Saturday, February 16

SEEN


It’s been a couple years, and I thought I was “over it”, I thought my little wounds were healed, and I thought the history didn’t matter. I’ve moved on and so has he.

Then we ran into one another, I was in a space where I knew he would be, and I felt strong enough to be there without feeling it needed to matter we had both stepped away from our once close friendship. Nothing got said, so I was comfortable that we could be in the same space and neither of us had to feel any glass underfoot, or vibrations of discomfort due to proximity.

I could feel he knew I was there, and his continual walking past me confirmed this. I’m not an expert on body language, but I took this to mean I had been seen.

Interestingly, our friendship ended with me feeling entirely unseen, unappreciated, with my words twisted, and my heart a little stepped on after the realization that someone who mattered so much to me was not someone I mattered to. The irony of the word “seen” after he’d read a message from me and wouldn’t bother to reply got harder and harder as I felt more and more “unseen”.

 It was at this same time that I had other friends showing me they could see me, and they didn’t even have to try to convey I mattered, I knew it without question. The difference was night and day and led to a post I wrote called Who Matters?

(Have you ever had a friend change on you? To the point you can’t tell if they are even hearing you, or seeing you, or getting you in any form? If you’ve experienced this you know what I mean when I say you start to shut down, you stop saying what’s on your mind, and you start figuring out how to word every little thing so as not to be misunderstood, because they will either easily offend, or twist what you are saying further into something they can be upset by. This is very possibly a disorder of sorts on their part, but on your part, this feeling of being unable to be genuine literally makes you disingenuous because of all the thinking you have to do before you speak.)

It was on the second occasion we saw one another he had the balls to come up to me, take my hand, hug me, and say he was glad to see me and that he had missed me. His humility shocked me. His genuineness was palpable, and I was seeing the version of him I knew and loved before he made me feel so confused by all the misunderstandings. I was almost surprised by the melting effect his words had on my grudge since I didn’t realize I was carrying it until that moment it started melting. He was apologizing and it was actually what I needed. How crazy that something so “small” could have such a tangible effect that I literally physically felt a morphing of my feelings as he spoke.

Fast forward a couple weeks and we were at the same place again. Without hesitation he approached me, told me how happy he was to see me again, and said he wants me to come back. He told me he’s accepting how imperfect he is, that he’s learning to love himself, and he wants to mend or attempt to heal the interactions of his past that hurt others. Without being interested in placing blame, I acknowledged my role, what head space I was in, and then I started remembering my last conversation with him that was essentially our goodbye two years ago. Again his apologizing and my remembering of the sadness melted more of my grudge and hurt and it started to pour down my cheeks without any control on my part. We stood outside and since it was dark, I hoped there was no light to reflect my tears and give away my melting. This wasn’t the moment I wanted to look so vulnerable and affected by something I had been convincing myself I was over. I take being a friend very seriously, and having put so much into that friendship, for it to end with so much sadness and confusion on my part, I totally took for granted how much I still needed to hear words that included me being seen, that he was sorry and that he wanted me to be seen more.

On one hand I feel so weak admitting all this. That I couldn’t heal something by myself and move on like I assumed I could. Despite my insisting I only had “little wounds”. But the action of an apology, and his discussing the past did affect me so thoroughly I cry even as I type this. And yet…this is how fucking huge an apology is. Sometimes our role in an event is mainly as witness, we see and feel the choices and actions of another without any control over their decisions, their words, their consequences, and it’s ultimately self respect that is the ride outta there. An apology is like a magical salve to a scar that really won’t ever fully heal without it. And to fully heal is not always what you get either, but any level of healing is healing. And an apology is a big deal.

This is also why if one decides that an apology has made it possible to trust again, to have that trust violated or abused; the wound is not just open anew, but deeper than before. We beat ourselves up for believing the apology, for handing over trust, and since we hurt all over again, the experience morphs from one of benefit and learning to one of pain and closure; locking up the heart with frantic hands of “never again, I can’t believe I let this happen”. To be giving someone an apology is to be in a place of power. It’s also a place of humility. If as the giver of an apology, you do not stick with your words, staying a changed person, you have new power to make yourself look worse than ever, to hurt the person more than ever, and the amazingness you could have created becomes an abyss of worthless pain.

As he apologized, he used words I have used many times. That he needs to benefit from the pain. That he must take the painful lessons and become a better person because the alternative is unacceptable. “Life is short” he said, “I get overwhelmed. I end up hurting people. I’m terribly imperfect, but I need to love myself despite these things. Because it then becomes easier to treat others the way I should.”

Like a mom who is always preaching self love, to hear it said back to me through HIS realizing this on his own; I feel a sense of pride. 
I hope many things in this moment: 
*that he always remembers this,
*that he flourishes in understanding how much better life gets as you continue to love yourself,
*and that following through with these realizations are like exercising muscles. 
It’s a continual thing. You will only benefit with strength if you continue to exercise.

