Stop the Shaming

Maneatingrose 2

This Sunday I was jumped on twice in a camper group for posting pictures of our new tent. We were sent a used, returned, broken tent with missing pieces.  $429 for crap.

I was lectured about being angry, not being understanding of the seller, not being nice. It was one woman. I don’t know why, but women are often the ones doing the shaming of other women.

I grew up in an extended family of Southern women who repeatedly told me complaining wasn’t ladylike. That I should try to get along with people better. That I embarrassed myself.

My mother was told that too, even when my father beat her. Relatives were so afraid the neighbors would find out, or the church. One even told Mom she’d made her own bed, then she had to lay in it. Nauseating.

Women have the right to stand up for themselves, to complain about bad service, to not be on the receiving end of stupid advice.

I used to be an online merchant. I sold miniatures to Columbia Pictures, Disney Theatrical, to people from Idaho to New Zealand. At one time I was even the editor of a consumer group’s newsletter in New Orleans. I know how customer service works.

I didn’t argue with the numbskull who took me to task but blocked her. I called the supplier and told them what I expected from them. A new tent’s supposedly being expressed.

That’s not being a bitch; that’s showing I have the stones to be a grown up.

Sisters, stop shaming other women when they don’t conform to outdated stereotypes. We can be feminine as hell, be strong and stand up for ourselves. You don’t have to like us to be respectful.

Mother Nature Is Always Teaching Me Something

Old Fashioned Roses, copyright Beabe Thompson 2015
Old Fashioned Roses, copyright Beabe Thompson 2015

I bought a marked-down rose plant at Lowe’s one year. It was supposed to be a shrub type of rose, docile, hybridized within a centimeter of its life. Instead, I got a frightening old-fashioned climbing rose.

For those of you who are like me, uncertain of plants except what we like, there’s a huge difference between an antique climbing rose and a nearly thornless shrub. Like Joan of Arc versus someone’s sweet grandma. Despite the fact my mislabeled rose was planted in the less than ideal flowerbed in my backyard, it thrived. Boy, did it thrive!

In just a few years the main trunk was big as a toddler’s arm, and sporting thorns sharp enough to tear clothing or penetrate cloth gardening gloves. Just walking past it was like a scene from Little Shop of Horrors. My rose would take a blood tribute if you weren’t wary.

It grew and grew. If branches weren’t cut back, it scratched holes in our bedroom window screen, making noises like a Stephen King novel. It produced large blooms that smelled like expensive vintage perfume and looked lovely in a crystal bowl. This rose was a throwback to the 19th Century when rose cultivation was appreciated.

One day Dearest and our yard guy had enough. Too much blood had been sacrificed to keep my scary rose in an outgrown flowerbed, and even I had to admit it was time. Francisco decided to take two enormous branches and thrust them into a couple of empty spots in our side yard where it was unlikely they’d survive or create bloodshed again. One died pretty quickly, the wrist-thick branch failed. Then discarded.

The second was another story. We thought it had followed the same fate as its sister. But lo and behold, new growth appeared, then buds, then blooms. Despite being fated to die an ignoble death, my fierce rose had survived.

Despite Virginia Creeper and Morning Glory vine intrusion, drought, neglect, too much sun, and horrible soil, she lives on. And maybe that’s a lesson for us all. Despite the challenges of life, we can survive and show the world we won’t quit, won’t bow to failure, illness, loss of loved ones, loss of jobs, and other heartbreaking things.

Often it’s just to keep going and find ways to flourish, to say “I’m still here, dammit. You won’t knock me down for long.” Be the rose vine, be the one who finds new ways to put down roots, to reach out for more life, more sunshine, more ways to bloom despite others’ expectations of you, of loss. Survive and thrive.