend”. So I began a search and sure enough, I found him. We chatted for a long time and through that conversation I found out he was living happily with his partner, a lovely man he’d met at a party.

Disney. . . where’s true love’s kiss for that?

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The Messages

By now I was 29 and I knew there was true love’s kiss for me out there, but that was in spite of messaging.

What are the messages we get?

  • Girls need protection and saving
  • Boys need to save and protect girls
  • Girls can only be loved and saved by a boy
  • Boys can only save and protect girls
  • Boys don’t need protection
  • Only boys can give a “True Love’s Kiss”
  • Only white girls are worthy of being kissed

Definitions

What is love? Merriam-Webster defines love as: 1) Strong affection for another arising from kinship or personal ties; 2) Attraction based on sexual desire; 3) Affection based on admiration or common interest.

What is true? Again, Merriam-Webster defines true: 1) Being in accordance with actual state of affairs; 2) Confirmable to an essential reality; 3) Fully realized or fulfilled

With those definitions it’s probably safe to say that “True Love” is a fully realized strong affection for another. That means anyone can truly love anyone. . . whoa!

New Messaging

It’s exciting to see that new messaging is emerging. It’s been extremely slow, but as we continue to speak our truths and express ourselves, the messaging must change.

As for Disney:

In 2009, my little girl got the message that she’s capable of being a princess, strong, independent and kissable with “The Princess and The Frog“.

In 2013, little girls got the message that they could be strong, independent and powerful. They also got the message that true love doesn’t require a kiss in “Frozen”.

In 2014, little girls learned that true love will always save you and it comes from those who know and accept you at your best and worst in “Maleficent“.

And in 2016 “Moana” taught our daughters that the quest isn’t to find “one true love” but to fiercely fight for all those you love. . . truly.

As we focus on love today let’s remember this: romance isn’t love, it’s a product of a romantic relationship.

Love is love.

Where’s True Love’s Kiss?

So, as we spread our kisses, let’s make sure they’re true loves kiss of knowing & understanding.

Let’s remember we’re all kissable and worthy of true love.

Let’s remember, and teach our children, that true love’s kiss heals because it comes from a deeper place than has traditionally been portrayed in the media.

Here’s hoping that the characters in movies become such that ALL children can see themselves reflected (representation is so important) and know they are lovable and kissable because true love’s kiss is not reserved from anyone.

Where’s true love’s kiss? It’s in those around you who are always there loving you. It’s not only romantic love but familiar love and familial love . . Happy Valentine’s Day!

I’m Not Teaching My Children Tolerance, Neither Should You

I'm Not Teaching My Children Tolerance, Neither Should You | Sedruola Maruska

Tolerance, really? This post holds a bit of harsh language. . . You’ve been warned. 🙂

I’m a woman of Haitian decent. Actually, a first generation Haitian-American. In Creole the word tolerance is not ever spoken in nice tones. It’s usually delivered with disdain and harshness. Which is why it always baffles me when organizations and people here in America speak of “tolerance” as a thing to teach.

Tolerance, for me, is not what I think to teach my children when it comes to other people.

Thinking I might be misunderstanding the word I decided to look up tolerance in the Merriam-Webster dictionary online. I teach my son (and soon my daughter) to look up words, so that was my default. I wanted to make sure I wasn’t just tainted by the connotation ‘tolerance’ held in Creole vs. English.

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I'm Not Teaching My Children Tolerance, Neither Should You | Sedruola Maruska

The Definition

Imagine my shock when I read the first definition listed:

“capacity to endure pain or hardship”

I was right! My education did not fail me (in that regard) and when put in context in Creole, that’s exactly what it means. It’s a feeling of being able or unable to ENDURE pain or hardship presented . . .

“sympathy or indulgence for beliefs or practices differing from or conflicting with one’s own”

Sympathy? Indulgence? Still not things that invoke hearts or rainbows . . . Let’s continue

“the act of allowing something.”

*Sigh*

Wait, what? So basically “I will allow you to be black” or “I will allow you to be Jewish” or “I will allow you to be gay”? The final set of definitions is what threw me over the top…

“the capacity of the body to endure or become less responsive to a substance (such as a drug) or a physiological insult especially with repeated use or exposure developed a tolerance to painkillers; also :  the immunological state marked by unresponsiveness to a specific antigen (2) :  relative capacity of an organism to grow or thrive when subjected to an unfavorable environmental factor”

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Synonyms




Why the Fuck (excuse me while I put on my elitist cap) would I want to teach my children to look at people as “things to be endured” or “hardships to indulge”? We’re teaching “tolerance”?

