Strengthening Character

At the end of the day, it’s only you. Alone. How you met each challenge and each conflict was up to you. Did you face your demons or pretend they didn’t exist?

There’s a lot of talk about being real. Authenticity. For me, it’s not always easy to be myself. It’s not that I try to fake people out by pretending to be someone I’m not. I’m not an impressive person and never wish to be.

My nature is to relate to people on the level they are. You might think me inauthentic at times because I’m a human who has been damaged by life. My cracks show.

When I feel I’m in an emotionally dangerous situation I’ll plaster a fake smile on and spout out the trite phrases, whatever it takes to get me through the situation. This is the game we call life.

Our character is built by the choices we make. We develop strength or kindness or wisdom through practice. Such as continuing to practice grace and mercy if you’re wishing to become a more forgiving person. Truthfully, it comes down to living intentionally, as best you can.

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The Mentoring Life

Mentors

 

Sometimes we forget where we are and how we came to be. Maybe our contribution isn’t on a grand scale, worthy of a Nobel Prize, but never underestimate the value of your daily life. Small gestures, little acts of kindness keep us from killing each other. The bricks of human society are held together by spit and grit and have for thousands of years.

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I have moments of bitterness in between the good spots. Pain in places I don’t want others to see. I remember hurtful people telling me I either shouldn’t be here or I’ve made idiotic choices. Complete errors that I’d never recover from. Those times were directed to hit me with fists of words. Had my life been built on a weak foundation it would have wiped me out. But as I put on my Facebook page, Honestly, I’m in love with living this life. I can’t be trusted to voluntarily stop!

Hold your own
And know your name
Go your own way

Are the details in the fabric
Are the things that make you panic
Are your thoughts results of static cling? Jason Mraz James Morrison Details in the Fabric

Gifts

There have been good people also, surrounding me, supporting me. Those men and women strengthened the fibers of who I became as a woman. I learned from watching their resolve and I learned because they encouraged me to contribute, to show up in life. They saw something in me that was worth encouraging. these are the people worth remembering. They are Bud and Wilma McAfee, Ginger and Kelvin Limbocker, Vicki and Mike Sowards, and I could go on. There are the many pastors and teachers I’ve known. Rose Scanlon my favorite English teacher, Mr. Brewster from my four years of history classes. That man had a lot of patience.

Honor

I honor them and thank them for their gift. I never want to forget each step of the way. I want to feel each mountain ledge under my calloused toes. Pain, joys, everything. I know this path. My feet and hands have memorized every ledge, rock, and crevice. If I get knocked back I can climb it again. And maybe I will.

“There are certain emotions in your body that not even your best friend can sympathize with, but you will find the right film or the right book, and it will understand you.”
~Bjork

A Wild Woman’s Soul

#collinsvillenews #CollinsvillePeople

Blind Fish Red Seas

In the Odyssey, Homer describes the ocean as “wine-dark” and other strange hues, but he never uses the word ‘blue’. Science Alert

There’s actually evidence that, until modern times, humans didn’t see the colour blue at all. In a fascinating feature over at Business Insider, Kevin Loria breaks down the evidence behind the claim.

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Blue?

Wine?

Does it matter?

Whatever we ignore will fade away. If your opinions are not listened to, or those around you act as if your ideas don’t matter, you learn to be quiet. Keep your thoughts to yourself. No one cares anyway.

At times trying to fit in becomes so numbing that a person forgets even to have a desire or an individual thought. We wear whatever is available because our senses are dead.

The limestone caverns of Mexico’s Sierra del Abra Tanchipa rainforest contain deep cisterns cloaked in utter blackness. This is where researchers at the University of Cincinnati traveled to find a little fish (Astyanax mexicanus) that has evolved to feast or endure famine entombed hundreds of feet below the ground.

“They have been able to invade this really extreme environment. They are exposed to darkness their entire life yet they’re able to survive and thrive,” said Amanda Powers, a UC graduate student and lead author of a study on blind cavefish published in May in the journal PLOS One.

“They’ve evolved changes to their metabolism and skull structure. They’ve enhanced their sensory systems. And they can survive in an environment where not many animals could,” she said. Phys.org

To the other extreme, many have overdeveloped patterns of behavior to protect themselves the same as the blind fish. I’m hyper-alert to what I’m wearing, thinking, saying or doing because I never want to offend anyone. My spidey senses are always on alert.

