So where did you go to college?

My alma mater, Wheaton College, is a tiny (~1600 students) liberal arts college in a small town in Massachusetts. When I was living on the East Coast, most people hadn’t heard of it, so I’d give them the whole spiel – and that’s what I knew to expect from people. Here in Ohio (which is technically the East Coast but feels hella Midwest to me) I tend to get a different response from people…

Person: So where did you go to college?

Me: I went to Wheaton College, it’s a small school that you might not have heard–

Person: Oh, I know people who went there! In Illinois, right?

Me: Uh, no, mine’s in Massachusetts. There are two Wheaton Colleges, but they’re pretty different…

Person: *silently judging me bc my school is super liberal and not the conservative, Christian school that they thought it was*

So this is new!!!

Women keep trying to sell me things & I have feelings about it

As I was scrolling through Facebook, I came across an article that REALLY spoke to me. As I quickly read it, I felt myself nodding along and actually saying “YES that’s it!” out loud.

And that’s because almost every time I scroll through Facebook, I see another sales pitch for a direct sales company, like LuLaRoe, Scentsy, Beachbody, etc etc etc. I have nothing against people (women, almost exclusively, and in my case, military wives) trying to make money for their families, and I’ve definitely bought from some of these companies, but it still just blows my mind how so many military spouses seem to get sucked into these multilevel marketing schemes. Can they really be making much off of it? Are the products worth their value, or even safe? Is it worth all of their time and effort? It sometimes seems like an “easy” way to make a few bucks and stay at home with the fam, but if you even start to scratch the surface of these companies, it can start to sound like they’re taking advantage of these women.

And to quote the article I came across, “To me, on the outside, it looked like overcompensation. It seemed like they were selling out and settling for a job that could potentially steal away time and money without much to show for it. I thought — perhaps narrow-mindedly — that they could do better than a kit and a sales pitch.” (yeah, get ready for me to quote entire paragraphs in place of my writing because the author just put my feelings into words SO PERFECTLY)

I can understand the feeling of wanting to settle for a job that’s not necessarily using all of my abilities, and wanting to get a paycheck with minimal effort. Especially as a military spouse, it can be hard to find a job right away after you move across the country, with few connections and a job market that might not be calling your name. Admittedly, I’ve considered taking up one of these direct sales gigs, as an “on the side thing” or until I found a “real” job, and because the discounts once you become a seller sound pretty appealing. But the more I thought about all of the time you put into social media and (sometimes aggressive) recruiting of your friends for sales and the money you have to sink into it, the less appealing it began to sound.

But the draw is very real for many military spouses. I don’t have kids yet, so I can’t speak to that aspect personally, but I think it’s wonderful to have the choice to stay at home with your children and be there for every bit of life. If you have the ability to be a stay-at-home-mom and it’s your choice, then go for it! At the same time, the fulfillment of a career and the ability to contribute to the family income can be extremely important, if not necessary, for many women. But there can be societal roadblocks upon roadblocks for civilian wives and military spouses alike. As the author wrote, “I’ve met wives who intended to become teachers, researchers, realtors, and nurses but ended up as housewives or stay-at-home moms due to military moves.” I’m worried about becoming one of them, but that’s another blog post.

Then in come the direct sales companies, with their alluring calls of “a sense of achievement, mentorship, community, or purpose,” and on top of all of that – $$$.

The article goes on to reveal that hey, there’s really not that much money in it for the people doing the selling and the women that sell for these companies are barely compensated for all of the work that they actually put in. Some companies even give retail credit instead of actual money! “The MLM industry can be a wake-up call to communities and companies. Women are so motivated to work that they’ll do it for next to nothing and will bring their friends, relatives, and neighbors into their businesses. Imagine how successful they’d be if they were given the adequate support, flexibility, and training to do it in your office.” I couldn’t agree more.

