I can not shut up

 One of many pictures where I'm TALKING as the photo is being taken. This photo is from the old days!!

One of many pictures where I'm TALKING as the photo is being taken. This photo is from the old days!!

I lied about something. You know by now how important it is that I’m honest with you. I may be off by a year or so in my stories, but everything I share is how I remember it and can be verified by friends.

But I did omit the truth during a story I shared last summer. I mentioned how a (male) friend asked me “How did you know kids and cooking and food would become a thing?” And I wrote “I said I didn’t know, I did what interested me.”

It’s taken me months to be honest WITH MYSELF about how that is a lie.

The truth? I HELPED MAKE KIDS AND COOKING AND NUTRITION A *THING* - yes, that’s right I’m giving myself credit, which as you have figured out by now, I struggle with. So much easier to put myself down! It’s so innate to downplay things. Plus, people love to hate women who tout their accompaniments. 

If a man does it, he is confident, not cocky. I hate this double standard.

I’m not saying I helped make it a *thing* by MYSELF. Pam Koch (Columbia Univ), Lynn Fredericks (Family Cook Productions), Alice Waters (Edible Schoolyard) and a woman in Texas (whose name is escaping me) and I are a handful of pioneers that started doing the kids and cooking work in the 90s. 

How do we make it into a *thing?* We don’t shut up. Pam wrote her dissertation on it. Lynn Fredericks created entire curricula. I launched kids programming at the JCC. Alice Waters, do I really need to explain what she did? 

When I started studying nutrition at Bastyr University in the early 90s, people thought I was SO weird. I know it’s hard to imagine now, but food was not trendy back then!! 

I know it may seem like the work I’ve been doing as an activist this past year is just me reacting to what’s happening in DC. Yes, of course, it is.

But a lot of what I’m doing is based on years of experience getting people to LISTEN. The cooking with kids was a *tactic* to get them in the door. Do you think people would have shown up if I had a class called “You’re Poisoning Your Children!!!?”

I’ve learned what works and what doesn’t work.

The one thing that I’ve learned is you just have to keep speaking up. Speak out. A Movement is a boulder. In the beginning, it’s a small crowd of people trying to push it down the hill. The only way to get it going is to keep yelling out: hey there, can you help? Hi, will you help push? Over and over and over again.

I’ve had a lot of haters try to take me down in online groups over the years! I feel sorry for them. I’ve been dealing with online challengers since the early days of list-servs in the nutrition field. Those women can be CRUEL.

I don’t mind. They can keep coming after me. It keeps me sharp, allows me to get better at honing my argument. It means what I'm saying is important. I just hate seeing them go after others. Not a fan of bullies.

Even women try to silence other women. 

We’ve been taught to be quiet for so many years, that I think we internalize that toxic message and then lash out at others who dare to speak up. 

We are also told that boys won’t like smart girls, so young women stop raising their hands in class. We nervously chuckle at a dinner party when a guy says a sexist joke.

I know many of you can vouch - I was never quiet! My family - which as you know has got a lot of boys - were always saying “jules, c’mon” - but you know what? They are AMAZING men. I mean, truly, wonderful fathers and husbands. They are super supportive of their super smart wives. They cook, clean, run the house.

And that’s not to say it’s just because of me and my loud mouth. Ha, I can’t take that credit.

But what we did in our family was create a culture where women were HEARD and RESPECTED. We were never, ever silenced. 

I always wonder: how many other families create a culture where the women are encouraged to speak up? To speak OUT?

There is a reason I am the way I am. I didn’t become this way in a vacuum. Of course, I had a certain personality. But it wasn’t stifled. My Papu laughing at me swearing. My Dad thought it was cool that I traveled on my own. My mom encouraged me to live life on my own terms. 

It takes a village to create a strong female Voice.

It hasn’t been easy for me. I see everyone so quiet in those situations or now, online about what’s happening in the world.

And I try. I try so hard to keep my mouth shut. I tell myself: I’m not going to post anything political today. I’m not going to call out that idiot at dinner for his gross remarks. I’m not going to challenge the co-worker who is always mansplaining in meetings. 

I’m going to be quiet today.

It never, ever works. I can feel all these words and frustration rising up like bubbles inside of me. Can’t. Keep. It. In. ANY. LOOOONGGGERRR.

I’m better about how I *say* things now at least. I’m more compassionate about the other person’s feelings. I try to be dignified and respectful with how I word things.

But I can’t shut up. 

I just can’t.

Even if I end up in hospice sooner than I’d like, you know I’ll use it as an opportunity to highlight a group’s plight or fundraise for people that are suffering somewhere. 

It’s just who I am.

And I’m not going to apologize for it.

Modern silencing of women on Twitter.

They've been trying to silence us FOREVER. Powerful Men Have Tried to Silence Abused Women Since Medieval Times

Photo #8b. This is part of a writing project where I challenge myself to write 700-1000 words per day - not in advance - for 30 days using old photos and different writing prompts. This particular set of stories will focus on my experiences as a (white) Gen X woman and experiencing America pre- and post- #metoo movement.