Saturday morning: While I'm waxing poetic about my lovely, peaceful and small life, I haven't forgotten the important things. If you get a chance, give this a listen. It's a new video for one of my favorite songs ~ done very well!
Today, I spent a lot of time in the garden. The next few days will bring an opportunity to do even more trimming and planting. The crepe myrtle is blooming early this year and it's really beautiful! The tree in the back yard will do its job this summer by shading the window into the sun room. That is one of the greatest weaknesses in this house. It gets really hot in the back, so we planted two crepe myrtle trees a few years ago.
The roses in the front are also starting to climb along the side of the house. Yes, that is a particular breed of rose.
This is how many of my weekends pass, quietly, involved with nature and nurturing these little plant beings that bring V, D, M and me so much pleasure. It's amazing sometimes how seeing a blooming rose can bring everything into perspective.
And then, of course, there are the ever present books. At times, I wish V and D liked to read. It would be nice to share books with them and compare notes after reading. But they prefer movies and TV.
This is my current stack of books, certain to keep me busy for the next few weeks. There never seems to be enough time or energy to read all the books I'd like to read.
So, yes, my life is a small one. It isn't filled with activity and social interaction. My phone doesn't ring every ten minutes with someone requesting the pleasure of my company. I can't regale anyone with stories of my oh, so, busy and peopled life.
But I can certainly share the pleasure of a blooming rose .. or a good book. I can share how it feels to step out in the morning and see a back yard that is filled with some of the most beautiful greenery I've ever been able to create in one place. I can tell you what it feels like to do yoga on the patch of lawn that is surrounded by morning glories.
And I can tell you how I never, ever, believed I would experience that kind of peace or know that kind of contentment when I believed I had to be "more than" I am.
Thanks so much to those of you who came around to let me know that while my life is small, filled with these things so often perceived as insignificant, it is okay to talk about it.. and okay to live it without the shame. It is what I have to offer ~ and I offer it with an open heart and palms together... to all of you.
Friday, June 29, 2007
Saturday morning: While I'm waxing poetic about my lovely, peaceful and small life, I haven't forgotten the important things. If you get a chance, give this a listen. It's a new video for one of my favorite songs ~ done very well!
There are times when I really feel the difference between me and most of the world.
And sometimes it's really painful.
I got to thinking about this site earlier today.. and this afternoon. There are days when it's harder and days when it seems to be okay.
The differences that I am aware of are hard to define in precise terms but they do affect how I write here and what I have to say. Some people are observers in this world, while others are full participants. I am an observer.
Social smoothness is something I will never have. I am a single, older woman. I do not come from, nor live in a nuclear family setting. There are no family weddings to write about.. or birthdays.. or anything of that nature. I don't have cute and funny family stories to share from the past. In that regard, I can't create commonality where there isn't any.
All of these things at times feel alienating.
Do I feel "less than"? Sometimes. Yeah. I do. And sometimes this site really amplifies that. All I can offer is observations and ideas, thoughts about the things I see around me.
There are times when it doesn't feel like enough.. and there are times when that old shame creeps back in. I should be someone different than I am. I should be married. I should be more active socially. I should be... I should be.... everything that I am not.
I'm curious about how others see this, too. Do you feel like blog writing brings out so many of your inadequacies (we all have them)? Does it make you feel more connected or less? Do you vacillate? (I do. Some days are awesome and other days I feel like I'm on the outside, nose against the window pane.)
While this is very hard sometimes, keeping this site up, I also know I need to do it for my own growth. I need to overcome these insecurities. There are also good things about me that I know. I am reasonably intelligent. I'm kind and compassionate... and I am a social moron. (I say that in the most loving manner, of course, because being a social moron isn't always a bad thing.)
There are some really awesome human beings in this small blogging community that surrounds me. Some are people who are twenty years younger than me and I learn from them daily. They have more wisdom than I will ever have. Some of them.. well.. I wish they were my younger sisters. There are some who challenge me to climb out of the abyss and begin to see things differently.
And I'm really grateful for all of that. Truly. I am.
And there are times when I feel like I can't possibly live up to this, that I am not "good enough" for some of you who surround me, whom I learn from and admire on a regular basis. The old ghost rattles its chains in the closet and seriously tempts me to shut down and go away.
Just curious what others experience in this setting, a setting which by its very nature is probably far more honest than most social settings.
I know some of you are going away for the weekend. May you travel safe.. and come back refreshed.
Thursday, June 28, 2007
I have decided to repost this but have removed the part that led me to feel too exposed. And, thanks to those who wrote me to ask about it. From now on, no posts from this site until late afternoon. Your points were taken.
A long time ago, I had a tendency to romanticize the nomad life, the hobo life. When I was a kid, I used to see groups of guys down by the river, cooking over their open fire. It looked like camping out.
In the 60s and 70s, many people simply opted out of the middle class life. They wanted freedom and adventure.
When I read "The Drifters" by James Michener as a teenager, it brought about more fantasies of nomadism and free-spiritedness... but Michener took me to Europe. (The fact that I was reading it by the pool at my parents' house in an upscale neighborhood in Los Angeles isn't lost on me. Please don't judge me too harshly. I wasn't the sharpest tool in the shed.)
That same year, I read "Babbit", a novel about a salesman whose spirit was smothered by corporate and middle class life. The last line in the book is "I never did a single thing I wanted to do."
It sent a shiver of fear down my spine.
I will never be like that, I thought. I'm going to live free and experience so many things! I'll buy a van and travel the country, no ties.
I knew a woman when I lived in Santa Cruz who was voluntarily homeless. She needed all of her money for college. She worked full time, went to school and lived in her van. At the time, I thought that was a really cool idea. She was brave and bohemian, somehow breaking the mold, willing to do whatever she had to do to get her education. She was fearless.
In the late 60s, I traveled to San Francisco during the Summer of Love and saw the hippies hanging out, smoking dope, selling things on the street ~ living in freedom. I thought yeah.. that's how life is supposed to be.
Things have changed since those many years ago. Or maybe I've just grown up.
I now see the dark underside of it. I've been duly educated through a variety of sources and I no longer have any romanticized notions of "voluntary homelessness".
Geez, I was such an idiot!
Homelessness is cruel. Homelessness is soul-sucking. Homelessness is something that shouldn't be allowed in any civilized society.
But the real question is the solution. I have my own ideas on this and they include the "r"-word, one that dare not be spoken outloud. Not in this day and age. Simple kindness isn't going to solve the problem.
And I recognize that we all face the possibility. What would most of us do?
Have you ever thought about that? What would you do if you became homeless?
I admit this much. I am a new soul and not a very strong person. I would not survive homelessness. I know this. If that happened, my life would be over.
What would you do? Really. Think about it.
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
This post is based on two others, both of which I've read in the past few days....
Lucia asks how much energy it is draining from her to work full time. KC brings up the issue of maternity leave.
The demands of working have simply taken too much from all of us. I personally burned out at 52 and had to get out.
