Thursday, March 28, 2013

Enlightenment and Perspective

This last week or so has been very ... interesting.  Rather enlightening, I'd say.  The fact of the matter is, the more human behavior I observe, the more disturbing the trends I see become.  I'm not quite sure if it's the people I have exposure to, or if it's a sign of how the human race is evolving (or, in some cases, devolving).

I've seen anger, hatred, hypocrisy,  rudeness  personal attacks, and excuse after excuse for awful behavior.  I've seen people blame there heritage, their past, their current circumstances, and a myriad of other reasons to deflect the real reasons why they are acting the way they do.  What I haven't seen is mature, supposedly rational adults taking responsibility for their actions and thinking before they speak and/or act.  Someone looses their cool and starts to yell, scream, throw things and say hurtful, hateful words.  They fall just short of terrorizing everyone around them, then sit back and says "I can't help it, I was raised this way.  It's who I was meant to be."  Then, when someone attacks them, or their family; they are livid and "can't understand why someone would behave like that."  The fact  of the matter is, if you have the ability to rationalize and make excuses for your behavior, then you have the ability to actually think before you speak and before you act.  When you choose not to, you can not blame others for being disappointed with you.  Furthermore, you don't have the stones to throw at others when they act in a similar matter to yours.  What you send out to the world, you get back in threes.

An even more upsetting trend I've seen as of late is self-loathing, and self-hatred.  I've seen intelligent, rational, emotionally stable people tear themselves down because one or two people have a negative opinion on them.  I've heard someone belittle themselves in every other sentence saying "I'm so stupid."  "I'm such a bad person."  "How could I be such an idiot." The list goes on.   Don't get me wrong, we all have bad days and we all fight with negative thoughts about ourselves.  However, when you continue to put yourself down; your outlook on life changes.  You suddenly find yourself depressed, unhappy with your job, your family, your life.  You don't enjoy things you used to and spiral into a dark and alone place.  If you can imagine, there's an even worse side effect of putting yourself down than the Spiral of Darkness.  It's the fact that the more you put yourself down the more OTHER people will start to believe it.  You say "I'm so stupid" in front of people enough times and they will believe you.  They will believe you lack intelligence, and even more, they will know you hate yourself and have a low opinion of yourself.  How can they possibly have a higher opinion of you if they constantly hear, from you, that you're not worth it?

I know that not everyone is a fan, but RuPaul says something at the end of every show that just hits home.  "If you can't love yourself, how the ($^@!) you gonna love someone else?"   Even more important than that .. if you don't love yourself how the heck is anyone else supposed to love you?  That doesn't pertain to only romantic relationships.. if you hate yourself how are your friends supposed to love and support you?  What about your family?

It was starting to feel as if everyone in the human race was sliding down this dark and desolate path.  Each time I read a Facebook Status or string of comments, saw a Twitter update, or talked to someone in person there was this "everything sucks" attitude flying around.  There, as always, are a couple of exceptions.. .but this has been an over-riding theme for the last couple of weeks.  It was really starting to get to me. I took a couple of days to myself, and tried to remove myself from the negativity.  Unfortunately, when I returned it was the same thing, over and over again.

Then, March 27th happened..and it pretty much changed my perspective and outlook on things.  I was asked to Witness the passing of one of my fellow Warriors.  He had become a pretty close friend over the years, as has his wife.  He's been sick for a while, and on the 26th, I got a call from his wife that he was placed on Life Support and requested I come to the hospital to be there with him and his family when they disconnected him.  I didn't even have to think about it... I simply asked what time to be there.

So, yesterday I walked into a hospital room and saw my strong, funny, Inspirational friend laying in a hospital bed.  Hooked up to a life support system, and completely vulnerable.  His wife was sitting beside him, holding his hand, her eyes red and puffy from crying all night.  It was obvious she hadn't slept, and I can't say I'd blame her.  She was saying goodbye to her best friend, her husband, and the father of a child he would never meet.  Her small, swollen belly was barely noticeable; but her right handing rubbing small circles around it ensured you didn't misunderstand.  She was subconsciously trying to soothe the baby when there was no comfort to be found for herself.

