Monday, April 30, 2012

Socially Constructed Ideas of 'Beauty'

I'm not sure what you think about when you hear the word "beautiful" in regards to a woman. Most think the generalized society's point of view: super model gorgeous, tall, thin, perfect features - stuff you see in magazines. I love air brushes. But seriously, there are women out there that are trying to achieve and maintain society's version of "beautiful" and I see it almost every single day of my life. There's a fine line of keeping up with your general appearance and obsessing over 'what other people think'.  The other day, I tweeted, "Being super beautiful must be like making a high salary. You won't settle for less, but the inevitable means 'retirement'. Common denominator: age. True beauty comes from within, and that lasts forever." I have seen the most "beautiful" women become the most ugly creatures on earth in a matter of seconds. I've also seen less attractive (whatever that means) become beautiful by their actions, their heart, their sense of humor, their compassion -----their "inner gorgeousness" as I like to call it. I guess that's why I love that movie Shallow Hal.

My mother told me a story a long time ago. Maybe she was trying to give me a hint, but I never forgot it. I'll try my best to remember it, because I didn't have much luck on Google. There was this little boy who was lost in a grocery store. He had strayed away from his mom and gallivanted out into the other aisles, playfully skipping by carts and playing with the merchandise on the shelves. When he looked back to call out to his mom, she wasn't there. He panicked. "Mom!! Mom!!" he screamed. Everybody turned around to see this boy in tears, crying for his mother. The manager walked up to him, knelt down and said, "Hey, what's your name?" He said, "Jack. I lost my mommy! Can you get her for me?" The manager brought him to the customer service desk and he asked the boy, "Jack, what's your mother's name?" Between the anxiety of losing his mother and him calling his mother, "mom" all the time, it had slipped his mind. "I don't know. Call out for mommy!" The manager chuckled and then asked, "Well what does she look like? Can you describe her?" Jack said, "My mother looks like a princess. She's the most beautiful woman on earth." Soon enough, a lady was looking for her boy and was told to go to the customer service desk to have him paged. "There she is! There she is!" Jack cried out. As he ran over to his mother to hug her, Jack looked at the manager and said, "This is mommy!" The woman was extremely overweight, hair somewhat disheveled, wearing clothes that were old and torn up. She didn't fit the generalized society's view of "beautiful", but her son saw her as a princess.

I also remember a girlfriend asking me for advice regarding someone she had an interest in, however she wasn't exactly "attractive". I told her if she was already interested in her, then what's the main concern? ...Other people's opinions? Because once you fall in love with someone, they become the most beautiful person on earth.

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Explore, Dream, Discover

(This photo was a Halloween shot at work. The theme was 'the futuristic office', so I chose my future would be working at home, hence the robe, towel, cup of coffee & flip flops. I'm actually wearing purple silk pajamas from Victoria Secret in there.)
There was a time where I thought my life would only consist of a cubicle, dim florescent lights and a boss that would badger me for the rest of my days until the day I retired. Home life was all about resting. I didn't even notice the little things around me, like a beautiful view of the mountains, a hot cup of coffee to be enjoyed slowly or just listening to music, unwinding with a glass of wine. It was simple: get up, grab coffee on the way to work, sit in traffic, deal with bullshit at work, dive into traffic again, eat a quick dinner and go to it all over again. I remember one of my coworkers had given our boss two weeks notice. One day, while sitting at the lunch table, we asked her why she was leaving. She said, "I got a job at another company where they're going to let me work from home. No commuting anymore!" I have to say I never felt such jealousy in my life before. I don't believe I was even happy for her, although I managed to say, "Wow that's great," while wishing it was me. Back then, getting a work from home job was absolutely unheard of. Part of me didn't believe her...or want to. I took the next day off. I remember it so clearly. I wanted out. I hated where I was in life. I remember sitting outside in the morning drinking a cup of coffee and actually enjoying my surroundings and feeling so liberated that everyone else was at that dreaded office, even the girl who was quitting, while I was 'here'. I called in sick with a nasally voice. I just couldn't bear to go in there that day. It was definitely a mental health day for me. A friend of mine had come over and we both were discussing life - in terms of "quality" - what we wanted - what it 'should' be like. I complained about the coworker who got what I always wanted. She said one thing that stuck out: "You can have it, Deb. You have to chase it whether it means settling for less money." 

