Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Not Getting What They Want...

Standing outside in front of a busy cafe, wondering how I ever got over my fear of crowds started to overwhelm me. I started thinking about the days when I had agoraphobia. I’d walk into a mall full of people and my equilibrium would somehow fade out on me, leaving me holding onto something or someone, and at times, be found on the floor passed out. I’d wake up to a crowd of strange faces looking down at me. “Are you ok? Can you hear me? What’s your name? What’s today’s date?” Sometimes, I’d find myself waking up inside of an ambulance. I was hooked up to the oxygen being asked the same things: “What’s today’s date? Who is our president?” At times, the simple answers to all of these questions would slip away from me.

Although through the years, I have gotten better. With CBT (Cognitive Behavior Therapy), I’ve managed to break through the vicious cycles of agoraphobia. I started venturing outside of my home. It was scary and this 'new world' seemed so different now.  I started getting a little paranoid, thinking, “Everybody’s staring at me. Everybody knows I’m having an anxiety attack.” My worst fear was embarrassing myself in a supermarket if I had an anxiety attack and then passing out. To be honest, it’s still a great fear on the back burner of my mind. And, although I still cannot work a conventional structured 9-5er, I’m content working from home doing freelance. It’s what works best for me. I’ve worked hard to get to where I am, because a few years back, I wasn’t making any money hardly - just dribs and drabs to work my way up.

I’ve had some people in my life look down on me and basically said: “Oh she’s no longer the IBMer anymore”, or “on her last day at the phone company, she was taken out on a gurney”. I know some still think that, and it’s okay. Even though I have enjoyed many days at these companies that I have worked for, I have never been happier in my life doing what I do right now. I am not able to live a structured life. I still, from time to time, get panic attacks and a touch of agoraphobia (as far as going into huge supermarkets and malls), but I am much better from years back hiding away from the rest of the world.

This post stems from a recent judgmental remark someone had said. They mocked how I was out of work for quite a spell because I was “messed up” and couldn’t work a normal job and then went on to tell me that my relationship with my wife was meaningless. This person also went on to say that I lived a “ghetto life” because I live in a condo complex which holds many people. (The horror!) On that note, this same person also wanted me to promise her that if I were to ever leave my wife, that she would be my first choice. When I told her that would never happen, these vicious comments were thrown at me.  

This is another reason why I fear the world and hide out at times. People can be vicious and vindictive. Friends have motives. People assume too much and conjure up stories that are beyond my ability to understand. Sometimes I think it’s better just to hide out in my corner of the world and let the world just do their thing. But, I refuse to go back into my 'shell of safety' and let people have that control. I’ve been giving them way too much of it all my life.

This time it’s different. Say what you want. Think what you want. Feel what you want. But in the end, it always comes down to somebody not getting what they want.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Lonely & Surrounded by Many

An unfortunate death occurred this past week by a girl who had committed suicide. While talking to my friend who had known her for somewhat number of years, she said to me, “I can’t believe she did this!  She was so pretty and she had money, why would she do this to herself?”  I thought about that question for a while. I thought about my own life too. What would make someone who has what everybody dreams of: looks, money, a good looking spouse - want to end their life? Most people without a chemical imbalance would think up the logical reasons, but they couldn’t with this girl. This girl was beautiful, from what I’m told, inside and out. But, what about looking beyond the outer shell of her life? What about looking deep inside; deep inside of her heart as well as mind?

First “logical” reasoning is: “She’s beautiful.” Maybe it’s possible she looked into the mirror and saw a completely different person than what most people had seen. Many women and some men have an image distortion. It’s the same concept as anorexia: a skinny person looking into the mirror and seeing an obese person staring right back at them. There are beautiful models that look in the mirror and find an ugly person looking right back at them. I’m sure we’ve all looked in the mirror (especially myself) and thought, “Oh nooooo way am I putting those shorts on!” Or, you just feel less than par one day. That’s normal. But when it happens on a daily basis, where you find yourself flirting with the ideas of distorted opinions of yourself, then it’s time to really try to get a grip on it. But then again, how do you know if it’s distorted or not? Your mind can plays tricks on you.

