Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Winter Storm Jonas

Ever since Hurricane Katrina it seems meteorologists and city officials can be a little overprotective when it comes to dealing with potential natural disasters.  However, I definitely prefer it to the alternative: not being prepared at all.  Still, I approach most of their predictions with skepticism.

We heard about this potential storm system moving across the southern states on Monday, and the speculations began.  There was also a wave of low, cold air coming in off the east coast and the 2 were going to meet up to some potentially disastrous consequences.  I held off preparing until Wednesday; once the Canadian, European & American agencies all forecast basically the same path and intensity of the storm... us... the DC area.  We watched the projected path about eleventy billion times over the course of the week.  It looked like a snowicane.  The storm was twirling out into the ocean and slamming back into DC over and over again as the moisture fed into it.  It was going to be a long few days!

There was still a tiny northern snowstorm inching its way down to us and it dropped enough snow for them to cancel school on Thursday, which was nice for everyone who still needed to prepare I suppose.  The kids had fun sledding in the inch of snow and leaves.  They thought this was Jonas... HA!  Not yet, my children.  Thursday we spent a lot of time writing lists of things to do or buy or locate.  We mentally walked through possible scenarios for which to prepare ourselves like power outages which would mean a loss of heat, running water, lights, and netflix.  What do we need?  What should we do?  We set up preparation timelines so as not to get anything done too quickly, but also not be too late.  Jonas was going to make it to us at approximately 1pm on Friday.  Josh and I are masters of disasters.  We get a little giddy planning for the apocalypse.  I blame our military backgrounds.

Thursday Collage

Friday morning was pink and orange and sunny most of the day.  I was quite skeptical we'd ever see the storm and I couldn't help thinking about the past.  How the heck did people know a storm was coming?  Seriously... I never would have known just by looking outside that a ginormous monster blizzard was about to vomit snow all over the coast.  Still, I trusted the satellite images of the projected path of Jonas and prepared our foods for possible power outages: chicken, sausages, baked oatmeal, pasta.  In a pinch any pre-cooked food will do.  At least with a winter storm you don't have to worry about food spoilage (just being able to cook it).  We knew heating up a grill would be nigh impossible with the winds and snow they were talking about.  After all the prepping I was hesitant to eat anything we had made and we needed to grab a few more things from the store.  We called 5 Guys and they were open... with only 2 hours before snowzilla.  The herd of teenage boys working there surely had snow-driving experience, right?  I hoped they would let these kids go home early, as well as every other employee everywhere else.  There were tons of people out doing exactly what we were doing.  We brought our food home and no sooner did we finish eating than we caught sight of the very first flakes.  At precisely 1248pm on Friday, the snow started.

Friday Collage 1 

We watched it snow for awhile and then ventured outside when it was at roughly 4" (at 4pm) to sled and enjoy finally having winter snow before the sun set.  Josh and I knew the storm was supposed to kick into high gear sometime during the wee hours and into Saturday morning.  We ate a hot dinner (YAY), played some games, popped popcorn, and watched some Harry Potter.  We also brewed up coffee and boiled water for hot cocoa to put in our super insulated thermoses in case we became electricity-less.  It wasn't until Friday night that the winds really started picking up and I got a little worried about the power going out.  I was glad we had everything ready to go.  The winds and sleet woke me up at around 0330 on Saturday morning though.

Friday Collage 2

All day Saturday it snowed.  We went outside quite a few times to sled and play.  We even took a walk down the street, curious to see how everything was looking.  As soon as we made it up the driveway those winds were whipping.  Our house is down a hill and I think we miss a lot of the winds... that also explains why we had so many birds hanging out in our yard.  We did some sledding in the blizzard.  White-out conditions and high winds can't stop us!  It was exciting!  The snow piled up and by time we put the kids down at 9pm it was still snowing and we had about 13".  Once the snow slowed down we all passed out from a long arduous day in the wind and snow.  We did lose power Saturday night or Sunday morning, but none of us knows when or for how long because we all were asleep.  The snow finally stopped at midnight, technically Sunday.  We also lost wifi and it was out most of Sunday.  Comcast came through eventually though.  The final count at our house was about 20".  It had snowed for 35 hours straight.  This was quite a memory for all of us!

