BE: RECLAIMED, TRANSFORMED, and CONSISTENT.

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Welcome to 2019. It’s only 9 days old, but let me tell you: I’m already loving it so much more than the three years before.

New Year’s Eve has been a time of grief for me these last two years. It was on NYE 2016 that my world turned upside down and NYD 2017 that by best friends abandoned me. So, it’s not really surprising that, given the meaning of New Year’s for me and the fact that I had gotten a little off on my med schedule, I had a minor breakdown this year on NYE. My poor mother was terrified, but I knew that I was really fine. I was crying and shaking, but I knew that this wasn’t me, it was a disease that I hadn’t properly worked with for a couple days. I fell asleep around 8 or 9, knowing that sleep would bring the stability that my limited neuro-transmitters couldn’t provide. When I woke up around 3am on January 1, I celebrated by myself the beginning year that I have decided will be my year.

I think it’s kind of fitting, this less than auspicious beginning to 2019 because I think it’s the story that I’m going to tell myself over and over this year. This disease is not me. This trauma is not me. I’m okay. I’m alive. I’m held in the palm of His hand.

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Every year I choose a word for the year. To be honest, as a general practice, I’ve failed at embracing my word in the past. 2017 was obedience and trust, but I failed to obey or trust or even want to be alive at all that year. 2018 was focus, but my main focus became getting well and healing from not one, but two bouts of mono. I tried, but failed. This year will be different, I can tell already. My word is BE and I’ve chosen three subwords: RECLAIMED, TRANFORMED, and CONSISTENT. I’m reclaiming all those pieces of me that I lost during the break up from hell. I’m reclaiming hobbies, friendships, and dreams that I lost. I’m transforming them and my life into the life I want—my best life. The really hard part, the part I’m scared of and know I will struggle with daily, is being consistent. I struggle with consistency, mostly because of my illnesses mentioned above. I want to be a consistent teacher, grader, blogger, artist, friend, etc., but it’s hard. It requires rest and time management and energy. But I know I can do it. I have an accountability system that will hold me to it. (Love you, chicas.)

I have a long list of goals for the year, mostly the same goals from my 30 by 30, which I’ve decided is really 30 by the end of 30, not the beginning, because who knew a year ago that I would have mono? Not me. I’ll probably share some of those goals later this year, but for now I’m focusing on my words.

BE: RECLAIMED, TRANSFORMED, and CONSISTENT.

What are your words for 2019?

#meandwhitesupremacy Part III: Days 5-8

I definitely fell behind on this—but not because I don’t want to do the work. I have a lot of things in the air right now. I realize that might sound like white privilege and maybe it is, but my work right now is literally in exchange for housing and my boss has asked me to focus more, so…

I am including here Layla Saad’s prompts because I think that it helps contextualize for readers who aren’t looking at her Instagram challenge.

Anways, here’s what I’m thinking through today…

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Day 5: You and White Superiority

Layla Saad’s Prompt:

Superior: higher in rank, status, or quality.
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White supremacy stems from this erroneous and violent idea that people with white skin and more superior to people with brown or black skin. The most extreme manifestations of this are the KKK, Neo-Nazis and right-wing nationalism. However, you don’t have to buy into this extreme ideology to harbour thoughts of white superiority. In fact, you can consider yourself one of the most progressive, liberal, we-are-all-one, peace loving white people and still at subconscious levels believe in white superiority.
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Don’t believe me? Here’s some ways that it shows up: Tone Policing BIPOC and thinking we should express ourselves the way you or other white people do (whether talking about racism online or protesting racism in the streets, etc.). Subscribing to and elevating European standards of beauty. Believing AAVE (African American Vernacular English) is ‘ghetto’, and thinking the ‘proper’ way to talk is the way you and other white people talk. Primarily buying from and working with white entrepreneurs and service providers. Primarily reading books by white authors. Primarily learning from and supporting white leaders. Primarily staying on the ‘white’ side of town. Only sharing the work and words of BIPOC if you think it won’t offend or upset the other white people in your communities. Holding the expectation that BIPOC should ‘serve’ you by providing free emotional labour around racism. Believing in subtle and overt ways that you are smarter, more valuable, more capable, wiser, more sophisticated, more beautiful, more ‘articulate’, more spiritual, more you name it... than BIPOC.
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Get honest and dig deep: what have you learnt about You & White Superiority. In what ways have you consciously or subconsciously believed that you are better than BIPOC? Don’t hide from this. This is the crux of White Supremacy. Own it.

 My response:

I think that one thing that comes to mind for me after reading Saad’s post is the friction between what I know in my heart about non-standard English vernaculars and my work as a professor teaching and grading according to SAE. I especially experience this with non-Spanish speakers. I grew up hearing Spanglish and German-English, so the varied vernaculars around those cultures seem natural to me, but AAVE and others are sometimes easy to dismiss. I am recovering from decades of grammar policing and still sometimes struggle with that habit.

I know that there are other ways—things that might seem small, but are really toxic to my being—that I support white superiority. These days I am often surrounded by white people, or those passing as white who have embraced some/many white ideas. I don’t consciously believe whiteness is superior, but I do fall into the Western Civilization trap—mostly because it was ingrained in me after so many years of education and my time at UD. For instance, I can quote Socrates and Plato and even read the original Greek, but know almost nothing about Taoism. Because of this, I’m afraid I sometimes exoticize non-whiteness—being fascinated by other cultures, beauty standards, and philosophies. I worry about how I consume POC literature and theory because I want to be sure I’m not appropriating or fetishizing it. It’s a constant struggle and balance.

I know that when I was younger, I was raised in a culture that very much embraced white superiority, even if they denied it. There was an entire part of our culture around judging how others spoke, dressed, etc., while simultaneously picking and choosing pieces of their culture to “praise” as if that made us not racist. I remember how fascinated I was by the formerly Nigerian students and professors from the university who attended my church and wore brightly colored wraps and how one family member constantly emulated African American style while being incredibly (and unintentionally) racist in her actions and words.

I could go on and talk about the darker things that I saw in my family (and note—how we use “dark” in language to mean “bad”—I should work on my usage of that), but this is about me, not them.

