Wednesday, December 23

Height, Respect and Intonation

This is one of those subjects where I feel like I have so much to say I don’t know where to start or if I can squeeze it all in quickly.

It was back in high school psychology class that I first learned about intonation and how the way we respond to something has everything to do with the way it has been spoken to us. Speak with respect and you are more likely to receive respect. Speak down, the other will speak up. Speak up, the other will speak down.

It was in my childhood when I learned that height had nothing to do with respect. My very tall father of 6’4” made us fear him instead of building our respect for him. He regularly acted and reacted in ways that were contrary to creating my respect for him. On top of that, his intonation spoke down, which had all the inevitable effects.

It was as a case manager when I learned that intonation plays a huge role in conveying sincerity and trustworthiness for people in need, asking for assistance. It was after a conversation with me that a client confided the last time she was seeking assistance she was made to feel so shitty about herself by the case manager she met with that she went home and tried to kill herself.

It is in my everyday life that I see and feel the effects of my ability to speak with “respect” intonation. I’m so apt at receiving respect after I give it that I am completely shocked when someone communicates back very rudely. I deal with hundreds of people every day in the work I do, so I get to “practice” intonation and respect on a constant basis. I use my intonation to communicate that I am easy to deal with, I am willing to listen, I am open to offering help, I am happy, I am genuine, I am respectful, and I am friendly. Sheesh, that sounds complicated, but what it boils down to is a tone of voice that says I respect you, I respect me, let’s communicate. This in itself says I am a genuine person you can trust; now I can serve or help you comfortably for both of us.

I mentioned height only briefly up to now, but it is actually very important to add to my point. I have learned that being tall means people are happy to hand me respect before they learn it’s warranted. I don’t have to work as hard for it as short people and that has been evident to me all my life. I was taller than my teacher in first grade… Yes, as a 7-year old I was taller than my short teacher and I saw early on that my height affected how I was treated. The kids in class would come to me and tell me that so-and-so was being mean, as though I was going to put things right. I can’t remember how my 7-year-old mind responded and what I did to help, but being shown that my height affected how my fellow students responded to me was a lesson learned very early on.

Interestingly, throughout my life my best friends have been short. Sure I’ve known great tall people, that’s inevitable, but over and over again I’ve seen the ‘amazing’ in people who are not just shorter than me, but SHORT. And it is through seeing their amazingness while noticing others don’t that I have learned how much harder it is for them to experience respect on a regular basis, like I experience even when I’m not trying. It’s kind of as if life is harder for them just because the shell suit their personality inhabits is smaller than others.

I’ve decided this must also have something to do with “short man syndrome.” You know what that is, right? It’s when a man is very short but he has huge amounts of attitude and ego. He tends to micro-manage people, drives a huge truck, and does his best to feel and look important. I totally think this type of person has said to himself somewhere along the line that if he has to try harder to get respect for being short, by god, he will in every way. This manifests itself in the elements that create what we have named “short man syndrome”.

Women can develop this attitude too but it is far less common with women because we don’t tend to insist on respect as much as men. So we don’t notice as often as men when we aren’t being respected. It’s far more the norm to be treated shitty as a woman than as a man. And short women get talked down to regularly in more ways than one.

I have a living example of what I’m talking about. I have an awesome short friend. She is so talented, full of common sense, she can follow all kinds of instructions and she can think for herself to be creative. She’s funny, quick witted, and I find her so wonderful to have a conversation with because she makes points that I don’t think of but says points I need to consider. She is really so very close to perfect in my eyes. My short friend is the only short person in her family. She has three tall siblings and both parents are tall. She is easily the smartest person in her family based on how well I know her family and yet… Yes, and yet… all of her family members treat her like she is clueless. Her wants don’t matter, her schedule doesn’t matter, her opinion doesn’t matter, and the intonation with which her family members talk to her makes it evident that they do not know how to speak with respect. They speak down. And the reason I believe they speak down to her is because, physically, they DO.

I know I’m going to get much push-back by saying something like this but I’d like to point out everyone is different, every family dynamic is different, so I am using an example that exists and a dynamic I’m seeing. I am not making any blanket statements about everyone (Which is impossible anyway; everyone is different).

This lack of respect for her is continually the case. They even stick “little” in front of her name, as though belittling her is necessary in all ways. I realize this is not conscious; in fact, all I’m talking about is done on an unconscious level if you are not aware of intonation and height having any bearing on the way you deal with people.

Just lately this friend of mine is standing up for herself more. She is saying no when she is being told what she’s going to do and she is acknowledging to herself that she is pretty damn awesome and worthy of being respected in all areas, EVEN intonation. I have suggested she point out to them their poor treatment of her and not sound upset. State facts of what they do and say, and expect them to explain why they are doing it. This will bring their awareness to their intonation, and show them she sees the unintentional lack of respect. I feel so sure that if she were the tallest in her family the situation would not even exist.

I have another friend who is even shorter; she is very soft spoken and never uses a talk-down intonation. Even with me she uses a talk-up intonation and I always respond with a respect intonation. This encourages respect intonation back, which gives her a comfortable space to communicate in and she inevitably comes round to that respect intonation and we are on level ground.

I realize this is very truncated because this subject is one that can be expanded upon with endless stories. But this time I’m not going to say everything I can. Instead I would like you to notice Height, Respect, and Intonation for the rest of the day… the week if you can, and realize how YOU are talking to people, what intonation you have, and whether or not the height of the individual has anything to do with the way you are communicating. Also notice if their intonation is affecting you… are they talking "down" to you which means you are talking "up" instead of talking with respect intonation? Notice how you can change a situation with your intonation, always move into respect intonation, and watch what happens.

This is big stuff, friends; this changes the world we walk in.

Tuesday, November 24

Exaggeration is means to negative ends.

This might be a strange subject to write about, but I've encountered extra large helpings of exaggeration lately, so it caught my attention. Anytime that happens, I notice even more.

No, by exaggeration I’m not talking about the fish that was the size of a shark, the burger that was the size of a head, or the “____ that was so ____ you’ll never see another like it”.

What I’m talking about is the way people use exaggeration and how it is the opposite of beneficial, helpful, peaceful, or kind.

People use exaggeration to belittle or minimize your feelings. “I’m sorry I ruined your party” after they ate a piece of the birthday cake before anyone arrived. It doesn’t ruin the party, it’s discourteous, and the opposite of thoughtful.

Then there is bandwagon exaggeration… the kind of exaggeration that is especially tasty to the people who want to bitch and moan over nothing… but if others are, they get to also! Like a plain red cup that doesn’t have holiday greetings on it, (never has), but someone wants to find offense by it, so they do, and others follow.

With exaggeration on my radar, I’m seeing it everywhere and noticing that we are in a culture that currently not only loves exaggeration, but thrives on it. The most popular website in the world gives people the ability to very easily find someone exaggerating to the level at which they too want to exaggerate, and then the bandwagon grows. This only fuels the size and “validity” of the collective ego. And it’s the collective ego that harms society and individuality.

I feel like now I’m seeing it in so many directions I want to start pointing it out… stating it’s obviousness to remove its power.

“Your exaggeration in an attempt to minimize my feelings won’t work”.
“Exaggeration will only divide.”
“Being sensible is impossible while exaggerating.”
“I know better than to mistake exaggeration for accuracy.”
“If you want to be credible, don’t exaggerate.”
“Your exaggerated feelings shouldn’t be forced upon anyone.”

It almost doesn’t matter where you look… exaggeration is creating some form of awfulness in the world. Why would anyone physically harm others unless they feel the need to exaggerate? Paris 11-13-15 is an example of this. It wouldn’t have happened if nobody felt the need to exaggerate their beliefs or their point of view. Why couldn’t they just live and let live with no need to make anything into a big deal that ends up killing people? I’m sorry, but if you feel the need to point a gun at people who have not harmed you, or to set off bombs to harm them, you ARE exaggerating! (false flag or not… exaggeration is at play!)