The days, the months, even years that I chased it, I finally caught up to it. Of course, I was lucky enough to have available resources to do such a thing, but the most important part of it was that I was doing what I loved. And when you do something you love for a job, it no longer becomes a "job".  While writing, I had to do something that actually made money back then. I did everything from selling my photography on this website I created. I then started working for a small art gallery nearby and a small bit of bartending here and there to make some extra cash. But, my writing career was building up.  I still did little odds and ends, but at least these little 'odds and ends' types of jobs were something I enjoyed. I was apart of the art community, I was around people and best of all, I wasn't getting sucked into corporate hell any longer. I was actually setting my own time to go to the gym instead of waking up at 5am so I can be home a 6am to get ready for work. I didn't have to dress up in boxy business suits and high heels. I started wearing jeans, where my friends would say, "Oh...muy...GAWD, Deb's wearing jeans?" Once I heard that, I felt like a human being instead of a stuffed shirt.  Even now, if I have to go somewhere work-related, it doesn't require a stitch of business suit attire or even a nice jacket or dress shirt, although I try to dress it up with a pair of nice shoes & a top.

Life's too short to enter the rat race. I'd rather have less than the average person than to live 'well to do', with hardly any peace. I'm sure there's a happy medium in there somewhere, and if you're lucky to have that, then you're one of the fortunate ones. I was never able to seek that happy medium, until I started doing what I love - until I sought out my passion and my work became my love. The last few years I've been hearing of people having heart attacks at such young ages. One of Madelene's friend who had worked with her had a heart attack right in his car at work a few years back. He was in his early 40's. I heard other people recently discussing a recent passing of a friend who had a heart attack. Of course I'm not ruling out genetics and bad dieting, however, to live in constant stress can't be healthy. To never have the time to rest, take time out for yourself, to actually have a minute or two to enjoy the view is something that is so rare for some. There's a quote I read the other day. I'm not sure who the author is, but it said, "Twenty years from now you'll be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do, so throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor, catch the trade winds in your sails, explore, dream, discover." 

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Friday, April 27, 2012

Lending an Ear

You can only do so much for someone you care for when it comes to helping a friend out with personal problems in their life. We all want to be that friend or spouse who is there for anyone at any given moment, “I’m here for you” seems to slip out of our mouths too loosely, and for some people, they take full advantage of that. In any friendship or intimate relationship, there needs to be a balance or it becomes a therapy session. Have you ever felt as though you’re someone’s therapist when you spend time with them? The conversation is one-sided and the person actually doesn’t even realize it. You try to connect with their eyes and nod here and there while dozing off into another land after the second hour of their session. In primitive days (yes caveman days, bear with me here), people were told to find a mate who has broad shoulders, not only to carry in the wood on a snowy day, but broad shoulders in terms of carrying your burdens, woes and problems in life. It should be a give and take. And it’s a fact that if you spend too much time with someone who is severely depressed, or only talks about depressing things, you will eventually be depressed too. Same thing with those negative people - you will catch the bug and become negative as well. We’re all at risk for becoming emotional sponges, unless we put up boundaries. I’m not saying don’t ever be there for your friend or spouse, but to have limitations and an understanding of “ok, now it’s my turn to vent”. It really shouldn’t have to be said.

Not too long ago we had a few friends over the house and we were having fun and enjoying the evening. I noticed one of the girls would actually corner anyone of my ‘soft guests’ (meaning goodhearted/able to speak to easily), and would purge every single piece of detail about her life. They even went back to their childhood and wouldn’t give the other person a word in edgewise. I could see my goodhearted friend give ‘the stare’ with her eyebrows raised and right then, I heard her thoughts: “Oh my God get me out of this. How do I get out of her grips. She has me cornered. Stop. Stop. STOP!!!” As with anything, moderation is key. Drink in moderation, eat in moderation, TALK in moderation. (That doesn’t go for writing - you can opt out of this post at any time.) But I’m sure you get the gist of what I’m saying. At any given rate, my friend was able to get away from this gloom and doom yapper, but the yapper found another sad ear to cling onto, and luckily, she was another depressive yapper. These two people did not leave my house until 3am. They were the only ones left besides my friend who was sleeping over and my wife and I. We literally had to say, “Okay girls, we have to go to sleep now.” They got the hint and started packing up, but while standing near the doorway, the conversation started up again. It’s as though there were absolutely no social cues. How do people do this? Do they even realize they’re stepping over boundaries? Or is it me? One thing - I can see if people are talking about something of interest, but this was the most dreadful conversation about illnesses, death and breakups --they even went as far as the ol’ ex bashing. I didn’t want any part of it. OUT!

It’s so nice when you have a friend where you can share some sad stuff, complain a little about this or that, but balance it out with laughter and positive stuff as well. Nobody likes to be around a negative Nelly. And most of all, let your poor friend speak. When it becomes a one-sided conversation, you’ll see less and less of your friend, unless she has a heart of gold. Next time you’re out and about with a buddy, when you come home, write down all the things he/she said to you. If you have no content, it’s time to start lending an ear and zipping the lip.

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Thursday, April 26, 2012

What Kind of Person Would Fake Cancer?

