Thursday, July 2, 2020

What Happens in my Car: Childfree Road Trip





Happy Summer, Bitchy Readers!


Solo road trips are an essential part of my childfree lifestyle. 

Due to COVID, I wasn't sure if/when trips would be possible this year. Luckily, I'm now heading west through the Canadian Rockies en route to the lake cabin I like to use. This place holds special meaning because it's where I spent 10 weeks in 2018 developing this blog. 

As I was driving yesterday, I thought of how different my life feels compared to 2018. 

Back then, I was coming off a year of travel and learning how to write. I was also attending classes for my bookkeeping certification, fully intending to work as a bookkeeper.

Never intending to start a childfree lifestyle brand. 

As the summer wore on, I discovered how much I wanted to write about the childfree lifestyle. So I made the decision to focus my time and financial resources to this endeavor. 

A total gamble, very unsure as to what was going to happen (that feeling never goes away) but committed to the cause.

Fast forward to the present: I've made amazing connections within the childfree community, I've co-founded an incredible podcast/web series-Childfree Girls-and the dream of creating my own brand of journals came true with Childfree Journals.

I spend 12 hours a day, 7 days a week working on these ventures. Don't let me kid you..pun totally intended...this isn't a hobby. 

I'm not a life coach, I'm not an online community. I am an entertainer. I'm also a businesswoman. 

With the exception of Childfree Girls, I do everything myself. 

Hence, 12-hour days. 

Which brings me to the art of road tripping. 

Western Canada is home to magnificent mountain national parks. I engage in a lot of iPhone photography as the views are so majestic it ain't hard to capture that perfect photo. 

But what does LeNora really do on road trips?  

I'm petfree by choice. No critters allowed in the car. 

I don't enjoy the company of humans while driving.

I sing, loudly. 

I say: “holy fuck, this is so beautiful!" 

A lot. 

My driving experience is relaxing and calm until I get stuck behind a massive motorhome or semi-truck trying to climb one of the many steep hills along the Trans-Canada Highway. 

Driving requires you to focus. This highway can be unforgiving in certain spots. And it’s bear season. Gotta keep your eyes on the road. 

For this reason, I rarely think about business when I drive. It’s pretty light-hearted in my head so I thought it would be fun to take some silly photos of my car life and add some commentary. 



Drive-Thru with a view


Waiting to order food. Behind me, a dad with 3 kids walked the drive-thru to order. I saw them park their large 5th-wheel trailer along the road. Many fast-food restaurants are still takeout only, here. 

And yes, my steering wheel has rhinestones on it. 

No room for passengers


My backseat. I brought a little table to set up for podcasting, a yoga mat, a stack of journals, DVDs (no wifi for streaming at the cabin because it's in the middle of nowhere), and my towels, a pillow and a blanket in case of an emergency. I pack a lot of water just in case. 

I keep a lot of soft cloths in the car for wiping the interior down. I hate scuff marks. Also why I don’t allow pets in my car. Ugh! 

Slogan of my life

I was eating my breakfast sandwich when I saw the slogan on the truck: “Your food matters”.

Yes, it does! 

90% of the time, I stay in places with a full kitchen because I enjoy cooking. When passing through a place, I do settle for a mountain motel, which is another blog post unto itself. I made some interesting accommodation choices in my 20s. Oh boy. 

I can be frugal but when it comes to sleep, I want to feel luxurious, even on a budget. So I find places that have the nicest-looking beds for whatever my price range is at the time. Motels in tourist areas have come a long way. 

You say tomato, I say green apple

The week before any road trip, I eat whatever food is left in my house. This time, it was a lot of spaghetti and salmon. It’s always good to pack food in case you get stranded. Easy-to-open stuff. I mean, I stick to main roads, I only travel in the daytime, and I have a great roadside assistance plan. But shit can happen. 

Speaking of which, I always pack TP. Luckily, most public rest stops are open. I know all the best ones with the nicest toilets. That is important to me! 