But I remember what it was like to hold down a full-time job. I had no energy. Each day was consumed with commuting, working, commuting, paying bills, having a meal, going to bed. Repeat and rinse. Day after day. Frankly, I couldn't see much purpose in it because all it offered was maintenance. It's not like I was creating anything. I was just surviving.
The workplace culture has become increasingly toxic since the late 70s. It's no longer enough to do a job for eight hours a day. They want to influence our values, our time off and our choices. In some cases, workplace managers even try to influence our political decisions. I remember many years ago, working at Hewlett-Packard, and a memo went out to all employees, "suggesting" a particularly local candidate to support.
My point is that workplace demands have become too much for nearly everyone, except perhaps the most devoted workaholic. And I think we'll all admit that "workaholism" is just as unhealthy as any of the other "-aholisms".
In Europe, to the best of my knowledge, work/life issues are balanced. Vacations are more frequent and longer. Family life is honored. I'm sure there are many more countries that have this kind of balance but I can't cite them without doing a lot more research than I am interested in doing right now. Scandinavia? Central Asia? I'm not certain about those places.
My real question is this: How long are working people going to tolerate this? Isn't it time to speak up and start demanding a bit more consideration of our time and other priorities?
What will happen as the baby boomers begin retiring and there is a smaller work force? It may end up being the best thing that can happen. Employers will have to treat employees better and offer more benefits. As far as I know, there are some jobs that can not be outsourced to India.
I'd be curious to hear from others on this. Truly, I am only beginning to think it through. Toss some wisdom my way.
Julie asks "Have you kept a secret or have you lied, directly or by omission, about something big? How did you make your decision---did it bring about justice? How did forgiveness fit in (or not)? Would you do it the same next time?"
Interesting question, of course. I'm not even certain how to answer it because the first thing that came to me is that I can't remember a time before five years ago or so that I wasn't living a lie.
Did I do it on purpose, for manipulation or deception? No. It was survival.
For many years, I held each thought, each belief, each experience to myself. Was that lying about something big? Absolutely. I was lying by omission about who I am... because I didn't have a me to share at that time.
The first 50 years of my life were lived in shame. How could I be such a misfit? How could I be so unworthy? My daily experience reinforced that belief. It took everything I had to believe I had a right to breathe.
Shame breeds secrecy. It wasn't so much a question of lying to protect who I am. The lying was to protect who I was not. I used imitation a lot. Since my own core was empty, I would imitate the people around me, even when I didn't like what I was doing. I knew nothing else.
Years of not knowing who we are, let alone how to live authentically, is something that becomes like the proverbial ball of yarn. The threads wind around and around until the core is barely accessible. I lived a life with alligator-infested moats around my true self, with a big drawbridge that flew shut at the slightest sign that the sandbags might get washed away. Because if they got washed away, the whole castle would crumble. To be exposed brought me to unspeakable terror.
If we're lucky, something happens that unravels it all, sometimes brutally, sometimes gently, but it is what finally lets us out of the prison of lying.
Still, the fact remains that I did harm to others. Each person, including my ex-husband, who got involved with me did not have access to the real me. They had access to the Potemkin image I'd created.
Eventually the Potemkin image was revealed. I groped around in the dark for a very long time to uncover what would become the me I am today.
Most of that occurred, of course, in Thailand. While I write and wax poetic about the place, it is also the place where a lot of my carefully constructed walls were broken down. I shed more tears than I like to admit while I was there but finally finding a place where the buried me felt safe to stop lurking led to a lot of healing.
The lying was the first to go. For me, finding a place to belong saved my soul. There was strength in the feeling that these are my people and this is my place in the world. This is where I am safe to be all that I am. What was born there in that place is what I brought back. The me that people seem to like and respond to in such a positive way was born in Khon Kaen. In that regard, my history has been rewritten.
So.. forgiveness. There's plenty of it to be had and to be given. Hurt is like anything else. It spreads like a virus and ultimately affects everyone it touches. Did my lying hurt people? I'm certain of it. Have they forgiven me? I doubt they even know.
This inevitably leads to the former questions of forgiving fate. In the final analysis, I suspect my life has gone just as it was intended to go, even the hard stuff. I don't feel the need to forgive it. My job is to accept it and grow from it.
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
Thanks to dial-up, I'm back sooner than I'd expected. This is one of those cases where friends can really help each other. (I am on a friend's dial-up account.... long enough to get this posted.)
I was blog-surfing before Comcast put a halt to that last night. This post really got me thinking.
It's not too often any of us sit down and define our perceptions of God. The times I've tried this before, it got so lost in the if/then/else analytical mire that it never came out quite right.
This is a bit like that, too ... but a few thoughts as I wrote them down last night.
I believe God is the collective consciousness, both physical and metaphysical. I don't believe God is a separate entity.
Our universe is very organized. Nothing is wasted. Since everything in nature recycles, it only makes sense that souls would recycle as well. I believe we live multiple lives. I don't believe in trans-species reincarnation.
The nature of the life we live each time is based on our energetic footprints from the life before. In other words, I don't believe a murderer will necessarily be murdered in his or her next life. Karma is not that direct. It is really a manifestation of our energetic footprint. The life will be consistent with that energy. If we're angry, we will experience anger directed toward us. If we are mean-spirited and jealous, we will experience that. The circumstances are variable. I don't believe earthly circumstances (such as socioeconomic status) determines that we lived superior lives before. I don't believe it is a punishment/reward system. It depends on the understandings and lessons we must learn to quit cycling.
At some point in our lives, we choose a set of myths that communicate universal truths to us. At the root, most myths are similar. Joseph Campbell does a good job of showing the similarities. My Thai spirituality is really not so different than Middle Eastern spirituality when it comes to the ethics and morals, even while there may be plenty of legalistic or theological differences.
I don't believe physical things can protect us. Holy water, medallions, amulets, pictures, pieces of cloth and so on are not necessary to be protected by Source. Communication with Source and alignment with Source does not cost anything. We don't have to join clubs or pay tithing to a church. Universal Truth is and should be free.
I believe souls can become disconnected from Source. That accounts for most paranormal activity, such as ghosts and poltergeists. That would explain the experience I had shortly after my father died when I woke in the middle of the night to hear moaning. Sometimes people don't realize they are dead.
I don't believe we will see familiar people in the afterlife, even though we may have to live multiple lives with the same souls in different manifestations.
I believe the spirit world has all types of beings, at all different levels of evolution, just like here.
Life goes on, regardless of us. I don't believe we can manipulate or orchestrate events in the spirit worlds. I believe we can focus our thinking, align with a particular energy ~ but I do not believe there is anything or anyone to "pray to". What I mean by that is that I don't believe there is a cosmic genie out there somewhere who grants our wishes. I believe praying or meditation or simply talking to ourselves will help us reconnect to Source.. the collective consciousness. When we think certain thoughts or take certain actions, we align with the energy force associated with that and it can manifest in results.