When I first heard the story about Jessica Vega who faked having cancer in order to receive money from donors to have a lavish wedding, I immediately thought what the rest of the crowd was chanting, “Evil! Evil! Evil!” I also heard, “Karma will get her back!” Many things were said in anger, and rightfully so. What kind of person would fake cancer - a disease that takes away our friends, that takes away our loves ones, as well as ourselves? Who can actually live with themselves with a clear conscience of telling such an outrageous lie? What kind of person can rip through the wallets of sympathetic hearts in order to gain a lavish wedding and materialistic things? But if you really think about this woman, she displays every symptom of Narcissistic Personality Disorder. It’s just as serious as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.

NPD has a few well know traits:
  • Shows arrogant or haughty behaviors and attitude. 
  • Is often envious of others or believes others are envious of them. 
  • Lacks empathy; is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others. (Hence why she doesn’t feel bad about taking the money from sympathetic friends/family and strangers.) 
  • Is interpersonally exploitive; ie: takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends. 
  • Has a sense of entitlement, ie: unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations. 
Jessica’s lawyer said, “Sorry for what happened and hopes the people who showed her kindness aren’t disillusioned or less likely to help others in the future. She got caught up in something and it just got out of hand.” I truly believe that. I think she just did something not knowing how responsive and quickly this would manifest and she just couldn’t get out of it at that point. Still, she should learn from the verdict/sentence so she’ll know better, but most of all, she should really get diagnosed and treated for whatever mental illness she has. I’m only guessing what she has - I’m not a doctor. Anyone can do a little research and find more about the behaviors of others if they want. There is not one person who is “so called normal” that would fake having cancer. It’s almost borderline sociopath because if you fake cancer, you have no regards for people suffering from it or those who have a loved one going through it. You disregard any emotion that anyone has. That’s mental illness in my book. So while we’re all quick to make a harsh judgment on this woman’s crime, or should I say, her “evil manipulation”, we can also pray for her or hope that she gets better.

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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

It's Not About You...It's About Them

I stopped caring for quite some time now. It was a conscious choice. It was a decision based upon my own freedom, sense of awareness and a glimpse into spiritual maturity. I prayed for understanding and discernment and the knowledge of other people’s motives or perhaps, why they do what they do and say what they say. I let that all go. It’s out of my control anyway, so why dissect it any further? Many, if not all people have some areas of insecurities in their lives. It’s normal. But what happens when that one area of insecurity becomes a jam session of insulting criticism upon somebody else? For example: one lady has five kids and she’s consulting or, giving her ‘best’ advice to a new mother to be. She automatically (in her mind) becomes “the expert”. And for some, you would think, rightfully so, but some parents, whether they have five or ten kids, aren’t the ‘best’ parents to take advice from. What about the naysayers - the people who discourage you in a big decision? And the thing is, they haven’t had a real “bad” experience, but just the typical woes of anything whether it be opening a restaurant, buying a new house, having kids, --- anything --- they just focus in on all the negatives and possibly poison any hope for the person wanting to try this for the very first time. Are they sincerely concerned? Or is it the fear of the possibility of someone else doing it better? Maybe it’s due to appearing better at something, or better than someone?

I remember years ago, a friend of mine who is very attractive was insulting one of our mutual friends, who is also very beautiful. After a couple of glasses of wine, my friend started bashing her, in every possible way. (Of course she’s all nice to her in person.) She started in on ‘how she looks fake’ and questioning if any ‘work’ had been done, instead of just admiring the beautiful woman she is. I sat there just listening to her and thinking, “Wow, she is really intimidated by her.” Women are jealous creatures (some), and the ones who are can get downright vicious when another attractive female is in the same circle. Friendship shouldn’t be a competition of looks, it should be an unconditional respect and regard for someone you care about. But insecure people will never view it that way. They’ll find a flaw in every. single. person. that they’re friends with. The question is: is this person truly a friend? And will this person ever have a “good friend” by the judgmental remarks that are made on the people who aren’t around to hear it? Once someone starts insulting a mutual friend who is not present to hear it, you have to think what that person says when you’re not around to hear it. I don’t trust those types of people. They scare me. The insults don’t scare me, it’s being hurt by someone who you thought you could trust. Any insult or bashing by a friend or family member is very hurtful - regardless of what the insult is.