His older brother was standing in the corner, giving the Warrior's two nieces their last moments with their favorite Uncle.  He was always singing to them, playing games, and teasing them about their boyfriends.  They were well and truly hurting over the situation, but held onto their tears as best they could because, in one of their words  "Are you serious? He'd come back just to kill us if he found out we were weeping over his body!"  We laughed, in that sad, joyful laugh you get when you're trying to balance tears and laughter.

As the nurses came into the room to disconnect the machines, his wife told the story of their engagement, smiling through the tears streaming down her face, and his brother interjected with all the smart-ass comments a sibling has to say.  His nieces oohed and ahhhed about the romance of it all and how they want their engagements to be just as special.  I stood there, behind his wife, my hand on her shoulder and listened to the story of the Romantic Warrior.  Once the nurses left, his older niece started to sing "Lullabye" by Billy Joel.  'Good night, my Angel. Time to Close Your eyes".  We all gave him kisses and told him how much he was loved and how much he would be missed.  His brother joked about their lack of seeing eye to eye on anything, but reminded everyone how much our Warrior loved to debate.  

She finished her song, and her and I took turns singing while our Warrior's life slipped away.  We sang everything from "Who You'd Be Today" to "Walking on Sunshine" and even "Party Rock Anthem."  

There was no hate during those few hours in that hospital room.  No fighting, no self-pity, no anger.  Just a peace that can only be found when you open your heart and mind to what someone else needs and help them through the most difficult time of their life.

I consider myself very lucky to be able to Witness to my fellow Warrior's passings.  Yesterday was the 34th death I've attended, each one is different and unique to the Warrior.  Almost all of them were full of the love and peace we strive for every day ... and each one of them makes me realize how fragile we all are.

If we fill our daily lives with negativity, hate, and anger -- what's going to happen when it's OUR turn to go .. who will be with us?  What will we regret?

So, do me a favor, Beloved Reader, THINK before you speak.  Take into consideration ALL the people you are hurting when you act out of anger or frustration.    Be KIND...not just to other people, but (almost more importantly) to YOURSELF.

I love you, kittens.  Each and every one of you.  <3

Tuesday, March 5, 2013


I have to stop watching TV.  Gives me all these crazy ideas and has me daydreaming of things that are likely not in the stars for me.  Makes me dream up these ridiculous (and often "girly") fantasies about life, and having a partner that's strong enough to be mine.

I learned a long time ago that "happily ever after" isn't a reality.  Ever after might be; but nothing is continuously happy.  There are downs and ups to everything in life.  I also learned that as you get older, more mature, that your fantasies change; they become almost more "realistic" if that makes any sense.

My apartment complex is really noisy, so I usually have my tv on for background noise I actually don't mind. So, this TV show is on and I'm only less than 1/2 listening to what's going on.  I'm suddenly caught off guard by a scene that I can only DREAM would ever happen to me.  I know what you're probably thinking -- romantic engagement proposal, big wedding, amazing romantic-such and such.  Nope.  

The woman in the scene was crying uncontrollably, obviously very upset/sad/destroyed about something.  Curled up on her side, in the middle of a bed; just crying alone.  I can totally relate to that -- been there done that way too many times to count.  Suddenly, from behind her comes a tentative hand...the hand of what I think was her boyfriend (could have been a husband..but they were a couple).  She brushed off his hand and moved away from him, intent on dealing with her pain on her own.  He refused to let her do that, moving in against her back and putting his arms around her.  She thrashed against him, screaming and crying and begging to be left alone.  He refused ... he held on tight and rocked her as she cried.  Never once asking what was wrong, how he could fix it or what he could do to help her feel better.  He knew exactly what she needed; someone to hold her together as she fell apart.   Someone strong enough to handle her crying, and screaming, and breaking into a million pieces.  Someone to be her shelter in the middle of  a storm.  That one person she didn't feel obligated to be strong in front of all the time, because he could be strong enough for both of them sometimes.

That, right there, is one of my biggest fantasies.  To have that significant other that knows me well enough to hold me when I fall apart; that's not afraid to see me cry, that doesn't need consoling when I fall apart.  Someone I know I can break in front of and not worry that it's going to destroy us.

You may think that's a simple request, but to be completely honest with you; I haven't found anyone that fits that description yet.  Especially lately.  It seems the more dramatic my life gets (whether it's financial drama, parental drama (albeit most of my parental drama is on the positive side), or medical drama) the more difficult it is to find someone that's strong enough to handle it.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not asking anyone to handle my problems for me.  They are my problems and I deal with them the best I can.  Most times I do a damn good job at it.  However, there are days that it gets to be too much, and I want someone that I can lean on, talk to, cry around (or even cry with); knowing that I don't have to pick up their pieces when I'm done.

