The dragon is old and always hungry—needy. Ages ago, alongside her teeth, her mouth fused splinters, blades, knives, and other strange objects—things your mom warned you. Her claws and teeth are now deep in my neck, and my muscles seize in response. I’m recovering from a recent Posterior Cervical Diskectomy and Fusion.
Pain is an annoying Dragon
Some moments I cry—weep like a baby. One morning, I was fixing my hair and make-up. While I was doing the mascara, my neck muscle knotted and seized. The pain was so intense that I went into the bedroom to sit. The tears flowed and flowed. After a few minutes, my body finally calmed, and I went to repair my makeup.
I wish I had a picture to show you how my face looked after that. It was a mess with black smeared eyeliner and mascara. I had hilarious raccoon eyes—a complete do-over on the makeup.
I chose to have a second surgery. I am no victim. My spine will heal stronger, straighter. I like this. I know this dragon isn’t going to hold me, keep me on my knees, beat me down forever.
Honking is an annoying noise to me, so much so that it took me a full year before I realized the one-year-old car I purchased didn’t have a working horn. Hmmm, darn. My warranty was gone by that time. I’ve had the car for ten years now, and it’s still not repaired.
People honk, and it’s difficult to know, are they telling me, “Hey lady, speed up!” or “Yeah, you can move on into the spot in front of me.” A loud noise is a loud noise. It startles and offends. Honking rarely accomplishes it’s purpose unless the purpose is for the person honking is to yell. In those situations, it is useful. Honk, honk, honk, honk. Just like being downtown in Chicago.
I’m contrasting this to those who complain. My mom complained when I was growing up, and it was difficult for me to learn the difference until more recently. I asked her to voice her concerns to her doctor, which she had spoken so freely to me, and she said she didn’t want to complain. I was baffled. She told me my dad didn’t approve of this behavior, and then I understood a little more. He is the one who keeps things to himself. He is always alright. He would never let the doctor know of his issues because it exposes weakness. So, mom’s complaining to me is her way of telling me she has a problem, but she has no way of getting help.
Voicing an issue is a good thing, in my opinion. Speaking up, and even protesting is a right we should protect with all of our beings. If we don’t want to lose our humanity in this age, we need to wake up and use this time wisely. Speak up. If there’s an issue on your job, or at your apartment complex, or anywhere that is affecting your life, use your right to say something.
This society we live in is built upon these customs. The structure our ancestors chose were laws, rules, and the ability to stand up for ourselves. We sometimes need to request help from others stronger or wiser than we are to speak for us, but the purpose is the same, don’t sit in the mud and complain about being wet and dirty. Find a way, ask for help, holler, cry, kick, and scream if you must, but say something until you are heard and can grab a hand that will pull you out of that mud. But whatever you do, don’t stay there.
I live in an area where complacency is the norm. This is the way it is. We’ve always lived here and don’t you dare think you’re better than anyone else. I’m watching businesses die because of this attitude, and these are ones that could update their equipment, update their ways, and stay in touch with the times, but they refuse. It reminds me of when typewriters were going out, and computers came in. So many talented older women didn’t learn how to use these new pieces of equipment. Modern ways came in and left them behind. I shouldn’t be sad, I guess. I should let it go, but I find it disheartening because this is what I see happening in my government as well. It’s time for a change. I don’t know what it will look like, but the old way isn’t working. We have to speak up.
Say something. If you have opinions and you have ideas, say them. If you are in a position to do something in a local area, use it to your advantage. Make wise decisions. Move forward.
If you’re a person in need, don’t give up hope. This is a day for you. The sun is rising. Decide what you want, even if it seems impossible. Imagine if it were. If you were not sitting in the mud, how would you live?
Do you need some inspiration? How about an easy read?
Being Strong is a collection of my writings from when I began soul searching. I was so miserable. I didn’t know the girl in the mirror anymore. My life had changed. All of it, including my friends, my beliefs, and even my manner of doing things, had transformed. I was learning what made me strong.
We are learning to fly by intention instead of brute strength.
It’s a new day. We are learning new ways of seeing the world. And we remember long-forgotten ways. If germs make us sick, what about our emotions and the emotions of others around us. I agree that actions count, but activities without a connection are dry and blow away. Please enjoy.
Earlier, I was eating an apple and enjoying it. I was just eating the apple, nothing else, and it was delicious. The Crunch. The Juice. It was a delicious apple. So much of my eating has become a duty. Just enjoying good food is difficult because we are all so uptight about eating healthy and not overeating. I’m right there in the mix of it also. Sitting down to eat a whole gallon of ice cream isn’t enjoying it. That’s a compulsion.
