Somebody Else's to them, whomever they may be.

Somebody Else's to them, whomever they may be.
How I feel after throwing a party...

Thanks for the visit!! :)

Friday, April 22, 2011

Doing Unto Others...

The world is greatly changed since I was a little girl, and it really wasn't as long ago as it seems.  I noticed on the news last night that the Governor of Texas had asked that the people of that state pray for rain to help with the severe drought and wildfires that they are suffering from.  The more interesting thing, the more concerning thing that I saw was the mockery, the acidic words, and the hateful speech against him, against prayer, and against God.

If you are in despair, and you need help and you ask for the prayers of the people, how is that mock-worthy? What has our world become, if people cannot cry out for help to each other and to God? If you don't believe in God, that's fine, but why would you mock the faith of others? God bless Texas--I hope the prayers of the people reach God's ears and that your drought comes to an end.

I guess I am disturbed that everything comes to combat in our world. Everything is up for mockery, everything is up for dispute, everything is up for argument, everything is worthy of anger and disrespect. The people have become hard hearted and that is truly a sad thing to see.

It's o.k. to not be the same. It's o.k. to have different beliefs. But it's not o.k. to fling hate and vitriol and anger against everything that is different. People do not react with love and compassion the way they use to. They are quick to anger and slow to love. They look for slights and for offense.  They jump quickly to negative intent and they have no patience for human failings, for mistakes, for regret and for forgiveness.  This is not only an unfortunate and sad state of affairs but it is also dangerous.  It is dangerous because anger rules the fists, and anger puts thoughts and ideas in minds and hearts that have no business being there.  If there is no love, no compassion, no thoughtfulness or forgiveness to temper it, how can there be balance, logic, reason, growth, progress and learning?

It is important to remember love, sharing, service and friendship, even in the face of adversity and of our own trials, especially so during our most difficult moments. If we lose ourselves in the service of our fellow human beings, we focus less on ourselves and our self-interest, and we expand in the quality of our humanity and of our existence on this planet full of humans. In our moments of pain and anguish, if we can see outside of ourselves, beyond ourselves, to helping those that are less fortunate (and there is ALWAYS someone less fotunate) we begin to heal, and learn and grow. 

Each of us has a purpose, a reason for being.  If we look inside of ourselves at who we really are deep within (without having a pity party while doing it,) if we really look at the goodness, even if we feel it is only a little bit, and we focus on that and we nurture it, build it, feed it and grow it, we can bring ourselves to being a better creature, a better human. 

People have suffered horribly at the hands of others, sometimes on purpose, sometimes through thoughtlessness or mistakes, and that is just the fact of being a member of humanity, of participating in the human condition.  The thing that brings me inspiration and joy is when I truly set myself aside and think of what would be best for others.  People have hurt my feelings, wounded my pride, made me weep because of their thoughtlessness or meanness, but if I reign in my feelings of revenge, of payback, of tit for tat, of retribution, and I think about the humans around me, I find that I know the better thing to do.  I still need to be the best me that I can be despite the circumstances.  It doesn't mean I continue to allow them to take advantage or abuse, it just means that I become wise and learned and balanced and I move onward.

There is a lot of turmoil and dissention in our world today.  There is a lot of focus on wealth and material goods, on war, on pain, on death, on light mindedness and crass laughter, on degrading humor, on sexuality, on getting what's owed us, what we are entitled too, what we deserve, what is our right.  The hearts of the fathers are turned away from their children, and the children from their fathers.  There is sadness and despair because of selfishness and inhumane behavriors.  With all of this focus on the self, there is no chance for compassion to grow, for service to touch or for people to feel more than what is just them, in their own world, focused on their own existence.

We have become like the Romans during their fall.  Nero fiddles as Rome burns...we are a people of bread and circuses.

The thing that is being quickly lost because of all of this selfishness and pride is the common man.  The everyday, woman and child.  Despite the best efforts of many, no man is an island, not really, though many are starting to feel like they are lost in the tide of life and cast alone, upon some strange shore.  We are here on this planet together.  If we do not help each other, who will?  There is no one to save another, to lift another up, to love, to cherish, to cheer, to console, to protect, to fight for except for each other.  Who is in your charge?

In life, all around us, there are people that we can reach that perhaps will have no other chance than the one we give them, no other hand than the one we extend to them, no other love than the love we share with them. Our love, our friendship, our service may be the greatest gift they have to receive in the sea of turmoil in which they may be tossed about.  When all we do is look at ourselves, when all we do is look for the weakest link to exploit, when all we do is spew opinions and vitriol about the injustices committed agains us, against ours, when all we do is look for who is wrong and why we are right, we miss opportunites for blessing ourselves and others through service, through kindness and through compassion. 

