Jan 16Liked by M Tamara Cutler

Years ago, when my son was a toddler, a middle-aged woman, a total stranger, approached me in a mall shoe store, pointed to my son, and said, "Does he eat vegetables? Give up trying. Nothing works. Didn't for my son, and he's all grown up now." To this day, I have no idea what prompted her to give me this unsolicited advice. But the woman was a mother, a veteran of the vegetables war. That's credibility. I wondered, should I stop lining up 9 peas on his highchair tray, stop saying, "If you eat 4 peas, you can have a cookie for dessert; eat them all and you get 2 cookies," and surrender? Nope.

My son is all grown up now. And his favorite foods? Vegetables.

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Jan 16·edited Jan 17Liked by M Tamara Cutler

I made a call on my flip phone after scouring the Seattle Intelligencer classifieds. I met the mechanic at his garage. “You sure?” he said, when I told him I’d buy right there on the spot the red ‘88 Honda Civic hatchback on the lift. "You shouldn't take this car until I'm done with the bodywork." I didn’t ask him nor care about the state of the vehicle: no seatbelts, repairs needed, basically totaled. “Listen, I work for Disney on Ice and we’re leaving Seattle tomorrow to San Diego, so I’ll take it right now. Here’s a check for $2000,” I said. The owner of the completely wrecked Civic looked at me for a second and took the check. Easiest sale he ever made probably. Didn’t even have to finish the job.

Like a reckless youth, I drove that car without seatbelts for 20,000 miles on tour. Credibility lost. At one point I found some free time and bought secondhanders. Cred back on track. Then I gave the car to my little brother. Safer than when I found it.

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Jan 17Liked by M Tamara Cutler

Don’t trust what people say. Trust me, I’m your mother. Rely only on yourself – no one will care about you. Tell him to get a proper job, plumbing pays well. You should work for the government. Some mothers and daughters have fraught relationships and ours is of that sort. Unsolicited advice is part of the package. Is it the default form of communication due to our lack of commonalities? Is drawing on past traumas all that is left when no joy is shared in the present? Waves of criticism drown out small truths. No empathy for the person who is, but disappointment turned aggressive because of who she is not: the good child, the supportive daughter, the I married wealthy or gained success according to accepted standards. I try not to do the same with my daughters, and seek the silver lining in not following in my mother’s footsteps.

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Jan 17Liked by M Tamara Cutler

Having given the subject some thought, I realized there would be too many words on this subject of credibility and the lack thereof regarding mine and my family's victimization because of the Drug War and the Federal endorsement of bogus abusive and coercive treatment facilities like STRAIGHT INC. Also brought to you by Nancy "Just say no" Reagan. Needless to say none of their propaganda was credible, decent or honorable in the least, and their "hooks" are covered with toxic slime and blood money. Don't hand your children over to a bunch of strangers.

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Dead names :A birth name that you entered the world with that makes you cringe anytime anyone uses it is...especially after you lose it.

When I was 16 my friend Sharon and I used to play music at a pub in Center City Philadelphia. There was a music agent who hung out regularly and who took a liking to our sound. One evening he asked us our full names. “Sharon Dillon”, my friend said. “Shirley Hale”, I replied. I had a vile relationship with my first name, especially after being asked hundreds of times “Where’s Laverne?”. Har.

The agent exclaimed that Sharon’s name was perfect, strong, while I needed to lose the Shirley. “It’s so outdated”, he said.

That stuck with me for the next 8 years. His unsolicited advice returned every time I introduced myself to anyone. When I went to college to study music it was there that my

friend Ann (X) dubbed me “Shir-Lay-Lay”.

For the last 33 years those who knew me pre-deadname have continued to struggle with this change, but I’m thankful for the unsolicited advice that the agent gave as it became the catalyst to help me embrace my truer self.

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Jan 20Liked by M Tamara Cutler

The first thing that comes to my mind when I hear the word credibility is the time I spent working in the ministry, where I was responsible for the section “youth work at school”. I thought that I could make a difference with my visions and my enthusiasm. But I had to realize after a while that the focus was predominantly on political programs, elections and the career of individuals. I was constantly confronted with having to write and say things that I didn't support and didn't want to represent. My words no longer corresponded to my original visions and ideas; they even contradicted them sometimes. After four years, I drew my conclusions and stopped working there. I wanted to keep my credibility, in front of other people, but especially in front of myself.

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Oh sweet street cred !

As I stumbled into my late teens and early twenties desperate for agency and sovereignty, I tried to develop my credibility by keeping in line the label given to me : class clown. This was to be my trope until I learned the origin of the label itself, that my desire for attention and validation was buried under pain and unresolved trauma. A long lineage of it.

My credibility was hard wired into the version of myself, I had accepted and groomed. It cost me a deep chasm with my soul and self- and sent me into another two decades of just wanting to be believed. That’s it! When I feel my credibility bleed into people pleasing (class clown) , gossip (staying on top), and problem solving (codependency) I feel a sharp nudge from (insert your higher power of choice) to mind my business.

My cred isn’t anyone else’s business either. And what I found was unsolicited advice, and problem solving never creates anything other than shame and guilt for the person in need. I’ve learned the value of active listening and compassion, as we all are experiencing a necessary undoing, my credibility becomes an obsolete engagement- it is a perceptual reality from others. Thinking about this prompt, and reading here- I feel like credibility is linked to propaganda, and where propaganda can be dehumanizing, it also can lead us to some seriously grounded people. But those folks don’t seek credibility. They just are. Living purely inside their own agency and sovereign life. That’s some serious street cred!! Uninterested in authoritarian social norms, platforms, votes, or any other system that is dying that we are still trying to breathe life into. We are here, that’s credible enough for me. You are credible enough for me, because it’s your human right to exist, evolve, fail, hurt others and change, and be belonged to and with.

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Jan 26Liked by M Tamara Cutler

Four years ago, I became a women's healthcare provider. It has been a serious growth experience to see 70-100 patients per week. Sometimes patients only want a cure instead of advice, but many of my patient's problems are solved with lifestyle changes, not medication. Some providers will just give medication instead of advice because it is easier, faster, and everyone thinks they are happy until they have to return with the same complaints. My best advice,"be nice to your vagina." It was exhausting, time consuming, and disheartening, at times.

I have recently stepped away from the clinic, and as I consider my credibility, the volume was a challenge to either care for myself or provide good care. My need to fix everyone may not be an effective form of connection or usefulness for me. In my respite, I have been exploring ways to connect that don't involve advice as much as curiosity and listening. The jury is still out on my current/future credibility, but I feel relief like few other times in my life.

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