Are You In or Out?

Growing up there were those in school who stood out. You noticed them. They were involved or engaged as my manager at work once called it. Take a look at those who are involved in society. They attend functions. They are on boards or are members of certain organizations.

Innie or Outie?

One of the questions at my employment is – do you have a friend at work. Why is this important? People who are involved, have friendships, vote, and attend functions are the ones who are cooperating. They feel like they are a part of the team. In the corporate world, that’s an asset to a manager. You care.

Confidence, self-esteem, validation, and greatness

Remember the qualities I listed last week, the ones I said we crave, confidence, self-esteem, validation, and greatness? Understand that greatness didn’t always come to those who were involved in your high school years. Even though Miss Prom Queen got the chance to wear the crown, that doesn’t mean she is still someone you would admire today. To be great, you have to continue to do great things. That requires a strong inner strength.

“Impact is rewarding. Mattering makes us happy.”
Daniel Gilbert, Stumbling on Happiness

I never had the nerve to try out for the lead roles in plays or start a protest, even though I wanted to.  Being in front still makes me uncomfortable, but I realize it’s not the only way to greatness, to mattering. Show up this year. Care.

Be the change for this new year

  • Be a friend.
  • Start a charity fund in your office or group.
  • Take part in giving.
  • Teach a class or contribute to a class.
  • Vote.
  • Speak up.
  • Find and join a cause.
  • Sign a petition.

What I’m reading now: Stumbling on Happiness

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My Secret – not a copyright infringement

I’m going to let you in on a secret, mine even. It’s not often that people get the deep scoop you know. There are those that blab their secrets to everyone and I do have a blog so I may qualify as one. Just to set the record straight, though, I usually don’t tell a lot of my personal life. Facebook and Twitter aren’t filled with my personal details. I rarely post pictures of my meals. I don’t date a lot so I guess you won’t see many pictures of the guys I’ve dated. My cat, well she’s fairly photogenic, but she’s not much of a secret.

The bulldog‘s grip

I have this thing that I do. It’s a switch inside my head that once it’s turned on I have a difficult time turning off. Maybe you have it too. It’s like a bulldog’s grip. You know what it’s like when you’re trying to remember the name of your third-grade teacher, and it’s on the edge of your memory. Yeah, that feeling. Now if you can do something to get to it, as in the case of remembering the actor that played in Vikings, not the main star, but the one who was in the first season and you can’t remember which episode. Do you bother searching? I would. That’s my secret. I would search. Through episodes, Imdb, Google or wherever I needed to search. You don’t call this a secret? Maybe you say I’m sick or I need drugs. Well, you may be right. I say that this skill could come in handy. It did when I was in school. I’d stay up and finish my homework late into the night. I think they call it cramming now.

Can’t let go, don’t hold back

I also learned something new because of this sickness-secret. It’s freed me from my hesitation in my writing. I’ve been doing the NaNoWriMo and I’m a bit behind so I’m cramming aggressively. While cramming, I searched and listened to some helpful pointers and realized I had been restraining myself as I wrote. It isn’t enough to tell yourself to write freely. It’s like saying Be Happy to a sad person. I had to find a way past it. So I did. I wrote a worthless scene as suggested, purely for word count, a monolog. You know what? It was awesome. It worked. The difference in my word count was incredible. The ease that I’m now writing my story has improved. And the important part of the whole thing is that I can feel the bulldog grip. I want to finish this thing!

 

Birthdays and Fried Egg Sandwiches

Some phrases are forever linked in my mind. Some memories flash as bright as neon lights. Every single time someone makes the statement I’m not having a birthday, I think, I want to grab as many birthdays as I can. I just had another birthday and even though it was a big one I’m not depressed about it. I enjoyed the day talking with my family.

Several years back some friends I knew had a sudden tragedy. The week before the husband had seemed in good health. He’d celebrated his birthday with his wife and stepdaughter and even joked about not growing older. No more birthdays, he’d said. Of course it was all said in jest as he cut the cake and blew out the candles. We all say these things. We don’t mean to stop living. The next week after attending Sunday evening church services, this man and his family went home. He was hungry for a fried egg sandwich. While his wife got the pan and put it on the stove, the man stopped still, and he grabbed his chest. He said he didn’t feel so well. Before the ambulance got to the house, he was dead.

