Awaken Your Integrity

Being yourself sounds easy. It’s the current advice. It will solve all of your problems from dating to your life’s work, but what does it mean?

Recently, we’ve watched society reject men doing their thing. Vulgar stuff. Alpha men have gone their ways for centuries and getting by with it. Is that the answer? Gawd, I hope not. Oppression is not me. I’m uncomfortable in that world.

Society and the current work environment makes it almost impossible to be yourself. Even your day and night cycles are timed to fit someone else.

So, what are the solutions? Claim as much of your life as you can. Take assertiveness courses. Learn your style and use the information to your advantage.

Is there an area in your life that bugs you? Can you take action? Even if it’s a small change, it can help. Tell yourself ‘yes’ and others ‘no.’ Read, learn, and find like-minded people.

Regarding integrity, I believe Anthony Bodine lived his truths. Hello Darkness, My Old Friend by Mike Rowe

check out one of my posts, To Love Yourself

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Lost, Forgotten, Ignored? Does anyone care?

lost toyNo one wants to feel like the lost toy. Forgotten. We hate to be misunderstood. It hurts.

I called my doctor’s office this week. My neck was in a muscle spasm and my head was hurting. I’d actually left home from work early on Monday. So I called them in desperation. Could they help? The nurse called me back promptly, stating she’d get with the doctor then let me know. I waited. Monday evening I checked my phone. Tuesday morning, I took my time getting ready for work, dreading going in since I was still in pain, but I was still thinking the doctor’s office might call any minute. I checked my phone around noon and there was still no call. I don’t like being ignored. I’m not easily forgotten. Wednesday came, then Thursday, and finally Friday morning, which was when I spoke with the nurse. After all the waiting, I wondered if my doctor really reviewed my chart when she only upped my dosage of the same medication I’d already been taking.

There are misunderstandings.

Sometimes we don’t hear the full sentence. We often aren’t fully listening to the person talking, we just think we are. We hear the words, but we hear them with our perceptions. I’ve talked about this before in other posts. For more on this read, Flavors and Perspectives. I do this so much it embarrasses me. Note to self: Practice mindfulness. Recently I had an epiphany. When I was growing up, girls were becoming more independent, going to college and getting jobs. It was the beginning of the age of the working girl.

I graduated from high school in the early 80’s without any of these big plans. I’d had odd jobs. I wasn’t lazy and I never refused work if it was offered. What I had lacked was transportation. I don’t want to be down on my parents because everyone has their faults, as well as their charms. My parents are the steady type. They are there for you when you’re in need. You need new tires or your air conditioner is broken, they are the people who will help. There was always food on the table and a bed to sleep in. But I knew where I stood all of my life when it came time asking for the extra things. And I knew what those extra items consisted of. I didn’t ask to attend extra curricular activities in school.  I didn’t do band or sports. I rode the bus home from school. I did my homework. I colored in the lines. No nonsense. No useless activities. Why? Have you ever been on a highway that has the bumps on the side for when you veered off the road? It’s like being pulled feet first down a flight of stairs. That’s what it felt like asking for more.

I didn’t realize until recently that I’d been guilty of not only misreading my parents’ values, but also of ignoring their values. Maybe I never saw them at all. At that time, they had disregarded my requests for a car. Ignored. Said No. However you wish to phrase it. When I asked to work, which I did temporarily, it was received with a lot of complaining on my parents part. Remember the bumps on the side of the road? The job lasted for a few months until I got tired of hearing the complaining. For years I’d thought of myself as lazy after high school. I should have went to college, I kept thinking. But how could I have went to college, since I didn’t have a car? I should have gotten a job. Small towns. No transportation. Guilt. Shame. Misunderstanding. The circle of life.

My brother had mentioned my parents’ different values to me a few years before and I had forgotten until recently. Dad is old-fashioned. Women don’t need educated. Men do. Men work. Women stay at home and raise children. There wasn’t a reason for me to go to college or have a car. I knew that I wasn’t lazy. I had just misunderstood. It’s just taken me a bit longer to get where I wanted to be. My generation, the edge of change, often misunderstood our parents. Just as they

often misunderstood us and our need for independence and leaving their ways behind.

Strange abandoned house

I was watching some new videos on YouTube and found an entire channel devoted to urban exploration with abandoned houses. I’ve included one of the most interesting ones below. It’s short and quaint. WWI era house and supposedly left undisturbed. Check it out for yourself.

Urban Explorers can be found under the YouTube channel Seeker Stories

About Being Noble and My Many Questions – repost

This is a re-post from September 1, 2013, About Being Noble and My Many Questions. Some may remember it. After a tough week like this one, I needed to remind myself of this.