When children are yelled at or ridiculed, they learn to avoid exposing themselves. They learn to walk away from confrontation and challenges. Life becomes full of danger instead of the hope it could have held.

Stepping out of the dark into the light takes time. It is possible though. I’ve been rewriting my thinking to know what is safe, but it takes time. And practice.

Nothing happens without putting in the work. Panic, Anxiety, Rage, Depression, and Codependency, these are just a few of the symptoms that show your nervous system is overreacting. It’s not to blame and neither are you any more than if you had a cough.

Understand why you are anxious. And decide if you’re ready to get help. The same if you went into a rage. This is not solitary work.

Our environment made us blind, and we need help to heal.

And now have I put in here, as thou seest, with ship and crew, while sailing over the wine-dark sea to men of strange speech, on my way to Temese for copper; and I bear with me shining iron. – Odyssey

Choices

We come into this world thinking only of our own needs. Eat. Sleep. Play. Mine. Need. Grasping. We grow, we learn, we become. And depending on our experiences we develop into an adult with the ability to give, to nurture others. Self-preservation is healthy. It’s the way of nature. But being stuck in either an ego trip or self mutilation is unhealthy.

Choose your path

Your life today is the result of your accumlated experiences. As children, we couldn’t see that our parents had bad days or were drunk when they were screaming. We only knew the screaming, so we hid. The pounding of our heart and the fear in our belly told us we caused this, so we vowed to never do it again. If only we knew what we had done then we could be a perfect person. I remember thinking crazy thoughts like that. As if there was some magic checklist to complete to become a better person. And if I became that person my parents would no longer yell at me. But none of it was our fault! We are never responsible for another’s actions. Not our parents and not our bosses. There’s a better way to live.

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I’m an adult now, and I have choices. I can keep reliving those old stories, or I can be here today. To be present is going to take some work. We have to remind ourselves where we are. Every time my mind gets lost in a clusterfuck of bad memories I have to shake myself out of them. I have to sing that song I love. “Take the shackles off my feet so I can dance.” If you can’t do it by yourself, grab a partner. Two together are hard to defeat. Friends, buddies, and partners help to keep each other healthy.

Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. Ecclesiastes 4:12 Bible Hub

Love the one you’re with

Live now not worrying about tomorrow. Keep your life simple. Create small attainable goals and take steps toward them each day. The truth is that our brain is not structured to handle much more than this one moment. We overload it when we expect it to handle worrying about Timmy’s nightmares while calling the bank about a bounced check. Choose a practical approach. What can be fixed? And get stuff out of the way that can’t be fixed.

You can do this. We can do this. Share love with each other. Nothing else matters.

Check out my other posts – Dancing to the Rhythm  When the Quiet Ones Roar  Respect Yourself

 

Catch Me

Is there a lesson here? A thousand times or so in my life I have taken too large of steps. I’ve leaped when I should have walked. I’ve ran toward when I should have stayed away. I’m impetuous, curious, and want more than my heart can hold at any one moment. And when I catch it I feel I could explode for joy.

I’ve not always known where I was going. This is a problem. If you don’t have a destination, how do you know when you get there?

But now I’m ready for something bigger, better. I want something that I haven’t been able to reach before on my own. Sometimes you can’t invite good into your life because you’re surrounded by darkness and all you see is the shadowy monsters that play on the wall in Plato’s cave.

I’ve read and listened to instructors that said we should believe the good, think positive, but if we’ve never experienced the upper levels, it all seems like a fantasy. It’s difficult to believe. A ghost. Like flying without wings. Grasping at the wind. I needed more than a self-help book this time. I was stuck in a cycle of trying and quitting. I felt like a car stuck in a muddy rut. Frustrated.

Many people come to reinvention when life changes around them, but people come in all different stripes. I’m oriented to change. Jane Pauley

I realized I needed a mentor, a coach. Someone who’s been there. This would require changing my influences and changing my approach. I wanted a better life.

If you enjoyed this, you might like Can You NeuroLingo?

Love is What I Know

Darkness. We don’t sit there often. As soon as I get home, I turn on the light, feed the cat, and get the activity going. The dark seems empty. But it doesn’t have to frighten us.