As I write my mind is thinking of many examples of people making things bigger than they are. Animals don’t do this do they? Wait, when an animal wants to attack and harm or kill, they do tend to make themselves bigger than they really are. They exaggerate their size. So there you go… I can’t think of ways that exaggeration relates to happiness goodness or love.

I can draw giant unicorns and rainbows, I can use all the lovely beautiful words that exist in my language, it still won’t be exaggeration because the power behind exaggeration and its goal -is to only have negative effect. Exaggeration is suddenly far larger and more dangerous than I had previously realized, and I am not exaggerating.

With it on my radar now… its power will be diminishing.

Wednesday, October 7

The Viewer Changes… Not the View.

As a lover of instagram I find it fascinating as I look at any individuals photographs and see a theme. Each person has a “style” in what they see and share, and clearly they are capturing things from their own perspective. What just looks like a flower to one person looks like a silhouette for a sunset shot to another. One person just sees clouds, another sees the rays of light peeking through. One can capture the beauty, another hardly sees it.

Recently my manager at work pointed out that one specific quality in a person can be seen completely different ways by different people. That one quality could be seen as a positive thing to one person and a failing to another. Not that the quality changes, but the viewer changes. Who the viewer is depends on experience, perception, mood, understanding, and many more factors depending on the day, or even the weather. I say weather because I have noticed that gray sunless days make me see things in a much more dreary way. Like the lack of light is literally a lack of light and I’m more negative. I have a cousin who loves gray days, she’s not a fan of sunshine, so on a gray day her mood would be up, she would be happier, and her perspective more optimistic.

I’ve heard myself say countless times that we are all different, we all have unique experiences that make us individuals, so we won’t be the same, but what I hadn’t really thought about is placing myself in a frozen moment of time. If I do that, and I consider that there are endless places to stand in order to view one thing, I can see that if you turn your back to a sunset, you see the effects of the light in the opposite direction. If you face the sunset, you see it full on. If you put yourself up in the clouds you would see the light filtered with maybe little else, and if you put yourself inside a forest of trees, you might miss the sunset all together. There are endless points of view, despite there being one sunset.

Since my conversation with my manager over this reality that no two people will see anything the same way, I’m questioning far more than normal, and saying to myself: “Where would I be standing to see this differently?” I imagine slightly that I am a different viewer, that I am not Natalie with Natalie perspective, but maybe I am a teenager or a man, or a child, or anything other than who I am. Does a past experience influence my view? Does a person I know influence my view? Does an annoyance I have influence my view? Maybe even my taste in style or people influences my view. I have totally seen that my history with my father influences my view! So I need to always remind myself the view is what it is, my perspective is what changes.

If I see or experience something I have an unpleasant or unflattering view on, I need to consider where I’m standing, the view doesn’t change, but the angle at which I place myself does and can.

Monday, September 28

Giving and Giving Back.

This is short and sweet because the concept is basic. Anyone who is a giver will relate to this—which is to say this is a warning to the givers, not an invitation to the takers. (God knows I don’t want to learn this lesson yet again.)

I’ve seen myself do it a few times now… and the why is simply because I’m nice and it’s easy to love people. Takers may not start out as takers, they could start out as givers, but a situation can create a taker. When someone becomes a taker it can be simply because they met a giver. At that point they start seeing how much better they feel when they are around the giver. THAT is taking. Which isn’t automatically a bad thing… really. What it means is they need to GIVE BACK to that person. If that doesn’t happen, the person taking gets used to taking and this becomes the norm, becoming what BOTH the giver and taker get used to. This will continue as long as the giver has something to give.

Eventually (as is inevitable) the giver runs out of anything to give and it’s at THAT point where the taker taking from the empty giver starts to harm the giver. The giver up to this point hasn’t necessarily felt the removal, but when there is nothing left to remove; it is then that the pain starts.

The thing is—it takes so long to reach this point that both parties are oblivious to just how close to empty the giver is. And when suddenly the giver can’t give anymore the taker is completely surprised. The giver had some clues, but the nature of giving is that the giver has them denying they have no more, so they try to give anyway.

Then quite suddenly it ALL hurts. It’s like scraping the barrel when the barrel is your heart. The giver then hurts too much and has to face reality that the taker only ½ did this. The giver was handing it over every time it was expected or asked for!

So what then? What happens when the heart of the giver is being scraped, or has been scraped to the point of totally empty? Pain, that’s what. The emotional pain of reaching a point where you can’t give any more is far more uncomfortable for the giver than the taker. The taker is annoyed, confused, and needing their “fix”. Whatever form that takes. The giver however is left incredibly upset.

I hate learning things the hard way, and I most definitely hate having to learn a lesson more than once. I feel like I’ve done that, and now I’m making myself more aware of when I’m giving, and when I’m given TO. Which is a whole ‘nother conversation because people hate receiving. Especially givers. So I should do another post on Receiving.

One of the things I’ve realized about giving is that it makes you love a person even more. This is amazing and awful at the same time, but for totally different reasons. It’s amazing to find that giving makes more love which makes your heart feel bigger; as though you have more to give. It’s awful when the giving empties you, and you have to face the inability to give anymore to that person you already feel so much love for. The ONLY solution I can see, if this even is a solution, is to make sure that the one you are giving to gives back!! Preferably in equal amounts!

Sunday, September 13

Laughter is the best medicine.

Medicine is what you take when you aren’t well. If you laugh when you aren’t well and it makes you better, what happens if you laugh when you are great?

Laughter is not just the best medicine, Laughter is everything!

Especially that kind of laughter when your eyes are watering, you run out of breath, and the ability to talk becomes the one thing you want to do, and completely can’t. It’s usually at this point that you think of ONE MORE thing to say, that would make the funny thing even funnier, but your laughter gets in the way of your funny, and you nearly lose the ability to breathe let alone speak.

Sometimes when I’m laughing this hard the sound of my laugh totally changes and goes deep like a man’s laugh. Then THAT makes me laugh… Having any reason to laugh harder or even for a new reason carries the laughter into 20 minutes more. Then my face hurts, my stomach hurts, and it might just be the pain that has me finally giving in to something that resembles only giggles.

One of my favorite people in the world is someone I laugh with most. Ya, she’s one of those people. We regularly end our laughing with that trying to breathe-again-voice, saying “ahh… I love you.” She and I have been talking about laughing lately, and saying “I love laughing” so often that it’s on our radar.

We were talking about hanging out with friends, those we get together with, and how we define fun versus a good time. You can have a good time most of the time, but when you end up with lots of laughter, you end up saying something like “That was so fun!”. Which makes sense because fun is part of funny. When something is funny you laugh, when you laugh you have a good time, the funnier the good time the more you call it fun.

It’s interesting to look at the people we have a good time with vs the people we have fun with. Do this with me… Think of your funnest times lately… are those the ones where you were laughing? Are the people you are/were with the ones that laugh the most? Think of the people who make you laugh. Think of the people who don’t make you laugh. Are you spending the most time with the people who encourage laughter?

If you aren’t, I’m surprised. If you aren’t does this thought of fun and laughter make you want to spend time with those people? Maybe I’m a different breed, and not everybody likes laughing as much as I do. But that also makes me think about the fact I want to spend time with the people I relate to, it tells me who to prioritize, it reminds me I have a choice in who I give my energy to. I regularly find my mind going to my beautiful laughing friend when I find myself wanting “fun”. She is one of those people, and so am I. 

Wednesday, September 2

Dear John,

(One of those letters we all seem to write at some point.)

