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Ready or not – another year looms in front of us – which also means another year is behind us.

The question is – what will you do with this New Year – this 2015?

I am not a New Year’s resolution sort of gal. I have found that my resolutions – as great as they may sound – are too far-reaching – and in the end I am more disappointed with myself for falling short – once again – of the demands I have placed on myself.

There are no resolutions this year. No lose weight, no write a blog a day – no take a picture a day – none of that has even crossed my mind.

There are only the promises I have made to myself to be a better person. I can be kinder, I can be more loving, I can be more understanding, I can be less judgmental, I can be me.  A better version of me – but me.

I spent a portion of yesterday (New Year’s Eve) afternoon at Ft. Rosecrans National Cemetery.  There was a woman and her little daughter, both wrapped in blankets, sitting in lawn chairs beside the grave of a fallen solider. The grave was new – so this woman’s loss was new – our nation’s loss was new.

My heart ached for her loss – for her pain – for her suffering. It was in that moment that I realized I needed to live my best life, and it was in that moment that I made those promises to myself to be kinder, to be more loving, more understanding.

People are suffering every single day. They survive things I can only imagine. They beg for food – for money – for clothes. They live in boxes. People face Cancer, Alzheimer’s. They die in War…

I know I won’t be perfect every single day, I know I will make mistakes. Still – I’m going to be a better me.

How about you?

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There is this perceived notion that we always have to be happy – that we always have to be up and smiling – that we have to show the world that all is bright and cherry in our world.

The thing is – we are not always happy – and the sun isn’t always shining in our lives – and sometimes just sometimes – there is not one ounce of cheer to be found – anywhere…

And you know what? That’s okay – you’re okay.

Life isn’t always happy. Sometimes life is quite complicated and happiness isn’t on the list of priorities we have. Sometimes our priorities are simply to get from day-to-day or hour to hour or moment to moment.

We don’t always wake up bathed in sunshine hearing the birds singing their sweet little tunes.  Sometimes – well – sometimes we just don’t hear the birds singing – anywhere.

That’s okay – You’re okay.

We don’t have to always feel inspired or always feel that we have the answers to everything in the Universe. We all have our dark sides – we’re all human. No one person can be happy and confident and inspired all the time. It’s the darkness that sometimes leads to the most brilliant sunshine.

The trick is to take the good with the bad – feel however it is you’re feeling – talk about how you’re feeling, write about how you’re feeling; cry, laugh, scream, whatever you need to do. And then you need to move on.  And by move on I mean really let whatever it is go.

If 10, 20 or even 30 years down the road finds you still talking about something – you haven’t let it go. You’ve actually let whatever “it” is run your life for all those years.  Let. It. Go.

Mostly – just be gentle with yourself.  Understand that you’re human and life isn’t always about what’s right in the world – life is sometimes all about the messy bits.

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I asked Susan this question this morning while we were enjoying some quiet time in front of our beautiful Christmas tree.  I asked her: “Why can’t we just let people be?”

And now I ask all of you: “Why can’t we just let people be?”

I ask because I don’t understand the whole judging people by what they believe or don’t believe thing.

Why do we care if a person believes in the little baby Jesus or if they don’t? Why do we care if a person believes they hear and see loved ones who have passed on? Why do we care if someone lights a menorah or prays to Allah or believes in absolutely nothing?

Unless any of these beliefs affect your life in any way – why on earth do you care what another person believes in? And why on earth would you make them feel less-than because they have such beliefs?

Who’s to say you’re right and they’re wrong?  Seriously?

To me – it just comes off as annoying arrogance when someone tells me that what I believe is wrong – how do they know? And more to the point – why do they care?

Does my belief in the paranormal affect your life in any way?  Does it interfere with your daily day to day living? Does it have any bearing on what you believe?

If you don’t believe in something – fine – don’t believe. But – don’t think that because you don’t believe you have the right to judge and mock those who do.  Be silent and just let them be…

Do we mock and judge others because we are insecure in what we believe?  Or do we mock and judge because we believe we are smarter which somehow gives us some sort of judgmental rite of passage?

Whatever the case – we just need to let people be…

When you find yourself wondering why someone believes in something you don’t understand – don’t judge them – just let them be…

And when you have the urge to tell someone you think their belief system is all wrong – be silent and just let them be…

We don’t know what another person faces from day to day. We don’t know unless we are living their life – you can’t judge what you don’t know – and really – what give you the right to judge?