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Day 6: You and White Exceptionalism

f you’ve reached this far in the challenge you’ll begin to notice a pattern. All of these themes weave in and out of each other, interlocking and interconnected. That is the sticky web of white supremacy. It’s not just binary black or white you either ARE a racist, or you AREN’T. Rather, it is these multilayered behaviours and beliefs that make up your white supremacist world view. Your internalised racism is part and parcel with your view of both the world and yourself. These prompt questions are helping you to become aware of that.
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Today’s topic weaves in with yesterday’s one. White Exceptionalism. White exceptionalism has shown up every time you saw one of the prompt questions and thought ‘I don’t do that’ or ‘That doesn’t apply to me’. White exceptionalism is what convinces you that you don’t *really* need to do the work. That you don’t have to show up here and add your comments - that you can just do it in your journal or think about it in your mind. That you’re somehow special, exempt, above this, past this. That white supremacy is what those ‘other white people’ do, but not you. White exceptionalism is the belief that because you’ve read some books on this topic and follow some BIPOC, you know it all and don’t need to dig deeper. White exceptionalism is the hurt ‘not all white people!’ response when BIPOC talk about white people’s behaviour. White Exceptionalism goes hand in hand with White Superority: I’m special. I’ve already read about this. I’ve already spoken on this. I’m one of the ‘good ones’. I’ve already shown I’m an ally. So I don’t need to keep going any deeper. White exceptionalism is particularly rampant in progressive, liberal, spiritual white people because there is a belief that being these things makes you exempt or above it all. You’re not. And the belief that you are makes you dangerous to BIPOC because you can’t see your own complicity. .
What have you learnt about You & White Exceptionalism? In what ways have or do you believe you are exceptional, exempt, one of the ‘good ones’ or above this? In what ways have you believed you are the exception to the rule?

Oh geez, have I had to deal with this. I posted about this challenge in a facebook group and nearly got my head bitten off by white people and their exceptionalism. And I realize that, while being frustrated by them, I’m exactly the same sometimes. 

I love that Saad calls out “progressive, liberal, spiritual white people,” because I think that we are (yes, we) so bad about this. I see it in my groups all the time—even sometimes in my closest, most beloved friends. And I know that if they’re doing it, I am too. White exceptionalism is when we think we can culturally appropriate because “oh, we’re friends with people of x culture, so it’s okay.” Or, my personal favorite, “oh, I can say that because I’m 1/200th Native American” (which by the way, isn’t a thing—and as someone who is a very tiny bit Cherokee, I’m telling you, no, that doesn’t mean we can be racist assholes). White exceptionalism is also when we include Western canon in education as the main, required, core classes and then have a side class for “Asian History.” (Asia is a continent—not a country, by the way, and so is Africa.)

I think that I, and everyone else who Saad is describing, need to slow down a little on the judging others and calling everyone a Nazi (not a lot, but a little) and look at ourselves first. We can’t fix things when we’re part of the problem. That just makes the problem bigger.

I am complicit. I am part of the problem. I must become better than I am.

To quote my beloved sisters’ litany of non-violence: “Acknowledging [my] complicity
in those attitudes, action and words which perpetuate violence, [I] beg the grace of a non-violent heart.”

May we all have this grace imparted to us.

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Day 7: What have you learnt so far about You and White Supremacy

On Day 7 we don’t rest. Because BIPOC don’t get to rest from (your) white supremacy. But we do reflect. This is not a break. Consider it a breather. Because a lot has been brought to the surface over the last 6 days and it’s important to step back, take stock of what you’ve learnt so far and integrate so that you can continue through the rest of the challenge.
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If you’ve been honest with yourself and digging deep during this challenge, then a lot of things should have come to the surface that you weren’t consciously aware of that you are now reflecting on. For today, share what you have learnt so far about You & White Supremacy. What have you begun to see and understand about your personal complicity in white supremacy that you were not able to see or understand before you begun this challenge? Again, we’re not looking for the happy ending, the teachable moment or the pretty bow at the end of all the learning. We’re also not looking for White Tears, dramatic admissions of guilt or becoming so frozen with shame that you can’t move forward. The aim of this work is not self-loathing. The aim of this work is Truth: seeing it, owning it and figuring out what to do with it. This is life long work. Avoid the shortcuts and be suspicious of the easy answers. Avoid the breaking down into White Fragility. Question yourself when you think you’ve finally figured it out. Simply take a moment to recall and find the patterns behind all that you have learnt so far about how you perpetuate white supremacy and then sit in it. Let these understandings work on you and through you. What have you learnt so far?

A lot of what I’ve been looking at and analyzing in this process is not something new, but rather the things that I already know about myself and try to ignore. That’s what is really at the heart of this work, I think, at least for me. I hope that doesn’t mean I’m not giving this enough of myself.

I was raised around racism that denied that it was racist. I was raised in a Church that, while I still love and am part of it, was a tool of colonialism and which still struggles with racism still, even though the majority of Catholics in the world today are not white. When I prioritize colonialism, westernism, Europeanism, etc. over other modes, thoughts, ideas, identities, etc., I am perpetuating white supremacy. I struggle with this constantly and have quite a bit of privilege as I do so. I’m hoping that in continuing this challenge, I will continue to grow.

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Day 8: What have you learned about You and Seeing Color?