Go back to what you know for sure. Those were the words that I heard when I was in my dark space. It’s taken me some time to understand their meaning.

tumblr_ldlfpavmov1qekgtho1_500Re-boot

In the Bible, there’s the story of Jonah, the man who didn’t want to preach to the people in a city called Nineveh. He hid on a boat until he was thrown out into the storm and he was swallowed alive by a great fish. Darkness. Crazily, he ends up back where he was supposed to be in the beginning.

I laugh because if you call the customer support line for help with your computer, the first thing they ask is, did you try turning it off and on again? Restart. That’s their answer for everything.

But start overs are impossible in real life. Aren’t they? A start over, a cleaning, a bottom level, that was the message I got when I heard the words, “Go back to what you know for sure.”  What did I know for sure? Love.

Where is the love?

I was uncertain of religion. I couldn’t tell you at that moment if I believed in God or the devil, heaven or hell. I didn’t know if the Bible was real or if the teachings I’d grown up with were true, but I did know there was a love that was buried deep inside of me that I’d felt all of my life and it wasn’t of any religion.

What does that mean? What does it look like? I had to stop trusting in everything else. I only had love. So I let myself sit in the darkness, in the emptiness with nothing to light me but the one candle of love. It sounds silly, but when you’re a traditionalist, and you let the old teachings slip away, the emptiness around you isn’t lonely or scary. The love you feel grows. There’s a freedom in that love. Joy unspeakable.

Can you find your truth?

Check out older post — My Skepticism on Religion  and Question It All

Who Turn Out the Light?

good dayI haven’t talked much about my dark days. Most of us have them. Some call them Dark Nights of the Soul. Others say they are walking through the valley of the shadow of death. No matter what we call them, the experience is difficult to put into words. And I will sometime. Emotions don’t always translate. That gut-wrenching ache after losing a spouse isn’t the same as being alone on a Friday night when everyone else has a date. The situations are almost similar. Alone. No date or spouse. But there’s a depth of substance not seen.

“There is a season for everything under the sun—even when we can’t see the sun.”

― Jared BrockA Year of Living Prayerfully: How a Curious Traveler Met the Pope, Walked on Coals, Danced with Rabbis, and Revived His Prayer Life

Are you familiar with the story of Plato’s Cave? Here’s a link. Plato’s Cave. There were captives chained inside the cave facing always forward, only seeing shadows because they were too far from the source of the light.

One day a single prisoner was freed and taken outside into the light. For years he’d seen the play of shadows and saw the monsters and grotesque shapes splattered on the wall, but now he could see. He had the sunlight, and he knew they were only shadow play on the cave wall from objects in the cave. There weren’t monsters.

Suddenly he was grabbed and yanked toward the cave. But he didn’t want to go back into the dark, he yelled. In the light, he wasn’t afraid.

The shackles were on him again, and the darkness enveloped him. He was restrained, but this time he was different. There was no fear. He knew. How could he not have seen? He had to explain it all to his friends. Would they even listen?

I can almost hear him singing – “Take the shackles off my feet so I can dance!!”

“The new is always at our doorstep when we feel most lost.”

― Janet RebhanLearn To Be Still

Check out a similar writing: Wandering and Lost Souls

 

Are you the choices you make?

6b467915e5e5c78240284ff5c302e4dbWhy does the lady with lung cancer and a horrible cough still refuse to give up her smokes? What is the missing ingredient in all of us? We know it’s not just will power.

We make choices every day. I can wear the gray pants or the black, take a sandwich to work or eat my lunch out. Sometimes our choices seem less trivial, do we go to a state college or local, start a family or grab the golden ring on the career ladder?

Most things we do are minor. The apple we ate isn’t going to change our life on the grand scale. Not one by itself. It’s the patterns of living that creates a mosaic.

If only we could see the picture we were creating as we step out into each footstep. Is that possible? I mentioned Values in last weeks post, How to be Strong. I wanted to revisit values and add a little more information today.

Are these some of your values? Honesty, Loyalty, Love, Kindness, Individuality, Tenacity, Forgiveness, Intelligence, Nature, Education, Nationalism, Multiculturalism.

It’s not possible to see any life as a whole to know how it will end, but we do know certain actions tend toward certain directions. Rob a bank and usually you get caught. Smoke enough cigarettes and lungs develop carcinoma. Read books with a fresh vocabulary, and you’ll increase your word usage. These are mere projections, not certainties, but they’ve happened enough times in the past that the odds are pretty darn good.