Money. “She has so much money, why would she do this?” If you think about it, money has never made anyone happier. In fact, it’s been the split of many families. Money will have you developing friends left and right, to only help you spend it. You can be surrounded by millions of people who claim they love you, however the reality of it is: you may be the loneliest person on earth. Look what happened to Michael Jackson. He had so many people surrounding him, and when a friend had asked him, “Are you lonely, Michael?” He moved up, waited a moment to get his thoughts together and responded: “I’m a very lonely man.”

Some of the best times of my life were spent in a tiny apartment with my partner, giving the place a fresh coat of paint and hearing the broken pipes squeal with pain. Our fuses always blew, the hot water ended at 8am, so on the weekends, we’d rush to take our showers before everyone in the building did, because our slumlord only provided one hot water heater for a five family house. Looking back on it though, the good outweighed the bad and there are so many wonderful memories in that little dumpy place. I was at my happiest then. Although I’ve moved up a tad in the world and have things I’ve always wanted, I still get depressive episodes because that’s just my make up. I had told my wife, “Even if we get a nice condo, nice cars, and a comfortable spot in the world, I’m still going to have depressive episodes from time to time.”  She understood me all too well. Money will never make me “happy”.  My faith in God, love, family, friends - that’s all I need and all I’ll ever want out of life.   If I happen to stumble upon winning the lottery---great. If not, probably even better. Home isn’t a huge house or a condo with nice things in it - home is where your heart is - home is where my wife is.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

When It Hits Home...

Lately, I haven’t written anything so much as a Tweet in the last week or so. I think I caught the ‘absorb the madness’ bug from one of my favorite bloggers, Enemy of the Republic.  And mind you, not so much that it is a bad thing, however I am finding myself absorbing the craziness of the world. I’ve been fixated on the media, watching stories unfold of the injustice of Iran’s elections and the brutality, bloodshed and horrific Youtube videos and Twitter updates of the massacres that are going on. A young woman who was protesting was shot in the chest. She was identified as, Neda Aghan Soltan, to be made an example of the horrific killings that are going on. The video is even too graphic and more so, sad to even display on my blog. I’m just giving acknowledgment and a link if you want to watch the video. It is very disturbing to watch, so I warn you. While Neda was shot in the heart, a man was kneeling next to her crying out in Farsi, “My Neda, don’t be afraid, please don’t go, please don’t go, please stay...!”  One woman, made as an example and many people also killed in the same way.

Then you have North Korea threatening to wipe America off the map with a nuclear war. Has this world gone completely mad? I’ve contemplated about airing my views regarding Obama’s reactions, decisions, choices, promises, lack thereof, as well as his ability (or disability) to maintain the U.S. as the strongest nation. Obama is concerned about going aboard Korea’s warship named, “Kang Nam”, to investigate whether or not it is carrying weapons of mass destruction. He’s so afraid of being called another “Bush” that he is possibly backing away from them - bowing down to a weaker country. John McCain suggested that we should definitely investigate regardless of these “silly” threats being made to the United States. There is no diplomacy when it comes to dealing with unreasonable countries who simply hate us. This was why I voted for John McCain. He would not pull his pants down for another dinky country to make these types of threats. This is another reason why I voted for Bush. I’d rather my marriage equality to suffer than the world. It’s a no brainer.

I know most of you disagree with my views on politics, and I understand. Everyone wants peace. I want peace. I think peace talks would be great...if they only worked. For years these countries have hated us so much - what would possibly change? There is no “change”. As far as my religious views go on this: we are in Revelations as we speak. Who would have thought the Bible has made better predictions than Nostradamus, Sylvia Browne or even Miss Cleo?

I’ve been advised to stay away from all sources of the news. I’ve been told not to read the papers, not to tune into any news channels and to just focus on ~positive~ things. I used to tell Enemy of the Republic the same thing. Now, I’m in her shoes absorbing too much of this. We heard about the slaughters that took place in other countries, but now with Youtube, Twitter and Facebook, we are viewing it with our very own eyes which makes it more “real”. I guess when we don’t ‘see it’, we kind of put it on the back burner. When threats are made to other countries, we sometimes tend to disregard it.  When threats are made to us - the United States - the strongest country in the world, then it hits home.