“I’m not racist. I don’t see colour.”
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If I had a dollar for the number of times I’ve heard progressive, spiritual, liberal white privileged people say they ‘don’t see colour’ when they’ve been accused of being racist... Except I wouldn’t want those dollars because this statement, ‘I don’t see colour’, is violent. It is violent because it says, I don’t see you for who you are. I’m choosing to ignore your skin colour, your hair pattern, your accent or other languages, your cultural practices and spiritual traditions. I’m choosing to erase all of the important parts of your identity that make you who you are. It is violent because it erases the identities of BIPOC, thereby also erasing our lived experiences with racism. It minimises these experiences. And it asks BIPOC to minimise these experiences too. It asks BIPOC to act as if the world is set up that way - as if institutional racism and prejudice don’t exist. It is also a form of gaslighting because it simply isn’t true. You do see colour. You’re choosing to pretend you don’t so that you don’t have to face the elephant in the room - your white privilege and your complicity in white supremacy. .
Are you someone who has used or thought this statement? Are you someone who has used the idea that ‘there is only one race - the human race’ to gaslight, minimise, erase, ignore and harm BIPOC? Have you wanted BIPOC to stop talking about race using this statement? Have you said or thought that racism only exists if we keep talking about races? Have you cringed or become frustrated anytime a BIPOC has used the term ‘white people’? Have you felt that it was racist or divisive to keep talking about white people? Have you thought they were talking about the actual colour of your skin and thought ‘reverse racism’? Have you wished we could just stop talking about race? And what mental gymnastics have you done to avoid seeing your own race (and what your white race has collectively done to BIPOC)? What have you learnt about You & Seeing Colour?

Color-blindness is such bullshit (in terms of race and ethnic identity—actually being colorblind is a whole different matter, don’t want to sound ableist). By being color-blind, you’re not only belittling diverse ethnic identities, but also assuming that difference is bad. It’s not. It’s what makes life wonderful. Let’s be real: without people of other ethnic backgrounds, we would only be eating bland white-grey food like the British and as a fat girl, I can embrace the glory of other cultures allowing us to learn about actual edible food from them. Sorry, not sorry.

I think that when I was younger, I may have been swayed by the color-blind bullshit for a hot minute, but it didn’t last long. It didn’t make any sense. Of course people are different and come from different backgrounds. But maybe as a white farm girl who frequently heard German and Spanish in my family members’ houses and who went to school with significantly wealthier city kids with families more stable than my own, I knew difference in a different way. Plus, I’m neuro-different and am constantly being told to change my entire identity to fit in with a world that wants everyone to fill a certain mold. I think that my own experiences helped me to see that color-blindness was bullshit, even if I didn’t always realize it was racist. On the flip side, I definitely have been guilty of expecting others to assimilate to the culture that seemed predominant (I got rid of my accent, why can’t they?), but I realized a long time ago that forced-assimilation is just a different way of committing genocide.

As for getting upset about people talking about “white people,” hell no. If I’ve got 99 problems, 100% are probably caused by some sort of colonial white-people bullshit, from the neurotypical superiority complex I’m constantly facing to the American hard-on for consuming and disposing of so much trash that our planet is starting to resemble a dumpster. Sure, talking about race is complicated, but I think we’ve been ignoring the elephant in the room long enough in America. As a white Catholic, I can look at the last 2000 years of history and find only maybe like 5 times something really awful happened on a wide-scale that wasn’t caused by someone who is closely connected to my own identity. That’s rough and it could easily lead to some self-hatred, but it is what it is and neither wallowing in it nor being defensive will fix the problem. Plus, the great thing about being descended from a whole lot of ignorant, violent people? It could be so easy for me (and us as a whole culture) to be infinitely better than my (our) predecessors. So, let’s fix this problem instead of ignoring it through color-blindness or any other bullshit “politeness.” Step 1: Confront how I am complicit in white supremacy.

I’m working on it--and thank you to Layla Saad for inviting me to work on it in an intentional way, creating the space, and performing the work of providing questions.

Life Update III: Back to the Woods

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A few weeks ago now, I was blessed with the opportunity to go home to my Woods.

If you’ve been following me since before the big breakup, you know that I am very close with a group of Roman Catholic Women’s Religious, also known as Sisters (not nuns! Look up the difference!): the Sisters of Providence of St. Mary of the Woods, located just outside of Terre Haute, Indiana. I have discerned with them, become an associate in the Providence Associate relationship program, lived in their novitiate house for many weekends, led retreats to their motherhouse in hopes of bringing more people to the woods, and even spent my MA comps summer working at their White Violet Center for Eco Justice. When I lived in Indiana, I would make trips to the Woods fairly frequently, but even during my first three years in Texas I made it home 1-2x per year. My trips to the Woods, along with most of the things I treasured in my life, were impacted and temporarily put on pause after the breakup and breakdown and my life falling apart.

I promised myself in the midst of the worst part of my depression last year that this year I would get home to my sisters for our annual meeting no matter what. My sisters and their love and prayers were a huge part of my recovery. My love for them was a huge part of my staying alive. I knew that I needed to get home as soon as possible and I’m so grateful it actually happened. That I ended up spending this summer in Cincinnati—only three hours from my beloved woods instead of the 14 from Texas—was purely Providential. That this year we received enough donations for the PAs to offer a scholarship for associates to come home was also Providential and a huge blessing, as I could never have come home without it. Gary’s becoming a service dog sealed the deal because I knew with him, I could make it through if things became painful or triggering, given that my last two trips home were with her.

When I drove onto campus, I felt a combination of relief and anxiety, thinking about the fact that some of these people had seen the darkest part of my breakdown take place. Yet, as soon as I walked into La Fer hall and ran right into my friend, Mel, everything but joy emptied itself from my body. Pure, complete joy. I went through the check in process, greeted by my dear Peggy, and took my stuff up to my room after chatting with even more friends. It was in some ways like I had never left and in other ways like I had been gone for a millenia. It was strange to see my friends with more grey in their hair, and sad to note the absence of dear ones whose celebrations of life I had missed when so far away. But overall, I was hit over and over with waves of relief, contentment, and love. I was truly home.

Gary loved having so many aunts to love on him and so many woods to walk around! 

Gary loved having so many aunts to love on him and so many woods to walk around! 

Over the weekend, I got to spend time with people very dear to me, though not enough time to be sure. I ended up sleeping through almost every social event, my body suddenly so relaxed and my mind so at peace that I could sleep in a way I haven’t in a long, long time. I missed out on spending time with my closest, dearest sisters because they were busy and I was busy and sleeping and overwhelmed. But still, the peace at being in meetings and looking around and seeing so many people I love so much—it’s something I haven’t had in a long time. Lately in Denton I’ve been surrounded by so much toxicity that this space of love and generosity and non-violence was just so much sweeter than I even remembered. During my time there, I suddenly felt more myself, more alive, and more happy than I have since January 1, 2017. It was a pure gift.