I’m not saying that he caused his death. That’s superstition. People say silly things all of the time. I’m saying that the phrase “No more birthdays” is linked in my thoughts forever to fried egg sandwiches. Every time I cook an egg I remember to be grateful to be alive because on that night he didn’t get to enjoy kissing his stepdaughter goodnight. I remember. She looked lost and sad that night as I sat beside her. Birthdays are for the living, and I’ll take as many as I can get!

Recipe: Link Fried Egg Sandwiches Simply Scratch

PS yes we are a bit southern here, and it’s probably not a healthy recipe, but I do eat free-range eggs. 🙂

 

For Sheila, My Cousin, My Friend

This post is a short glimpse into a friend’s life.  She was much than this. It’s my attempt to say goodbye to my friend who we lost this last week in a car accident. She will be greatly missed. — Janet

When you’re ten-years-old, life is simple. Everyone around you is an uncle, an aunt, a brother, a sister, a mother, a father, or a cousin. Other than a family member, you are a stranger until you become a friend or a neighbor.

I grew up in a small town. And that small town raised me. Collinsville had only a population of 3,009 by the time that I was ten, by the time that Sheila and I decided to figure out if we were just friends or if we were family now. It was about bonding. It was about how we mattered to each other. And it was important. Who wants to be just a neighbor when they can be a friend? Or a cousin? Only friends and cousins can do sleep-overs or know secrets.

We were at Sheila’s house. We attended school together since forever but something was different. My brother was dating her cousin. I’m not certain of the relations, but at the time we were solemn about this. We had to be cousins, she had decided. We must be cousins. We discussed it around and around and looked at it from both sides of the family tree. Surely we were cousins if my brother married her cousin. It made perfect sense to our 10-year-old minds.

Hours went by and running out of time, we decided that maybe it didn’t matter. That just maybe we’re all cousins or sisters because God was our father. From then on we were friends and family. I remember several times afterward calling out to each other, “Hello cousin.”

Thank you, Sheila, for being my friend and for being a friend to so many. You gave so much love while you were with us. You were the expressed image of friendship and family. Open arms and a warm heart. You are missing from us today.

My Salute to the Restless

Should we discuss IQ? It seems to be a sensitive subject to some. A while back, during a casual chat on social media, I got into a discussion about intelligence. Bad move on my part. No cookies for me! A teacher mentioned that she noticed her lower IQ’d students sat quietly and didn’t run around crazily like the higher IQ students. Exit Janet from the scene.

Sitting still is not a quality that I either encourage or discourage. Sitting still is not the goal. It has its moments. To do it for me, yes. I learn and listen in silence. In stillness, I can go inside and find the truth I need. It gives the moment to think about what I want to do for the day, to plan, to daydream, to think even about where something went wrong in the past. Where did I get off track? What did I really want? Can I fix it? Should I fix it?

I never was a popular kid in class. 

– Nathan Myhrvold

At some point, I have to end these Facebook debates because Facebook is not the place, and hijacking a friend’s post to make a point is just plain rude. I can grandstand and soapbox here, on my blog, all day long. And if it bores anyone they can move on. It’s fair that way.

I raise my glass to the restless ones. To those that can’t sit still. What keeps them going? Money? Guts? Audacity? What keeps you going? Here are a few of my favorites, but there are so many more inspiring people, restless people. Please leave yours in the comments. I’d love to hear who you think should be honored.

31 Most Inspiring Women – Women Who Changed the World

Quite honestly I’d love for someone to stroke my ego all day and listen to me spout my poetry or listen to me boast. If I was never booed or hissed or disagreed with, I might think I was the most brilliant orator in the world. As I have mentioned in an earlier post, Living With Brothers, if all the people in the audience were mothers, we would never come to the truth of ourselves. The real world teaches us that our breath stinks sometimes and that we have to speak up to be heard. We also learn that if we want something desperately enough then we might have to elbow our way to the front. No one in their right mind is going to pay you for something they can get free.