Friday, June 19, 2009

The Walking Nerve

Little joys of life seem to fade away as we grow older. Worry seems to have taken its place. I remember when I was younger thinking the sprinkler was some sort of an amusement park ride. Just the thrill of the cold water hitting my bare skin while my feet touched the wet blades of grass below was pure joy to me. Even when my mom would take me outside for a walk or just to play, the smell of the air was different. It was crisp; it was cool. I could smell the rain on the macadam as we headed back inside to watch the storm come in. I felt safe and loved. It was a nice feeling. Saturday mornings were a treat for me. My sisters and I would all gather around the TV and watch Looney Tunes while eating Fruity Pebbles, then head outside to play or swim in the pool. Funny as it seems, I still complained when all the activities had ended. “Ma I’m bored.” She would turn around and look down at me and say, “What? You just swam for two hours and played outside, how can you possibly be bored?”

I remember getting so excited when my dad would come out to the poolside area. My dad, being 6 ft tall, 350 lb would walk over to the side of the pool very slowly, give us a funny threatening stare, take off his slippers neatly on the side, and then would do a cannonball just to wipe us out. It was a total routine he had. He knew we loved it. Then we’d watch him lay down upon the water and lie there for like ever!  It was amazing. This huge man floating on the water, as if he was completely comfortable and ready to take a nap.

What happens to our passion for the little things; the simpler things? We need more of a rush to get our adrenaline going. Don’t get me wrong - little things like a great cup of coffee and watching the sun rise are all very exciting for me still, but there’s something different about the anticipation of it. I still get a rush from a good storm or when it snows to the point of closing all of the roads down. It used to thrill me when the lights would go out while a storm would hit while I was younger. Now? I tend to worry: "When will they come back on? Will I have hot water tomorrow? What about my internet connection? I can’t do anything but use my cell!”

Do you think worry has disabled all our senses of joy?

“Worry a little bit every day and in a lifetime you will lose a couple of years. If something is wrong, fix it if you can. But train yourself not to worry. Worry never fixes anything.” -Mary Hemingway

That was too easy to type out. Carrying it out is a whole other ball game though. Now, if you were to tell me to go outside to the poolside and have fun, my mind would go into a complete shuffle: "Do I have my EpiPen in case a bee stings me? Is it too hot? Will I get a sunburn? Will I see a bear? Does this bathing suit make my ass look fat?"  Seriously though, I think our thought processes, especially mine go into high gear and that’s it. We worry. It’s such a waste of time if you think about it - (but don’t think about it for too long).

At times I think I appreciate the little things, but truth be told, I find myself worrying more than I do enjoying everything. For the past few nights, I’ve had insomnia. My mind keeps going and going and going. It feels like it’ll never stop. I can’t even pinpoint on the one thing I had worried about because it is already long forgotten. Right there tells me that I have wasted an entire evening worrying about nothing. The funny thing is, my own mom worries about the smallest of things, yet she doesn’t fear the big things. It doesn’t make sense really. She’ll brave anything fearful, yet she will worry about having a couple of guests over: “Will I have enough food?” “Will they like the house?” “Will they enjoy their time here.”  She goes into full panic mode before a party - especially right before our Christmas Eve functions. She panics all day, until guests have arrived and her drink is in hand.  Then she’s finally enjoying herself.  But it's so true: most of the things we usually worry about never happen.  She always had enough food for an army and everyone always enjoyed themselves. 

Maybe it’s genetic, but I don’t want to worry all my life and wait until “I'm there” in order to enjoy everything. I poke fun at mom and call her “the walking nerve” or “the worrywart “. My grandmother used to do the same exact thing. I won’t tell her that of course, but it’s true.  Now I’m worried, will I end up taking the title: “the walking nerve” too? 

Am I already there?

******************
EDIT: My sister Cathy read this post and commented on my facebook account and then posted a photo of her two kids & my other niece playing in the sprinklers, along with this comment:
 
"You're not alone - we all worry big & small. It's forgetting your worries for moments at a time that keeps ya sane! Enjoy the moment below."  :)Thanks, Cathy! I love this photo!  It definitely does bring back some nice memories!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Common Sense

I’m working on four hours sleep and two cups of black coffee. The rain outside is somewhat comforting, like little pellets of God's tears falling onto my skylight windows. It looks beautiful. The raindrops are making tiny circular ripples in each puddle they create out on my garden patio table. As the darker clouds move in, the wind picks up, creating a beautiful dance for the trees outside. Days like these, I don’t ever want the sun to come back out. There’s a certain kind of feeling I get when it storms like this. I live inside my head.