It’s only been a few weeks since my weekend at the woods, but it already feels like a lifetime. There’s a lot of work to do here in Ohio and I’m behind—simply because there really was never enough time to begin with. I’m blessed with a compassionate community of support here—the wonderful doctor, my dear roommate, and several kind and loving patients and workers that I spend time with at the office. The work I’m doing here is complicated—there is the literal work I’m doing for Doc, then there is the physical work being done to my body both through treatments and my (often failing) own job of being active and eating clean. Then, there is the much harder work of my emotional-mental-spiritual-self work, including using new techniques for processing false beliefs. In addition, I’m working on growing my Etsy shop, in the process of starting my own LLC, taking classes to become a life coach, and researching for my dissertation. Life is full and complicated and the ongoing transition that my body and soul are experiencing causes some discomfort and anxiety. But I’m okay and I’m surrounded by love—both from the people here and my sisters and fellow associates at the Woods. For right now, that is more than enough.

Life Update Part II: What on earth am I doing in Ohio?

A unique view of my new home. Photo by  Jake Blucker  on  Unsplash

A unique view of my new home. Photo by Jake Blucker on Unsplash

Most people following me on social media are aware that last fall, I made a pretty good friend: Minadora. So, Minadora is now a second year poetry PhD (shameless plug: please buy her book and support an amazing poet AND an amazing small press) whose beagle, Aki, has shown up in many of Gary’s Facebook and Instagram updates. She is a kind, generous, patient human who, like me, is a total homebody who simultaneously appreciates the presence of another human. So, to save money (both in terms of rent and in terms of gas spent driving between the two apartments), we decided to get an apartment together. I’m excited to have a roommate again and to have a much larger space. The constant presence of #akiwiththebeaglenose and his wonderful slobbery kisses is the icing on the cake.

So, a little while after we became friends, Minadora’s dad, who is a fascinating human everyone should know, came to visit for her birthday. We spent a lot of time together and, by some strange miracle, he decided that he liked me (and I him—he’s a very kind, fatherly, gentle human and his daughter is a lot like him). Over Christmas break when Minadora was home, she happened to mention to her dad that I am an (aspiring) professional organizer (among my many other pursuits) and he offered to have me come stay with him and work for him in exchange for housing and food and (because he is a very skilled doctor) medical treatment.

If this sounds like too good to be true, it’s really not. I mean it’s good, but also true.  I’m in Ohio living with Minadora and her dad (who I call Doc), cataloguing some collections and helping him organize in exchange for free housing, amazing food, gentle, fatherly affection, and medical treatment for my PCOS/PTSD/etc. Gary is obsessed with Doc and adores him. I am enjoying spending time with my friend, being away from Texas, and meeting her friends and family. Also, being in Ohio has put me much closer to the Woods (that’s the next update) and several Butler-era friends. In fact, I am writing this right now from the home of one of my close friends from Butler who asked me to watch her doggos while she and her mom are on a trip.

There is really no question about who is getting the best end of this working for Doc deal and it’s me. I hope that I’m able to do everything he needs because I’m so grateful for the help he’s giving me. I’m losing weight, my body and mind are more stable than they’ve been in a long time, and I’m working through a lot of the things I need to work through. I’m really blessed to be here.

A note: I’ve been extremely blessed in the last year or so to really find out who my friends are. Minadora is only one of them. I have an amazing group of humans who offer support and love. I’m so grateful.

Update Part I: A Quick Summary of Last Semester

Photo by  Zoltan Tasi  on  Unsplash

Photo by Zoltan Tasi on Unsplash

So, it’s been a while since I’ve updated you all on my life. There are a lot of reasons for that, so here is my very brief and not-too-positive explanation of like late November through May:

Life update: Towards the end of the fall semester, I was called into the department office because a parent had complained about the number of classes I had cancelled. While it was absolutely ILLEGAL for my supervisors to even read an email from a student’s parent, I got chewed out, was told they weren’t getting their money’s worth out of me, etc. I reminded them that I have a serious chronic illness, for which I have ODA accommodation. I was told that our department did not accommodate disabilities other than pregnancy. For those of you who know anything at all about the ADA, you know that was a lawsuit waiting to happen. I then spent the next like four months dealing with HR and my chair and a constant feeling of doom hanging over me because I was afraid of being fired for something over which I have no control. The fact that almost every close friend and mentor I had was encouraging me to sue my department didn’t help my mindset at all.

To make matters worse, at the end of February, I started feeling like my medication wasn’t working. I was constantly exhausted, oversleeping, felt weak and achy. I went to my doctor asking for a med adjustment, but when I described my symptoms she got a funny look on her face and ran some blood tests. It turns out that sometimes those things are symptoms of actual disease and I had mononucleosis. Apparently there was a serious outbreak of mono on campus and it’s a lot more contagious than we were led to believe in high school (less “kissing disease” more “touched the same doorknob and now you’re dying” disease). Excellent. Just what I needed for my first semester teaching three classes instead of two.

Between teaching three different preps (Comp 2, Tech Comm, and Ethnic Lit (!)) and constantly feeling like I was dying, it was a rough time for sure. To add insult to injury I had the first ever student who I genuinely could not stand. You know me, I love my students. I’ve had difficult kiddos before who I’ve dealt with patiently, but this one just took the cake. Between him and the disability situation, I met with HR way more than any one person should have to in a semester—much less a person semi-dying of mono for four months. 

Research update: As a result of the general feel of the semester, when my prospectus defense was cancelled because a committee member refused to sign off on it, I sort of gave up for a while. In all honesty, I’m excited about the opportunity to do something else—I just don’t know what. And with all the awful that I was dealing with, I spent most of the semester contemplating dropping out at the end of it. I didn’t, and I’m glad I didn’t, but now here I am mid-summer still looking towards the fall with a mix of confusion and frustration. Sing to me, O Muse, of something I can write about!

So, that’s my very quick summary. I’ll write another soon and explain what’s going on now and where I am. Here’s a spoiler: I’m in Ohio.