I love you sweet friend. I dream of your success in all aspects of life, but most importantly the success that happens inside your heart and mind. Please don’t give me reason to feel the frantic panic of needing to lock up my heart from you. Please continue to see me, please accept I’m not perfect either, and that enough pain has passed for you that much transformation can and should take place.

Tuesday, February 5

IT'S ME


”It’s not you, it’s me.” If only we could all see and accept that so much of what we experience/feel/believe/see is not because of other people. It’s because of who we are as an individual. Over the years of relationships, friendships, experiences, hurts and happiness’s we build a construct of who we are, and how we will see things. It doesn’t matter what any one person does toward me, around me, to me, I will decide to act/react/speak/avoid/attach to anything because of who I am. It is who I have become. This is true for each of us. All our interactions have everything to do with what you are going through, what you have gone through, and to say “It’s not you –its me” is the reality of it. 

How much can you tolerate being treated a certain way? How much attitude do you have for a specific personality trait? How will you respond when your personally assigned “lines” finally get crossed? That is up for each of us to decide. And so, to be frank, it is completely within the decision of each individual whether or not they can/will get along with another individual. This is the same for the people you find yourself connecting with, attaching to, falling in love with, and generally adoring.

I’ve learned I’m not someone who is good around negative people. They are draining for me and I find I have very little to talk to them about because they tend to carry around emotions I don’t. Through my life and childhood I’ve had opportunity to try and “get over” this fact, when what has actually happened is I’ve learned to see it clearly, spot it quickly, and I have to stay away from the negativity. No, this isn’t always possible, so in the instances I have no choice, I do my best.

I recently experienced a negative person explaining that something I did in an effort to stand up for myself was enough of an attack on her and her time, that she raised her voice and demanded an apology for what transpired after I stood up for myself and made a decision about how I was being treated. (which was to remove myself from the building) Now, since this person is always negative and she didn’t want to be even remotely supportive of my standing up for myself, she decided to take the negative route, throw attitude all over the room and demand I should be apologizing to her.

Ya, no. I stood up for myself yet again. I said the person that created the issue that had me leave the building should apologize to her, because their actions affected more than me. She got louder and insisted once more I apologize. I got louder and repeated myself, “I will never apologize for standing up for myself” and I walked away unwilling to argue what was already clear. A difference of perspective.

My response to a “demand” also comes back to my experiences, my history, and my current knowledge of who she is in my eyes. How I respond to her is not about her. It’s about me. How she responds to me, is not about me, it’s about her.

You captain your ship, I captain mine. I won’t sail over to “I’m sorry” when it’s undeserved, and uncalled for. Instead, I sail on! It’s my choice to act/react however I see fit in a situation based on who I am. And if removing myself from the building is hard for her to accept, she might want to consider -my decisions on how I react to the way I’m treated, are mine to make.

The older I get the more I see we are all so different, we won’t be “everyone’s friend”. There will be people that don’t like you, there will be people who don’t agree with you. How you act/react/speak/choose will be your call. Some may choose confrontation, I choose civil disobedience. You be your captain, I will be mine, and we will have to accept we don’t get our decisions “passed off” by one another. You see; I’m living my life, not yours.

Wednesday, January 23

HEY, "FRIEND"...


...what do ya know, you're getting a blog post... Not because you're so great, but because people like you need to know that people like me see you for what you are.
And what are you? That would be labeling you... I'm happy not to come up with any one or two words to describe you, because you have many things that make you stand out to people like me. In fact, it's your insistence on labeling ME, that has me writing this.

Yes I'm bugged that "friend" is one of the few titles I can use for you because of our weekly interaction for almost a year now. What makes writing this sit even more uncomfortable, is your position over me. Frankly, anyone in an overseeing role to others should be working harder at making everyone feel part of a "team" so to speak, not continually ostracizing them by including them only to ignore them, tease them, bully them, and make them prey to your mind games. In addition to finding every opportunity to call them "weird".

Your know-it-all attitude and arguing gets old when you regularly have to admit not knowing anything about the subject you are insisting you are right on. It's even more amazing that you do it over subjects I do have knowledge on. Can't you hear yourself? Really? What do you think I think of you????

I've wondered if the way you treat me has anything to do with me being the same age as your mother. She had you young, so you might not feel respect for her like you should... I dunno. Maybe you think she's stupid or "weird" too... but your continual desire to argue anything, including things I know, is how you do so well at showing me on a regular basis that you are the fool by assuming I am.

"True wisdom is knowing what you don't know" -Confucius

I am not like you. I'm me.
I'm a girl, I build stuff, I create stuff, I write stuff, I paint stuff, and I like to do lots of STUFF. If I don't fit some preconceived mold you've created and you feel the need to keep calling me weird, go ahead.. but one day you will have to get over it. There's a bunch of weird people out here in this world. Many of us feel free to be ourselves, we refuse to see your boxes, and we are going to keep doing our stuff. I can't believe you think everyone should be like you...but you DO keep showing me you are too stupid for an expanded mind, so after hearing "you're weird" today for the millionth time, I finally have a reply. "Fuck YOU".