Saturday Collage

We have been playing in the snow with our days off... and doing some work.  We dug ourselves out on Sunday and took a quick look around, and Monday we were thrilled to get the hell out of here and go out to eat! The kids had a 2hr delay today after getting Thursday, Friday, Monday & Tuesday off for this storm.  It left us with about 5 gojillion cubic feet of snow with which to sculpt and play.  We've been enjoying it thoroughly.  

Sunday Collage

My Jabba the Snow Hutt looks like a sad fat blob now that the temperatures have climbed to nearly 50.  Hope everyone else enjoyed the snow and made it into a fun adventure! :)

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Learn... Change

"Learn... Change"

No matter how much you know
How well you eat
How safe you are
How aware you become
There is chaos
And it will come

It will swallow you up
Erase you
Drain you
It will take your feet
And force you to your knees
And remind you of the truth

You have no control

We can understand every law
But we can't stop gravity
We can cure an illness
But we still get sick

The one pure truth
Is that control is an illusion
A delusion we all suffer
We're just managing our symptoms
While learning to recover

Chaos is at the heart of change
Impossible to avoid
Prepare for the storm because it is wise
But remember
Preparation is not protection
It's just how we survive

Be ready for the chaos
Develop the tools to recover
But remember to embrace the lessons
All chaos has to offer

The point is to learn
The point is to change

It's not a punishment
It just is

It's not personal
It just exists

You don't fall because gravity didn't like what you did
You fall because gravity is what it is

Cause and effect have no blame

The point is to learn
The point is to change

Thursday, July 30, 2015


Josh has been gone a lot and I keep telling myself it's silly to be sad.  He's just right over in Virginia, it's only for a week or two.  We've done this for far longer.  Stop it.  Stop it.  Stop it.  So, I started getting depressed and I tend to binge watch reality TV when that happens.  Hoarders sucked me in this time.  Then suddenly I realized parallels.  I have turned some of my emotions into hoarders.  I might not have walls of trash everywhere, but I have a million excuses why I won't allow myself to be sad or why I should be afraid of something or not trust someone.  Why I need to keep control.  It's all happening in my mind.  "This is still good, I can't throw it out... I had plans for it"... and it just hit me like a flash (while I was in the tub, of course).  So I wrote about what I felt.  Then I stopped thinking myself out of it and let myself be sad and cry about Josh being gone.  I feel much much better now.  Not depressed at all.  Still sad, but that's not depression... sad fades in and out, but depression sinks its teeth and claws into you.  I'm sad Josh isn't here, and I think that's a good thing.



Make room, she said
For anger, sadness, and fear
Allow them
Feel them
They have their place
Like hunger and thirst
Or physical pain
They tell stories
They have reasons

Let your symptoms speak
Let them scream and cry
And stomp their feet
Throw their fits
Beat their chests
Curse you and your god

Give them space

Accept them
Acknowledge them
Respect them
Show your love
But don't bend to their will
Show them they're valued
Gain their trust
Or they'll never be honest

The goal is to hear truth
Not to tell fear what it's thinking
Or sadness its motives
Or to control anger
They have to tell you
Don't put words in their mouths
Ask questions they have to answer

Then listen
Then love

Thursday, July 23, 2015

"Oh My God"

July 22, 2015

Trying to describe what god is to me is like
Trying to remember a dream the moment I awaken
The harder I try, the more it fades
Until I find the balance between conscious and not
Just read the emotions and the glimpses
Without active thought
Then some comes back to me
Enough to understand the message

Or it's like
When a smell brings on a memory
It's never one thing specifically
It's the concept of it, the feelings it contained
I smell and remember the summer of 1992
Grandma's kitchen in Warren
My Dad on a Sunday
My Mom's house at Christmas
I just have to let it wash over me
It's instant and all-consuming
It doesn't run slow like a movie
And it's only mine

That's how god feels to me
It's that glimpse, that memory
So deeply profound and personal
From the innermost folds of my mind
And I can't begin to convey its worth

God isn't an individual or an entity for me
It's an experience, too big to explain, impossible to contain
Like that memory, but further and deeper
And I can feel it
When I look at a sunset or a storm
When I read a book
See a tree or a mountain
A waterfall or the ocean's waves
When I hear a song
Or see someone's art
Attend a wedding or a funeral
Find a new friend
Use my pen

For this tiniest of moments I understand it all
Feel it all
Because it's mine and it was written for me
By me
To me
Through every thing
No gaps, no time, just a flash
Infinite connections spanning lifetimes
I lost it again