There is no greater time than **now** to refocus.  The more inconvenient it seems, the more urgent it may be.  What can we do?

Who waits for you to **see** them? Who waits for your hands to lift them up?  If you do not do it, will there be someone else to step into your shoes, to stand in your stead?

Befriend now.  Don't wait.
Serve now.  Don't wait.
Share now.  Don't wait.
Love now. Don't wait.

Reach out now...there is always someone in need that may grasp on to your lifesaving hand from the dark.  Be the person that is there.  Step into your shoes and be who you were born to be.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Open Letter on Forgiveness and How Sometimes It Really Sucks to Do It... ;)

My niece, posted on one of my comments on Facebook about how forgiveness is difficult, especially when someone has wronged you sorely.  I wrote the following reply, which instead of just a few paragraphs really blossomed into something more.  I thought I would share it here. 
This is what she said:
"So, I have this issue: I know I should forgive, but I honestly don't know how to forgive those who have committed serious wrongs against me..."
My reply...

Well Chantyl, forgiveness is no easy task sometimes, if it were everyone would do it and be removed of the painful feelings and hurt that they have.  ;)

Sometimes it is a chore and a task and it takes awhile and quite a bit of effort to let go of the wrong and move beyond the event or the moment.  Sometimes we really don’t want to do it, because we feel, or we are, justified in the fact that a wrong or a grievance was committed against us.

I will share one of my stories of one of the most difficult times I had forgiving someone, and Girl, it took several years of significant effort on my part to do it all the way, but that was because I wanted to let go of my anger and hurt, more than I wanted to hold on to the injustice that was committed against me.

There was a man in a position of leadership over me, and he was young and full of his own ideas, and he was foolish in some of the decisions that he made and the things that he said.  He judged people because of the things they had and the things they didn’t have, and he made decisions that impacted their responsibilities and opportunities based on their material goods.

I was a diligent worker and a good leader, and I was committed to my cause and I loved the people that I worked with and that I served, but that is not what he saw.  What he saw was what I didn’t have and he considered that to be a lack of stability and commitment on my part, and so he removed opportunity for service, for light and for love from me.

I was infuriated and insulted.  I loved what I did, I loved the people that I served and I wanted nothing more than to be doing what I was doing!  How dare he tell me I wasn’t good enough??  How dare he tell me that I wasn’t committed?? How dare he tell me that my time was up??  My hair was Set. On. Fire.  My pride was wounded.  I wasn’t much older than you are, only a few years, and because of my thoughts and my anger, in turn, I made my own judgments against him.  It was an ugly thing I had in my heart against this man.  And so I removed myself and stewed and felt justified in my absolute disgust of him and his incompetence, and sadly enough, I did have hatred for him and anything to do with him.

While I felt justified, and in the right, I carried that upset around with me and every time I saw him I wished him death, or at least significant pain, anguish and discomfort.  I know, not nice.  My thoughts were dark, and I had little fantasies of his demise which always brought me a tingle of dark pleasure.  I wanted him to suffer and feel tragic the way he had made me suffer and feel tragic.  I wanted to hate him forever.

But life goes on, and unless we continue to stoke our own fires and to dwell on our upset and to get ourselves all fired up again, often our feelings can start to soften and mellow with time.

So, after a time, I got to thinking about it and I realized that I was tired of feeling so angry and so upset every time his name came up in conversation or every time I saw him.  It didn’t change that he had done me wrong, it didn’t change that I still thought he had made the wrong decision, but that wasn’t the point anymore.  I just didn’t want him hanging in my life that way anymore.  I was tired of thinking about it, tired of caring about it, and I thought “How have I let his stupidity impact other areas of my life in this way?”  And so I made it my mission to let go of this pain, this upset, these feelings of injustice.

How did I do it?  Every time, and I mean EVERY TIME, I thought of him or I saw him, I infused my face with a genuine smile and shook his hand and asked him how he was doing and I MEANT it.  O.k. at first I didn’t but I knew this was the path, so I made my lessons of working with customer service come to the forefront.  I infused my voice with a smile and made my lips do it.  I practiced sincerity, and after several opportunities (this was a person I saw weekly at the least), it began to work.

After awhile, we moved and I was not involved with this person from that point forward.  However, I knew that I had not completely let it go.  I did still harbor resentment, and sometimes, when I was feeling sorry for myself, or something didn’t go my way, though it had nothing to do with this individual, I would blame him.  Because it was easy, and because even though I had somewhat forgiven, I hadn’t let go all the way.  And so, with  a renewed intensity in controlling my thoughts and my feelings, I made myself move on.

The true test came several years later when I knew that I would come across this individual at a family event for a very close friend.  I knew this person would be there and I thought “Well, the truth will be told about your heart here, Tracy.  We will see what we will see.” And so I went, with some trepidation, because I wanted very badly to pass this test.  I really wanted to be done.  I had matured, time had passed, I had worked on it with effort, and I wanted it proven that I had moved on and left these things in my history.