Nothing can negate the sense of loss we experience when someone dies or the sense of sadness we feel when something goes wrong. Emotion has nothing to do with spirituality.
This is just the beginning of this exercise, I'm sure.
It would be interesting to read what you think of these things, too. :)
Monday, June 25, 2007
This morning, I've been thinking about unconditional love. There are two news stories that triggered this off.
Bobby Cutts, a married police officer, killed his pregnant girlfriend. A high school friend, Myisha Ferrell, may have helped him dispose of the body ~ or at the minimum, helped him to cover up the crime.
In the later years of my generation, some group of academics came up with the idea that we should all love each other unconditionally. No matter what the behavior, we should stand by our friends and our families.
Personally, I've never bought into the concept of unconditional love. I believe behavior has a lot to do with my feelings about someone. Maybe I'm just missing something, but if you kill your girlfriend, you're on your own. I will not help you dispose of the body and I will not help you cover it up, even if I think you are the nicest person I've ever met. Even if you tell me it was an accident and you didn't mean to do it. You do it. You own it.
Paris Hilton's parents are planning a big party for her when she is released from jail today or tomorrow. Kathy Hilton still claims that Paris' jail term was "unfair".
While I think it's obvious that her parents are trying to make money off of her, I can't help but wonder how that girl was raised. Was she constantly told "you're special", "everything you do is okay", "we will stand by you, no matter what you do"? It seems a significant part of responsible parenting is to teach kids that there are limits to their behavior, that they are not "special", that we all have to meet certain standards of behavior to have harmony in our lives.
I don't understand the whole "unconditional love" thing. What's that all about? In your opinion, is there such a thing? What would you do if confronted with either one of these situations, opposite ends of the continuum, but under the same umbrella?
Sunday, June 24, 2007
This morning I was watching "CBS Sunday Morning" and they had a segment about selling coffee.
It caught my attention because part of the regentrification of my neighborhood here includes three additional Starbucks stores. Within blocks of each other.
Instead of choosing some unusual independent shops, like a book store or a new independent Thai restaurant (ahem), the city is opting for more cookie-cutter franchises.
I'm not a fan of Starbucks particularly. The coffee offered there isn't all that impressive and it's too expensive. The same basic quality is available at Target for one fourth of the price. While it may be an obsession for some, I can't imagine it in this very working class neighborhood.
That aside, the story I caught this morning shows scantily clad women selling coffee at a drive-through. It featured such customer-catchers as "wet t-shirt Wednesday" or "bikini Friday."
Gee, does that sound exploitative to anyone else but me?
I'm tired of women's bodies being used to sell products. I'm tired of our sexuality being used to pull money from the wallets of horny, lonely men. I'm tired of us being involuntary sex objects. I never thought of myself as any kind of radical feminist but this is really offensive!
Can anyone think of a single general product not intended for men that uses male bodies similarly? I wonder how long that would work.
Saturday, June 23, 2007
First of all, a short note: Over the past three days, I have lost the ability to ping Technorati to update content here. I've done all the pleading with Technorati that can be done and they simply will not fix the problem.
Basically this means that those of you who get updates through Technorati will no longer be getting them. If you see old content when you check Technorati, it is probably not valid. I don't let content get old here... so.... please don't depend on Technorati for accurate information.
I'm totally disgusted with their lack of responsiveness to this problem. The help forum is filled with others having the same problem and Technorati apparently has no interest in solving it. The endless waiting and lack of response has convinced me that pinging is no longer an option for me.
Following up a bit more on the previous thread (which is still active, by the way), I gave this some more thought last night.
I'm basically a "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" kind of person. I can't help but wonder what would shift and change if we were all to meet each other. The idea of meeting individually isn't quite so intimidating ~ but meeting in a group would be entirely overwhelming. At least for me.
Naturally, me being me, I wanted to think about why that's so. Why would one way be inherently non-threatening and the other nearly paralyzing?
I believe there is the potential for relationships, regardless of their nature but especially virtual ones, can change when group dynamics are introduced.
I just finished reading a book last night called "Please Stop Laughing At Me". It was a bit hard to get through it because it was a brutal examination of group dynamics, how things can happen when it goes south.
Maybe I'm just too overly protective or too cautious, but honestly speaking ~ I like things the way they are here. I like the honesty and the respectful discussions we have with each other. I like the different personalities who gather at this virtual roundtable. I like the ideas that flow like a breeze through this space. It's difficult to imagine that anonymity doesn't play some part in that.
I will never be crawling inside any of your private lives. I will not be knowing things you don't want me to know. There is no opportunity for the "Blink" (reference to the book) dynamic to take place.
I'm finding it hard to see how the quality of what we do here is diminished by the fact that I will not be meeting any of you in a group setting.
It's hard to predict what choices might be made if the opportunity presents itself to meet any of you privately, one-on-one. Chances are... I'd probably do it.
So... taking this from the strictly personal to a broader perspective, how do you think the group dynamic could affect the openness and honesty that most of us give and receive when communicating in each other's comment templates?
Friday, June 22, 2007
6/23/07 - There is a new post. Technorati will not be updating content here apparently. Please check another way.
This post is a spawn of one I read elsewhere, one that got me thinking about the nature of the connections we form. Each day we read about each other's lives, each other's thoughts and feelings, what we might be reading, where we've been.
The post I read speculated on how things would change if all of us met. It really did get me thinking.
Recently, I was corrected on a misconception I'd held for a few months ~ that being that the BlogHer conference was by invitation only. I'd believed that one had to be invited by someone else.
Just goes to show what happens when we don't check our facts. There were unintended consequences from that belief on my part and some of it was not very good. I resented the lack of invitation. Reading about it on other people's blogs made me feel like I used to feel when people would invite each other to events right in front of me, like I was a potted plant. But because I am so hypersensitive to rejection, I chose instead to frame it differently. I hadn't been invited because everyone who reads here knows that I am low-income and wouldn't be able to afford it.
Yeah. That had to be it. Right? "They" were just sparing me the embarrassment of having to decline. :) Sometimes we lie to ourselves. It's not uncommon.
So... given the corrected information, this led me to think:
Would I go if I could afford it?
No. I don't think so.
Here's why: I believe a certain integrity in what I do here would be compromised. In this space, I am brutally honest. People who read here know my better parts and where I still need to do a bit more work.
I admit when I go to my Awful Place and things get pretty dark. I'm a moody person. I can be so far in the depths that there's no way out and two hours later, I'm fine.
You know more about my history than some friends know, people I've known for several years here locally.
You also know when something is just perfect. .. and that's often rather simple. An unexpected kindness, an acknowledgment that is unexpected and, yes, sometimes even a validation or a compliment. Like everyone, I like to be liked. And even more, I like being understood.
You, in your anonymity, allow me to care. I care about the people who come here. And sometimes I think the anonymity is a part of that.
Here, in this space, I interact with other bloggers in the comment forum. I don't know what you look like, what your house looks like or what kind of job you have. I don't know how you define yourself in the social world. I know only what you want me to know.