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

What Marriage Has Reminded Me About Myself

Josh and I met because we were destined to meet.  We were laughing the other day about our circumstances beforehand.  What clueless kids we were!  I was pissed off for being assigned to Spanish. I was better than that, capable of far greater challenges, completely devastated by this silly little existence.  Josh was re-classed from SERE school (AF special forces) into munitions and he was pissed off for being undervalued and having his talents wasted, devastated by this silly little existence.  We thought we were so damned amazing.  Of course we had to be together.  We had to teach each other lessons about how we fail miserably and how we can succeed.  I already knew all these things about myself, but I never recognized their power to destroy or maintain a relationship.  Your personality is like a toolbox... if you use the tools correctly you get the job done, but if you try to saw wood with a screwdriver you're in for a lot of pain and frustration.

1. I am impatient
We only dated for 6 weeks.  We got married in jeans in front of a judge with no witnesses on one random Tuesday when we both happened to have work off.  We ate at a Denny's and didn't have a honeymoon.  Every assignment we had, we strove to change before it was officially over.  The only one we completely rode out was Spain, but not for lack of trying.  Josh fought hard to leave early and he lost.  Being impatient is a product of future-mindedness.  On one hand it's great because you're the ones who want to help change the world.  On the other hand you have to constantly remind yourself to spend time in the present so you can find gratitude.  Our biggest teacher for this lesson was the 38 month separation we were forced to endure.  Focusing on the future kept us sane, but focusing on one day at a time was vital as well.  It was an interesting mix and we had plenty of practice.  You can do anything for at least one day.  Suddenly it has been over 1,000 days and you're still going.  We knew it would eventually have an end if we just kept taking that one step at a time.  It's staying in the present while focusing ahead on that one point.  Our impatience makes us this amazing team with a focus on the future, but can also get us into financial trouble by spending the future in the present lol.

2. I am stubborn & competitive
I've been married to my husband for 12 years.  Most of them have not been good.  Did we divorce?  Nope... but, not because we're just that amazing.  We're stubborn as hell and neither one of us wanted to be the one who "gave up" or quit.  Our fights were explosive and accusatory... you find a fault? oh yeah well SO DO I!  You're the one that has to change, not me.  We got nowhere because we never listened, just debated.  Stubborn means you don't give up.  The one I was most competitive with was myself, and I refused to "fail".  I wanted to figure out the perfect solution to this problem, this relationship.  Both of us secretly tried to find answers, but rarely came together to find answers.  What we finally realized is that when two competitive, stubborn asses work together they figure that shit out... because we refuse not to... and it's deeply rewarding, but also frustrating and difficult.  It's a delicate dance at first, but when we stopped blaming each other and just started helping each other it served our egos in the best way.  I find exquisite joy in being his confidant, holding and protecting his secrets.  I won and so did he.  We're in so deep and I'm so far ahead that no one could ever beat me at this race with this man.  He is my prize and he's the most amazing person I've ever met... and I know him better than anyone else (winner again).  We are each others' biggest fans.  Making each other our #1 killed the competition we had going against each other, and also killed the idea of anyone else entering the competition.  We're a true team now.  Only took us about a decade lol.

3. I am afraid of criticism.  I'd rather give in than fight
This was very similar to the stubbornness and competition, but adds another aspect to the holes we were throwing each other into.  Sensitivity to criticism.  I fear criticism like the plague.  Every time I write something, no matter how innocuous it may seem (well, except for poetry, which is why I love it so much).  As soon as I hit that publish button I walk away and can't come back all day.  I can't see the comments right away because I'm terrified of what they will say.  When you're so afraid of not being accepted, you stop being honest.  When someone loves you and knows how sensitive you are to criticism, they stop being honest too.  After long silences and little "plays" on reality followed by intense blow-out fights, we finally figured out we're both sensitive to criticism, but our biggest critic is ourselves.  Now we speak a different language.  We don't talk about each other, we talk about what we say to ourselves and we are never another critic.  We discuss what we want to change, are ridiculously open about the process, and we only do it for ourselves, never for someone else.  Yeah we both benefit from transformation, but we don't pressure each other to do it.  We support.  We finally realized the attacks were based on fear so we took the fear out of our relationship.  I never fear talking to him because I know I'm the critic, and he's my fan.  Same goes for him.  It's so much easier to see what someone else does to themselves than it is to see what you're doing... we're mirrors for each other and we deeply respect our own personal journeys and the time it takes to make them.