The event was lovely.  I saw this man with his family.  I walked up to him, and there was a surprised look on his face when he saw me, but he smiled.  I smiled, and said “Hello!” I shook his hand and I asked him how he was doing, how had he been?  We talked briefly and parted.

From the minute that I reached forward with my hand, I knew it was over.  I knew that I had passed the test and that my efforts were true to their mark and I was done.  There was a great sense of peace and actual joy that came over me to know that the stupidity and nonsense of the past was over, both on his part and on mine.

The story doesn’t change, because what happened was what happened.  It was the feelings that changed, it was the handling that changed and the desire to let go that had changed the incident into one of learning vs. one of perpetual anger.

People learn on us Chantyl, and sometimes we learn on them.  Sometimes other individuals make choices and decisions that bump into our lives and they make a mark.  Sometimes they mark us for good, but sometimes they hurt us and they leave behind a hurt that turns into a scar.  It is the way of life, and something that we must learn to deal with.  How we deal with those bumps, bruises, cuts and pains is what makes us who we are.  Obviously we don’t always get to choose how people impact us because life and people are full of the unexpected.  What we do get to choose is how we deal, how we cope, how we learn, how we move on, and learning and forgiving is a big part of that, and learning and forgiving and growing is something that, hopefully, we do all of our lives.

Let me emphasize this though.  Just because you forgive someone of the wrongs they have committed against you does not mean you expose yourself, or make yourself vulnerable to their antics again in the future.  It also does not mean that you have to be bosom buddies, you don’t even have to remain friends.  Sometimes, times of friendship or acquaintanceship come to an end and it is over, however, civility should still be intact.  Sometimes, depending on the circumstance, we just move on and we leave the incident in our past and we use it as a stepping-stone of learning, of maturing and moving on.

No one can make you forgive another person.  And just because you do forgive doesn’t mean that you forget.  I know people say “forgive and forget,” but what the saying really means is forgive and let go.  Significant events in our life have a way of sticking with us, what with memory and all of that… ;) …but moving on is the key piece, moving past, and moving into our new joy and happiness with the things that we have learned from.

Of course if you choose to forgive someone, and to continue to associate with them, that also means that you don’t continue to hold past events against them.  You learn, and change, but you don’t keep bringing it up and holding it over their head, or holding the friendship for ransom because of it.  That puts you in the wrong and that isn’t somewhere you want to go.

Anyway—the point of my long diatribe is that no, it’s not easy, but you do it, because it’s the right thing to do.  And no, sometimes it is not a quick recovery, sometimes it takes a long time to figure it out.  You can do it.  You just have to make up your mind on your course of action, and how you want to approach it.  I wish you luck and love, and I believe in you. :D

Saturday, April 2, 2011

My Collection of Red Rocking Chairs

The Red Rocking Chair is one of my absolutely favorite folk songs. 

It is a traditional Old-Time/Bluegrass song that is predominant to the Appalachian Mountain region of the United States.  This song is dated to the early 1900's, however, this particular tune, in its variety of versions can be traced back to the Scottish in the 1820's as "The Lass of Roch Royal." 

None of this is truly a surprise, if you are acquainted with American history, as you will know that many Scotsmen settled in the Southern United States and in this particular mountain region. Obviously they would have brought their ballads, laments and music with them, which then in turn influenced the direction of music from that point forward.

This is a great version of it--it is haunted, melancholic, and has a moan to it that gets me right in the heart.  It is by Black Prairie who I hadn't heard of before.   The group is comprised of some of the members of The Decemberists, which I am mildly familiar.  The sense of haunted loss within this version is particularly powerful.

This version is more traditional and is one I came across a couple of months back.  I love the video.  I like the fog, the cold, the sound, just the whole thing really speaks to me.  The song is more upbeat than the previous version.

This is a clip from a most melancholic and sad movie "Chrystal" with Billy Bob Thornton.  Lisa Blount, the actress who plays Chrystal in the movie, is actually the one that is singing in this clip.  Again, her version comes across achy and lost. The movie takes place in Northern Arkansas and is full of melancholy, loss, regret and redemption.  Lisa Blount's performance captures all of these things. 

The last clip I am sharing is one that I came across a few days ago.  It's a personalized, non professional recording, but the individual is utilizing a Bouzouki and I really enjoyed his performance.

After listening to these versions of this song, I'm hoping that you can appreciate why I love it so much.  There is an antiquity and a timelessness to the song that connects people through the generations.  As human beings, at times we feel alone, and lost and broken, but despite this there is always hope, whether we see it or not.  I think this song feels and breathes of life as humans experience it, with ups and downs. 