You don’t have to agree with someone in all areas of their life to support them and love them and encourage them.

Love them for who they are – and just let them be… If you want to change them – you don’t really love them for who they are – it’s not about who you want them to be – it’s about who they are…

Just let them be…

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I recently read this Native American tale that tells the story of a young boy speaking with his grandfather.

One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people.He said, “My son, the battle is between two wolves inside us all. “One is Evil – It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.“The other is Good – It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.”The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: “Which wolf wins?”The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

It’s easy to feed the Evil Wolf – Blame everyone in your life for your troubles –that way you don’t have to take any responsibility for anything you’ve said or done because – well – it’s not your fault – it’s the way you were raised, or taught, treated or whatever excuse you can make others believe is responsible for your behavior.  You can be this arrogant, rude, unkind person who skips through life unaware of the hurt and despair you’ve let in your wake.  You’re unaware – because you don’t care. Why should you – it’s not your fault.

The Evil Wolf is the easy way out. It’s simple, it takes no thought, and certainly allows you to hold onto old hurts, self-pity, anger and grudges for as long as you like – it’s what I call wallowing…

I will admit to feeding this wolf many years ago…

The Good Wolf – well – that takes some work. Joy, peace, hope, humility, kindness, generosity, truth, compassion… these things involve others – and emotions and a sense of belonging.  This means you have to show up – emotionally and physically.

Serenity comes only when our soul is untroubled and at peace. And we are only untroubled and at peace when our lives are lived for the common good.  At least – this is what I have learned about my life.

I’m not saying the Evil Wolf never gets fed – I’m saying I try and keep it to a few hors d’oeuvres every now and then – because well – I’m only human.

The Good Wolf is the one I try and feed on a daily basis.  Love, Hope, Compassion – these bring me Joy. I don’t want anger, envy, jealousy, regret, resentment or ego in my life. Why would anyone?

These wolves – This good and evil – It’s a choice we all must make in our lives. At some point, we all have to look around and realize that the common denominator in all of our tails of woe is – you/me. And the common denominator in our tales of happiness? It’s also you/me.   It’s our choice – it’s our life.

So… Which Wolf Do You Feed?

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When the top story on my news-feed is about how different Renee Zellweger’s face looks – I know it’s time to shut all my electronics off and try and have myself a zen moment.

Is this really who we’ve become? Is this truly who we are as a people?  We don’t write or talk about curing cancer, we don’t write or talk about the struggles with Alzheimer’s, we don’t write or talk about how we are still at war – and our soldiers are still dying.

We don’t write or talk about how children in the United States of America go to bed hungry, go to school hungry, and live every day, hungry.  I’m not talking about another country here – I’m talking The United States of America…

We don’t write or talk about the inequities of the American people – but we will write and talk about who is to blame for these inequities that only seem to exist in the minds of the dreaded “do-gooders.”

Elections in this country are no longer about who is the best person for the job. They are about who has the most money, and who is willing to do the best job at trashing their opponent.  They are no longer “free” elections when millions of people are prevented from voting because of redistricting or photo ID’s or some other form of “poll taxing.”

But – our free press is not writing or talking about these things. These things don’t sell papers or magazines.

The people who write and publish – well, they only write and publish the things that make them money.   You know – Renee Zellweger’s face, and Kim Kardashian’s buttocks.

When did we stop caring about one another and what we will leave for our children and our children’s children?   When did it become more important that the Giudice’s are going to jail than a child going to school hungry? Seriously – when did entertainment overtake caring about our own humanity?

Personally, I don’t believe my grandchildren’s children will care about the face of Renee Zellweger. It may be more important to their survival that the air is clean and the water is safe to drink and people still have a moral code that doesn’t revolve around how one looks, but rather revolves around how one treats others.

Just sayin…

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This morning I made the decision to break up with the NFL – The National Football League. I’ve been having a love-hate affair with the NFL for well over 50 years, and finally – I have had enough.

It’s sad to walk away, but sometimes – sometimes we have to do what feels right for us – for our well-being, for our sense of what is right and wrong. For me – it is time to walk away. Time to put my NFL hats and my NFL t-shirts on the shelf and spend the time I would watching football doing something constructive, and spend the money I would on hats, t-shirts, etc on something more positive – you know- like a trip to England or France or Big Sur.

