Archives for October 2010


Transformation Requires Moments of Self Doubt

As every mistake I have made in the last 10 years marches through my brain, like a cadre of the finest soldiers shooting down everything that I have done right, I realize that I must be tired.  I would never think like this without some type of driving physical motivation.  And while it sounds trite, or even childish, a good sleep can cure everything.

The part of this brain tornado that is driven by thinking and emotions is the knowledge that I must change from what I was into something / someone new.  This is a very difficult task at its best and a horrific task at its worst.  Fortunately for me, I own the difficult and I am past the horrific.  What is difficult about it is that who I was, was very cool.  I fit my belief systems about what is good and right.  I fit into my idea of stylish and witty, smart and even pretty.  Changing feels like doing something wrong – or else – was I already wrong?

If everything was right, how can a transformation be right?  The truth is that there are a lot of different ways to be and do right.  Many of them are wildly different from each other.  The issue is my own: I would sometimes say to myself “I don’t want to be anything like her or even him.”  So my own justification came from making someone else wrong, an ugly practice, but real all the same.  Certainly there are behaviors that are not to be copied or emulated, and it’s okay to be clear about all that.  My brain sometimes took it a step further and justified my actions by casting aspersions on other’s actions.  Sometimes I would create the other/me dichotomy.  In stepping forward, I must re-examine all of that, I must let that go.

I’m guessing that the turmoil, that the tornado is caused by the self doubt that must precede life changes.  Who I am no longer fits my life.  Who I am and all of the behaviors that are comfortably me are not needed here.  My entire universe tells me to move on.  It is I who lingers on the precipice doubting my next step, it is I who wishes that change would not be change.  It is I who must take that next step knowing that what was, was beautiful, and what is, can take my breath away.


Sarcastic and Mean

I know it doesn’t seem like much, because the world is so frustrating; what’s wrong with being frustrated and then saying sarcastic things?  Aside from the fact that we all know better than to say things when we are angry, I’m talking about the more insidious day to day conversation that is so average, so every day, that most people don’t even look at it any more.  I’m talking about the casual comments, when we make a mistake and someone says “You’re stupid” or “You’re a dumbass.”  Comments like these creep into the conversation because they occur during frustrating moments and frustrating moments happen when we are busy, pressured and in a hurry.  That’s exactly when these kinds of comments will have to go un-addressed, because the moment when they occur is already too full!

Here is the deal: we always have a different goal in mind than the goal that is accomplished with the sarcastic and mean comment.  A sarcastic and mean comment accomplishes: hurt feelings, more anger, and a diminished sense of relationship.  Whenever I ask someone what they are trying to achieve they hardly ever tell me “I’m trying to diminish my relationship.”  Every once in a while a very immature person will say “I want her to feel bad, she made me mad!”   Every once in a while; someone will admit that they are being vindictive.

Ah yes, the time honored value of vindictiveness – that urge to make someone hurt as much as they have hurt you.   If you are interested in destroying the other person, because there is no hope of continuing the relationship, by all means continue with behavior that is diminishing, because for sure, you are not only destroying the relationship, but the person’s feelings for you.  Here is where vindictiveness is a bit of a paradox: if you are truly done with the relationship, then why continue to put effort and energy into it?  Any kind of energy you put into it is draining and negative energy can be particularly draining.  Vindictiveness is a kind of “mental masturbation” it creates nothing, merely repeats a final message.  It surely doesn’t accomplish a continuation of the relationship.

Sooo, back to sarcastic and mean: what do you want to create in your relationships?  Hurt feelings, angry responses, injured pride?  What do you really want?  If you are hurt, frustrated and angry, what’s wrong with simply stating it?  “I am so pissed off right now!!!”  “I am hurt by what you just said!!!”  “I am frustrated with this conversation!!!”

I am sure that if you are willing to express what is really happening with your feelings, then your chance of saying “I love you” and “You make me happy” will increase exponentially.  But, that’s only if your goal is to HAVE and KEEP the relationship.


Rescue Me:)

Aw Kindrick

Aw Kindrick

This little baby can’t sit up!  Look at what his Momma makes him do!  Aw Kindrick, it’s okay, Daddy will be home soon.


What Madness is This?

Why is it easier to speak about everything that is difficult?  Why is it that when joy moves me I do not wish to pick up paper and pen (laptop)?

While my writing has its own life – a life that “comes upon me”, there is a difference between that “which must be written” and that “which does not need to be written”.  Grief and pain hold some shadow of doubt, a life tension that casts a shadow on all thoughts.  Happiness holds confidence and joy and there are no shadows lingering about.  I think it is that life tension that must be written so that each piece of doubt, each shadow of anguish can be examined and perhaps – purged.  It is the act of writing that makes the nonsensical make sense; it is the act of writing that sheds light on anguish.

Joy needs no sense; joy needs no explanation, it is satisfactory the way that it is.  So is it true that artists need to be tortured souls?  Well versed in heartbreak and woe?  Must a good story include what is hurtful, bad and evil before shedding light on what is joyful, good and right?

Is there any thing or any relationship that is all about joy?  Ah, but no.  It does not exist, there is no such thing as a uni-faceted relationship.  There are times in a relationship that are joyful, new and beginning relationships share this characteristic of happiness.  Newborns are born into a celebratory atmosphere, weddings are celebratory events, as many newly formed relationships begin with a “honeymoon”.