#MeAndWhiteSupremacy Part I: Intro and Day 1

Check out Layla Saad’s #meandwhitesupremacy 28 Day Challenge

I heard about this challenge a few days into it from my friend, Sharyn Holmes. It took me a few minutes to find the original post explaining the challenge, but once I found it, I knew I needed to participate. It’s so important in today’s world to do this work. I can’t ignore it. I think I need to work through this and I imagine my colleagues do as well…

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Link Love for a Rough Week: The Last Week in March and Holy Week

Every week, I curate a list of the best links and articles to make you think and keep you informed. Enjoy!

Every week, I curate a list of the best links and articles to make you think and keep you informed. Enjoy!

Thoughts on this week:

Want to know why it's a rough week? Well, mostly because I'm still struggling with Mono and it's been a month. I'm exhausted and tired and achy and... you get the picture. Plus so behind on research, writing, and grading that I don't know what I'll do! 

What I’m Reading in real life: Honestly, as much as it shames an English professor, I'm not. Blogs, I guess? Books I'm preparing to teach? 

What I’m watching: I'm super addicted to vloggers right now, particularly Rowena Tsai and Kalyn Nicholson.

What I’m listening to: The Audiobook Pastrix: The Cranky, Beautiful Faith of a Sinner & Saint by Nadia Bolz-Webber. I adore her and love her voice. If you're a Christian who isn't following her, you're missing out. 

What else I’m digging: 

  • Puppy Snuggles: Obvs. 
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  • My Lavender Hair: Because I am a badass. 
  • Instacart and Uber Eats: Although it's been rough for my banking account, I would not have made it through Mono without being able to have groceries and food delivered. Once I get home, only Gary or Aki the Beagle will get me out of my apartment. 
  • Audiobooks on Audible: I finally broke down and signed up for Audible because I realized I was getting depressed from not reading book-length texts. I started with this amazing book, You Are a Badass by Jen Sincero--which I have since purchased for three of my bffs and will probably be giving it to more people soon.  

 

What I read this week:

My favorite post: Why a conservative from Texas up and joined a labor union... (The Fire Within): My dear friend, Steph, tells it like it is. And let me tell you, this girl is one of my heroes. When she speaks (or writes), everyone should listen. 

Runner up for favorite: Go Ahead, Millennials, Destroy Us (NYT): Reading this the first time, I almost cried. Thank you, Mr. Kreider, for seeing the power of this generation. 

By Category:

Religion and Spirituality:

  • Women of Color Only: A Lenten Practice (Sojourners): Honestly, I wish I had paid attention to this at the beginning of Lent. But I think this is wonderful and the list includes so many texts I already love. I'm going to be checking out those podcasts, though. 

Social Justice: 

  • Blacks Were Enslaved Well into the 1960s (Vice): While I wasn't necessarily surprised when my friend told me about this article, after reading it I was devestated. I think that everyone should be aware that this continued to happen in the U.S. so late into the 20th Century and, quite honestly, still happens today. 

  • Japan’s Prisons Are a Haven for Elderly Women (Bloomberg): On one side, I totally get this. I think that if I were an older, single woman, I would far prefer prison life to being along, probably dying in a one-room apartment only to be found when I didn't show up to class (this is legit my life fear). But on the other hand WHAT IS WRONG WITH OUR SOCIETY THAT THE ELDERLY ARE THIS FUCKING LONELY?

Reading and Bibliophilia:

Writing:

Life in General:

Success:

  • This Is How To “Work Smarter Not Harder”: 3 Secrets From Research (Barking Up the Wrong Tree): I have to admit that this article challenges me. I'm one of those people with like 10 different projects going at once and three side hustles in addition to a full time job and being a PhD student. So, of course when I read that I should "do less, then obsess" over what's left, I definitely thought "no way!" But the more I think about it, the more I realize that this author, and the many people he cites, are right. Focus is my word for 2018 and this article is definitely going to challenge me to follow through. 

  • The 6 Steps to Turning Setbacks Into Advantages (NYT): Working on it. 

Supporting Diversity and Representation: 

Art and Other Pretty Things:

Academia, Education, and Teaching: 

  • Mental Health Crisis for Grad Students (Inside Higher Ed): As a current grad student, mental health patient, and trauma survivor, I can tell you--this is real. Of the people who have come through my graduate program during my four years here, only one that I know of hasn't been on anti-depressants, anti-anx, or both--and he needed them. The rates of mental health and suicide among graduate students are too high and the support from departments are non-existent (I say as someone currently meeting with HR about abuses in my department). This needs to be fixed!

  •  Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be teachers (Andre Wheller): THIS IS SO TRUE. We need to prioritize educators--but this person forgets the more important and more abused contingent faculty at the University level. 

Environmentalism, Farming, Food, Health, and Nutrition:

Parenting: 

Coffee Shop Check-In

Photo by  wu yi  on  Unsplash

Photo by wu yi on Unsplash

I can’t believe it’s February already. When I told my kids (and by that, I mean the college students I teach) that the year was 1/12th over, they all groaned. It’s like they don’t recognize the passing of time in the same way. They’re anxious already for Spring Break to come. I would prefer that it stayed away. There isn’t enough time in a day for all the work I need to do

My days are packed right now, with lesson prep, grading, reading, designing stickers (have you checked out my etsy shop yet), snuggling Gary, and spending time with friends. Research and writing are crammed into the moments that I can spare from my students and social circle. How on earth does a human finish a dissertation? I watched my friend, H, one of the best humans I know, finish hers somehow while also being an extraordinary professor, mother, wife, daughter, and friend. I have decided she must have some sort of superpowers or Hermoine-like ability to stop/turn back time. I can’t accomplish half of what she does and I don’t have a child, spouse, or family locally to take care of.