In the back of my mind I’ve been assembling the sound track to the movie of you and me.
I know you have long since moved on, so to even read that sentence might have you wondering why I’m still thinking or dwelling on you.
[Words-Skylar Grey]

I added another song to this soundtrack:
[Always going to be you-Kenny Chesney]

Literally, in the years since we were constantly communicating, I have been looking for your replacement. For a long time I wished to have your heart want me, and want to be loved by me. I referred to you as “painful” on a regular basis because of your waxing and waning for me. Disappearing when I said something too loving, and then returning to pull me in again.
[Gravity-Sara Bareilles]

Then, you stopped being painful once we had tickets to Mexico. I had the greatest two weeks of my life, and yet, I still found myself continually hoping you would see how wonderful it would feel for you to accept my love.
[Moon & Moon-Bat For Lashes]

You have always been so confusing to me, because you have always been so easy for me to love. Maybe you remember me saying the first time I heard your voice: I felt like it already lived inside me. I have tortured myself trying to understand how you could feel “part of me” from the beginning. I still marvel that we could seem to be such compatible people, but you didn’t feel it too.

All the songs you sent me over our many months sounded like you loved me, because they contained the word love. I let that equate to believing you cared about me and kept me hanging on. When you sent me [I’ve still got sand in my shoes-Dido] on the anniversary of my birthday, and literally on the anniversary of us spending time dancing and kissing on the beach, I saw for the millionth time, you only want to torture me with MY love for you. And that is not love. I don’t know who/what I was to you, and I have been looking for the version of you that would enjoy my love without torture ever since. I wanted to reply to that song, but didn’t because I was too upset. I’d already told you to stop sending me songs, so I didn’t send you [Say Something I’m Giving Up On You-A Great Big World] because I had already given up.

I have been torn by the thought: do I wish I had never met him? Because ignorance is bliss, and I sometimes wonder if that bliss would be nice to be living in. There are so many ways I’ve grown because of you, and since you. The hardest time in my life was after Mexico, when the John void was debilitating. I hadn’t ever experienced the wholeness feeling your presence created, you fit me so smoothly I almost didn’t realize how solid I felt with you. Then when you were gone, and so very far away, I had to figure out how to stitch myself back together, the void in me was more painful than I ever expected.

THE BENEFIT of having been in so much pain and realizing that I had to heal myself -by myself -for myself is that I am now pretty fucking amazing compared to the naive girl that spent time with you in Mexico. She hoped the whole time you would “choose me” by wanting something like a relationship, not just a vacation.

Like a dumbass, my next relationship was also with a guy whose ex-wife tortured him emotionally, so I had to continually struggle with that same issue. I know now that in my search for my new John, I will make sure nobody has ruined his ability to love himself or his ability to receive love. Because I believe there is nothing greater than MUTUAL adoration and love. You might be why I tried so hard for two years to make it work with that guy. The fact that he WANTED my love was what kept me going and hanging on.

I did make an awesome realization because of you both though. There are 4 kinds of love that make a relationship awesome. He loves her. She loves him. She loves herself. He loves himself. If all 4 of these are each complete and present, you can have success. Without one or more, you have something too flawed to work with. If I am honest, when we were in Mexico, all we had to work with was She loves Him. One quarter is rubbish love. See, you really have taught me so much, and not because you were so smart, but because you were so painful.

One of the biggest realizations I made in these years since you, and all the confusing love songs you sent me, is that nobody has ever been so cruel to my heart. That fact should carry more weight than anything. Realizing it finally has helped me see so much clearer.
It was after that I could finally stop wishing for you because I realized your only desire was to care about me, not to be with me. I think you were just somehow addicted to sending me music that made me believe you thought highly of me, that I meant something to you. The complete LACK of LOVE should have said everything when we parted in Mexico and I was crying, but you were fine. I felt love, you felt something much smaller.
[I know you care-Ellie Goulding]

We all have to learn lessons in life, we all have to figure shit out, but what I see again and again is that nobody has ever had such an effect on my life as you.
[Record Collector-Lissie]

I am still single, I am looking again, and what I’m looking for is that amazing connection I had with you –only better. I can’t help but say it’s my New John, because there is so much about who you were that I already know fit me like a glove. The visual of this New John dynamic brings another song to my soundtrack, [Manhattan-Sara Bareilles] the line is “I’ll wish this away, dismissing the days, when I was one half of two”. You didn’t make me whole, you helped me see that I want to be one half of two. Allowing you to make me complete as just a partial 1, felt awful. Another fitting line from this song: “And I’ll tip-toe away, so you won’t have to say, you heard me leave.” I did tip-toe, but I feel like this letter is finally a necessary good bye.

I’m sure you remember I wrote a book about our two weeks in Mexico. I think it needs to be a movie. (Which is probably why I have so much of the soundtrack assembling in my mind.) The friends who read the book think I’m an amazing person. They told me you are not worth my thoughts or my time. They didn’t read anything in what I wrote about you that had them understanding how I could have possibly have fallen so head-over-heals for you. I find that so interesting! That in all my writing, they didn’t fall in love with you too, they just called you stupid, while I still wished for you.
[El Cerrito Place-Kenny Chesney]

Something that I’ve never quite wrapped my head around is your saying you didn’t “want to be in a love space” while you were physically adoring me every moment we were together. That might have been the biggest mind-fuck of it all. To act madly in love, kissing me at every opportunity whether it was waiting to cross the street, or strolling the beach in the rain. Acting like I was important, that I meant something, pretending to be my dream man, enjoying every minute of me. That “love space” was the space I was walking in, and you were right there holding my hand. It’s no wonder my heart felt so broken when I got back home.
[55th and 3rd--Kenny Chesney]

Then… it was only a couple months after Mexico that you got into a relationship. As you told me about her, and as you said she wanted you more in her life, I felt sorry for her. It sounded like she too had fallen for you, but you just wanted to be fucking her too and not allowing her to feel something real with you. And yet, you admitted to what sounded like a kind of relationship. I wonder if you are still torturing her. I hope for her sake you aren’t, but I bet you are still saying to yourself “No love space!”
[Joy-Ellie Goulding]

Not communicating to you now means you aren’t torturing me, but I am still thinking about what I learned about myself through all this, what I want to find in a man now, what a healthy relationship would look like, and what the red flags are.
[Hide and Seek-Imogen Heap]

Another thing I should acknowledge is that I didn’t learn from you, I learned because of you.
[Better as a Memory-Kenny Chesney]

I wish you luck, I wish me luck, and this time I’m starting with the quarter: She loves herself.

Best Wishes,

[Once upon another time-Sara Bareilles]

Sunday, August 16

Vital Pride

I harp on about self view/ self esteem/ self perception all the time because I think it’s vital and something we have been completely misguided on all our lives. What have we been misguided with? The existence of pride being awful and something we need to shed. That pride will make you a selfish person, that it will mess up your view of not only yourself but others and the world. You will become somebody that no one wants to be around, and you will become selfish. As though thinking highly of yourself will end up changing you into some awful person -that even god can’t stand.

That sounds a little dramatic, so let me use an example. I had a friend in my 20’s named Bo. (I’ve written about her before) She was just a couple years younger than me, and she had a baby, (Kloe). It was around the time Kloe was about one year old that Bo was saying to Kloe “you are so beautiful, you are so lovely” and doing it in front of Bo’s mother. Her mother then jumped in and said “Don’t tell her that! You’ll give her a big head!” At this point I had already been Bo’s champion because I had heard many stories of how throughout her life Bo was told by her mother “You’re too fat”, “You’re too thin”, “You need to ____” “You have to ____”. Bo had already told me that her poor self view had everything to do with the constant barrage on her self esteem by her mother throughout her life. My response to Bo was, “Don’t you dare stop telling your beautiful daughter that she’s beautiful”. “I won’t. I want her to love herself” was Bo’s reply.