Cliques. I remember those when I used to work in this one particular office full of hens. You’re probably nodding your head thinking about your own workplace. They smile and say good morning to you and later during their lunch break, you’re the big topic of the day. I remember getting sucked into a clique and sitting with them during lunch. Everything was fine and we were all getting along, until one girl got up and went back to her office. Right away, as soon as the door closed as the girl walked out, the clique took that opportunity to talk behind her back --- and very viciously too. I was so surprised because everyone was being super nice to her while she was sitting with us. They mocked everything from who she was dating, what she was wearing to how much she has aged over the past two years. I mean-----really? If you listened long enough to all the criticism being tossed around about this girl, wouldn’t you have an inkling that this is going to be “you” tomorrow afternoon during lunch? Again, it’s about the trust factor. And, this girl they were speaking of had it all - a gorgeous boyfriend, a great relationship, beauty and most of all, an awesome personality with a heart of gold. Easy target for these girls who only wished they had a smidgen of her life. They ‘assumed’ the guy must have been cheating because he was “too good looking” for her and all sorts of things that were so over the top, I had to take the chance, pick up the rest of my lunch and go back to my desk. I’m sure I was the next victim, but I didn’t care.

So don’t get offended when someone either tries to discourage a new venture of yours to which they’ve already tried, or if someone mocks you for whatever... Remember it’s out of insecurity and fear of someone else doing it better, or looking better, or just simply over-compensating for something they are lacking in their own lives. When you know the reason under the rough surface, you begin to understand the madness. It’s not about’s about them.

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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

No Regrets

"Love is not just looking at each other, it's looking in the same direction." ~Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Yesterday I spent some time with mom for her 74th birthday. She always gets excited like a little girl on her big day, which is rare for many people. Dad was there and feeling much better. He was joking around, trying to hit me with his cane and being his ol’ sarcastic self again. He’s appetite finally came back too. At 3pm, the nurse and the social worker from hospice came over to check on him. As he was speaking to the social worker, he mentioned all the things he did in life, like running the fish market, a restaurant, had his own excavation company and made foundations for many, many homes around the area. He said to her, “Don’t get old. It goes just. like. that,” as he snapped his fingers. “One day, you own your own business and do well with it for years, and then it’s gone...just like that.” I didn’t know how to respond to it and thought the social worker wouldn’t have any words for it either, until she said, “Be proud of all you’ve done in your life, Charlie. Look at how many people have strong foundations for their homes because of you. Look at how many people have enjoyed a seafood dinner because of you. Look at the family you raised. Be proud.” My father’s eyes lit up and I can see it definitely lifted his spirits. I wouldn’t have even thought to have said that other than listen to him. This woman didn’t rush out or didn’t give me the feeling that ‘this was just a job’ to her. She was amazing. What a challenging career, for some. But for her, it’s who she is. It just comes natural.

What a wonderful thing to not look back on your life and say, “I coulda’ woulda’ shoulda’”, and sincerely be content and still excited about everything you’ve done over the years. We all have our lot in life, whether it’s a home maker/stay at home mom, carpenter, cashier, banker, doctor, lawyer or volunteer worker. Our “lot” in life may not be our career itself, but it could mean being the difference in somebody else’s life. God didn’t create us just to sit behind a desk from 9-5, although it may be our stepping stone to get from point A. to point B.. We’re meant to do so much more - in terms of “our purpose” here. A quote in Ecclesiastes says it all: “Even so, I have noticed one thing, at least, that is good. It is good for people to eat well, drink a good glass of wine, and enjoy their work--whatever they do under the sun--for however long God lets them live. And it is a good thing to receive wealth from God and the good health to enjoy it. To enjoy your work and accept your lot in life--that is indeed a gift from God. People who do this rarely look with sorrow on the past, for God has given them reasons for joy.” I hope to one day live to be 75 years old and have absolutely no regrets in life like my parents.

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It’s amazing how people can tear you down with words. Sometimes, those words live with you forever, even if an abundance of years fly by, those words are traveling with you, haunting you till the very end. Some feel you can let it haunt you or you can let it go - it’s your choice. But what if you just can’t shake it? What if those words keep echoing inside your mind for months, years, decades, until you decide to succumb to those hurtful words. It can actually dictate what you do in life, how you do things in life, and also, how you avoid certain things that you once enjoyed. Words have power. They can either lift you up or tear you down. What you say makes a difference. What others say also makes a difference, although many will disagree and say, “It doesn’t matter what others say about you” --- sometimes it does, especially if it’s someone you once loved and someone who once claimed to love you too. In my mind, words can be like little fireballs being thrown at you. They scar, leaving burn wounds. You can only cosmetically heal them to appear as ‘untouched’.

Words. I remember all too well, words. Once spoken to me in the most demeaning and belittling way, I stifled myself in my own, ‘words’, my own blog. I silenced myself of subjects I used to love to write about, because of words. I was made to feel as though my faith and beliefs were worthless because I wasn’t perfect myself. From the mouth of someone I once loved, I was called a hypocrite, a liar, and the devil himself, because the person didn’t get what they wanted from me. She tore up every single page of my book and threw it in the trash - the book she carried with her everywhere she went in her backpack. I just stared at every single page ripped and torn lying there in the trash can remembering every single word being yelled at me. My heart broke so much, that my entire outlook on everything I used to write about lacked faith; lacked belief in myself that I can actually help someone. Even if the book which had helped people in the past, even saved someone who was suicidal, it was now deemed as worthless. My heart and soul went into it - but that didn’t matter. The one project I actually finished in my life was finished completely lying in the trash can. I then remember how she once claimed to relate to me because of our faith in God, and then she yelled out at that moment, “Just because I don’t know every detail about Jesus ‘effing’ Christ, you want to end it all!” And that wasn’t the reason at all. And yet, that explained all. I cringed.