The truth is something that burns, it burns off deadwood and people don’t like having their deadwood burnt off often because they’re 95% deadwood

  • Joe Rogan Experience #958 – Jordan Peterson [2]

Our life is not all one choice. We’ve created patterns that are comfortable. I like my car, my house, and my bed. It’s home. Familiarity is like the puff of a warm cigarette. Mine isn’t nicotine, but we all have a crutch. I’m afraid to jump, to grab the golden ring when I’ve been handed it. What if I fail? I’d be leaving my couch. That’s my weakness. #Hardchoices

I believe we need to know who we are before we can walk the truth we’ve learned. Below I created a link to a resource I found. Each module has a fee and takes some thought to complete. I’m starting with Virtues. Tell me what you think.

Self Authoring

If you want something easier or free, there’s the Keirsey Personality Test. Whatever your direction, take some time to know yourself. There will be choices. #Hardchoices #learning

Check out these older posts: Living My Words and Not My Grandma’s Soap Opera

Smart Words

People enjoy feeling smart. I remember when we tossed the phrase 24/7 about like it was going out of style. That’s right there with handing out business cards and carrying pagers.

I’ve listed some words that have we use to get more clicks (click bait), plus one name. If you’re on YouTube watch for Elon Musk videos. They often use his name as a tease. He often isn’t in the videos, just the titles.

Echo chamber

Users tended to seek out information that strengthened their preferred narratives and to reject information that undermined it. – Washington Post

I like you, so I’ll listen to you.

Metadata

Descriptive metadata describes a resource for purposes such as discovery and identification. It can include elements such as title, abstract, author, and keywords. – Wikipedia

Name, rank, and serial number.

Binge watching

The practice of watching multiple episodes of a television program in rapid succession, typically by means of DVDs or digital streaming. – Google dictionary

Binge watching is bad, but the shows are so good according to an article in Forbes.

Elon Musk

Currently the CEO of SpaceX, Elon Musk is a South African-born Canadian-American business magnate, investor, engineer, and inventor. – Wikipedia

Elon Musk is the modern-day Leonardo da Vinci.

Simulated Universe (Matrix)

…the notion that everything humans see and know is a gigantic computer game of sorts, the creation of supersmart hackers existing somewhere else, is not a joke. – Is Our Universe a Fake? Space.com

I prefer books. Yeah, reading is a better mind simulation for me. Ready Player One is about a simulated world. 🙂

What words can you add?

Hiding from Our Power

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There are Many Truths.

I hate when people say they don’t want to talk politics or other current hot issues. But I understand. They don’t want to isolate their friends or family. And neither do I, but isn’t putting your head in the sand similar to losing power?

I never considered ignorance a virtue. Blindly doing what I’m told isn’t my style. My goal isn’t to debate. There are a lot of issues and I want to learn. I’m not trying to slaughter an opponent. If I were, which team do I trash and which do I defend? There’s more than one truth, more than two sides to every story.

When I started following the foreign relations debacle, it was a war issue in my mind. I was young. I’d read the history of the Islamic culture and the religious clashes. Mostly I was familiar with the biblical context and like most Americans, I dismissed it and went on with my life of raising a family. I was naive.

Pick A Side

As the years passed, the sects morphed from Al Qaida to ISIS. The United Nations and other joint efforts moved troops from Iraq, Afghanistan then into Syria. The issues have ranged in scope from violence, human trafficking, and the debate over women’s rights. In the American sphere, we’ve passed the baton of power from one president to another, changing the man behind the desk, without changing much in the world sphere. It feels like a game of whack-a-mole, but real people are harmed. This isn’t a funhouse. No one wins.

I was so appalled at the beginning of Trump’s presidency, that I couldn’t hear differing opinions about the banning of Muslims. Even though I’m still not in favor of it, I won’t try to remove your skull. My opinion has changed on some matters, but none are fully formed. I’m learning.

Forget Debate

Possibly we don’t want to offend our friends, but we can still learn. We can listen to podcasts. Read books. Talk to people. Learn about the current news subjects. Pick one that’s right for you, maybe even a bit frightening. The difference-do it with a goal in mind. Not to win, but to learn.

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My current podcast:

Sam Harris – The Waking Up podcast

Mysterious Universe (they make me smile)

My current read:

The Way of the Strangers Encounters With the Islamic State by Graeme Wood

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