4. I am idealistic
As much as I claim to hate romanticism, I'm still a woman with estrogen and progesterone who grew up on fairy tales, and I love our story.  I even love the dramatic parts where we almost split up.  I live in a fairy tale.  This can create a lot of tension because of unrealistic expectations.  I felt the pull of society, telling me that having high expectations is cruel.  Then Josh told me he felt the opposite, having no expectations of him means I have no faith in his abilities.  Once we started living our story instead of the one we thought was status quo we were a lot happier.  I expressed my expectations, and guess who happily rose to the occasion... yeah, he's my knight in shining armor.  I am married to someone who loves to face challenges so my idealism isn't idealistic and fantastic with him, it is entirely possible.  He proves me right all the time.  I have never met another person so successful and driven.  I admire him and he's teaching me how to be more self-confident.  My idealism could be detrimental to someone else, but to him it's like fuel.  It's another point to aim towards, fire at, and destroy.  He gets an immense sense of satisfaction from hitting all these high points and says he couldn't do it without me.  Ok, I'll take that :)  When you're both idealistic you find points to agree upon and paths to take together.  I love it so much.  It feels like we exist for a higher purpose and we're just conduits of energy when we sync up like that.  I feel incredibly supported because his idealistic image of me is one that I appreciate and head towards however I can at the moment; walk, crawl, sprint, trudge, just stare at in defeat.  He sees my true potential.  He's at my finish line cheering for me, but I'm running my own race.  I do the same for him.

5. I have issues with trust & vulnerability
I am independent.  I have always been rebellious, especially when it comes to anything having to do with men & women.  I hate gender norms and I love breaking them.  I always needed to prove I'm stronger than the boys.  I get pleasure from breaking female gender stereotypes like physical strength (yeah, I can do more pull-ups than you), food consumption (screw you all for thinking I just want a salad), fear (I ain't afraid of that spider).  I suppose this ties in with my competitive side.  I never want to need anyone or anything, but especially a man.  I am a self-control worshiper.  I can control my damn biology if I really want to (hahaha, silly girl)!  I can give up anything at any time and defeat its hold on me because I am strong and independent.  Needing to be in control made me very emotionally guarded.  Vulnerability is another word for weakness.  Trusting someone gives them power over you.  This is all true, but it's not bad if the person is trust-worthy.  Josh and I both pride ourselves on our independence and strength.  He's a knight and I'm a queen.  Whatever vulnerabilities we have aren't apparent or easily shared lest someone use them to destroy us.  We were always on guard and ready for betrayal.  I remember trying so hard to get him to open up to me, to trust me to help him.  Meanwhile, I was doing this from up high on a wall in a tower screaming down to him from a protected distance.  Once the mutual trust finally happened (little by little over time) and we proved ourselves to each other, we're pretty dang intertwined.  A queen needs a knight and a knight needs a queen.  We take this symbiosis seriously and treat it with care.  It's precious and precarious and was hard to come by.  Having one person I trust that I'm also vulnerable to helps me feel a little better about trusting others to not destroy me at the first opportunity.

There are so many other lessons I have learned by being married to my Joshua.  This was the kind of relationship we were supposed to have because our personalities, our biology, dictated it as such.  Monogamy and intense dedication to each other.  Other people in other relationships are completely different.  The best thing anyone in a relationship can do to get the most from their interaction, is be yourselves and try hard not to let others tell you what that should look like.  Who cares what that looks like to anyone else.  Of course it won't make sense to them, they aren't you!  I don't judge other relationships because... why the hell would I?!  Not only does it not affect me, but it isn't supposed to and it never will unless I am destined to learn something from them.  I have faith those people are interacting how they are because they're supposed to and I am not going to get in the way of that.  No one could have stopped Josh and I.  A lot of what we did didn't make sense to anyone else.  Why would it?  I remember that when dealing with others.  Just because I wouldn't do it, doesn't mean it isn't right for them or it isn't something they need.  I do not know better than whatever cosmic force brought them together.  Anyway.  The point I was on... Focus on each other because that's all the relationship is about.  Not necessarily forever, but at least until you know you've learned what you're supposed to.  They say relationships are mirrors that show you what you need to see.  I believe that.  I know there's more to learn with Josh and I welcome it.

