Tragic Political Platforms

I hesitate to weigh in on a lot of “current issues” in my blog posts. There are already many voices stating their opinions, and the sound of those opinions is often forceful and even harsh.

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For instance, we just had another mass school shooting. Personally, I’m not sure which part of that sentence is the most horrific: “another,” “mass,” “school,” or “shooting.” American society seems to be crumbling rapidly.

Of course, everyone, from the POTUS to “great-aunt Betty” has voiced their opinion via social media. We are awash in a swirl of people vehemently arguing for more access to weapons and those who want to seriously restrict weapons. Somehow, we justify this behavior as part of grieving with the victims.

I think that’s our first mistake. If we want to grieve with the victims, we need to find healthy ways to support the students and families who have survived this tragedy. Maybe we should flood the school with letters and cards of sympathy and hope. We should listen as survivors become ready to open up and share the pain and trauma they are experiencing.

Instead, we are drowning out their story with our own flood of opinions.

The next thing that bothers me is that no matter what opinion is being offered, it is being offered as the “magic pill” that will solve all problems. Are we really that naive? Human beings aren’t that simple, so how could solving a societal problem be?

A whole school and community has had life turned upside down, inside out, and shredded. Life will go on, but it will never be the same again. How do we help this community heal so that anger doesn’t fester and create more acts of violence? How do we help children overcome the anxiety they must feel as they walk the halls and remember the events of that day? How do we support fellow Americans as they try to make sense of the senseless?

And, there is the shooter. What twists a young man up inside so much that he can cross a line like that and devastate an entire community? What went wrong in his life? How do we identify children who are at risk, and how do we support them and their families? How do we help them heal and make choices that will help alleviate family and personal stress in positive ways? How can we do this throughout our nation?

Should we look at entertainment? Is it possible that the life-imitates-art-imitates life cycle needs to be examined? Is there something to the philosophy that has been held by Suzuki and others that if you surround children (and adults) with beauty and character, you create people of beauty and character?

 

In my mind, there is not going to be a one-size-fits-all solution to the hate and the violence that seems to be overtaking American culture.

I do, however, think that we each have a responsibility to think clearly and calmly about what we can do in our own sphere of influence to create safety and acceptance for anyone who is struggling.

It’s your turn: what have I missed in trying to create a better America? Comment below.

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Stress, Cortisol, and Gratitude

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As usual, I have managed to lose the original source of the idea, because I didn’t write it down and I found it several weeks ago. I’m pretty sure it was a YouTube video, which really narrows things down, right?

The idea is pretty simple: stress creates cortisol in our bodies and cortisol has multiple effects on us. Within several seconds of encountering a stressful situation, our IQ (intelligence or mental abilities) is cut IN HALF. (If that’s not the correct figure, it drops significantly.)

In short, stress makes us stupid!

To me, this means that living in a constantly stressed-out state means that we are living in such a way that we can’t use our full mental potential, and we are making decisions and doing our work as if we were much dumber than we really are!

So, what if we can’t all do like I did and walk away from a stressful career?

It seems the answer is gratitude.

Somehow, finding something to be grateful for at that moment and about that moment short circuits the stress cycle, and allows us to maintain our mental abilities.

It takes practice, and it can take a shift in our outlook on life. Challenges become opportunities to grow and to learn new skills. Illnesses might have to become opportunities to slow down and/or to strengthen relationships — especially if you become the caregiver. We have to take a creative look at each situation to find the good and feel grateful for it.

Has your life been enriched by gratitude? Share how in the comments!

“Be Yourself” in Perspective

I am a “cyber-clutter artist.” (Ok. I simply have a bad case of FOMO and too much digital storage space available.) While it can be a problem, today it is a bonus. For a while, I collected quotes that I wanted to ponder.

Today, I want to look at two of them:
Yourself (1)

This sounds like a great quote, and it is — if you are struggling to accept who you are or trying to be someone you’re not just to fit in with a group of people. Part of a healthy self-concept is recognizing who we really are and that a successful, fulfilled life doesn’t require us to sacrifice who we are for what we want. In fact, if we try, we suffer mentally and emotionally as we begin to dislike who we are trying to be and our victories feel hollow.