I am, they are, we are all human beings,  no one wants to simply be “tolerated”! I don’t want you in my space looking at me as something to “endure”! If you find my mere presence offensive then get the fuck out of my space. Do not put us in a position where you’re “enduring” a “sustained” trauma and I’m thinking we’re communicating.

Still not fully convinced? Well, neither was I, although I was getting there quickly, so I looked up words that may be similar in meaning, you know synonyms:

forbearance, long-suffering, sufferance, patience

Then related words:

acquiescence, resignation; passiveness, passivity; amenability, compliance, conformism, docility, obedience, subordination, tractability, willingness; discipline, self-control; submission, submissiveness

Correct me if I’m wrong but there’s a pattern here. All these words imply that those who are “tolerant” are in a state of great discomfort and in a position to be easily misled.

Teaching people to “tolerate” other people needs to be the teaching of last resort, not the platform! Because, at the very least, we should be tolerant. Tolerance is not the first thing to teach. . . I do not want to simply be tolerated.

An Examination




Have you ever been on a diet where you had to endure eating in a way that made you feel deprived? Did you stick with that diet or did you rebel and look for something new? That’s what I thought.

When forced to stay in a state of discomfort, say like chronic pain, people don’t learn what they need to grow, they simply learn to endure. That is tolerance. How can I, in good conscience, teach my children to endure other people? That will in turn teach them they are powerless and must endure the unfavorable situation when someone else is simply enduring their presence. I do not stay in the presence of those I think are merely enduring my presence.

“Mommy, can I change my color?”

It seems to me, this tolerance thing is blowing up in our faces right now. Alt-right, white supremacists are running rampant in our streets when for years many allowed themselves to think they were a thing of the past. What they were doing was “tolerating” us (blacks, Jews, gays, other). They’ve been uncomfortable for too long. In that discomfort they were made “submissive”, “passive” and are now fighting for a state of comfort.

Groups of people that have been taught to “tolerate” and others that have been “tolerated”, all living in a sustained state of discomfort are pushing back. No human wants or should stay in a state of sustained discomfort.

The Alternative

No, I’m not going to teach my children to tolerate people. Nor am I going to teach them to endure being tolerated. I’m teaching my children to be curious and open to other ways of life. I’m teaching them the richness of  experiencing and indulging in theirs and other cultures, immersing themselves in the beauty that is diversity. I’m teaching them to love.




When we’re open we gain insight and information about people and situations we don’t understand. Staying open means having sincere conversations and asking questions that bring information that’s otherwise a mystery. My children are learning that if they don’t like someone, they don’t have to be tolerant of that person. They walk away. They’re also learning that liking someone is never based on the way a person looks, worships or loves. Liking someone is based on who they are. There are people of all races, creeds, religions etc. who are assholes. We don’t have to tolerate that shit.

In turn, I’m not here to simply be tolerated.

Tolerance is the teaching of last resort.

Tolerance is the act of last resort.

So, if you haven’t talked to me, been open to me and learned anything about me because of the color of my skin, I DO expect you to tolerate me. Because I’m here, I’m not going anywhere and it’s your choice to stay in your ignorant state of stress.

What’s blowing up right now is a whole lot of tolerance gone awry. We take the teaching of last resort,  make it the best option and now people are done tolerating. We’re not teaching sensitivity to culture, because we’re afraid to teach culture. We’re not teaching an understanding of people, because we’re afraid to teach history properly. Kids aren’t learning  love, they’re learning to “get along” and to “tolerate”.

Teaching anyone to simply tolerate things that can never change will never end well.

Antonyms

The one antonym:

Impatience

The near antonyms, those words that are close to the opposite of tolerance:

defiance; contrariness, disobedience  insubordination, intractability, recalcitrance, resistance, willfulness

Sound familiar?

When tolerance is no longer sustainable you’ll get the opposite.