It’s not like little Kloe isn’t going to have plenty of little kids in school messing with her self view, she’ll have a “best friend” hurt her at some point, and like all kids, she will be teased. If her mother doesn’t build her up from the beginning, telling her how wonderful she is, Kloe’s life will be even harder not having that cushion of self esteem behind her.

Hell, lets look at me as an example. EVEN THO my mother has given me praise my entire life, telling me how wonderful I am, I still ended up with no self esteem outside of how my mother saw me. In the big world I was just an ant, and in my head it didn’t matter that my mom thought highly of me, so EVEN when your mother builds you a cushion of self esteem, it can still not be enough in the long run. I feel like saying to Bo’s mother, “How dare you do that to your own child, and then expect she will do the same to your grandchild?” I wonder how her mother treated her? Probably the same, and look what kind of people it produces.

Have you ever met someone who can find fault with everyone? Always criticizing people? Calls someone they don’t know a “bitch” or derogatory names? Maybe they don’t criticize 100% of the people they come in contact with, but you know the type I mean. Does that person like themselves? Ya know, I’ve never met a person critical of others who likes themselves. It should really be a giant red flag waving above their head. “Hey, look at me, I hate myself, so I’m going to be an ass to be around, I’m going to call people names, and I’m never going to fix myself. I just want to bitch about everything and everyone else”.

We all know someone like this and it all boils down to self esteem. These people might on some level seem “proud” or as though they do like who they are, but I guarantee, anyone who likes themselves, who truly has a healthy sense of self esteem, is not out there dwelling on other people and pointing fingers, or blaming, or even putting mental time into negativity. People who have a healthy self esteem, spend their time thinking positively, being happy, they have learned that there is no benefit in constantly looking at what others are doing.

And I know that these words strike a bad cord in people, but I’m going to say it. People with a healthy self esteem PUT THEMSELVES FIRST.

I don’t mean they eat the best cookies before offering any to others, I don’t’ mean they butt in line at the grocery store, I’m talking about the kind of put yourself first that says, you don’t need to worry about what other people are doing. Worry about yourself, make sure you are fed and watered, make sure you are happy, make sure you like yourself, and when you are someone who does that, guess what happens… No, you don’t start hording the cookies, you naturally and easily GIVE. You give good energy, you give kindness, you give smiles, you give in all the positive ways that anyone would hope to have given to them.

The word pride has been hijacked by religions. I don’t even allow that word to have the religious meaning anymore. I have pride in myself, my appearance, my work ethic, my ability to be a good friend, anything I want to do well I take pride in, having pride in it ensures I want these things to be good, not bad. I don’t even relate the biblical pride to my life. Biblical pride is bull shit and I hate how something that is supposed to help people (the bible) ends up harming people (with twisted meanings).

The reason we spend less time looking inward is because we literally look outward with our eyes. We have the ability to constantly judge others simply because that is the direction we are looking. Imagine a world where people looked inward. Where we had the desire to be the best “me” we can be, and we didn’t take notice of what everyone else was doing. Handfulls of gossip magazines would wither and die. If people looked inward they wouldn’t care if Bruce Jenner found himself saying “I’ve always wanted to be a girl”. Nor would they have a thousand opinions on it. Imagine if we all put ourselves first, looked inward, and loved ourselves. You know what would come from that? Even more love and acceptance for others.

The more I hear from the bible lovers of the world, the more convinced I become Religion lies. Religion ties and binds. It controls, and it destroys self esteem. How did all my mothers efforts to create a cushion of self esteem fail? She took me to church every week, where I was Re-legioned. They don’t want you to think for yourself, they don’t want you secure in the amazing being you are. They want you to believe you are a sinner who will never be good enough, who will always need to feel shame and guilt. A weekly sacrament is reminder of this awful person you are and always will be. I could go on an on explaining the need for various “church interviews”, and the review by a bishop of how “worthy” you are, how much money you gave in a year, the sins you are currently living in. Ugh, nothing uplifting in a REAL way.

I will just say this… Walking away from religion was KEY to finding out who I am and liking me. Letting my “beautiful” in and finally seeing who my mother sees. I wish for every person to like themselves as much as my mother likes me, and to forget every bit of what religion tells you you are. You aren’t a “sinner” who will never be enough, you are an amazing human with the ability to learn endless things, a huge chunk of which educates you on what real happiness is and where to find it.

The true-you is capable of countless incredible things. Anyone insisting you need religion to be an amazing being is either under control or wanting to control. If you pull all control out of your life, and look at who you are and who you want to be, you will see the freedom to be amazing, full of pride in your awesomeness, and a person you and everyone loves to be with.

Monday, July 27

Wish-ers and Do-ers

Its possible there are people who don’t daydream. Who just let life roll along. Me, I’ve never enjoyed the mindless rolling. In my youth I was a wisher. I sat and watched travel documentaries, home improvement shows, things on science or astronomy and I wished.

I wanted to be traveling, creating, having a home, learning, and being out there as a grown-up and living life! Doing as much as I could.

Over the years my wishing turned into doing, more wishing, and a couple of times became years of stagnancy. For the most part I’ve managed to be a doer, experiencing other countries, making a home of my own, writing and pursuing many of my interests. I pretty much went from being a wisher to being a doer. Age was what held me back as a kid, but if anything holds me back now, it is only me.

I don’t understand boredom. There are too many cool things waiting for me to alter, create, make and go see.

I’m writing this because the thought of wisher vs doer has been on my mind lately. I’ve been spending a lot of time with a wisher and that time has amounted to me being less of a doer. Not for lack of wanting to do, but for lack of time and actually doing. This wisher I speak of believes that the wishing will turn into doing, but without changing anything, or ACTION, wishing stays wishing. I’m finding myself overly frustrated that my desire to be doing has me just wishing I were doing. Wishing I were not giving my time to wishers.

Although there is some small joy in the wishing, there is not anywhere near as much joy as in the doing. What’s hard about becoming a doer again? It’s letting the wishers be wishing without your company. It feels cruel, but it’s necessary. They can be wishing alone, while you are busy doing.

Frankly, whether my scale is tipping more to doing than wishing is my worry. Another person’s scale is theirs. The two shouldn’t affect one another detrimentally, and if they do, there’s a problem. Again, that’s my worry. Something that’s my fault. Something that I need to DO something about.

Tuesday, July 7

No Yellow Brick Road

For some their talents, loves, and interests manifest themselves when they are children. They are immediately in life so good at something, it is clear that they will spend their life with that “skill” whatever it be. It is in large part, they path they will take.

The rest of us tend to do one of two things. Make a choice what we want our skill to be and spend thousands of dollars going to school for that skill. Or, not go to school and pursue living life hoping that “the skill” comes to us. Even then, many of us reach the middle of our lives and say “What is my purpose? What am I meant to be doing? Where is my personal yellow brick road?”

What if there is no “Doing what you are meant to do”? What if you’re just supposed to follow your heart and act on what you feel. No path already paved for you, you have to pave your own. The pavement you use is dreams, joys, interests, desires, loves, and the things that make you happy, bring satisfaction, and lead to what we call “fulfillment”. There are no yellow bricks already laid.

The thing is, the majority of people will insist there is a path you must take, EVEN if it’s decided around age 18 and followed by going to school. I say again: I’m at this point in life where my friends are realizing, they thought they were on this yellow brick road, the one that gets them where they are supposed to be… and realizing there’s nothing. The plan and the path is failing them. The degree, the professional decisions, the money, the everything. These are part of the realization that years on their particular path didn’t get them anywhere they expected, just to the question “what is my purpose”?

At a young age I learned to trust my heart. It pointed me in many directions, most of which made everyone around me think I was crazy for not just sticking to the yellow brick road, but my heart told me not to.  Sure this path has been hard at times, but hindsight is clear, and I know that the dreams, joys, interests, desires part of how we find our path, has me where I am meant to be. It has me seeing places I need to go, and I feel incredibly lucky I am not suddenly saying “Goodbye yellow brick road” because I never wanted to stick to it anyway.