Documenting my food intake is entirely not my style. Of course like everything I do, I volley between a strict watch to eating whatever I want. Until I get in sync with my body though, I feel I need to be aware of what I’m doing. My main problem is when I start to watch, I also begin to grade. I judge.
Surely there’s a better way of staying healthy. A relaxed way. Somehow to respect ourselves and respect our food. With honor.
People talk of spoons. You only have so many spoons a day. To some, this makes no sense. Why spoons? What about being poor with no credit cards. No cash. And your tire is busted. You don’t have $10.00 bucks and some lint in your pocket. There’s not a credit card to charge it on because you can’t get one.
The story of pain is about restrictions. Woven inside it’s barbs are reminders to go slower. Ease up on the anger. And always remember to rest.
Another way of understanding pain is to know there’s something always in your field of vision. It’s like a floppy hat you bat away but it keeps crashing on your face.
The teen who started the spoon story had Lupus, which is a limiting disorder. On the outside, everything looks normal. It’s the inside where things are not functioning as they should. It’s as if you have water in your car’s gas tank. There’s sputtering and stalling.
Most who suffer pain, try to hide it, even though it’s with them regularly. I know it’s influenced many decisions. How hard do I push in exercise? Not to overexertion. If I allowed myself to become dehydrated and too hot, it could trigger a migraine and muscle spasms. I’ve taken a lot of effort to prevent those, so moderation is better.
There’s a strange way of focusing when you have limited resources. It frees you to decide on priorities. It also lets you say no at times. Unfortunately, there have been times I desperately wanted to attend events, and I couldn’t. Understand it’s not an Ace card up my sleeve. I never play it like that for a reason most apparent. When I need it, I want it to be real.
I try to live optimistic, thinking of my dreams, but I have to keep my limits in view, to know how much I can accomplish each day.
In my family, growing up wasn’t about self empowerment. We survived, we made do, and we were grateful for what we had. Any self empowerment wasn’t recognized. It didn’t have anything to do with the mindset of raising children in the culture of my family and town. It wasn’t practical. Mind your parents and mind your teachers. That was the mindset of my generation.
Why do I bring this up? Because this week I felt like this,
and all of me felt like praying to some big person in the sky. But even when I do, I’m still the one with the screwdriver in my hand trying to fix whatever is broken.
When my car won’t run or my washer is broken, I feel helpless. We had snow and ice this last week so my car didn’t budge from its parking space and the battery was dead. Normally I face things logically. Easy fix. But for some strange reason when I feel trapped, I panic. I get that sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. I want to hide. I want to run. I want to crawl back under the covers and never come out. Helpless.
So what causes this shift in mindset and what do I need to do about it? I took the rational practical approach and got my car taken care of. I called the repair place to make an appointment for the washing machine to be fixed next week. What else is there to do? I took the practical approach because there is no magic potion or special words to chant. There was AAA who came to jump the battery and Collins Repair for the washer.
I also went to work and behaved like a rational person, pretending that I wasn’t raised from birth to be helpless. Even though I feel like a newborn babe, I’m not helpless.
Many times in life we realize an old rule no longer works. We find ourselves going about the same actions because it’s familiar but our circumstances have changed. What’s that saying, Insanity is doing the same thing the same way but expecting different results?
Walking on thin ice.
I’m from the lower plain states. Every winter it freezes, just a bit. Not enough to freeze anything deep, especially not deep enough to walk on. Our rule is not to walk on the ice. Any story I’ve heard growing up that had ice and people in it, was a cautioning tale. Like the time my dad’s hunting dog drowned under a thin sheet of ice. It happened so quickly the dog was gone before anyone could save him. I listen with dread when I hear of people’s stories of trying to challenge nature every winter on one of the nearby lakes. Usually it’s some high school guy trying to prove something to his friends.
As children we have rules to keep us safe. As an adult now those rule need to change. It’s okay for you to walk across the street alone. No one needs to hold your hand. We know this and we adapt.
Recheck your rules.
Old rule: Don’t walk on the ice. Why? It will break
New rule: You can walk on the ice if it’s frozen deeply enough.
It’s difficult to adapt to new rules of living but it’s possible. At first thought there’s no way I’d walk on the ice. Old conditioning says it’s dangerous. But in frigid climates, they land planes on the ice. Polar bears walk across the ice.