I know what you think. I know what you feel. I know what matters to you and what doesn't by the content of the comments you leave. I get challenged and learn and grow from the perspectives you offer me.
You have your privacy. And I have mine. I won't be showing up at your door or calling you on the phone. (Well, unless you specifically ask me to do so and we both have free long distance!) So far, I have interacted with people in private email. Those emails have always been initiated by others because, honestly, I simply lack the confidence to approach people. I'm a wallflower in all regards. I've never spoken to another blogger on the phone. It's not that I'm adverse to the idea. It just hasn't happened. If it does, it does.
But I'm thinking that's probably as far as it would go.
Meeting in person, particularly in a group, would change the dynamic here so drastically that I'm not sure I'm willing to risk it. I like the honesty here in this space, both from me and from you.
What do you think? If money, time and transportation weren't an issue, would you want to go to the conference? (Any conference or convention ~ fill in the blank.) What do you think would change if we actually met?
Thursday, June 21, 2007
Note: 6/22/07 - Same trouble with Technorati. I can not update. Please drop by the site to see new content. Technorati technical support is not responsive.
I updated content at 8.30 am.
One of the comments on yesterday's post got me thinking about something.
Is not having children selfish?
It might be, if it is presupposed that those who choose to not have children are doing so only because they don't want to be bothered or distracted from full-fledged hedonism. In the general view, that is the only logical reason to not have children. The choice is made by people who are more concerned with their own comfort, their "stuff", want their own money and don't want to sacrifice anything.
That is just as valid a reason as any other to not have them.
And the question always remains for any culture; do women have an obligation to have children?
I chose to not have children for a variety of reasons. I chose for both personal and larger reasons. It was definitely a choice and not happenstance.
There comes a point in all of our lives when we have to look at ourselves very honestly, admitting both shortcomings and strengths, all the while understanding that those things are interchangeable depending on the circumstances. We make choices and decisions based on that knowledge.
My focus has always been more global than individual. I rarely see the trees for the forest. It would be literally impossible for me to raise a child in this culture, knowing that the ultimate objective is to train her to be a good little producer and consumer for corporate America. I could not in good conscience teach a child to be a me-first individualist whose goal would be to fit into the marketplace and conquer it. Regardless of ideals, when it comes to kids we have to deal with reality. Teaching them to be eccentric is not in their best interest because it guarantees they will have a harder life.
My understanding from child psychology classes was that children need to be taught be independent islands who need no one and the highest objective in life is to be able to walk out into the marketplace on their own without a supportive community to surround them. Lifelong dependence on family is viewed as pathology. Even community is commodified as we teach children to compete for friendships and community. I would have to teach them more self-sufficiency than is necessary. It's not how I believe and is not part of my moral system. Since I would be responsible for that child's moral upbringing, she or he would be at a disadvantage for this culture and this era.
When I was at child-bearing age, I did not have a chosen culture to pass along or to guide me as I do now. The possibility of relocating somewhere else to raise my children was never an option. At least I didn't see it at the time.
The final reason for my decision is that I've never been able to trust another person so thoroughly that I could have children with him and know he'd stick around to raise them with me. I was raised with a womanizer. I did not want the life of a single mother. It's too hard. Period.
So... are those selfish reasons?
Ultimately. Yes. Of course they're selfish.
If I was completely self-sacrificing, I would have had them anyway and raised them the way Piaget and the child-rearing authorities say they are to be raised. I would have trained good little independent consumers and called it good. I would have been praised by my family, friends and culture. I would have lived up to my destiny as a female.
I could have chosen to have children to make other people happy, regardless of the consequences to my own life. I could have had the appointed 2.5 of my generation and raised them. When all is said and done, I do step up to the plate when it counts. The children would have been raised.
And which decision would have been more selfish in the long run?
(I should make it clear that I am not challenging anyone's choice to have or not have children. I am only relating my own experience. It does seem that the best reason to have children always remains the same ~ no matter what ~ and that's because you want them.)
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
Note: 21 June 07 - 5.13 PM - Folks, I do have a new post up. Technorati will not update and I have been pinging nonstop for the past three hours. It still says my content is old. (I posted at 1.13 this afternoon PDT). If you are seeing this on a reader, please just click onto the site. There is nothing more I can do to fix the problem. I have no way to get new content to your readers. I've exhausted my resources.
Update 5.53 PM - I am unable to get help from Blogger support or Technorati. Essentially, I'm done. Stick a fork in it. There's nothing more I can do to get new content to readers.
I deleted and republished ~ and that didn't work, either. So.. in the vernacular.. I'm screwed.
Update: 7.15 PM ~ Technorati finally updated two minutes ago. I wonder what they were waiting for? The Second Coming? Geez. I certainly hope no one ever gets caught in that black hole! 6 hours and 15 minutes. That is how long it took.
I got to thinking about this today after reading a variety of blog posts, most of which included some passage about not being selfish.
Now I understand this to a large degree. I don't consider myself to be overly selfish, but there are some areas where I will admit to just that.
Here's some examples:
1) If I don't want to go somewhere, I won't go. If it's not a matter of life, death or someone else's feelings in a big way, I have no problem saying "no",
2) I only answer the phone if I feel like it. I always find it funny when people ask me on the other end, "are you too busy to talk?" No. If I was too busy or disinterested, I wouldn't answer.
3) I absolutely will not give up large blocks of time. I get too tired and drained and, again, have no problem saying "no". I always say "thank you" but it is occasionally prefaced with "no comma"
4) If I really don't want to do something, I won't do it. I'm very stubborn and not guilt-driven ~ so that never works on me and won't make me change my mind,
5) I don't have difficulty setting limits. I'm very clear about what I can offer and what I can not. If I say I'll do something, I'll do it but I'm slower than mud.... and I just tell the truth about it.
So... tell me one way that you are intractably ... selfish. Don't tell me why you shouldn't be or how you feel guilty. Just tell me something you're selfish about. No apology necessary. :)
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
Addendum: 20 June 07 ~ This morning has been a rough one here.. with me coming to the distinct knowledge that my spirit has been screaming at me, trying to get my attention through a variety of means. Those spirit swats included some misinterpretations, me jumping to conclusions about a perceived slight, a Cassandra call to someone I care about very much, and an assortment of things with different people that finally, a few minutes ago, knocked me to my knees. One of the conclusions I've reached.. and am certain about.. is that this is the last post I will make on this topic. It's too private and too personal. In many ways, simply too painful. On some level, I've recognized that this exceeds my blogging boundaries which is causing me to feel too exposed, too raw, hence the hypersensitivity. (The Cassandra call stands.. you know who you are. No correlation or connection to this comment.) But I'm done with this topic, this turning it over and publicly fondling it, trying to excise some value from it for others. In a very firm and solid way, I know that. This topic will not be raised on this site again. Yeah. Maybe that is what forgiveness really is.. that quiet knowledge that something needs to be put firmly behind us, knowledge that from here on, we move forward with as much integrity and honor as we can muster up.. even when that means the risks are higher than remaining stuck.