I spend most of my time at a local coffee shop here in Denton that is run by volunteers. It’s my perfect place: big tables, kind and friendly staff, and my money is going towards something that I can support (a home that helps men overcome addiction and get back on their feet). Gary and I have befriended other regulars who often come up to us and say hello, check in, and are generally good people. If my beloved Jupiter House ever reopens, it will take a while to readjust—the setting is so different. But both allow me to accomplish far more than I can at home or in my office. Here, there are no dishes to distract, no craft projects to tempt me. I am anonymous and can function without the anxiety that comes from being in an office filled with people whose primary way of coping with the anxieties of the PhD is to gossip about each other.

There are some difficulties in working here. I can be distracted by cute children, observing awkward first dates, and people who, upon realizing that I have a service dog, generally look and point and talk about how cute he is (they’re right, he is). But, overall, coffee shops are my new houses of productivity. Plus, they have coffee.

The new semester has presented new challenges, but also has allowed me to embrace new adventures. I’m teaching my first technical communication class, which has my class schedule even more full. I honestly don’t think that teaching three classes is any worse than teaching two, especially given the nature of the course. It’s a lot of learning new genres of writing and styles of teaching. I took it on because I needed money and sold it to others as a “good learning experience,” but honestly, it’s turned out to be just a lot of fun.

Teaching Ethnic Literature has been by far the most rewarding part of the semester. I am excited to go to class each Wednesday night and talk about things that matter to me with my kiddos. At the request of my last literature class, I have changed up my curriculum design so that the conversation is more guided by me and less by them. It’s more work, but I think they might be learning more. Plus, it’s so much fun thinking about what we can discuss in each of my favored texts.

 

Teaching comp is about the same as always. I have another good class of kids who could probably use a grammar class before comp to give them confidence and knowledge they missed out on in the test-driven education system, but instead I’m just going to have to help them gain that confidence myself. I’m one of the few people I know who genuinely loves teaching comp. It’s fun to talk about writing and help students gain confidence in their writing. The theme for this year is talking about writing through the lens of race and we are preparing for a visit from Paul Beatty, author of The Sellout, in March.

Anyways, I just thought it was about time for a life update. There is more to come this week, so come back and check in!

On New Years Goals, My Birthday, and the start of a year that I’m planning to rock!

Photo by  NordWood Themes  on  Unsplash

2018 Goals

So, it’s January 16th. Yes, people, that means that we are halfway through the first month of 2018. Stressed yet?

I haven’t written yet about my 2018 goals, but I do want to share those with you. 2018 is going to be a big year for me and I’m planning to rock this year so well that it makes up for the absolute disaster that was 2017. Good riddance, year of awfulness.

So, 2018.

My word for 2018 is FOCUS. I want to focus on the things most important to me: my family and friends, research, teaching, self-care, and creativity.

My goals this year fall into three categories: Adventures I want to have, Projects I want to finish, and ongoing goals that I want to work on.

Photo by  Matthew Sleeper  on  Unsplash

 

Adventures:

  • See family in Rolla
  • Attend SP meeting in June
  • Attend Go Wild 2018
  • Go to a museum
  • Go to zoo with H, M, and V
  • Go to one non-ALR reading
  • Volunteer 6 times

 

Projects:

  • Interview dad
  • Read 10 nonfiction, non academic books this year
  • Etsy
  • Submit article for publication
  • Apply to a job
  • Finish a draft of my dissertation
  • Digitalize all my files
  • Declutter my apartment
  • Get rid of 300 things in 2018
  • Curate a capsule wardrobe
  • Supplement regimen
  • Stamp inventory
  • Books organized and database updated
Photo by  Andrew Neel  on  Unsplash

Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash

Photo by  Patrick Fore  on  Unsplash

Photo by Patrick Fore on Unsplash

Ongoing goals:

  • Keep up with grading and teaching work
  • Find a spiritual community
  • Become a budgeting badass
  • Master the art of Meal prep
  • Re-immerse myself into the liturgical year
  • Year-long spending fast (oh, yes, I will write about this in another post)

In addition to these, I have a few daily, weekly, and monthly rituals I’m trying to turn into habits, most notably a Bible reading plan with my soul-sister, B.

Operation: Birthday Reclamation

Photo by  Luca Upper  on  Unsplash

Photo by Luca Upper on Unsplash

Given that it’s January 16th, most people who know me know that it’s the day after my birthday. And this was an important one for me, given that it was one year ago on my birthday that someone I really trusted said something awful to me—the worst thing I could imagine and the worst she could probably have said at that time. So this year, I set out with a few good humans to reclaim my birthday.

First, I went to Starbucks with my friend, M. Then, my close friends and I celebrated by going to a favorite restaurant, walking around favorite shops, and sharing gluten free crepes at a new favorite place recommended by my dear friend and adopted brother, T. It might sound like such a simple thing, but for me it was a huge blessing. At one point during the meal, I looked around and saw the faces of my beloved friends and thought—these people care enough about me to sacrifice their last day off before the semester, drive 30 minutes, pay for an expensive meal, and walk around a stationery shop all just to celebrate my birthday. It’s humbling to be loved so much and I’m so grateful.

Genuinely the best friends I could ask for. So sad B. wasn't able to make it! (Photo by random lady at Daiso.)

Genuinely the best friends I could ask for. So sad B. wasn't able to make it! (Photo by random lady at Daiso.)

It is also a reminder to me that we can never know what God has in store for us. A year ago, I thought my life would never get better, that I would never heal or be able to trust again. A year ago, I did not even know three of those friends. All three of them were brought into my life during 2017—and our friendships cemented largely because of Gary. And the rest--even though I knew them—have become so much more important to me in the last year. It’s been a long, hard road and there were many times that I wasn’t sure I would make it (and neither were they), but I’ve finally hit a stride where I feel strong and healthy and—dare I say it?—happy. There are still many struggles ahead and I still have rough days, but I just keep thinking about that saying—it’s a bad day, not a bad life.

2018 will be my year

Photo by  Garrhet Sampson  on  Unsplash

This is what I keep saying. When my friends and I are stressed, I repeat it over and over. 2018 will be our year. I’ve seen that celebrities have claimed it will be the year of women. I’m not sure about that, but I fully believe that something is going to change for the better for me and for my close friends. And it’s going to change because we’re going to work hard.

