03May

My Sister is Dying

Playing, Sun N Fun

Playing, Sun N Fun

Keeping the sisterhood alive!

1999 Keeping the sisterhood alive!

1994, Before Momma died

1994, Before Momma died

Summer of 1982, Becky and I are both pregnant.

Summer of 1982, Becky and I are both pregnant.

Anita is always on the left, not sure why, but that is the way it is here.  She sits on the left in each photo.

Shannon's birthday, May of 1972, Location Sun N Fun

Shannon’s birthday, May of 1972, Location Sun N Fun

She is left handed, as am I.

I am filled with grief.  I cry on and off for several days now.

Because of the way she lived, I knew that she would go first and no more than second.  We have 7 siblings and in varying degrees, we all chose our deaths at very young ages.  For her it was alcoholism.  When she got hepatitis, I wasn’t surprised, her unwillingness to complete treatment did surprise me.  She was unrelenting in her addiction to alcohol.  For several years she added cocaine into the mix.

In her twenties she had violent relationships with violent men.  I often told my husband that she would cause me great sadness.

After mom died in 1996, I didn’t want to be around my sisters.  I felt betrayed by the insensitivity (of course, we were all that way).  Over the next fifteen years, after I left our hometown, I tried to stay away from them, particularly the twins, of which my dying sister is one.

I often thought that I could distance myself, that by being indifferent I could get away from being hurt by them.

I was oh so wrong.

I’ve never quite figured out love, or how it works.  I don’t understand why I instantly love someone and not so much with others.  I just don’t get it.  As much as I tried not to love this woman (my sister) I did not help myself.  I love her and I grieve for her now.

So I love these people, my sisters, whether I like it or not.  To add an extra layer of fear, she is my “little” sister.  How can that be so?  How can she precede me into the darkness, into the space of no more?

I will give her what I can in her dying days.  I will remind her that she is loved by others, whether she loves herself or not.  I will communicate my love and I will leave no doubt.  Oh my dying sister, you are leaving so soon, could we not have been different in that long ago time when we were all blondes?  I miss you now and I will miss you then.  Our love did not end, and now, I am happy that it did not.  I am glad that I love you and that you hurt me still.

14Apr

I Believe in Bastards

Now I Believe in Bastards

I used to believe that humans were inherently good.  Being cruel or mean, or being a liar and a thief was a matter of childhood construction.

The perfect little children were treated badly somewhere and then somehow (justly so) became angry and mean.

I never gave DNA much credit for behaviors, thinking and character.  I thought that the world crafted each child based on the environment of the child and the environment that parents live in.  I still believe that all of this is relevant information, but oh, was I wrong about DNA.

There is a cruelty gene, there is a selfish gene, just as there is a loving gene and a kindness gene.  Socialization forces us to behavior and that behavior hides our true self.  For some of us, that means that our loving character is quiet, for some of us that means our feral nature is crouching and waiting to lash out. 

I wish that I would have known this sooner.  I would not have tried so hard to have relationships with some people; I would not have tried so hard to help others.  I would have developed a discerning eye that could assist me with determining the difference between a cruel person and a good person lashing out because of pain.

This is another observation that I have noted with the selfish and mean that are among us.  They understand that they must justify their meanness from time to time.  They devise elaborate victim stories with sketchy details and even sketchier outcomes.  These victim stories are nothing more than tools to gain access to a good person’s psyche.  The cruel and mean are seldom suffering, rather they are planning ways for others to suffer.

It is a shame that so many people are selfish and mean.  It is a blessing that so many people are loving and kind. 

Which one are you.  No question, only statement.

08Apr

Believing in Karma and in Hell are Not Good Things

Concepts of Karma and Hell, Do Not Serve Us Humans Well

Humans believe that justice is attainable via Christianity and/or Karma.  They see justice as a function of the universe.  The popular conversation is as if injustices will be managed by the universe through Karma or through the use of an afterlife called hell.

So when the downtrodden and the poverty stricken are beaten down even more, they appease themselves by believing that the perpetrator will go to hell.  The perpetrator will receive all kinds of payback at the hands of God or at the hands of the unforgiving universe.  I propose that this is not true.  Perpetrators do not receive revenge by the hands of God or through Karma.  They live their lives with their ill-gotten gains and then die, happily grasping their ill-gotten gains.

By believing that the universe will dish out the evil-doers just desserts, we skip our own opportunities to deliver retribution or even (gasp) revenge.  We allow people to get away with some really awful stuff, all the while saying to ourselves “he will get his someday, and then he won’t be so happy about taking away from me.”