Who told me?

Who said I should be in the 6 a.m. meditation group? Do I know what is holy? Can I decide for the future what I should do, where I should go, with whom I should be, and still remain open to what is needed now? Am I quite sure I should answer every question? EXTRA : Care for some extra superpowers, The Fluent Self

Who told me that?

Do I know the consequences of even one word I write?

Who told me it is kind to laugh at every joke, be on time for every appointment, get less sleep and not more, keep certain thoughts to myself, always do what I have agreed? How can I know what the situation calls for when it is clearly impossible for me to see the whole situation? Do I claim no distortion in my perception? Why then torture myself about fulfilling every unexamined claim of conscience? Why not consider the alternative? That there is something within me that does know and I can hear that something more clearly in comfort than in guilt. Maybe I should ease up and let things be.

“No matter what we talk about, we are talking about ourselves”
― Hugh PratherI Touch the Earth, the Earth Touches Me

“I sometimes react to making a mistake as if I have betrayed myself. My fear of making a mistake seems to be based on the hidden assumption that I am potentially perfect and that if I can just be very careful I will not fall from heaven. But a ‘mistake’ is a declaration of the way I am, a jolt to the way I intend, a reminder I am not dealing with the facts. When I have listened to my mistakes I have grown.”
― Hugh Prather

This is from a page I wrote in 2005. I was reading from some of my journals and ran across this little piece and thought that it is just as relevant for me today as it was then. 

Get off your pedestal. You’re going to hurt yourself. 

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.

 

Rainbows and Taxes

The trick to having a happy life is knowing who you are and what you need at this stage of life.

I often get caught playing against two sides. The wall that is solid brick and constant. The unchanging realities. The weather. Death. Life. Taxes. It’s true to its word and never changes. You always know where you stand, but it is unforgiving if you slam against it.

The other is not a wall at all. Plasma. Morphing. Changing. Moving. It’s much like sinking sand. The wants, needs, and desires we all have. We want a house. College. We dream of success. It’s all intangible. The end of the rainbow. The stars of the sky. It can seem scary when the desires overwhelm us.

“Don’t seek to be happy; let everyone else chase after that rainbow.
Seek to be kind, and you’ll find the rainbow follows you.”
Richelle E. Goodrich

No one wants to live in an iron cage. To be contained without forgiveness will make your heart sink with defeat. You lose all motivation and wish only for death to come. We dream of running free or flying high in the air. If your life is constantly paying dues, living your life meeting the needs of others, being responsible, then your life is an iron cage. You are a bird in a cage.

It’s not all or nothing….

But, we all need a little support. We need fences and borders to help us along the way. Highways have markings for a reason. Road signs and access lanes keep us traveling freely. When we are developing our skills either as children or adults we need guidance. How do I travel overseas? Do I need a passport? Will I be searched at the airport? So you ask for guidance, consult the experts, get recommendations from friends and even strangers who look like they might know something about traveling abroad. If you have been a regular nomad your entire life, you don’t need these things anymore. You could write your own guidebook. Heck you probably already have.

Where are you?

The important thing to know is, what level are you in this life? Are you starting fresh or starting over? You’ll know because you’ll be asking questions and looking everywhere for answers. That bewildered look on your face really gives you away. That’s okay. It’s just one step at a time and then you’re on your way. Maybe you started over and have been on this journey awhile but you’re not sure if this is where you want to be. Maybe it’s an okay place, but it may be a bit boring. That’s when you start flexing some muscles. Add some play into your routine. You can push the boundaries a bit just to start a spark. It will be like your teenage years all over again, but without the braces.

Who are you?

Not many people will admit to being an old pro at life. I mean really, as they say, no one gets out alive. Some are more sturdy and knowledgeable though and to yell at them for getting off the safe path would just be silly. They might laugh at you. These are the ones who stare at the top of Mount Everest with a twinkle in their eye. “Yep,” they say, “I’m gonna climb that someday.” And maybe they will. If not that mountain then it might be another. You’ll find these people often helping out the Red Cross or United Way after a disaster. They’ll be reading to small children while their parents are stocking up on survival supplies. You might see them but you probably won’t because they are busy just living their lives.

“the image of those midwestern storms that rip up the world as you know it, and leave, like a sacrifice, a rainbow to make you forget what has come before.”
Jodi Picoult, Picture Perfect

There are the travelers and the nomads. Trailblazers and renegades. The gardener and the road builder. The scientist and the preacher. What do all of these have in common? You guessed it. They all started with one step in front of the other. No one is born fully whole.

