Friday, April 13, 2012

Personal Filters

I've been thinking quite a bit about filters and the lack thereof.  In air systems they sift out dust and other "bad" particles so that our system isn't fouled.  However, in humans they can serve a dual purpose.

I believe we all carry scars within us.  They may be old, twisted remnants from childhood, or shiny new spots where divorces are healing.  Whatever the origins of our scars, one thing is certain; they mark where our own personal filters failed us.

There are lessons in everything that happens in life, if we care to look closely.  Reasons and lessons may present themselves in the present, or years later.  Enough scars on our filter teaches us self preservation.  We may isolate ourselves from those who would continue to inflict pain, perceived or actual, causing more scars.

When our own filters are faulty we may say things and wish we could suck them right back in.  Our anger may whip out at whomever is nearest, including those we love the most, providing them with a new wound to heal.

The problem is, it's a vicious cycle.  Humans filters work both ways.  If we are wide open to being hurt because our filter has many holes from wounds that have scarred over into hard places, this makes it easier to hurt us, and in turn, more effortless for us to hurt others.  Our filter is tough and the things we say may be hurtful without us even realizing it, or caring!  After all, the other person may need to, "toughen up."

In my own life, I've been told that I "wear my heart on my sleeve," or  am "too sensitive." I also learned that, he/she treated me that way because they "liked" me.  I never learned what it was like if he/she didn't like me.  It always felt the same.

Part of my journey learning to be a writer, and choosing to be happy, is learning that it's ok and acceptable to be me, with all my feelings.  It makes me happier to be around happy people, and something interesting is occurring.  I've seen some shiny, new strands in my old, hard, crusty filter.  It seems to be healing and regenerating.  The less I'm around hurtful people who scar my filter, the more my filter seems to function well around other people.

Thank you to those who are helping me in my journey.  Your friendships are invaluable.

Have a nice day!  :)

Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Incredible Lightness of Being

My life is a MESS!  I have so many reasons that I could be unhappy.  Don't worry, I'm not going to list them.  Not only is it boring and redundant, I just don't wanna! 

I AM HAPPY!  And I hope that you are happy too.  :)

There's something to be said for happiness and being happy.  As a middle aged person, the idea struck me anew that I could choose to be happy.  I'm sure I knew that once, long ago, when summers were filled with riding bikes and swimming instead of work and driving.

And so I am choosing.  Every day.  It's been a struggle, choosing happiness, after letting the winds of fate choose my mood for years.  Yet I'm making progress.  PROactive instead of REactive.  I like it.

Try it yourself!  Be happy!  Those around you will respond the same way.  It's amazing how much our moods are reflected in the moods of those around us!

With everything that's gone wrong, I am so thankful for the things that have gone right.  When life was bleak, God took care of this family.  We didn't have more than we needed, but we had enough.  For what more could I ask?


Happy Easter!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Long Hair and Writing Well

Maybe the reason I'm trying to write is to understand people.  Maybe it's because it's not something that comes naturally and it's something at which I don't feel completely competent.  Perhaps it's because someone once insinuated that I don't write well.  (actually he may have come right out and said that, I don't remember for certain)

I remember someone telling me once I'd never be able to wear my hair short because I don't have a long, slender neck.  I have a big head and my face is round and full.  I promptly cut off my hair and wore it short for years! 

Last year I grew my hair out longer than it's been in a very long time.  It was beautiful.  Naturally wavy and thick.  Perhaps he'd been right.  I had missed having lovely hair all those years because I wouldn't listen to what I viewed as someone else's criticism.

Then, a funny thing happened.  Life changed.  My hair felt too long for my age.  I didn't like the gray and the long together, and my fantastic stylist cut it back to a shoulder length for me once more.  I felt lighter and looked better.

As I read yet another rejection this morning, I thought about the place in life where I've received the opinions of others.  Sometimes I've been gracious and thankful and sometimes I've disregarded their thoughts.  As with my hair,  I am not defined by the opinions of others.  I can choose to wear my hair any way I want and I am still the person staring back at me.  Attractive, older, or too shortly cropped doesn't change who I am, how I wear my hair and how I accept criticism can change or not change how I feel about me.  It's MY choice.

I can choose to believe that I don't write well.  After all, I am not able to make a living writing and I'm not on the NY Times best seller list, or in Oprah's book club.  But someone reads my words and thoughts.  I am in the public library in the town in which I live.  And hard work and discipline are things I need in my life.  If this blog is all the futher it takes me, I'll learn to be ok with that because whatever else my writing is, to me it feels important.  And that's all that matters.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Opportunity and it's Aftermath

I've recently been thinking about opportunity.  We live in the United States of America and no-one can say we are not surrounded by opportunity, right?  After all, in my own family I have a brother who is a multimillionaire.  He came from the same humble beginnings as I and, despite some interesting beginnings, he's made something of himself.  How?  Well, opportunity of course!  An idea+someone to help him along the way=success.  WAIT!  He didn't do it ALL BY HIMSELF?  No.  And there's the rub.