Think of this concept from an historical perspective, when feudal lords in England and Europe were raping women and children and stealing from hardworking farmers, the Catholic church was busy telling the peasants, “you will receive your reward in heaven.”  The peasants were comforted by these words and thoughts, and so the habits of repression could continue as long as the peasants could believe in a hereafter that gave them power and punished the sinner.  It is these beliefs and habits that produced a careless princess who told the starving peasants to eat cake.

It is this way today in America.  We have left the confines of religious beliefs behind, and yet now, Karma has taken over as the new revenge machine.  Karma is ‘all the rage’ for the tormented women and other such victims of America.  The word is used all over Facebook, Twitter and on Meme captions.  We want to believe in Karma and in the revenge of a just God.  This helps us to get through the suffering of the trauma of a hardship caused by another.  It helps us to make sense of being victimized or of our loved ones being victimized.

I will never forget my girlfriend telling me that she needed to believe in karma, it was the only way she could live with the knowledge that her husband had beat her every day for ten years before she could get away from him.  She said that if karma did not exist that it would hurt her terribly to know that nothing would happen to the man who had inflicted such suffering on herself.

No, I thought, though I did not say, he died and he got away with it.  No one hit him back, he never went to jail, he never suffered the horrifying fear of knowing that another beating was coming at any moment.  He got away with beating his wife every day for ten years.

So, if you know that your perpetrator, that your bully, will get away with whatever that person is doing to you, would you be more likely to want to pursue justice yourself?  Would you be more willing to make sure that your perpetrator faced a judge and some justice?  Would you be less likely to hope that karma resolves your need for revenge?  Would you be less likely to wait for heaven or hell to get your justice?  I think so.

We cannot wait for “outside” to bring justice.  We must take justice into our own hands.  We must make sure that some future promise is not what we are hoping for.  We must make justice now.

This is never to say that vengeful violence is the option to pursue.  This is to say that we must speak up, we must pursue justice ourselves and not leave it to others, nor leave it to the universe.  We must seek it by telling others of the crime, by ensuring that potential victims are aware of the perpetrator’s history.  We must, ourselves, block further efforts of the perpetrator to commit more crimes.  This includes the idea that we must protect our own self from others.  We must never allow ourselves to be beaten and stolen from. Report the criminal behavior.  Even if no one believes you, the perpetrator is sure to continue the behavior and someone will eventually believe you.  Your story will help keep others from being hurt.

Remember the saying “My reward may be in Heaven, but rent is due here on Earth”.  Use this wisdom as your guide, don’t be a victim of anyone.

 

31Mar

When You Are In It

From the outside our behavior can be identified according to the perception of the person who is observing.  When we are clear headed, we will use social cues to modify and adjust our behavior to keep our behavior acceptable.  We do this the most in public places.  At home, we are less likely to make these adjustments.  Additionally, when we are in power, we are less likely to make these adjustments.

In relationships that we need, we will not only adjust our behavior, but we may even adjust beliefs to accommodate the power of the other and the power of the relationship.

This can be beneficial, therapeutic, indeed, growing the relationship; or disastrous, making the relationship a doomed relationship.

When we are in the relationship, we can only perceive from that personal level.  This is why, we say, that it is difficult to be objective.  It is difficult to be objective, but I would say that it is difficult to be objective because of our beliefs inside of the relationship.  Look at how parents cling to beliefs that their children are nothing but good and pure?  They will not see the lying and stealing of their own drug addicted child until they can let go of their own perception of the loving seven year old who brought love notes homes from school, or their own idea of what a good parent they are.

Our discomfort about our disbelief about our new reality is what causes us pain.  Those that can accept the new reality have a better chance of making a plan and applying it to the new reality and thus creating hope.

There is another component to being “In It” that makes us perceive our relationships in different ways than others do and that is that we may be aware of information that others are not.  This information can make others think differently (perhaps be less judgmental), but we cannot share this information at all and so we must suffer another’s condemnation of our actions even though there are undeserved.

Is it any wonder that honesty is the best way to keep relationships positive?  An honest exchange and discourse, with allowances for others beliefs, can go a long way to understanding.  And truly, when we are in it, we may not see what others see, but aren’t others judgment also clouded by their own belief system?

To say the least, it is complicated, which is why communication is the key to making relationships successful.

09Mar

Responsibility for Others: Management 101

I was reading a murder mystery last night (what else is new?).  In closing, the Captain of the detectives was lamenting about how he would explain to his bosses about one of his subordinates.  The subordinate was guilty of helping the serial killer with a murder and with getting away with murder.  This Captain was concerned that he could not explain his subordinate’s activities and could not explain how he missed this monumental change in his subordinate.