Listen to your heart, follow through on your joys and loves, trust that the happiness will make sure your lack of a yellow brick road is still a perfect path for you.

Here's a beautiful accompaniment for my thought. 

The link if it isn't showing:

Saturday, May 30

Not as common as we’d like.

I’ve been thinking about “common sense” lately. I told a friend where these thoughts were going and she said “you need to make this a blog post”. “Ya, I think I do. I think I need to analyze it further too.” Well, I’ve analyzed, and I think I only see the top of the iceberg, but I’ll share anyway since it’s the top of the iceberg that alerts us to the whole iceberg.

Common sense seems to be more related to the way we think and our paying attention, as opposed to how great or amazing our intellect or IQ might be.

The first reason I say that is because I have met and been close to many intelligent people in my life. A pattern I have seen is that some of the people I consider to be quite genius and intelligent can’t seem to figure out the obvious stuff that I think of as common sense.

In my 20's I decided the two can’t go hand in hand. That you get one or the other and because I clearly had the “easy” common sense, I was by no means ever going to become a genius at anything. And all the really smart people I met, who had no common sense, never would. Now, in my 40's, I've decided I was wrong.

My older sister is one of my examples of this. That Girl can do the most amazing things! She writes songs (lyrics and music) that are so freaking awesome and clever! She plays multiple musical instruments, she speaks 3 languages fluently, knows a good chunk of other languages, and she has endless skills any person could call genius. But then she calls me to help her do the easy stuff. “how do I…?”.  Me being the middle child, the one who was given the “lets figure this out” mind, I usually am able to answer or fix whatever she asks me about, and with ease. You can see why I thought that we are each bestowed with the ability to have common sense, or be a genius, or be “thick”. (as the British say.)

Now that I’m older, I’ve met a shit-ton of people. I’ve worked with so many minds, and I interact with all kinds of people on a daily basis, so I have a new theory.

Common sense is not something you have or don’t have, not like being a genius. Common sense is a way that people think, and a way of “being”. Which will make sense as I elaborate on “being”.

I have two co-workers that illustrate my point. Both teenagers. One of them is a problem solver, communicator, thinker, and easily paying attention to everything. The other is in her own world, answering her own questions AFTER she asks them aloud and realizes she knows the answer, clearly not “thinking” before she speaks. Ya, we all totally do this, it’s nothing strange, but this is the part of common sense I’m learning. And I toooo am having more common sense as I change my LACK of thinking, into thinking. And THIS brings me to my other half of “a way of being”.

That half is presence. I know that to some, “being present” is easy and the normal way of life, but for most people, I actually think that being present is incredibly difficult. I believe modern technology such as cell phones are turning off our ability to “be present”. The reason they are doing it is because we can’t pay attention to everything all the time. Being present requires PAYING A-FUCKING-TTENTION. I say that so big because by not doing it, and being on a cell phone, people have died. When you are driving, you need to give driving your attention. When you are having a conversation, you need to give the person you attention. When you are ordering a cup of coffee, you need to order a cup of coffee. Paying attention to what you are doing at all times is how you are present, and it is how you are able to think clearly and have common sense.

I am not in any way saying that I’m some amazing attention-payer. Life is crazy busy, multi-tasking is 100% required in my job, so paying attention is almost a luxury I can't afford. However, I regularly do something and say to myself, “Had I been paying attention, that wouldn't have happened.” We all do it, I know I’m really just saying what everyone already knows, but as I figure out HOW we all can have more common sense, I’m noticing more and more when people are not present, when people don’t even seem to want to be present, and what they seem to be doing more often is turning the thinking off. As I try to pay better attention, to be more present so I don’t make mistakes that I’ll regret, my attention is super keen on those who are doing the opposite, and really turning down their common sense dial.

I’ve posted before about cell phones and how rude I find it when people in your company decide the phone is what they need to be looking at, but I’m not harping on about Cell Phones, what I’m talking about is everything that people tune into instead of paying attention to what is happening in the moment and going on “presently”.

I know someone who always wants to talk about themselves. When they call, they ask how I am and when I answer, the response I get to everything I say is “Oh fun.” The person is clearly just waiting for me to finish so they can feel like they asked, but then get down to business of doing the talking. This happened endless times before one day I decided I actually don’t want to hear “Oh, fun” anymore. In reality,I don’t need to be heard, what I’ve been up to is of no importance, but the underlying message of –lets pretend I give a shit about your life so I can tell you all about mine, and it coming in the words “oh, fun” showed me I was not talking to someone being present. When nothing changes, I do.

I want to lastly illustrate my point of presence and common sense with an example. On a daily basis I come in contact with countless people at work. What I have noticed is that people’s expressions often change when they start talking to me and they see my level of paying attention to them. It’s almost like they suddenly become present because they realize it’s uncomfortable to not be paying attention to someone who is totally paying attention to you. Some people shy away from this level of paying attention. It’s nothing so much seen as felt, but once you feel it, you see it too. If I am listening to you, responding to everything you say, and acting based on your words, you want to be paying attention so you don’t miss anything. It’s that not wanting to miss anything that happens when you are present, and THAT is what generates common sense. If you are present and thinking, your dial is turned up.

Wednesday, May 6

It’s ingrained in us…

…to believe certain things. And the bible is why.

If you read my blog often, you know I’m fond of some of the teachings from the Sermon on the Mount and I have used many of them to make my point and illustrate stories from my personal life. Most of these are “Ah ha moments” I’ve had relating a teaching by Jesus to my modern day life. I’m not about to tell you I’m a Christian, or turn this into any kind of Pro-Jesus post (especially since I’ve long since walked away from religion), but instead I want to share some more perspective I have on a couple other things from the Sermon on the Mount. And I will just point out that I realize there is debate as to whether Jesus was the one who said them in the first place. (refer to The Jesus Mysteries by Timothy Freke & Peter Gandy)

That being said, I’m not trying to discuss Jesus in this blog post, I’m specifically addressing a couple things that we grew up believing, and even though there are many bible teachings we benefit from, there are a couple that need further attention, and I think are harmful. Yep, I just said that. Which is another way of saying “I disagree with some things that have been ingrained in me from childhood.” J (many things actually)

I started reading a book about the previously lost gospel of Judas called the Secrets of Judas, by James M Robinson. This was after my boyfriend and I were reading the Jesus Mysteries. Because of that book I was reading about Judas with a more open mind than in the past. Not because I have been closed minded, but I feel like having more information on any given subject opens the mind for more information on it, which increases understanding but also increases fascination. The Jesus Mysteries is a great place to start.

As I was reading the Secrets of Judas, I came upon a short section of the Sermon on the Mount. After reading a few paragraphs, that I totally agree with, I read a couple that I don’t. As I continued, my heckles went up. I have not read the sermon on the mount in my adulthood, and certainly not since writing my book on self esteem. I bring that up because I now hold the importance of self-view as important as food and water. That being the case, I suddenly found myself having a lot to say about what I was reading. There were a couple “teachings” that sound far more harmful than helpful in this day and age.

I know that I could be stoned for having an opinion of my own, disagreeing with such a sacred cow like Jesus, but I think what I was reading, and what I was relating to are thoughts completely worth voicing. I have already told a few friends how I am now seeing this old teaching, and they have expressed that they too find the teaching difficult and uncomfortable, but one they believed they needed to adhere to. Sheesh, this sounds like I’m getting cryptic, I will get to my point ASAP.