A Day in the Life: Mommy

:: found this in my drafts folder, always thought it was too boring to post it, but I read it and I guess it's been long enough for me to think it's funny lol... life with toddlers is tough!! goes with these little gems ::

September, 2010

I was talking with Josh and mentioned my Day in the Life posts. I said there really was no point of doing a day in MY life when it's pretty obvious from the others what I do all day. It would be boring... "you might think it's boring, but the way you write makes it sound exciting"... I love him :) He's so nice lol. Now, normally our days aren't so routined and monotonous, but since we lack transportation we've become little robot hermits here. It's been 5 months since I had a vehicle at home. Most days I go a little crazy with the boredom and lack of spontaneity or adult conversation. Thankfully I have a good friend out here so we hang out a lot or at least talk on the phone almost daily. Thank you, Jessica!! ;) So, anyway... here's my normal day.

I usually wake up to crying or fighting, which is fine because alarms never register in my brain. I'll hear them, but they become some bizarre part of a dream like... the police are coming after me or there's an imminent nuclear attack. I've tried music, but all that achieves is a "Glee-like" dream... so why would I wake up haha. This is a big problem! My solution? I put an alarm clock in the playroom and gave Noah strict instructions to wake Mommy up when it goes off. Problem solved (unless by some miracle the kids sleep past 7). I roll my tired butt out of the nice warm blankets and jump into some jeans, glance at my black eyes in the mirror, grunt disapprovingly at my morning scowl, and head downstairs to start coffee. This is how the kitchen usually looks on a Monday morning. It's not this bad other days, but Josh cooks on the weekend and loves to use every single pot in the house to fix us his tasty masterpieces. I deal with the morning questions from Tristan and Noah while I nuke some oatmeal:
"Can we have apple cinnamon oatmeal, Mommy?"
Yes, I'm making some right now.
"What time is it?"
It's 7:10
"Can I have a cookie?"
No, you need to have breakfast.
"What day is it?"
It's Monday.
"Monday I have P.E."
"Can I have a cookie?"
No, no cookies for breakfast.
"Did you check the weather?"
It's going to be cold. You need to wear jeans and a long-sleeve shirt.
"Can I have a cookie, Mommy?"
No! You can't eat cookies for breakfast!
"But I want tooooo!!!"
I know. You can have one after lunch.
"But I want toooooooooooooo!!!"
I said no! I'm making you oatmeal.
"But I don't want oatmeal. I want a cookie!"
"Can I have a cookie in my lunch?"
No, Tristan! Yes, Noah I'll put a cookie in there.
::Tristan's crying and whining and will continue until oatmeal is in front of him::
"Did you put milk in it?"
Yes. I put milk in both of them.
"Can you cool mine off?"
I am, Tristan.
"I can stir my own."
I know. I didn't stir yours, Noah. Here you go, boys.
"Can we have some milk?"
I'm getting you milk right now.
"I don't want oatmeal!"
Ok then go play.
"But, I want oatmeal!"
Then eat your oatmeal!
"But, I don't want to!"
Tristan!!!... I have to go get your brother.

Brennan is standing in his crib, talking to the door and smiles when I walk in. Well hello there, sunshine!! I carry him downstairs and give him something to snack on while I make Noah's lunch. Noah goes upstairs to get dressed. Tristan stays behind since he's not quite finished after all the time he wasted crying about cookies. Brennan successfully gets out spoons, tupperware, pots, cans, and tinfoil in the 8 minutes it takes me to pack a lunch. Backpack ready to go. It's now 7:30. Time for shoes and coats. I run upstairs to get socks for Tris and Bren and get them ready to go. We have to be out the door by 7:37 or we'll miss the bus!!

I carry Brennan the whole way there while holding Tristan's hand. If at any point I need to break the hand-hold Tristan will cry. Brennan is heavy so I have to switch sides at least once on the way. Noah's off to school, we head back home. Coffee!!! I put on AFN (Armed Forces Network) in the living room so the boys can watch Sesame Street. I drink my coffee and start the dishes so I can make another mess. Tristan is once again begging for food and Brennan hasn't eaten yet so I make some breakfast for us. The living room is destroyed from the weekend. Yay for me!