One more thing: I would appreciate very much if people coming by would say something. Somehow, the idea of writing these things and having them read without comment gives me the creeps. I'm not asking for a dissertation.. but just an acknowledgment would feel very good!
I know it would be easier to just delete this post and forget about it.. but I did make a commitment to not do that.
This post is about forgiving the past... and how we come to that.
It's a real challenge for me to not slip into the global. That's how I've always handled things. Stick to cultures and politics, big issues. That way, I don't have to deal with my own shit.
By now anyone who has been reading here for very long knows where I grew up. By now, most everyone knows enough about my family to know that when I was on the Other Side choosing them, I didn't choose well.
As for where I grew up, that was an issue of shame for a long time. I used to lie about it. All the time.
"Where did you grow up?"
"Where in Los Angeles?"
Most people probably thought I was ashamed... and I was.
Not because of the wealth. I was ashamed because it was so hard to allow anyone a glimpse into my life. They would see that I was little more than a well-dressed feral child. They would see all the ugliness that was hidden in the threshold. They would see all the open, festering wounds we carried. They bled and seeped through the fabric of our clothes. Still, we all lied about them. How does one explain about a family so fractured that we barely knew each other? How does one explain that while we were surrounded with all the things that were supposed to make us happy, we were all miserable? We were in a gilded ghetto.
How could I possibly explain that? To anyone? Who would understand it and who would care?
Yes. I was bitter. For a lot of years.
I wanted so badly to belong to a family that cared, that mattered to each other, that didn't wear the emotional equivalent of thick insulated hazmat suits to keep each other away, who would offer comfort when we were upset or share in our joys. It was so. goddam. lonely! Our address just made it somehow even more insulting and hurtful.
... Because no one believed me.
I had it all, after all. My complaining about anything made me a spoiled brat who didn't appreciate how much I had in the world. I might as well have been one of the Menendez Brothers.
So it left me very isolated and alone. We were forced to paint a smile on our faces every day and hide the pain. The first time I seriously considered suicide was at nine years old. I remember believing that the reason why I had no friends and was so alone was certainly because I was such a horrid person that I deserved no better.
When I think back on it now, I'm surprised that I'm no longer angry. Not angry.. but I don't trust. I don't trust very much at all. I don't relax. Not really. Not very often.
The gift that keeps on giving.
There are times when I struggle with how my forgiveness will ultimately manifest. Forgiveness doesn't necessarily mean that everything is okay now. We still carry our damage. I'm not there entirely. Not yet. This is a lifetime job.
Intellectually, I realize that my family would have been fractured if we'd lived anywhere. We were fractured because no one had the skills to make it otherwise. Every minor problem was magnified and was just cause for abandonment. I am as guilty of as much of it as they are. My first instinct when something goes wrong in a relationship is to bail. Outta here. Dust.
Intellectually, I understand that circumstances are rarely the cause of anything. Our reactions are the cause.
Intellectually, I understand that we are all flawed human beings who make mistakes. No one is perfect, least of all me, and the only way to survive this life experience is to be flexible and forgiving of everyone's flaws, including my own.
"Let he who is without sin...."
That is the first step for me. As for regretting what I didn't have, yeah, there's still a little bit of that. Every now and then. When I come face-to-face with the level of damage in my life, it could make me very, very angry. But I don't want to live in that anger. God knows, I don't want to end up like my father, laying in a cold den with a bullet in my head.
I don't choose that. Even when it's so hard I can barely put one foot in front of the other, I don't choose that. Not even when I want to shake my fist at the heavens and ask "WHY?", I don't choose that.
I choose instead to cull all I can out of this experience. I choose instead to overcome it, at least to a degree that will allow me to relax into my relationships, to trust they'll be here tomorrow.. and the next day.. and to trust that others truly mean me no harm.
We are all just flawed. That's all.
And maybe that is forgiveness. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.
Thanks for all the well-wishes yesterday. My cold feels much better and I'm hoping it will be gone by the end of the day. The weirdest thing about having a cold at my age is that sense of embarrassment that comes with sniffing, snorting and having a runny nose like a toddler. There's not a thing to be done about it. It is just has to run its course.
Snoskred asked last night if I feel naked without my full array of Thai wonder.
It was an interesting question. :)
Yes. In some ways, I do. It's become standard now. It's a part of my personal landscape.
It's a unique style. Very colorful and pretty, yet rugged and sturdy. Most of mine is Hmong-influenced. It has a lot of embroidery, ribbons, layers upon layers of color.
It makes me feel happy.
At the same time, I'm not a nut about it. I don't get all decked out in full ceremonial gear each day. It's just the influence, the general sense that might remind those who have traveled to that part of the world of the Hilltribe people.
Most of my jewelry is Hilltribe also. Silver. Gold. Bangles. Lockets. Pendants. Ankle bracelets. Sometimes earrings. I'm so highly allergic though that the earrings are not common. Let's just say I look definitely unusual without looking bizarre. There's an unspoken line that can't be crossed and I don't cross it.
So.. in short, 99.9% of my clothing is of this style. I beg and plead and promise everything but my queendom (such as it is) to friends in Thailand to buy it for me or I buy it from specialty shops. I've even been able to get some of it on eBay.
Some of it is from night markets and street markets, the same as those in the picture on the left.
It makes me feel closer to home. Call me a nutball.. but there it is... on the world wide web for all to know.
D. left for Texas a while ago. V. and I helped her get all packed up and on her way. She will be seeing relatives she hasn't seen for years and, in that regard, this trip seems to be an important one. Given her age, she might not be able to take that many more.
V. has gone to work.
And as for me, blessed peace and quiet.
Monday, June 18, 2007
... and at least I can offer this pretty picture.
I'd love to be there! Right now!
I have little to offer since my body is not cooperating with my mind and I've caught another dreaded summer cold. After being up half the night, hacking and choking, witty repartee is not on the agenda for today!
D. is leaving tomorrow for a week at her family reunion in Texas. It will be oddly refreshing around here without hearing her constant complaining. Seriously, folks, there are days when I believe my ears will start to bleed.
Why is it that some people live in a constant state of dissatisfaction? Every statement has to be challenged and a right/wrong judgment attached to everything. Everything becomes a power struggle and everything has to be done one way? Why do some people find it necessary to share their misery with the world? (Um. Like I am doing right now. Um. *errm*)
Mai fricking pen rai, already!
Fortunately, I use my tenant status to my advantage at these times and my mother-in-law unit becomes Fort Knox. (I should mention, these battles are not with me. They are with her sons.)
I'm looking forward to opening up a good book and escaping for the day. Hopefully by tomorrow, I will have something to say that will at least justify the effort to click over this way.
Is there an award out there somewhere for the most boring, useless post on the Internet?
I nominate myself.
Sorry, guys. :)
Sunday, June 17, 2007
Yesterday was a great day! It really turned out well. As usual, it takes me a day or so to kind of process through my experiences and let them meld into an overall picture.