Did you somehow miss that the world is FULL of people that I have to compare you against? Have you not considered you stand out like a sore thumb with your asshole actions and your judgmental words? I think you just believe you can get away with it by acting cute, pretending to be young and fun while you pull off "asshole" nicely. That actually speaks to why it keeps happening, you pull off closed-minded-stupidity AND I put up with it constantly. This isn't high school...as much as you want it to be with your clickyness, and your brand name fashion putdowns.

In the adult world, we don't have "the popular kids", "the nerds", and "the wierdo's". Your insistence doesn't change the world, it just shows me who YOU are.

I'm reminded of how I felt the first time I watched The Greatest Showman, and heard the song "This is me".
I know I don't stand out like a bearded lady, fuck, you'd never shut up if I had a beard, but I know I'm different, and I don't care if people see it. What I do care about is people who just can't wrap their fucking head around it enough to never shut up about it and call me weird for what I eat, for how I dress, for the words I use, for my height, for every gawd-damn thing you can think of... so I'll leave you with some of the lines that I can sing to you with a middle finger in the air.

When the sharpest words want to cut me down,
I'm going to send a flood,
going to drown them out.
I am brave, I am bruised,
I am who I'm meant to be.
This is me.
Look out -cuz here I come,
And I'm marching on to the beat I drum.
I'm not scared to be seen.
I make no apologies.
This is me.

Saturday, January 5

BUTTERFLIES


It’s come to my attention that not everyone gets butterflies when they come in contact with someone they “like”. (You know what I mean)
It’s my lack of butterflies the majority of the time that the arrival of butterflies has me in analyzation mode yet again. And then I learned that butterflies are not analogous for everyone, or even universally existing.

I’m trying to look at the situations that brings butterflies, and wondering how to explain feeling them to someone who doesn’t have them. It’s challenging. It’s kind of like having ASMR. If you don’t have it (and I don’t) I can only imagine what it feels like when friends that do have it -explain what causes their symptoms, and how those symptoms feel. I know what a tingle is, I know what extreme calmness feels like, so I am able to understand.

I doubt I would be writing about this if I weren’t single. I think being single provides an opportunity to be extra honest since we often find that butterflies disappear once in a relationship. Which is also part of what I want to elaborate on. That disappearance and if it’s inevitable.

I’m not going to go into a story of who I feel butterflies for, I want to start with basic facts about why I think butterflies are felt.  (For me anyway…clearly I can’t write for anyone else.)

To explain, I have to start with flattery. It seems butterflies are hugely related to flattery, so it makes sense to admit: I’m not someone who flatters easily.

I had a friend years ago that would post ads on Craig’s list to get creepy attention. She was flattered by the replies, and it didn’t matter what they said, what they looked like, or any factor. She only needed the one aspect to feel flattery--a reply. I may have sounded very harsh the first time she brought up she did this. I was so confused and shocked that irrespective of a persons mind, face, attitude, personality, location, job, criminal record, integrity…she could feel flattered by anything, and get excited to read her emails. I am never going to understand that.

For me, flattery ONLY has to do with who the person is and what they are saying. My disingenuous meter is rather fine tuned, and if a person tries to compliment me without knowing who I am, my meter is on full read. If flattery is felt, I tend to know who they are. The degree of flattery usually depends on how well I know them, and even what I think of them through an interaction history. Another factor is how long I have had them in my world, and what they have shown me in WHO they are during that time. But most importantly, MY opinion of them has to be high in order for large flattery to exist.

This is not to say that I have to know a person only for a long time and know them really well. Some people have the ability to show you who they are in the words they choose, in the vibe they carry around with their facial expressions, and their ability to come across as genuine. It’s similar to clean air and smog. A person who carries a clean air vibe is a totally different person than one that is walking around with smog. Maybe everyone is not sensitive to the air a person carries, but as a historic enabler, I learned very young how to read people and watch for details. I should also admit that many people carry neither clean air or smog… I don’t know how to explain that part of my perception, only that they are the majority of people. I think I can break it down this way…Most people don’t give off their WHO they are as they walk around… maybe 50% of people aren’t allowing themselves to be read. 25% of people seem to be unaware that their shitty attitude is like a cloud around them that affects their face, their walk, and the way they feel when they stand near you. Then, another 25% of people put out their general goodness in their demeanor; the face, the walk, the voice, the attitude… these are the people I connect with and make my friends. I know better to leave the other 75% of people alone, and that has been one of the best lessons I’ve learned about friends and myself in recent years.

So… looking at these types, I’ll call them the silent, the cloudy, and the clear. And I must add that my perception of these three types of people are exclusive to ME and MY perception. As well as my history, experiences, and decisions. A clear person for me can be a cloudy person for another. This too has been obvious on many occasions. (I hope this is starting to make sense.)