I tend to think too much, feel too much and react too much. Sometimes the rain brings out deeper thoughts on levels I never knew possible. Thoughts as: why are we here on earth? What’s our purpose? Why doesn’t God let us know why we’re here?  I know theologians and people of faith can bust that question in half and come up with a million reasons why, but truth be it: we will never ever know until we meet our maker. Why do we go through so much turbulence in our life? Why do people hurt others? Why are we constantly fighting and trying to prove something? Is it worth it?

It’s all meaningless.

“The fastest runner doesn’t always win the race, and the strongest warrior doesn’t always win the battle. The wise are often poor, and the skilled are not necessarily wealthy. And those who are educated don’t always lead successful lives. It is all decided by chance, by being at the right place at the right time. People can neer predict when hard times might come. Like fish in a net or birds in a snare, people are often caught by sudden tragedy.” -Ecclesiastes 9:11-12

We work hard to get from point A to point B. We work to pay the bills, to keep a roof over our heads and to maintain life as it is.  Some of us work to gain more power and abundance, while others simply try anything to get rich quickly. When a traumatic incident in my life hit home while I was sixteen, I decided to quit school and work, so I could help out at home since my mom was going to be without my dad for a while. During the right time and the right place, I got into a medical firm as a temp doing product control testing for computerized PDR handbooks in New Jersey. That led into advancement in my position to data entry, which led me into the world of accounting since I was very good at numbers. My career for most of my life was accounting and no one asked about my degree, because I had simply moved up from a previous position, which gave me hands on experience, plus tons of references. I had made more money than my friend who had finished college, stuck in a retail job making a bit over minimum wage.

All these jobs were meaningless. I just wanted to help my mom, take my parents on a vacation they would never forget and to have a savings of my own just to maintain life as is. I never wanted a big mansion or dreamt of having way too much than I can handle. I just wanted enough. I wasn’t settling for mediocre nor refusing to apply myself: I was just happy with the way things were. I was enjoying my life and still doing that.

A person who had been very close with me stated to a few people that I was “uneducated”.  She had said, “She quit school and she’s uneducated.” Of course, this being out of anger, I knew where it was coming from, but I was hurt nonetheless. While she sits at her entry level position, while having completed school for many years, and then coming back home to her one bedroom apartment not being able to pay the rent on time, I can only assume the motives of why this was said. Or, I can just believe her and chuck it up to, “Wow, I really am uneducated.”

Although I believe that education is important, I also believe that hands on experience and the determination to use the skills you already possess is better. There are some people who don’t even have a job of which they majored in---and that’s ok. But, to put down people who work hard and yet lack the desired “education” from a schooling program is detestable. My father stopped going to school at the age of fourteen and was able to provide a five bedroom house for his entire family and enough food for an army that my mom always cooked every night.

I think people place too much emphasis on “status” and focus more on immaterial things, rather than the accomplishments --- the accomplishments that one makes while having the talent they have used given by God...not school.   So yes, I may be “uneducated” in terms of finishing school, but I know better to why that statement was made in the first place.   Sometimes common sense outweighs book smarts in most cases.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Bittersweet Endings

Can a devastating event that had occurred in our lives from the past affect us in various ways today? I clearly knew it would happen. I waited for my boyfriend to come over so we can “talk”. I opened the door and saw his face. It wasn’t the same ‘at ease’ face that I had always known. It said more. I stood there with a glass of water, as he watched my hand tremble in fear. I knew the next words out of his mouth; I knew what was going to happen next. Before he started talking, tears streamed out from my eyes. It was the same feeling you get when you receive a telephone call about someone you care about who had just passed away. He was passing away from my life - not in the physiological sense, but he was choosing to leave my life. We stood there in the kitchen hugging for God knows how long. I wasn't ready to let go of him just yet.  I cried on his shoulder and held him as close as I possibly could.  This would be our final embrace.   It was a bittersweet and beautiful ending to our love relationship. 

I clearly remember getting violently sick, hugging the toilet bowl as though I had just chugged a bottle of vodka down in one sitting. I was completely sober. I was too sober. I remember calling my best friend, and then she called all of our other friends, even one that lived over an hour away who had to take a bus over to come and comfort me. I had 15 girlfriends over trying to help me with this traumatic event. It felt like I had died, but, at the same time, I saw how much my friends really cared for me. They were there, trying to make me laugh, holding my hair back at times when I got sick and just being there for me, no matter how long it took for me to calm down. I’ll never forget that. (Most of them are on my facebook account, so thank you!)