When I got there, I decided to call a friend who lives in Midtown. I rarely get to see her because my trips to Midtown are few and far between. I live in Arden/Arcade and that is usually where I can be found. Occasionally, I go to the Asian markets in South Sacramento but overall, I'm a creature of habit, doing my thing in my own part of the world. Since I don't drive, it's difficult for me to roam around the entire city.
Tina was home, as I'd imagined she would be. If there is a more confirmed agoraphobe in the world, I don't know her. Tina rarely goes out much of anywhere. I knew there was a chance she would turn me down but since she's been on my mind lately and when someone is on my mind that much, there's usually a reason, I called anyway. (My English teacher is flipping over in her grave at that sentence! Sorry, Mrs. S. :)
Amazingly, she said she would like to come. We made an agreement as to where and when we'd meet and I wandered over that way to make sure I was in the right place at the right time. There's nothing more annoying than having to find someone in a sea of people so I take my "I"ll be here" pretty seriously!
I saw Tina walking down the street and began to walk toward her. Her eyes were flitting from place to place and obviously she wasn't entirely comfortable with the crowd. There was quite a turnout and after awhile, everyone looks the same.... just asses and elbows. There were plenty of non-crowded places on the edge of the celebration where she would be comfortable though. I resigned myself to going there. This crowd was okay with me but I understand the aversion to crowds in general.
I walked a bit faster to catch up to her and she looked at me initially with a blank stare, like she didn't recognize me.
Once greeted, she recognized me but immediately commented that I didn't look like myself.
"I barely recognized you!" She wasn't smiling.
"Oh, well, I've lost a few pounds. Maybe that's it? I hope! I hope," I kind of laughed but felt vaguely uncomfortable.
She gave me a half-smile that wasn't very authentic and said, "Where's all your Thailand stuff?" It came out as a veiled accusation.
"Oh, um. Well, I just didn't do it today."
The truth is that sometimes I can't do it. I bloat up like a whale when my blood pressure is out of control. That happens on occasion and when it does, I get edema. The ankle bracelets, as an example, are off. They will cut off the circulation to my feet and it becomes very painful. Seriously. Painful. I can barely walk! This is a chronic health condition involving my heart and circulation. I don't screw around with it! I've already had a minor stroke and I'm not going for the Big One! The truth is that I am not aging gracefully by any means but have come to peace with it.
I called my doctor. He changed my BP meds and put me on a diuretic. So I gobble Procardia and Furosemide and wait it out. In a few weeks, I'll be fine. The ankle bracelets will go back on. I didn't feel like explaining the details of my medical history to someone who is basically a casual friend though. Thai clothes are often fitted in a way that can be uncomfortable when I am having this condition. I love the look as much as others seem to love it on me. On the other hand, I'm not going to have an identity crisis if I can't do it for a week or two. I put on khaki walking shorts, a loose fitting t-shirt, sensible shoes, limit myself to one instead of four pounds of jewelry and shut up.
The thing that really struck me with this though is that Tina seemed angry. It is as though I stepped out of her expectations and she was clearly disturbed by it. It is as though she thought I'd changed internally somehow.
It got me to thinking about how friends can sometimes become disconcerted when we change unexpectedly. Other people's changes really don't bother me much unless it is a change that I see might be making the person unhappy or may be a reflection of discontentment. I'm far more likely to notice someone's emotional state, far more than any external trapping.
In her own way, I think Tina was expressing concern for me. Her social skills are even more limited than my own, so I want to give her that benefit of the doubt.
Anything else would be too much to handle. I don't think I can be locked into someone else's expectations to such a degree that I am not free to adapt to my circumstances, whatever they might be at any given time. I'm not sure I can have a friendship with someone who wouldn't support me in that.
Saturday, June 16, 2007
Today was the day for Sacramento's Gay Pride celebration downtown. The weather was perfect. Eighty-three degrees which was a real blessing, given that it was 102 just yesterday.
The great thing about Gay Pride Day is that you don't have to be gay to enjoy it. It is a collection of eccentric, fun people who all gather for one day to be in their glory. People like me! Everyone is friendly. There are no expectations. I didn't have to try to fit in!
What a relief that is on occasion! It feels like this one weekend, this one day each year, is the one time when I can feel totally at ease around others. No one digs around for social markers by which to measure someone else's acceptability. It is just one.. big.. crowd... of happy people!
If there was any downside, it would have been the prodigious gathering of evangelicals who found it necessary to remind everyone that they would be going to hell and that God finds homosexuality to be an abomination. Fortunately, most people ignored them. As it should be.
I hope they are not so naive as to believe they will change minds and hearts by chanting such hateful rhetoric on a beautiful, sunny, warm Saturday afternoon.
They would be sadly disappointed. Nothing could have ruined this day, not even a gaggle of small-minded bigots.
Friday, June 15, 2007
A few weeks ago, we were having a rousing discussion about tagging and the politics of tagging. I got such a positive and thoughtful response from it that I was encouraged to know that it is okay to examine these things.
One thing happened though that has stuck in my mind since then ~ and has caused me to do some serious thinking.
I offended someone with my blogroll.
It was an offhanded comment on her part but I haven't forgotten it. She commented that blogrolling is "whimsical" and was dependent on who we like one day and do not like the next. That is not the case with me but her point is taken. It can and did appear that way.
You know who you are ~ and I apologize. Sincerely. I do. I was careless. I hope you see this, if you even come around anymore.
I'd like to explain a little bit exactly what my blogroll is about. First and foremost, it is a list of recommendations. Yes, there are people on there who I like personally. And they are good writers. They have something relevant to say. There are people on there who I do not particularly agree with. But they are good writers and have something relevant to say.
Heck, there is one guy on my blog roll who doesn't even like me! He never visits here any more and hasn't responded to any of my comments or notes in months! And this is someone who wanted to meet me at one time as a co-blogger with a common interest. He even sent me something in the mail one time. He's long since disappeared. But he's still on the sidebar ~ because he's a good writer and has something to say.
I take my ethics seriously and I care very much about how I tread on this earth. My footprints matter to me more than nearly anything else. "First, do no harm."
If I honestly believed I was harming anyone by having a list of blog recommendations, I would take it down in a hot second.
But I truly don't believe I am. And I have examined this fairly conscientiously over the past few weeks.
I am not recommending people to increase my Technorati rating (which it doesn't anyway) and I am not doing it to get "points" from those people by having them link me. (Some people on that roll do not link to me.) I am recommending them because I believe their voices are clear, resonant and have substance. Each one in his or her own way has taught me something, makes me laugh, talks about things that need to be discussed, writes beautifully of his or her own life experience and is a voice that needs to be heard.
It's not my way of saying "you're on my buddy list." I never got into chat rooms, MySpace or IM. This blog, Thailand Gal, is not a social networking site. I can't help you make more money or find a girlfriend/boyfriend. I am not a member of any cliques or in groups. I like lots of people all over the place. (And oddly, the one thing that will make me stop liking someone is cliquishness. I find it boorish and childish.) This blog is, I hope, a roundtable where intelligent adults get together to discuss topics of interest. If anything, it is more like a Yahoo mailing list. That is why I like to reply to comments.