Where are you? Have you recently started over? Do you even know where you want to go or what you want to see? Just know where you are now. Write it down and don’t be ashamed. If you were wanting to travel you would start with brochures. You would read up on the places that sound interesting then learn what you need for the journey.

Some books that inspired me:

El Camino road by Shirley Maclaine
The ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning
Women Who Run with the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes

My Attitude? I Blame Westerns

I watch the AMC show, Hell on Wheels and I often smile at the lengths the character Cullen Bohannon goes to hold to his morality. He will do whatever it takes to get the job done, whether it’s legal or not. Whether it’s lethal or not. Then step out of the muck and mud, put on his hat, and walk away.

Work hard. Clean up your mess. Speak softly and carry a big stick. Let your actions do your talking. Take care of your family. Don’t air your dirty laundry. It’s better to be poor and stand on your own two feet than to be carried around by someone else. That’s the codes of conduct I grew up with and they developed my attitudes.

 “A gun is a tool, Marian; no better or no worse than any other tool: an axe, a shovel or anything. A gun is as good or as bad as the man using it. Remember that.” – Shane

Someone asked me once, if you had a disease and the only treatment or cure was illegal, would you get it? My answer is easy. Absolutely, but I’m not alone. The rise of self publishing shows our love for individualism.

Whether you call it an American attitude or something we picked up from John Wayne in the movies, there’s an internal moral compass that tells us what is right and what is wrong. Even though the law says it’s right, it isn’t always the right that we believe. We honor independence over group thinking. It’s a western, as opposed to an eastern, way of thinking. See what I mean: Minimalistic Visualizations Explain Differences In Eastern And Western Cultures 

There are downfalls in this thinking and I’m not touting it as a recipe for success. Sadly, there were proud fathers who turned down help from neighbors when their children were starving. Charity wasn’t for them or their kin and they would state it proudly. No one is perfect and no political stance is complete. It would be refreshing though to see a politician or an individual who could look at a problem from a neutral viewpoint, without the blinders of pride or prejudice. The ability to hold two differing points of view in your mind and judge is a difficult task. If they could do that, then they could solve the problems of today, like the wise men of long ago. No, not just like Solomon, but like Rooster Cogburn also.

Rooster Cogburn: Well, out in the territory, we prize a dead shot more’n we do a lady’s charms.

Eula Goodnight: Then I’ve come to the right place, haven’t I? You mean the men in the West do not mind if their women outshoot and outsmart them?

Rooster Cogburn: If they’re quiet about it. No, here we value a spirited woman almost as much as we do a spirited horse.

Check it out: The 16 Best Western Movies-The Art of Manliness

 

Barriers

There are so many walls, closed doors and iron bars in my mental picture that understanding life can sometimes be difficult. I’ve spent the last 10 plus years unlearning religion and yet I find so much of its cages still there. If I could find proof in a god or even if there was no god it would seem easier. But yet in the old behavioral science experiments the opposite is the case. In spite of the door being opened the animals still had difficulty leaving.

Is there a reason for the friction?

If you want to visit DisneyWorld, you’ll need to buy a ticket and wait in line.

If you want to see the full moon, you can go outside and look up in the sky.

Often, we’re tempted to create friction, barriers and turnstiles. We try to limit access, require a login, charge a fee… sometimes, that’s because we want control, other times we believe we can accomplish more by collecting money. Clearly, people value the moments that they spend at Disney–with hundreds of dollars on the line and just a few hours to spend, there’s an urgency and the feeling of an event occurring. – Seth Godin

When I can, I don’t make life so difficult. If I see a need and I can help, I help. God doesn’t need to be consulted or any religion. If I need money, I work. If I can make money at what I love doing, then great, otherwise I’ll do what someone else will pay me to do. I’m not going to sit around and worry because I’m not making money by being impressive. I want to just live my life without difficulty.

 

Up

Change.....
Change….. (Photo credit: B Gilmour.)

Change is a lot of work. I’ve update my life and restarted more times than I want to think about. Packing, moving, unpacking. I went through a 5 year period in which we moved 5 times. Crazy. I’m the girl who has lived 40 plus years only 30 miles from her home town.

This week my office was doing some reconstruction around my cubicle. It’s funny to me since I’m the only one left in the area and I’m expecting to hear at any moment, “you have to move.” They’ve asked if I want to move and no, not really. I like my quiet corner of the world. It’s dark and I’m not bothered much. I sometimes feel like the old guy from the Disney animation, Up (2009)

I ponder buying a new car or moving to a new place like I’m looking at a spreadsheet of credits and debits. Is the thrill and novelty of changing worth the effort it takes to change? Even in just trying to set up a new habit, the benefits have to outweigh the effort. Some are worth it. For example, working out, or more specifically, running has been worth it. I enjoy it and miss the effort when I can’t hit the pavement. Even beyond the euphoria of the run, the sweat makes me feel I’ve accomplished something.