I wrote a post a little while back titled My Who, Your Who, Who are You? And that is good backup for this post if you care to read it.

So lets jump back to Butterflies. I have found that tiny butterflies can be experienced in general compliments that feel nice. Complimentary Butterflies I’ll call them. Those aren’t what I’m writing about today. The butterflies that spurred this desire to explain today are Attraction Butterflies, and Attraction Butterflies I’ve decided are not entirely mine.

Shit, I’m trying so hard not to tell a specific story, but I might have to. After spending a number of months watching a guy that comes into my general vicinity, after having a few conversations, after saying hello to him countless times, I find that when I walk near him I feel Attraction Butterflies. It’s like they are flying around HIM, not flying inside me, and the proximity to him, dictates how big those butterflies are. I also like the way he speaks to me, he’s intelligent, he is clear, he smiles when I look at him, and he listens when I speak. His clear air, his genuineness, and his ability to show me he sees “My Who” are all present. So although I don’t KNOW him well, or many details about him, all factors are in place for his words to flatter me, and for me to experience butterflies. This “perfect combination” of factors is so rare in this day and age, I’m thinking I’m an oddball unable to change with the times, and I will remain “old-school” in this, because I don’t want it to change. I like it this way. I like reaching a point of Attraction Butterflies, because it’s an educated place to be.

This is like going back to the world of dating before cell phones, dating sites, or anything outside of actual human connection that happened only in person. This is how people fell in love “old-school” and decided to experience life together. It was actual mental connection, then actual physical connection. Most of which happened at a normal pace in a healthy world of actual human interaction. NOT via any intermediary device.

That healthy world started changing… my story about Craig’s list and my friend is a good example of that…that was before smartphones and apps got involved in human interaction on intimate levels.

I must not forget the part where butterflies disappear. This too is related to what you feel from the other person, and I feel like its part of proof that butterflies are not necessarily yours alone, they are directly related to what the other person is putting out or not. I believe that people very much in love, don’t stop having butterflies if they don’t stop seeing the clarity of one another, if they don’t stop saying things that flatter, if they stay genuine and open; actually putting effort into not allowing the familiar to turn into the mundane. I believe present people who care about keeping mundane from knocking on the door are the people that get to keep experiencing the other person’s feelings, and reveling in Attraction Butterflies. This means maintaining trust, willingness to compliment, awareness of intonation, and many more things that come with a healthy relationship that can be called solid. The people who have THAT don’t have it by chance. They give a shit, they know their Who…and it’s a two part process; both individuals have to be this way.

So here I am, single in this world of connection that mostly happens via technology, and I am not feeling flattery through it, I am not feeling butterflies through it, and I am feeling entirely “old-school” needing actual time and actual interaction to feel actual feelings. I think I’m healthy. I think butterflies the way I feel them are healthy, and I wish for that world to come back.

As for my handsome example of getting to feel Attraction Butterflies…he’s not available. Is he attracted to me? Not sure. I can guess so, because few feelings so strong that are vibrationally felt when you go near a person--are imagined. They tend to be there because of BOTH parties, not because they are simply wished for. So is he feeling something? Probably. After all, if he is going to be genuine, sincere, and act as though he “sees” me, he too will pick up on the butterflies flying around me. Will he feel them? Not sure, remember that part is exclusive to the individual. Will he feel something? I bet so. It would be interesting to read his take on it, but for now, in true Natalie form, I’m going to be clear to myself about me, and not ask for clarity from him.

I’m maddening in my desire to allow others their privacy. ;) With my lack of questions, I’d make a terrible reporter.

Sunday, December 2

MOTHERING


I’m not afraid of dying. I’m afraid of living when my mom dies. I’m not a mama’s girl by the usual definition, I’m more of a girl adored by her mama. I’m also a girl who never understood, related to, or liked her father, so although I didn’t have the typical mama’s girl relationship, I was thoroughly convinced of her unwavering love for me. But if you wanted to tattoo “Mama’s Girl” on me, I’d wear it proudly.

It was in Romania when I learned how huge the job of a mother is. I went there the most na├»ve 19 year old on the planet (before the days of internet) and what I experienced was that 100% of the children abandoned before the age of three were severely autistic. Which meant -most of them. What this showed me was how big-a-deal the job of a mom is. I went there because I saw a need for babies to be held; what I was oblivious to is that there is a point very early on that it’s too late. That sounds harsh, and there’s much that goes into that statement because my mom adopted two of these children. They were 6 & 7 when the adoptions were finally complete and despite MY MOM becoming their mom, their autism is and was so severe that to discuss it would be changing the subject. An infant needing a mother is like a small seed needing water.