I spend a lot of time in search of perspective, paying attention to perception in general, and listening to the way people interact with others and me.  In doing this, I seem to have an opinion on many things, and just having an opinion doesn’t mean I think people need to agree with me. What I want to be clear on—is that I believe everyone has the right to think what they want EVEN if it is disagreeing with a sacred leader, be it Jesus, Mohammed, Buddah… anyone. Think for yourself, listen to everything, develop opinions, and be YOU, not what someone tells you to be.

That being said, you are going to now hear me being me. This is where people should stop reading if they can’t handle free-thinking.

The part of the Sermon on the Mount that I’m reading in The Secrets of Judas can be found in Luke. Here is the part from this book I want to elaborate on:

“Love your enemies and pray for those persecuting you, so that you may become sons of your father, for he raises his sun on bad and good and rains on the just and unjust.”

“The one who slaps you on the cheek, offer him the other as well, and to the person wanting to take you to court and get your shirt, turn over to him the coat as well. And the one who conscripts you for one mile, go with him a second. To the one who asks of you, give; and from the one who borrows, do not ask back what is yours. And the way you want people to treat you, that is how you treat them.”

“Do not pass judgment so you are not judged. For with what judgment you pass judgment, you shall be judged. And with the measure you use to measure out, it will be measured out to you”.

Ok, that’s it. Not a big deal, most of us recognize these words, and it is ingrained in us to believe and accept them. Now, I just have a few things to say.

In regard to: “Love your enemies, pray for those who persecute you”. I may not be willing to love someone who qualifies as an enemy, because you gotta be a horrible person to be an enemy to me. AND if you are a horrible person, I’m not going to have anything to do with you, which means I’m not even going to put thought, time, love into someone who could be that awful. However, if someone is around me enough to persecute me, I might pray for them in a round-about-way by praying for my own rising out of the situation. Which might mean they become better people to realize what they are doing… Sure, I will pray for that. I think on some level most of us pray for people like that to “wake the fuck up”, but I think that one should be careful HOW they pray for that person. Would you pray that enemy continues to be a successful enemy? Would you pray for their strength? I think one should be pretty careful and specific if you decide to pray for someone worthy of the word “enemy”.

I don’t get “so that you may become sons of your father, for he raises his sun on bad and good and rains on the just and unjust.” One doesn’t become a son of your father, because one already is. This is an issue I have with religion in general, an attempt to make actual things conditional things. I don’t have much to say on this part since I find it pointless.

”The way you want people to treat you, that is how you treat them”. I agree with this, respect is a big deal to me. “Do not pass judgment so you are not judged. For with what judgment you pass judgment, you shall be judged. And with the measure you use to measure out, it will be measured out to you”. And so it should be. Don’t be a jerk and think nobody should treat you like one.

Now for the stuff I see as harmful. This is what I feel most strongly about:

“The one who slaps you on the cheek, offer him the other as well, and to the person wanting to take you to court and get your shirt, turn over to him the coat as well. And the one who conscripts you for one mile, go with him a second. To the one who asks of you, give; and from the one who borrows, do not ask back what is yours.”

This is where I hear these words directly saying: teach people it’s ok to treat you poorly. Teach people you aren’t worth respecting, teach them they can benefit in being a jerk, and in this process of turning yourself into a bigger wuss, you will succeed at making bigger assholes for the rest of the world to also deal with. And when they are greedier in every way, be ok with it.

What is interesting about this teaching, is that I have direct situations in my life, specific people, who are doing or have done these things, and interestingly, I have already decided that just “taking it” is a way to convey I’m good being treated like I don’t matter. I’m ok to have my things taken. I’m cool to be left without. What that really amounts to is not having enough care for yourself, that you could/would stand up for yourself and say, “Hey, you can’t act like that.” Or “Don’t think I’m happy to let you take advantage of me.  What it really is, to turn the cheek, to turn over your coat, to go a second mile, and to not ask for your borrowed things back, is to be an enabler. An enabler of what you ask? An enabler of terrible attitude, treatment, and Assholeness. You enable them to treat you (and likely others) shitty, without respect. Could somebody please stand up and tell me right now how creating bigger assholes for the world is a good thing? And to do it to the detriment of our own self worth…? You gotta be kidding me.

I’ve been the person turning the other cheek, I’ve been the person giving shirt and coat, I’ve gone an extra mile when I didn’t want to go further, and I’ve seen the attitude of people who borrow and don’t return your things. And do you know what I have learned from each of these situations in my life? I’ve learned I should NOT have let them happen. These are things that someone with a poor self-esteem does. And each of them ONLY ADD to that poor and awful self-view. This is NOT OK!

I was an enabler for many years. Finding out I was one didn’t stop it either. I ended up learning there are many ways to enable a person to take from you. And what did I learn in all that? I learned it mainly harms me! Being a nice-guy is a bit complicated. We have to be nice and kind, because we SHOULD treat others how we want to be treated, and in doing good, you make happiness! BUT, allowing or even ignoring it when you are treated like shit? No. That is not ok, and you WILL make the world a more terrible place for the rest of us if you don’t stop people from taking from you.

Make no mistake, giving and allowing someone to keep taking are NOT the same thing. I realize this is a bit complicated for some who continually give because they can’t tell the difference. Here is how I would suggest deciphering between the two. How does the person make you feel? Is there dread when you give? Do you feel lessened in strength when you give to the person? Are they always asking you to give in their actions? Do they give you a choice to NOT give?

I am using “give” to represent many things. Turning your cheek so they can slap your other side too is giving them opportunity. Giving your face to be slapped over and over reminds me of a saying. “Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me.” If you are turning your cheek to be slapped over and over from one side to the other, do you really think this form of giving is helping them or you? Nope. Not even a bit. What I will tell you it IS doing tho… it’s harming YOU. It’s so very easy to destroy your own self worth. You have the ability to convince yourself of anything, and if you continually communicate to your heart and mind that it’s ok to be treated bad in ANY way, you harm yourself.

This is getting too long. I apologize that what feels like a simple thought requires me finding so many words to explain. I’ll try to sum up.

By not allowing these things to happen, (cheek-coat-second mile-give-don’t ask for borrowed goods back) you are saying. “YOU CAN’T treat me like shit. I’m not going to allow you to be a jerk in my life: “I love myself”.

If there is anything I’m going to be championing the rest of my life it is that you need to love yourself and be someone who you love loving. Standing up for yourself, and let people exit the room of your life who aren’t also lovely people. Don’t encourage the assholes of the world, don’t feed them or they will get bigger.

Wednesday, April 15

For the Girls

I wish I knew why appearance is such a big deal for us girls. I wish I could be the exception to the rule and say “I don’t care what I look like, why do you?”, but I can’t. Appearance is SO important to the females, there is hardly a piece of our bodies we don’t mess with, alter, or adorn. Hair, face, brows, lips, ears, skin color, clothes, nails, eyelashes, tummies, butts, everything. We don’t leave anything alone, and where does this get us? What I mean by that is, after we do all this to ourselves, all the paint, stain, altering, everything, are we “there”? Do we reach that state of satisfaction with self?

It’s possibly an American thing, since the American’s are the best in the world at portraying beauty is more valuable than intelligence. Travel to Europe to experience this opinion of Americans. That could possibly help our case. (Or sickness, however you want to put it)

Imagine for a second there are only two statements about your appearance, and you believe one of them.
1. I like being pretty.
2. I wish I were prettier.

Please contact me if you are saying #1, and NOT saying #2 because I would like to hear your story. Everyone I know will always say #2. They always want to change something, they never finally have their hair exactly how they love it, their make-up, their skin, their nails, nothing.

So now, I have to ask you, at what point do you think anyone is pretty ENOUGH? What would it take for you to be Pretty Enough, and if you just now thought something like, “Well if I could just get that nose-job, I would be pretty enough.” I then want to ask you to be realistic. Would you REALLY accept you were ENOUGH on that imaginary pretty scale after changing one thing? I bet you would find something new to pick at and treat as the reason you aren’t pretty enough. So again, will it ever happen? Will you ever be satisfied?
I’m convinced the answer is no, and I want to tell you why I think that.