Watching football was a nostalgia thing for me. It was Sunday afternoons in the early 1960’s at my Aunt Jeans laying on the floor watching the Baltimore Colts with my Dad and my Uncle Mike. It was a bonding kind of thing – not so much of a drinking, yelling, eating and cursing kind of thing.

I love football, but when we went to the Stadium last year to see the San Diego Chargers, I thought that perhaps the wand search was a little too much, along with all the rules about swearing and fighting and drinking – seriously – are we not adults? Do we not know not to drink too much and punch people? Obviously, we do not.

Susan and I stopped going to night games when we had to lay down on the floor of our car and call 911 because people were running through the parking lot shooting at each other.  Again – there was alcohol involved in this incident and something about someone wearing the wrong jersey. Seriously – you’re going to shoot someone because you don’t like their jersey?

The whole Ray Rice thing was the last straw for me.  I feel that the NFL cares little for me as a woman, or as a fan. I don’t care who instigated the fight – I don’t care that she married him after he knocked her out – I care that he’s the pro football player trained to hit and injure. He’s also a man and should know that you never strike a woman – no matter what – you walk away. And I totally care that the value of knocking out a woman to the NFL is a two-game suspension.

  • Vincent Jackson got a 3-game suspension for unlicensed driving.
  • Terrelle Pryor got a 5-game suspension for violating the NCAA’s improper benefits policy
  • Plaxico Burress got a 4-game suspension for shooting himself in the leg – He was later sentenced to two years in jail for violating the stringent gun laws of New York.
  • Michael Vick was suspended indefinitely before the 2007 season. He served almost two years in federal prison. He was permitted to return to the NFL and was suspended for four games of the 2009 season.

Breaking up is never easy, goodbye is not always goodbye, but for now – the National Football League is not something I want to associate with. If they were to apologize to women for their lack of respect, and talk about domestic violence – I’ll pull my hats off the shelf – until then – my Sunday’s just freed up!

So, if you are watching and drinking and yelling – remember that the NFL places the value of women at two games.  For me: it’s time to walk away – and so I shall.  For the truth of the matter is this:  Football is a game – domestic violence is most surely NOT.

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Perhaps the answers to life lie in not where we’re going, but where we have been. And maybe not so much where we have been, but who was there with us – who traveled the road with us. Who ran us off the road, who walked beside us, who helped us find the short-cuts, and who was reading the map along the way.

Now that I’m in my 60’s, I understand that our lives are touched in some way by all the people who have come in and out of our lives. If only for a moment or a day or years – our lives are somehow changed by every encounter we’ve ever had.

Every path –every person – every opinion – every compliment – every criticism – every love – every hurt – every laugh – every tear – every little thing and every single person has brought us to this very moment in time.

We may have been shaped by where we grew up and who are families were, but as we grew up and faced the world on our own – the decisions we had to make were ours. At the moment we were making these decisions, we may have thought we didn’t have a choice – but – even if you did not make a decision – that was your choice – your decision was not to decide. We have to own our decisions – at some point we need to take responsibility for our lives.

I believe we spend way too much time finding a way to blame our parents or our siblings or our friends or religion or politics or whatever you can think of for our lot in life.  The simple truth is – we are responsible for our lives – we are responsible for our happiness.  It’s up to each of us to make ourselves happy. No one else can possible be responsible for that – no one.

I also believe we spend far too much time trying to figure out what makes us happy and we miss out on just being happy.  Life isn’t about what you have – it’s about who you are.

I read a book recently that made me understand that every day we can choose to go one way or the other. To go with the good or not go with the good. To go away from things like anger, hate, war, evil, prejudice – or – we can choose to go toward them. The choice is ours to make.

Whichever you choose to go toward – that is who you become.  If you fill your life with anger and greed and hate and unrest – then it’s inevitable that you become this person – angry, arrogant, hateful, resentful, blaming, bitter…

On the other hand – go toward the good – and this is the person you become. Nonjudgmental, loving, understanding, giving, compassionate, happy, content.

It may sound easy – this going toward the good – but during the course of a day we can slip toward anger in the blink of an eye. Someone pulls in front of you on the freeway and you have to slam on your brakes to keep from hitting them – going toward anger happens before you even blink your eyes! Someone’s teasing feels more like being bullied, someone pushes your buttons simply to get an angry reaction from you, and someone plays games with your heart…

It is the wise choice – this going toward the good – but it’s not always the easy choice. Choose wisely.

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