I feel very weak these days as my mom starts to hunch with arthritis in her spine and gets scammed by a world she doesn’t understand. I’m in a position now of needing to mother her and try to fend off and fix the attack from the bad guys she knows nothing about. At times that’s the hardest part of her getting old… my inability to wrap my fucking mind around how to protect her when she can’t see the bad in anyone, and answers the phone to these ass-hats that prey on the elderly. Being in the mom role and trying to explain to HER why the world doesn’t protect her, and why she can’t do things she’s done her whole life (like answer the phone), is upsetting. I don’t want the roles to swap. There are more systems in place for protecting a 13 year old girl that knows more about how this shitty world works than there are for an elderly woman who doesn’t understand much anymore. I’m actually still searching for ways build protection, as this problem is unending and getting worse.

My heart is too soft. Watching her hobble away from my front door with her cane, as she beams from one ear to the other (because she only sees good in the world and she only feels love) is almost more difficult than it is sweet. I don’t want her bent over. I don’t want her to age. I don’t want her to leave.

I’ve said before, “being a mom” is bigger than me. Why? I never say that part… I don’t know how anyone’s heart can handle the love you must feel by being a mom. She’s so full of love for me it’s overwhelming. I think my heart would have exploded if I’d ever had a child.

I remember stepping out of a room and into the hall at the orphanage with Florina in my arms and sinking to the floor in tears; accepting I could accomplish nothing for her. No amount of Natalie love would fill any holes in the heart of this little girl who was so miserable she chewed holes into her hands and pulled her hair out in clumps. Did she want to be loved? Desperately. So did all the children that tried to climb me like a tree when I walked into the room. I would be felled by their insistence to be held and loved. This was not the case when an orphanage worker came into the room. These little ones knew where the love was. As I say, at 19 I was so naive as to think I could hold children and DO SOMETHING. I could do nothing but temporarily radiate what they should have been getting all along in their tiny fragile state.

I felt a lot of anger about this too, because I had this ridiculously perfect example of motherly love and trying to wrap my head around the severity of it all in the orphanage was impossible. I still to this day don’t understand that lack. I still to this day personally receive it in abundance.

People ask me if I’m going to have kids. People who think I’m not too old, and I still believe my heart would burst. I’m finally convinced some people have more love to give than others, and frankly I feel like my heart manufactures too much already. The notebook I’m writing in is my reminder with love note stickers all over the cover by one of the teenagers I mother. “You’re my favorite human”, “I love you”, “You deserve everything” “I freaking <3 you”. Again, they aren’t mine, but they feel my love. Would I be a good mom? No question. I’ve learned a lot from this imperfect person that perfectly loves. As that seed needing water, my mom has stood beside me with her watering can my whole life. She’s taken pride in watching me grow and has never stopped telling me she loves me

When the day comes that this mama’s girl is without her mom, the world will be a different place. One I will struggle to live in -not being watered continually. And I will relate to Florina better –in her desire to chew holes into her hands and pull her hair out, because without a mom I will be thoroughly incomplete too.

Sunday, November 25

Bullied, or Picked on?


I’ve been trying to decide in a recent situation why I feel picked on, and not bullied. What’s happening could easily be called bullying, and I finally realized the difference (I’ll say FOR ME) is that I do not feel inferior. I don’t feel weak enough to be harmed. My being a woman, and his being a man is also part of it. I’ll come back to that.

Is it bullying? Technically, yes. Does it feel like it? No. And the answer I reach when asking myself why -is that I’m too old and too strong. The reality is this happens over and over on a regular basis, and has by this guy for five years. This repetition does 1000% mean I’m being picked on, and if it were someone else, and I were watching, I would call it bullying.

Thing is, at this age quite a few things have managed to sink in:
1. Most people picking on someone totally believe they are justified for some reason.
2. Young people who don’t know what they don’t know will always be “right”.
3. My self-view is not dictated by someone’s attitude toward me. (that took a long time to learn.)
4. A Bullier could be so far from present, they don’t have self-perception.

To be clear, these are not excuses. Far from it. Someone’s shortcomings are seldom seen by them, but we all must remember, our shortcomings are not invisible to others. You will show people who you are, and if that is just by default because you can’t be self aware, so be it. Nobody will stop you.
Over those five years of being picked on sporadically, I’ve wanted to say a thousand times, “Stop watching me. Stop paying attention to me, stop picking on me, stop putting me down”…and I never have. I don’t because of a few reasons. I feel like bullying is obvious to everyone in the room. It’s the bullier’s way of showing people they have a problem and need a punching bag. I’d rather let them show as many people as they can who they are. Anyone watching will see their true colors. Integrity is scarce, so when people want to shout that they have none, I let them. I am not going to change who I am because of your desire to make me your punching bag.

When asked by my manager if I confronted him and told him to stop, I said “No, and I won’t allow his small mindedness to change me. I am not a confrontational person.” And frankly, my history has everything to do with this decision to not be a confrontational person. I grew up on the attack mentally, emotionally, and physically by a small-minded man. In fact, attack in any form is not the route an intelligent man takes. This was the biggest lesson of my childhood. I have been quiet most of my life, allowing others to show me in word and deed all I need to know about them.