Selfish? Maybe, I haven't found the answer to that question yet.  I'd like to think that it's not that selfish of a request, but maybe I'm wrong.  Maybe what I'm asking for is too much for someone to do?  Right or wrong, it doesn't make my fantasy any less real to me, or any lower on my wish list.

So, there you have it, Kittens.  My little fantasy.  Don't ask me why I've decided to share it with you -- because I'm really not sure.  It's a bit personal .. and seems a bit weak minded .. but it's part of who I am.  Sharing the personal stuff, as difficult as it might be, is one of the reasons I write for you.

Have I told you lately that I appreciate you?  And I adore you for reading my ramblings?   Be kind to each other.  <3

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Respect and Relationships - The Balance You Need

Hello, kittens.  I realize it’s been a very long time since I've posted anything here, and for that I sincerely apologize.  Unfortunately, sometimes life gets in the way of the things you really enjoy doing, and no matter how much you try, you simply can’t add hours to the day - -every one of them only  comes with 24.  I've been through quite a bit of turmoil lately, and maybe eventually we’ll catch up on that.  However, for today, I want to talk to you about something that’s very near and dear to me   Respect. 

I've been thinking about this quite a bit lately, and how there are so many levels of respect and different ways in which it’s provided (and received).    There’s ONE specific kind of respect that I’m going to talk about, but I wanted to cover the others in order to put things into perspective – or help you understand where my mind is right now. 

There’s the respect you have for naturally talented athletes, actors, singers, or artists (that list can go on and on).  The type of respect that makes you go ‘Wow… they make it look so easy.”  I have this respect for my daughter every time she does something artistic; because – aside from writing – that kind of talent just doesn’t exist inside of me.   With the exception of the people I personally know, it’s a kind of respect that isn’t really “earned”.  It’s hard to “earn” respect if you don’t have a personal interaction; but I still respect the fact that they can do what they do, get paid for it, and look so natural doing it.  I’ll admit, if I tried to do a back tuck on a balance beam, or even tried to jump to catch a football that’s three feet above my head and inches behind me – I’d look like a drunk harbor seal trying to find a fish in a desert.  Not a pretty picture for me; and they make it look like second nature. 

Then there is the level of personal respect you gain from having ongoing interactions with someone.  They earn your respect with their actions, their honesty, their integrity, their intelligence; or whatever criteria you determine earns your respect.  This is a very high form of respect, because it’s provided almost as a gift when someone lives above the expectations you have for the human race.  It’s also the type of respect that can be lost when you lower your standards, or act in a way that makes others no longer respect you.   I find this kind of respect in the workplace most often, as our work relationships are much different than our personal ones. 

There are other kinds of respect, but I want to get to the point before I lose you too quickly, beloved reader.  Hopefully I haven’t done that yet!   The respect that I want to really focus on today is the respect that comes with a close, personal relationship.  This relationship can be a friendship, a romantic partnership, or even a family relationship.  This level of respect is much different and presents itself in a different manner than others.  We take our closest relationships most seriously, but we also tend to take advantage of them the most. 

In our close, personal, relationships we already know there is a level of mutual respect, otherwise we wouldn't be close to the person in question.  However, for some reason, we tend to misplace respect in our actions towards our loved ones.  It’s not always super obvious, and sometimes we are “just joking” when we do it.  Here’s the thing; when a pattern of behavior is repeated enough it becomes disrespectful; “I’m just kidding” only takes you so far until the other person starts to feel like you don’t care that they've asked you a hundred times NOT to say something that’s offensive or upsetting to them. 

There’s another level of respect that we don’t always show each other.  It’s when we make our own needs, wants, and desires more important that the other person in the relationship.  Let’s take an example: 

A husband and wife are getting ready to go out for a date-night.  The husband is just getting over the flu and his stomach is still sensitive to foods; but they still decide to go out for dinner.  The husband asks “Where do you want to go for dinner.” 

The wife responds “The Mexican Hat . Their enchiladas are amazing”.    

“My stomach is still messed up, can we go somewhere else and save Mexican for another night?” the husband asks, knowing just about anything on the menu is going to cause him discomfort.