In order to vacuum with our American machine I have to unplug the entire entertainment system from the converter box and plug it in there, up by the TV. Which means no cartoons. They don't mind. Tris and Bren love running away from the vacuum. They also love to yell as loudly as they can... I assume our sonorous vacuum makes them feel compelled to be equally loud. This doesn't bother me at all. They're not fighting and I am able to work so I'm happy. Dusting is a bit harder since Brennan likes to grab the spray or run his finger in it and then taste it. I work fast. Vacuumed, dusted, cartoons back on, back to the kitchen to finish my (now cold) coffee. Preschool time. Lunch time.

I love to cook. I especially love to cook colorful, healthy meals to feed my family. I get a sense of accomplishment when I know I am feeding them a good meal. I love fresh produce. I always have tons of fruits and veggies on hand. I make some type of salad with every lunch and dinner. I know, I know... stop all this excitement!! Sorry. So, it's finally nap time. More coffee... and I get to enjoy it this time while I check my internets for pertinent news and info (aka browse facebook). Sometimes I can't seem to pull myself away to do anything with the house. If I get on the computer at nap time, chances are I will stay on it until they wake up. I need to update all my worthless games on there!! DUH!! Seriously, what's the point of sweeping the floors or cleaning the bathrooms in a house full of boys. There isn't one. It's a vicious cycle of cleaning and re-cleaning that is very difficult to perpetuate on a daily basis. Sometimes I'll work on a scrapbook, read a book, or watch a movie. My "me time" is pretty uneventful and a little disappointing. I wish I could say I work on my thesis or go to a cafe for coffee and a torrija, but I don't. I play frontierville and mahjongg or "escape the room" games... because I'm not motivated.

Kids get up. I sit down with them in the living room and watch Spongebob Squarepants, trying not to fall asleep before getting Noah. I am not allowed to move because Tristan can't sit on my lap and he will throw a fit. Brennan gets jealous if he can't fit on my lap too. My coffee's worn off. The kids are quiet and warm. The silence and stillness makes me sleepy... very very sleepy... sigh... crap! Ok, it's only 3:30... one more hour. Tristan eventually perks up so we can go outside for a bit before getting Noah. Off we go.

We hang out outside until Josh gets home. Most days I have a 5 o'clock coffee all ready to go for him. I needs my mid-day cold coffee. I am so bored typing this I can't even finish... seriously... it's Saturday, but I feel like I am reliving Monday... ugh... I'll finish it on Monday during nap time!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

United Victims of America

Yesterday I was reminded of something I noticed about our society quite some time ago.  George Takei had posted an article of comics depicting sexism that's thrust upon boys.  I agree.  I have 3 boys and I see how they are pressured to fit into this macho mold.  That's not what I want to talk about though... that moment closed the circle for me.

We started bringing light to how society belittles, stereotypes, bullies, misunderstands, mistreats, and undervalues people a long time ago.  It really kicked in with the civil rights movement and feminism in the 60's.  Our downtrodden members fought for the understanding and compassion they deserved by sharing their stories, with the intent to draw out our empathy.  It worked beautifully, but I feel it created a dangerous side-effect.  We became a nation obsessed with victim-hood.  Suffering became the barometer by which we measured the value of a person's opinion or worth.  If you haven't suffered, we're not listening to you... if you haven't suffered enough, we're not listening to you.  You see evidence for it when we tell someone "you don't understand you never had --- happen"... and while that may be true, humans are capable of empathy.  I felt it in the military community among those left behind and those coming back.  Wives competed for who had the worst stories (most kids, worst assignment, longest time), who won the prize for enduring the most suffering.  Guys coming back, sharing where they were and for how long to see whose war was the worst.  It's a game we all play, comparing suffering, and if you think about that it's really messed up to want to be the one to win that competition.

Victim worship is creating a very dangerous environment for our children.  Victims are becoming the bullies now.  Empathy and compassion have to be won through suffering.  Value is measured in hardship.  If we keep telling our kids that we only listen to victims, they're going to become victims.  The majority of school shooters are middle-class white males, the ones our society has deemed to "have it all"... obviously they're missing something.  You don't choose your race or your parents' income.  We also show our kids through the news media that only crime and despair deserve recognition.  My facebook newsfeed is packed with "understand me" articles that point out how everything we say is taken as an insult by some group or another.  A blog I used to love started this "domestic enemies" series to help inform, but it became a competition over who has it worse.  We need to prove we suffer more because that's our societal worth, and it has gotten to the point that we overreact to everything so we can become victims.  We want to be victims!  Subtle and constant, these messages effect us.