I also must acknowledge I allowed this dude treating me as a punching bag off and on for so long to hold the title “friend” off and on as well. Sometimes I give some people more opportunities than others. I’m not sure why I do this, there doesn’t seem to be good reasons, but eventually, if punched enough times, I guess it finally goes in. And frankly, there just aren’t enough men out there of high enough quality that I will ever be too surprised when they finally say “I am not worth your time/energy/love/praise/etc”. Which makes me sound like a man-hater. I’m actually a man-cheerleader constantly looking for work. Constantly getting laid-off from the job of cheering a quality man on. Women too, don’t get me wrong, but of the people I know that are “top quality” 95% of them are women, and they are really amazing at the game of life. Oozing integrity from every pore and orifice. Women bully too, but it is not as much in our nature as it is for men. Plus we don’t tend to have our ego threatened the way men seem to. I have seen many times how men react to strong women, and that too is them showing the world their small mindedness.

This will all sound too harsh for the mind that uses bulling as a tool to keep themselves “right”, “justified”, “smarter”, or “in charge”. The thing we see when given enough time -the bullier believes they are one thing, while showing the world they are another. Can someone like this change? Maybe so. I think every one of us is in control of who we are. Have I seen many change? No. But I won’t lose hope, I am a cheerleader by nature, and wouldn’t it be cool if a year from now I were sitting here writing about how many incredible men I know. Because guys… you are in control of yourself. You decide what others see. You decide who you will be. We (the not small minded) are not blind, and we know when we are picked on.

Tuesday, November 6

WEIGHTY LABELS

(Audio below)
It seems that for most of us it’s easier to identify with a label someone else gives you than it is to identify with a label you give yourself. In fact, few of us create our own labels, but we get handed them all the time by others. It starts when we are little.

I’ve decided that this happens because at no point in growing up does anyone tell you “Hey, you should start deciding for yourself who you are”. We just kind of fall into the existence of being told how others see us, “You are overweight”, “You should be a ballerina”, “You are funny”, “You are too serious”, “You are effeminate”, “You are weird”. And we let these mean something to us and tell us who we are.

Now, I’m not saying we consciously allow this to happen or we consciously don’t decide for ourselves who we are. It’s one of those things we fall into because we never think to be/do otherwise. It’s more by default.

I too did this most of my life, and it wasn’t until I was in my 30’s that I was suddenly able to hear it, and realize I should be the one deciding these labels, not others. And the reason I say that is that it almost doesn’t matter what other people want to label you with, if you don’t make your own labels, you will ACCEPT you are who you’ve been told you are.

And before I go much further I’m going to throw out a spoiler of sorts… the labels you are given have everything to do with the person labeling you. Based on THEIR views of themselves and how they grew up being labeled. It’s kind of a messed up way to receive self view. But I’ll come back to this.

I want to use an analogy to explain what I mean.

Imagine being handed a card every time someone tells you something about who you are. Lets say that as you are growing up, your dad continuously hands you an “overweight” card. Again, this is based on what HE considers to be overweight, and also, that concept “overweight” must be an issue for him! It’s not an issue or important to everyone and doesn’t have to be important to you either. It’s also based on which part of the world he lives in and what he is exposed to. Is he hanging out at the gym? This kind of thing.

Also, you think your dad is only going to hand you ONE of these cards in your lifetime? No… he is likely going to hand them to you over and over. So you are figuratively finding pockets for all these cards, and carrying them around with you everywhere you go. They become your reality and almost a safety-net, so that at any time you can pull out a stack of cards from one of these pockets and SHOW people who you are by listing your labels.

And chances are, you do not at any point realize you are being handed these cards/labels. You take them and you put them in your pockets. You even find that you keep being handed the same cards by the same people, so they don’t even stand out or feel strange anymore. And when your pockets are full and you are feeling down on yourself, you don’t notice it’s because of all the cards you have taken on board. Picture a pair of overalls, with added makeshift pockets to carry all the cards you have as you’ve got older and met more labeling people. Maybe it’s only at that point you realize you’re sick of these heavy overalls full of inaccurate labels. At some point, it might just get too much.

This was true for me. And when I finally had the idea of taking off everything that had a pocket, I stripped down to nakedness and taped a couple of those cards to my body, unable to let go of every label I’d been given, still unsure who I really was. And what an uncomfortable space to be in. The realization that you don’t know what you think because you have been taking on board what others think for so long. Its freedom on a level you might not be able to immediately accept. “Well, if I’m not going to believe “this”: ___, then what is my “that”?

To be honest, it’s giving yourself a blank slate to decide anything about yourself really. The craziest thing is that you COULD HAVE been doing this your whole life, but for some reason, you missed the memo.

