Sticks and Stones

When I was running the 2011 Divas Wahine Half Marathon in Honolulu, there was a portion of the course where people had written words of encouragement and drawn funny pictures in chalk on the road. Pretty similar to what Nike did for the Tour de France a couple of years ago. It was unexpected and helped to pass the miles as it was part of the course that didn’t have much in the way of scenery.

Most of the “chalk talk” was encouraging, “You can do this!” or funny, “Donuts at the finish line!” But then there was one that almost made me stop in my tracks. I don’t remember exactly what it said, but it was along the lines of “You bitches got this thing.”

I’m not against swearing – I can swear with the best of them, thanks to 6 years of working in a manufacturing company. And I realize that words that were considered naughty when I was growing up have become more mainstream over the years. But here’s the thing – when I was growing up, our moms were ladies, we aspired to be women, and bitches were female dogs and girls who tried to steal our boyfriends. So despite the ubiquity of the word “bitches” I was a bit taken aback that some random stranger would (1) call me a bitch and (2) think that it was encouraging to me.

As if to reinforce the omnipresence of that word, on campus last Thursday, a young man in front of me called out to a young woman, “Hey there, Melissa, my little bitch.” I can only assume that they were friends as his tone seemed friendly enough and she responded to his greeting.

My goodness. How the world has changed. How the bar for civility and courteousness has dropped.

On Facebook I created an interest group of running and fitness pages that are a mix of fitness articles, motivational quotes and pictures, health and nutrition articles, etc. Imagine my surprise on Thursday morning when I saw this picture posted by the MotivateHopeStrength page:

Namaste My Bitches from the MotivateHopeStrength Facebook Page

Namaste My Bitches from the MotivateHopeStrength Facebook Page

In that same group, there’s a page called I ❤ to run. Again, there are a lot of fitness-related (mostly running) posts, article links, and motivational memes. A few months back, I browsed the website and was on the verge of buying one of their running calendars and a 13.1 sweatshirt for my brother and then I saw this:

Namaste, bitches

Namaste, bitches

 

These things struck me as discordant because to me, “Namaste” does not belong anywhere near “bitches.” To me, as I was taught in my yoga practice, Namaste is a word that means peace, honor, spirituality. According to about.com, “Namaste” is a greeting that means, “The God/Goddess Spirit within me recognizes and honors the God/Goddess Spirit within you.

How does “Namaste my bitches” honor anything about me, about you, about any human being? How does calling someone a “bitch” honor that person? According to dictionary.com –

Screenshot of dictionary.com's definition of "bitch"

Screenshot of dictionary.com’s definition of “bitch”

There is nothing in that definition that even hints at the word being honorable or positive.

If that post had been on a humor page, I might have had a different reaction – grimace and move on. But the fact that the post was on a fitness page that is meant to motivate, inspire hope, and strengthen people made me react differently. We don’t motivate each other by calling one another “bitches.” We don’t inspire hope by calling someone else a “bitch.” And you certainly don’t strengthen someone by calling them a “bitch.”

Remember that rhyme we used to say when we were growing up? “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” We’ve learned over the years that it’s not true – words can hurt. Words do matter. Choose them wisely.

And the thought processor churns on…

 

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Wednesday Whys, 28 Nov 2012

I managed to run a bit during the Thanksgiving break. Since I didn’t have to work, I managed to run outside a lot. Since I don’t listen to music when I’m running outside (only when I’m in a race!), my thoughts were darting here, there, and everywhere. Here are the ones I remembered when I got back home:

  • Why must we edit classics like ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas or It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown so that they are politically correct? Are we really being sensitive and inclusive by doing this? Or are we simply re-writing history a la Orwell’s 1984?

1984 was not supposed to be an instruction manual

  • Why do people blow their noses at the table? Don’t they realize that it’s gross and disgusting to people who are eating?

Oh, that’s nasty…

  • Why are minority groups allowed to use racial slurs on one another but if another racial group uses the same word, it’s bad?

Shhh…don’t say anything

  • Why do dictionaries define words using the root word itself? Example: discretionary – subject or left to one’s own discretion (dictionary.com) At least the website gives a clickable link to “discretion” but would it really kill the writers to define discretionary as “subject or left to one’s own freedom of judgment or choice”?

Dictionary entry

  • Why do people tell you that you look great when you know you look like a sausage?

Running sausage

And the thought processor churns on…

Do You Run with Baggage?

English: Bespoke red custom baggage - Tanner K...

Do you run with baggage? What thoughts wander around in your head while you’re running? Are they good thoughts? Brilliant ideas? To do list items?

When I run on the treadmill, even if I’m watching a movie or a television show, there are a lot of thoughts wandering around in my head. For me, running time is processing time. Time to think about whatever I saw, read, observed, encountered, worked on, etc. since my last run. Or time to zone out if things were stressful.