Anyway--Welcome to my collection.  I hope you enjoyed it.

Chubby Bubbies

March 23, 2011
6:04 p.m.

There are always people that are happy to tear you down at a moment’s notice, why would you join in by talking against yourself in your own mind, telling yourself all about your failings and they whys and wheretofores of why you can’t or shouldn’t do something? Why would you join in the cacophony of noise and voices that are against you and your success?

I just read an article that my brother Andy posted about a 400 lb. sumo wrestler named Kelly Gneiting who participated in the L.A. Marathon.  There was a video attached that showed this man jogging, walking, breathing and living, trying to make it to the end of a goal.  By far he is not the fastest.  You could see throughout the video that there were people passing him by as he kept plodding along.  Frankly, I thought “Good for you!  You go! You finish! What an accomplishment!” 

And I thought these things because I’m for success—I’m for joy—I’m for trying and I’m for doing.  I also experience no threat by the accomplishment of others, in fact, when I saw that he was doing this, I thought “Girl—you need to really get off your butt and get back into walking and fitness.  You can do it.” And I didn’t think it because I also thought “Oh he’s so fat and gross and he did it.” It was because I thought “He’s a big guy, and he did something I think is impossible for me.  Maybe I can start running again.  Yeah.  I can do that.”  And from his experience I took only a little hope for myself in an area of my life where I feel stymied and frustrated.

Reading the commentaries following the article was sadly full of human shallowness and hateful words.  Yes, of course there were those that congratulated him and wished him well, but some of the vitriolic rebuttals were angering.  There were those from individuals who very obviously are runners or fitness buffs, but apparently very insecure and unhappy ones at that.  Because Mr. Gneiting took so long to finish, because he may have had to pause, because he walked many said it didn’t count, that he didn’t really run a marathon, that he just did a long walk.  To me it becomes semantics.  Why do they feel the need to take away that he participated—that he got out and did—that he lived—that he tried—and that he succeeded?  O.k. He didn’t “run” it, but he participated in the event and he made it to the end.  How does that take away from anyone?

There was another comment from an individual who implicated that they themselves were a marathon runner and they expressed disgust at this individual along with any other walkers and that they should make a lane for them so they could “Get the eff out of the way for the real runners.” O.k. angry much?  Go to the front of the starting line ahead of the walkers or slower individuals, and if you’re so incredibly fast, you will never come across them because you will always be in front of them, right?

Some of the other comments were obviously directed at his weight, his obesity, his lacking skills in the control area, because if he had it under control he wouldn’t be overweight, and other typical rude comments.  My thoughts around this are similar though—how is someone else’s life your business?

There has been a lot of chatter lately, especially with Michelle Obama wanting to take on obesity in the United States, around weight, food, and controlling other people’s choices. 

Let me make a few things clear right now: no, being overweight is not healthy; yes, people are obviously eating too much and exercising and expending too little energy; kids are fat—mostly because they drink too much pop, eat too much junk and fast food and play too many video games and don’t spend enough time outdoors…which frankly can be directly traced back to poor parenting; yes, being overweight is not ideal or desirable—but in no way does any of this change or limit your rights to agency and to making choices for yourself.  It is not the governments job to monitor what you put down your gullet.  It is not the governments job to tell you what to do and how and how much.  These are all points of self-governance, and just because some people choose to self-govern poorly, doesn’t give anyone else the right to tell them what to do.  Sorry—it just doesn’t.

So when it comes to people who are overweight, what is our responsibility?  As a collective there isn’t one.  It isn’t your responsibility.  You can encourage and support, that’s what you can do and that’s about it.  When someone is successful, instead of pulling them down by saying “5 lbs. down, you’ve only got 100 more to go.” You can choose to say “5 lbs.  That is great!!!  Good job! “ and that’s the end of it.  Fat people know what they look like in the mirror, they don’t need you to point it out.  If someone isn’t successful you can say “I know it’s hard, and frustrating, but keep up the good work—keep trying.  I believe in you—I know you can do it.” And when you say those things, you can mean it.  You can mean it because you care enough about that person as a human being that their success and their failure doesn’t take anything away from you, but you giving, that can be that one tiny thing that helps them keep going.  A little selflessness and joy at the success of your fellow humans will never hurt you.

Next time you see someone that you think you are better than—a chunky jogger, or a fat mom with a stroller, or someone that is crippled and trying to do something that is easy for you—as you formulate the smirk on your face, or raise your eyebrows in disgust, as your mind and your mouth start to form nasty words of criticism, or of mockery, take a moment to pause and think to yourself, why you, in all of your perfection and fabulousness, feel the need to take away from someone else’s trying, from their accomplishment that in no way whatsoever impacts you.   

Why are YOU the way you are?