This removal of all pocket and card containing layers of clothes coincided with a bunch of uncomfortable life changes for me, and finally reaching a point where I had to make my own decisions about who I am in order to like who I was. This is where I’m trying not to turn this into my story, but show others I have the same story. But this time, I’m hoping so bad that I’m not talking to people my age with decades of taking on cards they turned into a mountain of labels. I’m hoping that my young friends might be able to see “I’m doing this too. Nat is over here encouraging me to take off all those layers of labels and be comfortable in my own skin. Label and card free.”

You want to know what labels I’m willing to accept now? Happy. Loving. Kind. And when people try to hand me cards, I don’t reach out and take it, I let it fall to the ground. I decide who I am now. With a bit of attitude about it too. People can create or make as many labels for me as they wish. That’s their thing; let them be a label maker. I’m going to be me, do me, and worry about me. So that what I feel about ME…is all good.

Saturday, September 22

Fuel, Drive, Joy, Motivation, Creation, Accomplishment


My use of the word accomplishment recently led a friend to misunderstand that I meant it in a way that brought me some status, or money, or lifelong dream finally built. I shouldn’t be surprised, because the word itself kind of insinuates much effort was put forth and an end goal was reached.

When I typed “accomplishment” I was trying to sum up and find a word that fit why I love to write. Which really just did the opposite, I then had to explain what I meant by using that word, and I’m so glad my friend didn’t hear it how I meant it because that gave me opportunity to do what I love… explain and clarify so that I feel a sense of being understood. AKA Accomplishment. Point made.

And in the writing of my explanation, I realized I have another friend who might like to hear this, because that friend is in a place of not feeling fuel, drive, joy, motivation, creation, or accomplishment. To the point that friend is putting themselves inside a “cave” to be unreachable and alone. Outside of my arms length to affect or help. Sometimes that’s all I need to find a reason to write and feed myself a sense of accomplishment. (This same friend in the cave calls me a wordsmith, so you bet I want to be writing for that friend.)

And that is really the point I am going to make by the end. MY sense of accomplishment isn’t actually conditional upon success of a large end-goal. Sure I want my friend to come out of the cave, feel helped by my words, and benefit somehow from knowing me, but the truth is… MY sense of accomplishment, MY motivation, MY drive is just finding a way to say the things I want to say -to someone I care about. Whether my friend ever even reads this does not change, whether or not I have succeeded in that desire to clearly explain thoughts and feelings. I don’t write earth shattering words. I don’t feel ground breaking concepts, I write because I love to, and for how it makes me feel.

Like a race car driver. I doubt Kimi Raikkonen races ONLY to win and stand on the podium. He can’t. He clearly must love to race. He must love the team, the car, the tracks, the competition, the atmosphere, the everything, or he would not be doing this since the age of 10 (28 years). Every aspect is his fuel, his drive, his joy. Each of us have those things in us that bring us motivation in life. Which tends to be the stuff we are good at because that’s the stuff we enjoy doing most.

So lets go back to my slow small slug-like version of accomplishment. For me it’s nothing large. It’s nothing so fancy as that for Kimi. For me it’s taking a concept like mattering to a person and organizing words in a fashion where I feel people could get what I’m trying to say. And MY MIND feels satisfied and accomplished by the end result. As long as I’m satisfied, I am accomplished.

This is not an idea that has been with me all my life. I used to have giant towers and mountains of ideals surrounding me that looked and felt impossible to ever conquer. I had so many imaginary un-scaleable mountains that provided me with a million excuses for why I couldn’t become this or ever succeed at that. And eventually I saw that these towers and mountains were all created by my imagination. They weren’t real, and nobody else could even understand them, let alone see them. “Are you fucking crazy Natalie? What are you looking at?” could be the words spoken to me. And I realized accomplishment comes wherever I want it -in whatever form I enjoy and want to feel it. I could just as easily decide that none of my writings will ever be read by anyone and feel accomplishment in filling the hard drive of my laptop with a library of essays. (I do that too.) The realization I DECIDE was the real groundbreaker. Not anything I actually did or “accomplished”. I can feel fuel, drive, joy, motivation, creation, accomplishment, over anything I choose to feel it over and I even decide if I’m going to argue that with the negative committee in my head. I can decide also that nothing is up for debate, because the negative committee is not me, not employed by me, and they are best seen as squatters who need to be kicked out.

What we feel, the levels at which we feel, the end results of our feelings, so much is for you to decide. You own you. It’s easier to believe you don’t and that those mountains aren’t scaleable… but that is only because that is what you are used to. I’m now used to not seeing mountains, just molehills I can cover.