Know your climate. Learn the rules that apply to your current life.
My difficulty is knowing what’s an old rule that can be disregarded and what’s an old rule that still works. Healthy eating is one. 4 square meals? Dessert? No pop?
One of my “no longer applies” is really just a useless fantasy. The fantasy of needing to be chosen. Of walking into a room or down the street and a modelling scout grabs you and must have you to model for their latest project. Or the boy who discovers that his quirks and shortcomings are actual strengths to help him on his quest of saving the village. We’ve read these books and watched the movies. It a common theme. The being chosen part isn’t so terrible if we realize it’s just fantasy most of the time.
When we are young, we do a lot of waiting. We wait for buses, teachers, lunch, water fountains, and bathroom privileges. At the time we didn’t control our own lives. Now, our adult lives are full of choices and initiative. More commonly we apply for jobs, walk into the office and hunt down the person in charge. We go from passive verbs to active verbs. There are no real map tattoos that suddenly appear on our bodies or diaries from our deceased aunt explaining our heritage. The difficulties of our lives are as simple as this question, Do you want to sit and wait to be picked or do you want to get up and dance?
Old rule: Wait to be discovered and wow the world.
New rule: Take a chance. Write the book. Grab the microphone and sing. Dance your heart out.
I have people ask me sometimes, why do you bother wearing makeup everyday? Or why do you dress up always? Well, when should I wear makeup or fix my hair? Special occasions only? This seems silly to me. What you want to become, you have to be.
Your life is the total of your daily activities. The effort you put into your life daily, hourly, minute by minute is the life you live. If you only give your days 50% effort, you’ll get 50% back. Live smarter. Live stronger. Put in what you want to get out of it.
I know if I am paying for 10 gallons of gasoline for my car, I wouldn’t keep going to the one that just didn’t get around to fixing their pumps. Especially if I got shorted a gallon each time. I really like to go to the ones that give me extra.
I demand a lot out of everyday life and I am prepared to put a lot into it. I have ambition and I have enough orneriness to back it up.
The opening scene of my favorite TV series is chaotic. Burning metal, screaming and crying people. It’s shock and awe at it’s finest. No warning except the brief turbulence and the engines shutting down. The airplane tears in half and crashes on a deserted island. It’s a much more traumatic scene than Gilligan’s Island. The TV series LOST dumps you with the terrified passengers of Oceanic flight 815.
One man, Jack, understands the situation and looks around. He’s cut, sore, and just as shaken as all the rest. But his first reaction tells you who he is. Here’s a paragraph from Wikipedia.
On September 22, 2004, Jack Shephard (Matthew Fox) awakens in the jungle and notices a yellow Labrador retriever darting through the bamboo forest. He runs through the jungle to a beach, where he is confronted by the carnage of the airplane crash of Oceanic Flight 815. Jack, a surgeon, darts from one survivor to the next, administering medical aid. He assists the pregnant Claire Littleton (Emilie de Ravin), enlists Hurley (Jorge Garcia) to watch her, and administers CPR to Rose Henderson (L. Scott Caldwell), saving her life.
When you’re new it’s obvious who’s in charge. Very few try to usurp authority at first. We fit in. We do our job and go home at the end of the day. But what happens when we are all equals? What makes one person, like Jack, take charge and take care of the needs of others? What’s their thoughts at that moment? What emotion spurs them forward while others can’t think? We’d all like to think we’d be the in control, calm person asking for supplies. Truth is there is no way of knowing what you’d do until you get in that situation. An interesting thing happens after the chaos of the first scene of this movie. Everyone, well maybe not everyone, turns on Jack. When the chaos calms and the fear is forgotten people start resenting the authority. In a crisis we look to our leaders as heroes. We want the strong, authoritative person. The military is our knight in shining armor.
Until the dust settles.
It’s not that we didn’t appreciate their help. Quite the opposite. It’s the crisis versus peace dichotomy and our country is in the middle of it. In a crisis we seek authority. Then we want to get on with our lives and left alone. According to conspiracy advocates countries create crisis to control the population. I’m not a total conspiracy geek, but I can see the reasoning. What we need to do as people is to understand why we want authority and how much is enough. I don’t have the all the answers, but it is something I feel we all need to think about. Do we live in a time of crisis or a time of peace? And how will we respond to either? Authority isn’t the enemy or the hero. Sometimes we need a person to step forward and take charge, but they must also be able to graciously step down when the crisis is over.
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