Eventually, my ‘words’, my writings altered a bit. Although I still prayed and meditated every day, I stopped sharing my faith with everyone else. I stopped writing down all of my experiences and answers that I found in the Bible. I stopped being ‘me’ 100%. I became more opinionated and continued writing about other topics that were always genuine, but I held back from writing anything of a faithful nature, if that makes sense at all. I doubted myself. I doubted my faith at times. The impact that those words had on me left me empty and unsure. My disappointment in people just seemed to magnify and increase with each passing day. At my lowest point, I came back to the source I left: my faith in God & the Bible.

“When doubt filled my mind, your comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer.” Psalm 94:19

The doubt that filled my mind became less and less the more I fell into my faith once again. As humans, we’re all imperfect. We’re all a mess in our own way. This is how God loves us - He wants us to be a mess. If we weren’t, we wouldn’t need Him so much. So, I had to find this out and learn this entire concept all over again. Better late than never though. I found a little book I kept near my Bible where I would write down scriptures that would help or encourage me during tough times. I noticed one of the dates listed on a page and it was very close to the time I was verbally bashed by the person I cared about. I was still very angry and didn’t realize I hadn’t purged all the bitterness out entirely.

“Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of malicious behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.” ~Ephesians 4:31-32

“I have waited patiently for the Lord to help me, and He turned to me and heard my cry.” ~Psalm 40:1

If I can give any advice at all about verbal abuse and words that can affect our lives is this: always see the bigger picture if you can. Step out of your situation and realize why this person is attacking you. Realize why this person is lashing out in desperation to hurt you. Understand the human condition - understand why people do and say what they do in order to get a rise out of you. Why do people try to stifle or silence you? Why do people want to hurt you if they claim they love you? All of these questions can be easily answered from an outsider’s view - but when we’re so immersed with our own thoughts, feelings, emotions and life’s circumstances - we can’t see it. We’re blind to it and most of the time, we’ll believe every single word that’s being spoken. Thankfully, I woke up. Those ‘words’ once spoken are now in the trash can, just like the book I had written with all my heart and soul. One deserves to be in there more than the other.

My words remain...

‎"Healing may not be so much about getting better, as about letting go of everything that isn't you - all of the expectations, all of the beliefs - and becoming who you are." -Rachel Naomi Remen

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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Peace of Mind: Forgiveness

The other day, someone called me a “pushover” just because I forgave someone too quickly. Without getting into much detail about it, if I hadn’t had the ability to forgive that person, or to let it go, then I’d be the one with the problem. For instance, I truly believe this person did not realize what they had said - or it was just something that normally flew out of their mouth from time to time. If you look at it like this - say I don’t forgive this person - this person walks away and never thinks about the “offense”, while I sit there brewing maybe for days, weeks or even months. Maybe I’ll have it in the back of my head for life. You never know. For me, once I forgive someone, it’s forgotten. This same person who called me a “pushover” also brought up an argument I had with a mutual friend. She asked, “What happened that time when ‘so & so’ started in with you?” I sat there...thinking...thinking and thinking. I truly had forgotten. Don’t get me wrong, forgiveness doesn’t necessarily mean reconciliation or salvaging the friendship/relationship. It’s the ability to let really let go.

Even in relationships and marriages, you can tell if someone still has a chip on their shoulder, or if they still have resentment in their hearts if they bring up old crap in the past that they have already “forgiven” you for. If you keep talking about it you let the offense live. You give it life and it never goes away unless you bury it, or just put it in a bag and shoot it. Having resentment and bitterness doesn’t hurt the other person, it hurts the person who is still angry. I went through it without realizing it. I would say “I forgive you” and then would talk about what had happened to friends over and over. So there is truth to the saying, “forgive and forget”. Someone asked if I had heard from a particular someone from my past who had deeply hurt me. I looked at her puzzled, as my mind even searched for the name of the person. Then I said, “Oh wow, no.” And honestly, I only remember bits and pieces, if anything at all regarding that conflict. I let it go a long time ago. And if I truly dig deep enough to remember these events (which I did because I was curious), I just had this feeling like, what a waste of energy and raw negative emotions that probably affected both our health. I remember the first day of the process of letting go. I prayed for this person continually so that they would have peace, happiness and love. And little by little, I regained my own peace back as well --- without even letting this person know I had done this.