I hate food crumbs

I detailed the car before I left, so even I’m not allowed to eat inside my ride. I was eating an A&W bacon & egger while drinking McDonald’s coffee from earlier that morning while gazing at the McDonald’s across the highway. 

McDonald’s has the best coffee, IMO. I begin every road trip with a large w/3 cream. I don’t eat much while driving. Three hours in, I will get breakfast and then snack on trail mix throughout the day. 

I do something else while I drive though, which may surprise you. 

I smoke cigarettes. It’s the only time I ever smoke. It’s a summer road trip indulgence I really enjoy. 


Gratuitous boob shot 

My reflection in the car window. Which just shows how big my boobs are. Certainly did not get them from my mother. Ha! That sounds like they’re fake. They aren’t. Very real. 


Pandemic packing

I now pack masks & hand sanitizer. I always stored baby wipes in my driver's side door anyway. And a cold thermos of ice water. Easy to reach while I drive. 

Sorry, the passenger seat is occupied 

I can’t possibly take you with me on road trips because I need the seat for my stuff. The thought of road tripping with children makes my ear canals close. 

I did take my 2 nephews on a weekend trip to West Edmonton Mall once but that was a 3-hour drive and because I’m “auntie”, they behaved. I was still exhausted after. Kids require a lot of energy. I made the right decision for myself to not have them.


Parking job

I know how to park my car, I swear. This is such a stunning part of the country. 360 degrees of mountains. I pulled over at a visitor center off the highway. Then I noticed my parking job. Oh well. There was no one around to judge me.



                     The Bitchy Bookkeeper Journal Vol 1


That’s the trip so far, Bitchy Readers. Hope you enjoy some downtime wherever you are. 



Will post again soon. 


LeNora Faye
Co-host of Childfree Girls

Saturday, June 6, 2020

The Token Black Guy



Dear Bitchy Readers. 

For this post, I am giving the space to my brother, to amplify his biracial voice. He is an ally to the childfree community and I know his words will be heard here. 
 *************************************

As a half-black, half-white Canadian man, what are you feeling in this moment?

It has been a very emotional week for me.  I feel angry. I feel sadness. I feel frustrated. 
However, I also feel hopeful. 
The anger I feel comes from the years and years of seeing the oppression of the Black community via the media.  Hearing stories shared from other Black work colleagues, friends, and family members who have personally dealt with racism directed at them.

The anger also comes from my personal experiences over the years to which I’ve tried to forget. But those experiences have made an impact on my life.  

One example was as a teen when people realized I was half-Black, I was labeled the token Black guy in my group of friends.  Some nicknames my friends used on me were:

“Black slave"

 "Nig" 

 "Porch monkey”

What I never told my friends was that these  names/labels actually hurt.  Not only me but disrespected my family and my heritage. 
But I was too afraid to speak up at that point for fear of not fitting in.

This was my failure. 


The sadness I feel comes from hearing the stories of countless families torn apart by racial-induced violence. Countless children losing their fathers and mothers. Even siblings. Countless parents who have lost their children.   
All because of wrongful persecution and police violence based on skin color and race. 
Seeing and feeling the pain from these stories.
Knowing that members of my family, past and present have also been affected by this.  

The frustration I feel comes from the question WHY? 


Why is this still happening?


In this day and age. Why is color & race still an issue? 


Why are so many people ignorant of the fact that this still happens?  


Why aren’t our leaders, whose sole purpose is to take care of and protect the people, not doing so?  

The people, as in, not a select few but ALL!

Taking a knee isn’t enough.

What are you doing about it?

I feel hopeful as maybe this time; things will finally start to change.  People are starting to wake up. People are starting to speak out.  People are sharing their stories.  People are standing up for each other. People are educating themselves.  


This is a start.  

The persecutions, the stereotypes, the oppression, the treatment, the disrespect, the ignorance—all needs to end!

Evan


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Thank you, Evan, for speaking up. Biracial & Mixed-race voices often get left out because we aren’t “black enough”. This is colorism. Growing up in Western Canada, it’s easy to assume this issue is a USA problem. It’s not. 

Offhanded comments, “it’s just a joke” , “I don’t mean it”—are microaggressions. 