As you’ve probably noticed, I’ve become a lot more into planning and the planner community. In case you didn’t know, I even founded the Denton Planner Girls group on facebook! We have regular meet ups and it’s so much fun. I’m really getting back into my creative side and I’m finding bullet journaling to be particularly therapeutic. I definitely think that getting into planning has made me more confident—and for good reason! When I’m constantly seeing words like “Hustle,” “Boss Babe,” and “Goal Digger,” it’s hard not to start thinking in those terms. This led me to invite M. to join me in the Wild Sisterhood—my first year back since I came to Denton. I have a lot of plans for this year beyond me goals above, including starting my own business, and I think that becoming a Wild Sister will help me with those goals. You’ll hear more about that in the future. But for now, just know—2018 is going to be my year. I hope it’s yours, too. 

 

And, in case you missed it on my social media:

Photo by Heidi Cephus. 

Photo by Heidi Cephus. 

Link Love for 24 January 2018

Every week, I curate a list of the best links and articles to make you think and keep you informed. Enjoy!

Every week, I curate a list of the best links and articles to make you think and keep you informed. Enjoy!

Thoughts on this week:

What I’m Reading in real life: This week, I was super excited to reread, yet again, Anzaldua's Borderlands to prepare to teach it to my lit class. Such a great read and I really feel like she's writing just to my soul. 

What I’m watching: Still re-watching Full House

What I’m listening to: Music by my friend, M.'s brother's band, The Tillers

What else I’m digging: Zera Coffee, my temporary home while Jupiter House is being fixed up

 

My Writing

This week: 30 by 30: Looking Towards the Future: My list of things to do before I turn 30. 

 

What I read this week:

This week's topic: The Morning Routine: My friend, Mina, and I are working on setting morning and evening routines that allow us to be more productive without falling into the pit of social media. Here is some of my research on the topic:

Pens/Pencils/Stationery:  

Reading and Bibliophilia:

  • Middle Grade Review: Erasable (Texas Girl Reads): This book looks great! I love YA novels. Sort of like the next generation of A Wonderful Life, no? 

Writing:

Technology:

Life in General:

Tough and Awkward Topics: 

Academia, Education, and Teaching: 

  • Disorientations: On Disability in Graduate School (Medical and Health Humanities): This is a great article that touches on a topic close to my heart. "Part of learning to write my dissertation was also learning to navigate disorientation and its unexpected contours of pain linked directly to the act of scholarly labor itself. Disability’s (ar)rhythms often clash with the academy’s relentless temporality that frequently makes costly demands upon my physical and affective resources." I definitely relate. 

  • 18 Awesome Higher Ed Social Media You Should be Following (Workzone): I can't help but notice that none of my schools are listed, but it's great that these institutions have figured out social media!

Simplicity and Minimalism:

  • Casita Vibes (Very That): The artist behind one of my favorite etsy shops reflects here on paring down to the basics and cleaning 40 years of belongings out her family home. Simple reflection, but beautiful. 

Environmentalism, Farming, Food, Health, and Nutrition:

Dogs:

  • Are Dogs Self-Aware? (Daily Treat): Okay, so I don't care what science says--Gary is self-aware and super smart and amazing. Disagree and I will fight you. 

30 by 30: Looking towards the future

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So, as you might know, I turned 29 last week. I made a pretty big deal of this birthday because, honestly, it was a big deal. But I’m also thinking about the fact that I’m one year away from 30 and I’m not really where I wanted to be by that landmark year.

So, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what kind of life I want to have and what kind of person I want to be when I hit 30 and I’ve set some goals to get me there.

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1.     Read the Bible all the way through: I mentioned before that I’m doing a bible reading with my friend, B. I’ve really lost a lot of my relationship with God this past year since I stopped going to Incarnation. So, I’m doing this bible reading to bring me back into the faith I love and grow a deeper relationship with God as well as growing closer to my best friend. The reading plan we’re using is from Bibles and Coffee by Jackie Rau, whose stunning Bible art is enough to make me almost consider buying another Bible/owning more than my main Bible. Almost.

2.     Read all of Anzaldua’s Published Works: Okay, yes, this is kind of cheating given that my dissertation is on Gloria Anzaldua, but I also just want to read her because she’s so inspirational and challenging and such a bad ass Xicana that I want to be just like her.

3.     Visit the Anzaldua Archives: Given that the archives are in Austin, Texas, there’s just no reason not to go while I’m still living so close.

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4.     Walk 1,000 miles: I used to walk 3-5 miles per day, then I had the bronchitis that would never end. Then, when I adopted G., we used to do 1-3 miles each morning. I’ve definitely gotten out of the practice and want to get back into it because it makes me feel happier, more awake, and makes my body stronger.

5.     Lose 30 lbs/ go down 2 sizes: So, this is like the most American goal ever, right? I have it worded this way because my friend, M., told me I should focus on size instead of weight because muscles weigh more than fat. But honestly, the real goal is to feel stronger and healthier. The last year of depression eating has taken a toll. While I’ve lost weight rather than gained it since all this started, it’s mostly been from being tired/depressed/unable to get out of bed and, therefore, unable to eat—and I feel weaker because of it, even if my clothes are more loose. I need to feel comfortable in my skin again.

6.     Get a tattoo: I’m still working out what I want, but this is the year. I’m one year from 30. I no longer believe the people who said I’d regret it.

7.     Dye my hair lavender: Because I can and I’m one year from the job market. So, last chance for a while.

8.     Learn how to do makeup: Because even though I’m a low-maintenance feminist, I’m also a freaking adult.

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9.     Capsule wardrobe with a style that suits me: I’m almost 30. I still have clothing items from high school and college. I really want to find a style that makes me feel myself without being unprofessional. Also, I’m currently living in running leggings and maybe I need to find something else so that I’m no longer wearing athletic wear 100% of the time I’m not teaching. But most of all, I have more clothes than any three people could possibly need and most of them don't make me comfortable. 

10.  Create and stick to morning and evening rituals: I seem to never have time to do the things that actually make me happy, like reading, writing, snuggling Gary, meditating, and creating art. I should be doing these things every day. I’m working on a new daily ritual. I’ll tell you when I figure it out.