I always think it's interesting when people who have never struggled believe they have the answers for those who are struggling.  It usually goes something like this: "You need to get a job."  "You need to live within your means."  "You need to be more like XYorZ (roughly translated to mean kiss someone's ass)"  They offer this advice without ever having stood on their own two feet.

I'm sorry, living with your parents, buying whatever you want because you don't have to pay rent, utilities, food, insurance, etc., does not qualify you to make judgements on my life.  When you have a real dose of what it means to support yourself, come talk to me again.

Also, if your family gave you a helping hand up, with a job or the down payment to your house, or paid for your college education, or still gives you money, don't think you know what it's like to be me.  You don't.

And that sounds bitter.  I don't mean it to be.  I'm so happy there are people out there who have had a hand up and capitalized on opportunity!  I'm so happy there are success stories!  Really!

To allay another common misconception, NO, I am NOT jealous of your success.  I do not want your house, job, car, husband or money.  What I do want is for you to understand that not everyone is you or wants to be you.  Some of us are ok with who we are, struggling, trying to help others find a way up and out.

I teach a class of college students.  The other day, one told me he bought a new car.  The student now has better, more reliable transportation than I have.  And I was so happy to have helped him get there.

I feel as if I need a "BEWARE" warning for educators.  I am the poor and disenfranchised.  I was educated.  And here I am, still struggling.  Are my chances of being employed better?  Yes.  And yet I'm still unemployed.  Some days I wish I were still ignorant and wallowing in all the bs that poor people are fed, such as, "Voting makes no difference, things will never change, so why vote?"

Here's my challenge to those reading this; understand who helped you get where you are today.  Thank them for that help, and then help someone else in the same way.  It's a big world out there, what would happen if we all cared about one another?

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Business Practices

My daughter is getting married.  I recently lost my job due to budget cuts.  That means wedding budgets are tight.  Recently she interviewed photography studios, including asking about costs.  At one studio,, when she asked about pricing, she was told, "Perhaps we aren't the right studio for you."  Guess what?  They were right.

Who can afford to run a business this way?  The wealthy.  It may be a status symbol to those in the community, but I promise you, they will never see one dollar from this family.

Friday, February 24, 2012

I have a hard time believing I live in the same state, or the same WORLD for that matter, as the Governor of Kansas, Sam Brownback.  This man is bound and damn determined to ignore the reality of growing poverty across the state.  He has cut budgets and revised requirements for food stamps, is trying to pass legislation to govern medicare in the state instead of allowing federal oversight so that he can use that money to fund the state general budget, and is threatening to do away with early childhood program funding that is legislated to be used for specific purposes in the state.

Governor, don't you think you should perhaps find out who your constituents are or don't you give a damn?  Perhaps you're one of those people who believe that poor people should just go somewhere else?

For God's sake, educate yourself man!  Go to inner city Kansas City or Topeka and see what it's like!  Go to Southeast Kansas and visit the children who survive because their parents receive foodstamps!

Oh, and by the way, 90% of those families who receive foodstamps HAVE AT LEAST ONE PARENT WHO WORKS OUTSIDE THE HOME!  Yes, Governor, they are not all "sit on their ass and do nothing losers."  That's what happens when your solution to eradicating poverty is bringing in jobs that don't pay a wage that allows a family to live above the federal poverty level.

What are you afraid of?  That you might grow a heart?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Turning Point

I woke up with Whitney Houston in my head singing, "The Greatest Love of All."(  Not surprising given her untimely death and the fact that today is Valentine's Day. I've never really liked this holiday for what it stands for. There's always so much pressure to find the right gift, wonder if he'll remember, and if he remembers, will he do anything for you...Blah, Blah, Blah...

Here's what I've learned over the years that helps me get through "V" day:
  1. He will wait until February 14th to buy me a card.
  2. He will probably get me a box of chocolates that will blow my diet and be made by a company that uses child labor.
  3. It won't matter, because he already has given me so much.
Yes, boys and girls, for me V day is not about flowers, candy or heart shaped balloons.  For me, V day is about GIVING love.  I treasure sitting side by side watching, "The Big Bang Theory," and listening to him laugh, much more than dozens of roses.

Despite the hardships of the last six months, today I am counting myself lucky.  I am legally bound to the man I love.  And THAT makes me very happy.

As for the rest?  I've long felt Valentine's Day was a turning point.  New life fast approaches from this moment forward; it's the doorway to Spring.  If I get one wish this V-Day, I wish that my luck would begin to change, starting now, with this first honest smile in months.

Thank you, Lord, for hanging in there with me.