Although I’ve always known I was a lesbian, or at least had more of an interest in women, I did fall in love with that man---hard. We remained friends for a long time after our breakup. He even proposed marriage while our friendship was in full bloom, however at that time, I was already with Madelene.  He was even engaged to someone he was set up with in Pakistan. He didn’t want to go through with it. He would call Madelene “my friend”. He didn’t understand how two women could be together - it wasn’t natural - it was like being with a sister, he'd explained. He didn’t say that out of disrespect either. He was born in London but had Middle Eastern influences, which kept his ability to be opened about other lifestyles a bit limited. This didn’t mean he was ignorant or prejudice, he was just not knowledgeable about it.

With our history of being together and the wonderful times we have shared, I am so happy to see this man happy with a family of his own. He had always wanted children and to see that happen for him makes me happy. Even though we've lost touch, I will never forget the one person who was my best friend and lover. I fell in love with him the very first time I looked at him. I remember his big brown Middle Eastern eyes - something about a Middle Eastern man still does something for me. I find them most attractive out of all the cultures I’m familiar with. But it was more than just his appearance, it was the way he treated me. He was my complete other half - always listening to me without judgment and sharing his beliefs as a Muslim, yet respecting my beliefs as a Christian. I know I was young back then, but I have learned so much from this one person that I will never, ever regret dating him for those few years we were together.  

At times, I can still feel the pangs of our breakup, but I know that it was good for us, because we've both learned so much out of it.  We went through a lot and taught one another things we've never would have known today.  Even though it was over 15 years ago, I still remember everything he had shared with me: his vulnerability and bravery to show his soft side, his knowledge of many and various topics, his spirituality and faith that led him through in life, his family values and how compassionate he was to so many people, especially the ones that were close to him. His respect for his parents and family were amazing. He helped random strangers in need of assistance and had an underlining affinity for those who were struggling in life, because he knew what it was like to start from scratch.  He had to start over when he moved to the U.S., and worked his way up to own his own businesses.  He chose to do the right thing for his life, and I respect that.  I was ten years younger than him and going through my 'wild & crazy' phase.  He needed more substance; a woman who could provide a family and home for him.  I wasn't it.  I wasn't ready.  He needed to choose, and I respected that, through my selfish, salty tears that wanted him to stay with me.  

When I hear my straight friends talk about how there are no good men out there anymore, I always disagree with them. I know at least one man who is perfect. His wife and kids are very lucky to have him.  I'm sure there are many men out there like this.  

Monday, June 15, 2009

All Barriers of Pride

It was Sunday morning, 8am, the sky was overcast and the footsteps of children running down the stairs to rush off to church sounded like a pack of wild boars. I got up to make coffee and looked outside my kitchen window and noticed the neighbors in the next building over were packing up a U-Haul, filling it up with all of their furniture and belongings. As I waited for the coffee to brew, I kept watching them as they bustled back and forth, carrying out wooden drawers one by one and boxes with huge marker labels on them. They weren’t saying one word to one another. They looked sad. After a few minutes, my assumption about their sadness was evident. They started arguing in the middle of the street when I finally got wind of a slight reason why they were moving: they were breaking up. The humid air seemed to have amplified their voices throughout the complex. Their screams of tensions were really screams of ‘please let’s not do this’---but their pride got in the way and somehow, they resolved to end their union bitterly.

Questions in my head were raised, like why were they packing up their stuff in the same U-Haul if it was that bitter of a breakup? Were they just trying to save money, or were they relocating to another home together, yet apart? Were they forced to live together anyway? Maybe the U-Haul was making two stops... My heart broke as I watched them still moving their stuff, passing one another in silence, and then sometimes, adding hurtful accusations and words to their opened wounds. I would hate to have seen this couple break up due to a huge misunderstanding. When two people, (or even one person in the relationship) has too much pride in their heart, there is no room for understanding. It’s just blown off and the other person is always to blame. The other person is always seen as “the crazy one”. Why do most exes call their past loves, “my crazy ex”?

Pride.