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11.  Do forgiveness on the people who harmed me: My friend, M., has taught me this method of forgiveness that is really helpful in moving past wounds. I want to do this not only because forgiveness is part of a non-violent and Christ-centered life, but because those people do not deserve to maintain power over me. My anger keeps me connected to them. Let’s sever that connection.

12.  Go through stuff in storage: When I look around my apartment, I am horrified by the amount of stuff I’ve accumulated. When I think about my grandmother’s garage in Missouri, it’s enough to give me nightmares. I can guarantee, if I haven’t seen it in that long, I probably don’t need it. Except the books, but even those are going to be pared down.

13.  Get rid of 300 things: But really, though, if I go through storage, it should be like 3,000.

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14.  Find someone to finish my t-shirt quilt and get it done: I’m all about letting go of past projects or finding someone else to do them. This is one thing I don’t want to feel guilty about.

15.  Digitalize and recycle most of my files: Because I have two filing cabinets full that I don’t want to have to move all over the country.

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16.  Master budgeting: I’m working on this one hard core and meeting with a financial advisor for help. I want to get control over my debt in a big way.

17.  Interview my dad: I have a long list of questions I’ve been wanting to ask and get recorded. I really need to do this.

18.  Get published: I really want to get something published in an academic journal—especially because my chapter is still on hold while the collection editor is dealing with health issues.

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19.  Finish a draft of my dissertation: It might sound insane, but I really think I could have drafts or rough outlines of everything by next January. It would be so good to have this off my shoulders.

20.  Start my own business: More info to come!

21.  Learn how to build my own brand: see above. :)

22.  Master SEO

23.  Increase my blog readership to 500

24.  Make 100 sales on Etsy

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25.  Take a trip somewhere fun: I haven’t done this in a long time. It would be nice to go somewhere not for family or a conference.

26.  Do 5 things on my DFW bucket list: I’ve lived in the DFW area for 7 of the last ten years. Why have I still not seen these things?

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27.  Visit a TX winery: See above. Also, wine.

28.  Take a cooking class: I’m not a bad cook, but there are things I’d like to learn to do.

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29.  Work with G. until he is really well trained and passes the tests: Just because he’s an official service dog doesn’t mean the training should end. I’ve been really lazy with it lately and it’s starting to affect relationships with others, not to mention our relationship. He deserves better guidance.

30.  Enter a calligraphy project into a show: This will, of course, require me to start doing calligraphy again. I deserve to enjoy my hobbies and creating art brings me joy.

So, that’s my list. I think that 29 is going to be the best year yet and I fully intend to get all this done. I deserve a better life and I want to be a better person for the people (and dog) that I love. So, let’s do this thing.

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P.S. If you're interested in other goals I have, check out my bucket lists

The first Link Love of 2018!

Every week, I curate a list of the best links and articles to make you think and keep you informed. Enjoy!

Every week, I curate a list of the best links and articles to make you think and keep you informed. Enjoy!

Thoughts on this week:

What I’m Reading in real life: Right now, I'm researching for chapter 3 and reading for my classes that I'm teaching. 

What I’m watching: Full House and Fuller House

What I’m listening to: The Planner Girl Chatter podcast

What else I’m digging: Being back in school

 

My Writing

This week: On New Year's Goal, My Birthday, and the start of a year I'm planning to rock! (BTWM)

What I read this week:

My favorite read from the last few weeks: Saying 'yes' to a priceless 'nun cut' (Global Sisters Report): I love this reflection from my sister, Tracey. 

Movies and TV:

  • In Praise of Paris Geller and Her Anger (Slate): The older I get, the more I love Paris Geller. "The emotion Paris tends to express most often—disappointment—might seem like humility, but it's actually a side effect of her ambition, something than stems from a real desire for the world to be better than it is. Or, in Paris’ case, for yourself to be better than you are. Her primary goal in life, after all, is to “be able to read an in-depth biography about herself and not be disappointed.”  What a goal. Let's all be like Paris. #noregrets

Life in General:

Goals: Given that we're at the start of a new year, I thought I'd do a whole section on goals. 

Tough and Awkward Topics: 

Art and Other Pretty Things:

Academia, Education, and Teaching: 

  • PhD Talk for AcademicTransfer: How to select which conference to attend (PhD Talk): This is helpful for new academics trying to figure out what conferences to attend. 

  • 5 Principles of Outstanding Classroom Management (Edutopia): Some good reminders here.

  • The gift of record-keeping: A tool for future promotion (The Research Whisperer): While I have tried to keep track of my achievements, this article is definitely a wake up call! And the included excel spreadsheet is fantastic!

  • 3 Assumptions Teachers Should Avoid (Edutopia): I struggle with this because often my students aren't able to do things I assume they should be able to do. I like the term "commiting assumicide." Once my students know that I am disappointed in them, they lose interest. But of course the opposite problem is when I have to stop and explain but the others get restless. This is one of the greatest challenges of teaching such a diverse population. 

  • How successful academics write (The Thesis Whisperer): This article talks about a new book by Helen Sword, author of Stylish Academic Writing. Although I wasn't crazy about that text when I first read it, I've come to appreciate Sword and was interested to learn about her new book. I'm planning on picking up a copy soon, but in the meantime, I took the included quiz. I'm a "Hang Glider." According to the quiz, "Your skill level is high, and you often engage in fruitful conversations with other writers; however, you struggle to write as productively as you would like to, and you get little joy from writing." While I'm not sure that I get little joy from writing, I definitely think that I struggle with productivity. Maybe the book will help!

  • Dear Scholars, Delete Your Account At Academia.Edu (Forbes): A good thing to consider. 

Dogs:

  • 23 Dogs Making ‘Sweater Weather’ the Most Wonderful Time of the Year (The Dogington Post): I'm not sure about you, but I have come to adore dogs in sweaters. Gary has two that I love and his bestie, Aki, is the most adorable beagle in a sweater I have ever seen. In case you don't have your own doggo in sweaters or if you just can't get enough, check out these good boys. What about your doggos? Do they like sweaters?