Make the Most of Life – Click Here  

Quit

I Can't Quit You Baby
I Can’t Quit You Baby (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Quit – over thinking. Quit – trying to make it work. Quit – wishing, thinking, pushing, willing, trying so hard, all of those things that make you seem like a fish flopping on the shoreline, out of his comfort zone, out of his life zone. That’s not you. We all do this. We act like we’re afraid. We act like that poor fish, gasping for air. We are not desperate. We might be afraid, but we aren’t desperate.

I have so many questions sometimes when I try new things. I start with, I’m ready. I’m excited. I crouch down like the jumper at a sporting event and I’m ready to take off, but then the questions start. How much pressure do I need to push-off? Do I land on one foot or both? Do I dig in with my toes? You get the idea. So many questions that I start doubting if I can do it or if any of it can happen. Can I really make it work? Am I just daydreaming?  We all go through this struggle. We worry. We fight the fear, then we fight the desire by telling ourselves, ‘Well, I don’t want it anyway.’ We try to shut the emotions down because they can be so raw. The open heart can feel so exposed.

I was sitting down with a guy I see regularly and without telling him anything he starts saying things such as, you know you can’t be happy unless you’re with someone who meets your needs. You have to have someone that lets you have room. In essence, it was all the things I’ve been mulling over in my head. Was he reading my mind? Sometimes I wonder. Is the world around me really just a hologram of my own making as the new-agers say? Matrix overload. Tilt. Tilt. Beep. Beep.

I’m afraid. I’m in the open, but I know I’m not alone here. I just have to wait. I did that thing I do so often, I got here early. I got over excited. How did I say that before? You can read that post here:  Overeager.

Here are a few items I ran into in the process of writing this blog. I love how when you start pulling strings, the blanket starts coming towards you.

The Wiggle Theory – by Buster Benson on The Medium
The Upside of Quitting: A Freakonomics Radio Rebroadcast

We Need to be Lost to Find Ourselves – YOUTUBE

No Other Name? and There Were a Lot of Names

I’ve called myself agnostic, atheist, and sometimes just not quite sure. But here’s a quote I like that puts it into perspective.

“The Romans called the Christians atheists. Why? Well, the Christians had a god of sorts, but it wasn’t a real god. They didn’t believe in the divinity of apotheosized emperors or Olympian gods. They had a peculiar, different kind of god. So it was very easy to call people who believed in a different kind of god atheists. And that general sense that an atheist is anybody who doesn’t believe exactly as I do prevails in our own time.”  Carl Sagan, “The Varieties of Scientific Experience”

I started writing this piece when the school bombing happened in Pakistan, which wasn’t an entirely religious incident as it turned out. But the holidays happened and I never finished writing the blog and connecting everything. As I went through my writings this week to decide what I wanted to post next, I saw this one and I decided to dot my i’s and cross my t’s as well as I could, and just post the darn thing. And then, more stupidity happens.

Three heavily armed men have attacked a French satirical magazine based in Paris – AlJezeera.com

Cabu died with several other colleagues, alongside the brave policemen who tried to stop the carnage. As the attack took place, the assailants allegedly mentioned their connection to Yemen, and that the “Prophet had been avenged.” – Charlie Hebdo: Are we not allowed to laugh any more?

And now I say that if there is a god,

I hope he/she is at the very least is not a tribal god, either of the sectarian or nationalist version. I hope his name isn’t Odin orThor. Or her name isn’t Freyja, Isis or Hecate. Why? Because these gods are small. They lead small countries and small tribes. If you were not in these tribes you were slaughtered. You were an infidel. Your children were burned, chopped or enslaved. Your wives were raped or tortured. Your crops were destroyed and your houses demolished. You were vermin. Disgusting. Hated. To be stomped, slaughtered, and forgotten. As the old testament states it, the enemy was to be wiped out, to be remembered no more.

If I did find evidence of a tribal god and his existence was proven to me, I could not bow to that god, no matter whether his name be Allah, Jehovah, Jesus, or Ahura-Mazda. My question would be, why can’t you love the kid that lives on the other side of the fence? Is his hair the wrong color?