In other words, this captain was being held accountable for his staff’s activities.  Not only was he being held responsible for those activities, but he was answerable to not being aware of staff changes in demeanor.  This murder mystery is set in England (of course!).  It could not have been set in America, and here is why…

I have sat in dozens of management meetings and listened to dozens of managers talk about their results.  What is consistent across all of those meetings and all of those managers is this idea that “I am not responsible for my staff’s activities.” Or another concept “I am not aware of what my staff did or is doing, look, they messed it up…”.

Upper management, in every single place that I have ever worked, is not at all aware of what their own managers do.  I’m not sure that I understand the philosophy that allows this kind of behavior.  They supervise people that they do not understand and know and can go for months and even years not knowing what kind of behavior is perpetrated onto the line staff.   Sometimes it is because of secrets, sometimes it is blatant,  transparency is not a concept that lives well in America.  Americans keep secrets, lots and lots of them.

As a manager, and a supervisor, it is your responsibility to KNOW what your staff is doing.  Are managers fooled, tricked and manipulated?  Yes, yes of course.  Yet, that is the job, to follow up, to find out, to make it work appropriately.  It is your job as a manager to dig out the secrets, to become aware of the secrets, to bring light to the secrets.

Honestly, that’s why when the pervert/perpetrator Olympics coach was being sued, the school and the organizations that he works for are sued also.  Whether Americans want to understand the concept or not, if you manage someone, you are responsible for that someone.  If you are in charge of an institution, that institution is your responsibility.

We have a culture of excuses and we work hard to make those excuses believable.  There are a few diamonds out there, who stand up and take responsibility, good, bad or indifferent, they will own the responsibility.  More often than not, excuses win the day.  Excuses become the work product, because the work product is difficult to accomplish or difficult to measure.  Either way, Americans have a preference for a story rather than the results, excepting, of course, for the Americans who are actually paying for the results.

Which one are you?  Are you responsible for your staff when the performance is fantastic, and not, when not?  Or, do you take responsibility for your staff, your institution, the things you get paid for, as they are?

The difference between mediocrity, which is common, and the uncommon, which is excellence, is this concept of responsibility for others.  By taking care of people, you unwittingly take care of yourself.

07Mar

Avoidance

I’ve often denigrated avoidance as if it is a bad thing.  I thought that people who avoided truth, or reality were sissys or crybabies, who don’t deserve truth.

And now I want to avoid.  I don’t want to know if you have relapsed on cocaine.  I don’t want to know that you are back to shooting heroin.  I don’t want to know that you are “off the wagon” and “drinking like a fish”.

It hurts.

I am past the point of believing that I can make you change.  I am past the point of believing that “things” will be better.

“Don’t tell because it hurts”  No Doubt, Tragic Kingdom, 1995

Does the sun come back?

Does the sun come back?

02Mar

Making Things Work; Making Life Work

I know so many people and can think of so many incidents where people do whatever they can to STOP the process.  When I say process, I mean movement forward towards a good or towards a completion of a goal.

It doesn’t matter what the process is, it can be good, bad or indifferent, it just doesn’t matter.  These people are interested in just stopping the process.  They have a reason, an elaborate justification to keep you or your cause from moving forward.  Perhaps they do not want to see you succeed.  Perhaps their life has stopped and they do not know how to navigate a forward motion, be it their own or someone else’s.  They have lived in stagnation for so long they can not understand forward motion.

You will have met these individuals; they often work in government jobs as bureaucrats.  It is uncanny how they can smell your need and then trounce it into the ground, killing it for all time.

Unbeknownst to most people is an understanding of human behavior.  We are creatures of habit.  We rarely do anything today that we have not done yesterday.  This is important to note, because when we stop the workability of other’s lives, we also stop the workability of our own lives.  Destroying another person’s effort often comes with a price tag of destroying one’s own effort.  This is a factor not known to most.

Why do we stop forward motion?  Why do we question and halt the effort of others?  Why can we not facilitate the lives of others in the same way that we would wish others would facilitate our own?  Why do some people take pleasure in halting and crippling the efforts and success of others?  Further, who has the time to focus on another, in order to destroy their efforts?

More than likely, it a minor thing that piles up into a life.  It’s that nugget of resentment that you harbor for that person that makes you want to clog up the workability of the process.  It is a remembered upset or a frustrating exchange and now you want that person to suffer for your memory.  Or, perhaps, you are just jealous, you wish you were that successful and you cannot stand seeing someone else being successful.  Clogging the workability of the process stops all of us from being successful and it is very sad that everyone does not understand this fact.

24Feb

Don’t Give In, Don’t Give Up

There is a substantial difference between the life you live when you give up and the life you live when you do not give up.  I’m not speaking here about stubbornness or a blinders-on determination to get your way.  No, I am speaking of this idea of continuing to work on your goal until it can be resolved.  Notice the use of the word ‘resolve’, sometimes, we make goals that simply don’t work for us and we will have to walk away from them.