Most of my changes are for progress. It’s not the novelty that makes me put in the mileage or sign my money away. I will sweat and endure the pain if it’s important to me. Maybe we’re all that way.

I just watched a family member move to another city and state. It’s difficult to watch someone go. It’s difficult to see the emotions on their face. There’s the uncertainty mixed with the excitement. New experiences and new people. A bigger city means more opportunities for the activities you like, but there’s also the trouble of finding a place to live and new friends. It takes time for the new place to feel like home. Finding a favorite store or a favorite running trail.

If you’re feeling like the earth has moved out from under you, don’t worry. Just breathe. And remember why you’re doing it. Over time you’ll find your balance again.

Teach Your Children Well

Do you remember the Miracle-Gro® commercial where the gardeners compared tomato plants? One used Miracle-Gro® soil and the other used ordinary dirt? Our children are like that. By chance, if a kid is lucky he might grow up fine without parental intervention, but give a child what he needs and he can thrive. Guidance and opportunity.

There’s been a controversy for years between genetics versus environment. But in my opinion, you can take any child and put them in a healthy environment and it won’t make him Einstein. You can take an Einstein and put him anywhere and he will probably still be a genius. But most of us are somewhere in between. A smart kid without guidance can only go so far. Give her education, nutrition, and opportunity and she might be sitting alongside a few Einsteins herself.

The cure or the story? – Seth Godin

The plumber, the roofer and the electrician sell us a cure. They come to our house, fix the problem, and leave.

The consultant, the doctor (often) and the politician sell us the narrative. They don’t always change things, but they give us a story, a way to think about what’s happening. Often, that story helps us fix our problems on our own.

The best parents, of course, are in the story business. Teachers and bosses, too.

We need to encourage our girls more to be smart, to be curious, to be strong, to change things, to ask questions and worry less about beauty and size 0 bodies.

Here’s a start:

Top Mighty Girl Books

 

Foolish Contentment

Drawing for user page

I went browsing on Realtor.com last weekend, just for kicks. I have pondered whether to fix up my place or trade to a place that has some of the features I’m wanting. With property values down I hate to add a lot of upgrades to my current place since it’s not going to be recouped for a while. This is my line of thinking at least. Thinking, mulling over, and obsessing. Here’s a bit of advice from others that I found helpful:

One of the human absurdities is the fact that we’re constantly thinking about either the future or the past. – Being Nobody Going Nowhere

Surrender literally means to stop fighting. Stop fighting with yourself. Stop fighting the universe and the natural flow of things. Stop resisting and pushing against reality. Surrender = Complete acceptance of what is + Faith that all is well, even without my input. It’s not about inaction. It’s about taking action from that place of surrender energy. – Let Go of Control/TinyBuddha

Letting go doesn’t mean we don’t care.  Letting go doesn’t mean we shut down. Letting go means we stop trying to force outcomes and make people behave. It means we give up resistance to the way things are, for the moment. It means we stop trying to do the impossible–controlling that which we cannot–and instead, focus on what is possible–which usually means taking care of ourselves.  And we do this in gentleness, kindness, and love, as much as possible. Melody Beattie

My fear is of being stuck with a piece of property that will be worthless. Remember the hot potato game we played when we were kids or even the dirty Santa game? No one wants to play the fool. Do I like where I’m at in life? Yes, I do. And not just my location, my lifestyle.

For me it’s not about keeping up with another person, it’s about pleasing myself. It’s not about someone else’s opinion. They can mind their own business. Only I know what’s best for me. It’s not about status, wealth, or fame. It’s about survival. It seems to come back to that a lot. Survival and getting stuck with the foolish choice. There is hope in knowing and wanting and then allowing things to happen. It’s hopeful to know that what I want isn’t a new house. It’s making a wise choice.

Kiva.org was foolish to think a $25.00 loan could help anyone. Kickstarter.com was foolish to think anyone else would care about up and coming entrepreneurs. Think of all the other fools out there. Foolishness could be bravery or shrewdness if the plan works.

We must learn to let go, to give up, to make room for the things we have prayed for and desired. – Charles Fillmore

As I started to picture the trees in the storm, the answer began to dawn on me. The trees in the storm don’t try to stand up straight and tall and erect. They allow themselves to bend and be blown with the wind. They understand the power of letting go. Those trees and those branches that try too hard to stand up strong and straight are the ones that break. Now is not the time for you to be strong, Julia, or you, too, will break. – Julia Butterfly Hill

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