In Matthew 18:21-22 Peter came up to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? (Offends or hurts him) Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” I know many people will say you can’t keep getting pushed around so to speak, but what that scripture implies is, sometimes when you absolutely have to have someone in your life, whether it be a co-worker, family member, a life-long friend, it’s important to accept the flaws, quirks or unintentional offenses (even if intentional) in order to make peace not only with them and the people around you, but for yourself. It’s the ability to understand how this particular person works. Know what upsets them or what can set them off. I know some people in my life accept me and forgive me time after time for my quirks, and for that, I’m very grateful. I’m not perfect, but I’m very fortunate to have family and friends who know me well enough. I can come out of my face sometimes with random ‘offenses’ that aren’t intentional. And there are times where I get too offended over something and completely walk away from the person or situation, which to them seems as though I’m unforgiving and “mean” in some cases. I’m working on it. I was told that when someone offends you or, perhaps verbally abuses you, to completely walk away from that person. She said, “Silence is the best communicator.” But to me, silence gives a tinge of resentment in a way. I took her advice for about a month with someone and it hurt me more than it hurt the other person. Of course, it totally depends on the situation, however if you truly want this person in your life, silence probably isn’t the best communicator. Sometimes talking it out and completely giving the relationship another shot is a great way to overcome bitterness. Staying silent in some cases hardens your heart.

I truly believe we’re never going to get the best advice - it’s all about what works for each individual. I know people mean well when they’re trying to help, but when you look at the bigger picture, like, will this affect me six months from now, perhaps a year from now -- that’s when you gain a better perspective on the situation. Do you still want that person in your life and if not, can you rid of the bitter and resentment so that you can have peace yourself? Forgiveness isn’t always about forgiving the other person - it’s about giving yourself peace of mind.

Another important reason for me, is this scripture:

Mark 11:25 says, "And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins."

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Friday, April 13, 2012

Perfect Imperfections

For a while now, I’ve been watching a few of my friends struggle with the dating scene. Either he or she is ‘too this’ or ‘too that’ or just not the right fit. Hey, if you don’t like someone - whaddya’ gonna do, right? But what I’m seeing is more of an 'I’m getting up there in my years and I wanna meet the PERFECT person' type of mindset. There is no such thing as “the perfect person”. Let me say that again, there is no such thing as the perfect person, until you fall in love with them. Loving the imperfections of somebody; their idiosyncrasies and quirks are sometimes missed when that person isn’t there for them any longer. Before I get into my funny experiences with Madelene, let me just talk about my mom and dad for a moment. Ever since they retired and settled down into their empty nest, since everyone had since left, they did something different to keep the house exciting. They started by staying up late and having a cocktail together. Then it turned into getting up at 2am to have coffee, watching TV and talking. This ritual went on for over five years. After the third year, my mom would always complain and say, “Ugh, yer’ fatha’ woke me up again at 2am to have coffee. I’m so tired!” I said, “I thought you liked that?” And she quickly reminded me that it ruined her sleep pattern and that she would rather stay asleep till later that morning. This was the top complaint and I told her, “Ma, just tell him that you would rather have your coffee around 5 am or so. Simple.” I guess she saw he enjoyed doing this, so she let it go on.

If you’ve been reading my blog, you already know that dad is sick right now. He still gets up and makes her coffee at 2am because he thinks this is what she loves. She never told him she didn’t prefer having it at 5am. (I really don’t see the difference.) However, on the first day he stopped making her coffee because he was so zonked out from the morphine and oxycontin, she looked at me with tears welled up in her eyes and said, “He didn’t get up at 2am this morning to make me coffee.” I asked, “Well did you sleep okay?” (Thinking she was relieved in some way.) “NO! He didn’t get up for me!” she said in a panicky voice. I knew what she meant. When he would spend a week or two in the hospital, she would get up at 2am and make her own coffee. I know women can be quite fickle, but my mother didn’t realize how much she loves when dad gets up to have coffee time with her. He’s home now and hospice comes during the day to care for him, and yet he still gets up to make her coffee - not for himself because he has no appetite for any food or beverage, but just to make it for her, because this is what “he thinks” she loves. And now, she does love it. She’s sad when there’s no rustling in the kitchen 2am in the morning.

All the times my mother would complain about my father’s lack of hearing or botched up understanding of what someone had just said has now turned into a comedy for her. For instance, I came over once and said, “Hey dad, I brought you over some quesadillas!” He’d scrunch his face and say, “Wha? You got me a case of beer?” Madelene and I were outside on their patio and we noticed there were tons of flies around. She walked in and said, “Hey dad, do you have a fly swatter?” He said, “Wha? You wanna glass of ice water?” There are A TON of similar instances where my mom would roll her eyes and say, “Ugh yer’ fatha’ doesn’t understand one thing I say!!!” And now, it lights up her entire day when he messes up like that, and at times, I think he does it just to make her laugh. So, all of those little quirks someone has or their idiosyncrasies that can drive someone straight into a loony bin are accepted by unconditional love and acceptance.