If my “caving” friend reads this, my friend will remember the many things I’ve had to deal with this year. And how I have not sailed through easily. Life can happen to us as well…but that is why we have to remember to be in charge of the things we can be deciding. There are plenty of things outside of our control. We may as well control the things we can. And frankly, I want to be having joy in all the areas I am capable of joy. Personally, I want to choose to feel accomplishment even at typing black letters onto a white screen…because all those things happening to me aren’t at my fingertips to delete or rewrite. So you bet I will control all the things I can. My attitude is the most important one. This has nothing whatsoever to do with reward or money for said accomplishment. I create my creation. I love the process. I feel fulfilled. This is why I have never cared for money. It’s a necessary tool. Its not attached to what is my joy. My feeling accomplishment at what I wanted to accomplish is the real goods.

Tuesday, September 11

LUCKY

How do I explain feeling so lucky when it has everything to do with someone's suicide? I know I just wrote about suicide of my friend, but two weeks earlier my adopted sisters best friend Berta committed suicide. Berta is also the sister of one of my close friends. And as I watched as these people I love so much mourn this incredible woman, (who I never somehow met) I continually felt, and feel lucky. For multiple reasons.

The first reason feels cruel to type. But I am glad that as I hear so many stories about Berta; her talents, her kindness, her beauty, they are still stories for me. I didn't know her voice, I don't have conversations cataloged, and no memories to replay in pain. I don't have to feel the giant hole her loss has created for my loved ones who are worthy of knowing top quality humans.

What I do have, is more love for my loved ones in pain, and luck to have them around.

An even bigger reason for me to feel Lucky these last couple days is that Berta should have turned 40 a couple days ago. My 40th birthday was the best birthday of my life. I was on the best vacation of my life, and having some of the biggest realizations of my life. I even wrote a short story about it. So, for someone to miss out on something that was so great for me, it's like I'm being reminded, "You are so Lucky!".

Anyone reading that knowing what stresses I've been through this year would question my honesty, considering how big a mess I have been at times, but today as I think about Berta missing out on turning 40, the sensation of being so lucky is loud and clear. Fact is I didn't lose a best friend or a sister and that too makes me lucky. Life is fragile and a gift. The only way to enjoy it is through choice combined with perspective. I NEED to love life. the alternative is too hard and uncomfortable to bear. So here I sit in a soft chair in my creative canvas I call home, and with a list of countless people I love and who love me...lucky is the most accurate word I have.

Another friend also touched with suicide in his life posted a pic of a fortune from a cookie on instagram. It read: "The mightiest oak in the forest is just a little nut that held its ground". I am going to continue hoping I will be so lucky to become a mighty oak. Not letting anyone -including myself- chop me down before I get there. This little nut is going to hold tight.

Ya know, when I die I don't need there to be a reward or an "after". All I need is to be happy and feel good. Anything after or "next" would be a bonus. I'm already lucky.

Sunday, July 22

YANNY?


I was recently introduced to that YT video with the recorded voice saying a word that some people hear as Yanny and others hear Laurel. Twitter says 47% hear Yanny, and 53% hear laurel. Other videos have been done where they change the pitch of the word which does affect what people hear, but lets stick with the fact that in its original sound, we hear something different. Does this mean anything?
 
It does.

It means that no one person can be 100% right because there is no RIGHT. There IS perspective. And Nobody has to change who they are to hear something different, all anyone should do is accept we aren’t all the same. We won’t all agree and most of the time there isn’t only two things to argue rightness about.

I’m also feeling the need to write about this because it’s one of my biggest pet peeves… when someone insists there is no other perspective but theirs. Usually these are people who believe everything is black and white, and since I’m a believer of countless grays, I can’t even entertain conversation with a B&W closed mind anymore. It’s pointless and time wasting. I write about this in Gray is Good and recently have referenced Statistical Uniqueness in conversations about this too. The world is obsessed with our differences right now, to the point of a mentality being created. This “You are offending me” kind of thinking. Which creates this over inflation of pride which then makes the offended individual offend. It’s like the building of an attitude too. One that doesn’t allow for Yanny to be Laurel. And if I get to throw out an opinion now –I think that changing this attitude could be easy. It would only require putting oneself in a space of RESPECT. Because there, one could accept what I hear: Laurel, is not what you hear: Yanny. And does this have to break the bank? No. Not in a space of Respect. In that space we accept EVERYONE is different.

So… how often can we put ourselves in this space? Trying to go there after an argument is already underway is rather impossible. So why not try to make it the space you occupy continually? Like your Aura, your bubble, your surrounding vibrational field that people feel when you are nearby? Why not live in that space of respect?

I’ve also referenced Being Understanding When I Don’t Understand, in a couple conversations recently. The two ARE different. You don’t have to understand a person and their choices to be understanding that they are struggling with those choices. It also doesn’t mean you have to garnish their load and make it your burden. To be in a respectful space and to be understanding, you are in the best place for yourself. If they expect your respect and understanding to be your lifting of the load too… that is their inability to grasp being in a respectful space and that in our differences, nobody need be exactly on the same page. Because fact is, some hear Laurel.

We are not automatons. We are humans with a googolplex of cells making each of us unique.