When I run outside, my mind usually isn’t on my surroundings because it’s processing, just like it does on my treadmill runs. Do I notice my surroundings? Sure, especially if I’m running in a new place. Do I notice the cars whizzing by? Of course, safety when running outdoors is important to me. Do I notice other runners, walkers, and bikers? Absolutely, we are sharing the same space, after all.

Do I acknowledge those runners, walkers, and bikers? If you read my post, To Cheer or Not to Cheer – There is No Question, you know what I like to acknowledge others. So when I’m running outside, I’ll usually greet other runners, walkers, and bikers with a hearty, “Good morning!” or a cheery, “Hello!” Sometimes I smile and nod. I don’t wave. I’m not a fan of waving. How do I decide whether to speak or just smile and nod? If they have their headphones on, I’ll smile and nod. If they are with a companion and they’re in the middle of a conversation, I won’t acknowledge unless one of them makes eye contact. If they are on the phone, I may smile and nod or I may speak. If I’m feeling grumpy, I may just nod.

I have a lot of guidelines to acknowledging others on the road, right? I don’t have hard and fast rules about acknowledging other. I like to do it. Do I always do it? No. Do others always return my gesture? Of course not. Do I care if they don’t? Absolutely not.

A Facebook running group recently discussed the topic of runners not returning acknowledgments. The majority of people who commented said that they were offended or annoyed or irked or bothered when people didn’t return their greetings. It’s rude, some said.

I disagree with them. I’m sure I’ve been on the other side of not reciprocating an acknowledgment because I’ve been lost in my thoughts. If I ignored an acknowledgment, it wasn’t intentional. It certainly wasn’t personal. It doesn’t mean that I hate the person. It doesn’t mean anything at all.

If my acknowledgment is not returned, I know that it’s not about me. I may think to myself, “Well, I tried.” Or, “They must be having a bad day.” If my mom is on my mind, I might tell myself, “Their mom must have told them not to talk to strangers.” If I’m huffing and puffing pretty hard, I sometimes think, “They must not have understood what I was saying.” I let the thought come and then just as quickly, I let it go.

I have too much other stuff going on in my head to stuff any more baggage in there that doesn’t need to be there. I have enough emotional baggage of my own that I don’t need to be worried about whether a complete stranger snubbed me. I’m a slow enough runner that I don’t need to be weighed down by additional baggage like that.

If you see me running outside and you speak to me or smile/wave/nod and I don’t respond, don’t take it personally. I don’t hate you. I’m not ignoring you. I’m not secretly plotting your demise. It’s possible that I didn’t hear you, especially if I’m listening to music. It’s possible that I didn’t see you because of the glare from the sun or because I blinked. It’s possible that I’m struggling to find a rhythm and just missed your friendly gesture. It’s most likely that I’m lost in thought and just wasn’t paying attention. I can guarantee you 100% that it’s not about you.

So don’t hold it against me. Because it’s highly probable that the next time you see me, you’ll get a cheery greeting and a big, goofy smile. And I hope you’ll return my friendly gesture. But if you don’t, I won’t hold it against you. And I won’t give it a second thought.

Roobarb smiles

Happy Running!

A Kinder, Gentler Twitter

Do you use Twitter? Do you actively tweet? Or do you lurk? When you tweet, what do you tweet?

Do you tweet only to promote yourself, your business, or your blog? Do you tweet every little detail of your day? Do you tweet every random thought that comes to your mind? Do you tweet your workouts via DailyMile or Nike+ or some other fitness website or app? Do you auto-tweet when you’ve liked something, pinned something, poked someone, dug something, or klouted something?

I’m a pretty eclectic tweeter, I think. My tweets include complaints about companies and people, quotes, jokes, business articles, fitness articles, some (not all!) foursquare check-ins, and random thoughts. I’ve not made a concerted effort to have a cohesive Twitter voice just like I don’t obsess about how many followers I have or how many tweets I’ve made.

These past few weeks, it felt like a lot of my tweets were angry tweets. I didn’t like that feeling because I love this time of year and it felt like my tweets weren’t honoring my true feelings for this season. It felt like I was always complaining about a work project or something else that was upsetting or annoying me.

I have gone back through my December tweets thus far and discovered that I wasn’t as whiny or complaining as I thought I was. Thank goodness.

Have you ever thought about what your tweets say about you? About how your tweets sound to your followers? About how your tweets sound to someone who sees your tweet via one of your followers or if it’s retweeted?

Twitter has made it easy – and relatively anonymous – to complain about a company, product, or person. It’s so easy to type out 140 characters and hit “send” or “tweet” that often we put our thoughts out there without thinking it through completely. Without stopping to think about the consequences of that tweet – for yourself or the person or company you’ve tweeted about. Without pausing for a moment to consider your own mental and emotional state.

Of course, all this applies to Facebook status updates, too.

So the next time you’re about to tweet or update your Facebook status, pause for a moment before hitting “send” or tweet,” read your tweet or status update, and think about what it says about you. I certainly will try to be more conscious of my tweets in the future.

And the thought processor churns on . . .