So with all of this in mind about the sliiiiightly shady aspects of these companies and how they miiiiight be taking advantage of some groups of women, why do I still click on their sales pitches and go their parties and browse through their catalogs? Why am I in Facebook groups made for these women, my almost-friends, to sell me products? Just like the author experienced, who is also a military spouse, after I did my first PCS to Ohio and was looking to connect with spouses and make friends and build relationships – and if listening to their sales pitches was a way to at least dip my toe into their circles, then I figured I should hear them out. It’s women helping women, right? “Psychologists would probably say that some of this impulse was due to my gender; women who want to protect relationships often avoid the disruption of saying no.” Will I come across as rude if I remove myself from this Facebook page, or say no to an event? Will people look at me differently if I write this blog post, or feel uneasy around me? Will I come across as a rude outsider who puts down their lifestyle? Will I lose friends? (and when I say friends, I mean acquaintances who might not consider me their actual friend, but who I can talk to at spouses events and whose posts I like on Facebook) I debated whether or not I should actually write this post, let alone share the article on its own.

To each their own, I guess? I’m glad that these direct sales companies allow women to get a sense of fulfillment from this type of work, that they can contribute to their household income and make connections with other women. Our society tends to make it hard for women to have families and work and keep their sanity all at the same time, so many women have found direct sales as their way around that obstacle. But it’s hard not to feel skeptical and wary, and even concerned that these women are not only selling themselves short, but losing money in the process. I’ve got a lot of feelings about this, and this article REALLY brought them out!!! And it expressed those feelings much more eloquently than I could. So go read it. Merp.

Mean-Girls-GIF-I-Wish-I-Could-Bake-A-Cake-Full-Of-Rainbows-and-Smiles

 

 

 

 

Childhood wisdom

I read this book multiple times as a child, with the story leading you to realize that even though sick days off from school can seem great (TV, snacks, attention from a parent) it’s not actually fun to feel like you’re on death’s doorstep. 

 
And I am quickly learning that as a Real Life Adult, sick days are even harder to come by, even if you work in the service industry. The title of this book has been running through my mind lately, as I’ve been struck with the plague from  coworkers. It’s no fun to be sick. 

15 things I learned about myself in 2015

Another new year, another great moment to reflect on myself and how I’ve grown and where I can still improve. In no particular order, here are 15 thing I learned about myself in 2015!!

  1. I miss being in school a lot more than I expected (it’s a big change since I’ve been in a classroom since I was 3)
  2. I’m not so good at making new long-lasting friendships (maybe this will improve in 2016! I have hope!)
  3. I’m really not so great at keeping in touch with people – sorry, Mom! (and Claire and friends and everyone)
  4. I’m good at customer service and getting better at making coffee drinks (yay barista job!)
  5. I am capable of teaching a class full of young children and maintaining classroom management – but maybe it’s not my destined career path? (yep, typical post-grad confusion)
  6. A part of my soul will always be in Ireland (and I can’t wait to return)
  7. I’m good at baking, and getting better at cooking! (and I’m becoming obsessed with cookbooks)
  8. I have an addictive personality (I knew this before but it’s been hard to ignore in 2015)
  9. I am capable of working chaotic 8/10 hour shifts at the coffee bar (maybe because of the loads of free caffeine)
  10. I freaking love Gilmore Girls (how had I not seen this show before?)
  11. I need structure and the motivation of a class to be able to exercise often (yay Pure Barre boo expensive)
  12. I’m an okay driver! (licensed driver, baby)
  13. I’m loving married life and all that adult-ness (hi Ben!!)
  14. Blogging consistently is not my strong suit (so many ideas, so little time so bad at putting in the time that it needs)
  15. I’m not as good at dealing with change as I thought (granted, I’ve had a lot of huge life changes in 2015, but still, it’s helpful to know about myself)

I challenge you to come up with 15 things you’ve learned about yourself in 2015 – it sounds like an easy task, but might be harder than you’d think! It’s been a nice way to reflect on my personal growth, and lack thereof. I’m looking forward to discovering all that 2016 holds in store for me!