I wrote "Wounded" about myself, but this is an epidemic.  People join groups dedicated to their pain and suffering and it defines who they are: rape victim, alcoholic, pain victim, death of a family member, PTSD sufferer, overeater.  I think the support and love of these groups is important, but some are missing the point.  It's supposed to be a place you go for guidance on how to heal, not where you go to stay sick.  I used to feel guilty for not being made to suffer more.  I used to want to break my arm so I could have a cast (and the attention of others).  That's so messed up!  But, that's our message.  We haven't created an environment that encourages health yet.  We are still diagnosing the problems.  I get it.  I see it, and I understand it.  So, now that I've seen the complaints of the men getting bullied, which was the original "audience" to begin with, maybe we're going to start valuing health instead of wounds.  The underlying message the victims are shouting is that no one person is like another.  We shouldn't be grouped with another just because you sense a pattern.  We should stop assuming knowledge about people based on appearance or class (sociology is not helping us)... that's the message.  Message received?  We have now established that EVERYONE is a victim at times.  Everybody suffers.

We can heal or keep picking our scabs off to reopen the wounds.  It's up to us.  Remember: we don't ask a therapist to tell us all about their lives to prove they're worthy of helping us through their own personal suffering.  Insight doesn't only come from pain.  How do we encourage a society full of victims to start healing themselves?  Turn the conversation inward to self-love and forgiveness, not outward towards anger and blame.  Take ownership of the present, regardless of who made the mess, and make the decision to clean it up.  It's already happening!  Let's keep it going.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

The Illusion of Control

I spend an inordinate amount of time out in nature and, like Einstein so aptly suggested, it helps me "understand everything better".  Lately the lesson I have been shown over and over again is how arrogant we are as humans.  For no real reason that I can think of other than our desire to be in control, we write off most of our behaviors to choice.  Why?

It makes no sense to think nothing we do (other than suckling) is pre-programmed into our DNA like every other animal and living thing on the planet.  Some of the most bizarre and amazing behaviors exist in other living things... like the bowerbird that constructs beautiful works of art to attract a mate (without ever being taught).  The poisonous frogs that live in the rainforest that dutifully carry their tadpoles one by one to a specific  kind of plant and feeds them until they grow legs.  The octopus that starves herself to death for 6 months to protect her eggs.  You can watch these and more on Netflix, a great little series called "Life".  The more mundane and well-known behaviors of walking, swimming, finding food or a mate, hiding, flying, playing, fighting... all behaviors that are never taught.

It's easy for us to look at these behaviors in other animals and chalk them up to "nature", something that is programmed from the beginning.  But, I wonder what we do that's programmed?  Testing our boundaries and the world around us is vital, and we do it as infants and toddlers, but why?  And why do we adopt the behaviors of our social group?  Think of the kids raised by animals who adopted animal behaviors to survive... that pull to fit in made us who we are, the ultimate mimics.  What does that mean in the context of our society?  Do we really have our own minds or is the concept of Sigmund Freud's "group mind" a reality?  Advertisers already know the answer to that one ;)  Most likely it's a combination of both.  I would love for us to stop looking at ourselves as separate from nature and really study us the same way we view the rest of the living world, unbiased and with a glut of excitement to observe and report.  I think we're taking great strides towards this in recent years.  It's going to take a lot of humility from the human population to carry it even further.  Admitting we have less control can seem like we're writing people a permission slip to be immoral... I disagree as long as it's with a testable science and not sociology, which is not a real science in my book.  Sociology is the science of deception and persuasion, which uses our innate behaviors against us.  Not that it's evil, but it does prey on the group consciousness.

I do think we're unique and special, but not in all the ways we seem to celebrate.  We are a collection of innate behaviors that lead us to become some of the most fascinating animals on this planet.  The ability to feel awe and gratitude when looking at a sunset, for one... appreciation of beauty, expressing emotion through various means, creating music and art to convey emotion.  We are awesome, and finding out why isn't going to change that.  We can really understand ourselves if we understand what we're working with.  On a side note, I believe that the word "nature" applies to everything that exists.  Everything.  If it wasn't natural, it wouldn't be here.  There's no such thing as "unnatural" because simply existing is a natural phenomenon.  Normal and natural are not interchangeable.  In understanding the laws of nature, we understand ourselves and our link to everything else.