Regardless of what color or race we are, the more mindful we become of our own words and actions, the better this world will be. 

Chat soon, 


LeNora Faye
The Bitchy Bookkeeper
Author of Childfree Journals
Co-host of Childfree Girls

P.S 
I share my experience 
here

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Biracial and Childfree


Dear Bitchy Readers. 

The last few days have been emotionally exhausting. In light of the racial injustices happening in the United States and the call for everyone of any color to speak out, I have created a video sharing my experiences as a half-black, half-white woman. 

The video is 12 minutes long and available to be shared far and wide. I have included a full transcript of the video below, for anyone who is hard-of-hearing or prefers to read instead. 

Thank you in advance for listening to my story and feel free to share it with others and reach out. 




It sucks to be judged based on your skin tone and what you don’t do with your uterus.
(Intro music)
My dad is a black man and he comes from a family that rarely acknowledges the fact that they are black, even though they are very obviously black.
(Family photo)
I don’t have specifics, I know that they came from the States and settled in Canada. I was raised primarily around white family. My parents were married until my mom died. So I had both parents at home. But race was not discussed so essentially I come from a color-neutral household.
My nickname in elementary school was “brownie” because I had a darker skin tone than this *holds up a white piece of paper*.
Do you know what my comeback was?
“Well, you’re a vanilla ice cream cone!”
How clever.
It’s important for black voices to be amplified. We’re seeing this all over social media. Here’s the thing- for me, I realize I have a black voice. but I have allowed other people’s expectations of what a black person should look like, what a black person should sound like, how a black person should act, and even my own expectations, the stereotypes that I’ve bought into, (because of these) I have silenced my own black voice.
I have felt that because of how I look- this is the hair I’ve been given, this is the face I’ve been given, because I don’t feel like I’ve ever been held back from any opportunity because of what I look like, I feel like I don’t have a voice. I don’t have a black voice. I’m not entitled to say anything.
Yes, I can stand up against racism but I don’t even have a story worth sharing because I am not black enough.
I’ve always had that feeling because when you were mixed-race you're too dark to be white but you are to light to be black. And then when something huge happens you are required to pick a side.
People being mistreated based on the color of their skin is wrong.
You know, the worst (time) for me was from kindergarten to grade 12, being picked on for the color of my skin or being told “you’re trying to be black” until I brought my black father to class to prove that yes, I am part black. Just because I don’t have the hair, my skin is this color, and I don’t act like black people act on TV — see I grew up without a TV so I never knew about black culture in the States. Being Canadian, I don’t know what black culture is here. Again, it’s a mixed-race thing. Maybe it’s mixed-race privilege, I don’t know. This is the conversation.
I don’t want my voice to be silenced even if it comes from a mixed-race background because I have struggled with my racial identity all my life. I don’t deny I’m one race or the other, I don’t understand completely. I come from two very diverse families. For example, my grandfather, (my mom’s dad) did not come to her wedding because she married a black man, even though he respected my dad and he treated me and my brother really well.
I found out later (I was in my 20s when I found this out and actually even in my 30s speaking with an uncle) that my grandfather was concerned about my mom having mixed-race kids because of the struggles that we would go through.
He was right, my brother and I definitely have had our struggles with racial identity and fitting in and where do we stand and how do we voice how we feel and be accepted in both communities.
If you’re a white person watching this you may look at me and go ‘well you don’t have the problems that a full black woman has’ and that’s fair. And then you may be a black person watching this and going ‘you’re a white girl with a tan! What are you talking about?’ and that’s also fair.
But, that’s a judgment against the color of my skin right there. All we can really do is listen to each other’s stories and right now the stories of black people and I’m gonna say mixed-race people because a lot of times mixed-race people look black — look at Barack Obama, look at Trevor Noah. Halle Berry. There’s a whole long list of people that look more black (than I do) who are half (black).
There are a lot of stories out there and we all have our struggles with it.
What I’m struggling with right now is what my responsibility is. My struggle is in voicing my racial identity on issues that I feel so removed from.
There’s a reason why I’m not silent about the childfree lifestyle because it brings awareness and it helps younger generations realize that they have a choice in the matter.