On the other hand, this quote can easily be twisted into an excuse to stop trying to grow and become. We are human, and human beings are flawed. “Nobody’s perfect.” In fact, we have differing opinions on what perfect really is!

Life seems to require that, if we want to be ourselves, we have to be ready to see things we don’t like, discover weaknesses, and face them. Then, we can make educated choices about who we are and who we will be as we move forward.

YourselfAgain, this is a quote for those who lean toward being timid and shy, for people who are basically good people but are worried about rejection.

Having had some experience with abusers, narcissists, and crude individuals in my life, I have seen this mindset at its worst. Feeling the brunt of someone’s unbridled anger and then being told it’s my fault if I’m hurt because the other person was just “being himself (herself) is emotionally crippling.

The key to living this quote successfully is to remember the necessity of respect. We can share our thoughts, feelings, and opinions without being overbearing, crude, or abrasive. We can choose our words thoughtfully with the intent to increase conversation rather than shut down opposing opinions.

So, if you’re like me and love quotes, collect them. Just think about them and how they truly apply to a successful life!

Do you have a favorite quote? What is it? What does it mean to you? Comment!

 

No Tankini Required

d24235920d4e68736ea61a1b44fe59c5_female-runner-on-beach-700-469-cThis week has been a struggle in the running department. It’s a combination of hot, humid weather, too much on my to do list, and just being worn out. But, I ran.

Early in the week, I nearly made a snarky social media post, because I had been noticing men taking more than just a passing glance at me while I was running. It bothered me — my immediate thought was that they had no right to assume that I was out on the sidewalks of my town trying to be eye candy just for them.

But, the to do list won, and I never made the post.

I did, however, keep thinking about those stares and my reaction. Why did it offend me so much? I dress more than modestly for my hobby — I wear capris and a t-shirt. I even get the same kind of stares when I wearing a Camelbak for my long runs. (I have to be careful about heat injuries and dehydrating.)

Was I giving in my culture and my personal history again? I obviously assumed that the men looking were thinking sexual thoughts. How could I know that?

What if?

As I continued studying my reaction, I started thinking about the what-ifs.

  • What if these guys were, like my husband, simply trying to identify movement and color they had noticed as they were driving? (Yes, that is what my husband does — he stares at everything except people working out as he drives. It’s an interesting experience!)
  • What if some of them were actually thinking that it was refreshing to see a woman with her body modestly covered?
  • What if they were wondering how in the world I could tolerate the heat with that much clothing on?
  • What if I noticed guys staring, but I blew off women staring? I’m not exactly dressed in common running fashions.
  • What if I made a point to practice giving people the benefit of the doubt and assume their intentions and actions are innocent?

 

The runs are still hot, humid, and difficult, but much more pleasant than at the beginning of the week!

Change is in the Air

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Some who have read this blog or know me personally  are aware that I submitted my letter of resignation as a teacher on May 1, 2017. Since that time, I have been trying to “decide what I want to be when I grow up.”

In the next few weeks, I will be making that announcement. I’m sure there will be a few more announcements as I put all of the plans in place. As I do, I realize that I’m having to completely change my perception of who I am. I’m also going to be making a few changes to this blog.

Anyone Else Frightened?

Change isn’t comfortable. The things that we have always known and the things that we have always done become our comfort zone. They become to us like that favorite stuffed animal or blanket that we carried around as toddlers. It doesn’t matter how filthy and nasty it gets — it’s what we turn to for comfort and security.

As far as this blog is concerned, the changes won’t be that big. I’m mostly going to be working through a process of claifying my purpose for this blog’s existence, solidifying the message, and (hopefully) making it a little more interactive.

As for me? Well, let’s just say I hope I’m holding on to my hat tightly! I’m trying to convince myself that I’m ready to get rid of my worn-out, dirty “lovie” and move into the world with more wisdom, maturity, and confidence than I have in the past.

