25 March 2012

Make up

I was reading Beauty Tips for Ministers and found the comments on the linked article to be a very interesting range on the discussion of wearing makeup as part of a professional role-- looking at Martina Navratilova as an example given her recent appearance on "Dancing with the Stars."

As usual, I had my own thoughts on the matter that ended up being longer than I felt was a fair comment, so here it is on my own blog.

The thing that interested me about the discussion was the range of 'appropriate' levels of makeup and cosmetics use depending on the culture one is embedded in.

I work from home but love doing costuming as a hobby. Other than sporadic eye-shadow use in my day-to-day life, about the only time I ever wear make-up is as part of a costume, to finish off the look.

My personal experience with foundation makeup has been very negative (sensitive skin combined with a weird skin tone). Over the years I've tried various products, but none actually improve the look of my skin. Some of us just look better & feel more confident sans makeup; some people both look and feel better with it on.

I did like the comment in the article from Ms Navratilova: "when asked about her glammed up appearance? “It’s great — you have to do it. It’s part of the role.”

When does a role in life require make-up? Where is the balance between personal preference (and frankly allergies & other issues that go even deeper) and social perception? If more women stopped wearing make-up, stopped feeling like it was a requirement of their 'role' what would happen? Is there any way to get there from here?

I think make-up is fun. I think it is critical in some industries like the theater, but I also worry about the pressures the beauty industry puts on people to be 'better'.

The most beautiful people that I know all share one thing: their personalities and their love of life shine through. Some of them use make-up every day and some go bare-faced into the world. It is not the make-up that makes them beautiful, it is their confidence and inner light.

23 March 2012

College Choices

I was reading an off-hand remark in someone else's journal that said that the Evergreen State College (from which I graduated twenty years ago) is a fun but not a practical school and it didn't attract employers.

I started to respond... and then I realized that I had a lot more to say than I thought. So rather than clutter up another person's journal I decided to clutter up my own with my thoughts on the college experience generally and the Evergreen Experience specifically. I originally wrote this in 2004, but it is still relevant today.

As a counter-example to the Evergreen doesn't attract employers statement, my husband was hired right out of Evergreen, the company paid our moving expenses and he ended up flying back to Olympia for graduation.

All three of the adults in my household are graduates of Evergreen. We are all employed and have done quite well for ourselves. That does not mean we all got dream jobs right out of school but our educations have served us well in our various endeavors.

One of the women I went to school with trained in computers, worked in that field for several years and has now started her own landscaping business. Not what she trained for, but what she found a passion for a little later in her life.

Regardless of the school attended, you get out of it what you put in, getting a job at the end is a nice bonus, but is not guaranteed. Neither is getting a job in whatever field you train for. Luck and timing play a large role in that.

Two other stories. My middle brother went to school on the east coast and settled there. He studied his passion, the Middle East and learned two languages along the way. His hobby was computers. When he graduated school he worked for several different firms doing different things. None of it directly related to his major in school. Currently he works for an internet based company as a lead techie. He met his (now) wife there and seems to be settled in for the long haul.

My youngest brother went to Evergreen. He studied all manner of things (one of the nice things about Evergreen, it doesn't lock you into a major). He's been steadily employed since graduating, not always at jobs he wanted to do, but he has been a passionate fringe theater director and has since moved on to freelance technical writing.

College doesn't prepare you for a specific job, if it did there would be too many square pegs and not enough square holes. Instead it gives you tools to build your life. Finding the right school, one that fits your needs and matches your learning style is important. Sometimes an ideal match is not possible, or sometimes a range of schools with work for a particular person.

One of the many things I liked about Evergreen was that they were willing to make exceptions. Part of their model was the idea that some folks might do well at Evergreen who hadn't done well in other, more 'traditional' schools.

Was Evergreen fun? Yes, but only because I met some really wonderful people who helped me make it though. It was very challenging academically. I cried buckets of tears, I tore my hair out over deadlines, I learned a lot in four years there, and one of the most valuable things, was how to keep learning without the benefit of teachers or the structure of the classroom.