Because of comparison. Women are never going to stop comparing. There is some demented perspective in the majority of women that can’t stop looking at every other woman and making comparisons. I want a butt like that, I want hair like that, I want pretty nails like those, and with half of the population being women, we have this ability to swim in this sea of comparison and never get out or even come close to the shore.

This is not ok. And the reason it’s not ok is because it’s damaging. Harming your self-view is one of the worst things you can do, and the majority of women do it constantly. Yes I see this as totally common, to the point many would call it normal, but it’s not “normal”. It’s messed up. It’s harmful, and it’s ABNORMAL to continually find fault and compare yourself to others.

What is the alternative? To stop it. To finally pull out your common sense and see that the only thing you need to be in life is YOU. You don’t look like every other person, and THEY don’t look like each other either! I want to say “Pull your head out of your ass, and accept you are not perfect AND you are totally unique.” (Don’t think I’m not talking to myself also.) I’ve been working on this, which is why I think I see so many women unable to just love themselves as they are. For who they are. Flaws and all.

I want somebody to finally answer for me “Why does anybody need to be prettier? What will it get you?” Outer beauty won’t actually get you further than inner beauty, and if you don’t know that, you’d better let that baby sink in. If your insides are ugly, it doesn’t matter what your outsides look like because ugly is all anybody will see when they interact with you.

This is the number one thing I think women should accept and experience. If you think of the ugliest people you know, you only see them that way because of WHO they are, NOT what they actually look like. True ugliness is internal, and so is true beauty.

I want to say that again: True ugliness is internal, and so is true beauty!
If you want to be “Prettier”, the only real way to make that happen, is to care about WHO you are. Be kind, loving, accepting, thoughtful, fun… Be these easy things, and your outward appearance, your “Prettyness” will increase. It just happens, like it’s a silent law of the universe. 

Tuesday, April 7

Where we belong

We tend to think of belonging in relation to location most of the time. I know I do, having lived in a few countries, and feeling that where I live now is “where I belong”. 

I’m feeling very melancholy over a friend moving away, and I am realizing that belonging is not just a physical thing of being in one place at one time and whether or not it’s the right place.

Just over a year ago, a really cool young lady named Phoebe came to UT from CA, and immediately fit in. So well in fact, that I don’t even remember life at work before her. I don’t remember her arrival, her being “new” or anyone needing to teach her anything. It’s crazy to say, but it feels like she has just always belonged.

Phoebe is a quiet sort. She seldom speaks up, she listens, she pays attention, and she has shocked me endless times by being right there, handing me whatever it is I was in need of. She quietly pays attention like I have never known anyone to, and it pays off. She knows what’s going on, she is on top of things, and one way to put it is--in control.

I do remember the first few times I was aware of the way she felt like she belonged. Not just at work, but kinda like she belonged to me. I’m technically old enough I could be her mother, even tho her mother is older than me, but I have felt this connection to Miss Phoebe that I’ve described to her as maybe having been mine in another life. There is an ease with her, a silent comfortableness, and I can’t help but word it best to say she belongs. The funny thing is, I am positive others feel this with her too. Everyone likes her, nobody can resist. My feelings are not unique.

Pheobe has decided it’s time to go back to CA. It was not an easy decision, but all of her family is there, and it’s time. It’s because she’s leaving that I got thinking about where we belong. I don’t think it fits to say Phoebe belongs in UT or CA, it’s almost moot to say either, because she’s such a wonderful and comfortable person, she belongs in my heart, she belongs in many hearts, and it totally won’t matter where she resides. She continues to belong with all of us that fell in love with her here, and all of those who love her there.

We will miss her terribly, for countless reasons, and it’s easiest to just say, it’s because she so easily belongs. 

Tuesday, March 24

Starbucks Cups & Equality

It seems everyone has something to say about Starbucks mid March campaign to encourage equality through conversations, in an initiative they've called: “Race Together.” Encouraging baristas to start conversations on race, and asking that along with the customers name, "Race Together" get written on their cup.

I too have an opinion, and its partly that we all have an opinion! We all want to have a say, we all want to speak up, get heard, and let people know what is on our minds. Social media has changed the way we see ourselves as no longer being voiceless. Now you can make a comment on twitter and end up going a totally different direction in life. Social Media IS changing the world, and I can’t say that’s necessarily a good thing, but its defo something we can’t prevent.

With everyone having a say, and expecting to be heard, we are more individual than ever. People who had no desire to stand up and say anything 10 years ago now insist on a platform. So guess what? The likelihood of us all agreeing is smaller than ever, because we are more diverse than we ever knew we would be.

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz addressed this in discussions across the united states in meetings with Starbucks partners (employees) and heard again and again that empathy in diversity can bridge the gap between unconscious bias people everywhere face through differences. USA TODAY and Starbucks created the campaign saying: “Race Together is not a solution, but it is an opportunity to begin to re-examine how we can create a more empathetic and inclusive society—one conversation at a time.”

Well, no good deed goes unpunished, especially not with Social Media. Everyone has something to say about the campaign, and some people love to be bitchy and rude at every opportunity.

Anyway, to try and get to my point… I spend way too much time in my local Starbucks, I know the people who work there, I know the customers, and I know the diversity of people who come into the store. What I see is that my Starbucks fosters friendliness, happiness, diversity, and for the most part everyone is treated “equal”. I cringe to say that because everyone is so different, they do in fact need unequal treatment. An elderly person needs a louder voice without a tone that sounds condescending. A 14 year old girl who doesn’t know how to order her pink frappachino needs patience and kindness so that she will have a good experience and will want to come back bringing her friends. Everyone CAN’T be treated the same, and yet, the goal is to make sure everyone has a good experience. The equality is the element of feeling they were respected and treated right.

Conversations on diversity are necessary, I’ve heard young individuals working at Starbucks say ignorant things about race, but without conversations, the young and ignorant stay ignorant whether they are in a Starbucks location or not.

It is already evident that Starbucks encourages diversity because you meet unique individuals working at every Starbucks you visit. If people have an issue talking about diversity, not wanting to address it directly, maybe we all have to be more open-eyed to the fact everybody is different. Would Starbucks and USA Today come together in a desire to help bridge these social barriers if people everywhere were cool with the fact that no two people are the same?

One of the guys who works at my Starbucks will readily admit that he works there because of the respect he has for the CEO Howard Schultz. If you do any reading of the man, his book or what others have said about him, you will see his intentions are genuine, his heart is in the right place, and he lives with integrity. To attack him and his genuine love of the people who work for him and buy coffee in his shops, is to directly say, “Screw you and your ideas about positive change.”

If I’m totally honest, where equality is most strained from where I stand, its in the fact it’s tough to be nice to rude people. So ya, they probably don’t get perfectly equal treatment. I witnessed a barista ask a woman for her name to write it on the cup, to which the woman sourly replied:
“You don’t need my name, I’m the only one here!”
Without skipping a beat, not hearing the rude tone of voice, the barista said:
“Ok, I’ll just put a smiley face on it in case someone comes in right behind you, then their name will be on their cup, and yours will be a smile.”

The witness in me wanted that woman to NOT be treated with equality. I wanted the barista to use the same sour face and tone back. And yet, what the barista did was show equality. When a person is rude, their skin color disappears, their age is not a factor, what really matters is their lack of respect. People let skin color and other shallow excuses be why they choose to be rude. It is in turn that the rudeness creates a lack of respect, fostering inequality.

Howard Schultz is right--something needs to change. Maybe asking the baristas to start conversations on race is not the best way, but being a rude to a barista or customer isn’t an answer either. It makes it hard to be seen as an equal, and equality falters through being a jerk.