Thanks for reading! ~Margaret

Scrolling for change

What is it about a Humans of New York photo and heart-wrenching story that makes us suddenly care? What is it about a tragic picture of a lifeless three-year-old’s body washed up on the beach that makes us all want to stand up and help? And why do these aching feelings seem to subside so quickly and disappear from the social consciousness?

Social media and the global immediacy of the news these days makes us simultaneously so aware of social justice issues, but the fact that it comes and goes from our news feeds, and minds, so quickly makes it so easy to move on and almost more difficult to really care or take purposeful action in the long term. I feel guilty just thinking that I scroll through past stories of struggle and hardship and loss around the world any time I am on my phone, sometimes stopping to look and investigate if it holds my interest long enough, or if it’s relatable. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m a genuinely crappy person or if it’s because it’s too overwhelming to me to learn about all of this pain in the world and not be able to feel like I’m exacting any change on it.

Reading these stories and educating myself about what’s going on in the world is so important, and I think that you can’t do responsible social justice work without making yourself fully aware of the situation. But where I’m at in my life right now, what kind of social justice work can I even do? I’m not the kind of person who’ll share an article on Facebook about something and mentally check off a box thinking that I’ve spread enough awareness for the day. Now that I’m not in college, where I could feel like I was making a difference in my little social activist circles, and now that I’m in a place where I don’t feel like I’m a part of any particular community, what can I do? At the same time, doing social justice things for the sake of making yourself feel better isn’t a great reason for motivation.

While I work on figuring this out, I’ll just keep reading and scrolling and watching and talking and learning. I think that’s the best I can do.

Thanks for reading! ~Margaret

A buttload of nostalgia

I know I’m really lucky to have so many places and experiences I can look back on and miss, but wow, does it suck sometimes.

Moving is hard. Relocating and attempting to start a “career” (whatever that is) and being newly married and trying to make friends are all kind of hard on their own, but throw on top of that a butt-load of nostalgia, and you’ve got yourself a fun mix of emotions!

This is the first September since I was 5 where I have not experienced the start of school. Being a student has been a gigantic part of my life for, well, most of my life, and finding myself missing that piece of my identity is more to grasp than I expected.

I miss the excitement of the first few weeks of school, where you’re beginning new classes and figuring out your workload for the year, getting to know your classmates, planning out your goals for the next months. Daresay I miss the homework and the readings??

I miss Wheaton – I miss the people. It was an amazing thing to be able to walk around campus at any given time of the day and run into at least two people who know who you are and who you can chat with. I miss feeling like a feminist. So much of my feminist identity over the past four to six years has been tied up with my involvement in clubs, with campus activism, with tabling, with event planning, with 2 am common room chats about feminist theory. I don’t totally know how to be a feminist outside of that context, especially in this new world of the military and midwest living.

I miss being able to travel all over New England any given weekend. Ben and I had so much fun exploring Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard, Maine, Newport, and lots of little towns right around us. There’s so much to see and do in Massachusetts and the surrounding states. I know there’s plenty to see and do in Ohio, but with new jobs and the move, we aren’t as able to get out there and find it all. We were so lucky to be able to travel as much as we did.

I miss feeling organized and put together and feeling like I have a plan. When I was in college, I felt like I knew what I was doing. I knew what my major was, when I would graduate, and by the time senior year rolled around, I knew that after graduation, I would get married and move. It all seemed so straight-forward and comfortably challenging. Now here I am in Ohio, so happy to be married and with Ben and in a new place to start post-grad life, but post-grad life is a little scarier than I thought it would be! I just started a new job, but it’s part-time and not in the career field I spent the last four years preparing for. I’m glad to be employed and to be meeting new people through it and to learn lots of new things, but I always had a picture in my mind that after college, I would easily find a non-profit or teaching job that I could settle into comfortably and feel successful in.

Heck, it’s only September, so all those things can still come. I’m sure in a few months I’ll feel more settled and happy with Ohio living. I’m also sure I’ll always miss the past, since I’m prone to getting hit by waves of nostalgia more often than I’d like. I am so so lucky to have this much to miss.