And what of the Hindus and the people of Nepal? There is even a living goddess. People bring their children to be blessed by this goddess and leave gifts of money or baubles. They have little money, but they give happily. It’s easy for someone who stands on the west side of the world to judge them as deceived as they offer their gifts of money, tokens, or even the blood of goats in honor to their gods. It’s disgusting for a westerner to watch. I don’t like blood. Right? But I just watched the video of the war in Syria and there’s blood bathed bodies lining the streets. Ironically, we would judge saying they are deceived and we are much smarter.

But our god is real, we say

I’ve seen people bring their children forward to be prayed for by pastors. I know that rock star longing to be touched by the visiting preacher. It’s no different. It hasn’t changed from one famous person to the next. It’s been well manipulated in our time and even in times long past.

We need to change some things in this world we live in. Some things need to be off limits. No, I don’t mean the prophet Mohammed. I mean the killing of each other. For what purpose? A drawing? Get real. I used to draw pictures of my teachers. Did they shoot me on the parking lot or the streets of Collinsville? Gun me down?

What can we do?

  • Give to a charity or an organization that helps war-torn nations. United Nations-Refugees
  • Be secular. That doesn’t mean anti-god. It just means, doing something without having to do it in the name of a god. Every time I go to the grocery store or go to work, I don’t pay my bill or pick up my pay check “in the name of my god.” @BeSecular-twitter
  • Speak up when you see injustice.
  • Modify religion. It doesn’t have to be about hate. We all know this. Let’s first check our own hearts for any hatred, then our own religion. Spread love and kindness outwards.

 

Does the Dog Walk You?

Walking a dog is supposed to be good for your health. What they don’t say is what type of dog. I had a dog, a 100 pound German Shepherd dog, that was difficult to walk. She pulled at her leash until she was hoarse. I’d listen to her wheeze and cough like she was a smoker, but it didn’t stop her. In my mind it didn’t make any sense. Why would she keep pulling so hard if it caused pain?

Ha! But don’t I do the same. This last week was a busy one, and the week before and so on. For approximately 2 months my office has been working overtime, catching up. Orders need entered and claims must be sent. You know how it is. We pull ourselves up and stop whining. And once the adrenaline kicks in we’re immortal. We can clean the closet, run a race, groom the dog, wash the car, mow the lawn, give blood, and feed the family. Right? Then it stops.

I realize I was like Crystal, my big lap dog of a German Shepherd, who didn’t know when to slow down. When your body and mind finally realized it’s exhausted, it starts shutting down. Some of us get headaches, others get the flu. As much as I’d like to preempt this, I also realize that I’m task driven and if it’s there, I will do. Just like my dog. I will pull at the leash and wheeze and choke the whole way. The best I can do at this moment is allow myself to crash. Ease up on the pressure I apply and like a fellow blogger put so perfectly, The Virtues of Lowering Expectations, 

When we expect ourselves to do everything  “to the very best of our abilities,” where do we think we’ll get more of the time, energy and focus necessary to be ABLE to  do everything equally well and at the top of our game?

  • Some of us will shut down in overwhelm, then beat ourselves up for our inability to activate, which makes things worse.
  • Some of us have discovered how to transform expectation pressure into a brain-stimulating adrenalin rush that allows us to slip into a getting things done perfectly state of hyperfocus that is just as disabling.

We wear ourselves down to a nub long before we realize we haven’t been functioning very well, so not much of anything was actually accomplished.

Finally exhausted, we slip into depressive ruminations when we can’t “make ourselves” keep up that pace.

There’s a book I read years ago called Three Black Skirts. Basically, it’s organization for young women. Keeping balance, it stated, was necessary for being healthy. I used to think that if I was going to do anything, I’d have to do it forever, such as writing 1000 words a day. I realize now that if something is more pressing, such as working overtime, then it’s okay to let up on other things. Balance is the key. I’m not abandoning an activity, I’m merely postponing or minimizing. Less wheezing. Less pulling at the leash. More at ease with life.