Even with Madelene and I, we always bust on one another. I always ask her if there is something about me that annoys her and she just smiles (like a liar) and says, “No sweetie, nothing at all.” Of course I feel guilty about the long list I have for her... No lie - that woman can sneeze a hundred times in a row, so loudly, that by the time she hits her 10th sneeze, you’re already deaf. I used to say “God bless you”, for each one, until her allergies got worse and worse. I stop at the second. I know it’ll go on forever. Sometimes while watching a movie and it’s at the most important part, she’ll start in with her sneezing fits and I’ll just lose it and say, “Go take an allergy pill or walk out of the room!” She stares at me while holding her nose really tightly and then says, “I’m sorry!” Then we eventually laugh and realize how stupid my complaint really is. At night, she’ll snort because nostrils close up, and then I’ll clear my throat and say, “You ok?” She just says, “Yep.” But when we were apart for some time during our separation, I have to admit I missed hearing her sneeze (in the other room) and missed her little snorts at night. I actually missed her pajama pants on the side of the bed when she would leave for work that ‘used to’ annoy me. I was also sad to see there weren’t any shells from her sunflower seeds floating around where she had been sitting. I would always have this little trail of dried up shells lying on some tissue somewhere. All of that was gone.

My point is, if we all focus on the little things that annoy us, or we have some sort of complaint about our other half or someone we’re interested in, we’ll never find true love. Every single person has something that’ll eventually ‘annoy’ or irk us in some way. Even Mad puts up with my hypochondriacal ass and has the patience of an angel. She’ll even ask, “Do you want me to take you to the ER or doctor right now sweetie?” I mean, after the umpteenth time of fleeing to some doctor because of a phantom pain or ailment, she should know it’ll pass. But to make me feel comfortable, she does whatever it is to comfort me. Can you imagine if we were in the first stages of a relationship? You learn to accept the bad with the good. And overall, with perfect love, there’s much more good than bad usually. But when we get older and we’re still searching for our perfect ‘soul mate’ (if there’s such a thing), why are we looking for perfection? I realize for many people it’s nice to have things in common, but it’s also wonderful to share in things not in common. Madelene and I are complete opposites and I love it. She love fantasy/vampire/cops & robbers type of action movies, while I’d rather watch a romantic comedy or some Lifetime-like flick. She likes fruity complicated beverages while I’ll just pop open a beer or open a bottle of wine. Easy peasy. She likes the wings, I prefer the drumsticks. She loves the rings of calamari, while I prefer the squid whole, with tentacles and all. But if you think about it - it’s perfectly matched and complimented. Our taste in music is wayyy different. I don’t think I’d have her any other way or would ever want to change her or who she is. We’re two separate people sharing space on this earth together. We’re not twins. We’re not trying to mold one another into our own clone.

In my opinion, that’s how it should be. If you wait for the “perfect one” to come strolling into your life, you might miss out on the amazing differences and the sharing of yourself with someone incredibly special. When cupid finally strikes and you’ve fallen in love, then that person who seemed ‘somewhat imperfect’ becomes the love of your life. When I used to complain about a new relationship, my mother would always say, "You'll learn to love em'." And it's not in any way meant to imply "settle for less", but to give the person a chance instead of throwing away something that'll make you happy the rest of your life. I hope I have what my parents have. That to me, is perfect love.

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Thursday, April 12, 2012

Shut the Front Door!

The other day while I was in the grocery store, I overheard two men debating over politics and the opinions over the republican candidates. Of course, it got heated because one was for Mitt Romney and the other for Obama. Arguing over politics is the same thing as arguing over religion and “set rules”, etc. No one wins and the thing is, even though you preach a good spiel about your thoughts, opinions and whatnot, you’re not doing anything but invoking anger in those who disagree, or simply do not believe. Of course, I do feel that if you share your beliefs and opinions with someone you ‘think’ is okay hearing it, then fine. I often see people bait others in just to attack their views. It’s pointless and childish. So this argument got heated and it almost came to blows. The funny thing is, after someone is finally elected, the arguments get less and less and no one says boo about anything regarding politics until election time or when someone makes a huge moral mistake in office. I truly believe people are just bored these days. They have nothing better to do than to invoke some heated debate whether it be in person (which is more courage mind you) and especially on Facebook. People seem to have more balls on Facebook displaying their extreme views or if they’re just running with the mass like a herd of sheep.