I’ve just got to learn to be patient and keep an eye towards the future but my mind in the present.

Thanks for reading! ~Margaret

Today’s thoughts: I can’t wait to move

This evening, I learned the hard way that you cannot turn on the faucet in the kitchen and take a hot shower at the same time.

I can’t wait to move.

I’m quickly learning that as a military spouse, there’s a lot of jargon and acronyms to learn and remember – TLF being one of those. TLF stands for Temporary Living Facility, which is where Ben and I have been living since we got to Dayton. When you’re PCSing (moving to a different base) you usually get to stay in the TLF for a few days on the military’s dime, which is what we’re doing for a few more days. Since we can’t move into our house until September 4th, we’re extending our stay until then.


At Wright-Patt, the TLF for us (married couple, no kids) ended up being a duplex which used to be base housing. Two bedrooms, one bathroom, a full kitchen, and laundry. It also comes with a heat lamp in the bathroom that glows red and makes the room look like a murder room! Doesn’t every house need one of those?

It’s been really great to have a home base while we’ve been exploring the area, and it feels super safe here. It’s nice to have the kitchen even though the pots and pans they provide are ooooold and kinda crusty. Ben is awesome at making it work, and even cooked us some insanely delicious pan roasted brussel sprouts with garlic and bacon. He’s an amazing chef!!

Anyways, while we are so lucky to have this space while we wait for our house, some parts of it are getting a little frustrating!! For one, I’m really looking forward to being able to shower and do dishes at the same time.

Also, there’s no wifi. Boo.

 

Thanks for reading! ~Margaret

Marriage Equality in VA!

Image courtesy of the ACLU of Virginia
Image courtesy of the ACLU of Virginia

As some of you may know, I’ve been relatively involved in LGBTQA+ activism since high school, when my amazing brave awesome wonderful sister Claire came out. I’ve been president of my high school’s GSA, marched in DC Pride with Metro DC PFLAG, and have been on the executive board of Wheaton’s LGBTQA Alliance since my freshman year. I consider myself an ally, while not a perfect one, and am always trying to learn more about the issues facing people who identify as LGBTQA+ and be a better ally. My mom is super involved with issues like marriage equality, and has been in charge of our church’s equality group for the past few years. She also helped to start a group for LGBTQA+ teens in our hometown of Arlington, VA, and is active in the Metro DC PFLAG circles as well. My dad is involved in this activism as well, and my sister is always helping me challenge my preconceived notions and learn more about issues in the LGBTQA+ community. I think it’s safe to say I have an awesome family.

I wanted to write all of that, not for “props” or to get recognition for anything, but to explain how much it means to my family that marriage equality was just legalized in our home state of Virginia.

It’s pretty dang cool!

My mom is already posting pictures from the Arlington courthouse, where gay couples are starting to get married, and she is posting up a storm on Facebook and Twitter. She’s more active on social media than I am!

(note: while I was writing this, an article popped up in my feed from the Washington Post – my mom is in a few of their photos!!!)

Photo courtesy of my awesome mother
Photo courtesy of my awesome mother

It’s nice to know that my sister now has the same rights as me, in terms of the ability to get married in our state. It’s just one small step towards equality; one boundary that we’ve crossed over.

There are countless other issues and rights that LGBTQA+ people are fighting for, and marriage equality is just one of them. For example, there are no laws in Virginia that prohibit workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity/expression. Someone could be fired by their employer, just because of their (real or perceived) sexual orientation. I don’t think this shouldn’t be legal in 2014!

There are so many people working every day to help make changes around these issues, and they definitely don’t get enough credit! I’d imagine that working on issues like these in states like Virginia is pretty exhausting work, as it can take a while for real change to be seen in our laws and in the daily lives of LGBTQA+ individuals and families. There are lots of organizations that need our support, and if you’re feeling generous, take a moment to donate to their causes!

Thanks for reading! Margaret