I do believe that pride is the root cause of insecurity issues. “I’m going to reject you before you reject me” type of mindset. Our past sometimes screws with us, leaving us to think that everyone is going to do the same thing that everybody else did: they left us. Fear of abandonment is more common than we think. I am not sure if the mindset ever changes or progresses as we get older and/or have more experiences, but it’s always embedded in us, regardless. Even if we do evolve to a better place, we still have that vulnerability that we tend to hide, making people believe that we’re strong enough, tough enough and able to take on the blows, when in actuality, we’re still that child begging to be loved, yearning for that one person we’ve once cherished to say, “it’s ok, I’m here now...” Even though that may never happen, we try to develop nurturing relationships with a huge shield in front of our chests, protecting our hearts.

The U-Haul was filled to the brim and the doors of the truck were closed and locked up. As I watched it drive off out of the complex, I just prayed that all of their misunderstandings and miscommunications would one day bypass all barriers of pride.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

"Why Why Why?"

This week I had two people ask me how to get closer to God. One person, (my mom), stated that it simply just left her. I told her that it was more about her drifting away. The world gets so busy and eventually distracts us. We don’t have time to even sit and enjoy our coffee before it gets cold anymore. Our world is dominated by worldly distractions and if you’re lucky enough to have spare time to sit, meditate and focus on God, then you’re the luckiest person alive. Another friend, (which I will not disclose her name) asked me the same question, however her faith and background is of a different religion. Circumstances and trouble came crashing in on her, leaving her depressed and distant from God. In general terms, so that our faiths didn’t clash, I suggested that she should do some breathing exercises with visualization and focus in on “God” - aka - meditate. It’s much simpler to use breathing exercises than refer to meditate, because sometimes people get funny with that term. Too “zen-like” and cooky for some.

Last year this time, I was in a really bad place - place being my mind, my heart - I was hopeless and almost lost faith in God. I accused God of not listening to me or answering my prayers. The thing was: the prayers that I prayed were not of God’s will. They were selfish prayers that would have put me in a much deeper downward of a spiral. Sometimes, be thankful for prayers not answered, because we might get what we “want”....not what we need.

“We can be confident that he will listen to us whenever we ask him for anything in line with his will. And if we know he is listening when we make our requests, we can be sure that he will give us what we ask for.” -1 John 5:14-15

How can God be present when there is so much bad in this world? How can God let this happen to us? How can all these terrible things, like the shooting at the Holocaust Museum by a very hateful man happen, or all of these awful school shootings by some isolated and rejected teenage kids come to pass while God is still watching over us? Is He watching over us or does it come down to simpler terms: God gave us free will and the freedom of choice? The truth of it all is that there is good and evil in this world. We need both. Without them, there would be no purpose for it all, no challenges to overcome successfully, as well as no reason to come to God. Without tribulations, some people would never get to even know God. We’d live in a world of no worries, no troubles, no adversities or hardships. Things would come too easily for us. Everyone would live equally as one and wouldn’t need to better themselves. We wouldn’t need God.

Why are we here?

However, even if things are going well, God still wants you to come to Him. And mind you - it’s not like you have to be some religious zealot rambling on and on all throughout your life talking about “religion”. In fact, religion is just a bad word to me. I’m human and if you met me in person you’d think someone else had written this post. I’m “real”----I don’t pretend to be some high and mighty spiritual being. In fact, I’m hardly that. (As most of you already know!) I’m just trying to get closer to God myself and maybe have someone relate to it all. I make mistakes and do things that God may disapprove of. Sound familiar?  These things are why some people are scared to seek God. Thoughts like, “Well God won’t talk to me because I did this or I did that”, can have you distance yourself even further away. Most religious people who “pretend” to be good are usually the ones who are hiding a whole lot.   And, who are we to judge, right? We all fall short. God wants us the way we are. He wants us to come to Him - not pretend to be somebody else. Do you think God won’t notice we’ve changed our entire being just to pray to Him? Think about it: God sees all. He knows what we do every second of the day so why wouldn’t we come to Him “as is”? He accepts you more than you think. Be real.

“Because of Christ and our faith in him, we can now come fearlessly into God’s presence, assured of his glad welcome.” -Ephesians 3:12

We worry about the purpose of life and what it all means, when we really should just be focusing on how to do it better the next time around. Our troubles make us stronger, which enable us to make better choices for the next challenges ahead. I stopped trying to figure God out and decided to have him figure me out instead. It just works better. I’m done asking, “why why why” and have begun accepting all the things that come swinging my way - whether good or bad.