I do have a few conditions which will keep me from putting someone on the blog roll. I will not put vulgar, racist, hostile, commercial or dead-content sites on it. Anyone who wants to be on it is welcome to be on it as long as those conditions are met.
And once you're on, you're on... unless you expressly tell me to remove it, use it for commercial promotion or the blog goes dead. I don't like the idea that I for even one moment caused someone else to feel badly because of my actions.
How do you all feel about this? Do you think blog rolls are political? Do you think they are doomed to appear that way, no matter how cautious we are?
This meme comes from Kaliroz at Fortune and Glory. It's a fun one. I've been seeing it around quite a bit today. Steal it. Have fun with it!
~*Favorite Bubble bath book ~*~ Well, I'm not much for bubble baths but when relaxing in water (which I hope is equivalent :), I like to read long historical novels. My most recent favorite is Four Reigns by Kukrit Pramoj. It takes me to another place and another time.
~*Favorite get your groove on tune ~*~ Hips Don't Lie by Shakira. I use it for exercise a lot. I will never have Shakira's agility but it must be doing something for my hips. Pray the neighbors don't see me. It might hurt their eyes.
~*Character you always wanted to be [from t.v., film or books] ~*~ Anne from Anne of Green Gables. I love her pleasant nature, her adaptability, her curiosity, her confidence. She is everything I was not as a kid.
~* Best lullaby - Lucia Hwong or Ray Lynch.
~* Most self-indulgent thing you do -- I like to garden for hours with mor lum music on the CD player. In fact, I just discovered Jonny Olsen, a guy as white as me, as white as plucked poultry, who plays the khaen better than most natives. I play his music constantly in the yard. It probably makes the neighbors want to call the cops on me since most of them seem to prefer blasting their own type of music.
~* T.V. show you're ashamed to admit you watch -- House. I am hooked beyond description. I'm glad they don't have it on every night like the CSI- Major City series. It would be like dragging a bottle of Absolut through an AA meeting.
~*Teen celebrity crush -- Barbra, of course. I would have become a lesbian for Barbra Streisand!
~*The piece of jewelry [outside of any wedding or engagement rings]you always wear: Thai jewelry. Even on days when I am not going out, I still wear my rings, a pendant and two amulets.
~*Blog or website you're ashamed to admit you visit -- www.oprah.com
~*Favorite chick flick -- I'm not sure if this qualifies as a "chick flick", but I like "Fried Green Tomatoes".
~*Favorite daytime t.v. to watch when slugging around the house -- Court TV. I'm fascinated by the live trials. It's an addiction I developed in Tucson, when the OJ trial was going on.
~*Best song to be sad to -- Who Wants To Live Forever - Shirley Bassey
~*Food you could never get enough of -- Som-tam, Satay chicken, sticky rice
~*One movie star on your *list* -- Do you mean one who can leave his boots on my welcome mat any time? Um. Would have to say Ice-T. Weird, I know... but for some reason, I think he is beautiful. The little lisp in his voice sends me over the moon. But some things last a lifetime. I'd still become a lesbian for Barbra Streisand!
~*Your theme song -- One More Look At You/Watch Closely Now - Barbra Streisand
Thursday, June 14, 2007
"I'm going to encourage you to have sex and I'm going to encourage you to use drugs appropriately," panelist Joel Becker, a Los Angeles clinical psychologist, told the students. "And why I am going to take that position is because you're going to do it anyway."
This quote is from a recent event held before Boulder High School students. Dr. Becker was part of a panel from the University of Colorado's Council on World Affairs. The only caveat issues was that students should do it "responsibly and understand the consequences." Students were required to attend.
Honestly, I was somewhat outraged by this, even though I don't have children. I can't help but wonder how parents feel about having these kinds of values (or lack of values, as the case may be) taught to their children in the public school system.
One thing is for certain. If I'd had children, they would have been home-schooled. There is no way on God's green earth that I would have allowed my children to step into a public school. Wouldn't have happened on my watch, even if I'd had to teach them myself with an old blackboard and an abacus!
I remember the very first hints of what was to come when I was in college. Detached moral philosophers in the ivory towers of academia had come up with a new educational paradigm called "Values Clarification". It's basically just relativism. The students were taught there is no right or wrong, no absolutes and that morality was defined by one's own "feelings" about a subject. They were told to decide for themselves on each issue and that "the most important thing is that you do what is right for you."
It crept into the educational system at all levels. It didn't come in with a bang but gradually insinuated itself into every facet of education, not just psychology or philosophy classes. It was not presented as an alternative viewpoint. It was taught that it is the expected viewpoint.
I am ashamed to admit that this hogwash is the brainchild of people from my generation.
Freedom of choice is a wonderous thing but I believe freedom of choice is for adults. It is for adults who are emotionally and intellectually developed and understand that choice brings responsibility. It also brings a willingness to accept consequences. Moral authority is not for people who have not matured enough to handle it.
And moral education does not belong in the schools. It belongs at home.
Kids need direction. They need leaders. They need to know they can depend on adults around them to guide them well. This is about the worst example of "leadership" I can imagine.
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
I am attracted to humility, modesty, gentleness. My sensibilities belong to another place and time.
Power has a different feel. Aggression. Oppression. All sorts of nasty gnarly things. It resonates of the self-help movement which I, generally speaking, despise.
So when the call was put out by BlogRhet (via Slouching Mom) to answer the question as to whether blogging empowers women, or more specifically does my blog empower me, I was going to skip the exercise and wait for the next one.
If I use the term "empower" in its original meaning before it was coopted by politics and the self-help movement, that being "to enable, to authorize", I was able to look at the question differently.
In that respect, yes, my blog enables me. My blog authorizes me to speak by the cultural norms of the wide open Internet, the virtual roundtable where we can all speak our minds.
It's more contemporary version of the soap box.
It is here that I can put my thoughts and ideas out for general consumption, learn new perspectives from the comments of others and tap into the wisdom of the community.
As for the enabling and authorizing me as a woman specifically, I don't think so. The Internet is, in a sense, the great equalizer. It is principles before personality. It is the one place where I can get beyond anyone's snap judgment or perception of this rather eccentric middle-aged woman with an abundance of pounds and too much Thai jewelry. Here is where my brain gets to play. Here's where my ideas are put out on the table, surrounded by people brighter and far more educated from all over the world. My ideas are tested. And I get feedback. And I grow and learn daily.
It offers me contact with people I would otherwise never have the honor of knowing. Geography, social status, demographics and many things divide us. Blogs unite us, men and women alike.
I also want to publicly thank the women of BlogRhet for its inclusivness. If there is such a thing as "empowerment", inclusiveness is the stem cell.
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
... if we could all choose where to live, regardless of national borders?