I’ll never forget the time I was waiting to vote for our next president. It was between McCain or Obama. There were only a few people inside. A lady who was volunteering her time at this particular place walked over to me to chitchat. The one thing you’re not supposed to do is talk about the candidates or persuade your views on anybody else. Well, this lady did it on the sly. She started off by telling me about her son who was still in Iraq. “What a shame that we’ve endured so many years with Bush, and now we have similar candidates running.” I knew where she was heading with this but I just kept focused on her son and how he was doing, when he was coming home, etc., but she darted back to the candidates in a roundabout way. “That’s why it’s so important that we have a president that believes in bringing back our troops.” With whatever side I was on, this could have taken a turn for the worse. She could have said this to someone who believes the total opposite and there you have it - an emotional mother whose vote means her son’s life and a hardcore republican who feels that war is necessary. Why even go there if you know that this could even happen? I don’t understand people. You’re not influencing anybody’s decision - you’re invoking anger. Plain and simple. Most people who blather all over their Facebook about their political views are usually the ones that don’t do shit about it. They don’t protest, they don’t write to congress about their concerns -- all they do is bitch and moan to their “friends”. They feel as though this is ‘good conversation’.

Not too long ago I was in the company of close friends when one of them started ranting about politics. I have learned (after many years) that when people are trying to get a rise out of you because they feel they know your views, to shut yer’ trap. And I did. I just sat there and listened to him as though I was learning something new. I didn’t say my view or how I felt - I just listened. My views mean nothing to him. Just like religion - your views will mean nothing to someone who believes something different. They can listen and hear what you have to say but no one can take away your core beliefs. So why even go there? “We’re trying to save people!” Well, great. Try acting like a true person of “God” and your actions will demonstrate your particular belief in whatever god you worship. I think a blog is a great forum for these political/religious chatterboxes. I have one so I can do just that. But Facebook is a whole different story. Once you post your religious beliefs and political views, it can become a full-fledge debate in 0-2 seconds. If you have a “fan page”, then great. These people decided to “like” your page due to your beliefs. That’s different. I also think some ‘attention whores’ like to give shock value to their Facebook with political outbursts, perhaps it’s a cry for help. But all in all, think of Facebook as a bar full of people. Would you dare ‘go there’ with others face-to-face, or would you rather hide behind your monitor making these extreme views the only views that should be seen?

And to me, it makes no difference who wins. It’s the electoral votes that count the most. And whether ‘this one’ wins or ‘that one’ wins, it’s the same bullshit. So why argue? After November, our Facebook feeds will show nothing but overused quotes and cute puppy pictures again. Have hope & shut the front door for heaven's sake.

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Thursday, April 05, 2012

Today Is What Counts

Are you one of those people who absolutely hates the thought of change - even miniscule things, like a simple routine altered, new furniture, or even Facebook’s new timeline? I’ve never seen so many people say, “I hate this” when anything changes - and then weeks or months later, they’re used to it (accepted it) and cultivated to the new way. Isn’t that much like life itself? I’ve been thinking a lot about it lately and how life has changed so drastically from just a few years ago. For a while, I was in denial, trying to hold onto something that has already passed me by. When we hold on too tightly, the more it slips out through your fingers. I received an email the other day from this full moon website. It tells you the phases of the moon and other interesting info regarding it. The email read, “A short thought on the subject of 'forgetting'. Normally, it is looked at as being negative – you suppress, you lose, you miss … At the same time, there has to be something salutary in it, to forget and therefore gain a distance to your own past. However, at the same time, it is important to take responsibility for one's past, which only works if it remains in the consciousness. How can this be reconciled? We suggest another word: 'I unlearn my past.' This contains another quality. Knowing what was, without being shackled to it. Being able to think about past events without agitation nor illusion. This leads to inner freedom.”

To “unlearn” your past isn’t easy to do, but what it implies is: you don’t have to be a slave to your past and that good memories are fine, just try not to replay those images over and over and over until you just can’t let go of them. We become too chained to our past, too focused on tomorrow and yes, we “lose and miss” out on today. That’s all that matters. Even when I pray, I start out by saying, “Just for today . . .” I don’t pray about tomorrow’s events, because I’m not sure I’ll even be here. I pray about today. I used to live in my past way too much. I was a clinger, as I call it. I hung onto everything from my past and it destroyed my current moments. It was hard to even try to enjoy the day without reminiscing, remembering, regretting or missing the past. One of the best prayers to overcome being a prisoner of your past or future is this: "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference. Living one day at a time, enjoying one moment at a time, accepting hardships as the pathway to peace, taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it. Trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His Will (God’s plan), That I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with Him, forever in the next. Amen.”

Live in the ‘now’, forget your past and don’t rush your future. You might miss out on today. Today is what counts.

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Growth Spurts

Yesterday, someone shared a quote with me that resonated with me so much. She said, "Just remember, trying to hurt me by bringing up my...