Growing up in a color-neutral household where race was not discussed, I know this was done on purpose and this was intended to be a good thing — just like when people comment saying ‘oh I don’t see color I see people’ they’re probably coming from a good place.
But in a moment like this where black people who have been silenced for so long, I think of all of my ancestors, my black ancestors who were silenced their entire existence. I’m not procreating so I am the last of that energy, that pain that’s been handed down to me from previous ancestors. I have to voice it because, I’ve said this before in previous episodes, that I believe that children are just the previous generations unfinished business.
Because I’ve chosen not to have kids, I am finishing all that unfinished business on behalf of all those who came before me. So even though I have this face, even though I have this hair and even though I might not be black enough for you, I am here to voice how I feel. I’m here to voice my story because of those that came before me were silenced and their sacrifice has given me the life that I have now.
I have freedom.
I have the ability as a woman, as a single woman, as a woman that is not having children. I have complete freedom to live how I want. To express myself.
For me to not say something about it, even though I don’t feel like I am black enough to say something at a time like this, then that would be no better than someone else saying to me that “yeah, you’re not black enough to talk about your struggle and how you feel in a time like this”.
We can’t understand other people’s struggles but we can listen to other stories. I think the best thing right now is to listen to other people’s stories who don’t live like the way you do.
The last couple of days I was really upset about feeling obligated to talk about race especially because, well I guess I didn’t feel ready. I think people should express how they feel in different ways and I think it should include private conversations and not just public displays of “hashtag black lives matter”.
I love social media. I love using it to connect with other members of the childfree community. I see value in it but there’s so much inner work that has to be done with all of us.
As a mixed-race person who has silenced her own black voice, I have to do the inner work first.
I am making this video and I’m struggling while I’m doing this video right now because I still feel very inadequate but I have to start somewhere. This is what I can do.
I’ve had conversations with other black women from around the world who also don’t feel connected to the struggles that black American women have. Even other black American women I’ve talked to who feel removed from the situation because they don’t identify with what’s going on either.
I realize that I have had my assumptions about the struggles of black people. Speaking with them privately, with other people who I would assume have more experience than I do, realizing ‘oh we’re kind of in the same boat’. Everyone has a different experience. Everyone has a different struggle, a different battle and we don’t know until we connect with somebody and share how we feel.
Go into the conversation without assuming anything. Looking at the tensions that are happening in the States and of course, racism happens everywhere — I know that because I experienced so much of that school. It’s having the conversation in a low expectation kind of way.
We wish we could say the right thing that would magically fix everything. Bur clearly humanity has always been fucked up. Read the Bible.
All we can do is share where we can and listen to other people’s stories.
Even if you don’t understand.
Even if you cannot relate.
Just listening is a step, it’s a start. And then, we just have to see what happens from there.
My advocating is for the childfree community. That is where I feel more comfortable and confident speaking.
Anyway, that’s what I have to say on this matter. You can always reach out to me if you want to chat further about this.
To all of my fellow biracial people who are struggling in this moment, trying to figure out where the fuck do we stand — because we’ve kind of always gone through life like this — it’s okay!
Write out how you feel.
Talk about how you feel. Text someone, DM me.
For us, this is not a social media trend. This is our life. Whether we feel adequate enough or black enough to talk about it or white enough, or whatever identity you feel, it’s complicated. It’s complex.
I just hope that we all learn something from it. I hope we learn how to communicate better with each other. I hope we learn how to share our stories and listen better.
That is all I can think of in this moment. Thank you for watching, stay safe, and keep sharing your stories.
[Music]


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I am open to any and all discussions, questions, comments, from everyone. I've had conversations with white & black friends and family members who had questions and I've been asking other black and mixed-race people questions. This is how we encourage dialogue. 

My email is info@lenorafaye.com or you can DM me on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and YouTube


Chat soon, 


LeNora Faye
The Bitchy Bookkeeper
Author of Childfree Journals
Co-host of Childfree Girls