“But I REALLY love Mexican, and the last time we went out, you said I could pick the next restaurant.  Besides, they have a great chicken breast and rice dish you can order, it won’t mess up your stomach too much.” 

It’s pretty obvious in this situation that the wife is clearly only focusing on herself and her desire for Mexican food; which is why I used this example first.  The husband might cave and go to the Mexican restaurant to make his wife happy; but he likely won’t be very happy about it.   I won’t go into the compromises they could settle on, or the rest of what may or may not happen.  The fact of the matter is, she didn't take into consideration his needs and only focused on what she wanted.  If this was a one-time event, it’s likely not an issue.  However, if she does this on a regular basis, it starts to show that she doesn't respect what he wants or needs.

Example Number 2:  A pair of friends (Sue and Patty) have discussed at length, and more than once, how much Sue doesn't like to have her feet touched.  It’s a combination of being ticklish, and just a general dislike of feet.  Occasionally, as they are hanging out, Patty will try to tickle Sue’s feet, and Sue has to remind her (yet again) that she doesn't want her feet touched.   For her Sue’s birthday, Patty scheduled them BOTH for a salon pedicure.  “You’re going to LOVE IT  ... pedicures are my absolutely favorite thing in the whole world, and it took me months to get into this salon.”   It becomes obvious over a period of time that Patty doesn't respect Sue’s desires and just does her own thing without thought to her friend’s feelings.   

Continually poking fun or, or constantly reminding someone of their requests and/or quirks can be very tiresome and, eventually, can be seen as a lack of respect.  Eventually, no matter how much someone cares for someone else they may back away from a friendship (or other relationship) due to it.  Nobody wants to be continually reminded of their shortcomings. 

OK, kittens, because I love you and trust you I’m going to go out on a limb here and use a VERY personal example (not something I do often), but I think it will help me get my point across. 

I have a SERIOUS personal space issue.  Most of my friends and relatives know this about me... it’s nothing new and not anything I outright hide from anyone.  It’s also something that I've been consciously working on for years.   I don’t like to be hugged, don’t like people in my personal space (standing/sitting right next to me) and I downright hate casual touching (someone putting their hand on my arm, shoulder, leg., etc. when they are talking to me).   Like everything else, there are some exceptions – my family and anyone I have sincere, deep, romantic feelings for.   This isn't to say that I won’t hug people; I know it’s a widely accepted social action and it shouldn't be that big of a deal.  So I hug people; people I care about and people that I haven’t seen in a while.  I’d rather not… but I do it because it’s good for me to face the things that I’m not comfortable with. 

Here’s where the “respect” thing comes in for me.  Those closest to me know all about this personal space issue.  Like I said before, it’s not something that I hide (though it’s also not something that I openly confess to strangers).  To me, respecting my personal boundaries is part of respecting me as a person.  Forcing me to hug, sit close, put up with casual touching or kissing, etc, because YOU think it’s funny or helpful makes me wonder if you ever have my best interests in mind. 

I see this “personal space” issue as a shortcoming…as something that holds me back from being the person that I really want to be.  That’s why I’m working on it; I hug people when I see them, and I try not to make it a big deal if someone is sitting or standing too close to me.  With that, I don’t like to be reminded of my shortcomings; I can’t image many people that do.  If I had a physical deformity, I wouldn't want to be reminded of it every day or every time I show a sign of weakness.   Therefore, I find it very difficult to read texts or IMs from people who insist on “virtually hugging me” or “virtually kissing me” because I don’t like to do it in person.  It’s simply calling me out on my weakness and, once it’s done enough, shows me that the person doesn't respect me, my desires, or the issues I’m dealing with. 

So there you have it, kittens.   Being mindful of your actions, words, and texts when you’re dealing with your loved ones will go a long way in ensuring they know you not only love them, but respect their desires and wishes.   Keep in mind, if someone disrespects you enough, what do you do?   If you continue to disrespect the people in your life, regardless of whether or not you ‘mean it’, don’t be surprised if you find yourself no longer as close as you used to be. 

In the end, it’s all about being kind.  Compassionate.  Thoughtful.  Insightful.  If you do that, the respect comes automatically.

I adore you, and I miss writing for you.  Thank you for reading my ramblings and I hope to  be back to writing on a regular basis very soon.