Truth be it, science will always contradict religion and spirituality. There is no scientific evidence of “faith”. Blind faith is what some people call their “truth”. If your mission is to try to figure it all out - you’ll be like a fish trying to understand algebra. It’s impossible. Why do you think our world is disrupted with so many wars? Most of it are holy wars. Nothing is proven and nothing is concrete. You can try to debunk it all you want but without faith, and more reliance on the world and scientific evidence, your soul will constantly scream out, “why why why”?

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will direct your paths.” -Proverbs 3:5-6

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Tribulations

Last night before Madelene and I retired for the evening, there was an interesting show on TV. We didn’t intentionally put it on, but while Madelene was brushing her teeth and getting ready for bed, I started watching this show of a female pastor talking and translating Latin literature from the Bible. Her name is Melissa Scott. Her website reads: "A natural linguist with command of twenty languages, she digs deeply into her vast collection of ancient manuscripts to find and communicate the purest understanding of what the original inspired writers of the Bible had to say."

Her teaching methods would have kept me a student forever. She is so fascinating. In any event, she was explaining and translating ancient Latin literature from the Bible regarding tribulations in life. The root to tribulations or comparison in the Hebrew dictionary is “tsanaph" - to violently turn. Main definition is “to suffer” - to cause great affliction and to test one’s endurance. What do Christians receive in order to be more Christ-like?  Suffering. We are challenged every day of our lives because we are to come out strong.  Our true character shows when we are tested in our weakest state-of-minds.

A quote I’ll never forget that Madelene brought up one day is, “If you can’t handle me at my worst, then you don’t deserve my best.” I don’t know the original author of that quote, but it makes sense. We are pressed on every side sometimes and at our weakest points, our true character shows through. That’s why I believe the truth will always seep out, whether somebody tries to attack you with malicious words, lies and deceptions with hurtful intentions. The closest people in our lives - the ones we think who love us the most, can be the very ones that take us down, or try to.  It’s more effective when “love” is in the mix, because there is such a fine line between love and hate. But true love will always prevail - always accepting and expecting to take on the trials of anything to come in its way. True love is unfailing love - like Christ’s love. Love is patient. 1 Corinth. 13:4

Life isn’t supposed to be lived in a constant peaceful flow. What good would things be if we didn’t work for it or didn't go through trials for it? It would simply bore us. On the complete opposite spectrum, this is also why I think there are people who are drama queens and amplify things to the maximum. They want more of a challenge; creating drama beyond compare and when they finally receive the one thing they wanted out of the drama that they have caused, they have finally realized that it wasn’t worth the trouble.

Trials and tribulations are good for us.

“We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they are good for us--they help us to learn and endure. And endurance develops strength of character in us, and character strengthens our confident expectation of salvation. And this expectation will not disappoint us. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.” ~Romans 5:35

I guess the whole point of this post is, we should try to be grateful for the challenges we are facing today, because tomorrow we’ll be stronger for it.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Nothing Has Really Changed...

I remember when I used to have nightmares when I was younger, I would slip into my parents' bed and sleep in between the both of them.  I felt safe. Nothing could harm me now. My dad would wake up at 3am and head into New York City to work at the South Street Seaport. I would hear his fish van start up and then pull out of our driveway. I’d slowly creep onto his side of the bed, knowing now it was just me and my mom. I still felt safe, even though dad had left us. In the morning, mom would wake me up, we’d get dressed and I'd run around town with her doing errands and giving her grief at the grocery store. I remember riding in the car seat in the back of our huge yellow Cadillac that took up the entire street...length-wise.  I’d whine about why I had to still use this uncomfortable seat and then pass out from being such a pain in the ass. Nothing has changed really.

Dad would come home at around 1 o’clock in the afternoon, grab lunch and head off to his excavating job. Back then no one took their kids to daycare. It was unheard of. Most women were housewives who took care of their children at home. All three of my sisters were seven years above me. They were already in school, so mom had to mindlessly entertain me from 1 o’clock in the afternoon until all of my sisters came bustling home from school. My mom was my best friend. She spent the entire day with just me. She made sure I was entertained - and that’s a hard thing to do with a brat like myself. Nothing has changed really.