Sometimes I will be trying hard to talk with a “customer service” representative to resolve an issue, request a credit or ask for a reduction in my bills.  Each and every time that I have this goal, I am put on hold for interminable amounts of time, the call gets accidentally disconnected and I have to start over, sometimes a half dozen times.  I am greatly tempted to just give up.  I am greatly tempted to get very angry and just live with the cost of the mistakes of others.  This is not a good life strategy.  

Several years ago, I lost a job and had to take work that was an hours drive away and paid substantially less.  I worked very hard at improving myself.  I dedicated myself to learning this job.  In the mean time, I worked very hard at finding a new job.  I was on Linked-In, I had a great resume’, I applied for jobs every week.  I went to several interviews and was turned down.  One morning in July, on my drive in to work, my resolve broke and I cried and cried.  I was endlessly tired from the long days.  I didn’t fit into my work world and I was deeply unhappy at work.  It didn’t help that every penny of what I made was just getting the bills paid.

Suddenly a song came on the radio: ‘Hold Onto Your Dreams’.  That song, at that moment, was all I needed.  I held on and soon I was transferred close to home with an incredible raise.  That struggle didn’t end there, it took me three more years to land where I needed to be, but every time I got discouraged I remembered that moment in the car and that song.

I think that my life would be incredibly different if I couldn’t hang on and keep trying even when things seem very bad.  That extra effort is what brings me to the win almost every time. 

The second benefit is that it really helps to keep me from faulty thinking.  Or, at least it helps to keep my faulty thinking from controlling my decisions.

I was single for a very long time.  There were times when I thought that I must be flawed and that’s why I could not find an enduring relationship.  In this area of my life I knew that I couldn’t give up.  I did everything that I could to understand myself so that I could be a good partner.  Eventually it worked.  Eventually I found my life partner and it only happened because I was willing to keep on taking chances and to keep on trying.

Imagine me getting discouraged and giving up, single, broke and downhearted.  It doesn’t seem possible now.

Mother's Day Johanna Sr & Jaxsun 2010

Mother’s Day Johanna Sr & Jaxsun 2010

Cadence Birthday - 2010

Cadence Birthday – 2010

Rhea & Jax June 28 2010

David & Jaxsun

David & Jaxsun

Amazing StuffOur First Kiss as Husband and WifeAs We Begin the Ceremony

20Feb

He Doesn’t Like Her

He doesn’t like her.  He doesn’t want to make waves because she is a r.e.l.a.t.i.v.e.

Covertly, he makes sure that she knows that she is not valued by him.  He does not look at her.  When he speaks to her it is insincere, delivered in a monotone.  When she speaks, he speaks over her.  He loves to be part of the delivery of “no” to her.  He waits for the chance to pounce on it.  He waits for a chance to show the world how wrong she is.  He justifies himself in any way possible.

Secretly, everyone agrees.  The behavior stands.  The behavior continues. Even she allows the behavior.  After all, he is a r.e.l.a.t.i.v.e.  But oddly, when she walks away from him, she feels diminished.

14Feb

Justice is a Human Construct

I was raised a Christian and taught to believe in the concept of justice.  I am the naive type anyway.  I actually always believed that humans’ default was a good one and only rare and awful circumstances created meanness and evil.

Not any of that is true.  First I don’t believe that justice exists in the universe without the intervention of humans.  Not even Karma is a reality.  In fact, it is all a sophisticated construct for revenge.  We want people and organizations who have harmed us to pay for that harm and often, we want that harm to either equal or exceed our own pain.  This is the way of humans.  Even our language supports the concept of revenge as justice: “he must burn in hell for what he has done to my family.”  This is language we recognize and condone.

As to the idea of human goodness as a default of thinking and behavior, nothing could be further from the truth.  Humans are not innately good as an overwhelming majority, indeed I think we would be lucky to claim that half of humans see good as a virtue.  The other half of humans are hard wired for selfishness, cruelty and trickery.  They have no interest in other human beings unless those humans can provide for them or profit them in some way.

At the moment that the crime is occurring, is the only time that we can attain justice, for all of the time after that, the only real thing available to us is restitution.  If we cannot stop the criminal at the point of robbery or stop the rapist from consummating the rape, then the damage is done and there will never be “justice.”  The best that we could ever hope for is to make the criminal give back restitution to the victim.  To hope that the perpetrator suffers to match your own suffering is fruitless, as all people suffer and mostly from their own awareness not from someone else’s awareness.

Justice is not something that exists out there in the universe.  Justice exists because humans make it so.