After reading Julie's post today, I started thinking about that.
I know my view is unusual when it comes to national identity. I can't conceptualize one nation as being "better than" or "over" another. The world is one big tossed salad with all kinds of cultures, ways of life and priorities. Anyone should be able to go or live wherever he or she chooses, based on individual preferences. The only rule in this should be the Wiccan Rede. "As it harm none, do as ye will."
Our citizenship in any nation is an accident of birth. The idea of choosing one's citizenship appeals to me a great deal. Example: I never felt "at home" here, yet I feel "at home" in Thailand. Who would have known? I couldn't have found it on the map 10 years earlier! The only reason I am not there today is because of government restrictions. If it had been possible, I would have just stayed but it wasn't allowed.
There was no legitimate reason. It was just a rule established by the Thai government, ostensibly to keep the country from being "taken over" by farang who would pollute the local culture and take jobs from Thai nationals.
If someone has a preference for that way of life, they will contribute to the well-being of the nation, not detract from it. In my own opinion, if someone is exploiting the land, they can be asked to leave at that point.
The same can be said for people who choose to move to the US. How can they possibly detract from the nation or its culture when they have come by choice? There should be a legitimate reason for asking them to leave, if it comes to that.
I wonder how the global population would shift if borders were open and everyone freely and responsibly chose where to live. (By "responsibly", I mean learning the language, embracing the culture and customs, and contributing positively in some way. )
The geopolitical reasons borders are not always free are understood. Perhaps I am being a bit utopian ~ but it is an interesting idea to ponder.
What do you think? :)
Monday, June 11, 2007
Remember when I mentioned a few months ago that I'd been informed by my spiritual advisor that discipline was one of my major weaknesses?
And I agreed. And I decided to use yoga as a method of developing discipline.
It's been a month. Morning for 15 minutes and evenings for 15 minutes.
At first, I really liked it. I like the graceful movement of it. As I graduated from level one to level one point five, it began to get harder. And harder. And harder.
Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined that muscles exist in some of these places. Such pain, I've never known! My back feels like someone has been punching me. My rear end feels like I've been sitting on broken glass. My muscles burn.
And, yes, I know it's good for me... but...
Ajahn S got a snarky email from me recently: You should get your scrawny Thai ass over here and try to do this!
To which he replied: Hmmmmm. Mhmmmm.
One day, when I see him again, he will regret that "mhmmmm".
Smart ass! :)
Sunday, June 10, 2007
Apparently Patches, a blog with which I was not familiar until I went to Meno's site earlier today called for pictures of hands.
Someone I know did this a while back, too, although she is not a blogger. She is a photographer who is always looking for a new focus for her pictures.
I was intrigued. Would I be willing to put pictures of my old hands out on the Internet? For some reason, it felt even more revealing than putting a facial picture on this site.
Hands can tell such a history. Where we've been. Where we are. What do those hands like to do? Garden?
Construction? A construction worker's hands do amazing things, even with all those calluses.
Hands. They hold things. Mine usually has a Diet Coke in it from 9.00 AM forward.
They also hold my pen when I am writing.
Wonderous little instruments we're born with...
We never really think about them. At least I don't. They're just there.
Another tool of the trade.
Interesting exercise. Thank you, Patches, for a clever idea.
Saturday, June 09, 2007
Over the past few days, I've been reading a lot of articles, emails and blog posts about Paris Hilton and I noticed a common thread running through them.
A lot of talk about an obligation to be a "productive member of society." Whether it's Paris Hilton's wealth or a non-visible disability such as mine causing someone to not be out there producing, the attitude seems to be the same.
I've been dealing with a disability that knocked me out of commission in 2004 when I was only 52 and by some perception far too young to not be able to be "out there". While I may not have been "out there" very effectively, at least it appeared that I was a "productive member of society". That seemed to satisfy others.
As my limitations progressed, I had to do a lot of re-defining of many things I thought I once understood about myself and life in general. It also included letting go of all the old definitions I'd bought into about who we really are and what is and is not important.
I had to let go of the deeply-ingrained belief that I am what I do and I am what I have. Given my upbringing and further indoctrination in the corporate world, my self worth was totally tied to what I could do and what material proof I could collect and hang on to that proved to the outside world that I was a worthy person.
Not. Easy. At. All. Not in a society that tends to measure everyone's worth that way. But I didn't like the alternative much which was to see myself as worthless because my body and mind had both quit on me. I couldn't keep up with "out there" anymore.
I had to figure out what out there really is ... that world I could no longer be a part of without a fully functional body and mind. The world of paid professional performance and the status of title and good pay. The world of freely-chosen activity, the world of acceptance and automatic respect from others as a "fully productive" citizen of this country.
I wasn't about to let go of that so I just kept pumping up my confidence and strong will, and pushing myself mercilessly right past all of my very real limitations for way too long, causing, (you guessed it) even more damage until my two choices were disability or suicide.
So for me anyway, there was a serious downside to relying on the power of my will to "stay out there" and to all that positive thinking and confidence boosting. I used it to deny a solid reality I simply did not want to face. My spirit was sending me desperate signals that it was hurt and tired and needing me to stop whipping it into action it simply could no longer sustain and I refused to listen.
Now I am understanding a lot of things differently. I understand that I need to truly partner up with my spirit ~ as it is ~ rather than beat her up for no longer being what she once was.
I need this body to last me as long as I am here and it needs a voice, too. It needs me to listen to what it says it can and can not do on any given day. It needs to be respected. It needs me to listen now and provide what it needs on a regular basis so it can keep hauling me around for a lot more years.
My spirit was very nearly dead by the time I stopped. I also needed to partner up with her and to understand that her needs are just as important as physical needs.
Most of all, she needs my compassion, my love and my gratitude for all those years she served me without any real care or nurturing and in spite of the incredible neglect and abuse I heaped on her for a half century. She has faithfully stayed with me, damage notwithstanding.
My definition of "confidence" has been drastically altered. Now my confidence comes from the proof I am collecting in my ability to shift with life as it shifts, from one stage to another, from one condition to another, from one definition of what my reality is today, to another.
I have confidence now that whatever happens next, I will, after going though whatever messy, noisy, angry transition it requires of me, find a way to adapt and adjust and eventually learn to enjoy what is to the absolute max, no matter how anyone else measures my "worth".
I think what I am finally discovering is that that my "out there" isn't out there at all. It's in here ~ inside of me ~ where all my own truths dwell, where no one and no event can ever take them away again. (Well, maybe for a shaky sad day or two but not for long.)
It's like a high wire act to find that thin line between giving in too soon to the body's limitations as they get tired or hurt or older, and pushing them too hard and causing more harm. It's been trial and error all the way.
But I do notice the stronger more mutually respectful and loving relationship I can build between my body, mind and spirit, the better I feel.
Eventually, we all have to do this one way or another. The prevalent attitudes must be challenged, whether it is Paris Hilton or Josephine Everyone. We never know another person's limitations or abilities and it's time to let that judgment go.