Even as I grew older, my mom still felt the need to see me as her baby. They would refer to me as “the baby”, until I reached the age of 10. It was sort of embarrassing bringing my little friends home and then hearing one of my parents say, “Where’s the baby?” I’d cringe and pretend I didn’t hear it. I’d just sit there and wonder when they would stop calling me “the baby”. Grandma seemed to keep the legend alive, until she passed. She used to stay with us for a few weeks, and then go back to her penthouse tenement in Brooklyn, New York. I loved it there. I always begged her to take me back with her. She used to make the best homemade pizza and bring me down to the farm market a few blocks down. I loved the city life, but was stuck living in the secluded mountains. Nothing has changed really, except that my neighborhood now is more like Brooklyn in a way.

Last night I had the worst nightmare. I woke up crying. Madelene woke up and thought something had happened or that I had received a disturbing phone call. I received a disturbing phone call, however it was only in my dream. My sister Carla called me and informed me that mom was no longer with us. I never in my life woke up with such pain in my heart. Tears kept seeping out by the dozens and I couldn’t talk. I thought it was real. Even when reality kicked in - that it was all but a dream, I couldn’t stop crying. Madelene stayed up with me and said, “I know how you feel. The difference is, when my dad passed away, I wish it were a dream.” If anybody knows me personally, you know that I’m basically still connected by the umbilical cord. My mom is my best friend and to even think that one day, she may not be around to answer my phone call and talk about funny gossipy things or to go out to our favorite restaurant and laugh till we’re making a spectacle out of ourselves...kills me. Tonight, I’m bringing her out to dinner to her favorite restaurant. I had to lie and say I won the lotto, because she never wants me to pay for anything.

Nothing has really changed.
It was all but a dream.
Thank God.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Accept & Expect

There are so many things that can steal your peace and joy. Life has its ups and downs and that will never change. We go through periods of sadness and periods of happiness, yet we never realize that we can maintain a level of constant joy. Constant joy isn’t an exhilarated excited feeling; it’s a peaceful calm within your heart no matter what circumstances you are going through. It takes practice and faith. Some of us let the downward spiral of the world get to us. I know I do many of times. By practicing meditation and going deep inside my faith as well as my spirituality, I can maintain a level of constant joy that only comes from one source only: God. Instead of seeking the adrenaline rush for my happiness in life, I seek to maintain a constant flow more reliable than any awaited excited feeling. I was addicted to the adrenaline rush all my life. It was time for a change.

I accept my lot in life. I’m more than happy with what I have, the family and friends I am blessed with as well as my work. This doesn’t mean I am settling though. I accept and expect much more in life. I am enjoying the “now”, as I’ve stated in my previous post, yet enjoying what has yet to come. There is a quote which I love by an unknown author: “Happiness is not having what you want. It’s wanting what you have.” I go through periods of my life where I’m like, “I shoulda’ been here this time in my life”, or “I should have accomplished and gained this much by now” --but all of that negative talk will leave me stuck in a stagnant world of envy of what other people have. I refuse to go that route.

This also goes for bitterness. I refuse to be stuck in the past, resentful and blaming people for what went wrong in my life. I take full accountability, yet I also don’t torture myself with ‘it’s all my fault’ type of mindset either. Forgiving others is just as important as forgiving yourself. It works both ways if you want to have some sort of peace in your life. We’re all human and we make mistakes. Let it go. Move forward and forgive, forget and pardon your own mistakes while you’re at it. Life’s too short to remain in a state of bitterness, resentment, anger, enviousness and self-deprecation. We can drill on what we don’t have, what we should have and what we cannot forgive or pardon, but by doing that comes depression, anxiety and of course, self-medicating to make it all better...until the next morning at least.

There’s a quote by Joyce Meyer that I absolutely love: “There is nothing you can do about what has already been done---but you can do something about how you respond.”

I still have a lot of practicing ahead of me, but with time, patience and more determination of my constant inner peace and joy, I find that all of these negative feelings, emotions are absolutely useless.  They do nothing but drag me down. And what does the devil want to do? He wants to steal our peace and joy. That’s his main goal. I know some of you do not believe in the devil or hell, so I speak from my own faith. I refuse to be dragged down by the human flaw: our emotions. I refuse to let the devil steal my peace and joy. I refuse to get high on adrenaline and just dwell inside my own constant joy---no matter what I may be experiencing.

I will accept what comes my way, but I will also expect much more...so should you!