Life is Ironic

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So, at the end of my teaching career, the boss that had given me so much grief was selected for the top award our district can give. To put it mildly, Ouch! Talk about feeling invalidated for all that I went through this year!

True to my nature, I stopped to ponder.

Realization #1: There are no absolutes in life.

This means that no matter how much I would like to believe that this boss is evil, she’s not. She’s a person who is trying to make the best decisions she knows how to make. She will make good ones. She is very astute about marketing her school. (To be honest, I’ve been studying her methods because I recognize how astute she is in this area.) She seems to have a weakness in the area of understanding and working with a diverse set of people. That’s not evil.

Realization #2: My perception is not the only correct one.

In this case, I found myself imagining walking around a sculpture or a crystal on exhibit. Every time I shift position, it looks a little different. Different people have different perspectives of my boss. There are those who thinks she’s awesome. That’s life.

Realization #3: This was not an attack on me.

The district did not decide to give her this award to salve her feelings, and they didn’t give the award to her to make a point to me. In truth, I doubt anyone has time to really think that way, and most wouldn’t push the boundaries of policy that hard! The award had criteria, and they felt that she met them the best. If my actions have given her pause to think and to possible make positive changes, then I can actually support the selection. If it hasn’t, then her house of cards will eventually fall.

So, I accept the irony, and I accept that the turn of events doesn’t fully sit well with me. I wish I could support the choice without reservation. From what I can tell, my boss enjoys awards and accolades, and she is enjoying her moment. I find awards and accolades to be a unfulfilling way to measure my worth, and prefer to know that, when I look in the mirror, I’m seeing a woman who is trying her best to be a person of quality. I have my reward.

Things may be ironic, but they are not always as unfair as I want to believe.

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My Codependency Breaker

Broken

I wish I could promise that I am going to unveil some quick and easy formula for removing codependency from your life forever. That would be nice, but overcoming codependency is a long, hard process. Even though I believe that I have been in recovery from it for years, there are still times when I feel myself leaning toward those habits and patterns.

Sadly, that’s actually what this post is about — what I do when I feel like I am falling back into the habits and patterns that plagued me for most of my life. I certainly don’t want to go back there again!

I like to keep things simple, so I’ve managed to narrow the process down to these two sentences:

I am ONLY responsible for what I think and what I do. I AM NOT responsible for what anyone else thinks or what anyone else does.

Sounds easy enough, right? It can be, but there are days when it’s the hardest thing in the world to do.

  • Recently, I was in a position where I felt it was necessary that I write and submit to human resources some pretty harsh accusations about my boss. It was definitely a struggle, because I not only feared what my boss might do in the event that she found out, but I feared what others at work would think of me. I felt dirty and tainted, even though I made very sure to only write what I believe to be the truth.
  • I have seen many collected evidence that there is someone at church who is spreading nasty rumors about me behind my back, and that there are some people who have believed those rumors almost without question. (Talk about a test of faith — that’s a topic for my other blog.) Not only do I have to accept that it’s not my fault, but I have to accept that there really is nothing I can do unless the opportunity arises to address it directly, one-on-one. It hurts to know that there may be people who never gave me a chance at a place that is supposed to be filled with the love of Christ, but again, I am not responsible that they chose to believe gossip.
  • My children have adopted some beliefs and made some lifestyle choices that are directly opposed to what I had hoped and what I am pretty sure that I taught in my home. Does it feel like their choices reflect badly on me? Sure — but it’s not true. I am responsible only for my negligence and willful ignorance as a parent and not for the influence of others on my children. It hurts, sure. I’d love to see them make choices that I feel will lead them to a more lasting happiness than some of the ones they are making now, but I happily cheer them on as they make their best efforts in life.

 

So, even understanding the extent of my personal responsibilities in life doesn’t stop me from feeling disappointment, from being misunderstood, or from having to make painful choices.

What it does do for me is give me guidance that helps to prevent me from making things worse because I am bent on forcing things to match my definition of better.

I am ONLY responsible for my thoughts and actions.