If you go to school and expect that someone will hand you a job along with the diploma at the end, you will be sorely disappointed. The diploma might help you rise a little in the resume pile, since it shows that the applicant can follow though with a project, but it will not guarantee you a job. This is true regardless of what school you attend. So if you go to college, study what interests you at the time, don't try to predict what you will be doing ten years from now and study for that-- let the person you are now, study the things that interest them now.

College is your chance to do the work you want to do. You'll have enough of doing jobs you don't like or that you have no control over once you leave school (or even while you are in school). Education should be fun, and agonizing, and powerful, and stimulating, and exhausting.

22 March 2012

Rambling thoughts on the 2nd Amendment

I was going to post this as a comment in reaction to a "keep & bear arms" meme going around Facebook, but since it ended up being longer than the original post, I'm putting it here.

Some rambling thoughts on the 2nd Amendment to the US Constitution:

I'd be more sympathetic to people promoting 'the right to bear arms' if we hadn't had 3 gun incidents in the Seattle area in the past few months.

A 3-year old killed himself with a gun while his parents were stopped for gas (the gun was apparently under the seat), a 9 year old was shot when a classmate brought a loaded gun to school and it went off, & another young person brought an unloaded gun to school.

I have a lot of family members who are very responsible with guns, but I wish the 'well-regulated' part of the 2nd amendment was more respected by society at large.

I also don't think the Framers had any idea the type of urban density we would be dealing with. I understand the history behind the 2nd Amendment & just wish that all people who insist on the right to bear arms would also insist (and enforce in their own families) on proper training and rigorous safe storage when the gun is not in use. In an urban environment, there are a lot more innocent bystanders to get hurt if even a few people don't exercise sense in gun ownership.

I've never owned a gun, don't want one, & the only shooting I have done was in school as part of gym class (ah, Wyoming & your interesting gym classes in the 80's). I'm not opposed to gun ownership. I know many people who own & use guns responsibly. I just wish more people in the pro-gun camp would come out with some sympathy for victims of the gun-owning-free-for-all that seems to be encouraged at times.

Guns do kill people, and unlike cars (which also kill people in accidents) the only purpose for a gun is to put a hole in something & break it (be it a target, skeet, or a person). I also think, that a patchwork of random gun ownership does not really provide for the common defense in an age when we have a standing army and a police force. We are no longer the wild west and our founding documents might benefit from being updated to reflect that fact.

21 March 2012

Music a must

My son asked me the other day why I require that he take music lessons through the end of 8th grade. My off-the-cuff answer was: "It's a long list, are you sure you want to hear it?" He answered by immediately getting back to work on one of his violin pieces.

I decided to write up my reasons, regardless of his lack of interest in them. So here are 10 of my reasons why my son must take music lessons (and why I require that he practice as close to every day as we can manage). In no particular order:

1. It is much easier to learn an instrument when one is young-- the brain is flexible and is in learning mode.

2. If one learns something as a youngster it is much easier to come back to it later in life.

3. Music training has been linked to enhanced ability in other skills such as verbal communication and mathematics.

4. Learning an instrument gives one greater appreciation for all types of music and the skill that it takes to play at the professional level.

5. Music is good for the soul. (Really this is number one & underlies all of my other reasons).

6. Knowing how to play an instrument & read music is a form of emergency preparedness. If all the power goes out, at least someone in the family will be able to provide music.

7. Music is incredibly diverse. Learning how to play an instrument & read music gives one access to all kinds of music.

8. Learning how to play an instrument requires practice and learning how to practice is a skill that will be useful in many areas of life.

9. Learning how to play an instrument takes time & patience, see above.

10. Doing something that one is not naturally good at is good for the brain and allows one to learn the important lesson that, as someone said: "Hard work beats talent if talent doesn't work." Just because one is not naturally good at something does not mean that one should give up on it. Very few people are 'naturally good' at anything.