I’m Not Jealous

While sitting in the waiting room at the doctors office, I had a funny conversation. HGTV was showing a couple buying a new home. This house was too little. That one was too old. None seemed just right for their $300,000.00 budget. Envy. Jealousy. Annoyance. Comments were flying in that waiting room. We were incredulous. She wanted a bigger kitchen but she didn’t cook. She loved having a brand new home (2 months) but didn’t like the construction that was happening around the neighborhood.

Not that I don’t understand completely. If I were paying $300,000.00 for a home, I’d want it just right also. Okay so maybe I do see her side of it, but a part of me was jealous that she took it so for granted.

While waiting for the doctor in the examining room it suddenly occurred to me, I’m not jealous
really. I’m happy to be able to walk away from that TV show and live my life. My life with a capital
MY. Healthy, happy, mature, and well lived. Much like the skinned horse from Velveteen Rabbit story, I like spouting wisdom and realism. My life is full and ordered to my liking and I have no desire for a big house with empty rooms. I enjoy every inch of my cozy home. I love the yellow walls and the sunlight that streams through the windows. I love the tall Oak trees. I’ll keep my life thanks.

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The Softer Side of Me

Anxiety - Stress ... Time management vital for...

I want to curl up on the couch and be warm and snuggly.  I’m on my couch now but I don’t feel warm and snuggly. You know that feeling when you were a child, home and sick. Not so sick you couldn’t watch TV, but too sick for school. I’d lay there with my quilt and pillow and doze off and on, not a care in the world. That’s what I mean by warm and snuggly.

There’s not as many times I let myself feel that way. If I take the time off to lay there then I feel I guilty about not completing a project like putting up some closet shelves. There’s always work needing done. I wish someone would give me permission to sit down. Would it be so wrong of me to give myself permission?

What makes us push so hard? We all feel it these days. The works never done. It seems there’s no dividing line between piling more things on our to-do list and the work we do for pay. It all just keeps growing and there’s no time to complete it. So we keep pushing along. Once the sun was our cue. When we couldn’t see the hand in front of our face we had to quit. Now we get out the spotlights and keep on plowing. No need to stop.

We have the good life when it comes to survival. We have food, clothing, running water, shelter and all of that. We have luxuries and entertainment. But there’s no scheduled time out. No choice. Must stop. One day rolls into another until we finally roll into our 6 foot deep plot. My personality demands a completion point. Even when I’m reading a book, I like to know how many pages are left before the end of the chapter. I look at the total minutes of the movies I’m watching. I mentally half and quarter the time. Strange? Bizarre for certain. I wonder if there are others out there that do something similar. And why do I need to do this? I like completion. When I finish something, I get that temporary mental feedback. That little burst of endorphin that says ‘good job’. We all have it in some degree. Maybe you’ve never noticed. Did you clean out the garage? Did you feel the need to tell someone? Facebook is great for this. We are such social beings that we need to tell everyone the most mundane actions of our lives. “Went to the store. Long lines at the gas station.” “Finally mowed the lawn.” And even though we know most of our friends don’t really care, we feel compelled to share. These harmless little actions just make my point. We completed a task. We checked it off of our list and want acknowledgement. No biggie.

Fudge snuggles

I’ve heard that the chemical reinforcement in our neurological structure is the reason we make lists. Also it’s the reason we add to that list if we’ve completed a task that we didn’t list originally and check it off. We don’t want to miss anything. We are reinforcing our accomplishments. Yay for us!  Pats on the back all around.

So my difficulty is, how do I allow myself to rest? Giving myself permission doesn’t come easily. One thing I’m learning is compassion for myself. I’ve started doing a compassion meditation (see below). Very simple. I sit and think forgiving and kind thoughts towards others, whether friends or strangers. I also include myself. I wish blessing and good things on others during this time. I acknowledge them as doing their best and allow them freedom themselves. I believe this makes me a softer person. And by becoming softer, I can allow myself to relax. It’s a start for me. For me this method is more effective than my earlier way, which was lists and lists and lists. As I said, they never seem to be finished. With this way I can relax even when things aren’t perfect. It’s taken me a long time to get where I am, and I know I have a long way to go. This is my journey.