And really, at the heart of the campaign is love and respect for our fellow Humans. Those who work in coffee shops do it because of the diversity. You could argue that is the point of going to get a hand crafted beverage… to get a drink unique to you.

Ya, it’s only coffee, but if you love coffee, to get coffee and a smile, or coffee and a laugh, means you are most likely being respected or enjoyed, and that right there is what breeds equality. 

Wednesday, March 11

Could I Care LESS?

Something occurred to me recently as I was dealing with being upset over something that I didn’t want to be upset about. I realized I’d been here before.

In my frustration and upset I was asking myself what could I have done differently, what could have unfolded differently, not upsetting me in the first place, and was the upset entirely my own doing in the end because I was the one upset?  I already know that each of us choose how we see and feel in situations, we CAN choose NOT to be upset, and I clearly didn’t do that.

This choice is something I can do half of the time, and can’t do half of the time. What I’ve noticed is my ability to CHOOSE to not be upset has everything to do with how much I care about the general situation.  My level of upset is directly related to my level of caring.

That night I went to bed bugged. As I sometimes do, I said to myself, I just need to have less interaction with people. More introvert hours would help me. Then when I woke in the morning I had the thought. I would get less upset if I could care LESS about this particular thing. Having that thought reminded me of the other times in my life I have found myself wishing I didn’t care about someone or something so much and acknowledging that if I could just care less I would be better, I would be happier, the “thing” wouldn’t be so upsetting if I didn’t really care.

With that thought in my mind, another day went by and I realized that in the past I haven’t been able to CHOOSE caring less, it has been forced upon me to care less. And how that happens is over time, being shown again and again that caring equals upset, until one day, bam! I finally see it as never going to change. It/they will always be upsetting to me, and when that realization hits, the caring less happens.

I wish I felt like this was an optimistic thought to be sharing. I’m really only sharing because I finally realized that this has been how my mind has worked for a few years, and despite being the one having these feelings, I am only now putting words to them and "getting it" fully.

I see this is how marriages fail. This is how jobs end. This is how friendships fall apart. It happens because we all have a limit in regard to any given thing. And when the caring has finally been used or abused for too long, something breaks; you suddenly don’t hesitate to care LESS.

What’s slightly upsetting about this caring less is that it’s not within my control like the choosing to not be upset. I can choose to not get upset, but if the event, or the person continues in the same manner as always, it doesn’t necessarily matter that I stopped getting upset, they/it is still wearing me down and taking me to my limit, until one day, there it is. I care less.

Thursday, February 19

Happiness & Success Through Principle

It has only been since the death of my Grandfather (almost 2 years ago) that I finally saw how much like him I am. Even as I write that, it seems a little strange, because as he lived, and as he talked, I did not see the likeness, it is only through his interests and possessions since his death, as they (such as books) have come into my life and I see them resonate with me. 

I said before in a blog post that my house feels more like me now that my Grandpa’s things are in it. I have a couple chairs, a cabinet, the grandfather clock he assembled as a kit, and the many books. When he started getting old enough that he repeated himself often, he would tell everyone that he never had aches and pains because he changed his thinking. He said it was all because of a book he read. About 10 years ago I asked to see this book, and he showed me. At the time, I thought to myself it was such a simple title I wouldn’t forget it. Well, I did forget it, and as my mom and aunt gave me permission to have any of my grandpa’s books, I took everything that looked like a book of deep thinking, everything thought-provoking, and I feel sure that somewhere among these books is this special one he spoke about and showed me, even though I struggle to remember what it looked like.

Most of the books of Grandpa’s could be considered a book that “changed my thinking”. They are all in line with my desire to better myself, learn healthy perspective, and to generally be happy. If you know my blog, you know how important I feel happiness is.

This brings me to one of Grandpa’s books in particular, its called Happiness & Success Through Principle, by William Penn Patrick. (photo of Grandpa and book. To be clear, my Grandpa is NOT William Penn Patrick.)

It’s a miniature little book, like one made to keep in your suit pocket for quick reference. A corner is slightly bent, so I can’t help wondering if my grandpa did carry it around for a time.

One of the great parts that caught my attention in this little book is at the beginning. It says:

“Every human has sought to find his place in the pattern of this eternal universe. Each of us has sought to find security and happiness. Most have looked in the wrong places to find their happiness. Most have sought their answers in the lessons of some religion only to find frustration and greater despair. Many have turned to education only to find in its abundance a barren futility. With reckless abandon many have turned to individual and mass destruction only to find a meaningless death. Yet others have placed their lives and faith in other individuals, in situations, and political concepts only to discover the chains of bondage.

Where then doth the soul find its place to live and die? Out of this despair has come the twisted and murderous history of the human race—man destroying himself and his fellow man at an ever increasing rate. Three billion people live today on the face of this earth, in the shadow of self destruction. What is the curse that has brought humanity to the edge of this abyss? What leaves our young men and women who stand at the threshold of greatness turning their backs to the future and retreating to the abyss of disaster? The primary answer is fear—fear of themselves—fear of their fellowman—fear of tomorrow.

The substance of fear is ignorance. Man in his education and sophisticated world lives in ignorance and fear, which it breeds. In a narrow sense, fear cannot exist in the face of knowledge. In the absence of knowledge, fear reigns supreme.”

To those that know me: can you see why I think me and my Grandpa are so much alike? Mr William Penn Patrick really resonates with me! I’m totally interested in things like this--reading what people with clear perspective have to say. This kind of thinking is invigorating to my spirit. Like a clean glass of water. Refreshing and satisfying. It makes me feel I am not alone in my desire to live in a world without war, murder, fear, and destruction.

He continues:
“Assume for a moment that you were a front line soldier--you were ordered to destroy a machine gun nest--and your only approach to it was by way of an open field. To cross that open field would require courage, and since your knowledge of the situation clearly indicates death, you are seized by fear. On the other hand, if you knew without a question that you could cross the field and destroy the machine gun nest without any harm to you whatsoever, you would absolutely have no fear of the situation. There are several important things which can be learned form this. Knowledge eliminates fear, and in the presence of knowledge no courage is required. In the absence of absolute knowledge courage is required to act. Belief and knowledge are two different things. In the presence of belief, fear becomes an active participant. Belief and fear are bed partners in the absence of knowledge. Man exists as the highest level of earthly creation. Man has the capacity for knowledge as well as for fear. Fear requires no effort. Knowledge does. Consequently, it is obvious that the price for freedom is the effort required to gain knowledge.

Man is born in the bondage of his physical limitation and mental laziness. He is born in ignorance and fear abounds his existence. Only as he gains knowledge of his surroundings does his fear begin to subside. Man is not born free. If he is to be free--he must earn it. The price is knowledge. He was given a body and a mind. To gain, the body requires food. To gain, his mind requires work. In essence, there is nothing of value for free. Everything has a price.

This leads me to the point of the principle which I have discovered as the foundation of my security and happiness, which is success. My first inclination is to do as most men do.  That is to confuse the issue by a lengthy analysis of the several specific issues available. A volume of one million pages could be written on the general subject with a discussion of ha many angels could stand on the head of a pin, to the other extreme of--how did the earth get here? Since I do not wish to enhance my ego, and since my purpose is to sincerely share with everyone those things that I have discovered to be true, I will only give you the principle, knowing that when you understand the principle you will then apply it to the many available issues before you. Remember, Men do not make principles. Principles make men.”

Mr. Patrick goes on to say so many more things in this little book that I will try to share in time... For now, lets acknowledge: Fear is effortless, it's lazy, and it does not serve us. As I’ve said before, it’s pretty damn easy to test what you fear and find out if you are A: Right in being afraid, or B: Fearing needlessly. I personally would rather know. Saying that, I’m reminded of a quote.
“We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are.”
― Ana├»s Nin

Good night.