As surely as we lay our head on our lover’s shoulder sighing deeply in satisfaction, we will also be hurt and angry in turns and at times.  Some people choose to pursue only new relationships in the hopes that they will never have to experience the hurt and anger of a long term relationship.  Some people are in fear of long term relationships and would rather not commit love in any long or lasting manner.   Then of course, there is the dilemma of love: the more intensely you love, the more your passion and your joy for another is, the more you can be hurt by your relationship with your loved one.  It is the very intensity of the love that dictates the depth of despair you may feel.  Then there is the other relationship dilemma and that is the choice to not love another, which is a real tragedy, though a silent and quiet one.

I have given a lot of thought to this idea; the idea that writing out my grief and despair is so much easier than writing out my love.  When I am feeling love, I am usually engaged in love and thus have no time to put the thoughts to paper. When I am feeling despair, I am likely to be alone and thus can befriend my laptop and spend long hours in thought.   But, I am thinking that it might be important to express my love and my happiness.  It may be important to find a way to write about what is right about my life.  It may be important to express the joy and the love that occurs daily in my life.

To be engaged in love is a singular experience and can happen no matter what type of relationship it is.  Being engaged in love is creating a cocoon with another.  Inside of the cocoon emotions shoot like sparks and ricochet around only to be caught by the other who is in the cocoon with you, thoughts will randomly attach to your loved one as well.  Eye contact is utterly intense and can move your heart in all different ways.  Small movements can be profoundly intimate and warm touches can be magical.  Hearing your loved one can change the response of your whole body and feeling the presence of your lover can make your body go through changes.  Loving is a joyful experience that brings happiness to those who give it and to those who receive it.  Finally, love compels sharing.  Feeling love in my heart always pushes me to reach out, either to say “I love you” or to touch, hug, or kiss, but love is always compelling, it compels all of us to give.

So what madness is this that writing about love is awkward, while writing about hurt and grief is like putting on comfortable pajamas?  That, my friend, must change.  Because – while I have had my share of broken hearts, it certainly is not the definition of my life and therefore cannot be the definition of my writing.


Health Care and Water

I’m pretty adamant about the need for universal health care in America.  It’s a self-evident fact that we can afford it and should give it equitably to all Americans.  Currently, the wealthy receive it and the poor do not, a fact we should be ashamed of.  There is nothing worse than sitting with a young person who has cancer and listening to how he cannot get treatment and keeps getting shuffled around by “healthcare providers” who will provide nothing without an insurance card or a gold Mastercard.  That moment crystallizes the face of a system that is deeply flawed and deeply in need of repair.

Oh, but wait, care about humans and the world – farther and broader than American borders.  I want to say that health care is a right, but in Africa, tens of thousands of humans cannot get clean water.  “Safe and clean drinking water and sanitation is a human right essential to the full enjoyment of life and all other human rights, the General Assembly declared today, voicing deep concern that almost 900 million people worldwide do not have access to clean water.”  28 July 2010 –  “Studies also indicate about 1.5 million children under the age of five die each year and 443 million school days are lost because of water- and sanitation-related diseases.”  (United Nations General Assembly 2010)

How luxurious is health care in comparison to the need to get clean water?  Water is a matter of daily survival, while health care is a matter of exceptional survival, we need health care as an exception – water we must have no matter what.

Here is what is the same about both issues:  We have enough of both, health care and water.  What we do not have is an equitable means to distribute them.  What is lacking is the saddest fact of all, the way to equitably distribute water and health care- that will save MILLIONS of lives each year is to redistribute wealth, because with wealth, anyone can buy health care and an African village can buy anything, including clean, fresh water.

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Everyone knows what is bad about smoking, but no one is talking about what is good about smoking.  I’ve got a few things to say about that.  Now that I’ve quit, I have to notice what I liked about it and what purpose it served for me. For one, my parents smoked, so I don’t have that negative response to the smell of cigarettes.  When I smell smoke in my house, it reminds me of my mother, which is a nourishing, nurturing feeling.  So – with the smell of cigarette smoke comes this “at home” feeling.   The other piece is that lighting up a cigarette always put a period to whatever I was doing, in other words the cigarette was my signal to the universe that the activity (whatever it was) was done, over, finished. So, it’s not just the after meal time cigarette, but the after work, the after the chore, the after the you-know-what and on and on.  A cigarette was the exclamation point of finito!  I am done!  The cigarette was the space between now and then…  Associated with the cigarette is the feeling of accomplishment, it is the finish point and is therefore part of the finish line.

There was one more point of the cigarette – and I really didn’t discover this until the last decade: it provides space between myself and others.  I could use the cigarette to get another person to move away from me, to get them to give me room and / or, just to, flat out, get away from them.  A cigarette can be a tool of rejection.

The problem with all of that is that I can’t control the cigarette, it would control me.  So even when I was not done with a project, I would have to stop in the middle of it and go have a cigarette just to get rid of the nicotine craving.  This is a very unpleasant feeling and can be an unwelcome interruption to any activity (particularly the you-know-what activity).  Even when I don’t want to reject someone, the cigarette would reject them – because after all – what non-smoker wants to be in the middle of all of that mess?

So here I am, a self professed non-smoker, struggling with all of the craving and lingering detoxification of nicotine. Each day when I wake up, my first thought is: “Will I fight it today?  Will it work without a fight?”  Either way, the outcome is same – same.  I will not smoke a cigarette.