Take Away

Teach history, culture, inclusion, sensitivity and love. Then, if by some horrible twist, those things don’t work, teach tolerance. But please, take it from someone who is of a “tolerated” class, don’t teach tolerance first. If tolerance is the only lesson that sticks, then impatience is not too far behind



What is Authenticity and Are you Authentic?

What is Authenticity and Are You Authentic? | Sedruola Maruska

I was stalking browsing my Instagram feed the other day when something I read stopped me dead in my tracks.

The reason I stopped wasn’t because I was so in awe of the information, but that it slapped me directly between the eyes. The whole tableau was wrong which is why it knocked the air out of me for a few moments.




Here was an influencer (judging my the number of followers they had as well as likes & comments) saying something to disparage other influencers. It was a simple sentence “these people out here trying to say they’re authentic with their curated feeds, makeup and clothes.”

What? In looking through her feed it was clearly ‘curated’ because it was lovely. But why question someone else’s authenticity, hold yourself up as ‘better’ when you’re doing the same thing?

The Question

So, I since I’m on a journey of self-discovery this year, I began to ask the question. What is authenticity? How do I know if I’m being authentic or not? We’re all out here doing our thing. You may be all about makeup while the next person is all about curing disease, is one more authentic than the other?

If my area of expertise asks that I dress a certain way most of the time and you happen to catch me “out of character” does that make me inauthentic?

What is Authenticity and Are You Authentic? | Sedruola Maruska

I grew up in a religion with many rules one being no jewelry. Mind you people could wear expensive watches, brooches and other adornments, but shame on you if your ears were pierced. What’s the difference? It always perplexed me, but I digress. When I was 26 I started my downward spiral personal walk and decided, against all inner-programming to pierce my ears.

When I’d go to church (because I was not yet the heathen person I am today) I’d wear my earrings. There were two reasons for that: 1) I didn’t feel in my heart that wearing earrings were “bad”; 2) I wasn’t trying to be something I wasn’t. There were times I thought of not wearing earrings to church because I hadn’t worn them all week, but I’d always wear them. I knew that had one of the good church folk seen me wearing earrings, and I took them off for church (out of respect) I would be labeled a “hypocrite” the ultimate in inauthenticity. That was not me, so I wore them (maybe to their offense) to church every week.




To me, being true to myself was more important than what the ‘good’ church folk would think. But to them, was I being inauthentic? Did they look at me and think I was not being true to myself because I was not being true to the church teachings?

The Definition

As I pondered the question I realized I needed to consult the oracles at Merriam-Webster. Although I felt I knew the definition of the word, having someone so strongly berate others made me feel I knew nothing.

Authenticity – Noun – Form of Authentic – true to one’s own personality, spirit, or character is sincere and authentic with no pretensions

Hold up! Did you read that? “True to one’s OWN personality, spirit or character…” What does that mean?

It means that being authentic is being true to yourself. If you’re putting yourself out there in a way that is true to who you are, your character, values, ideas so on and so forth, you are being authentic. The only person who can know if you’re being inauthentic is you.

Being authentic is not based on what I think you should be or do, but on what YOU think you should be or do. When we encounter inauthenticity we know. Something in our spirit tells us. If we’re listening, we tread lightly, if not, we get burnt.




Inauthenticity is when you portray your marriage as the one to be aspired to, but you’re in hell on earth. Inauthenticity is when who you are and what you portray do not align. It’s not when someone looks at you ans says you’re not authentic based on what you’re wearing.

The great James Baldwin says “I can’t believe what you say. Because I see what you do.” Being authentic is when what you say and do are aligned.

My Conclusion

So, after I pondered the post, consulted the oracle and explored my psyche I came up with this: What we say, do or criticize always says more about us than it does the other. Although I knew where the poster was coming from, they showed their insecurity more than anyone elses’ inauthenticity.

We don’t need for others to fail in order for us to succeed. If we stay true to ourselves we’re better off. If I don’t like what someone is sharing, thankfully, I can stop following. I’m also free to stay the course on what I’m working to accomplish. Throwing shade on what you’re doing, because it’s closely aligned to my venture, doesn’t make me better. It means I’m distracted.

In the end I examined myself and found being true to me is my authenticity. Speaking, living & sharing my truth is being authentic.

Go, speak, live and share your truth, no one can tell you you’re not authentic if you’re being true to yourself.